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Easy tips for coloured sugar

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Dear Reena,
I would like to make fancy cookies for my daughter’s classmates. My plan is to sprinkle the sugar cookies with coloured sugar. However, I don’t want to buy the sugar because I find it expensive. Is there a way to make my own coloured sugar? Angie

Dear Angie,
Pour one cup white sugar into a sealable bag or jar, and add two drops food colouring. Shake or blend with a fork until sugar colours evenly, add additional food colouring to darken hue. Extra tip: The coarser the sugar, the better it looks on cookies, cupcakes and cakes.

Hi Reena,
What can I use on rust in my porcelain kitchen sink? It is from leaving cans sitting in the sink. I have tried strong tile cleaner and bleach, but they both remove all other stains but not the rust. Thank you for your time, Terry

Dear Terry,
For your sink you can try the following suggestions, but make sure to rinse well between solutions and test on an inconspicuous area first. Begin with a paste of baking soda and toothpaste and scrub hard. Or sprinkle area with lemon juice or 3% hydrogen peroxide and salt. Or ventilate and clean with a product called Iron Out. Or clean with ceramic stove top cleaner.

Feedback from a Reader Who Cares:

Hi Reena,
I don’t usually write writers but your column tweaked me on two counts: Firstly, the question about robot vacuums. We have a home with a long hair (very noticeable shedding) and a short hair (not so noticeable but sheds, nonetheless) cats. My wife and I are both seniors and we are still working. I purchased an iRobot pet series for our home.

I must add that my wife is a clean house freak and I really questioned her about whether she would use the iRobot or would she send it to the vacuum graveyard in the basement (she can’t stand poor vacuums). She said she would give it a fair shot. Well, that was a year ago and this robot vacuum has become her best friend of gadgets.

It cleans the house every day at 10:00 am after we have left for work. It runs for an hour and a half and gets into places she can’t reach easily. It is powerful and yes, the odd time it gets stuck and shuts off but it keeps the floors clear of continually shedding cat hair and I might add, of continually shedding human skin cells and body hair. It is amazing what it picks up, even after she has done her weekly thorough cleaning. Maintenance does not take that long.

Once a day I tap out the catch basin and filter which takes all of two minutes and once a week I thoroughly clean the wheels, etc. of wound hair and blow out the filter and machine itself with an air can which takes 10 minutes at most. That’s it. My wife only has to vacuum once a week doing mainly the furniture. I might add she has a hip problem and when you vacuum there is a lot of weight bearing on your hip joints. Since getting the iRobot her hip problems have decreased dramatically.

The time saved with this device is enormous and the sight of a clean floor when you come home is priceless. If you have the time to vacuum daily and you enjoy it, great. But for most of us working stiffs the iRobot is the greatest thing. Your reader should not hesitate to purchase one.

Secondly, I feel your advice to the lady with aluminum foil burnt onto the surface of her oven was misleading and potentially hazardous to her and her family’s health. Aluminum is a very useful substance but is an inherently dangerous material health wise, especially when ingested by breathing it in. When it is heated in the self-cleaning mode, it will give off gas for some time and that is not good. She should look into replacing the bottom cover of her stove for her and her family’s health, especially if she has young children.

Sincerely, Gavin

Fabulous tips of the week:

• Did you know that tulips actually originated in Turkey? Legend has it that the name tulip comes from turban hats historically worn in Turkey.

• Tulip bulbs should be planted at a depth three times the length of the bulb.

• If you received potted tulips for Easter and would like to plant them in your garden, here is how: Wait until the leaves turn brown. This happens when nutrients in the foliage push down and are stored in the bulb. When the leaves die, dig a hole and plant bulbs outside along with bone meal, soil and water.

•October and November are the best months to plant tulip bulbs.

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming! Missed a column? Can’t remember a solution? Need a speaker for an upcoming event? Interested in grocery coupons? Check out my brand new blog and website at You can contact me by email at

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