Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about airfares offered in an ad, and
what it really takes to get those fares:
“Dear Heloise: I’ve lost all patience with travel websites that
advertise round-trip airfares at significant savings. The problem: You
never can actually find these fares. You can spend hours adjusting the
dates, hours and departure location and still not find the advertised
fare. There should be a law requiring travel websites to clearly state
what days are associated with the advertised fare. Then consumers can
decide if it’s right for them or not.” - Sterling D., Dayton, Ohio
Sterling, there are laws about false advertising, but one answer to this
problem would be to phone the travel agency that placed the ad and ask
how you can get the advertised fare. The agency placed the ad, so let
them do the work to find you the best deal possible. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I saw your recycling suggestions on amber pill bottles, so
I thought I’d send you some of my uses for the empty containers:
I keep one filled with mints so they don’t get scattered in my purse.
I keep loose change in them.
I use one to hold tiny things, such as screws for my glasses, earring
backs, safety pins, etc.
I also carry an additional supply of cream sunblock in one.
Reader, via email
And here’s another hint about amber pill bottles:
“I saw the amber pill bottle reuse suggestions, and I thought I’d send
in one of my own. Here in Hawaii, it is a custom of ours to have a
‘House Blessing’ when you buy a new place. After we bought our home, my
husband and I composed a prayer and wrote it out on paper, then folded
it very small and placed it in a pill container. Later in the evening,
we had an open house with family and friends, and the minister blessed
the house. We then took the pill container, with the prayer inside it,
buried it in a deep hole in the front yard and planted a mango tree on
top. This house has weathered hurricanes, storms, four kids and six dogs
in 15 years, and it’s still here.” - Malia K., Oahu, Hawaii
Dear Heloise: When you accumulate a number of floral vases and
containers that you don’t want to keep, call a local florist and ask if
it would be interested in reusing them. Sometimes the florist will even
pick them up and offer to pay for them. - Linda M., via email
The key is graphite
Dear Heloise: A locksmith once told me never to use a household
lubricant on a key lock. There is one very popular lubricant in a can
that many people use, but on a lock, it just causes a gummy buildup.
Instead, use graphite - white graphite if you can find it, black if you
can’t. - Lois B. in Arkansas
Did you know?
Dear Readers: Although only about the size of a golf ball, the
blue-ringed octopus has enough poison to kill an adult human in a matter
of minutes. - Heloise
and bikes don’t mix well
Oct. 11, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about cars that hog the road and
endanger bicycle riders. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Today, while my biking group was in our bike lane, a
driver drove so close that she knocked a rider off the bike. Thank
heavens he had his helmet on! She claimed it was an accident, that she
didn’t see him, but with nine of us in colorful outfits, in a single
line, we’re hard to miss. This isn’t the first time it’s happened.
“I know we drive slower than cars because we’re pedaling, but please
stay out of our lane, and we’ll do our best to stay away from yours. We
have as much right to be on the road as a car, and many of us are going
as fast as we can while trying to build up endurance for competitions.”
- Terry V., Austin, Texas
Dear Readers: When you have empty tissue boxes, don’t throw them away.
First, if you or your children want to decorate them, it can be a lot of
fun. Then you can use them for other things, such as:
In the kitchen - use to store plastic grocery bags.
In the bathroom - use to store cotton balls or makeup-remover pads.
Remove the entire top and store cat toys for Fluffy.
Use one to store receipts or coupons.
Use as a trash collector in your car.
The wedding gift
Dear Heloise: I enjoy your column with its many hints in the Dayton
(Ohio) Daily News. Today, however, I have a hint for you:
was wrapping a wedding gift of flatware to help complete the couple’s
dinnerware. I was looking for something to cushion the pieces in the
package, so I wrapped each piece in a clean dust rag that the bride can
use, instead of tissue paper that would get thrown out. - Jane A.,
Refrigeration of food
Dear Readers: Here are two questions related to refrigerating food:
“How long can I keep cooked chicken in my refrigerator?” - Sadie D.,
“How long will bacon and sausage stay fresh in my refrigerator?” -
Patsy L., Dagger Falls, Idaho
Sadie, cooked chicken will keep well for three to four days in a
refrigerator and two to six months in a freezer.
Patsy, bacon will stay fresh enough to eat for seven days in the
refrigerator and one month in the freezer.
Sausage usually will keep for one to two days in the refrigerator, and
one to two months in the freezer.
Make room in your
Dear Heloise: So many young people are under the misconception that as
they move through life, they’ll make more money and they’ll be happy
because they won’t have any worries. That type of thinking leads to
disappointment. Go after the dream, not the money. Don’t base your life
strictly on how much money you can make. A soul-crushing career will
only make you miserable. You’ll work a long time, so make sure that it’s
something you really enjoy doing, then do the best work you can. -
Margaret B., Inglewood, Calif.
view is garbage!
Oct. 4, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about garbage cans left in plain
view. We’ve had several letters on this subject, and here is one of
“Dear Heloise: Why do people leave their ugly garbage cans out in front
of their house not just on pickup days, but all the time? Not only is it
tacky-looking, but it affects the entire neighborhood’s appearance. Many
of us keep our homes painted and our yards maintained, but when someone
parks a garbage can on the front porch or in front of the garage door,
it makes the whole street look bad.” - Walter D., Newport, R.I.
Walter, judging by the letters we get every week, this is an annoying
subject for many, all across America. If you belong to a homeowners
association, perhaps it can ask everyone in the neighborhood to store
garbage cans out of sight. - Heloise
Dear Readers: If you have an old toothbrush, don’t toss it out - clean
and disinfect it, and use it for some of the following tasks:
As a dry brush for cleaning dust from knickknacks.
Clean bathroom faucets.
