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.

SwissArmyKnife

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. Read more

Holiday Gift Guide for Kids Ages 3 to 7

 

Since the day our grandson, Eli, was born four years ago, my husband and I have done our best to buy toys for him that we hope will spark his curiosity, challenge his mind and prompt him to love learning. I’d say we’ve done something right because the more he learns the more fun we have and the more fun we have the more Eli learns. That’s what I call a win-win.

With Christmas only weeks away, you may be wondering how you can spark the joy of learning in the children andgrandchildren in your life this holiday season. Eli and I had fun coming up with this Gift Guide for kids ages 3 to 7—toys that are really fun to play with and educate, too.

Schleich Animals Read more

The Best Inexpensive Overnight Deal in The OC

 

I have traveled a lot in the past 22 years. My American Airlines account shows more than 1.3 million miles on that carrier alone. You can only imagine how many hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts and inns I’ve stayed in. While most have been adequate, a few were downright scary. And I can count on one hand those I would rate with 5-stars.

DonsTurfMotel

When it comes to overnight accommodations, I don’t care that much about how pretty the lobby might be; if the place has bell service, bottles of French water or movies on demand. What I need in a hotel is impeccable cleanliness,

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The Best Slow Cookers are Amazingly Affordable

 

The year after I was married in 1970, the Rival Co. introduced a new kitchen appliance, the Crock Pot. A hot item in my circles, it was touted to be foolproof and trouble-free. The original slow cooker came in one size with three settings (High, Low, Warm), a choice of a couple of colors with a retail price of $17.99. I went for the popular Brady Bunch orange and assumed this baby would turn me into a world-class cook overnight.

1971_crockpot-1

The reason that slow cooker landed where it did (car port storage shed) is because it produced overcooked bland tasting meals that could at best be considered semi-edible.

The problem was that I didn’t know the basic fundamental culinary techniques of slow-cooking. It wasn’t the Crock Pot, it was me. Read more

The Best Thing I Ever Bought – Best Inexpensive Steam Vac

Dear Readers: Of all the columns I’ve written, the one on the care and feeding of the carpet in my home has generated by far the most interest and, shall I say, creative feedback! And the most requests to reprint. Since you asked, here it is again. Enjoy!

Okay, so maybe I should say, “One of the best things ….” but at this moment, as I write, I cannot think of anything I’ve ever purchased that can top my carpet cleaning steam vac.

Background: I have a love/hate relationship with carpet. I love how it looks, how it feels under my feet and how it warms up a room. But I hate dirty carpet. Cannot abide a spot. The thought of what lurks between those fibers gives me the heeby-geebies.  Read more

Laptop Computer So Inexpensive You’ll Think It’s a Misprint

 

You’ve heard it and you may even believe it—that you get what you pay for. While that may be true some of the time, it is definitely not something you should believe across the board.

chromebook

There are times that you really can get a lot more than you pay for. I’m talking about Samsung and Google’s laptop computer, Chromebook. The price on this baby has just dropped below $220. See? You think it’s a misprint, don’t you. It’s not. And yes, I said two hundred and twenty dollars.

I’m not much of a techy, so let me describe this laptop to you the way I understand. Think of an iPad with a built in keyboard and touchpad. Weighing in at just 2.4 lbs., it is .07 inches thin, fast and absolutely does not heat up. With a full 11.6-inch screen, this computer and display are flat-out beautiful.  Read more

The Best Inexpensive Stroller

Update: The First Years Ignite Stroller is no longer available for purchase. We’ve updated our recommendation which can be found here.

One of the best money management tools I know is this Rule of Thumb: Match quality with need. In other words, don’t buy quality beyond the need.

Sometimes the cheapest option is the best choice. Other times, you’ll regret having gone cheap when you have to replace that item well before your need for it goes away. In that case, you’d be better off going for a higher-priced option that promises to last longer than the cheaper alternative and its replacement.

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? You’d think so, but I must admit that when it comes to this quality vs. need issue, I am not perfect. It can be a real challenge.

Case in point: When my grandson was born, I bought the cheapest umbrella stroller Target had to offer. My reasoning was that I would use it only occasionally. I didn’t need a big fancy model.

Stroler on sidewalk

Photo credit: Stopthegears Flickr Photostream

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So Disgusting I’m Embarrassed to Tell Plus Best Inexpensive Vacuum

While I am a very busy person and not 100% organized, I do pride myself on cleanliness to the point of having been accused a time or two of being a wee bit compulsive. Which brings me to the matter of vacuum cleaners. I’m freakish if not particular about my vacuum. And I wear them out, regularly.

Declutterin junk out on the street

I just blew out my third Hoover Wind Tunnel, and I mean I wore that thing out down to its last gasp. I carried it in pieces to the trash. I was planning to replace it with the latest and greatest from Hoover … that is, until I heard about the Shark Navigator.

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