Can’t Remove the Carpet Stain? Cut it Out!

DEAR MARY: How can I fix carpet that has bleach spots on it? I tried using fabric pens about the same color as the tan carpet but the spots turned orange! Carol


DEAR CAROL: Bleach means done deal. There is no way you can “un-bleach” those spots. If you have a piece of spare carpet left over from when the carpet was installed, you can cut out the stained carpet and replace it with a patch from the new piece. If you don’t have that, cut the patch out of an inconspicuous area, like the back of a closet. Stick double-sided carpet tape onto the floor (or the pad if there is one) and press the patch into place. Because carpet has “nap,” done well the patch will be seamless and totally undetectable. If you are uncomfortable doing this yourself, call a local carpet repair expert. It should not be costly if you have the carpet piece ready to go. Good luck!

DEAR MARY: I can’t afford to replace my 50-year old light oak cupboards. They are still in good condition but look dull. Can you recommend a product that will clean and/or revitalize them? I ordered the Cosmas hardware you recommended and love them. (Cosmas makes a great oil rubbed bronze cabinet round knob for as little a $1.15 per knob in a pack of 25 -mh.) Thanks for all the products and tips you share with us. Judy

DEAR JUDY: I think you will be thrilled to pieces with your classic cabinets once  you deep clean them with Howards Feed-N-Wax Orange Oil Polish and Conditioner (about $8 for 16 oz.). Even if you need two or three bottles of this product, your cabinets are going to shine like a new penny! Howards contains beeswax and orange oil that replenish the oils in finished and oiled wood. I’m predicting that Howards plus Cosmas equals a big “Wow!” in your kitchen.  


Our Best Mother’s Day Gift Guide Yet!

Since Mother’s Day is two weeks away and since I have a feeling you’re as surprised by that as I am and since I’m a mom and most of you are moms or know a mom or have a mother figure in your life–I’ve taken the liberty of assuming that you might appreciate some help coming up with an awesome Mother’s Day gift!


I wouldn’t say I am the ultimate expert when it comes to selecting perfect Mother’s Day gifts, but I know what I like and think I may not be too far off from what most moms would also enjoy. Here’s the deal: You love your mom. She’ll love these gifts. Easy as that.


These Bugs Detect Water Leaks You Cannot See

My readers do come up with great tips, tricks and ideas for how to save time and money every day. Today is no exception. From bugs to puppy poop—all the way to phone chargers and tomato paste, we’re about to cover a lot of frugal ground.


CUTEST LITTLE LEAK DETECTOR. After dealing with a toilet leaking and causing $500 in damage because it went unnoticed for too long, my plumber told me about this ingenious little device called the LeakBug, which detects the smallest amount of standing water and alerts you to it with loud beeping like a smoke alarm. I purchased one for each of my bathrooms, under sinks and next to the water heater. I’m finding that my peace of mind is well worth the initial cost! Mack

TOMATO PASTE WASTE. Many times a recipe will call for a small amount of tomato paste. Often, this means that if you’re like me, what remains in the can is stored in the refrigerator for future use. It also means that months later I find it and toss it in the trash because it has now gone bad. But no more! Now, I take the remaining tomato paste and spread it out in a thin layer in a zip sandwich bag I store flat on a freezer shelf until it’s frozen. The next time I need tomato paste, I simply break off what I need, zip up the bag and replace in the freezer. Works great; no more waste! Karen


Solutions for Smelly Sponges, Grimy Cabinets and Warehouse Club Dilemma

DEAR MARY: I was wondering if you had a quick and easy way to keep the dish scrubbers (like the ones that have a sponge on one side attached to a pad for scrubbing pans on the other side) from smelling like mildew.


Ours do fine for a few days and then start smelling. I try to run them in the dishwasher, but don’t always remember. I sometimes spray them with bleach and let them sit for a minute or two before rinsing, and that seems to work, but I was wondering if there was a better way. I tried microwaving a wet sponge, and that just created a hot smelly sponge. Bronson

DEAR BRONSON: Putting kitchen sponges in the dishwasher daily, or as often as you run a load of dishes, is the best solution to this problem. The heat and detergent kill bacteria and mildew. I’m going to assume that you use one sponge at a time, and that may be the problem. Let me suggest you have at least two sponges going. This way, one will always be available to wipe the counter and so forth, while the other is getting sanitized in the dishwasher. Do this without fail for a couple of weeks and soon it’ll become a habit. Hope that helps!