Clean jewelry (nonabrasive toothpaste works well here).
Clean small, narrow-necked vases.
The retiree rules
Dear Readers: I received several letters from readers who agreed with
“The Rules of the Lake House” that guests need to limit their visits and
come only when invited. Here are a few responses. - Heloise
“Frankly, it exhausts us to have overnight guests. We hear the same
comments from our retired friends. Our children live out of state, and
one of their visits means cleaning, shopping for groceries, baking and
entertaining, and it wears us out!” - J., via email
“We love to have our family and friends over, but we also love to see
them go. At our ages (74 and 76), we just can’t take more than two
nights with company!”- Maryann H. in Denver
“I’m a widower and love to have my daughter and grandkids come for a
visit. I just wish they’d leave after three days. Last year, my daughter
wanted me to take the grandkids for a month in the summer, and I said,
‘Sorry, darlin’, I’m too old and too tired for that kind of stress.’”
- Jake L., Florence, Ala.
Dear Heloise: I read your advice in the Roswell (N.M.) Daily Record.
When you’re going to be out of town, I would like to advise turning off
the clothes washer’s water valves. The hose can rupture and flood the
house. - Todd S., Roswell, N.M.
Foam packing pieces
Dear Heloise: I donate foam packing pieces to packing stores, and
they’ll gladly accept them. In some cases, they’ll even welcome used
cardboard boxes. - Patty D., via email
Can-do with a spray
Dear Heloise: To keep my spray can of starch from falling off my ironing
board, I put a rubber band around the middle and lay the can down on its
side. That way, it won’t roll off the ironing board.
- Cathy R., Holly Lake Ranch, Texas
Closing the door on ads
Sept. 20, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about too much nudity and bad
language on television. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Please believe me when I say I’m not a prude. I’m a
28-year-old schoolteacher at a middle school who is tired of the nudity
and profanity on television. So many of my students see programs on TV
that are completely inappropriate for their young ages, and scenes that
give them the idea that ignoring their studies is acceptable, dropping
out of school is cool, using terrible grammar is the way they should
talk and that they shouldn’t take responsibility for their lives or
actions. They’re kids, and as such are not prepared for so many of the
adult themes on TV. They tend to copy what they see.
“If you have children, turn off the TV and have dialogue with your kids,
and stay connected with their teachers.” - Yvette C., St. Paul, Minn.
Dear Readers: As summer heat fades away, many of us are left with a
worn-out garden hose - but there are things you can do with that old
piece of plastic tubing:
Cut pieces off and slit them down one side. Then use those pieces to
cover cutting tools, such as saws.
Puncture with holes and make a soaker hose out of it.
Before you run a rope around a young tree to steady it, run the rope
through a length of hose to keep the rope from cutting into the tree.
If you have no use for the hose, be sure to place it in the recycle bin.
Beware of scams
Dear Heloise: How can my dad protect himself from all the scams? He
invested in what I believe was a scam, then six months later those same
people called and offered to swap the bad investment for what they
called “a much better investment” to help him recover his money. The
problem was, they wanted $1,500 upfront! I talked him out of it, but I
don’t know when these people will call again.
- Kate R., Orange, Calif.
Kate, remind him to NEVER do investment business over the phone with
strangers. If he wants to invest, he needs to do so with a registered
firm, a trained, experienced professional agent and, better yet, to
never make any investments unless he first discusses it with one of his
children. You also might want to speak to an attorney to see how you can
legally protect your dad from scammers. - Heloise
The dog vs. the pill
Dear Heloise: Giving my dog a pill was always a hassle and traumatized
him afterward. Now I either hide it in a chunk of meat or roll it in a
ball of butter. The butter works best because my dog loves it, and the
butter makes it go down quickly. - Georgia F., Wheat Ridge, Colo.
To ‘bee’ or not to
Dear Heloise: If you have a bee settle on you while outside, stop
moving. It’s harder for a bee to see you if you stand still until the
bee moves off. - Joe K., Olathe, Kan.
Closing the door on ads
Sept. 20, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about too many junk flyers:
“Dear Heloise: I want people to please stop leaving ads for various
restaurants, child care, lawn and tree-trimming services, religious
information and all the other info. It’s stuffed in my door, left on the
porch or, more often than I like, thrown on my front lawn. I put a ‘No
Solicitation’ sign on my door, but that hasn’t stopped anyone.” -
Miranda L., Kennewick, Wash.
Miranda, this can be a problem, especially if you’re out of town for a
while. Unfortunately, they are not going to stop! Most times, these are
delivered by a separate company. Also, all of the piled-up papers signal
that no one is home, and basically says to a thief, “Hey, break in!” If
you are gone for a while, ask a neighbor (or pay a neighborhood
teenager) to pick the stuff up daily. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for the cardboard tubes inside
Slit one side and use to push all of your computer, phone and printer
cords through the slit and out of your way.
Store prints or posters inside.
Use to store plastic bags inside.
Close up the ends and use to mail letters, pictures or other items.
To ring or not to
Dear Heloise: I have some good advice for young men (Heloise here: or
older ones, too) about surprising their girlfriend with an engagement
ring. First, you don’t have to have a ring to ask her to marry you; find
some unique way to ask. I asked my now-wife to marry me, then we went
We decided on a jeweler, and I went by myself to discuss a price I could
afford. He was to have a tray of possible ring sets to show her the next
day. We both went back, and she selected five sets she liked. I returned
alone, chose one from the five sets and surprised her when I gave her
the engagement ring a few days later.
We have been married for 54 years. - Sheridan G., Fullerton, Calif.
Sheridan, what a lovely story, and one I hope will give others some
insight that some things do NOT always have to be done in the
traditional way. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: As much as I love my dog, he sheds on my sofa and chairs.
