Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about being bombarded by
organizations asking for money:
“Dear Heloise: I understand that charities and other worthwhile
organizations need money to operate, but I’m tired of the weekly phone
calls and letters from these people asking me to donate money.
“I live on a retirement income, and I can donate only once a year.
Continually calling me for donations to a hospital, policeman’s ball or
other charity is annoying. Then, they in turn sell my name and
information to other organizations, which start calling me. It’s gotten
to the point where I just hang up on them.”
- Sarah H., Key West, Fla.
Sarah, when they call, tell them to remove you from their list of people
to contact, and by law they must stop. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Here are some great ideas for cotton balls:
Give some to pet birds for nesting purposes.
Pack around small objects for shipping.
Give to children to use for a craft project.
Spray with perfume and put in your purse to keep it smelling fresh.
Dear Heloise: It seems every time I see a cockroach, it’s hanging on to
my ceiling. I spray and spray insecticide, but they keep coming back.
What can I do to get rid of them? - Kelly Q., Metairie, La.
Kelly, if the cockroach is on the ceiling, use a broom to brush it off
onto the floor. Use a shoe to kill it, and throw the cockroach in the
trash. If they’re hiding behind a refrigerator or in other hard-to-reach
places, use sticky traps to catch them. Also, look for damp spots in the
house, because roaches are drawn to those places, and to anywhere
there’s food. You might have to call in an exterminator to do the whole
Ants are in hot water
Dear Heloise: I boil a gallon of water and pour it down the center of an
ant mound to kill ants. No chemicals, no danger. - Mimi T., Hanover,
Better safe than
Dear Heloise: As a police officer, I see break-ins every day. Our senior
citizens are the ones most at risk, usually because they are the most
trusting. To better safeguard your home, your life and your valuables,
have a peephole installed on your front door and on the door leading to
your garage. DO NOT open the door to strangers, no matter what they tell
you. Make sure you have at least one deadbolt lock on all doors leading
outside. If someone insists that you need to let them in, or just won’t
go away, call the police.
- James L. in Los Angeles
Dear Heloise: My husband won’t shine his shoes. He says they look fine
and don’t need shoe polish, but they look old and scruffy to me. How can
I convince him otherwise? - Cassy T., Old Town, Maine
Cassy, tell him shoe polish has conditioners that keep shoes supple and
help prevent the leather from getting brittle and dry. - Heloise
June 13, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is about the apparent loss of privacy
for the average American.
“Dear Heloise: I hate these road cams that you see everywhere. I’ve
never received a traffic ticket, but I’m tired of the invasion of my
privacy. It’s bad enough that companies sell our information to other
marketers; now we have Big Brother watching us as well.
“I can understand cameras in a place of business, but technology has
made it possible for anyone to spy on us. Pictures of our homes are on
the internet, and for a small fee anyone can go to an investigator’s
site to find out all the details about your life. Sadly, those details
aren’t always correct. It makes me wonder how many people have lost job
prospects/financial help/sweethearts because of the details, whether
true or not.” - Nora in Salem, Ore.
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old wire hangers:
Straighten out and use as a trellis for potted plants.
Take one camping and use to dry towels by hanging it on a tree branch.
Straighten and use to hang a squirrel feeder or bird feeder.
Return them to the dry cleaner. They’ll appreciate it!
Painting the house
Dear Heloise: We plan on selling our current home and moving to a warmer
climate. We’ve also decided to paint the exterior of our home to
increase its market value, but we’re debating what colors to use. What
colors help sell a house? - Kay T., Rochester, Mich.
Kay, real estate experts agree that colors such as taupe, gray and beige
seem to add the most to a home’s resale value. Also, the front door
should be a contrasting color. - Heloise
What you never should
put in a will
Dear Heloise: As an attorney for many years, I have to counsel my
clients on what they cannot or should not put in their wills. Here are
some common issues:
1. Funeral arrangements: Don’t put them in a will. Tell a close relative
or friend what you want done. The will mostly likely will be read after
2. Jointly held property: “The right of survivorship” means the other
person owns the property in full.
3. Life insurance and retirement funds: Since these already have
beneficiaries named, you do not have to do so in a will.
4. Conditions attached to a gift: Be careful. A court will not enforce
something like “To John, on the condition he divorce his wife.”
A.J., Anaheim, Calif.
Dear Heloise: I’m an avid thrift store shopper. Please remind readers to
remove pictures from picture frames before donating the frames. -
Sara G., Grove City, Ohio
pain of a migraine
June 6, 2018
Dear Readers: June is Migraine Awareness Month, which is appropriate for
today’s Sound Off. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Unless you’ve had a migraine headache, there is no way to
describe the pain, nausea and sensitivity to light and sound that people
with a migraine experience. My co-workers and friends think all I need
to do is take an over-the-counter drug and I’ll be fine. Unfortunately,
those drugs don’t help. I need a prescription medication, and if a
migraine starts and I don’t have my medications with me, I’m in serious
“Many people think that a person suffering a migraine is making too much
of it or faking it to get attention. That’s NOT the case! We’re in pain,
so please be patient with us and know that a migraine is so painful that
it’s often physically exhausting.” - Rochelle F., Standish, Maine
Dear Readers: Here are a few uses for old blankets:
Carry one in your trunk for emergencies.
