Today’s Sound Off is about offering help without being asked. -
“Dear Heloise: Why do
friends and relatives who know they have a sick or elderly friend or
family member wait to be asked before they agree to help? They offer
thoughts and prayers. While that is very much appreciated, they seem to
forget that there are regular chores that a relative needs help with.
The relative may be too proud for his or her own good and might feel
that asking is admitting weakness. Sometimes the person wants someone to
say: ‘I see your yard needs to be mowed. Would you let me do that for
“Just open your eyes, folks, look around and see where there’s a need,
and offer to help.”
- Karol K., Troy, Ohio
Dear Readers: Out of wrapping paper? Here are some substitutions for
Use an old map or a comic section of the newspaper.
Use a bandana for smaller gifts.
Use deflated, shiny helium balloons.
Dear Heloise: I save toilet-paper centers when a roll is finished. They
provide excellent mild abrasion for things, such as scuff marks on
wooden floors (especially ones made by rubber), by rubbing the mark with
a flattened center. The centers, along with a liquid cleaner, are useful
for cleaning ceramic stovetops. Woodworkers can use them on varnished
surfaces, after all the sandpapering is finished, to produce a truly
fine surface. - Jack M., Silver Spring, Md.
Unsubscribe to mags
Dear Heloise: I keep getting magazines I did not subscribe to, with some
even "welcoming” me back! It’s next to impossible to stop this flow of
unwanted magazines in my mailbox. Is there something I can do to make it
stop? - Vicki S., Farmington, Ark.
Vicki, try this hint: Write to a magazine’s subscription department by
email or a letter, and let it know that you do not want the magazine,
you did not subscribe to the publication and you are canceling ALL
further deliveries. Include your name, address and phone number.
Also, you can register at dmachoice.org to stop unsolicited mail. Go to
the website for more information.
Dear Heloise: Here is an idea to start seeds in your kitchen and later
to transplant them in your garden: Take the bottom of an egg carton,
fill each egg slot with dirt and plant a seed in each one. The best
place for them is on a windowsill. Water them, and later transplant the
seedlings in your garden.
- Leigh H., Marion, S.C.
Feb. 13, 2019
Dear Readers: Today's SOUND OFF is about age discrimination. -
I retired last year from a job I held for over 25 years. I'm in
excellent health, and I want to work part time. Before I retired, I was
a district manager and well-respected in my field. My resume was done
professionally and mentions the awards and achievements of my career.
The problem is, no one seems to want to hire people my age.
ÒI'm not alone, because I've
heard the same thing from other retirees who want to put in an honest
day's work but can't get hired. We'll work for the money that's offered;
we'll show up on time and do the job. We have so much experience and
numerous skills, but age discrimination is our biggest problem.
Employers should really take a second look at retirees and give us a
chance to show how loyal, trustworthy and reliable a senior employee can
be when given the opportunity." - Roger H., South Bend, Ind.
Dear Readers: For those who
receive a daily paper, here are some suggestions for the plastic sleeves
that go over the newspaper:
- Use as an umbrella cover for
- Decorative outdoor banners can
be stored in them.
- Slip over golf clubs for
Improve your health
Dear Heloise: Improving your
health is as easy as brushing and flossing your teeth, or so says my
dentist. Is this really true? - Alicia V., Lincoln, N.D.
Alicia, yes, it's true. Research
has found a link between oral care and overall health. Bacteria will in
time build up in the mouth, making the gums susceptible to infection.
Before long, the infection becomes gum disease, which affects the whole
body. Your dentist can tell you more in detail.
Readers, I strongly suggest
making an appointment with your dentist for a cleaning and X-rays to
ensure you stay as healthy as possible. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: My daughter-in-law
was given a medication for my grandson, and the nurse told her to give
him 1 teaspoonful at bedtime. It's even written on the bottle's label.
The following day, I noticed half the bottle was gone! My
daughter-in-law had inadvertently overdosed my grandson, apparently
believing that if a little is good, more is even better. Please tell
your readers that it's crucial to read the prescription label, listen to
the doctor's instructions and follow them to the letter. My grandson
suffered no long-lasting harm, but not all children will be as lucky as
he was. - Y. in Texas
Dear Heloise: How can I get my
husband to remember me on Valentine's Day? He says it's a made-up
celebration so shopkeepers can make money. He doesn't even give me a
card. - Poppy in Washington
Poppy, it's time for a sit-down
with your husband to let him know it hurts your feelings when he ignores
you on Valentine's Day. Your husband will make points with you if he
remembers to buy you a box of candy or flowers, or does some thoughtful
gesture. - Heloise
work and no pay?
Feb. 7, 2019
Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off is about an unethical practice by
In 1995, I went to work as a desk clerk at a motel. All I had to do was
check people in or out and take reservations. Over the next five years,
management kept adding more and more chores, until I was folding
laundry, checking the pool chemicals, picking up the Christmas tree for
the lobby, cleaning up the breakfast area, cleaning rooms the maids
forgot to clean and even taking a co-worker to the emergency room at 2
a.m. All this with no increase in pay! It was blatantly unfair."
- Ann W., Fort Wayne, Ind.
Ann, we get many letters like yours every week. Employers depend on
loyal employees to fill gaps where additional help is needed.
Unfortunately, they sometimes neglect to increase that employee's
paycheck or offer some kind of reward for these additional tasks. That's
how they lose a valued member of their staff.
Dear Readers: Here are some uses
for plastic grocery bags:
- Use to double-bag wet kitchen
- Use outside to collect weeds
and other debris in the yard.
- Slip over your hand and use as
a pooper-scooper when walking your dog.
- Put shoes inside when packing
for a trip.
