Homemade Stainless Appliance Cleaner Worked!

I can't believe this worked. I've tried everything to clean/polish the finish on my stainless dishwasher. It's looked awful ever since the cleaning lady I had a couple of years ago put something on it that totally messed up the finish.

I've tried commercial stainless cleaners and polishers. I've tried everything to no avail.

In a doctor's waiting room, I was thumbing through a women's magazine and saw tips on how to clean things. One said a simple homemade preparation would clean and shine stainless appliances.

I took a photo of the article. This morning I decided to try it. I took a before picture of my dishwasher. Unfortunately, the photo doesn't show how bad the smears and streaks look because of the light bouncing off the stainless finish. It really is—was a mess.

Stainless Cleaner/Polisher

1. Mix 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar (the stuff you find in the spice section at the grocery store) with enough water to make a milky solution.

2. Dip a clean sponge in the solution and rub the liquid onto the appliance.

3. Take a clean, soft, damp cloth and wipe the door.

According to the article, cream of tartar mixed with water creates a gently abrasive cleanser that eliminates grease and grime—and all those other products used I suppose.

Takeaway Truth

I'm surprised and very happy because the stainless finish on my dishwasher looks new again.

Surprising Uses for Business Cards

I still carry business cards. Do you?

Actually, I carry several cards that are standard business-card size, that is, 3.5 inches" x 2 inches.

Only 1 of these cards I carry is a traditional business card. That's it to the left. On the reverse side of it, I have my website and blog links.

If you're wondering why an author should carry business cards, this post is for you.

I order my cards from Vista Print because they offer quality card stock, they're inexpensive, and I can upload my own design or use one of theirs. The card above is an old one, and it uses one of their stock designs.

If you want something even more affordable, print your own with Avery Clean Edge Business Card.

Just be sure you get the correct ones for your printer. Also, keep it simple if you're not skilled at graphic design.

Fake Business Cards

These are just cards with non-traditional information on them. You could easily refer to them as calling cards like ladies and gentlemen used in bygone days.

I have a few of these non-traditional cards. I created them for various reasons. One might be to promote a specific book. I can place those in a package I mail to someone who won a prize in one of my giveaways.

Another is a card with a Smashwords Coupon Code. I give those to anyone I converse with about my books.

A couple of my non-traditional cards were created for the same purpose, but I might have different information on each.

I give the card I think works for the person or group I'm visiting.

One such card has all my online links including the link to subscribe to my newsletter/mailing list. Often, when ordering from Vista Print, I'll also have the design placed on a spiral notebook. I give those to readers because who can't use a good notebook.

My most recent design from 2018 uses a red rose. I have a rose garden in my backyard so roses always appeal to me.

On the reverse of this card, you'll find some review quotes about my writing, not necessarily about a specific book.

I'll finish this post by giving some ways you can use business cards beyond dropping them into a bowl at a restaurant.

9 Ways to Use Business Cards

1. As I have done, create a card with a free book link. Give a card to anyone who expresses an interest in you as an author.

2. Give one of your business cards to the receptionist when you sign in for an appointment of any kind and are asked, "How do you spell your name?"

3. If anyone hands you a business card, hand one of yours back.

4. Enclose a card with your latest book promo when you pay bills by mail, especially if it's from a local business. (Hint: a card that says, "Local Author" is good for that along with your latest book title, buy link, URL, and pull quote from a review.)

5. Offer to speak at social clubs like bunko or bridge clubs, garden clubs, etc. and hand out a business card stapled to your book flyer to each person who attends.

6. Leave them on the tables or counters at places where people are waiting. Waiting at the car wash, the dentist's office, the post office, tables at the mall's food court, the reading tables at libraries, bookstores, etc.

7. Put one on any bulletin board that advertises local services.

8. Leave one on the table with your tip at a restaurant.

9. Absolutely drop one anywhere it says, "Drop your business card in to win a free lunch." Or a free whatever.

Takeaway Truth

I tend to keep business cards. One never knows when that nugget of information might come in handy. Many people are like that so a business card might be a small investment offering a nice return.

