Homemade, Natural Hand Sanitizer Recipe

There must be lots of people who want a hand sanitizer that doesn’t  include alcohol.  I’d never really thought about it before  my local news did a story about an alternative.  Apparently essential oils have the same antibacterial qualities as alcohol, and they smell better, too!

This is not an endorsement for the safety, efficacy or frugality of the recipe or it’s contents.  Always check with your doctor and lawyer before doing anything, especially anything I talk about.  Use at your own risk.  Don’t  sue me.

According to my local news, this is how you make “natural” hand sanitizer:

Fill a small spray bottle halfway with sterile (I’m assuming distilled) water.

Add to it:

1 tsp Aloe Vera gel

1-2 drops of cinnamon oil

1 drop of eucalyptus oil

1 drop of clove bud oil

1 drop of rosemary oil

5 drops of lemon oil (for scent_

Top it off with more sterile water.

Shake well and… voila!

Not frugal, certainly.  You can get a ten gallon tub of off-brand sanitizer for thirty-seven cents (okay, not really).   The essential oils aren’t cheap.  Still, it’s kind of a neat idea.  Put it in pretty spray bottles and it might make a nice stocking stuffer idea, too.  Especially for all you crunchy people!

Whatever type you decide on, please wash often.  I don’t want to catch H1N1, Swine, or any other Flu or virus, thankyouverymuch.


Deal of the Day August 25, 2009 – Free Prevention Magazine and Pedometer

This one showed in my email today.

Get a free issue of Prevention magazine plus a free pedometer.  They are also offering a year’s subscription for just $12 plus delivery.  Click here to sign up, but if you don’t want the full subscription you’ll have to cancel after you receive the trial issue.  You  still get to keep the pedometer, though!

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

Subscribe to my RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

Patient, Diagnose Thyself

You may have noticed that apart from a few Deals I’ve been conspicuously absent for most of the past week.

That’s because I’ve been dealing with my second illness in as many weeks, and this time I very nearly did cough up a lung.

I wound up going back to the doctor whose office I’d like to quit because in my weakened state I just did not have it in me to keep trying to find a doctor whose office staff wasn’t hostile, that took my insurance and was willing to see me that day.  In all fairness I only called two, but I think I could have called twenty and had the same result.

So, after a monsyllabic (on their part) conversation with her staff to get the appointment, Son and I made the forty-five minute trek to my current doctor’s office.  At least this time the diagnosis did not come from Son’s doctor (he frequently tells me what’s wrong with me and I then enlighten my own doctor), but the trend did continue in a way since I diagnosed  myself.

Me:  I think I have asthma.  Remember how I’ve told you before that sometimes I feel like I’m breathing through gauze (and you looked at me like I had three heads)?  Well, I think that’s an attack of some sort and could benefit from an inhaler.

Doctor:  Hmmm.  Oh yes.  That sounds like Reactive Airway Disease.  Yes.

So, it turns out I have Reactive Airway Disease, just like Son.   I am the proud owner of my own inhaler, some steroids, a strong antibiotic, a kickass cough medicine – and I get to share Son’s nebulizer.

After two days of medication and almost-complete bedrest I feel a thousand percent better.  I still have not used my inhaler yet, but am comforted that I have it so that in future I can breathe more easily and hopefully avoid hours of body-wracking coughs that leave me exhausted and sore.

And come the new year I am in search of a new doctor.  One that is nearby, has a pleasant office staff and takes my insurance.  It may be a bloody battle, but I’ll find one.

Hopefully before I get sick again.

How to Not End the Year Fatter than You Are Now

Did you know that the average American consumes 4500 calories on Thanksgiving Day? And if you’re like me you gave two different Thanksgiving dinners to attend.  That reminds me – put Pepto-Bismol on the shopping list!

For many of us, the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day become one long excuse to eat and drink to our heart’s content  I’ve taken that to the Nth degree and have been on the 12 month plan.  Not my  best idea.  Time to make some changes.

Holiday parties and gatherings with family and friends can take a toll on our willpower and our waistlines which is why millions of us pledge to go on a diet come January 1st. Here are some tips to make the holidays less weighty, and perhaps start the new year with a few less pounds to lose.