Dear Heloise: My husband takes
vitamins, and that's good, but I think he overdoes it with all the
vitamin supplements he takes daily. What do you think? - Delores T.,
Delores, too much of certain
vitamins may cause health problems. Your best bet is to consult with
your doctor on what vitamins your husband should be taking. - Heloise
Stay close to your grandkids
Dear Heloise: As a marriage and
family counselor, I see a lot of families that have drifted apart, but
none sadder than a grandparent who wants to be closer to the
grandchildren. Whether they live in the same city or a thousand miles
away, I always recommend calling the grandchildren frequently to stay in
touch. Make your questions specific rather than open-ended, and have
short calls rather than long ones, especially when the child is very
young. Video calls also are a good way to stay in contact. Just be sure
to never call after the child's bedtime or at mealtimes. - Marion B.,
Makeup makeup magic for mature women
Dear Heloise: My sister reads
your column daily, so maybe you can drop a hint for her. Her makeup
makes her look like a clown, and at 53 years of age, that's not a good
look for a professional woman.
- A Reader, Majestic, Ky.
A mature woman needs a light hand
with her makeup: Soft colors and all blush MUST be blended and
natural-looking. This really is a case of "less is more." - Heloise
Jan. 31, 2019
Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off
is a follow-up about resumes. - Heloise
"Dear Heloise: I saw a recent letter in your column about resume
mistakes. I get resumes every day here in Human Resources, and I think
about 90 percent of the ones we get are so poorly written, they're
almost funny. But the seriousness of job hunting is NOT funny. There are
thousands of people looking for work, so here are some suggestions to
avoid common mistakes:
"Misspellings and misuse: Never
misuse a word or misspell words on your resume. Example: 'There' for
'their' or 'to' for 'two.' Spellcheck is your new best friend.
"Lies: I can promise you, you'll
get caught. Employers aren't gullible, and many now do a complete
background and credit check. Didn't graduate from college? Don't say you
"Gaps in employment: Every
employer wonders what you did if there are large gaps in employment. Did
you use that time to acquire new skills or certification/training in
your field? If so, add it to your resume.
"Limit your resume: Keep it short
and to the point. One page is best, but NEVER more than two pages. Avoid
slang and humor.
"DO NOT give out references
(unless you're asked for them), list your hobbies or send a handwritten
resume. If you want the job, a well-written resume is the first step to
let your employer see your potential.
- Wade M. in New York
Dear Readers: Here are some handy
uses for tall potato chip cans:
- Store knitting needles in them.
- Keep fireplace matches in them.
- Store uncooked spaghetti
- Store beads, sequins or other
small craft items in them.
A one-dish meal
Dear Heloise: My husband came up
with this idea: Cook one box of macaroni and cheese. When done, stir in
some lean chunks of ham. It makes a great one-dish meal. - B.P.,
The Land of Lost Socks
Dear Heloise: Whenever I wash my
daughter's baby socks, they seem to get lost! Any hints on how to keep
track of them? - Ava J., Rosedale, Md.
Ava, those little items get lost
so easily! Just take a safety pin and attach them to a larger item, such
as a towel. They wash nicely and come through the dryer without getting
lost. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: Help! My closets
have a musty smell. How can I get rid of it? - Jerrie L., Raton, N.M
Jerrie, make sure your closets are well-ventilated by keeping the doors
open at night or during the day while you're at work. Never put dirty or
damp clothes in your closet, not even in a hamper. You also can try
putting baking soda in a bowl or jar without a lid and placing it in a
corner of your closet. - Heloise
Jan. 23, 2019
Dear Readers: Here's another
Sound Off about the phony calls people get. - Heloise
'Dear Heloise: I read in your
column recently about scammers, and I thought I'd add my 2 cents. It
seems like every other phone call I get is someone trying to get me to
send them money or trying to tell me I won a cruise or a free this or
that. These are all scam calls, and when I question them, they usually
hang up. I got one the other day and told them I do not make
contributions to organizations I don't know and certainly not until I
investigate them. They look for people like me whom they believe are
senile because we're retired, or in our 70s and 80s. Just because a
person is over the age of 65 does not mean he or she is unable to detect
'Please keep all bank account
information secret, and don't share information about credit cards with
people soliciting donations. Instead, ask them to send you information
about their organization.'
- Betty S., Newberry, S.C.
Dear Readers: Here are some uses
for the comics in the Sunday papers:
- Cover an old book.
- Use as wrapping paper.
- Use them to teach your child to
- It makes a terrific border for
a bulletin board.
Reader not in agreement
Dear Heloise: I don't agree with
a recent reader's letter about traveling without children and instead
leaving them with grandparents. It's nice to travel, but take the kids
with you. It's educational for them, and they enjoy time with their
Too many people today rely on
grandparents for money, baby-sitting, help fixing things, etc. My
generation managed on our own, with little or no help. - A Reader in
I can understand wanting to get away for a trip with just the two
parents and no children, and I also can understand the desire to take
the youngsters along. How do you readers feel about this? Should
children be included on every trip? Let us know. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: Regarding a recent
reader's letter, the most tactful way to handle having no children at a
wedding reception is that when your invitations are being printed, they
should say at the bottom: 'You are invited to an adults-only reception
Printers do this all the time.
- A Reader, Jacksonville, Fla.
Dear Heloise: When I put on or
take off pantyhose, I use plastic gloves. No nail snags.
Also, when I pull on or off a garment
over my head, I cover my face with a shower cap. No makeup stains.
- Gail in Los Angeles
Jan. 16, 2019
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about scammers who use charities to
fool people. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Please warn your readers of the charity scams that are
now very popular with thieves. Someone calls, is very friendly on the
phone and wants you to donate to some worthy cause such as a children’s
charity, homeless animals or some medical cause, for example.
“If they want you to donate, have them mail you information on their
charity so you can think it over. Never let anyone pressure you into
giving out personal finance details. Better yet, simply say, ‘I take no
solicitations over the phone’ and hang up. Don’t listen to anything they
have to say after your refusal to discuss the matter.” - Frank H.,
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old credit cards:
Wash and cut into strips. You can use them to scoop out face creams.
Use the strips as a replacement for collar stays.
Remove a bee’s stinger by scraping the edge of a card across the skin at
the wound site.
Scrape gum off carpet or tile after placing ice on the gum.
Dear Heloise: When my husband and I got married, we decided that we
would travel the world. We lived on his income and saved my earnings. At
the end of the year, we sat down and decided where we’d like to travel.
