Today, I am responding to two questions pulled out of my overly stuffed email inbox. I love when my readers write to me, especially when they ask the questions that so many others are asking. I believe that means we can refer to these as FAQs — frequently asked questions!
Dear Mary: Air fryers are all the rage and, from what everyone tells me, the new way to enjoy all the deliciousness of deep-fried foods without the calories. Air frying is a very healthy way to prepare food so it comes out perfectly crisp without a lot of oil. Which air fryer do you recommend? — Stacy
Dear Stacy: I have been dragging my feet on this matter of air fryers. That's because I am not a fan. In fact, I think it just might be something you have already with a new name to get you to buy something you may not need. It's just a tiny oven with a fan.
If you have a convection oven — an oven that has a fan (or fans) to circulate air around food — you already have an air fryer. If you don't have a convection oven, my opinion is that you'd be better off purchasing a countertop model because air fryers are expensive and quite limited in their use due to the size.
Rather than an air fryer, my choice for Best Inexpensive Convection Oven is the Oster Countertop Convection Toaster Oven, which costs about $70. When you check the price of air fryers, you'll see they are much more. The Oster oven has many functions including Bake, Convection Bake, Broil, Toast, Pizza, Defrost and Warm. You'll be able to "air fry" cookies and casseroles (it has a nice large capacity) and toast up to six slices of bread at a time.
Should you be determined to have a single-use air fryer appliance, go for the Philips AirFryer, which costs about $200. This may be a good option if you are pressed for counter space. It does have an excellent reputation for reliability and service.
Dear Mary: I have several very nice leather purses in light colors. Two are white, and the others are beige. I hate to get rid of them, as they were quite expensive, but they are so dirty that I just cannot use them. Also, they are in perfect condition other than the dirt. How can I clean them safely? I have asked various dry cleaners, but they do not do leather purses — some of them do leather jackets, but none of them clean leather purses. — Barbara
Dear Barbara: Try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, available in any supermarket or discount department store. Dampen it with water, and then go to work on those purses. I've had excellent results using one of these erasers on everything from white plastic patio chairs, to leather shoes, to woodwork, to painted walls. I wish I knew what makes these erasers work so well. Could it be magic? That being said, I am quite certain this will do the trick for your purses provided the problem is dirt, not wear.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.