Be the first to know about New Books and Giveaways,

Richest Authors in the World, Updated

A couple of years ago I wrote a post for another blog where I appear regularly about the Richest Authors in the world.

I thought I'd update that and see if the list had changed.

In 2017, I was surprised by some of the names in the Top 10 of Richest Authors. Names like Jim Davis of Garfield fame.

For all of us working authors who are thrilled to make a living writing, it's difficult to imagine the kind of wealth some of our fellow authors make.

Wealth that enables one to have a Rolls, a private jet, and a mansion beyond belief—not to mention all the luxuries one can afford.

This was the list I put together in 2017, with each author's estimated net worth.

In David Letterman Order

10. Stephenie Meyer- $180 million
9. John Grisham- $200 million
8. Dean Koontz – $275 million
7. Tom Clancy- $300 million
6. James Patterson- $310 million
5. Danielle Steel- $375 million
4. Stephen King- $400 million
3. Candy Spelling- $600 million
2. Jim Davis- $800 million
1. J.K. Rowling- $1 billion

2019 Top 20 Richest Authors in the World

Here's the list also in David Letterman Order. I've put an asterisk by anyone who was on the 2017 list and changed positions on the 2019 list.

20. Suzanne Collins - $80 million. Most of her wealth is from sales of her novels and writing screenplays for numerous TV shows. She was huge back in the 90's in the romance world and continues to be popular.

This multiplied by a million or more!
19. Janet Evanovich - 80 million. Janet started with category romance and made the big sale with her Stephanie Plum franchise.

18. Deepak Chopra - 80 million. Self-improvement, mind-body, spirituality philosopher.

17. Jack Higgins - 86 million.

16. Christopher Little - 86 million. He's NOT a writer and shouldn't be on the list. He was J.K. Rowling's agent from 1996 to 2011. He probably wears a bracelet that says, "luckiest agent EVER."

15. Paul McKenna - 100 million. English hypnotist and writer.

14. Stephanie Meyer* - 125 million. The Twilight series, need I say more. 3 Twilight films grossed $1.8 billion at the global box office.

13. Dean Koontz* - 145 million. Master of the Mixed Genre Thriller.

12. David Oyedepo - 150 million. Nigerian pastor and President/Pastor of Living Faith Church World Wide aka Winners Chapel.

Would you buy a Castle if you made royalties like these authors?
11. Dan Brown - 178 million. The Da Vinci Code etc.

10. Jeffrey Archer - 195 million. English novelist, former politician Member of Parliament.

9. John Grisham* - 220 million. Legal thrillers of course.

8. Nigel Blackwell - 292.5 million. He's a publisher, not a writer. Sold Blackwell Publishing in for 572m Euros.

7. Barbara Taylor Bradford - 300 million. Awarded the OBE for her contributions to literature by Queen Elizabeth II.

6. Danielle Steele* - 310 million. Many consider her a romance novelist, but she's really Women's Fiction with strong romance elements. If you read her unauthorized biography, you'll discover many of her book plots are based on her own life experiences.

5. Nora Roberts - 390 million. We all know the fabulous Nora.

4. Stephen King* - 400 million. We know Mr. Kind too, don't we?

3. James Patterson* - 560 million.

2. J.K. Rowling* - 1 billion. Yep. A cool billion for Joanne Kathleen Rowling.

1. Elisabeth Badinter - 1.3 billion. Huh? I'm a bit embarrassed to admit I'd never heard of Ms. Badinter. I looked her up. She's a French philosopher, author, and historian noted for her philosophical treatises on feminism and women’s role in society. Okay, again. HUH?

Takeaway Truth

If this list shows anything, it shows that belief in your own ideas, voice, and skill coupled with hard work and persistence through the years, pays off in the long run.

Writers, Adopt These Marketing Ideas

If you have an online presence—whether you're an author or a thingamajig seller—you need to adopt these 3 ideas to be effective at Marketing and Promotion.

If you're not satisfied with your career thus far, you must do something different because if you keep doing the same old thing, you'll keep getting the same old results.

