Secrets of Super-Savvy Grocery Shoppers

June 30, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE

BY MARY HUNT

 

Buy produce from that store where nothing costs more than a dollar? I flinched at the thought. I probably came across as a snob when I asked my friend if it’s safe to do so. I mean, where would food that cheap come from? But she pushed, so I agreed to tag along, but only as a spectator.

Oh, the bargains I found there. I picked up beautiful, top-quality produce items: lettuce, scallions, a seriously large bag of ginger root, 5 pounds of russet potatoes and six heads of gourmet garlic. Five items, just 99 cents each, for a total of $4.94. The same items would have cost $11.88 at the supermarket. My skepticism evaporated quickly. I became a dollar-store convert and regular shopper.

My methods of cutting the cost of produce is a drop in the bucket compared to those people I consider extreme grocery shoppers. Just keep this in mind: Not every method works for every person. Discover what works for you, and then hone that method as sharp as a razor’s edge. Soon, you’ll be bagging bargains and bringing your food costs down immensely. Here are some methods of extreme grocery shoppers. Read more

Do-it-Yourself Gardening Tips, Tricks and Recipes

June 29, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE

BY MARY HUNT

 

Is there anything more gratifying than having a beautiful home garden? Considering the cost of gardening products, though, one trip to the garden center to pick up soil amendments, weed-barrier cloth and weed killer can pretty much zap all the joy out of the experience. That’s why I love today’s tips, tricks and — back by popular demand — recipes for my homemade weed killer.

GARDEN VITAMINS. While you may have no use for spent coffee grounds, your garden would love them. Used coffee grounds are like megavitamins for garden soil. They’re rich in phosphorus and magnesium, important nutrients that help plants grow. It’s easy to sprinkle them around your garden plants and work them into the soil. They’re even the same color as the soil. If you’re not much of a coffee drinker, don’t despair. Starbucks has a program called Grounds for Your Garden, where select stores scoop used coffee grounds into the bags the beans originally came in and offer them to customers for free. Ask a barista at your local Starbucks to see if that store participates in the program.

FREE CALCIUM. We throw away eggshells every day. Why wouldn’t we? They’re not good for anything, right? Wrong! Eggshells are a delicious source of calcium for your garden. Be sure to crush them well and work them into the soil, right along with those coffee grounds. Calcium will help keep your garden soil and plants healthy. Read more

Crime Alert for Grandparents

June 28, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE

BY MARY HUNT

 

There is a very real and very terrible scam happening in the U.S. in which con artists are targeting and scamming money from grandparents.

It begins with something most grandparents want more of: a phone call from a grandchild, or so they think. The caller pretends to be in distress about something; he’s been hurt in a car accident or arrested or gotten in some kind of trouble, and he needs money — fast.

One former scammer told CBS News that scammers can make up to $10,000 in a single day on the grandparent scam. When he was doing it, he just kept calling and calling until someone took the bait, and then started calling again.

A typical conversation goes like this: Read more

Trivia Bits – June 27 – July 2

June 27, 2016  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

WEEK OF JUNE 27

Monday, June 27

The wind that blows through the subterranean caves at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota changes direction depending on the atmospheric pressure in the area. A high pressure system forces air into the cave, a low pressure system forces it out. Force being the operative word — gusts have been known to reach 70 miles per hour.

Kenneth Grahame’s children’s book “The Wind in the Willows” inspired which Disney theme park ride?
A) It’s a Small World
B) Mad Tea Party
C) Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
D) Space Mountain

Previous answer: Sauna is a Finnish word.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.

Tuesday, June 28

Anyone can celebrate a Broadway hit, but Joe Allen restaurant in New York City has a special fondness for Broadway flops. Its walls are lined with their posters, starting with “Kelly,” a musical about a guy jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, which opened and closed on the very same night in February 1965. Figuring the show ought to be immortalized somehow, the cast gave a show poster to Joe Allen and a tradition was born.

A Broadway musical adaptation of which Stephen King work ran for just five performances in 1988?
A) “Carrie”
B) “The Shawshank Redemption”
C) “The Shining”
D) “The Stand”

Previous answer: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney theme parks was inspired by “The Wind in the Willows.”

