• Solutions & Substitutions Column
  • By: Reena Nerbas

  • May 8th, 2015

  • Fantastic Carpet Stain Remover

    QUESTION: I spilt coffee on my carpet, but did not notice it for several months. I have tried club soda, water and various spot removers. But I cannot get it out. It is certainly better than when I first saw it, but there is definitely a brown stain on the grey carpet. I am moving soon, so if you know of anything that will remove this stain, please let me know. Thanks. Rosemary, Winnipeg

    ANSWER: Here is one of my favourite formulas from my first book and it was given to me by my aunt. I have changed the amounts somewhat and used this formula many times for pet, food and plant stains. In my experience no damage has ever occurred and the results have surpassed any of the commercial cleaning agents. However, use at your own risk. You may want to test a small area of carpet before applying the recipe. Some stains are impossible to remove, but coffee is not one of them. Best wishes.

    Step 1: Mix together half a teaspoon of clear dish soap and one cup of warm water. Blot (do not scrub) onto stain and leave for five minutes. Pat area dry using a white towel.

    Step 2: Mix together one-half cup hydrogen peroxide and two tablespoons of ammonia. Dip white towel in solution and blot onto stain. Cover the stain with clear plastic wrap and weigh down with heavy books. Make sure the books are not touching the carpet because if the book gets wet, the dye from the paper can seep onto the carpet. Leave for 12 hours.

    Step 3: Blot dry.

    Step 4: Blot with warm water and dry two-three times.

    Step 5: Air dry.

    Step 6: When dry, blot with white vinegar and leave.

    The area should be a little wetter than damp, which means you may need to double the recipe if the stain is large.

  • QUESTION: My goal for the new year is to purchase less store-bought products and make my own stain removers. Can you give me a few hints as to which everyday products clean different kinds of stains? Mel, Grunthal

    ANSWER: Whether you are dealing with protein, tannin, dye, oil or a combination of the two you are right; different stains require a variety of treatments and the faster you attend to a mess, the better the results.

    Treating Stains

  • Protein stains are those which come from the body such as eggs, blood, yogurt, ice cream and milk. Never use hot water to treat a protein stain. Blot the area with cold water and dish soap, continue this treatment and notice if the stain is disappearing. If it remains, pour three per cent hydrogen peroxide and salt onto the stain until the area is damp, leave for two to three hours and wash or blot with water. Repeat until the stain is gone.

    If you spill a combination stain such as ketchup, spaghetti sauce or any other tomato-based food, treat the area by scooping up as much of the sauce as possible. Do not scrub or you may push the stain further into the carpet. Onto a washcloth put a few drops of dish soap and very hot water. Blot the stain. Follow that with dish soap on a washcloth and cold water. Continue this treatment until the stain is gone. The goal is to make the stain colourless even if you can't remove it entirely. If the stain remains, pour household ammonia onto the area, leave for a few hours and wash or blot with water.

    Another stain classification is tannin. I like to think of these as 'from the ground' i.e. wine, coffee, tea, fruit juice etc. If someone happens to spill red wine onto your carpet, immediately react by pouring white wine over the area. If you do not have white wine, pour a liberal amount of salt over the wine. You will immediately notice the salt turn pink. Allow the area to dry and brush the salt away. Next, sprinkle the area with borax and water, leave for 30 minutes. Wipe and blot with white vinegar. White vinegar is important as a last step because it prevents stained areas from turning brown. Test all treatments on an inconspicuous area. For a more complete list of stain removal treatments visit my website

    QUESTION : What is the best and fastest way to clean mini blinds? Norma, Flin Flon

    ANSWER: On a weekly basis, it is wise to put the brush attachment onto your vacuum nozzle and vacuum your blinds. If you prefer not to use the vacuum, put a clean sock on your hand and wipe the slats of the drapes with a damp cloth and a small amount of shampoo. When the time comes for a thorough cleaning, remove the blinds from the window. Either lay them on the lawn and spray them with a hose. Or place them in your bathtub and spray with shampoo and water. Or run the jets in your jet tub to get the blinds clean. Rinse with water and re-hang. After the blinds are dry, wipe each slat with a fabric softener sheet to repel dust.

    QUESTION: I have had my velvet sofa set for more than 25 years and never cleaned it. It is hardly ever used and still looks new; well, it did until my son spilled tea on it. Any suggestions as to how to clean velvet? Mindy, Ste. Anne

    ANSWER: Begin by vacuuming the couch to freshen the upholstery. Next in a two-cup measure, pour one cup lemon juice and add one tablespoon baking soda. The mixture will bubble. Remove the foam from the measuring cup and spread it onto the couch. Wipe the entire couch including the stain. Scrub the couch until all traces of foam have disappeared. This is an effective procedure to clean and freshen furniture and get rid of stains without soaking the furniture with water.

    Healthy Holiday Snacks

    -- Fresh fruit Christmas tree: It all begins with a pineapple. Cut the top off and remove peel. Cut a slice off of the top of the pineapple. Use a star cookie cutter to cut a star from the pineapple slice. Slide a variety of fruits onto skewers such as grapes, strawberries, blueberries, honeydew, watermelon, kiwi, oranges and grapefruits. Push the skewers into the pineapple with a slightly downward angle to make branches. Remove pomegranate seeds from a pomegranate and secure them onto your tree using toothpicks; these make up your Christmas tree lights. Once all of the branches are in place, position the cut-out pineapple star on the top of the pineapple. Brush the entire masterpiece with lemon juice unless you are planning to serve immediately.

    -- Christmas lite trail mix: Into a festive bowl mix Cheerios, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, mixed nuts (not referring to family members), flaked coconut and red and green peanut or non-peanut M&M's.

