Home & Decor

Solutions & Substitutions Column

By: Reena Nerbas

Dear Reena,

Can you tell me how to bake a single pie crust so that it doesn’t shrink down in the pie plate while baking? I make lemon pies, but my crusts disappear down the sides of the pan. Velma

Great to hear from you Velma!

Some people freeze pie crusts before putting them into the oven, but here is an easy alternative. Place your dough into the pie plate and trim away the excess. Line the pie dough with foil and fill the plate with dried beans or rice to weigh down the crust and keep it from shrinking. Bake 10 minutes, or until the crust is firm.

Lift the crust to the counter, and gently remove foil, taking care not to tear the crust. Prick crust with a fork, brush with egg white and bake another 5 minutes, or until pale gold. Cool.

Dear Reena,

Every year I put all mattresses, pillows and couch cushions outside in winter to freeze for a few hours. I vacuum them after I bring them inside. I have the idea that this kills all dust mites or animal dander. Is this a myth? Thank you, Dianne

Hi Dianne,

No, it’s not a myth. House dust mites are microscope bugs that primarily live on dead skin cells regularly shed from humans and their animal pets (hope you’re not eating right now). Dust mites are harmless to most people. They don’t carry diseases, but they can cause allergic reactions in asthmatics and others who are allergic to their feces. Winter is a great time to freshen your house by tossing mattresses, stuffed toys, cushions and pillows outside for at least 24 hours. As long as your fabrics are able to withstand moisture, you will be doing the entire household a favor by cleaning with little effort.

Extra tidbit: One ounce of dust contains nearly 42,000 living dust mites.

Note to teenagers who don’t like making their bed: A study (Feb 2005) by Kingston University (London UK) showed that leaving your bed unmade each morning, with the sheets exposed to air, allows the sheets to dry out, and substantially reduces the numbers of dust mites.

Good day Reena,

We have an apartment and over the past few days there are 

moths flying around. My daughter is particularly worried about the 

possible damage to her wool clothing. Do you have any suggestions on how we should get rid of this problem? Regards, Eileen

Hi Eileen,

Get rid of moths using one or a combination of the following: Cloves, dried lavender, peppermint, rosemary, mint, thyme, cinnamon sticks, eucalyptus, peppercorns, dried lemon peel and cedar (chips, balls, planks or essential oil–cedar lined closets, drawers or trunks). These natural fragrances are delightful to humans but will keep moths away. You can make sachets to stash in drawers, trunks or hang in closets using pretty cotton fabrics, plain cheesecloth, muslin, linen or clean nylons (knee highs or cut pantyhose). Or place leftover soap slivers into a vented plastic bag and pack them away. Fabrics will smell great and stay protected.

Dry cleaning or thoroughly washing items in hot water (temperature above 120°F for 20 to 30 minutes) kills all stages of insects. This is the most common and effective method for controlling moths in clothing, blankets, and other washable articles. For items that cannot be hot washed, wrap in plastic and place in the freezer for a day.

Mothballs containing the chemicals naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene are a dangerous solution. The balls produce vapors that, in sufficient concentration, will slowly kill insects. However, if the container is not airtight, the chemicals only weakly repel adults and any larvae already on clothes continue to feed. In addition, the balls give off a distinctive and unpleasant smell that can be very difficult to remove even after cleaning. They are poisonous and must be kept away from children and pets.

Blanket Mothproofing Recipe: Combine 6 tbsp. (90 mL) eucalyptus oil, 2 cups (500 mL) denatured alcohol, 2 cups soap flakes into a jar and shake. Add 1 tsp. (5 mL) solution to 1 gallon (4.5 L) warm water. Soak blanket (do not rinse). Hang blanket to dry. Taken from Household Solutions 3 with Green Alternatives

Extra tidbit: Change your vacuum bag regularly to ensure that you are getting the larvae out of your home.

Fabulous Feedback from Readers:

Dear Reena,

I read your article on waterless hand cleaner where you state that in order to be approved by the FDA the product must contain at least 60% alcohol. Just letting you know there are non-alcoholic waterless hand cleaners approved by many of the world authorities such as FDA and Health Canada.

Outstanding Tips Submitted by Readers:

  • A few years ago I had the idea to try using a crazy carpet as a “dustpan” for filling bags with leaves, and found that it really speeds up the job. At first it will hold the bag open lying on its side, so you can rake or push lots of leaves into the bag. Next it holds the bag upright as you finish filling it. Another bonus is that the plastic carpet protects the bag and really cuts back on the rips you can get from sharp twigs. Ronnie
  • Use coffee filters to protect your dishes when moving. They work great. Jessica

Popular Tip from Creature Contest:

To keep spiders away: Gather fresh chestnuts in the fall. Pierce with a skewer and roll them under furniture and corners of rooms.

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 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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