Renovation & Design

SOLUTIONS: Silence that sqeaky door with Petroleum jelly

QUESTION: I was wondering if you might have a solution for a bedroom door that all of a sudden started to squeak every time we shut it. I polished all the doors in the house with Pledge and none of the others squeak. We used WD-40 on the hinges but that didn't work. I enjoy reading your column and do hope you can help me this time. Thank you so much. Debbie, Winnipeg

ANSWER: Ensure long-lasting silence by tapping the hinge pin out of the hinge and coating the top, bottom and middle of the pin with petroleum jelly. Push the pin back in place and test the door. The door should open and close without any further noise. In some cases doors become loose due to worn out screw holes at the hinges. To repair, remove the loose hinges and insert toothpicks into the holes then apply wood glue. Leave for 24 hours and cut the excess toothpicks. If necessary, screws the hinges back in place and your door will be tight once again.

QUESTION: I hope you can help me with the rabbit droppings that are next to my deck in the backyard. First of all, those little "beggars" did a nice job of eating my shrubs this winter and now their droppings are all along my deck. Can I mix some type of solution to pour over their mess so these droppings dissolve? Secondly, is there something I can do to keep them away from my shrubs? I know I could put up wire fencing but the area makes it a little hard to do this. Thanks for your help. Lorraine, Winnipeg

ANSWER: The easiest way to clean your deck is by spraying it with a pressure washer or a strong spray from a garden hose. If neither is an option, purchase a product such as Poop Off from a pet store or make your own cleaner. Into a one-litre spray bottle combine 1 1/2 cups of water, two cups of white vinegar and 1/2 a cup of liquid laundry detergent. Spray and scrub with a stiff brush. Rinse with water.

You are right, the best way to repel rabbits from chewing your shrub is with a 1 1/2 metre (or higher) fence, but if that isn't an option perhaps you can wrap at least the trunk of the shrub with chicken wire. When it comes to the garden, here are a few hints to try: surround the garden with milk jugs lined with sand. The idea is that the rabbits will chew on the jugs instead of your plants. As well, suspend aluminum pie plates around plants to keep rabbits away.

Or sprinkle one of the following around plants or shrubs: bags of human hair (from your local hair salon), bone meal, shaved pieces of Irish Spring bar soap or add turkey manure in with the soil.

Homemade rabbit repellent: Into a spray bottle mix one tbsp. of baby shampoo with one tbsp. of household ammonia and one litre of water. Spray plants every three days. Or soak corn cobs in vinegar for five minutes and then place them throughout the garden or under shrubs. The corn cobs should be re-soaked in vinegar after two weeks. When planting your flower beds, mix thyme, spearmint, daffodils and/or eucalyptus in with your flowers -- rabbits don't like the smell and often won't pass by them to get to your yummy plants. Some people have had success by burying fabric softener sheets around plants. Lastly, bury a collar cut out of a milk carton or jug around new individual plants or vegetables to protect them.

QUESTION: What should I use to keep my cake batter from sticking to the sides of my pan? China (Dugald, MB)

ANSWER: Butter, margarine, cooking spray, lard and shortening are acceptable choices for greasing a cake pan -- they all work. The choice just depends on your preference. While many bakers typically sprinkle flour onto the grease to prevent batter from sticking to the pan, some chefs opt for using sugar, instead, to add to the sweetness of cakes, such as shortcake.

Strawberry shortcake!

-- When making a layered strawberry shortcake, cut the layer(s) of the cake and moisten each layer with sugar syrup. Combine equal amounts of white granulated sugar and water. Lightly dab syrup onto cake layers with a pastry brush before placing strawberries in position.

-- After topping the cake with strawberries, brush sugar syrup onto strawberries to give the fruit a glossy finish.

-- I love to use real whip cream instead of artificial or ready-made whipped cream. Sweeten with a spoonful of icing sugar while whipping.

-- If you ever over beat whipping cream and notice you are left with a solid substance, you have inadvertently made butter so don't throw it out, it will be delicious on toast!

-- Anyone interested in receiving a recipe for a twist on strawberry shortcake by making strawberry shortcake biscuits please email me. They are delicious.

Life just got easier!

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