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Tis the Season for…CHARITY SCAMS

Posted by on Nov 27, 2016 in A frugal Life, Frugal For Everyone | 53 comments

Charity scamsBefore retiring I managed a local branch of an international Charity. This of course means I know very well how legitimate charities operate. On the flip side it also means I’m very aware of charity scams.

To many people donating so others can also enjoy a good Christmas is simply part of the Christmas season. Scammers take full advantage of this generosity by pretending to be collecting for Charities at Christmas, often successfully. Think twice before giving . Very few Charities have the resources to go door-to-door or make telephone calls. If approached this way there is a strong possibility it’s a scam.

Let’s stop supporting their fraudulent activities. Knowing how to identify legitimate Charities and having a fail-proof way to make donations will go a long way to ensuring your donated funds go where you want them to.

Scammers often target the elderly, which I find particularly disturbing. If you know an elderly person, especially someone who lives on their own and who could be taken in, please discuss this with them.

 

Charity Scams Popular Causes:

Charity scams often use the following causes simply because we find it hard to say no to causes that benefit:

  • Families at Christmas
  • Children
  • Veterans
  • The homeless
  • Animals
  • Current catastrophes like earthquakes, health epidemics, refugees etc.

 

charity scams

The simplest way to make sure you do not get caught by scammers is to check out the Charity:

  • Get the name of the Charity along with the charitable registration number – if this can’t be provided there should never be a donation;
  • Obtain address and phone number from the Charity’s website. If you have any questions, call the Charity and ask. Legitimate charities know all about donor concerns and will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

NEVER use a number provided by the solicitor but always check the Charity’s website for mailing address and phone number.

 Things to watch for:

  • Being asked for the donation in cash. Legitimate charities actually prefer cheques or online donations because both leave a paper trail which is important.
  • Being thanked for making a pledge you don’t remember making and being presented with a bill for the so-called pledged amount. Don’t pay it!!  Instead take the bill to the nearest police station and let them deal with it.
  • Scammers may use names that are similar to legitimate Charities. If something doesn’t sound or feel right, place a direct call to the Charity to ask if they are soliciting in your neighbourhood.

Fail-proof way to make donations:

  • Mail your cheque directly to the Charity along with a cover letter; If the Charity has a local branch you wish to support, mail the check directly to the branch, again with a cover letter;
  • OR go to the Charity’s Website to make an online donation.

 

Click on the links below to find out more about the legitimacy and accountability of any Charity:

Or google the Name and Address of the Charity adding the word ‘scams’, ‘fraud’ or ‘complaints and see what comes up.

 

Saying NO during this season really doesn’t hurt legitimate charities, after all they need funds all year round. Your donation will be just as welcome in February as in December. The exception of course would be Christmas requests, such as the Salvation Army Christmas Fund or the Emergency Services Toy/Food Drives.

 

No doubt there will always be scammers looking for an easy dollar. However, by being alert to common charity scams you can go a long way to prevent those dollars from being yours.

 

Talk to you again next week,

Lenie

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Scam Alert: Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Charity: Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Remembrance Day: Sacrifices Never Forgotten

Posted by on Nov 11, 2016 in A frugal Life, Frugal For Everyone | 14 comments

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day Poppy

In honour of Remembrance Day I’m sharing a poem by local poet, Floyd Zurbrigg. Although the poem is called “In Canadian Fields” it applies equally to all countries whose men and women sacrificed all for our freedom.

Floyd wrote this description: “My poem ‘In Canadian Fields’ developed from my admiration for Col. John McRae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” and my long held belief that there was another poem needed. This one would relay the heartaches and hardships endured by those left at home. Without their hard work and sacrifice, we would not enjoy our many freedoms today.”

 

IN CANADIAN FIELDS  

“In Flanders Fields the poppies blow”

When I hear that famous poem I know

That our soldiers went to a far off shore

And gave their lives in an awful war

I’m aware of the hardships they endured

So our peace would be assured

But the poem that I cannot find

Tells the stories of those left behind

Of wives and sweethearts, kissed at the train

That never saw their men again

Of parents, brothers and sisters too

Who worried, because they never knew

If their soldier was alive or dead

Many tearful, heartfelt prayers were said

To the ones at home, we owe a debt

They suffered too, Lets not forget

While in Flanders Fields the poppies blew

The folks at home were heroes too

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 “In Canadian Fields” is copied with permission from ‘Seasons of the Elm’, a Book of Poems by Floyd Zurbrigg.

On this Remembrance Day let us remember not only those who fought but also the brave ones left behind.

Talk to you again soon,

Lenie

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Library Book Sales – $$ For Programs, Great Deals For Us

Posted by on Oct 17, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone | 4 comments

PELibrary

This Library was funded in 1907 by an $8,000.00 grant from Andrew Carnegie – known as the Patron Saint of Libraries.