    Dear Reena,

    I've been buying many avocados lately and find some of them are discolored on the inside (even though they are still firm). Are they still safe to eat? I've been throwing them out but at the price I’m paying, I'd rather keep them. Thanks. Irmgard


    Dear Irmgard,

    It is common to purchase avocados with brown spots; this can happen because of a few different reasons. Exposure to cold temperatures for a long period of time. Or bruising during transport or handling. Unfortunately there is no way to determine if an avocado has bruising by looking at the outside peel. The good news is that brown spots are not harmful and can be removed by slicing them out.


    Hey Reena!

    I have a few questions about household cleaning and baking. Firstly, what are some good natural cleaners that will get the slippery cat poop off vinyl flooring? Secondly, I ran out of eggs and mayonnaise and I am trying to bake a cake. Do you have any suggestions for what I might replace them with? Thirdly, my child recently had lice. I heard that they often return but the treatment that I picked up at the pharmacy seems full of dangerous chemicals! Do you have any good home remedies that are effective and safe for my child's hair? Blessings, Allison


    Dear Allison,

    Cat Mess: To remove cat feces from vinyl flooring; pour 1 cup white vinegar and one quarter cup baking soda onto the area. Add 2 tsp. dish soap to the floor and scrub with an abrasive cloth. Rinse with water. Wipe the area with rubbing alcohol (test on an inconspicuous area first).

    Substitutions for Mayonnaise: 1 cup (250 mL) mayonnaise = 1 cup (250 mL) sour cream or pureed cottage cheese or 1 cup (250 mL) salad dressing.

    Substitution for One Egg: Use half tsp. (2 mL) baking powder to substitute for one egg. Or 1 tsp. ground flax or 1 tsp. (5 mL) cornstarch and 1 tsp. (5mL) vinegar.

    Lice: Rest assured it is a myth that lice only attach to dirty areas, they can make their homes on very clean heads. Be prepared for an in depth cleaning of your house. Vacuum everything and when you are finished, discard the vacuum bag outside of your home. Be sure to vacuum mattresses, vents, and all crevices in furniture, as well as your vehicles. You can purchase sprays to kill lice but they are expensive and carry a strong odor. Sprays come in handy for non-washable textiles.

    Myth number two, freezing kills’ lice. When you put lice outside, they go into a hibernating state and wake up when they are back at room temperature. Therefore instead of carrying items outside, place teddy bears, jackets, blankets etc. into large plastic bags, close tightly and leave at room temperature for two weeks. Wash everything that can be washed in your washing machine each day until the problem is gone. Throw pillows and blankets into the dryer daily, the heat of the dryer kills lice.

    Use lice shampoo according to directions and on all members living in the house, not just the kids. Check with your physician about shampooing babies. By shampooing everyone, you will save yourself a lot of headache for future outbreaks. Check all heads every day for two weeks near a window or under florescent lights. Hairspray in the hair, length of hair and cleanliness of hair do not make a difference. Put all hair utensils in the dishwasher every day. Wash all toques, scarves, mitts, area rugs, towels. Do not reuse towels and do not hang towels beside other towels. For young boys if you shave their head, lice are easier to see. Lice are non-transferable to pets.

    Neem shampoo, mayonnaise, olive oil and tea tree oil are great deterrents of lice. Slather hair and wrap head with plastic wrap, leave for 8 hours. Warning: Never use plastic wrap on a young child as it might cause suffocation.

    Feedback from Smart Reader:

    Re: Frayed shoe lace ends
    Dear Reena,
    To fix the frayed shoelaces, rub on a bit of glue. Turner


    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.

  • Fantastic Household Solutions to Everyday Challenges!

  • Onion smell on your hands: Hold the knife under running water. The smell disappears!

  • Prevent tearing up while cutting onions by holding an unlit wooden match between your teeth.

  • Stuff newspapers into boots/shoes to get rid of foul odor.

  • Real vanilla is great for keeping ticks and mosquitoes away.

  • Onions and garlic discourage Japanese beetles and aphids on lettuce and beans.

  • To remove coffee stains from mugs, dissolve a denture tablet in hot water and allow it to cool. Soak overnight and rinse with vinegar and water.

  • To prevent mildew from forming on the shower curtain, soak the curtain in a solution of saltwater before hanging.
  •  To loosen hard-to-clean stains in glass or aluminum pots and pans, boil 1/4 cup white vinegar with 1cup of water for 5 minutes. Then wash in hot soapy water.
  • To keep your outdoor grill looking new, spray or wipe vegetable oil on it before use.
  • Rub petroleum jelly around the rims of paint cans and tubes of glue to keep the lids from sticking.
  • If you have an old trunk that smells musty, place an open box of kitty litter inside. Close the lid and let stand for a day.
  • Keep a solution of equal parts of ammonia and turpentine on hand when painting to remove paint from clothing.
  • Get rid of rust stains in the tub, mix and apply hydrogen peroxide with cream of tartar. Wait 10 minutes and scrub.
  • To purify and clean the odours from your kitchen sink, drop handfuls of baking soda down the drain.
  • Removing crayon marks on the walls can be quick if you apply toothpaste to the mark. Wait 10 minutes and wipe.
  • Rub a lemon on your hands to get rid of fish smells.
  • For a fast cleanup, cut open a paper grocery bag. Use it to cover your countertops when peeling, grating or chopping fruits and veggies. Roll-up and toss.
  • For underarm perspiration stains on shirts, rub with deodorant soap before washing.
  • To remove ink stains from white shirts, pour 7-Up over the stain. Wash in cold water.
  • To keep drains clean, pour a capful of vinegar down the drain.
  • Baking soda is milder than scouring powders. Use it to clean kitchen fixtures and deodorize kitty litter boxes and diaper pails.
  • Instead of squashing cobwebs against a window leaving a sticky mess, try vacuuming them.
  • To clean glass knick-knacks, place them in a sink and spray with window cleaner. Towel dry.
  • If your piano keys have yellowed, rub them with baking soda and water.
  • Put pillows in the freezer for 30 minutes to kill bacteria.
  • To keep your area rugs fresh, bring them outside and sprinkle them with snow.
  • A plastic windshield ice scraper is handy for scraping dried on foods off of the kitchen floor or table.
  • Instead of using furniture polish, mix 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and 1/8 cup of lemon juice. Rub on with a soft cloth.
  • Recipe for an all-purpose cleaner: Put 1/2 gallon of water in a bucket. Add 1/2 cup of ammonia, 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/4 cup of baking soda.
  • To reduce dust in your home, lay a fabric softener sheet inside your floor vents.

