Dear Sara:

Just read your answer regarding hard-water staining on glassware. My problem is my flatware, which still looks streaked and dirty. Any suggestions? -- Yvonne S., email

Dear Yvonne:

There are a couple of ways to clean silverware with baking soda. You can make a paste with water and baking soda, then rub it on, rinse and polish with a soft cloth. Or you can line a pan with aluminum foil, set your silverware in it, pour boiling water over it and sprinkle 1/2 cup of baking soda into the pan. Let the silverware soak for an hour, then rinse with water, let it dry flat on a towel and polish. If you're looking for a faster solution, wipe flatware with vinegar or club soda to remove the streaks.

Dear Sara:

I was looking online at your project for the homemade bath rug (Note from Sara: I have the canvas, but it seems the squares are too small for the towel to fit through. How big are the squares on the canvas you use? I really like this idea! -- Nancy E., email

Dear Nancy:

Standard latch-hook canvas works fine. If you use a smaller weave canvas, you will want to skip some squares. T-shirt material cut into roughly 1-inch strips is preferable over using a towel. If you use a towel, cut the strips very thin (1/4 inch). You can hook it like latch-hook yarn, tie it onto the canvas or just pull the strip through the canvas and leave it untied. Here's an example of hooking it onto the canvas using T-shirt strips: Here's one tying on towel strips:
Hope this helps.

Dear Sara:

Can you give me any examples of the websites that give away free samples, which you mentioned in a recent column? I am very interested because I have two boys going to college and this kind of stuff would come in really handy to help out with their expenses. Thanks! -- Dave, Arizona

Dear Dave:

Try these brand-sampler and special offer sites:
-- (Proctor & Gamble)
-- (Target)
-- (Walmart)
-- (General Mills).
You can also go to your favorite manufacturer's Facebook page and "like" it. You'll get a heads-up on any freebies or promotions they have available.

Dear Sara:

The only hamburger I have in my freezer is already browned. Is there any way to make hamburger patties from it? -- Amy, Ohio

Dear Amy:

You can't make patties, but you can still get the same taste of a hamburger by using the cooked meat and scooping some onto sub rolls, then adding some toppings and baking it. Use (or modify) this recipe:
Since your ground beef is already cooked, it will shorten your cooking time.

photo by stevendepolo