Instead of yelling at him to get off the furniture, I use a damp, clean
sponge (after vacuuming as much as possible). I lightly rub the sponge
in small circles, which causes the pet hairs to collect together. Then I
take tape of any kind and press on the clumps of pet hair. It’s easy and
takes less time than writing this hint! - Tammy R., Kent, Ohio
This does work well; just be sure the sponge is clean! We keep a
very-thin-material shower curtain on the bed so that when Chammy jumps
up, the hair stays on it. - Heloise
Don’t let your purse be carted off
Sept. 13, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about leaving your purse in the cart
at the grocery store. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Once again, we had someone in our grocery store who left
her purse unattended in the grocery cart. A thief walked by and
apparently reached in and stole her wallet and cellphone. Please advise
your readers to never leave their purses in a grocery cart, because it’s
just too easy for someone to reach inside and grab their wallet or to
take the entire purse. So far this year, we’ve had five such incidents.
We even placed a sign on our doors asking women not to leave their
purses unattended. Most people are honest, but sometimes there is one
person who is not. Why tempt fate?” - Gerald D., Pascagoula, Miss.
Dear Readers: If you have an ice-cream scoop, there are a number of ways
to use it besides for scooping ice cream:
Use to shape meatballs.
Use to scoop out shortening.
Use to remove eggs from boiling water.
Use to dig holes for bulbs in the garden.
Dear Heloise: I just moved into my first apartment, and money is really
tight right now after having paid all the deposits and rent and picking
up a few essentials, such as sheets, towels and a shower curtain. So, if
I were to go out and buy a few cleaning items, what would you suggest?
- Carol M., Muskegon, Mich.
Carol, congratulations on your new apartment! If you want some very
inexpensive cleaning products, I highly recommend old-fashioned vinegar
and baking soda. Vinegar has been around for thousands of years to clean
and polish sinks, floors and more. I have a number of cleaning ideas and
tricks for cleaning in my pamphlet Vinegar Hints and More. To order, you
can go to my website at www.Heloise.com, or you can send a stamped (70
cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope, along with $5, to:
Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. There’s
nothing more welcoming than coming home to an apartment that looks,
smells and feels clean. - Heloise
with a twist
Dear Heloise: I want a very traditional wedding: long white dress,
face-covering veil, bridesmaids and lots of flowers. This is not my
first wedding (I eloped the first time), but I’m now divorced, with one
daughter, age 7, and a terrific guy who wants to marry me in a big
wedding. I don’t want to look foolish at my second wedding, so what’s
allowed and what’s not? - Ava H., Marion, Ind.
Ava, best wishes on your coming marriage. Today, many brides wear white
even if it’s not their first wedding. However, a face-covering veil
traditionally is only for first-time brides. There are many other
options available: a veil down the back, flowers or a hat, to name a
few. Go ahead and have bridesmaids, flowers and whatever you want. Use
your favorite colors, dance and have fun. This is YOUR wedding, and the
bride gets to have her wedding, her way. - Heloise
on the loose!
Sept. 6, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about letting children run loose in
restaurants. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: My husband and I went to an upscale restaurant to
celebrate our 10th anniversary. It wasn’t cheap, but this was a special
occasion, and might have been fun if it were not for one couple who let
their three very young children run around the restaurant. They were
loud, as children will be when playing, ran around tables, nearly
tripped a waiter with a heavy tray and would stop at various tables and
ask strangers to get them a soda. I love children and have two of my
own, but this type of behavior is unnecessary and dangerous for the
child.” - Kathy G., Huntington Beach, Calif.
Dear Readers: People who like to knit baby items, scarves and mittens
usually have leftover yarn. There are a number of things you can do with
odd pieces of yarn:
Use to tie up climbing ivy or roses.
Cut short lengths and put outside for nesting birds.
Make a scrap-yarn afghan, a striped sweater, scarf or mittens with
Donate it to a nursing home where people like to spend time knitting.
Don’t lose that
Dear Heloise: I bought a beautiful white silk blouse with the cutest
buttons, but it didn’t come with any spare buttons. To make certain I
never lost one of those buttons, I reinforced them by sewing them on
with unwaxed dental floss. I’ve had this blouse four years, and I still
have all the buttons! - Molly K., Glenview, Ill.
Dear Heloise: I just went through some old photos and on the back wrote
the names of the people in the photograph, the place, month and year (if
I remembered), and anything else I thought was important. This is so my
kids can enjoy these photographs and not wonder who it was or where it
was taken. I have pictures of my great-grandmother with her mother, but
no one would know who they were if it were not for the information on
the back. - Hazel S., Great Falls, Mont.
What’s hiding on top
of the bedspread?
Dear Heloise: I read and enjoy your column in the Dayton (Ohio) Daily
One thing my family has always done is remove the bedspread in every
hotel and motel we’ve stayed at while traveling. It is the one thing
(besides drapes) that doesn’t get laundered on a regular basis. Please
pass the word along: Remove the bedspread, and don’t use it during your
stay. - Jan T., West Carrollton, Ohio
Jan, this is a very good hint, and one I usually do as well. -
No knees, please
August 31, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the apparel young women wear on
“Dear Heloise: I have a comment and a question. Why is there not enough
budget money for the news and weather women to have clothing that would
cover their knees?” - Anonymous in San Antonio
Dear Anonymous: Many young women keep up with the fashion trends (just
like their mothers and grandmothers did), and the current trend for
young women is short skirts. Their mothers wore the miniskirt in the
‘60s, and during World War II, when cloth was rationed, women raised
their hemlines. In the ‘20s, women who wore short dresses and rolled
down their stockings were considered very daring. Fashions come and go,
and no doubt hemlines will drop again. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Protect yourself from telemarketing fraud with some of
If it sounds too good to be true, it more than likely isn’t true. It’s
OK to be skeptical!