1. Think Long Term.

Instead of trying to figure out how to sell a Book today, focus on developing a marketing strategy that focuses on long term goals. Yep, go figure out what you want in the long term because becoming a "name" or selling a 10K books or thingamajigs this month isn't going to happen without a plan.

Write achievable goals designed to help you increase your name recognition and awareness of your brand. Start with one thing like blogging and building an audience and/or working 1 social medium consistently every day to build your brand.

Decide which 1 or 2 social media sites you'll use to build your brand because it's impossible to hit all of them every day and still have time to write. Learn all you can about your chosen vehicle. Decide what is doable for you. Then make a plan on how you'll do it.

Plan your work; work your plan. Be consistent. Be patient. Be in it for the long haul.

2. Figure out your brand.

What is your brand? What kind of writing are you known for or want to be known for?

You need to give a lot of thought to this because it's virtually impossible to market yourself and/or your work unless you know your product.

If you honestly don't know how to market your work and yourself, then find an author who writes a similar book.

See how they market themselves. Emulate. Don't copy. You want to be yourself, not the author you're modeling. The world doesn't need another Nora Roberts. You want the world to need you.

Be yourself, but learn how to present yourself and your work effectively in ways that don't make you feel like you're faking it. Once you've discovered or determined your identity as a writer, decide how you're going to get that point across. Then at every opportunity, display your brand online and in the real world.

3. Increase your visibility.

You must be noticed. No one will want to find your books if you sit quietly in a corner, hiding behind a potted palm.

Investigate low cost ways that make a big impact. Write articles, book reviews, blog often, guest blog, comment, speak up, Tweet, Facebook, attend writers club meetings, network.

There are thousands of ways to get noticed online and in the real world.

Figure out what you can do that is maybe just a step out of your comfort zone because you have to step out of your comfort zone to grow.

Takeaway Truth

Take action. Do something different. Discover your writer identity. Draw up a plan. Get moving.


Amazon Author Page | BookBub Author Page | Facebook Fan Page | Twitter | YouTube | Joan's Website.

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Pizza Parlor Sign

Sign seen at local pizza parlor near me:

90% of a relationship is figuring out where to eat.

Cute. Probably pulls in customers.

But the best way to have a relationship is to communicate honestly.

Takeaway Truth

Cute signs sell pizzas. Truth sells relationships.

Sassy Women Inspire

My books like Just One Look have a lot of dialogue. Readers often tell me that they laugh out loud at some of the conversations between characters.

Best Job Ever

I like writing dialogue, and I work hard to make it humorous.

Sometimes it’s witty; sometimes snarky; and sometimes downright funny when my characters speak.

A lot of the dialogue in my books is stuff I’d love to say, but never do–usually because I think of it after the fact rather than in the midst of conversation. Perhaps that’s true of most of us.

I guess it comes as no surprise that I like to collect quotations that are amusing—especially quotations by women.

I used a quotation to open each chapter in another of my books, Old Enough To Know Better. Each quotation was themed to the content of the chapter.

Here are a few of my favorite quotations. Hope you enjoy them.

Sassy Women Speak

“You see a lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy.” ~ Erica Jong

“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself.” ~ Katherine Mansfield

“A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.” ~ Jane Austen

“If high heels were so wonderful, men would be wearing them.” ~ Sue Grafton

“When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country.” ~ Elayne Boosler

“Behind every successful man is a surprised woman.” ~ Maryon Pearson

“The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” ~ Lucille Ball

“I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house.” ~ Zsa Zsa Gabor

“Love is like the measles. The older you get, the worse the attack.” ~ Mary Roberts Rinehart, The Man in Lower Ten (1909)

Last, but not least, quoting the sign hanging on a hook by my desk: “Put your big girl panties on and deal with it!”

Takeaway Truth

That’s right, just face your challenges head on and deal with them rather than procrastinate, run, or hide. Wishing you a very good weekend filled with fun and laughter.

Enthusiasm: Ralph Waldo Emerson

Best intentions of blogging early fell by the wayside today. Just too many little details and nitpicky things to take care of not to mention, errands to run, and technological problems that continue unabated.

However, as I get ready to leave the office and go downstairs to bed, I'm satisfied that I did the best I could, and I did it with enthusiasm.

