Easy Way To Remove the Smell from Dish Rags

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I don’t know why it happens, but within a few weeks of using new dish rags, they start to develop an odor.  We always lie them flat to dry and change them every single day, but it still seems that they build up a residue which not only can make them retain a stench, but sometimes turns them “hard.”

I wash them in hot water every time they are laundered and never use fabric softener nor do I let them sit in the machine.  Of course, I use color safe bleach as I can’t use chlorine (as mine are red).  But it doesn’t seem to matter.  After a couple of months they are almost too disgusting to want to use in my kitchen anymore.

In the past, I had just resolved myself to realizing that I had to deal with this and there was not much I could do.   I tried something new, just to see if it would work, and to my surprise – it did!  Here’s how I was able to extend the life of my kitchen rags.

Find a large pot and fill it about 1/2 – 3/4 full of warm water.  Add in around 1 – 2 tsp of Dawn dish soap.  Place 2 – 3 rags into the water.  Turn it on to boil.  Once it reaches a boil, continue to stir for 5 – 7 minutes (be careful as it may want to bubble over and so you might have to remove it from the burner from time to time to prevent this from happening).

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Once you are done, drain off the excess water and lie the rags flat to cool.  Launder them as usual in your machine – making sure to use hot water. Once done, they should be as good as new!

Here are a few other tips you can use to help your rags last longer:

Never use fabric softener.  This can create a build up which can retain the smell longer.

Launder them often.  Try to replace the rag each morning or evening.

Don’t allow them to sit in the washing machine once the cycle has run.  Odors can re-develop if they sit in a warm machine while still wet.

Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to your soap dispenser.  This can help flush out the smell.

Stick to powdered detergent.  There are differnent enzymes which break down and can help to strip the rags clean of stains and odors.

Have you tried this before or do you have tips you use?  I’d love to hear them!

The Heartbleed Virus and What You Need To Know

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What You Need To Know About the HeartBleed Virus

There is a really new (BAD) bug out there called Heartbleed.  Many people think it doesn’t affect them, but sadly, it probably does.    In fact, this bug could potentially affect around 2/3 of web servers!!!  Some of these sites include email, Facebook or even your work computer.

You know when you are on a site and you see the little lock icon on the screen?  Well, this bug infected that.  Yep.  Turns out that it wasn’t as strong at protecting your data as originally thought.  What this bug does is grabs usernames, passwords and other data as you are logging into the site’s server.

So, what should you do?  Here are some things you need to know to ensure you are protected.

Do Not Panic.  There is not any need to fear being on line, you just need to be more careful.  Monitor your accounts for suspicious activity and notify your bank or credit card company immediately if you see anything.  The biggest thing you need to look for are small transactions.  This is how the number is tested and most of the time, people don’t notice small transactions.

Change Your Password – but not too early.  You may have read that you need to go and change your passwords.  Well, yes and no.  Yes, you need to change them, but do not do so until the site let’s you know or you go to log on and are prompted.

The reason is that the site must first correct their own vulnerabilities.    If you change your password before the corrective actions are taken, you will just have to do it again as the site is still open to attack.

Do not use the password reset link sent to you in the email.  This is the time when hackers and thieves are going to be trying to gain access to your information.  If you receive an email from a website with a password reset link, do not click it.  Instead, just go directly to the site and log in.  The site will prompt you to change your password at that time and if they did not, you can contact them to see if they sent the email or not.

Do not log into your sites until you know it is safe.  Test the site you want to visit to find out if it was affected.  Before you log onto any sites (for a while), you should check to see if your site was attacked.  You can go HERE and then type in the site’s address to see if it is safe to proceed and login or not.

If a site you use frequently has been affected, try not to log in until you are notified that the issue has been corrected.

You might want to read more at the Heartbleed Bug Website.  It is just important that this threat is taken seriously and you know what and when you need to take action to protect your identity.

 

100 Non-Candy Easter Basket Ideas by Age Group

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100 Easter Basket Ideas | www.pennypinchinmom.com

Easter is coming up soon and if you are like me, you really would rather not fill those baskets with only sweets and candy.  Here are some great ideas for your baskets — which aren’t candy!!!  I’ve even broken down the list by age group, to help you find the items you need!

