Ask Me Anything: Best Chromebook, Granite Stains, Estate Planning, and More

 

What’s inside? Here are the questions I’m answering from my bulging reader mailbag. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. Or just scroll through to read all. Enjoy!

Contents

1. Best Inexpensive Chromebook Computer 

2. White, filmy, hard water stains on granite

3. Help me overcome impulse buying, please?!

4. Is there any way to remove a Super Glue spill?!

5. Which is the best iron for quilters? 

6. Downloadable software for Estate Planning

7. Homemade Almond Extract, please!

 

Q1: Our son, in his first year of college, has asked for a Chromebook computer for Christmas. Can you point me to the Best Inexpensive option? I don’t know a lot about this and trust your recommendation. Thanks! Barb

Smart kid you have there! Chromebook continues to be a mind-blowing option when it comes to laptop computers. My choice as of today (things change so quickly in the world of computers) is the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA, which comes with an Intel Core Processor with 64GB flash storage and 4GB RAM, and up to 10 hours of battery life. All of that means it’s fast and efficient.

This Asus has a bright screen, a super-responsive trackpad, and a lovely keyboard. It’s much faster than a Windows laptop when performing the tasks most students use laptops for, like browsing the Web (even with lots of  tabs open), email, basic word processing, and watching movies, too. And it has none of the “bloatware” that slows down Windows laptops.

And oh, that screen! It has a flexible 360 Degree hinge and 12.5 inches full HD touchscreen that lets you use it in tablet or laptop mode (it flips around, like a transformer!)  

While this sweet thing is designed to be rugged enough for student and classroom use, it’s ideal for home use as well. And it’s so lightweight at 2.65 pounds, it’s easily portable in handbag or backpack. For the money, this Chromebook is hard to beat.

 

Q2: We have a granite top on our powder room sink. I suppose that the manufacturer did not properly seal the granite. Almost immediately we developed a white ring around the faucet handles on the granite surface. We have tried all we know to get rid of this calcium buildup but to no avail. Any suggestions? Bob

Hard water stains and deposits can be a maddening problem if you have granite or marble countertops. You need to be very particular about the product you choose to use because, believe it or not, both granite and marble are very delicate. Most common cleaners including CLR, Lime-Away, and even vinegar is too acidic and caustic for granite. Granite must be treated with great care. You must use a specially formulated cleaner, especially around the faucet hardware.

This MB-3 Soap & Mineral Deposit Remover for natural stone is the best product out there for removing hard water deposits on granite and marble countertops. Formulated specifically for natural stone, it is effective, totally safe, and will not damage marble, travertine, granite, or any other type of natural stone. You can also use this product to clean and maintain your granite counter to prevent future hard water and soap scum buildup.

Follow the directions that come with this product exactly. If this doesn’t remove all of that hard water build-up and bring your granite back to its original beauty, more than likely the stone has been permanently “etched” and will require help from a professional. Just know that I have high hopes!

Q3: Can you give us some tips on overcoming temptations and impulse buying?  I’m sure you printed a flow chart of sorts once before, to help people decide what they really need vs. impulsive spending. I need that again! Thanks. Barbara

A: I write a lot on this topic because, well … it’s what’s on my mind a lot. I’m impulsive and so easily tempted. I’m constantly looking for reasonable ways I can stay away from “slippery places” where I’m overcome by the temptation to give in to my weakness and fall into a regrettable impulsive situation. Check out How to Curb Emotional Spending in 5 Easy Steps and Your Consumer Behavior is Keeping You Broke.

Supermarkets are one of the most treacherous places for me. That’s why I have not been in one for months. Longer than that, and not because we eat out all the time. No way! I prepare all of our meals, at home. I’ve discovered what my Kroger supermarket calls “ClickList.” I grocery shop online. I get exactly what I need in the size and quantity we will use up. I’m a much better shopper because I see every option, brand, size, and price—which I would never figure out walking those aisles. I complete my order and then I wait for at least 24 hours. Invariably I change my mind, remove some things and discover others I forgot.

Do you see what happens here? I put my impulsive self in time out. I’m thoughtful, frugal and thorough. I drive through, the nicest people ever open the back door and load everything in, all separated according to pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. The $4.95 fee is nothing compared to the impulsive supermarket purchases I simply do not make any more.

Good news: Walmart is giving Kroger a run for its money in the area of online/pickup grocery shopping. The store nearest me has rolled out this option and I intend to check it. In the meantime, you may want to find a Walmart location near you using this Walmart groceries online with free same-day pickup store locator. Walmart does not charge a pickup fee but has a minimum order requirement of $30.

That’s only one of quite possibly hundreds of ways I deal with my inner bratty spendthrift impulsive self.

My free Pocket Quiz Flowchart is available HERE. Download it, print it, and refer to it often—every time you are tempted to make an impulsive purchase. I hope that helps!

 

Q4: Is there any way I can remove a streak of super glue I accidentally got on our solid surface (Corian) kitchen counter? Please hurry and thanks so much!

