QUESTION: I am borrowing my cousin's dress for a dinner that I am going to in three weeks. The dress is knee-length and I am wondering how I can temporarily shorten it so that it is a short dress without using a needle and thread. Any suggestions? Marissa (Dominion City, Man.)
ANSWER: Turn the dress inside out. Using a safety pin, find the side seams of the dress. Secure the bottom hem to the waist seam using one safety pin. Repeat this step on the opposite side seam. Turn the dress right side out. Voila!
QUESTION: With six hungry kids in our home and a grocery bill to match, I often make meals using ground beef. One of our favourites is tacos filled with yummy goodness, but the shells always break, leaving a big mess for me to clean up. Any suggestions for less messy taco meals? Lauren (Winkler)
ANSWER: Place filled taco shells inside of a coffee filter -- the filter helps catch dropped filling and makes the taco easy to hold. You can also opt for soft shells instead of hard. Or make life easier on yourself by serving taco salad instead, just as delicious but less messy.
EXTRA TIP: Don't just save tacos for supper. Both soft and hard taco shells can be filled with breakfast foods such as eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, cheese and salsa.
QUESTION: I have a great technique for cleaning my microwave oven. I take a measuring cup and fill it with water and a few drops of lemon juice. Then I boil the water for five minutes until it is really hot. I remove the water, and when it has cooled off, I use it to wipe out the microwave. In your opinion, what is the easiest and fastest technique for cleaning the inside of a microwave oven? Marcel, Winnipeg
ANSWER: While I applaud your microwave-cleaning efforts, I want to caution you that boiling any liquid i.e. coffee or water in the microwave is very dangerous. Countless people have received severe burns from boiling liquids in the microwave. Even with the use of microwave-safe dishes, the liquid heats up and spontaneously explodes onto a person's hands or face causing serious burns! The FDA states that if an object such as sugar or a wooden stick is added to the water, the risk is greatly reduced.
Here is a twist on cleaning your microwave that works with a dual purpose. After using a sponge to clean your kitchen, clean the sponge by soaking it in water and putting it inside the microwave. Microwave the sponge on high for two minutes. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Health reported the microwave kills 99 per cent of bacteria and viruses. After the sponge is cool enough to touch, use a little dish soap and water and wipe out the entire microwave. Never microwave a dry sponge.
QUESTION: Can you please provide me with a non-toxic recipe for a toilet-bowl puck I can make myself and drop inside my toilet tank to keep it fresh?
ANSWER: Homemade Toilet Fizzies: In a bowl, combine one cup baking soda with a half-cup citric acid (citric acid is often found in home hardware stores or can be ordered at your local pharmacy). Add drops of essential oils (about 20 drops of your favourite fragrances) and a little water until ingredients hold together when squeezed (without falling apart). Pack small silicone moulds with mixture. Let dry overnight. Gently release toilet fizzies from the mould. Drop into toilet tank as needed.
An even easier way to keep your bathroom smelling fresh is to simmer three cinnamon sticks in a pot with a quarter-cup of vanilla and one orange peel. Leave for two minutes. Dip cotton balls into pot and tuck them inside of a toilet roll.
Living beyond the jellybean
While there are oodles of different legumes, the most common are peas, lentils, beans i.e. kidney, pinto, black and navy. Legumes are healthy; they are an excellent source of protein, high in fibre, low in fat and on and on and on. Consider adding legumes to chili, rice dishes, spaghetti sauce, dips and spreads. Did you know dried beans can also be ground into gluten-free bean flour used to thicken recipes?
I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming. Missed a column? Can't remember a solution? Need a motivational speaker for an upcoming event? Check out my website Reena.ca.