My sister the mooch!


Nov. 13, 2019


Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about “moochers” who constantly borrow from others.

“Dear Heloise: My sister is a ‘moocher.’ I don’t have much contact with her because she always wants something of mine, and no matter what it is, it’s something she could afford to buy on her own. When we go to lunch, she never has any money on her, so naturally I pay. When we go shopping, she needs a pair of shoes but is $20 short for the pair that ‘fit like a glove.’ She drops by for a visit in the afternoon and stays for dinner, usually boxing up the leftovers and taking them home. She has a decent job, making a good income for a single woman, but she always seems broke!

“Today was the final straw. She asked me to pay her water bill, but went on to tell me she just spent well over a hundred dollars on a rock concert ticket. My sister is 27 years old, and it’s time she grew up!”

- C.W. in Dallas


C.W., it’s time to start saying “NO” to her requests, no matter how much she claims she needs it. If things are that difficult, she could take on a second job. Many people do.

- Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for old drapes:

- Make into a table runner or place mats.

- Roll them up and use as pretty draft-stoppers at the bottom of doors.

- Make a tote out of them.

- Heloise



Dear Heloise: My mother taught me how to keep cut flowers alive longer than just a couple of days. I add a few drops of vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar to the water in the vase. It makes them last a lot longer.

- Maddie R., LaFollette, Tenn.



Dear Heloise: You should always keep your milk on the bottom shelf in the back to keep it from spoiling. If your milk is in front of the fridge or in the door, it will spoil quicker, as it is not as cold there. Since I started putting my milk where a repairman suggested, I have not had any spoiled milk. I have had milk way past the expiration date, and it is still good.

- Janie in Hagerstown, Md.


Antique christening gown

Dear Heloise: I have an antique christening gown, which was handmade by my great-grandmother. It’s been used by babies in my family for generations. I want to have it cleaned and then have it framed, but I’m terrified to wash it. My husband suggested hand-washing it in mild detergent and then laying it out to dry. However, I’m worried that it’s too frail to wash. How do I clean this heirloom?

- Hannah D., Greenville, N.C.

Hannah, something that special needs very careful cleaning. Try to find a dry cleaner that specializes in cleaning antique garments. I wouldn’t recommend washing it because it might shrink or the weave of the fabric might be damaged.

- Heloise

Here's to the rescuers!
Nov. 6, 2019

Dear Readers: For today’s Sound On, I’d like to take a minute to acknowledge those who go out of their way to rescue and adopt homeless animals. They go out in all kinds of weather, sometimes at danger to themselves, and use their time, money and energy to save a life. If they can’t keep the animal, they find a shelter that will care for the cat or dog, or find someone who will foster or adopt it.

It’s the love of animals that motivates them because there really is no other reward, except the joy of seeing a struggling animal survive and thrive.

The best way to help animals is to have your pets neutered or spayed. Remember, when you adopt a pet, you make it part of your family. If you wouldn’t chain your kids up in the yard or abandon them on a lonely road, make them drink dirty water or forget to feed them, then don’t do that to your furry family member.

- Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some suggestions on what to do with an old wedding dress:

- You can dye it and use again.

- Have it shortened and wear it on your anniversary.

- Have a wedding dress party for ladies only.

- Save it for your daughter to wear someday.

- Heloise


Storing wines

Dear Heloise: I’m having a debate with my husband about storing wine. What are some of the do’s and don’ts?

- Wynona D., Evansville, Ind.


Wynona, a wine rack sitting on a kitchen counter might look cool, but actually, wine should not be stored in the warmest room in the house, where heat can ruin the wine’s taste. You also need to keep the bottles still, with no vibrations, so on top of the refrigerator is a no-no. Overall, wines need to be kept in a cool, dry place with little or no sunlight.

- Heloise


Adding someone to your home deed

Dear Heloise: If someone you know is thinking of adding a person to the deed on their home, they should stop and think. First, it should never be done without the legal advice and assistance of a lawyer. Once you add someone, it’s very difficult to remove the person from your deed. If he or she has financial troubles later, a claim can be made against part or all of your house. Some states allow the other person to sell the share of ownership to a total stranger. My husband and I discovered all this the hard way.

- Brenda and Doug in Florida


Makeup hints

Dear Heloise: Moisturizers are actually designed to keep moisture in the skin, not necessarily to add moisture. The main function of any moisturizer is to keep your skin from drying out. It does that by retaining water in the outer layer of your skin, which helps it maintain a dewy look. And today, many moisturizers also include sunblock to help protect against skin cancer. When selecting a moisturizer, always look for one that is fragrance-free.

- Karen G., Concord, N.H.

Horrendous houseguest?
Oct. 29, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about houseguests who think they are entitled to do nothing.

- Heloise

“Dear Heloise: When I was growing up, I was taught that as a houseguest you make your bed, fold your towels and keep your room picked up. It doesn’t hurt to volunteer to pick up a tab when dining out or to just help with the dishes after a meal.

“I guess no one told my son’s fiancée about such niceties, because while visiting us, she complained about nearly everything: While barbecuing on the outdoor grill, she gave us all a lecture on animal cruelty and why we should be vegan. Her room was a total mess, and she left wet towels on the bathroom floor. I didn’t mind when she asked to use my car, but I felt it was rude to give it back with an empty gas tank. She never lifted a finger to help with anything, but she didn’t mind asking me to do her laundry.

“Don’t people teach their children manners anymore? This young woman is 26 years old, which is old enough to know better!”

- Loren in New Mexico


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for old cellphones:

- Recycle it. Try services such as

- Donate it to a spousal abuse center, such as a battered women’s shelter (these phones are programmed to call for help).

- Give it to (these donated phones are given to soldiers to call home).

- Give it to a child to use as a toy - remove the SIM card first.

- Heloise


Quick grilled cheese sandwich

Dear Heloise: Since I love a grilled cheese sandwich, but I’m usually in a hurry, I put two pieces of bread in the toaster and after that place a couple of slices of cheese between the two pieces of bread and zap in a microwave for 20 to 30 seconds. There’s very little cleanup and no grease, which means fewer calories as well.

- Dorothy A., Sioux Falls, S.D.


Opal ring

Dear Heloise: I have an opal ring that needs cleaning, but I don’t know how to clean this soft stone. Any hints for me?

- Jean D., Helena, Mont.

Jean, first, determine the type of opal you have. If you have a solid opal, fill a bowl with half a cup of warm water - not hot or cold. Opals are sensitive to extremes of temperature. Add about five drops of unscented, mild detergent, and gently swish the ring around, but do not bang it against the side of the bowl. Then remove and dry with a soft, clean cloth. If you have doublet or triplet opal, do not immerse in solution or water, as this will loosen the glue and separate the pieces. Instead, dip a soft cloth in the solution and gently clean the opal.

Opals should be cleaned every two to three months to avoid accumulation of dirt and dust. - Heloise

Moving the masses
Oct. 23, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about youth mentoring programs.