  1. Exercise. Not only is exercise a great way to burn off a lot of those extra calories you’ll be consuming, but it’s also a great stress reliever. Have a houseload of guests? Too many obligations and not enough time to get it all done? Take a break and take a walk, each and every day.
  2. Eat before you go out. Lots of us think that by not eating before we go out, we’re saving calories that we can use up while we’re out. Makes sense but often, we eat more than we normally would because we’re starving. Have a healthy meal, or even an apple and a glass of water before you go out and you’ll likely eat less later.
  3. Adapt old traditions. Make the traditions you’ve always enjoyed healthier.  Here’s an idea: use those cookie cutters to make fun holiday shapes out of cheese instead of cookie dough.
  4. Start new traditions. How about a healthy recipe exchange amongst your friends and family?  Everyone can bring their favorite healthy dish and written copies of the recipe to taste and share.
  5. Listen to you. If you feel stressed out and want to leave a party or get away from your family and friends for a bit, do it. Don’t force yourself to be uncomfortable, neither you nor any-one around you will have any fun.
  6. Remember what’s important. We all wish we were thinner and that our houses were cleaner, but that’s not why we get together with family and friends and it shouldn’t diminish our enjoyment of these social events. If you’re going out, don’t obsess over how you look; no one else will notice that you’re less than perfect. If you’re having people over, don’t frantically clean if you don’t have the time (except the toilet – that must be done, especially of you have a four-year-old with less-than-perfect aim). The point is to spend time with the people you care about, celebrate life and have fun.

Adapted from an article in Husband’s company newsletter.   Some are theirs as I found them, some of theirs I changed, and  some are all mine.  Please don’t sue me.

Making my Contacts Last Means No Vision Coverage Needed Next Year

Next month I’m going to get a packet from Husband’s employer and we’re going to have to select our benefits for next year.

It’s difficult for me to throroughly review every benefit in the short enrollment window we’re given, even though I’ve got a bit of experience with insurance and insurance matters. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for people who aren’t lucky enough to have worked slinging policies for more than ten years.

One of the things I’m sure of is that our health insurance premiums will increase. I’m just not sure how much. Alison at This Wasn’t In the Plan already received her increase, and I empathize with her frustration about paying more for mediocre coverage. I only hope and pray our plan hasn’t changed again, as there’s not much we can give up in terms of coverage at this point – what with a diabetic and an asthmatic in the family.

I have already figured out, though, that I’m going to save some money by cutting vision coverage next year. I’m the only one who wears corrective lenses, and I got new glasses last year. I haven’t used my allotment of contacts this year yet, as I make my six month supply last at least a year (Shhh! Don’t tell my Opthamologist!).

I will make an appointment for myself in November and get next year’s allotment. So I won’t need vision coverage next year. That frees up about $7 a month to use towards my Health increase. Not a lot, but as every snowflaker knows, every little bit helps.

Medication Expiration Dates Not So Relevant

I was reading a post over at Freebies4Mom (a great source of frugal info!) about cleaning out your medicine cabinet. As part of the continuing war on clutter she recommended tossing expired medications.

While I do agree that the Tylenol capsules from 1986 should be tossed, not all expired medications really need to be.

Drug manufacturers are required to stamp an expiration date on their products, but it’s not the date they suddenly become toxic. It is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug.

Many expired medicines are fine to use. Any decrease in efficacy is minimal, and it’s not as if they become toxic as they age (though there may be some exceptions). I will use most medicines for up to another year or two after their expiration date. And according to a study done by the FDA at the request of the military 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.

So, is it a conspiracy by pharmaceutical companies to force us to buy medicines over and over again unnecessarily? Perhaps. At the very least I’m sure it’s why they don’t fight the FDA to allow tiered dates (100% potency for year 1, 92% for year 2, 88% for year 3, for example).

But I prefer to think that the dates are conservative to ensure that we are getting what we paid for, and getting the most potent formulations to take care of our ills and aches.

On the other hand, I would be willing to sacrifice 10% of potency for a 50% discount for many drugs. Wouldn’t you? Okay, Viagra users. I’m asking everyone but you…

Of course I’m not advising you, as I’m not a doctor or a pharmacist. You really should rely on them for advice. I’m just a girl on the web who has an opinion on everything.


I am a genius.

I have been saying since middle school that “they” should make a pill that stops your period until you’re ready to have kids and another that should give you the benefits of exercise while you sit on the couch changing channels.

The first of my ideas was finally implemented a few years ago. Lybrel is an oral contraceptive that stops menstruation indefinitely. Women rejoiced! No more tampons! No more pads! No more Pamprin! No more PMS defense! But wait – even though you don’t have regular periods you can have unplanned, breakthrough, unscheduled bleeding or spotting. Uh huh. Methinks there’s a little more work to do on my ingenious idea, scientists! Get cracking!

