For years I thought I was the only person who knew about  something called Soilove.

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I first discovered it back in 1982 while searching for a laundry stain product that could beat the outrageously high price of the name brands. They were easy to spot because they were always shelved at eye-level.

When I reached to the top shelf and found a lowly mint-green bottle of an off-brand stain treatment called Soilove (pronounced “soil-love”), I was suspicious that anything so cheap could be any good. Still, I decided to give it a try.

Believe me, I love to find a bargain. But when the bargain brand outperforms its pricey competitors? Well, that really revs my engine.

Soilove is such an amazing product. It removes stains from laundry like you can’t believe. I’ve used Soilove it to get out new stains, old stains, red stains, grass stains, baby stains, food stains, blood stains, makeup stains, pet stains and every other kind of stain imaginable—except for yellow mustard. Not even Soilove can handle a yellow mustard stain.

Back then (we’re talking 36 years, here), I paid $.79 for a 16-oz bottle of Soilove. By some kind of cheapskate miracle, today a 16-oz bottle of Soilove retails for just $.99 provided you know where to look.  Read more

Fews things are as discouraging as opening that refrigerator drawer only to see the produce you just bought (seems like yesterday) has gone bad. Oh, I hate when that happens.

Shouldn’t there be a reasonable way to make fresh greens, vegetables and fruits last at least as long as it takes to reasonably use them up? Apparently there is, and today’s first great reader tip shares the secret!

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PRODUCE LONGEVITY. I wanted to comment on the rusty lettuce. Just in case you weren’t aware of this magic product, called Bluapple. It’s the best thing since lettuce. You place this little device, that looks like a blue apple, into your produce drawer in the refrigerator to absorb ethylene gas—the culprit that causes produce to ripen and get rotten so fast.

I have been using Bluapple in my refrigerator for years now, and have saved so much money. In fact, I went to Europe for 10 days, came back and my lettuce AND spinach were still fresh!  Not kidding. 

 I used to buy the refills in the local market but now get them online at Amazon because the store stopped carrying them. You replace the absorber every 3 months, but it is so worth it. Kathy, Minnesota

LEFTOVERS GOTTA GO. I enjoy your cheapskate information! In our family, we call leftovers “Mustgoes” as in, food that must go. Konnie B., email Read more

Shortly after this column posted on the specific steps to roast a cheap cut of beef so that it turns out like prime rib, I got an email from faithful reader, Mary B. We went back and forth a bit as she prepared this for guests. I thought you would enjoy the feedback.

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But first, here’s a quick refresher on how to do that:

1. Make sure you have a good oven proof meat thermometer and an oven thermometer. Exact temperatures are the secret.

2. Tie the roast with white cotton string so it’s compact and evenly shaped.

3. Place inside a roasting pan, uncovered.

4. Insert meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast.

5. Preheat oven to exactly 250 F using an oven thermometer, not relying on the one that is built into the oven. This is critical.

6. Leave roast in oven until its internal temperature is exactly 130 F.

7. Remove from oven, wrap it in foil and allow meat to rest for exactly 20 minutes. Read more

Recently, lots of families in my new neighborhood got together to host a colossal Neighborhood Garage Sale.

I didn’t participate as a seller but did my share of browsing.

photo credit: johnbeagle

photo credit: johnbeagle

Of course I was hoping to come across a couple of Longaberger baskets for a buck. Or a lamp with Tiffany written all over it, but in that secret place only we Antiques Road Show groupies know about.

That didn’t happen.

While I didn’t carry anything back to my house, I did pick up something quite valuable: A healthy dose of reality. Gift reality.

Most of what people were trying to unload that day were not antiques. There were a few pieces of furniture; I didn’t see a single collectible. Table after table, what I saw were gifts. Not new gifts, but discarded gifts. Very recognizable items once displayed on the pages of well-designed catalogs; items that were artfully arranged in department store cases. But they don’t look the same once opened and then left to languish in the hot sun on someone’s driveway. Read more

Since Mother’s Day is only a couple of weeks away, and since I’m a mom and many of you are moms, and since just about everyone has a mom or mom figure in their lives—it’s hard not to conclude that Mother’s Day is something worth celebrating.

