Rarely do I gush. But gush I do over my Eufy Cordless Stick Vac. Can’t help it. Eufy is so handy, easy to use and serves us so well in our home, office, garage and alas, my husband’s woodworking shop.

Eufy HomeVac Lightweight Cordless Upright-Style Vacuum Cleaner (NOT to be confused with the Eufy Duo 2-in-1 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, of which I am not such a fan) is not a broom, not a mop and not even a substitute for a good vacuum cleaner.

Eufy is sorta’ (kinda’) like an electric broom that picks up dust, dirt, hair, fur, cat litter and all manner of debris from hard surface floors and from the surface of low-pile carpet.

Eufy is cordless, super lightweight with a swivel head and sports a Lithium-ion battery that holds a charge like … forever!

Eufy stands up alone, unlike most of its competitors. It’s just awesome. And inexpensive. But even Eufy cannot go very long without a decent cleaning and a good bath. Read more

From pet odors to the smell of cigarette smoke, rotten food, burned popcorn and all manner of other stinky stuff, there’s no getting around the fact that we live in a smelly world. And when stubborn odors invade our living space we need to know how to take care of them quickly and efficiently. 

cat of the sort maine coon lying on sofa

Odor elimination is not the same as room deodorizing. One takes it away, the other covers it up. Perhaps you’ve experienced this. There’s just nothing like a terrible odor mixed with the artificial smell of flowers or soft Polynesian breezes. 

It’s been many years since a terrific product called Nok-Out and I found one another. Our friendship has deepened to the point that I can’t imagine living without it. There’s just nothing like Nok-Out.

Related: It’s a Smelly World Out There

Our big household trash can doesn’t smell anymore because I routinely wash it out and then spray it down with a dilution of Nok-Out (one cup Nok-Out to one-gallon water).

I didn’t have to send a fairly new upholstered chair to the landfill due to an unfortunate accident involving a sick grandchild, thanks to Nok-Out.

The horrible stench of a large bag of disgustingly rotten potatoes hiding behind a storage rack in our basement (how did that happen!?) made me gag when the source of that odor was finally discovered. But not a problem. Nok-Out completely eliminated all traces within only a few hours. Amazing. 

And I’m not the only one in love with Nok-Out. Every week I hear from readers who have experienced a Nok-Out rescue. 

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I often wonder why is it that weeds have no problem at all with drought-like conditions. They don’t require a thing—not water, fertilizer or protection from pests and predators.

Weeds don’t even need soil. They’re happy to grow in cracks in the sidewalk—even asphalt.

Weeds don’t complain, don’t need to be babied and do their best work under the worst of circumstances—the hotter the better! Weeds never give up. I wish I were more like weeds.

Still, weeds are the bane of every gardener; a problem for every homeowner. Read more

This summer, a cash shortage need not eliminate the idea of a family vacation. Clever and creative parents can turn time off work into an amazing vacation experience, without leaving town.

The idea here is to take a stay-at-home vacation or a “staycation.”

staycation famiy camping in the backyard.

Make a plan

Determine the dates of your staycation. Create a schedule and itinerary that includes activities and meals. Make a big colorful chart and allow the kids to participate in the planning.

The point of a staycation is to make it feel as much like a real family getaway as possible, without leaving home. So, to make sure the whole family is on the same page, it is good to establish ground rules that everyone can agree on. 

Save the date

Start with deciding exactly when your vacation at home starts and ends. Make sure these are dates you clear of all regular life, just as if you and the family were leaving town for a period of time.

Establish guidelines

Set a few guidelines for what your family may and may not do during this time. These could include all or some of the following: Read more

Got more time than money for family entertainment this summer? No problem. There are lots of things you can do with the kids that are completely (or nearly) free. No kidding! Check out these ideas:

Using a smartphone to find a treasure in an activity known as geocaching

GO GEOCACHING

Geocaching (pronounced gee-o-cashing) is an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use GPS to hide and seek containers (caches).  A typical cache is a small waterproof container concealing a logbook or “treasure,” usually toys or trinkets of little value. More than 750,000 geocaches are registered on various websites devoted to this pastime. If you have a handheld GPS or a GPS-enabled cell smartphone, you’re ready to get started.

First, read The Ultimate Treasure Hunt—Geocaching with Kids, to get inspired. Then go to Geocaching 101 to get a great overview followed by this 75-second video, What is Geocaching?

To get started, you’ll need to register, but it’s free. Once you’re ready to start treasure-hunting, just type in your zip code and start exploring! Geocaching is the ultimate treasure hunt and kids love it! Be sure to learn simple geocaching protocol and etiquette before you head out on your first adventure.

SUMMER READING PROGRAMS

Public libraries and retail booksellers across the nation are offering wonderful free reading programs for kids this summer. What a great way to encourage your child to read over the summer months while at the same time having so much fun! Many of these programs offer the kids freebies—free books, coupons for free ice cream or other goodies. Summer Reading Programs 2018 offers a list of Summer Reading Programs for Kids that give free books, money and more.

VISIT A MUSEUM

Many museums and galleries throughout the U.S. offer free admission on special days or weekends.