Now they’ve announced a compound called Aicar that causes mice to run 44 per cent farther on a treadmill than mice who did not receive the drug. It’s going to be exercise in pill form. What ho! That means I can continue to use the treadmill as a hanger while having a six-pack that’s not Diet Coke! A pill that will let me watch Tila Tequila National Geographic and still be able to crush beer cans with my biceps! It’s a dream come true! Does it really matter that it won’t be working my heart and lungs, burning calories, and giving me an endorphin rush?

Does it matter that both of these drugs seriously mess with body chemistry and could potentially wreak all kinds of other havoc?

Of course not! We’re talking no periods and muscles!

Dammit! Get back to work, scientists! You’ve had thirty years to perfect my ideas. My genius is getting impatient.

And when you’re done with these two, please get cracking on some of my other ideas, like making all healthy food taste like Oreos.

Why Buy Long Term Care Insurance? The Short Answer.

The following information is not advice, it’s just my thoughts and opinions. I’m just a girl on the web, not currently licensed in insurance or anything else in any state. You should absolutely seek the counsel of an insurance agent licensed in your state before taking any action at all. Coverages and programs discussed may or may not be available in your state.

Recently someone asked me what I knew about Long Term Care insurance, and whether or not I thought it was a good thing to buy.

The answers to that are a little, and yes.

Why buy it?

Because generally Medicare doesn’t pay for long term care. They only cover nursing home costs under very specific conditions for a very short period of time, and eventually they stop paying at all.

And most long term care isn’t as an inpatient in a nursing home, it’s at home for what they call “custodial care” or “activities of daily living” – toileting, bathing, dressing, eating, transferring (getting into and out of bed) and continence. Medicare doesn’t cover that at all.

Long Term Care Insurance (LTC) starts covering if you can’t do two out of the six activities of daily living for a period of (usually) at least 90 days. Coverage can also be triggered if you require substantial supervision because of a cognitive impairment (like Alzheimer’s). It can cover care at home, in a nursing home or in the community (i.e. Adult Day Care). You also have to be eligible and pay for services for an Elimination period (which you choose). You can also choose how long the policy will pay (usually 3 years, 5 years and lifetime).

Some people think they can just go on Medicaid. They can, but not unless they meet very specific guidelines on assets and income. Many people think they can just give their assets to their kids to protect them, but you can’t. There are HUGE penalties if you try to do this.

In my opinion LTC is very important if you want to protect your kids from having to foot the bill, and if you want to have an estate to pass on to them. Sure, you can sell your house to pay your expenses. Nursing homes cost about $150-$160 a day now, which is $55k – $58k a year. My grandmother was in a nursing home for twelve years before she passed.

Many people thing they don’t need Long Term Care because they have family that can take care of them.   But is that a burden you really want to place on them?  That’s a position I never want to put Son in.  He’ll want to, he’ll even do it, but what kind of life would that be for him?

And I never want my son to have to wipe my tushy.  Dignity is important to me, and it would already be a huge blow to mine to have someone else do that.  I would be mortified if that someone else was my son.

I want my son to live his life, not spend it taking care of me.

My Dad has LTC, thank goodness, and my Mom would qualify for Medicaid without having to divest any assets (the one advantage to her poverty). You can bet that my husband and I will get LTC, probably when we turn 55.

Either that or we’ll retire to Guam. If you have to be sick, might as well be sick in a tropical paradise.

Hospital Income Policy A Terrific Buy For My Family – How About Yours?

The following information is not advice, it’s just my thoughts and opinions. I’m just a girl on the web, not currently licensed in insurance or anything else in any state. You should absolutely seek the counsel of an insurance agent licensed in your state before taking any action at all. This is only a brief explanation of coverage. Modifications are applicable in some states. Coverages and programs discussed may or may not be available in your state.

Also know that I don’t work for State Farm any longer and am not being compensated in any way for this article. It’s just a good policy.

I love this policy. And them’s some strong feelings about an insurance policy. I promised you all I would tell you about it, so here it is.

I’m not sure if I’d have discovered this policy if I hadn’t been working for State Farm as an insurance agent. It’s not well publicized, but it can be a terrific part of anyone’s health insurance portfolio.

What is it?

