All posts by Ginnie Dean

Born 1933 in Plainfield, New Jersey. Grew up in Wellesley Hills, Mass. BS degree in Journalism, Boston University 1954. I enjoyed an exciting 4 years in Radio and TV …first at KEY-TV in Santa Barbara, Ca., then at WABC Radio in New York City. Met and married my husband there. He had just left LIFE magazine and was starting his career as a free lance photographer. Poor health put an end to that and we moved to upstate NY in 1962 with our three children. Moved to North Carolina in 1978 and worked for 32 years in a very busy ER of our local hospital. My husband died (59 yrs. young) in 1990 and I’ve led a life of independence since then. In 2006 I started a blog, which tells my life story in short vignettes. My profile there states: “I have a spiritual life based on over 23 years of sobriety thanks to the 12 steps of AA. and have friends of all ages, gender and color.” That pretty much sums it up.

Keeping the Bugs at bay …

This is another article about something that a good friend recommended but that I have not yet tried.  I’m referring to her insect shield jacket and pants by BugsAway®.

BugsAway BugsAway2







The BugsAway® company describes their product like this: “BugsAway® is a complete line of insect repellent clothing using Insect Shield® technology to convert apparel and gear into long-lasting, effective, and convenient bug protection.”

My friend is definitely an outdoors person. She is an avid gardener and takes long walks with her bird-watching club.  She loves the fact that she can put on her lightweight jacket and know that it will repel mosquitoes, ticks and other insects.  She can even pull up the hood and it will protect her ears and face and if she combines the jacket with the pants she has  total head to toe protection.

The pants are light weight too and if she gets them wet while out in the early morning dew she doesn’t worry.  They dry quickly and have the added advantage of  zippered pant legs.  When the day gets hot she can simply zip off that part of the pants leaving her with an attractive above-the-knee pair of Bermuda style shorts.

She did tell me that her BugsAway® clothing, specially treated with Permethrin,  is not inexpensive, however the insect shield repellent lasts for 70 washings and gives her the comfort of knowing that she doesn’t have to worry about diseases from ticks or other insects.  That alone makes it worth every penny !

Old Wives Tales …

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Old Wives Tales are often myths that are thought to be untrue or not based in fact.  However I grew up in the Depression years and the Old Wives Tales that I remember most were the ones that we DID test over and over and found them to be true.  They were the ones that saved us a bunch of money by utilizing items common to every household.

So, whether they are Old Wives Tales or not I still think of them as such and thought it would be fun to list a few of them here since I know we all like to find ways to save money.

  1. Living plants in the home are natural air purifiers .  You don’t need to buy those costly Brand Named scents that often seem to overpower you with their fake aromas.  Specific varieties that work best are rubber trees, corn plants, bamboo palm, ficus, English ivy and philodendronss.
  1. Forget window cleaning sprays.   Saturate a cloth with inexpensive white vinegar straight from the bottle to wash your windows and then use newspapers to absorb the liquid.  The fibers that make up newspaper are denser than paper towels and don’t fall apart so easily.  I also grew up being told that the printers ink in the paper helped to bring out the sparkle in the glass but that I can’t prove.  I only know it works !
  1. Unclog your drains.    This one does use a Brand Name item but it’s still a lot less expensive than the heavy duty products.   If your clog is not too severe this works great.  Just dissolve 4 Alka Seltzer tablets in a cup of vinegar and flush down the drain with boiling water.
  1. Removing furniture scratches.  This is one of my favorites and all it takes is a nutcracker and some walnuts.  Remove the nut from the shell and rub it over the marks in the wood.  The oils from the nut will penetrate the surface and remove the scratches.  This works well on all varieties of wood !

So, there you have it.   I hope I’ve tempted you to write to us and share some of your own money saving home ideas.

Pampering the old guy …

foot bathHere is something that I haven’t tried yet but the husband of a friend of mine swears by it.  As a matter of fact this is what he actually said to her … “Tell that friend of yours who writes those “things” for all us old codgers that she needs to tell them to try this.”  (Which points out the fact that there are still a lot of seniors who don’t feel at home in the blogging world … but I’ll save that for another entry !)

