Trivia bits – MONDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 2016  

February 29, 2016  



Monday, February 29


In the 16th century, it was fashionable for women to whiten their skin using a compound of white lead known as Venetian ceruse. Made from the white residue produced by soaking metallic white lead in vinegar, the white pigment was also used by painters. The problem was, white lead is toxic and it poisoned a lot of women, quite possibly including Queen Elizabeth I of England, whose face was usually caked with the stuff.


White Diamonds is a fragrance created for which screen legend?

A) Ava Gardner

B) Marilyn Monroe

C) Elizabeth Taylor

D) Natalie Wood


Previous answer: An expedition led by Roald Amundsen of Norway reached the South Pole in 1911.

From Clutter to Chaos to Calm

February 29, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

Unhappy Teenage Girl Unable To Find Suitable Outfit In WardrobeEVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE



Recently I read about a couple who lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They don’t have a lot of clutter in their house, but they do find it nearly impossible to part with their children’s things. The guest cottage behind their house is nearly filled with old toys, outgrown clothes, the kids’ artwork, school papers, trophies, sports paraphernalia, baby beds, bassinets and a rocking horse. They can’t bring themselves to clean out the cottage and part with all of these things for fear their now-grown children will think they don’t love them.

I know the feeling and, honestly, I don’t think it’s that unusual. It’s just that most of us don’t have a guesthouse where we can stash all the clutter. Thankfully, it is possible to deal with clutter in realistic and reasonable ways so that it doesn’t turn into chaos.

Marla Cilley, known to many as FlyLady and author of “Sink Reflections,” says that the word “chaos” is an acronym for “can’t have anyone over syndrome.” Raise your hand if you can identify. Look at that. Hands are going up all over the room.

The good news is that clutter does not have to control our homes and lives. It requires just a modicum of determination to take that very first baby step, then another step, and another, all the way to peace and serenity.

READ THIS BOOK. Honestly, I cannot give you a better piece of advice than to read “Sink Reflections.” You’ll laugh, you might cry, but in the end you will for sure know what to do. Read it right now. Marla is a reformed clutter bug and knows what she’s talking about. She would motivate our friends in Oklahoma City to get that guest cottage cleaned out — and she’d do it in a loving, compelling way. They would be able to retain all of the memories, reassure their children of their love and end up with a place for guests to rest, relax and enjoy themselves.

THE GIFT OF PHOTOGRAPHY. All of those things that you can’t part with because they hold so much meaning? Take a picture of each one. Take several. Zoom in; pan out. Take a panorama if you want. Now the memories will be preserved in a way you can really enjoy them, and you can part with the actual item — guilt-free.

STASH THE CASH. I have a feeling that our friends in Oklahoma are sitting on a lot of potential money. The rocking horse alone could be worth a few bucks at a garage sale or on Craigslist. Who knows what other treasures are wasting away out there — things that could be turned into money and would fit nicely in a savings account.

TAKE THE DEDUCTIONS. I’m thinking about clothing and household items. I’m also thinking about all of the new things you, your family and your kids got for Christmas. Wow. Where did you put all of them? Now would be an awesome time to go through closets, drawers and cupboards. For each new thing you crammed in there, remove one or more items you don’t really use or enjoy anymore. But don’t throw these things away! If they are in good condition, donate them to a charity like the Salvation Army or another similar organization in your community. “Money For Your Used Clothing,” a valuation workbook, is the only resource I recommend to help you identify the true market value of each of your items. Make sure you use the correct edition of the workbook for the tax year that you are filing. The 2015 edition — used for taxes you will file on or before April 18, 2016 — is still available at a discount ($20 plus shipping).

Just because you can’t imagine changing your life from chaos to calm in a single day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get started. According to Marla Cilley, “Things done imperfectly still bless our lives.” And isn’t that great news!