If you’ve ever been hospitalized you know that there are expenses your primary health insurance just doesn’t cover. Additionally the inconvenience of simply being hospitalized means additional expenses for you and your family. Things like:

  • Deductibles and Co-insurance
  • Private Room and Private Duty Nursing Fees
  • Transportation
  • Child Care
  • Lawn & House Care
  • Meals Out
  • Pet Care

State Farm’s Hospital Income policy helps provide the money you’ll need to pay for those extra expenses when you’re hospitalized. It can offer you an ideal way to supplement your health insurance coverage.

If you are hospitalized for a covered injury or sickness (and really, there aren’t many exclusions) the policy pays the selected hospital income amount (mine’s $100/day*, but I wish I’d taken more!) for up to 365 days of confinement in a hospital.

One of the exclusions is for normal pregnancy and childbirth. However, complications of pregnancy and childbirth are covered. When I had Son I needed an emergency Cesarean Section, so my five day hospital stay was covered. Son had some minor complications so his stay was covered, too. He was automatically covered at birth as long as I added him to the policy (and paid the additional premium) within thirty days of his birth. It also covered his three day RSV induced hospital stay when he was 21 months old – the longest days of my life.

When Intensive Care is needed the policy pays an additional benefit equal to the hospital income amount not to exceed 14 days. So for me that means I get an additional $100 per day if I’m in ICU.

One of my former coworkers has a $200 per day policy. When her daughter was born six weeks prematurely she was in the pediatric intensive care unit for three weeks, then hospitalized another two. With her own hospital stay, her daughter’s hospital stay and the extra $200 per day she received for 14 of the 21 days her daughter was in intensive care my coworker received over five thousand dollars from her hospital income policy – enough so that she could stay home with her, unpaid, until her daughter was off a heart monitor and able to be placed in daycare so she could return to work.

Can you imagine the financial disaster she would have suffered if not for this spectacular little policy?

When Extended Care is needed the policy pays half the hospital income amount (so for me that would be $50 per day) for up to sixty days per calendar year while in a qualified Extended Care Facility. In most states extended care must begin within 14 days after at least a three day hospital confinement.

But that’s not all. And that’s not even my favorite part of the policy.

When you are injured accidentally the policy pays up to five times the hospital income amount (in my case up to $500) for x-rays or emergency first aid if received within 72 hours of the injury. If I have over $500 in emergency room or doctor costs, I get $500. If the bills are less than $500 I get whatever the bill amounts to.

I have used this portion of the policy many, many times. In the last ten years there have been at least three car accidents (none my fault!) that have ended in emergency room visits and one broken arm (on January 7th, so my $500 primary policy deductible had not yet been met). Each of those (and there may be more events I’m just not recalling right now) netted me $500.

There was also an incident, when Husband and I were trying to conceive Son, where I stepped wrong and broke a few toes. I wasn’t sure if it was just my toes or if my foot was broken, too, so I went to the ER (if I’m going to be in so much pain I may as well get paid for it!). I wouldn’t allow them to do X-rays (I could have been pregnant). The doctor assured me my foot wasn’t broken, taped my toes together and billed me $420. My primary insurance paid 90% (I’d met my yearly deductible, and my co-insurance was reduced because I went to an in-network hospital), so after paying my co-insurance I pocketed $378.

Isn’t that fab?

And if you have kids you know how often accidents happen. We’ve already collected from the policy twice for Son, including the incident last summer when he thought it would be fun to shove a rock up his nose. That sucker was wedged up there.

And there’s more.

When outpatient surgery is needed the policy pays the hospital income amount ($100 for me) for outpatient surgery not otherwise covered by outpatient benefits.

This is probably the part of the policy we’ve used most. Any outpatient surgery is covered. We’ve collected for all three of my colonoscopies and Husband’s one, his cardiac catheterization, three of my cyst removals, several mole removals, skin cancers. It even covers skin tag removal, which is so much of a nothing I’ve taken them off myself (isn’t aging sexy?).

So if I really needed some money one month I could, if I were so inclined, go to the dermatologist and pay my $25 co-payment, have her remove a skin tag or two and file a claim under my Hospital Income policy. I’d make $75 on the deal. And have fewer skin tags. Not that I’ve done that just because I’m short of money.

But I could.

Yes. I get paid to go to the doctor. Isn’t that smashing?

What else to like about this policy?

The benefits start from the first day of confinement. No waiting period!

