Salt Stains on Leather Boots? Old Paint on Carpet? No Worries! And Lots More

It’s March 14 or 3-14 … which looks curiously similar to 3.14 or Pi (Greek letter “π”) …. which means it’s PI Day! And we’re celebrating in the DPL Bookstore. TODAY all of Mary Hunt books and DVDs in stock are just $3.14 each plus shipping, only while supplies last. Scroll down for details.

Salt. It’s mandatory in a human diet. But salt can be as destructive as it is needful due to its ability to eat holes through metal and leave ugly stains on footwear. Here’s a terrific way to take care of that problem—quick and easy!

SALT STAINS. Olive oil removes salt and stains from leather boots and shoes. Shines the leather, too. It’s an Italian thing!

SUPER-QUICK DRY. Need to dry a pair of jeans or pajamas in a hurry? Put them and a completely dry bath towel into the dryer. They’ll be dry in a fraction of the time they would have taken on their own.

ICE BAG. Pour 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol into a quart-size Ziploc bag and seal tightly. Put it into another bag and seal it for double protection. Label clearly as non-edible and freeze. It will remain slushy because the alcohol cannot freeze. Perfect to mold to the wounded area when you need an ice pack

PAINT STAINS. Even if it’s been there for a long time, you can get latex paint out of carpet or fabric with lacquer thinner (not paint thinner), available at hardware or home improvement centers. Using a clean white cloth, wet the dried paint with the thinner. Allow it to penetrate then gently blot with the cloth. Be sure to test the carpet or fabric for color fastness in an inconspicuous place first, keep the thinner out of the reach of children and pets and use in a well-ventilated area.

CLOSET STRATEGY. When you change your closets over for a new season, put the hangers on the rod backwards. When you wear an item, turn the hangers the conventional way. At the end of the season you can easily see what you haven’t worn and the items you need to evaluate for culling.

POWER BRUSH.  If you use an electric toothbrush and are like me you hate throwing away those old, not so cheap but need-to-be replaced toothbrush heads. Hang onto them because I recently found a use for them. The stones in my wedding rings tend to get dull and dirty from everyday wear but now I just place an old head on the toothbrush and spin the dirt away. Once you decide to replace the entire toothbrush hang on to the old one to be used for deep down house cleaning in smaller places such as baseboards, corners or between the knobs on your faucets.

VISIT THE MEN’S DEPARTMENT. Buy mens toiletries if you have a choice when it comes to unscented deodorant, shaving foam and hair colorings, for example. Products manufactured specifically for men are significantly cheaper ounce for ounce than those made for women. Go figure.

STRAIGHT CUT. Ladies: Need only the bottom of your long hair trimmed a barber can cut just as straight as a beautician. And the cost? Typically, less than half the salon price.

HEARTBREAK IN THE DRYER. Melted-on crayon can be removed by first applying WD-40 to the area, working it into the stain with your fingers. Once the WD-40 has begun to break down the petroleum base of the crayon, apply concentrated detergent to remove both the stain and and the WD-40. Put back into the washer and launder as usual. It works like a charm.

SUEDE SPOT REMOVER. Most leather cleaning products caution that they should not be used on suede. Recently I managed to some kind of ugly gunk on the suede portion of my leather shoe. I grabbed the Folex Carpet Spot Remover (my favorite for carpet spots) and an old tooth brush and went to work on it. It worked fabulously to remove the stain. Stains treated with Folex just don’t reappear either—in carpet or suede shoes.

CUCUMBERS. You know how the expensive English cucumbers at the store are wrapped in plastic? The guys at Cooks Illustrated tested wrapping regular uncut and cut cucumbers in plastic wrap. Both work and amazingly to allow you to keep any cucumber fresh for up to a week!


TODAY ONLY … ALL MARY HUNT BOOKS IN THE DPL BOOKSTORE ARE JUST $3.14 PLUS SH.

We’re celebrating PI DAY in the DPL Bookstore. TODAY all of Mary Hunt books and DVDs in stock are just $3.14 each plus shipping, but only while supplies last!

The following titles are available at this writing (as titles sell out they’ll disappear from the bookstore, showing only what remains.)

Debt-Proof Your Marriage

The Smart Woman’s Guide to Saving for Retirement

Debt-Proof Living

Live Your Life for Half the Price

7 Money Rules for Life

DPL Live! 2-Hour Seminar DVD Set

Cheaper Better Faster

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Which is Better Fresh or Frozen?