 

AGES 0 – 3

 

  1. Pacifiers
  2. Rattles
  3. Board Books
  4. Fisher Price Little People
  5. Socks
  6. Sandpail and Shovel
  7. Plastic watering can
  8. Crayons / book
  9. Bubbles
  10. Veggie or Fruit Puffs
  11. Bath toys
  12. Blankets
  13. Onesies
  14. Stuffed animals
  15. Blocks
  16. Sippy Cup/Bottle
  17. Hair Bows
  18. Stacking Cups
  19. Teethers
  20. Wind Up Toys
  21. Doll
  22. Shorts
  23. Bunny Ears
  24. Soft Tip Spoons
  25. Bibs

 

AGES 3 – 8

 

  1. Bubbles
  2. Pinwheel
  3. Jumprope
  4. Travel Game
  5. PlayDoh
  6. Socks
  7. Toothbrush
  8. Mini Legos
  9. Markers
  10. Silly Putty
  11. Sidewalk Chalk
  12. Ice Cream Store gift card
  13. Frisbee
  14. Balls
  15. Coins (inside of Easter Eggs)
  16. Puzzles
  17. Books
  18. Hula Hoops
  19. Stuffed animals
  20. Stickers
  21. Spring/Summer PJs
  22. Purse
  23. Cars/Trucks
  24. Barrettes/Headbands
  25. Paint by number sets

 

AGES 8+

 

  1. Xbox Live Membership cards
  2. iTunes or Google Play cards
  3. LEGOs
  4. Restaurant gift card
  5. Water Bottles
  6. Frisbee
  7. Harmonica
  8. Coins (inside of Easter Eggs)
  9. Small Handheld video games
  10. Card Games
  11. Books
  12. Hula Hoop
  13. Mad Libs
  14. Fun Erasers or pencils
  15. Movie Tickets
  16. Baseball cards
  17. Kite
  18. Temporary Tattoos
  19. Flashlight
  20. YoYo
  21. Slinky
  22. Board games
  23. Marbles
  24. Jacks
  25. Punch Balls

 

TEENS  / ADULTS (even they deserve something)

 

  1. iTunes or Google Play Gift Cards
  2. Lottery tickets (ages 18+ only)
  3. Earbuds
  4. Nail Polish
  5. Lip Gloss
  6. Wallet
  7. Cell Phone/iPod Cover
  8. Fuel Cards
  9. Sunglasses
  10. School Logo Items
  11. MP3 Downloads or CDs
  12. Charger Cords
  13. Shaving Items
  14. Jewlery
  15. Watch
  16. Hats
  17. Books
  18. Magazine subscription
  19. Redbox rentals
  20. Movie Tickets
  21. Hair chalk
  22. Cosmetics
  23. Perfume/Cologne
  24. Blu-ray or DVDs
  25. Personalized stationary

And one item which is perfect for ANY age group is a Bible.  You can find them for infants, children and even adults.  They are always a great item to add, since Jesus is the reason we celebrate this amazing holiday!

Great Wolf Lodge Day Passes For Just $10 – $20 (Kansas City Area)

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Great Wolf Lodge Day Passese | www.pennypinchinmom.com

Here is a unique opportunity for Kansas City area residents to enjoy Great Wolf Lodge without having to stay the night!  Big Brothers and Big Sister of Kansas City is selling one day passes for just $10 to $20!!    All proceeds are going to directly to the organization, but you get the benefit of a discount to this water park!!  Everyone wins!

These discounts are available through May 22, 2014.  You can learn more and purchase your tickets HERE.

Summer Vacation Idea: Car Camping with Kids!

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Car Camping with Kids | www.pennypinchinmom.com

 

Taking the family out into nature and saying goodbye to technology for a couple days is necessary these days as we are all super connected, even out kids. Kids at first will have a hard time understanding why you are taking away their iPod or Xbox but a couple days hanging out in nature will show them that there is more to life than what level you are on in Candy Crush. Car camping is one of the easiest ways to get the family started on a life of loving the outdoors. The reason it is called car camping is that you drive your car to the camping spot and staying in a tent. Whereas backpack camping is where you carry all of your things to the campsite. RV camping is just that – you are staying in a motorized vehicle and not in a tent.

