Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Avocado

By Reena Nerbas

Burnt Popcorn Smell in Microwave

Dear Reena,

I am hoping that you might have a solution for getting rid of burnt popcorn smell in a microwave. I have tried lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda, and even microwaving meat with a barbeque sauce on it, hoping to get rid of the smell. If I leave lemon juice and water in it with the door open it almost disappears. But as soon as I microwave even lemon juice in water, the smoke smell predominates. This smell came while heating up a “bed buddy” which contains grain for use on my sore joints. I have used this item for years heating as the directions say, in the microwave on high for 3 minutes, with never any problem. I am not sure what happened this time, but I heard a pop, and when I got to the microwave, smoke and a terrible smell was coming from the oven. There was even a burn hole in the material with lots of smoke coming out of it. I have been working on getting rid of this for two weeks now. I even washed it inside and out with dish soap. I don’t want to use anything that might be toxic to food. The microwave is not freestanding. It is boxed in against a wall over a built in oven. Marian

Dear Marian,

In order to offer the safest advice available to us, I turned to a microwave manufacture. I want to share a quote that I took from the General Electric website: “The popping noise is electrical or mechanical in sound, and GE recommends contacting service. If the arcing burned a hole through the cavity wall, the damage is non-repairable. You can continue to safely use the microwave if the hole is equal to or smaller than the hole size that you see on the door screen and additional arcing is not occurring during the cooking cycle. If the hole is larger than this, it is recommended that the microwave be replaced.” Sounds like the smell is coming from the microwave mechanics which is why the odor returns even after the box of the microwave is treated, safety is definitely an issue.

Oil Stain on Paving Stones

Dear Reena,

I would like to know if you have any suggestions to get rid of some oil spots on my paving stone driveway next spring. Please and thanks. Judy

Dear Reena,

Ahh… just the idea of spring brings a smile to my face. The fresher the oil stain, the easier it is to remove. For new oil stains, cover the area with cheap kitty litter or Diatomaceous earth. Leave for 3 hours or more and sweep. For older stains begin by purchasing degreaser; cover the area with degreaser and scrub with a brush making sure that the entire grease stain is covered. Another option is to pour hot water onto stones and scrub with dish soap such as Simple Green. Leave for 10 mins. do not allow dish soap to sit on paving stones for an extended period of time. Scrub with a stiff brush and rinse. Caution: Do not use muriatic acid on paving stones, it is too strong and may damage stones.

Measuring Without Measuring Tape

Dear Reena,

I was at a garage sale the other day and wanted to purchase a chair for my home. I did not have a measuring tape on hand; what else could I have used to figure out the size of the chair. Maurice

Dear Maurice,

Here are a few bits of trivia that you need to know (if you don’t already). On most adults, the length from the tip of your thumb to your first knuckle is one inch. Since you were at a garage sale and probably had some cash on hand, you could have used the length of paper money to measure the chair because the length of Canadian paper currency is six inches long. Lastly, take a moment to measure the span of your hand (in case you are ever stranded on a desert island, this may come in handy). The average adult hand span measures eight inches.

Avocado Answers:

  • I found a way to liven up devilled eggs by adding one mushed up avocado. For 12 boiled egg yolks I add, 3 tbsp. mayonnaise, the juice of half a lime and salt and pepper to taste. Delicious and healthy! Submitted by: Belinda

  • Chocolate Avocado Pudding! Into a food processor: Combine three avocados, one third cup cocoa powder, half cup milk, one third cup maple syrup and half a tsp. vanilla. Process and refrigerate. Submitted by: Cynthia

  • Avocado Makeover: Into a food processor combine: One avocado, one egg, 1 tbsp. olive oil. Massage onto face and hair. Heat with a hair dryer and let sit 15 minutes. Wash as usual. Submitted by: Cynthia

  • The fastest way to remove an avocado pit from its skin. Cut around the lengthwise circumference of the skin; twist the avocado to open it. Tap the pit with the blade of your knife, twist and pull the pit out of the skin, the pit will stay attached to the blade. Submitted by: Darren

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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