My friend went on to say that her husband has suffered from foot pain for years.  His doctors couldn’t find a name for it and most just attributed it to old age.  However the aches and burning feet were (and are) a reality and he was very happy to say that the Conair Waterfall Foot Spa with Lights, Bubbles, and Heat has been a life saver for him.

This is a very long name for a FOOT BATH but he feels that this particular one deserves a big title since it does such a big job for him.   Once, or sometimes twice, a day he fills it with warm water and slips his tired, achy feet inside. Then his toes can activate the controls which give him high or low bubbles and also a waterfall effect that he says is very soothing to the top of his feet especially.

He was happy to point out that the foot tub does not contain a heating element (which he felt could be a safety factor) and yet the water stays nice and warm for at least 20 minutes.  He says that’s all the time he needs to rejuvenate his feet

Then once a week his wife gives him a special Spa treatment.  After his usual soak she uses the attachments that come with the Conair foot bath… the pumice stone, scrub brush and massager…on his feet.   I think the Spas call this Hydrotherapy but I prefer to think of it as one way for a wife of over 50 years to tell the old guy that she still loves him !

Aaah…my Buddy brings relief.

Bed BuddyIf you are anything like me you suffer from neck and shoulder pain. It seems to come and go but  it never disappears completely.  I’ve had chiropractors and Phys Ed teachers, over the years,  tell me that it’s a chronic problem. They have warned me that it will only get worse as I age and now, unfortunately, I can say that they were spot on with that prediction.

However, I have found relief and it’s with the Bed Buddy Neck Pillow that you see pictured here.  I’ve tried similar products in the past but none have come close to the soothing relief that I get with this one.

The pillow is filled with 100% gluten-free rice and the stitching down the middle of the pillow assures that the grains will stay in place.  A quick one minute in the microwave and you are ready for a treat.

Settle down where you are most comfortable and drape the pillow across your neck and shoulders.  You’ll find that the comfortable shape molds to you and the moist heat and the light aromatherapy scent that exudes from the pillow makes you feel like you are being

coddled in a spa !  Within 30 minutes to an hour my tired and sore muscles seem to fade away.

I also treat headaches in this way.  Before using the pillow I would take Tylenol or Motrin but I really didn’t like taking pills and it was a great relief to find that if I brought the pillow firmly around my neck and let the moist heat concentrate there my headaches would often disappear.

Chronic aches and pains seem to be a part and parcel of old age … they can be bothersome but don’t often warrant a trip to the doctor.  It’s at those times that I pull out my Bed Buddy Pillow and put it to work.   Aaaah…the relief of that moist heat.  I highly recommend it and hope it will do the same for you.

Safe in any weather …



Every Christmas I get the  “What do you really want?”  question from my children and I usually have a wimpy sort of answer like … “whatever you give me will be great.” But this year I decided to answer that question honestly and I did.  I told them I would be happy to buy all the material if they could build me a new deck to replace the one that I’d had for over 30 years !

Well, they were delighted and in March the weather man promised a few warm and clear days and they went to work.  In the picture you see the three of them in action.  That’s my oldest son on the far right, my middle son (in the white hat) under the window and my son-in-law on the left.

Working together they managed to finish the job in three days (although I can’t stain it for 6 months because the wood needs to “cure” first !).  But I couldn’t be happier …



…it’s like having my old deck back but with a very important change …I now have a substantial railing and that is critical for me.

I actually spent years without a railing and I remember the many times that I slipped on ice or wet leaves.  It’s a wonder that I didn’t break something or fall off the deck !

So, if you have a deck without a railing think hard about adding one onto it.  There are so many options to choose from and your kids will rest easier knowing that you’ll be safe in any weather.

Jan’s “Stand Uppity Garden” …(Part two)

A year ago I introduced you to my friend Jan who was in a severe auto accident back in the 70’s.  She was told that she would never walk again but she didn‘t accept that verdict. Now she needs a wheelchair on long ventures but for the rest of the time she stands and walks on her own two feet.

Her great love is gardening but bending over or sitting on the ground, or even on a low stool, is almost impossible for her so, with the help of some friends, she built her first “Stand Uppity Garden” in 2009.stand Uppity part 2

However they didn’t use treated wood as it would have affected the produce so it didn‘t stand the test of time.  She still loved the idea though and last year she mightily improved her idea of a standing high garden by using a 100 gallon Big Bag Bed from Smart Pots.

