Permanent marker need not be permanent
QUESTION: My son is doing a science fair project on How permanent are permanent markers. We are experimenting on various surfaces — linoleum, paint, wood and carpet. We want to include some green alternatives for removal. Do you have any suggestions. If it doesn’t remove from all the surfaces that is OK because it is just part of the science. Joy, Clear Lake
ANSWER: My favourite less-toxic solution for removing permanent marker from hard surfaces such as wood is baking powder and dish soap. Create a paste and scrub the surface. Takes some elbow grease but it will come off. Great science project topic, hope you get an A!
QUESTION: Do you have a recipe for hand lotion made with oil and beeswax? Wilma, Winnipeg
ANSWER: Here is an easy ‘Bee Natural Hand Lotion Recipe’: Into a double boiler melt four ounces sweet almond oil and one ounce beeswax. Remove from heat and add two ounces water and stir well. Add 10 drops Vitamin E and 10 drops of your favourite essential oil such as lavender. Stir until cool. Pour contents into jars or metal tins.
QUESTION: I heard you on the radio and I am wondering if you can help our family. We would like to spring-clean our kitchen oak cabinets. Can you please let us know the best solution? Linda, Plumas
ANSWER: Dilute one part dish soap in two parts warm water and clean the cabinets using a sponge or green scrubbing pad (not steel wool). When clean- ing cabinets, pay particular attention to the area around cabinet door handles and drawer pulls, these places tend to be the stickiest. Removing cabinet hardware before cleaning will make it easier to clean.
Other options for cleaning are: Vinegar/water or baking soda/water or lemon juice/borax. For annual or bi-annual cleaning use Murphy’s Oil and water. After cabinets are clean you may want to buff them with a furniture wax suitable for your wood. Test all solutions on an inconspicuous area first!
QUESTION: I recently moved into a condo and am having trouble cleaning the mirrors in both bathrooms. After cleaning (I have tried water and vinegar, Windex and air refreshener and then wiping them with newsprint) but they look smeared. Any suggestions for cleaning the mirrors would be most appreciated. Connie, Winnipeg
ANSWER: The water in your home may be a contributor to your streaky woes, therefore try bottled water if your tap water is mineral rich. Nothing beats a great-quality microfibre cloth for removing streaky-looking mirrors. Water and a cloth are all you need; micro fibre drying clothes are also a worthwhile investment, just don’t settle for the cheap stuff or you will be disappointed. The following is my absolute favourite ‘Squeaky Clean Window Recipe’: In a spray bottle, combine one teaspoon (5 ml) inexpensive shampoo, onequarter cup (60 ml) rubbing alcohol and fill remaining portion of the bottle with white vinegar. Spray and wipe. For extra shine make a paste of cornstarch and water, wipe mirrors and wipe with a clean cloth. Taken from Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets.
Extra tip: To avoid foggy mirrors following hot showers, smear shaving cream or gel over mirrors once a month, remove all excess. Tips for Fixing Cooking Mishaps:
If a tomato-based sauce becomes too acidic add a teaspoon of baking soda at a time to the sauce to reduce acidity. Some cooks prefer to add sugar for the same reason. Sugar can also reduce acidity of tomatoes used in salads.
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 it might help to mix it with water first. A little goes a long way. Some cooks use dried potato flakes as an emergency thickener. If the sauce would not do well with these ingredients, you may try a reduction. Allow the excess liquid to boil out of the sauce until it is reduced in volume.
I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming!
Nothing beats a great-quality microfibre cloth for removing streaky-looking mirrors. Water and a cloth are all you need.