  • QUESTION - I own a pair of shoes that have a stretch fabric over the top of the shoe. I tried them on as I need them for a wedding this weekend and they are tight. How can I stretch them a bit so they feel more comfy? Thanks, Shirley Winnipeg


    ANSWER - Here are effective techniques for shoe stretching. Put on a pair of thick socks. Slip into your shoe. Wave a hot hair dryer over the tight area for 30 seconds. Take a break and repeat. As the textile heats, it becomes easier to shape and stretch. Or fill a sealable bag with water. Seal the bag and put it inside another sealable bag, remove the air and close the bag. Insert the water bag into the shoe. Freeze the shoe overnight. Remove ice bag in the morning, as the water freezes, it stretches the shoe.


    QUESTION – My husband's socks leave little bits of material all over and they wear out quickly- these are black dress socks. Do you have a recommendation of nylon/wool/polyester that would wear better? Thanks, Corinne Winnipeg


    ANSWER – Nylon socks last a very long time but some argue that nylon is uncomfortable and non-absorbent. High quality cotton and wool also lasts a long time especially if they are hand washed and hung to dry, however some say that itchiness is a negative factor in wear ability. Your best bet is to purchase specialty socks made for hunting, hiking or sports such as rugby. They often contain a blend of cotton, spandex, wool, Lycra and nylon. High quality socks are a smart investment and last for years.


    QUESTION – Three problems: I have a sporadic smell in my bathroom sink drain. Also, I can see discoloration on my linoleum floor in the laundry room; any way to remove it? I have a stain on my hardwood floor. I was polishing the floor and put the bottle down on the floor and it left a mark like it ate the finish. I have tried everything and nothing seems to work. If you could help with all these things I would appreciate it. Thank you, Yvette Winnipeg


    ANSWER – Bathroom Sink Odor: This problem is annoying especially when company is coming over. This sink dilemma may involve the drain and vent. The trap under the basin may not be holding enough water and is allowing sewer fumes into the room. If possible, remove the trap and clean it well with vinegar, water and dish soap. Also, clean the drain: pour 1-cup vinegar into drain, chase with 1-cup baking soda. Plug the drain and fill the sink with hot water. Leave overnight and in the morning, drain (it takes a couple of treatments to effectively remedy the odor). Do this once a month to keep the bathroom smelling fresh. If the sink continues to smell, call a plumber to investigate the vent stack from the roof.

    Extra Note: Vinegar and bleach are not a safe mixture - in fact you should not mix bleach with anything (except water).


    Discolored Linoleum Floor: Unfortunately the yellow stains may be permanent. With so many vinyl and linoleum products on the market, it seems that what works on one does not necessarily work on another. If your floor is over 50 years old it is most likely linoleum, in this case the linseed that makes up linoleum has discolored. In order to bring back the color the floor would need to be stripped and refinished. Doing this may or may not remove yellowing.


    Or perhaps, the floor is actually vinyl. Many people have found pouring 3% hydrogen peroxide onto the floor every day for three days is helpful. Other people have had great success by combining one quarter cup OxiClean with 1 gallon boiling water and pouring the solution onto the area. Another solution is bleach but most experience that this application removes the floors finish and shine.


    Hardwood Floor: Consider calling a professional hardwood floor restoration company to repair the stains on the floor. If you would like to take the DIY route; use very fine steel wool and wipe with mineral spirits to loosen the wax. Ventilate well and wipe with a damp cloth (test on an inconspicuous area first). Refinish as necessary.

    Fabulous Tips of the Week

    I have my own spray wet mop and I never purchase store bought refills. Instead I make my own; into the empty store bought bottle I combine 50/50 vinegar and water and 3 drops dish soap. My floor looks amazing! Submitted By: Eugene

    I shake my head when I see people eating ‘Taco in a Bag’ because they eat it wrong. For your lunch bag (in separate containers) prepare: chopped lettuce, tomatoes, grated cheese, salsa and ground beef. Purchase a bag of taco chips (this is where I notice people go wrong). Instead of cutting off the top of the bag (like most people tend to do), cut along the side of the bag. This make the meal easier to eat and salsa is able to flavor the entire contents of the bag (and my mother said my Degree was a waste of money). Submitted By: Marc

Household Supertar…Cabbage

 By Reena Nerbas


Cabbage has a long history, cultivated in the West since at least 400 BC and seen as a valuable medicine.

1.           Say good-bye to cabbage odour during cooking by adding baking soda, vinegar or lemon juice to the water, placing the end slice of a bread loaf on top of the cabbage or by dropping a walnut, pieces of bread or chili pepper into the pot.

 Tip: Lemon juice in the pot also helps prevents water colour from changing.

2.           Clean carpet spots. Slice a raw cabbage in half, brush the carpet with the cabbage using the cut side.

3.           A great way to polish pewter is by wiping the metal with a cabbage leaf and buffing with a cloth.

4.           The Canadian Cancer Society recommends eating cabbage on a regular basis. Its high carotene content lessens the risk of cancer and other diseases.

