Any photo editing software out there that does not cost an arm and a leg? I am mainly interested in cleaning up a background from a picture. I have Windows Vista Home Premium. Have no idea if there is something on this computer that I can already use or if I need to buy or obtain some other software. -- Shoiji, New Jersey


I like GIMP ( )It's free open source software. I have Photoshop, but I am hooked on GIMP for my daily blogging needs. I've used it for years. But you have plenty of options to choose from, such as Photoscape (, Paint.NET, and Picasa ( ), to name a few.


My towels used to be nice and soft. All of a sudden they are so rough that they irritate my face. I haven't changed detergents. I rinse at least three times if not more and use vinegar in the rinse water. The only change I've made is to buy a new washer. It's a top loader with no agitator. It acts like a front loader. Please help. --Ann Marie, e-mail


You're doing the right thing by rinsing multiple times and using vinegar. Both these methods typically help. I suggest you wash your towels alone, in hot water, highest water level and use baking soda, washing soda, Borax or Charlie's soap ( ) instead of your usual laundry detergent. Use vinegar in your rinse cycle and a double rinse cycle. It sounds like your towels have a buildup of laundry detergent.


I have 3-1/2 gallons of refrigerated almond milk that will expire soon. I don't want to waste them. What can I do with them? -- Meredith, Kentucky


You can use up some in cereal/oatmeal, muffins, cupcakes, pancakes/waffles/French toast, pudding, soup or hot cocoa. You can freeze it. I suggest freezing it in ice cube trays. You can use the cubes in smoothies.


I love my Playtex 18-hour bras, but when I perspire I can smell the rubber in the under-bust band. What can I do to get rid of this smell? -- Lila F., e-mail


In the future, when you purchase new bras, don't dry them in the dryer after washing them (gentle cycle). Hang dry them. See if this helps. For your existing bras, I would try soaking them in vinegar before laundering. Some brands are prone to smelling like rubber, especially when they absorb perspiration.


I volunteer to run an arts-and-crafts table at a local event a couple times a year. I run a paint table where kids can sit down and paint for a little while, brushes and paint provided. It's getting to be that time again, and I need to locate the cheapest possible source of plastic or plastic-coated plates to be used as palettes. Each kid gets a plate with a few pools of paint. This prevents spills and wasted paint.
All our supplies are donated, but I am buying plates this year. Last year, we had bowls donated, which was a nice thought, but the paint all ran together and the kids did not like it. So where can I get the cheapest plates? It really does not matter how cheap they are, as long as they are plastic coated so the paint does not soak into them. We will re-use what we can, but we end up throwing everything out at the end of the day. Dollar store? Wal-Mart? Aldi? Any suggestions where the best price can be found? -- C.H., Kansas


Instead of buying disposable plates, I would use ice cube trays, yogurt containers, plastic baby food containers, egg cartons, liners/trays from boxes of chocolates or the bottoms of 2-liter pop bottles for paint palettes. It will be far cheaper and less wasteful.

photo by Andrew Abogado