Friday Free-for-All

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Heather says

I had a couple of questions come in this week that I didn’t post.

1. I have a loveseat that got wet how do I fix it?

I wrote back and found out that it isn’t leather, it’s sort of cloth, but I never got a definitive answer on how wet. Without being able to give her a full answer on her question, I don’t feel right dedicating a whole post to it.

If a piece of upholstered furniture has been damaged in a flood, it’s almost certainly a total loss, unless the water has been extracted exceptionally quickly. Even then the furniture would need to be completely disassembled and dried in pieces. It’s not really a DIY project I recommend a furniture repair service may be able to tell you if it’s worth saving the piece or calling it a loss.

If it was just barely damp, steam cleaning is probably a good idea, if the fabric can tolerate it and keep it in a room where there is a lot of ventilation. Mold and mildew like damp, still places to spread their spores. I’m not guaranteeing the piece will be okay, but if it can dry out quickly there’s a chance to save it before mold sets in.

2. I got paint on the counter, how do I get it off?

I responded what kind of paint and what kind of counter top? No response.

If it is acrylic or latex paint on a laminate counter, scrape off what you can and then use Bar Keeper’s Friend.

Any other combination is probably going to need a case specific answer. I’ll eventually write up a thorough run down, but this week is not that week.

What else?

I’m headed to Atlanta today, where I’ll be giving a talk at WordCamp on List Building Plugins. If you aren’t running a website on WordPress, just know it’s geeky stuff. I’m excited as this is the first time I’ll be talking speaking about something not Laura related. I do plan on speaking about domestic violence in the future, but I’m just not in a place where I can.

If you’re on Instagram, you’ll see too many food pics and lego minifig adventures.

Silliness indeed.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve been working on revamping the archives with some help from Heather (Clift, I am not referring to myself in 3rd person) and Jendi.

I’m excited about this page -still a work in progress as there are many more budget-friendly recipes on this site to dig out and add, but we’re at 30 and that is a good start.

Budget recipes


And don’t worry it’s not just beans and rice.


I’ve been thinking a lot about how to reach people who feel they are hopeless in the kitchen. I didn’t learn to cook at home. In fact, when I was 17 I was a nanny for a lovely couple with a newborn. I remember they asked me to make dinner just once. Why? Because I had no clue what I was doing and it was terrible. They were both working full time and realized it would be an uphill journey for everyone. I was so naive I didn’t even realize I should be embarrassed.

So don’t worry, if you’re embarrassing yourself in the kitchen, there’s hope. I promise.

Have a great weekend.

Menu Monday 29

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Menu Plan Monday

Heather says

Ah, Spring  when a young man’s fancy when Heather’s schedule explodes and she wonders if cloning technology could please step things up a bit.

This week I’ll be headed to Atlanta, I’m speaking at WordCamp and I’ll be helping out in the Happiness Bar (think Apple Store version  not martini) at least for the hour(s) I’m assigned and more likely as long as they’ll let me be useful. It’s my time speaking on a topic not grief related since everything fell apart and I’m so glad to feel like I’m hitting my stride once again.

That said over the next few weeks expect a few gaps in the menu plans.

How did last week work out? Did you stick to your plan or fall off the wagon. I didn’t stick to the plan, but we didn’t resort to the drive through, so I’ll call it a sorta success.

What are you looking forward to making? Are you trying anything new?

Monday – L/O Chicken Gumbo over rice 

Easily Make Gluten-FrAee Chicken Gumbo

Tuesday – Buffalo Chicken Tacos and Salads

Wednesday – Meatloaf,  Macaroni, Collard Greens

Easy Recipe and Technique for Making Meatloaf


Macaroni and Cheese - Stove Top


Thursday – CORN – Clean Out Refrigerator Night

This probably means I’ll be making breakfast skillets or maybe Mustgo Soup, either way, if it’s leftover it needs to get used up so it won’t need to get thrown out when I get back on Monday.

Those of you who read this far? I have a little treat for you.