“A LIBRARY OUTRANKS ANY OTHER ONE THING A COMMUNITY CAN DO TO BENEFIT ITS PEOPLE. IT IS A NEVER FAILING SPRING IN THE DESERT.” ……… Andrew Carnegie

It’s no secret that I love the Library. Besides the obvious pleasure derived from the many books and videos we’ve borrowed, it’s also my ‘go-to’ place for research, training courses and checking community happenings.

October – Library Month in Canada:

October is Library month in Canada with many libraries choosing this time to host book sales to raise funds for programs. These are great sales and I am often one of the first ones there, as much to support the library as to buy books. They always have a large selection from baby’s first book to first-learning books to adult books, and everything in between. Videos, CDs, games and craft items are also available.

All items for sale are donated to or discarded by the Library. Everything is checked by Friends of the Library before being placed for sale so no worries about getting dirty or useless books and products. The items sold are at least as good as those found in most Used Book Stores.

Prices vary – some libraries ask for donation while others set the price, but no matter how they price it the bargains are real. One of the local libraries offers a ‘buck a bag’ day. You supply the bags and you can fill as many as you want for one dollar a bag.

Years ago, I set up a bookshelf for the grandkids and filled it with books, videos, craft materials and games left over from our boys.  Then one of our grandsons, who was only two years old at the time, started this really cute tradition. Usually towards the end of the visit he would be tired out and quite content to choose one of the books to either look at it  by himself or to let me read it to him. When it was time to go home, he would ask if he could take the book with him – naturally, the answer was yes.

Since then, more grandchildren have arrived and more books continue to leave the bookshelf to go home with them. Of course, having books leave the house on a regular basis means the bookshelf keeps getting emptier all the time and that’s where the book sales come in. What a perfect opportunity to restock.

Libraries are a vital part of a community – showing our support by attending the book sales is a small thing we can do and a win-win situation for all. The library gets dollars for programs and we get great deals – how can you not like that? Why not find out if your library will be holding a book sale (if not, maybe you could suggest they do). Not only will you be able to find books and bookstore products, it’s also a great place to donate those good books, videos, CD’s, games and craft items you no longer use.

Show your support – not everyone is fortunate enough to have access to a Library – I’m so glad we do.

Talk to you again soon,

Lenie

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Apple Cider Vinegar: Is It Really a Magic Cure-All?

Posted by on Sep 18, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone, Health | 36 comments

apple cider vinegarI first learned about Apple Cider Vinegar from my readers when I posted Salad Dressing Doesn’t Require Chemicals. The salad dressing recipes included used plain white vinegar but several commenters suggested using apple cider vinegar instead, claiming it was a superior product.

Apple cider vinegar’s greatest claim to fame is its alleged health benefit. However, as with many natural health products, there have been few in-depth scientific studies done to support that. Any claims made are mostly based on folk medicine. That doesn’t mean they don’t work – many old-time remedies are very effective, something world health organizations are starting to acknowledge.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As always – if you have chronic health problems or are taking any kind of medication, do not take ACV without checking with your doctor first.

Apple cider vinegar is not a cure-all but rather, when used right, an effective way to maintain the body’s pH balance in order to prevent disease.

Unless advised to do so by a medical or homeopathic doctor, apple cider vinegar should not be used to treat disease.

Do not overuse. Start slow with ½ to 1 tsp. per day and slowly work up to no more than 2 Tbsp. a day (although I personally think for long-term use 1 Tbsp. (3 tsp.) a day should be the maximum, but that’s just me – I tend to err on the side of caution).

Always dilute apple cider vinegar. Drinking it straight can lead to loss of tooth enamel and burn the mouth, throat and esophagus.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Apple Cider Vinegar Health Benefits:

  • Leg cramps. I can personally vouch that this works. I add 1/2 tsp. to my cup of honey-lemon tea twice a day, once just before bed.
  • May help balance blood sugar levels.
  • High blood pressure – has been shown to lower blood pressure.
  • May lower cholesterol which in turn reduces risk of heart disease.
  • There is some evidence that apple cider vinegar may slow the growth of cancer cells. More studies are needed.
  • Weight Loss. Believed to suppress appetite if taken before a meal.
  • Sore Throat. Gargle with a diluted solution. Try a warm drink made with 1 cup warm water, 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar, add honey to taste.
  • Upset Stomach. Make a mint tea and add 1/2 tsp. of apple cider vinegar to settle the stomach. Honey may be added.
  • Can get rid of that bloated feeling.
  • A honey-lemon-apple cider vinegar tea works well to clear congestion and get rid of phlegm.
  • Helps rid the body of toxins.