5.           Improve oily skin by drinking a daily cupful cooking liquid of a cabbage.

6.           Sprinkle baking soda in your garden to keep rabbits from eating the cabbage. The baking soda will not hurt the animals.

7.           Put cabbage heads in the freezer for about 2 days. Place in a colander and defrost overnight, core the cabbage and the leaves will be limp and perfect for making cabbage rolls.

8.           To get rid of cabbageworms, add 1-cup salt to 1-gallon water, spray onto plants. Two applications are needed and the cabbage will remain unharmed.

 Tip: When setting out cabbage plants it is best to pull off the largest leaves so that only the center remains, they will grow more successfully.

9.           Wash stale cabbage with salt water and a few ice cubes. The cabbage will regain its freshness and the germs will be destroyed.

10.         To add a different flavour to sandwiches, add shredded cabbage as a substitute to lettuce.

11.         After steaming cabbage, cover with melted butter, toasted nuts, minced onions. Yum!

12.         Store cabbage uncut to prevent vitamin C loss. Place the uncut head in a perforated plastic bag and store for up to two weeks in the crisper. If cut wrap the remainder in plastic and use within a couple of days.

13.         Cabbage is one of those crazy vegetables that can be prepared many different ways: cooked or raw it is perfect for dishes ranging from corned beef, cabbage soups and stews, to cold dishes such as coleslaw. Or allow the vegetable to ferment to produce sauerkraut. Also use as wraps for other foods.

14.         Not only are there several ways to prepare cabbage, this vegetable is available in a variety of different forms, take your pick: Green Cabbage, Red Cabbage, Savoy, Brussels Sprouts, Napa, and Bok Choy. Do yourself a favour and pick up two cabbages today, one for yourself and one as a gift!

15.         Recipe for “Oodly Noodly Cabbage Salad”. Combine 4-cups shredded cabbage, one-quarter cup chopped onions, 1 pkg, flavoured instant dry noodles, one-half cup toasted slivered almonds and 1-cup shredded carrots. Dressing: seasoning pkg. of noodles, half-teaspoon salt, 2-tbsp. sugar, half-teaspoon pepper, one-eighth cup oil (add more if desired) and 3 tbsp. vinegar. Pour dressing over salad and mix. This recipe is great for sharing at potlucks!

It’s Soooooo Healthy!

Mark your calendars Feb. 17th is World Cabbage Day.


Household Superstar… Vinegar

By Reena Nerbas



1.           Dry itchy skin is a sure sign that winter is on the way. Beat the itch by adding 3 tbsp. vinegar to bath water.

2.           Say good-bye to smudges on eyewear. Wipe each lens with a drop of vinegar and rub with a soft cloth.

3.           There are few odours worse than that of vomit in an automobile. Remove the lingering odour by placing a bowl of white vinegar on the floor of the car.

4.           Clean dirt and stains on car flooring with a mixture of one part water and one part vinegar.

5.           Say so long to stray cats lurking around a child’s outdoor sandbox. Pour vinegar along the outside edge of the box, this will keep stray cats from using it as a litter box.

6.           Pour 1 tbsp. vinegar to a drywall or plaster mix to keep it from drying too fast.

7.           Help poached eggs retain their shape by dropping 1 tsp. vinegar into the pot of water.

8.           Water lines in a vase can be washed away by, placing a towel soaked with vinegar inside of the vase. Make sure that the paper towel touches every edge. Let sit for a few hours and clean.

9.           Tenderize meat while killing bacteria by marinating meat in vinegar. Soak the meat in one-quarter cup vinegar for a 2-3 lb. roast. Marinate overnight then cook, do not drain or rinse the meat. Add herbs to the vinegar when marinating if desired.

10.         In a spray bottle combine one-part water to one part vinegar. Use the solution to kill germs on bathroom fixtures, clean soap scum, wipe away mildew grime from bathtub tile and shower curtains.

11.         Reduce fading on jeans and velvet corduroy by adding 1-cup vinegar to wash.

Tip: Wash jeans inside out, they will last longer.

 Tip: To take the crease out of dresses, skirts and pants after letting down a hem, spray the fabric with vinegar before ironing.

12.         Get tough. Remove perspiration stains from clothes by applying one-part vinegar to four parts water. Rinse. Also, soak socks in vinegar to get rid of odour (do not rinse).

13.         Peanut butter and mayo jars are great for storing buttons, paperclips, camera film etc. Rinse with vinegar to remove food odour.

14.         Recipe for French Vinegar Dressing. In a bottle combine: 1 teaspoon salt, half teaspoon sugar, one-quarter teaspoon pepper, 1 clove minced garlic, half teaspoon paprika, one-third cup vinegar and two-third cup salad oil. Cover bottle, shake and refrigerate for up to a week.

15.         If you use bleach to clean your toilet bowl, do not mix bleach with vinegar, toilet-bowl cleaner or ammonia. The combination of bleach with any of these substances produces a dangerous gas.

 Tip: Half-cup vinegar mixed with 1 tbsp. salt makes a great copper and brass cleaner. Tip: Make your own anti-fog spray, mix one-quarter cup white vinegar with 1-litre tap water.


Introducing Household Superstar…Olive Oil!   

 By Reena Nerbas


Olive oil is a symbol of knowledge, abundance, peace, health, power and beauty. Olive oil has been adored for thousands of years and with good reason.



1.           Olive oil is one of the most beneficial dietary fats one can consume, it is a monounsaturated “heart healthy” fat and can actually reduce cholesterol levels in your body.

2.           The use of different types of olive oil varies according to personal taste. Light olive oil should be chosen when a very subtle flavour is sought, the light refers to colour and taste not fat. Extra virgin oil enriches the taste of meat, fish and vegetables. Pure olive oil is best for salad dressings, sautéed vegetables or tossed pasta.

