Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fun Things to Do on a Fixed Income

Senior Thursday


Many seniors are on a fixed income. Living expenses come first—rent or mortgage, food, medication and utilities. Then there's clothing and transportation, and maybe pet expenses. Before long, their monthly income is used up, leaving little, if anything, for entertainment.
That isn't to say that seniors can't be entertained on a fixed income. There are events and places to go that are free or very low cost. There are options to Broadway plays and gourmet restaurants. Here are a few ideas.

Become a Volunteer – By volunteering at film festivals, sporting events and other venues, one can experience the entertainment, and sometimes even get a free meal. Other places to volunteer are community centers, gardens and local parks. Not only do these places provide fun things to do, they are great opportunities for socializing.

Check out Your Local College or University – They often have cultural events or access to free/low cost college-level classes. Auditing classes is a way to have access to the college library and performances.

Use Your Library – Your local library contains a wealth of free entertainment. In addition to thousands of books, there are magazines, newspapers, movies and CDs. You can also access the internet for free to keep in touch with friends via email.

Check Out Community Events – Many communities have neighborhood concerts, and plays at colleges and in churches. Scour your newspaper for notices. There are also seasonal festivals, like music festivals in the summer and harvest festivals in the fall.

Enjoy Nature – So many adventures out of doors are free. Hiking, biking, picnics, etc., are all for you to enjoy at no cost. Find trails in your area.

Watch for Free Days at Museums – Many museums have one day a week that is free or very low cost for entry. Find out what these days are for the museums in your area. Arrive early and be prepared for long lines.

There's lots out there to do! Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Planning Summer Picnics and Barbecues

Tips for Tuesday

It’s that time of year again—graduations, Father’s Day, baseball games.  The weather is getting warmer, and that means picnics and barbecues.  Did you ever find yourself at one of these events, only to discover that you forgot the knife to cut the watermelon, or the buns for the hot dogs?  Here is a checklist of items you should pack so you won’t leave anything behind.

·         Paper or plastic plates/bowls
·         Napkins
·         Paper cups, glassware
·         Eating utensils (forks, spoons, knives, corn cob holders etc.)
·         Serving utensils (spoons, dishes, etc.)
·         Can/bottle opener
·         Corkscrew
·         Cutting board and small knife
·         Large knife
·         Grill
·         Grilling utensils
·         Charcoal and lighter fluid or propane for grill
·         Lighter or matches
·         Baking soda in case of grilling mishap

·         Bottled water
·         Beverages—non-alcoholic (soda, juice, etc.)
·         Beverages—alcoholic (beer, wine, etc.)
·         Main dish and associated items (i.e., buns for burgers)
·         Side salads
·         Snacks
·         Condiments (mustard, ketchup, salt, pepper, butter, mayo, relish, sugar or sweetener, dressings)
·         Marshmallows and skewers for roasting
·         Dessert—watermelon or other fruit, brownies or cookies
·         Candles for cake if necessary

·         Portable radio or CD/MP3 player
·         Extra batteries
·         Sports equipment (volleyball and net, baseball and mitts, soccer ball and cones, etc.)
·         Outdoor games (yard darts, Frisbee, croquet set, jump rope, water gun, etc.)
·         Deck of cards
·         Digital Camera

·         A blanket or tablecloth—plastic if grass is damp
·         Portable chairs or cushions
·         Cooler and ice for beverages
·         Cooler and ice for food
·         Insect repellent
·         Citronella candles
·         After-bite medication
·         Sun screen
·         First aid supplies
·         Flashlight
·         Cellular phone
·         Apron
·         Sweater or jacket
·         Change of clothes if you’ll be around water

·         Plastic wrap or baggies for leftovers
·         Aluminum foil for hot foods or cooking
·         Large trash bag for garbage
·         Paper towels
·         Baby wipes or wet wipes
·         Hand sanitizer

Stay safe by washing hands before and after food preparation, keeping cold foods cold, refrigerating leftovers immediately, cooking meat thoroughly, and dousing all coals or fires before leaving the area.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Green Cleaning—General Uses for Baking Soda

Frugal Friday

So many cleaning products on the market are full of dangerous chemicals that can harm both the environment and your health.  They are also expensive.  So why not look to the past for both inexpensive and healthier alternatives?  Over the next few weeks, we're going to look at ways to use common household products to clean your home.  This week, we'll look at using baking soda in the around the house.

