DEAR HELOISE: My daughter's home has old plaster walls. Unfortunately, there are at least four layers of wallpaper on the walls. How do we go about removing the paper without damaging the walls?
Diane, Via Email
DEAR DIANE: Try using a little fabric softener or liquid starch and water.
Score the wallpaper with a wallpaper scorer first. You can find one at most home-improvement stores. Apply the solution and wait. When the wallpaper starts to loosen, start at a corner and gently pull the wallpaper from the wall. Remoisten if the wallpaper is not loose enough.
If there is glue residue, use my favorite household product: vinegar! Mix a solution of vinegar and water (50/50). Spray it on the area and let sit. Wipe away with an old, clean cloth.
DEAR HELOISE: About how long should spices be kept? I know that when spices were in tins, they couldn't be kept longer than a year. Now that they are in jars, does the same rule apply?
Virginia C., Stafford, Va.
DEAR VIRGINIA: Well, Virginia, there are still some spices in tins, but the majority are sold in glass or small plastic containers.
Here is a quick guide:
Ground spices are good for two to three years.
Whole spices, three to four years.
Herbs, one to three years.
Seasoning blends, one to three years.
To help keep spices fresh, store in a cool, dry place, and keep out of direct light. If you ever doubt spices, because the taste or color is off, replace the spice.
DEAR HELOISE: I found another way to use the cloth wine-bottle carriers that you get from the grocery store. I use a four-pack size to hold my hair products, lotions, brushes, etc., when traveling. It is so easy to just put on the counter in the hotel, and not have so many bottles and cans all over the sink area.
Karen In Washington
DEAR READERS: With so many affected by natural disasters, people are beginning to prepare, just in case. Don't let your pets be overlooked. Whether a natural disaster or an accident, owners need to make arrangements for their pets. Who would look after them? Where would they go? Unfortunately, too many animals end up in shelters or worse because arrangements were not made.
Make sure you have a plan in place. Keep a document with all the needed information with your other estate documents. Keep a card in your wallet with pet and contact information in case of an accident.
DEAR HELOISE: I have several garments that are dry-clean only. I hated having to take them to the dry cleaner all the time, especially if I had worn them for only a few hours and they weren't very soiled, just a little wrinkled. I found that if I hung them where they could "air out" for a few hours, most of the wrinkles would go away, and I could get another wearing out of them before taking them to the cleaners.
A Reader In Texas