Never, ever give out banking information, your Social Security number,
passwords or any other personal information. Telemarketers have NO RIGHT
to ask those types of questions.
Use caution when a company won’t give you its name, address or
DO NOT be pressured into making a decision immediately, no matter what
they tell you.
Reusable and Recycled
Dear Heloise: I always either recycle or reuse plastic containers. I
save them for a number of uses, such as a container for small gift items
(jewelry, watches, belts, scarves, etc.). For example, I’ll take a
container that held strawberries, put some shredded paper on the bottom
and put the little gift on top, then put a ribbon around it. I used a
tub that held a whipped topping by painting it gold and decorating it
for Christmas, then placed home-baked cookies inside. - Kaycee D.,
Kaycee, what a great hint! It’s an inexpensive gift-giving idea and
environmentally friendly. Readers, do you have more suggestions for
empty plastic containers that you’d like to share? - Heloise
Help is on the way!
Dear Heloise: HELP! I just got lipstick on my husband’s favorite
Egyptian cotton shirt. How do I get it out without ruining his shirt?
- Carla Y., Manchester, N.H.
Carla, immediately place the stained area over an absorbent towel and
saturate with rubbing alcohol (test hidden area of fabric for
colorfastness). Then rub the area with a cloth dipped in rubbing
alcohol. You also may have good results with a pre-wash spray. Rinse and
launder as usual. This and many more stain-removing ideas are in my
Handy Stain Guide for Clothing pamphlet. Just go to www.Heloise.com, or
you can send a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, along
with $5, to: Heloise/Stain, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.
There’s no need to throw away good clothing because of a stain that can
easily be removed with a few simple cleaning instructions. - Heloise
number of business complaints
August 23, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about poorly marked locations:
"Dear Heloise: It is maddening to drive along looking for a business and
you can’t find the address numbers. It should be required to have the
numbers large enough to see from the road. Not everyone who wants to use
your services can drive straight to your location if they can’t find
- Sherry D., via e-mail
How right you are, and most of my readers agree! Business owners:
Pretend you DON’T know where your business is, and try to find the
address! I’ve had to park, get out of the car and walk up to the door or
window to be able to read the address and hours of operation. Readers?
Business owners? Let me hear from you! - Heloise
Dear Readers: Don’t toss out those empty baby-food jars or containers.
Use them for:
Storing small treats for pets while at the park or in an auto.
Storing leftover paint for touch-ups.
Keeping small items organized in a “junk drawer.”
Freezing brown sugar
Dear Heloise: I’ve read your suggestions for freezing brown sugar. I do
a lot of baking, especially at Christmas, so I buy a 2-pound bag of
brown sugar, using it mostly for cookies and cakes. When I have some
left over, I reseal the bag and narrow it down using rubber bands to
make a smaller package in my freezer. (HELOISE HERE: You might want to
put it in a freezer-safe sealable bag.) Believe me, it is soft and
pliable the moment I take it out of the freezer, and I can use my brown
sugar all year long.
- Margaret in Lancaster, Calif.
Removing a musty
Dear Heloise: My daughter bought an old mahogany dresser for her first
apartment. The musty smell is awful, and she can’t put her clothes in
it. It also looks like there might be a little mold inside the drawers.
How do we get rid of the smell/mold? - Sharon W., via email
What a find! Here are a few hints to try:
Move drawers to a well-ventilated site. Spritz the inside of each drawer
with undiluted vinegar, then scrub the inside with a cloth and let dry.
Sprinkle the drawers with some baking soda and let it sit overnight,
Set the drawers outside in the bright sunshine for an hour or so to let
Mother Nature do her thing!
Salt reduction in
Dear Heloise: I enjoy your column in The (Baton Rouge, La.) Advocate.
Now I have a hint for you:
When using a packaged pasta mix, I have found that I can use only half
of the seasoning packet with no noticeable change in the flavor, and in
doing this, I can eliminate half of the sodium. This makes it more
adaptable to a low-salt diet. - A Reader, via email
August 16, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the use of “Ms.” in place of
“Miss” or “Mrs.”:
“Dear Heloise: One thing that irks me is that so many pieces of mail are
addressed to ‘Ms.’ instead of ‘Mrs.’ They don’t know me. I could be
‘Miss,’ ‘Mrs.’ or ‘Mr.,’ but not ‘Ms.’ When they came out with ‘Ms.,’ it
was for divorced women, and I have never been divorced! It may seem
trivial to some, but I don’t like it.”
- Shirley W., Gardiner, Maine
Shirley, the title of “Ms.” is out of respect and politeness. The titles
“Mrs.,” “Miss” and even “Ms.” were all derived from the word “Mistress,”
which for centuries applied to all adult women, whether married or not.
Until the 19th century, most women lacked a prefix before their names;
they were often addressed as “so-and-so’s wife,” or simply by their
name. Having a title of “Ms.,” “Miss” or “Mrs.” eventually indicated a
higher social standing. While “Ms.” is more commonly used today for
women whose status is not known, it never indicated a divorced woman,
but rather all women. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Most households have cotton swabs, so here are a few more
uses for them:
Use them to clean a computer keyboard and get into those tight spaces.
Wet one end and use it to seal envelopes.
Got furniture with fancy carvings? Use one with furniture polish sprayed
on the cotton to clean and shine the fancy wood.
Keep handy to wipe away smeared mascara or nail polish on the areas
around the nails.
Keeping it clean
Dear Heloise: When our three daughters had their bridal showers, my
mother, my sister and I bought a gift certificate to have their dresses
dry-cleaned and preserved as our shower gift. We researched and found a
reputable dry cleaner who did this kind of work.
