Modern Living

Catsup, ‘spork’ and other guilt trips

HOME 911 - Tanya T. Lara -
Dear Home 911,

I’ve been going through your spring-cleaning tips, and trying to follow everything (it’s moved into summer cleaning and, who knows, may continue on through the rest of the year). Most useful was "Where to Take Your Castoffs." I have a question, maybe you can help. When we’re lazy to cook at home (which is, er, often), we order out, and have now inadvertently collected tons of unused catsup sachets and plastic utensils. You know how you just mindlessly toss them into a drawer, then one day, the drawer is full? It seems silly, but I feel guilty about just throwing them away. Is there someone/somewhere who could use this stuff? Or should I just take a deep breath and toss them into the trash?

Ms. Pack Rat

Ah, the life of modern married couples. We give up the maid for privacy, so we can walk around the house in our underwear, and spend so much money on bad food.

You remind me of my husband R., who’s loath to throw anything away, including boxes and plastic bags. Whenever we order pizza, he stuffs the hot sauce sachets in the refrigerator shelves, even if he doesn’t eat hot sauce (ordinary catsup to him is spicy enough…yeah, my thoughts exactly). It came to the point that when you opened our ref, all sorts of things would fall out, including hardened cheese and half-eaten chocolate bars. Whenever I complained about it, he’d tell me I was weirder because I put cough syrup in the ref (well, it tastes bad, so why not chill it, right?).

Now, whenever there are delivery leftovers –plastic utensils, catsup, etc. – I just throw away the unused ones. I feel guilty about a lot of things – being late for work, not writing in advance, missing a date with friends, not playing with my dogs – but never will I feel guilty about throwing a packet of catsup. Neither should you – women feel unnecessarily guilty over a lot of things as it is. It’s sort of like emotional baggage, isn’t it? You’re unknowingly filing everything away until your suitcase is filled to bursting and you find yourself, at 40 or 50, with a heart problem, ready to drop dead out of sheer exhaustion and you don’t have a clue where it came from.

I tried calling party rentals – okay, I called one and asked a friend to do inquiries– and asked them if they accept catsup sachets and plastic utensils. They didn’t seem to believe that I was actually offering to send them catsup from Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and Max’s. My friend said she got a no, too. I guess with the recent spate of food poisoning, they’re just being careful, which is just as well.

I do have an idea about how you feel. Last year, I threw away about 400 micro-cassette tapes that I had accumulated over more than 10 years of interviewing. Some of them had been recorded over several times, and even though I knew they were now useless (and I had no plans of listening again to the interviews, including those with two personalities who eventually became presidents), part of me wanted to keep them.

To avoid feeling guilty about throwing them, empty the sachets into several containers – one for banana catsup and another for tomato – and put the salt and pepper packets into your shakers. As for the utensils, use them; it’ll save you from having to wash dishes once in a while.

Which brings us to two things: Why do we have banana catsup? A foreigner friend was visiting the family one time and he saw the bottle of banana catsup on the table. He found it so amusing and asked, "What’s wrong with using tomatoes?" I said if he found that shocking, wait till he hears what we do with piña.

Another thing: Who the hell invented the "spork"? He must be feeling quite satisfied with himself, but let me tell you that I want to kick his ass. This useless hybrid is the bane of fast-food eating. First of all, you can’t use it as a fork to eat pasta because the tines are too short, and second, it’s annoying to use it as a spoon because you’re not given another utensil to eat with. You feel like a caveman digging into your food with one hand.

The spork brings to mind the Mel Books masterpiece Spaceballs, where the Chewbacca parody, a half-man half-dog creature, says, "I’m my own best friend."

And why are plastic utensils getting so brittle? You can’t even eat a pork chop without breaking the damn fork. And why are fast-food restaurant’s plastic cups getting so manipis and the lids don’t fit tightly? They think these cost-cutting measures are doing the public a favor. Hey, guess what, we don’t mind paying an extra peso for not having our soft drinks spill on our laps.
* * *
Dear Home 911,

Please advise on how I can get rid of the yellow stains that have appeared on the white T-shirts that I’ve been keeping in my closet. I have a box of them.

Thess Of Imus

I should have a sticker pasted on my forehead with the words "Purge! Purge! Purge!" so people I meet will finally get it. If you have a box of shirts that you’re not using, give them away because they’re occupying precious space. Let somebody else enjoy them.

If they’re plain white shirts, soak them in bleach before washing. You may need to do this several times. It will remove some of the yellow stains but not completely.

My boss Millet has a great idea: Dye the shirts. If you have teenage or artist friends, let them create tie-dyed shirts that are fun and funky.
* * *
Dear Tanya,

How do I get rid of the Mighty Bond that got smeared on the leather part of the handbag?

Bag Lady

If you’re doing house repairs, it’s best not to be carrying a bag, you know. If the glue is fresh, scrape it off gently with a blunt scraper, then sponge with water. If the glue is old and has hardened, scrape off as much as you can, and use a water-rinseable paint and varnish remover or acetone on the remaining glue. Don’t use a rag, use a cotton bud and work on a small spot first. Acetone, by the way, shouldn’t be used on vinyl or plastic laminate. If the glue remains, take it to a professional, like Besa’s or Mr. Quickie.

For glue stains on shirts (except cotton and linen), soak in a 1:10 vinegar and boiling water solution, then launder.
* * *
Scandinavian Furniture
Dear Tanya,

Where in Manila can you find Scandinavian furniture that’s not too expensive – presyong Ikea. I’m renovating!


I know some women who would offer a thanksgiving Mass on bended knees in Quiapo if Ikea opens here. Unfortunately, I don’t think they have plans to do that, what with the state of our customs, ports and the hassles of doing business in the Philippines. They’ll never be able to keep prices down with all the grease money involved.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really inexpensive Scandinavian furniture around. There are stores that offer original, designer Scandinavian furniture but they’re very expensive. Some knockoffs can be seen in a lot of stores, but they’re still not comparable to Ikea prices. For alternatives, however, you can check out Our Home, Idea, and Play & Display. I’ve been told that Landmark has a good home section, but they’re referring to dinnerware and flatware. If you have a good carpenter, just grab an Ikea catalogue and have him reproduce the pieces – I know a lot of people who do that.
* * *
Home 911 answers questions about the home – cleaning problems, DIY projects, decorating ideas, home store resources, and things you’ve always wanted to know about but never had the friends to ask. Home 911 runs twice a month and will ask the experts on your behalf. For questions and suggestions, e-mail [email protected] or text 0915-4002565. Please include a first name/pseudonym when you text or e-mail. All questions will be answered through this column – Tanya is too lazy and too chatty to text her answers.










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