- Heloise


“Dear Heloise: Many cities have youth mentoring programs that help young people develop self-esteem and learn more about future careers. They also encourage school attendance, help young people resist bullying and maintain positive relationships with adults and people of other cultures. These programs need responsible adults from all types of careers and backgrounds to help the youth of their community build their confidence and further their education, and often steer them in a positive direction. For those who volunteer, it is often a learning experience for them as well and offers a feeling of having done something important and worthwhile.”

- Helena R. in Texas


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some ways to make a small room seem larger:

- Paint the walls a lighter color.

- Don’t use small furniture; use regular size, but fewer pieces.

- Have ottomans and end tables that also double as storage.

- Avoid clutter. Throw away or give away items you don’t like or don’t use.

- Heloise


Fire safety

Dear Heloise: There are a number of ways to prevent a fire, but sometimes people forget simple and basic rules to keep their home safe from a fire:

1. Never run cords under rugs.

2. Have an extinguisher handy in the kitchen.

3. Install smoke alarms in the home, and change the batteries at least once annually. (Replace the entire alarm every 10 years.)

4. Don’t store lawn mowers or anything with gasoline in unventilated places.

- Jayden P., Woodbridge, Conn.


Lay flat

Dear Heloise: I have garments that say to lay them flat to dry. The problem is, I don’t have a place to lay these things in my tiny apartment. Any hints for me?

- Jackie P., Jefferson City, Mo.

Jackie, lay a towel in the bathtub, then lay your garment on top. When that side is dry, turn it over and dry the other side.

- Heloise



Dear Heloise: I see truffles being used in cooking shows and mentioned in cookbooks. I was told they’re hard to find and expensive. Why?

- Margery L., Yazoo City, Miss.

Margery, truffles grow under the ground, which makes them hard to find. Dogs and pigs are used to search for them due to their powerful sense of smell. The majority of truffles come from Europe, but they are also found in China and even Oregon here in America. This might explain why they’re expensive.

- Heloise



Dear Heloise: I have a lot of different types of tea in bags and loose. Most of it has been stored in a glass container or in the box in which it came. How long does tea last?

- Millie G., Mesa, Ariz.


Millie, tea, if stored correctly, can last a long time. Teas need to be kept in a cool, dark place. It’s best to store tea in a tin or other dark container. Enjoy!

- Heloise

Moving the masses
Oct. 15, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about mass transportation.

- Heloise

“Dear Heloise: This country needs more mass transit between cities. We build highways, but the congestion on our roads is becoming serious. Japan, for example, has a mass transit system, elevated above ground, that is not only energy-efficient, it can move a large volume of people at incredible speeds. There’s no stress or hassle over traffic jams, finding a place to park or exorbitant parking fees.

“With the increase in population over the coming years, we’ll need a mass transit system between all major cities, both above ground and below. The best time to look into this type of travel for our country is NOW.”

- Doug W. in Dallas


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some additional uses for clean kitty litter:

- Use clean litter as a deodorizer in the refrigerator.

- For stinky shoes, place a cup or two of clean cat litter in each leg of an old pair of pantyhose, tie a knot and leave it in the shoes overnight.

- Sprinkle it on oil spots in your garage.

- Keep a bag of cat litter in your trunk to sprinkle under tires in winter for added traction on icy surfaces.

- Heloise


Old scam, new trick

Dear Heloise: I work for the police department in a major metropolitan city on the East Coast. Lately, we’ve been seeing an old scam return to the streets.

Someone will glue money or a cellphone (usually a broken one) onto the sidewalk, then wait for passers-by to try to pick up the item. While concentrating on getting the item of value off the sidewalk, a thief will pickpocket the person or pick up the person’s shopping bag or purse and run off.

- Anonymous, via email


Welcome sign

Dear Heloise: I just read your column on how healthy pineapples are. Pineapples also, in times gone by, were used as a symbol of welcome. People would place a pineapple on their front gate or door as a sign of welcome. How wonderful that would be if it was still used as a welcoming gesture.

- Jennifer E. in North Carolina


Chicken recipe

Dear Heloise: Your recent recipe for Baked Hawaiian Chicken sounded delicious, but do you pour the leftover pineapple juice around the chicken, and do you cover the chicken with foil to bake?

- Margery T., via e-mail

Margery, yes, go ahead and pour the juice over the chicken, if you’d like, and no, there is no need to cover with foil.

- Heloise


Corn silk

Dear Heloise: There is an easy way to get rid of corn silk. Before cooking corn on the cob, grab a dampened paper towel and brush downward on the ear of corn. Repeat until all the corn silk is gone.

- Janet W., Idaho Falls, Idaho

The unfair repair
Oct. 8, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about taking advantage of the public. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Recently, I had a repairman out to inspect my heating system, and he came back with an estimate of how much I needed to pay to repair and replace parts. It was a little over $1,200. I said I was going to get a second opinion, which he didn’t like, and he told me the price was good for only 24 hours, then it would go up.

“I got a second opinion, and yes, there were some repairs needed that would cost me about $89. My system is only 6 years old, so I couldn’t imagine how there could be such a high repair bill. Turns out, there was no need to replace so many parts.

“Why do some repair people want to take advantage of a senior citizen or women in general? I know they aren’t all like that, but I’ve encountered too many. Tell your readers to get a second opinion if the price seems too high.”

- Tanya L., Ironwood, Mich.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some additional uses for mayonnaise:

- Remove sticker residue. Rub in a circular motion.

- Conditioner: Rub a little on your hair and leave for 30 minutes, then shampoo as usual.

- Erase water stains on wood by rubbing a small amount on the stain and letting sit overnight, then wiping up with a clean cloth.

- Rub into cuticles to soften and moisturize them.

- Heloise


Phone scam

Dear Readers: A new scam is hitting homes all over America. Your phone rings once or twice and the caller hangs up. It may have a number with your area code on your phone. Whatever you do, DO NOT call back.

These robocalls connect you to an overseas premium-rate number that keeps you on the line with long holds and other tactics, which are designed to increase your phone bill. If you get scammed, call your phone-service provider and ask that the charges be removed.

- Heloise


Drinking problem?

Dear Heloise: What is considered a moderate drinker of alcohol as compared with an excessive drinker?

- Pamela D., Springfield, Tenn.

Pamela, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that moderate drinking for women is up to one drink per day, and up to two drinks per day for men. A drink is defined by the following:

- 12 ounces of beer

- 8 ounces of malt liquor

- 5 ounces of wine

- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled liquor such as whiskey, gin, rum or vodka.

Excessive drinking for women is having eight or more drinks a week. For men, it’s 15 or more.

If you need help with a drinking problem, speak with your doctor or contact Alcoholics Anonymous in your state.

- Heloise

A ghost of a job
Oct. 1, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about “job ghosting.”

- Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Have you ever heard of ‘job ghosting’? It’s when an employee walks off the job without a notice to anyone and does not give the usual two-week warning that he or she has found a new job. In all the years I’ve worked in human resources, I’ve never seen job ghosting as much as I have in the past couple of years.