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Which brings me to Mother’s Day gifts. I know this can be intensely personal and emotion-packed. So let’s do this: If you are just not into Mother’s Day gifting or even celebrating, consider what follows to be “Mary’s Favorite Things.”

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I wish I had all of the money I’ve spent over the years on manicures—both professional and do-it-myself. I’d have quite a tidy sum and still be stuck with these horrible nails and even worse cuticles.

Thankfully, after untold trials and errors, I’ve come up with a six-part manicure routine that has turned my nail life around—and keeps me out of the pricey nail salon.

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By way of a little history, over the years I’ve done the acrylic thing (don’t even get me started on what years of that did to my natural nails). I’ve endured wraps, gels, hot oil, and superglue.

My cuticles have been snipped, nipped, ripped and clipped. I’ve purchased expensive lotions, potions and nail notions but to no avail. Nothing has ever worked long term.

I’d just about given up completely on finding a reasonable and workable solution for my nails when finally, I put together a routine with specific products that has given my nails a brand new life. I’ve been testing this for about six months now and can report without hesitation: This is it—the best do-it-yourself manicure and nail care program for dry, cracked, horrible cuticles and jagged, splitting, peeling nails. Read more

I know “hate” is a strong word, but that’s how I feel about trash. Can’t stand it. But my loathing for trash is nothing compared to Lauren Singer, who has been trash-free for two years. It’s hard to imagine such a thing, but after hearing her story, she’s got my attention.

The entire amount of trash Lauren has produced in 24 months fits into a pint-size Mason jar.

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photo credit: TrashIsForTossers

I can’t say I’m anywhere close to Lauren when it comes to trash. I’m in that stage where I need a proper trash receptacle strategically located by my desk and in every other room of the house and garage as well. The most important receptacle is in the kitchen. It needs to be substantial in size, handy by location, as attractive as possible, impeccably clean and covered.

I have tested, tried and or reviewed every kind of trash receptacle in my search for the most perfect product out there. I have come to the well-educated opinion that stainless steel trash cans by Simple Human are the very best. I have the 30-litre/8 gallon round step can model in my kitchen.

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This beauty fits in a corner, against a wall—just about anywhere. It has a removable rigid liner for easy cleaning. The steel pedal is sturdy and the lid gives a smooth, silent close every time. It does not show fingerprints—also a big deal for me. Read more

If you’ve ever stopped by the store to pick up milk and walked out with a week’s worth of snacks to go with it, you know the power of temptation.

Experts say the typical adult is exposed to 3,500 commercial ads in any given day. These hidden persuaders are designed to manipulate our behaviors. With consumer debt at an all time high, it would appear that as a nation we’ve been losing a lot of battles with temptation.

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Photo Credit: jajja

But it is possible to learn how to face down temptation, and win.

Identify the weakness. `Fess up. What are your areas of temptation? Clothes, shoes, collectibles? Movies, food, gadgets? Electronics, crafts, plants?

Stop flirting with danger. If you’re ever going to win over temptation you must stop cozying up to the very thing that causes you to stumble. If you are easily tempted by clothes, don’t spend hours cruising the mall. In fact, don’t even go there unless you have a specific need and a reasonable plan.

Don’t open mail order catalogs. Take them to the garbage and push them way down to the bottom to head off a middle-of-the-night retrieval.

Develop a diversion. Temptation is usually fueled by emotion, rarely by reason. It comes and goes depending on our moods and thoughts, and can come quite unexpectedly. When it whispers in your ear, divert your attention to something equally enjoyable but less injurious to your financial health. For me it’s ironing. You might be more drawn to a book or crossword puzzle. Or a nap. Read more