Use to cover plants in cold weather.
Donate them to a pet shelter in your area.
Use to cover stored furniture.
Dear Heloise: When I have friends in the hospital or who are confined to
bed for several days, I make up a bed basket for them. I put in
hand/body lotion, a hair band, hairbrush, candies (if permitted by the
doctor), mints, a couple of magazines, a pen and a notepad. I also
customize the basket for the person, depending on what she likes or
enjoys doing. - Christina K., Gold Beach, Ore.
And this from a
Dear Heloise: After seeing the hint about reading to your children, a
special poem came to mind that all parents should read. Being a
first-grade teacher for many years and a mother of six, I felt compelled
to send it to you. I have given it to my daughters and granddaughters,
who have profited by it as well:
“You may have tangible wealth untold,
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be,
had a mother who read to me.”
Mother in Ohio
Hi, Heloise: To keep long-sleeved shirts from getting tangled in the
wash, try this:
Turn the shirts inside out by reaching up through the shirt from the
bottom and pulling the neck down and out. The sleeves should stay
“trapped” inside the body of the shirt.
Oddly, by the end of the wash cycle, almost all of the shirts will have
turned right side out again, but the laundry is not tangled! - Jackie
in Cabin John, Md.
Parents, teach your children well
May 30, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about giving children too many
“things” and not doing enough “parenting.” - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Having taught school for nearly 20 years, I’ve noticed
that parents seem to think that giving their children computers,
expensive cellphones or designer clothing makes up for not being present
for their child. At teacher/parent conferences, we see fewer parents
than we did just 10 years ago, and when we do see a parent, he or she is
usually making excuses for the child’s bad behavior or blaming the
school for not teaching subjects that need to be taught at home, such as
good manners, personal hygiene and morals.
“Your children are the ONLY thing you will ever leave behind of any real
and lasting value. Never mind ‘quality time’ - kids require a LOT of
time! Teach them your values, morals, family history and compassion for
others. Demand good grades. Remember, children are a reflection of the
parents who raised them.”
- Mrs. E. in Houston
Dear Readers: Got a bunch of old photograph frames? Here’s what you can
do with them:
Print phone numbers of emergency help (police, family members, hospital)
and frame them. Keep near a phone.
Frame a phrase that is memorable and keep it in sight.
Frame a special letter from someone.
Dear Heloise: Is sunscreen actually necessary all year? - Hannah G.
Hannah, yes, it is very important to use sunscreen all year long. This
is especially important on the eyelids, the area surrounding the eye
sockets and the nose. These areas often are overlooked. - Heloise
Egg cooking times
Dear Heloise: I never know how long to cook eggs. Can you help me? -
Anne C., Shelton, Conn.
Scrambled eggs: 1 minute at 250 degrees.
Poached: 3-5 minutes in boiling water.
Fried: 1-2 minutes at 250 degrees F., or done the way you like them on
one side, then flip and cook another 30-60 seconds.
Boiled: 7 minutes in boiling water.
Online dating scams
Dear Heloise: Millions of people use the various online dating sites in
the hope of finding that “special someone.” Sadly, many scammers have
invaded these sites and other social media sites and chat rooms to prey
on vulnerable and trusting users. Here are the things to watch for: (1)
They declare love for you at lightning speed. (2) They send you a
photograph of themselves that looks like a professional model. (3) Some
will say they are U.S. citizens working abroad. (4) They ask for money
for any number of reasons. (5) They ask you to cash checks for them.
This could be a money-laundering scheme! (6) They say they want to visit
you, and although they make plans, they never come. - Charles H.,
down, then live it up
May 23, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about having self-control with credit
cards. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: My husband and I decided to pay off our credit cards, get
out of deep debt and stay out of debt because we’ll both be retiring in
three years. It hasn’t been easy, but we knew we could do it with a
little self-control. Before either of us bought anything, we’d ask
ourselves, ‘Is this purchase necessary?’ ‘How will this benefit us?’ and
finally, ‘Can we live without it?’
“We cleaned out the house and had a huge garage sale, sold our large
house and bought a small home that has less upkeep. We’re happier now
than we’ve ever been, with less ‘stuff,’ and we have more time and money
to travel, pursue hobbies and enjoy life. I only wish we had done this
30 years ago!”
- Jack and Karen F., Cape Coral, Fla.
Dear Readers: Here are additional uses for bank teller envelopes:
Store one in a car’s glove compartment to keep coupons and gift cards
Keep extra change inside one for toll booths.
Use as a catch-all for receipts, loose papers, candy wrappers, etc.
Does your fire
Dear Heloise: Every home needs a fire extinguisher, but what kind and
what size, and do you know how to use it? If your fire extinguisher has
a plastic operating lever, replace it with one that has a metal
operating lever so that it doesn’t clog or break during use. Make sure
you get rechargeable extinguishers serviced at least once a year. If you
need to use your extinguisher, be sure to pull out the safety pin before
using, and try not to panic. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire, not
at the flames.
- Luke T., Royal Oak, Mich.
Online dating sites
Dear Heloise: I want to try a dating site online, but I never know what
to write. Have you got any hints?
- Mary Ann G., Tempe, Ariz.