The money is paid directly to you, unless you say otherwise. You decide how the money is spent. Use it to pay your deductible, you coinsurance or go on a trip to Tahiti. You decide!

The money isn’t taxable income. It’s insurance policy proceeds, so not counted as income (There may be some odd rule somewhere that I’ve never heard about that may make this taxable some minute fraction of the population, so please ask your tax advisor for a definitive answer. After all, if I wanted to know everything there was to know about taxes I’d have become an accountant like my father!).

Family coverage is available. You can cover just yourself, or add your spouse and kids. Remember that newborns are covered automatically as long as you notify the company and pay the premium.

It’s not expensive. We cover all three of us for about $280 for the year, and we’re oldish. The premiums will vary based on your age(s) and the policy amount chosen. I’ve not had a year yet that I didn’t collect more than I’ve paid. Of course if it was that way for everyone the company couldn’t offer it! Also know that the premiums can and do increase periodically as you age.

The policy is Guaranteed Renewable. Except in the event of fraud, material misrepresentation, nonpayment of premium, or expiration of the policy.

This policy is a great supplement to today’s high deductible plans, and also a great option for anyone with a HSA plan (State Farm also offers one of those). It should obviously not be your only coverage. If you have State Farm Auto and no other insurance with them you’ll also get a discount on your auto insurance for buying this policy.

You do have to medically qualify for the plan, and there are exclusions. The medical qualification is the only thing that keeps me from increasing our policy amount – with Husband’s diabetes and Son’s asthma we’d get denied. Dadgummit!

So call your local State Farm agent and get a quote. Even if you don’t have any other State Farm coverage. It’s definitely worth looking into.


Well, we had an interesting day.

I woke at 5 am to whimpering. Thinking something was wrong with Son I jumped out of bed.

Turns out it was Husband, and he was in our bathroom about to run a bath. He had what he thought was a pulled muscle in his upper back/shoulder/neck, and was in an incredible amount of pain. He was moaning and cursing and breathing hard. I’d never seen him like that before.

So he soaked in the warm tub for awhile, and Son woke up shortly thereafter. I kept him away from Husband but could still hear him upstairs moaning. I kept asking if he wanted to go to a doctor or the hospital and he refused. I called his sister who happened to have some muscle relaxers, and she dropped them off on her way to work.

An hour later he couldn’t take it anymore. At this point we figured it was a pinched nerve because there was no relief, no matter how he positioned his body. I was going to take him to the hospital, but he asked me to call a family friend who is a chiropractor instead.

I’m skeptical of chiropractic care. Most of the chiropractors I’ve met have seemed more like used car salesmen than doctors. I’m not saying they don’t help anyone, but they’ve surely never helped me. I went several times to this same man after I threw out my back, and I tried him again when I was pregnant and Son was camped out on my sciatic nerve. It was of no help to me at all. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Still, Husband swears by chiropractic, so of course we go.

After one of the most disturbing car rides of my life (lots of moaning and even some tears, along with his observation that I’d never be able to handle the kind of pain he was dealing with (never mind the 8 hours of hard labor, six without an epidural, thankyouverymuch )), said friend saw Husband a half hour later. “Doc” pushed and prodded and massaged and electrically stimulated for about 45 minutes and Husband walked out of there a new man. Doc says he had two ribs that were out of place. I say he has a pinched nerve. But whatever, he feels better. $120 of not-covered-by-insurance fees later.

And thank goodness. I hated to see him in so much pain. It was really awful. Husband is a power-through-the-pain guy, and to see him in agony and not be able to help was no fun at all.

He slept most of the afternoon, and it started to bother him a bit around 4 pm. Long story short we were back at Doc’s office at 9:45pm, a sleeping Son in his PJs in the car with us. Doc offering to meet us so late was a godsend, even though he was a little surly. Now he’s telling us he doesn’t know if he can do much more, that the spot is really angry and needs to settle down. And he’s also asking for cash, as he doesn’t want to pay the credit card fees. Okay, fine. But it would have been better if you told me that before we left the house, as we have about $20 on us. I offered to write a check and mail it the next day, but the family friend opted to pay the credit card fees on the $60 of not-covered-by-insurance fees instead of letting me mail him a check. Whatever.


As I’m writing this Son is back sleeping in his bed, Husband is flat on his back in ours. I’m trying to get the image of my husband in agony out of my head. I want him to heal quickly.

Because he’s definitely getting poked in the eye for telling the woman who bore his child that she couldn’t handle pain.

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