Each daughter was delighted to receive such a lasting gift. It can be
expensive to preserve a gown, so it’s nice to include several people in
the gift, if need be. - Connie F., Summerfield, Fla.
Connie, that’s a very thoughtful idea, and one I’m sure other readers
will appreciate as well! And the next hint has another wedding-gift
idea. - Heloise
It’s in the box
Dear Heloise: I have another suggestion for storing a wedding gown: Have
it put in a shadow box. My cousin did mine for me, and it’s on display
in my living room. I enjoy your information very much.
- Sue G., Harrison, Ark.
Fork it over
Dear Heloise: I went to an estate sale and bought five old metal forks
for $1. I use them to uproot weeds such as chickweed and dandelions.
It’s one of the most useful and inexpensive tools in my garden!
- Tina P., Shawnee, Okla.
No sale for this customer
August 10, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about department staff who ignore the
“Dear Heloise: I recently went shopping at a major department store, and
I asked one of the sales staff if she could assist me, and she said,
“No,” she was busy, and just walked off. I saw a group of three giggling
salespeople and asked if they could help me, and one young woman said,
“In a minute,” turned her back and continued her conversation. I left
the store without spending a dime.
“This isn’t the first time I’ve seen salespeople ignore a customer. The
majority of salespeople usually are helpful and professional, but it
only takes a few bad apples to ruin the reputation of a store. Is it a
lack of proper training?” - Emma Y., Scranton, Pa.
Emma, sorry to hear about this unfortunate incident, but you do have
options. You can call the store manager to let him or her know of your
experience, or write a letter to the corporate CEO. Training might be
the issue, but you always can recommend better training in a phone call
or letter. - Heloise
Dear Readers: If you lose your wallet:
Call the police and report that it’s lost or stolen - do this
Get a new driver’s license - this is your most commonly used form of ID.
Cancel all credit cards and, if necessary, notify your bank.
Notify utilities in case someone tries to open an account.
If you kept a spare house key in your wallet, have the locks changed.
Dear Heloise: I’m having problems with gnats in my kitchen and
bathrooms. I have the house sprayed for bugs, but I still have gnats. Do
you have a solution to this problem? - Bugs in Kitchen, via email
First make certain all indoor plants are not watered for a couple of
days; gnats lay their eggs in damp soil. Remove all food or fruit bowls
from the counter. Clean all surfaces with an all-purpose cleaner,
including the floors and trash baskets. Cover drains with plastic and
tape it down. Leave this in place overnight.
Then make a gnat trap:
Pour about 1/4 cup of apple-cider vinegar into a jar or plastic
Take a coffee filter and place over the opening of the apple-cider
container. You can use a rubber band to ensure that the coffee filter is
held in place and there is a tight seal.
Poke three holes in the coffee filter, no bigger than 1/4 inch to 1/3
Place in an area where the gnats are, and leave it there for a day or
Interview for two?
August 2, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about bringing another person to a
job interview. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: It should be common knowledge that you don’t bring your
kids, husband or boyfriend, or mother to your job interview. It’s one of
the quickest ways to be eliminated as a candidate for the job. And yet,
just today I was about to interview a young woman of 23, and when I
called her name, her boyfriend got up and said he was going into the
interview with her to see to it that I didn’t ask any questions that he
“When I said he was NOT going into the interview, he said he had a few
questions he wanted to ask, such as how much vacation time she’d get and
could she leave at 3 p.m. on Fridays. I asked them to leave my office.
Unless you need an interpreter, which is allowed, you shouldn’t bring
another person with you to an interview for a job.” - Karen in
Dear Readers: Transparent tape has many uses besides wrapping gifts,
When traveling, pack a small dispenser of tape for mending a loose hem.
In an emergency, you can tape a cut finger and prevent bacteria from
getting into the wound.
The matte tape can be applied to a number of things to allow you to
write your name.
Dear Heloise: I know there must be others like me who like their soft
drinks cold but find that ice melts and dilutes the drink.
pour a bit of a soft drink into each ice-cube tray and freeze it. When I
use these, as they melt, they don’t dilute my drink but still keep it
cold. Love your column in the San Antonio Express-News.
- Billie M., New Braunfels, Texas
Dear Heloise: For beachgoers, there are some things you should always
pack in your beach bag besides tanning oil and a towel:
Sunblock - everyone should use it, but this is especially important for
children and very fair-skinned people who burn rather than tan.
Meat tenderizer - this is good to have on hand if you are near an ocean
that has jellyfish. Mix a little water with the tenderizer to make a
paste, and apply it to the affected area.
Slip-on shoes or rubber thongs for the feet - by midday, sand can get
extremely hot, so don’t go barefoot to the beach.
A hat (one with a wide brim is best) - shield your head in the hot sun,
as well as your eyes from ultraviolet rays.
Bottled water - stay hydrated, and I can’t emphasize this enough.
Alana S., Ocean Park, Maine
Lice aren’t nice
Dear Heloise: My son came home from school with head lice! How could he
have picked up lice?
- Lana F., Barberton, Ohio
Lana, there is no correlation between personal hygiene and contracting
head lice. Tell your son that in the future he is not to share caps,
hats, scarves or other clothing with his friends or classmates. There
are many over-the-counter remedies for head lice. - Heloise
Count it out
July 26, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about salesclerks who don’t know how
to count your change. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: My wife and I read your column in the Antelope Valley
Press in Lancaster, Calif. We have never been disappointed. I personally
enjoy the ‘Sound Off’ issues.