“Applicants don’t show up for interviews, a new hire becomes a no-show or an employee leaves for the day and never comes back. That’s job ghosting.

“Ghosting is rude, unprofessional and can have negative results for the employee in the future. No one wants to hire someone who might just walk off the job. All too often that employee who ghosted us leaves us in a difficult position when we need to fill an opening immediately.”

- Corrine W. in Miami

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some additional uses for petroleum jelly:

- Use on earring posts to make them easier to insert.

- Use on a baby’s bottom to prevent diaper rash.

- Use on cuticles and nails to moisturize and soften.

- Use to take care of hinges that are squeaky.

- Heloise


Wedding dress storage

Dear Heloise: I would love to store my wedding dress. I had it dry-cleaned, and it looks nice, but how do I keep it from yellowing?

- Joyce in Tennessee

Joyce, after cleaning the dress, wrap it in unbleached muslin or acid-free white tissue paper, then wrap in blue tissue paper and store in a sealed box in a cool, dry place. It should last for many years to come.

- Heloise


Cleaning ornate picture frame

Dear Heloise: I have a fancy picture frame that’s carved from wood, and I have a terrible time keeping dust out of the deep areas of the frame. What can I use to clean it?

- Loretta V., Marietta, Ga.

Loretta, try using a hair dryer on high to blow out the dust, or a dry, clean paintbrush to clean out the frame.

- Heloise


Carving a pumpkin

Dear Readers: Here are some tools you can use to clean out a pumpkin before you carve it:

- potato peeler

- ice cream scoop

- metal round seal from a canning jar

- cookie cutter

- fish scaler

- Heloise


Cloudy tea

Dear Heloise: My family and I love iced tea but hate when it looks cloudy. My sister-in-law gave me this hint: Just add a small amount of boiling water to a pitcher of iced tea and stir, and the cloudy appearance goes away.

- Linda W., Bear Swamp, S.C.

Respect and support
Sept. 24, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about America’s educational system.

- Heloise

“Dear Heloise: As schoolchildren go back to their desks and books, I’m reminded of how difficult it is to teach a curriculum today. In other countries, children are taught to respect their teachers. I don’t see it here in the U.S. We’ve taken away all authority from our teachers, blamed them if a student fails in class and made teaching an unattractive profession.

“Currently, we are facing a teacher shortage in some areas of the country, especially in poor districts. Some of the worst shortages are in subjects such as special ed, math and computer science.

“What can districts do to attract better teachers? They can improve pay and benefits, offer additional autonomy, and provide support and mentoring in their school districts. Perhaps the most important part, however, is parental support. They need to get behind the teacher and adopt a ‘zero tolerance for bad grades and bad behavior’ from their children, and that starts in kindergarten.” - Karen in Wisconsin


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Getting married soon? Make sure to consider these financial issues:

- Discuss and agree on how many children to have, where to live, how finances will be handled and career choices.

- Have your wills done.

- Make sure your future spouse is on all banking and investment documents.

- Heloise


New scam alert

Dear Heloise: There is a new scam involving an email that goes to someone and says:

“This is to inform you that your request on: 09/06/2019 2:07:11 p.m. to remove your account from (name of your internet carrier) server has been approved and will initiate in one hour from the exact time you open this message. Regards.

“ignore this message to continue with email removal or “If this deactivation was not requested by you “Please reply us.”

You can tell by the way it’s written that it’s bogus. This is a way for a scammer to get you to click on a site that will enable them to access your computer to gain information on you. Go ahead and ignore it, but DON’T click on the address you are given.

- Norah Y., Providence, R.I.


Polarized Plug

Dear Readers: Have you ever wondered why most electrical plugs have one blade that is wider than the other? This is called a polarized plug, and it’s a safety feature to lower the chance of electrical shock.

The plug will go into an outlet only one way. Don’t force it to fit another way.

- Heloise

No discount for loyalty?
Sept. 18, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about companies trying to get new customers by offering them discounts:

“Dear Heloise: Companies will offer discounts to lure new customers, but what about those of us who have been with them for years? I understand why they do it, but shouldn’t long-standing, loyal customers be rewarded somehow? I really don’t want to shop around, but I feel underappreciated.”

- Dee in Sacramento, Calif.


I understand your frustration, Dee. Take time to compare companies to see if there really are better deals out there. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to contact your company with those other deals to see if they might be able to save you some money by staying with them.

- Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for those large, empty butter/margarine tubs with lids:

- Store sewing supplies.

- Store crayons.

- Store small items, such as beads for hobbies.

- Store pet food for a short trip.

- Heloise


Prepayment for hospital services

Dear Heloise: A growing trend among hospitals requires patients to prepay out of pocket some or all of the cost of a procedure. You should politely decline. Tell them you prefer to wait until you have an explanation of benefits in hand from your insurance company (or Medicare) so you are able to see how much you actually need to pay.

If they refuse to provide treatment, pay with a credit card. Call the credit card company after your procedure and ask to dispute the payment because it’s not clear how much you owe until you hear from your insurer, as the charge could be incorrect. And if you don’t have insurance or haven’t met your deductible, some hospitals will give you a discount if you prepay for the procedure.

- Ken D. in Chicago


Night sweats

Dear Heloise: I just found out from my doctor that certain medications cause night sweats. I was taking medication for migraines, and suddenly it seemed that I had a problem with night sweats every night. My doctor told me that there are several medications for various illnesses that cause an excessive production from our sweat glands, resulting in night sweats.

- Sandra in Michigan

Sandra, I’m glad you checked with your doctor on this problem rather than ignoring it. If any medication you are taking causes a problem - weight gain, headaches, rashes, etc. - call your physician immediately. A bad reaction to any medication is your body’s way of saying this one’s not right for you.

- Heloise


Letter of laughter

Dear Heloise: I have a hint that other people of short stature may find useful. I was spending a lot of money on seamstresses hemming my pants.

Now I just buy shoes with much higher heels!

- Lisa in Omaha, Neb.


Neighbor barks back
Sept. 11, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about insensitive neighbors:

“Dear Heloise: Our neighbor recently acquired a dog. Our houses are close together. This large dog is left outside in a pen to bark and bark and bark all day. It’s awful. Why do dog owners think that this is OK? All our neighbors are retired and home all day.”

- C.J., Garrettsville, Ohio


C.J., it’s not OK, and in many cities it’s against the law. Have you spoken to your neighbor about this problem? If nothing is done about it, you’ll have no choice other than to call the police and complain that your neighbor has a dog that continually barks. Dogs need interaction with people and crave attention, so your neighbor really needs to bring the dog inside rather than leaving it in the backyard and letting it bark all day. To get a pet and then ignore it is actually a form of abuse.

- Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Things NOT to put in a compost pile:

- Diseased plants - fungus or bacteria may grow in the compost.

- Sawdust - the wood may have been treated.

- Bread products, meat or bones, cooking oil, rice or milk products.

- Heavily coated or printed paper.

