Category Archives: Simple Ways to Handle Everyday Problems

Inexpensive Substitutes that Work

Here’s a couple inexpensive, easy-to-obtain substitutes for more expensive products.

  1. Talc powder is under increased scrutiny because of the ingredients in it. I use corn starch–used to thicken homemade pudding and in other food preparation–for dusting powder. Granted, it’s not as fine in texture as talc powder, though you could sift it and probably get it that way, but it works. I put corn starch in a small container with holes on the top and sprinkle it on.
  2. Readers in the Southern Hemisphere and in warmer areas than here may appreciate this tip: medicated menthol ointment makes a good insect repellent. I read or heard that somewhere and decided to give it a try this past summer. I put it on my arms before doing yard work, and while the bugs come around, they don’t bite. They smell the ointment on my skin and leave! Now I keep a jar specifically for that purpose. Store-brand varieties work fine and are much lower in cost than brand names.


©P. Booher

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Filed under Simple Ways to Handle Everyday Problems, Tips to Save Money

Low-tech Car Care Tips for Winter

photography of red classic car

Photo by Mikey Dabro on

With winter weather here for people living in the Northern Hemisphere, the cold and snow bring challenges in everyday living, especially for those of us who don’t have garages.

Here are a couple car- care tips to make life a little easier these cold mornings for those whose vehicles stay outside:

1. If possible, park your car so the engine faces the morning sun. Even in very cold weather the sun warms the engine, making it easier to start. This tip came from a co-worker of my mother.

2. Many newer cars have a more aerodynamic design. For instance, the doors of my car are even with the body. There’s no overhang to protect the door seals from the elements. That presents a problem in winter when a storm hits: depending on the direction the snow or ice comes, the car doors freeze shut even though unlocked.

For awhile I sprayed cooking spray on the seals. Then a co-worker told me cooking spray deteriorates over time and draws moisture. He suggested buying a can of silicone spray from the auto parts store and applying that to the seals. While the silicone spray costs more than the cooking spray, it lubricates the seals better without breaking down. This is a case where spending a little bit more is worth it!

3. This next tip isn’t for the car, but for animals that may be around the car: Bang the hood with a broom–make some noise– before starting the car. Cats are known to climb up around the car’s engine, seeking warmth, bringing death to themselves, and costly damage to the engine. Taking a few extra seconds to warn any cat will save the cat and your engine.

4. This tip may help those who drive light-weight vehicles: put some weight in the back. I drive a light-weight front-wheel-drive car. Come winter, I throw a 20 or 25-pound sack of cheap kitty litter in the trunk. This “old-school” trick I picked up from my dad, who routinely put extra weight in the bed of his two-wheel-drive pickup in the winter.

©P. Booher





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Filed under Simple Ways to Handle Everyday Problems, Tips to Avoid Stress

Nature Notes–Evicting a Feathered Neighbor

tilt shift photo of two white bird eggs on a nest

Photo by Mauriciooliveira109 on

A pair of wrens set up housekeeping on our front porch. That didn’t surprise me because wrens, like American robins and Eastern Phoebes, don’t mind nesting near human activity, and they are opportunistic birds who use human paraphernalia to build nests in. (Once I left a open box of garbage bags on a workshop porch. Imagine the surprise I got when I went out to get a bag and a little brown wren was sitting in the box!) Unfortunately, this spring the wrens built a nest among the leaves and stems of my mother’s spiderwort plant.

My mother and I admired the wrens’ single-minded focus on building the nest. From the living room window we watched the birds make trips back and forth to add to the nest. I saw one wren marching up the sidewalk with a twig in its beak. Evidently the bird decided the twig wouldn’t work, because the bird tossed the twig aside and scoured the nearby grass and weeds for more suitable material.

