Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the size of comforter sets.
Ruthi S. wrote: “I just purchased a new queen-size comforter set that is
too short for the bed.
“A king size would be too wide, so that is not an option. It seems that
mattresses are getting thicker and thicker, and the comforters are
getting smaller and smaller.
“When I compared this new one to the one I am currently using, the new
one is at least 9 inches shorter. If the manufacturers think they are
saving money by using less material, they need to realize that they also
are losing sales over this practice.”
- Ruthi S., Martinsburg, W.Va.
Ruthi, thanks for sharing your comment! This is an ongoing problem. The
old saying “The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing”
Yes, mattresses are getting “thicker"; thus, older sheets, bedspreads
and comforters do not fit properly. As to the comforter manufacturers,
there is a vast amount of difference in dimension! The only thing I can
say is, measure YOUR mattress, including height, before shopping for
When we got adjustable beds (which I LOVE, by the way), I had to resort
to making a bedspread! It’s a good thing I can sew, or we’d be using TWO
queen bedspreads. Sooooo ... there you “sew”!
Dear Readers: Other uses for old leather belts (additional holes may be
1. As an earring holder.
2. To hold barrettes or hair clips.
3. Hang from a wall to display commemorative pins.
4. Wrap around a pot plant to add some flair.
5. As a purse or camera strap.
Dear Heloise: I am a retired school nurse. I used to gather unclaimed
garments at the end of the school year, take them home and wash them. I
would keep whatever I thought I may use in the upcoming year. Students
may have a need for clothing I salvaged.
The extra I would take to places in town that distribute clothing to
people. You’d be surprised at the quality of some of the items. I always
had use for the items, as students had “accidents” during the year, and
parents could not be reached. I could furnish jeans, or a jacket if it
don’t know if school policy would allow this anymore, but it sure came
in useful for me when I worked.
- Margie M., Kerrville, Texas
Margie, you are one special person! Yes, schools do need extra clothing
for students who may have a mishap, tear something, get sick, etc.
Readers, check with schools in your area to see if they need clothing.
This is a prefect service project for a school club. - Hugs, Heloise
Dear Heloise: To get my great-grandchildren to wash their hands long
enough, I put a few drops of food coloring into the liquid hand wash.
They have to keep washing until the running water comes clear.
- Helen L., Abbot, Texas
Opening answer to resealable bags
April 21, 2016
Dear Readers: I got to Sound Off recently about my frustration with
opening resealable cheese, produce, even dog-food plastic bags. You
agreed and shared your Hints for Heloise to manage with this
“convenient” inconvenient packaging:
Grace in California said
she cuts the bag open and puts the contents in sealable containers.
Judy in Illinois said she takes her scissors and cuts off the very top
edge, which leaves her with more plastic to open the package.
Two readers, Mary and Carol, said that after opening, they use a chip
clip or a clothespin to close the bag.
Finally, Bruce, a retired M.D. in Little Rock, Ark., said to make a
“scoop” cut in the middle of one side of the top of the package to have
a way to pull it open.
Bruce, were you a surgeon? This sounds like you might have been!
One office “magpie” tried Bruce’s “scoop” hint. She cut a notch in the
center of the bag, and it worked.
HOWEVER, it seemed wasteful, redundant and superfluous to then put the
contents in a zip bag!
P.S.: I challenge manufacturers to take 100 of your packaging bags, hand
them to employees and see what happens! No knives or scissors allowed.
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about pockets:
"Dear Heloise: I am unhappy that athletic pants for women have no
pockets, but almost all athletic pants for men have pockets.” -
Barbara in San Antonio
wish I had an answer for you! I’ve looked online - some retail sites say
they have women’s athletic pants with pockets, but I sure had a hard
time finding some. You could TRY men’s pants and see if they fit.
Dear Readers: Other uses for a high school/college calculator’s soft
Hold writing supplies.
Store eyeglasses in a pinch.
Carry medications, such as diabetic pens.
Store a cellphone, charger and cord.
For grooming supplies: tweezers, combs, mascara, etc.
Dear Readers: It’s time for students to be coming home, packing up dorms
or apartments for the summer. Here’s a low-cost hint for packing dishes
and plates that will speed up the process and protect them during
Use cheap paper or foam plates to place between each dish. Wrap a small
stack (no more than five plates) with some kind of nonprinted paper.