- Heloise


Shrinking cake mixes

Dear Heloise: I have several recipes that list a box of cake mix as an ingredient. However, they specify 18 1/4 ounces, while all I can find are 15 1/4 ounces. I have thought of keeping an extra box so I can add what I am missing, but I need to know how much dry measure of cake mix would equal an ounce.

- Gayle in Monroe, La.


Gayle, roughly 2 teaspoons equal 1 dry ounce. It’s a good idea to keep an extra box of the specific cake mix around to make up the difference. And if you bake a lot, keep a box of white cake mix on hand. Be sure to store the leftover cake mix in an airtight container.

- Heloise


Banana bonanza

Dear Heloise: My mother-in-law keeps telling me to use banana peels in my garden to help my plants grow. Does this really work?

- Briana in Winslow, Ind.

Brianna, your mother-in-law is right! One way is to simply boil the peelings from two or more bananas in about a gallon of water for five minutes. Put the entire mixture in the refrigerator in a covered container for two days, then water your plants with this nutrient-rich tea.

Another method is to cut up the peelings and add them to the root system of the plant as it’s being planted. The banana peel decays and feeds the plant in the process.

A third method is to dry out the peelings, then grind them up (maybe in a blender) and add this to the soil as a fertilizer.

- Heloise


Just a reminder

Dear Readers: Sometimes it’s easy to forget, but your pet should NEVER be left in a hot car during warm days and nights. In many states it’s against the law.

- Heloise

Calling out this scam
Sept. 4, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about a new scam - a serious attempt to get money from parents:

“Dear Heloise: A man phoned my husband and said my husband’s son, Kelly, was in jail in another country because of a car accident in which his son was critically injured. His injuries included a ‘broken eye, broken left arm and face abrasions.’ Also, his friend, who was a passenger in the car, was dead. Since Kelly was impaired at the time of the accident, he would not be released from jail to return to the U.S. until his medical bills were paid. The police were holding his passport and cellphone. We were instructed to go to our bank and get $780 in cash, and were told where to send it.

“Suspecting a scam, I phoned our son’s cellphone and talked to him. He was in Dallas! When we told the man on the phone that we were talking to our son and knew he was a scammer, the man hung up!”

- Richard and Charlotte S. in San Antonio

Richard and Charlotte, you did the right thing by calling your son before sending any money. This is actually an old scam that has been revived to steal money from caring parents. Never believe a stranger who calls out of the blue demanding money for the release of a loved one without first calling that loved one or alerting the police.

- Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for a potato masher:

- Make designs on peanut butter cookies.

- Break up feta cheese.

- Crush fruit for jams and jellies.

- Mash eggs for deviled eggs.

- Break up ground beef or sausage.

- Heloise


Here, Kitty Kitty

Dear Heloise: My neighbor has cats and doesn’t want to get them fixed, so there are kittens born.

I never had any dogs or cats, but this mother cat came under my little barn and stayed there, giving birth. I called my neighbor and told her that her cat was here, but she didn’t take any responsibility to come get the mother and kittens. What should I do? I put a radio inside the barn, hoping they would leave. They’re still there. I never fed them, so I don’t know how that mother cat can feed those kittens.

- A Reader, Fort Wayne, Ind.


First, call 311 and ask who you should report this to, and you can file a report citing animal abuse, which this may be because your neighbor isn’t taking care of her pets. If the pets aren’t neutered or spayed, then chances are they aren’t vaccinated or licensed, either.

- Heloise


Steel wool is a no-no

Dear Heloise: How do I clean the surface of a nonstick clothes iron?

- Connie B., Elizabeth City, N.C.

Connie, wipe off the bottom of the iron with a clean, wet cloth, and dry it well. Turn the iron on low and place a piece of waxed paper on the ironing board. Run the iron over the waxed paper several times. Then run the iron over an old towel or cloth to remove the wax. Never use steel wool.

- Heloise

Trash in the ocean
Aug. 28, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about ocean and beach trash. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: My three children and I went to the beach today and were disgusted by the amount of trash on the sand and in the water. What makes people think they can dispose of cans, plastic bottles, paper and assorted plastic toys on the beach or toss them into the ocean? Even an apple core takes two months to break down, so how long do you think it takes plastic to break down?

“I went online and did some investigating, and I discovered that billions of pounds of trash enter our oceans annually. Over 100,000 marine animals die every year due to eating plastic or becoming entangled in a plastic net.

“If you see trash on the beach, pick it up and dispose of it properly. Never throw anything into the ocean. Write to your representatives in Congress and demand that they do more to clean up the oceans and make it a priority.” - Norma E., La Jolla, Calif.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Never buy the following at a garage sale:

- Mattresses, upholstered furniture, sheets or pillowcases: Even if they look clean, you might be taking home insect eggs, bedbugs and body oils from other people.

- Bike helmets and baby bottles: You don’t know how safe they are.

- Tires: They’re likely to be unstable.

- Pets: You could end up with an unhealthy pet and vet bills.

- Hats, swimsuits and underwear: These are personal items that probably carry body oils and possibly bacteria.

- Heloise


Feeding the baby

Dear Heloise: I’ve found that feeding a baby in an upright position (or as much as possible) enables the bubbles at the bottom of the stomach to rise with greater ease when you burp the baby. Then massage the infant’s back rather than patting to bring on a burp. - Paige in Missouri


Laminated countertops

Dear Readers: When cleaning a laminated countertop, don’t use abrasive cleaners, as they scratch and eventually remove the finish. Mild soap and water usually is enough to clean it, and if a stain occurs, put a little lemon juice on the spot, then some baking soda to form a paste. Gently rub in a circular motion, then rinse. - Heloise


Less ironing

Dear Heloise: I’ve discovered that if you take your sheets out of the dryer as soon as they’re done and make the bed with the warm sheets, they iron themselves. You won’t have to fold them either, which will save you time and effort.

This applies to knit tops, too. Take them out of the dryer and hang the garments up immediately, and the wrinkles usually fall right out. No need for ironing. - Gracie W., Meridian, Miss.

Educational partnership
Aug. 21, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about parent involvement in education. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: I started teaching in public schools in 1978, and over the years, I’ve witnessed a decline in parental involvement in children’s education. Raising a child is not easy, but when you choose to be a parent, you choose to take on a very difficult job, much of which means being involved with your child’s education, self-discipline, responsibility and teaching that life’s actions have consequences.

“Studies have shown that when parents are actively involved with their children’s education, the students have a better chance of being successful in accomplishing their goals. Helping children with their homework and volunteering time at the school stresses the importance of an education to them.

“I know a career/job is important, but so is your child. Which of these two will have the greatest impact on this world once you’re gone? You leave nothing behind of greater importance than your children, so invest time, interest and effort in their education. If your son or daughter doesn’t perform well in school, get together with the teachers to find out how the two of you can motivate your child to improve his or her grades.” - Grace J., Sausalito, Calif.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for egg cartons:

- Keep beads in them if you’re a crafter.

- Keep small nuts and bolts in one.

- Sort extra buttons in one.

- Keep small earrings in them.

