Category Archives: Simple Ways to Handle Everyday Problems

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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Mental Reinforcement

These are days I need to keep mental “ammunition” close at hand. Here is some of the “ammunition” I use:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”        (Philippians 4:8, KJV)

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (I Peter 5:7, KJV)

“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”     (Psalm 27:14, KJV)

“For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:13, KJV)

“But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” (Proverbs 1:33, KJV)

“Lo, I am with you alway, even until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2nd Timothy 1:7, KJV)

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, KJV)

P. Booher

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Love is—

People have many different ideas about love. I used to think of it as a progression: you like someone, then you love someone. Other people think of “love at first sight”. Still others think love is weak, powerless, to be despised, a wimpy sort of emotion.

Check out this definition of love:

Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered.

It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do.

Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil.

Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting.

Love never fails!

(I Corinthians 13:4-8, Contemporary English Version of the Bible)

Something I need to think about along with the definition of love:

“…God is love”.  (I John 4:8, NIV)      NIV–New International Version

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (I John 4:10, NIV)

“We love because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19, NIV)

 

©P. Booher

 

 

 

 

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Keeping Spirits Up in Difficult Times

Years ago I saw a pattern in my mood: it nose-dived in winter. At first I believed I was at the mercy of my moods, so I suffered through them.

Finally, after some desperate prayers,  I took steps to mitigate the moodiness. Here are some things I did, along with principles I use to guide me now:

  • Every November or December I start feeding the chickadees, cardinals, titmice, doves, finches and other birds that call this spot home. I derive joy out of helping them, and that boosts my spirits. Principle: help someone else, even if only a bird!
  • I write letters or send cards to people. I’ve practiced this kind of  “social distancing” for awhile. My mother used to write monthly letters to relatives, BPC (Before Personal Computers). Now when people tell me receiving cards or letters lifted their spirits, I smile inwardly. They don’t realize the first spirits lifted were mine! Principle: Keep in touch with the people you care about; it takes your mind off yourself.
  • I plant flowers. In years past I planted crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths bulbs for spring blooming. Knowing the bulbs come up every spring gave me something to look forward to. This year, I bought sunflower seeds, zinnia seeds, and shasta daisy seeds. I’m ready for some color this summer! I’m looking forward to planting the seeds, and even more at seeing the flowers in bloom. Principle: Give yourself something to look forward to.
  • This fourth item is something I don’t do: I don’t look at the news much. It’s important to be informed, but being informed in times of crises can easily cross the line into being obsessed with knowing every new detail. One evening I saw an alarming prediction in the headlines.  As I was about to click on the link, the thought occurred to me: Is this news story going to give you peace and in turn, strength to meet your everyday problems? Or is it going to provoke anxiety and disturbing images in your mind? I chose to turn to a different website. In the current COVID-19 crisis, there is so much conflicting information I don’t know what details to believe anyway, which in itself heightens my anxiety. To keep on doing what I need to do I set limits on the amount of news and other media I take in. Principle: Don’t feel you have to know everything going on; give yourself a break.
  • Take time out every day to do something creative, just for fun. Whether it’s writing, painting, gardening, woodworking, or whatever, do it. Get away from the world and the stress, and lose yourself in the activity. Principle: Relax by doing something creative.

©P. Booher

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Flexibility–A Useful Tool

I wrote a post on flexibility in spending and saving money here.

Recently I thought again of how the attitude of flexibility makes life a little easier.

For three weeks or so, the grocery store I frequent had low supplies of bread. Before the pandemic I used to buy three or four loaves at a time to keep in the freezer. No more! Signs on the bread shelves stated the limit of one bread item to a customer. I put the loaf in the cart, then decided to hunt for bread substitutes. First, I spied frozen waffles. Good—I can eat them in place of toast. Then I saw a container of yellow cornmeal, and I remembered cornbread makes an excellent side dish with baked beans, spaghetti, pork chops, and many other foods.

Having flexibility, particularly in these times, is a wonderful way to avoid stress. You aren’t tied to a certain way to do things, or meet needs, but you have the willingness to look for substitutes. I’ve found the best way to have that attitude is to think in terms of generalities, not to be hung up on (for example) “Well, I’ve always eaten that kind of bread”, or “I always go to the movies Friday nights. What am I going to do?” Generalities say, “I like that bread, but maybe now’s the time to try English muffins; the store has a lot of those.” or “Yes, I like going to the movies, but the reason I do it is to de-stress from work. What other activity can I do that would accomplish the same thing?”

How are you using flexibility to live a little easier these days?

©P. Booher

 

 

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Fighting a War Against Fear

“What if this happens?????? What if that happens?????? What happens then??????” What will I do??????”

These are the questions that popped up in my mind often, even in little situations. You know what’s behind those questions? FEAR. Fear nearly drove me crazy; I mean to the point of losing my mind. What was worse was I knew I didn’t have the answers for those questions.

Last year, after a bout with painful, limited mobility, and depression, I finally said I’ve had it. I couldn’t take any more of the barrage of questions in my mind, or the heavy feeling of responsibility, so—I gave them to God. (I pictured myself giving a huge, car-sized box of fear, anxiety, and blackness to Jesus) I told Him, “Lord, I give this to You. I can’t handle it.” I pictured Him taking the heavy box as though it was a light feather. He said, “Trust Me. It’s OK. I can take it.”

Since then, when FEAR attempts to make an entrance and take over my mind, I picture a soldier standing guard with a spear. The soldier growls, “Don’t even think about it.”, and lunges at the fear-thought, which hastily retreats.

I thank God I don’t have the fear/panic cycle anymore. I’m free, and it’s such a relief; I can just live my life, and let God handle the “What ifs?” etc. He alone is big enough to do it; I’m not.

If you are in the middle of a fear cycle, consider doing as I did. Tell God you can’t do it anymore; give it to Him, and see what He does.

Some resources for fighting fear—please note: the Bible has a lot more.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6, KJV)

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7, KJV)

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”  (James 1:5, KJV)

“Casting all your care upon him;  for he careth for you.” (I Peter 5:7, KJV)

Jesus defeating fear in His disciples: Mark 4:35-40, KJV

©P. Booher

 

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A Remedy for My Impatience

Sometimes I get impatient when helping my mother around the house. I want to move faster, get things done quicker, but she’s not able to. Lately I’ve been praying and asking others to pray about our relationship. One answer that came from those prayers is this: when I’m in a situation and feel impatient, ask myself: what practical steps can I do to move things forward? Is there something else that contributes to the project I can do–move objects out of the way, for instance? Asking myself those questions gets rid of my impatience and the stress that comes from it. My mindset switches from me to her.

©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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