How to Clean a Shark Vacuum and Filters

February 26, 2016  
Filed under Blogs




You know how much I love my Shark vacuum cleaner. And, given letters I have received from my readers, I know that thousands of you now love your Sharkies too. Your comments make me smile because I see that you all are feeling embarrassed or amazed when vacuuming: (SET ITAL) Where on earth did all of this dirt and debris come from? I can’t believe what’s been lurking in our carpets! (END ITAL)

In all of the miles I’ve put on my Shark over the years, it’s never failed once. I will say that, while the manufacturer boasts that the Shark never loses suction, I have learned that is predicated on regularly cleaning the canister, filters and rotating brush. It’s right there in the owner’s manual, which most people don’t think to read until they have a problem. You need to clean your Shark monthly to maintain its efficiency. It’s easy.

SIGNS YOUR SHARK NEEDS A BATH: You will know to clean your Shark if you experience loss of suction, dirt left behind, odd sounds (like the Shark is gasping for air) or an unpleasant odor. Here are ways to clean your Shark:

ROTATE THE BRUSH: First, unplug the vacuum. Lay it down on the floor so you can see the rotating brush. You may want to place a bag or towel underneath to catch the debris and dirt you’re about to release. More than likely you will see strings, hair and other material wrapped around the brush. This is normal. You can use a pair of scissors to cut through whatever is wound around the brush. Then, pull or tug the brush until it releases and clean any remaining dirt off the brush.

CANISTER: Let’s assume you empty the dirt collection canister on a regular basis. However, once a month you also need to deep clean it with soap and water. Open the canister from both ends (if your model has that feature). I do this in a sink filled with warm, soapy water. Use a long-handled bottle brush to get into all of the crevices. The canister has no electrical connections, so submersing it in water is not a problem. Once cleaned and rinsed, open both ends and set it outdoors to air dry.

FILTERS: Once the canister is removed, you will see a set of filters made of either foam or rubber and additional filters made of felt. Remove the filters carefully, taking note of their order so you can replace them properly. It’s not difficult; just pay attention. If you don’t clean these filters regularly, be prepared to have a dirty situation on your hands. I take all of them to the sink filled with warm water and Dawn liquid soap for a soapy thorough bath. Be especially careful to not damage the felt. Please note: The manufacturer does not recommend washing the felt filters. I wash them because I don’t like dirty felt, but do this at your own risk. The filters may or may not look brand-new after cleaning. But don’t worry. As long as they are not torn, broken or otherwise damaged, they’ll be just fine. The filters must be completely dry before returning to the vacuum — otherwise, prepare for mildew and mold, which is the last thing you want growing inside a vacuum. You can set your filters outdoors to air dry. Use your common sense to determine when the parts are dry.

Once everything is clean and dry, reattach the filters and canister. Your Shark will be so happy that it will thank you by doing an even more exceptional cleaning job the next time you vacuum.

By the way, I have not experienced this yet, but the filters will eventually wear out. And when they do, you can easily replace them. Just make sure you purchase the correct filters for your particular model. Or you can go ahead and buy them now to have on hand for when the time comes.

My Shark model of choice remains the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright. It comes with a separate attachment for hardwood floors — awesome! — and contains a lift-away feature to easily vacuum stairs.

Trivia Bits – FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2016

February 26, 2016  




Friday, February 26


The painter Amedeo Modigliani reputedly told friends that he wanted to live a “short intense life.” He achieved that goal, dying of meningitis in 1920 at the age of 35. (The following day, his pregnant mistress committed suicide by throwing herself out a window.) Spending his career in poverty, he lived, according to one source, “in the rue Vaugirard [in Paris], near the slaughterhouses, in a room for which he paid three dollars a month.” How ironic, then, that last year his painting “Nu Couche” (“Reclining Nude”) sold at auction for more than $170 million.


The 1958 motion picture musical “Gigi” was based on a novella by which French writer?

A) Colette

B) Victor Hugo

C) Marcel Proust

D) Emile Zola


Previous answer: The earthquake-prone region that circles the Pacific from Chile to New Zealand is known as the Ring of Fire.


Trivia Bits – THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2016

February 25, 2016  




Thursday, February 25


Indonesia might be the world’s most earthquake-prone country. In 2015, it experienced an estimated 4,300 seismic events measuring 3.0 or higher on the Richter scale. The strongest earthquake ever felt in Indonesia occurred on Dec. 26, 2004, and measured 9.1 on the Richter scale — strong enough to shorten the length of a day on earth by 2.676 microseconds.


