Mary Hunt: Columnist offers tips on appliances | Columnists

Some of you send the most amazing stories and accounts of your progress toward getting out of debt. Other messages are a quick sentence of encouragement. But mostly, you can't seem to locate past information. You need a reminder of a tip, trick, product or do-it-yourself instruction you've read in a previous column.

Q: Can you tell me which carpet steam cleaner you recommend, the one you said was the best thing you ever bought?

A: Oh, you're talking about my beloved Hoover Steam Vac. I still have it, still love it and wouldn't want to live without it. Make sure you reread the original post so you'll know how Hoover works best for me (hint: no shampoo.)

Q: Which Shark vacuum do you recommend? There are several models and I'm confused.

A: You want a Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional (about $160). This will give you a vacuum that cleans carpet so well you might be embarrassed to see how much cleaning there was to be done. I sure was. You will have the attachment you need to vacuum your hard surface floors. But wait, there's more. The Lift-Away feature turns this Shark into a handy vacuum to clean stairs.

Q: Can I use a blender to grind coffee beans? What make or model would be the best?

A: Maybe in a pinch, but I would not recommend it as a regular method. You will end up with powder, and that will not make good coffee. To make good coffee, the beans need to be crushed to release the oils. You need a grinder. They come in two varieties: blade grinder or burr grinder. A blade grinder will be cheaper, but will only cut the beans into small bits. A burr grinder crushes the beans. A blade grinder will be cheaper, however, coffee experts agree that a burr grinder is far superior for making a great cup of coffee because it releases the precious oils that make great coffee. My choice for the best inexpensive blade grinder is KRUPS F203 Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder (about $20). However, for about $5 more, you can get a fabulous manual burr grinder. Vero Manual Coffee Mill. (about $25). It's beautiful and creates a perfect grind.

Q: Would you please reprint the brand of indoor TV antenna you have in your new home?

A: It's the FlatWave Amped Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna by Winegard, about $60. You can reread that particular column (Have You Given Yourself That $1,400 After-Tax Raise Yet?) by typing a keyword like "antenna" in the search box at the Everyday Cheapskate website.

mary@everydaycheapskate.com|Everyday Cheapskate, Box 2099 Cypress, CA 90630