Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reader's Questions and More Tips

May you have warm words on a cold evening,a full moon on a dark night,and a smooth road all the way to your door.~An Irish Blessing

Today I have a couple great questions, and tips that were sent in by readers.

I've recently bought a beautiful Edwardian parasol. It's beige linen, with a wooden handle and tip, metal fittings. Unfortunately the parasol is stained in the folds, almost looks 'tea dyed'. I'd like to clean it and get it back to it's basic creamy linen. Do you happen to have any guidelines for me? I was thinking of using either Oxiclean or Bix, in a big galvanized tub on the patio - soaking the parasol, then rinsing with hose and putting in the sun. But I don't want to ruin it, or make it worse than it is. Can you share a bit of your expertise with this vintage novice?


I'm going to say, since it seems to be made of linen, to follow the same directions in caring for vintage linen, which I have on OFL: Be sure to test a spot first, before doing the entire umbrella.

I think you could carefully clean the wooden parts with Murphy's Oil Soap or another gentle wood cleaner. I'm a little concerned with soaking the entire umbrella because you'd have to soak the wooden pieces too, but it may be the only thing you can do.

I need a plant hanger for the topsy turvy tomato plants that I want to grow. I can't put them on the porch because there is no sun or rain for the plants and I am looking for a metal plant hanging stand for the tomato plants. ~Sue

I know many people hang them from metal clothes line poles, or make wood frames to hang them from. If you look closely at the pictures in the article about growing tomatoes upside down you can see the wood frame the author used:
As far as the clothes line poles, you may even be able to find one or two by asking around. People will often have them sitting around unused if they are no longer drying clothing outside. Another easy thing to use for upside down tomatoes are shepherds hooks. You will need the tall variety, but they are sturdy and should easily hold the tomato plant. They also have the ones with a hook on each side, which would work great.

These are tips sent in last week by our readers:

Ah Yes, SQUIRRELS! One was caught in my chimney. It had slipped below the baffle. It was a baby and the mother had evidently been dropping food to it. She was too big to get in the baffle. I had to hire a critter catcher, who had to tear off part of the chimney to get the baby. Well that was not too good.

I had everything repaired and painted, and as workers were doing that job, they had a big critter jump out of the chimney. Scared them half to death and they nearly fell off the 4 story scaffolding that was their work area for the repair. Yes, I do have workman's insurance, but they were okay, just scared. I have had squirrels get in my attic, more critter catcher $$$$$. They can really chew through anything. They have chewed up TV cables and phone lines. I have a backyard that is all trees, and they just bounce all over. I hate to admit but sometimes I let the dogs out to chase them, but it does not deter them. Chihuahuas somehow do not seem to evoke the fear of being eaten in critters, and the squirrels will sometimes come right up against glass door, as dogs go into frenzied lunging against door, and hysterical barking...Squirrels, turns around, gives a flip of its tail, and is gone. Do you think the tail flip is like a human giving the Jimmy Carter 1 finger wave that he talked about? ~Isabelle in Atlanta

Friends of mine just completed a complete rebuild of an exterior wall of their two story house. They had a squirrel feeder on a second floor deck as the Grandmother used to love to sit in her "office" up there and play solitaire on the computer and watch the birds, squirrels and hummingbirds at the various feeders. Little did they realize that all the seed knocked off the bird and squirrel feeders onto the ground below as being eaten up by rats. With an ample food supply, the population of rats soared although no one was aware of it. In order to be close to the never ending food supply during the cold and rainy winter months, the rats began chewing through the foundation and walls of the first floor library. This continued until the inevitable day when rats were seen running throughout the first floor rooms and the resulting close inspection of the foundation and walls revealed an enormous warren of rat runs. Needless to say, there is no more feeding of squirrels and the work is just about complete on the rebuild of the affected first story walls and floors. I suppose the best lesson to learn from this is that squirrels are best fed well away from the house or barn. In winter there are all too many creatures vying for those bits of dropped seed! ~Jacqui in California

Just wanted to let you know that Walmart and some hardware stores sell a product called "Just One Drop" that eliminates odors on or in anything. I've heard that it works by breaking protein bonds that bind the odor to the plastic, vinyl, cloth, etc. ~Jacqui


  1. Those are some great stories... and great tips.

    I saw one of those tomato hanging pots at our local farm store... very nice black metal baskets.

  2. I have a question Brenda :) My kids and I made a little terrarium we found on We cut the bottom off of a 2 liter bottle, put soil and three seeds in the bottom, watered in and covered it with the top part of the bottle that we had cut off. The lid is on the bottle. It took over a week, but we have one sprout about 1/2" tall, one that started peeking out yesterday and we haven't seen the third yet. At what point do I remove the top of the terrarium?

  3. You should take the lid off as soon as the first one sprouts or least partially so the little seedling doesn't cook:) Remember to turn it too, rotating so a different side is to the light each time or the seedlings will lean towards the light and grow crooked.


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