Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Music Replaces Hormone Therapy

Music, the universal language of mood, emotion and desire, connects with us through a wide variety of neural systems. Researchers have discovered evidence that music stimulates specific regions of the brain responsible for memory, language and motor control. They have located specific areas of mental activity linked to the emotional responses elicited by music. Now new research conclusions have identified how the affect of music could replicate the effects of hormone replacement therapy in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Music affects levels of such steroids as cortisone, testosterone and estrogen, and it is believed that music also affects the receptor genes related to these substances and related proteins. Unlike supplementing the brain through hormone replacement therapy which can have side effects, music is natural, and its existence is universal and mundane. If music can be used in medical care, the application of such a safe and inexpensive therapeutic option is limitless.

Studies as far back as 1990 found that the brain responds to harmony. Using a PET scanner to monitor changes in neural activity, neuroscientists at McGill University discovered that the part of the brain activated by music is dependent on whether or not the music is pleasant or dissonant.

This new research is beginning to help those involved in cognitive rehabilitation. Music is now used with patients with stroke, schizophrenia, Huntington's, Alzheimer's and traumatic brain injury among others. Read the entire article.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Corn Mazes

Fall is a great time to get outdoors and corn mazes are this season's delight. Corn seems to go with Autumn and good family fun. There are also other types of mazes besides corn, but you can find a corn maze through the Corn Maze Directory online. Here's another website with a corn maze directory.

A couple years ago I scheduled a 'girl day' with friends and we went to The Garden Maze in the Shenandoah Valley in Luray, Virginia. It was great fun. They even had misters throughout the paths to keep you cool. It's amazing what you can do with one acre of land. We felt like we'd been hiking for miles but were so entertained time went quickly.

Mazes create challenges with tricky loops and dead ends, so plan on laughing a lot. Take some water and a pocket snack and have a reward for the family member who gets to the end first.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

California Rules Homeschooling Illegal

This ruling has been overturned. (See comment below with link provided by a subscriber.) I am leaving this here so others will realize that they need to stay tuned into such legislation to protect the rights of parents and homeschoolers in all states.

A California appeals court has ruled that homeschooling of children is illegal unless their parents have teaching credentials from the state.

"California is now on the path to being the only state to deny the vast majority of homeschooling parents their fundamental right to teach their own children at home," said Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association.

The decision stunned parents of the state's roughly 166,000 homeschooled children. While the court claimed that it was merely clarifying an existing law and not making a new one, the decision leaves the parents of homeschooled children at risk of arrest and criminal prosecution.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Teach About Junk Food Ads

Children are constantly exposed to advertising messages designed to make them believe they can't live without a certain product. Hence the influential power of the medium. But how does it work?

Understand that we purchase based on emotions. How we feel about a product determines if we will buy it or not. It all begins with what advertisers have coined as the think-feel-do model of message effects, which presumes that we approach a purchase situation using a sequence of responses.

In other words, we think about something, then we form an opinion or attitude about it (feel) and finally we take action and try it or buy it (do). Advertising helps shape our attitude favorably about a product to entice us to buy.

The effective way to handle the influence of advertisements is to live the healthy example you wish your children to practice. Build a pattern of behavior that is consistent with what you want for your child. In fact we should be flesh and blood advertisements to our children. Get some ideas in the article.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Estimate Retirement Benefits

The Social Security Administration recently launched an online Retirement Estimator. This allows you to view expected levels of Social Security benefits for all possible retirement ages.

The system calculates your benefit based on current earnings and your retirement date. You can also find out how payments might change if your earnings increase or decrease. Visit now.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Penny Pinching

Conspicuous consumption is out, frugality is in. Spiraling food and fuel prices, a gyrating stock market and a sagging economy are forcing more people to cut expenses and alter their lifestyle.

Even the wealthy and well-connected are starting to feel the pinch, scaling back on luxuries. In lieu of expensive hotels, they’re exchanging homes with friends, for both summer and winter vacations. At restaurants they forgo bottled water, split pricey entrees and order a side salad to complete the meal—a boon for both wallet and waistline.

