Monday, November 28, 2016

10 Ways to Recycle Old Flannel Sheets

One of our most beloved old sheet sets gave it’s last gasp and expired this week. I hated to let it go, but my foot kept getting caught in the hole every time I rolled over in bed. It didn’t seem right to throw away all that nice flannel, so I started cutting it down to save. But right away the idea hit me that I could at least make some cloth diaper liners, or even whole diapers, and I set to work. I made a half dozen basic diaper liners/doublers in 10 minutes, by folding the flannel into long rectangles, and using a zig-zag stitch down the middle and along the two ends. They are very soft and absorb very well. For shaped diapers, I used an old one as a pattern, putting together two pieces with a rectangle of extra layers down the middle. The elastic from the bottom sheet is still in very good shape and will be perfect for elasticising the legs of the diapers.

Here are some other uses for an old flannel sheet:

Burp cloths. A sheet set could be cut down into a good number of large cloths good for catching baby spit-up before it hits your Sunday dress or your good quilt.

Backing for a comforter. If small parts of the sheet are damaged, by cutting them out you may still have enough for a child’s or infant’s blanket.

Filling for a comforter. Again, cutting it down, you could get two to three layers for a small, lightweight comforter.

Pillowcases, or pillowcase backing. You can use some interesting fabric for the top, and flannel for the back. That way whoever’s sleeping with the pillow can always flip it over if they desire comfort over beauty.

For those who like “green” living, and don’t like waste, a whole flannel sheet could be cut down into a huge number of cloth wipes for diapering purposes. Zig-zag or serge the edges and you’re good to go.

Likewise, flannel is soft and absorbent and would be a good ingredient in cloth menstrual pads. (Don’t freak out on me! It’s a real and growing trend among natural living folks!)

If enough of the sheet is not too thoroughly worn, it can be used to make a soft, cozy basic baby sling. If it is too worn to hold weight safely, it can be used to line other fabric for a sling.

For cleaning rags, you don’t even need to sew the edges. Just cut down and use. Flannel is good for wiping up messes, soaking up spills, and polishing things that need to sparkle.

I was having so much fun making those diapers that I even considered going to the thrift store for more flannel sheets, to cut down and put to use.


10 Ways to Save Money

In these times of bad economy. Saving money or keeping money is very hard. I have found few ways I can actually save and keep some of my money. Here are ten to be exact.

1. Don’t buy books and magazines, read them at the library or check them out and bring them home. Same for DVD’s

2. Sign up for the rewards cards. Did you know Sears has a rewards card now? I think they give you 1 percent back on all purchases.

3. Pack your lunch instead of eating out.

4. Buy generic when you can. Most generic products are just as good as the name brand stuff. You are paying for the name brand itself.

5. Use free software when possible. You don’t need photoshop, Gimp works just as well.

6. Don’t pay checking account fees and be careful of your money in your bank so you dont go over and have to pay over draft fees.

7. Use Coupons. Buy the Sunday paper and look through the coupons. If you don’t have time to file them away then at least find one or two coupons each week you can use. Then remember to take them to the store.

8. Use the coupons for your favorite places to eat. Pizza coupons are always good ones.

9. If you very seldom use your home phone then get rid of it. Same for cable TV. I watch two or three shows per week on the local channels so I recently reduced my cable bill from $60 a month to just $20 a month.

10. If you have a baby, use cloth diapers some times. You don’t need to stop using disposable altogether. But use them three days a week and cloth diapers four days a week. Or some thing to that effect.


10 Ways to Save $50,000

When I saw that title on the cover of the March issue of Money Magazine I figured I had better read it. There were some good points and some that stretched the imagination. Also, there is difference between actual savings and not buying something you couldn’t afford in the first place. For example, if you have $20,000 in the bank to buy a car and you spend $15,000, you can use the saved money for something else. But if you buy a Chevy instead of a Mercedes, the $40,000 difference is not really “savings.”

First mentioned is refinancing a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage. Yes, this will save lots of interest expense over the years, but it will give you a higher monthly payment. Refinancing or paying down your mortgage is actually something most people should not do, but it depends on your individual circumstance. Whatever you do, do not pay for expensive software to help you pay down your mortgage; it can be done for free.

