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Questions for Reena

Dear Reena,

I have taken on a new hobby — growing popcorn in my garden! What is the best way to store popcorn so that it stays fresh?

— Biannce

Hi Biannce,

Popcorn is a great treat year round. One of the advantages of growing it in your garden is that you can sample some of the many different types. Popcorn is also a healthy snack choice. Compared to beef it has about two-thirds as much protein, more iron and about the same amount of calcium. Plus, the hull provides roughage, similar to bran flakes.

Store popcorn in an airtight container in a cool, dry place such as the fridge or freezer. If stored properly, popcorn can be kept almost indefinitely.

Hi Reena,

On more than one occasion I have made a batch of homemade soup that ended up tasting a little too salty. Typically, the entire contents of the pot end up being thrown out. Is there any way to save salty soup?

— Mavis

Dear Mavis,

The salty soup remedy depends on the type of soup that you are cooking. Add one or more of the following (whichever goes with your soup). Cream, milk, water, chicken stock, beef stock, tomato juice, tomatoes, brown sugar or potatoes. If you choose cream or milk, don’t let the soup return to a boil or the milk may curdle. If you use stock, make sure it is a low-salt version, or better yet, your own homemade, unsalted stock.

Dear Reena,

We hired my niece to paint the basement steps while we were away on vacation. She did a great job on the steps but left the paintbrushes out, and they dried up. Is there any way to soften the bristles so that the brushes can be used once again?

— Robert

Hi Robert,

Dip the paintbrushes in turpentine oil and let them stand for 15 to 20 minutes. Rub the brushes against a clean piece of cloth to test if the paint is coming off (immerse again if needed). Or bring a pan of white vinegar to a boil on your stove and allow your paintbrushes to simmer for five minutes, in an old pot no longer used for cooking. Remove from pan and wash in hot, soapy water. Other options are soaking paintbrushes in hair conditioner, paint thinner or linseed oil.

Dear Reena,

I change the water in my fishbowl every week and as I pour the water down the drain I can’t help but wonder if there is a use for fishbowl water. I read once that you can water your plants with it. Is that true?

— Garry

Absolutely Garry,

Use fishbowl water to feed your plants. It will make them grow tall and green! Just one word of advice, be careful not to drop the fish into the plant soil when watering your plants (learned that the hard way).

TRIVIA: A town in Italy, Monza, has outlawed the use of fishbowls for keeping goldfish. This law went into effect the summer of 2004.

Dear Reena,

I buy large jars of salsa and spaghetti sauce in order to save money. After awhile I often notice mould on the bottom of the lid. How should I store sauce jars to prevent this from happening?

— Lacey

Dear Lacey,

You are right; purchasing bulk foods typically saves consumers money unless half of it is thrown away. I store large jars of sauce in the fridge upside down. Doing this creates a tight seal between the sauce and the lid. Be sure to use sauces before the expiration date. Another option is to divide the sauce into portions and store in freezable containers in the freezer.

Dear Reena,

I’ve had this problem for quite some time and it is a mystery. My husband and I do not share a bathroom and the problem is with his bathroom. Somehow the dark hand towels that he uses get light-coloured, sometimes pinkish spots or blotches on them. It’s not bleach as we use microfibre cloths and water to clean. I’ve asked him not to wipe the sink with the towel in case the blotches come from his aftershave or something chemical like that.

Last week my brother was the only one using the bathroom for a week as he was our guest, and I put out new towels. The same thing happened. Do you think it has something to do with chemicals that men use in aftershave or shaving gel or something like that? I know this doesn’t happen in the washer, it happens in the bathroom. It’s a complete mystery to me. Can you help?

— Lorraine

Dear Lorraine,

Before you spend one more second of your time wondering, compare your husband’s (and your brother’s) toothpaste with yours. My guess is that the toothpaste contains bleach and after each use he is wiping his face on the towel and permanently discolouring the fabric.

P.S. Great job using microfibre cloths to clean your home!

Presenting Home Sweet Home workshops across Canada. If you would like me to visit your area and present an all-day workshop, please call 204-320-2757 or email: [email protected]

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming!

Check out my website: www.householdsolutions.org.

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