Newspaper is a cheap and standby thing to use - just be aware that the
ink might rub off. Use sheets, towels or shirts to wrap.
Pack tightly into boxes cushioned with bath towels, sheets or other
materials that you are moving.
Dear Heloise: I take clean, mismatched socks sprayed with dusting spray
and use them to gently clean my figurines. I hold them gently in my
hands and clean off the dust. Works great!
- Alexia V., Fort Worth, Texas
put this lid on it!
April 13, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about flip-top cans. A reader wrote:
“I don’t have the strength in my hands to pull flip-top cans open.
“To make matters worse, these cans cannot be opened with a can opener.
The rims of the cans are too high for a can opener to open. There’s not
a can out there, from fruit to nuts, that doesn’t have this type of lid.
“I know you reach a million readers, and someone from one of these
companies will see it. I have called the customer-service number on each
can. Their response was they would pass it on. So, that’s it. I hope you
can get the word out.” - Jeri B., San Angelo, Texas
Jeri, there’s an inexpensive gadget you can buy to help you and others
(including me!) get these darned lids off. It’s a ring-pull opener and
is designed specifically for flip-tops. It takes the stress off the
hands. Also, do look closely at the bottom of the cans - many can be
opened with a can opener on the bottom.
Dear Readers: Here is a short list of easy and inexpensive gifts that
anyone, especially seniors, will appreciate:
1. The gift of your time.
2. A picture collage of multiple family members.
3. A good letter or a simple greeting card that they can cherish always.
4. A meal at their favorite restaurant, or bring them a meal from there.
5. Take them with you when visiting other family members
Dear Heloise: We’re trying to cut back on salt, and I was told that you
had a salt-substitute recipe that I could make and use. Love your column
and all the great hints I can use. - Carolina T., Springfield, Ill.
This is one of my favorites, and it is flavorful. Note: It uses onion
and garlic powders, not salts.
5 teaspoons onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or black)
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
Mix all of the ingredients and store in a container in a cool, dry
place. If you’d like other ideas, I have compiled recipes in a
seasonings pamphlet. To order a copy of Heloise’s Seasonings, Sauces and
Substitutes pamphlet, visit www.Heloise.com, or send $3 and a stamped
(71 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope to: Heloise/ SSS,
P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Depending on the dish,
sometimes a drop or two of lemon juice will perk up a salad. Trying to
cut back on using table salt? Taste the dish first, then a second time,
and only then salt. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I visit a memorial area where my wife’s ashes are
scattered, and I take flowers. I take a cordless drill, drill holes into
the ground and place the flowers in the holes in the ground. Works fine,
and the flowers stay put. - Mr. William B., Dayton, Ohio
April 6, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about junk-mail offers. A reader
wrote, “My gripe is about the ‘junk mail’ offers from banks and
credit-card companies who feel the need to print my name and address not
only on the envelope and cover letter, but elsewhere in the enclosed
“When recycling this sort
of mail, I have to riffle through all the pages to make sure that my
personal information is removed before disposing of it.
“This does not endear me to the company trying to gain my business.”
- Mary H., Louisville, Ohio
It can be a pain in the neck to open or tear up junk mail with your
personal information on it. Anything from your bank or credit-card
issuer should be opened and then destroyed, or just tear the letter up!
You can’t be too careful these days.
You can call/email/write them and tell them you want to be on their
no-solicitation list. It helps! - Heloise
Dear Readers: Other uses for cardboard wine carriers, which can carry or
Different kinds of salad dressings.
A variety of small crafting tools.
Boxes of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, etc.
Small gardening tools.
No Yucky Bar Soap
Dear Heloise: I have young children who are constantly being reminded to
wash their hands. I’ve found that a bar of soap lasts a whole lot longer
than liquid soap, which the kids never felt like one squirt was enough
for clean hands.
To keep the soap from liquefying and getting nasty in the soap dish, I
placed a baby brush, bristle side up, in the dish. The soap rests on top
of the brush and stays nice and dry. - Hannah in Nipomo, Calif.
Dear Heloise: I have a problem opening produce bags and sometimes cannot
get them open. One day, I happened to think of using one of the stickers
on the produce. I stuck part of it on the top of one side of the bag. I
was able to pull the bag open.
