Dear Heloise: I have many terra-cotta pots that are developing a white residue on the outside surface. Can this be removed, or do I need to replace the pottery? -- Lisa N., Phoenix
No, you don't need to replace those pots! The white residue is just minerals and other elements in the soil or water that have leached through the porous terra-cotta surface.
The buildup can be removed with --ta-da -- white household vinegar! First, wash the pot with soap and water and a scrub brush to remove any dust and dirt, then rinse well. Follow by wiping the pot with plain, old cheap vinegar. Allow to dry and repeat if necessary to remove any remaining mineral stains.
When the pots are returned to their pretty terra-cotta color, you can help prevent the discoloration by applying a coat of mineral oil to the outside of the pots. And for new pots that you have not planted in yet, apply a coat of acrylic sealer on both t he inner and outer surfaces. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: Just as I was about to pitch my many old and outdated strands of cosmetic pearls, I had a great idea. I used them as tiebacks for my bedroom drapes. They look wonderful, and each strand brings back a fond memory.
I also entwined some of the pearls through the artificial greenery I love to decorate with, and they added new life and interest to the arrangements.
This goes to show that everything "old" can be "new" again. -- Loretta Gilliam, Mansfield, Ohio
Love your decorating hint! Some of that costume jewelry also can be used to decorate plain picture frames for something a little different. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: To avoid many holes in the wall when hanging one or a group of pictures, place the picture frame on a sheet of newspaper and draw around the frame, then cut out the pattern. Now place the pattern on the back of the frame and mark exactly where the nail should be placed for hanging.
Place the pattern on the wall where the pictures should hang using straight pins. The pins permit repositioning the paper with only tiny holes made. When the pattern is in the right position, put the nail through the dot marked for the nail. Remove the pattern, then hang the picture. Picture perfect! -- Helen McClarney, San Angelo, Texas
Dear Heloise: Moving is such a traumatic experience. In a recent move, I designated various colors for each room, bought inexpensive spray paints and sprayed a spot on each box designating where it should go.
I also made a color-coded chart for use by the movers and labeled contents on each box so I could open it as needed. All of this was extremely helpful. -- Betty Lilley, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
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