Frozen fruits and vegetables take a lot of heat because most people assume that if it’s frozen it must be of a lesser quality and nutritional value than the same items fresh in the produce department.

Is it true? Is fresh really better than frozen? And if so, is the difference great enough to spend more money to make sure we’re always eating fresh fruits and vegetables?

According to nutritionist Cynthia Sass, RD, frozen foods get a bad rap for being processed junk, but the truth is, some of the healthiest foods in the market are in the freezer section.

MATURITY. Ask any nutritionist and you’ll learn that the minute a fruit or vegetable is picked, it begins to lose nutrients. The amount of time between harvesting you eat it impacts its nutritional value. Because most frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen shortly after they are harvested, those items scheduled for flash freezing are allowed to fully ripen. That means they are chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Freezing actually “locks in” many of their nutrients.

On the other hand, much of the fresh produce in your supermarket was harvested 1,500 miles away—much of it in South America—and had to travel by truck to get to the store. It may have been picked before it reached its nutritional peak, then artificially ripened during transport.

NUTRITION. Frozen produce has been proven to be just as nutrient-rich, even superior to fresh, retaining most of their antioxidants and vitamins.

Scientists from Leatherhead Food Research and University of Chester, carried out 40 tests to measure nutrient levels in produce that had been sitting in a fridge for three days, compared to frozen equivalents. They found more beneficial nutrients overall in the frozen samples, in everything from broccoli to blueberries.

Of course, eating newly picked produce within minutes of harvest is the healthiest option. However, frozen can be almost as good and is often better than items sold as “fresh,” because unless you pick it yourself, you have no idea how long it has been since that produce was harvested.

ADDITIVE-FREE. Frozen goodies like spinach and strawberries have no additives because freezing preserves food—additives are not necessary to preserve quality. “Naked” produce (e.g. no added salt or sugar) is the norm. That’s why frozen fruits and vegetables carry a single word ingredient lists—just the fruit or veggie itself. Always check the ingredients, but I bet you’ll find at least a dozen varieties in the freezer aisle with absolutely nothing added.

CONVENIENCE. Even the freshest produce comes with a requirement of prepping. Sometimes that extra time requirement is just too much at the end of a stressful day. Know the feeling? Frozen produce, however, magically preps itself. It comes washed, peeled and chopped. Frozen produce can save you a ton of time, making it more likely that you’ll cook and eat at home rather than opting for take out.

Rejoice! March is the best time of the year to load up the freezer because frozen foods are on sale at their lowest prices of the year during National Frozen Food Month.

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Smart Gifts for College-Bound Grads

Although my grandsons are still quite young, I’m keeping this excellent reader tip handy for when they graduate from high school. What a great idea!

When our grandchildren started graduating from high school and heading off to college, we wanted to give them money each month during their first year. So in their high school graduation card we enclosed ten—$100 post-dated checks, starting with August of that year and ending the following May. We knew it would come in handy, not only for the grandchildren but for their parents, too. We figured the extra money each month might avoid a call home, asking their parents for a little bit more. Or, it might pay for something that was unexpected.

Our oldest grandson told us many times how he appreciated this. We have been blessed, always knowing how important we are to our grandchildren—because we have let them know how important they are to us. Linda

I just love that idea. But not every gift for a college-bound young person needs to come with a $1,000 price tag. In fact, for as little as $12 you can  honor a young person’s accomplishment with a gift to make dorm life easier and more enjoyable, too!

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Invest in Your Debt—It’s a Sure Thing with a Solid Return

Should I invest or pay off debt? That has to be at the top of the most common questions I have received over the years. And the answer is a solid—it depends! But only on one thing:

If you do not have an emergency fund saved and stashed in a safe place—and I’m talking about at least $1,000—you should save madly while you keep paying the minimums required on your burgeoning debt. Once you have an emergency fund in place, the answer to that question is clear:

Dear Mary: I have $13,000 in credit-card debt. I have designed a plan in which I would pay the amount of interest charged to me on my last statement plus $930 each month. The way I figure it, by doing this I will have this debt paid off in 15 months. I am going to have to dip into my investment account to come up with that additional amount each month, but I can do that. I could also just pay off the whole amount from my investment account (it is not a tax-advantaged retirement account), but I don’t prefer to do it that way. My investment account is at about $209,000 and I really don’t want to go under the $200,000 mark in that account. What is your suggestion? Anonymous

Dear Anon: You don’t say the interest rate you are paying on that debt, so I am going to assume it’s the current average rate of 17.55 APR. You don’t say how your funds are invested, so I will assume you are invested in the stock market (some equity stock, some bonds).