Now I have no problem opening them. I also use the same sticker on all
the bags I need to open.
- Margaret in Temple, Texas
Well, Margaret, I think you just gave my readers a very useful hint for
using those pesky stickers that no one really likes. - Heloise
Degrime in No Time
Dear Readers: Do you have a favorite deck of cards that you use every
time you play cards with friends or family? Are they getting grimy?
Here’s an easy hint to clean them.
Put the deck of cards in a plastic bag with a scoop or two of cornstarch
or baking soda. Shake it up for a minute or two. Remove the cards and
wipe off the powder.
Degrimed in no time! You can use this hint to clean cards from board
games and other card games that your kids may enjoy playing. -
‘Who Is This?’ Is
March 30, 2016
Dear Readers: This week’s Sound Off is about people who dial the wrong
phone number and are rude. Read on and see what you think:
“Dear Heloise: I am tired
of people calling me by mistake and then asking who they are talking to.
I try to ask,’Who are you trying to reach?’ and they keep asking me,
‘What number is this? Who is this?’
“Please ask your readers that if they misdialed or are not sure, they
should ask for such and such business or so and so person by name. I
live alone and am NOT going to give them my name. I hate being rude.”
- No Name, via email
Dear No Name: Hello, who are you? Where are you writing from? I’m with
you. I’ve had people call one of my phone numbers and say, after I
politely said THREE TIMES that there is no one here by that name, “Oh,
well, lady, you don’t have to be rude about it.” Really! - Heloise
Dear Readers: Other uses for a clothespin:
Close a chip or bread bag.
Close curtains in a hotel room.
Hold a recipe card.
Clip packages of salad-dressing mix.
Clip to a planter with the date you last added plant food.
Care Packages for
Dear Readers: Here is a simple and wonderful way to support our troops
overseas. St. Michael’s Soldiers is a nonprofit organization that
creates care packages for troops stationed abroad.
They can use all sorts of items, including pantyhose (for cleaning
weapons - now that’s a Heloise hint!), dental floss, stationery, cards,
envelopes and stamps (yes, they still write letters). Fun stuff: comic
books, travel cards, footballs, food, hot sauce, gum, hard candy, girly
stuff, perfume or makeup samples, hand lotion, trail mix, cookies and
Send your items to: St. Michael’s Soldiers, 1635 Farm Way, Suite 409,
Middleburg, FL 32068. If you need to call, the phone number is
904-599-7855. To learn more and see other items, visit their website:
StMichaelsSoldiers.org. They have a comprehensive list of items
requested most by the troops.
hug and salute to one and all. Thank you. - Heloise
P.S.: You can use a U.S. Postal Service Flat Rate box, which is cheap!
Remember, the organization can always use money - it’s the right size,
and it buys more.
Fix a Leak or Pay a
Dear Heloise: I was reading one of your books, titled “Heloise Conquers
Stinks and Stains,” and found a hint that made me chuckle.
The title, “To Prevent Oil Stains on Your Garage Floor,” gave these
hints, in this order:
$$$$ Buy a new car
$$$ Have the leak repaired at your local garage
$$ Treat the floor with a masonry sealer that will be effective for
Place a drip tray under the car
Funny and cute. If you can fix the leak yourself, it’s cheaper than all
of the hints. - C.L., Fort Worth, Texas
This: Eardrops not so easy
March 23, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is a complaint about medications, and I
concur with a loud roar!
“Dear Heloise: It seems
that each time we renew a prescription, the pills change size, shape
and/or color. Even the bottles sometimes change.
“We easily see the DISADVANTAGE of this to patients, especially those
who get their pills from a three-month supplier. Sometimes the size,
shape and color of one prescription will be different from the past one,
adding to the confusion.
“What earthly advantage is this to the manufacturer? Improper dosage has
certainly resulted in countless needless trips to the emergency room.”
- Charles and Marva C., Universal City, Texas
This is not a new complaint. I’ve written about this for many years, and
the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has gotten complaints, too.
You are right; it can cause confusion and even interfere with the
compliance of taking a medication correctly. One thought is that
manufacturers may be trying to make pills easier to swallow, since this
is a major complaint of patients.
If the dispensing pharmacy changes suppliers for a medication, you might
as well spin the roulette wheel. The bottles may be different, the pills
themselves may be a different color/size/ shape!
