Thursday, 31 July 2008

Safe and Save Online Shopping

Online shopping is big business and with this there are glitches in the system that can allow you to taken advantage of unless you take steps to prevent this.

I have given a few tips on how to avoid the scams with online shopping. Taking these tips you will becomes much safer in this form of purchase. And probably save yourself a lot of time and trouble trying to undo a potential bad deal. Prevention is always better than a cure.

What Delivery Times?
Check out the delivery timetables and make sure that you find out the recommended last delivery dates when you place your order to avoid disappointment.

Credit Card Protection
Use your credit card if you have one. This will give you added protection because if you buy goods on a credit card, the credit card issuer also becomes responsible for the goods you buy. If the goods arrive in bad condition or you have problems asking for a a refund, the credit card company will be obliged to support you with this.

The Padlock Reassures
The padlock icon can usually be seen in the bottom right hand corner of the site window. It will often let you know that you are entering a safe and secure part of a site. Most reputable online sales merchants offer this secure method of payment. It basically encrypts your credit card and personal information so that a third party can't pick up on it. Incidentally. High Street shops use exactly the same software systems as any mail order order process.

Don't Give Personal Information
Handing over personal information isn't necessary and should be avoided. If this is of concern to you, the 1998 Data Protection Act covers this aspect.

Are there Contact Details?
Beware of any online stores that fail to reveal information about themselves. As yourself why? Any reputable online store will naturally provide clear contact information and furthermore should be more than happy to answer any queries raised. If you can't find contact details on their site it's best, move on.

What Returns Policy is there?
There should always be a returns policy and this should be checked before you buy. Information relating to who pays for the goods if they are faulty and whether the store should pay all postage costs. Original packing should be kept, this is important and remember, under the Distance Selling Regulations, you have a seven day cooling off period in case you change your mind.

Beware of Hidden Costs!
Delivery charges and VAT are sometimes omitted right up until the point of the last click to buy. When making a purchase never rush into clicks to the next page and make sure these additional costs are inclusive of the price.

Hang on to Receipts and Delivery Documents
So, you've made your online purchase. You should receive a confirmation email. It is important that you print this out and keep a note of your any order reference number in case of problems when your goods arrive.

Details on Delivery
Make sure you have put down an address where someone will be there to receive your goods. An obvious matter but sometime the obvious is overlooked. It may cause great inconvenience for both parties otherwise. Some stores give an options of delivery times which helps.

Be Aware of Your Rights
If you buy goods from a high street shop you have the same rights as shopping online. The goods should fit the product description and be exactly as described. If you want to know more about your rights you can take a look at the Office of Fair Trading web site.

With all this on board you should have a worry free time shopping online and reap the benefits. No struggling in traffic jams, no getting jostled in crowds, no queues and the biggest bonus a better deal in most cases!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Tips for Fridges

Fridges, or refrigerator for the purists are one of the most important part of the kitchen, imagine life without one! There are a few facts and tips that can really help you make the most of the fridge yo have and save on energy and waste.

If you are out to buy a refrigerator look for one with an automatic moisture control. Incidental, models with an anti-sweat heater will consume 5% to 10% more energy than models without this feature. It is not the same as an automatic moisture control feature.

Site your freezer and fridge in a cool place, away from direct sunlight, cookers and boilers.

You can get away with setting the fridge temperature as high as 38 Fahrenheit. most fridges come with a star based efficiency rating. Try to go for the most efficient as using a fridge accounts around 16% of the home's energy and you can save up to 40% on energy by doing this'

Check the fridge temperature by putting a thermometer in a glass of water and leave overnight. If your fridge runs too cold much of the food may actually freeze and you will be losing an extra 25% in energy, 35 to 40 Fahrenheit is ideal, so give it a check.

Fridges give off heat this heat should be dispersed outwards by leaving space all around the fridge perimeter. If you don't the heat will act as an oven to the fridge and use much more energy fighting the heat.

