Make a New Year’s resolution to stay safe online

(NC) This is the time of year when we take stock of the year that was – and then make our resolutions for the year to come. When it comes to new technology and using the Internet, here are two easy resolutions you can make right now:

1. Think before I app. 2. Keep a clean machine.

Just like resolutions to improve our daily diet or to add more exercise, both resolutions aim at improving the quality of your life. The following ‘cyber safe’ resolutions, for example, could have an impact on your personal identity, on your online accounts, and they could even affect your financial activities:


Keep a clean machine

• Make sure the software is up to date and use the most recent versions of your mobile operating system, security software, apps and Web browsers. Resolving to do these simple things is among the best defenses against malware, viruses and other online threats.


• Protect your personal information: Check privacy settings on your online accounts. Use strong passwords, and be careful of what you share online including your name, location, and other personal details like where you go to school or your age.

• Secure your device: Use a passcode to lock your smartphone or tablet.

Think before you app

• Before you download it, understand what information the app would access and share like your location, your contacts, social networking profiles, etc. Always download apps from trusted sources.

• Back it up: Sync your contacts, photos, videos and other mobile device data with another device or ‘cloud’ service on a weekly basis.

Making these resolutions will help to keep you safe online. More information can be found at


Your Essential New Year’s Eve Style Guide


(NC) There’s a lot of pressure on New Year’s Eve: the party you’ll attend, the food you’ll serve, the person you’ll kiss. But with Canadian style expert Janette Ewen’s quick guide, you’ll be able to cross ‘what to wear’ right off the stress list.

Sequins and sparkles

Some things are simply meant to be: chocolate and peanut butter, Brad and Angelina, sequins and New Year’s Eve. It’s a classic choice that never disappoints. There are very few occasions in a girl’s life when a midnight-blue sequined mini-skirt or a silver-flecked blouse are appropriate, but December 31st sure is one. “Pair your sparkly showstopper with a black leather legging or a pair of neutral pumps,” recommends Ewen. “Don’t forget to add a stack of crystal-embellished sterling silver rings from Pandora for extra sparkle.”

Dramatic hues

If sparkles aren’t your thing, opt for rich hues and unexpected combinations. Emerald green is festive and complementary for a variety of skin tones and hair colours; choose an A-line dress in this hue and be prepared for compliments all night. You could also opt to marry cotton candy pink trousers with a deep maroon blouse for a seriously fashion-forward look, or mix-and-match shades of blue with sterling silver accessories. “A powder blue coat over an ultramarine dress finished with Pandora’s sterling silver Shimmering Lace earrings will have you partying into the wee hours with ease,” notes Ewen.

Pattern play

You’re a neutrals diehard and proud of it. No problem! Punch up your NYE look with pops of surprising patterns. Invest in a leopard print clutch with gold hardware or a stylish plaid scarf. “Or, if you’re feeling particularly daring,” adds Ewen. “Spring for a polka-dot pumps or zebra-print booties to really boost your little black dress ensemble.”

Tips to soothe, treat, and prevent diaper rash

Soothe your baby

Don’t worry, Mom, diaper rash is very common and very treatable. It is estimated that more than half of babies between four and 15 months old develop diaper rash at least once.

The causes of diaper rash vary from too much moisture or chafing to antibiotics, allergic reactions and yeast infections.

Fortunately for new moms and expectant mothers, there’s a world of advice on how to avoid rashes and how to treat them if they do occur.

When little ones suffer from diaper rash, use the following suggestions to treat and prevent the irritation:

* Change diapers often. Dirty diapers should always be removed immediately. If babies are in child care facilities or with babysitters, remind staff and caretakers to do the same.

* Rinse with water as part of each diaper change. Your baby’s bottom should be rinsed after every diaper change, using either a sink, tub, water bottle or moist washcloth. The skin should be gently but thoroughly cleaned. Avoid wipes with alcohol or fragrance.