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Best Inexpensive Computer Printers

With so many technologies and capabilities available, choosing a printer isn’t easy. And don’t assume you’ll find the perfect printer anytime soon. No matter the cost, printers get paper jams. They run out of ink/toner. Network connectivity can be challenging. That’s just the nature of printers. I don’t know why, but it’s important to understand and accept.

Now that I’ve lowered your over all expectations, let me give you the good news: There are some great affordable printers out there, depending of course on exactly what you need a printer to do. Here are my top three picks for your consideration:

Best Inexpensive Black and White Laser Printer. The Brother HL-L2380DW is a great choice for people who need to print, scan, or copy term papers, tax forms, concert tickets and other black and white documents from home, home office or dorm room. This printer handles automatic two-sided printing; it’s pretty speedy too, at 32 pages per minute, with a cost-per-page of about 2.3 cents which includes wear and tear on the drum.

This Brother model is quite easy to set up and will be a reliable addition to your home’s computer network. Expect this printer to work well with any current laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet including Chromebooks.

The paper tray holds 250 sheets of paper and the printer itself has a draft or “save more” setting that allows you to conserve toner when the document you print does not require professional quality. But when that is needed, this printer outputs sharp, professional black and white pages at up to 2400 x 600 dpi resolution. About $129.

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Six Simple Ways to Develop a Saver’s Attitude

Cutting expenses is the way to spend less so you have money to save. But unless you are actually putting that money into a safe place to be held for some future use, you’re not really saving at all. You’re just spending less.

Even if you cannot save a great deal of money right now, that’s okay. It’s not the amount you save that matters as much as the fact that you make saving money a regular habit.

Grab all the discounts. Many mortgage lenders and student loan companies offer incentives for their customers who set up automatic payments for their monthly payments. It’s worth knowing you’ll never be late, and if you can get even 1/4-point reduction in the interest rate over time that will really add up to be something significant. Automobile insurers give discounts to good drivers, non-smokers, good students, cars with particular safety-equipment and any number of other situations. But you have to ask. Make the call.

Set dollar limits. Okay, so this sounds curiously like “budgeting.” It is. Deciding ahead of time the amount you are willing to spend for anything is to impose important limitations on yourself.

Fee yourself. Banks and credit-card companies don’t seem to have much trouble socking us with unbelievable fees, so take a lesson from them and fee yourself. Every payday impose a self-tax equal to one-hour’s pay. Consider it the price for having a job and put it straight into your savings account. Give yourself ample warning that upon your next raise, the fee will jump to two-hours’ pay. Every time you make a withdrawal from the ATM or you write a check, charge yourself a set fee of $1 by recording the actual amount plus a buck. Deposits? A $10 fee for each deposit sounds about right. When you’ve collected $50 or $100 in fees from yourself, settle up and transfer the whole amount straight to your savings account.

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How to Clean Gunk and Grime from Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets are for storing dishes, not grease. Unfortunately, wood cabinets—painted or natural with a clear finish—are prone to all sorts of grease, grime, and gunk from simply being in the kitchen.

Depending on just how much grease and grime you’re looking at and the supplies you have available, here are several options for your consideration. At least one of these will help to get the job done—plus one final suggestion for how to keep your clean cabinets looking gorgeous!

BLUE DAWN. Apply a few drops of concentrated dish liquid like blue Dawn, into a bowl of warm water. Dip the soft side of a sponge in it. Squeeze the sponge until suds form. The cleaning agents in Dawn absorb grease just as well on kitchen surfaces as they do on dishes.
Apply to the dirty cabinet, wiping the grease with the soft sponge until it is removed. Immediately dry the surfaces with a clean cloth to prevent streaking. This will prevent streaking.

KITCHEN GUNK REMOVER. Bust through hardened, dingy layers of old, sticky, dust-grabbing grease with vegetable oil and baking soda. Mix one-part any vegetable oil to two-parts baking soda. Apply this oily paste to dirty areas using a soft cloth or paper towel. That ugly, greasy, dirty build-up on cabinets will begin to soften and start to disappear. Wipe clean and buff with a soft cloth.