3.           Olive oil is not a good choice for deep-frying because the oil breaks down and becomes unsafe, while losing its health properties. Also, olive oil is too expensive to be used in baking and will not produce flaky pastry.

4.           Polish diamonds by wiping the stone with olive oil on a soft cloth.

5.           Polish furniture by combining: 1-cup olive oil with 1-tsp. lemon-scented essential oil.

 Tip: Clean scuff marks on laminate floors by wiping with olive oil. Life just got easier!

6.           Shine shoes and soften leather with olive oil at the forefront. Before commercial products hit the market olive oil was consistently used on leather. Apply with a soft cloth and wipe off excess every day. Use over the course of a week to gradually soften leather.

7.           Soften bath water by adding 3-tbsp. olive oil to running water.

8.           Remove make-up by applying olive oil to skin and wiping with a soft cloth.

9.           Make your own night cream: Combine half-cup olive oil, one-eighth-cup vinegar and one-quarter cup water. The oil softens and moisturizes skin, while vinegar lightens discolorations, kills bacteria and loosens dead skin. Dampen face before use.

10.         Before hopping into bed, apply a small amount of olive oil to feet to soften heels and toes.

11.         Reduce static in hair by combing through with a small amount of olive oil.

 Tip: Olive oil also makes a wonderful hair conditioner.

12.         Clean stainless steel appliances; onto a soft cloth pour a few drops of olive oil. Wipe stainless steel and remove all excess, olive oil is not a greasy formula and is effective at removing fingerprints.

13.         Un-stick a zipper by using a cotton swab and rubbing a small amount of olive oil over the teeth.

14.         Silence squeaky doors by lubricating the hinges with olive oil.

15.         Recipe for Greek Salad Dressing: Combine half-cup extra virgin olive oil with 2-tbsp. red wine vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste. Pour onto a mixture of tomatoes, unpeeled cucumbers, green peppers, red onion, dried oregano and black olives. Top with feta cheese. Enjoy!


Spread the Word About Peanut Butter
By Reena Nerbas


Peanut butter became public in 1904 and was patented by Dr. Kellogg who developed it as a meat alternative. Peanut butter is healthy and even more importantly, it was “The King’s” favorite food (yes, of course I mean Elvis).


1.           Mice love peanut butter even more than cheese. The following is an aggressive approach to capturing mice using peanut butter. Put 2-tbsp. anti-freeze into a 5-gallon bucket with a lid. Cover the bucket and cut a 4-inch hole in the lid. Make a ramp so that the mice fall in. Spread peanut butter around the hole. If you do not want to harm the mice, leave the bucket empty and after they fall in bring them at least 2 km from your home/camper before releasing them. You can also spread peanut butter on glue boards or mousetraps (kill or non-kill).

Tip: One of the more common solutions to keeping mice away is to spread the contents of a box of Bounce around a camper (even on the outside). Some people swear by this while others say that it does not work (for them), as is the case with peppermint oil and Irish Spring soap slivers.

2.           Remove scratches on CD’s using peanut butter. Apply a small amount of peanut butter to a coffee filter, wipe the scratches and remove all excess peanut butter.

3.           Use peanut butter to remove gum from hair. The greasy consistency causes the gum to slide out.

4.           Remove stickers and labels by wiping with peanut butter.

5.           When you are camping and run out of shaving cream use peanut butter as a substitute.

6.           Fill holes and cracks in walls by smearing with peanut butter and covering with paint.

7.           Make an inexpensive bird feeder by smearing a bagel with peanut butter, rolling it in seeds and hanging the bagel on a branch using string.

8.           Best Peanut Butter Cookie recipe: Combine one-half cup butter or margarine, one-half cup white sugar, one-half cup brown sugar, 1-cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter, 1-egg, one and a half cup flour, half-teaspoon baking soda, one-quarter teaspoon vanilla and one-quarter teaspoon salt. Drop onto baking sheet. Bake 350 degrees for 8 minutes or until lightly browned.

Did you know…women and children typically prefer smooth peanut butter while men prefer chunky?

9.           Peanut butter is made without additives and should be refrigerated.

 Did you know…Arachibutyrophobia- Is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth?

10.         When shopping for peanut butter, look for dry-roasted peanuts. Peanuts contain more than enough fat, therefore this is a healthier choice than peanut butter “roasted in oil”.

11.         The great news, peanut butter is high in vitamin A and E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, fiber, thiamin, niacin, potassium, pantothenic acid and phosphorus.

12.         Even better news there is no cholesterol in peanut butter. The peanut is not a nut, but a legume related to beans and lentils. Cholesterol is found only in products from animal sources (meat and dairy). Like olive oil, peanut butter is primarily mono-saturated fat, which isn’t linked to heart disease. However, beware of the fat. Peanut butter is high in calories and too much of any fat can increase risk of heart disease.

13.           Have you ever wondered why peanuts are considered a meat alternative? They both contain protein, but unlike meat, nuts also supply fiber. Warning: Never eat moldy peanut butter; it could be contaminated with a fungus called, aspergillus.

14.         The difference between “natural” and “traditional” peanut butter is not significant. Both contain a minimum of 90% peanuts, with no artificial sweeteners, colours or preservatives. However, some manufacturers may add less than 2% partially hydrogenated oil or a small amount of sugar.

15.         Recipe for Peanut Butter: You will need 3-cups unsalted, roasted peanuts and 1-tbsp. peanut oil. Pour oil into a food processor, gradually add peanuts and blend to desired consistency. Increase the recipe as needed.


November is Peanut Butter Lovers month. 


The Buzz About Household Superstar…Honey Honey is considered the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life. History has recorded honey as the most used medicine in ancient Egypt. During World War1, honey was mixed with cod liver oil to treat soldier’s wound.