I love what Ralph Waldo Emerson said about this must-have attribute.

"Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."

Takeaway Truth

Sometimes the things I learned in school haunt me—in a very good way—like the quotation above which makes me satisfied with the day even though I didn't cross off too many items on my enormous To Do List.

3 Things Make a Writer a Professional

With the advent of blogging and publishing anything and everything online, writing suddenly became a pursuit by millions.

There's nothing wrong with that, but something important  got lost in the rush to put one's thoughts in front of the masses.


Every career has certain elements or characteristics of those in the profession who can be labeled professional. So does writing.

What Makes a Writer a Professional
Please, Muse, send me some words.

1. A professional writer does not wait for inspiration or the Muse to drop by for a visit.

Professional writers write on a consistent schedule in order to consistently produce new work. If one wrote only when inspired, just about every author would be a one-book wonder. The myth of writing to the muse is exactly that—a myth. In fact, I don't believe I've ever met a Muse.

Being a professional writer is like an employee with an office job. If you're an accountant or a teacher or a customer service rep, you go to work, day in and day out at the time you're supposed to be there, and you stay until it's time to go home.

In other words, it's work. Some days the words flow like melted butter. Other days it's like pulling teeth to get an idea expressed.

Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, and I love that I can make a living at it, but it is hard work. Hard physically on the body, being at a computer for prolonged periods of time.

Hard emotionally because you're mining your own emotions and experiences to create the authenticity that makes characters "real."

Hard mentally hard because you're creating from your brain and imagination something that didn't exist before. You're drained at the end of a day if you did it right.

2. A professional writer makes and keeps deadlines. 

Before indie self-publishing arose, professional writers signed 25-page contracts with publishing companies. Deadlines were in said contracts.

You either met the deadline or serious consequences awaited you if you had less than legitimate reasons.

Those consequences could be as small as giving back the thousands of dollars you received in an advance or as major as getting sued by your publishing company.

In those days, you learned that a deadline meant you might as well be DEAD if you didn't make it. Professional writers bring that same attitude to meeting deadlines in the indie self-publishing world.

3. A professional writer always seeks to improve in whatever way is needed and is willing to learn and master new skills. 

Be your own hero.
Technology is constantly changing. Marketing is constantly changing. A pro does not use "I don't know how to do it" as a crutch to get someone else to do the work for him/her. Anyone can learn. It just takes willingness and time.

Being willing is professional. Helping others learn is professional. Crying off and constantly asking others to do it for you is not.

Remember the Chinese saying: "Give a man a fish, and he eats for one day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for the rest of his life."

Takeaway Truth

For those who love putting together words, this exhausting work is also energizing. When everything comes together, it's the best feeling in the world.

9 Blog Tips Help Grow Your Readership

1. Use short headlines that make people want to click to see what the article is about.

2. Write in short paragraphs even if you think most people read your blog on a computer. The truth is a lot of blogs are read on cell phones. Even on a computer, we read "vertically" as it were, scanning the text for the salient points.

3. Use sub-headings in bold to catch the eye. Readers want to find the information quickly.

4. Use relevant, interesting images to illustrate your post, and use more than 1. Images can be had for free use on many websites like pexels.com and pixabay.com.

5. Use a readable font that's accessible to all, especially to someone with reading challenges like dyslexia. (See my post, Choose Dyslexic-Friendly Font.)

6. Focus on quality of content, not just quantity and stay true to your brand, or image. Don’t rant about politics if you're blog isn't a political blog.

7. Call attention to your blog posts by posting the link and an image on social media which will help you generate more traffic.

8. Have a goal or focus for every post you write so you're creating something of consequence, not just a rant or meaningless chit chat.

9. Be generous and give link love to other bloggers by sharing their posts on social media. What goes around; comes around—sometimes in the most delightful way.

Takeaway Truth

Most of all, have fun with your blog. Blogging should not be drudgery, but should be fun. It's a way to connect with people all over the world.

