You need to stay hydrated, that’s for sure, but is the tap water in your home safe? It is considered generally safe if it comes from a public water system in the United States, such as one run and maintained by a municipality.

When drinking water leaves a treatment plant on its way to your house, it must meet strict safety standards. That doesn’t mean that your water is free of all contaminants, but that the levels of any contaminants don’t pose any serious health risk. And it sure doesn’t mean it’s going to taste good. Or comply with your doctor’s orders should you have a health issue with chlorine and or fluoride, present in most municipal water.

Family celabrating at dinner

Having some method of filtering the water you drink and cook with is the best way to assure great tasting water without the high cost of having to haul bottled water into the house. And you have choices for how to do that.

Based on lots of research, testing, and tasting here are my picks for the Best Inexpensive™ filtering pitcher, under-sink reverse osmosis, and countertop filtering system.

Read more

Recently, when one of my staff turned 30, I quipped that I have dishes older than he. It’s true.

Sometime during the late ‘80s, my husband took on the huge task of painting the dark walnut kitchen cabinets white—inside and out. Of course, that meant new hardware and lighting, too. What a transformation. To celebrate I went out and bought new dishes—white porcelain, service for 12.

Those dishes were perfect because they were classic in style, just the right size and super sturdy. Plus they were dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe.

The white dishes became our everyday, special occasion, holiday, all-purpose dinnerware. They went with everything and looked great through every season.

More than 30 years later, nothing has changed there. These dishes have made two major moves, served thousands of meals (at least), and look just as they did back in the 1980s. I just took a quick inventory and find we’ve lost only 4 salad plates in all these years.

Read more

Until a couple of years ago, I didn’t know something called a heated mattress pad even existed. Makes sense since I’d lived in Southern California for most of my life where it is mostly warm all year round.

Relocating to Colorado where the seasons are more pronounced, I had a lot to learn about heating a house without going broke. That first winter our heating bills shot to the moon because we were heating the entire house to a comfortable temperature day and night. It was shocking.

Scocked women look at a bill

We saw a semi-dramatic reduction in the heating bill when we decided to lower the thermostat to 60 F. at night and use a Bionaire micathermic space heater in our bedroom, but that wasn’t altogether successful. My husband and I have different internal thermostats. He would be cold while I’d be turning the space heater down a notch or two.

That’s when I set out to find a way we could both enjoy a warm and cozy sleeping environment without paying a fortune to achieve it. We tried going the electric blanket route. We got this Biddeford model with dual controls. That sounded like a great idea until we used it for a few nights. While the cords and wires are advertised to be flexible, we could still feel them and they felt stiff and bulky. Another problem is the dual controls require separate outlets. But worse—even at the lowest setting, it felt to me that I was trapped under a layer of heat and it didn’t feel good.

Read more

One of the best things I’ve done in a long time is to invite my readers to send in their requests for my Best Inexpensive picks. I’m not sure why I love it so much, but I think it may have something to do with satisfying my inner shopper without actually shopping.

At any rate, today I’m excited to reveal my Best Inexpensive picks for four completely unrelated, but frequently requested items.

ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH. I’ve gone to the same dentist for so many years, I’m sure he’d be embarrassed if I told you here. Know how much I trust and depend on Richard Oliver, DDS., La Palma, Calif.? I now live 1,100 miles away, but he’s still my dentist and I still show up for regular cleaning and check-ups. Dr. Oliver believes so strongly in the effectiveness of a good electric toothbrush, he gives his patients a new brush head for their particular model, every visit. However, my pick for the Best Inexpensive electric toothbrush is the Oral-B Pro 1000.

Here’s why: It’s a great tool, works like a champ and gets awesome reveiws. Oral-B Pro 1000 has a built-in timer so I know I have to keep going at it until it gives me an alert that I’m done—but also a pulse every 30 seconds so I know when to switch areas. The replacement toothbrush heads for this brush are inexpensive, which is a big deal. This brush holds a charge for many days, making it  ideal for travel. The manufacturer claims this Pro 100 removes 300% more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush.

FOLDING KNIFE. Having all sons and one husband, I’m know how much many men enjoy and depend on a decent pocket knife. In my family, I’ve joined those ranks. I love having a good, dependable cutting tool in my handbag. And I know the heartache of losing my favorite, well-used and always sharp knife. That’s when it’s good to know I carry the best that is also inexpensive. My pick for Best Inexpensive pocket knife: Columbia River Knife and Tool with Plain Edge.

