DEAR SARA: I have oak cabinets, and over the years the grease still builds up. I wash them regularly, but I am not satisfied with the results.
Do you have any ideas what to use on the cabinets to get the buildup removed without harming the wood? — Lisa, Ohio
DEAR LISA: I have used Murphy’s Oil Soap, a combination of one part white vinegar to four parts olive oil, or mineral spirits and a microfiber cloth with good results.
Here’s a recipe that can be used to clean the buildup on older cabinets, too:
1 part vegetable oil
2 parts baking soda
Combine and apply with a cloth. Use an old toothbrush in corners and crevices.
DEAR SARA: Would a pumpkin bread/loaf tin be a suitable plan B for the “bread trough” you use for your no-knead bread? — Denyse, email
DEAR DENYSE: You can use any pan, such as Pampered Chef’s deep covered baker or a cast-iron Dutch oven. Or use no pan at all and simply use a baking/pizza stone to get similar results.
Keep in mind that if you use a regular bread pan, the shape won’t be like French bread.
DEAR SARA: With baking gift recipes in a jar, how do you prevent brown sugar from hardening when the ingredients aren’t used right after receiving the gift? — Lynn, Wisconsin
DEAR LYNN: You can put the brown sugar in a plastic zip-close bag and still layer it in the jar, or you can combine the brown and white sugar.
I would let the gift recipient know to use the mix soon (within a month), so the brown sugar doesn’t harden.
DEAR SARA: How much should I pay for a handmade crocheted or knitted baby afghan? Prices on eBay range from $29.95 up to $175. I know a lot of work goes into making these, but what is a decent price? I tried to make one while I was pregnant and I ended up throwing the whole thing (needle and all) in the garbage. I’m going to try again soon, but I don’t think it’ll turn out.
I’ve tried reading the pattern books, but they’re hard to understand, like trying to read a foreign language. — Tammy, Alabama
DEAR TAMMY: If you are interested in giving it another try, I would try online video tutorials. It’s much easier to follow a video than a flat pattern book. You could learn one or two basic crochet stitches and make your own.
I can’t say that I’d pay more than $100 for a baby blanket, even if it was quilted. I have crocheted baby blankets, and if I were to sell one, I’d price it under $35, depending on the yarn I used. I’d put the word out.
I’m sure between family and friends, someone could gift you a handmade baby blanket.
Also, if you’re not horribly opposed to secondhand items, there are many handmade baby afghans available at thrift stores and garage sales.
Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (www.frugalvillage.com), a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO, 64106, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.