Killing Words Giveaway Now Thru Feb. 27

Mysteries • Thrillers • Romantic Suspense
February 7-27

Kindle Fire • Ebook Prize Packs • Amazon Gift Cards & More

How would you like to read that next bestseller on a Kindle Fire 7 tablet? Win an Amazon gift card or a prize pack of ebooks from your TBR list?

Enter the KILLING WORDS GIVEAWAY now and if you’re one of our lucky winners you could decide which books we’ll buy for you from millions on Amazon.

Plus, don’t miss our Book Fair with plenty of heart-pounding reads for mystery, thriller, and suspense fans, all priced 2.99 or less. We’ve got a bonus giveaway, too! Visit our Book Fair and enter the Bonus Giveaway here: https://bookwrapt.com/killing-words-book-fair/

Killing Words Giveaway is sponsored by these Authors of Romantic Suspense

Alex Gordon • Amanda Uhl • Angela Merlo • Ben Westerham • Cathy Perkins • CJ Zahner • D. Lieber • Erica Monroe • Ethan Jones • Jacki Delecki • Jacqueline Diamond • Joan Reeves • Kat Drennan • KL Donn • Krista Wagner • Leah Ashton • Lucy Lakestone • Maria Elena Alonso Sierra • Marie James • Rhondi Ann • RM Alexander • Stephanie Queen • Susan Jean Ricci • Suzanne Jenkins • Taylor Marsh

Review: Fortitude

Looking for a really creepy series that instills a deep feeling of foreboding?

Try all 3 seasons of Fortitude. It doesn't get much creepier and anxiety-inducing than that.

It's on Amazon Prime so if you're a subscriber, it's free. Otherwise, you can buy episodes or the seasons.

Written by Simon Donald, Fortitude is billed as: Psychological thriller, Drama, Mystery, Horror, and Science fiction. It's all that and more.

There is something beautiful and frightening about the Arctic setting of Fortitude.

That incongruity lends itself to the drama, becoming as much a character as the foreboding sense of impending doom. As you watch, inexplicable events shatter the lives of ordinary people in, what to them, is a normal world. But nothing is normal in the community of Fortitude.

3 Seasons of Nail-Biting Anxiety

Season 1 kicked off with the remarkable Stanley Tucci as one of the names American viewers will recognize in this BBC series.

Season 2 and 3 was led by the also remarkable Dennis Quaid.

When I watched Season 1, my first thought was, "This is slow. Why am I watching this?"

Oddly enough, I couldn't stop watching! There was this building anxiety as I watched what seemed to be disconnected events in an oddly commonplace community despite that community being in the frozen Arctic region.

After a couple of episodes of freakishly weird events, nothing seemed common or mundane. At the same time, I realized the escalating creepiness I'd felt from the beginning was created in part by the stunning but subtle musical background.

No wonder the series was nominated 3 years in a row for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing - Music Score and Musical for Episodic Short Form Broadcast Media. It won in 2015 and 2016/2017.

Nothing like music to create a mood, right?

Season 1 was like being on a roller coaster, slowly climbing the steepest elevation, knowing you were going to get to the top then fly down at warp speed, scared and screaming.

By the end of Season 1, all the secrets are out and the mysteries are solved. Or are they?

Season 2 and 3 are your tickets for another horrifying roller coaster ride with some plot lines I found repellent and frightening. By the end of Season 3, you'll be thinking the whole planet is at risk.

Fortitude wraps up its broadcast with a very short Season 4 that debuts April 14.

If you want to see some amazing acting, wildly imaginative stories, and hear a musical score that will give you the heebie jeebies, watch Seasons 1 through 3 now to get ready for the grand finale of Season 4 when they wrap up the series.

The Amazing Cast

Most of the main players—I won't tell you who gets killed off—are there from Season 1 to the end.

The actors are incredible and deliver award-winning performances you won't be able to forget. Give a big round of applause to the cast, composed of:

Richard Dormer as Dan Anderssen

Björn Hlynur Haraldsson as Eric Odegard

Sienna Guillory as Natalie Yelburton

Mia Jexen as PC Ingrid Witry

Luke Treadaway as Vincent Rattrey

Alexandra Moen as Petra

Sofie Gråbøl as Hildur Odegard

Verónica Echegui as Elena Ledesma

Stanley Tucci as DCI Morton

Darren Boyd as Markus Huseklepp

Dennis Quaid as Michael Lennox

Nicholas Pinnock as Frank Sutter

Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips as Carrie Morgan

Ramon Tikaram as Tavrani

Takeaway Truth

This is a series you may want to watch a couple of times just to pick up the subtle foreshadowing. Two thumbs up for Fortitude.