My hint: Check all meds closely before taking them. Also, ask the
pharmacist or dispensing pharmacy (if mail-order) why there was a change
and could you stay with the same pill. It’s worth a shot! Bad pun!
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for pants hangers. Use to hang:
costume necklaces, rings or bracelets
Dear Heloise: Coffee was never my beverage of choice. Now I am branching
out and trying new coffees. It’s nice on cold winter days. I was
wondering if you could help me. I now have a LOT of different ones and,
well, I only drink two to three cups a day. Half a pot usually is left
over. Hints? - Teri in Huron, S.D.
You bet your cup of joe (a slang term for coffee)! When the coffee is
cool, pour it into a container with a lid, and put into the
refrigerator. Iced coffee with a dash of cinnamon or a splash of vanilla
is a nice change. Also, put ice cubes in a blender, add cold coffee,
milk or cream and sweetener, and blend away: a coffee slush! For more
coffee hints and recipes, order my coffee pamphlet. Visit
www.Heloise.com, or send $3 and a long self-addressed, stamped (71
cents) envelope to: Heloise/Flavored Coffees and Teas, P.O. Box 795001,
San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Pour cold leftover coffee into ice-cube
trays, freeze and use in iced coffee, or to “cool” down a too-hot cup of
java. - Heloise
No more slippage
Dear Heloise: I crocheted around hangers to keep tops from sliding off.
I have a simple solution I now do: I use sheet felt material. Cut out
3/4-inch-by-4-inch rectangles and hot-glue one to the top of each
“branch” of the hanger. - Jeri, via email
Identify yourself, please
March 16, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about how the phone is answered at
“People who work at
businesses should clearly identify themselves and the business or
service where they work. When I worked, I responded with: ‘Hello, this
is (my first name and the name of the business).’
“With so many people using cellphones, because of digital technology,
often the first syllable spoken is lost in transmission. If someone
answers with a short name, it is unintelligible if they don’t use that
old reliable word ‘Hello’ first.
“I read your column in the Houston Chronicle on my tablet, even though I
live far from Houston now.”
- Eric Z., Alpine, Texas
Eric, you are right. It only takes a few seconds to say “Hello, Eric Z.
here, EZC Company.” - HELOISE HERE: Goodbye!
P.S.: Say hi to my friends in Alpine - interesting hot-air ballooning
Dear Readers: Other uses for eyeglass cases that snap shut:
1. Extra lipstick case.
2. Hold toothpicks and small dental supplies.
3. Tissue container.
4. Jewelry case.
5. Pen and pencil case.
Travel Hint - Fewer
Dear Heloise: You had given a great hint for storing dress scarves
around paper-towel tubes.
To enhance that, try wrapping numerous scarves you want to take on a
trip around a paper-towel roll. You don’t need as many blouses/tops,
since you can take a plethora of scarves.
Then gently push them inside a “knee-high” hosiery (with its mate
stuffed in the tube) so they don’t get disturbed in the luggage. -
Vicki M., Fredericksburg, Va.
Scarves can change the look of an outfit in a minute! A white/black/red
blouse can look like several different ones with a scarf tied, wrapped
or draped over the blouse. - Heloise
Shop and Save Money
Dear Heloise: I used to walk the grocery aisles deciding my needs for
the week and purchasing items I thought I would use that week.
I’ve learned that if I plan meals, make a list of the needed items and
stick to the plan, I have plenty of food for the week. Also, my bill is
ALWAYS between $50 and $100 cheaper.
bonus is that this takes out the guessing game I played trying to figure
out “What’s for dinner?”
- Bea C., Paradise Valley, Ariz.
Soaking an Itch
Dear Readers: If you get an itch or rash after swimming or wading in
lakes or ponds, it’s not all in your head! It’s caused by tiny little
parasites that can be in the water, usually fresh water. Do rinse off in
fresh, clean water and dry well with a towel.
Still itching? Over-the-counter medications for allergies will help
relieve the itching. Home remedies include one of my faves - baking
soda. The other old-fashioned one is regular oatmeal (not brown-sugar
flavored!), or even Epsom salts. Soak in a tub of cool/warm water, with
a cup or so of any of the above added. - Heloise
Charitable Deluge Drowns Interest
March 9, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Of is really a slew of Sound Offs:
Margaret in Lubbock,
Texas, wrote: “I’ve been overwhelmed with pleas for contributions for
charities I’ve never had on my list! I wish they would save their money
and clean up their lists. I’ve received free greeting cards, calendars
and enough mailing labels to last me 100 years!”
