Home & Decor

Solutions & Substitutions Column

By: Reena Nerbas

Hey Reena,

I had a delicious peanut butter oatmeal bar today. A piece fell off and I didn’t see it so I spent about half of the day (at work) sitting on it which caused a little grease mark on my 100% cotton, light colored pants. What is the best way to remove this stain? Christopher

 Dear Christopher,

Sounds like something that would happen to me. If possible sprinkle the area with either cornstarch or baby powder. Doing this will absorb grease. Before washing your pants, cover the area with dish soap and water. Dish soap is designed as a grease cutter and does wonders on grease stains. Either spray the pants with spot remover or simply wash as usual. Check the stain before tossing the pants into the dryer because the heat of the dryer will set any remaining marks. Repeat if necessary.


Dear Reena,

I notice many of your responses to people focus on stains and smells. I’m hoping you might have a suggestion for how to “dry clean” clothes at home?  Hedie

 Hi Hedie,

Begin by removing all stains with dish soap and water or vinegar and water (use the correct spot remover depending on the stain culprit and fabric content, test on an inconspicuous area first). Next purchase a home dry cleaning kit for use in a standard dryer. One such product is “Dryel”. This kit is easy to use in that you  place your clothing item in the dry cleaning bag along with a specially formulated “cleaning sheet” and let it run in your dryer, usually for about a half an hour. Next hang or lay the item flat (in a ventilated area) so that residual chemical odors have a chance to dispel. Follow all instructions on the package.


 Dear Reena,

Firstly, I sent six ‘Household Solutions Gift Packages’ to my family in the east and they were blown away with the thoughtful gesture, so thank-you for taking care of my order. Secondly, I need help; I cannot seem to decorate sugar cookies that look professional, they always end up clumpy and dry. I use buttercream to ice my cookies and then decorate them with sprinkles but they always look like my five year old made them. Any suggestions? Iris

 Dear Iris,

Help is on the way! The first step to the perfect cut out cookie is to make your favorite dough recipe and then refrigerate it for a few hours or overnight. Cut and bake as usual.

To decorate your cookies use Royal Icing: Beat 4 room temperature egg whites in a large bowl until foamy. Gradually add 4 cups icing (confectioners’) sugar and half teaspoon almond, butter or lemon extract. Beat at high speed until thickened. Use this icing to outline cookies then thin your icing with a small amount of water or milk and pipe or spread it inside of the icing border using a spatula. Allow the icing to flow and cover the entire cookie within the border.

Fabulous Tips from Reader:


Dear Reena,

I would like to share my old recipe for play dough. It is similar to the one you printed but it is cooked. I have found that it is softer, stays moister and is not ‘gritty’ like some of the others. I keep it in sandwich-size sealable bags and store it in the freezer.  It literally keeps for years. It also makes an incredible icepack. It is super cold, not messy, can be molded to whatever part of the body you want, turn it over, and when it is warm, just throw it back into the freezer. 

 My play dough recipe:  In a heavy bottom pan, put one quarter cup salt, 1 cup flour, 1 tbsp. cream of tartar, 1 tbsp. vegetable oil, and 1 cup water. Cook over medium heat. You must stir constantly as it will stick when it starts to boil and thicken. Remove from heat and knead (with rubber gloves because it is very hot). Once cool, add a few drops of food coloring and work it in. I find your column most interesting and practical.  Thanks. Barb

 Dear Reena,

With regards to the shrinking pie crust challenge: First of all be careful when making pie crust not to add too much water to the crust, the dough has to be a little dry, and don’t overwork the dough. Roll out the dough, then invert the pie pan, and place the dough on the outside of the pie plate. Using a fork poke the dough all over, then bake until golden brown. When baked (handle gently) tip the pie plate and have another exact pie plate ready and place the crust into the other pan. Presto a perfect pie crust. Olga

 Dear Reena,     

LOVE your page in the paper; I have gotten some great tips! The pie pastry tip I learnt going back generations is, place another pie pan on top of ready to cook pie crusts and turn upside down for baking.  I place mine on a cookie sheet in case it dribbles. Cool upside down, remove spare pie pan and fill with pudding etc. 


 Feedback regarding stain on 100 year old Christening gown:

 I used borax and also gave it a rub with Sunlight bar soap. I then put it outside in the sunshine to dry. It worked great! Thanks for your advice. We had the Christening and everything turned out fine! Sharon

  Reena Nerbas is a professional speaker and the author of three national best sellers, “Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions”, “Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets” and “Household Solutions 3 with Green Alternatives”. Books and Household Solutions 1, 2 and 3 Christmas Gift Packs are available on-line or by calling: 204-320-2757.

 I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming!

Check out my web site! www.householdsolutions.org

For all of your home improvement needs please contact my friend Shell Busey at www.housesmartcentre.com

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