“One of my pet peeves is watching a retail clerk trying to return change
from a $20 bill. One of the first things I learned in grade school was
how to count change. We were told that the reason was so we could be
assured we got the right change. I have had to call a manager while at
the checkout on three occasions just last week. Being retired, I have
the patience to help, but why should I have to?”
- John and Karen H., Lancaster, Calif.
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for ashtrays:
Use it in a bathroom to hold guest soaps.
Use to hold seed to feed the squirrels and birds.
Store hair ornaments in the larger ones.
Use it to hold your car/house keys so you’ll always know where to find
Keep lose change in them.
No oil leaks
Dear Heloise: I went to a beauty-supply store and bought a straight-tip,
leakproof applicator for hair color. Just pour up to 8 ounces of olive
oil into it, tighten the lid well, and you have the perfect applicator
to dispense olive oil. No spills, and no awkward tipping of a large
container. - Frances M., Fayetteville, Ark.
Frances, what a great idea! So many times we forget that useful products
can be found in many different places. With just a little imagination,
you can repurpose any number of things. - Heloise
Plants and air
Dear Heloise: As pretty as plants in our homes can be, they have another
very useful benefit: Green plants clean the air and improve the quality
of the air we breathe in our homes. Plants have air-purification
capabilities that allow them to absorb gases through pores on the
surface of their leaves. But a word of caution: Some plants are toxic to
children and pets, so choose wisely when buying a plant for your home.
- Hollister H., Stamford, Conn.
Hollister, thank you for this information. I love the look of indoor
plants, and the benefits they provide to the air quality in my home.
Did you know?
Dear Readers: The U.S. Postal Service handles about 43 percent of the
world’s mail. The next closest to that is Japan’s, with 6 percent. -
July 19, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about recycling:
“Dear Heloise: We all live on one planet with dwindling resources and a
growing population. So why don’t more people recycle as much as they
can? I would encourage folks who think it’s too much trouble to recycle
to reconsider. Got an empty can or glass bottle? Just a quick rinse
under the tap and into a recycle bin or bag it goes. My husband and I
don’t have kids yet, but we feel that we are merely custodians of the
planet, not owners. Let’s all recycle our paper, plastic, glass and
metal, and leave this world in better shape than we found it, for
generations to come.” - Charlotte M., Green Bay, Wis.
Charlotte, I couldn’t agree more! My staff and I recycle everything we
can, both in the office and at home.
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for cat litter:
Use to absorb fresh oil and grease on the driveway or garage floor.
Use under tires on icy streets.
Use to reduce odors and moisture in a basement.
Dear Heloise: Girls no longer seem to receive hope chests upon
graduation from high school in anticipation of getting married, so at an
estate sale, I bought one. I took it home and lightly sanded the
interior to bring out that cedar scent. After vacuuming and wiping the
interior, I used it to store sweaters, parkas and other winter clothing
and wool blankets. I may not be thinking about marriage right now, but I
am thinking about moths not eating my favorite sweaters. - Lucy R.,
Snails and slugs
Dear Heloise: I had a nasty problem with snails and slugs, but I used a
trick my grandmother always used. We kept eggshells in a bag in the
refrigerator. When we had a fair amount of shells, we’d crush them and
sprinkle the broken eggshells around our plants. Snails and slugs won’t
crawl over the sharp pieces. Hamster litter made from cedar usually had
the same effect as eggshells. - Jean O., Florence, S.C.
When less is more
Dear Heloise: I clean houses for a living, and more often than not, I
have to clean windows. Most people think using newspaper is the best way
to get streak-free windows, but it’s not. It used to be, but the
newspapers changed the ink formulation, and that made all the
difference. Instead, use a soft cloth (microfiber is best) and a little
vinegar (1/2 cup) in a gallon of water. Don’t use too much liquid, or
you’ll get lots of streaks. Spray and wipe. - Lynn G., South Gate,
Save me from the offer!
July 12, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about stores that hound us to open a
credit card account with them:
“Dear Heloise: I absolutely hate it when I go shopping and the
salespeople pester me about opening an account with them. I don’t want
credit card debt. In fact, I don’t want any debt, because we’re looking
to buy our first home. When I say ‘No, thank you,’ they persist with,
‘What! Do you mean to tell me you don’t want to save 20 percent on
today’s purchase?’ It seems like everywhere I go, someone is trying to
pressure me into signing up for a credit card. I wish salespeople would
get the hint - ask once, then leave me alone!” - Brandon K., Cypress,
Brandon, I know it gets annoying, but many stores give the sales force
quotas requiring them to open up a certain number of accounts or in time
lose their jobs. Just ignore their pleas. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for popcorn tins:
Paint the tin a color you like and label it for storage of small tools
in the garage.
Reuse the tin the following year for a large or awkward-shaped gift.
Store dry pet food in one and keep the lid on it. Keeps out insects!
Wrap in pretty contact paper or wrapping paper and use to store sewing,
knitting or crafting supplies.
Dressing like the
Dear Heloise: What do all the celebrities do with their red-carpet
clothing? Can I buy some of the gowns I see on the runway, or do they
ever give them to friends? - Ines M., Brattleboro, Vt.
Ines, those beautiful gowns, the fabulous jewelry and even the evening
purses usually are donated by designers for some big event and are
returned promptly the next day. Some stars purchase something if they
really feel they have to have it, but when they decide to clean out
their closets, many items are donated to charities to be auctioned off.
However, there are stores in and around Hollywood that specialize in
clothing worn by celebrities. You can find them online. - Heloise
Recycling for the
Dear Heloise: You reach thousands of readers all over America and
Canada, so please remind them to recycle all of their paper, hard
plastic, wood and glass. Find the collection centers in your area if you
don’t have regular collection on a weekly basis. Take old clothes that
still have good use to a charity center or to any place that helps the
homeless and poor. Churches often have clothing drives. The old saying
“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” is so very true. - Dr.