Get a few ideas from this AARP article.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Passing Time At Airport

Being stuck at an airport, especially big ones, can be an unpleasant experience for you in many ways. You can hardly move because of the enormous crowds, temperatures have rocketed, and your arms are aching because of the amount of luggage you have been carrying around. All this and then you discover that your flight is going to be delayed for a long time. Thankfully, there are ways to pass the time. Read the article.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Make Your Own Compost Tumbler

This video gives detailed instructions on building an inexpensive compost tumbler which, according to the creator, can produce rich compost in 14-21 days! Cost was $8 plus two hours of labor. View the video.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Couch Surfing vs Hotels

In 2004, Casey Fenton co-founded a nonprofit service that helps travelers find a "friendlier alternative" to unfriendly hotels. They find homeowners who are willing to offer their spare beds and couches to others.

The group boasts almost a quarter of a million friendships that have been formed from their service. "The more we network," said Fenton, "the better chance we have of this world being a better place."

Here is a statement off of their website:

As a community we strive to do our individual and collective parts to make the world a better place, and we believe that the surfing of couches is a means to accomplish this goal. CouchSurfing isn't about the furniture- it's not just about finding free accommodations around the world- it's about participating in creating a better world. We strive to make a better world by opening our homes, our hearts, and our lives. We open our minds and welcome the knowledge that cultural exchange makes available. We create deep and meaningful connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures. CouchSurfing wants to change not only the way we travel, but how we relate to the world!  Read the entire article.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dog Scratching and Biting

On July 4th, I went with my Mom to one of her friend's houses for a cookout, and to watch the fireworks etc. I got to talking with one of her friends that was there, Debbie, who has a little dog with severe allergies, skin problems, itching etc. Apparently, this poor little guy has been on several different medications, and nothing has helped him. Debbie was telling me about how he has been biting himself so much that he actually has numerous bald spots, his feet are completely bald from the biting and scratching, and it even got to the point of bleeding.

I asked her what kind of food she was feeding him, and she said Science Diet. So, I told her what all I went through with Murphy, and explained how it was the corn in the food that he was allergic to. I told her what a difference the Flint River food has made - going from 3 times a week vet visits, to once a year for his check-up! I advised her to give the food a try and see if it made a difference.

I'm not sure how long it was before she ordered a bag of the food, but my Mom called me a couple of weeks ago to tell me that the dog had been on the Flint River food for about 3 days, and had completely stopped biting and scratching himself. Debbie said that his skin looked like it wasn't inflamed, and that she was just amazed at the difference in such a short amount of time!

Flint River Ranch ... another dog saved! I just had to pass the story along.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Health and Cell Phones

There's a lot of research finally going on regarding cell phones and health, especially when it comes to children.  Being informed on this topic would be a wise choice, as would redesigning your use of cell phones.

Mobile Phones More Dangerous Than Smoking

Cell Phone Precautions - Analysis of Studies - Concerns For Children

What about Bluetooth?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Clothes Hangers

Sometimes statistics are the best way to get a sense of scale on our effluent of affluence. Try this one:

The U.S. consumes 8 billion hangers each year. Picture the Empire State Building packed from basement to observation deck - all 102 floors - with plastic hangers. Now multiply that by 4.6 to get the number of skyscrapers needed to hold 8 billion hangers.

Put another way these hangers would fill 46,296 semi trucks stretching 464 miles.

According to Green Progress, over 8-10 billion plastic and wire hangers are sold each year, with only 15% ever being recycled. While clothes hangers, both metal and plastic are pretty small, 8 billion each year begins to add up. Fortunately, there are alternatives to hangers and plenty of ways to reuse them and keep them out of landfills.

Source: Read the entire article.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rain Barrels From Trash Cans

If changes in trash collection rules have made your old garbage can obsolete or you simply have a spare can, put it to good use collecting rainwater. A 32-gallon plastic trash can is ideal for this, and if it has wheels, you can even move it as needed.

