Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Spilled Red Wine

By Reena Nerbas

Pure Vanilla

Dear Reena,

A friend has given me a bottle of vanilla which she bought in Mexico; it’s much stronger than the product we normally buy in our grocery store. Is there a secret to diluting or toning down the essence beyond merely using less of it? Thanks, Noreen

Hi Noreen,

This is a great question! I really enjoy using real vanilla as opposed to vanilla extract. Let’s begin with proper storage, vanilla doesn’t typically “go bad” but if stored in a warm place it will deteriorate and lose flavor. Refrigeration is not recommended, but if it’s a choice between a hot storage area and refrigerator, opt for the fridge! Pure vanilla extract is made by “percolating” chopped vanilla beans with ethyl alcohol and water. In order to lessen the vanilla flavor, your best bet is to reduce the amount of vanilla just as you suggested. Another option is to add water to the bottle as this will lower the concentration by lessening the flavor strength.

Removing Name Labels from Clothing

Dear Reena,

You’re the only one I can think of who might be able to answer this query. Is it possible to remove name labels that institutions like personal care homes, iron on or glue on the back of residents’ clothing?  Thanks, Glen

Dear Glen,

Have you tried lifting a corner and heating it with a hairdryer? Often this is all that is required to soften the glue, allowing the label to peel off. Other options are: Goo Gone, WD-40 or rubbing alcohol.

Red Wine Spilled on White Leather

Dear Reena,

I spilt some red wine on my white leather kitchen chair I wiped it immediately, but it is stained in the grain of the leather, and the seams. Please help me. Trista

Dear Trista,

The faster you work the better. Blot the area using a white cloth, dish soap, baking powder and water. Make a paste and gently scrub. Wipe with water, or if the spill is new, sprinkle the wet area with salt or a little white wine to absorb the color. Do not use hydrogen peroxide as some sources advise, this may permanently discolor the leather. Sunlight bar soap is another great option although it is becoming increasing difficult to find.

Feedback from Wise Contributor

Re: Watermarks on wood

Dear Reena,

I read your tips about removing watermarks on wood furniture, and they really work. Here is another suggestion: Heat the watermark using a hairdryer on the HIGH setting. Hold the hairdryer in place, and watch the mark disappear! Submitted by:

Tips That Really Stink

  • Chopped or sliced onions can be stored in a sealed container in your refrigerator for up to 7 days.
  • Regarding tearing up while slicing onions, I peel onions before I slice them, and then place the onion in the freezer for 30 mins. The cold slows the conversion of the sulfoxides which is what makes your eyes sting. Submitted by: Lucille
  • The best way to store garlic is in an open basket for air circulation at room temperature. Don’t remove the papery outsides until just before use, as it protects the garlic. Submitted by: Lucille
  • Don’t store potatoes and onions near each other, as gases from the onions can hasten sprouting in potatoes. Submitted by: Roy
  • I find that roasting garlic turns it into a spreadable paste; this tastes great on toasted bread. Submitted by: Lucille
  • Remove the smell of garlic and onion from fingers, take the knife you were cutting with and hold it under running water. Submitted by: Jana

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.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: Ask a question or share a tip at

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