Friday, September 30, 2011

Caring for Expensive China and Glassware

Frugal Friday

You never like to break anything, even if it's just a juice glass or dessert plate. Who wants to have to go out and spend more money just because they were careless? Even worse, is breaking something expensive like china or crystal.

There are ways to care for your precious pieces, though, that will preserve their life.

• Place delicate china in quilted storage containers.
• Rather than stacking delicate cups, install hooks on the underside of your cabinet shelves and hang the cups from the hooks.
• Pouring hot liquid into non-tempered glass can cause them to crack. Place a metal spoon in the glass before pouring so it will absorb the heat.
• Place a rubber mat in the bottom of your sink when you wash your crystal. Never put your crystal in the dishwasher, even on the delicate cycle.
• If you chip or nip a piece of crystal, take it to a jeweler so he can file it down. This will avoid you having to purchase a new one.
• If you need to replace glassware, go to a restaurant supply store rather than a department store. Items will be cheaper and last longer.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Principles of Sorting--Part Three

Senior Thursday

Everyone's family will face the time when they must sort through the belongings of senior family members or aging parents. This may be as a result of a move to assisted living, or upon the senior's passing. If the senior is still alive, the decisions are more difficult, whether the move is to a retirement community or a nursing home. In most cases, the new home is smaller, and thus, many of their possessions can't go with them.

The third core principle of sorting is understanding the meaning of “things.” There are numerous emotional issues around the sorting process. For some clients, letting go of belongings feels like one more loss on top of many others. They feel like they are losing part of themselves. When helping a senior with these decisions, you should see their possessions as more than “things.” They are part of their lives.

Seemingly insignificant items may have great sentimental value or emotional value, even if broken. Don’t refer to it as “junk.” Cherished possessions can trigger memories of a deceased spouse or child. These memories help preserve a sense of continuity of themselves and of their personal identity. Even the most mundane objects can be cherished possessions.

Many seniors find that telling stories about an object helps them part with it. Stories make them realize they can take memories with them without having to keep the object.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Networking Tips

Writer Wednesday

An important aspect of being successful in business is networking. As an author, you are in business for yourself. You are constantly selling ideas to publishers, or books to readers. Therefore, you must network in order to braoden your exposure.

Here are some tips for effective networking:

• Always carry your business cards with you.
• Never waste an opportunity to network, whether it's at the grocery store or at a dinner party.
• Keep talking to people you meet until you find something you have in common. This will break the ice.
• Keep your ears open for possible writing, speaking or workshop opportunities.
• Never gossip about anyone in the industry. Someone they know may be within earshot.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Streamline Your Life--At the Mall

Tips for Tuesday

You work, your children are involved in after-school activites, your house doesn't clean itself. So how do you get it all done? In addition to daily tasks, there are special occasions and holidays that always pop up, creating even more work for you.

These events usually require a trip to the mall, whether it's for a gift, new clothes or something needed for school. To make your trips easier, keep these tips in mind:

• Make a list before you go so you don’t forget anything.
• Make sure you have the receipt with you for any items you are returning. Some stores require one. Others will give you the last sale price no matter what you paid.
• Return catalog purchases to the store to avoid shipping fees and waiting in line at the post office.
• Buy movie tickets online to avoid standing in line.
• Buy presents on sale when you see them throughout the year. Post-holiday sales are a great time to stock up on next year's presents at a fraction of the cost.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Preparing for the Move--Collecting Important Records

Moving on Mondays

You will be collecting a large amount of paperwork and information during your move. In addition to a myriad of lists, there will be receipts, legal documents, written quotes, correspondence, business cards and photos.
It is imperative that all this information be kept together so nothing gets misplaced. Designate a central location for this information so anyone in the family can find it if they need it.

Use whatever method you find best suits your style or needs. Some options are: A three-ring binder, file folders, an accordion file, a portable file tote or a combination of these.
Portability is important, as you will probably be bringing it with you on appointments or visits. So select an option that is easy for you to transport.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Handy Uses for Tea and Teabags

Frugal Friday

Tea has been around for centuries. We know the benefits of drinking it. Green tea has healthy attributes because of its antioxidants. Herbal teas can calm you. Peppermint tea soothes an upset stomach.