Stella in Danville, Ky., wrote: “We make several donations annually in
the spring. Now just about every group and several new ones are asking
for donations at the end of the year. What a waste of paper and postage.
We only donate once a year.” HELOISE HERE: The end of the year,
especially during the holiday season, is “prime” charity solicitation
time ... they pull at your heartstrings.
Mary Ann in Orange, Calif., wrote: “My Sound Off is about organizations
that send address stickers (sometimes with incorrect spelling) that can
be destroyed only by shredding. I’ve written, but to no avail. I have a
once-a-year budget rule for these needs, but am considering stopping
Dear Readers: You are not alone. This has been going on for DECADES!
Here is about all you can do: If there is a paid return envelope, put
everything back in and mark on the contribution slip “REMOVE FROM LIST.”
If a phone number is listed, call. Remember, they are asking you - you
did not invite them into your home. Do not feel guilty, either! Donate
to the charities you can and to the ones you care about. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Uses for fake credit cards and used gift cards:
Scrape ice off windows/mirrors.
As a straight edge when graphing or designing patterns.
Clean the mud or grime off your shoes.
Tape identification to it and use as an ID tag.
Scrape dried particles off countertops.
Dear Heloise: Eye-makeup remover can be expensive, but it doesn’t have
to be. I put a few drops of tearless baby shampoo on a round makeup pad
and run it under the water. It dissolves my mascara and brow pencil very
well. I rinse it off with water, and presto, no more eye makeup.
buy the travel size, as I don’t need the big bottle. Thanks for your
great ideas! - Molly S., Dayton, Ohio
Molly, you are brilliant! I use baby shampoo and water (about half and
half) in a pretty hand-soap dispenser as a hand and face-makeup wash.
Now I’m going to use it for eye makeup, too! Cheap at thrice the price.
Wooden Cap Holder
Dear Heloise: My husband has a variety of baseball-type caps. I rounded
up his “frequent use” caps, took a wooden pants hanger, opened it up,
slipped those caps onto the wooden rod and closed the hanger.
The new “cap hanger” was hanging in the laundry room when he came home
from work, and he was very impressed with my apparatus! - Sarah M. in
March 2, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about new homes’ landscaping:
"This is more grief than
anger. It seems that every newly bought home gets raided of its mature
trees. Then the owners plant saplings in their place. I wish to appeal
to your readers not to kill trees, unless they are diseased.
“It takes a lifetime to grow, and a tree is a beautiful thing to
behold.” - Margaret in North Little Rock, Ark.
Dear Margaret: Thank you for writing, and I’m with you all the way on
this subject. The sad fact is that it’s cheaper for builders to clear
the property and then build a house than to try to make the house fit on
the property. (I got input from my husband, David, a retired contractor,
who built our house and did save as many trees close to the house as
When commerce intersects with nature, sometimes it’s not a draw. -
Dear Readers: Today’s Fast Facts was sparked by a reader letter: “This
quandary seems like it would be right up your alley. I need a good way
to store twist-ties so they don’t wander all over.”
- Margie P., Beavercreek, Ohio
Hints to store twist-ties:
1. Wrap around kitchen knobs/handles.
2. Store in a plastic bag with a self-closing seam.
3. Store in a large, empty pill container.
4. Store in an empty, plastic powdered-drink container.
Stain removal in the
Dear Heloise: I’ve moved into my first apartment, and I know that you
have homemade cleaning solutions that I can make. Thanks in advance.
- Bernice V., Odessa, Texas
Bernice, thanks for writing, and this Heloise All-Purpose Cleaner is
simple to make, cheap and works on a multitude of things. Mix 1/2 cup of
ammonia with enough water to make 1 gallon of cleaner. Heloise Cleaning
Solution No. 2 is 1/2 cup of nonsudsing ammonia, 1/2 cup of rubbing
alcohol and 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, with enough water to make
1 gallon of cleaner. If you want to learn about other cheap-to-make
cleaning solutions, order a copy of Heloise’s Homemade Cleaning
Solutions pamphlet. Send $5 and a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed,
business-size envelope to: Heloise/ Cleaning Solutions, P.O. Box 795001,
San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. You also can order it on my website, www.
