Friday, June 26, 2009

Best Places to Live - Tax Analysis

My brother asked me to do some research for him and I thought I post some links used for research:

Overall Tax Burden by State

State Income Tax Rates

State Sales Tax Rates

Cost of Living Comparison

Make your own Butter

It is very, very simple and quite cheap, not to mention tasty.

When whipping cream or table cream go on sale at the store or maybe a gift of some comes your way, get out your mixer and whip the cream as you would for whipped topping.

Only keep whipping just a tad further and you will have butter along with the buttermilk.

Drain off the buttermilk and reserve in the fridge for other uses.

Squeeze the butter by hand or with a wooden spatula until no more liquid comes out.

Then rinse with cold water and give a quick squeeze again.

You may add any flavorings, herbs, or salt at this time. Mold or just stick in a clean plastic container and use.

Store the unused portions in the fridge. By watching sales and checking around to see if someone would be willing to trade fresh milk and cream for something you have to offer, butter can be affordable, no matter how small a person’s budget.

Be Prepared...Just in case

The Boy Scouts have it right… Their motto is “Be Prepared!”

Severe weather, natural disasters, power outages, terrorism, civil unrest, or any other problems that could happen again; as it has happened in the past; it is better to be prepared and not need it than to not prepare and wish you had. Do not be complacent, and do not procrastinate. Trouble is all around us. Somewhere in the world people are suffering from emergencies of all kinds.

There is hardly a month that goes by without some sort of emergency situation in the news. What would you do if suddenly there is no power, no water, no communications, no heat, and no help from government agencies? Are you ready to spend 72 hours or more relying on your own resources while you wait for government agencies to restore services or for the evacuation shelters to open?

What will you eat if you cannot cook on your stove? What will you eat if you have to leave your house but there are no emergency shelters available? Does your wife know how to cook on an open flame without burning everything? Can you make a shower out of the things in your garage or lying around your house? Do you have a gallon of water per person per day for a week? Do you know how filter the water in your pool to make it safe enough to drink?

In a major disaster or emergency it is likely that medical help could be delayed for many hours or even days. Do you know how to care for injuries when medical help is not available? Do you have the necessary first aid supplies and medications for those who may need them? Does you family know what to do and how to do it…if you are not there to do it for them? There are many questions to ask, and to be prepared you need to have answers for each.

Emergency preparedness can be overwhelming, and a bit frightening. It can also be expensive, and that can cause people to put it off.

Just take it slowly and purchase your supplies as you do your regular shopping….and put it away, in an extra pantry, or plastic container in the closet or under a bed. Every person in your family should have a container just for them, with all their favorite foods they like to eat. Keep reading my blog and my favorite links an you too can learn how to take care of your family – so your government doesn’t have to.

Cure Jock Itch - Naturally

When we begin experience rolling blackouts or the power goes down for good; sanitary conditions are going to do go down the tubes. The stores will be closed, so the best way to take care of yourself is to make your own products. You will get jock itch eventually, so here is a safe and easy way to make a cure when you can no longer buy the cream or spray at the stores.

2 oz Tea Tree Oil
2 oz Pure Aloe Vera
spray bottle

Step 1
At a department store purchase a 4oz+ spray bottle. You can usually find these wherever they sell irons, ironing boards, and related products.

Step 2

Pour the 2oz jar of Tea Tree Oil into the spray bottlePour 2oz of Aloe Vera into the spray bottle for a 50%/50% concentration
(Note: You can use the empty 2oz bottle of Tea Tree Oil as a measurement prior to pouring into the spray bottle.)

Step 3
Treat the affected area just prior to going to bed. Shake well before each use. Spray the affected area lightly. Rub it in lightly for best results. Let air dry.

Step 4
Continue treatment every night prior to bed until you run out of the 4oz of mixture. Wait a week. Create another batch and repeat treatment until you run out of 4 ounces of mixture. Continue, with a weeks rest in between treatments, until you are satisfied the athlete's foot, jock itch, or other fungus is completely gone

Friday, June 12, 2009

Make you own Laundry Soap

I was looking for alternate ways of making laundry soap when I came across this recipe. While it uses bar soap and baking soda, it seems practical because it's easier to store those two things than the big containers of store-bought laundry detergent. I always have lots of baking soda around, and I love grabbing up three bars of soap for a buck at the dollar store.