Honey trivia #1 How many flowers must bees tap to make one pound of honey?

Honey trivia #2 How far does a hive of bees fly to bring you one pound of honey?


1.           Honey is a healthy choice! It contains vitamins and antioxidants similar to spinach, but is fat, cholesterol and sodium free.

2.           Raw honey: Honey that has not been pasteurized, clarified, or filtered - provided it is of the highest organic quality - is your best choice. Look for honey that states "100% pure."

3.           Regular honey: is translucent, creamy honey is usually opaque and is made by adding finely crystallized honey back into liquid honey.

4.           Honey is one of the oldest foods in existence. It was found in the tomb of King Tut and was still edible since honey never spoils; one reason for this is its high sugar content and acidic pH help to inhibit microorganism growth.

5.           Keep honey in an airtight container so that it doesn't crystallize. If your honey has crystallized, place the container in hot water for 15 minutes, it will return it to its liquid state. Honey that is kept at colder temperatures tends to thicken, while honey that is kept at higher temperatures has a tendency to darken and have an altered flavor.

6.           Brush warmed honey over ham, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes in a preheated oven (or longer if using a slow cooker). Baste ham every 10 to 15 minutes with honey glaze. During the last 4 to 5 minutes of baking, turn on broiler to caramelize the glaze. Remove from oven, and let sit a few minutes before serving.

7.           Soothe sore throats. Opera singers often consume one teaspoon of honey before going on stage.

8.           Use honey to sweeten tea, or even coffee. Getting used to the flavour may take a while but after a while coffee with sugar tastes strange.

9.           Honey causes food to brown therefore when baking with honey, reduce cooking temperature about 25 degrees.

10.         Keeps homemade cookie from hardening by replacing sugar with honey.

11.         Honey makes a good replacement for sugar in most recipes. Since honey is sweeter than sugar, you need to use less, one-half to three-quarters of a cup for each cup of sugar. For each cup of sugar replaced, you should also reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by one-quarter of a cup.

12.         Honey Bath: Put quarter-cup warm honey in a glass with 5 drops of lavender oil. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the honey-lavender mixture to your bathwater. Relax and enjoy.

13.         Honey is great as a facemask because it has the ability to attract water. Warm honey and apply it onto skin. Honey has a high content of alpha hydroxyl acid and is safe for sensitive skin.

14.         Use honey as a hair moisturizer. Mix honey with olive oil and condition. Be sure to wash your hair thoroughly before going outside.

15.         Honey butter: Blend half-cup butter with half-cup honey. Beat thoroughly and store in fridge.

Kitchen Secret: Out of honey - Substitute one and one-quarter cups sugar dissolved in 1-cup water.


Warning: Do not feed honey to babies! Their immune systems are not yet developed enough to resist the bacteria.


Trivia Answer #1- Two Million flowers.

Trivia Answer #2- Over 55,000 miles.


Household Superstar…Toothpaste

Long ago, people did not use toothpaste to clean their pearly whites. Instead they used: ground-up chalk or charcoal, lemon juice, ashes and tobacco and honey mixed together. Since that time toothpaste has evolved from a smile maker to a versatile cleaning product. 


1.           Toothpaste can be used to clean the plate of a household iron which tends to become stained with melted fabric, watermarks and calcium deposits. Rub toothpaste onto the plate of an iron when it is cool. Leave for 5 minutes and wipe. Before applying the iron to fine fabrics, heat the iron as normal and rub it over scrap of cloth.

2.           When toothpaste hardens and sticks to the sink; apply cooking spray to the affected areas. It will loosen the sticky mess. Wipe and apply dish soap to remove the oily residue.

3.           You can use toothpaste to clean your bathroom sink. Simply, rub it around the bowl and rinse. This freshens the drain and prevents stale smells.

4.           Zap sticky tar on feet by rubbing them with non-gel toothpaste. Rinse.

5.           Do your hands reek from fish, onions or garlic? You bet they do! Wash your hands with toothpaste, and they'll smell great.

6.           Toothpaste deodorizes bottles and jars riddled with an ugly smell. It also works for sour milk in babies’ bottles or any type of drink that has sat for too long in a glass, mug or bottle. Fill the container with warm water. Add a dab of toothpaste, let sit for an hour and rinse.

7.           Sally ran in the doorway after receiving top marks at school and left scuffmarks on the ground, what should she do? Make her milk and cookies to praise her for her school marks and then hand her a tube of non-gel toothpaste and a green abrasive sponge so that she can clean up the scuffmarks. Apply non-gel, non-bleach toothpaste with a tissue, rub, and wipe off (this also works to zap scuffmarks on shoes).

8.           Apply non-gel; non-bleach toothpaste to stains such as ink and lipstick. Squeeze on the spot, scrub and rinse.

9.           Use regular toothpaste and a damp cloth to remove Kool-Aid and juice moustaches from children’s mouths. Wipes off with little effort!

10.         Clean your nails by squeezing toothpaste onto an old toothbrush. Wet nails and brush them thoroughly.

11.         You can use toothpaste to put up posters without damaging walls. Caution: Avoid using toothpaste for valuable posters; the ink may become damaged over time.

12.         Use an old toothbrush and non-gel, non-bleach toothpaste to clean costume jewelry. Rinse thoroughly.

13.         It can take until age 6 for kids to learn to spit out toothpaste instead of eating it. If you choose to purchase commercial toothpastes, encourage children not to swallow toothpaste by purchasing adult flavours instead or yummy kid flavors. They both contain the same amount of fluoride.