- Heloise


Candle wax on carpet

Dear Heloise: I have candle wax on my carpet. How do I get it out? - Jill S., Nampa, Idaho

Jill, put ice in a metal pan and place the pan on the wax until the wax is frozen hard. Remove the pan and hit the wax with something blunt (such as the handle of a dinner knife) to make the wax shatter, then vacuum up the pieces. If the wax is down into the fibers, put rubbing alcohol on a clean, white cloth, and blot and press until the wax is removed. - Heloise


Whiter whites

Dear Heloise: My white sheets and towels have gotten a little gray over time. How can I whiten my linens?
- Lisa V., Raton, N.M.

Lisa, to keep your sheets and towels from looking gray, add 1/2 cup of baking soda along with the regular amount of chlorine bleach to a load of linens in the washer.

This laundry hint is from my pamphlet Heloise’s Baking Soda Hints and Recipes, which contains many more ideas to make your life easier and provide you with solutions to everyday cleaning and household problems. To get a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at To keep odors at bay in your clothes hamper, make a sachet by filling a paper coffee filter with some baking soda and taping it close. Toss it into the clothes hamper and replace it every few weeks or so. - Heloise

Wedding food to go?
Aug. 14, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about inappropriate behavior at a wedding:

“Dear Heloise: I recently went to a wedding and was appalled when a couple of the guests went to the buffet table and started to load up plastic containers with food. Neither the bride nor the groom gave them permission to help themselves to ‘takeout’ and certainly NOT to fill 10 containers with food. Have people lost all manners these days?”

- A Reader in Pennsylvania


Someone from the catering staff should have talked to them. Behavior like that is inappropriate.

- Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for stand-up paper towel holders:

- Use to hold additional rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom.

- Keep bracelets stored and easy to find.

- Keep large rolls of various types of tape on them.

- Heloise


Fiberglass frustration

Dear Heloise: I have a cloudy-looking fiberglass shower door. I hate the way it looks. How can I get it to shine once more?

- Bess M., Hollywood, Fla.

Bess, if you want your fiberglass shower door to sparkle, wash it with 4 tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in 1 quart of water. Or put baking soda on a damp sponge for scrubbing action.

- Heloise


Bye-bye, blues

Dear Heloise: I just bought a nice pair of jeans, but how can I keep the blue from fading? These fit so well that I want to keep them looking good.

- Rose V., Council Bluffs, Iowa

Rose, first, turn your jeans inside out, then wash them in cold water and dry on the lowest heat. Try dry-cleaning them once every five or six washings to slow down the fading process. If your jeans fade too much, you can always dye them to restore the color.

- Heloise


Hard-water buildup

Dear Heloise: How do I get rid of hard-water buildup on my drinking glasses? - Leah S., Jericho, N.Y.

Leah, to remove hard-water buildup on drinking glasses, try soaking the glasses in warmed (not boiling) household vinegar for about an hour (or overnight), then scrubbing them with a nylon-net scrubber. If the hard-water buildup does not come off, you may have permanently etched the glass, and nothing can be done to correct this problem.

Looking for more easy household hints? If so, you’ll love my pamphlet Heloise’s Fantabulous Vinegar Hints and More! To get a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at Vinegar will clean all things glass, including decanters, windows, mirrors and windshields.

- Heloise


Alzheimer’s scam

Dear Readers: Recently, the Food and Drug Administration has taken issue with several companies that claim their vitamins help or prevent Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, these false claims may stop someone from seeing a qualified physician for an accurate diagnosis.

While dietary supplements may be good for a person’s overall health, claims that taking certain nutrients can help Alzheimer’s disease have yet to be proven.

- Heloise

Don’t bring the kids!
Aug. 7, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is from a nurse who works in a physician’s office.
- Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Please tell your readers to leave their young children with a friend, relative or professional sitter when they visit the doctor’s office. First, the child can pick up a disease from another patient. Second, the nurses cannot and will not babysit your child. We have too much work to do.

“If someone needs to drive you to the physician’s office, be sure it’s only ONE person. Sometimes the waiting room gets filled up with patients’ relatives and there is little room left for those who are sick.”
- A Nurse in Illinois


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for the little pots that plants come in:

- Scoop potting soil from a bag.

- Start new seedlings.

- Place weeds in while weeding the garden.

- Heloise


Adios to appliances

Dear Heloise: I discovered that if I have something that’s still serviceable and still of value, such as an old dishwasher, dryer, etc., if I put it out at the curb with a sign stating: “It still works and it’s yours for free,” by morning of the next day it’s gone!
- Latrice W., Koontz Lake, Ind.


Chocolate stains

Dear Heloise: How can I get chocolate stains out of my son’s T-shirts?
- Odette in Arizona

Odette, this is a popular question, especially for young moms. The first thing you’ll need to do is to soak the T-shirt in cold water. Next, rub liquid laundry detergent into the stain while the fabric is wet. Then rinse and launder in warm water. If you want to know how to remove a number of other stains on garments, you’ll find the solutions in my pamphlet Heloise’s Handy Stain Guide for Clothing. To get a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Stains, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at It’s not difficult to remove a stain if you know how, and my pamphlet is an easy-to-read guide for removing all kinds of stains, from antiperspirant to wine.
- Heloise


Young blood scam

Dear Heloise: There is a new scam in town: infusing plasma from a young person’s blood into an older person as a way to treat Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss and almost anything related to aging. It’s about as effective as snake oil. Since the Food and Drug Administration has warned the public about this scam, there are fewer and fewer companies trying to push this bogus treatment, but some still persist. Do not fall for this scam.
- Frederick in Los Angeles


Shred those papers

Dear Heloise: Please inform your readers that if they don’t own a shredder, they may want to invest in one. A cross cutter is best. It’s important to shred bills and all financial documents that are no longer needed or are stored online.
- Viola R. in San Antonio

Vaccination contemplation
July 30, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about those people who decide not to vaccinate their children.
- Heloise

“Dear Heloise: There is a growing number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, claiming that if they did so, they would risk endangering their child’s health and well-being.

“Vaccines keep children healthy and keep diseases from spreading due to the unvaccinated individual. Are there risks? Yes, but minimal risks. You risk your child’s well-being and that of others around them if you don’t vaccinate.”

- A Registered Nurse in New Jersey

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some ways to brighten up your home and give it a fresh look for summer:

- Paint the front door a new color.

- Plant some colorful flowers in the front or on a balcony.

- Replace old hardware on kitchen or bathroom cabinets.

- Buy new decorative pillows for the sofa.

- Replace old light fixtures - indoors and outdoors.

- Heloise


Who are they?

Dear Heloise: I’m confused as to who is a “boomer” and who is a “millennial.” I keep hearing these terms, but don’t know who they apply to.

- Sherry U., Coon Rapids, Minn.

Sherry, it’s easy to be confused by the terms used today. The groups are divided by the dates of birth:

1946-1964 - baby boomers

1965-1980 - Generation X

1981-1996 - millennials

Hope this helps! - Heloise


Traveler’s checks

Dear Heloise: I never hear of anyone using traveler’s checks anymore. Can you still get them?

- Hillary F., Long Beach, Calif.