Mary Ann, start by staying away from cliches, even if you really do like
“walks on the beach at sunset.” Stay positive and upbeat, and above all,
be honest. Ask your close friends to help you with your personal
profile. Also, choose your photos wisely. - Heloise
Fake job scam
Dear Heloise: Scammers are using a new ploy to steal from the
unsuspecting public, and it involves job interviews. The “interviewer”
uses an online video-conferencing service and asks the viewer to
download a file explaining more about the job. What is actually being
downloaded is malware that will access your password, financial
information and whatever else they want. If in doubt, call the company
directly to see if it is legitimate. - Victor N., Sacramento, Calif.
Don't throw it away
May 17, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the billions of dollars of food
that is thrown out every year in America. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Americans waste millions of tons of food each year. It
gets dumped in a landfill, where it rots and produces methane gas, which
is considered a greenhouse gas.
“What can we do to avoid wasting food? You can freeze almost anything,
so why not freeze leftovers? Or plan how much food will be needed for a
meal, and purchase that amount and no more. Plan a leftover night on
Saturday or Friday. Even if food is on sale, don’t buy it unless you
know you’ll use it all.”
- Melissa F., Berkeley, Calif.
Dear Readers: May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, so to help avoid skin
Wear a hat outdoors.
See a dermatologist regularly.
Is stress killing
Dear Heloise: One of the most serious health issues today is stress. As
a yoga teacher, I see people every day who are trying to find ways to
cope with their stress levels. I’ve found that there are three easy
methods to help us handle stress in our lives:
1. Stop multitasking: Focus on doing a good job on one thing at a time.
2. Meditate: Set aside at least 10 to 15 minutes per day to sit in a
comfortable position, close your eyes, focus on your breathing and let
your mind go blank.
3. Stop checking your electronic gadgets: Some people check email, text
messages and social media every few minutes. Instead, schedule a block
of time at the end or beginning of each day for those tasks.
Brenda W., Yakima, Wash.
Dear Heloise: Many people are timid about asking for a “senior
discount,” but people over 62 always should ask if there is a senior
discount on services and products. You can save on things such as
cellphones, restaurants, hotels, entertainment, national park entry
fees, auto insurance/repairs and medications. But you MUST ASK if a
discount is offered, and discounts can, and sometimes do, vary or change
without notice. - Helen M., Orlando, Fla.
Dear Heloise: Old tires can be hung on a farmer’s fence with “no
trespassing” written on it, or paint a tire purple, which is a sign to
hunters meaning “no hunting allowed.”
Old tires also can be put on top of farm implements for weight. So don’t
throw out those old tires!
- Kent R., Rago, Kan.
No more bunny ears
Dear Heloise: Recently, I purchased a small television, but found I
couldn’t afford cable. I now use an “indoor antenna.” These are not the
rabbit ears of the 1950s, and I don’t need anything on my roof. It’s
connected with a TV antenna jack (and all TVs have an antenna jack).
There are a variety of indoor antennas, so search online for the best
price and service. - Meghan W., Charleston, S.C.
toys off the street
May 9, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about children’s toys left in the
street. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: The street I live on has several young families with very
young children. Every day, they leave their tricycles, bikes and toys in
the street. I’m worried that one day, one of the children will run out
into the road to retrieve a toy and will get hit by a car. It’s nearly
happened a couple of times. Why don’t parents teach their children to
pick up their toys and keep them out of the road? This is a serious
situation that may one day have tragic results.” - Diana J., via
Dear Readers: Here are some things to take when visiting a patient in
Magazines and books on subjects he or she enjoys.
Body lotion/hand cream/lip balm.
Notecards with stamps.
Slippers or thick socks.
Yourself - spend some time with the person to keep loneliness away.
Save those eggshells
Dear Heloise: As an avid reader and bird lover, please tell your readers
not to throw away eggshells. Toss them in the yard for the birds. Crows
and robins and many other birds pick them up to eat. The calcium in the
shells makes their own eggshells stronger. - Bootsie D., Trinity,
Dear Heloise: I did it again: I ran out of diapers! I think nearly every
parent has, at one point or another. I started storing diapers and wipes
in the glove compartment, to be used only in an emergency. It has been a
lifesaver on more than one occasion. - Pam L., Beaverton, Ore.
Dear Heloise: I tried a sugar-and-olive-oil scrub for my face, and it’s
wonderful! My skin is smoother and brighter-looking. One tablespoon of
sugar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil - that’s all it took!
- Jane, Dorset, England
Dear Heloise: As a makeup artist, I see many women on the street who do
not blend their makeup properly. Don’t just apply blush; get a clean,
soft brush and blend it out toward the hairline. If you’ve applied too
much blush, lightly powder over it with your face powder. No more harsh
- Joanna N., Burbank, Calif.
Dear Heloise: I found that if you spray an eyebrow brush with hair
spray, then brush your brows upward while the brush is still wet with
hair spray, your brows will look good all day long. - Cindy T., Erie,
No greasy chips
Dear Heloise: I pour chips and crackers onto a napkin before eating
them. This helps to drain and absorb some of the excess grease. -
JoAnne E., Hammond, Ind.
A waste of food?