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Jan swears by Smart Pots because they come in a variety of sizes and can be used for any and all of the projects in her amazing garden.  The largest bag opens to a diameter of 4 feet and holds as much potting soil as a 4×4 garden.  It is extremely sturdy and she can make as many “uppity” gardens as she wants by just putting a Big Bag Bed on top of a sturdy base.

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And the smaller bags?  They come with the complete endorsement of the many cats who roam and relax in this outdoor paradise!

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It’s never too late …

it's never too late
In last week’s blog entry I mentioned my sister Mary and I’ve had her on my mind ever since then. She was the oldest of 5 girls (I the youngest) and we were brought up in the depression and WWII years. I tell you this because it resulted in all of us being very frugal and that plays a part in what I am relating here.

Mary was an amazing woman who actually got her Masters in Social Work at the age of 65 and worked up until her mid 70’s. The reason that she started a career so late in life is that she was tied into a very unhappy marriage to a doctor and, as is the case with so many women, she chose to stay for the children’s sake. Mary was always shy but her ex saw to it that her self esteem went down the tubes too. It took her a long long time after her divorce to finally resurface as a viable human being.

I remember that we, in her immediate family, were very worried because she was so depressed and nothing we did seemed to help. It was into her 3rd year as a single woman again that I finally got the call that I’d been hoping for. It sounds so silly in the retelling but it’s true.

“Guess what?” said Mary in a bubbly and happy voice, “I am finally free !”
She went on to tell me that when she and dorko split up she couldn’t resist taking the gallon of liquid soap that was in his office because it was almost full and, although she hated the smell, she just couldn’t justify getting rid of it. Well…she finally did it. She poured it all down the drain and replaced it with a lightly scented lavender soap and that’s all it took to get her started on the long trek back to a contented life. !
As we grow into our 70’s and 80’s many of us forget that we can still have an interesting and exciting life. I can only speak for myself but I find that getting rid of excess baggage is crucial for me. It clears the way so that those things that are really important in my life can flourish.

If you find yourself buried in “stuff” take a good look and start getting rid of the excess. You will be amazed at how good it feels. It works, it really does.

Taken for a ride …

When I first started writing a weekly blog entry for Unlimiters my niece Wendy gave me an idea that (although I thought it clever) I was hesitant to write about because it had safety problems.  Her mother, my oldest sister Mary, was in a nursing home and whenever Wendy wanted to take her  out for a drive she found it very hard to transfer her from the wheelchair to the car.  She had Velour upholstery and Mary would have to lift up and inch across the seat to get comfortable.  It was a cumbersome and slow process to say the least.

Wendy finally thought up the idea of using one of the large, heavy-duty plastic garbage bags.  She would spread it over the bottom of the car seat and tuck it in.  This way my sister, with Wendy’s assistance, could slide onto the seat and it worked pretty well except for a few mishaps when the bag slipped.  Luckily they were not serious but, nevertheless,  I was very pleased when a blogger friend made mention of her solution to this problem.

She has a car with cloth seats too and finds it difficult to get in and out because of a bad hip that she is scheduled to have replaced soon.  She purchased a leather slipcover just for her side of the car and she says it works great.  She says she can now slide in comfortably. car seat The seat she chose is by Automotive Innovations and she’s pleased with her choice.  She says it was easy to install and the stretch polyester on the sides and back gave it a firm and secure fit.   It is also easy to keep clean … she just wipes it down  with a damp cloth and, on the off chance that she would damage it she figures it was inexpensive enough that she’d just replace it.

It never fails to amaze me that there is an answer to every question if we just look for it.

Transporting made easy …

fold up shopping cart2fold up shopping cart
I love my fold -up shopping cart but I don’t use it for shopping.  I keep it in my front hall closet where it stays nicely tucked away until I need it to lug something around …either in my house or outside.

Now that I’ve relocated my bedroom on the main floor I don’t have to carry things up or down the stairs.  However, I still have much that is cumbersome and it really helps to have my cart handy.