But did you know that tea and tea bags have other uses around the house? Here are some ways to use it outside a teacup.

• Soaking your hands or feet in tea water takes away odors such as onion or sweat.
• Water your plants with weak tea once a week to perk them up.
• Cold teabags make great compresses for sunburn.
• Put cold, weak tea in a mister and spray it in musty rooms. Use fragrant teas for best results.
• Cut apart an unused teabag to use for mending a broken fingernail. Just trim to size, stick to the break with clear nail polish, and finish off with two more coats of clear polish.
• Soak white clothes, silk flowers or netting in weak tea for an antiqued look to your wedding attire.
• Soak black or brown clothes in tea water to revive the color.
• And if you don't use them for any of these, place them in your composter for your garden.

What handy uses do you have for teabags?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Principles of Sorting--Part Two

Senior Thursday

Everyone's family will face the time when they must sort through the belongings of senior family members or aging parents. This may be as a result of a move to assisted living, or upon the senior's passing. If the senior is still alive, the decisions are more difficult, whether the move is to a retirement community or a nursing home. In most cases, the new home is smaller, and thus, many of their possessions can't go with them.

The second core principle of sorting is to avoid imposing personal values on the family member's lifestyle or belongings.

Some individuals are comfortable with more clutter. Some are minimalists. Neither is right or wrong. Your role is to help the family member create a new home that works for him or her, not for you.

Sorting is not about identifying the most valuable or newest items. It is about what is most dear. Encourage clients to use what they enjoy most.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Organizing Your Submissions to Editors/Agents--Part Two

Writer Wednesday

Once you have a completed project, you can start submitting your work to agents and editors. There are many things to keep in mind when submitting your book or novella. Having a handle on all this will improve your chances of having your full manuscript accepted.

4. Keep a record of all submissions in a database, spread sheet or a hard copy. List the title of the submission, the house submitted to, the agent/editor's name, date mailed or e-mailed and the date you expect to hear back from them.
5. Follow up with editors and agents if the deadline for response passes.
6. Keep a copy of each version you send out under the agent's or editor's name.
7. Review any feedback for valuable advice.
8. Reply in a timely manner if additional material is requested.
9. Send a thank-you note to the editor/agent.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Streamlining Your Life--At the Grocery Store

Tips for Tuesday

Grocery shopping is time consuming. You need to plan your menus, write your list, look for coupons, drive to the store, look for items that are on sale, wait in the checkout lines and put everything away when you get home. There are some things you can do to make the trip easier.

• Create a pre-printed grocery list either by aisle or food group. Print one out as soon as you return form the store. Hang it somewhere handy in the kitchen. Then check off items you use up or know you'll need the next time you shop. Make your own, or print one from online, such as this one from
• Clip coupons from your Sunday paper every week and file them by category. Check your shopping list for coupons before you go to the store.
• Make up your menu for the coming week so you know which ingredients you'll need to purchase.
• Economy-size packages may not always be the cheapest. Check unit pricing for the best deal.
• Avoid grocery shopping altogether by using a grocery delivery service. The same goes for prescription medications.

Monday, September 19, 2011

How Long Will It Take Me to Move?

Moving On Monday

Moving takes time. There's prepping the home, showing it, looking for a new home, and packing up all your belongings. So how much time should you allot out of your schedule for the move? That depends. Every move is different because everyone's live are different.

When you are tallying the hours, keep these factors in mind:

⌂ How much you own—from furniture down to books and CDs, the more you have, the longer it will take you to sort, pack and unpack.
⌂ Your work schedule—If you work full time, decide how much you can realistically get done on evenings and weekends.
⌂ School schedules—If you have school-age children, you will have to work around their extra-curricular activities.
⌂ Family size and ages—Little ones take time away from you, while teenagers can be put to work.
⌂ Outside help—What friends or family members can you rely on for assistance?
⌂ Who will pack and fill the truck—If you hire movers, this can be done for you. If you rent a truck, the packing, filling of the truck, emptying of the truck, and unpacking will all be your responsibility.
⌂ Distance of the move—If you are moving across town, you can make small trips over a few days or weeks. If you are moving cross-country, there are many more factors involved such as airline/hotel reservations, car transportation, etc.