Heloise.com. Knowing how to handle stains as they arise and responding
quickly is the best way to eliminate stains as well as aid in redeeming
your initial security deposit when moving out. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Wet and dripping produce is an annoying inconvenience many
deal with. If your store does not have paper towels handy, here is a
hint many of you voiced:
“I reach for the produce, covering my hand with the clear bag, grab it
and turn the bag inside out.”
- Nanci, via email
Many of you also saved the wet wipe that usually is at the front of the
store when you come in. It’s perfect for drying hands. - Heloise
wine hard to find?
Feb. 17, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about restaurants running out of
"My Sound Off is when you
go out to eat and ask for a glass of house wine and the restaurant tells
you they are all out of the house wine. Then they substitute a more
expensive wine. Sometimes the substitute is as much as $2 more a glass.
“It seems to me that it’s not the customer’s fault that the restaurant
hasn’t stocked well. Personally, I think it’s a scam. Perhaps they
should give the customer the better wine at the house price.
“It certainly seems that the restaurant could send an employee to the
grocery store for replenishments. Consider the markup on wine. Can’t
they lose a few cents rather than a customer?”
- Steve D., Simi Valley, Calif.
An intriguing situation, especially if you are talking about restaurants
in Simi Valley - wine country! I hope it’s not a “scam” or an unethical
way to “upsell” for more expensive wine. To be fair, there may
circumstances where they legitimately run out: a big crush of guests all
at once, the delivery truck was delayed or a no-show that day, or the
server was mistaken. The next time, ask the server how much the
“substitute” glass of wine will cost before agreeing. Restaurants do
want to keep customers happy and coming back, and in this case should
charge only the cost of the house wine.
As for sending an employee to the store, state laws vary. Restaurants
generally are not supposed to sell product that they have bought at
retail. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Other uses for ice picks:
1. Poke holes in lids of containers.
2. A hole punch for paper.
3. Add more holes in belts.
4. Create holes in fabric when sewing.
5. As an aerator for soil when planting.
Dear Heloise: I use daily facial cleaning cloths every evening, and
discovered that when I am done with one, it is perfect for cleaning the
crud off my curling iron.
try to do this after using the iron every time! You could keep a cloth
in a plastic baggie and use it many times for that purpose. - Kathy
M., Omaha, Neb.
Thank you for sharing, Kathy. Most of these cloths are durable and can
be used multiple times for cleaning around the house. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: When my children were younger, I used comic strips to help
them understand sequencing (the ordering of events).
First, I read the comic to them while pointing to the pictures. Then I
cut up the strip and asked them to put the strip back in order. They got
pretty good at ordering the pictures. - Susan in San Antonio
Another use for
Dear Heloise: Here’s another use for rubber bands: Use rubber bands on
bottles. Wrap the bottle three or four times. No slipping out of the
hand. - Tom in Texas
The first cut isn’t enough
Feb. 3, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is from me. I love the new plastic bags
for veggies, fruit, cat and dog food, but the “zip” close sometimes is
hard to open. You are thinking, “What do you mean?” When it states: “Cut
here, then open,” well, I don’t know about you, but after cutting where
it says to, there is about 1/8 of an inch to try and pry open the bag!
Yes, it’s nice to be able to reseal, but then again, to open it is like
prying open the jaws of a shark. Needle-nose pliers to the rescue. But
hey, should I have to have a pair in the kitchen to open food products?
Methinks not. - Heloise
P.S.: Readers, am I alone on this? Please send your thoughts.
Dear Readers: Other uses for crochet hooks:
1. To pull torn threads of garments to the inside for mending.
2. To clean inside the tread of shoes.
3. To pull gunk out of bathroom sink drains.
4. To zip up zippers on the back of a garment.
5. To secure hair up in a bun.
No lost TV remote
Dear Heloise: My husband and I were always forgetting where we last saw
or put the TV remote. Much time was spent just trying to locate it.
To solve this problem, we purchased another one so that we each have our
own. I keep mine right where I sit, and he does the same with his.