A meal planning printable / shopping list creator. I find it easier to create the shopping list as I plan. Let me know what you think.

There’s A[n Unwelcome] Party In My Plants

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Dear Home-Ec 101,

I have a dilemma in that I looked up the tiny flies that are strolling around my plant soil. I found that they are called fungus flies and live on the decaying soil matter. I’ve sprayed the soil with Home Defense both bug spray and soapy water (nope), put a dish of apple cider vinegar with a drop of dish washing liquid in it to bait them (nope), and most recently, put coarse sand on top of the soil so the “babies that hatch” can’t crawl up and out and die (yech). Needless to say, they are no longer visible on that plant but the fliers have moved on to my other plants. I will never buy that type of soil again (with small wood chips or something) because I’ve never seen this before.

Is there any other way to rid myself of these without buying enough sand to put on all of my plants? They don’t damage the plants (I’m told), but I can’t stand bugs.

There’s a Party in My Plants and They Won’t Go Home

Heather says

Fungus gnats, fruit flies, and drain flies are all pretty annoying, but mostly harmless pests. I say mostly because they are aggravating as all get out.

ThanksbutnothanksCider traps don’t work for fungus gnats like they do for fruit flies because fungus gnats don’t eat rotting plant material, they eat what grows on the material. Fungus gnats smell cider and say, “Sorry, I’m just not that into you.” Okay, maybe not literally, but close enough for our purposes.

The solution for getting rid of the fungus gnats has three parts; the most important being perseverance. Due to the life cycle of the flies, it’s going to take weeks to get rid of the little  buggers (ha ha) once and for all.

How to get rid of fungus flies naturally

Dry out the fungus the gnats feed on.

First, you’ll need to ensure that the top two inches of soil are as dry as your plants can tolerate.  Those two inches will need to stay dry for as long as they will tolerate. If possible, practice what is called bottom watering.

To start bottom watering, you’ll need to set the plant’s pot in a container of water. Ensure that the water level in the container does not rise above the top two inches of soil. Let your plant hang out in the container until you begin to feel moisture along the wall of the container in the top two inches.  You’ll want to avoid setting the wet pot on a surface that can be damaged by water until the container itself is dry.

Allowing the top two inches of the soil to dry will reduce the amount of food supply the larva have available.

Capture the breeding adults.

Gnat StixUnlike immature humans, fungus flies can’t breed until they are fully grown. This handy evolutionary trait allows you to implement step two – hopefully before the procreation happens.

Find sticky traps like these Gnat Stix. You should be able to find them in the garden section of most big box stores or your local nursery. You may want to give them a call first to make sure, though. You’ll want to place at least one sticky trap in each of your plant’s container. Replace the traps when the stickiness wears out or you can’t stand looking at the little carcasses any longer.

Keep at it.

Here’s where the perseverance part comes into play. You’ll need to keep using both of these techniques for a few weeks after the fungus gnats first appear to be gone.


The next batch of eggs and larva are hanging out in the soil and are just waiting for you to water your plant from the top and ring the bell signaling dinner is ready at the fungal buffet.

Another option is to get a medium the gnats don’t want to hang out in and cover the soil in each plant, this is similar to the sand technique you mentioned but with a different material. I haven’t tried this technique so I can’t vouch for the effectiveness.

I hope this helps.  Thank you for writing in.

Check out these other Pest Related Posts

Submit your questions to


Should I Use My Vacuum on Construction Dust Clean-Up?

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Dear Home-Ec 101,
I just found your site. I could totally read it all day! I was not given a lot of training on house keeping and still struggle in my 40s now on how to do things properly.

I was reading your article about cleaning fine dust from construction mess and you said don’t use your regular vacuum. This might sound lazy of me, I do like to cut corners when I can, but will it damage the vacuum to use it for this or just fill up the bag quickly? We just had a couple rooms’ ceilings de-popcornized and we’re doing the rest of the sanding and eventually painting ourselves and it is a big dusty mess. We’ve been using our regular vacuum which seems to be working ok. We have a shop vac but my husband says it’s not very good and I would need to get the fine dust bags.