One year he’d pick a place, and the following year I would pick the
place. The money left over was always invested. We’ve been married over
30 years, have seen the world and have a wonderful nest egg for
recommend that all young couples who are planning to get married should
sit down, decide what they want and work out a plan to ensure their
dreams come true. Build some flexibility into your plans, and never mind
what others are doing. - Hattie in San Antonio
Dear Heloise: We all know how expensive lipstick is today. Well, I
usually scoop out what is left of my lipstick and put it in a small
plastic tub from the dollar store. I microwave the container with the
lipstick. This melts the lipstick, making it easy to blend colors. Use a
lip brush to apply the new color.
- Myrna F., Lady Lake, Fla.
Myrna, it’s an economical and clever way to use all of your lipstick.
Plastic vs. fabric
Dear Heloise: I know a lot of states and cities have banned plastic
bags, and I understand their reasoning, but I can’t say I like it. I
always reused my plastic bags, but now I’ve had to use cloth bags, which
I don’t like. I have to make sure I have enough bags with me when I
shop. I hate it. - Gloria J., Portland, Maine
Well, readers, what do you think about plastic versus cloth bags? -
much yard art not smart
Jan. 9, 2019
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about people who have too much “yard
“Dear Heloise: Two neighbors across the street from me have far too much
art in their yards. They seem to think it’s cute to have every concrete
figurine they can find sitting in the front yard. Another neighbor has a
gnome village in her front yard, complete with fake shrubs and bridges.
They hang all sorts of spinning things from the trees and have pathways
leading to nowhere. Too much yard art ruins the look of any house and
yard.” - Pam in San Antonio
Well, readers, do any of you have neighbors who love decorating their
yard so much that they don’t know when to stop? - Heloise
Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for old calendars:
Save to keep a record of birthdays and anniversaries.
Save the pictures, laminate them and use as place mats.
Cut into squares and use the back as a notepad.
Keep product manuals
Dear Heloise: Please advise your readers to keep their product
warranties and instruction booklets in a file cabinet, a binder or
someplace that holds all of the instruction booklets that come with an
item they’ve bought. When you need it - and eventually you will need it
- the information will be at your fingertips.
- Annalise D., Lime Ridge, Wis.
Dear Heloise: We suspect we have carpenter ants in our house. I’d call
an exterminator, but we live on Social Security, and our budget is
tight, so can you recommend anything we can use to kill carpenter ants?
- Nell P., Meridian, Miss.
Nell, first make certain there are no tree branches touching your house.
That’s one way they get inside. If you see small piles of sawdust, you
might have carpenter ants. If you find a site, then mix up 4 tablespoons
of peanut butter, 5 tablespoons of honey and 1 tablespoon of borax
(found in most hardware stores). Add a little water, about 1 or 2
tablespoons, to keep it from drying out. Mix well and apply 1 teaspoon
to affected sites. I use water bottle caps filled with this mixture. Be
very careful to NOT INHALE borax. Keep it away from pets and children.
Dear Heloise: We love our sweet little dog, and he sleeps next to me
every night. To make sure he never gets lost, we keep a leash on the
back of our bedroom door and on both outside doors of our home. In case
of an emergency where we might have to evacuate our home quickly, we
have a leash to put on him so he doesn’t get lost. - Linda M.,
Dear Heloise: We have some beautiful plants sitting on tall cabinets at
the office. They look great, but they are very hard to water. So we use
a turkey baster. Works great! - Verna T., Rosemount, Minn.
New Year's Resolutions
Jan. 3, 2019
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about making New Year’s resolutions:
“Dear Heloise: Why do people make New Year’s resolutions? Nearly
everyone I know makes them (we all promise to lose weight), but no one
keeps them. I was once told to write them down and put them somewhere I
could see them every day, so I put them on my large bathroom mirror. I
saw my resolutions every day and still did not paint the bathroom, take
a class in French or lose 15 pounds. The spirit was willing, but the
flesh was weak.” - Gordon T., Scranton, Pa.
Well, readers, do you make resolutions? Do you keep them? Let us know
what resolutions you’ve made or broken. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for old ashtrays:
Use them to hold loose change.
When doing watercolors, use the cigarette slots to hold your brushes.
Use as a soap dish in the bathroom.
They’re good candle bases.
Dear Heloise: You have a recipe for Chinese Beets that I dearly love!
I’ve moved several times over the past two years and lost my copy, so
could you reprint it for me and others who love beets with a tangy
- Angie R., Lincoln, Neb.
My mother’s (1919-1977) recipe for Chinese Beets has always been very
popular, and personally, it is one of my all-time favorites. You’ll
6 cups cooked, sliced beets, or 3 (16-ounce) cans of sliced beets
1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
24 whole cloves (this makes it strong, so maybe start with only 12
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons cooking oil (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
Drain the beets, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the beet liquid. Place the
beets in a medium saucepan with the reserved liquid and the remainder of
the ingredients. Mix well and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat or
until the mixture thickens. Let it cool, then store it in the
This recipe and others are found in my pamphlet All-Time Favorite
Recipes. To get a copy of these mouthwatering treats, just send a
stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, along with $5, to:
Heloise/Recipes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can
order it online at www.Heloise.com. You and your family will have the
recipes for some of my tastiest dishes, which includes my Shrimp Spread,
Coleslaw and Apricot Preserves. FYI: Use a binder-style photo album with
magnetic pages and dividers to organize your favorite recipes. -
Dear Heloise: You get a telephone call or email telling you that you’ve
won a trip, a vacation or a sweepstake. This is what happens next:
You’re told you need to send a fee, or taxes or some other amount of
money, then they ask for credit card or banking information or ask you
to wire money. Don’t do it!
- Charles W., Lima, Ohio
You’re right, Charles. Readers, be sure to:
1. Keep your money and ALL personal information to yourself. Never share
your financial information, and do not wire them money.
2. Report this scam to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357, or
online at ftc.gov/complaint.
Don’t become a statistic! - Heloise
Dec. 27, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about creating new family traditions.
