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posted: 2/15/2012 6:00 AM

Snack on frozen banana and peanut butter

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Frozen bananas are wonderful in smoothies. You can make a mock ice cream, too. Simply cut a frozen banana into four sections and blend with a splash of milk in your food processor until creamy. Then enjoy a frozen treat that's lower in fat than ice cream, but doesn't sacrifice taste.

The first reader tip shares another way to enjoy frozen bananas: Freeze bananas: I like to peel a banana, cut it in half lengthwise, spread peanut butter on one half and stack the other half sandwich-style. Then I wrap it in tinfoil and freeze it in a freezer storage baggie. Now that's a cool snack!

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Carol S., email

Q. My oatmeal cookies didn't turn out well, and now no one will eat them. The flavor is fine, but the texture is mushy. I'd hate to throw them out. Do you have any suggestions for something I can do with them?

Janelle W., email

A. You can crumble them and use them as an ice cream, pudding or yogurt topping. Or take the crumbled cookies and bake them until they're crunchy and use them as a pie crust or incorporate them into your breakfast cereal, trail mix or a trifle.

Q. Can cinnamon sticks be dried and reused? Last night I made sweet potato soup from a recipe that called for one cinnamon stick. I forgot to put it in until the soup was almost done, so it was cooking for only about 10 minutes and then I took it out, rinsed it off and put it aside to dry. I'm sure it lost some of its strength, but do I really need to throw it away?

G.G., forums

A. While some will argue my opinion, I would not reuse cinnamon sticks for food if they've already been used in food. I'd be fearful of contamination. However, I would reuse them for simmering potpourri, or if the original use was in something such as tea and I drank several cups per day, I'd reuse the stick.

Q. I spilled nail polish on my comforter. How do I remove it?

Julie Ann, Illinois

A. You can use Off bug spray (aerosol). Place a cloth under the stain to catch anything that might bleed through. Saturate the stained area, then rub with a cloth or toothbrush. Repeat as the stain lifts and then launder as usual. If there's still a bit of stain remaining, don't place the comforter in the dryer. Try spraying the stained area with hairspray and launder again. You can try pure acetone, too. I suggest purposely staining a scrap piece of cotton fabric and testing stain-removing methods before attempting the comforter. This will allow you to use the least amount of chemicals on your comforter.

Q. Can you please tell me how to make a windshield cleaner for my car? Also, can you tell me how to get rid of rust stains on my cement basement floor?

Dan S., email

A. There are recipes for windshield wiper fluid, but it's hard to beat the price of buying it. Plus, many homemade recipes include ingredients such as vinegar, alcohol, dish soap, etc. that might cause damage to paint finish and car parts, so I don't recommend them for filling the reservoir. As for the rust on your cement floor, try using vinegar and baking soda with a scrub brush. You can try products such as Bar Keeper's Friend, washing soda and Spic and Span, too. Home improvement stores carry stronger rust removers (products that contain oxalic acid, for example). Be sure to read product directions and wear rubber gloves.

• Sara Noel owns Frugal Village (frugalvillage.com), a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. Send tips, comments or questions to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106, or sara@frugalvillage.com.

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