It was shocking, if not surreal. The email was from a woman I'd never met and whose name I recognized only because a few months earlier, she'd mailed me a book she'd written.
The message announced that she and her family were planning a cross-country road trip to Disneyland and would just love to stay with us since (at the time) we lived nearby...Read more
Dear Mary: How can I whiten my whites? I have well water, and I use homemade laundry detergent. But my whites -- especially my white uniforms -- are graying. I use white vinegar in the rinse. I can't soak them in bleach or use the Cascade formula every time I wash. Any ideas? -- Dotti
Dear Dotti: Dingy-gray coloring is usually a sign that too ...Read more
It's been a number of years since I moved into a college dorm room. My memories of college life are both vivid and precious.
For years, I'd been dreaming about how I would grow up and leave my childhood home and sheltered life to attend college in Los Angeles. I lived in the same dorm room from my first day as a freshman until I graduated four ...Read more
Mosquitoes are nasty creatures. They bite; they transmit terrible diseases to people and pets; and from what I read, they have no redeeming value in the ecosystem.
Malaria infected some 212 million people worldwide in 2016, and killed an estimated 429,000. Mosquitoes spread yellow fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, Rift Valley fever, ...Read more
When a University of Michigan survey asked people what they believe would improve their quality of life and make them happy, the answer given most often was "more money."
In the book "The Day America Told the Truth," James Patterson and Peter Kim asked, "If you could change one thing about your life what would it be?" The No. 1 response, at 64 ...Read more
The email contained a single-word subject: "Help!" The sender, I'll call her "Emily," had been asked by her community group leader to give a 15-minute presentation on how to achieve financial freedom. She was honored to have been asked, excited to do it, but also panicked by the thought. She asked if I would help.
My first thought was that I ...Read more
I pretty much hate to buy things I know I can make for less money and in a fraction of the time it takes to find them in a store. Take cleaning products, for example. Knowing I can make specific cleaners for pennies that cost dollars in a store just makes me happy. It's a no-brainer.
Here are my top five handy recipes to help you get started ...Read more
Dear Mary: The sad news that Toys R Us is closing all of its U.S. stores has us not only nostalgic for childhood memories but also wondering: What should we do with our Toys R Us gift cards? -- Michael
Dear Michael: Like you, my adult kids and grandsons are going through a kind of grief as thoughts of Toys R Us flood them with wonderful ...Read more
Bents, characteristics, abilities and tendencies are the conduits through which you can pass your values to your kids. But how exactly do you make the pass? It's though your life, the way you live.
Kids learn most effectively through observation and imitation. It's the witness of our lives -- more than anything we say -- that is taken in slowly...Read more
You just paid a small fortune for new eyeglasses. On top of the cost for prescription lenses and fashionable frames, you opted for anti-reflective, anti-scratch and UV-protection coatings. After all, eyesight is a precious thing, and it's only wise to do all you can to protect it, right? Absolutely! But here's the deal: You may be destroying ...Read more
Getting our outdoor grill cleaned, polished and ready for summer got me thinking about how much fun it would be to celebrate. After all, summer is just a few months a year, so why not do things up right with an amazing menu and a few good friends?
What happened next I can only attribute to a momentary lapse of good judgment. I visited the Lobel...Read more
I love it when I open my email to find a question that makes me go "Oh, boy. Do I know about that feeling! That's exactly what happened to me. Been there, done that!"
Today's first great reader question is a perfect example. Yep, I've gone to get rid of shrunken clothing because I didn't know there was a possible remedy. But now I do, and you'...Read more
There's a part of me that cannot believe we're going to do this again. Six years ago, my husband remodeled our kitchen in California. It turned out so well and improved the value of our home, and we then decided to sell it and relocate to Colorado.
A year ago, we got the bug to do it again. It's not that our kitchen is awful; it's that it's ...Read more
It's no secret that more and more people -- especially seniors on fixed income -- are sinking deeper into credit card debt. Why is this? I don't think it's because we've had so many emergencies (the common reason to have credit cards, right?). It's because we don't want to feel poor.
At this point, I should define feeling poor. It's not easy, ...Read more
Imagine paying outrageous amounts of interest to a greedy finance company and loving every minute of it. Or making off-the-record back-alley deals with a loan shark so you can skip all the credit checks and paperwork. Impossible? Not if that loan shark is you. You can borrow from yourself, make payments to yourself and collect high rates of ...Read more
When planning their wedding and their new life with the one they love, most people don't think about how marriage might affect their credit. Will your spouse's credit affect yours, or vice versa? Will you be responsible for his student debt? Will your bankruptcy pull down his credit score?
Dear Mary: I'll be getting married in a few weeks. I ...Read more
From pet odors to cigarette smoke, rotten food, burnt popcorn and all manner of stinky stuff, there's no getting around the fact that we live in a smelly world. And when stubborn odors invade our living space, we need to know how to take care of them quickly and efficiently.
Odor elimination is not the same as deodorization. One takes it away; ...Read more
I often wonder why weeds have no problem with drought-like conditions. They don't require a thing -- not water, fertilizer or protection from pests and predators.
Weeds don't even need soil. They're happy to grow in cracks in the sidewalk, even asphalt.
Weeds don't complain, don't need to be babied and do their best work under the worst of ...Read more
This summer, a cash shortage need not eliminate a family vacation. Clever and creative parents can turn time off work into an amazing vacation experience without leaving town.
The idea is to take a stay-at-home vacation, or a staycation.
Make a plan. Determine the dates of your staycation. Create a schedule and itinerary that includes ...Read more
Just this past week, I heard from my dear reader Penny, who is frustrated in the face of needing to purchase a new dishwasher. She writes: "Our dishwasher is more than 20 years old and every time I think I have decided on a new one and read the reviews, I back out. I know that you recently purchased new appliances. What brand dishwasher did you ...Read more