Wednesday, March 02, 2011

How to Decode Egg Cartons

How to Decode Egg Cartons

Have you ever wondered how to decode your eggs? This was an interesting article from Mother Earth News to give you the skinny on eggs... Check it out.....

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

6 Natural Remedies to 'Cure' a Cold

Article written by:By Chris Kilham Published December 29, 2010 |

With winter fully upon us, cold season has officially arrived, with coughing, sinus congestion, and the dullness that colds impart. Fortunately, natural cold remedies can help you to beat colds more quickly, and reduce the severity of symptoms.

Here are a few of my favorite remedies, which are free of side effects.

1. Fresh ginger root

Spicy and inexpensive, fresh ginger root is my all-time favorite pick for cold care. Buy ginger fresh (organic is preferred), and cut a piece about an inch and a half long. Either chop that piece very finely or grate it. Put the finely minced ginger into a tea strainer, and put the tea strainer in a cup. Pour fresh boiling water into the cup. Let the tea sit for five minutes. Remove the tea strainer, and squeeze the ginger with a spoon to get a bit more of the ginger juice into the cup. Flavor with a spoonful of honey and sip. The anti-inflammatory gingerols and shaogals in ginger root will help to relieve a sore throat quickly, and they also kill rhinoviruses, which cause colds in the first place. Drink three or more cups daily until you are well. You can also drink the same ginger tea to warm up on a very cold winter day. For children, reduce the concentration of the tea a bit, so it’s less spicy.

2. Eucalyptus essential oil

You are congested, and your nose feels like it is plugged with baking dough. Fill the bathroom sink with hot water. Drop three to five drops of eucalyptus essential oil into the sink water. Drape a towel over your head, and bend over the sink. Breathe the vapors. Do this for five minutes. Eucalyptus essential oil is nature’s very best decongestant. As you breathe the vapors, you will feel your sinuses opening up. Do this as many times as you need. The eucalyptus vapors will also get deep into your chest, and can help to open up congested bronchial tubes. You can also get eucalyptus-based cough drops. They too will help you to decongest.

3. Echinacea
Even though a recent study found little improvement in colds when Echinacea was used, many other studies have shown that Echinacea, a traditional herbal cold remedy, does in fact reduce both the severity and the duration of colds. Your best Echinacea remedies are those made from fresh Echinacea. Try the Gaia Herbs brand or the Herb Pharm brand of fluid Echinacea extracts, or Echinaforce by A. Vogel.

4. Umcka
This funny name is a traditional San tribal name for the South African herb Pelargonium sidoides. You don’t need to remember the Latin name, but do remember Umcka. Especially when taken at the beginning of a cold, Umcka can cut the entire misery short. Human clinical studies show that Umcka works well. My two favorite brands are Umcka by Nature’s Way, and Cold Check by EuroPharma, which contains both umcka and another cold-fighting herb Andrographis.

5. Elder flower tea
Both a traditional remedy and a well studied modern medicine, elder flower helps to relieve the symptoms of a cold. It is safe even for very small children, and is remarkably gentle. Plus elder flower has a pleasant taste, so kids won’t find it objectionable.

6. The super decongestant tea of all time

If your local natural food store has loose herbs, buy equal amounts of eucalyptus, hyssop and sage. Add equal amounts of the three herbs together. Put a teaspoon of the mixture into a tea strainer. Pour freshly boiled water over the herbs and let steep for three minutes. Strain and drink. I have found that when nothing else will provide decongestant relief, this remarkable tea will do so very effectively. Drink one to three cups daily, and stop if your sinuses dry out too much.

Natural remedies work, and that is why they are the most widely used medicines on earth.

I keep all the remedies above in my home, ready for use. If you supply yourself with natural remedies for when cold season hits, you won’t be left scrambling to get them once symptoms have set in. In addition to the remedies above, if you do come down with a cold, stay warm, get plenty of rest, and take time to recover. And yes, for reasons that we do not entirely understand, chicken soup does help too. There’s a reason it’s affectionately known as “Jewish penicillin.”

Basically, follow the advice of wise grandmothers, and you’ll start to feel better.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at

Read more here

Note from Lucy: I much prefer to try natural cures before going to the doctor.... I usually do much better....

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

GPS Safety Warning

If you have a GPS unit in your car, keep it hidden when your vehicle is unoccupied, especially if you pre-programmed addresses in it. GPS units are a popular target of thieves. Having it in plain sight is an invitation for someone to break your window and steal it.

And, if that's not enough, consider this. You're out shopping and a thief steals your GPS. They turn it on and click "home" from the list of pre-programmed addresses. By the time you return to your car, report the crime and write up a report with the police officer, the thief will have also robbed your home.

