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Friday, August 19, 2016

Solutions and substitutions by Reena

Reena Nerbas

Dear Reena,

We had a house built in the late 60's, early 70's. It has built-in fluorescent lights and one went out. I couldn't get the bulb out, so I called an electrician. The electrician said that we needed a new ballast and then did the work. However, while working he had gloves on and spilt some black goop onto our carpet. He warned us not to touch it with our hands, and then he left. I called carpet cleaners who won't touch it and don't know what it is. I have called electricians who don't know. We have three drops the size of the lid of a jelly jar on the floor. Any ideas? Thank you so much. Ingrid


Dear Ingrid,

Although it sounds as though all of the glass was cleaned up, I must stress that due to the possible mercury content inside of the broken bulb, the government advises that you wear gloves when handling the broken glass and immediately open doors and windows to ventilate the room. If there are any remaining pieces of broken glass, put them into a plastic bag, then wrap them with paper to prevent cuts. Wipe the area with a paper towel to pick up any smaller shards of glass, powder or liquid. Dispose of the paper towels, gloves and any cloths used to clean the area. Do not vacuum the area, because if the spill is mercury, your vacuum will become contaminated. Do not put contaminated items into a washing machine because mercury may contaminate the machine and pollute the sewage system. Do not use a broom to clean up the mess because sweeping or brushing up the spill will scatter mercury droplets, making them harder to find and clean up. Call poison control for government related instructions on how to handle carpet care. The second possibility is the goo could be harmless tar from the heat shield but don't delay, find out by contacting poison control.

Dear Reena,

My dryer vent leads right onto my back patio and spews the fluff from the dryer all over the patio and into a garden. Can I put something over the vent to catch the fluff or would that be dangerous? Thanks. Caryn

Dear Caryn,

It is wise that you vent your dryer to the outside of your home, because allowing a dryer to vent inside can subject family members unnecessarily to gases, fibers and other toxins. It is also smart to clean your vent regularly. Lint should be removed from the trap often and the trap should be cleaned with soap and water to remove lint and fabric softener build-up. As well, vacuum the chute that holds the lint trap. However, even with all that, some of the lint sneaks past the trap and into other areas of clothes dryers. It is therefore necessary to have ducts thoroughly vacuumed out by a professional to avoid fire hazards. In order to catch some of the fluff flying into your garden, you can position nylon pantyhose over the outside vent, but you would need to clean it after every load.

Dear Reena,

We read your column each week and enjoy your solutions and household tips. We have two fairly expensive strawberry colored leather chairs in our living room. We have a dark spot on the couch where my husband’s head rested while he was recovering from surgery; it’s like an oil mark from his hair or skin. Do you have any suggestions on how we can remove these stains? Joan

Dear Joan,

Sprinkle a liberal amount of cornstarch onto the area, do not rub it in. Allow the cornstarch to remain for, four hours to absorb the grease. Brush the cornstarch away and observe whether the stain remains. If a mark remains, carefully wipe the area with dish soap and water and leave to dry. If the mark is still there, purchase saddle soap or another leather cleaner to clean the area or contact a professional leather cleaner. Lastly, condition the leather so that it remains soft and flexible.

Dear Reena,

Whenever I make banana muffins, they turn out perfect. Whenever I bake banana loaf, it sinks in the center and never bakes evenly. Why is this happening? Myrtle

Dear Myrtle,

Here are a few of the most common reasons for your sinking center. Over mixing the batter: Only mix the batter until the ingredients comes together, over mixing reduces the air in the batter so that the batter won’t rise to the challenge. Bake batter immediately after mixing because that is when the leavening agents are most active. Baking temperature: Bake the loaf at 350 degrees, any hotter than this will give you a brown loaf on the outside and unbaked on the inside and boom your center will drop like a hockey puck. Finally, don’t pack your pans. A regular size recipe should be divided into two or three loaf pans because pouring all of your batter into one little loaf pan hinders the batter from rising to the challenge.

Fantastic Tip of the Week:


Cut down on homemade lasagna preparation with this easy technique! The common way to layer lasagna: Meat sauce, cooked noodles, cheese, repeat, meat sauce, cooked noodles cheese, repeat… A faster way to make lasagna: Prepare meat and cheese mixtures as normal. Combine all three layers (uncooked noodles, cheese and meat sauce) together in a bowl and gently toss. Grease your casserole dish and pour ingredients inside. Top with cheese and bake as normal. The sauce bakes the noodles and no layering required! You will have much more time for doing all the other things you love, and lasagna won’t be such a time consuming project. Why not give it a try?

Did you know? The word lasagna originally referred to the pot in which the dish was cooked rather than the food itself as it does today.

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.

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming. Need a Presenter on the topic: Effective Speaking or The Power of Words? Check out: Reena.ca

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