Archive | November, 2012

Because You Can’t Make A Martini With Febreze®

25 Nov

Image…but you can clean and deodorize with vodka! This multitasking spirit is both tasty beverage and an inexpensive, eco-friendly cleaning product. And while you might not be too concerned about the environment, let me remind you that YOU are part of the ecosystem and are especially vulnerable to the toxins of commercial produced cleaning products if you have allergies or other health problems, are elderly, not to mention your kids, pets, even houseplants.

In some cases you can use it at full strength, while other situations call for a solution of 1 part vodka, 2 parts water. Always use a new spray bottle; NEVER reuse a spray bottle that had been used for anything else. Test the vodka in a small inconspicuous area first, allow to dry, and check for damage before continue using. Generally use the solution for porous items like clothing, and full strength on non-porous surfaces like glass.

Here’s how vodka can save your holiday season…

  1. Décor Deodorizer. Get your home ready for company by cleaning and freshening air and surfaces. Spraying vodka solutions works because the alcohol kills the critters that cause odor, such as mold, mildew, and bacteria. Because vodka acts as an insecticide as well as a herbicide, it also kills dust mites that affect allergies. Use the diluted solution for porous surfaces including drapery, upholstery, carpeting and bedding. Besides cleaning and deodorizing, vodka shines hard surfaces like porcelain, mirrors and chrome. Not only does it remove mildew stains, but also hairspray residue and soap scum.
  2. Get Pretty. Use it as a mouthwash to kill odor causing bacteria; you can flavor it by adding a cinnamon stick to 1 cup and let it soak for 2 wks then dilute with water. For dandruff, wet your hair with vodka then air dry; but if you just want healthier hair, add 1oz of vodka to 12oz of shampoo to remove toxins from your scalp. Use undiluted vodka on a swab as a facial astringent to close pores and kill blemish causing bacteria. It will also dry out blemishes and cold sores. Spritz or swab stinky feet and armpits to kill the odor causing bacteria. You can keep combs, toothbrushes & razorblades clean by soaking in vodka, but not all together of course.
  3. Jewelry cleaner. Show off your jewelry by soaking them in vodka and air drying, using a toothbrush if really dirty. Only use on faceted stones, never pearls or softer gems; held in by prongs rather than glued, since the alcohol dissolves adhesives. This also work for cleaning crystal décor; you can clean a chandelier without taking it down by simply spraying it and allowing to air dry.
  4. Adhesive remover. Got those new shoes for your holiday party, but can’t remove that pesky price tag? Soak a cloth in vodka and rub it over the area; the sticker and adhesive, will come right off. Also works great for removing bandages from your skin or bumper stickers from your car.
  5. Dry cleaning & stain removal. Let’s face it ladies, we buy an expensive holiday dress then tuck the tag in with the intention of returning it to the store when the party is over, but that’s hard to do if it reeks of cigarette smoke, sweat, and heaven knows what else. Vodka to the rescue! Even if you own the dress, it’s expensive to dry clean it between each party, especially if it is beaded or sequenced. By spraying the garment with the diluted vodka solution and hanging to dry, it can be fresh as a daisy in no time by killing the bacteria that causes the odor. Love that hat in the vintage store, but not the musty smell and possible critters? Just spray and air dry to turn back the hands of time. Spray and blot vodka (scrub with a soft brush if needed) to remove stains from clothing, carpeting or upholstery. It works best on organic stains like wine. And ladies, if you’re not going to change your bra everyday, at least spray and air dry overnight.
  6. First aid. In the course of your revelry, there are bound to be a few injuries. Applied topically, vodka is a disinfectant and pain reliever. Aside from the usually cuts, bites, blisters, stings and skin irritations, it can also be used to banish earaches and toothaches. A washcloth drenched in vodka and applied to the skin can reduce fever and reduce pain by allowing the alcohol to be absorbed directly through the skin.

So save a ton of money by using just one item for cleaning, deodorizing, disinfecting, and healing…oh, and makes a tasty cocktail too!

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Are Bargain Batteries The Best Buy? Tips For Choosing The Right One.

18 Nov

ImageWhen we were recently visited by that infamous home-wrecker Superstorm Sandy and you reached for the flashlight in the kitchen drawer when your lights went out, what happened? Yeah, thought so. Flashlights, smoke alarms and CO2 detectors are only a few of the items we now rely on to keep us safe in an emergency; so you had better have batteries you can depend on. Hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, whether its an act of God, or an act of stupidity (like a drunk driver taking out a utility pole and plunging the  neighborhood into darkness), sooner or later the cord between you and the almighty power grid is going to be severed, so you had better be prepared.

Now that we are entering that festive season of “batteries not included”, how do you find the best battery to power your need without draining your wallet? When it comes to dry cell batteries (as opposed to wet cell) consumers make 3 main choices: cheap disposables, brand name disposables and rechargables. In a perfect world we would all use rechargeable batteries, but not everyone has the means or the inclination. A good battery provides the best combination of long duration, high performance, reasonable price & eco-friendliness.

Cheap disposables. Studies have shown cheap disposable batteries, like the kind you find at the dollar store, only last half as long as their more expensive brand name counterparts. While they cost half to a fourth of the price, you have to buy TWICE as many. The greatest cost is to the environment in the additional resources consumed and toxins produced in the manufacturing, packaging and transportation, as well as landfill space when they are discarded. They would be appropriate to use in a TV remote and other low drain devices, but may only last an hour in your child’s toy.

