Questions About Shrimp Sauce, Cloudy Glassware and Tire Inflators

Dear Mary: Recently you gave us some fantastic recipes to make our own sauces at home (It’s All About That Sauce!) But you missed one! How about the Shrimp Sauce that only Japanese restaurants seem to have. Got a recipe for that? Matthew


Dear Matthew: You’ve put me through my paces since receiving your message. And I have good news! I found it—Shrimp Sauce just about as close as you can get at home. When you try this, let me know how it rates as compared to the sauce in your favorite restaurant.

Shrimp Sauce

  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic juice
  • 4 teaspoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Place all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk together. Allow to sit in refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

A Startling Red-Hot Alert Made My Day

Some days I sit down to write this column and the words pour from my mind through my fingers and onto the keyboard. Other times, like right now, all systems go blank—one big expansive, frustrating void.

Just as I was about to run outdoors and bang my head on my new stone wall, I got that little ding letting me know I had mail—this time from Nancy.


Dear Mary: I’m interested in signing up for LifeLock. Do you feel it would be better to take the LifeLock Ultimate Plus (the most expensive) or the LifeLock Advantage plan and why? Thank you for your help. Nancy

That’s when I remembered that I wanted to tell you what happened to me a few days ago. (Oh, this is so good!)

Due to the fact that we have just recently relocated from big city life in Southern California to laid back country life in Northern Colorado (we do have a stone wall), my husband and I needed to open a bank account in our new village (not a city or a town … we live in a village!).

The bank employee handed us a keypad and asked us to input our Social Security numbers into the bank’s system. That’s it. Nothing else. In about two seconds flat, she had on her computer screen all of our personal information including banking history, all previous addresses and phone numbers for the past 40 years. That was a sad confirmation for me that personal privacy has become a thing of the past. To tell you the truth, it was creepy.

How to Clean Steam Irons and Granite Countertops—Cheap and Easy!

These days its nearly certain that there’s a pricey product available to clean just about anything. But why spend the money when you can make your own homemade products that perform just as well (maybe better!) from ingredients you may have already in your cupboards and pantry? I’m talking cheaper, faster and quite possibly better!

Dear Mary: What is the best and most effective way to clean a steam iron? Bev


Dear Bev: You need to clean both the inside and the sole plate of a steam iron regularly to keep it in tip-top condition. Before you proceed with my cleaning suggestions, make sure you read the owner manual that came with our iron to make sure there are no instructions or cautions that might preclude the following.

INSIDE: To remove build-up from the inside of the iron, which over time can really clog things up, pour equal amount of white vinegar and water into the iron’s water chamber up to the maximum fill line. Turn the iron on to “steam” setting and iron a soft clean cloth to clean out the steam ports.

When Driving a Lemon is Easier Than Getting Rid of It

Dear Mary: We have an aging car that is a lemon. We are keeping it going with bailing wire until we can afford a different car. When that time comes, besides our temptation to shove it over a cliff, what should we do with our lemon? In good conscience I cannot even donate it to a charity. Sue Ellen

Dear Sue Ellen: If you feel it is not drivable when that time comes, about your only option would be to sell it for salvage. Check with a local auto dismantling yard. Depending on the make and model, they may decide to “part it out,” which might make the car slightly more valuable to them than it is to you. In that case, they will probably accept the complete car. If you sell it for only the scrap metal, you will likely have to remove the engine, tires, radiator and other vital parts ahead of time, delivering just the metal. Just don’t expect to get much money from the deal. You may discover that it’s easier to drive a lemon than to get rid of one!

In the meantime as you wait out this car’s useful life, you might enjoy knowing how another reader lives happily with an old car.

How to Get Sparkle in a Vase, Cheap Into Pest Control and Piddle Out of Carpet

Dear Mary: I have a beautiful crystal vase that over the years has acquired a build-up of residue that I cannot remove. Do you have a suggestion on how to remove it? Pat


Dear Pat: That build-up is likely calcium, lime and other minerals from years of standing water. You may need to experiment a bit, but I’m sure you can return that vase to its sparkling beauty. Here are two simple and completely harmless methods:

Method 1: Start by filling the vase with white vinegar to cover past the murky area. If the vase is large, you can use a mixture of vinegar and water. Allow the vinegar to sit for a couple of hours. Swish the liquid around to see how much of the film has been loosened. If the film layer is thick and not coming loose, add a 1/4 cup of uncooked rice. Cover and shake the container. The rice will “scrub” to loosen the tough layers. Use the bottle brush to remove any remaining film from the interior of the vase. Empty the vase and wash with mild soap. Dry completely.