Tonight, grab a hot drink, wrap up in a blanket, and watch Fortitude, a frozen serving of suspense, horror, and mystery just perfect for a cold winter's night.

No Time For A Writing Career? Do This

I think I'm the Queen of No Time. I've not been able to put together any marketing plan for my new books in the last few years. I've barely managed to publish a few books. It's been hit or miss due to a plethora of personal factors.

I'm not the only one in this situation. I can name nearly a dozen writer friends who have been dealing with Life problems during this same time period. In case you're going through something, I just wanted to offer a little advice based on what I did.

Things got better when I decided to quit beating myself up about the fact that Life just wasn't working out the way I wanted it too. Yeah, let's have a pity party. Whine. Whine. Whine. Based on the downward trend in Life, I already knew things could be a whole lot worse.

So I took stock of everything including the available time and what was really important to me. The answer, for me, was to take care of my family and also to keep writing.

Eventually, Life would turn around because that's just the way Life is. Things would get easier. But if I quit writing while dealing with problems, I would end up losing. Writing is a part of me. It makes me happy.

Keep Your Sanity—and Your Writing Career

1. If Life hands you lemons, learn to make the best damned pitcher of lemonade that ever existed.

Yes, deal with your problems the best you can, keep a good attitude, refuse to give in to negativity, and keep your hand in by continuing to do what you love. In my case, that's writing stories about women and men who are meant to be together because they are made for each other. Even if they don't know it yet.

2. While you're weathering the storm, keep up with what's going on in the book scene.

What books are popular? Which authors are popular? Who's writing ground-breaking, genre-bending books? What social media is helping authors? In other words, stay on top of the news and stay connected.

3. Refuse to believe that you have to do everything yourself.

Yes, writing, formatting, proofing, editing, marketing, publishing, hanging out on 27 different social media websites, etc.

Guess what? You really don't have to do all of that. You can barter services with knowledgeable friends or hire a freelancer if you can afford it.

As for social media, if you like it, and it lifts you up, by all means stay with it. Be realistic. No one can keep up with umpteen different social media sites. Pick and choose. Be really good at one or maybe even two, and let the others pass you by or maintain a minimal presence.

4. Avoid drifting through the days.

Time waits for no one. Even if you're doing non-writing things day after day, keep track of your time. The habit of thinking, "I'll do that tomorrow," is a habit that can ruin your writing life. Make a Day Planner or a calendar your best friend. If you're not writing, jot down in your calendar what you are doing.

You may find you actually have some time every day to write. If you are writing and have deadlines, then create milestones along the way to keep you on track so you're not writing 50,000 words the week before a deadline.

5. Refuse to compare your writing career, your books, or yourself to other authors.

Everyone's career is different just as your stories are different from any others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your ability to do well. Keep writing. Comparing yourself to anyone else is just a one-way ticket to Envy Land. 

Takeaway Truth

Always believe that your situation will improve. Always believe in yourself. Always be writing.

Saturday Share: 7 Uses for White Vinegar

I'm blogging late today. Darling Hubby and I spent the day shopping at the gardening centers.

I scored 2 very large clay pots, 21" diameter, in a golden ocher glaze that I'll use on the front courtyard patio.

I had DH place a new pot on either side of a huge pot filled with blooming red dianthus in the middle and asparagus fern spilling over the rim all around.

It was a fun day. A few minutes ago when I was cleaning up after dinner, I refilled the spray bottle of white vinegar that I keep next to the kitchen sink.

So, I decided sharing uses for white distilled vinegar would be a good info post.

Why Use Vinegar for Cleaning?

A gallon of store brand white vinegar costs only $1.99 at Walmart, Kroger, Target, etc. Or you can buy the name brand like Heinz for $3.99. For that low price, you can do all the things listed below.