Apple Cider Vinegar Precautions:

All natural products used to promote good health should be taken with the same care as prescription medicines. Apple cider vinegar is no different. This is not a product where ‘if a little works, more will work better’. It won’t and excessive intake can create serious health problems.  

  • For anyone taking diabetic medicine or insulin, apple cider vinegar can lower blood sugar levels too much, leading to hypoglycemia or even insulin shock.
  • Patients taking diuretics may be monitored for low potassium. Apple cider vinegar can lower potassium even more.
  • DON’T USE it straight as a tooth-whitener or a mouthwash. This practice can do serious damage to tooth enamel and mouth tissue.
  • Apple cider vinegar can help balance your body’s pH level which should be around 7.45. Overuse can disrupt this balance and actually create health problems. It’s easy to check pH levels with an inexpensive litmus test, available at Pharmacies.

What kind of Apple Cider Vinegar should you use?

When using apple cider vinegar to promote good health and prevent disease it just makes sense to buy the healthiest product – organic, unfiltered, unpasteurized and containing the ‘mother’.

I use Filsingers’ Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, which is Unfiltered, Unpasteurized and containing the ‘mother’. Bonus for me – Filsingers Organic Orchards are only about 20 miles away which supports my commitment to the 100 mile rule – that is, whenever possible buy products produced within 100 miles of where you live.  

How to get Apple Cider Vinegar into your diet:

The safest and easiest way to use apple cider vinegar is in everyday cooking. Adding ½ to 1 teaspoon to several dishes throughout the day will more than likely provide all you need to maintain a healthy pH balance and strong immune system.

  • As mentioned, add it to a tea
  • Add it to apple sauce
  • Makes a great salad dressing – I keep some in a spray bottle and just spritz some on our salads
  • Give soup or stews a little tang – especially those with tomato or beans
  • Add to baking – pie crust, pie fillings, muffins, etc.
  • Makes a more flavourful marinade for meat than white vinegar
  • Rub it on poultry for roasting
  • Use it with fish in place of lemon
  • Make a habit of replacing lemon juice or white vinegar with apple cider vinegar in recipes
  • Come up with your own ideas as to how to use it in cooking and baking.

Organic apple cider vinegar is substantially more expensive than white vinegar and should only be used to maintain the body’s pH balance in order to prevent illness. Using it for tasks where the much cheaper white vinegar works as well, such as for household cleaning and deodorizing, is simply a waste of money. 

Talk to you again next week,

Lenie

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Twitter Basics: Know These to Twitter Smarter

Posted by on Jun 19, 2016 in A frugal Life, Frugal For Everyone | 38 comments

Twitter Basics

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve been a Twitter user since January 2014 and since that time have sent out roughly 5500 tweets, am following 675 Twitter users and have 785 followers. Rather amazing since all this time I had no idea what I was doing. Definitely time to correct that.

Besides learning the Twitter Basics I also wanted to learn how to promote My Etsy Shop on Twitter without spamming. Library staff directed me to Lynda.com, an online video training business, where they believed I could find the right answers. They were right.

I’m not normally a fan of video training but this was different. The instructors used a conversational tone and this, along with the clarity of the audio, made learning easy. During the free 10-day trial period I devoted all my time to it and was able to complete the following courses:

  • Twitter Basics
  • Twitter Essentials
  • Twitter for Business
  • Advertising on Twitter
  • Up and Running with Canva
  • Selling on Etsy
  • eBay Essential Training for Sellers
  • Pinterest for Business
  • Learn Instagram – The Basics

Now I can’t possibly be the only person not knowing the Twitter Basics therefore I’m sharing  a few of the highlights from my Twitter training, focusing on those things I didn’t know – quite a lot as it turned out.

