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Make your own TV dinners

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Dear Reena,
My daughter recently moved into an apartment while she goes to school. Is it possible to prepare homemade TV dinners for her to keep in her freezer and microwave when she has time? If so, what kinds of foods should I use?

Dear Delta,
There are so many options to satisfy your gesture. By making your own frozen dinners you have the opportunity to reduce salt, control ingredients such as choice of oils and save money. Begin by purchasing plastic freezer and microwave-safe dishes with compartments. Foods that freeze well are: leftover meat with or without gravy, mashed potatoes, cooked rice and pastas, casseroles, sauces, vegetables and baking for dessert. Make sure to clearly label each dish by title and date. After food has been packaged into plastic containers, wrap with foil to prevent freezer burn.
Extra tips: Veggies should be slightly undercooked before adding them to meals. Experiment with foods by freezing small portions to see how well they taste once thawed and heated. Foods to avoid: lettuce, watermelon, pineapple, cucumber, raw tomatoes, pudding, custards, cream cheese, gelatin and egg yolks.

Hi Reena,
Love your column! I would like to know if you have any suggestions for using/decorating with collectible spoons. I have collected quite a few and some of my friends have suggested my spoon rack and spoons are outdated. Some have sentimental value and I don’t feel right discarding them or giving them away. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks so much,

Dear Allison,
It depends on just how creative you want to be. You can bend the spoons to make handles for your kitchen or bathroom cupboards or bend them into wall hooks for scarves or hang them on next year’s Christmas tree for a "Spoon Around the World" theme. Some people have even had little spoons bent into finger rings. Spoons can be sold at auctions or to collectors, and older spoons can be worth quite a bit if they are made entirely out of silver. However, if you like your spoon collection, I would leave them right where you have them and enjoy.

Hi Reena,
My problem is a coffee stain on a light-coloured Berber carpet. Carpet cleaner said coffee never comes out. He only lightened the stain. Please help,

Dear Mike,
I have used this recipe many times for coffee, tea, pet, food and plant stains. In my experience no damage has ever occurred and the results have surpassed any of the commercial cleaning agents. However, use at your own risk, you may want to test a small area of carpet before applying the recipe. Mix together half a teaspoon of clear dish soap and one cup of warm water. Blot (do not scrub) onto the stain and leave for five minutes. Pat the area dry using a white towel. Mix together half a cup of hydrogen peroxide and two tablespoons of ammonia. Dip a white towel into the solution and blot onto the stain. The area should be a little more wet than damp, which means that you may need to double the recipe. Cover the stain with clear plastic wrap and weigh it down with heavy books. Make sure the books are not touching the carpet because if the books get wet, the dye from the paper can seep onto the carpet. Leave for 12 hours. Blot with warm water and dry two to three times. Dry with white towel as much as possible. Air dry. When dry, blot with white vinegar and leave.

Dear Reena,
I live alone and have itchy dry skin on my back. My doctor tells me to smear lotion on the area but I simply can’t reach. How do I reach my back to smear cream on it?

Dear Helma,
Apply moisturizing lotion onto the back of a wooden spoon. Holding the handle, gently smear cream onto your back with the spoon.

Fantastic tip of the week!
• To make block heater cords easy to plug in and unplug, put a puff of powdered graphite in the holes of the female plug. Graphite is an electrical conductor, and besides lubricating the plug prongs, it helps make a good electrical contact. You can purchase powdered graphite lubricant at Canadian Tire, Home Depot, or other building supply stores for a few dollars. I’ve been using this technique for a couple of years now. Cheers,

Easy 2014 Valentine contest:
Submit one sentence that affected your life, either positively or negatively. All entries will be entered into a draw to win the complete bestselling book series, 1, 2 and 3 Household Solutions. The deadline is Feb. 14, 2014. Mail entries to: Reena Nerbas, Box 429, Blumenort, MB R0A 0C0. Email

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

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