·         Using a 2:1 ratio of baking soda to vinegar, use on aluminum shower door frames.
·         Sprinkle baking soda onto a cut lemon to use on brass.
·         Use baking soda on wet spills on the carpet.  After the baking soda absorbs the liquid, sweep it up.  Then mix baking soda and water to clean the area.  Dry thoroughly before vacuuming.
·         Use baking soda with warm water to clean up vomit on carpets.
·         Mix with water to remove crayon stains.  Rinse thoroughly with hot water.
·         Mix with warm water to clean floors.
·         Sprinkle inside rubber gloves to slip them on easier, and absorb odors and moisture.
·         If you spill a liquid on a book, sprinkle baking soda on the pages, then let them dry in the sun.
·         Mix with warm water to wipe down vinyl chairs.

Always test items in inconspicuous areas before cleaning.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Is a Pocket Neighborhood Right for Me?

Senior Thursday

A pocket neighborhood is a compact set of houses with common areas between them.  The houses or apartments have pedestrian walkways, gardens, courtyards, shared backyards and/or alleys, and central mailboxes.  Everything is close together.

Why are these good for seniors?  First of all, there is little maintenance.  Assessment fees often cover lawn and yard care.  Front and back yards, if private, are small. 

Another benefit is the companionship.  Because neighbors are so close to each other, they can easily visit.  Spending time with others is as easy as walking out your back door.  Houses have detached garages.  This gives neighbors the chance to see each other before disappearing inside.

That isn't to say there isn't privacy.  Windows aren't aligned to see into each other's houses.  And picket fences line the fronts of the houses to delineate property. 
The biggest benefit in these types of communities is increased socialization with others rather than isolation.  And since social contact is an important part of keeping an aging mind sharp, these communities can keep seniors healthier.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tips for Tuesday

How you organize your shoes (or anything for that matter) in your home, depends on your individual situation.  Closet size, number of pairs, number of family members, habits, religious beliefs, etc., all play a part in how you can store your shoes.

The first step in organizing your shoes is to get all of them out in one place.  Pair them, and sort them by color and/or style (casual, dressy, work, etc.).  Once they are all laid out, you will see how many pairs of black pumps you have, how many running shoes, how many brown leather sandals, etc.  Seeing them all together will help decide what you really need to keep, and what can be donated. 

When deciding what to keep, think about use and comfort.  Just because a pair you bought five years ago is one of your favorites, if you never wear them because they are uncomfortable, then it's time to donate them.  GO through every color and style, and see where you can pare down.  Once you're done sorting, you'll see what's left to go back in your closet. 

Arrange your shoes by the way you would look for them.  For instance, would you look for a black pair of shoes when getting ready for work?  Then keep all your black shoes together.  Or do you think in terms of function?  Would you look for a pair of comfy shoes for work in the morning?  Then place all work shoes together.  Or store them according to where you would put them on.  For instance, boots and running shoes by the back door, and dressy shoes in your closet.

There are many ways to store shoes.  The first of these is on your closet floor.  That isn't to say they should all just be tossed in.  You should purchase a shoe cubby or shoe rack and pair your shoes accordingly.  Always keep pairs together.  If the shoes are small flats, you can place more than one pair in a cubby. 

If you have closets with shelving, keep your shoes on shelves in your closet.  The shelves can be spaced closer together than they would be for sweaters and pants to make the best use of the space.  This also avoids having to stack several pairs on top of each other.

If you don't have a lot of shelving, but have plenty of hanging space, use a shoe organizer that hangs from the closet rod.  You can usually get about 10 pairs of shoes in 8 inches of hanging space. 

