Beat Cost of Satellite Radio, Unlock Keurig 2.0 Brewer, and Trap Japanese Beetles

When my boys were really young, I had them convinced that I knew everything. More than that, I could read their minds and had eyes in the back of my head, too. That didn’t last for long, but I sure had fun with it while it did. And now I am having the time of my life with you, my dear readers. Your letters and tips help to keep me on top of technological advances plus everyday stuff I want to know, but cannot possible keep up with on my own. I appreciate and depend on you more than you will ever know!

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RADIO FREE. We bought a new car, which came with a trial offer of SiriusXM satellite radio service. It’s my wife’s car and she loves the satellite radio feature; but we do not like the cost.

Our cell phone service provider, T-Mobile, allows us to stream from select music services without affecting our data usage. These music apps have both free and subscription services available, depending on whether we want to pay to eliminate the commercials.

Voila! We can stream the music from our smart phones to the car stereo because of the features built into the car stereo (using USB, Bluetooth or headphone output jack) and it’s just like having the satellite radio for free. We can make a coast-to-coast drive without much loss of our favorite music at a savings of at least $10 a month. Dave

When It Comes to Storing Bananas, Don’t Believe Old Wives’ Tale

For years, I believed an old wives’ tale that bananas will turn black and spoil almost instantly if you put them in the refrigerator. In fact, I even passed this notion on to you. Whoops! Hearing from reader Lin made me reconsider, test and now I must recant. Lin is right. I was wrong!

photo credit: Wikihow

photo credit: Wikihow

BANANAS IN THE FRIDGE. I read in your column a while back about how to keep fruit fresher longer. You said do not put bananas in the refrigerator. I beg to differ. We put fresh bananas in the fridge and they may turn back and ugly on the outside but inside even after seven days or longer, they are as fresh and firm as new. Try it. Lin

After testing and researching further, I have discovered that if I put the bananas in a plastic bag and tie or seal it tightly, then place this in the crisper drawer, the bananas retain their yellow color. There’s something about black bananas—even if the are totally fine inside—I find to be somewhat off-putting -mh

BABY BATHTUB. If your baby is too big for the infant tub but too small for your bathroom tub, buy a 10-gallon plastic storage tub and a rubber bath mat with tiny suction cups. For about $5 your baby won’t slip and fall, but will be able to splash and play and have a great time. This size “tub” should last a few years and when baby has outgrown it you have an instant storage bin. Just remember to stash the lid in a place you’ll not forget! Beth

And please, never ever leave a child alone in any amount of water for any length of time. -mh

Residential Rehab for the Birds

If you’re planning a home rehab—or in the throes of that right now—just imagine how wonderful it would be if all it took to make the place like new was a spritz or two of our favorite odor-eliminating, disinfecting and cleaning spray. That’s all it took for some very lucky birds!

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photo credit: MyGardenDelights.blogspot.com

FRESH HOME. I have another use for Nok-Out. I have a gourd birdhouse and I thought it was getting too full of nesting material so I cleaned it out thinking the birds would start over the next spring building a nest in it. I was wrong. I went two years and still no bird nested. I decided to spray it with Nok-Out because maybe a bird could smell the prior resident, so to speak. I sprayed it; let it dry in the sun, hung it back up and now I have a new resident. Love your column. Kathy

Nok-Out is an amazing product, and proven safe for all things aviary! Something else amazing? EC readers get 10% off when they use code: DPL at checkout -mh

CAST IRON RESTORE. Just read your article on cast iron pans. These are better than any non-stick cookware on the market. An easier way to get rid of rust on an old cast iron pan is to fill the pan or pot with Coca-Cola and boil it. This will take the pan down to bare metal and ready to be properly seasoned. Jim

Remove Clay Stains from Baseball Uniforms Plus Six More Useful Tips

If you’ve got kids, chances are pretty good you know how difficult it can be to remove grass stains, red clay stains and any manner of other stains from pristine, white uniforms. While Soilove will take care of the grass stains, today’s first reader tip has a solution for that red clay!

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photo credit: Southlake News

RED CLAY STAINS. You can get red clay out of white pants by adding 1/2 cup Cascade automatic dishwasher powder with your regular laundry detergent. I have three daughters who play softball and I got this tip from the guy who washes the Miami Marlins’ uniforms. It works great and even works on old stains you thought would never come clean. Ellen

ROLLING LAUNDRY. Living in a high-rise apartment, I get tired of carrying my regular laundry basket down to the laundry room in the basement. I purchased one of those large plastic outdoor trash cans with wheels and it works perfectly. It was cheaper than a conventional basket, holds a lot more, came with a lid and most importantly it has wheels! Kenny

LAST MINUTE REPAIRS. A few months before your car warranty expires, take it to a reputable mechanic for a thorough inspection and request a written report. If anything on that list is covered under your about-to-expire warranty, now is the time to get all of those items fixed while they are still covered. The small fee you may have to pay for that inspection is cheap insurance against discovering a problem after the warranty expires. Melvin

BATTERY SHOP. Before you buy a new battery from a car dealership, call around. Your best bet may be a battery shop. Most are more than willing to quote a price over the phone. The same goes for just about every other automobile part and service. It pays to shop around. Randy

Wasp Traps, Cheap Reads and More Great Reader Tips

There’s nothing I enjoy more than opening my mail to find it stuffed with my readers’ money- and time-saving tips. Sharing them with you is a close second.