Next is moving to a place where living expenses are lower. Colorado Springs (where I live) is mentioned as a cheaper destination place. Relocating is an idea for some people to consider. Many people will be able to telecommute in the future meaning they could live anywhere. First, you need a job in the new area before you move, and you should visit the place in all seasons. Perhaps your company has offices throughout the U.S. or you could look to a foreign assignment. When I was with the State Department, they sent me to Africa and provided me with a huge house at minimal cost. I was able to save a lot. Be careful, however, I’d pass on Murmansk, Russia or Tripoli at the present time.

Saving thousands on investment fees is something as a Money Coach I often encourage. The article suggests do it yourself for things like taking care of the lawn and shoveling snow. But the 10-year savings of over $40,000 for these two areas seems excessive. Most of us take care of our yards ourselves. Energy upgrades, also mentioned, is a very good idea and cost effective.

Having your child obtain a scholarship is on everyone’s wish list, but I doubt it should be listed as a way to save $56,000. Also, going to community college for two years, then switching to an expensive private school saves money, but most people haven’t saved the full amount for a private school so there is no actual money to put to other use.

The remaining items concern spending less money on a variety of budget items. I certainly support this with the key word being “budget.” Everyone needs a budget with a large amount of savings. Some of the suggestions are not practical for most of us – like selling a car and taking public transportation. One interesting statistic is that impulse buying amounts to 30% of overall spending. Always shop with a list and don’t deviate from that list.

Bottom line is that everyone should read this article or other articles like it and choose one thing that can save them money, and then invest that money wisely for the future.


10 Ways a Small Business Can Take on the Big Boys

Starting up a new business is a daunting prospect at the best of times but if your chosen sector is completely dominated by a few big brand players it can make your task appear even more difficult. Being a tiny fish in a huge competitive pond can be a frightening thing indeed.

When university student Mark Zuckerberg had an idea for a social networking site, few would have believed that Facebook could take on the likes of MySpace, let alone surpass its success. Yet MySpace has recently announced it is launching a Facebook ‘mashup’, and the once dominant site now looks to be latching on to the huge growth (and now dominance) of Zuckerberg’s Facebook, which is now a billion dollar enterprise.

This should serve as an inspiration for any new business. However, while ambition is a good quality for any start-up, that alone will not guarantee success. So what does a new business need to do in order to become a big player in its market?

1. Focus on your unique selling point
Find a niche in the market that will make your business stand out against its competitors. Consider why a customer would choose your business over a competitor’s, or what aspect of your largest competitor’s business could be improved upon, and focus your strategy on it.

2. Define Who You Are Targeting
This point is crucial to your business success. Who is your target customer? If you get this wrong you risk wasting a lot of time and money targeting the wrong people with your marketing efforts. The more narrow your niche, the easier it will be to give the relevant people reasons to deal with you.

3. Don’t undervalue your services
Don’t undersell yourself. Just because you’re a smaller business, it doesn’t mean the quality of service or expertise is any less important. MSM Software, who are leading UK Microsoft Sharepoint developers, are keen to stress this point. Thomas Coles of MSM says: “Ensure your team is fully aware of the value you provide so that you can sell your business in the best way possible.”

4. Think value over cost
Some smaller businesses might believe the most effective way to compete is by offering lower prices. However customers are savvy in the knowledge now that paying for a better product up front means long term savings. Remember, your price point sets a perception in the buyer’s mind more quickly than anything else.

5. Concentrate on Customer Service
Concentrating on providing a friendly customer service will set you apart from many of your competitors. The disadvantage for many people of using a big company is the lack of a personal touch. This is where smaller companies can exploit opportunities to build a strong reputation for themselves.

6. Value your team
Successful entrepreneurs know that their own hard work might get a business going, but pretty soon you have to rely on other people. Recruit the best people you can afford, and try to keep them happy and motivated. It’s better not to fill a vacancy than to get the wrong person who might hold your business back.

7. Be Flexible
Larger companies tend to be slower to react than smaller companies as there is often a long chain of command in larger organizations and your small business can use this to their advantage. By reacting to changing circumstances more quickly you can steal customers from your larger competitors by changing the business model to react to your customer’s changing needs.