Car camping with kids is a lot of fun and there are quite a few items on the market to make your trip even more enjoyable. First, you need a good quality tent. The tents at REI that are for 4- and 6-persons are very easy to put together and are backed by that great REI guarantee. You can even buy the additional front porch-like structure to give you more room. If you will be camping in an area with a lot of bugs or mosquitos, invest in a shade structure that sits over the picnic table so that you are safe from the little guys while you eat.

With car camping you have to decide if you want to go fully rustic or have things that plug in and make your life a little easier. If you are bringing generators, fans, or anything else with a plug, make sure you get a campsite with electricity. The majority of all campsites come with a fire ring and a picnic table, some will have a water and electricity. Even if you go the rustic route, you can pick up a couple solar mats to charge your cell phone if needed.

When camping in National Parks check with the Park Rangers on their kid’s programs. Often times they have a Junior Park Ranger program, kid’s hikes, and a ton of activities for kids of all ages. You will find everything from butterfly catching to hiking back to see waterfalls. In the evenings there are night programs at the camp theater where they might bring in local animals, talk about the park’s conservation efforts, or show the different star constellations. All of the programs are typically listed online a month in advance so you can see what your family would be interested in.

Bringing outdoor toys for the kids is a great way to enjoy camping. Throwing the Frisbee or riding their bikes around with the other kids is a great way to pass the afternoon. A lot of times some of the best car camping sites are located near a lake where you can dip your toes or toss in your fishing line. A couple days of swimming, biking, and fishing is sure to help your kids forget that they are not glued to their iPods!

 

Alpha-Bits Cereal Snacktivities — Help Promote Literacy

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alphabits literacy | www.pennypinchinmom.com

I was recently contacted by Alph-Bits cereal to see if I wanted to work with them to help promote child literacy.  I immediately said YES!  I love the fact that they are working to help kids develop a love of reading from a very young age.

Part of reading is of course, having fun.  And, for a kid, playing with your food is always fun.  Why not turn your Post Alpha-Bits cereal into a way to help your kids learn (and love to read)!  Here are a few ideas and snacks you can try with your own kids.

 

FAMILY TREE

 

Family Tree Alpha-Bits Cereal | www.pennypinchinmom.com #literacy #kids

One fun activity we I did with my kids was to make their own little family tree!  Simply take a sheet of paper and draw a tree (artistry skills not required, as you can see above).  In the middle, have your kids spell your last name.  At the bottom, they can find the letters to spell out Mom and Dad.  Then, have them spell their own name and those of their siblings in the branches.

We tried it at first WITHOUT mom writing down the letters we needed to find. You can actually write the names down and have your kids find those letters (if they are younger).  It is a fun way to understand a little about ancestry as well as learn how to spell the names of the members of their family.

 

LETTER SORT GAME

 

letter sort game | www.pennypinchinmom.com

 

Another game you can play with your kids (especially younger ones) is to have them sort the matching letters into a pile.  I had my 5 year old take a small amount of cereal and find all of the letter “B”s.  Her reward?  She got to eat the cereal when she was done!  This is helping her identify and know her letters, so that as she moves into kindergarten next year, she will know all of her letters and be ready to learn to read!

 

ABC CRISPY BARS

 

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Another fun thing to do with your kids is to make these ABC Crispy Bars!  You simply make the recipe (add in food coloring if you want to have more fun) and then use letter cookie cutters to cut them out.  Your kids can then create words before they jump in to eat this yummy treat!!!

ABC Bars Recipe | www.pennypinchinmom.com  #recipes #literacy #fun

 

Whatever you do with your kids, make sure you are instilling a love of reading.  I can’t wait to share ANOTHER amazing thing Post Alpha-Bits Cereal is doing to increase literacy right here in my home town.  Details will be coming soon — can’t wait to share!!!!

All You Twitter Party Today at 12 pm EST

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All You Twitter Party | www.pennypinchinmom.com

Have you heard? All You magazine is now available on newsstands everywhere you shop, and they’re having a Twitter chat involving bloggers to celebrate! And I want you to be there with me! I’ll be taking part on the Twitter chat along with other bloggers and, of course, All You magazine.