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 29

Two celebrities with the same name is a recipe for confusion, so the star of “Creed” calls himself Michael B. Jordan (his middle name is Bakari) to distinguish him from that fellow who was sort of a big deal in the NBA. The singer born Katheryn Hudson changed her name to Katy Perry so she wouldn’t be mistaken for the actress Kate Hudson. And because Michael Douglas is an established actor, another actor born Michael Douglas is known to us as Michael Keaton.

The fourth U.S. vice president and the funk musician who started Parliament and Funkadelic share what name?
A) Aaron Burr
B) George Clinton
C) Elbridge Gerry
D) Daniel Tompkins

Previous answer: “Carrie: The Musical” ran for just five performances in 1988.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.

Thursday, June 30

In 1457, King James II of Scotland issued a ban that prohibited men from playing golf and demanded that they practice their archery skills instead. He figured that good soldiers who could wield a bow were more valuable to Scotland than good golfers, since you can’t putt your enemies to kingdom come.

Which venue will host the Ryder Cup golf championship in September 2016?
A) Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, Maryland
B) Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minnesota
C) Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wisconsin
D) Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York

Previous answer: George Clinton is the name of both the musician and the 4th vice president of the United States.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.

Friday, July 1

Washington Irving, the author who gave us “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” served as the U.S. Minister to Spain from 1842 to 1846. Best known for his short stories and satire, Irving also wrote biographies of Christopher Columbus and George Washington and was as famous in Europe as he was in the United States, which is why president John Tyler chose him for the ambassadorial post.

Which New York sports team takes its name from the works of Washington Irving?
A) Giants
B) Knicks
C) Mets
D) Yankees

Previous answer: The 2016 Ryder Cup competition between Team USA and Team Europe will take place at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.

Saturday, July 2

The Los Angeles Dodgers top the Major League Baseball standings in hot dog sales, dishing out about 2.5 million per season, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Straight up Dodger Dogs are classics. On the weird side there’s the Cleveland Indians’ Slider Dog topped with mac and cheese, bacon and Froot Loops cereal and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Cracker Jack & Mac Dog topped with Cracker Jack, mac and cheese, salted caramel sauce and fried jalapenos.

What type of character has been the Cracker Jack mascot since the early 20th century?
A) Bumblebee
B) Monkey
C) Pixie
D) Sailor

Previous answer: The New York Knicks — short for Knickerbockers — take their name from Diedrich Knickerbocker, the fictional author of Washington Irving’s “History of New York.”

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 LESLIE ELMAN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

How to Deal with Extremely Offensive Odors

June 27, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE

BY MARY HUNT

 

Many years ago, Nok-Out and I met completely by accident. We found each other during my desperate search for ways my readers could deal with extremely offensive odors. I’ve used Nok-Out continuously in my home and business since then, and have recommended it to readers facing serious and potentially expensive odor issues.

DEAR MARY: I am a loyal EC reader. You recently suggested diluting Nok-Out by adding 4 parts water to 1 part Nok-Out. I always wondered if you could do that, but didn’t want to risk wasting the product by testing it and being wrong. Some of my clothes were terribly odorous, and I couldn’t get the smell out no matter how many times I washed them. I was about ready to throw them away. After reading your column, though, I diluted the Nok-Out as you said, soaked my clothes in the solution, wrung them out and then washed them. It worked! Nok-Out saved my clothes. The odor is completely gone. This product is definitely worth the money. — Robyn

DEAR ROBYN: That’s great news! Nok-Out is so highly concentrated that it is still highly effective when diluted to the 4-to-1 solution. There are times you can dilute it even more than that, but there are also (rare) times you really need to use it at full strength. Read on for one example…

DEAR MARY: Will Nok-Out get rid of skunk odor? — Joyce Read more

Confused by Food Product Dating? Yes, We Are!

