Renovation & Design

SOLUTIONS: Milk cartons aid in watering tomato plants

QUESTION: I would like to plant tomatoes in my garden and I know they love water but I have never planted them because I am very busy and often do not get into the garden regularly. Is there a way that I can grow tomatoes without having to make the effort to water them daily? Adrian, Winnipeg

ANSWER: You are right tomatoes are water-loving plants. Collect large milk cartons and open the pour spout so that the cartons are rectangle shape. Cut out the bottom of the cartons and poke holes around the carton walls. Place cartons between plants and pour water into the carton every five days. The cartons will slowly distribute water though the holes.

P.S. If you notice cutworms, protect plants by placing collars or used milk cartons around the plants.

QUESTION: I have some drinking glasses that have white buildup of some kind on them. Do you have any cleaning suggestions? Anita (Portage la Prairie)

ANSWER: If you are itching to get your etching under control determine whether the film is removable or permanently etched. How? Soak an etched glass in undiluted white vinegar for 15 minutes. Or, wash the glass with warm water and concentrated dishwasher detergent. Or run a dishwasher cycle of etched dishes with citric acid in the soap dispenser. If the film comes off, it is likely caused by hard water minerals, improper amounts of detergent, or unsuitable water temperature. If it's permanent etching, you can't make it clear again.

QUESTION: I read your column in the paper every week, I have a stainless steel Lagostina pot that I burnt apple sauce in (just apples no sugar). I have tried everything I can think of, but nothing is releasing the burn. It is burnt very badly on the inside bottom of the pan. I would like to hear from you if you have time. Jessie, Winnipeg

ANSWER: Sprinkle the area with enough washing soda to line the bottom of the pot, add water to fill the pot one-quarter full. Boil the contents for five minutes. Turn the element off and leave overnight. In the morning with the solution still in the pot scrub the bottom with 000 fine sandpaper (wear gloves). Wash as usual.

QUESTION: I absolutely love your first two books but have not purchased the third one yet. I also look forward to your column every week in the newspaper. I am wondering if you can please tell me, again, what your tip was in regards to using leftover pieces of bar soap. It was in a recent edition of the paper but I recycled it before I clipped the column. Thank you, Edie, Winnipeg

ANSWER: When it comes to bar soap, get the biggest bang for your buck by saving your slivers. Drop slivers into knee-length pantyhose and keep them in the bathtub. Scrub your body by wetting the nylon with water and lathering yourself with the nylon encased soap slivers. Or drop soap slivers into a plastic squeeze bottle, add water to fill. Keep the bottle beside the sink for washing hands and dishes. You can also pile wet soap slivers one on top of the other. Stick a pop bottle cap onto the top soap sliver (to make the squished together bar easier to hold). Allow the soap to dry and use in the bathtub.

QUESTION: How can I get Silly Putty off knit clothing? Pat (St. Andrews)

ANSWER: Spray the area with WD-40 (or rubbing alcohol) and wipe the putty away. Next apply dish soap and water onto the clothing. Blot and wash as usual.

QUESTION: Your column is a must read for me every week - thanks for the way you list the least toxic solutions first. I have two questions: What is the difference between recipes for bread made with a bread machine or without? How would I alter ordinary bread recipes to use a bread machine? Also, is there any practical way to make evaporated milk from store-bought milk? Lynn, Winnipeg

ANSWER: The difference between bread made in a machine and bread made by hand is mainly labour and time. To adapt a handmade recipe to a machine recipe, you will need to play with the recipe to perfect it by making one substitution at a time.

Generally, dough should feel smooth and soft, not tacky or moist, and definitely not dry or crumbly. It should be elastic and resilient, so that when you push your hand into it, it resumes its original shape. Find recipes that you have used in your machine and make sure that the recipe that you are using has the same amount of dry and wet ingredients as the one that you used in the machine.

To adapt bread machine recipes to manual recipes follow these steps: Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar in warm water. Combine ingredients and mix until smooth and soft. Place bread in a greased loaf pan, and let rise until doubled. Bake between 325 and 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the bottom of a loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Save money by making your own homemade evaporated milk. Use 2 1/4 cups of regular milk to equal one cup of evaporated milk. Grease a medium-size pot and add milk. Turn stove onto medium and heat milk just until it steams. Allow the milk to continue to steam on low (not boiling or even simmering). If you need one cup of evaporated milk, steam the milk until one cup is left in the pot and the rest of the water has steamed out (approximately 1-3 hours). Stir occasionally. Measure to make sure that you have the correct amount of evaporated milk. Store in the fridge for up to five days.

Fabulous Tip of the Week

Recently my daughter drew a picture on my brand new dining room table with permanent marker. After nearly falling over, I asked myself, "What would Reena do?" I then applied a small amount of bleach free toothpaste to the area and the marker wiped right off! Janice, Winnipeg

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming!

Check out my website!

Reena Nerbas is the author of the national bestselling Household Solutions series. Her website is You can contact her at Box 429, Blumenort, Man., ROA 0C0.


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