Hillary, yes, you can still get traveler’s checks at some banks. However, a large number of banks no longer issue traveler’s checks. While fewer places now accept them as payment, they aren’t completely obsolete. They also are still issued by American Express and Visa. You might be better off using a credit card that offers points and is widely accepted all over the world.

- Heloise



Dear Heloise: If you’re going on a trip of a week or more, it’s wise to unplug a number of things in your house, such as the TVs, computers, radios and lamps, to name a few. This lessens the chance of a fire starting or of lightning traveling the wires to destroy something in your home. Also, you’ll save energy. And you should unplug modems and routers to avoid your Wi-Fi being hacked.

- Leo K., Pawtucket, R.I.

Taking a stand against animal abuse
July 17, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the need to register animal abusers. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: There’s no excuse for animal cruelty, yet sadly, it seems to be on the increase. It’s only reasonable that we make it compulsory for animal abusers to register on a national list - a central database where all that information is stored, with easy access for people and companies that need to check to see if someone is convicted of animal abuse.

“There are some cities, counties and states that have already enacted this requirement, but we need to make it a national law, along with longer prison terms and stiffer fines. We need to ensure that animal abusers are never allowed to own a pet again or to work around animals in any capacity.”

- Norma in Texas


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some items to use as bird feeders:

- An old teacup saucer.

- An old birdbath.

- An empty milk carton.

- A chipped plate you no longer use.

- Heloise


Performance review

Dear Heloise: Most companies have an annual job performance review, and as someone who conducts those reviews, I have a few suggestions. Before you go in for your review:

1. Keep a list of all your successful tasks. Did you land a big sale? Did you create a new way of doing things or create something for your customers that improved sales or helped you reach a quota? Highlight your successes.

2. Be prepared to list your objectives and goals, and be able to explain why these are important goals to reach.

3. Don’t complain about co-workers or anything that places you in a negative light. Think in positive terms. If something went wrong, what did you learn from it?

4. If you have any concerns, be ready to discuss them honestly, but use caution in your words so that you are not blaming or shaming anyone.

- L.G. in Connecticut


Hotel room safety

Dear Heloise: As a traveler for business, I’ve learned a few things about hotel safety. The first thing to do is check out the room - under the bed, in the closets and behind the shower curtain - to make certain no one else is in the room.

Make sure your phone works and the door locks properly. Know your nearest exit in case of fire.

- William H., Spokane, Wash.


Label the polish

Dear Heloise: When I have my nails done, I take my own polish. I put an address label on the bottle so the girls can see that it’s mine.

- Rosemarie H., Boyertown, Pa.

Not on the level
July 17, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about equal pay for equal work:

“Dear Heloise: Yesterday I discovered that a male co-worker was getting considerably more pay than I was for doing the very same job. He’s been with the company less than two years, while I have been here six years. We both graduated from college with bachelor’s degrees. Why and how can companies get away with this practice? Women’s work has always been undervalued, but this is clearly discrimination. What can be done about it?”

- M.G. in Florida

M.G., if you truly feel you have been the victim of discrimination at work, you can call the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at 800-669-4000 or the Equal Rights Advocates Advice and Counseling hotline at 800-839-4372. You also can go to for additional information. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old fish tanks/aquariums:

- Use to raise an ant farm.

- Use as a planter.

- Make into a terrarium.

- Use to display colorful shells or rocks.

- Heloise


Microsoft scam

Dear Heloise: The scammers are at it again. If anyone calls about renewing your Microsoft license or charging you a fee for any service you didn’t ask for, hang up. It’s a scam. You don’t need to renew a Microsoft license, and the fees they talk about are fictitious. The callers are liars and are fishing for your account or credit card numbers. Never hand out this kind of information to anyone over the phone.

- Lana S., Troy, Mich.


Résumé rules

Dear Heloise: Times have changed and so have résumés. Human resource departments get hundreds of résumés, but some stand out from the crowd, and here is how:

If you have an advanced degree or certification, make note of it after your name. Drop the “Objective” from your resume. It’s outdated and shows us you haven’t kept up with the changing times. The attributes mentioned in the job listing should be used on your résumé. These are the words most employers are likely to search for. Link your skills to the job, and if possible, show how you used those skills in a past job performance. Do not list every job you had years ago. Employers look at that and wonder how old you are and whether or not you’ve kept up with technology.

Above all, make it one page and make it easy to read. No ornate or colorful lettering.

- Jennifer N. in Dallas


Sour smells

Dear Heloise: If your baby’s bottle has a foul smell, try filling it with warm water and 2 teaspoons of baking soda, and shake vigorously. Leave it overnight. Next morning, wash as usual.

- Bonnie T., Beaver Creek, Colo.

Are these labels lacking?
July 10, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about prescription labeling. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Why can’t pharmacies label a prescription bottle with more information? My mother’s bottle of pills said, ‘Take one a day,’ but Mom didn’t know if that meant with meals or before meals. The label also should tell what ailment the medication is for. This is especially important if the person is taking several medications.

“In an emergency room setting, the nurse often asks what medication you’re on and what it’s prescribed for, but many elderly patients get confused and don’t know why they’re taking a certain pill. Yes, it will take a couple of minutes to add these things to a label, but it is important for a patient to take the medication properly. Otherwise, what’s the point of taking any medication if it’s not taken correctly?”
- Leslie B. in Houston


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some hints for storing stuffed animals:

- In a large laundry hamper.

- Use fabric or netting to make a hammock for them.

- In a wicker basket.

- In a bench with hidden storage under the seat.

- Heloise


Stamp of approval

Dear Heloise: Recently, I was homebound with a broken ankle and tibia. During my recuperation, I received over 70 get-well cards. One of my friends enclosed a book of postage stamps in her get-well card. Because I wrote a lot of letters, this was the best thing I could have received. I currently have gone through six books of stamps writing to friends and family.

Anyway, my helpful hint: When sending a get-well card, enclose a book of postage stamps. It is a thoughtful gift. - Chick J., Littleton, N.H.


How do I leave?

Dear Heloise: I want to quit my current job, but I also want to leave on good terms. How can I say goodbye and not offend my boss? - Peggy in Massachusetts


Peggy, be sure to give a two-week notice that you are leaving. Speak to your boss first before telling anyone else that you’re leaving. Offer to train the person who is replacing you. Thank your boss for the opportunity of working there. It’s best to leave on good terms with your boss and former co-workers.
- Heloise


Getting a grip

Dear Heloise: I use clawlike hair clips for my hair, but when I’m tired of them or they lose a prong, I use them to secure a vine to a stake or to clip a plant to a trellis. I also use chopsticks to stake plants because they are cheap and readily available after dinner in a Chinese restaurant. - Maddie W., Penn Hills, Pa.

An invite to confusion
July 2, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about wedding etiquette, or a lack of it:

“Dear Heloise: A month ago, my husband and I were married at 7 p.m. in a formal evening ceremony with a reception that featured a sit-down dinner at a private club. On the inside envelope, we addressed it to the adults but not to the children of those invited, yet people brought their children. Even the RSVP made no mention of children, and everything I read said not to put ‘No Children’ on the invitation. Needless to say, this caused a problem with the dinner arrangements, added a substantial amount to our budget and created a few other problems.