Vacuuming in Vancouver

Heather says

Construction clean up is certainly a pain and you have my sympathy. I’ll be right there with you when the contractor gets started here. (I am a wee bit excited)

When a regular household vacuum cleaner encounters fine dust particles it sucks them up, right along with the bobbie pins and legos, but certainly not with that one tiny piece of paper. No, you must run over that multiple times, pick it up, look at it, and put it back before the vacuum will work on that.

That is the household truth of random paper scraps.

So yes, your regular vacuum will pick up the fine dust.

The problem occurs after the fine dust is inside your vacuum. If you have a high-end vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter the filter will quickly clog and put strain on the motor. Some dust will manage to pass through the filter and it will find its way into the motors.

Small appliance motors and dust do not get along well. The fine particles will quickly cause excessive wear or clog the motor. If you live in a more rural area it may be very difficult to find a qualified repair person and even in an urban environment the repair may be cost prohibitive.

If you have a cheap-o vacuum that you were planning on getting rid of in the very near future. I guess you could use it, just be aware that some of the dust particles will get spewed back into the air each time you use the vacuum until it goes to that great hall closet in the sky.

My advice is still to stick with the fine dust bag in the shop vac.

And, please wear a dust mask while you do the clean-up. Yes, they are very uncomfortable, but your lungs are much more valuable than a small appliance motor and they don’t appreciate the particulates either.

Send your questions to

How to Clean Home Appliances


Click for all the cleaning articles on Home Ec 101

“Get the FACS”

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Heather says

I thought about writing a long-winded response to this. Instead, I’ll just share the comment I received (name removed) and share the mission statement of this site.

Home Ec 101 is a site dedicated to teaching a broad range of life skills to adults in a conversational and entertaining manner.



Hi Heather,
I just wanted to share with you that I am a Family and Consumer Science teacher. Since 1994 the old phrase Home Economics was put to bed and our new name of FACS or Family Consumer Science was adapted nationally.
I’ve been having the hardest time converting people, the teachers here, my students regardless of age. I still see it mentioned on TV as Home Ec. But when I talk to new people I meet and I tell them I teach middle school, this is what happens always!

New Person:”oh? what do you teach?”
FACS teacher: Family and Consumer Science
NP: Really? What kind of science is THAT?
FACS: (sighing) You know, Home Ec.
NP: OHHH OK. That’s cool. They still have that in schools? Why did they change the name?
FACS: *face palm*

So through my travels on the web getting things for classes set up and I run across your book and now your website….perhaps I know why this name change is so difficult….because of people like you.

We don’t call a class “typing” anymore because the typewriter is dead and because of computers the name changed to keyboarding. The class called ‘shop’ isn’t for boys and it’s changed it’s name to Technology Education….again computers, tools, designing, autocad etc.
FACS changed from Home Ec because it’s not for girls anymore striving to be homemakers but all about the science of the family of consumers who are balancing anything and everything in our passages of life. My classes certainly are more boys some days….

Anywho, I just wanted to tell you this is my life’s work….converting, informing, enlightening those in the world that Home Ec is a retired word. We need to be aware of what is going on in schools, what we are teaching our kids because our parents don’t have the time to teach what I am trying to teach my students. There still is a big disconnect. Funds dwindling…cutting back….cut out the arts, cut out FACS….we don’t need these classes, they aren’t academic, they are old like Betty Crocker. Languages is what is important now!

Our appliances are computerized, we use computerized embroidery machines, we have our own laptop computer carts, we analyze food and diets on the internet, we use apps on our phones to check for food additives in what we eat. We prepare ethnic foods in our classes. We are valid, we are here, we are important. We aren’t classes full of girls who knit and make ham croquettes!
Please spread the word…..we are alive and well but living under a different name and school counselors are telling your kids to take “other classes” deeming us unimportant.
Thanks for taking the time for letting me vent….

Get the FACS….
Teaching your kids a lifetime of skills…