We’ve not had to look for the remote now that we have two of them. -
Kim, via email
Kim, I’m with you! I have two remotes for each of two TVs - two for the
TV in the den, and two for the bedroom. I marked them “D” for den and
“B” for bedroom with bright-red nail polish. They don’t walk off to
another room. If one goes “missing” or I can’t find it (they should make
them red), I have the other.
Dear Heloise: I discovered that a plastic bag had melted onto my
angel-food cake pan, and I was going to use it that day. What to do
before I heat it to bake the cake?
checked online and couldn’t find anything, so I went to your website,
and it said to use laundry prewash spray to get off sticky labels, and
ALL OF IT CAME OFF!
Thank you! - Brenda O., Omaha, Neb.
Brenda, thank you for writing to say “thank you"! Please visit my
website, www.Heloise.com, for more hints and some fun photos of my pets
and travel stories. - Hugs, Heloise
Dear Heloise: Using chocolate-covered candies to teach math is a great
idea. I also taught my kids that these candies are like people:
different on the outside, all the same on the inside.
- Debbie in Waterloo, N.Y.
Debbie, wise words and a wonderful way to teach children. Thanks for
sharing. - Heloise
see what’s not there
Feb. 3, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s
Sound Off is about grocery stores:
“Dear Heloise: I find it annoying when a store that’s temporarily out of
an item fills the space with something else. To determine whether the
item isn’t there, we have to read the shelf labels, which is difficult
for those labels that aren’t eye-level.
“One department store puts out cards stating that the product is
temporarily unavailable. This is much kinder.” - Carol F., via email
Carol, I did a quick survey in Heloise Central, and this seems to happen
only a few times. Most importantly, let management know then, not later!
Also, most companies pay a “slotting” fee, which can be very, very
expensive, to be on the shelves, so they would be unhappy to know that
another product is in their space. - Heloise
P.S.: This is a good time to “test” a new product or brand. If you don’t
like it, you can take it back!
Dear Readers: Other uses for insulated sleeves for drinks:
1. Hold loose change.
2. As a small centerpiece or vase.
3. Hold pencils, pens, ruler and scissors.
4. Protect floors from marks made by heavy furniture legs.
5. Store light bulbs to prevent breakage.
6. Small fruit protector - no bruising in lunch bags.
Remove soap scum
Dear Heloise: How do I remove soap scum from glass shower doors? I have
tried some products, like glass and all-purpose cleaners, but they don’t
do a good job.
Thanks so much. - Carey, via email
Carey, this can be a tough job. Glass cleaner cleans glass, but usually
not the gunk on shower doors. Try my longtime favorite: a bottle of
cheap shampoo and a scrubbie. Also, vinegar will cut scum buildup. After
a shower, when the walls are damp, pour cheap shampoo on a plastic or
sponge scrubbie and scrub away! Let it sit for an hour or so, rinse and
wipe off. To help you save money and time, I put all of my homemade
cleaning solutions in one place. For a copy of Heloise’s Homemade
Cleaning Solutions, send $5 and a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed,
business-size envelope to: Heloise/Cleaning Solutions, P.O. Box 795001,
San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Order online at www.Heloise.com. You can
make a 16-ounce bottle of multipurpose cleaner for pennies. Why buy
commercial products when you don’t have to? - Heloise
No lipstick on teeth
Dear Heloise: I wear lipstick, but it can be embarrassing when lipstick
gets on my teeth. Hope my hint helps other women. Once you’ve applied
lipstick, take your index finger and place it between your teeth, close
your lips then slowly pull your finger out between your lips. This
removes the lipstick from inside your lips, which is what gets on your
teeth. - Anne M. in Las Vegas
Yep! I learned this a long time ago. The universal girlfriend “signal”
is when she looks at you and acts like she is wiping something off her
teeth. - Heloise
Purse placement a problem
Jan. 27, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about garment hooks in public
Letty, via email, wrote: “I don’t understand why some public restrooms
don’t have garment hooks in the women’s restrooms. I refuse to put my
purse on that nasty floor, and have become creative in figuring out what
“One friend carries an ‘S’ hook in her purse and hooks her purse to the
door latch. How much would it cost to attach a hook inside the restroom
Letty, when is a door just a door? When it’s on a restroom stall! I may
get in trouble here, but in days of old, most public restrooms were
designed by men, who don’t carry purses or sit down as much as women do.