  1. Navigating Twitter:
    • Home – always returns you to your timeline (the constantly moving stream of Tweets)
    • Notification – keeps you updated about replies to a tweet, retweets, direct messages
    • Clicking on the profile photo activates a drop-down menu for profile view, lists, help, keyboard shortcuts, Twitter Ads, analytics, and settings
    • The Who to Follow column lists people Twitter thinks you may want to follow
    • On the top left is about you – profile photo, header photo, Twitter name, number of tweets, number of people you follow and followers
    • Under that is the Trend bar which contains hashtags and topics everyone is talking about – good idea to check some out and even add to the conversation.
  1. The importance of the Twitter Profile:
    • Use keywords in your bio
    • Add a header customized to match your other online sites. I used Canva for that
    • Clicking on @name on your home page will bring up the edit profile button to update your bio:
      • add a real photo of yourself or your business logo (400 x 400 pixels)
      • add your header (1500 x 500 pixels)
      • give your location if you want
      • insert your website URL
      • change the theme colour.
  1. Twitter Etiquette:
    • includes no blatant self-promotion
    • no adding affiliate links
    • no using all CAPS
    • never use negative commentary
    • no details – less is more.
  1. Hashtags are nothing more than Keywords with the pound sign in front of them. You don’t have to use hashtags that already exist but can use any searchable keyword. Find these at: https://twitter.com/search-home or https://www.hashtags.org/ (lists trending and popular hashtags). Using more than two hashtags is not recommended.
  1. Timing Tweets. To get the most out of Twitter, Tweet no less than twice a day at least 4 hours apart. 2-5pm EST is thought to be the best time to tweet. Sundays 1-5pm. are better for tweeting than Saturdays. After 8pm everything pretty well closes down.
  1. Scheduling Tweets. There are scheduling tools available.
  1. Twitter Tools and what they do:
  • http://www.tweriod.com/ Tweriod analyses the tweeting habits of your followers and suggests the time when it makes the most sense for you to tweet.
  • https://www.twellow.com/ Twellow allows you to find users that have the keyword you entered in their profile.
  1. Twitter analytics provides 28 day summary showing changes over the previous period for
    • Tweets – Impressions – Profile Visits – Mentions – Followers
    • Also shows top follower, top tweet, top media tweet and more.

A different free measurement tool is @Kred which scores you on your social influence and outreach.

  1. Tweeting Tips:
  • Use fewer than 120 characters so others can add comments when retweeting
  • When adding comments to shared tweets, place the cursor at the beginning of the tweet 
  • Use link shorteners.
    • https://bitly.com/Shortens links, optimizes them across every device and marketing channel, tracks individual link analytics
    • http://tinyurl.com/ – Shortens links, also has link editing, detailed click statistics, and custom Domains
    • http://ow.ly/url/shorten-urlShortens links, shares files and tracks visits. Pair with Hootsuite to get deep analytics with each link you share

A shortened URL in an unknown user’s tweet doesn’t let you know where the tweet originated or if this is a link you want to follow. You can expand the URL by using http://longurlmaker.com/

  1. Deleting, Pinning and Sharing Tweets:
  • You can’t edit tweets so you will need to delete and start over – to do that you click on the three dots underneath your tweet where you’ll see delete listed in the drop down menu
  • Other things you can do by clicking on the three dots:
    • Share by direct message;  Copy a link to a tweet;  Embed the tweet;
    • Pin the tweet to the profile page where it shows up on top of your timeline and stays there until you unpin it or it’s replaced by another tweet
  1. Clicking on the three dots under another user’s tweet allows  you to:
  • Share their tweet via DM to another Twitter user
  • Copy a link; Embed it on a website
  • You can block or mute the user’s tweets

Hover your mouse over the user’s profile photo to the left of the tweet to see details about that person.

Only follow people that share your interests, those you can learn from, or someone whose bio appeals to you. Don’t just follow for the sake of following.

Always respond to anyone who shares a tweet, retweets or otherwise interacts with you.

Once you know the Twitter Basics you can find this information for yourself. But without Lynda.com I would not have known where to look and still be wondering what to do and how to do it. Now all I have to do is get busy and apply what I’ve learned. 

Talk to you again next week,

Lenie

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Blending Edible Plants with Ornamentals

Posted by on Jun 12, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Herbs | 29 comments

Designing a beautiful landscape can feel overwhelming to non-gardening experts. But designing a landscape that seamlessly integrates edible plants? That may seem unrealistic—but it’s not.

Here’s a great place to start: Understanding the basics of line and form in your outdoor spaces. There are different types of lines—curves, straight, vertical, horizontal—as well as forms. Those work with structures and plants to create pleasing visuals.

And while many people assume that most fruits and vegetables must be planted every year, there are edibles that grow multiple years in a row. That can help when designing a landscape that has consistency from year to year.

Although many people plant edibles for the harvest, there are considerations of height, color, leaf structure, and more to consider, and how those can accent the plants you have already in the landscape. In addition, many edible have flowering times, which can be a great complement to other blooms in the yard.

Whatever your approach to landscaping, this graphic can help you integrate more plants to harvest in your yard.

 

Edible plants
Source: Fix.com Blog

When I was asked to publish this infographic on my post I was delighted to comply. It’s exactly the kind of information that’s great to share. Instead of adding it to the sidebar I decided that the infographic would be the post. Attractive, colourful and loaded with useful information to make blending edible plants and ornamentals easy. What’s more, we all know the cost of fruits and vegetables have gone way up and from all reports, will continue to increase. Isn’t this a beautiful way to control those costs?