Realistically, you probably don't need to program home into your GPS. Chances are that you know how to get there without any help! If you really want to program it, call it something else. Label it "Bill" or "Susie" or something that only you would know is your home address. You could avoid a major hassle.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

More from Dollar Stretcher.....

Auto Air Filters

We purchase our own auto air filters and cabin air filters at discount stores and replace them ourselves. If the auto dealership or repair shop replaces these items, you, the consumer, will pay cost plus a hefty markup and labor to do so. We purchase our filters at a chain discount store for about $6.44 each and save a lot of money replacing them ourselves. Denise O. in Beemer, NE

DIY Coupons

Recently, I have been identifying brands of food that we use most often that I rarely find coupons for. Mostly these include organic or earth-friendly products that also don't often go on sale. I made a list, took it to the computer, looked up each company website, located their "contact us" link, and sent them all an e-mail complementing them on their product and asking if they would mail me a coupon. All of them responded to my e-mail and I have received several coupons in the mail as a result of my e-mails. One company even sent me a coupon for one free product from their brand. It was well worth my time and effort. Eve C.

Little Luxury: Lunch & a Show

When I treat myself to a movie and lunch, I find that "lunch" costs more than the movie. I have done various things to save money and also keep down my weight. The latest is that I go to a supermarket nearby and buy a boxed salad and a take-out
coffee. All the cinemas have an eating area where I can sit and enjoy my frugal lunch before the film. It used to cost at least $10 by the time I paid tax and tip for the cheapest item on the menu, but now I enjoy a nice large salad and coffee for
about $5. It sure helps me enjoy my outing more without breaking my budget. Trudy

Selling a Few Shares

I had a brokerage account and decided to transfer my shares back to the company to start a DRIP account, which would save on brokerage fees. After the transfer, there we some half shares that didn't transfer, and I was stuck with about $40 in half shares that would have cost me more in transaction fees to sell than the shares were worth. I went to a search engine, typed in the name of the company, and "promotion," and up came codes for free trades! I was able to submit four promotion codes, sell the half shares, and get the $40 without having to shell out more money!
Natalie B. in Phoenix, AZ

Local Trip Planning

When you know you are going to run errands or that you will be passing the dry cleaners, always be certain to have your "To Do" list and the things in the car you need to take care of. If you need to put clothes in the dry cleaner, have the
clothes in the backseat or trunk. Many people end up having to "run" back to the house when they are out doing errands just to get the laundry. Even when shopping for groceries, it's a good idea to make a list. You can save gas, time, and money
just by making an errand list for your family! J.

Preventing a Plumbing Problem

One of my favorite money-saving tips is to use a crochet hook to stick down sink drains to pull out hair. It works equally well on shower or bathtub drains. This is particularly effective if you have someone with long hair that is shampooing her hair several times a week. It works best to twist it and pull. Mary Jane F.


Note from Lucy: Love the idea of the Crochet hook down the drain.... lol Have a great week everyone....

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Negotiation Skills

by Paul William
5 steps to negotiating a better and smarter deal

Negotiation skills are a powerful asset in life. Understanding how to negotiate will help you get raises and promotions, get a better deal, and get out of paying stupid fees. These five steps will help you learn how to negotiate better and smarter.

1. Prepare

Before you begin negotiating (meeting with your boss or calling a company), take time to prepare for the negotiation. Think about what you want to accomplish and make it a concrete goal. "I want a 10% raise" is better than "I want more money."

Then, take some time to look at it from the other person's point of view. Why should they be willing to give you what you want? In the case of getting a raise, have you proven yourself to be a valuable asset to the company? If you're dealing with a business you buy from, have you been a customer for a long time or is it difficult to get new customers?

The key is to list your accomplishments and reasons why you should get what you want. If you've saved your company money or taken on new responsibilities, write down exactly what you have done. Good examples would be "saved the company $20,000 a
year by reducing waste in..." or "supervising ten more employees than last year." Be ready to justify your request with reasons that will appeal to the other person.

If you've been hit with a bogus fee, review your situation and be ready to explain what happened and why you don't think you should be charged. If you were misinformed by an employee of the company, make that clear when you call. This is also why
it's smart to keep a record of when and to whom you speak when you call a company. You can easily reference the conversation and the person if a problem arises in the future.

2. Choose the Right Time

Timing can greatly help your chances of negotiating successfully. If you're asking for a raise, try to do it right after you finished a major accomplishment or as you take on new responsibilities. Your boss will have a difficult time overlooking the current circumstances, making it easier to give you a raise.

Trying to get a better deal on your cell phone? Wait until your contract is just about to expire. (This works for other bills, too.) Businesses often spend quite a bit of money to get customers, so they'll often do what they can to keep you.
Negotiating when you'll have the option to cancel gives you more power.