May 2, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about edible food being tossed out at
places that serve food. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: I have heard that a lot of the uneaten food at
restaurants is thrown out at closing time instead of being given to the
poor or even to employees! Even animal charities can use some of the
food. I know these places worry that someone will claim that he or she
picked up food poisoning, but I seriously doubt the homeless, the
disadvantaged or the elderly who live on next to nothing would mind if
the food was left over from the day. If it’s still edible, why not feed
those who can use it, rather than throwing it in a landfill? It’s waste
of the worst kind!” - Jessica S. in Texas
Dear Readers: For the housebound, make up a basket with the following
Tube of hand cream
Medications he or she will need
Small package of tissues
Bottled water (with a cap)
Hiding a compost pile
Dear Heloise: I want to start a compost pile, but they’re not very
attractive. Any suggestions on where to put it and how to disguise it?
- Holly D., Lake Charles, La.
Holly, probably the best place is in a back corner of the backyard.
It’ll be easy to use, but to conceal it, try growing a double row of
sunflowers or any combination of high- and low-growing plants. Be sure
to use some kind of containment for the compost pile, such as concrete
blocks, shipping pallets on end or a huge bin. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I save the lids from things like cottage cheese, yogurt,
sour cream, etc., and use them under items such as bottles of oil,
jellies and jams, honey or just about anything that is sticky and messy.
It saves me having to scrub and scrape my shelves. - Meghan V., Los
Dear Heloise: I inherited a beautiful black pearl necklace from my
grandmother, but I need to have the pearls restrung. How do I keep them
as nice-looking as my grandmother kept them?
- Emily O., Lowell, Mass.
Emily, I love pearls! First, to clean them, use a very soft cloth and a
cup of water with just a drop of shampoo in it. Gently clean each pearl,
rinse with water, then dry with another clean cloth. To keep them
looking good, wipe them down with a clean cloth after each wearing. When
you have the pearls restrung, ask the jeweler to tie a knot between each
pearl, so if the strand breaks, you will only lose one pearl.
Dear Heloise: I have a bamboo backscratcher that I keep in the laundry
room and use to pull clothes from the back of the dryer. No stooping and
stretching to reach. - Tom F., Canyon Lake, Texas
Veterans are the target of scammers
April 25, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about veterans who are singled out by
scammers. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Scammers are targeting American veterans with various
schemes to take advantage of them. Veterans should be very wary of any
phone calls that are unsolicited. That includes someone who asks you to
pay a fee, create a trust or buy an annuity to be eligible for an
assistance program. General information on veterans benefits can be
found online at: http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/vetpen.asp.
NEVER give out personal or financial information over the phone to
anyone. According to AARP, a veteran is twice as likely as a nonveteran
to be targeted by scammers, so be on your guard.”
- Robert G., Washington, D.C.
Dear Readers: Got an extra magnet at home? Here are some uses for it:
Use to pick up needles and pins on the floor.
Use to hold notes on the refrigerator.
At the laundromat, place one on the door of a washer or dryer to show
which one is yours.
Put one on a dishwasher to signal when the dishes are clean or dirty.
Great questions to
Dear Heloise: As a widow, I’ve had to manage on one income with two
kids. To keep from derailing my budget when I’m tempted to splurge on
something frivolous, I always ask myself: First, do I really need this
or just want it? Second, how is this going to benefit my children or
myself? Lastly, if I buy this, what do I have to give up to afford it?
This has saved me from some very foolish expenditures.
- Pat J., Springfield, Ore.
Dear Heloise: So many elderly people are isolated and need interaction
with someone - a family member, neighbor or friend to talk to or visit
with. The effects of isolation and loneliness have a negative influence
on a person’s mental and physical well-being, and are often the cause of
depression. If you don’t know how to get started or need a list of
places that help the elderly, go to: Connect2affect.org.
- Irene D., Gainesville, Fla.
Dear Heloise: When we stay at a hotel for more than three nights, we
always leave a tip for the maids. We put the money in an envelope with
“For housekeeping” written on it, and leave it in the room on a desk.
- Penny N., Fort Wayne, Ind.
In a jam
Dear Heloise: The retractable handle on my wheeled suitcase was jamming.
Before replacing it, I decided to lubricate the handle with a commercial
lubricating oil. It worked like a charm. - Linda W., via email
April 18, 2018
Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about waiting even though you have an
“Dear Heloise: Since when is it OK to have an appointment at 10 a.m. and
not get in until 11:30 a.m.? There are no emergencies for these people;
they just seem to be overbooking. How do your readers feel about this?”
- Liz V. in San Antonio
Liz, I understand your frustrations. I have friends who’ll wait no more
than 15 minutes at an appointment, then leave. Readers, what do you do?
Dear Heloise: Got an old baby bathtub? There are still some great uses
It makes a wonderful pet bathtub for small animals.
I take mine camping so I can wash dishes in it.
My husband fills it with warm, soapy water and soaks his feet in it.
My sister, a clothing designer, uses hers to dye fabric.
Helen K., Alpena, Mich.
Dear Heloise: After reading Rita’s idea about a reward message for
returning a lost cellphone, I thought of another idea: I downloaded a
free doodle app to my phone and wrote on my screen photo: “If found call
(I put in my husband’s phone number). Reward for return of phone.” This
way, if someone finds my phone, he or she will have my information
without unlocking my phone. - An Avid Reader, The Villages, Fla.