Talk to you again next week,

Lenie

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Lavender Sachets: Victorian Air Fresheners

Posted by on Jun 7, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone, Herbs, Lavender | 22 comments

Lavender Sachets

Lavender Sachets, Victorian Style

I’ve been researching Lavender use during the Victorian Era and this has turned into a fascinating project. Queen Victoria was passionate about lavender and insisted on having it used throughout the castle. She believed lavender meant cleanliness and that it purified the body and spirit – we now know she was right on – lavender does indeed have antiseptic, antibacterial and restorative properties.

Of course this meant that lavender was used in lots of different ways – for cleaning, grooming, fragrance, cooking, medicinal, and lavender sachets. With all these items using lavender to choose from, I decided that My Etsy Shop would only feature items based on Victorian products, starting with lavender sachets.

Lavender Sachets – Victorian Style:

Lavender Sachets were an effective way to keep homes free from bugs and smelling nice. A gentle squeeze of the sachets was enough to release the fresh, clean lavender fragrance.

  • SachLavender sachetsets were hung from doorknobs in all public rooms to freshen the air;
  • Decorative ones were hung from the arms of chairs for the same reason;
  • Small sachets were slipped between the sheets in linen presses for the clean fragrance and to deter insects;
  • They were a required item for the bedroom:
    • Several were tucked in with the bedding to deter bed-bugs;
    • One or more were hung from bedposts to clean the air;
    • Small sleep pillows were placed on or under pillows to ensure restful sleep;
  • Sachets were placed in wardrobes and drawers to keep insects out;
  • Quite often a small sachet could be found in a woman’s reticule;
  • Daring young women would tuck little lavender sachets in their cleavage;
  • Small sachets were often tucked in with a lady’s stationery.
Lavender Sachets

Lavender Sachets Victorian Style

Lavender lost a lot of its appeal during the mid to latter part of the 20th century when cosmetic companies developed their chemical products and clever marketing encouraged the consumer to buy. Fortunately we are becoming aware that chemical is not the way to go and many of us have returned to natural, homemade products.

I’m enjoying the research into Victorian times and find it interesting to design products for today based on items from the past. Another item is already on the drawing board which I’ll share with you next month. For now it’s lavender sachets because they are as useful today as they were in Victorian times.

Talk to you again next week,

Lenie

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Mosquitoes Bugging You? Banish Them

Posted by on May 29, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone, Health and Safety, Herbs, Lavender | 28 comments

mosquitoes

Mosquitoes –  Image courtesy of chatchai_stocker at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mosquitoes  are no longer merely summer’s party-poopers, they have turned into dangerous guests. While we know that many mosquito-borne viruses have been around for centuries there are two serious ones that have impacted North America in recent years.

  • West Nile Virus: Symptoms range from very mild to encephalitis/meningitis to death. Transmitted to birds, horses and humans. Most at risk – the very old and the very young.
  • Zika Virus: May cause neurological defects in babies, muscle weakness, paralysis and death. Most at risk – pregnant women.

It is therefore essential that we do what we can to prevent mosquito bites.

Mosquitoes – Preferences:

You know how you’re hiking with a group of friends and the mosquitoes like one person best? There is truth to that. Some people do attract mosquitoes more than others.

  • Carbon Dioxide attracts mosquitoes and of course we emit carbon dioxide when we do anything – breathe, talk, walk, or eat. Breathing is rather necessary but maybe we could talk or eat less while outside?
  • The more you sweat, and the older the sweat is, the more mosquitoes you will attract.
  • Exercise produces sweat and panting (release of carbon dioxide). For the very active person a strong mosquito repellent will probably be necessary. (See the Consumer Report Paragraph at the end of this article).
  • For some reason mosquitoes like people with blood type O while anyone with blood type A will be last choice.
  • Anyone with high uric acid levels tend to attract mosquitoes. If you fall in this category, up your Vitamin C and Citric Acid intake. A couple of tablespoon apple cider vinegar added to citrus juice/fruit salad/salad dressing will help balance things out.
  • For many people beer is the drink of choice during the summer. Unfortunately, unless they want to get bitten, they may have to change their beer to lemonade, at least while they’re outdoors.

Mosquitoes – Prevention:

While it’s impossible to eliminate every mosquito from your yard, there are steps we can take to make our yards less appealing to them.

  • The most obvious one – remove all standing water. This includes empty planters, wheelbarrows, old tires, bottles, cans and other containers left laying around, unused wading pools, pool covers, bird baths. Keep gutters/storm drains free from debris, cover rain barrels with fine mesh.  Any water features should have a pump to keep water moving.
  • Add lots of mosquito repelling plants to the flowerbeds and along walkways – Lavender, Lemon Balm, Basil, Marigolds, Lemongrass, Citronella, Catnip, Spearmint.