14.         According to the Canadian Dental Association, "Regular exposure to slightly elevated amounts of fluorides, during the period of tooth formation from birth to approximately six years of age, is associated with dental fluorosis. This is characterized by white areas, and occasionally brown stains, on the teeth”. Think you are not getting enough fluoride? Remember that fluoride is found in air, water and soils. As well, vegetation and many foods contain at least trace amounts of fluorides. Foods that contain the highest levels of fluorides include fish, shellfish, meat and tea.

15.         Consider using an alternative to commercially sold toothpaste.

Homemade Toothpaste Recipe #1: Combine, 2 tbsp. baking soda, half teaspoon sea salt, 1 tsp. vodka, 2 drops of wintergreen and 2 drops of peppermint oil. Shake and use.

16.         Easy Toothpaste Recipe #2: Combine 1 tsp. baking soda and one-quarter cup water. Swish and use.


Did you know? The first recorded form of a toothbrush was burnt toast!


Household Superstar Mayonnaise!


"I can still remember the warm freshly filled jars of mayonnaise, cooling on the kitchen counter. Egg salad sandwiches, tomato sandwiches, mayonnaise sandwiches - you name, it I'd make an excuse to eat it. I was 12. I hadn't heard of cholesterol or weight gain. Mom hadn't heard of Miracle Whip. As soon as she did, she stopped making mayonnaise." Janet Stewart-CBC News at 6


1.           White heat marks and water rings on wood furniture are unsightly but often simple to remove. Rub mayonnaise onto the stain, allow to sit for a few hours, then wipe with a dry towel. (Taken from Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions)

2.           Mayo jars can be kept for disposing of grease and fat from foods. Save the jars and lids. Pour bacon drippings or old oil from fried foods, into the jars. When the jars get full, put the top back on and put the jar in the trash. Doing this will prevent kitchen drains from becoming clogged and keep your trash cans from getting messy inside.

3.           Mayonnaise deteriorates quickly in warm weather. Put mayonnaise in potato salad after you arrive at a pot luck gathering, just before serving.

4.           Freezing of mayonnaise is not recommended because it will separate. However, some cooks have successfully re-emulsified frozen mayo with a whirl of the blender.

5.           Remove tree sap from hands by working mayonnaise onto skin and then rinsing.

6.           Use mayo to condition your hair! Cover your head with mayo, pop on a shower cap, wait several minutes, and shampoo. The mayonnaise will moisturize your hair and give it a lustrous sheen.

7.           Mayonnaise also works great as a facial. Apply it 20 minutes before you wash your face. It firms and smoothes and works great around the eyes too!

8.           Over-the-counter lice shampoos are pesticides and may cause harm to children with lice as well as to the individual applying the product.  In addition to being toxic, lice shampoos have not been 100% effective in killing lice.  Alternative treatments such as Vaseline, olive oil, and mayonnaise are effective, cost less, and are not harmful to your child.  Note: Mayonnaise is often the treatment of choice because it smothers live lice. Rub scalp with lots of mayonnaise. Leave for 4-6 hours (there’s an attractive image). Wash out with Dawn dish soap or baby shampoo. Additional tip: To prevent lice from making their home on you scalp shampoo with Neem shampoo. Submitted by: Wendy Sidloski

Did you know? In January 2007 Egyptian researchers completed an experiment about the effectiveness of Neem shampoo on killing lice. In the experiment 60 children, all heavily infested with head lice, were treated with Neem shampoo. The study showed that if the hair is washed with 20 - 30 ml of Neem shampoo, and the shampoo is left in the hair for at least 10 minutes, then Neem shampoo is highly effective against all stages of head lice.


9.           Professional florists use this trick to keep houseplant leaves shiny and clean. Rub a little mayonnaise on leaves with a paper towel, and they will stay bright and shiny for weeks and even months at a time.

10.         Mayonnaise removes scuff marks. Smear on and wipe off.

11.         Use a coffee filter and some mayonnaise to shine your shoes in a hurry.

12.         To give roast chicken a beautiful golden brown texture, rub mayonnaise over the chicken and place it in the oven for the required period. For extra crispness, uncover the pan for the last half hour.

13.         When your mayonnaise jar is almost empty and you just can't get that last little bit, sprinkle a few drops of vinegar inside, add flavorful herbs and shake well. You'll have enough salad dressing for one salad.



14.         Remove dead skin by dabbing chapped area with mayonnaise; leave it to dry for a few minutes. Rub area with damp fingers, dead skin will disappear from feet, knees, elbows, or face.

15.         Use mayonnaise to remove ballpoint ink marks from hands. Works in a jiffy!

16.         Just in time for the holidays! Mayo recipe; just like Janet Stewart’s mother used to make: Put three egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Add 2 tbsp. white vinegar, 2 tbsp. water and 2 tbsp. lemon juice. Heat the contents in a double boiler until 150 degrees Fahrenheit (this reduces the risk of food poisoning). Stir constantly. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Add 2 tsp. dry mustard, half teaspoon salt, half tsp. pepper. Add one or none of the following: fresh garlic, Dijon mustard or curry powder. Mix. Very, very, very slowly add 1-cup extra virgin olive oil. Add more oil as needed until you reach the proper consistency. Note: This isn't a low fat product, so use it sparingly if you're cutting calories. However this recipe does call for heart healthy oil.


Additional Notes: Store homemade mayonnaise sealed in the refrigerator for up to three days. If homemade mayo does not bond, add one-quarter tsp. commercial mayo.

Warning: Pregnant women are advised not to eat homemade mayonnaise due to the raw eggs in the recipe.


Household Superstar Vodka


Vodka is a distilled spirit with a high alcohol content that can be produced from a number of different materials. Most vodka produced these days is made from grain, though some is still made from potatoes. Instead of drinking the stuff, why not get creative?


1.           Make your own waterless hand cleaner. Combine one-quarter cup Aloe Vera gel, one-quarter cup vodka, a few drops of essential oil (optional). Shake and store in a spray pump bottle. Makes 4 oz.

