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A spritz is still a spritz?

I don't wear fragrance on a regular basis, and I never wear it to work. So I startled a few of my coworkers late Thursday afternoon after I decided to take a little sniff of a new fragrance sample I had received in the mail.

No one was near me at the time; it was late in the afternoon. What was there to lose in a little spritz?

Only the spritz was much more than a spritz. Think fire extinguisher.

It went on me. It went on my desk. It went on the papers I should have been reading instead of testing perfume ...

I reeked.

Too much. Too strong. Thank goodness no one had any allergic reactions, and everyone is still speaking to me. I'll stick with Ivory soap from now on.


Shopping strategies

   As the school year arrives, what parent isn't looking for ways to cut spending on children's clothing and supplies?

   From taking advantage of store coupons to checking out consignment shops, families are trying to find ways to save.

   One local mom of three who runs her own professional organizing business tells me that less is more when it comes to clothing.  I know what she means. My daughter gravitates toward the same couple outfits in the colors she loves. If she could get away with wearing them inside out, she probably would.

I include other ideas in my column today. If you have some strategies that others might find helpful, this is a place to share them.

And, in Saturday's Weekend Life section, be sure not to miss Jennifer Rung's story on even more creative ways to save money. One local savvy shopper hasn't paid for toothpaste in two years, thanks to rebate offers.

Wake up to more Hannah

In case you know someone who simply can't get enough of Hannah Montana - the TV show, the clothes, the 3-D concert movie, the music, the wigs - now there's another way to bring the young superstar into your home.

I read in the Washington Post that parents can register to have the prerecorded voice of Hannah (Miley Cyrus' alter ego) rouse their sleepy ones from their beds, via telephone. Or, Hannah can call to remind your favorite tween that she has gymnastics today, or any one of 23 other extracurricular activities.

Thank you, Disney Channel and Wal-Mart.

You can check it all out at this Web site.

Oh, and by the way, once you're on the site, the Wal-Mart Hannah Montana Shop is just a click away.


Musical beds

   Whenever we have out-of-town houseguests, we always have a grand old time figuring out where everyone should sleep. We used to have a guest room, but we converted it into a playroom/computer room.

  Now we have an air mattress, a pull-out sofa bed in the family room and, most recently, something called a bedroll, which is a polyester-filled cushion a bit smaller than a twin bed. The living room sofa is pretty comfortable, too.

  In the past, we have given up our bedroom for houseguests. We also have kicked our daughter out of her own bedroom for a visiting preteen or teen, usually one who sleeps late even though the dog is scratching outside the bedroom door and the 9-year daughter is complaining: "When is he going to wake up? I NEED to get something out of my room."

It's all a part of the fun of having company, something I talk about in today's column. 

I suppose we could also pitch a tent in the backyard, if necessary.

What do you do when overnight guests come calling?