Dear Sara:

Is it okay to put dry yeast packets in the refrigerator? My house gets hot inside in the summer, so I'm thinking it would keep better in there. -- S.S., California

Dear S.S.:

Yes, you can refrigerate dry instant yeast (such as SAF dry yeast). You can freeze it, too. Make sure it's tightly sealed. I suggest using it within a year. Some people report that the yeast goes dead, but I haven't had any problems with it; I suspect that some packets are probably already dead when you buy them.

Dear Sara:

I'm getting really tired of the rubber coming off of my bathroom rugs. There must be some way of fixing this! It seems a shame to have to just toss them. I hang them on a line in my garage, since I live in a condo with no outside clotheslines, and I won't put the rugs in a dryer. Any suggestions? -- M. Swanson, email

Dear M. Swanson:

These types of rugs are prone to problems with the rubber backing breaking down. Some washing machines (especially when using hot or warm water) will cause this, and bleach and dryers will certainly cause the backing to crumble.

Consider trying this fabric coating spray by Performix: According to the product information: "Super Grip is an air dry non-skid fabric coating. The tackified synthetic rubber coating bonds to most fabrics to stop skidding and shifting. This durable rubber coating formula is machine washable and remains flexible. Super Grip will not transfer or yellow surfaces and will not pick up dirt or lint." You can find this product at Lowe's, Home Depot, Ace Hardware and Wal-Mart.

Dear Sara:

Any tips for caring for long hair on young girls? My daughter's hair is a rat's nest every morning. -- Rebecca H., Florida

Dear Rebecca:

I would brush and braid the hair after your child's bath or shower and before bedtime, which makes it easier to brush for school the following morning. I use detangler on my girls. You can make it at home by combining a couple of teaspoons of conditioner with water in a spray bottle. I like to use a wide-tooth comb versus a hairbrush, too. I work small sections, starting at the bottom.

Dear Sara:

Can you freeze cartons of juice? It's on sale, but I can only keep so many in my fridge. Do you think they would freeze okay? -- P.S., email

Dear P.S.:

It's perfectly fine to freeze juice. You'll want to remove some juice from the carton to leave room for expansion. When you're ready to drink it, simply thaw it in the fridge.

Dear Sara:

Can I chop up a large piece of chocolate candy and make hot chocolate out of it? I've used candy this way in cookies, but never in a beverage. -- Laurie, Florida

Dear Laurie:

I prefer bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate for homemade hot chocolate, but nothing should stop you from making it from leftover milk chocolate. Chop the chocolate and add it to a saucepan with milk. Slowly heat on medium-low, stirring constantly until the chocolate melts. You can add a splash of vanilla, too.

photo by boston public library