As much as we admired the birds’ determination, however, my mother didn’t want to stand by and watch her houseplant be ruined. I remembered hearing that birds don’t like peppermint/spearmint scent, so I went to a nearby hardware store and bought some peppermint/spearmint scented mouse repellent. The repellent comes in small pouches, so it was handy for our purpose. I took each of the three hanging planters down and put a pouch in each one. When I took the spiderwort down, I found a 3″–5″ round, thick nest made up of twigs, grass, moss, and a feather or two among the stems and leaves, though fortunately, no eggs were in it. From the wrens’ point of view, it was the perfect homesite. From our point of view, it wasn’t.

Since putting the scented pouches in the planters, I haven’t heard the wrens’ loud calls coming from the porch nor have I seen fluttering wings or leaves among the spiderwort, so I think we accomplished our mission. We’ve been keeping an eye on the plants; so far, the scented additions to the planters hasn’t affected the health of the plants.

For more info. on spiderwort plants, (common names: Inchplant, Wandering Jew, or Wandering Willie), check out:>Gardening>Houseplants>Houseplant Basics or–>Houseplants>Wandering Jew plants.

For info. on the perky little wren, check out:

©P. Booher


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Getting It Done, Anyway

My pride would like to think I can go all out, that I don’t need any help. My body tells me otherwise.

A few years ago I came up with some principles and practical ideas to satisfy the need and want to do things around the house while avoiding some stress on my body. I offer the following for anyone who’s interested:

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A Father’s Legacy

My Dad grew up during the Great Depression–hard times with little money. Whatever you needed or wanted, you either grew, as in a garden; tended, as with chickens (for the family table); made (as a boat for being on the river), improvised or did without.

God-given talent plus those hard times plus later training in various construction skills gave my father ability to improvise or make whatever he wanted. If he needed, say, a worktable or a trailer, he could figure it out in his head how he wanted to do it and what kind and size of materials to use. Sometimes he sketched it out, but he didn’t really need to.

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Filed under Country Ripples, Simple Ways to Handle Everyday Problems

Writing As Release

person uses pen on book

Photo by on

Writing is a powerful way to release emotions. I’ve posted about this before, but this evening this really hit me.

I was writing down an idea for a devotional, when suddenly I started thinking of a friend who died last August. The catalyst for this was such a little thing: I have only a few more months left to pay on my car.  If my friend were still here, I know we could get together at a local restaurant and celebrate when the car is paid off, as we did for the closing on the sale of her father’s house, to settle his estate. Before I knew it, a wave of grief hit me and the tears began welling up in my eyes.

People who’ve experienced grief know this is the way it works: grief sneaks up on you days, months, even years after the person you cared for died. Grief doesn’t care where you are or what you are doing; it just hits you, and you need to deal with it.

I left off writing the devotional idea, turned to a new page in my notebook, and wrote, “Linette, I miss you! I only have a few months left until I get my car paid off and I know you would rejoice with me when that time comes…”  I wrote for about 15 minutes more, then the storm of grief abated, and I could continue with the idea for the devotional.

Although I’ve experienced the release that comes from writing, I’m still amazed that it happens. It’s a proven way to deal with strong emotions that blindside a person.

If you find yourself in the midst of grief, anger, fear, or any other emotions, try writing them out. You will find release and comfort in the act.

©P. Booher



Filed under Life Issues, Simple Ways to Handle Everyday Problems, Writing

The Great Bee Blackout

I have a problem with honey bees getting into the house. Hot, humid days drive the bees to greater activity outside, and I used to see more of them inside too on those days.

Last summer I found a hole high up near the ceiling where the bees came in. I plugged the hole with insulation. While that action greatly reduced the number of bees coming in to the back of the house, some bees still found their way in, making life a little more interesting than I really wanted it to be.

One morning this summer I noticed the curtain on the bathroom window was closed, and there weren’t any bees around. A thought hit me: Bees are naturally drawn to light. If a bee is inside, it automatically flies to the nearest source of light, whether that is a window or a light bulb. In the case of the light bulb, the bee fries itself, because it can’t stay away from the light.

