Friday, June 23, 2017

Cheaply restocking your child's wardrobe

Anyone who has children knows how fast they grow and how tough they can be on their clothes. It seems like you need to restock their closet every other month. This can put a real dent in your budget; and if you are like many people today, your budget just can’t take that kind of a hit. Here are some tips to help you to be able to afford to keep your children in clothes without sending your budget into shock.

Swap clothes

Most people have friends who also have children. If yours don’t quite fit with your children, consider making it an annual event at your children’s school or at your church. This is something that can not only benefit you, it can benefit lots of other parents. You can all bring in your children’s clothes that are in good condition and go away with some other clothes that will fit them better. This can end up being a seasonal event and is a great way to make new friends and get to know other parents.

Consignment shops

Get together all the clothes that you have that are still in great shape and bring them to the local consignment shop. After you leave yours, you can look through the other items that are being offered. Chances are you will find lots of new additions for your child’s closet. This is a great way to find an almost new winter coat or even a dress suit. Play clothes are less likely to be here because they are used the most and often are not in good enough condition to be sold at a consignment shop.

Thrift stores

Thrift stores like the Salvation Army and Goodwill offer used clothing at very inexpensive prices. This is the perfect place to get all the play clothes you will need to fill your child’s closet. They have regular sales and even certain days when you can get an entire bag filled with clothes for a set price.


Some items can be purchased off-season. It is a great way to buy the things you will need in six months and maybe even in a year. Stores such as Kohl’s have discount racks where they sell things for as much as 80 percent off. You have to be diligent and check the racks regularly to get the best buys.

If you have a membership to warehouse stores like BJ’s or Sam’s, they often have good buys on clothes that are great for your kids. Another option is to check the off-price retailers such as Marshalls or Stein Mart.

It may seem as if you are always buying new clothes for your child or children. In fact, you are, since they all grow like a weed. These are just a few suggestions to help you to restock your child’s closet in the most cost efficient way.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Birthday Party Ideas Your Daughter Will Love

Every little girl is a little different than every other little girl and every one of them has their favorite movie, book, show, song or toy. When it comes to a theme for their birthday party, any of these things can be the perfect one.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice, whether you use the classic book or the movie, is a fun theme for a girl’s birthday party. If you want to make your own invitations, you can make cards with Alice on the front. There are free websites that have clip art that you can use to create the perfect Alice in Wonderland invitation. A tea party would be the perfect party for little girls.

Almost everything you need for the perfect tea party is available at this website, they even have a Cheshire cat cake mold. For the menu, tiny sandwiches, little chocolate chip scones, and even mini cupcakes and muffins. Think tiny bites. Instead of tea, chocolate milk or a fruit punch. You can have a Queen of Hearts crown for the birthday girl or the Mad Hatters hat. There are so many ways that you can use the Alice theme to create a birthday party your little girl will love.

Tea Party   

If Alice in Wonderland is not something that would suit her fancy, the idea of a tea party is still a very popular theme with little girls. Go all out and get lots of teacups and saucers, tablecloths, and fancy hats. If you can find white gloves these are perfect too for the tea party theme. Decorate with fresh flowers. Make little kabobs of fresh fruit to accompany the tiny sandwiches and a cupcake tree. 

Ask all the little girls to come in their Sunday best and then provide them with a chapeau so that they will be ready for their formal tea, white gloves are optional. If you like to do a craft at your birthday parties, provide the girls with everything they will need to make a flower to put on their special party hat, include lots of glitter after all this is a formal affair.

Get Their Nails Polished

For a tween girl, a pedicure/manicure party will be a big hit. You can take the girls to a shop for pedicures and manicures, be sure to check with the shop, there are some that have special birthday party packages. You can then bring the young ladies home for a make your own pizza party and a gift bag with their favorite color of polish included. 

Be sure to include the information about the manicure or pedicure on the information just in case there are parents who might object. With tweens, an ice cream cake might be a good choice, made with their favorite flavors of ice cream or cupcakes and a make your own sundae bar. Tweens are always a little harder to please.

Planning a birthday party for the girl in your life should be fun for everyone involved. You want her to think this was the best party ever, and if all the girls think that too, well that is even better

Friday, June 9, 2017

Study reveals successful aging in women includes alcohol

Normally when researchers come out with new information about woman’s health and more specifically menopause, the news is not good. Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health have released the results of a study that has shown that have one drink a day can improve as woman’s health overall as they age.

How exciting is that? Yes,  you heard correctly, you can have one martini a day or a glass of wine as you age into your 50s and 60s and you will be healthier at age 70 than those who abstain from alcohol or those who indulge in more than one drink per day. If you enjoy your chardonnay you can now say with confidence, a glass of chardonnay a day keeps the doctor away or if you prefer, a Sam Adams.

The study was conducted in conjunction with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The results were published in PLoS Medicine a peer-reviewed medical journal. Entitled "Alcohol Consumption at Midlife and Successful Aging in Women: A Prospective Cohort Analysis in the Nurses Health Study”, the study is based on data provided by 121,700 female nurses who enrolled in the United States Nurses Health study which has been going on since 1976.

