Dear Sara:

I have oak cabinets, and over the years the grease still builds up. I wash them regularly, but I am not satisfied with the results. Do you have any ideas what to use on the cabinets to get the buildup removed without harming the wood? -- Lisa, Ohio

Dear Lisa:

I have used Murphy's Oil Soap, a combination of one part white vinegar to four parts olive oil, or mineral spirits and a microfiber cloth with good results. Here's a recipe that can be used to clean the buildup on older cabinets, too:
Cabinet Cleaner
1 part vegetable oil
2 parts baking soda
Combine and apply with a cloth. Use an old toothbrush in corners and crevices.

Dear Sara:

Would a pumpkin bread/loaf tin be a suitable plan B for the "bread trough" you use for your no-knead bread? -- Denyse, email

Dear Denyse:

You can use any pan, such as Pampered Chef's deep covered baker or a cast-iron Dutch oven. Or use no pan at all and simply use a baking/pizza stone to get similar results. Keep in mind that if you use a regular bread pan, the shape won't be like French bread.

Dear Sara:

With baking gift recipes in a jar, how do you prevent brown sugar from hardening when the ingredients aren't used right after receiving the gift? -- Lynn, Wisconsin

Dear Lynn:

You can put the brown sugar in a plastic zip-close bag and still layer it in the jar, or you can combine the brown and white sugar. I would let the gift recipient know to use the mix soon (within a month), so the brown sugar doesn't harden.

Dear Sara:

How much should I pay for a handmade crocheted or knitted baby afghan? Prices on eBay range from $29.95 up to $175. I know a lot of work goes into making these, but what is a decent price? I tried to make one while I was pregnant and I ended up throwing the whole thing (needle and all) in the garbage. I'm going to try again soon, but I don't think it'll turn out. I've tried reading the pattern books, but they're hard to understand, like trying to read a foreign language. -- Tammy, Alabama

Dear Tammy:

If you are interested in giving it another try, I would try online video tutorials. It's much easier to follow a video than a flat pattern book. You could learn one or two basic crochet stitches and make your own. I can't say that I'd pay more than $100 for a baby blanket, even if it was quilted. I have crocheted baby blankets, and if I were to sell one, I'd price it under $35, depending on the yarn I used. I'd put the word out. I'm sure between family and friends, someone could gift you a handmade baby blanket. Also, if you're not horribly opposed to secondhand items, there are many handmade baby afghans available at thrift stores and garage sales.

photo by ecoislandlife