The easiest way to turn a garbage can into a rain collector is simply to tuck it underneath a gutter with the downspout removed and fill ‘er up. You can get a little more efficient by positioning the downspout so it goes into the can. Keep debris out of the rain barrel by cutting an opening in the lid a bit larger than the downspout and feeding the downspout through the hole.

To prevent mosquitoes from making a home in the barrel and to keep even small leaves out, stuff an old pair of pantyhose into the gap between the downspout and the lid.

Read the entire article and get more tips at Care2.com.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Getting Rid Of Mold

More than just an eyesore, over 80 strains of mold have been associated with respiratory tract disorders. With the health risks posed by a pesky mold problem, getting rid of it should be top priority.

Undiluted white vinegar kills 82 percent of mold strains, enough for most problems. Fill a spray bottle, saturate the area, and let it sit. The smell will be a bit harsh, but it typically clears out in a few hours, taking the unsightly respiratory tract-threatening brown patch with it.

For more resilient mold colonies, try a mixture of two teaspoons of tea tree oil and two cups of water. The smell can be overwhelming, and will linger for a few days, but tea tree oil works when nothing else will. Nearly as effective as tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract (20 drops mixed with two cups of water) will do the trick without the smell.

Source: The Green Guide.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fruit Flies and Weevils

Isn't it amazing how fruit flies appear out of nowhere when you've got fruit that's getting ripe on the counter? Where do they come from? Who knows? Add a comment if you do!

There's an easy way to not have your fruit bowl swarming. Basil! You can pick some leaves and put them in the fruit bowl, or you can sit a potted plant of basil on the counter by it. You can also get basil essential oil and mix it with water to use as a spray. Put 40 drops in a cup of water in a spray bottle.

If you've have problems with weevils in your pantry getting in to grains, there's a solution to that also. Bay leaves. Yes, the ones you toss in homemade spaghetti sauce (you are making homemade pasta sauce, right? :-)

Weevils don't like the smell of the oils in bay leaves. You can so get bay essential oil and mix the same way as above, but what we've done is buy a bag of bay leaves each Spring and toss them in and around the food items in the pantry. It's a great way to share the tip with a friend when you pull something out of the pantry and a bay leaf drops to the floor. I've got a lot of friends who now use bay leaves on their kitchen shelves.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Chance for Free Credit Monitoring

If you opened a credit card account, got a car loan or mortgage or used any other line of credit in the past 20 years, you may be eligible for free credit monitoring for up to nine months because of a recent class action lawsuit settlement with TransUnion, one of the three major credit-reporting bureaus. The plaintiff claims that TransUnion violated federal and state laws by selling private consumer information for marketing purposes.

• Under the $75 million settlement, TransUnion will provide free credit monitoring, including unlimited access to your credit report and TransUnion credit score (not the more commonly
used FICO score), plus the ability to block third parties from viewing your credit history. You qualify if you had an open credit account or an open line of credit from, a registered subscriber with a credit bureau between Jan. 1. 1987, and May 28,2008.

•You can choose from two options - six months of credit monitoring valued at nearly $60 and the possibility of getting an additional cash settlement, or nine month valued at $115, which has more services but qualifies you from a cash settlement.

• To receive either, register before September 24 at www.listclassaction.com or call 1-866-416-3470 toll free.

AARP Bulletin - September 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Having It All

Money rules more than we realize. Some of us stressing because we've spent more than we make for too long, some of us not spending it until we've got "enough" and some people have grown up without a concept of money management.

Money management is not what they teach in schools and yet it's such an important part of life and marriages. Money issues are the number one cause for marriage problems. Look within our families and you'll see it's the topic of many discussions with our children.

In Pamela York Klainer's book, How Much Is Enough? Harness the Power of Your Money Story - And Change Your Life, she says we all have a "money story." How we juggle our money with success and happiness creates a story. Finding the roots of our money story and changing our viewpoint to make money an "ordinary" thing will change our lives. When we determine how much is enough, we've got freedom to live life in a different way.  Read the entire article.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More Baking Soda Uses

There are plenty of websites that list hundreds of uses for baking soda, but these are my favorite because these are ones that you don't normally see.

