Three Best Steam Irons

I just asked Siri*, “How do most people relax?” She rattled off a list of activities including, “nosh on chocolate,” “rub your feet over a golf ball,” “count backward,” “meditate” and “drip cold water on your wrists.”

Siri completely missed my favorite way to relax. I iron (not to be confused with “I pump iron,” which I do not). No really. There’s something soothing and instantly gratifying about a good iron with a heft of heat and steam gliding back and forth over wrinkled fabric.

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That’s why I was excited to get this message from Martha, “I find myself in need of a new iron. I’ve perused the Internet trying to find the best steam iron for the best price and all I got was terribly confused! Any suggestions?”

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Credit Cards in the Hands of Financially Immature Students

Our kids are fortunate to be growing up in the most progressive and exciting time in history. Sadly, the very culture that offers them the world is also perpetrating this lie:

You are entitled to have everything you want even if you don’t have the money to pay for it. It’s not a problem. Buy it now and you can pay for it later!

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There’s a huge consumer-credit industry out there planning to give your kids their very own credit cards—personal passports into the abyss of consumer debt.  This is not going to require your permission or approval, something that today’s first writer is experiencing first hand.

DEAR MARY: My daughter who is in college got a credit card and now she is in over her head, unable to pay what she owes.

She works part time and makes a very small salary. With the high interest and late fees, the balance is now over $2,500. I will have to step in and handle the account.

How can I negotiate with the credit-card company to settle for less? I don’t know how she got this card on her salary but she kept quiet about not being able to make the payments until we started getting collection calls for her. I appreciate your thoughts and expertise. Millie

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Other Uses for Ordinary Dryer Sheets

Perhaps you’ve seen the list of uses for dryer sheets that’s floating around the Internet. Who knows where that list came from. What we do know is not all of the alternative uses can be verified as true. For example, we have no confidence that Bounce or any other brand of dryer sheet will repel mosquitoes. But spiders and flies? Read on.

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PESTS. Readers have confirmed that dryer sheets will repel both spiders and flies. Keep a few extra sheets in clothes hampers and around the laundry area and you can kiss all those spiders goodbye.

BURNT PAN. Fill that icky casserole pan with warm water and lay a dryer sheet flat on top to soak overnight. In the morning, the baked-on gunk will have either floated off or be loose enough to scrape off easily with a spatula.

TISSUE ROLL. Roll up a dryer sheet and stuff it inside the paper roll. Each time you spin, it releases a little freshness into your bathroom.

BLINDS. Wipe down your blinds with a dryer sheet to prevent static electricity and to keep dust from collecting.

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Better than Fast Food, Cheaper than Eating Out

On those super busy days when you just don’t have time to cook at home but it’s just too expensive to eat out, “semi fast food”―combining quick-service food with home cooking—is a great way to combine the best of those two worlds.

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PIZZA

The take-out pizza store in my neighborhood sells ready-to-roll pizza dough. I can buy a large ball of dough for $2.50, which makes a sixteen-inch pizza. That’s more than it costs to make dough from scratch. But when time is of the essence, this is a fast, cheap, reliable alternative.

Using my own sauce and toppings, I can have really great pizza on the table in no time at all. I do rely on this option quite often, particularly when we have last-minute guests. It is impressive to turn out a high-quality delicious pizza so quickly. It’s my little secret.

Not all pizza stores sell their dough (the national chains in my area look at me as if I have three eyes when I inquire), but independents are typically more than happy for the business—any business. In fact, one store near me even lists this on their menu board. Hint: You can freeze the dough and use it to make breadsticks and calzones, too. 

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Express-Lane Dinners

If you live such a busy life you and your family end up eating out more than you eat home cooked meals at home, I hear you. And I understand that daily dilemma of “What’s for dinner?” I also have a solution for your consideration that’s going to save you time and money. I call it Express-Lane Dinners.

This easy meal plan is going to take the mystery out of next week’s dinner—a week’s worth of dinner entrees for 4 to 6 people, complete with quick and easy recipes. And I’ll throw in a shopping list for all the all five meals that requires so few items, you can go through the 20-Items-or-Less Express check-out lane.

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Menu

Monday: Salsa Meatloaf

Tuesday: Saucy Chicken

Wednesday: Taco Salad

Thursday:  Spaghetti and Meatballs

Friday: Spaghetti Frittata

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Readers in Search of Help with Ants and Sharks

The best part of my job as your humble columnist is the mail I get from my loyal readers. I had to laugh today when the first two letters I pulled from my inbox requested help with ants and … sharks!

 

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Dear Mary: Once again this summer, I am dealing with an invasion of ants in my kitchen. Please advise. Exterminators are terribly expensive. Lola

Dear Lola: You’re not the only one! I’ve been hearing from so many readers who are frantic to know how to get rid of  carpenter ants, sugar ants, fire ants, acrobat ants … big ants, tiny ants and every kind of ant imaginable—even crazy ants!

Fortunately, I have a solution for you that is inexpensive, natural and completely safe to use around  kids and pets—a very effective tactic I wrote about recently, and am happy to repeat.

Food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) will take care of this problem and continue to work as long as it stays dry. It is available in most garden centers and home improvement stores and also online at Amazon. I just checked and you can get Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade 10 Lbs from Amazon with Prime free shipping for about $22.

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How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes, are nasty creatures. They bite, they transmit terrible diseases to people and pets and from what I read, have no redeeming value in the ecosystem.

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Malaria infects some 247 million people worldwide each year, and kills nearly one million. Mosquitoes spread yellow fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, Rift Valley fever, Chikungunya virus and West Nile virus.

If that’s not reason enough to hate them, they can turn a beautiful backyard, deck or patio into a nightmare area not fit for humans during mosquito season. But it doesn’t have to be that way provided you are diligent to take control of your home and property.

MOSQUITO TRAP. It’s been more than a year since our big move and discovering we would be having a mosquito problem here in northern Colorado. My research knew no bounds. Given the size of our property, I purchased a Dynatrap, about $130. The trap emits harmless CO2, which mosquitoes find irresistible (no wonder they love you so much—you emit CO2, too). Powered by electricity, this Dynatrap also has a water tray to attract mosquitoes and a fan that sucks the unsuspecting critters into the trap. Every few weeks I empty my mosquito morgue I mean trap. A full trap is proof positive that this thing is very effective. Dynatrap is whisper quiet and definitely not a bug zapper. No sizzling noises, odors or other annoyances. I give Dynatrap two thumbs up and five stars, too. 

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Selling? Get Top $$ for Your House

So you’re getting ready to sell your house. Just thinking about it can be an overwhelming experience.

Should you hire a Realtor? Do a FSBO (for sale by owner) to keep from paying that big commission? Should you spend a lot of money to paint and re-carpet—at least the front rooms? Where do you start and what can you do to make sure you attract a qualified buyer as quickly as possible?

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HIRE A PROFESSIONAL. A Realtor who is successfully moving properties in your neighborhood and comes with references will likely get you a better price for your home than you could get on your own. Most non-professionals (owner sellers) end up losing more in the transaction than the commission they would have paid a professional.

NO RADICAL CHANGES. Should you remodel the kitchen? Replace fixtures in the bathrooms? Probably not, unless those fixtures are not working. Frequently such updates and changes done to achieve a higher sales price don’t pay off. Almost anyone buying your home will want to make their own changes, so you are not likely to recoup that investment of time and money. Unless your Realtor recommends major changes like a new roof or exterior paint job, hold off and put your energy into other areas.

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