How to Break the Acrylic Nail Habit and Help Your Nails Recover Beautifully

I just received an email message from one of my readers that stirred up some very poignant memories for me.


For years I, like Carol, was on the fake acrylic nails bandwagon. From the first time I gave that manicure option a try, I loved it. Polish lasts longer on acrylic nails; my nails were always uniform—shaped perfectly and just the right length. All I had to do was go to the nail salon every three weeks to have them maintained.

The problem is it became addictive. I couldn’t do the maintenance myself. And if I didn’t go regularly to have them done, they looked horrible. I became a slave to my local nail salon and acrylic-applying nail technician. It was not cheap.

Anyone who’s ever had acrylic nails knows that they absolutely ravage your natural nails if removed incorrectly, or worn for years without taking a break. And no wonder. Part of the process is to sand down one’s natural nails to get the stuff to stick and not “lift” before the next appointment.

It was a difficult habit to break and I’m glad I did, not only for my nail health  (Google “acrylic dangers” if you dare) but even more so for my wealth. Here’s what Carol wrote: 


The Art of the Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Who says a grilled cheese has to be boring? Enjoy one of our most popular posts of 2013 on how to spice up the American classic.

A surefire signal that I’m out of town is the big square burn mark in my best stainless skillet. That’s the telltale sign my husband has attempted to prepare the one and only item on his repertoire of home cooked meals: A grilled cheese sandwich.

The man doesn’t know how to cook.

His grilled cheese sandwiches are burned on the outside, solid on the inside. Poor guy. When it comes to this basic all-American favorite, Harold does just about everything wrong. He starts with a blazing hot skillet, uses cold butter and unevenly sliced cheese with the thickest parts of the cheese piled up in the middle of the sandwich. This man really needs his wife.


There’s an art to preparing a perfect grilled cheese sandwich that is crispy, golden brown on the outside, soft on the inside with cheese that is evenly melted. 


16 Favorite Things I Use (Almost) Daily

I wonder how well I’d do as a contestant on the hit TV show, Survivor. Have you seen the rules for what contestants are allowed to bring? Basically, it’s the clothes on your back, sunscreen and one luxury item. For example, a toothbrush is considered an acceptable luxury item; a hairdryer is not. Paper and pen—yes; Macbook Pro—no.

While I’m certain I could survive in my life with far fewer things than I do (I have in the past, trust me), there are things that I depend on heavily and use nearly every day—16 to be exact. These are things I love because they bring efficiency, joy and beauty to my life.

I’d need to be granted some kind of exception to allow me 16 rather than one luxury item on Survivor Island. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?


1. SHARK NAVIGATOR. Just the most amazing vacuum cleaner known to mankind. The bonus is that it is also inexpensive. While there are many models, I love my Shark Navigator with the Liftaway option and hard floor attachment. Simply indescribably efficient.

2. DYSON HANDHELD VAC. While not exactly the one pictured (mine is now 8 years old, because they change up the look with each model, I use my Dyson handheld vac every single day, sometimes multiple times. It’s like a member of the family.


Got a Carpet Stain? Twist it Out!

DEAR MARY: Is there anything that will take Crystal Light fruit punch stain out of beige carpeting?  It has been on there a while and appears to have dyed the carpeting. Thanks.  Mary C.


DEAR MARY C.: This is going to be tough because of the red color—and the reason I never serve red beverages in my home, especially at a party. It’s the red dye that stains so easily. Even red wine can be problematic on carpet unless it is dealt with immediately.

I do not in any way suggest you should not try to get this stain out! I think there’s a very good chance you can at least lighten that stain, if not remove it completely. My best suggestion is to get a can of Spot Shot. Shake that can well, saturate the stain and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Then using a clean white cloth (you do not want to transfer any other colors to this stained area by way of a colored cloth) work that stain out as best you can.

My favorite method using Spot Shot is to spray the spot, then lay the cloth on top of it. Now make sure you’re wearing shoes and use your foot to dig into that cloth and stain just as you would if you were  doing “The Twist!” You’ll be blotting and scrubbing that stain at the same time. You’re in luck if you see any of that red color transferring to the cloth. You may have to repeat several times. Spot Shot is the best carpet spotter I know of. Every household with carpeting needs a can of Spot Shot available at all times.