Dear Heloise: Living out in the country, I often take long walks, and I
notice stones along the road. Some have interesting markings; others are
a pretty color. I started to collect these stones and found uses for
them. I put them in the bottom of vases, about 3 inches deep, fill with
water and put cut flowers in the vase. This not only keeps the vase from
tipping over, but helps to hold the flowers in place. I also fill
attractive glass containers with these stones and display them on a long
buffet table in my dining room.
- Kelly W., Santa Fe, N.M.
Dear Heloise: I read in your column about the exhausted folks who dread
the arrival of houseguests at their vacation home. Here are a few ideas
from someone who has experience with this:
Always ask your guests to bring their own sheets and towels (and take
those items home with them).
Plan easy meals where everyone cooks (even the kids).
Ask your guests to plan something special as entertainment, either at
home or by taking you out.
You can welcome them without dread! - Susan G., Forestburgh, N.Y.
An act of kindness
April 11, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about the thoughtfulness of people.
“Dear Heloise: Recently I became very ill. I called my hairdresser to
let her know I’d have to cancel my appointment, despite the fact that my
hair was a mess and needed to be cut. She offered to come to my house
and do my hair that afternoon, and believe me, I was so grateful for her
kindness. I want to thank those who come to our aid with very little
fanfare, who aren’t getting rich, but they go that extra mile for
someone else in need. For those you help, your kindness and generosity
mean the world.”
- Nell K. in San Antonio
Dear Readers: Here’s how to recycle 2-liter plastic soft drink bottles:
Cut off the bottoms and use as covers for tender new plants if
Cut off the bottom, leaving a 2- to 3-inch rim, and use as a snack bowl,
water or food bowl for a pet, etc.
Make a seed starter out of the bottom half.
Cut off the top and use as a funnel when pouring salt or sugar into
Dear Heloise: Want to attract butterflies? When planning your garden
this year, think of butterflies. They like to gather at wet spots to
drink water. Set out an old cookie sheet or plate, with a little gravel
lining the bottom, and keep it wet. You also can wet brick pavers and
watch the butterflies sip water from the various depressions in the
brick. - Jill E., Tupelo, Miss.
Why is saffron
Dear Heloise: I love Spanish and Indian cooking, but when I went to
purchase the spice saffron, I was floored at the expense! - Gloria
P., Bend, Ore.
Gloria, saffron is harvested by hand from the fall-flowering crocus, but
there are only three threads of saffron in each flower; 1 pound of
saffron requires 1 acre of flowers (about 70,000 crocus flowers).
Because it’s so expensive, it’s often mixed with turmeric. Usually, you
need only a pinch of saffron to about a cup of rice.
Dear Heloise: What is the difference between “sell by date” and
- Karen T., Chubbuck, Idaho
Karen, “sell by” is the last date the item should be sold before it’s
pulled from the store shelf. The “expiration date” is the last date the
item should be sold or eaten. - Heloise
Letter of laughter
Dear Heloise: Recently, I baby-sat for a friend who has a 6-year-old
boy. He asked me if I “had any babies,” and I said, “No.” He then said,
“Well, you better get some babies soon, because you’re old.” I asked him
how old he thought I was. He said, “One hundred.” I am 33. - A
Reader, via email
April 4, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about volunteering. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Maybe you’ve heard the expression ‘Many hands make the
workload light.’ It’s true, and never more so than for organizations
that are on a tight budget, such as animal shelters, services for the
elderly and children’s organizations. If any of your readers are
thinking of volunteering, pick an organization and help out when you
can. To those who already volunteer, thank you many times over. Your
help is invaluable, and your service to your community is very much
appreciated.” - Hazel W., Wabash, Ind.
Dear Readers: Got empty tissue boxes? Reuse them:
To store small plastic grocery bags.
As tissue receptacles for used tissues when you have cold.
To store cotton balls.
In a laundry room to hold lint from the dryer.
From pottery to path
Dear Heloise: Got broken pottery? Broken watches or old jewelry you
never wear? Make steppingstones out of them by pouring cement into a
shallow cardboard box or an old pie or cake tin. When it has set a
little, press glass pebbles, broken pottery, watch parts or anything you
want into the surface. When the cement has set up completely, turn it
out (a cardboard box works best for this), and you have a one-of-a-kind
concrete steppingstone for your garden. -DeeDee B., Cheyenne, Wyo.
Dear Heloise: I live on a street that’s dark and has no street lights.
To make finding our place easier for guests, especially after dark, I
put a blue bulb in our porch light and just tell them to look for the
house with the blue light. - Andrea L., via email
Dear Heloise: Can you name some flowering plants for me that are
deer-resistant plants? The deer are destroying my yard. - Jane P.,
Here are some common flowers that deer don’t like:
American holly, bleeding heart, buttercup, cactus, daffodil, flowering
tobacco, gladiolus, lavender, lily of the valley, peony, sweet alyssum
and thyme. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: When wrapping a wedding gift, I always put the card inside
the box so it doesn’t get lost, and I put my address label on the
envelope so the couple will have it handy when they write thank-you
notes. This is especially handy if someone wants to include cash or a
check with the gift.
- Randall J., Blountville, Tenn.