The study concentrated on women who were not heavy drinkers and who lived to be over 70. This involved 13, 984 participants. The results seem to indicate that in this group, women who had any single alcoholic drink every day during middle age had better health in general than women who drank nothing or who had more than two drinks at one time.

The researchers, QI Sun, Mary K. Townsend, Olivia I. Okereke, Eric B. Rimm, Frank B. Hu Meir J. Stampfer and Francine Grodstein, used the term “successful aging” to describe the positive condition of the participants. Successful aging was considered as being free of 11 major chronic diseases and having no major cognitive impairment, physical impairment, or mental health limitations.

The nurses were given a validated food frequency questionnaire. Of the nurses who participated and lived to at least 70, 98.1% were deemed to have not been heavy drinkers in middle age and these were the questionnaires that were considered for the study. Factors such as smoking were also taken into consideration.

One other aspect of the drinking that was taken into account, the amount and frequency of the drinking. Did the participants indulge in one drink a day or did they indulge in a week’s worth of drinks in just one or two occasions? Spreading it out over the entire week was deemed to be the preferred method.

The conclusion was that if you drink one drink a day for from five to seven days a week you will receive more benefit than if you don’t drink at all or have more than one drink at a time one to four days a week. Women who drank between 3-15 drinks a week had a 28 percent better chance of aging successfully.

Women who have one drink a day for at least 5 days a week have almost double the chance of being healthy at 70 over women who drink nothing at all. Having a glass of wine with dinner or beer with lunch really can help you to be healthier after 70. So raise a glass of the alcoholic beverage of our choice and toast successful aging for yourself and all the other woman in their 50s and 60s that you know.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Preventing laundry pilling

Laundry is something that everyone has to deal with. If you want to have fresh, clean clothes to wear and you can’t afford to use dry cleaning for every item, then you need to know how to deal with the clothes that you own. You must treat stains, separate your clothes by color and handle clothes in a manner that will help limit the amount of pilling that occurs in the laundry.

Pilling is unattractive and it reduces the value of your clothing. Laundering plays a very important part in the maintenance of your clothing. While pilling doesn’t affect the life and use of clothing, it does make them less likely to be worn. If you don’t like the way a piece of clothing looks, you aren’t going to wear it.

Everyone has seen those unsightly little balls that seem to appear almost mysteriously on the sides, under the arms of sweaters and on the inside of pants where the thighs meet. Most pilling is caused by friction. That is why it shows up where the material rubs. It is often the result of loose weaving in less expensive fabrics but if you think you’re really expensive clothing is not going to pill, you are wrong. 

There are some fabrics, denim in particular, that are quite resistant to pilling but luxury fabrics such as cashmere are very apt to pill.

Now that you know what pilling is and how it is caused, what can you do to stop it from being aggravated by the way you are laundering your clothes? The first thing that you can do, with no additional cost to yourself, is to turn your clothes inside out before washing. Before you do that, you can look for stains that need to be pretreated.

One thing that can help is a mesh lingerie bag. If you can afford it, you can buy several and wash all of your clothes that are prone to pilling in a mesh bag. The less your clothes rub against other clothes, the less likely they are to develop additional pilling. Another thing that you can do is to wash smaller loads. You may even want to wash items that are especially vulnerable to pilling alone in the machine on a delicate cycle.

If you have some expensive pieces which are already showing that pilling is going to be an issue, you may want to just hand wash them alone and dry them flat on a drying rack or wrapped in a towel. This is much more work and obviously, you could spend a great deal of time doing hand laundry if you have a large amount of your wardrobe that is prone to pilling. It is a good idea, before you purchase items, to look at them and see that they are tightly woven and less likely to pill.

Once you have pilling, you can remove it by hand by cutting off the little balls or by purchasing one of the “shavers” that were created to do this job. Again, it is a time-consuming endeavor and with pilling the old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is particularly apropos. Avoiding fabrics that pill and being careful to prevent it from happening are the best way to go.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Cleaning down pillows and comforters

Down is the perfect filling for pillows and comforters. It is lightweight, durable and very warm. It does, however, have a few shortcomings. One of them is the difficulty in cleaning it. It is not something that can be done easily at home. Don’t worry, however; it is possible to have your down and clean it, too.

The first thing that you want to do is fluff your pillows daily. Give them a good shake when you are done laying on them. One drawback of down is that it can become flat or clumped. 

By fluffing your pillow you will keep the lift in the down. Try not to sit on your comforter. The weight of a body on the comforter over time will break down the down and flatten it. Give it a good shake when you spread it out on your bed.

Always keep your pillow clean by using a protective pillow cover directly over the pillow and then placing it in a pillow case. For the comforter, cover it with a duvet. You can remove the duvet frequently to wash it without washing the whole comforter. It can also be changed to totally change the look and color.

Down pillows can be washed in your washing machine at home if you have a large enough drum. It is preferred that you have a front-loading machine, not an agitator-type. Be sure to run it through the rinse cycle several times to get all the soap out. Always use a gentle soap. Dry for several hours in the dryer on low or no heat with a couple tennis balls in a sock. Every half hour or so open the dryer and fluff the pillow.