8. Challenge the norm
Don’t be afraid to challenge conventional wisdom. Just because everyone does it in one way doesn’t mean that it is right. Think outside of the box to challenge your competitors and yourself. EasyJet is a great example: the company turned the airline industry on its head with its low-cost approach.

9. Simplify Your Website
Many lager companies have huge over-complicated websites which can be off putting for many potential customers. This is another opportunity for you to get one over your larger competitors by developing a website which is uncomplicated and easy to navigate. It will also provide your business with a great marketing and promotion tool.

10. Make good ideas happen
One of the main threads behind the book Eating the Big Fish is that challenger brands don’t have a monopoly on good ideas: what is unusual about them is that they make good ideas happen.


10 Ways the Producers of "24" Can Save Jack Bauer and the Show This Season

Last season’s “24” was by far the worst season of the show. From the detonation of the nuclear weapon in California, the rest of the season was a mishmash of cliches, rehashing of old plot points, dead ends, and sheer stupidity. So how can the producers of “24” save this season of the show?

1) Plot the entire season before starting

It was clear from a quarter of the way through last season that the writers had no idea where they were going. After detonating a nuclear bomb (essentially, the ultimate climax), they floundered through the rest of the season, trying to make tracking down yet another Middle Eastern terrorist exciting. There seemed to be little cohesive narrative from episode to episode, and several plot points (such as the stabbing/death/disappearance of President Logan) were dropped without ever addressing the consequences after they’d provided their essential shock or plot point. Even in the previous season, believed by many to be the show’s best, the ending seemed lazy, not sewing up many of the main conflicts.

2) Hire better writers.

I followed the alleged spoilers and fan speculation for all of last season, and it was obvious the fans were putting more energy and effort into writing a more satisfying plot than the writers of the show, including Josh being Jack Bauer’s son and an ending in which an allegedly dead character from the past returns to to let Jack know the conspiracy runs much deeper than he ever imagined. None of these are that great, but they were better than Jack getting all sad because Audrey’s brain has been fried.

3) Kill the “24” Cliches

No more moles or security breaches in CTU. No more “you’re fired”…… “come back” staffing decisions. No more sending someone from “division” to run the place. No more Presidents facing mortal danger.

4) Add some humor

I find it incredibly hard to believe that people facing mortal danger and the scum of the earth aren’t full of black humor. Only Chloe seems to provide comic relief. Doesn’t Jack or anyone around him joke?

5) Move FAR away from Los Angeles

Haven’t these people suffered enough? Jack’s supposed to be a super agent, why not send him somewhere more exciting than the same boring locales of LA? After 6 seasons, I’m thinking the people of LA have probably all relocated to the Eastern tip of Canada.

6) Stop with the icky, silly, love relationships.

The Buchanan/Karen Hayes relationship and the Milo/Nadia relationship seemed to appear out of nowhere, and in the case of Milo/Nadia, seemed only to serve the purpose of some poorly written romantic tension with Rick Schroeder’s character, and to attempt to add some emotion to Milo getting capped by the terrorists.

7) If the 24 hour gimmick won’t work, stop using it.

If ever a season seemed stretched, it was this past year. The fact is, people are tuning in to see a great action show,not because it is in supposed real-time. If your plot won’t work over 24 hours, don’t force it.

8) Make the President a minor character.

As mentioned above, the President doesn’t have to be in mortal danger every season, nor does he/she need to be a major part of the plot. 007 didn’t have to check in with the prime minister every five minutes, so why does Jack?

9) Find a better villain.

James Cromwell’s Phillip Bauer and Adoni Maropis’ Fayed were two of the most lackluster villains in the series’ history. Fayed was your chrome dome terror psycho, and James Cromwell almost looked embarassed to be playing the role he was playing. The result was that they were more annoying than sinister.

10) Remember, a good ending can trump a lackluster season

The killing of Fayed last season was the best sequence all of last season. Unfortunately, there were still several episodes to go. Rather than show Bauer satisfyingly dispatching his dad or Cheng, Jack kills neither, and we have a half an hour of him feeling sad about Audrey. A difficult season to slog through was capped with an ending that does NOT make me want to tune in this fall.