Another place to store shoes is on the back of a door.  There are shoe racks and pockets for this use.  Pair smaller shoes together in one pocket.  Be careful with shoe racks that may stretch out the toes of your shoes. 

Under the bed is a great place for shoes also.  There are bins and bags specifically for this purpose with dividers.  Or purchase a low, long bin and arrange the shoes on their sides, toe to heel for maximum use of space.  If you are storing shoes under the bed that you use often, look for a bin or bag on rollers so it is easy to access.

Some people don't keep shoes in their closets or bedrooms, but rather prefer keeping them in the laundry room or garage.  In this case, special shelving can be installed to house the shoes, or purchase stackable shoe cubbies. 

If you have room for a bench, purchase one that has storage and keep your shoes in or under the bench. 

Whatever you decide, it is important that all family members are on board, and everyone puts their shoes away after wearing them.  Because even the best systems won't work if you don't use them.

How many pairs of shoes do you have, and how do you store them?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Packing Your Student for Dorm Life - Part Two

Moving On Monday

Packing Your Student for Dorm Life—Part Two

Last week, we began a series of articles on transitioning your high school graduate to life in a college dorm.  We looked at the basics a student would need for his/her dorm room.  This week, we'll look at personal care items they should purchase and pack.  Of course, some students have special needs, so their list will be different.  But this is a good starting point. 


·         Robe, slippers, flip-lops for shower
·         Shower Tote
·         Shampoo, conditioner, hair styling supplies
·         Hair dryer, curling iron, hair straightener
·         Hair brush, comb
·         Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash
·         Deodorant
·         Shaving cream and razors
·         Nail clipper and file
·         Moisturizers
·         Soap and soap container, mesh sponge
·         Cologne/perfume, after shave
·         Cosmetics and make-up with case
·         Cotton swabs, cotton balls/squares
·         Mirror
·         Pain reliever(s) and vitamins
·         Cold/allergy medication
·         Prescription medications
·         Glasses or contact lenses with necessary cleaning supplies
·         Ear plugs, eye mask
·         Night light
·         Bandages, tweezers, antibiotic ointment or cream
·         Hot/cold pack
·         Tissues, toilet paper
·         Laundry bag or collapsible hamper
·         Quarters for laundry (many colleges now have prepaid cards for laundry facilities)
·         Folding drying rack
·         Detergent, softener
·         Hangers
·         Towels (bath and hand), face cloths
·         Iron, compact ironing board
·         Sewing kit
·         Umbrella
·         Clothes appropriate for the environment

As always, check with your college/university for some of these items (curling irons, for example), because they may not be allowed in the room.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Maintaining Your Bicycle

Tips for Tuesday

More and more, people are turning to bicycles for transportation.  It may be to save money on gas.  It may be for exercise.  It may just be for pleasure.  Whatever the use, a bicycle, like a car, must be maintained in order to make it last. 

When pulling your bike out for the year, take it to a shop to be checked out.  A store can check tires and inner tubes for damage, lubricate the gears and check the chain.  They should also check the brakes and ensure that the saddle is secure and does not move. The bicycle frame should be aligned and undamaged, and the spokes should be straight. 

Clean and maintain your bike throughout the summer.  Have on hand the following tools:

·         Long-handled brush and toothbrush for scrubbing
·         Soft cloth for cleaning
·         Screwdriver set
·         Nuts and bolts specific to your bike (check your manual)
·         Adjustable wrench
·         Electrical tape
·         Puncture repair kit

Mark your bicycle by etching the number and zip code of your home into an inconspicuous part of the frame.  This would help identify it in case of theft.  To prevent theft, always keep your bike locked up.  If you use a chain, thread it through both wheels and around the frame.  If your bike has quick-release parts, remove these parts when you lock it up so it won't be as tempting to steal.  Remove any valuable accessories from your bike when you leave it. 

To make your bike less attractive to thieves, paint colorful designs on the frame, or use colored tape.  This will make it difficult to re-sell if stolen.  Thieves will move on to the next bike.

Bicycling can be a healthy part of your routine.  Keep it a safe one.