There is always a call to give the fridge a good clean but don't just clean the inside, look at the back of the fridge and get rid of all the dust that accumulates. Again energy can be save by doing this as dusty coils need up to 30% more energy.

Airtight door improve efficiency, test them by putting a piece of paper between the door and the frame, if you can't pull it out easily when shut you're okay. If not, energy is being wasted.

Always used sealed containers for food and liquid. Why? Because produce will evaporate and release moisture, this in turn will affect the compressor int he system making it less efficient.

Do you also have an old fridge pumping away in the garage? Do you really need it?

Get rid of it unless it is really necessary, it will save you lots of money. One large fridge is more cost effective than two small ones.

If you go away on holiday or you food supply is very low, just turn the fridge off, again don't forget about that 16% of your household electricity bill is being swallowed up for nothing if this is the case.

Don't put warm food int he fridge, allow it to cool to room temperature first, this again will save energy and reduce a moisture build up.

Finally, try and keep the fridge door closed as much as possible.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Kids in Cars

It is summer and the kids ore off from school. The journey ahead is a long one as you destination is far away from the maddening crowd. Off to a place to relax and chill out, but the kids in the car are the problem. With four children of my own now grown up, the experience gained may help you.

If the trip is a long one leave really early in the morning or late at night, that way your children are more likely to sleep through most of the journey. Be aware that you won't get any sleep if your driving though.

You need to make sure that the is enough room in the car, try and pack all your luggage in the boot on the roof with a roof rack or more hi-tech roof systems. The main thing is to clear the seating ahead and give space for your children.

Ensure that all luggage in the car is secure, if you have to brake hard or turn a corner sharply, check that nothing can fly out and hit the passengers. they last thing you want is a bruised child tend to throughout the journey.

It is summer and we do get sun, what's more you are probably heading towards a sunnier place for so prepare for this by getting some window shades to protect the children from the sun. It will make them cooler and less irritable. They can be bought quite cheaply.

It amazes me that cars aren't build with rubbish bins for waste, the ash tray is never big enough for your rubbish needs. Therefore take a carrier bag and designate it for all rubbish to go in. It just makes the journey more comfortable rather than sitting in the rubbish and waste.

Along with wet-wipes, which are a God send with children's habits take a box of tissues and bottles of water or juice. Far cheaper to get them from the supermarket than buy in service stations and the kids won't have to wait for them either.

Kids love doing things, so get hold of some pencils writing material, you will be amazed how this keeps them occupied. Books with word games in and some highlighters are also a major factor in keeping kids mentally active and distracted from complaining. If you have any electronic games get them all ready before you travel. If anything needs downloading prepare this beforehand.

Get the children their own individual little travel bags and get them to fill it with goodies they want to take, like toys and other favourite items, they can use this to bring back some new stuff from their holiday as well.

Take food/snacks with you to save on the extortionate prices en route at service stations etc. Also make sure the food or snacks you do take are healthy without too many additives and preservatives in, you know what these do to children; don't ask for trouble.

Every so often stop, get everyone out of the car to stretch their legs, perhaps even go for a short walk or play an outside activity game. It is a major contribution to keeping the children happy by doing this. If you do stop at service stations let the kids play on the children's game area, this will stimulate them and they will be refreshed back in the car afterwards.

If you have older children, supply them with maps so they can track the route. It may well help you not get lost as well! Make them aware that they had helped you get to your destination.

Every so often, i.e. after stopping for exercise swap the children's seating around, will help prevent friction.

Well you should have covered most things is you follow the advice given. It is difficult on long journeys and you should really appreciate that it is more difficult for the children. It you look from their point of view you may well understand more about helping them deal with the boredom.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Local Markets and Food

Why do we buy food that have been transported thousands of miles when better and cheaper food can be bought that has been produced locally? Well there is no reason. Shopping for local has many advantages, both for your convenience and the environment.

Buying from local markets is also a good idea, you don't have to travel so far, even not bother with the car and in most cases the products you will find there are local products. It is not difficult most of it is clearly label where it comes from.