“Dear Heloise: Every family has its own traditions for Christmas. My
husband and I both came from families that had huge gatherings at
someone’s home, but all of the family lived within a few miles of each
other. Today, we’re all spread out across the country, so we reserve
Christmas Eve just for us, have a nice dinner at home, call family to
wish them a happy holiday, open our gifts and then relax with a glass of
wine and enjoy the lights on the tree. Christmas Day, everyone is
welcome to our buffet.
“These are new traditions for us, but we like them, and being so far
away from the rest of the family gave us the opportunity to start a few
new traditions of our own.” - Grace and Joseph S., Tacoma, Wash.
A tree of remembrance
Dear Heloise: While I admire “designer trees” with all the matching
balls and bows on them, my all-time favorite is the one with memories.
Shortly after we were married, I asked my mother-in-law for a few
Christmas ornaments from their collection, so I could use them on our
tree. I did the same thing with my mother, who sent me a couple of very
old glass ornaments from my childhood. My grandmother sent me three
handmade ornaments from Poland that had always been on her tree. Over
the years, I’ve received ornaments from various friends and family, and
picked up some on our travels. This has made our Christmas tree very
special to us. - Hattie C., Kalamazoo, Mich.
Get the kids involved
Dear Heloise: This year I did something a little different. The kids
(ages 5, 8 and 10) and I got together about five weeks before the
holidays and made our ornaments for the tree. I bought plain balls, glue
glitter and ribbon, and turned them loose to make whatever they wanted.
The 5-year-old made a construction paper chain for a garland, and we put
some of our Christmas cards on the tree as well. It was so nice to see
all three of them really engage in the holidays. - Darla T.,
Dear Heloise: This year I was planning to have my children write
thank-you notes to those who gave them gifts. They’re 11 and 13, and I
feel it’s time that they started to do their own thank-yous. My husband
disagrees. He said they will do it when they’re adults. Who’s right?
- Denise O’R., Texarkana, Ark.
Denise, you’re both right. Children are able to express a thank-you
verbally at a young age, and they should start writing their thank-you
notes by second or third grade, then keep it up all through life, which
of course includes adulthood. It’s never too early to learn a little
gratitude. - Heloise
than our best for the holidays
Dec. 19, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about holiday stress. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: I love the Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays!
However, it can bring out the worst in a person with so much to do,
company coming, financial budgets strained and, as always, what to get
everyone. I work in a major department store and yesterday saw a woman
reprimand her son because he wasn’t moving fast enough. I’ve seen
couples fighting in public, and some very nasty customers who seem to
think it’s my job to select the gifts they’ll hand out to others. Or
those who snap at a salesclerk because the size 10 dress doesn’t fit
anymore. It’s not the salesclerk’s job to select the gifts you give, nor
is it that person’s fault if you can’t squeeze into that size 10 dress.
“If the holidays are stressing people out, just take a moment to
remember why we celebrate these holidays. It doesn’t matter if the house
is perfectly decorated or what size you wear, and you really don’t need
to give anyone a gift. It’s your holiday, too, so relax and enjoy it.”
- A Reader, via email
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for an old phone book:
Keep it in your car’s trunk for reference.
Wad up the pages and use as packing material.
Use as a booster seat for a young child.
If nothing else, recycle it.
Dear Heloise: I’m getting married, for the second time. My first wedding
was a huge affair, with a formal gown and a long veil. It ended in
divorce. My fiancé has never been married before and wants to have a big
church wedding, the white dress, bridesmaids, etc., but I’m not sure
what is proper and what is not for a second church wedding. Got any
hints for me? - Stephanie R., Kansas City, Mo.
Stephanie, some second-time brides want to marry in white, but others
may prefer to wear a color they believe is more flattering to their skin
tones, such as blush or pale blue. However, second-time brides usually
do not wear a veil. Some brides like to scale back the number of
bridesmaids for a second wedding, some skip having a flower girl or ring
bearer, but it’s your wedding, and you can call the shots. - Heloise
They’re at it again
Dear Heloise: Please let your readers know the phony IRS calls have
begun again. The IRS DOES NOT CALL. No matter what the caller threatens
you with - arrest, loss of home, prison - it’s all a lie. First of all,
the IRS sends out a letter if it needs to contact you. So, DO NOT give
out any personal information, financial information or anything else to
these callers. Just hang up on them. - Harold K., Fairfax, Va.
Dear Readers: Here’s a letter in response to a recent complaint about
“Dear Heloise: My sister has a bad habit of telling other people they
can stay at my beachfront house without telling me at all. It really
angers me!” - Arkansas Reader
Tell your sister to stop inviting people! - Heloise
Dec. 12, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about irresponsible drivers on our
roads. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: We all have turn signals with our cars, so why is it some
people don’t turn theirs on when they decide to make a turn, or turn it
on just as they are about to turn? I realize driving is an “overlearned”
experience, but a stop sign means ‘stop,’ not ‘slowly roll past the
sign.’ Now, with the roads becoming icy in many states, it’s more
important than ever to drive with care. With the holidays comes
drinking, and the police are cracking down on drunken drivers. A DUI can
kill your chances of getting a good job or a promotion, and it might
land you in jail.
“Please remember: It’s not just a vehicle for transportation; it’s
thousands of pounds of steel and rubber. Drive with caution.” -
Elizabeth W., Norwood, Ohio
Dear Readers: Here are some supermarket hints:
Make a list of needed items and stick to it.
Buy often-used items in bulk, if you have the storage.
Don’t shop for grocery items when you’re hungry.
Organize your coupons and keep them in a separate envelope/or
compartment in your purse or wallet.