James T., Daytona Beach, Fla.
Not quite photogenic
July 6, 2017
Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the deceptive photographs on food
“Dear Heloise: I’m so tired of seeing photographs on frozen-food
packages and drive-thrus that show a delicious-looking item, but when
you get it home, the item looks nothing like the picture. I recently
bought frozen lasagna in the ‘family pack’ for a quick dinner for my two
children and myself. The portions were small, and the lasagna inside was
nothing like the photograph on the box. To me, that’s deceptive
advertising!” - Belinda M., Sparks, Nev.
Belinda, I’ve noticed the same thing. Manufacturers, are you listening?
Dear Readers: Here are some items you might consider taking to someone
who is in the hospital (but always check with the nurses to see what is
allowed in a patient’s room):
A small room freshener (no candles) to freshen the room.
A packet of mints or breath fresheners is nice.
Various magazines/books on subjects that interest the patient.
Hand/body lotion - unscented is best - or moist towelettes.
To tattoo or not to
Dear Heloise: My 16-year-old son is bugging me about getting a tattoo. I
don’t care for tattoos, but I don’t know what to say except “No.” Are
there any dangers to tattooing? How do I get him to reconsider a mark
like that, which will be with him for many years? - Linda K., Upland,
Linda, tell your son to think before he inks. Tattoos can and have
killed job opportunities for many people. There are some serious issues
Infections: Dirty needles can pass infections from one person to
Allergies: Allergies to various inks can occur.
Scarring: Unwanted scar tissue may cause scarring when getting or
removing a tattoo.
Granulomas: These are small knots or lumps that form around material
that the body perceives as foreign, such as tattoo pigment.
You may not like the results: There are tattoo artists whose work is not
professional. Skill varies from one artist to another. There is no way
to be certain that the ink used is safe.
Adopt a best friend
Dear Heloise: Do any of your readers need a best friend? Adopt a pet at
any local shelter or animal-rescue organization. So many irresponsible
people don’t spay or neuter their pets, and that produces too many
unwanted pets. A pet is a wonderful companion, and the health benefits
of having a pet are well-documented. So, you can adopt a best friend at
any local shelter. - Glenda T., Frankfort, Ky.
Glenda, I agree. A pet is a wonderful comfort and companion. I’ve
adopted many animals and have loved each of them. A pet also can teach
children compassion and responsibility. - Heloise
this a recording?
June 30, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off concerns recorded messages that may lead
you to believe you’re actually talking to a real person. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: There seems to be something new going around. It’s a
recorded message that sounds friendly, and there are pauses in the
conversation, but it’s recorded. I asked the voice at the other end who
she represented, but got no response. I asked her to take me off the
list of phone numbers, but the sales pitch continued, and I finally hung
“I wish companies would stop calling people with these recordings where
we can’t ask them questions or they try to sell us things we don’t want.
Perhaps the ones that I find especially confusing are the ones that tell
me I filled out a request for their call when I know I didn’t and have
no interest in their product. I only hope this method of selling stops
soon.” - Tess D., Norman, Okla.
Dear Readers: One of the most useful items I’ve found is dryer sheets!
They have multiple uses:
Take one used dryer sheet and slip it into a pillowcase to keep the
pillow smelling fresh.
Use under a drawer liner to keep “undies” smelling nice.
Use in the closet where you store your linens to have sweet-smelling
Stain on a leather
Dear Heloise: I dripped olive oil on my expensive genuine leather couch.
Do you have any magic formula to absorb it and get rid of the dark spot?
I tried blotting repeatedly, gently sponging with a mild liquid
detergent, more blotting, etc., but I am left with the oil stain. Any
suggestions? - F.P.B. in Texas
F.P.B., you’ve already tried blotting and soap and water. When an oil
stain first appears on leather, immediately sprinkle baby powder or
cornstarch on the spot and let it sit overnight, then brush it off with
a microfiber cloth in the direction of the grain. However, since you’ve
had this oil stain awhile, you might try the following:
Mix together the following ingredients to form a paste:
3/8 cup distilled water
1/8 cup sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white flour
tablespoon baking powder
Do a patch test first on an area that doesn’t show, and if it doesn’t
lift the dye in the leather, then proceed to apply it to the stain. Use
a soft cloth to apply it in dabs (be gentle, and don’t scrub). Let the
area dry completely. Carefully wipe off with the grain of the leather.
This may require more than one or two applications.
Another suggestion is equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar. Dab
on and gently wipe off after a couple of hours. Some of my readers have
had success with this formula.
Readers, do you have a suggestion you’ve used and liked for leather
stain removal? - Heloise
taxing phone conversation
June 21, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the phone bill’s added charges
and taxes. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: I recently moved into my first apartment and was shocked
to discover that my phone bill, which includes a landline, my computer
and cellphone, was about 25 percent to 30 percent taxes! I called the
phone company and asked for an explanation of my bill, because there
were things on there that I’d never heard of. The woman I spoke with
didn’t seem to know what half of the charges were for, either. When I
signed up for telephone service, no one told me about all these taxes
and other charges. Why can’t the telephone companies tell us the truth
about all these nuisance charges, and why don’t they pick up some of
these expenses instead of burdening the public with them?” - Roberta
G., Dayton, Ohio
Dear Readers: Button, button, who’s got the button? There are a number
of uses for recycled buttons:
They can be used in jewelry making to create interesting, new designs.
Attach to the ends of drawstrings to keep from pulling through casings.
Great for decorating picture frames, and for gift decorations.
Instead of pebbles in a pot, try a couple of handfuls of old buttons.
