Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

Drowning in Debt, Bouquet Garni How-To, Quilt Rescue

It’s mailbag day, when I reach into my virtual mailbag and pull out a few questions from my dear readers, attempting to respond with specific help and resources.

Dear Cheapskate: How can I find a good financial counselor? We are not covering our monthly obligations and falling further and further behind. I am a nervous wreck and my health and family are suffering. I just don’t know what to do! — Tina B., New Hampshire

Dear Tina: Stop what you’re doing and get to National Foundation for Credit Counseling. This is a nonprofit consumer help organization you can trust, and the only credit counseling and debt management organization I recommend and fully endorse.

These days, there are lots of shysters trying to pose as reputable counselors and advisers. You cannot be too careful. Once accepted into their program (I think you are a good candidate), they will contact your creditors and work out a payment schedule you can handle. The cost will be very reasonable, if any. Go to www.nfcc.org to get started, or call toll free 1-800-388-2227. Follow the prompts. You will be matched to the Consumer Credit Counseling Services office near you. You can trust NFCC to direct you to a certified CCCS office, so please do this today. I won’t be able to sleep until I know you can, too.

Dear Cheapskate: Where can I purchase cheesecloth bags for adding spices for pickling? I am currently hand-sewing them and it’s time consuming. I have searched the internet and have not come up with any yet. Thanks for your help. — Cheryl M., Texas

Dear Cheryl: You can put away your needle and thread. A bouquet garni, the French term for a bundle of herbs that does not require sewing. Just do this: Lay a 6- or 8-inch square of cheesecloth (available in supermarkets, Target, Walmart) or muslin on the counter. Place the spices in the center. Bring the corners together and gather the edges to the middle. Tie with a piece of string. That’s it. Drop the bouquet garni into your pickles, leaving the string hanging over the side of the crock. When it’s time for retrieval, just pull on the string.

By my rough calculations,1 yard of cheesecloth (18 square feet) can be cut into 36 (6×6-inch) bags. At $3.50 per yard, making your own bags in this way will cost about 10 cents per bag. Of course, you could try to reuse them, but for me, this method allows them to be disposable.

If you really want to spend your money on premade spice bags, The Spice House, an online retailer, offers five-pack Bouquet Garni Bags for $5. Shipping and handling will run about $8, bringing the cost per bag to a hefty $2.60 each. You can find other options at Amazon.

Dear Cheapskate: My mother pieced and hand-quilted a lovely quilt that is now mine. It is like new except for a very old coffee stain. Is there any way to remove the stain without destroying the fabric? Any help is appreciated. Thanks. — Beverly S., California

Dear Beverly: A good fabric store or quilt shop in your area will carry a product, Orvus Quilt Soap. This is what a museum would use to restore and maintain a vintage quilt.

Fill your bathtub with tepid water and add 1 tablespoon of the soap (it is very concentrated). Lay the quilt in fan fashion in the water. Gently press down by hand and up on the quilt, forcing water through the layers. Rinse in clean water several times, following the same procedure. Drain. Press and squeeze to remove as much water from the quilt as possible. Place a bed sheet under the wet quilt and lift out of the tub using the sheet. Allow to dry opened out and out of sunlight. Enjoy this beautiful treasure.

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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