Yes, I, too, can hang my purse around my neck, tuck it under one arm,
balance it on the toilet-paper holder or place it on the back part of
the toilet (if there is one), and I have even wedged it between the
metal apparatus and the wall. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Other uses for breath-mint tins:
1. Store small dental supplies.
2. Hold hair accessories.
3. Hold mechanical-pencil supplies.
4. Store small change.
5. A portable sewing kit.
Dear Heloise: Tweezing my eyebrows is not one of my favorite tasks. It
was a little painful until I learned to coat my brows first with the gel
that numbs a baby’s gums. Now I can get through the ordeal with minimal
pain, or at least tolerate it! - No More Mono Brow, via text
Dear NMMB: Numbing that area does help, and some readers use an ice cube
to do so. Frankly, I don’t understand why it hurts so much. Maybe I’m
just used to doing it, but it’s not that big of a deal.
My hint is to pluck only a few hairs at a time, not do the whole job at
one time. I remove a few stray hairs in the morning when putting on
makeup, or at night when cleaning my face. It’s like a continual
rotation, removing stray eyebrow hair. - No Mono Brow Heloise
Dear Heloise: Before going on outings with our children, we review our
special family safety hints. I let them choose a “secret password” that
they will remember. If they get lost or we get separated and a person
comes up claiming to know where I am, they ask for the secret password.
If the person doesn’t know it, I’ve told them they may not be safe, and
it’s OK to run away quickly. - Tony M., via text
Your child’s safety is paramount, and in this case, it’s OK to disobey
an adult. - Heloise
Jog your memory
Dear Heloise: When I have to remember something and can’t write it down,
I place a big, loose rubber band around my wrist. Later on, when I see
it, I remember “Oh, I have to stop and get milk and bread.” It’s a sort
of visual clue. - Antoinette in Montana
Jan. 14, 2016
Dear Readers: Just a few comments about expiration dates on coupons:
Shirley G. in Alton,
Ill., wrote: “Restaurant coupons: The expiration date is in such small
print, it is very hard to read. I write it larger on the ad.” (HELOISE
HERE: Very good hint! Saves you from squinting every time you want to
check if the coupon is still valid.)
Patti in Hamilton, Ohio, wrote: “Mine is how small the expiration date
is on coupons. Between the small print and the color variations, these
are extremely difficult to read.”
Dot, via email, said her problem is “coupons, especially restaurants,
that have the expiration date in such small print that you have to get a
magnifying glass to read it, or the print is so light you can hardly see
hear you, readers; let’s hope the coupon people do. However, to be fair,
they have to get a lot of information (much of it legal) on that small
coupon. You can save a pretty sum of money using coupons wisely. Don’t
use it just to use it; use it to save on something you need or want.
Dear Readers: Fast facts to remove onion odor from hands:
Wash with a dab of toothpaste.
Rub hands on stainless steel while washing.
Wash with shaving cream.
After washing, rinse with a bit of mouthwash.
Wash with lemon or lime juice.
Tree sap on clothes
Dear Heloise: This time of year, with all the tree trimming/cutting, how
do you get tree sap out of clothes?
- Sue M., via email
Don’t be a sap with tree sap stuck on your clothing! It’s very sticky
and mostly sugar, so you need to dissolve it. Soak the garment (or just
the spot itself) in warm water. I tested this a few years ago for my
column in Good Housekeeping magazine. It takes time, but let it soak,
then rub the spot between your fingers, rinse and soak some more. It
Lots of people use rubbing alcohol, and I’ve had some luck with this.
More helpful hints are in my pamphlet on stains. To get a copy of
Heloise’s Handy Stain Guide for Clothing, send $5 and a stamped (71
cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope to: Heloise/Stain Guide;
P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or order online at
www.Heloise.com. When the sap is removed, rub with detergent and wash as
usual. - Heloise
Wedding aisle runners
Dear Heloise: At many weddings, there is a white aisle runner. Most
times, not all of the roll is used. Because it is a sturdy material and
somewhat transparent, I have used the leftover material for making
patterns or other craft copying needs. -Jackie R., Newcastle, Calif.
Or use as a runner by your door. A great hint for recycling and
repurposing the unused portion. It’s already been paid for, and the
runner in the aisle may have usable space, so look over that as well.