You'll Need:

20 Mule Team Borax (76 oz box)

Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (55 oz box) (purchase this while you can...I can't find it in CA anymore)

5 bars Fels-Naptha soap (5 1/2 oz each)

1-cup measuring cup

14" wooden spoon

12 1/2" steel hand grater

4-gallon bucket with lid

~ Basic Recipe ~


1/3 bar Fels-Naptha soap, grated
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
* Amount of ingredients may be adjusted depending on your own preference. For
example, some people prefer to use 1/2 bar of Fels-Naptha instead of 1/3 bar, etc.


1. On your stove top, place grated soap in a large pan with 6 cups of water and heat until the soap melts.
2. Add washing soda and borax and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.
3. Pour 4 cups hot water into the 4-gallon bucket. Add soap mixture and stir well, then add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir again until mixed well.
4. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours; it will congeal into a gel.
5. Stir the soap before each use. Use ½ cup per load (a little more or a little less depending upon how soiled your laundry is).

Makes 1 batch = approx. 2 gallons (64 loads). Recipe may be doubled.

Please note: This is a low-sudsing soap, so you will not see bubbles or suds in the water. The suds aren't what do the cleaning – it's the ingredients!

Scented Soap: You may scent your laundry soap if desired; use 1/2-1 oz essential oil or fragrance oil.
DO NOT use soap scents as they will ruin your batch.

Honda Generator Storage - Prevent Plugged Carburetor

I purchased a nice Honda generator. I had filled it up with gas and tried it out. I followed the manual which came with the generator to put it away until I needed it. The manual said to drain the sediment cup at the bottom of the fuel shut off valve and drain the carburetor float bowl. It shows a diagram to remove the needle valve and the fuel will drain out.

There are extra steps to prevent the fuel that is trapped in the bowl from gunking up.

1). Drain the sediment cup at the fuel shut off valve (don’t forget to turn the fuel to the off position first).

2). Remember to hold a container under the valve to catch the fuel that will be in there.

3). Remove the needle valve from the bottom of the carburetor float bowl.

4). This is not a valve which you adjust to speed up or slow down the idle. It simply is removed then later reinstalled until snug. Do not over tighten. Notice the valve now removed sitting on the black frame piece beside the bar code on the can. It does have an O-ring on it and is small and easily lost so be careful. You can’t run your generator without it.

5). This is the missing and most important part. With the valve removed, pull out the choke and then try to start the generator with a couple of pulls on the cord (or a few cranks with the electric start). It may actually try to run but will die immediately. The next pic shows the remaining gas that comes out. It is this gas which, if left in place evaporates and dries up plugging the idle valve creating a problem.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Surviving a Reduction in Force - Layoffs

Coping with Downsizing When You Still Have a Job

Though downsizing may be necessary in certain times, it can be traumatic, and not just for those who are let go, but for remaining employees as well.

Anxiety, shock, guilt, fear and confusion are typical reactions to making it through a downsizing. You may feel grateful to still have a job; you may feel betrayed or less than optimistic about the company. These feelings are valid, however, instead of dwelling on the recent losses, try to keep an open mind and a positive outlook, which can make it easier to cope with the situation.

Be objective
Find constructive ways to express your thoughts and feelings
Balance your time carefully
Do not try to cope by using alcohol or drugs
Focus on enhancing your work skills
Rise to the challenge

Talking with Management
When downsizing does occur, you are likely to have questions and comments, not to mention anxiety. Some topics to discuss with your manager, during this time, might include:
Increased guidance and leadership
Increased communication
Honesty about future expectations
Inside opportunities to create new challenges and professional growth
Time management

Now, more than ever, balancing work and home is vital to your emotional health and productivity.

Accepting and moving on
So you made it through the downsizing period. One way to deal with the situation is to accept what has happened and keep moving forward.

Maybe this is an opportunity to advance within the company; a chance to learn additional industry-related skills and management tools; and a way to showcase your value.