Cleaning a Box Fan

“I was dilated 2 cm…one in each eye!”

That was when a headache started. It took all afternoon and evening for my eyes to return to normal. Four days later, I was looking for anything that could be prolonging it. I cleaned the house and washed all of my bedding. The only thing left was the box fan my husband insists he needs or he can’t sleep.

“Two cuts and one tetanus shot later…”

How to Clean a Box Fan, (Lessons I learned the hard way!)

  1. Wear rubber gloves: It doesn’t matter how careful you are, that exposed metal is going to cut you. Wearing cotton glove liners under the rubber gloves is an added layer of protection.
  2. After unplugging, remove both front and back screens: The fan blades attract dust like a magnet.
  3. Put screws in a bowl: Those tiny things love to roll under furniture and disappear.
  4. Use a dry paintbrush to remove dust from motor and wiring: Dad was an electrician. He made sure we knew never to use water on electrical parts.
  5. Vacuum up as much dust and lint from the surfaces: If you try to just wipe it off you will find yourself with muddy blades.
  6. Use strong soap, like TSP: I used a mild cleanser because I didn’t want to wear gloves, see #1. I had to wipe the blades off several times.
  7. Start all the screws on one side before tightening: Top right, Bottom left, Right side, Left side, Bottom right, Top left.
  8. Tighten screws in reverse order: There is nothing more frustrating than having 5 screws tightened only to find the 6th screw will not go in.
  9. Let dry for several hours: I cleaned mine early in the morning, see #4.
  10. Vacuum dust and lint from your work area: The job is not done until you clean-up.

Enjoy your new-looking fan!

Dirty Box FanPaint brush on box fanTightening screws on box fan.Clean fan.

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

Gifts for Administrative Assistants, Not Flowers or Candy

“My boss made the coffee every day!”

My boss spoiled me during the two decades that I was an administrative professional. Not only did my boss make the coffee, he would dump 2 sugar and 2 creams in it, and bring it to my desk. Then he would go over that day’s tasks with me. (He made great coffee! I didn’t.)

Both of my bosses spoiled me. I would get flowers and candy, not only on “Administrative Professionals Day,” but also on my birthday and other holidays, too. When my health forced me to step down from my job, I had a cupboard full of coffee mugs from them.

“But my favorite gift was…a paper shredder!”

Talk to your administrative assistants today! Flowers and candy are nice, but they might want something else instead.

According to a poll at, most bosses spend under $25.00 or under $50.00 on “Administrative Assistants Day.”

“Think outside the vase…er, box.”

  1. Software: Is there software that would make their job run more smoothly?
  2. Upgrades: Maybe they have sufficient software, but would an upgrade make them more efficient?
  3. License: You can load some software 3 times on one license: 1) Office, 2) Laptop, 3) Home. If needed, pay the extra license and let them load a program on their home computer for their personal use. The more they use it, the more proficient they will become.
  4. Electric Equipment: Another favorite item in my former office was an electric stapler. It may seem like a luxury to you, but after stapling 100 handbooks, it feels like a necessity.
  5. Equipment Maintenance: I loved the big, old-fashioned, guillotine paper-cutter we used. It could cut through several sheets perfectly. But those blades need sharpened and the screw on it may need tightening.

“An easy trick to sharpen and keep these blades sharp is to frequently cut several sheets of aluminium foil. Just pull out a sheet of foil and slice it 10 or so times into little pieces. Unless the blades are really worn out this should work. This, by the way, is official for many cheap cutters.”

“You never know until you ask.”

Money is tight and businesses may not have the funds for something new. You would be surprised how small things can make all the difference, i.e. replace the broken blind that allows the sun to shine in their eyes late in the afternoon.

“Make it personal.”

Whatever you choose to do, remember to write a personal note on a card…even a plain “Thank You” note. You cannot do your job without them. Take a few minutes to appreciate their work.

Paper Cutter

 ©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

Salt and Pepper Mill Caddy

One of my favorite things about eating at a fancy restaurant is when they offer freshly ground pepper on your salad. Or when they shave Parmesan cheese on to your salad until you tell them to stop.

I wanted to have the same experience at home! I bought a salt and pepper mill, but they made a mess in my cupboard! There was always salt and pepper leaking out.

I found the perfect solution last year after eating a mini loaf of pumpkin bread. I washed the tiny, tin pan out to recycle it and realized it was the perfect size to hold my salt and pepper mills.

It is easy to transport them to the table in it and my surfaces stay clean.

Salt and Pepper Mill Caddy

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

Stainless Steel or Silver

I own two grapefruit spoons.

The same manufacturer made them using the same molds. The only difference is the material used. One is stainless steel and the other is silver or silver-plated.

Spoon Manufacturer

One is easy to care for – you just throw it in the dishwasher. The other requires a special cleaner, and even if you don’t use it, you have to routinely clean it. You have to store it in a special place or it will tarnish.

Yes, it tarnished.

2 Grapefruit Spoons

I never use the expensive silver spoon. I also don’t take care of it as it needs. I always grab the stainless steel one.

The funny thing about expensive things is they require more work. A lot more work.