The Twitter party will take place on Friday, March 28, from noon EST to 1:00 pm EST. We’ll be chatting about budget-friendly recipes and tips and tricks for saving money on groceries.

All You be asking questions on their Twitter page with the hashtag #AllYouEverywhere. You can participate in the chat by replying @allyou from your Twitter with answers to their questions. Just don’t forget to use the hashtag #AllYouEverywhere so they can see it!

And guess what? All You will be giving away a chance to win gift cards to those who participate in the Twitter party. Ten winners will win $25 AmEx gift cards during the chat. Follow @allyou and don’t forget to join us at the Twitter party for a chance to win!

To learn more about All You magazine, visit allyou.com/value or look for their April issue on a newsstand near you on March 28.

And don’t forget you can still order this subscription for just $5 for one full year!  Get those details HERE!

 

100 Non-Candy Easter Basket Ideas by Age Group

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

100 Easter Basket Ideas | www.pennypinchinmom.com

Easter is coming up soon and if you are like me, you really would rather not fill those baskets with only sweets and candy.  Here are some great ideas for your baskets — which aren’t candy!!!  I’ve even broken down the list by age group, to help you find the items you need!

 

AGES 0 – 3

 

  1. Pacifiers
  2. Rattles
  3. Board Books
  4. Fisher Price Little People
  5. Socks
  6. Sandpail and Shovel
  7. Plastic watering can
  8. Crayons / book
  9. Bubbles
  10. Veggie or Fruit Puffs
  11. Bath toys
  12. Blankets
  13. Onesies
  14. Stuffed animals
  15. Blocks
  16. Sippy Cup/Bottle
  17. Hair Bows
  18. Stacking Cups
  19. Teethers
  20. Wind Up Toys
  21. Doll
  22. Shorts
  23. Bunny Ears
  24. Soft Tip Spoons
  25. Bibs

 

AGES 3 – 8

 

  1. Bubbles
  2. Pinwheel
  3. Jumprope
  4. Travel Game
  5. PlayDoh
  6. Socks
  7. Toothbrush
  8. Mini Legos
  9. Markers
  10. Silly Putty
  11. Sidewalk Chalk
  12. Ice Cream Store gift card
  13. Frisbee
  14. Balls
  15. Coins (inside of Easter Eggs)
  16. Puzzles
  17. Books
  18. Hula Hoops
  19. Stuffed animals
  20. Stickers
  21. Spring/Summer PJs
  22. Purse
  23. Cars/Trucks
  24. Barrettes/Headbands
  25. Paint by number sets

 

AGES 8+

 

  1. Xbox Live Membership cards
  2. iTunes or Google Play cards
  3. LEGOs
  4. Restaurant gift card
  5. Water Bottles
  6. Frisbee
  7. Harmonica
  8. Coins (inside of Easter Eggs)
  9. Small Handheld video games
  10. Card Games
  11. Books
  12. Hula Hoop
  13. Mad Libs
  14. Fun Erasers or pencils
  15. Movie Tickets
  16. Baseball cards
  17. Kite
  18. Temporary Tattoos
  19. Flashlight
  20. YoYo
  21. Slinky
  22. Board games
  23. Marbles
  24. Jacks
  25. Punch Balls

 

TEENS  / ADULTS (even they deserve something)

 

  1. iTunes or Google Play Gift Cards
  2. Lottery tickets (ages 18+ only)
  3. Earbuds
  4. Nail Polish
  5. Lip Gloss
  6. Wallet
  7. Cell Phone/iPod Cover
  8. Fuel Cards
  9. Sunglasses
  10. School Logo Items
  11. MP3 Downloads or CDs
  12. Charger Cords
  13. Shaving Items
  14. Jewlery
  15. Watch
  16. Hats
  17. Books
  18. Magazine subscription
  19. Redbox rentals
  20. Movie Tickets
  21. Hair chalk
  22. Cosmetics
  23. Perfume/Cologne
  24. Blu-ray or DVDs
  25. Personalized stationary

And one item which is perfect for ANY age group is a Bible.  You can find them for infants, children and even adults.  They are always a great item to add, since Jesus is the reason we celebrate this amazing holiday!