20 years ago the distance food travelled was 65% less. How unnecessary is that? If only you just look you'll me quite amazed how much local food is available and you DO have a choice.

The cost of transportation of food produce, processing, packaging and advertising is all part of the higher price you pay for these items. Make a challenge and buy food that has travelled the least miles. Get your children involved in working it out helping out.

The more people that buy local products the more chance local producers have of improved business, it will also add pressure on the high mileage food to cut their negative affect on the environment.

Know where you food comes from, make a point of discovering the source of your food, it is an education. Ask if you are not sure.

You live in the area and you have a responsibility to support you local community that you live in, that also means supporting local producers who basically are you neighbours.

Locally produced food is fresher and tastier, it is always the case that food eaten locally looses it's 'punch' on transporting somewhere else. With the added self life factor, the freshness just disappears. There is no need for chemical treatment to preserve the goods with local produce

So, whenever yo can shop locally and buy local products, you will be doing yourself and others so many big favours. The advantages are so great it is a mystery why everyone doesn't do it.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Fish Bait - Maggots and Worms

For all you keen anglers out there, he is a tips I picked up recently that save you time money and improved catches of fish. Can't get better than that can it?

You have all your equipment ready to fish waiting to be picked up in the garage, but what do you still need to do before going? Bait. So it is a trip to the local fishing tackle shop or out with the spade to buy or dig up your bait respectively.

Fine, you now have your bait, either maggots or worms and you go fishing.

While you have a good time by the lake or river just think what you do with the bait when you've finished fishing. What happens to the surplus? You always have too much anyway. Well for me I throw it in the water where I was fishing, well those days have now gone as the new tips came to light.

Take the bait home and freeze it. The frozen and defrosted bait next time round will serve you well as from many sources of experience anglers, dead bait is better than live. that the first benefit.

The other benefits are that you don't have to shop or dig for bait next time round, saving you both time and money.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Tips on Wrinkle Prevention

Wrinkles, a time old worry for women and more recently men. Now with hindsight we can look at prevention rather than a cure for wrinkles. You may also be interested to know that preventing wrinkles also saves you lots of money! Yes, health advice that will make you wealthier....

I have given you 6 tips to preventing or putting a halt to existing wrinkles you may already have.

Quit Smoking

If you are a smoker, really try and stop right now. Premature skin aging is the result from smoking. Some call it photo-aging. Again the money you will save and all the other benefits behind giving up are more than an added bonus.

Sunlight Nice but Bad
Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight. Sunlight is a major cause of damage to your skin and wrinkles will develop. If you have to be out in the sun, apply sun screens that protects against Ultra Violet A & B rays. UVA is the main culprit behind wrinkle development because of its ability to penetrate into our skin surface.

Drinking Alcohol
Drinking alcohol causes lots of problems and is a major contribution to dehydration. Not good for health or condition of your skin. So, kick your drinking habit or severely cut down to put wrinkles taking hold. Think of the money you will save, that helps.

Water Intake
Such a simple thing and its FREE. Don't bother with bottled spring water that costs and arm and a leg, simple tap water is just as good and in many cases tasted better. Water plays a key role in maintaining healthy skin complexion. 2 litres a day is a good intake but not all at once, several times throughout the day. More if you are in a warmer climate.

Balanced Diet
Eat more vegetables and fruits with antioxidant properties like spinach, brussel sprouts, broccoli, papaya, guava, mangoes, pineapple and honey melon. Many of these can be grown yourself saving you money as well. Antioxidants stops skin getting that aged look. Vegetable oils such as olive oil, soybean, nuts and nut butters, whole grains are also rich in antioxidants. Meats that has bounty full omega-3 fatty acids such as tuna and cod are best when broiled or baked, i.e not fried in oil. It is 100% proven that people who eat such foods have way less wrinkles than their counterparts who don't.

