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Simple, easy and money-saving ideas that also do something positive for the environment:

Portable steamers come in handy

Portable steamers have become popular in modern homes because they use simple tap water to steam out wrinkles in clothes. They can also be a great way to sanitize bacteria and other illness-causing germs in unexpected places. Try steaming pet beds, mattresses and the interior of your car; the hot steam will blast away germs and dust mites, and it can even help freshen upholstered surfaces that are normally impossible to clean.

Get fireplace ready now

Why wait until the busy season to start thinking about getting the most from your fireplace? Some simple ways to boost your fireplace efficiency include adding a fire grate inside, which holds logs and lifts them off the ground, forcing heat forward into your home. Another tip is to add a hearth reflector to woodburning fireplaces; it’s a sheet of metal placed on the back wall to help radiate and reflect heat back into the room. And finally, having your chimney cleaned regularly helps keep your fireplace in tiptop shape.


Best Cities for Recreation

To highlight the benefits of recreational activities for consumers and economies across the country, personal-finance website WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 48 key indicators of recreation-friendliness. In each city, they examined basic living costs, the quality of parks, the accessibility of entertainment and recreational facilities and the weather.

1. Orlando, Fla.

2. Las Vegas

3. San Diego

4. Cincinnati

5. Tampa, Fla.

6. Honolulu

7. Atlanta

8. Albuquerque, N.M.

9. St. Louis

10. New Orleans

88. Indianapolis

96. Fort Wayne


By Chuck Sheppard

Epic Fail: Folks in London are royally unimpressed with the city’s newest “attraction,” the $3 million Marble Arch Mound. The 82-foot-high pile of mud was intended to attract tourists with a raised platform for viewing the Marble Arch, a 19th-century monument near Hyde Park, and offer “striking views of the city.” Now, as visitors call it a “monstrosity” and “the worst thing I’ve ever done in London,” officials are offering patrons their entrance fee (about $11) back. The City of Westminster Council admitted that “elements” of the attraction were not ready for visitors and closed the venue until further notice.

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