As I continue the recycling theme, thanks to several readers, perhaps you'll find one or more to suit your fancy.
• Old wool sweater-Whether it's old or you just don't like it anymore, take that sucker, boil it until it shrinks and Fido will stay comfy in cold weather.
• Old socks-Tie a knot in it to make a free cat toy. You can also stuff socks with other ones, sew them together for a pet's "pet."
• Egg carton-Use the bottom half to transport Easter eggs to a party or boiled eggs to a picnic.
• Baby food jar-Fill the jar with potpourri and cover with a paper doily or some tulle (for holes). Secure with a rubber band and either tie or hot glue ribbon around the rubber band. Smells good and looks pretty!
• Paper towel tube-Cut the tube into 11/4-inch rings. Then use a glue gun to attach assorted beans all around each ring in a decorative pattern to make - of all things - napkin rings.
• Empty cassette holder-Open up the case and fold back (to fit business cards). Mount a photo on card stock and cut it out in an interesting way; hot glue the photo to the lid flap and then hot glue either small rocks, shells, or "gems" to the front to make a really cool business card holder for someone's desk.
• Empty box-This is my personal favorite, along the lines of the "Friend's Locket" phase of a few years ago and makes a memorable gift from any child to a loved one. Any size box will do; wrap it in wrapping paper and tie with a ribbon. Attach the following note:
I took an ordinary box
As empty as can be
I filled it with a special gift
And wrapped it carefully.
But please don't ever open it
And leave the ribbon tied
And hold it tightly near your heart
Because my love's inside.
Tax Tip: Shop carefully for a tax preparer. These folks have various degrees of expertise from an H&R Block preparer who's taken a course all the way up to a tax attorney, and their fees vary, as well. I suggest using a CPA or attorney if your returns are complicated, but just remember you're responsible for all the upfront and correct information.
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. E-mail her at email@example.com.