Cast iron on a glass
Dear Heloise: I have a glass-top stove and have been told NOT to use my
cast-iron skillet on it. Nothing tastes the same as when it’s cooked in
a cast-iron skillet. It was always my go-to kitchen item, so now what
should I do? - Betty D., Van Wert, Ohio
Betty, don’t throw out your skillet just yet. You can use a cast-iron
skillet, but there are certain precautions you need to take. First, the
Cookware Manufacturers Association advises that you must understand the
characteristics of cooking with cast iron on a glass-top stove. The
skillet MUST have a flat bottom. Any burn areas or rough spots must be
filed off before using. It’s best to place the skillet on the stove
before turning on the stove, and use only medium heat. Lift the skillet
to move it; NEVER slide it across the glass surface. The skillet must
fit the size of the burner. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: My baby-fine hair is always “droopy.” I’d use a curling
iron, but the volume and curl would just seem to slide out halfway
through the morning. Then a hairdresser told me to first bend forward
when drying my hair with a hair dryer, and get the roots dry while my
hair is dangling toward the floor. Next, I use a very light blast of
hair spray where I plan to curl my hair and use the curling iron after
the hair spray dries. No more limp hair. - Karen B., Fairmont, W.Va.
Dear Heloise: When I’m shipping packages, I use tea bags as cushioning
material, instead of air pillows or foam. This is an extra treat for the
recipient! - Gina A. in New York
the meaning been lost?
Dec. 5, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is from a reader who believes we’ve lost
the meaning of the holidays.
“Dear Heloise: This is the month of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa,
three important holidays for most of us. Sadly, we’ve gotten caught up
in the lights, the stores crammed with all sorts of items, the wrapping
and the gifts. But the holidays are not about these things. As a nation,
we’ve lost the importance of these holidays and have given way to the
commercialization and the ostentation of outdoing neighbors.
“For Christmas this year, my family agreed that we would give no more
than two gifts to people. Not necessarily expensive, but something we
know the other person will like or need. Instead of buying a bunch of
junk, we’ve made up large Christmas baskets out of laundry baskets for
needy families with canned goods, soaps, shampoos, gift certificates and
blankets. To us, Christmas is more about giving than receiving.” -
Claudia L., Perry Hills, Ohio
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for a pizza cutter. You can cut:
waffles or pancakes
Dear Heloise: How can I remove stubborn spaghetti sauce stains on my
plastic food storage containers?
- Faye H., Asheboro, N.C.
Faye, try mixing together equal parts baking soda and chlorine bleach.
Put the mixture on the stain and set aside for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Wash well and rinse thoroughly. This should do the trick! I have many
other stain-removing hints using baking soda in my pamphlet Baking Soda
Hints and Recipes. To get a copy, send $5, along with a long, stamped
(71 cents), self-addressed envelope, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box
795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. You also can order it online at
www.Heloise.com. Keeping your home clean and odor-free using baking soda
is as easy as sprinkling some on a damp sponge and using as you would
scouring powder. In fact, you may never have to buy scouring powder
again. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: Just a word to the wise: BEFORE you spend a dime on a
wedding gown that may be difficult (if not impossible) to clean, read
the label carefully. I didn’t. I had my gown dry-cleaned and preserved
in a special garment bag. When my daughter wanted to see if it fit her
for her wedding, I found that the dress had yellowed, the seed pearls
were dull and peeling, and the fabric had lost its soft sheen. That was
when I read the label, which specifically said that all seed pearls and
applique must be removed before dry-cleaning, and to not store in
plastic bags. So now, 22 years after my wedding, I have a $7,000 rag
that my daughter cannot wear! - Chloe N., Richmond, Va.
Chloe, yes, it’s so very important to read dress labels carefully,
especially on garments that we’d like to preserve for future
generations. - Heloise
Paying for air?
Nov. 28, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the shrinking size of food
packages. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Have you noticed that many food items are now packaged in
smaller amounts? Cake mixes, sodas, pastas and frozen dinners have all
reduced the portions but not the price. For example, the pasta I buy
went from 16 ounces to 13.25 ounces per package. Many canned vegetables
went to 13 or 14 ounces, when they used to be 16 ounces. Sugar that I’ve
bought for years went from 5 pounds to 4 pounds! I’ve noticed more air
in bags of chips.
“Consumers do read labels, and we know that we’re paying more for less.
We feel cheated. I know manufacturers are saying that their new
packaging is ‘greener’ (more environmentally friendly), and it may be
true, but we’re still paying more for those ‘greener’ packages. For
larger families, this poses a serious problem with their food budget.
“Manufacturers can complain about the cost of doing business, but the
public feels shortchanged. This is especially true when people have to
buy two packages of something instead of the one package they’ve bought
in the past, just so they’ll have enough to feed their families.” -
Renee N. in St. Louis
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old pillowcases:
As laundry bags.
As a hobby sack for your knitting, hand-sewing, etc.
To store out-of-season clothing.
As a cover for a small dog bed.
Dear Heloise: Years ago, my mother taught me to place a small, wadded-up
piece of clean paper toweling in all the empty canning jars to absorb
the moisture and musty smells. It works wonders!
- Nina Y., Provo, Utah
Cloudy shower curtain
Dear Heloise: Got a cloudy shower curtain due to mildew? Just pop it
into the washing machine with a little soap and 2 cups of vinegar, and
wash on “gentle.” When finished, just leave it out to dry, either
hanging up in the shower or outside. - Helen P., Boone, N.C.
Magic monster spray
Dear Heloise: My son was terrified of “monsters” that he thought lived
in his closet or under the bed. I got a spray bottle and put water in it
with two drops of lemon oil. Before my son went to bed each night, I’d
take the bottle of “magic monster spray” and pretend to chase the
monsters away with two quick zaps under the bed or on the closet floor.
No more monsters, and no more nightmares. - Carolyn G., Lynchburg,
Dear Heloise: As the weather gets colder, it’s important to remind
people that their pets (cats, dogs, rabbits) need to be kept indoors.
They might be animals, but they need to be sheltered from any extreme
weather. Do NOT chain a dog up to a doghouse and leave it there. A pet
needs attention, love and companionship to thrive. - Maisy M.,
thanks for this giving
Nov. 21, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about being the one who always has to
host Thanksgiving dinner.
“Dear Heloise: In August, I sent out a letter to family members
explaining that my husband and I would be on a cruise over the
Thanksgiving holiday. Two days ago, both of my brothers called and asked
what they should bring for Thanksgiving dinner! I told them we weren’t
hosting Thanksgiving again this year and reminded them (and their wives)
that I’d sent out a letter in August.