“Don’t people know that ONLY those whose names appear on the inner envelope are invited? We felt this was not the occasion for small children, especially since it ran late into the evening.”
- Karen in Massachusetts

I agree. Most small children are bored with formal events and would do better at home with a sitter.
- Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some hints for labeling keys:

- Use colored nail polish.

- Get colored key covers.

- Have keys made in different colors.

- Use decorative tape.

- Heloise


The invitation

Dear Heloise: My mother said I can’t tell people where I’m registered on the wedding invitations. She said it is rude. I say it’s not. Who’s right? - Shelley in New Jersey


Shelley, your mother is correct. Never put where you are registered on a wedding invitation. Why? The majority of people will bring a gift, but a gift is NOT mandatory. It’s better to spread the information by word-of-mouth, so tell your bridesmaids. Above all, don’t ask for money on your invitation. - Heloise


Sweet smell

Dear Heloise: My vacuum has a removable filter, and each time I clean or change the filter, I spray it with a little of my perfume, and this makes the whole house smell wonderful. This is especially nice since I have two dogs. - Vangie in Texas


Pill bug war

Dear Heloise: Got a problem with pill bugs, also known as “roly-polies”? Here’s a solution: Fill a spray bottle with 1/3 dishwashing soap and 2/3 water, then shake well. Spray the leaves and soil around your plants where you’ve seen pill bugs. Check back in 24 hours to see if you need to reapply.
- Darlene D., Cambridge, Mass.


Student loan scam

Dear Heloise: There is a student loan scam going around. Someone calls and offers to consolidate all your loans for a one-time fee of $1,000 or 1% to 5% of the loan balance. They say you’ll only have one monthly payment. First, you NEVER pay in advance for any loan service. Go to and do your own consolidation without an advance fee. In fact, it’s free. You also should apply for all student loans on your own. - Michael K. in Phoenix

Have they got your number?
June 26, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is about telemarketing calls that are using the names of family and friends:

“Dear Heloise: I got a phone call last night, and caller ID said it was from my son. I answered, only to get a marketer for some product I won’t buy. In fact, I encourage others I know to never buy a product from a telemarketer. So many marketing calls are scams. The Do Not Call list doesn’t screen out calls from my son, my friends or my alma mater. When will companies learn this is not an effective way to sell anything?” - Bess G., Sherman, Texas


Bess, telemarketing calls are becoming a real problem in this country. Readers, you can eliminate a number of these calls by going online and registering at, or you can call 888-382-1222. If you move or change phone numbers, you’ll need to re-register. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for a wine rack:

- Use to store rolled-up magazines and mats.

- Roll guest hand towels and store for the bathroom.

- Use to store wrapping paper.

- Heloise


Job interviews

Dear Heloise: For the past six years, I’ve worked in human resources and done hundreds of interviews for a large corporation. I’d like to make a few recommendations to help people applying for a position.

First, no matter what your line of work is, stay current. Learn all the new tech gadgets required for your line of work. Next, make certain your resume is updated and easy to read on one page. You need not go back to your first job if it was more than 10 years ago. When interviewed, dress professionally. Good luck on the interview. - Stacy W., Pendleton, Ore.


Garage sale

Dear Heloise: I’ve never had a garage sale, and I don’t know what to do. Can you make a few suggestions for the garage sale I plan on having this summer? - Karen S., St. Joseph, Mo.


Karen, first, see if you need a permit to hold a garage sale, and if you do, then get one. Make sure everything you’re selling is clean and tagged with a price. Be open to negotiate, because an item is only worth what someone will pay for it. Display items attractively in aisles so that people can move around and pick up an object. Have someone who is in charge of the money. Make sure you have 10 or 15 single dollars, and that way you can make change. Don’t forget to put an ad in the newspaper and a sign out in front of the house. Also, you can mention on social media that you are having a garage sale. - Heloise


Glow in the dark

Dear Heloise: I could never find my cellphone in my purse, so I took glow-in-the-dark paint and painted strips on my cellphone case. - Nan D., Canton, Miss.

Employers don’t deserve credit
June 19, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about employers having access to a potential employee’s credit score.

“Dear Heloise: I applied for a job with a large company and was turned down for the position after three interviews. I have a solid track record, with plenty of experience and recommendations from former employers. I’m still in my mid-30s and have a master’s degree, and I’m in good health. In my last position, I won several company awards, and I have never been fired or asked to leave. So, what went wrong?

“They checked my credit score and found out that I had filed for bankruptcy three years ago. This was due to medical bills from my son’s very difficult birth, which my insurance wouldn’t cover. When is Congress going to make it illegal for an employer to invade my private financial information?”
- Todd L., Fayetteville, N.C.


Todd, yours is not the first letter we’ve received about this matter. People have missed out on a job because of slow payments, foreclosure on a home and more. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for old dressers:

- Paint in bright colors and use outside in the garden to grow plants in the drawers.

- Place in the garage to store items.

- Remove drawers and place baskets in their place.

- Replace legs with wheels and use as a kitchen island.

- Heloise


Lack of care

Dear Readers: We had several responses to a letter from Henry P. in Atlanta about patient care in hospitals. While we here at Heloise Headquarters love our nurses and thank heaven for medical advances, we received letters from all over America about patient care - or the lack of it, due in part to the high cost of care and, in some areas of the country, a shortage of nurses. The following are two different responses.
- Heloise


“I agree with Henry P. of Atlanta about the lack of patient care in hospitals. We recently had a bad experience. The care was terrible. The bed was more of a cot! No washcloths, etc., in the room, and we didn’t get what we ordered on the menu. I can go on and on, but you get the drift.” - A Reader in Texas

“I was recently a patient in a hospital in Michigan and received excellent care. The nurses were so friendly, my doctor always kept me informed about cancer options, and my room was spotless. Sorry Henry P. had a bad experience, because mine was wonderful.” - Janice S., Royal Oak, Mich.


Pick it up!

Dear Heloise: I love hiking the trails around my area of Oregon, but I hate seeing doggie poo on the trails of these beautiful places where hikers can step in it. By all means, bring your dog along, but also bring paper towels to gather the poo and place it in a plastic bag. At the first trash can, dump it in, or wait until you get out of the park to dispose of it. Please keep our lovely parks “poo free.” - Bella M., Salem, Ore.

Pushy People
June 12, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about people who think they are entitled to push others aside instead of waiting for their turn. - Heloise


“Dear Heloise: Yesterday, I was waiting at a deli counter, along with a few other people, when a man walked up to the counter and started to rap his large ring on the glass case to demand attention. The deli man walked over to me to take my order (I was next in line), and the man started to slowly shove me aside to place an order. I won’t bore you with what I said, but I made it clear he could wait for his turn like everyone else. If this had been a medical emergency, I wouldn’t have minded, but it was a local deli counter. When did people start losing their manners? Being obnoxious isn’t cute, and women don’t respect men who act rude, crude or low-class.” - Monica N., Atlantic City, N.J.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are a few suggestions to brighten up your home for very little money:

- Replace old cabinet doorknobs with new ones.

