No Green Thumb Required


I love houseplants and boy, do I have some beauties! The truth is I don’t have a green thumb, I just know a few secret tricks and tips that I will gladly share with you.


Know your varieties. Only consider plants in what I call the thrivuus neglectus family, which comes from the Latin root meaning “really cheap and thrives even under the harshest conditions of poor light and neglect.”

Aspidistra is also known as the “cast iron plant” and for good reason. This baby can survive any condition including low light and a dry environment. And it is not ugly.

Put Your Freezer To Work


Whether you have a stand alone unit or yours is part of your refrigerator, your freezer is either costing a lot in wasted energy or it’s saving you a bundle in food costs. It has a lot to do with the style of freezer you have, the way you stock it and how you maintain it.

Some rights reserved by sporkist

Some rights reserved by sporkist & katesheets

Use a thermometer. Get a refrigerator/freezer thermometer to check the temperature. The closer to 0 F., the better. Food kept at 0 F. degrees will last months longer than say 20 or 31 F.

Remove the air. Trapped air causes freezer burn. Make sure you select a container small enough so the contents fill it. You can remove a great deal of the air from a freezer bag without a fancy vacuum sealing machine. Seal all but enough space to slip in a drinking straw. Now inhale on that straw to pull all the air out of the bag. Quickly zip the last bit. Pop it into the freezer.

Money-Saving Investments for the Kitchen


I’m crazy about gadgets—everything from quirky can openers to smartphones. Hand me a Swiss Army knife and I’m in heaven—the more blades and utensils the better.


And how about that One-Second Needle? It was a great idea, but sadly that is one gadget that needs to be put out of its misery, in my humble opinion.

My favorite gadgets, of course, are ones that actually help me to save money. I’ve been fooled from time to time, spending good money on things that just did not perform well. Or the gadget turned out to be so cumbersome using it actually complicated rather than simplified my life. But now and then I strike on a gadget that is so magnificent in its functionality and money-saving properties, I can’t wait to tell you about it.

Today I want to tell you about three gadgets for the kitchen that I consider to be wise investments. All three are inexpensive enough to pay for themselves in immediate grocery savings and will then go on to keep paying off in food savings. That’s saying a lot as food costs continue to soar.

I’d Rather Have the Money, Bob


Did you see us? My husband Harold and I were on TV with Bob Barker. Before you run to check your TiVo I’d better tell you this was awhile ago. Try 1971.


We were plucked from the live audience of that old favorite, Truth or Consequences along with two other couples. Ours was a kind of “newlywed game” stunt. They put the guys in a sound-proof booth and we ladies had to predict how our husbands would answer questions.

Of course the hubs and I won. And a mighty fine prize it was: $50 and a blender! 

Make Your Own Fast-Food


Tired of high-fat, high-cost fast-food breakfasts? I’ve got a fantastic solution: Quick and easy Designer Muffins.


With a little improvising, you can make and serve scrumptious muffins in a variety of flavors to make use of (and use up!) ingredients you have on hand. Use this basic muffin recipe to get started then refer to the options that follow.

Help! My White Leather Couch Reeks


Dear Mary: I found a GREAT deal on a gorgeous couch at an estate sale. It is upholstered in white leather and appears to be new—like no one has ever sat on it. Priced at $100, you can be sure that I grabbed it up fast and brought it home.


I put it in the garage. Then it hit me—the reeking smell of old, nasty cigarette smoke. Once I closed the garage door, that smell almost knocked me over. I just didn’t notice this at the sale.

I’ve done a little research on how to rid leather of cigarette odors. Some say to wash it down with vinegar and allow it to dry. Others say NO NO NO that will damage the leather. Do you think that Nok-Out would work without harming the leather? I’m so bummed. It is a beautiful couch and very much needed. Please help!

Judy, California

Cut Flowers 101


Whether your cut flowers come through the back door (from your garden) or the front (supermarket, Costco, florist-delivered) you want them to last as long as possible. With just a modicum of effort you can double the time you can enjoy your flowers as opposed to just sticking them into a vase of water.


QUICK CUT. The sooner you put your flowers into water, the longer they will last. The flowers should be re-cut at the stems at an angle while submerged in water. This is important for hollow-stemmed flowers to prevent an airlock from forming in the stem that may prevent the flowers from taking water. 

When Not to File an Insurance Claim


Insurance is a funny thing. You pay a small fortune to get it and keep it. Then if you have the blatant audacity to actually file a claim, the company either increases your premiums or cancels you altogether.


While the world of insurance can at times be so confusing as to be maddening, going without basic property and automobile coverage is simply not an option. The financial risk is just too great. But there are some things you can do to make sure you don’t stand out to the company as an intolerable risk.