That bit of knowledge led to a solution: I taped black plastic garbage bags to the bathroom window and the window on the back door. Although that makes the back part of the house very dark (like a cave), I don’t have bees coming in, so that part of the problem is solved.

Moral of the story: If you have a problem with wildlife in or around your house, think about what the particular species is attracted to/repelled by, and work from there.

©P. Booher




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The Abby Chronicles–Of Fleas and Flea Combs, Cornstarch, and Pet Wipes


Here I am, ready to write my story!

Chapter VII

As I was sitting on the desk washing myself (my fur coat requires a lot of attention) the younger human approached me with the flea comb. She started petting me and I moved as close to her as I could. She parted my coat with her fingers, then ran the comb through my fur.

The older human said, “I’ll bring the little wastebasket over.”

“Okay,” the younger human said, then added, “Could you bring the wipes and the little bit of cornstarch left in the box? The wipes are in the box that says, “Abby’s Stuff”.

The younger human combed me some more, then said, “Oh, Abby, we need to go over to the couch. My back is bothering me.”

She picked me up, along with the wipes and the box of cornstarch, and we went over to the couch. She sat down and rubbed cornstarch in the mats in my fur. I didn’t mind her rubbing my fur, even the fur on my belly. Truthfully, I liked all the attention. She explained the cornstarch could help untangle the mats, making them easier to get out. That sounded good to me.

I felt something damp and cool on my head, and smelled a peculiar scent. The younger human showed the wipe to me, keeping a firm hand on me so I wouldn’t run away.  She ran the wipe down my neck, under my chin, around the sides of my face, down my back, on my belly, and on my tail.

After she was done with the pet wipes I washed myself. The wipes made my coat smell. Since I am an inside cat, that fact wasn’t too bad. However, if I had business to attend to outside, it would be a different story. You see, any smell on my coat could alert enemies such as dogs, foxes, coyotes, or raccoons to my presence. Not good! Even though I am an indoor cat, instinct took over and so I washed.

Author’s Note: If you decide to use pet wipes, make sure the kind you get is safe for cats, since we groom ourselves so often.


©P. Booher










Filed under humor, Simple Ways to Handle Everyday Problems, The Abby Chronicles

The Abby Chronicles–Die Fleas, Die!


Here I am, ready to write my story!

Chapter VI

Yesterday the younger human did something she hasn’t done for awhile–she combed me.

She picked me up off the kitchen rug and took me into the living room. I saw a basin of water and a flea comb on the coffee table.

She put me in her lap. I purred as she petted me for a little while. Then I felt the comb on my head, going down my neck, back, and side. From time to time she lifted the comb up, took loose hair and a flea off. She put the fleas in the water, and said, “The water’s not hot enough”. She snatched a flea that was crawling up the basin, pinched it between her fingers and put the now-dead flea back in the water.

The younger human said to the older human, “I need a drop of dishwashing detergent in the water–just a drop. That changes the tension of the water surface so the fleas can’t swim; they’ll drown.”

The older human said, “I’ll heat the water in the tea kettle and bring it in.” The older human disappeared and the younger human kept combing me. I kept purring.

The older human returned and poured steaming water in the basin. She put a couple drops of dishwashing detergent in the water.  The younger human took a flea off the flea comb and put the flea in the water, where it promptly sank to the bottom of the basin. The younger human sighed with satisfaction. “There. That takes care of the fleas.” I purred with satisfaction. Die fleas, die!!

Caution: The younger human made sure I stayed away from the water basin. (For my part, I wasn’t even thinking of leaving–her lap was warm and comfortable!) If you use either of these methods–boiling water or water with dishwashing detergent added–to kill fleas while combing your cat, please keep your fabulous feline away from the water.


©P. Booher



Filed under humor, Simple Ways to Handle Everyday Problems, The Abby Chronicles