3. Be Firm and Confident but Polite

Even if you are nervous or unsure, act confident and be firm as you negotiate. Weakness (real or perceived) puts the negotiating power back in the other person's hands, so avoid it at all costs. This simply means you should not act timid
when making your request. If you know you deserve a raise, act like it!

However, this doesn't mean you should be rude. Nobody likes a jerk. If you become hostile or impolite, people may refuse your request simply because they don't like you. Be pleasant, kind, and patient and you will be rewarded.

Another strategy is to use praise to your advantage. When negotiating a raise, show that you enjoy working there and are aligned with the company's interest. If you're trying to get a good deal with a company, comment on how you've enjoyed using
their product in the past. Let people know you appreciate their time and help and they'll be happy to help you again.

4. Be Ready to Respond

You should be ready to respond to any number of reactions you get. If the answer is yes, then express your thanks. If the person needs to get someone else's approval, let them know you appreciate their support. If the answer is no, things get a
little trickier.

If you're trying to lower your bills or get rid of bogus fees, don't give up at the first "no." Restate one of your reasons for why you should get what you're asking and follow that up with a leading question. Here's an example: "Well, I've been a
customer for 3 years and I'd hate to have to switch to [competitor]. What can you do to help me lower my bill (or get this fee waived)?" Do not follow up with a question that can be easily answered with a "yes" or "no." Push for a "what else" or "how" type question rather than simply saying "Are you sure?" or "OK."

Dealing with your employer is a bit different because you don't want to be so pushy you lose your job. If you think your boss is being unreasonable in denying your raise (i.e., you actually do deserve it), don't be afraid to ask for more details and insist on your accomplishments once again. Be polite but firm. "After saving the company $25,000/year and increasing efficiency by 15%, a 10% raise is a reasonable
award. In addition, comparable positions pay 20% more than my current salary so it is still good for the company."

If your boss still won't (or can't) budge, offer some alternatives that might not cost more money but are still beneficial to you. Increased vacation time, flexible hours, or the option to telecommute one day a week are a few examples. If these don't go over well, ask for concrete goals you can achieve to earn a raise and get an appointment to renegotiate in a few months.

5. Be Ready to Walk Away

Finally, you must be prepared to walk away if necessary. If a company won't offer you a discount, let them know you can get a better deal elsewhere (be specific) and thank them for their time. That's often enough to get what you ask for right away
(but you shouldn't abuse it).

If you are significantly underpaid, work very hard, and have not been able to get a raise, be ready to leave your employer and go elsewhere. I wouldn't use this as a negotiation tactic though. Even if your current employer offers to increase your
salary, they'll know you aren't loyal to the company and they may look to replace you. Your best bet is to start looking for a new job without letting your current boss know. Turn in your resignation after you have a firm offer from a new employer
and move on.

These Tips Do Work!

If you think these tips don't work, I'm proof that they do. Using these strategies, I've gotten 10% raises, lowered several of my bills, and had bogus fees waived several times. Again, preparation and confidence are key. You must know why you deserve to get what you're asking for and be willing to push for it if necessary. Many times, simply asking will get what you want because so many people fail to take that step.

This article has been reprinted with permission from Provident Planning . You can find the original article at Negotiation Skills . Paul Williams lives in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and has a passion for teaching people about personal finance, especially from a Christian perspective. is dedicated to pursuing that passion.

Note from Lucy: This best tips to negotiation is to go prepared..... Know the facts... Last time TF and I bought a car we went to and found out how much the invoice price was for the car that I wanted to buy... I had some leverage by just knowing the facts... We ended up saving about $5,000. dollars on the deal..... Have a great week everyone!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More ideas from Dollar Stretcher

Powerful Plant Additives

A long time ago, I remember my father emptying his coffee grounds into a planter right next to our back door. He mixed them into the dirt. We had the largest papayas in the neighborhood as well as the fattest earth worms. Everything we planted in the planter grew fantastically large and fast.

Acquiring that much coffee grounds takes time unless you drink a lot of coffee. I found out our local Starbucks has started a "go green" program where they will give away their coffee grounds if you ask. I have now received about 20 pounds of grounds. You can also try your local bakery for egg shells. We leave a empty container with a lid and pick it up about once a week. They add nutrients to the soil, and best of all, they are free. Ken T. in Kailua, HI

Old Purses

Recycle those old purses for disadvantaged, homeless women. Many times, homeless women will go to churches or community centers, seeking help in some small way. Most of the time, churches or other organizations don't have anything to give them. Or don't just hand out cash even if it just a dollar for bus fare.