Drain cleaner: Pour one cup down the drain followed by three cups of boiling water.

Silver polish: Make a paste of baking soda and water, scoop some onto a clean, soft rag, and polish the silver. Rinse and polish dry.

Soft scrubber: Pour about 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl and add enough liquid soap or detergent to make a texture like frosting. Scoop onto a sponge and clean the bathtub or tiles. Rinse.

Oven cleaner: Sprinkle baking soda onto the bottom of the oven. Squirt with enough water that the baking soda is damp. Let set overnight, making sure the baking soda is damp before you go to bed. In the morning, simply scoop the baking soda and grime out with a sponge. Rinse.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

How to Decide Whether to Invest or Pay off Debt

Whether it's a mortgage, personal loans, credit cards or all of the above, more and more people are drowning under the burden of their debt, and for those with enough income to keep their heads above water, the only logical choice may seem to be paying off their debts as quickly as possible. But wait -- is that really the best financial game plan?

While it certainly feels good to be debt free, in some extremely rare situations you may be better off simply maintaining your debts (i.e. paying the minimum payments on your loan) and investing your spare cash. Can't decide whether to invest your extra money or use it to pay off your loans? Read on for some tips to help you make the choice.

Read the entire article.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How to Write a Self Evaluation

How do you write a self-evaluation without sounding either pompous or self-effacing? And one that will still benefit you in your career? Be strategically honest. Use select facts to build the correct impression without saying anything untrue. This article will outline a systematic approach to showing how valuable you are as an employee.

Read the entire article.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How to Get Rid of Ants

Few pests are harder to get rid of than ants once they've established themselves in your home. If you're tired of stumbling upon a swarm of ants on a regular basis, you'll need to make a concentrated effort to keep these uninvited guests away. This article will review every course of action available to you--why it works, whether it's safe around pets and kids, and how to do it properly.

Read the entire article.

Monday, September 8, 2008

How to Do Once a Month Cooking

Cooking once a month can save both time and money. Not only do you take advantage of sales by buying in bulk, but you also give yourself more free time on a daily basis by cooking in bulk. And if you're creative enough, you can fit thirty meals in a standard freezer. So put on your apron, play your favorite music, and clear the kitchen -- once a month, you're a lean, mean cooking machine. Get step-by-step instructions.

Read the entire article.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Frugal Dorm Life

MJ left the following post on our forum and others have responded. Read the responses and add your own:

My son will be off to college soon. Do you have any tips for frugal dorm life?

Read the posted ideas.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Conquer Clutter By Intention

By Annie B. Bond

It wasn’t until I spent some time thinking about my true intention for a room or space in my home that I was able to get a handle on how to remove the clutter. Try this exercise for the rooms in your home, and see if, like me, you’ll finally manage to conquer clutter. What a relief it is! Read the entire article.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Materialistic Children


"I have an 8 year old daughter who is very… uh.. materialistic. I'm ashamed that she loves her "things" A lot of people say it's her age. Is there any way to curb this obsession? (I know turning off the TV is probably a good start)."

Get Frugal Dad's answer.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Generating Passive Income

Gone are the days of thirty year careers and an anti-climatic send-off with a gold watch.Increased labor competition, an economy shifting away from manufacturing and towards service, and a basic impatience from Generations X and Y have just about done away with the idea of retiring on a pension from a working lifetime with one employer.

Add the Enron fiasco to the mix and most people have given up on the idea of "job security." With all the uncertainty, creating multiple streams of passive income is a great way to hedge against the risk of unemployment.

Read the entire article.

"Simplicity of living, if deliberately chosen, implies a compassionate approach to life. It means that we are choosing to live our daily lives with some degree of conscious appreciation of the condition of the rest of the world." Duane Elgin

"Do what is good with your own hands, so that you might earn something to give to the needy." Ephesians 4:28