Renovation & Design

Renovation & Design

Elbow grease best fix for dull stainless-steel sink

Question — I had a badly clogged stainless-steel sink, and tried various unsuccessful methods, including chemicals, to unclog it before calling the plumber. Once the standing water had drained from the sink, I realized that the chemicals used had dulled the finish on my sink. Is there any way to restore the shiny finish? Learned my lesson, Margaret

Answer: The easiest method for restoring shine on stainless steel sinks, is to make a paste of baking soda and water. Use a green scrubby pad, scrub the surface. For really stained surfaces, substitute baking soda with washing soda. Wear protective gloves when using washing soda. Rinse with vinegar. Next wipe the surface with olive or mineral oil.

Question — Is it good manners to send a text as a thank you note for a gift? Cameron

Answer: Any thank you is better than no thank you at all; however, a text demonstrates much less effort and thought, compared to a handwritten letter. Consider the following factors: To whom are you writing? How precious was the gift? What was the occasion? Will the receiver appreciate a text note as a heartfelt gesture? Is it possible that the text will be overlooked? When in doubt… write it out.

Question — Often a recipe calls for a half teaspoon of lemon zest. The rest of the lemon goes into the garbage. If I were to zest the whole lemon, can lemon zest and lemon juice be frozen? What is the best way to do that? Marla

Answer: You never need to throw fresh lemon into the garbage. Either grate the entire lemon rind (excluding the stem) and place the zest into a sealable container and freeze (the juice also freezes well), or grate as much as you require and put the remainder of the whole, washed lemon into a sealable freezer bag. Seal the bag with the lemon inside and store in the freezer. Whenever you require zest, take the lemon out and use your grater to remove as much zest as you need from the frozen lemon. Place the remainder back inside the bag, and into the freezer for next time.

Save on Groceries

Did you know? Buying a whole chicken is often much cheaper than purchasing individual parts.

Farmer’s markets often reduce their prices later in the day. The same is true for some grocery stores, they mark food down in the evening.

Buy meat in bulk and break it up into portion sizes before freezing.

Even though bottled water is cheap, filling your reusable water bottle at home is even cheaper.

Smart container method: Store a plastic container or box in the fridge and fill it with food that is about to expire. Let family members know that when they cook, they must incorporate at least one food item from the plastic container into their meal.

Follow the sale patterns of your favourite grocery store. They will often put similar products on sale at the same time each month.

If you search for coupons online, you can save a bunch of money; it is worth the effort.

Review your receipt to make sure you were charged correctly. You worked too hard for your money to be mistakenly overcharged.

My absolute favourite tip is to utilize store reward cards. If you refuse, you are literally giving away money. You have nothing to lose, and every dollar helps. I love rewards cards!

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
August 27


Renovation & Design


Colleen Zacharias
August 27

Renovation & Design

Don’t let your dishwashing go to the dogs

Question — Is it OK to allow a dog to lick dirty plates in the dishwasher? I visited my friend, and her dog was “cleaning” the dishes as they were being placed in the dishwasher. I was horrified! Susan

Answer — This is a question with strong opinions on both sides. Some say they have shared food with their pet for years and find nothing wrong with it. Others feel ill, at the thought of eating off the same dish as one licked by an animal. It is not recommended to allow your pets to, “help wash the dishes.” Some of the food that humans eat is not safe for pets to eat. Also, some people would argue that bacteria on a dog’s tongue may not be healthy for humans, others will strongly disagree with that statement.

Question — My fiancé vacuums in half the time as me. Does the rate of speed matter when it comes to proper cleanliness? Diana

Answer — The slower the vacuuming, the more dirt and dust is extracted. Adjust the head so that it is low to the ground, put on your earphones, play music, and take your time.

Question — I accidentally used permanent marker on the dry erase whiteboard in my classroom. I scrubbed it with alcohol, but it is still there. I am now getting ready for a new school year. Any suggestions? Mark

Answer — Use a dry erase marker to colour over top of the permanent marker. The markings will quickly disappear.

Question — Help! I set a bottle of Lysol toilet cleaner on my bathroom countertop. It was wet on the bottom and left a white stain. Any suggestions for removal of stain. Val

Answer- Using a green scrubby pad and rubbing alcohol, scrub the area until the stain is gone. If the stain remains, the cleaner may have bleached the countertop, which will need to be recoloured.