10 Ways to Reuse Cardboard

Cardboard is used to store and ship just about everything these days. By trash day every week, our recoiling bin is overflowing with cardboards boxes, cups, and containers. No need to let all that cardboard go to waste, though! There are a plethora of uses for cardboard around the house, that will save you money while helping to reduce and reuse resources.

  1. Puppy Pads- Line the entire inside of your puppies crate with cardboard. Come morning time, cleanup is easy. Just dispose of the cardboard and reline it with fresh cardboard. You can save money on puppy pads and save time cleaning. Consider sprinkling a bit of lavender essential oil on the cardboard first. The scent of the oil will relax your puppy, while covering up any unpleasant odors.

  2. Mulching- Cardboard makes great mulch for the garden. Sheet mulching with cardboard will help to reduce weeds and increase the water retention of soil. Thoroughly weed the garden bed before applying the mulch. Then add a layer of compost about 3 to 4 inches deep. Cover the compost with cardboard so that no bare soil in exposed. Just be careful you don’t cover up your seedlings in the process!

  3. Arts and Crafts- Cardboard can be used for a variety of fun crafts. Make costumes and masks from the cardboard with accessories like shields and swords. Your children can turn the box into a dollhouse, space ship, or clubhouse. Every child can find about a million uses for cardboard boxes, so no need to throw them away.

  4. Garage Mat- Lay a flattened cardboard box in front of the garage door, for people to stomp their boots off before entering the car or the house. You can also you cardboard boxes for messy projects, to make your cleanup easier. Stick it under your car to catch any dripping oil so that your garage floor isn’t stained.

  5. Signs- Make picket signs or yard signs using recycled cardboard. After the sign is complete, you can have it laminated so that it doesn’t break down in the weather.

  6. Kindling- Cardboard makes great kindling for fires. Whether your house is heated by a fireplace or woodstove, or if you just like to do a lot of camping, saving all of your cardboard boxes can really come in handy. Just make sure to remove all staples and tape before throwing it in the fire. Also be sure that the cardboard doesn’t contain lamination, ink, or excess glue.

  7. Stencils- Cut the cardboard into letters and shapes to use as stencils for arts and crafts. You can even laminate the stencils so that they can be reused time and time again.

  8. Shipping Stuffing- Cut the cardboard into smaller pieces. Then, using your hands, tear the pieces up into tiny chunks. Using your hands as opposed to scissors will make for fluffier pieces, which will help protect fragile packages when mailing. No need to buy bubble wrap and packing peanuts any more. Just reuse the cardboard you already have on hand.

  9. Sled- Make a make shift sled by flattening the cardboard box and taking it down a hill. Gluing a garbage bag around the cardboard will give it some added slipperiness, while increasing its longevity. For only a few cents, your children can have a fun sled to play with that will be easy and cheap to replace.

  10. Insulating a Tent- If you want to do some winter camping but are worried your tent isn’t warm enough, consider insulating it with cardboard. Cover the ground in two to three layers of cardboard, and pitch your tent on top of it. Then tape additional pieces of cardboard around the exterior and interior of the tent walls. This will help to retain your body heat inside of the tent, while keeping cool air out.


10 Ways to Show Him that He is the One for You

So, you have finally met the man of your dreams. Now, how do you show him that he is the one you have been searching for all your life? You know you don’t want to overdo it, but you also know that you have to let him know that he is the “it” guy for you. Below are ten simple ways to show him that he is the one that gives you butterflies in your stomach and a passionately beating heart that sings out his name.

1. One of the best ways to show your man that you are totally in to him is to make him breakfast. There is nothing that says I love you quite like breakfast in bed. It lets him know that he is the first thing on your mind.

2. Make him a gift that shows exactly how you feel. Homemade gifts show their recipient that love and time has been used in crafting something especially for them. So create a card, a painting, a poem, and show the object of your affection that they are the one.

3. One of the best ways to show him that you care is to show that you care about the things his interested in. So perhaps, you are not a big football fan and he is? Then, it is time to purchase tickets to see his favorite team. No matter what it is that your guy is into, a band that you can’t stand or a team you’re tired of watching, it is time to show him that you know him and want him. And the best way to do that is to surprise him with a date he never expected. Do that and he will be bragging to his friends about his girl, the one who knew to buy tickets to that Monster Truck Extravaganza, The New York Giants game, or the Journey concert.