Friday, September 16, 2011

More Frugal Cleaning Tips

Frugal Friday

Last week we gave you some useful cleaning tips that will save you money. Here are more tips for saving pennies (or even dollars) when cleaning your home. These solutions are also eco-friendly. Why use harsh chemicals when you can use something good for the environment?

• A solution of baking soda and water works well as a deodorizer for your kitchen and bath. Add a drop of essential oil for a scented version.
• Place a bowl of water and one of ammonia in your oven while it is still warm. Let it sit overnight. You will be able to wipe away any accumulated grease in the morning.
• Save the corks from your wine bottles. Use the clean side to rub on tarnished silverware. It will pick up whatever is tarnishing the surface.
• Vinegar and water (1:3)will clean your crystal stemware without streaking. Wipe clean with soft rag, and air dry upsidedown.
• Rubbing alcohol will remove spots from stainless steel surfaces.
• Remove tea stains from mugs and teapots--Fill with warm water, then dissolve denture cleaning tablets in the water. Let sit for about an hour--time varies depending on severity of the stain.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Principles of Sorting--Part One

Senior Thursday

Everyone's family will face the time when they must sort through the belongings of senior family members or aging parents. This may be as a result of a move to assisted living, or upon the senior's passing. If the senior is still alive, the decisions are more difficult, whether the move is to a retirement community or a nursing home. In most cases, the new home is smaller, and thus, many of their possessions can't go with them.

Downsizing, right-sizing, and sorting all refer to helping seniors determine which belongings can be accommodated in their new home. For some, the prospect of sorting is so daunting they postpone moving. For others, the anxiety about the move itself takes on the form of indecision about belongings. Family dynamics may complicate this.

Organizing in advance and documenting decisions is a critical ingredient of smooth, efficient moves. This should be done before moving day for the least stress. Even when sorting is done in advance, the senior may take too much with them, resulting in over-crowding. A senior is less likely to be happy in their new home as a result. That is why sorting in advance is critical.

Remember these are the senior’s belongings, not yours. They have a right to make their own decisions, even if they are irrational. When helping a senior, provide what help and guidance you can, but don't interfere with their right to self-determination.

It is the client’s right to take as much or as little to their new home as they wish. This is the core principle of sorting.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Organizing Submissions to Editors/Agents--Part One

Writer Wednesday

Once you have a completed project, you can start submitting your work to agents and editors. There are many things to keep in mind when submitting your book or novella. Having a handle on all this will improve your chances of having your full manuscript accepted.

1. Read all guidelines for the publishing house or agency for their specific rules. They vary from house to house, as well as editors within a publishing house. Therefore, it is imperative that you learn what each editor/agent is looking for in a submission.
2. Abide by all guidelines. It isn't enough to read them. You must obey them, even though you think you should be an exception to the rule for whatever reason. Breaking even one rule, such as "Do not ask for a signature on delivery" will make a poor first impression on an agent or editor. So if you want this, or subsequent projects requested, do as they ask. You may not get a second chance.
3. Call the agency or publishing house before submitting any work to verify the editor's/agent's name, name of the publishing house/agency, their title, and whether or not they are still employed by the house or agency. Depending on the agency/house, your work may be returned to you unread if the agent/editor is no longer there. They have such a large quantitiy of submissions, they don't always want to take the time to re-route projects to other editors/agents.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Streamline Your Life--General Tips for Errands

Tips for Tuesday

You lead a busy life, working, shuffling children around, attending family commitments, etc. There are times you wonder how you are going to get it all done. Especially with all the errands that are a part of everyday life. Here is the first in a series of blogs about streamlining your errands and shopping to save you time.

