Q. My glasses frames have developed a white film. How do I remove it?
A. A buildup of dirt and oils can cause plastic glasses frames to get filmy, but in most cases, it can be easily removed. Treat the frames with a fine-scratch remover for plastic to buff out the stains. If that doesn't do the trick, take them to the store where you bought them and ask for a full-frame polish, which entails removing the lenses and going over the frames by hand.
To prevent frames from turning white in the first place, wash them regularly: Use cool water and mild hand or face soap for the frames and the lenses, says Amanda Browder of Selima Optique in New York City. Dry with clean cotton only – paper towels or tissues can leave minute scratches behind. The chamois cloth provided with most eyeglasses works well for occasional light cleaning, but be sure to launder it from time to time, or you'll only be spreading around the buildup.
Q. I've heard that you shouldn't harvest rhubarb after the Fourth of July. Is this true? If so, why?
A. You should stop harvesting rhubarb once wide stalks give way to slim ones in the garden. In many regions of the United States, this occurs in early July. The slimmer pickings signify that the plant's energy reserves are low. Rhubarb is a perennial, and it needs all its leaves for the rest of the season to gather energy so that it can produce an abundant crop the following year. So leave it alone. When winter comes, the plant will die back. New growth should appear the following spring.
There's another practice that will help rhubarb yield plentiful stalks year after year. If you've just added the plant to your garden, wait until its third season before you begin harvesting. And when the time comes to pick for pies or jams, limit your haul to no more than half of the plant's stalks. (Never eat the leaves, which contain enough of the toxic substance oxalic acid to make them poisonous.)
When a rhubarb plant starts to sprout skinnier stalks, harvest time is over. Rhubarb loses its taste and suppleness as summer wears on, so these stalks will be tougher and less tasty than stalks picked earlier in the season. You can, however, keep stalks picked at their prime for two to four weeks in perforated plastic bags in your refrigerator's crisper drawer.
Q. What's the proper way to take care of my teak outdoor furniture? Should I oil it?
A. To care for teak, remove accumulated dirt at the beginning of each season by cleaning with a plastic scrub brush and a solution of warm water and a capful of dishwashing liquid. Rinse well, and let furniture air-dry.
Like all wood exposed to the elements, teak will gradually turn a silver-gray color after six to nine months of sun and rain. This color change is purely cosmetic and is not an indicator of deterioration. In fact, many people prefer this weathered look.
Using teak products, such as oils, brighteners, and sealers, isn't necessary unless you're determined to retain the wood's original golden color. If that's your goal, wash it annually with a teak cleaner or brightener, and follow up with a teak sealer that contains ultraviolet-light protection, which will help slow (but won't stop) graying. To maintain the color, rewash and apply teak oil once or twice during the season.
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living.