Many of us have old purses in our closet that we throw away or give to a charity. These could be put to good use by being filled with items a homeless woman might need and not have like pens and notepaper, small bars of soap or shampoo, and lotion. A clean plastic cup put in a small baggie may be appreciated. How many times might a homeless lady desire a drink of water and not have a cup? Give new toothbrushes and small tubes of toothpaste or a pair clean socks that you no longer wear.

We have many of these items just sitting around the house in surplus. Even a small snack like a granola bar or pudding cup could be added. Once the purses are filled, they could be taken to a church or food bank where homeless ladies come or even handed out in areas where homeless women are located. Sometimes a pack of eight toothbrushes or other small bulk items can be bought at a dollar store and divided among the individual purses with one in each purse. It may not seem like much to us, but it will make a big difference to someone who has very little. A.

Little Luxuries: The Theater

I belong to a theater group that performs an annual comedy show for the benefit of a local church. I was checking my local newspaper for fun and interesting things to do and found an invitation to join. It takes very little of my time, and I enjoy being around other people who like comedy as much as I do. I consider this a luxury because it is fun, entertaining, non-fattening and free. It's something I do just for me. We raise money for charity and have a ball doing it! Local newspapers are an excellent source for free entertainment opportunities.
D. T.

editor's note: If you have a method for making you or your family feel good without spending money, please send it to

Just Add Water

It works! I have tried this, and not only does it save money, but it also looks good and is fun for all. I will never run out of chives for my potatoes or salads again. I took a bunch of green onions and put them in some water. I change the water every few days and the onions continue to sprout brand new green stems for cooking and cold dishes. It looks great on the counter, and I have not run out since I started my own. Dawn in Westlake Village, CA

Handy Burger Patties

To make quick and uniform hamburger or sausage patties, I use two piece jar lids. I use regular size for smaller patties and wide mouth for larger ones. Just dampen both pieces and fill with ground meat, turn over, and push meat out with the insert.
Virginia M. in Clarion, PA

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Shopping on the Curb

By Katy Dotson
Turn your neighbor's trash into a treasure. Katy Dotson shops the curb with her husband in North Louisiana.

Few thrills top the feeling of eyeing a cute little table in your home and knowing it only cost you the price of a can of spray paint. Add to that the righteous feeling of keeping one more piece of trash out of a landfill, and you've got the
triumph of a curbside find. It may sound, well, trashy, but nothing is more economical or environmentally friendly than taking a pre-trash-day drive through your neighborhood.

My first curbside find remains my favorite. On the way to the grocery store, I spied a rusty, gold, three-shelf baker's wrack sitting on the curb. I drove past it, but turned around a few minutes later and mustered up the courage to put it into my trunk. It didn't fit. A bit disappointed, I carried it back to the curb. When I turned to get into my car, an elderly man hurried out of the house.

"It doesn't fit in my trunk," I explained. He said that he was eager to see it leave the curb and offered to help. Together we managed to angle it into the back of my car. One can of primer and a can of copper-colored spray paint later, my patio was graced by what looked like a brand-new plant stand. My mom, an expert at trash-pile treasures who claims to be "green" before "green" was cool, was clearly impressed by my find, and I was on my way to discovering a new, affordable world of home decor. And, I'd met a new neighbor.

Shopping the curb can be daunting, but the following guidelines will help you turn one neighbor's trash into your very own treasure.

1. Use your imagination. An old carport column may look dirty or useless, but with a quick hose-down, it could be your next outdoor lantern post. Brainstorm possible alternate uses for the item, and remember that a coat of spray paint can work

2. Set your standards. Upholstered fabrics can be difficult to clean and often contain mystery stains and smells. Because of this, I prefer not to pick up anything with fabric on it. Decide which standards you are comfortable with and stick to

3. Stay home after a rain. Unless you know the water damage is repairable, picking up items after a rain is chancy (and can track muddy water into your car!).

4. Don't keep it if you don't want it. This is important to remember in order to avoid filling your garage with the town's garbage. If you're not going to clean it, paint it, move it or use it, then toss it. Picking up trash is only shabby chic if
you turn it into something cute or practical for your home. Otherwise, it's just shabby. Set a deadline, and if it's still sitting in your garage on that day, put it back where it came from, which is the curb.

5. Don't be afraid to brag. In these frugal times, not only is thriftiness a virtue, but it's also trendy. Feel free to tell guests that footstool is a re-purposed wooden crate from the curb. Who knows? Your success may encourage them to try their
hand at a curbside craft. And just think, we're helping the
environment, too, one rusty plant stand at a time.

Note from Lucy: I have found some really good treasure on the curb... My sister is an expert at it and somehow makes her treasures look brand new... What kinds of things have you found on the curb?