Readers Share Clever Ideas to Use “This for That”

Have you ever wondered if it’s socially acceptable to split a restaurant meal? Today’s great reader tips include words of advice on that as well as clever ways to use “this for that.”

Split to save. I have found it’s possible to dine at expensive restaurants while still being a cheapskate. You can order an appetizer plus a small salad, and tell the server you want the appetizer as your main course. One person can order an entree and the other can order a large salad, then tell the server you want an extra plate so you can share. If this seems to be a strange way to order in an upscale restaurant, believe me, it isn’t. A friend of mine who is an experienced server has seen this many times. Sometimes there’s a charge  for splitting an entree (the highest I’ve seen is $5.00). With huge portion sizes and today’s economy, it makes sense. It’s also okay not to order a beverage and drink water with a meal. -Marcia


Write on, wipe off. I am always thinking of things I need to do or buy while I’m in the bathroom getting ready for the day. But keeping a notepad in a room with so much moisture doesn’t work well. Instead, I use a wipe-off marker right on the mirror. I jot quick notes as I think of them. Then, when I’m ready to go, I transfer all my notes to paper and wipe them off the mirror. This routine keeps me from getting frustrated about not remembering something, and it keeps the mirror clean, too! -Leanne

Eyeglass cleaner. If you’re out when you realize your glasses or purse mirror needs cleaning, try using a drop of hand sanitizer to give you crystal clear results instantly. This works great on glass but should be tested on plastic. -Angelique T. Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Tips 4 Comments

Holiday Shopping Guide for Whole Family Gifts


Whether your family tree is a small sapling or a mighty oak, it can get spendy to buy an individual Christmas gift for every person on the tree. One way cut costs and at the same time bump up the quality of your gift is to start thinking “whole family gifts”—a single gift that every member of a family will enjoy.


Here are six whole family gift ideas to help you get started early—all the way from high-tech gadgets to low tech tickets: Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Best Inexpensive, Home & Family 13 Comments

Plan is Not a Four-Letter Word


A friend—let’s call her Sally—who in her early thirties, moved from Arizona to Florida in search of a better job and a fresh start. Not that many months later she decided a change of scenery wasn’t the solution she thought it would be and moved back.

She decided that what she really wanted was to settle down and buy a house.


She’d had surgery the year before and thanks to some poor choices during employee benefits enrollment, she’d had to pay a big share of the bill. The recovery was easy; the  doctor and hospital bills were far more difficult to deal with. Back in Arizona she was working two jobs just to make a dent in the medical bills, not to mention her rent, credit-card debt and car loan. Naturally, it was time to take on a mortgage.

To jumpstart her dream, Sally packed up her belongings and moved again, but this time into the basement of some friends for a hundred bucks a month. It wasn’t the ideal housing arrangement for a thirty-something professional, but it helped her overcome the obstacles blocking her way to her dream of home ownership.  Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Mary's Perspective 2 Comments

Gluten-Free Lasagna and Apple Pie


It’s been about six months since my husband decided to go gluten-free—to give up wheat, which means just about anything that tastes good. My reaction? Oh, please. Do you really have to follow every food fad and trend that comes down the pike?

I’ve changed my tune.

It seems that many people are sensitive—even allergic to wheat. It gives them some level of discomfort even to the point of being sick depending on that person’s inability to digest the gluten found in wheat.

At first, Harold and I agreed that he would cut back on gluten. The more I’ve learned the harder I’ve worked at finding recipes that will help him to do that. The results have been quite amazing, actually.

Finding recipes that meet (or beat) my old standbys for his favorites things (Lasagna and Apple Pie), has not been that hard. I’m happy to say I’ve achieved it in these two versions for Slow-Cooker Lasagna and this wonderful Apple Pie with a crumbly topping.

Lasanga Apple Pie Collage

If anyone that you love and cook for is on a gluten-free regimen, show them a little Lasagna and Apple Pie love. Here’s the best part: Everyone will love these dishes whether they know they’re gluten-free or not. Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Food & Recipes 5 Comments

Stop the Cycle


Sometimes, just a simple change in the way we do things can result in significant savings over time. Take the way you wash your clothes. I have to admit to using lots of cycles on my washer just because they’re there. And every cycle adds more time and uses more resources. Today’s first reader suggests a simple way to reduce the resources without sacrificing good results. Great idea, Natalie!


Pre-soak. Instead of using the pre-soak and pre-wash cycle on your washing machine use the regular cycle but turn it off after the clothes agitate after a few minutes. Let them soak an hour or overnight then resume the cycle. This way you save water and electricity but achieve the same result. Natalie H. Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Tips 6 Comments