Vitamin Supplements
Just don't bother! As well as saving you money on these products you should have enough vitamins in the food you eat if you follow the previous tip! Don't get conned into thinking.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

10 Tips for Saving Energy

Number One

Living in an environment of 18 and 21° centigrade is very comfortable. Most tend to set this much higher. It is a fact that for each 1° centigrade step up another 10% will be added onto your fuel bills.

Number Two

Lights left on when leaving a room is such a waste. Just simply switch them off when you go out, the switch is always near the exit door. And a point about fluorescent tubes lights, they DO NOT use more energy to switch them on than they use when they are on. So, turn those off when not needed.

If you don't believe me do what I did, look at the spinning plate on your electric meter and get someone to turn the fluorescent light on. You will find that there is no speeding up of the plate when this is done.

Number Three

Don't leave the TV, Hi-fi, computers etc. on standby. For the very simple reason that this uses more electricity than you think. Standby facilities on appliances take up around 10% of an average household's electricity use!

Number Four

If you are making a drink for just yourself or a couple, measure out the amount of water you are going to use and just boil that amount. In other words don't fill the kettle completely, you will just be wasting energy. You have to remember that electric kettles have the element at the base and this needs to be covered, with jug kettles usually one mug of water will do this.

Number Five

A massive 20% of electricity is unnecessarily wasted from lights by not using the energy saving bulbs. It is a very simple procedure and the extra cost of the bulbs will be recovered as they tend to last much longer than conventional bulbs. See this link about really cheap energy saving bulbs.

Number Six

What do you do to keep yourself warm? Put a jacket on? Well why not do the same with a hot water tank. A jacket costs only a few quid and can easily pay for itself over a few months.

Number Seven

Be swift with that fridge door, don’t leave it open for longer than necessary. It takes more energy to cool it down each time. Also, a good tip is to try to avoid putting warm food straight into the fridge, this will just warm the fridge up and waste more electric. Wait until the food is a room temperature before storing it there.

Number Eight

If you have more than one pair of clothing, and 99% do, wait until you have a full load before using the washing machine. There is absolutely no point in wasting the gross amounts of energy on a couple of items.

Number Nine

When storing water it should be heated to around 60°centigrade. You don't need to boil it as this temperature is high enough to kill off dangerous bacteria and in addition is warm enough for bathing and washing.

Number Ten

If you have cavity wall in you home get cavity wall insulation. In addition get your loft insulated and gaps in door sealed. This makes considerable energy savings. House owners can usually take advantage of grants and discounts, and if on benefits possible get it done free or at the very least at a supplemented rate. Well worth finding out about.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Solar Battery Recharger

This system saves a wad on batteries, I've actually got and and use it. It charges up to 4 AA 1.5v Ni-Cad Rechargeable Batteries using nothing other than solar power.

You save on the cost of electricity charges from mains-powered chargers and helps the environment.

It has a tilting solar sensor helps you maximise the charger's exposure to direct sunlight and daylight. There's also storage for up to four additional batteries.

It's compact and portable but I cant ever see it being put away as it still charges in the winter it
it is a sunny day.
Specification are given as follows:

Weight: 290g. Rated power: - 1W; 140mA @ 3.75V.

A word of warning though, battery chargers should only be used with rechargeable batteries. As well as being dangerous ordinary batteries can 't recharge anyway so you will be wasting you time.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Save Toilet Water

In Yambol, on occasions we use the inside toilet, (see Outside Toilets Preferred) we use a system that saves water. The water comes in through a water meter so we are always conscious of the water flow into the house.

The forecast this year is of a 30% hike on water bills so we are even more carefully when using it.

What we do is place a couple of half bricks (whole bricks don't fit) in the cistern of out toilet. This way it will take less water to fill the cistern. It is a good feeling knowing that less water is used each time the lavatory is flushed.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Non Crease Clothing

When we go to the farmhouse at the weekend we have to pack some clothes and Galia is quite fussy how they are packed and has a technique. She the shirts are put up together in a fairly tight roll.