“I’ve hosted Thanksgiving every year for the past six years, and it’s
time for someone else to do all the work of housecleaning, shopping,
cooking, the cleanup afterward and the expense. We’ll be cruising in
sunny, warm waters. Needless to say, this has caused some serious
friction in the family.
“Why do so many families rely on one person to host all the holiday
events? Wouldn’t it be better to all share in the work or take turns
hosting holidays? It’s what I suggested in my August letter, but
apparently no one agreed with me.” - Liz in Paterson, N.J.
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for paper towel cores:
Store extension cords inside.
Store Christmas lights inside.
Use to wrap ribbon around when you have loose pieces.
Spray-paint the cardboard, then pinch and tape one end. Store change
inside, and when full, shut the other end and give to a child as a gift.
Dear Heloise: There are some financial lenders who use “clever” language
to attract homebuyers. For example:
“No points or fees” - lenders who make this claim usually charge a
higher interest rate.
“Secret to paying off your mortgage faster” - this means refinancing a
30-year loan to a 15-year loan, which means higher payments.
“Call us now for the low rate of (X) percent” - if the annual percentage
rate (APR) is higher than your quoted rate, you’ll be paying points and
fees to get that rate.
So, buyers beware. - Alex C., Hialeah, Fla.
Wants and needs
Dear Heloise: Please tell your readers to be very careful about credit
cards and the interest rates the companies charge. Right after college
graduation, I got myself into debt with a card charging a 16.75 percent
rate, and I bought things I didn’t really need. I’m slowly paying it
off, but what a painful lesson this has been. I should have checked the
interest rate or, better yet, cut the card in pieces!
- Lillian H., Merced, Calif.
Lillian, it’s so easy to charge things, but first ask yourself if this
purchase is a need or a want. Is it really an emergency? Can you live
without it? Would you rather have the item or the debt? How will this
item improve your life? Practice restraint. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: How do you remove water marks from felt? - Janet R. in
To remove water marks from felt and similar materials, use a soft ball
of white tissue paper. Rubbing in a circular motion, go over the area
with light pressure until the mark is gone. - Heloise
Nov. 14, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about Social Security. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Recently, on the news, I heard a politician refer to
Social Security as an ‘entitlement program.’ I find this annoying
because it sounds as if the government is being ‘generous’ in giving
back the money I and others worked so hard for to ensure we had
retirement income. Now, there’s talk of reducing Social Security and
even Medicare, which doesn’t cover enough as it is right now.
“For many Americans, Social Security does not keep up with the rising
cost of food, utilities, medical care and housing, but at least it’s
better than nothing. However, ‘nothing’ is what I worry the government
wants to give retired Americans. Perhaps that’s why so many people are
working well beyond retirement age.”
- Don K., Crown Point, Ind.
Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for a single earring when the
matching one is lost:
Break off the post and hot-glue it to a plain gold or silver ring, and
you have a new piece of jewelry.
Use as a lapel pin.
Suspend it from a necklace or bracelet.
Glue several single earrings into one piece of jewelry to make a unique
Dear Heloise: My bathroom grout is a mess! How can I clean it without
damaging the grout? - Ava B., Kirkwood, Del.
Ava, mix 1/4 cup borax, 1/2 cup baking soda and enough hot water to form
a paste. Apply to the grout, scrub with a soft brush and let sit 15-20
minutes before rinsing. This is just one of several homemade cleaners
you’ll find in my Homemade Cleaning Solutions pamphlet. To get a copy,
send $5, along with a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long envelope,
to: Heloise/Cleaners, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or
you can order it online at www.Heloise.com. FYI: Make housekeeping
easier, safer and less expensive by using my simple cleaning ideas that
you can make in your own kitchen with products you may already have on
hand. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: Please tell your readers to use cornstarch instead of
dusting powder. Cornstarch is the basis for dusting powder. My mother
used it all her life and on all 12 children in our family. Love your
- Roberta G., Terre Haute, Ind.
Roberta, great idea! A number of people are allergic to the perfumes
used in dusting powder, and this is a practical and inexpensive
alternative to commercial dusting powders. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: Why do some dishwashers have two soap dispensers (like
mine), while others have only one? Are the dishes getting as clean with
one? - An N.C. Reader in Charlotte
The second soap dispenser is for heavy dish loads, when your dishwasher
is full to maximum capacity, or for heavily soiled dished and pans. -
Drinking creates a ‘buzz’
Nov. 7, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about “buzz driving.” - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: My Sound Off is about people who think they can have a
couple of beers and then drive safely. Don’t people realize that ‘buzz
driving’ can kill people, earn them time in jail or, at a minimum, a
heavy fine? It also can ruin future job opportunities. It’s simply not
worth it.” - Suzanna Y., Astoria, Ore.
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for dental floss:
Tie up trailing vines to a fence or lattice.
Sew on buttons.
Cut a layer cake.
String beads for necklaces.
Let’s not iron
Dear Heloise: Since I lacked enough counter space to serve food when my
family came over, I took my old ironing board and covered it in foil.
Then I draped it with a very large tablecloth, so that it looked more
like a narrow table. It worked perfectly. - Hannah K., Bonita
Dear Heloise: I have four cats that are indoor pets, so that means kitty
litter boxes. Can I use just plain baking soda in the cat box instead of
the expensive, perfumed litter-box deodorizers?
- Hazel A., Fairbanks, Alaska
Hazel, yes, plain baking soda will work just fine. Sprinkle a layer of
baking soda in the cat pan, then the usual amount of kitty litter over
that, and it should work. Some cats don’t like the perfumed smells of
commercial products for their potty pans. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: Before you know it, Christmas will be here. I have seven
brothers and sisters, and some of them now have a family of their own,
so Christmas gift-giving was becoming a very expensive holiday. Instead,
we all agreed to give one gift per family, and since we’re a creative
bunch, it had to be something under $30, and hopefully homemade. I
gathered up some of our childhood pictures, took them to a printer, and
I’m having calendars made up to give to everyone in the family. -
Amanda, via email
Dear Heloise: A couple of years ago, I started a family tradition by
taking my three granddaughters with me to the woods and gathering
natural things to use in a Thanksgiving centerpiece. We’d find chunks of
wood, dried leaves, acorns and things like that to create our
Thanksgiving arrangements. Sometimes we’d go to a crafts store to
purchase a few additional items. Not only was it fun to spend time out
in nature with the girls, but there was a special bonding that took
place among us. - Peggy B., Martinsburg, W.Va.
for the rescuers!