June 23, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT

Pop quiz: You take a chicken out of the fridge to fix for dinner and notice that yesterday was the “Sell By” date. What should you do?
A. Throw it away because not many emergency rooms offer a stomach-pumping family plan.
B. Cook it to an internal temperature of 195 F minimum to kill any possible salmonella, and serve it with a pungent sauce to mask any residual fowl odor.
C. Relax, because the supermarket complied with Food and Drug Administration regulations requiring that this chicken be sold before the date on the label.
D. Refuse to answer on the grounds that this is obviously a trick question.
If you selected “D” you are right: This is a trick question. What better way to introduce a column about confusing dates than with a confusing pop quiz?
The truth is, “C” would be correct if not for the word “regulations.” Except for baby formula and some baby foods, food product dating is not required under federal regulations. It is a convenience offered to store owners by food manufacturers.
Although dating some products is required in 20 states, it is voluntary on the part of manufacturers and processors. To further shake your confidence, stores are not legally required to remove outdated products from the shelves. So, it’s up to you to make sure you are choosing the freshest products. That means scrutinizing package labels to find the package with the most recent date.
WHAT IS PRODUCT DATING?
The use of a calendar date, or “open date,” on food packaging (as opposed to a code) is a date stamped onto a package to help the store determine how long to display that item for sale. It also helps the customer know how long an item is good for purchase, and how long it will be at its best quality.
An open date is not a safety date. These dates help stores move older merchandise and protect manufacturers from potential liability claims. Although most markets are vigilant about rotating stock, some are not.
“BEST BEFORE,” “BETTER IF USED BEFORE” OR “BEST IF USED BY”
These labels indicate how long a product will retain its flavor, freshness and quality, as determined by the manufacturer.
Typically these labels appear on products like baked goods, cereals, snack foods and some canned foods. The item is still safe to eat after this date, but it may have changed in taste or texture.
“EXPIRES,” “USE BY” OR “USE BEFORE”
These phrases appear on yogurt, eggs and other foods that require refrigeration.
Other dating terms are guidelines, but these mean what they say. If you haven’t used or consumed the product by the date listed, toss it.
“GUARANTEED FRESH”
This label is often used for perishable baked goods. Beyond this date, freshness is no longer guaranteed, although the product may still be edible.
“SELL BY”
This date is usually found on highly perishable foods like meat, milk and bread. This date guides the rotation of shelf stock, and is determined in order to allow time for the product to be stored and used at home. The product is still safe and wholesome past this date.
For example, milk will usually be good for at least a week beyond its “Sell By” date (if properly refrigerated). Meat is still fresh by its “Sell By” date, but it should be consumed or frozen within 48 hours.
“PACK DATE”
Some products bear a pack date indicating when the product was packaged. This date is often encrypted so only manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers can read it. The pack date on some products, such as eggs, is shown by a Julian date (dates numbered 1 through 365), where Jan. 1 is number 1 and Dec. 31 is number 365.
The bottom line is, the fresher your food, the better it is, and the longer you have to consume it at home. Buyers: Beware of the dates, and always read the label. And here’s a tip: In a properly stocked store, the freshest items will be at the back of the shelf or underneath older items.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

 

 

 

Confused by Food Product Dating? Yes, We Are!

June 23, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE

BY MARY HUNT

 

Pop quiz: You take a chicken out of the fridge to fix for dinner and notice that yesterday was the “Sell By” date. What should you do?

A. Throw it away because not many emergency rooms offer a stomach-pumping family plan.

B. Cook it to an internal temperature of 195 F minimum to kill any possible salmonella, and serve it with a pungent sauce to mask any residual fowl odor.

C. Relax, because the supermarket complied with Food and Drug Administration regulations requiring that this chicken be sold before the date on the label.

D. Refuse to answer on the grounds that this is obviously a trick question. Read more

How Can We Get a Good Hot Cup of Coffee?

June 22, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT

So, you like coffee — a lot. Me, too. I like it so much that I’m a home roaster and an importer. That’s right. I import green coffee beans directly from the La Minita farm in the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica. Why? Well, because — get ready — it’s the best inexpensive way to enjoy the best gourmet organic, free trade coffee on Earth.

Apparently, I am not the only coffee lover in the EC family. You send me lots of questions and comments on the subject. Here’s one:
“Which coffee maker makes the hottest coffee and keeps it hot without burning it?”
“Hot” is a nebulous term when it comes to coffee temperature. For McDonald’s, “hot” meant a big lawsuit when it was so hot that a customer burned herself when she spilled it in her lap. For my grandson Eli, “hot” means any temperature, even slightly warmer than tepid.

