Dear Sara: My cousin made a planter from cinder blocks. I haven't seen it because she's out of state, but I heard about it. I'd like to make one, but I'm not sure how to go about it and I don't want to seem like a copycat and ask her. Any suggestions? I love the idea of using the blocks we currently have just stacked on the side of our garage. -- Linda, New York
Dear Linda: You can arrange the blocks any way you want; for instance, in a circle with a garden in the center, or as a border along a garden edge with plants in the blocks. Or stack them and stagger and arrange them. You can connect them with liquid nails. A bit of wire mesh/chicken wire and landscape fabric could hold soil in each cubbyhole for blocks that aren't directly on the ground. Or simply place pots inside the little cubbies.
Dear Sara: I dearly love my new puppy, but before I could prevent it, she had claimed a spot in my guest room to urinate. Now the smell is extreme. I have tried multiple cleaning methods, but none have worked. How do I eliminate that smell from my carpet? -- B.A., Nevada
Dear B.A.: It's difficult to remove urine smells from carpet if it's soaked into the padding. Try Kids 'N' Pets stain and odor remover. Visit kidsnpetsbrand.com for a product locator, or you can purchase it online at Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Drugstore.com. I have two large dogs, a cat and a rabbit, and while I've used vinegar and baking soda and a host of other homemade remedies, I'm quite fond of and prefer the Kids 'N' Pets product. It's not expensive, and it gets the job done.
Dear Sara: When you grill chicken, do you just slap it on the grill, or do you cook it in foil? -- Amy, New Jersey
Dear Amy: I trim and pound the chicken to 1/2-inch thickness so they'll cook evenly. Marinades can cause chicken to burn easily because of the sugar content. Most people tend to overcook grilled chicken. While you can cook it wrapped in foil, you can grease your grill, too. It only takes about 12 minutes to cook a chicken breast (6 to 8 minutes on each side and an internal temperature of 165 degrees F). You can wrap a brick with foil and use it as a weight press on top of your chicken for even grilling, too.
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