Category Archives: Simple Ways to Handle Everyday Problems

Handling Creepy Summer Visitors

Several years ago, as I sat on the couch in the living room I happened to look into the laundry room. I saw a shadow slide on the floor between the dryer and the washer. With a sense of dread I went into the laundry room and looked behind the appliances. Sure enough, a three-or-four-foot snake looked up and hissed at me. Remembering that snakes don’t like light and they don’t like noise, I turned on the light and banged on the dryer. The snake quickly found a hole and disappeared. I called my cousin, and he and his friend came out, went outside and killed a snake in the weeds. When my nerves calmed down, I plugged the hole the snake had disappeared into.

Because we live near the woods and there are lots of rocks around, snakes are always a possibility. Keeping in mind the following ideas helps me feel a bit more prepared, especially in the summer.

  1. Snakes don’t like light. Put on all the lights you can. Make the area as bright as you can.
  2. They don’t like noise. Stomp your feet, put on a radio and turn it way up–whatever you can do to make noise, do so.
  3. Snakes do not like the feel of kitty litter, so spread that around, if it’s an unoccupied area.
  4. Fill any size hole. A snake can go in even small holes.
  5. Get any clutter cleaned up. Snakes do not like open areas. They want places they can hide in.
  6. Practice rodent control.
  7. Keep grass and weeds cut short.
  8. Wear long boots and blue jeans when outside. Tuck blue jeans inside the boots.
  9. Carry a shovel.

Some people may object to the idea of carrying a shovel to kill a snake, because snakes have their place in the environment. They do kill mice and rats. For me, I just feel better knowing I have a weapon to use if one is too close for comfort.

©P. Booher

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Repurposing Deteriorating Clay Pots

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

Since our household has plant enthusiasts, we have a large assortment of flower pots. Some are clay; some ceramic; some are plastic. 

I like clay, but it has two drawbacks: weight, and deterioration over time and use. The layers flake off, and eventually water seeps out of the pot so it can’t be used for its original purpose.

Rather than throw the whole pot out, I take a hammer, set the pot in the grass, and give the pot a good smack. The pot falls apart and I can put the pieces on the bottom of other pots to act as drainage.

If you are going to give a clay pot this new job, some safety precautions are called for: wear safety goggles, put the pot in the grass so the grass can absorb the impact, and don’t lean over too close when you smack the pot.

©P. Booher

 

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Just Half-An-Hour (or how to get myself to do work I don’t want to do)

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One day last week I was perturbed that I had yard work to do. Usually I enjoy being outside in the warm weather, but not that day. I think the reason it bugged me is that I wanted to do some writing on the computer. But a look at the tall grass and weeds around the shoots of the peony bush confirmed I needed to spend time trimming and weeding.

At the moment the tug-of-war between the two activities escalated in my mind, the thought came, Give the trimming and weeding half-an-hour. If you don’t want to do anymore, that’s fine, you can quit. You’ll have been able to make some progress on it, anyway. But give it half-an-hour.

With that thought, along with a prayer for God to work on my attitude, I grabbed the grass shears and set to work. An hour-and-a-half later, I stopped, happy to have a nicer-looking front yard as my reward.

Since then I decided to use this tactic with other tasks which I need to do but don’t want to do. A half-hour is long enough to allow for some progress but not so long that a lot of time is tied up in a project I don’t want to do in the first place. At the end of thirty minutes, I can reevaluate where I stand. I can either continue, or quit and do something else.

©P. Booher

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

Easy Tips for Saving Money

  1. Men’s old cotton T-shirts and babies’ cloth diapers work well for dusting. They are soft and won’t scratch the furniture. On the same order, towels and washcloths beginning to show wear can still be used to clean sinks, bathtubs, or the car. If you have pets, old towels work fine to put on the bottom of the pet carrier. If the pet messes on them, the towels can be thrown out.
  2. Years ago I worked at a discount store. It carried some clothing, but mainly knicknacks, artificial flowers, kitchen, bedroom and bath items. I marveled at the creative ways people could make low-cost gifts simply by putting different items together. For instance, for a wedding shower a person could buy towels, washcloths, sheets, and a few other goods, place them in a round laundry basket, and wrap the laundry basket with an extra-large vinyl disposable picnic tablecloth. A 54″by 108″ tablecloth did an admirable job of covering the basket, and there was even some tablecloth length to spare for tying the gift shut in a “bow”.
  3. This is the time of year living in the Northern Hemisphere, especially if you live where it’s often cloudy, can bring on “cabin fever”. I’m sure it’s more prevalent this winter due to the lockdowns, etc. of COVID-19. When I worked at the discount store, people got some relief from cabin fever without spending a lot of money by purchasing artificial flowers, vases, and candles in the new spring colors. Sometimes people bought new tablecloths and placemats too. They were able to freshen their homes for under $20.
  4. For many years I relied on clay litter when changing cat boxes. Eventually I had enough of choking on the dust. Fortunately I discovered an alternative—kitty litter made out of pine pellets. However, the 20-pound bags don’t last as long as I thought they would, and the only place I can buy them is some distance away. I discovered the local feed store carries 40-pound bags of pine-pellet horse bedding—at a cheaper price than the 20-pound bags of pine-pellet kitty litter. The man at the feed store told me a lot of people use the horse bedding for kitty litter. So on my next trip for bird food I bought a bag of horse bedding, and tried it out in Abby’s boxes. Abby’s OK with using it; I’m OK with the savings!

