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Cleaning ice cube trays is one cool solution

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Hello Reena,
Maybe you can let me in on a trick or two about the following: Sometimes ice cubes crack when being extracted from the trays rather than coming out nicely formed. I have tried drying the tray before refilling and also not overfilling each well but to no avail. Oiling each well separately doesn’t seem to be an option, at least not continuously. Any ideas? I’d guess that cracking occurs more often than not. Thank you,

Dear JK,
Ice cubes have a tendency to shatter when the tray becomes coated with hard water deposits. As water freezes, the ice sticks to the deposits. Instead of reaching for the oil, clean the trays with vinegar. Coat the bottom of each compartment with a hint of vinegar, before adding water to combat mineral formation. Run hot water on the bottom exterior of the ice cube trays before releasing cubes. Or set the trays in a sink of hot water for a few seconds.

Hello Reena,
I own two cookbooks that carry a heavy cigarette odour. Can this cigarette smell be removed? Your column is very interesting and informative. Thank you so much,

Hi Doreen,
Begin by hanging the books on the clothesline outside on a sunny day. Bring the books inside at night (just in case it rains). You can also place sheets of newspaper between pages; the ink in the paper will absorb the odour. Be sure not to place newspaper directly on the pages. Sandwich newspaper between tea towels so that no ink touches the books.

Hi Reena,
I read your column about using eggshells for keeping slugs at bay. I put eggshells in my coffee pot to take away the bitterness, and it really does a good job. I have been saving shells from hard boiled eggs for this purpose. I was wondering if I could sterilize raw egg shells in my toaster oven to use in my coffee pot. What are your views on this? Thanks,

Hi Michael,
The easiest way to sterilize egg shells is to boil them in water and a few drops of vinegar for a couple of minutes as opposed to baking them.

Dear Reena,
I have always wondered if wrapping my tomato plants with strips of aluminum foil will keep the birds away. From

Dear Jessica,
Since foil attracts heat, you will end up cooking your tomatoes instead of rescuing them. Instead, tie two aluminum pie pans on a string and hang them from a pole or a fence, the movement and sound will distract the birds. Or hang red Christmas ball ornaments on branches nearby before the tomatoes have a chance to ripen. The birds will soon realize that nothing red and round is delicious and leave your plants alone. If you’re desperate, drape a chicken wire cage over plants to protect them.

Feedback from Readers Who Care

Dear Reena,
I read your advice about getting rid of fruit flies and thought it was a little too much; first eliminate food sources, wash dishes, empty garbage, take out compost bucket etc., then get a restaurant style vinegar dispenser fill part way with vinegar put the cap on and let it sit near your fruit, and within a day or two all the fruit flies will be in the jar, depending on infestation, this has worked for me repeatedly. I found this out because my vinegar dispenser sits on the kitchen counter. Thank-you,

Hi Reena,
I know another good use for vinegar; killing weeds that grow in between cracks on driveways (don’t spray near grass though). Also dab vinegar on mosquito bites and bee stings. As well, a warm cloth dipped in vinegar, rubbed lightly over sunburns will soothe the pain. Undiluted vinegar makes a great spray for anthills. Keep up your great column, always worth reading and getting some good ideas. Sincerely,

Hi Reena,
My mother, now long gone,  who was a professional seamstress with the London Stage, always cleaned the bottom of her iron by putting a small bit of dried soap (any kind) in a brown paper bag and ironing the bag with the iron turned on until the stain or whatever disappeared. It’s worked for me, all my life. Cheers.


Reena is a popular presenter and author of the national best selling series, Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions, Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets and Household Solutions 3 with Green Alternatives. If you would like Reena to visit your area and present a workshop, please call 204 320 2757. I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming! Check out my website!

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