Dear Heloise: To avoid running out of checks, I place a sticky note on a
check that’s two checks from the last one to remind me to carry a fresh
stack of checks with me. This way, I don’t run out while I’m out
shopping. - Vickie H., Hammond, La.
March 28, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about visitors and visiting hours at
hospitals. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: As an RN in a busy hospital, we often need to ask people
to leave so the patient can get some rest, or to take a crying,
sometimes screaming, toddler out of the hospital. We have patients who
are very ill, and they need peace and quiet to recover.
“If a patient is dying, we gladly allow family members to stay in the
room IF they are quiet and do not have a child under the age of 14 with
them. Sometimes nurses are asked to ‘keep an eye’ on someone’s child,
but we’re so busy with our duties and patients that we cannot assume
- Lisa W. in Buffalo
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for extra buttons:
Teach children to make jewelry out of them by stringing them together.
Use to decorate gift packages.
Use as decoration on clothing.
If you have enough of one kind, change out buttons on an old garment to
give it a new look.
Toad in the garden
Dear Heloise: So many gardens benefit from having a toad or two to keep
down pests. They’ll eat insects and will even devour slugs. A small pond
or just a shallow dish of water will keep them happy and safe, but also
provide some type of shelter, such as a clay pot on its side. - Fred
D., Southfield, Mich.
Moving cactus plants
Dear Heloise: I need to move my cactus plants from a small planter to my
garden, but I don’t know how to transplant them without getting hurt.
- Kathleen M., Los Gatos, Calif.
Kathleen, use tongs to gently lift the cactus out of the old pot and
into the new location. Use the tongs to keep the cactus upright as you
spoon dirt around the cactus roots. The back of the spoon or a trowel
can be used to press the dirt down around the roots. - Heloise
Risotto versus rice
Dear Heloise: What is the difference between risotto and rice? - Jim
Y., Lawton, Okla.
Jim, risotto usually is made from Arborio rice. The name “risotto” is
that of a finished dish, and not the rice itself. Risotto is made by
quickly sauteing the rice in olive oil or butter, followed by adding
some stock and stirring continuously until the rice absorbs the stock,
at which time a little more stock is added and stirred for about 20 to
30 minutes. Generally, meats, fish or vegetables are added to this
Italian dish. - Helois
New life for old
Dear Heloise: I have an old teapot that was given to me by my
great-grandmother, but I dropped the lid, which broke into many pieces.
I put a plant in the teapot, and it now grows on the windowsill in the
kitchen. - Patty G., Lincoln, Neb.
Disgusting diaper disposal
March 14, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about disposable diapers that are not
disposed of properly. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Nothing seems to be as disgusting as seeing a used
disposable diaper lying in a parking lot, on the ground at a campground
or anywhere other than in a trash receptacle. If you need to change your
baby’s diaper, carry plastic shopping bags with you, and put the diaper
in them until you can get to a proper trash can. It’s an unsanitary and
unnecessary habit to just toss a used diaper any other place except into
a trash can.” - Claire T., Scottsbluff, Neb.
Dear Readers: Here are some things we forget to sanitize but should:
The handles on refrigerator doors.
A computer mouse.
Dear Heloise: There are no ashtrays in my home. They remind me of my
mother’s suffering from emphysema. There are plenty of small dishes that
could be used instead. - Marsha M., via email
Marsha, yes, and there are other things you can use in place of an
ashtray for visitors who smoke: flat seashells, baby-food jars and
shallow pet food cans, to name a few. - Heloise
A lesson learned
Dear Heloise: Please tell your readers to wash all of their makeup
brushes and applicators at least once a week! I learned this the hard
way by being careless about cleaning my makeup tools and brushes, and
ended up with a terrible skin infection. It’s cost me a considerable
amount of money to clear up, and left my skin looking rough and scarred.
- Maddy H., Camp Hill, Pa.
Cleaning doggy paws
Dear Heloise: On rainy days, my pups like to go for walks or out to the
yard, and they come in with muddy paws. I use old bath towels (usually
cut into quarters) to wipe off their paws before they track mud all over
the house. These old towels can be washed and reused, and are better for
the environment than paper towels. - Lois R., Fargo, N.D.
Tons of trophies
Dear Heloise: My ex-husband left 42 trophies behind when he moved out,
and I’d like to get rid of them. Can anyone else use these items? -
Tiffany M., Fort Wayne, Ind.
Tiffany, yes, try the Salvation Army, or possibly, if they are in good
shape, remove the nameplates and ask if a local high school could use
them. There also are athletic organizations that might be interested,
such as the Junior League or a bowling team. - Heloise
Don’t lose your
Dear Heloise: At work last week, I lost the back to my earring. I have
pierced ears, and the earrings I had on were some of my favorites. I
took a pencil with an eraser on the end, cut off the eraser part and
used it as an earring back. Worked like a charm! - Corky W., Fort
No deposit, just return
March 14, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about grocery-store customers. -
“Dear Heloise: Why do customers take a product off the shelves, then
later decide they don’t want it and place that item in another part of
the store? We often find melting ice cream or defrosting meats in
various aisles where they don’t belong. Please return those items to
their proper place, or hand them to the checkout clerk, and he or she
will take care of it. Remember, store loss means higher prices to make
up for that loss.
“Also, the store is not a playground, and children all too often get
hurt when running through the store. Please keep an eye on your children
to keep them safe from injury and ‘stranger dangers.’”