©P. Booher

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Low-tech Car Care Tips for Winter

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Author’s Note: Most of this is a repost from last year. Hoping this helps someone out this winter.

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 few car-care tips to make life a little easier on 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, taking a bit of cold-weather stress off the engine, and 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 bit more is worth it!
  3. This next tip isn’t for the car, but for animals that may be around or under the car: Bang the hood with a broom—make some noise—before starting the vehicle. Cats are known to climb up around the engine, seeking warmth, bringing injury or death to themselves, and perhaps costly damage to the engine when it starts. Taking a few extra seconds to warn any cat or other animal will save the animal 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 twenty or twenty-five 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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Ideas for Giving Gifts

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Author’s Note: Most of this is a re-post from last year. Hope it proves useful to someone needing suggestions for gift-giving.

While these suggestions are not original with me, they are on a different track from the usual ideas. They do cost you in time/money, but you can easily adapt them to your resources. (Please note: these ideas work best if you are familiar with the recipient’s age, circumstances, and likes/dislikes.)

  1. Is the recipient someone who may not drive or someone “who has everything” and you’re stumped on what to buy him or her? If you are close enough to the person to know what brands of everyday products the person uses–facial soap, body washes, facial tissue, for example–buy some in bulk and wrap the items. Let your creativity come into play as you wrap the items. Some years ago I came upon this idea for gifts for my mother. It made such a hit with her that this is my “go-to” idea for Christmas and her birthday, which comes five days after Christmas. I buy products in the brands she uses and put them in a basket. I hide gift certificates to restaurants or stores among the items. Depending on the time/energy level I have, I either wrap each item or just wrap the basket. My mother enjoys opening her customized gift basket and finding each item hidden among the tissue paper. True, “everyday stuff” isn’t glitzy. But you know the recipient is going to use it; it won’t be placed in a cupboard never to see the light of day again. If the person comes into a situation where money is tight, the person will appreciate those everyday things even more!
  2. Give the gift of time. If the recipient needs a certain project done and you have the skill and the means to do it, schedule a time to do whatever the person needs–then make sure to do it. Your time is worth as much or more than the money you spend on a gift for the person. You may be surprised how appreciative the person is!
  3. As an offshoot to the above idea, if the person expresses a desire to learn a skill you know how to do, (say, a computer program or a small home-repair project) gift the person the skill! Get together and show the recipient how to do it. If you can’t get together for awhile, create a gift certificate for the skill, and give that to the person. Most people want to be able to do things on their own, rather than have to call someone, so again, you may be surprised how much the person appreciates it, and you.

Happy gift-giving!

©P. Booher

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Easy Tips to Save on Car Insurance

jeep

One tip that’s often listed as a way to save on car insurance is to review your policy and check rates from different companies for the same type of policy. You may find you can save significantly on your premiums by going with another company.

Another way to possibly gain some money is to review the continuation notice the insurance company sends. Make sure the information shown–for example, number of miles driven, what coverage is on the vehicle, and, if the vehicle is paid off, that no liens are listed against the auto–is correct. In my case, I discovered that although my car had been paid off for almost a year, there was still a lien listed on it. Correction of this error and another error on the notice resulted in a savings of $76.00. Taking the time to go over the information yielded money found. Why give the insurance company more of your hard-earned money than you have to?

Last month the premium for my car insurance increased. Reason given? “Change in distance driven”. Knowing I hadn’t been driving any more than usual, I drove over to the agent’s office and after I gave the secretary the odometer reading, the secretary entered the mileage in the system and the bill was reduced on the spot. Lesson learned: know my usage, and speak up if warranted.

©P. Booher

 

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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

Ideas for Giving Gifts

paper bags near wall

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Author’s Note: Most of this is a re-post from last year. Hope it proves useful to someone needing suggestions for gift-giving.

While these suggestions are not original with me, they are on a different track from the usual ideas. They do cost you in time/money, but you can easily adapt them to your resources. (Please note: these ideas work best if you are familiar with the recipient’s age, circumstances, and likes/dislikes.)

  1. Is the recipient someone who may not drive or someone “who has everything” and you’re stumped on what to buy him or her? If you are close enough to the person to know what brands of everyday products the person uses–facial soap, body washes, facial tissue, for example–buy some in bulk and wrap the items. Let your creativity come into play as you wrap the items. Some years ago I came upon this idea for gifts for my mother. It made such a hit with her that this is my “go-to” idea for Christmas and her birthday. I buy products in the brands she uses and put them in a basket. I hide gift certificates to restaurants or stores among the items. Depending on the time/energy level I have, I either wrap each item or just wrap the basket. My mother enjoys opening her customized gift basket and finding each item hidden among the tissue paper. True, “everyday stuff” isn’t glitzy. But you know the recipient is going to use it. If the person comes into a situation where money is tight, the person will appreciate those everyday things even more!
  2. Give the gift of time. If the recipient needs a certain project done and you have the skill and the means to do it, schedule a time to do whatever the person needs–then make sure you do it. Your time is worth as much or more than the money you would spend on a gift for the person. You may be surprised how appreciative the person is!
  3. As an offshoot to the above idea, if the person expresses a desire to learn a skill you know how to do, gift the person the skill! Get together and show the recipient how to do it. Again, you may be surprised at how much the person appreciates it.

Happy gift-giving!

©P. Booher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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