For some time I’d been toying with whether or not to write this post on bed sheets. For months I’d been researching, testing and assessing bed sheets with the goal to identify what I could offer to you as the Best Inexpensive Bed Sheets.

You may recall that about two years ago, I did achieve my goal—our Best Inexpensive bed sheets. And then some things changed. One of our Best Inexpensive options was discontinued! And new options appeared, prompting fer today’s update.

 

White bed sheets with flowers

 

Sheet snob

Here’s the reason I was conflicted. When it comes to bed sheets, I am particular. Call me a sheet snob and you’d have me pegged, which could make my personal standards too high to be considered affordable.

It’s not a matter of decor or brand. It’s the way the sheets feel. They should be smooth and wrinkle-free. The sheets need to breathe and not stick to me. But they can’t be slick, slippery, crunchy or noisy. The weave has to be tight and sheets can’t feel like sandpaper.

For me, sheets have to fit well, too. The fitted sheet cannot pop off the corners of the mattress; but it can’t be too big, so as to become baggy, which can lead to bunching up. Above all, my sheets must be 100% cotton. Not linen, not microfiber or polyester or any other type of fiber or blend thereof.

Seriously, if the sheets are not right, I don’t sleep well. And by well I mean sound asleep—not tossing, turning, and continuously waking up.

Where did the percale go?

There was a time when decent sheets were common and affordable. I don’t know for certain what’s happened there, but I  blame it on synthetic fibers—microfiber, polyester, lyocell and their manmade fiber-cousins that are cheap to manufacture.

We used to depend on the word “percale” to be the sign of a great sheet, but truth be told percale has nothing to do with fiber content. Percale refers to a type of tight weave. I’ve been fooled by percale sheets that turn out to be polyester percale or microfiber percale—not the fine cotton percale I  remember from childhood.

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Perhaps this has happened to you: You’ve lived with carpeting, then for one reason or another you live with hardwood or some other type of hard surface flooring that shows up every little bit of dust and dirt. You can’t believe it! You can sweep or vacuum one day and by the next morning, dust and dirt have returned. 

Happy family of four in love with their clean carpet

Of course, you think that some new dirt- and dust-producing thing has mysteriously descended on your living space, but the truth is it’s the same dust and dirt that has always been present only now you can see it.

I cannot tell you how shocked I was to see what accumulated in such a short time on my new dark wood floors. In my mind, I multiplied by 7, 14 and even 21 days. Am I the only one who doesn’t vacuum every day of her life? Yes, I admit it. And just imagining what had accumulated in the carpeting almost made me wretch. Seriously.

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Wouldn’t you think that if car manufacturers can perfect self-driving cars, they could also come up with a way to conquer the car trash problem?

Inside of a car with every nook and cranny stuffed with trash

Photo Credit TheOnion.com

I’ve always thought that a built-in trash compactor would be great. Or even better, some kind of incinerator that sucks the accumulation of trash and garbage right out of the car and into a holding tank somewhere that magically converts it into purified drinking water. Or gasoline.

While waiting for that kind of invention to appear, I’ve tried plastic bags, plastic tubs, and every kind of frugal trick and tip you can imagine to handle the annoyance of car trash.

I’ve tested and tried. Some ideas are better than others, but nothing has ever proven 100% satisfactory. Until now.  

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In the interest of full disclosure, let me say right up front that when I first heard about ordering prescription eyeglasses online, I scoffed. I rolled my eyes. What next? Mail order surgery? Online doctor visits? Not me. 

Lady wareing glasses

It does seem weird if not downright irresponsible to get prescription eyeglasses online. I’m the first to admit it.

I mean, what kind of person would trust her eyesight to some website in the sky by forwarding a doctor’s written prescription, selecting frames online and expect said unknown entity to grind those lenses properly, fit them into the frames of choice, return these prescription eyeglasses to said person, having them fit perfectly, charging him or her a fraction of the cost he or she would pay locally and expect any of this to turn out well?

Do not be surprised when I say that I would be that kind of person. I’ve had an epiphany, a change of heart. 

Up until the past decade, I’d not worn glasses, enjoying perfect vision. But life happens (perhaps you’ve noticed this). I was totally unprepared for the mind-numbing cost of prescription eyewear. 

I went to a top-notch optometrist (I still do) and assumed that to take the best care of my eyes, I needed to purchase my new glasses from the little boutique there in his office.

When the bill totaled more than $750 for my designer frames, lenses, anti-scratch coating (don’t believe it), UV protection and the anti-glare option, I was shocked. And more than ready to consider other options. Read more

There’s nothing like a series of sunny days in late winter to awaken my inner gardener. Apparently, I’m not the only one as evidenced by my inbox these past few weeks.