Before I do that today, we need to go over a few things:

I may have not personally tested and vetted every tip, trick and idea that I share with you. Some I consider to be clever no-brainers that make me go, “Well, of course that works—and what a great idea!”

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Other tips just don’t lend themselves to being tested under my present circumstances, while some are just so “out there,” I wouldn’t know how to make 100 percent certain that they would work—even when they do make sense.

And then there are the tips you will never know about because they are so off-the-wall or downright ridiculous, I am not willing to waste my time or yours with them.

Every Home’s Most Overlooked (Free!) Heating and Cooling Devices

Who doesn’t love learning about a money-saving tactic or investment that result in a net savings of thousands of dollars a year? I sure do! And I can count on maybe two fingers how many of those I’ve managed to deploy in my home in the past decade.

Room with curtains billowing at open window

It’s easy to think that the tiny things we can do to save money just aren’t worth the time and trouble. But they are because of the cumulative effect. Small things repeated often bring huge results. I call them little ways to save big.

OPEN OR CLOSE YOUR WINDOWS. Your house or apartment is full of free heating and cooling devices. They’re called windows. Using your windows for more than letting in light is a great way to save some serious scratch. If you live where it’s cool at night and warm during the day open your windows at night to let the cool air in and close them in the morning to keep the warm air out.

Use your curtains and blinds to block out the sun and keep daytime cooling costs down. Of course, if you live in a colder climate throwing your curtains and blinds open when the sun is shining can easily raise the interior temperature of your house a few degrees.

UNPLUG IT. Time it, sensor it, put it to sleep and smart power strip it. One way or another, drive a stake into the heart of phantom power drains. You could enjoy a decent dinner and movie for you and someone special once a year (including a generous tip) with money saved by unplugging unused devices.

How to Double the Life of Cut Flowers

Whether the flowers are from your garden, the market or you receive them as a gift, you can persuade cut flowers to remain beautiful for at least a week—maybe two or even longer, if you are careful to follow a few fabulous flower secrets. 

photo credit: calliope

photo credit: calliope

The two enemies of cut flowers are bacteria and drought. Defeat both and your flowers will last and last. You will be amazed! The two enemies of cut flowers are bacteria and drought. 

START WITH A CLEAN VASE. Scrub it with soap and hot water, rinse well and fill with tap water. Next, add 1/4 teaspoon of liquid chlorine bleach for each quart of water. This will retard the growth of bacteria and fungus in the water but not harm the flowers.

REMOVE ANY LEAVES BELOW THE WATER LINE.  Submerged leaves will rot and promote bacteria and algae growth in the water.  

CONDITION THE STEMS. Flowers can die of thirst even when standing in water if the stems have not been conditioned to draw that water all the way to the blooms. That’s because when cut, a flower stem quickly seals its “wound.” That can prevent it from drawing water. Just before plunging the stems into the vase of water cut stems at a 45-degree angle to allow for the greatest amount of water to be absorbed.

Of Samples, Spills and Substitutes

Whether it’s making sure a mailing label remains legible all the way to its destination or packing light for vacation, my readers have the best ideas, tips and tricks. Here’s a small sampling from my mail that is sure to both educate and amuse!

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photo credit: dinner-mom.com

JUST LIKE GRILLED. If you want the same taste as grilled corn on the cob but don’t have a grill or the time, place one corn cob (do not shuck prior to cooking) in the microwave on high for exactly 3 minutes. Use a potholder to remove the corn from the microwave and while cutting through the entire cob and shucks at the bottom of the corn. The corn will slip easily right out of the shucks and it will taste just like grilled corn. Hmmm…good! Suzy

WATERPROOF LABEL. When mailing packages, I rub a candle across the mailing label to make it waterproof. There’s nothing worse than a package not arriving because the address label met up with a rainstorm en route. Macy

LOAD UP ON SAMPLES. All through the year I obtain samples from various websites or phone apps like SampleUp.com, FreeSamples.org, Hunt4Freebies.com and and FreebieFindingMom.com, then save them for vacation. Taking samples size containers of shampoo and other personal care products reduces the volume of stuff in our suitcases and leaves nothing to haul home. Carla