Most home washers and dryers are just not big enough to handle a down comforter. Dry cleaning is not the preferred way to deal with down. If you want to get it done, be sure that your cleaner knows how to handle down. Otherwise, you will be spending quite a few hours at the laundromat washing your comforter and drying it in the commercial-size machines. Be very careful of the heat in these dryers as it can burn your down.

When it comes time to store your down pillows and comforters, never use plastic. The down needs to breathe. You can buy special breathable bags or place them in cotton bags or wraps.

Down is a wonderful material to sleep on. If it is well cared for, it will give you many years of comfort and service. Knowing how to clean down pillows and comforters will make sure that you have those years of service and comfort.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The importance of refrigerator temperature

Checking the temperature in your refrigerator is not something that's done on a schedule. Instead, there is usually something you notice about the food in your fridge that makes you realize that it is probably time to change the temperature. The importance of refrigerator temperature can't be over emphasized.

USDA recommendations

The purpose of keeping things in the refrigerator is to keep bacteria from growing and therefore to increase the shelf-life of food. The refrigerator does not stop the growth of bacteria, it just slows it down. According to the  USDA, bacteria begins to grow when the temperature is 40 F and above. The freezer will stop the growth completely, but not every type of food responds well to freezing (and then there's the inconvenience of having to thaw out your food before eating it).

The internal temperature of your fridge should be set between 35 and 38 F, which is 1-3 degrees C. It is important that you actually place a thermometer in your fridge from time to time to be sure that it is actually maintaining the correct temperature. You can't always count on your stored items to let you know when they have not been maintained at a low enough temperature.

Signs you need to change the temperature

There are clues that may alert you to the need to change the temperature in your refrigerator. You might notice that your milk doesn't taste cold enough, for example.

It isn't always about the temperature being too high.There are times when the fridge may be too cold. If you grab the orange juice and it is frozen in the container or your delicate fruits and vegetables are frozen solid, you may have the temperature set too low. It is a delicate balance to find just the perfect temperature to keep your food and drinks safe but also keep them from freezing.

Test the internal temperature periodically

The USDA recommends that you actually test the internal temperature of your refrigerator. To measure the temperature in the refrigerator, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water and put the glass in the center of the fridge. Check on it after five to eight hours. If the temperature is higher than 40 degrees, you need to lower the setting on your fridge. If it is lower than 32 degrees, then you need to raise it a notch. There are some refrigerators that have built-in thermostats so you won't need to do the test, just check the temperature.

Everyone wants their food to be safe to eat and to stay cold and fresh as long as possible. Maintaining the perfect temperature in your refrigerator will help that to happen. If you have never worried about setting the temperature, it is probably time to locate the setting and see what it is in your fridge.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Pros and cons of early retirement

Most people look forward to retirement with great anticipation, early retirement is only a dream. It offers the opportunity to do things that are hard to manage when you are working full time. Early retirement is a dream but what are the realities of the situation? People are living longer and the cost of living is accelerating at an alarming rate. There are many things that have to be considered before coming to the decision to leave a steady job and make the decision to retire early.


The main pro of early retirement is being able to do the things you have dreamed about, anytime you feel like it. No matter how much you may love your job, for the average worker, you just can’t decide to jaunt off somewhere on a whim or not go to work today because you prefer to do something else.

With the ability to do whatever you want comes the responsibility to be able to financially afford to be independent. Not everyone is in a financial position to give up what are likely the best earning years of your working career in order to fulfill your dream of early retirement.

By retiring early, say at age 55, you will still be young and healthy enough to fully enjoy all the benefits that the extra time that you have can offer. This is the time when you can travel, volunteer, spend time with your significant other and perhaps even your grandchildren. Without the stress of a full-time job, chances are very good that you will as many Americans do, live into your 80’s and even beyond.


The fact that you will no longer be receiving a paycheck is a big con. One reason that many people opt for early retirement is that they are offered incentive packages to do so. If this package includes health benefits and a lump sum of money, this can help you to bridge the financial gap that may occur until your pension kicks in, if you have one.

How will you provide health care benefits for yourself and your spouse? This is a large burden to carry on your own without the benefit of your employer. If you have been providing your own health care prior to retirement then this will be a non-issue but for many, this can be a deciding factor.

You cannot use your 401(k) or IRA money until you are 59 1/2 without penalty unless you take a loan. You also are not eligible for Social Security until you are 62 years old unless you are disabled. You need to have other means of supporting your lifestyle such as investments and savings. It might be that you have planned to downsize your home, which many retirees do and if much of your worth is tied up in your home, this may provide you the means to live until all your benefits are available to you.

Retiring early is a great goal but you must combine that goal with a solid plan to provide for your needs. Retirees are living longer and more active lives and if you want to be able to enjoy that retirement in financial security for the rest of your life, you need to be accumulating the wealth that can get you there. In this present world, if you have nothing to provide for you except for Social Security, it is likely that you will not only not be retiring early, you will need to work long after you retire to make ends meet.