Renovation & Design

Renovation & Design

Sprucing up the old caboose

September 26


Renovation & Design

The best way to keep that face mask clean and proper

QUESTION – I never in my life thought I would be asking this question, but what is the best way to clean and sanitize my cloth mask? Melvin

ANSWER – I know what you mean! Use your washing machine and dryer to clean your mask. I prefer to use hot water, but others opt for warm. Use heavy-duty laundry detergent. You can also hand-wash the mask, but the lining may become damaged if you scrub too hard. 

Extra tips for mask use: 

  • Avoid touching and fiddling with your mask. Unless your hands are clean, leave the mask alone.
  • Secure and remove your mask by holding onto the straps, not the fabric over your face.
  • Try to keep your mask clean. Carry your mask in a small plastic bag, not in your hand or in your pocket.
  • It is recommended you wear a clean mask every day.
  • If you disagree with mask wearing or do not wear a mask due to health reasons, avoid shaming others around you who opt to wear a mask.


QUESTION – When I eat cucumbers from my garden, they taste bitter. Is this due to the type of cucumber I planted? Pearl 

ANSWER – Cucumbers naturally produce a chemicals called cucurbitacins, which can cause them to taste bitter. Certain varieties taste more bitter than others; Carosello and Armenian are not as bitter as some of the others. Make sure to plant your cucumbers in rich, well, watered soil. Pick cucumbers in the morning. Cut the ends off the cucumber and, using the cut end, rub the exposed ends for a few seconds until they begin to foam, rinse to remove foam.


QUESTION – How can I get rid of the garlic smell on my fingers after peeling garlic? Soap and water don’t take the smell away. Kendra

ANSWER – Hold a stainless-steel object under running water. The smell on your fingers will disappear (this is the first tip I ever learned).


QUESTION – I purchased a memory-foam mattress topper for my bed, and I am really pleased with it. Unfortunately, since it is made of foam, the topper is off-gassing and resulting in a terrible odour. Since you cannot wash this product, I have been airing it outside and hanging it up indoors with a fan blowing on it. The smell has decreased somewhat, but it is still there. Any suggestions? Selena

ANSWER — Memory foam has a fascinating history. It was initially developed by NASA for the space program to help shield astronauts from high G-forces. It wasn’t until the 1980s that memory foam began to hit the consumer market in the form of medical cushions, disabled seating cushions and eventually as mattresses and pillows.

But I digress; memory foam does smell at first and needs to air out. In fact, few people are able to sleep with their new memory foam immediately after they open it. Most people find they need to leave the foam to air out for a couple of weeks, but the smell does eventually dissipate. For faster results, spray the mattress with vodka to remove odour or sprinkle the topper with baby powder or baking soda, leave for a few hours and then vacuum.

Outstanding Tips of the Week:

  • I don’t know what I would do without nylon netting; there are so many uses for it. I tuck it in where I am likely to find spiders (around doors, the space between outside walls and concrete steps). I also secure netting inside heat vents with a rubber band, put it between sliding windows that have drainage holes and overtop of open pipes. I also fold netting over the blade of my knives to prevent accidental cuts. Erna 
  • If you are still using plastic grocery bags (instead of recyclable bags) and don’t know what to do with the mountain of bags collecting in your home, consider donating the bags to self-help; the bags will be reused instead of wasted.
  • Crows in the garden? A balloon pop is a fast way to scare them away, but for long-term results, use a kite. Crows will think it is a bird and fly away to bother someone else.


Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.


Have a great suggestion or tip? Please send an email at: Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website:

Reena Nerbas
September 26

Renovation & Design

Insulating a garage a worthy project but proper steps required for health, safety

Question: I have an attached, unheated garage. I am considering spray-foaming the walls and ceiling. The roof vents will still be exposed and the shared wall to the house has drywall. My question is, do I need to drywall over the exposed spray foam on the exterior walls as well? I do not intend to heat the garage permanently, but will use a space heater if I need heat to work in the winter. Thanks for your time, Sean.

Answer: Using high density polyurethane spray foam to insulate an attached garage may be a very good idea, but leaving it exposed is not. This product not only provides excellent thermal protection for the thickness, it is also water resistant and an excellent air barrier. Because of these properties, concerns with moisture and condensation issues, common in garages, should not be an issue. The only downside of using spray foam is the cost, which may be substantially more than other types of traditional insulation. For the health of your family and for fire protection, spray foam must be covered with a fire-rated sheathing.

It is unclear from your question whether your attached garage already has a drywall ceiling, or if you are planning on spraying the underside of the roof sheathing with the foam insulation. If you currently have a drywall ceiling, and have not made the common error of referring to the underside of the roof as a ceiling, then there should be no concern. The ceiling should already be constructed from 5/8-inch fireguard drywall, which should be secured to the bottom of the trusses or ceiling joists. The foam could be blown in between the bottom of the trusses, or ceiling joists, above this proper sheathing. The gypsum sheathing will then provide all the covering you require, both for aesthetics and fire safety.