Question — How can I prevent rice from sticking to the pot while cooking and ending up with a ball of “glump”? Tim

Answer — One way to prevent rice from sticking to the pot is to cook it in the microwave. For one cup of rice, add two cups of water. Season and cook in microwave on HIGH for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed, with no sticky mess. If you prefer to cook rice on the stove, rinse the rice before you boil it (until the water becomes fairly clear). Add a little oil or butter to the pot. For one uncooked cup of rice, add three cups of water, simmer for 15 minutes. You’ll get perfect rice every time.

Great Ideas!

Add a dab of glow in the dark paint to a light switch so that you can find it easily, in the dark. — Emily

Insert lemon peels into shoes to remove foot odour. — Emily

If you find that the sauce you are cooking is liquid and thin, thicken with a combination of flour and butter (add in small batches). Cornstarch is usually a good thickener, but mix it with a little water first. A little goes a long way. Some cooks use dried potato flakes as an emergency thickener. Allow the excess liquid to boil out of the sauce until it is reduced in volume. — Rajan

If your bathtub has a yellow or brown stain around the drain hole. Lay a dishcloth over the drain hole and soak the cloth with three per cent hydrogen peroxide. Next sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda onto the cloth. Flip the cloth (baking soda side down) over the drain hole and leave for a few hours. Scrub with a nylon pad to remove the stain. — Katherine

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
August 20

Renovation & Design

Hydrangeas like morning sun, afternoon shade

Question: Where is the best place to plant hydrangeas to promote growth? Lynda

Answer: Those gorgeous flowers are best planted in areas of full morning sun, and shade in the afternoon. Make sure that the soil does not dry out, and that the flowers have enough moisture. Fertilize in the spring. When taking flowers inside, keep them moist, with plenty of sunlight, avoid overwatering.

Question: How often do you think a person should clean their bathroom? Also, do you have any tips for cleaning a ceiling fan? Annie

Answer: Cleaning the bathroom depends on how often the room is used. Wipe the faucet and counter after each use, but for the remainder of the washroom, usually once a week is standard practice. The following is a list of areas to clean, some are needed more often than others: bathmat, shower curtain/door, toilet, toilet lever, counter, bathtub/shower, light switches, doorknob, ceiling and floor vent covers, faucet, towels, toothbrush and soap holders, mirror, medicine cabinet, bathroom scale, floor and walls.

To clean a ceiling fan, dampen a pillowcase, slide each blade, one at a time, into the pillowcase and pull. After each blade is clean, toss the pillowcase into the washing machine and wash as usual.

Question: I was trying to ice a cake for my daughter’s birthday. I made buttercream icing, but the icing was full of bubbles which made it impossible for me to create a smooth finish. What went wrong? Joyce

Answer: Sounds like you overwhipped the ingredients — but the good news is that you can still save the icing. Fill a bowl with hot water and dip a metal spatula into the water. Wipe off the spatula and smooth the icing. The heat from the water will help those bubble disappear.

Pro tips: Make sure all ingredients are room temperature before mixing. For really white icing, use vegetable shortening. A bench scraper will give you the cleanest finish.

Feedback from caring contributors

Instead of pouring pasta into a strainer to drain the water, I reverse the process and put the strainer inside the pot, hold it in place. While leaving the pasta in the pot, I pour the water out through the holes. — Vanessa

I never knew where to store my sink sponge without it looking messy. I purchased a sponge holder with suction cups that I secured inside the sink to hold my sponge. The air circulates to dry the sponge, and my kitchen looks tidier. — Vanessa

Real vanilla (not imitation) is great for keeping ticks and mosquitoes away. Wipe vanilla onto skin and let dry. Mosquitoes will not bother you and your skin will smell sweet.— Elliot

Before cleaning the bathroom, put a washcloth mitten on your hand. Dampen the mitten and wipe the toilet, tank and the floor around the toilet; you will notice a bunch of dirt on the mitten. This step will make cleaning easier and more effective. — Lori

Flatten the roll of your toilet paper before placing it onto the holder so that the roll is difficult to spin. In my experience family members will use less toilet paper, which saves me money. — Lori

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:

August 13

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