General Tips
• Write out all your stops before you head out the door so you take the shortest route and won't be backtracking. Check times of operation for businesses before you leave so you don't arrive at a store that isn't open yet, resulting in a trip back later in the day.
• Order stamps by mail—they’ll be delivered to your mailbox at no extra charge. The Post Office also ships supplies like priority mail envelopes/boxes at no cost to you.
• Barter with friends—trade one of your errands or tasks with one of theirs to avoid an additional trip. Plan in advance in case you have to bring an item, such as library books, to your friend's house before they are due.
• Limit your kids’ activities. Even one activity can mean several trips per week, with practices and games or performances. Allow one activity per child to save on your sanity--and their health.

I'm Moving! Now What?

Moving on Mondays

People move for different reasons. They move out on their own after school, they get married and move in with their spouse, they move to a larger house to accommodate a growing family, or they move to a friendlier climate upon retirement. These are all joyful occasions.

There are other reasons people move, too. A company may relocate the head of the household to another state, a divorce may require the sale of the current home in an asset liquidation, or a senior may not be healthy enough to care for his/her current residence on his/her own. In these cases, emotions run higher because the move is not optional, but rather a necessity due to outside circumstances.

Regardless of the reason, moving is very stressful. Like any other event, though, proper planning can make the transition easier. If you know what to expect and what to do, the move will be smooth and stress-free.

To help you through these stressful times, Prima By Design, Inc. has published a moving guide. The guide is full of helpful information and guidelines. It also has many forms that you can use to make your move as easy as possible. There are 76 pages of ideas and forms that we have compiled from our experiences. For more information, see our web site.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Frugal Cleaning Tips

Frugal Friday

Here are some penny-pinching tips for saving while cleaning your home.

• Use the rule of half. Use half the detergent, half the dryer sheet, half the sponge, etc. You will find that most cleaning can be done with half the product, saving you 50% on cleaning costs.
• Denture cleaner and water makes a great paste for cleaning stainless steel.
• Instead of using harsh chemicals to clean your microwave, boil water for 30-60 seconds. The food particles will easily wipe off.
• Buy generic when possible. These brands often clean just as well, for much less money.
• Buy in bulk when on sale. This will save you money in the long run.
• A crumbled up mesh onion bag works just as well as a scouring pad--and rinses clean more easily.
• Freeze vinegar/water cubes and toss one in your garbage disposal for inexpensive, effective cleaning.
• Use rags instead of paper towels.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Overview of Senior Communities

Senior Thursday

There are as many different types of facilities for seniors as there are needs. Some seniors are still active and working. Others are retired, but can't live on their own and take care of a house. Yet others are too ill to take care of any of their daily needs.

Here is a summary of different types of facilities and their levels of care.

These are generally for people 55 years of age or older. The senior purchases the home and it can be sold when moving out. They can be single family homes, attached, or apartments. Most communities have club houses and golf courses, along with other activities. Health care is not normally included.

These facilities offer a carefree lifestyle with a built-in support system. Residents pay an entry fee, along with a monthly fee. There are different types of contracts, depending upon the seniors situation:
• Extensive--Provide shelter, services, amenities and long term care. Monthly fees do not increase.
• Modified--Provide shelter, services, amenities and a specified amount of nursing care. Additional care can be purchased in the future if necessary.
• Fee for Service--Provide shelter, services, amenities and emergency and short-term nursing care. There is an entrance fee , and low monthly fees. Long term care is available at an additional cost if necessary.
• Rental Agreement--There is no entrance fee. This is for housing only, and health expense are paid for as needed.

These are designed for individuals who need help with daily activities. Staff is available 24 hours a day. Most offer three meals a day, housekeeping and laundry services. Medicare does not cover assisted living care. Most of the cost is covered by private pay.

These are for people who need significant assistance with activities of daily living. Most provide different levels of care, from skilled nursing to rehabilitative. Services include room and board, personal care, and medical care. Most offer structured activities and recreation. Medicare might pay for a limited number of days.

The facility you choose for yourself or your family member will depend on physical health, mental capactity, and income. Make an informed decision.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Organizing Contest Submissions--Part Two

Writer Wednesday

There are many contests available for writers, both published and unpublished. For the unpublished, it is a good way to get your work in front of editors and agents in a competitive market. Contest wins also look good when submitting to an agent or editor. For the published, contest wins and finaling are ways to show your readers that others have enjoyed the book. They will attract a new audience that might not have tried you without those badges of honor.

