Give the gift of time to pregnant friend
photo by zero-g
DEAR SARA: I need ideas for items to fill a gift bag for a pregnant friend. What do you think would be appropriate and not too expensive? — Heather, California
DEAR HEATHER: Consider giving a music CD or an iTunes gift certificate if she has an mp3 player; a baby-name book, journal and nice pen; chocolates; body pillow; pregnancy calendar; a warm blanket for her hospital stay; or skin-care products. Offer your time to help cook or clean after the baby is born.
DEAR SARA: I plan to take the children on many camping trips this summer. I love to take my kids on trail walks and collect animal tracks by pouring plaster into them. I would like to try some new things. Any ideas? — Lori, Illinois
DEAR LORI: Nature offers many opportunities for activities and learning. You can try wildflower identification. Maybe gather a few to press for craft projects. Birdwatching is another learning activity. Pack a disposable camera and let the children take pictures. Fill a backpack with all types of goodies such as binoculars, specimen jars, crayons and paper for bark and leaf rubbings. You could also try rock collecting and tree identification. Once back at camp, there are so many fun ways you could cook and teach, too. Consider creating a solar oven. Here’s a Web site that shows how to make a solar oven from a pizza box: www.solarnow.org/pizzabx.htm.
DEAR SARA: I saw herb logs in a magazine article. They are used in fireplaces and burned for fragrance. I thought they would make a nice gift, but I am not sure how they are constructed. Do you know? — Chris, e-mail
DEAR CHRIS: They are made using dry herbs and natural materials, such as rosemary, lavender, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and eucalyptus. I’ve seen some bundles made with raspberry canes and pinecones added to various dried herbs. You simply cut them to approximately 8 inches to 12 inches, and bundle them together with the stems facing the center of the bundle. You can tie the bundles using raffia. Place them in the fireplace as fire starter or when your fire is smoldering for fragrance. You can also chain bundles by tying them with raffia to create a dried herb ladder, which makes a pretty display. Tie a nice organza bow on each one, place them in a basket and give as a gift, or wrap them in tissue paper or cellophane.
DEAR SARA: I am looking for any of the old Tightwad Gazette newsletters. I have the books. Any help and/or suggestions would be appreciated. — Suzee, New Mexico
DEAR SUZEE: I’ve seen them for sale on eBay. I just checked, and there weren’t any currently listed, but keep checking back. You can also post on craigslist.org.
DEAR SARA: Our vacuum is a nice one, but it is a hand-me-down from someone with a rather smelly dog. The vacuum smells like dog whenever we run it. We tried sucking up some carpet deodorizer and baking soda, but nothing helps. It just smells like dog and carpet powder. — Maisie, via forums
DEAR MAISIE: Try washing and rinsing out the hose and allowing it to dry. You can also replace the filter and clean the brushes. If you have the manual, see which parts can be removed and washed. Consider sending it to a vacuum service center and see what they can do to help. You can try rubbing a dryer sheet near the filter, too, but it sounds like it needs an internal cleaning.