Banish them while you’re enjoying the outdoors:

  • Throw a few Rosemary stems on the BBQ. This adds flavour to foods while keeping mosquitoes away.
  • Place a variety of pots with mosquito repelling plants around the deck or patio and use one as a centrepiece(s) for your patio table. 
  • Add a few drops of pure Citronella oil to beeswax candles. Do not buy the cheap citronella candles or rings found at Dollar stores. They are ineffective and toxic.
  • When sitting outside, place a fan behind you. Mosquitoes are very light and the breeze will just blow them away.

Ways for you to be less appealing to mosquitoes:

  • Wear light colour clothes – the darker the clothes, the greater the chance mosquitoes will find you.
  • Mosquitoes have a great sense of smell and are attracted to scents. Best not to use anything scented – perfumes, soap, shampoos, etc.
  • If possible, wear long sleeves, long pants, hats and socks. Don’t wear baggy clothes that could trap mosquitoes and so be carried indoors.
  • Use the right kind of mosquito repellent applicable to the situation.

Mosquitoes –  Repellents:

Mosquitoes like the early morning and the hours around sunset best. If you’re going to be outside during those times take extra precautions.

There are a number of homemade Mosquito Repellents that work for around the patio and in the backyard. For camping, hiking and other outdoor activities where mosquitoes are in abundance stronger products are recommended.

Homegrown Mosquito Repellents: Some of the safest mosquito repellents for use around the home are the ones you can easily grow in your garden. You can also use these on pets.

Mosquitoes

Table Planter – Lemongrass, lavender, basil, marigolds

  • If you don’t have lavender growing in your flower bed, window-box or herb/vegetable garden, now is the perfect time to plant a few. To use as a mosquito repellent, just rub your hands up and down the lavender stems a few times to transfer the oils, then rub the exposed skin areas with your hands. Pin a sprig of lavender to the back of your hat.
  • Lemon Balm, an easy to grow, attractive perennial suitable for any garden site is another great mosquito repellent and used the same way as lavender. Rub the leaves, then rub exposed skin. You can also pick a large bunch, boil it and strain it into a spray bottle. Add a drop of apple cider vinegar if you like. Lemon Balm smells nice and refreshing.
  • Basil is an easy to grow annual that can be used in the same way as Lavender or Lemon Balm.
    1. Place a few stalks on the grill when barbecuing.
    2. Bruise a basil leaf and rub it on exposed skin.
    3. Bruise a leaf and pin it to shirt sleeves or hat.

Homemade Mosquito Repellents:  Not for use on children under three:

  • Mix Avon Skin So Soft with an equal quantity Witch Hazel. Pour into a spray bottle. Be careful to avoid contact with mouth, nose and eyes. Shake before using. Must be re-applied every 2-3 hours.
  • Mix 1/8 cup Pure Lemon Eucalyptus Oil with 1 cup Witch Hazel. Pour into a spray bottle. Be careful to avoid contact with mouth, nose and eyes. Shake before using. Must be re-applied every 2-3 hours.

Purchased Mosquito Repellents: These are stronger than the homegrown/homemade versions but make the most sense if you’re camping, hiking, etc. in mosquito territory. When using strong mosquito repellents containing DEET, it’s best to spray your clothes, hat and shoes/boots, rather than directly on your skin.

  • StealStreet Brookyo Mosquito Repellent Bracelet: These microfiber bracelets and patches will stay fresh for up to 7 days with pleasant smell of natural essential oils that bugs are repelled by – great for adults, teens, kids, safe for babies and even dogs

  • Sawyer Picaridin: Chosen top insect repellent by Consumer Reports. Effective against the Yellow Fever Mosquito, which can transmit the Zika Virus; Insect-killing repellent for your clothing is effective against ticks, chiggers, mites and mosquitoes; as effective as 100 percent DEET; Lasts up to 6 weeks (or 6 washings). Ideal for hunters, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Off! Deepwoods: Not oily or greasy; Repels mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, chiggers and gnats; A must-have for camping, fishing, hunting and boating; repels mosquitoes that may carry West Nile Virus.
  • Before buying any mosquito repelling gadgets do a thorough check of the product. Most of them have little value and some are just plain annoying.

The following information is quoted from Consumer Reports  To read more, click on the link.

“ The most effective products against Aedes mosquitoes (the ones that carry the Zika virus) were Sawyer Picaridin and Natrapel 8 Hour, which each contain 20 percent picaridin, and Off! Deepwoods VIII, which contains 25 percent deet. They kept the mosquitoes from biting for about 8 hours. The Sawyer product was our top insect repellent overall. It was the only one that also kept Culex mosquitoes, which can spread West Nile disease, and deer ticks, which can spread Lyme disease, away for at least 8 hours.”