Here’s why: It is the perfect size and shape. Once folded, it locks in place for safety. The blade is high-quality stainless steel and razor-sharp . For the money, this is a super bargain. Read more

About 20 years ago there was a pressure cooker renaissance in America. Our grandmothers knew that day would come, that we would return to her favorite kitchen tool—a pressure cooker—to make fast braises, stews, soups, and casseroles. They just didn’t know how we’d get there.

If you, like me, are a Nervous Nellie who grew up hearing stories about a great aunt who shellacked her ceiling with country stew when the thing nearly blew her to Oz and back, relax. I’ve powered through the fear and discovered modern pressure cookers have amazing safety features to put all fear to rest. Now it’s time for you to start exploring as well, especially if you’re busy, hate spending hours in the kitchen but hate even more having to go out and spend a fortune on a marginally edible restaurant meal.

Perhaps you impulse bought an Instant Pot—on a whim and now it sits unopened in the garage, nearly forgotten. Or it’s been on the countertop for months and truth be told, you don’t have a clue what to do with it.

Or it’s possible you have used Instant Pot, tried it once and it turned out to be a complete disaster. The pot roast turned out dry and tough as shoe leather. The pasta came out a frothy, sloppy mess. Disappointment, thy name is Instant Pot.

Whatever your situation—even if you’ve never heard of a pressure cooker let alone how or why you need to—today’s the day. It’s time to put away all preconceived notions, rumors, and failures and start over on the right foot.

IT’S DIFFERENT. Pressure cooking is a completely different kind of cooking. You can’t just throw stuff in willy-nilly and expect perfection five minutes later. There are rules, which when followed, pay off in spades. But you have to know them, learn them and follow them. It’s not hard, but it is completely different than what you might be used to.

Read more

In my lifetime, I have spent way too much in an attempt to furnish bedrooms and baths with high quality towels and bedding. What I have discovered through a lot of trial and error is that the price does not always guarantee great results.

Today I want to tell you about my picks for the Best Inexpensive bath towels, mattress pads and down (the real deal) comforters.

TOWELS. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that when it comes to towels, my husband and I are both very picky. They can’t be too thin, but not too thick either. Towels need to be highly absorbent, 100% cotton. We’re not into bath sheets, preferring our bath towels to be somewhere around 30” x 56.” They need to be soft but not too soft, so as not to give an invigorating rub down following a hot shower.

I want towels that launder well—able to handle hot wash, vinegar rinse and a high-temperature dry with wool dryer balls. We stick with all white linens, so our towels need to be able to handle an occasional bit of chlorine bleach.

My pick for Best Inexpensive bath towels is Land’s End 100% Rare Supima Combed Cotton towels, hand towels, and washcloths. These are amazing towels. They do not shrink, launder beautifully and look gorgeous hanging in the bathroom. These towels come singly or in sets and in a choice of 15 colors, including white.

Lands’ End Rare Supima Combed Cotton 6-piece Towel Set (2 bath towels, 2 hand towels, and 2 washcloths)
Read more

Got a question? Lots of readers do and chances are pretty good their questions just might be your questions, too. At the very least, you may find these answers to be somewhat educational, if not entertaining!

The rust in our city water leaves an unsightly brown build up in my bathroom sink made of vitreous china. I have tried homemade remedies and store-bought products, nothing has worked in completely ridding the unsightly stains.  Can you recommend something that will help make my sinks look new again? Diane

Bar Keepers Friend, available in the household cleanser aisle of most supermarkets and discount stores, will remove those stains without harming the enamel coating on porcelain, known as vitreous china. The active ingredient in Bar Keepers Friend is oxalic acid, an organic acid that works as a bleach and rust remover. I think you will be amazed by the ability of BKF to remove these stains! As always, it is vitally important that you test any product in an inconspicuous place first to make sure it will not be damaged before proceeding.

Read more

As I write, it’s the first day of summer and a scorcher here in Northern Colorado—103F. But, it’s a dry heat—only 10% humidity.

I know, you’re laughing, as if 103 dry is any more tolerable than a more humid 103. Actually, it is—or so the weather experts tell us.

Now that the summer heat is bearing down on cities across the U.S., millions of window-mounted air conditioners are getting a real work out. Chris Hall, president of  RepairClinic.com, says his company is ready for the seasonal spike in questions from consumers who are wondering why their A/C unit isn’t working properly. In many instances, he says, consumers can rectify the problem themselves–if they have the right advice.

Read more