The principle is quite simple. By rolling the clothes we're creasing them less right from the start. With gentle handling with just a bit of shaking out when unpacking there is hardly any creases in the clothing. It works a treat and the weekend can go ahead without any ironing saving on electric again..

Friday, 18 July 2008

Facial Hair Removal

This tip was got from listening to a conversation of friends, mainly woman about how to get rid of facial hair. (Well it is a big topic for Bulgarian women here.)

It was all about how to get rid of unwanted hair on the face as the options were talked about. I just kept quiet with a massive interest into what was being said.

The option and alternative are laid out here as I heard them, a really entertaining discussion by all accounts:
  • Shaving - not close enough
  • Chemicals - too expensive
  • Laser treatment - Come on this is Bulgaria, we're not VIPs
  • Wax - too expensive
  • Tweezers - good method a top contender
  • Sticky tape - top dog - cheap and effective
  • Leave it - Loose you man

The conclusion was the best method as agreed by all parties was the use of sticky tape.

They said it was just as painful as wax, just as effective as wax, and last of all being the most important, it didn't cost a penny if you work in an office!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Less Water Waste

We have just heard on Bulgarian television that the cost of water is going up. That's rich from water companies that currently down supply water to you village farmhouse for most of the time!

So, ways to save water will continue here with an added incentive due to cost.

One of the best ways is to not flush your toilet system unless number 2s has been deposited. This way you will save many litres of water.

Instead of a pipe from you bathroom sink, place a bucket for the wastage water to run out and once a day water your yard plants with it instead of filling watering cans or using a hose.

It is just a matter of good routines and the amount you save is substantial over an extended period of time.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Healthy Food for FREE

Supermarkets, shops, bazaar markets and street traders all sell fruit and people buy this fruit from these places purely from convenience.

In Bulgaria most of the fruit in season grows for free everywhere here. branches hanging over garden walls, wastelands full of growing fruit trees, with other fruits and vegetables that have germinated naturally and now bearing the produce. I recall last year pumpkin growing on waste land as big as basketballs, just sitting there when many are buying these fro good money at market stall etc.

This morning I am eating sliva or plums that were picked a few hundred yards down the road of a slivatree on a public road! At other time spinach, herbs, apples pears, figs, walnuts, I could go on for ages, all grow wild here. They are all for free!

So why not just take a walk and pick your own, many gypsies do just that and have very healthy food on their gypsy tables and all for nothing. (Most gypsies here in Yambol and surround don't bother growing their own food anyway!)

Enjoy great tasting, natural, healthy food for nothing.

By the way, much more healthy than the supermarket foods anyway!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Free Party

This is a tip that I can never bring myself to perform as it is the height of cheek. It was practiced from a old University colleague who came from Wigan. He used to be a friend until I discovered his habits that equated to pure selfishness and lack of generosity and his current school teaching practises that just really amount to bullying.

The trick is to bring a couple of bottles of wine to a party, show it to the host and ask them where the kitchen is so they can be put there. Once in the kitchen find a good hiding place for them, in a bottom cupboard where the saucepans are kept, or behind the bread in the bread bin.

Next step is to have a real good time eating and drinking others food and drink and partying on without any conscience at all. Before you go you visit the kitchen and recover the wine yo have hid and take it back home with you!

This trick saves lots of money and works really well if yo can live with yourself, but is ethically wrong which is why it is only open to the despicable

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Orange Candles

The cost of candles are relatively cheap but they still cost money you can save on this cost by using an alternative method of non electrical lighting.

Simply save old cooking oil and half of an orange. The orange should still have the white pith from the stalk end present, this will act as the wick.

Put the orange in a small bowl to prevent it from rolling over and pour some used oil just short of the wick.

Leave the oil in the orange for an house for it to soak up the wick. then you may light the wick and every few hours top up the oil when necessary.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Heating Water for Nothing

Saving on heating bills is all important here and what with the warm sun most of the year it makes sense to use that solar power, but not with expensive hi-tech equipment but just recycled everyday things that cost nothing. This tip is just another example of that.