It’s the same with any riches. You have to take care of it in a particular way or you have to hire others to “polish your silver.”

When we desire lovely things, we don’t always count the cost of taking care of them. We don’t own them; they own us!

No matter how wealthy you are, the practical items will get used more often.

Form follows function.

Practical before pretty.

Practical is always frugal.

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

Add Meat to Favorite Vegetable Dish

Green Bean Casserole!

It makes you think of the holidays. It is one of the favorite vegetable dishes on our menus. There are other vegetable dishes that we make over and over.

Last week I wanted to make Corn Casserole (also called Scalloped Corn). It is a familiar recipe with: a can of corn, cream corn, corn muffin mix, eggs, butter, and sour cream. I just didn’t have a suitable meat dish to go with it.

It was one of those days when I didn’t feel like cooking anyway. I decided to just add cut-up cooked chicken to the recipe and call it dinner.

My family loved it!

I remember making a “casserole” after Thanksgiving using leftover “Green Bean Casserole,” turkey, and stuffing. That was also a hit!

When you are struggling to come up with an answer to “What’s for dinner?” try adding meat to your favorite vegetable dish.

Corn casserole on a plate.

Escalloped corn with chicken.

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

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Make Lapels Lie Flat

It has been a pet peeve of mine for years…lapels that don’t lie flat. I have sewn the lapels on my pajamas down completely because they irritate my face. I will sew a few stitches in the corners of lapels on my jackets to get them to stay down, but I couldn’t use either method on my winter coat. Sometimes, I need to flip those lapels up to keep warm!

I love my winter coat; but when it first arrived, it had one lapel that bent over. It does not want to lie flat. Every time I wash it, I pin the lapel down and hope it will lie flat after it dries.

That doesn’t work!

Coat lapels

My winter coat with bent lapel

I was washing it and decided I wanted to correct that irritating lapel before I put it in storage. My solution?


Coat with snaps

I sewed snaps on the corner of the lapel and on the coat.

The snaps keep the lapel flat and I can unsnap them when I need to close the lapels on bitter cold days.

Coat lapels.

Now the lapel behaves

We all know to repair clothing items before storing, but it is also a good time to alter them.

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

Alter Dad’s Suit for Son’s Prom

I remember shopping for the perfect prom dress with my daughter in 2006. She chose a gorgeous confection in purple – her favorite color.

She did not get to buy it because I had given her a limit of what I would contribute. She saw the dress in a magazine and decided she could earn the money by working three part-time jobs. But the actual price would have purchased a good, used car, and all of her work did not raise enough funds.

We went to the store and she purchased her second choice. It was a lovely black and white strapless dress with embroidery all along the gores of the dress. It was beautiful.


Shopping for prom back then was all about staying in budget. Fast forward to 2011…yikes…no income for me!!!

Luckily, I was not buying a dress but looking for a suit. I always thought I was the most frugal in this household, but that year at prom I was proven wrong.

My son didn’t want to rent a tuxedo, or buy a suit; he wanted me to cut down his father’s pinstripe suit! In fact, he insisted on it!

Halfway through the alterations, I tried to talk him out of it, but he had his heart set. So, I folded over the sides of the vest and sewed them down. I took some tucks in the pants in the front and the back.


That three-piece suit has a history. I bought it for Christmas in our first year of marriage at a good men’s clothing store. David had a couple elderly relatives pass away and he served as a pallbearer. He had a blue suit and I thought he needed a black one. He started working overtime and I used that money to make payments on this black, pinstripe suit.

He wore it to funerals and weddings and when he wore it on Easter Sunday, people thought he was going to preach! This is a picture of him wearing it as he was the emcee at a Valentine’s Banquet in 1997.

Man in black suit, holding microphone on Valentine's Day

My husband wearing the suit to emcee a Valentine’s Day Banquet in 1997.


It is now enjoying a second life in Derek’s closet. It has been to its share of weddings with him, and a couple of times, parts of it have gone along to play with the band he was in.

The moral of my story is:

  1. Buy the best quality you can so it will last. (Who knew…30 years?)
  2. Don’t give up because you can’t afford to buy or rent a suit; see if there is one in a closet to altered. Even if you pay to have someone alter it, it will be well worth the money.

This is me and Derek before he left for prom.

Mom and son in suit for prom.

Me and my son, wearing the altered suit for prom, 2011.

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

Boot Socks Hack

Rain is in the forecast for the next 3 days.

I am grateful there is no snow in the forecast…after all, it is Iowa! Spring in Iowa is definitely cooler than in the southern states. We save the rain boots for summer and wear our boots with socks!

Feet wearing red boots with boot socks

My favorite red boots with boot socks.

When I wear leggings, I like to have warm socks that cover the gap between them and the boots. Instead of buying “boot socks,” I borrowed some black tube socks from my husband.

He wears a size 14 and I wear a size 7. I had to fold them over a few times to get the look I wanted, but they were free!

A pair of black tube socks.

My husband’s black, tube socks.

I also like borrowing his white, button-down shirt to wear over leggings. It’s a dress on me! It’s just one of the benefits of marrying a man built like John Wayne.

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.