Oct. 31, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about those people who rescue animals.
“Dear Heloise: I believe it was Gandhi who once said, ‘The greatness of
a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are
treated.’ There are many wonderful people who find a sad little stray or
an animal that was dumped by a callous, uncaring person and bring the
animal to us at the shelter. These rescuers dive under trucks, climb
trees and do whatever they need to in order to save a cat or dog or any
animal. They might hear a tiny cry or see a shivering animal, and they
do what they can to provide shelter and food.
“These are the unsung heroes, who seem to know no limit to kindness. To
all of those who cannot look away, who cannot say, ‘It’s not my problem’
when they see a homeless stray, thank you.”
- Natalie C., Muncie, Ind.
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old sheets:
Use as drapes or swags at the window.
Use as a large tablecloth.
Sew two together to make a duvet cover for a comforter.
Dear Heloise: Years ago, when my husband and I went to sell our home, I
had no idea about the dates that we bought things, such as the new
furnace, new windows, a refrigerator, etc. So I now keep a record book
with all my information in it: The dishwasher - bought in 2016; the
replacement windows - bought in 2015; the new front door - bought in
2014; and so on. This book will help us when the time comes to sell our
home. - Rikki K., Pettibone, N.D.
Wasps, yellow jackets
and spiders, oh my!
Dear Heloise: I am a mail carrier in Arkansas. We get ants, wasps,
yellow jackets and spiders that nest in mailboxes. Placing a fabric
softener sheet inside the mailbox will deter them. Replace often.
Please, do not spray bug killer into the mailbox. The spray gets on the
mail, which transfers to your hands and ours.
- Judy in Arkansas
Dear Heloise: Scammers are at it again. They are calling people and
asking, “Is this (name)?” They’ll use your name, and you’ll probably say
“yes” out of habit, but Don’t answer. Just hang up, because they could
record your answer in your voice so they can use it in a fraudulent way.
Most people are now not answering the phone if it’s not a number they
recognize or it’s from an area code they don’t know about. Be proactive
and refuse to give scammers an audience. - Dawson J., Reston, Va.
Oct. 24, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about problem renters. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: I own six rental properties, and they provide a little
extra income for my wife and me. We maintain clean properties with only
modern kitchens and bathrooms. We screen all renters, but still we get
people who never clean their place, punch holes in the walls, paint
walls garish colors, then move out and demand a return of their security
and cleaning deposits. If they move out and leave us a mess to deal
with, they’re not getting a dime back. One renter moved in the dead of
night, taking a refrigerator with her but leaving her pet iguana, which
we gave to an animal sanctuary.
“I’ve spoken to other landlords, and they have the same sorts of
problems. So, renters, if you want your deposit back, leave the rental
property clean and in good condition.” - Disgusted Landlord in
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for paper plates:
Use as a spoon rest.
Use under a pet’s dish to catch pet food.
Put in a microwave to catch drips. Replace as needed.
Give to children to draw on or make masks out of.
Dear Heloise: Hardwood floors need a little TLC, and they’ll look great
for years to come. Here are a few hints I’ve learned to keep your wood
in pristine condition:
First, never slide furniture across the floor. Pick it up, if you can,
or use plastic sliders.
Use rugs on your floor, especially in front of doors that lead into the
Try to not wear high heels too often, as they might dent the floor.
Keep your floors clean. Dirt over time wears down the finish and beauty
Robert K. in Cleveland
Dear Readers: Many people have flat-screen TVs but don’t know the proper
way to clean them. Here are some suggestions from the experts:
1. Turn off and unplug the TV before you start cleaning.
2. Always follow the manufacturer’s warranty guidelines.
3. Use a microfiber cloth to dust the screen. That might be all you need
to do, but if smudges remain, use a damp (not wet) microfiber cloth to
wipe the smudge.
4. NEVER spray liquid on the screen, never use paper towels or abrasive
materials, and never use alcohol or ammonia cleaning products. They
remove the anti-glare protective covering on the screen.
Clean that sink
Dear Heloise: Want a truly clean sink? Fill your sink (whether metal or
porcelain) with water almost to the brim, add 1 cup of bleach and let
sit for 20 minutes. Unplug the sink and drain the water. Then use a
scouring powder and sponge, and scrub the sink, including the faucets
and every part of the sink. Rinse well. If the area around the drain or
faucet is still in need of a little more work, use a toothbrush to scrub
it clean. - A Reader, via email
Oct. 18, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about people who choose to remain
“Dear Heloise: Years ago, when my husband and I got married in our late
20s, we decided we weren’t going to have a family. No, we DON’T hate
children. We’re simply not ‘child-oriented.’ People with children keep
saying, ‘Oh, you don’t know what you’re missing.’ That’s true, because
you can’t miss what you never had.
“We applaud those who wanted a family and love their kids, but it just
wasn’t for us. We’re not sorry we decided to skip having children, and
we really wish family and friends would stop asking rude questions, such
as ‘If you didn’t want kids, why did you get married?’ Parenting isn’t
- Mike and Tara D., Nashville, Tenn.
Mike and Tara, you’re right: “Parenting isn’t for everyone.” Lately,
more and more couples are remaining childless. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for cotton balls:
Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and gently dab an ink spot on your
clothing. Allow it to air-dry, then dry-clean or wash the garment.
Got long fingernails? Stuff one or two cotton balls into the fingers of
a rubber glove before cleaning to prevent puncturing the glove.
Soak cotton balls in white vinegar and place on water spots on your
Dear Heloise: How can I clean my woodwork without breaking the bank?