- Andrea V., Boca Raton, Fla.
Dear Heloise: I’ve got several kitchen timers around the house, as they
can be used for various tasks:
Use a timer in the bathroom to help kids remember to keep brushing their
Use at the gym to time yourself on the equipment.
Use a timer to limit phone conversations.
Got a small water heater? Limit shower time with a kitchen timer.
Linda Y., Wheeling, W.Va.
Dear Heloise: My shower head is clogged with hard-water deposits. How do
I remove the deposits?
- Denise A. in San Antonio
Denise, you can remove the shower head and soak it in full-strength
vinegar overnight, or fill a plastic bag with vinegar and slip it up
over the shower head so that it is totally submerged in vinegar. Let it
soak overnight, and in the morning, remove the bag and scrub the head
with a clean brush. There’s nothing like the full force of a shower to
wake you up in the morning. If you like this hint, I have many more uses
for vinegar in my Fantabulous Vinegar Hints and More pamphlet. To order
a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long
envelope, to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX
78279-5001. Or you can order online at www. Heloise.com. Pour the
vinegar from the plastic bag into the toilet to freshen the bowl. Leave
it for about five minutes, then flush. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: To avoid having cleaning chemicals drip into my
toilet-brush holder, I keep the brush in the toilet and flush a couple
of times to sort of clean it before placing it back in the holder.
- Georgia H., Kona, Hawaii
Dear Heloise: If you want to have a beautiful wedding but are on a tight
budget, set the amount you can spend, and don’t go over it. Figure out
how much you’ll need for flowers, food, clothes and other things, then
start cutting back if you don’t have the funds. When the wedding is over
and all the excitement dies down, you’ll be glad you stuck to your
budget! It’s better to have a small, intimate wedding and have money
left to put down on a house than to go into debt to have a splashy
affair. - Lara G. in Miami
March 7, 2018
Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off is about the American
casual way of living. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Why don't Americans dress up anymore? You rarely see
people in most parts of the country get dressed up to go out to dinner,
or for special occasions. I recently noticed a couple of young women
wearing jeans and a T-shirts in church. I miss the days when women
dressed stylishly in beautiful dresses when they went out for dinner in
a nice restaurant, or to the opera. Now, so many women throw on sloppy
attire and consider themselves dressed for the day. It's as though our
national pride in ourselves has gone.” - Wallace T., Brandywine, Del.
Dear Heloise: My husband and I received several lovely picture frames as
wedding gifts. We've used some of them for things other than just
I put a copy of my wedding invitation in a beautiful frame.
There is a poem my husband wrote to me in another one.
Pressed flowers (a hobby of mine) are in one.
I put a recipe card in one from the night my husband cooked dinner for
me and asked me to marry him.
Ashley G., Tupelo, Miss.
This takes the cake
Dear Heloise: Some of us ladies here in Texas have found numerous ways
to reuse the clear, plastic covers on store-bought cakes. You can store
paper plates in the larger ones, mix a salad in them, cut up fresh fruit
in one, or in a pinch they can be used as a washbasin for dirty little
hands and faces.
- Eighties Ladies in Abilene, Texas
Dear Heloise: After using red nail polish on my nails, they began to
yellow. I used a whitening toothpaste on them to remove the yellow. I
rubbed it on each nail, let it sit for 10 minutes, and my nails were
much whiter. To prevent that yellow color, I found out you have to use a
clear coat of nail polish on your nails before you put any color on
them. - Jen H., Wahiawa, Oahu, Hawaii
Dear Heloise: I have trouble using a zipper on clothing due to
arthritis, so my husband took a large paper clip and attached it to each
zipper, and that made it much easier to hold, which helps me dress
- Ruth D., Findlay, Ohio
Return on your
Dear Heloise: As an artist, I carry samples of my work with me when I
visit a client. Somehow I managed to leave my work in a cabbie's trunk
while in a large city. About a week later, the portfolio, with all my
samples, was mailed back to me because I had put my name and address on
it. It's a good idea to label all important items. - Ken S.,
Pets on the inside
Feb. 28, 2018
Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off is about the treatment of family pets:
“Dear Heloise: Over this past winter, I've noticed far too many people
who leave their dogs or cats outside in freezing temperatures. I'm not
talking about a chow or a husky - dogs that are bred for colder climates
- but dogs that have a short coat or are very small. A doghouse offers
little protection from the cold unless it's heated. Our pets need to be
inside in any extreme weather condition, whether it's a hot summer day
or a cold winter night. A dog or cat is a family member and needs to be
treated as such.”
- Anita S., Milford, Conn.
Anita, you make a very valid point. Dogs and cats are domesticated
animals and need to be kept indoors, fed regularly and kept clean. -
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for the plastic scoops that come
in large coffee cans:
Keep one in each canister containing flour, sugar, salt, etc.
Keep one in the container of bath salts in the bathroom.
Scoop out just enough fertilizer to sprinkle around a plant.
Scoop up a dead bug or snail in the garden.