WHITE VINEGAR. Vinegar is not just for making pickles or drizzling over French fries. It has grease-busting, cleaning ability. Dampen a clean, dry cloth with undiluted white vinegar, and wipe down greasy cabinets. Rinse your cloth with warm water, wring out most of the moisture, and use it to rinse the cabinetry. Dry the damp surfaces with a paper towel, but note any still-sticky spots that need a second attempt.

SOAP AND PAINT THINNER. This is a heavy-duty, industrial strength solution. Use it on the toughest, most stubborn grease and grime, knowing that it could remove a layer of the finish. Mix equal parts of paint thinner and a mild soap, such as Murphy Oil Soap. Apply with a sponge or paintbrush. Wipe the solution away with a rag to clear the dirt; you’ll likely remove a thin layer of varnish or shellac, because the grime may have melded with it.

WOOD POLISH AND CONDITIONER. After a rigorous cleaning, wood cabinets are thirsty for moisture and protection. But you want to be careful that you don’t make matters worse by using something that will create a new kind of build-up that becomes a magnet to kitchen grease and grime. You won’t find a better product to do that than Howard’s Feed-n-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner. It contains beeswax, carnauba wax and orange oil to keep the wood from drying out, while at the same time repelling kitchen grease. Fantastic for all of the wood surfaces in your home—not only kitchen cabinets.

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Make Your Own Tub and Shower Cleaners—Cheaper, Better and Faster!

The only thing better than making things myself is when what I make turns out to be cheaper, better and faster than something I can buy in the store to accomplish the same goal. That makes me so happy!

Dear Mary: I love, love, love! the homemade Tub and Shower Soap Scum Remover. It works better than any product I have ever used. Our tubs and showers have never looked so good! Now, I would love to know how to make my own daily shower cleaner—the kind you just spray and walk away for daily tub and shower maintenance between cleanings. Any ideas? Polly

Dear Polly: Yes! I’m confident this is the recipe you’re looking for.

Daily Shower Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap (like blue Dawn)
  • 1 tablespoon dishwasher rinse aid (like Jet-Dry)
  • 2 cups water
  1. Pour all of the ingredients into a 24-ounce spray bottle. Mix gently. Each day before you step out of the shower, spray the walls then walk away.
  2. This no rinse, no wipe, no scrub shower cleaner spray is safe to use on glass, glazed tile, stone, tubs and shower curtains. The gentle formula contains no bleach, ammonia or harsh chemicals and it wont scratch surfaces or leave behind a dull residue.
  3. Store your daily shower cleaner in a dark cupboard, as hydrogen peroxide breaks down quickly in the presence of light.

Here, for readers who may have missed it, is that nearly magical cleaning potion you love so much (so do I!)

Tub and Shower Cleaner

Pour one cup blue Dawn into a 32-ounce spray bottle (1/2 cup Dawn if you are using a 16-ounce bottle). Fill the bottle the rest of the way with white vinegar. Apply sprayer top; shake gently to mix. To use: Spray liberally on the area to be cleaned. Allow to sit from 30 minutes up to overnight, depending on the severity of the problem. All of the offensive gunk and grime will break down and become soft and gooey. Simply rinse it away. For especially challenging situations—or if this is the initial treatment—use a sponge or brush to gently scrub the surfaces before rinsing. Caution: Do not use on stone, marble or granite.


Dear Mary: We live with extremely hard well water. Given this challenge, can you recommend a brand of laundry and also automatic dishwasher detergent that will suitable for hard water? Thank you! Jeannine

Dear Jeannine: Rather than changing products, I suggest you supplement what you are using now—in both the clothes washer and automatic dishwasher—with Super Washing Soda, also known as sodium carbonate. It’s a natural product (read more about it HERE including ten other ways to use washing soda around the house) that looks just like white powdered detergent. Super Washing Soda boosts the power of soaps and detergents because it instantly softens the water. I’d start by adding 1/2 cup Super Washing Soda to every laundry wash cycle and the same amount to each dishwasher load. You can just toss it into the machine before you close the door. As a bonus, sodium carbonate (Super Washing Soda) will clean out the hoses and pipes in your appliances to keep them from mineral build-up that can wreak havoc on a household appliance. 

Most supermarkets and discount stores carry Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, or you can easily order it online through Amazon. It comes in a 55-ounce box for about $5. Good luck and be sure to let us know how that works for you! 

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