The steel frame construction means that the cart is very sturdy and I needed that recently when I changed a lovely framed picture from the den to my new bedroom.  The picture is 3 x 5’ and quite heavy but I straddled it atop the cart and, although it looked awkward it worked really well.  (Then I just had to wait for one of my sons to stop by and help me hang it !)

I also love the fact that the nylon canvas bag is detachable and water resistant.  That came in very handy when I used it outside recently and tipped an open bottle of vinegar over everything inside.  It was a mess but I just took the bag off and, after I dumped the contents on the deck, I used the hose to wash it down, inside and out.  It air dried in no time at all and I was back in business.

Lastly I like the fact that it has a cover.  No matter what I have in the cart it always looks neat when covered.   So, I’d highly recommend this fold up cart.  Even when weeks go by and I don’t use it I know it is there … taking up very little room in my hall closet.

Her Opticare Eye Drop Dispenser

EYE DROPMy friend Martha wanted me to tell you about this product that has been such a help to her.  She is almost 90 and for the past 3 years has been treated for glaucoma.  She is still living at home and can handle most household chores but she struggled when it came to administering her eye drop medication.

Like many of us as we grow older Martha also suffers with arthritis in her hands.  This made it very difficult for her to hold the small bottle and she would often see the drops rolling down her cheeks instead of into her eyes. She also had a hard time not blinking.

Martha’s opthamologist had made it very clear that it was vital to get the correct dosage in her eyes but that seemed to be impossible for her until he suggested she purchase the Opticare Eye Drop Dispenser.   It has made all the difference.

Martha says she just takes the top off the eye drop bottle and then inserts the bottle into the dispenser. When its closed it becomes an eye cup and the larger size makes it comfortable and easy to handle.  A light squeeze is all it takes to dispense the single drop that is prescribed and she never has to worry about missing the target.
So, once again, we have a very small item with a very large impact !

Utilizing my Spirometer

spirometerTwo years ago I fractured my hip and part of my post-surgery procedure was using the item that you see here. It is an incentive spirometer and is used to help open the airways and prevent fluid or mucus from building up in your lungs.

I had completely forgotten that I had this until I came across it while doing a thorough cleaning of my bathroom closet a few weeks back. When I saw it I decided to test myself. I put my lips around the flexible tube and took a long, slow deep breath in. As I did so the piston inside the large column moved up registering my lung capacity. I was surprised to see that I didn’t get it up very far.

I could barely get it to the 1000 mark and that was less than what I could do while still in the hospital. This really annoyed me but it scared me too. I realized that I did not have the lung capacity that I thought I did. It was a wake up call for me to take some action.

I decided to put the spirometer in the one place where I couldn’t help but see it … on my desk, next to my computer ! … and I’ve challenged myself to using it as often as I can every day. There is a little arrow attached to the big tube and I can set it to the number that I’ve reached. This is my reminder of how high I have been able to raise the piston with my breaths and I strive each time to get it a little higher. I’m happy to report that I can see real progress in the two weeks that I’ve been using this and I plan to keep on doing it.

The spirometer that I have is made by Airlife. It’s very light-weight and the tube comes off for easy cleaning. I highly recommend it to any of you seniors out there who, like me, are living a more sedentary life than you have in the past. Lung capacity is critical to our health and this is such a simple and easy way to increase it.

It’s the little things …

EZ key turner…like this EZ Key Turner that, although very small and inexpensive, greatly   improve the quality of my life.

I can’t tell you how many times I would put that darn house key in the lock and then have to struggle to open the door.  It was very frustrating.  But now with the key turner I find that I have the additional leverage that I need to open the door with ease.  I don’t know how they designed their product to do this but I don’t really care.  All I know is that it works!

There’s nothing complicated about the turners.  You simply snap them over a standard key and you’re set to go.  The EZ Key Turners come two to a pack and in differing bright colors that make it easy to identify which key to use…in my case,  the house key (red) or the post office box key (yellow) .

The other thing that I love is the fact that my two keys with the turners attached don’t get lost in my purse !  No matter how careful I was to put them in the same little pocket I always seemed to lose them among all the rest of the stuff that accumulated there.  Now that’s a thing of the past.

This may seem like a silly little item but I love it.  I guess that’s one of the perks of aging …it doesn’t take much to make me happy !

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