Freezer bag freeze-up
Dear Heloise: I put meat in freezer bags and place them in my freezer,
but I have a problem with the bags sticking to the freezer itself. How
can I avoid this? - Wendy S., Stratton, Ohio
Wendy, if you are not using bags that are designed specifically for the
freezer, you'll experience sticking problems. The thinner sandwich bags
or plastic wrap will not work as well as proper freezer bags. Make sure
the bags are dry on the outside. - Heloise
Give floppy boots the
Dear Heloise: I put bottles in my winter boots to keep them upright. You
can use liter water bottles, wine bottles, etc., whether empty or
filled. Just make sure the bottles are clean and capped to prevent
- Mary H., Arlington, Va.
That’s using your
Dear Heloise: Save the worn heads of your electric toothbrush. You can
use them to turn the brush into a mini powered scrub brush, perfect for
cleaning around faucets and drains. - Dan in Alexandria, Va.
Dan, it's also a great way to clean grout lines and jewelry. -
Defining a goal
Dear Heloise: Writing down a goal on paper helps me achieve it. Leaving
a note on my cellphone is not the same thing. The tactile feeling of
writing makes me commit to a project and a goal!
- Julian H., age 17, Fort Wayne, Ind.
need to read for children
Feb. 22, 2018
Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off is about people who don't read to their
children or encourage their children to read. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Study after study has found that parents should read
aloud to their children from the time they're born through elementary
school. Having taught school for over 22 years, I've noticed that
children who were read aloud to at home developed better verbal skills,
better writing skills and a larger vocabulary.
“Unfortunately, many parents today don't read to their children. I've
heard adults say they don't have time to read to their children, but
they need to turn off the TV and make time. Your children are the only
thing you'll leave behind of any real and lasting importance, so start
reading aloud to them, and make them read aloud to you to improve their
communication skills.” - Mary Beth M., Amherst, N.H.
Dear Readers: Before you throw away that older lemon, here are some uses
After cutting an onion, just rub your hands with half a lemon to remove
Want to bring out the shine in your hair? Use the juice of one lemon in
a cup of water to do the final rinse on your hair after washing it.
Take half of a lemon dipped in coarse salt on the cut side and, in a
circular motion, clean the bottom of copper pots to remove tarnish.
Garbage disposal smell musty? Cut a lemon into quarters and grind it up
in your disposal.
Taking her name
Dear Heloise: Although it is traditional for a woman to take a husband's
name, my fiancé and I have come to an agreement on a last name: He never
liked his last name, so he wants to take my last name after we are
married. His mother keeps telling me that it's not legal, but in fact, a
woman taking a husband's last name is nothing more than tradition, and a
marriage is legal no matter what surname you use.
- Ashley N., Bloomfield, N.J.
Ashley, you also can hyphenate your last names, or combine the two
surnames into a new last name, but no matter what you do, your
marriage's legal status is not in danger if your husband wants to take
your last name. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: To avoid rubbery gelatin, especially on the bottom, add
one capful of vinegar to the mixture after you boil the water. You won't
taste it, and it keeps the gelatin from forming that rubbery substance
on the bottom. - Karen H., Kinston, N.C.
Dear Heloise: I like to serve cocktails before a dinner party, but I
limit the “happy hour” to only 45 to 60 minutes before dinner. This way,
people can mingle and chat, but not overindulge in alcohol before they
eat. A long cocktail hour on an empty stomach usually makes people
sleepy, sick or inebriated.
- Laura W., Holyoke, Mass.
Contain that garbage!
Feb. 14, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about nursing homes. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: My father is in a nursing home and needs around-the-clock
care. The nursing staff takes excellent care of him and provides the
cheer and warmth I wish I could provide but can’t since I’m working full
time. As a single mother, I have no choice except to hold down a
“Many of these unsung heroes go about their daily tasks without
expecting praise or acknowledgement, but without their help, life for my
father would be very difficult. They keep him engaged in activities,
bathe him, feed him and see to it that he takes his medications. Even
though my sons and I spend as much time with him as we can, it’s still
not enough. I’m grateful for the caring staff at his nursing home who
provide so much and ask for so little in return.” - Susan J.,
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for plastic grocery bags:
Wrap shoes in them when traveling.
Cut through the handles and use as a child’s bib.
Stuff cloth dolls or homemade teddy bears with old plastic bags.
Use during cooking to put food scraps, bones, etc., in and then take out
to the trash.
Return to a recycling center.
Beating the winter
Dear Heloise: This is the time of year when people can become a little
sad or depressed because of overcast days and the early darkness of
night. It’s at times like this that a “mood booster” helps to dispel the
feeling that winter will never end. Here are some suggestions:
1.) Open the blinds and curtains, and get as much natural light in your
home as you can. Use bright colors (or a bright white) on your walls and
upholstery. Get rid of all clutter, and make sure your place is clean.
2.) As soon as you get up in the morning, make your bed. You’ll feel as
though you’ve accomplished something worthwhile.
3.) Stay active. Go for walks, sign up for a dance class of some kind,
go to the gym or try some new activity. Exercise always helps boost a
4.) Stay in contact with friends and family, and don’t be afraid to ask
for their support and encouragement on dark days. A phone call, a chat
over hot cocoa, a handwritten letter, or a text or an email can help you
5.) Eat a healthy diet, avoid alcohol and limit the amount of caffeine
you drink. Pamper yourself with a long, hot shower, or a pedicure, or
maybe a facial.
Lorraine C. in Illinois