Spend pennies instead of dollars and always have an effective cleaning agent that won't harm the environment.

By the way, you might have seen "Cleaning Vinegar" in the stores recently. It costs more of course. There's a minor difference between "Cleaning Vinegar," which probably represents a new profit center, and white distilled vinegar.

Cleaning vinegar is reduced to 6% acidity instead of the 5% acidity of "regular" white vinegar. The label on cleaning vinegar says, "Safe for cooking, perfect for cleaning." Personally, I'll stick with the less expensive white distilled vinegar.

7 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar

1. Fill a spray bottle and use to clean your countertops. Vinegar is natural and biodegradable and possesses mild anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. It won't kill staph, but it will kill less threatening bacteria. I use it instead of commercial products like Windex Multi Surface Cleaner (which costs $2.99 for 23 ounces!).

2. Keep your drains smelling clean by pouring 1 cup of white vinegar down the drain once a week. Let it set for half an hour then flush the drain with cold water.

3. If your drains are slow to, well, drain, do this. Do NOT lean over the drain while you do this treatment. Pour 1/4 cup of baking soda in the drain then 1 cup of vinegar. The resulting chemical reaction will "boil and bubble" and clean out the drain. After 15 minutes, flush the drain with very hot water.

4. Clean your microwave the easy way. Place 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of water in a large microwave-safe measuring cup. Boil for 2-3 minutes or until steam forms on the microwave window. Carefully remove the hot cup, and you can wipe away food residue with a dishcloth or paper towel.

5. Use it in your laundry instead of bleach.

6. Pre-treat the underarm areas of light-colored clothing by spraying with white vinegar. It's not perspiration that causes stains there. It's the interaction of deodorant and perspiration. Keep a spray bottle by the washer. Spray the underarm area then toss in the washer. If the fabric is color-fast, you can spray vinegar even on dark clothing.

7. Speaking of color-fast...In today's world, many colored fabrics aren't color-fast. You can keep the colors from running before laundering simply by soaking them for about 10 minutes in a pan with 1 cup white distilled vinegar.

Takeaway Truth

There you have it—an easy inexpensive way to clean up around the house using something natural and biodegradable.

Know Someone Who Feels Isolated? Try This

Feeling isolated and alone? Or maybe it's your mom or dad or a grandparent who's feeling left behind.

Whether you're the one feeling isolated or a beloved elderly relative who's coping with that, here's some unusual advice I read about recently.

There is a lot of evidence that turning to voice-activated technology like Alexa or Siri or whatever the digital companion's name may be, actually helps people.

I know. It sounds silly, but it's a serious problem and this is a serious answer. With more than 8 million adults over 50 affected by isolation, this is a health issue as much as an emotional issue.

Isolation Is Unhealthy

It's when someone is emotionally and/or physically disconnected from family, friends, and community. It's not exactly loneliness, but prolonged isolation—or disconnection—is recognized as a risk factor for bad health. In fact, health experts say its impact is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Several senior communities have test programs underway to see if voice-activated technology can help mitigate the isolation many older adults feel. Loneliness can reduce a person's life expectancy by several years.

Interacting Even With a Tech Device Is Good
Even if you're young, you can feel isolated.

Early results show positive emotional response from adults who are interacting with the Amazon Alexa device. Interaction runs the gamut from asking Alexa to play music, give the news, tell a joke, access the community events calendar, listen to audio books, and play games to setting up reminders to take medication are bringing people out of their shells.

The device users also discuss the things they do with Alexa with each other, and it's not just Alexa. There are other voice-activated technology devices like Apple's HomePod which uses Siri as do iPhones, Google's Assistant, and Android Genie.

Takeaway Truth

I often gripe about technology because it seems the more tech dependent you are, the more problems you have. But I think it's wonderful that something like this can ease the isolation so many seniors, separated by distance from children and grandchildren, feel.

Review: The Devil We Know

Photo by Renato Danyi from Pexels
Today, I'm reviewing a real life horror story that affects every person on the planet.