2.           Take a bandage off of your skin with ease by soaking the sticky area with vodka. The vodka dissolves adhesive making it easier to remove the bandage.


3.           Soothe a jelly fish sting by dampening a cloth with vodka and blotting the affected area. The vodka will disinfect, clean, and ease the pain.

4.           Wipe your eyeglasses by pouring a few drops of vodka onto a soft cloth and gently wiping.

5.           Make a handy ice pack by pouring one-half cup vodka and one-half cup water into a sealable freezer bag. Freeze and apply to aches, pains or black eyes.

6.           Make your own mouthwash by mixing 1-tsp. powdered cinnamon with one cup vodka. Mix with warm water and rinse your mouth.

7.           To cure foot odor, wipe or soak feet in vodka.

8.           Put Your Smell on my Shoulder Air Freshener Recipe: In a spray bottle combine one-quarter cup vodka, one-quarter cup distilled water and 20 drops essential oil. Spray: room, mattress and furniture.

9.           At the end of one of my presentations in Victoria, BC a man named James Weir from Ontario shared with me that he was at a back stage tour of the Stratford Shakespearean Festival in Ontario. During the tour he was told that after each performance the costumes are sprayed with vodka to keep them smelling fresh.


10.         Make your own vanilla extract for baking: Combine 1 vanilla bean in a container of vodka. The biggest thing you need is time, because the mixture needs to sit for about 8 weeks to reach its full potential.

11.         Feelings Nothin’ More Than Feelings Body Oil: Combine one-quarter cup vodka, one-quarter cup water and 3 tbsp. sweet almond oil. Pour all ingredients into a spray pump bottle and close. Shake and use.

12.         Shine chrome, glass and porcelain, soak a soft, clean cloth with vodka and polish bathroom fixtures.

13.         Clean tiles in the bathroom by spraying with vodka. Leave for 5 minutes and rinse (great for getting rid of soap scum).

14.         Betsy left for her first date and the bathroom mirror is covered with hairspray. What should she do to clean the mirror when she returns? Make a solution of 50/50 vodka and water, (no, not to drink) wipe the mirror with 3 day old or older newspaper.

15.         Sanitize kitchen countertops by spraying and scrubbing with vodka.

16.         Whenever you cut "bulb" flowers like tulips or irises, mix together three cups of water and a tablespoon of vodka into a vase. The vodka will keep the stems of the flowers nice and firm so that you don't end up with slumped over blooms.

17.         Use vodka to clean gold and gemstone jewelry. Soak your jewels in a dish of vodka and then wipe with a soft toothbrush. The vodka will dissolve grime and leave your bling, blingy.

18.         Remove smells from wigs by sprit zing them with 50/50 vodka and water. The alcohol smell evaporates quickly leaving a fresh smell behind.

19.         Little Gwyneth left her hockey equipment in the hallway and now the entire house stinks, what should you do? Freshen up that stale air with this easy air freshener recipe: Combine equal parts vodka and water into a spray bottle. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil as desired and spray.



The Many Uses of Baking Soda

 By Reena Nerbas

Baking soda does more than just deodorize fridges.


Baking soda, a.k.a. sodium bicarbonate, is a naturally occurring substance found in all living things, where it helps regulate their pH balance.


Gargle with baking soda and water to soothe a sore throat.


Use baking soda as a substitute for toothpaste.


To kill germs, soak your toothbrush in water and baking soda following a cold or flu.


For bug bites, mix baking soda with a small amount of water. Apply the paste to the bites.


If you burn the inside of a cooking pot, sprinkle the pot with baking soda and half fill with water. Place the pot on the stove and let the water boil for 5 minutes to help loosen the burnt contents.


Cabbage will be more tender if you add half teaspoon of baking soda to the cooking water.


Sprinkle baking soda on the fat of pork chops to help make them crispy.


Pour half a box of baking soda into your dishwasher's soap dispenser to give the dishwasher a good cleaning.


Deodorize the bathroom by mixing baking soda with bath salts. Leave the combination in an attractive open container on the toilet tank or counter.


Sprinkle baking soda on your dog and brush her to remove odours.


You can extend the life of fresh flowers by adding baking soda to the water in the vase.


Use baking soda instead of fabric softener in the rinse cycle.


Test baking soda for freshness by pouring a few drops of vinegar onto a half-teaspoon baking soda. If the mixture bubbles, the baking soda is still fresh.


A pinch of baking soda added to a gallon of freshly brewed ice tea removes bad-tasting tannins and prevents cloudiness.


Did you know there's a difference between baking soda and baking powder? Baking soda is 100-per-cent pure sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and various acidic ingredients. Both baking soda and baking powder are used in baking to help dough rise, also known as leavening. As they are fundamentally different products, you cannot substitute baking soda for baking powder in a recipe.


You can, however, make a baking-powder substitute using baking soda. To make the equivalent of 1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder, mix 5/8 teaspoons (3 ml) of cream of tartar with 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) baking soda.


Original Listerine Mouthwash for Mosquitoes


DEET is the most common remedy in deterring mosquitoes, but not everyone chooses to use such a strong chemical on their porous skin. You can make your own mosquito repellent by combining the following in a spray bottle: 4 quarts (4 litres) water, 4 tablespoons (60 mL) lemon dish soap, 2 tablespoons (30 mL) Original Listerine. Spray liberally (safe for small children).


You can also try using lavender or Caress soap or catnip oil combined with vinegar and avoid wearing perfume. Wear light-coloured clothing and eat an orange before going outside (mosquitoes do not like the smell of citrus). Rub lemon soap, real Mexican vanilla or soybean oil or Skin-So-Soft by Avon on any exposed skin. Each human has her own scent; what works on one person may not work on someone else, so experiment with a few options.