I have no pride and, according to many, no taste. I love fruitcake. Sickeningly sweet, loaded with pecans, cherries, pineapple and white raisins, heavy as a brick and about four weeks old. Yum.

For some reason, fruitcake has acquired a somewhat dubious reputation. It’s been horribly maligned and the laughing stock of the season, which as a fruitcake connoisseur, I find completely offensive.

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Critics are legion. YouTube is packed with videos of people poking fun at fruitcake in creative ways. A town in Colorado has a yearly fruitcake flinging event.

Johnny Carson famously joked that there’s actually only one fruitcake in the world, which gets passed from household to household. Other comedians glommed onto the idea in such a big way, hating fruitcake has become a widely-accepted holiday tradition.  Read more

If you are committed to teaching your kids how the world operates, teach them about money.

photo credit: wikimedia commons

photo credit: wikimedia commons

You can use financial principles to teach everything from math problems to social issues. That’s because money is about values, relationships, choices and self-worth.

And while teaching your kids important values to guide their lives is of the utmost importance, when all is said and done those values are more likely to be caught than taught.

You have to live what you teach.

If there is one thing that will ruin your kids’ lives, it’s greed. Teach them while they’re young how to pull the plug on greed, and you will have prepared them in a very important way to not only survive, but to also thrive in the real world.

Lesson for Kids: When you give, you defeat your enemy greed

The feeling of desire, of wanting everything you can think of is called greed. Greed is not a good thing. In fact, it’s like a very bad disease. It starts small and if allowed to grow it will take over your life. Greed will make you a very miserable person. Greed causes temper tantrums and makes people self-centered and arrogant. And it is very sneaky. Read more

Dear Mary: You are my last resort. Please help. I bought a lovely cedar-lined wood chest at an auction about 10 years ago. Unfortunately, I have not been able to use it for storage of anything due to the brutal smell of mothballs. Obviously, the former owner used them and I cannot rid the chest of this terrible smell. When we first purchased it we left it outside with the lid open for weeks and weeks. That didn’t help at all. Can you suggest anything? Joanne

Dear Joanne: I’d like to wring the neck of the guy who invented mothballs in the first place. To me, that odor is worse than moths. As for your problem, it’s a tough one for sure. The only thing I know for sure that will get rid of that odor is a product called Nok-Out, which has worked for me with a similar problem in a piece of antique furniture.

The trick is that you must completely cover ever square millimeter of the wood surface, as well as the areas in cracks and crevices, with Nok-Out. Then it must be allowed to sit for at least 10 minutes. Nok-Out must come in contact with the offending odor.

I would not be fearful at all of using Nok-Out liberally on and in this chest. It is not toxic, has no fragrance of its own and is clear like water. It doesn’t not need to be rinsed off or removed. I would set the piece outdoors and allow it to air dry. Hint: Use coupon code DPL at checkout for 10% off at NokOut.com

Another option is to sand down all of the cedar lining with fine grit sandpaper. Vacuum away all of the dust. This will renew the cedar fragrance that may be strong enough to overcome the smell of mothballs. Hang in there. I know you’ll find the solution. Just don’t give up. Read more

What if I told you there are some really sneaky ways you can cut the cost to heat your home that won’t require you to wear a down-filled, hooded parka 24 hours a day? Would I have your attention? Great, because that’s exactly what I have for you today.

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These easy tips could cut your heating bill by 20 percent or more, and none require more than 30 minutes of work. You will need to purchase a few inexpensive supplies but all are readily available. You will quickly recoup those costs in lower heating bills.

Replace worn weatherstripping. Open an outside door and look at that piece of “plastic molding” or strip of foam rubber that runs across the top and down both sides of doors and all the way around windows—designed to seal the air gap once closed. Is it torn, shredded, missing or otherwise not doing its job? Replace as necessary wherever it is allowing small drafts. Weatherstripping at any home center comes with sticky-back adhesive which makes it a cinch to install.

Door thresholds. Look under your front door and any other outside doors. See any daylight? That’s where precious warmed air is being sucked out into the cold. You may be able to adjust the threshold to close this gap. Look for four or five screws that when loosened will allow you to adjust the threshold height. You may need to replace it in order to get rid of all daylight. Read more

Are you worried that the gift your homemade gifts are never good enough?  Certain that your friends and relatives will write you off as cheap and no longer worthy of their love and friendship?

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The findings of a recent study might encourage you to think twice before you run out to buy gifts to replace those you’ve made.

Studies from the Stanford Graduate School of Business have found that when it comes to putting out money for gifts, less may well be more.

Researchers discovered that although most gift givers assume that a more expensive present will be more appreciated, receivers don’t appreciate expensive gifts that much more. In fact, the old saying is true: money can’t buy you love.

Researchers surveyed recently engaged couples and found that men consistently thought their rings were more appreciated by their fiancées the more expensive they were. But remarkably, the fiancées did not rate themselves as any more appreciative if the rings were more costly. Read more

Dear Mary: I recently purchased a newer vehicle. The dealer tried to sell me a package where they treat the leather seats. Because of the cost, I opted not to purchase the package. 

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My question is, do you know the type of treatment that car dealers use to treat leather seats? Is it even necessary to do this? The car is an expensive purchase for me and I need to know how to take good care of the interior to make it last.

Thank you for your very enjoyable column.  I read it from top to bottom and always learn or find something I can use daily. Jan G. Read more

If you have ever polished off an entire bag of those little tiny crunchy cookies in peace, you do not have small children. Or made a quick detour through you-know-which-drive-thru-I’m-talking-about to indulge in your very own large size hot French fries, for sure you’re miles away from the nearest kid.

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Because I can promise you—and I know this from personal experience—kids can smell a treat from miles away and they want in on it. I don’t know where kids get this sixth sense. It must be inborn.

Lucky for you, children haven’t figured out the value of fun and useful time- and money-saving tips, so consider this your lucky day. You can have these treats all to yourself.

PAY WITH CASH AT AMAZON. I use cash to purchase Amazon gift card at my supermarket. Then I use it to do my online shopping. This way, my identity is safe, I am not shopping on credit and I can’t over shop because the gift card is limiting to the exact amount that remains on it after each purchase. This guarantees I’m creating no new debt. That means happy and safer shopping. Lysa D. Read more

Stressed out because you just don’t know what to give that 20-something or college student on your holiday gift list? Well, stress no more. I’ve got you covered with 16 great gift ideas that are sure to please and fit your budget, too.   

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A college student gift doesn’t have to be complicated, whether it’s for Christmas, birthday, or a special occasion. It just needs to be relevant and thoughtful. Some of the best gift ideas are surprisingly affordable.

The key to selecting a gift for college-age folks is to pick something that 1) they wouldn’t normally buy for themselves 2) fits their current stage of life and needs and 3) ranks high in cool factor.

Any one of these gifts will send a message loud and clear that you cared enough to put some time and thought into selecting a really great and useful gift. Read more