For example, The California Science Center, new home to Space Shuttle Endeavor, is always free. Chicago Children’s Museum offers Free Family Night on Thursday evenings, 5 to 8 pm. The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif. offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month. Contact the museums in your area to see when they offer free admission.

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Planning for their parents’ end-of-life expenses is about the last thing most adult children want to deal with. At least not right now.

A traditional funeral costs about $6,000, although extras like flowers, obituary notices, acknowledgment cards and limousines can bring the total to well over $10,000. Families often overspend on a funeral or burial because they think of it as a reflection of their feelings for the deceased.

elderly woman with two adult daughters

Dear Mary: My comment is in response to Where to Keep Money for Mom? and Bonita in South Dakota who was looking for input on how to invest $10,000 for 62-year-old mother who has no savings, life insurance and lives on disability.

I would recommend they go to any funeral home and work with the person there who handles pre-paid funerals. Essentially, you are purchasing an insurance policy to cover the funeral costs. We did this for my dad before he moved into a long-term care facility, which was going to drain his remaining assets to $0. A pre-paid funeral policy is excluded from the asset base, is protected once the assets are gone and a person goes on medical assistance.

With all the other drama that comes with aging parents, it is nice for my sister and me to know that the end is covered and won’t create another drain/strain on everything. Molly

Dear Molly: Thanks for this wise advice. In fact, many elder law attorneys advise prepayment as a way to invest in assets that will not be countable by Medicaid or SSI.

However, I want my dear readers to know that there are pitfalls on the road to pre-paid end-of-life arrangements, which they need to know about in order to avoid falling into them. Buyers beware. Read more

Chances are good that there’s an old can of car wax hanging out in your garage or basement. Now would be the time to find it, dust it off and hope it’s not all dried out. Of course, car wax is good for waxing a car, but it’s handy in so many other ways around the house that really are quite amazing.

Vintage garage shelf with old cans of car wax, nails, screws and hand drill

Car wax, whether paste or liquid, is formulated to fill scratches and give a high shine to nonporous surfaces like glass or metal and leave them resistant to smudges and stains.

As for which car wax works best, I prefer Meguiar’s Cleaner Wax (about $5) because it cleans, polishes and leaves a beautiful finish—all in one step. Turtle Super Hard Shell Paste Wax (a little more at about $7) is a fine choice too, just know that you’ll need to clean the surface first, then apply the car wax.

DE-FOG MIRRORS. There’s nothing like a nice hot shower to steam up bathroom mirrors. Car wax is the secret to make them fog-free. Apply a small amount to the entire mirror, allow it to dry then buff it away with a soft dry cloth.

SHINY FAUCETS. No matter how water spotted and dull your tub, shower and sink faucets are, car wax will make them look like new—and help them stay that way. Rub a small bit of car wax into all of that metal and allow it to dry for a few minutes. Now just polish it away with a soft dry cloth. The wax will prevent new water spots and keep those fixtures sparkling*.

FIGHT MILDEW. After using your regular cleanser, apply a layer of car wax to the inside and outside of a shower door and buff off with a dry cloth to discourage mildew growth and hard water marks.

FINGERPRINT-FREE APPLIANCES. Tired of smudges and fingerprints all over your beautiful appliances? Apply a thin coat of car wax to stainless-steel fridges and stoves. Buff clean and that surface will resist fingerprints and smudges.

TOOL CARE. Say goodbye forever to rust on garden, garage and auto tools when you apply a coat of car wax to all of the metal parts. Make sure you rub a little wax into the hinges and moving parts to keep them from jamming and sticking.

OUTDOOR GRILL. Apply a good coat of car wax to the outside of the grill to make it shine, repel watermarks and to make it so much easier to clean in the future. Make sure the grill is not in the hot sun when you do this.

MAKE DRAWERS AND WINDOWS EASIER TO OPEN. Rub a dab of car wax onto the tracks of drawers and windows so they’ll slide more smoothly.

SHINY TABLETOPS. Apply car wax to your plastic, laminate and Formica table tops. Wipe it on, wipe it off to a beautiful shine! Read more

For many, Memorial Day has pretty much morphed from a day of remembrance to a much anticipated three-day weekend with exciting outdoor events that officially welcome the start of summer. But it’s more than that. In fact, it’s not really about a big blowout holiday weekend at all. It’s about remembering our history and those who’ve gone before.

U.S. history was not something stressed or even talked about in my family growing up. I possessed a general timeline of events but that was about it.

All of that changed for me when I married a man for whom our American history is more than a few facts memorized to get past a final exam.

My husband Harold lives and breathes our nation’s history. He planned our honeymoon around visits to Revolutionary War and Civil War battlefields, culminating with an all-day visit to Gettysburg National Military Park.

I was gobsmacked by what I didn’t know. Such an emotionally packed tour I’d never experienced. I learned more that day than I’d learned about our nation’s history in my 16 years of formal education.

That so many gave their lives to preserve this republic filled me with a deep sense of gratitude I’d not known. To be there—to see this battlefield and to visualize what happened was nearly too much to take in.

That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.

– President Abraham Lincoln

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with relaxing with friends and family and celebrating the arrival of summer. But I want to challenge you and your family to find a way today that you can pay homage to those who have given their lives for the sake of our country and our freedoms. I have a few suggestions. Read more

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