While I’m all for natural non-toxic mosquito repellents, sometimes they do not provide enough protection and I would rather use a strong repellent than take a chance on catching a mosquito-borne virus.

Talk to you again next week,

Lenie

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Best Father’s Day Gifts -Unique AND Useful

Posted by on May 22, 2016 in A frugal Life, Frugal For Everyone, Smart Shopper | 24 comments

Father's Day Gifts

Best Father’s Day Gifts
Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I truly enjoyed this search for the best Father’s Day Gifts. I had no idea that all these fascinating and unique products were available so it was quite an eye-opener. Who would have thought of watches with wooden bands or a computer mouse that looks like a car or a golf bag attachment that let’s your phone/tablet record your game? What amazing choices there are and how lucky the dad who will receive one of these gifts.

Before I get started with the list I do need to explain a few things. My search took me to Amazon simply because Amazon has many thousands of products which meant all the searching could be done on one site. As the saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words”. I agree and have therefore added the images below. Clicking on any of the thumbnails will take you to the Amazon site for enlarged views of the product. Think of it as browsing a Father’s Day Gift Catalog. Be assured that clicking does not mean buying.

On that note, I am an Amazon associate and if you do decide to buy from Amazon, I would be delighted if you would order through my site. No cost to you but I will earn a small commission.

The Best Father’s Day Gifts:

  • Starting off with one of the neatest items, at least in my opinion, is this wooden watch handcrafted from high quality natural sandalwood with no two pieces of wood exactly the same. It includes a day/date calendar. Definitely a huge step-up from the tie and sock gifts of yesterday.
  • Craft beers are all the rage these days. Wouldn’t these beverage chiller sticks be the perfect accessory for dad’s favourite craft beer? All you do is put the stick in the freezer for 45 minutes then insert into a bottle of beer (or other beverage) to keep the drink cold.
  • Father’s Day is the one day to go all out spoiling dad and I can’t think of a better way than with this folding chair. The chair has a detachable insulated cooler, an electronics pocket, a fold-out side table to hold books, tablet, camera and drinks, etc. keeping everything within easy reach. Perfect for keeping dad comfortable on the beach, park, or the deck.
  • How about this portable BBQ suitcase? You have to admit, this one is very unique. Easy to carry around, this stainless steel charcoal grill can accommodate cooking for 2 people and includes a convenient mess-free ash catcher.

  • If dad is into thrillers, “Make Me (with bonus short story Small Wars): A Jack Reacher Novel” by the #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Lee Child will be super appreciated. Of course, it will probably mean he’ll become too engrossed in the book to be able to take time out to BBQ. Best make other plans for dinner.
  • I love this nifty Mobile Printer w/ZINK Zero Ink Printing Technology that is compatible w/iOS & Android Devices. It prints 2×3 colour photos directly from Mobile Phone or Tablet via Bluetooth or NFC Technology. Great for dad – lucky him.
  • The PhoneSoap 2.0: UV Sanitizer & Universal Charger, as seen on SHARK TANK, isn’t only unusual, it’s also extremely useful. Phones are covered in disease-causing bacteria. PhoneSoap 2.0 safely kills 99.99% of germs utilizing bacteria-zapping UV rays. The germ-killing UV-C light used by the PhoneSoap 2.0 is scientifically proven to banish bacteria found on everything from door knobs, toilet seats, toilet handles, dirty laundry, and more. Fits and charges any phone or tablet and has a universal phone charger w/USB port. 

  •  For the car enthusiast, how about this Corvette Wireless Optical Mouse (HP-11CHCZRXA)? This is an officially licensed product with a unique 17 digit V.I.N. It has functional headlights with on/off switch and a built in automatic timer shut-off. A totally different way to cruise the web.
  • Bird-watching is growing in popularity all the time and this 8 X 35 BAK4 Prism Optical Waterproof Binoculars is perfect for that. Of course, it can also be used for other purposes like Concerts, Hunting, Hiking, or Stadium Sports.

  • Isn’t this stainless steel Multi-Tool the handiest thing you ever saw? It functions as pliers, knife, screwdriver, bottle & can opener, scaler, ruler & filer and comes complete with a nylon sheath and belt loop for easy access. For the active dad this little carry-along will save the day time and again.