- Nina A., Jupiter, Fla.
Nina, mix 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts water. Using a clean sponge,
dip into the water/vinegar solution, wring out the excess water and wipe
the woodwork. Dry the woodwork, then polish with a clean cloth.
If you like this easy, effective method of cleaning, you’ll love my
pamphlet Heloise’s Homemade Cleaning Solutions, which is full of
household cleaning hints using everyday cleaners that you probably have
at home and special formulas that are safe and inexpensive. Just send
$5, along with a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to:
Heloise/Cleaning Solutions, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.
Or you can order it online at
www.Heloise.com. FYI: Give those yucky sponges a weekly cleaning by
tucking them between glasses or cups in the top rack of the dishwasher.
A hostess idea
Dear Heloise: I read your informative articles in The Westfield News in
Southwick, Mass. There was a hint by Janet H., of Park City, Utah,
asking for hostess gift ideas to take with her when she plays cards.
Here are a few suggestions:
Homemade cookies stacked in a cellophane bag tied with a ribbon
A potted plant that blooms
A good bottle of olive oil or balsamic vinegar
Rachel T., Southwick, Mass.
A good ‘goo’ question
Dear Heloise: How can I get that sticky goo from plants off my pruners?
- Irene M., Ionia, Mich.
Irene, spray your pruning shears with vegetable oil spray before use,
and the goo will slide off. - Heloise
scams make me sick
Oct. 10, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about phone scammers. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: I’m sick of phone scammers! Things have gotten so bad,
and the scammers have gotten so sophisticated, that I’m afraid to answer
the phone if it’s a number I don’t recognize. So now, even if a charity
calls, I simply say, ‘I take no solicitations by telephone.’ Then I hang
“The other day, I received an email that looked legitimate from my
internet carrier, but something cautioned me to phone and inquire
whether or not they had actually asked for my Social Security number,
along with banking information (which I NEVER give out). They hadn’t
sent me an email and told me to report this to the state consumer
protection office or to the Federal Trade Commission’s online Complaint
Assistant. I’ve been cautious, and I hope others will be as well.” -
Marla S. in San Diego
Dear Readers: Here are some early holiday hints:
Start making your own holiday traditions.
Make some new dishes that will become holiday favorites.
Do as much as you can in advance so you can enjoy the holiday, too.
Have the whole family involved in the decorations, food and music.
‘File for Life’
Dear Heloise: As a retired member of the fire department, I keep a “File
for Life” in case anything should happen to me. I also update all my
medications, and I keep one list on my refrigerator and one in my
vehicle glove compartment. This is so paramedics can locate it to see
what medications I am currently taking to treat my medical issues. -
Bill B., Mingo Junction, Ohio
Bill, that’s an excellent idea. Everyone should also take the time to
attend to the paperwork needed for a living will, as well as any other
important wishes you have. Don’t assume anyone will automatically know
what you want. Tell them. - Heloise
Better safe than
Dear Heloise: I live in a very warm climate, and we have a problem with
insects. No matter how clean a home is, water bugs find a way in. To
help keep them out of my pantry, I put all cereals, flour, staples and
spices in airtight plastic containers rather than leave these items in
their original packages. Not only does it keep my foods fresher, it also
keeps the bugs out. I do the switch-out from package to plastic
container as soon as I get home from the grocery store. - Malia K.,
Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii
Dear Heloise: You can take any jar, even a baby-food jar, and place a
votive candle in it to use as a lantern in your garden. Either place
them around the patio or among the plants, or suspend them by wire or
ribbon from tree branches to provide a soft, romantic light for the
evening. - Rae-Ann R., Leesville, La.
oh where, has service gone?
Oct. 4, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about looking for salespeople in
“Dear Heloise: Two days ago, I went into a major department store to
make a purchase, found what I wanted, but I had to hunt down a
salesperson to ring it up! So many stores have cut back on one of their
most important assets - PEOPLE.
“Why bother to open your doors if you don’t have enough people to wait
on customers, help them find what they are looking for and then ring up
the item? And so many salespeople are poorly trained or are burdened
with additional chores, making it difficult to pay attention to a
customer. I guess customer service is becoming a thing of the past.”
- Vicki T., Middle River, Md.
Vicki, this seems to be a growing problem across the nation. So,
readers, do you face this problem where you live? Write and let us know.
Dear Readers: Here are some new ways to dress up an old plastic plant
Glue seashells to the outside, put a little plant in and give as a gift.
Decoupage the outside with old, used stamps, pictures or photographs.
Glue buttons on the exterior.
Paint in vibrant colors and add lace, ribbons or other embellishments.
Dear Heloise: My husband is accident-prone. How do I get out
- Rhonda B., Walla Walla, Wash.
Rhonda, first soak the shirt in cold water - this works best if done
immediately. If the stain remains, pour hydrogen peroxide over the area
to remove it. (Test a hidden area first to be sure the hydrogen peroxide
doesn’t remove any color.) Then wash in cold water and laundry
If you’d like a guide on how to remove stains of nearly every type you
can think of, order my pamphlet Heloise’s Handy Stain Guide for Clothing
by sending $5, along with a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long
P.O. Box 795001
San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.
Or you can order it online at
www.Heloise.com.You also can try dampening the bloodstained area
with cold water, then sprinkling on some meat tenderizer. Let it sit for
a while, then wash as usual. - Heloise
Where did I park?
Dear Heloise: I never can remember where I parked my car at the mall.
Got any good hints for finding it?
- Stacy D., Lexington, Ky.
Stacy, look at the huge letters of the store name nearest you, and make
a mental note of which row you are parked in. Or if you think you are in
the vicinity of your vehicle, press the door lock button on your key fob
to get the honking sound, and just follow the noise. - Heloise
Messy linen closet
Dear Heloise: My linen closet in my tiny apartment is too cramped and
messy. What should I do?
- Marla V., Elmira, N.Y.
Marla, fold your towels in half, lengthways. Then tightly roll them up.
They’ll take up less room that way. - Heloise