* Don’t fasten diapers too tight. Not only can tight-fitting diapers chafe sensitive skin, they can also create a moist area vulnerable to diaper rash due to the lack of airflow. Before fastening diapers, pat the bottom dry as opposed to scrubbing — scrubbing may further irritate the skin.

* Use ointment regularly. Ointment acts as a barrier that prevents skin irritation, especially if your baby gets rashes frequently. Pediatricians, pharmacists and moms-in-the-know often recommend an ointment which contains the vital ingredient zinc oxide. Spread a generous amount onto the affected area during every diaper change.

One last tip: Be careful when washing cloth diapers! Pre-soak dirty diapers, use hot water and mild detergents and skip fabric softeners and smelly dryer sheets. Double-rinse diapers if you’re concerned about rashes.

Going Green with your Spring Cleaning

By Paula Begley – The Saucy Southerner

Green spring cleaning

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As the days lengthen, and the weather turns warmer, and the birds start singing at the top of their sweet melodious voices, my mind turns to Spring and the renewal of Mother Earth for a new season. There is nothing more beautiful to me than that very first hint of light and lovely new green bursting forth on bush and bough. This, inevitably, causes my mind to turn toward that seemingly thankless task (certainly devised by some evil entity) called Spring cleaning.





If you are like me, this chore is met with a growing concern; that being the introduction into house and home of toxic chemicals used for cleaning. Fortunately, there are simple and cost-effective alternatives to those chemical-laden household cleansers. As everyone watches their pocketbooks, such cleanser alternatives become more and more appealing to us all; not only are they inexpensive to make, they are simple to prepare, and offer us non-toxic solutions to our household cleaning chores.

Most conventional cleaning products contain petroleum-based ingredients which, by their very nature, have dubious health and environmental implications. And, they are everywhere; coating our dishes, countertops, clothes, furniture, windows and permeating the very air we breathe. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural products and methods to use that will keep our houses clean and fresh-smelling, and all without any of the toxic side-effects of commercial cleansers.

While more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon of green cleaning products for our household use, and while this is commendable on their part, those products are still expensive. If you aren’t concerned with the cost of those green cleansers, and if you don’t want to take the minutes it takes to prepare your own solutions, by all means buy and use those products.

If you are looking for a way to not only go green with Spring cleaning, but also to save a lot of money, this article will offer you “recipes” for a variety of cleaning dilemmas.

Here is a list of items you will need for a variety of uses:

Baking Soda: Eliminates odors and works as a mild scouring agent.

Cinnamon Sticks and Whole Clove: Aromatics used for air-freshening.

Club Soda: This is a polisher and stain-remover.

Corn Meal: Works as a stain absorber and is great as a carpet cleaner.

Essential Oils: (Optional and I don’t use them): Used for their fragrance, if you are used to “perfumed” products, there are some – such as eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and tea tree which may have antibacterial, antifungal or insect-repelling properties to them.

Hydrogen Peroxide: This is also a non-toxic bleaching substance and will work well as a disinfectant.

Kosher Salt: Works as an abrasive scouring agent.

Whole Lemons and Oranges: Citric acid is a non-toxic bleaching agent that is fresh-smelling and works as a grease-cutter and stain remover.

Olive Oil: Works as a furniture polish.

White vinegar (buy gallon jugs for economy): An antifungal which also kills bacteria and germs.

Water: Used to dilute solutions.

Now, on to their uses:

Air Freshener:

1 stick cinnamon

1 teaspoon whole cloves

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 cups water

Instructions: In a small sauce pan, add all of the ingredients and bring to a boil on the stove-top. The steam from the vinegar in the water will reduce airborne odors, and the cinnamon and cloves will impart a nice fragrance.