Yes there is! You need acetone, 100% is ideal, but nail polish remover with acetone will work, too but more slowly. Here are the simple steps remove that dried-on super glue

Step 1: Use a cotton swab to cover the adhesive with a thin layer of acetone. Wait for 2 minutes.

Step 2: Wipe off the super glue with a dry paper towel or cloth. Add more acetone/nail polish remover, if required.

Step 3: When all traces of super glue have been removed, wipe the surface with a damp cloth.

 

Q5:What was the name of that estate planning software that you recommended some time back? I bought it and had it in my dock but I can’t find it now and don’t even know the name to search it! Thanks

Here is the post you’re referring to: The Five Legal Documents Every Adult Must Have. The estate planning software, updated every year, is now Quicken WillMaker Plus 2020, which includes dozens of forms including the big five documents mentioned in the post above and also practical forms you can use every day to help run your home and keep your family safe, including authorizations and agreements, promissory notes, limited powers of attorney, and child and elder care forms.

Q6: I’m a quilter. I love the iron used on the Missouri Star Quilt tutorials and have drooled over it forever. But the fat quarter shop has this cordless iron in purple that I like. Have you considered an iron for quilters’ needs?

Well now, I am a quilter too, so I didn’t have to search a thing to know that you’re drooling over this Oliso Pro Smart Iron. I kinda’ do that myself. I did find the cordless iron you’re referring to, Panasonic 360 Freestyle Cordless Iron and yes, in purple. I own neither one of these, however here are my thoughts on the difference between the two and what you need to consider. 

The Oliso is truly a dream come true iron, and higher priced than the cordless Panasonic. But it is an all-around iron—one you can use for setting those quilt top seams as you go, but for all your other ironing needs as well. And as you know, it has that Itouch technology lifts when you’ve stopped ironing—the really cool feature. And it has great heat and tons of steam. The downside of the Oliso is, of course, the cord.

The Pan0sonic, on the other hand, is cordless and isn’t that nice! But being cordless, the moment you remove it from the heating dock, it begins to lose heat and the steam also begins to dissipate. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be awesome for steaming open all of the fussy seams on your quilt pieces. However, I don’t think you will be happy at all with it for ironing shirts, pants, and bedsheets (yes, I do!).

Bottom line: Either iron would make your quilting more enjoyable. However, in my opinion, the Oliso would become your all-purpose steam iron for all your ironing needs, while Panasonic would be a single-purpose iron just for quilting and other sewing projects.

 

Q7: So excited to try this method for making instant Homemade Vanilla Extract. I got homemade vanilla years ago and I’m still using the bottle (and constantly refilling). Could I make almond extract using same process, except with almonds? If so, how?

The new method for Vanilla Extract is just fantastic. And yes, you can make homemade Almond Extract in much the same manner, substituting chopped almonds for the vanilla beans. You will find the details and instructions in this post, Still the Most perfect Homemade Holiday Gift.

Just know that I have not tried this using the Instant Pot alternative method, which turns the long 3 months into just one week, or less.

Please report back how this turns out for you!


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6 replies
  1. Colleen
    Colleen says:

    Hi, Mary–Just a note RE estate planning documents: The Social Security Administration does not recognize a Durable Power of Attorney, nor any other type of power of attorney, for proxy representation purposes. Your readers will want to keep this in mind when it comes to helping their aging parents or other loved ones manage their benefits, and research their best options for providing assistance in this area. Have a great day, and please keep up your awesome advice!

    Reply
  2. Deena
    Deena says:

    I’m getting my ducks in a row for retirement within the next 6 months. I have a 403B investment account through payroll deduction at work. It’s been lucrative the past handful of years. Should I close it out and move the money to a savings account to eliminate the risk of a down turn in the market for my retirement? I’m sure the investment company will try to talk me into leaving the account open with them, but it’s an investment account…there will always have some risk associated with it…right?

    Reply
  3. Karyn
    Karyn says:

    How do we find out how to protect a no qualified annuity from being used up to pay for nursing home costs? My widowed mother has an annuity that she would like to pass down to my sister and myself, but she’s afraid that if she needs to use a nursing home then the annuity will be used before she can qualify for Medicaid. Is there a way to protect the value?

    Reply
  4. Catherine
    Catherine says:

    When did $500 = inexpensive? There are budget Chromebooks out there with virtually the same functionality as the one mentioned above. The only difference being no touch screen or loptop/tablet convertability. No one “needs” those features. Also, keep in mind that Chromebooks have an “expiration date,” so most of them should last through college, but not much beyond that.

    Reply
    • Mike E
      Mike E says:

      Yes, the C302 is very well regarded but at this point I’d probably buy a newer model unless there was a tremendous discount. There are newer Asus models and Lenovo has nice machines and will likely have a huge sale on black Friday.

      Reply
    • Mark B
      Mark B says:

      C302CA is not inexpensive, it is darn expensive. Sure, it’s nice, but at $500, there are other just as nice models.

      Also, C302CA was built on the GLADOS base board, which means security updates will stop in Nov 2022.

      $500 for a chromebook that will be insecure in 3 years? Not a good recommendation.

      Reply

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