Coffee aficionados insist that the water temperature in a drip coffee brewer needs to be exactly 179 F the moment it hits the coffee grounds. Personally, I find that to be on the cool side, which confirms that “hot” is a matter of each person’s perception.
Automatic drip coffee makers have internal thermostats to control the water temperature. They range from 155 F to 205 F depending on the make and model. This setting is not adjustable on most machines, which most of us don’t think about when buying a coffee maker.
Manual coffee makers like the Chemex (makes 8 cups and costs about $36) and Aerobie Aeropress (about $30) leave the temperature up to the brewer. When I use my Aeropress, I heat the water to boiling and then let it cool for a few minutes, until my instant-read thermometer reads 190 F. Using this method, I only make the amount of coffee we will consume immediately. Keeping it hot is not an issue.
OXO 9-CUP COFFEE MAKER. This beautiful machine dispenses coffee into a vacuum-insulated carafe that keeps the coffee hot. Water is heated and held throughout the brew cycle at temperatures between 197.6 and 204.8 F. The carafe will keep coffee hot for an hour or two (although it’s not “hot” as I define it). This machine makes an excellent cup of hot coffee and has gotten very high marks among hundreds of reviewers. It costs about $200.
BUNN VP17-1SS POUROVER COFFEE BREWER. This is the coffeemaker I own and use continuously. It keeps water heated to 191 F so it’s ready to go at all times. That means when I pour the fresh pot of water into the machine to brew a pot, I’d better have the coffee grounds in the basket ready to go, because hot coffee begins pouring into the pot instantaneously. This machine makes up to 12 cups of coffee. The coffee pours into a glass carafe, and a warmer keeps the carafe hot. We live at a semi-high elevation of 5,280 feet, and this machine works flawlessly. I have owned so many coffee makers in my life. I’ve loved some, I’ve hated others, but they all eventually failed. However, I do not plan on replacing this beautiful BUNN machine in the foreseeable future. It is trouble-free and highly dependable, and it makes fabulous coffee. It cannot be beat. And it looks cool, too. It costs about $260.

Neither of these two automatic coffee makers is cheap. However, they are inexpensive when you consider that you wouldn’t replace either one for a very long time, if ever.
For more information on the coffee makers above visit the Everyday Cheapskate page “A Good Hot Cup of Coffee.” For a true coffee lover, a coffee maker is an investment in one of life’s pleasures. The joys of a good cup of coffee cannot be exaggerated.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

 

 

 

Driving Safely in Work Zones

June 22, 2016  
Filed under Health & Wellness

driver safety

 

 

Drive Time — Safety Tips for VT Drivers

Information, tips and reminders from those who work to keep Vermont drivers safe –

VT State Police, VT Department of Motor Vehicles, VT Agency of Transportation, VT Sheriffs Association, and AARP Driver Safety, members of the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance.

 Now that warm weather is finally here, it must be construction season. And that means it’s time to refresh our safe driving in work zone skills with these tips:

  • Remember that work zone means any properly posted construction, maintenance or utility work site, and rules apply 24/7, not just during the workday.
  • Slow down! Speed limits are reduced and fines for speeding are doubled in work zones for a good reason:  to protect the workers.
  • Follow instructions from flaggers and signs.
  • Pay extra attention, minimize distractions and expect the unexpected.
  • Do NOT use handheld devices; it’s illegal in Vermont, except for certain emergency communications.
  • Turn on headlights for better visibility.
  • Be courteous, and merge as instructed, as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Don’t change lanes in the work zone, tailgate, or crowd the road crew. Maintain at least a 4-second following distance and give road workers as much space as possible. Try to keep up with the traffic flow.
  • Expect delays and schedule extra time, or seek an alternate route.
  • Be patient. Remember that they’re working hard to improve the roads for all of us.

 

How Can We Get a Good Hot Cup of Coffee?

June 22, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE

BY MARY HUNT

 

So, you like coffee — a lot. Me, too. I like it so much that I’m a home roaster and an importer. That’s right. I import green coffee beans directly from the La Minita farm in the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica. Why? Well, because — get ready — it’s the best inexpensive way to enjoy the best gourmet organic, free trade coffee on Earth.

Apparently, I am not the only coffee lover in the EC family. You send me lots of questions and comments on the subject. Here’s one:

“Which coffee maker makes the hottest coffee and keeps it hot without burning it?”

“Hot” is a nebulous term when it comes to coffee temperature. For McDonald’s, “hot” meant a big lawsuit when it was so hot that a customer burned herself when she spilled it in her lap. For my grandson Eli, “hot” means any temperature, even slightly warmer than tepid. Read more

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