Renovation & Design

SOLUTIONS: Rotate freezer items for maximum freshness

QUESTION: I have an upright freezer. Being a senior, I can access all my frozen goods. However, bread gets dry, frozen vegetables get freezer burnt, etc., when I place food on the shelves of the door. What is the best type of food to place on the freezer door shelf? Thank you for your help. Nancy (Winnipeg)

ANSWER: Since many freezers today come with an auto defrost mechanism, the freezer temperature fluctuates, drawing moisture from food. Begin by checking the seal of your freezer. A trick that I use is to open the door and position a piece of paper on the seal at the top of the door. Close the door and pull the paper; the paper should not easily slide out. If it does, the seal may need replacing. Secondly, make sure the freezer is cold enough. Freezer burn is caused by air becoming trapped between the food and your packaging. There are a few companies who have come up with freezer bags with inner linings that form to food and then excess air is squeezed out. Or if you're cheap like me, save old cereal liners and store food such as bread inside of each bag or store food in a quality freezer bag and suck out excess air with a straw.

While there are no set rules for how to store freezer foods, here are a few tips. Store meat products in the bottom section of the freezer. That way if the freezer breaks the juices from the meats won't contaminate any other food. Use the door shelves to store items that are packaged and small enough to fit, such as juice, cookies and shredded cheese. Frozen veggies can be stacked and stored in the higher part of the freezer. Rotate and date items for maximum freshness.

QUESTION: I really enjoy your weekly column in the Winnipeg Free Press. Recently I have started using vinegar instead of liquid fabric softener. I love it. Then I heard using aluminum foil bunched up as a ball is great to use in the dryer to eliminate static and to soften clothes. I have tried this method but there is still static, the clothes are not really soft when they are dry and the aluminum foil breaks into small pieces. Can you suggest an environmentally friendly product that I can use? Linda (Winnipeg)

ANSWER: Reduce static in clothing by making a wool static ball. Using wool yarn, wind it into a wool ball about the size of a golf ball. Put the wool ball inside of a sock and tie a knot to close the sock. Put the sock through a hot-water cycle of the washer and dryer. Remove the wool ball and wrap additional wool around the ball until it is the size of a tennis ball. Put the ball back into the sock and add it to another wash and dry cycle. Remove and now your homemade dryer ball is ready to use. Add this ball to all dryer cycles to replace the foil balls that you previously used. Other options for removing static from fabric: wipe clothes with a dryer sheet; spray with vinegar; brush clothes with a wire hanger; wipe fabrics with hair conditioner or hand lotion.

QUESTION: I use vinegar for most cleaning around the house. Just wondering if it is safe to use on the outside of stainless steel appliances, like my fridge, stove and dishwasher. Mine show every little mark, smudge, fingerprint and I find it difficult to keep them looking clean for any length of time. Your advice and expertise is most appreciated. Shirley (Winnipeg)

ANSWER: Vinegar is not only safe for stainless steel appliances, it is also the product many restaurants use to make stainless steel cutlery shine before serving customers. Also, many people struggle with white hard-water deposits on fridge water-dispenser trays. Vinegar cleans it up in a snap.

QUESTION: I have a small wooden table that I have waxed with a spray over the years and it now has a stickiness to the finish. Can this be fixed as I love this little table? Thanks, Gail

ANSWER: Begin with the easiest solution first -- clean the table with Murphy's oil soap. Wash well and wipe dry. Observe if stickiness is gone. If stickiness remains, the next step is to wipe the table with baby oil. Remove excess and leave to dry. If stickiness remains, try using oxalic acid to clean table. Test on an inconspicuous area first.

What can you do with an old shoe?

-- Donate to Goodwill.

-- Fill the shoes with sand and make doorstoppers.

-- Cut a hole in the toe and use the shoelaces to hang them on the tree outside for a birdhouse or fill the shoe with food for a birdfeeder.

-- Fill them with plaster of paris and make bookends.

-- Fill with dirt and make planters.

Easy 2014 valentine contest:

Submit one sentence that affected your life, either positively or negatively. All entries will be entered into a draw to win the complete bestselling book series, 1, 2 and 3 Household Solutions. Deadline: Feb. 28, 2014. Mailing address: Reena Nerbas, Box 429, Blumenort, MB R0A 0C0 Email:

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming. Missed a column? Can't remember a solution? Need a motivational speaker for an upcoming event? Check out my website at


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