If the sun is shining, even in winter, fill a 2, 3, 5 or 10 litres plastic bottles with water and put it in a black plastic bin liner and leave it in the sun all day. In the evening you have warm water to use in the kitchen for washing up, washing yourself or showering under. (Another tip at a future point about home made outdoor showers).

Just a little bit of time and effort involved here but well worth it.

Friday, 11 July 2008


This tip was taken from my Bulgarian neighbour, he didn't tell me about it, I just guessed as it wasn't difficult to suss out.

The idea brings forward major advantages such as saving on water, soap and heating, as well as time and effort. Sounds too good to be true doesn't it.

So what's the crack with this man?

A very simple idea, simply wear the same shirt, trousers socks and pants day in day out for at least a month!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Free Fire Starters

When the leaves fall off the trees, let them dry out. After tinder dry put them in plastic bags and tie up. They make ideal fire starters.

With the amount of leaves that do fall, you should have enough to last you through the whole of the winter and into spring.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Plastic Flowers

Out of season, buy plastic or cloth based flowers instead of fresh flowers, they are cheaper and last forever. They look just as good and just need a dust once a week to keep them looking at their best.

So for your loved one buy plastic or cloth flowers she will remember you giving them for years!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Go Through Red for Green Living

I don't advise this in many countires but you can save on time, and fuel by driving their vehicles through red lights in Bulgaria.

This form of green living is conducted by many Bulgarians here. How practical and thoghtful they are by doing so.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Good for the Sole

If the sole comes off your shoe or sandal, in most cases it can be repaired with rubber solution glue.

It might take a day to completely dry out but will be just as good. It really does save a fortune on another pair of footwear.

It really is a good feeling knowng the moneyh you save by doing this, hence, good for the soul.

Sunday, 6 July 2008


Don't buy vine leaves to make sarmi (meat and rice stuffed vineleaves). either pick your own vine leaves if you can get there, blanch and store in salt water. They keep for a year. They are so expensive in supermarkets it amazes me why people actually buy them when they are free to pick.

If yo can't get hold of vine leaves then use cabbage leaves, they are almost as good abd if you have to buy it is much cheaper.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Metal Merchants

Don't throw away any metal, collect it all up and sell it to the gypsies. This included tins, fridges, cables, etc. They love stuff like that and they may well give you a small fee for giving it.

What they do sell it on to scrapmetal merchant who get the stuff recycled. It helps if you know some local gypsies.

Green throughout and making money on the side from for parties.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Spare Slates?

If you have some slates from the roof spare, line them up in a row against the side of your house and once a week during the warmer months, sprinkle some ant powder behind them.

This will eliminate the insects that get into you house and control the outside area next to the house where you most probably sit.

For me this also protect dripping rain falling off the roof where the gutter leaks and stops the dampness at the bottom of the outside wall.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Compact Discs

How many compact discs (CDs) do you have lying around doing nothing?

Have a grand clear out and gather all the discs you will never use again and paint or decorate them with an oil based paint.

Now you have place mats to put on the the kitchen or coffe table, or by your bedside cabinet.

If you have too many then hang them above your vegetables to scare off the birds, or hang above your outside seating area to warn off flies.

Never throw CDs away, they have a wide range of uses in their new life.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Junk Mail

Any glossy pamphlets or promotion material (junk mail) that has been thrown through your letterbox can be used very effectively as a bottom layer to your kitchen waste bin.

You know when you take the full plastic liner out there is always a leak that got through! The pamphlet will protect the base and being glossy a not disintegrate if damp.

Not only does this keep things clean recieving junk mail doesn't seen so bad after all.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008


Save all the bones from meat eaten and put them in the freezer.

When you have collected enough boil them in water with seasoning to give you a delicious flavoured soup or stock.

When the bones have been used for the soup or stock then the used bones can be fed to dogs or cats. Or they can be minced down to a fine medium then spread over the garden as a good source of calcium bone meal for growing.

Don't mix fish with other meat bones ofr the stocks, fishbones should be used alone.

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