How to clean a
Dear Heloise: My sister and I have been wondering how to properly clean
a mattress. We both recently bought new ones, but haven’t a clue as to
how to keep them clean. - Tanya M., Elk Grove Village, Ill.
Tanya, the first thing you can do is spray a water repellent on the
surface of a mattress on both sides. Wait until it is completely dry
before covering it with a good-quality mattress pad to help keep out
dust, dander and dust mites. After you’ve done this, try the following:
Vacuum your mattress once a month.
Wash the mattress pad once a month in hot water and soap to kill dust
If you spill any liquid on the mattress, soak up as much of the liquid
as you can with a bath towel or paper towels. Use upholstery cleaners to
shampoo out the stain left behind, but make sure your mattress is
completely dry before putting the mattress pad back on the bed.
Most mattress manufacturers say we do not have to “flip” our mattresses
every six months anymore, but I still like to rotate mine every other
Feed your plants
Dear Heloise: I have an old home recipe for outside plants that works to
kill bugs while feeding the plants. It’s simple and easy to use with a
spray bottle that hooks up to a hose.
One small can of beer - any kind
5 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing detergent (or use baby shampoo)
2 tablespoons of commercial plant food in liquid or powder form
Once this is in the spray bottle and attached to the hose, water your
plants as usual. The soap kills bugs, but not plants. - Rhonda P.,
for the lake house
June 15, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is about house rules at the lake:
“Dear Heloise: Three years ago, my husband and I built our retirement
home on a beautiful lake, where we hoped to enjoy a relaxed lifestyle.
However, our children (we have six between the two of us) and a couple
of our friends tend to drop in a lot. So this year I wrote everyone a
letter with the lake house rules:
“Hello to All: As much as we love all of you, we need to set down some
new house rules for all of you to follow. We ask that you respect these
rules and not ask us to make exceptions.
“Please wait to be invited to our home. DO NOT drop in, even if you
happen to be in the neighborhood.
“Bring your own towels and snacks.
“Due to my husband’s health, we need to limit our entertaining and
baby-sitting to no more than a couple of days.”
Margaret S., Kenosha
Dear Heloise: I have no idea where lost socks go, but it seems my
husband has several pairs that are missing their mate. This is what I do
with those lonely, single socks:
I keep one in the glove compartment of my car for covering my hand when
I’m scraping the windshield in winter, or to pick up something I’d
rather not touch with my bare hand.
They make wonderful dust rags - just slip your hand inside.
I have one in my laundry room to put loose change in when I check
pockets before washing.
I gave one to my young son to put his small plastic toys inside so they
don’t get lost
Reader, via email
advice for men
Dear Heloise: I’ve been a jeweler for nearly 30 years, and I have some
advice for young men who are considering surprising their girlfriend
with an engagement ring:
As lovely as it is to surprise a woman with a proposal, it might be
better to let her select the ring she’ll wear for the rest of her life.
If you two are shopping together for rings, give her a price range to
select from. Limit yourself to what you can reasonably afford.
If she would rather have a colored gem than a diamond, let her have what
she wants, but stay within your budget.
Do not bring a third or fourth person along with you. This is a private
matter, and you don’t need a third opinion. It doesn’t matter what her
mother or best friend thinks about her ring.
Shop around for a style and price you both can live with after all the
excitement dies down.
Ronald P., Norman, Okla.
The average wedding in America costs between $26,000 and $35,000!
Almost half of millennials say they will wait to wed until after the age
Utah has the youngest brides, with an average age of 23.5 for women and
25.6 for men.
Washington, D.C., has the oldest brides, with an average age of 29.8 for
women and 30.6 for men.
Late isn't great
June 7, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about people who are perpetually
late. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Why are some people always late for everything? I have a
friend who seems to think showing up on time is beyond her capabilities.
She’ll say things like, ‘Time is my enemy.’ If we’re meeting for lunch,
she is sure to be 20 to 40 minutes late. Several of our mutual friends
have stopped inviting her to various functions for this very reason. I
only hope this will give others who are never on time a chance to think
about how it affects others.” - Charlotte F., Hot Springs, Ark.
Dear Readers: Here are some hints for repurposing old books:
Stack up several volumes to make a side table by a chair.
Create a multilayered wall collage with pages from any book.
Hollow out the inside of the pages and hide valuables in there, then
place on a bookshelf.
Cut pages into strips and glue to a lampshade for a “novel” look for
Dear Heloise: I use a facial mask that is wonderful and all-natural. It
works well on nearly everyone I know:
Grind 5 tablespoons of oatmeal in a blender or food processor until it’s
a coarse powder.
Add 1 tablespoon of honey.
Add 2 tablespoons of plain nonfat yogurt.
Add 1 egg yolk, optional.
Mix everything together and apply to your face for 30 minutes in order
to achieve best results. If you have time, lie down and relax during
this treatment. Everything in this mixture is designed to brighten the
skin, remove dead skin cells and nourish the skin. - Vanessa K. in
Dear Heloise: My ex-husband and I decided years ago that no matter what
happened, we would always take a “family portrait” every year. This was
for the sake of our three daughters. The girls agree that we are still a
unit, and it’s nice to see how the girls have grown and how my ex and I
have changed through the years. We’ve been doing this for 15 years, and
I believe it’s helped keep a civil relationship between my ex-husband
and myself. - Courtney J., Suffolk, Va.
Courtney, that’s a good idea, and I agree that exes should remain civil
to one another for the sake of the kids and for their own peace of mind.
Dear Heloise: In my family, we try to take something from our mother’s
wedding or grandmother’s wedding and incorporate it in our wedding dress
or veil. I used a handkerchief that my grandmother carried on her
wedding day and had it worked into the bodice of my dress. It was my
- Constance D., Glenrock, Wyo.