Renovation & Design

SOLUTIONS: Smooth limestone cleaning rough challenge

QUESTION: I am wondering if you can advise me as to how to clean the smooth limestone face of our gas fireplace. It has never been cleaned and needs some freshening up. I had bought a product that claims to do so, but I find it too harsh and my test spot felt roughened! Is there a "home remedy" to do this job? I would love to have the fireplace spiffed up for Christmas! Please help!

Thank you, Lynda, Selkirk

ANSWER: Since the surface is smooth, your best bet is to test and find out what works best on your specific limestone. One option: try sanding any stained areas with 50-grit sandpaper. However, a belt sander is a little easier and will save time. If the stone were rough, you could clean it with a nylon bristle brush. Avoid using water if possible but, if you feel that it's necessary, protect the surrounding area and clean with 50/50 bleach and water.

Another (less-risky) option is to use an art gum eraser to clean the soot. Although elbow grease is required, no chemicals are needed. The eraser will crumble with the roughness of the stone, but the stone looks great afterwards. Eraser bits left in the stone can be brushed off with an old toothbrush or nail brush. Put newspaper down before beginning.

QUESTION: We just moved into a new home and the plumber used clear silicone on the pop-up drains in the sinks of our vanities. It squished out around the drain and we can't get the residual silicone off the porcelain around the drain. What can I use? Thanks, Grant, Deloraine

ANSWER: There are a variety of products available for removing unwanted silicone; in fact your local hardware store will carry silicone removal spray mixtures that soften silicone making it easy to rub off with a rubber glove. You can also use a product called Goof Off or WD-40 and wipe unwanted silicone with a butter knife or green abrasive pad (not an S.O.S pad) being careful not to scrape the sink.

QUESTION: I have heard a lot about the great taste of Turducken. What exactly is it? A bird of some kind? Brent, Winnipeg

ANSWER: The easiest way to describe Turducken although there are variations, is a deboned turkey which has been stuffed with a deboned duck which is stuffed with a deboned chicken. The cavity of the chicken is filled with stuffing or sausage or bread crumbs. You can cook Turducken by roasting, grilling, braising or barbecuing. The meat should be thawed out 3-4 days ahead of time. Cook on a low temperature so that the meat cooks through without burning the outside. Some people special order Turducken especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

QUESTION: I bought jeans a couple of months ago and even after many washings the dye still comes off when I touch and/or rub them onto my hands. Do you know how I can stop this from happening outside of never wearing them? Fern, Winnipeg

ANSWER: While this could be the result of defective dye it most likely isn't and will cure itself over time as you get rid of the excess dye. Here are a few hints to help speed up the process of making your jeans colourfast. Soak the jeans for a few hours in plain old straight white vinegar. Next wash them in the hottest water possible (you can use cold water but the colour-setting process will take longer).

Advice needed

Hi Reena, While in Jeres, Spain, I purchased a bottle of sherry vinegar at the Tio Pepe shop on a vineyard tour and it was wonderful in my homemade salad dressing. I don't expect to necessarily find the exact same flavor in Canada, but so far I've been unable to find sherry vinegar at all in any store. Do you or any of your readers know of a source?


For the writer who couldn't find Arm and Hammer So Clean Washing Soda, I've seen it at the large Bison location of Superstore; the Kenaston location is smaller and doesn't appear to carry it. Thanks! Gail, Winnipeg

Sweet leftovers

-- Crush candy canes and add pieces to ice cream, cookies or sprinkle onto cupcake icing.

-- Candy canes make great stir sticks for hot chocolate, tea, hot milk or coffee, punch or Ginger Ale.

-- Peppermint Bark. You can use brown or white chocolate, or candy melts. Spread the melted chocolate onto waxed paper in a thin layer and sprinkle crushed candy canes on top. When hard, break into pieces. Yum!

-- A candy cane makes an interesting back scratcher.

-- Attach thank-you notes to candy canes, hand them out to people who gave you a Christmas gift or hosted you as a dinner/party guest.

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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