How to Grow an Organic Vegetable Garden

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Grow an Organic Vegetable Garden | www.pennypinchinmom.com #organic #garden

 

Having an organic vegetable garden means that everything grown in it is free of synthetic insecticides and pesticides. Gardeners have grown organically for hundreds of years and it wasn’t until recently that non-organic ways were brought into mainstream farming and backyard gardening. Learn how to grow an organic vegetable garden easily and have the best tasting vegetables around.

An organic vegetable garden starts with selecting certified organic seeds or transplants in the nursery that have been grown from organic seeds. The best seeds are those that are both organic and heirloom as that means that they are also non-GMO or have not been genetically modified. These seeds will produce vegetables that will not be uniform in size but will have the most amazing flavor. When looking at seed packets, make sure the variety does not have any letters after the name as that signals that it is a GMO seed.

Many people choose to use raised beds for their organic gardens until the can amend the regular garden soil enough to eradicate any leftover pesticides. When making the raised bed, buy pesticide-free untreated wood or the chemicals in the treated wood will leach into your garden. Old railroad ties are often made with chemically treated wood so don’t use those when building your organic garden. Bricks and concrete blocks also make great walls for a raised bed garden.

Organic fertilizers are a vegetable plants best friend! One of the best benefits of using organic fertilizers is that a plant can only uptake the nutrients it needs at that moment. With synthetic fertilizers, if you accidentally apply too much to the plant it can burn the plant’s roots or leaves. If the fertilizer bags says anything like 10-10-10 or 10-15-10 then you know it is synthetic. Natural fertilizers won’t come in perfect combinations of nutrients, but look closer to 4-12-0 or 13-1-0. These three numbers represent the amount of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) or NPK in the bag. Nitrogen benefits the plant’s leaves, Phosphorus helps the plant’s roots to grow and promotes flower and fruit production, and Potassium helps the plant to withstand environmental conditions like cold, heat, or drought.

Instead of using pesticides in the garden, use plants that deter pests or use homemade insecticide soap. The best plants to have in the garden to naturally deter unwanted insects or critters are marigolds, onion, garlic, and gopher purge. If you are growing any vegetable from the squash family such as cucumbers or pumpkins, plant Nasturtiums around so that they will attract the bad pests to their leaves and peppery flowers. A healthy organic garden has both good and bad insects and giving them an area that they can eat helps to nurture that symbiotic relationship needed in your garden. If the bugs are on the Nasturtiums then they are not on your squash plants!

Doing rainwater harvesting is the last step in having a truly organic vegetable garden. Rainwater has essential vitamins and minerals that are not found in tap water. Harvesting rainwater and then using it to water your veggie garden is the perfect way to get those micronutrients to your vegetables.

Minecraft Scavenger Hunt Party Game Idea

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Minecraft Scavenger Hunt | www.pennypinchinmom.com #minecraft #party #kids #games

My son just turned seven a few weeks ago.  He, like so many other kids his age, is obsessed with all things Minecraft.  That lead us to plan a Minecraft party.  One thing we did was planned a Minecraft inspired Scavenger Hunt.

We placed different riddles around the house and sent them around to find them all.  At the end of the journey, they received their Minecraft Prize package – which also served as their goodie bag for the party!

I picked up small gold and white foil bags at Target as well as larger plastic bags.  I also picked up some candy, which we “transformed” into Minecraft props!

  • Black, Red and Blue M&Ms became Coal, Red Ore and Diamonds
  • Mini Starbursts and Mini Twizzlers were building blocks and TNT
  • Green and Purple Skittles became Creeper Poop

We added in some striped straws in the bags and then tied them closed with curly ribbon.  The boys were THRILLED with their prizes and of course, being seven year old boys, thought getting Minecraft poop was hilarious!

You can easily create your own.  I’ve set up a template with clues you can cut yourself to make your own game.  In fact, I’ve even created one version that you can customize yourself to add your own clue destinations!

Whatever you plan to do for your own party, just make it fun for your kids!

Looking for more Minecraft Party ideas?  Make sure you are following me on Pinterest — and my Minecraft Party Ideas Board!