Method 2: Fill the vase with water and drop in one or two denture tablets, depending on the vase size. Allow to sit and work overnight. In the morning agitate the container gently to ensure all of the deposits and mineral build up has come loose. Empty the vase and wash with mild soap and water. Rinse well and dry it completely.

Carpeted Stairs Challenge and Old Furniture Rescue

Dear Mary: I am going to have to buy a new vacuum cleaner soon and wanted to know your thoughts on the new Shark Navigator with the lift off container. Wanda

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photo credit:

Dear Wanda: Oh my, you could not make a better choice than a Shark Navigator vacuum. For me, Shark Navigator needs to be added as another of the Wonders of the World. I’ve never known a vacuum cleaner that comes close to a Shark for extracting dirt from carpet.

It’s been 3 years now since I wrote about my first Shark (So Disgusting I’m Embarrassed To Tell). I couldn’t help myself and wrote about it again here.

If you’ve been following along for the past few years, you know that the Hubs and I have recently relocated (and by that I mean we’ve made the biggest move of our lives) and are now getting settled into our new home. This house has (count ‘em) … 29 stairs, each one of them carpeted. We love this house for its views and vaulted ceilings. However, I am not a fan of carpeted stairs because how do you clean them? I don’t mean sorta’ clean them, but really vacuum every bit of dirt, crud and grime out of that carpet.

Just a few weeks ago, I bought the new Shark Professional Navigator Lift-Away so I could deep clean all of these carpeted stairs. Wow! This thing is a miracle worker. It’s that lift-away feature that makes is to easy to vacuum stairs—every edge of the stair and riser—and even the difficult to reach crevice.  I’m in love.

Store Fresh Produce in Glass Jars and Other Cheapskate Solutions

Dear Mary: I enjoy your column every day and love the tips and tricks to save and spend less. I read the question about finding “rust” on lettuce only days after purchase and I have found a great solution. I’ve started using glass jars—Mason jars, old tomato sauce jars, any jar with a tight fitting lid will do. I clean and store my lettuce, cut bell peppers, cucumbers, just about anything that I’d normally put in Tupperware or plastic bag. The filled jars keep the contents fresh and yummy for days, even as long as two weeks. It’s amazing, I couldn’t believe the difference. Thanks for doing what you do. Stacie


Dear Stacie: Thanks for the reminder! Canning jars are useful for so many things. Filled with fresh salad greens and vegetables, I think they look pretty, too.

Dear Mary: This year, I am growing my garden in 5-gallon buckets. My problem is all the weeds that grow everywhere in the yard. I’ve put landscape fabric in the bed where my buckets are located, but the weeds still persist. What can I use in the realm of homemade weed/grass killer that’s effective? I don’t want to go the commercial route (Round-Up), for fear that might also kill my wanted garden plants. Thanks ever so much for your advice. Sherri

Getting Soaked: Good for Bedspread, Bad for Retirement Account

Dear Mary: I have an heirloom bedspread that is about 60 years old, embroidered with wool yarn by my grandmother. There are some brown spots on it, of unknown origin. Can I hand launder it after spot treating? What would be the best thing to treat the spots? I love your column. I’ve gotten so many good tips from it. Thank you. Marian

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photo credit:

Dear Marian: Because of this item’s age, it’s difficult to know if it is colorfast. That would be my biggest concern, not the fact that embroidery is done with wool. If the bedspread has bright and or contrasting colors, test an inconspicuous edge or corner of the bedspread in warm or tepid water and mild soap to see if the colors start to bleed or run. If they do, you should take this bedspread to a dry cleaner that specializes in cleaning delicate and vintage textiles.

If not, and provided the bedspread itself is washable (I’m going to assume that it is), treat those stains with Soilove (you can read more about Soilove and where to find it HERE). Spray Soilove on each stain until saturated, then allow the bedspread to sit for awhile— 30 minutes, or so.