All-Purpose Cleaner:

12 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon baking soda

Peels from an orange and a lemon

6 cups hot water

Instructions: In a large jar, add the vinegar and baking soda and stir to dissolve the baking soda. This will bubble up, don’t be concerned. Let it settle and add the peels from an orange and from a lemon, and the hot water. Stir and let sit for a day. Remove the citrus peel, and pour into a spray bottle for use.


Bathroom Surface Cleaner:

The all-purpose cleaner is good for bathroom surfaces too, but if you have stubborn soap scum, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water to make a paste; this will work like a scouring powder. This also works very well for a kitchen sink or stove-top cleanser too.

You can also use half of an orange or grapefruit sprinkled with kosher salt to use as a scrubber. The salt will remove the stubborn soap scum and the citrus will leave a clean, fresh scent. Just rinse the surfaces with water.


Carpet Cleaner: Combine ½ cup baking soda with 1 cup of corn meal. Sprinkle this mixture on the rug, and rub with a dry cloth. Let the powder sit for several hours, or overnight, then vacuum it up. For removing acidic stains, such as wine, juice or coffee, use club soda to dampen a cloth to rub the stain.


Garbage Disposal Freshener: Use the lemon and orange (or any citrus) peel you’ve used to make your All-Purpose cleanser (or that you use for cooking) and grind it up in the disposal.


Glass Cleanser:  A mixture of water and white vinegar (2 cups water and ¼ cup white vinegar) in a spray bottle; use a lint-free cloth, or old newspaper (surprisingly) with the spray for a streak-free shine.


Hardwood Floor Cleaner:  Mix ½ cup white vinegar to 2 gallons of warm water in your mop bucket; mop with a sponge or mop.


Mold Remover: Mix ½ cup hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar with 1 cup of water. Pour into a spray bottle and spray the moldy area. Do not rinse.


Wood Furniture Polish: Dab olive oil on a soft cloth and rub the wood surface.


These are just a few of the basic cleansers and ideas that will help you with your green Spring cleaning. Spring is just around the corner, so stock up now, and go GREEN!

Find the Saucy Southerner on Facebook or website for all sorts of great kitchen tips and recipes!


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Buyer beware: Seniors targeted by aggressive water heater salespeople

Protect our seniors from aggressive door knockers

Protect our seniors from aggressive door knockers


(NC)—Research shows that misleading door-to-door water heater salespeople have become a growing concern throughout Ontario. All too often, these salespeople misrepresent themselves and use aggressive selling techniques when soliciting elderly homeowners.


To protect seniors and provide them with the information they need to make informed decisions, EnerCare Inc., a leading provider of energy efficient products, including water heater rentals, subscribes some simple DOs and DON’Ts they can use if approached by an aggressive door-to-door water heater salesperson.


• Always ask the sales person for identification and which company they represent. Be advised that utilities and government agencies do not promote the exchange of water heaters door-to-door.

• Get additional expert opinions or estimates from your water heater provider when door-to-door salespeople assert that a replacement product is needed.

• Ask the sales person if you can receive a copy of their sales material or contact information to review. Be wary if the salesperson is hesitant of leaving behind such information.

• If you feel pressured, ask the salesperson to leave. If you feel threatened, ask them to leave and call the police if they do not immediately comply.


• Don’t let the salesperson into your home.

• Don’t show the salesperson your existing contract, monthly bills or any personal information.

• Don’t sign a contract until you have read it carefully and understand it thoroughly.

• Don’t sign a contract if it fails to explain as it is required to by law that, under Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act, you can cancel a contract within 10 days of receiving a written copy of the agreement without incurring a penalty of any kind.

These are important precautions to take when dealing with door-to-door salespeople, but the problem is still very prevalent and growing. Everyone needs to support the government of Ontario’s Stronger Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, 2013 (“Bill 55”) that would offer consumers greater protection from door-to-door sales.

For more information on Bill 55 and steps you can take to support this legislation, including sending a letter to your MPP, signing the petition and sharing your stories, visit the Homeowner Protection Centre’s website,