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I will admit to having an extreme aversion to mice. They give me the creeps and just knowing one is in the house totally disrupts my life.

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A tiny chill ran down my spine when I read Lucy’s letter. Been there, solved the problem and hope to never experience that again!

EEK! MOUSE IN THE HOUSE

It’s that time of year when mice invade our homes. I’m a pretty good housekeeper and we have two cats, but I just cleaned a disgusting mess of mouse tracks out of my pantry. Any suggestions on how to discourage mice for the future? I love your daily e-mails and read them all! Lucy

Dear Lucy: Oh, I feel your angst. I hate even the idea of a mouse in my house! As the temperatures start to drop in the fall, mice start looking for warm places they can settle in for winter and multiply. Any crack or crevice will do.

For me, it needs to be about preventing mice from getting in rather than finding ways to trap them once they’ve entered. That means we have think like a mouse!

Start with the exterior of your home. Look for tiny places mice can slip in through damaged weatherstripping, under doors and around pipes and vents. Seal every opening you find with a filler that mice cannot chew through (that eliminates spray foam) or will breakdown and rust.

An excellent choice is Xcluder Rodent Control Steel Wool Fill Fabric DIY Kit. It’s easy to use, resistant to critters’ attempts to chew through it, and will hold up and be effective for years to come.

To prevent mice from coming in under doors, Xcluder makes door sweeps and garage door sweeps DIY kits from the same type of material that is rust and chew resistant.

Closing up all cracks and crevices is going to take some time, but doing it right now will come back to bless you for many years to come. And as a bonus, you’ll be sealing your home from cold drafts, too. 

 

BEST INEXPENSIVE BED SHEETS

What kind and what brand bed sheets do you recommend? Your trusting friend, Janice

Dear Janice: I have to admit to being super picky when it comes to bed sheets. I need 100% cotton. And the fabric must have a smooth, soft “hand,” (the way the fabric feels to the touch). And sheets can’t come out of the dryer horribly wrinkled. And they must fit well (how annoying is it for a fitted sheet to pop off at the corners?).

I have tested so many bed sheets—yes, even microfiber, polyester, bamboo, 100% organic cotton, 100% fine cotton and all the brands from Redland Cotton to Boll & Branch and lots of brands between.

My pick for Best Inexpensive continues to be bed sheets from JCPenney. Surprised? So was I. I really expected that the super expensive options would be best all around quality. And I was wrong. 

Best Inexpensive Luxury Bed Sheets. JCPenney’s Royal Velvet 400-tc, 100% Cotton, WrinkleGuard Sheet Set. These sheets have a velvety, soft hand and are very well cut to fit perfectly, up to 18-inch depth—but without being baggy. These are the “cotton percale” sheets I remember from my childhood.

These sheets are smooth, luxurious; not noisy, rough or any other negative thing on my list of “cannot-tolerates.” They launder beautifully in hot water and come out of the dryer nearly wrinkle-free. I touch them up with the iron, but honestly, I may stop doing that. And the best part is that these Royal Velvet sheets just get softer and better the more they’re laundered.

One set of these Royal Velvet sheets in Cal King is priced $200 at the JCPenney website. But wait! The site regularly offers discount coupons (I watch this like a hawk), plus these specific sheets are frequently on sale. With my first order I didn’t have to search or inquire. At checkout, I simply clicked on “Coupons,” which is right next to the checkout button. Immediately, I landed a 65% discount.

I have checked many times since to see how that discount holds up and have yet to find a time that I would have had to pay full price. I can’t represent the exact discount you’ll get, but know that these sheets are almost always on sale and discount coupons and codes are readily available.

Best Inexpensive Good Bed Sheets. A reasonable, lower-priced option is JCPenney Home 300tc 100% Cotton Ultra Soft Sheet Set. These 100% cotton sheets are lovely, fit up to 17-inch depth mattress and get softer every time they are laundered. They’re smooth and not noisy.

The differences that I noted between this option and the Royal Velvet luxury option: Not as velvety to the touch, slightly lighter weight and the sheets come out of the dryer wrinkled.

These sheets are a good value when purchased on sale and current discount code or coupon.

MORE: Best Inexpensive™ Flannel Bed Sheets Plus How to Prevent Pilling

PAY EARLY—DOES IT MATTER?

Is there any advantage to sending in my credit-card payment early? Or is it better to keep the money in the bank where it is earning interest and then sending it closer to the due date? Jeff

Dear Jeff: Because interest on credit-card accounts is calculated according to the “average daily balance,” it does make a difference. In fact, the sooner you can pay during the billing cycle the sooner your balance will drop, which means you will pay less interest.

If you cannot make your entire payment early in the cycle, consider sending (or making your payments online) one-quarter of it every week or half every two weeks. Every effort to pay early will result in more of your payment going to pay down the principle. Just make sure you have sent at least the entire minimum due before the due date.

Getting socked with a late fee will undue all kinds of effort you’ve made to pay down your balance.

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