Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Preparing Pumpkins for Halloween


By Reena Nerbas

Stemming Strawberries

Dear Reena,

I pack strawberries in little plastic containers for school lunches. With strawberries being unbelievable expensive; it drives me crazy when kids eat a few bites around the stem and toss most of the berry into the trash. Other than wasting valuable time cutting stems off; how can I remove the stem? Thanks, Lindsey

Dear Lindsey,

Insert a plastic straw into the bottom of the strawberry. Push the straw through the berry until it reaches the green stem. Keep pushing until the stem pops right off of the berry. Voila, the stem is gone and the berry is ready to eat, with nothing wasted.

Faded Wicker Furniture

Hi Reena,

I have wicker furniture, which is a light golden color, but badly faded by the sun. I am wondering what I can cover it with, without having a major sanding job to remove what is left of the old color.

A second question; I own patio blocks that have gradually become blackened. Which cleaning mixture should I use to remove the discoloration? Vern

Dear Vern,

This solution is for stained not painted wicker. Brush the wicker with a combination of one-third turpentine and two-thirds linseed oil. Allow furniture to dry for several days. Next apply an oil base stain color to the furniture. Finish with either two coats of varnish or lacquer. From feedback that I receive, wicker furniture painted with latex paint quickly fades and the results are not as great as oil based products. Some sanding may be necessary if color is loose.

Pavers should be sanded and resealed every two to three years. Clean pavers with a hose or pressure washer; hoses are less likely to cause damage between stones. Use a commercial paving cleaning solution or an oxygen bleach powder and water. Let sit for 10 minutes and scrub with a stiff brush or a street broom.


Dear Reena,

I have a really bad case of dandruff! I shampoo my hair with dandruff shampoo but it doesn’t make a difference. Do you have any advice for me? Sam

Dear Sam,

Dandruff is the shedding of the skin on the scalp, and a little dandruff is normal for everyone. If you have an oily scalp, the Mayo Clinic recommends shampooing often to prevent dandruff. Another solution is to clean hair with shampoos containing tea tree oil, use only a few drops and stop use if scalp becomes irritated. If you are desperate, visit a dermatologist and he/she can prescribe medicated shampoo.

Paper Cuts

Dear Reena,

Do you have any solutions for those dreaded paper cuts? They are small but boy do they hurt. Janice

Dear Janice,

With lots of nerve endings in fingers, it’s no wonder that something so small can hurt so big. Spread a little lip balm i.e. ChapStick onto paper cuts for instant relief.

Preparing Your Pumpkin

  • If you plan to carve your pumpkin 2 or 3 days before displaying, lightly smear petroleum jelly on the cut edges.
  • To lengthen the life of your carved pumpkin, spray with water and wrap in plastic wrap, store in fridge when not in use.
  • Create the smell of Halloween spice. On the bottom of the pumpkin lid sprinkle a half teaspoon of each of the following: Cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin spice. Once the pumpkin is lit, it will create a wonderful seasonal scent.
  • Get creative! Illuminate your jack-o-lantern with a multicolor, changing battery powered LED bulb.

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

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