4. Now, ladies we all know that at the end of a long work day a man is ready to relax. So today, why don’t you help him a little? Prepare him a bubble bath. And a little spice to the experience. Light candles, seduce him into serenity. We all need a hand washing our back. And ladies, we know what comes next: a little massage to ease his muscle tension.

5. Most all of us have a favorite cuisine. So what is your guy’s favorite Indian, Mexican, Chinese, Jamaican, or Italian? If you don’t know, it is time to find out and create a perfect meal for your sweetheart. If you can’t cook, try bringing home takeout. Just make sure that you have plenty of time to enjoy each other after the meal is done.

6. Now. It is time to step outside the box. Think of something that you know both of us have never done but talked about doing. Perhaps, you have always talked about wanting to go see a particular band, go on a white water rafting trip, visit a particular museum; it is time to make all the talk a reality. You will blow him away by showing him that you remember the dreams you talk of together, and that you are willing to go the extra mile by making those dreams reality.

7. Is there something that you do that really bothers you guy? Do you smoke but he doesn’t? While then, go outside to puff. Show him that you are conscious of his feelings and respectful of his wishes. Does he hate it when you turn on the radio too loud in the morning? Then, buy some headsets. Whatever it is that turns your man off, start to remedy it. Showing your willingness to compromise is one of the best ways to show your love.

8. Sometimes, we simple allow ourselves to get too busy and forget to show our affection. So set a night away to relax with your guy. Rent a couple movies, pop some popcorn, and just have fun being together. And make sure you pay attention to his likes and dislikes. If he is a horror guy but you are into comedies, let him have his way this time. This is one way to show him that he is more than a fling; you want to spend time with him even if it’s just enjoying simple things.

9. Be available. I’m not saying that you should sit by the phone waiting on his call, but he should be able to reach you if he needs to. If you want him for the long term, you’ve got to show him that you plan to be around. So make sure to check your voice mail, and respond to his call as soon as you can. If he is trying to reach you, let him know that you want to be contacted.

10. The simplest way to let him know you love him is to simple say it. If you are ready to take that leap into forever with him, you’ve got to be able to express your feelings. So don’t hold your tongue. If he really is your one, you’ll be hearing “I love you” back.


10 Ways to Reduce Global Warming

Are there any solutions we can act upon as individuals to reduce global warming?

If you believe that global warming is a topic to be concerned about, there are things you can do. In fact, here are 10 things you can do now to help reduce global warming.

1. Recycle, reuse, or reduce – Stop buying disposable products. Purchase only reusable items. Buy items that have the minimum of packaging, or purchase items in the economy size. Recycle paper, glass, plastic, and aluminum cans. Reducing your household waste by recycling or reusing items may help reduce carbon dioxide gases by 2,400 pounds annually.

2. Cut down on heating and air conditioning – Did you know that by adjusting your thermostat by 2 degrees, you can save 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide yearly? You can reduce your need to run the heater and air conditioner by caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows, adding insulation in the walls and attics of your home, and closing vents in rooms that are not being used. This may also save you up to 25% on your heating and cooling bills each year.

3. Change your light bulbs – Replace incandescent light bulbs with new compact fluorescent light bulbs. You can save yourself up to $30 over the life of the fluorescent bulb by replacing a single 60-watt regular bulb. One report stated that if every family in the United States would replace just one incandescent bulb with one of the newer fluorescent bulbs, it would equal taking 7.5 million cars off the highways. That means 90 million pounds of carbon dioxide wouldn’t reach the atmosphere.

4. Plan your trip – If you must drive, plan your trip. Combine as many errands into one trip as possible. Walk or ride your bike on errands that are close by. If these are not options, check into starting a carpool and share a ride. You keep 20 pounds of carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere for each and every gallon of gasoline you don’t use.

5. Energy-efficient products are the way to go – Choose a new car that gives you the best gas mileage as possible, but still meets your needs. Energy-efficient appliances also help, not only your budget, but the environment as well. Reduce your family’s garbage by 10 percent and you’ve saved up to 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.