The Best Father’s Day Gifts for the Sports Enthusiast:

  • For the avid golfer, this Golf Bag Video Recording & Mount System with a telescoping pole can be inserted in any bag and includes universal phone/tablet holder clamps that works with any device model smart phone or tablet. Drop the 54″ pole into your golf bag to provide an easy way to use your tablet or phone for swing recording, video review, and training purposes. Universal Phone or Tablet Clamp attaches to the Aluminum Extension Pole, extends out of your bag, and provides a secure hold on your phone so it will stay in place. Easy to view the screen and review your swing.
  • Even if dad hasn’t time for the course, he can still work on his game with this Portable Golf Putter Travel Practice Putting Set. This portable executive putter set comes in a zipper bag, includes a ball return cup, a screw together golf club and a golf ball. Lets dad perfect his swing anywhere. Perfect for any golf fan.
  • This Portable Bluetooth Speaker with Best-in-class sound goes wherever you go. It is the ultra-light, ultra-rugged and ultra-powerful portable speaker. It gives you 5 hours of battery power so you can take the music with you where ever you go, plug it in or play it wirelessly using its Bluetooth functionality, streaming your music with no strings or cables attached or talking hands-free with the speakerphone function. Now that’s useful.

  • For the active dad, how about these Hifi Stereo Bluetooth 4.1 Sunglasses (Polarized Black+Yellow Lens), MP3 Glasses Supports Music, Handfree Calls, Camera Shutter Remote. It’s easy to connect with high-fidelity, CD quality sound effect, able to connect more than 1 bluetooth devices and compatible with 99.9% bluetooth devices. A good mate for drivers, cyclists, runners,etc.

  • Soccer IQ: Things That Smart Players Do, Vol. 1, #1 Best Seller. Soccer IQ was named the #1 book for Soccer Players and Coaches by Football.com. and named Top 5 Book of the Year by the NSCAA Soccer Journal. It includes links to free Soccer IQ companion that brings the lessons to life.

There you have it. I hope you enjoy browsing these unique and useful Father’s Day Gifts as much as I enjoyed finding them.

Talk to you again next week,

Lenie

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Compost Tea – Perfect for Suburban Gardens

Posted by on May 15, 2016 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living | 25 comments

compost tea

Compost Tea – Strained and ready to use.

Compost tea is an inexpensive, easy-to-make, fast-working plant food that results in nutrient rich soil and strong, healthy plants. Every book or article written about organic gardening includes the need for adding compost to the soil. Easy enough to understand why since compost truly is a marvelous soil amendment – it improves nutrient retention of the soil while adding many beneficial organisms making for a more productive garden.

However, most municipalities have bylaws that prohibit homeowners from having compost piles in suburban areas which makes compost tea such a great alternative.  A compost pile isn’t required. With compost tea only one or two purchased bags of top quality compost will do. Add non-chlorinated water (rain water is free and perfect for this) and the right size pail and you’re set to go.

compost tea

Before getting to the Compost Tea recipe, there are a few things to know:

  • Compost Tea does not keep – when it’s ready you need to use all of it so make it in batches small enough to meet your immediate needs. There’s no sense wasting any.
  • The finished tea should not bubble or have a foul odour. That may mean it could be anaerobic and not much good can survive in that. If it has become anaerobic, throw it out and try again.
  • Make a test batch. A large coffee can or similar size container is ideal. Fill the can 1/3 full of compost, then fill the container with non-chlorinated water. Stir well with a stick, really move all the ingredients around. The stirring is extremely important as it aerates the tea and adds oxygen. Stir well several times a day for a week.
  • After 5 days to a week strain through a cheesecloth or strainer, rake the solids into the garden and pour a cup of the tea around each of the plants you want to feed.
    Compost Tea

    Adding the compost

To Make the Compost Tea:

  • Work only with clean materials. You can use any size container depending on the size of your garden although a five gallon pail or garbage bucket is used most often. As in the test batch, fill the container 1/3 full with compost, then fill the pail/bucket with non-chlorinated water. Stir well. Place in a handy location so you don’t forget about it.
  • The compost will settle on the bottom of the pail so stir 3 or 4 times the first day, making sure to move all the compost around, it needs to be well-mixed, then stir several times a day for the next week. Check often.
Compost Tea

Stirred and brewing

  • After 5 days to a week, strain the tea. The easiest way is to line a cheap colander with cheese cloth and just empty the tea into a very clean pail or bucket.
  • Dump and rake the solids into the garden. Use all of the tea to feed your plants, about 1 cup per plant.
  • Strain some of the compost tea into a spray bottle, add 1/2 teaspoon of dish detergent and spray on plant leaves to deter foliar disease.
  • Feed your plants and leaves every couple of weeks all summer long. This can also be used once a month on houseplants.

Note:  You can increase the nutrient value of the tea even more by adding powdered seaweed or worm castings to the finished tea.

Start a new batch brewing a week before you need more or better yet, split the garden up, feed half one week and the second half the second week and keep a continuous batch of compost tea brewing.

Both the finished compost tea and the discarded solids will add valuable nutrients to your soil, keeping your plants strong, healthy and producing abundantly.

Talk to you again next week,

Lenie