Because there are so many contests, you can easily lose track of which contests you've submitted which works to. Here are some tips for keeping track of your contest submissions.

• Carefully review returned entries for feedback. Look at scores and comments.
• Take what is useful and disregard the rest.
• Incorporate any useful feedback into your project.
• Send thank-you notes to the judges for volunteering their time. This should be done regardless of whether you agree with the comments.
• Keep all expense reports (postage, copying, etc.) for tax purposes.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Streamline Your Tasks Around the Home

Tips for Tuesday

Does your life seem busier than ever? Take all your day-to-day tasks, add in the hours you work outside the home and the hours you spend driving your children around, and you are left with precious little time to yourself. Here are some tips to help you streamline your life, get things done more quickly, and have more time for yourself and your family.

• Keep new garbage bags at the bottom of the cans for quick replacement at take-out time.
• Keep a vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies on each level of the house so you don’t have to drag everything up and down stairs.
• Keep vinegar in a spray bottle for quick clean-up of windows, drains, etc..
• Bring a basket or box along while cleaning to collect items for other rooms—put stray items away when you get to that room.
• Line roasting pans with foil for easy clean-up.
• Cook in bulk and freeze extra servings for busy evenings.
• Use clear containers whenever possible for easy viewing of contents.
• Label any non-transparent boxes in storage so you know their contents without having to open them/
• Purchase a programmable thermostat to save time switching settings back and forth, and to save on heating/cooling bills.
• Tape your repairman’s phone number to furnace, water heater, etc., so you don’t have to search for it in an emergency.
• Program frequently-used phone numbers into your home and cellular phones.
• Keep a supply of greeting cards on hand for unexpected events such as illnesses and deaths.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Frugal Tips at the Grocery Store

Frugal Friday

We've covered several things you can do to save money in your kitchen. But saving money and being frugal begins at the grocery store. You will want the best deals and to make the smartest choices. Here are some tips for being frugal at the grocery store.

Buy only what you need. Make a menu for the week, and buy the ingredients you will need for those meals. Also make sure you have your staples on hand at all times.
Buy only from your list. Don't buy items in the aisles or at the ends of the aisles unless you need them. They are there for the sole purpose of enticing you to buy something you don’t need.
Weigh your produce. If you are paying by the piece, select the largest apples, cantelopes, etc. And weigh bags of potatoes or other pre-packaged items. Even though they say "10 lbs", some bags can weigh slightly more than others.
Shop the perimeter of the store. This is where all the fresh items are. Buying your own ingredients and making meals is much cheaper than purchasing frozen meals and packaged dinners. And healthier too!
Bring your coupons. Keep your coupons in your purse or car so you have them whenever you stop in at the store. Combine store coupons with manufacturer's coupons for best deals.
Bigger isn't always better. You may be tempted to purchase larger sizes because it seems like a better deal. However, look at the fine print on the shelf label. The store usually posts the cost per unit, such as ounce or piece. Sometimes smaller sizes are the better deals if they are on sale. Also, you may not use the entire contents of larger packages before it spoils. Then it really wasn't a bargain.
Bottom line: Be a smart shopper.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Helping Your Aging Parents--Collecting Vital Information

Senior Thursday

As the primary caregiver for your aging parents, you will need to know all the personal information necessary to care for them. You will also need to know this in case of an emergency. Make a list of the following and keep it handy:

• Name and phone number of physician, pharmacist, and other medical caregivers
• Names and doses of prescription meds, and over the counter medications
• Medical insurance information
• Life insurance information
• Names and phone numbers of friends and other relatives of the elder
• Parish the elder belongs to
• Extra set of keys to the person’s home or apartment
• Extra key to safe deposit box or in-home safe
• Name and phone number of close neighbor
• Name of bank and bank account number—have yourself put on the account
• Name and phone number of financial advisor
• Name and phone number of lawyer
• List of all the bank, savings, investment accounts
• List of all insurance policies