6. Take a cooler shower – By reducing the temperature on your water heater and wrapping it in insulation, you can save up to 350 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year’s time. Lowering your water heater to 120 degrees will also save energy and possibly keep someone from getting burned. Washing your clothes in warm or cold water, rather than hot all the time, also helps to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. In this case, you would have saved at least an additional 500 pounds. Use the energy-saving setting on your dishwasher and allow dishes to air-dry.

7. Turn your lights off – Turn off all lights in rooms that are not occupied. Don’t leave your television, radio, computer, or stereo going when no one is in the room. If you’re not using it, make sure the water is turned off all they way. Don’t let the water run while brushing your teeth, and turn it on only when needed.

8. Plant a tree – With all of the trees that have been cut down, planting a tree is a great idea. Not only will it absorb carbon dioxide, it will produce oxygen for us to breathe. One tree, over its lifetime, will absorb about one ton (2,000 pounds) of carbon dioxide. The more trees you plant, the better the environment will be for it!

9. Check with your utility company – Many utility companies will come out and do a home energy audit for free. They will help you determine which areas in your home are wasting energy and will give you hints on what you can do to make changes to stop the waste.

10. Tell others to conserve – Share information about conserving resources and recycling where possible. Speak with local officials to encourage them to start new conservation programs in your hometown.


10 Ways to Say I Love You, Without Saying a Word

Whether you have been married for years, or you are just starting out in a relationship adventure, romance is vital. It is common for those involved in a relationship, especially long-term, to be overtaken in the day-to-day of life. When this happens, loved ones get pushed to the back burner. Here are 10 simple and easy ideas you can use every day to remind your significant other that your love for them is more than just words.

1- Invite your loved one to a romantic dinner. As they are finishing their preperations, sneak outside with your camera. When your significant other emerges from the house , pretend you are a reporter, and they are the hot new celebrity. Go crazy snapping photographs of them. Take as many as you can, while calling out questions, and making comments just like a real reporter would. This is sure to bring a smile to both your faces, and you will gain many great photos of your love!

2- Go to your local superstore and purchase a few packages of glow in the dark stars. While your significant other is out of the house, arrange the stars on the ceiling above the bed. Spell out a message as simply as “I love you”, or use a phrase that is special to you both. Your love will get a special message when they go to bed that night!

3- When your loved one has a holiday, birthday, or anniversary that is approaching, go to the store and purchase a charm bracelet. Remove all of the charms, and place each one in a small gift box or decorative envelope. On the days leading up to the special occasion, leave one gift box each day in a spot where your loved one will find it. On the holiday/birthday/anniversary, invite your love out to dinner and gift him/her with the bracelet.

4- Purchase 11 real roses, and 1 fake rose. Have them delivered to your loved on at work. Include a note saying “I will love you until the last petal falls.”

5- If you are going out of town, tell your loved one that you are very concerned for their safety, and that you have arranged for a bodyguard to protect them in your absence. Then gift your loved one with a unique stuffed animal or teddy bear . (To go the extra mile with this, spray the stuffed animal with your cologne or perfume)

6- Say thank you for something your loved one has done, that normally would have been overlooked. Whether its that they took out the trash, or made you dinner, place a hand written note somewhere they are sure to find it.

7- Remember that what you say will come back to you. Make it a point the next time you are out with friends, without your loved one, to brag about how wonderful they are. Someone will repeat it back to your significant other, and they will be thrilled that you have said good things about them.

8- Try your hand at poetry; it isn’t as hard as you may think. Your poem doesn’t have to be serious either. You can right something that is funny, while still expressing your love for them. Write about a personality trait, a feature, or something they have done for you. When you are finished, singe the edges of the paper, and either roll into a scroll tied with ribbon, or place in a cute picture frame.

9- Purchase washable soaps, or washable bath paints, and write a steamy message on the shower wall. Suggest a nice relaxing bath for your loved one after a long day. They will enjoy their tub time even more!

10- Embrace your inner child. Draw a child-like picture for your significant other. Include a sun with a funny face, a tree, and some flowers in all colors. Add two stick figures with arrows pointing to them, labeling them with your names. Draw a heart around or between them. In very large letters, write “I love you”. Mail it to your significant other at their work.

These ideas are simple, and will only take a minimal of your time, but will have far reaching results with your loved one. Use as many as you would like; your relationship will only be enhanced by your efforts!


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