About 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes occur in the Pacific region known by what name?

A) Devil’s Right Hand

B) Field of Diamonds

C) Ring of Fire

D) Rock Island Line


Previous answer: Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup — but not Begonia — are the Powerpuff Girls.


My Top 5 Favorite Homemade Cleaning Solutions

February 24, 2016  
Filed under Blogs




If there’s one area that you can cut down in household spending, it’s household cleaners. The cost of most home cleaning products is becoming outrageous. While I don’t advocate throwing away what you have already bought, I do recommend that you consider making your own cleaning products in the future, using cheap ingredients.

While I have many recipes, tricks and strategies, these are my top five favorites:

TUB AND SHOWER CLEANER. Pour 1 cup of blue liquid Dawn into a 32-ounce spray bottle (1/2 cup Dawn if you are using a 16-ounce bottle; 1/3 cup Dawn for a 12-ounce bottle). Fill the bottle to the top with plain white vinegar. Put on the spray cap; shake gently to mix. Label the bottle. Spray the solution liberally on the walls, doors, tub and faucets. Let it sit anywhere from 30 minutes- to overnight depending on the dirtiness of the bathroom. All of the offensive gunk and grime will break down and soften. At that point, simply rinse it away. For the initial treatment or especially challenging spots, use a sponge or brush to gently scrub the surfaces before rinsing. Spray down the walls and floor of the tub and shower once a week. Rinse. Admire.

TOILET CLEANER: All you need is 1 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. To use: First, turn off the water inlet valve behind the toilet (turn the handle clockwise until tight). Then, flush the toilet once or twice until all of the water is gone. Sprinkle the baking soda all around the inside of the toilet bowl. Next, pour or spray the vinegar into the bowl. You’ll get a little show as the solution starts bubbling and popping. That’s the reaction you want. Next, using a good toilet brush, scrub the toilet down from under the rim all the way to the bottom. Last, turn the inlet valve back on by rotating it counterclockwise until it stops turning. The toilet tank will fill. Flush to rinse the cleaning solution. Repeat as necessary. You’ve just cleaned, deodorized and removed mildew and odors.

GRANITE CLEANER: Pour 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol (vodka or gin are good substitutes) into a 16-ounce spray bottle. Add 3 drops of blue Dawn dishwashing liquid and 5 drops of an essential oil (optional, but makes it smell great). Add 2 cups of water to fill the bottle. Shake the bottle to mix. Label the bottle and keep it out of reach of children. Use this cleaner to keep your granite countertops beautifully clean and shiny without damaging the sealant or harming the granite. Note: Any size spray bottle will work; simply adjust the spray nozzle to accommodate.

BATHROOM CLEANER. This heavy-duty cleaner will sanitize and clean every surface in your bathroom, including glass and mirrors. Fill a spray bottle halfway with rubbing alcohol; fill it to the top with white vinegar. Label the bottle. The ratio will always be 50-50 rubbing alcohol to white vinegar, no matter the size of the bottle.

WOOD AND LAMINATE FLOOR CLEANER. Combine 1 part alcohol (rubbing alcohol is cheap and readily available) to 4 parts distilled water, plus a few drops of blue Dawn dishwashing liquid. Mix these ingredients in a spray bottle each time you clean the floors. Or make it ahead of time, label  the bottle and keep it out of the reach of children. To use: First, sweep or vacuum the floor. Spray the cleaner in a small area. Scrub well with a cloth or sponge and immediately wipe the area dry with a microfiber cloth. The secret is to spray, scrub and wipe dry immediately. If you do not want to do this on your hands and knees, I recommend buying a spray mop for both wood and laminate floors; it sprays cleaner from a nozzle at the touch of a button. You can also use a large surface mop with a detachable microfiber cleaning pad that swivels for easy handling. Using either mop with floor cleaner will make scrubbing wood and laminate floors a breeze.

Trivia Bits – WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2016

February 24, 2016  



Wednesday, February 24


For the benefit of future generations, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has in its collection the laptop used by Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw to chronicle her observations on “Sex and the City,” the stopwatch used in the original opening segment of “60 Minutes,” a plaster-of-Paris prop egg from the movie “Alien” and the “puffy shirt” from “Seinfeld.”