After watching the documentary, The Devil We Know: The Chemistry of a Cover-Up, I was enraged, horrified, and sick to my stomach.

I felt all of that to think so many people put making bigger bucks ahead of the safety and health of people and the environment itself.

If you cook in Teflon® or use anything with Teflon® in it—you'd be surprised how many products contain this health hazard—please read on.

Then go watch The Devil We Know: The Chemistry of a Cover-Up. The embedded link takes you to the documentary's website. If you click See the Film, a window opens with a variety of options for viewing. Or, if you have Netflix, watch it free there.

What's It About?
Pexels Photo #67654 by Martin Foskett

Quoting from the website:

"The Devil We Know is the story of how one synthetic chemical, used to make Teflon products, contaminated a West Virginia community.

"But new research hints at a much broader problem: nearly all Americans are affected by exposure to non-stick chemicals in food, drinking water, and consumer products.

"With very little oversight on the chemical industry in this country, we invite you to learn more about the problem and how you can protect yourself and your family."

Oh. My. God.

From the website: "American babies are born pre-polluted with more than 200 chemicals in their blood, 180 of which are known to cause cancer in humans and animals." and "PFOA, also called C8, is a toxic chemical used to make Teflon. It's now in the blood of 99% of all Americans."

In viewing the documentary, I learned that researchers wanted a control group who had no Teflon in their blood in order to conduct a study of the dangers of Teflon. To find non-polluted blood, they had to go back to blood drawn from U.S. soldiers before they were sent overseas during the Korean Conflict.

Pexels Photo #568027 by Kat Jayne
It's horrifying to learn that there are 80,000 chemicals approved for use in products in the U.S. and very few of them have been adequately tested for safety in humans.

What's more horrifying is to learn that DuPont knew about the dangers.

In an infamous memo regarding whether to stay with Teflon or find a new chemical that would possess non-stick properties, a DuPont official wrote: "It's better to stay with the devil we know..."

After all, Teflon resulted in billions of dollars for the company.

When the excrement hit the fan, DuPont settled with claimants whose health, if not their very lives, had been ruined. In an extraordinary act of generosity, those named in the lawsuits used the money to set up a foundation to monitor residents of the contaminated community.

What did DuPont do? They sold the Teflon® licensing rights to a Chinese company then announced their "new" non-stick product, GenX®, which has been used in products after 2015. They moved their plant from West Virginia to south of Fayetteville, North Carolina, on the west bank of the Cape Fear River.

Is GenX Safe?

You can judge for yourself. Here are some articles to help you.

GenX found in vegetables grown near the Dutch plant.

What's GenX doing in the water downstream (of the Cape Fear River plant)

Chemours to clean up GenX and pay 12 Million dollar fine

But Wait There's More

Before I get more upset just writing this and remembering the scenes from the documentary, let me give you a list of products you might not realize contain PFOA aka C8 aka Teflon®—and maybe now GenX®.

Glide and other brands of Dental Floss (we switched to silk dental floss from Amazon)

Takeout containers like pizza boxes and sandwich wrappers

Non-stick pots, pans, and utensils of course (we put all our Teflon® items in the garbage)

Microwave Popcorn bags (quit using them a couple of years ago because of the trans fat issue)

Outdoor clothing

Camping tents

Stain-repellant or water-repellant clothing

Stain prevention treatments for clothing and furniture (Won't pay extra for stain-prevention on furniture ever again!)

Carpeting and stain-resistant carpet treatments (can't do anything about the carpet at this time)

Certain cosmetics, especially eye shadow, foundation, face powder, bronzer, and blush (I'm looking into all-natural cosmetics. I'll let you know what I find.)

Please, please, please... watch this documentary and share it with everyone you can.

Go to the documentary website and download their Tip Sheet: Avoiding PFAS, a Family of Chemicals You Don't Want Near Your Family.

You'll find the link near the bottom of the home page.

There is power in truth, and there is power in numbers. Re-think the convenience items you're using.

Changing to products without Teflon aka C8 aka PFOA or GenX, the "new" non-stick incarnation DuPont developed, may save your life.

Takeaway Truth

Be informed. What you don't know might kill you.