If you are planning on blowing the foam onto the underside of the roof sheathing, to give a more spacious feeling to the insulated space, there are other things to consider. First, the current roof vents will have to be removed, and the roofing patched, as they will no longer be required. Adding this type of insulation to the underside of the roof, in sufficient quantity, will provide a sealed roof system, rather than a traditional vented attic space. Putting the air and moisture resistant insulation in this location will stop heat and air from transferring through to the roofing and the exterior, so venting the top of the garage would be counterproductive. If this is indeed your proposal, the insulation should certainly be covered with fire-rated sheathing to prevent burning of the foam during a fire.

Any exposed foam insulation, whether it is spray applied or in rigid sheets, should be covered with fire-resistant sheathing inside the living space, or garage. The main reason for this is to prevent easy combustion of the plastic insulation in the event of a fire. When this type of insulation is burned, it may give off toxic fumes that can be fatal to anyone occupying the same enclosed space. The entry door to the home from the garage is required to be a solid-core, fire rated door, with a self-closer and weatherstripping, for the same reason. Neither exhaust from the vehicles, or fumes from a garage fire, should be allowed to easily enter the living space, which could compromise the health of those inside the home.

Adding a layer of fireguard drywall, or other fire-rated sheathing, will extend the time it takes for a raging fire to penetrate to the highly combustible foam insulation. This may be a matter of several minutes, which can be critical in allowing safe escape of the home occupants. Especially with a fire in an attached garage, which may go unnoticed until it is quite severe, preventing deadly smoke and toxic fume intrusion until the home can be vacated may save lives. If your home is newer, it may also have a heat sensor mounted on the ceiling, which should be connected to the home’s hard-wired smoke detectors. This will alert anyone in the living space to the danger while it is still safe to evacuate through the exterior doors.

Another alternative, which will likely be less costly, is to install the spray foam on the walls only and insulate the attic with traditional insulation. Blowing in cellulose fibre insulation above the garage ceiling, after ensuring a proper 6MIL poly air-vapour barrier is in place, may be a better idea. Especially since you will have enough space to add much more insulation than with the foam, a higher level of thermal resistance can be reached, with less expense. You will also be able to leave the roof vents in place, since they will be required to vent the newly insulated attic. In that situation you will still need to cover the wall foam with sheathing. Also, ensuring vented soffits are left open for proper attic airflow will provide a better insulated garage for less cost.

Ari Marantz is the owner of Trained Eye Home Inspection Ltd. and the past president of the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors — Manitoba ( Questions can be emailed to the address below. Ari can be reached at 204-291-5358 or check out his website at

Ari MarantzASK the inspector
September 19

Renovation & Design

Batter up! Tackling split surfaces on cakes

QUESTION: When I bake marble cake, I use a loaf pan and the middle of the cake rises high and then splits. How can I avoid this? Rose

ANSWER: To prevent any cake from splitting while baking, make sure that the pan you are using is large enough; you may need to use a larger pan, or reduce the amount of batter. Reduce the oven temperature, overly high heat will cause any cake to crack; use an oven thermometer to ensure that your temperature is accurate. Avoid opening the oven door while baking.


QUESTION: I have a plate that has a chip on it. What can I use to glue it back on? Thank you, Rose

ANSWER: Krazy glue is a good option for this challenge. This product is strong and transparent, which will help to hide the damage.


QUESTION: How can I get black grease off a yellow working jacket? Rose

ANSWER: Consider using one of the following options: waterless hand cleaner or scrub the area with Sunlight laundry soap. Another option is to scrub the stain with an old toothbrush, baking soda and dish soap. Wash as usual.


QUESTION: My bedroom smells musty, I think it’s the bed, pillows or mattress. I leave the windows open and wash the bedding weekly. I spray with Febreze, but other than that, I don’t know what to do. Can you help? Thank you, Elizabeth

ANSWER: It sounds like the humidity in the room is too high. Consider purchasing a hygrometer to measure the moisture in the room. If the level is too high, consider buying a dehumidifier. Installing a fan may also help to reduce moisture in the room.


QUESTION: I have a screen door and between the panes, I cannot get anything but liquid, as it is so narrow. I cannot remove the inner pane. What can I pour in there that would clean the inside glass? It looks terrible.

ANSWER: This challenge sounds like a real pane! Drape a soft, high-quality microfiber cloth over a fly swatter, and use an elastic band to secure the cloth onto the fly swatter. Soak the cloth with plain water. Wipe the window with the fly swatter. Next, fasten a dry microfiber cloth onto the fly swatter and dry between the panes.


QUESTION: I have an upright freezer. Being a senior, I can access all my frozen goods; however, bread gets dry, and frozen vegetables get freezer burnt when I place food on the shelves of the door. What is the best type of food to place on the freezer door shelf? Minna

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 the packaging. There are a few companies who have come up with freezer bags that have inner linings which 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 good 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 meat won’t contaminate any other food. Use the door shelves to store items that are packages 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.


Tips by Rose:

· To get rid of sewer flies, use about two cups of water and a couple squirts of dish soap. Pour the mixture down the drain. Repeat. This also works on cankerworms. 

· To get the sparkle back on my sliver ring, I used the liquid from my can of asparagus and the ring sparkles like the stars. I left the ring in the liquid for 30 minutes. 


Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.


Have a great suggestion or tip? Please send an email at: Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website:


Reena NerbasSOlutions 
September 19

Renovation & Design

On the level

Marc LaBossiere
September 19

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