Which of these was NOT one of the three Powerpuff Girls from the animated TV series?

A) Begonia

B) Blossom

C) Bubbles

D) Buttercup


Previous answer: Tommy Lee is the drummer for Motley Crue.


Trivia Bits – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2016

February 23, 2016  




Tuesday, February 23


A motley is the wildly colored outfit worn by court jesters — or fools — in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Around that time, the word motley also became an adjective for a group of things or people that are wildly mismatched and just a little bit crazy. That’s where we get the term “motley crew.”


Which member of Motley Crue is the band’s usual drummer?

A) Tommy Lee

B) Mick Mars

C) Vince Neil

D) Nikki Sixx


Previous answer: Lyndon Johnson approved the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in June 1968, although it didn’t officially take effect until 1971.

Finding Money You Didn’t Know You Had

February 22, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

Businessman holding money.EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE



We think we work to pay the bills. But the truth is that most of us spend more than we make on more than we need, which sends us back to work to make more money, which we then spend to buy even more stuff than we need. On and on it goes like one big, fat, expensive vicious cycle.

So here you are, well into a new year, determined to improve the quality of your life by living at your means. The task at hand seems perfectly clear — you need to find more money. You have two choices: Increase your income or reduce your spending.

Making more money does seem like the most logical way to fix a financial problem. But there are limited ways to do that.

BEEF UP YOUR PAYCHECK. You can ask for a raise. You can land a new job that pays much more than your current job. Or you can get a second (or third) job to supplement your income.

SELL YOUR ASSETS. A good option, perhaps, if you can find a cash buyer for your grandmother’s sterling silver or sell any real estate that you own.

LAND A WINDFALL. You can win the lottery, receive a large inheritance or befall some other stroke of luck. I suppose any of these things could happen, but I wouldn’t count on them being realistic options for changing your financial picture. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning than winning the lottery.

All of these are ways to increase your income and improve your finances. But let’s get real. If you could do any of these things, you would have done them already.

While increasing your income is a way to change your financial picture, the change may have negative effects; It could push you into a higher income tax bracket or prompt you to go more deeply into debt.

A smarter way to improve your financial picture is to systematically, methodically and intelligently reduce your spending. For example, if you are currently spending $1, you need to find a way to reduce that to 80 cents (unless you live below the poverty line — in which case you have a different set of challenges).

I am confident that with persistence you can reduce your spending. You can. This approach will have all the positive effects of increasing your income without the challenges mentioned above.

INSTANTANEOUS. Reducing your spending brings instant gratification. For example: Normally, you spend $140 on groceries each week. This week, spend $100 and you will have $40 left in your wallet for some other use. You’ll have no loans, no debt and no taxes. That $40 has already been earned and taxed. It’s yours.

LESS STRESS. Assessing the ways you spend your money forces you to focus on what really matters. You begin to notice unnecessary baggage. You’re more willing to acknowledge what brings you joy, what needs to go and how to create the life you love.

MORE CONTENTMENT. Thinking about what is meaningful to you and then having the courage to change your spending habits accordingly will bring a sense of contentment to you and your family. Overindulging in unnecessary things clutters your life and can cause stress. Instead of being concerned about getting everything you want, you’ll be content with what you have.

I hope these solutions make you excited about what can happen in your life when you begin to live simply and according your means. And if you’ve already begun your journey, I hope to inspire you in the coming months and year to do even better!

Trivia Bits – MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2016

February 22, 2016  




Monday, February 22


George Washington was born in Virginia on Feb. 11, 1731, according to the Julian calendar that Great Britain and its colonies were using at the time. In 1752, however, Great Britain changed to the Gregorian calendar, which necessitated the recalculation of birthdates and anniversaries. By the new reckoning, George Washington’s birthday was shifted a full year and 11 days to Feb. 22, 1732. That’s why Washington’s Birthday is observed on the 22nd of February.


The Uniform Monday Holiday Act was signed into law in June 1968 by which U.S. president?

A) Dwight Eisenhower

B) Lyndon Johnson

C) John F. Kennedy

D) Richard Nixon


Previous answer: Lee Marvin’s last film appearance was in the 1986 film “The Delta Force.”


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