It’s time, once again, to reach into my virtual mailbag to read what a handful of my Dear Readers have written. I love to hear from you with your questions, feedback, thoughts, and ideas.
Dear Mary: I am an Ann Arbor News reader—especially on Sunday. Love, love your column. Thank you!
I lost the column from I think two weeks ago, regarding rejuvenating mascara. You used saline solution or something like that.
Please republish the formula if possible. I have good, not great mascara and it does get clumpy, messy. I’ve thrown away soooooo many mascaras because of that. Sharon
Dear Sharon: First, I should explain to my online readers, that some of my blog posts are syndicated by Creators, and distributed to hundreds of local, independent newspapers such as The Ann Arbor News. I never know which post is going to show up in which newspaper, but I’m pretty sure I know the tip you’re referring to. Here it is:
Here’s a quick and easy way to make sure you can use every last bit of your best mascara, even if it appears to be dried out and has turned “clumpy.”
Remove the wand and drop about 10 drops of sterile saline solution (like over the counter eye drops) into the barrel. Replace the wand and stir and swish it around a bit. The clumps will disappear and the product that remains will be revitalized and just like it was new.
Dear Mary: I need a new robot vacuum. Which one do you recommend? Hilda
Dear Hilda: My pick for Best Inexpensive robot vacuum continues to the Eufy Anker, BoostIQ RoboVac 11S. It is super thin, which means it is not so prone to getting stuck under furniture. It is quiet, has great suction power, works beautifully on wood and other hard floors as well as medium-pile carpet.
My Eufy Robot is an older model, but still going strong now for several years. For the price, the Eufy Anker, BoostIQ RoboVac 11S can’t be beat. Hope that helps!
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Dear Mary: In response to 11 Quick and Easy Ways to Get Rid of Pesky Ants, I find the best way to kill ants is with an artificial sweetener, like Sweet ‘n Low. I suppose you can’t print that but it is most effective. Just sprinkle a little at an ant hill, and soon all little creatures are gone. Mary D.
Dear Mary D: I can print this and look, I just did! And if that works as you say, it’s a great tip that I’ll bet other readers will enjoying knowing. Just keep in mind that Sweet n’ Low is not particularly inexpensive.
Dear Mary: A year ago we moved into a condo with all electric appliances. All are good except the range. I will eventually get used to the burners on top but the oven has me in tears! The oven is awful. First, it takes 18 min. to preheat to 400 F. It takes 3-5 min. longer than usual for cookies, bars etc. Cookies dry out before they bake completely. My famous cinnamon rolls never get baked in the middle of the pan. Brownies and cakes do not bake enough in the middle to do anything but sink. It is not so noticeable in casseroles and meats.
As I talk to others I find I’m not alone. I plan to buy a new range but am afraid they all are fitted with some kind of “energy saving” technology and will be the same. I love to bake and I am more than disappointed. Can you help me? Hopefully, Nancy
Dear Nancy: I feel your pain. If your oven temperature is too low or too high, it can adversely affect the outcome of almost everything you bake. My first guess is that your oven needs to be re-calibrated. To do this, you need a basic, inexpensive oven thermometer. If you don’t already have one, you can purchase one for a reasonable price at just about every local grocery or hardware store, or online.
Some ovens just can’t be set absolutely perfectly so don’t drive yourself crazy trying to get the temperature set perfectly. In that case, set the temperature to be about 5 or 10 degrees too high rather than too low because most recipes—especially bread—give better results when baked a bit faster rather than too slowly.
While it is possible to calibrate a gas oven, what follows is for electric oven. Electric ovens are fairly standard, so you should be able to figure out how your temperature adjustment knob works by reading these simple instructions. Here’s how to calibrate an electric oven:
Set the oven thermometer on a rack placed in the center of the oven and set it to 350 F. Once it preheats, run the oven for at least 30 minutes. Check the oven thermometer to see whether it reads 350 F. If it doesn’t read 350 F, make a note of what the thermometer reads.
(If your oven is more than 50 degrees off, whether too low or too high, you may need to call a professional to replace the oven thermostat.)
Once the oven has cooled, pull the oven temperature knob off from the stovetop temperature control area. You may need to use a flat head screwdriver or butter knife to gently lift it off.
The thermostat calibration dial will be located on the back of the knob. Once you locate this you will see there are clips or screws locking it in place. Loosen these clips or screws and adjust the dial as needed to increase or decrease the temperature.
For most electric ovens the dials have slash marks or it “clicks,” and each mark or click is for 10 degrees. You should be able to see the words Low on the left of the slashes and High to the right of the marks. Or yours may show “+ or -“. Adjust accordingly and put the clips or screws back in place. Then replace the knob back onto the stovetop control shaft.
Turn the oven back on and re-test the oven again for 30 minutes to see the difference that your adjustment has made in the oven’s temperature. If the oven thermometer still does not read 350 F, adjust the calibration dial again and re-test the oven until it is as accurate as possible.