Mary Hunt's garden in spring

Dear Mary:  I just moved into my first home after living in an apartment for the last 10 years. As a novice home chef, I’ve been dreaming of the day I could grow my own vegetable and herb garden and have a nice yard with grass and shrubbery as well. 

Do you have any suggestions for some basic tools I need to get started? Thanks for your help. I love your column and read it daily! Asher

Dear Asher:  I’ve got gardening on my mind, too. Currently, mine in this photo is under a few inches of snow but I have faith. I know that in a few weeks we’ll be back to temperatures in the 70s, which gives me a new appreciation for the condition known as spring fever! I’ve got it bad and can’t wait to get my hands dirty and my garden planted.

With that in mind, I came up with a list of my favorite inexpensive yard and garden gadgets and gear.

While this may look like a sizable investment, it’s not likely you will need all of these items on day one. Just hang onto this list as you begin to furnish your tool shed.

I’m confident you can rely on this list to build a collection of garden tools that will work well for many years to come. I’d rather see you spend a few more dollars on good quality tools from the start than to find yourself having to replace poor quality items every season. Been there, done that and wasn’t very happy about it.

Here for your gardening pleasure are my best inexpensive garden tools:

Gloves, trowel and weeder for the DIY gardener

1. Gloves

I tried so many until I found the gloves that work for me. Atlas Touch Gloves are awesome. Made of cotton with nitrile (similar to vinyl) coating on the palm and fingers, these gloves fit so well and are so flexible I can easily open a can, pick up a small pebble or even take a call while wearing them.

A pack of six pair comes in an assortment of pastel colors and sizes small, medium and large. These gloves are machine washable. Best garden gloves ever.

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Several readers have asked recently about the best inexpensive headphones and earbuds both for themselves and their kiddos. Today seems like a great day to respond.

Generally, these are the best values, price points and styles of headphones for adults and kids, too:

Best inexpensive wired earbuds

Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbuds are smartphone compatible with integrated microphone and remote for Apple, Android, and Blackberry devices. Comes with small, medium and large earpads a perfect fit for adults and children. Your choice of several beautiful colors. Under $15.

Best mid-level wired headphones

1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones deliver an extremely accurate music-listening experience. For the discriminating listener as they delivery dynamic power and clarity. You’ll love the sizzling highs and deep lows. The built-in microphone and remote are Apple and Android compatible. Around $75.

Best value for high quality wired, noise canceling

Bose QuietComfort 20 is the Cadillac of smartphone replacement earbuds. These are only for those with discriminating hearing and music appreciation to go along with it. Available in two models: one for Apple devices* and one for Samsung/Android devices. Features noise canceling that reduces surrounding distractions, letting the music stand out. Many other high-end features. Under $250.

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How shocked was I to read it in a popular women’s magazine? Speechless, but somehow I gathered enough strength to respond, “There’s no way!”

Even so, I did a quick search only to discover it was no typo at all. 111SKIN Celestial Black Diamond Cream 1.7 oz. retails for $1,095.

All I can say is at that price, it better contain a miracle. Seriously. It almost makes Lancome’s Hydra Zen Neurocalm Soothing Recharging Night Cream 1.7 oz., $75 look cheap, right?

Lady taking care of her skin

High-quality and effective skincare should not be considered a luxury available only to the wealthy. You can find high quality, reasonably priced skin care products that are equal, if not superior to their department store cousins—right in your drugstore or discount department store.

Some years ago, as my dermatologist was wrapping up my routine office visit, I asked him what specific products he recommends I use for daily skin care. Without hesitation, he pulled out a note pad and wrote down the following:

Cleanser

Cetaphil makes is an excellent line of affordable skin care products. For example, Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser still comes in under $10 for 8 oz.   Read more

I’ve got news! But first a little story.

Faithful readers know that in my spare time, I love to knit. And I when I say love, let’s just say I’m a serious knitter. Don’t mess with my yarn.

Natural woolen yarn and knitting on vintage wooden background.

Running out of yarn is every knitter’s fear. For me, it’s more of a nightmare. It’s that time that I ran out of yarn with one sweater sleeve still to go. No problem, I thought. I’ll just go back to the yarn shop and pick up what I need to finish.

That’s when I came face to face with the dreaded word, “Discontinued.” My heart sank. Apparently, I’d waited a year or two too long to get this project on the needles and finished. There wasn’t a scrap of the exact yarn I needed anywhere on the planet. I checked. Read more