Renovation & Design

SOLUTIONS: Cooking-oil method will remove sink stain

QUESTION: A white film has developed on my black Silgranite sink and I have not been able to come up with a solution to remove it. I have tried Mr. Clean Magic Eraser as the manufacturer suggested, but this has not worked. I have also tried putting paper towels soaked in vinegar over the area and leaving it overnight, but this has not worked either. I am at a loss as to what else to try. Rosemarie, Winnipeg

ANSWER: Every few weeks, wipe the sink with cooking oil. Remove the excess and your sink will look as good as new.

QUESTION: I spilled some fragrance oil on a dresser with veneer as a finish. There is a brown area where it ate into the finish. How do I get rid of the brown area? The container fell over and I didn't notice it for at least a week. I had thrown a bag of clothes on the dresser and it tipped over the bottle. Any easy solution? Bobby, Winnipeg

ANSWER: Based on feedback from readers, this is treatable with the help of OxiClean (test on an inconspicuous area first). Combine two scoopfuls of OxiClean with two cups of water. Blot stain and scrub with a stiff brush. Rinse and wipe with water and a clean cloth. Worst-case scenario: sand and refinish dresser.

QUESTION: I often purchase fresh herbs in small plastic containers at the grocery store, but they don't seem to last very long. What is the best way to preserve them? Thanks! Pat, Anola, MB

ANSWER: Herbs make all the difference in dishes, not only adding flavour but also healthy goodness to your meals.

Here are a few easy techniques for storing fresh herbs. Begin by rinsing the herbs under cold water. Don't soak them; just a light rinse is all they need. Soaking fresh herbs causes them to lose flavour quickly. Either air-dry on the counter or blot the water off using a clean dishtowel. Once dry, wrap herbs in a paper towel and place them inside a perforated plastic bag or a sealable bag. If using a sealable bag, close the bag but do not push the air out; leaving the bag puffed up will give plants extra oxygen for a longer life.

Place herbs on a shelf in the fridge or inside the crisper; do not place the herbs close to the bottom surface of the fridge. When herbs become too cold, they will not last long. Using this technique keeps herbs fresh for one to 11/2 weeks. You can also position fresh herbs inside the fridge upright in a glass of water, just as you would freshly cut flowers.

Since herbs can be expensive, if you know that you will not use them up within one-and-a-half weeks, it is best to freeze them. Rinse and pat dry. Lay herbs on a baking sheet. (Some people prefer to line the sheet with parchment paper instead of placing herbs directly onto the baking sheet.) Put baking sheet inside the freezer for three hours. Remove and store in freezer bags. Mark with herb's name and date.

Another great advantage of this technique is that as the herbs thaw, the leaves fall from the stalk, making cooking even easier.

Or rinse and dry herbs. Chop leaves and put 2 tbsp. inside of each compartment of an ice-cube tray. Pour water over tray and freeze. Once frozen, remove cubes and store in well-marked sealable bags.

In order to capture the greatest flavour, add fresh herbs to dishes towards the end of cooking time.

QUESTION: The project that I am currently working on requires me to paint my ceiling one colour and the walls another. I hate taping because I find it time-consuming and I am lazy. How can I achieve a professional-looking edge with less effort? Gwen

ANSWER: Find yourself a straight-edge tool. Hold the tool firmly onto the ceiling edge. Paint about two inches of the trim. Carefully remove the straight-edge and wipe all paint off the straight-edge. Reposition the tool onto the wall and paint another two inches, being careful to wipe the straight-edge each time.

Fabulous tips of the week

We wait all year long, but the waiting is finally over... seedless mandarin oranges have hit the shelves!

-- For a long shelf life, store mandarin oranges in fridge crisper.

-- Mandarin oranges are great all by themselves, but also make a tasty addition to spinach and oriental salads.

-- Stop! Before you throw all those peels into the compost, consider making a wonderful bathroom cleaner. Soak mandarin peels in vinegar for one week. Strain into spray bottle and use to clean bathroom, windows and Arborite countertops.

I enjoy your questions and tips; keep them coming! Missed a column? Can't remember a solution? Need a speaker for an upcoming event? Check out my brand-new blog/website: .


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