Brand name disposables. This is the most popular option based on performance and initial price point. Depending on which kind you buy and which device you use them in, these batteries can last up to twice as long as some rechargeable batteries, however, this is where their value ends. They are particularly useful for long trips when carting along a recharger is not a viable option. The best choices are Duracell CopperTop and Energizer Ultimate Lithium. Always choose alkaline or lithium over “heavy duty” zinc chloride or “general purpose” zinc carbon batteries. Use Lithium batteries with caution as they can overpower some devices causing damage. For other options and to decide the best choice for your device, check out the Single Use Batteries Quick-reference Guide (PDF Download)

Rechargeable. While rechargables have higher initial costs for the batteries and recharger, they can be recharged 100-500 times depending on the brand you use, paying for themselves several times over. The main downside beside the initial cost, is the inconvenience of recharging while away from home, and the decrease in their ability to hold a full charge towards the end of their lifecycle. While the Sanyo eneloop Rechargeable is the gold standard, Energizer, Duracell and Kodak make very respectable rechagables. To discover which are best for your needs, check out Rechargeable Batteries Quick-reference Guide (PDF Download).

No matter which battery you choose, it is important to remember that there are 3 things that will affect the life of your battery: time, use & environment. All batteries lose their potency over time even if they are never used, that’s why disposables have an expiration date stamped on them. Rechargeables lose their ability to maintain a charge towards the end of their life cycle (about 500 charges), so it is best to keep them grouped according to age and brand. Storing batteries in the freezer or fridge to preserve potency is a myth and the moisture can cause damage to the batteries. Batteries are best stored in a cool dry place, same as you would store potatoes or apples. Remove batteries from a device if it will not be used for a long period of time and do not store them in a kitchen drawer or other place might come in contact with metal and discharge. Always be sure to dispose of batteries properly.

Armed with some good information, battery shopping won’t be confusing, you won’t waste your money, and you’ll get the most out of your battery operated devices. But you can always save the cheap batteries for your kid’s most annoying toys, and then secretly rejoice when they run out of juice.

Good news readers, you can now follow me on Facebook! Simply visit Real Penny Wise and click LIKE. Be sure to SHARE with your friends too.

Bigger Bucks For Bilinguals: Learn Language For FREE

8 Nov

Image

Just of quick note of thanks before I begin. I want to thank my fellow US Americans for their cooperation during our country’s recent devastation by Superstorm Sandy and stressful political election season. We know we have our work cut out for us on both fronts, but are dedicated to moving forward without leaving anyone behind. I thank the international community for your continued support and cooperation during these difficult times and look forward to better days for us all.

Now back to the blog post…

It’s no secret it’s a tough job market and any advantage is welcome. Whether you are looking for a new position or advance in your current workplace, being bilingual is a definite asset. It is estimated that world wide, 2/3 of all executives speak at least two languages. Bilingual employees generally make 5-20% over base pay for a position. Since bilingual employees can supervise diverse workers, it is now a fast track to a managerial position.

The US is way behind most of the world when it comes to languages for several reasons. We have a history of thinking the world should be forced to speak English, in the same way we suppress other languages and discriminate against non-English speakers among our very own citizens. Foreign speakers have historically been forced to work the lowest paid and most dangerous jobs. Children have been erroneously labeled mentally retarded and even institutionalized simply because they did not score well on English-only academic exams. Since these abuses continue until this day, is it any wonder parents force their children to abandon their native language completely in order to survive let alone advance?

Currently it is estimated that only 10% of US Americans are fluent in a second language. To compete in the global marketplace we need to adapt or be left behind. English/Spanish speakers are in highest demand as the Latino population grows and their profit potential expands rapidly. Type “bilingual” into your search on Indeed.com and you’ll find a boatload of opportunities in a variety of fields throughout this country. Some of the most popular states include Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and New York.

There is a wide range of free language learning resources, so you are sure to find the combination that fits your needs and keeps you from getting bored. I’ve done the work of sifting through them, and have listed the best for you below. They are all FREE but some offer paid upgrades.

LOCAL

  1. Library. Unless you live in one of those States that invests more in prisons than people, your local library has great resources that can be checked out, downloaded, or accessed online. They include not just books and videos, but lots of interactive multimedia as well as games and visual aids. Most allow you to order materials online, and if your branch doesn’t have an item, they can often request it from another library even several states away.
  2. Meetup.com. This is a great way to find local language practice groups and there are usually dining and trips for members to participate in.

INTERNET

  1. itunes This is the only site I could find that was downloads rather than online. Because a lot of content is user created, you can find the most current slang, not only by language, but also geographic variations.
  2. BBC Language and Free Language Courses and phrases, audio and video, vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, activities and tests.
  3. Palabea and Busuu Interactive lessons & live chat with community to practice new skills.
  4. Quizlet Vocabulary games and tests to teach and reinforce language basics.
  5. Omniglot Text based basic lessons including useful phrases and idioms.
  6. DuoLingo Text only, teaches language by translating Web pages.
  7. Google Translate Text only, allows you to translate a Web page with the option of also showing the original language for comparison.
  8. Youtube Video language instruction by professionals and amateurs. Enter the language you want to learn in the search function, i.e. “learn Spanish”.

Its time to get with the program; change can be scary or exciting, but the choice is entirely up to you. And if you are not careful, you might actually enjoy it!

Good news readers, you can now follow me on Facebook! Simply visit Real Penny Wise and click LIKE. Be sure to SHARE with your friends too.

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