- Buy new throw pillows for the sofa.

- Paint the front door a nice, new, pretty color.

- Plant flowers in the front yard.

- Change out old lampshades for new ones.

- Declutter your home from top to bottom.

- Heloise



Dear Heloise: I took my dog to the vet and discovered he had heartworms. My dog is now on medication to kill the worms, but my vet said dogs should be tested annually. Apparently, cats can also develop heartworms. This is preventable! “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as my granny used to say. Ask your vet if your cat or dog should be on heartworm medication, or check with for more information. - Connie L., Tulsa, Okla.


Sweet lullaby

Dear Heloise: Sometimes I’ll hear a song on the radio but don’t know the name of it or the artist. However, if I type in a few words of the lyrics to search on my computer or cellphone, the title, artist and entire lyrics come up. - Myra D., Bellingham, Wash.


Donate pet supplies

Dear Heloise: When my mother’s cat died, Mom had two carriers, three pet beds (two of which were new) and several cans of high-quality cat food. I called a local animal shelter, which was so grateful to get the donation of these items. Please tell your readers that animal shelters always need supplies, and they welcome financial aid as well. So, if you lose a pet, you can help these organizations out by donating items or money to help them as they help animals. - Lana W., Jackson, Wyo.


Letter of laughter

Dear Heloise: After my handyman retired from his full-time job, he thought he’d do just a little handyman work a couple of days a week to keep busy and earn a little extra money. He came over to my house to fix my faucet, and when he went out to his truck, he found 15 notes under the windshield wipers from people needing his services. Retirement over!   - Patty T., Racine

Get back!
June 5, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about people who ignore the need for personal space. - Heloise


“Dear Heloise: I was shopping the other day when I ran into a friend. She’s a very nice person, but if she stood any closer, she’d have been standing on my feet! I’ve met a number of people who don’t respect our need for some personal space. At a deli counter last week, a woman stood so close to me that we might have been mistaken for conjoined twins! There’s no need to do this when talking to someone. Give others some breathing room.” - Ellen R., Anaheim, Calif.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for baby powder:

- Use as a dry shampoo.

- Use on sheets to help absorb nighttime perspiration.

- Sprinkle in shoes to keep them fresh.

- Sprinkle on a necklace to help untangle it.

- Heloise


What vaccines do my pets need?

Dear Heloise: Having worked at a veterinarian clinic for over 10 years, I feel qualified to recommend the following vaccines for dogs and cats:

All dogs should get the DHPP vaccine to avoid distemper and parvovirus. They also need a rabies vaccine. Rabies is contagious to all land mammals, including humans.

All cats should get the FVRCP vaccine (to protect against three viruses, including distemper), rabies vaccine and a feline leukemia vaccine. Even if your cat does not go outside, it can still pick up this viral killer from other animals.

Your pets are your responsibility, so vaccinate yearly.

- Raymond D. in San Antonio



Dear Heloise: I have a nasty habit of forgetting appointments for things like the doctor, hairdresser, dentist, etc., so I started writing a note to myself on sticky notes and posting them on my bathroom mirror. Now I no longer miss an appointment because the notes remind me.

- Irene H., Beaverton, Ore.


Learn to swim

Dear Heloise: With warm weather here, a lot of children will be playing around lakes, the ocean and swimming pools. While float toys are nice, it’s far more important to teach your little ones to swim. If you can’t teach them, then enroll them in a swim class so that they don’t panic when in water over their heads.

- Grace P., Gainesville, Fla.



Dear Heloise: Summertime is often miserably hot! In many states, it’s illegal to leave your dog in the car in the heat. But whether it’s illegal or not, don’t do it! Some people say that they roll the windows down, but that is not helpful to the animal. If you can’t bring your pet with you when you go indoors to a store, clinic, etc., then DON’T bring it along.

- Brianna F., Muncie, Ind.

P.S. Make certain your dog or cat is microchipped! This is especially true if you travel with your pet.


Kitten season

Dear Readers: We are now getting into kitten season. If you find a stray or homeless kitten, see if an animal organization can find a foster home for it.

- Heloise

I'm not on call!
May 29, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about cosmetic promises that don’t deliver.

- Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Cosmetic companies promise women ‘rejuvenation’ of their skin, hair and nails, and then use a 20-year-old model to illustrate how well their products work. A young woman in her 20s does not need to rejuvenate anything. Even then, the model is airbrushed to perfection. This is a form of body shaming. If you’re over 40, have cellulite, crow’s-feet or liver spots on your hands, are you less worthy of notice or praise?

“Many brilliant, smart, funny women are not great beauties, but they have much to offer this world. I wish cosmetic companies would show real women, not models in their 20s who are beautiful without makeup.”
- Kathy Y., Aberdeen, Md.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other items you can use as bird feeders:

- A large milk jug. Cut in half and use the bottom half for seeds.

- A large plastic soda bottle.

- An old teacup.

- A plate you were planning to throw out.

- Heloise


Tax man cometh

Dear Heloise: I agree with the reader who said that property taxes are getting too high, and I’m getting disgusted. Older citizens like myself purchased our homes with the idea that we could remain there the rest of our lives. However, with taxes going up all the time, I doubt I can afford to stay here for much longer. There used to be a cap on property taxes for low-income people, but not anymore. America is taxing senior citizens out of their homes! - A Reader in Indiana

Some states freeze school taxes for people at age 65. Check with your tax office to find out what can be done to help you reduce your property taxes. - Heloise


Cellphone manners

Dear Heloise: To me, it’s inappropriate for someone to drop by for a visit but spend all the time talking with another person on the phone. It’s very rude, and people like that are never invited back.
- Helen R., Manhattan, Kan.


Helen, yes, it is rude. When visiting friends, turn off your phone. You’re there to spend time with that person, not impress people with how popular or important you are. - Heloise


It’s a shame

Dear Heloise: After working with an animal shelter for the past three years, I would like to encourage your readers to spay or neuter their pets.

They should know that a very small percentage of dogs and cats ever find a “forever home,” and several hundred dogs and cats are euthanized every hour in the U.S. because there aren’t enough people willing or able to adopt a pet.

So please spay or neuter your pets! - Anne in San Diego

I'm not on call!
May 22, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about unwanted baby-sitting duties. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: My son and daughter-in-law seem to think I’m a handy baby sitter. Please understand that I dearly love my grandkids, but I can’t always baby-sit for them. I have a life that includes travel, getting together with friends and a part-time job.

“Please let your readers know that being retired does not automatically mean we can baby-sit for our grandkids. Some of us still need to work part time, have physical limitations or don’t want to cancel our plans. We’re not being obstinate; we simply cannot wrap our lives around our children’s schedules. When I can spend time with my grandchildren I do, and I enjoy it. At present, my daughter-in-law is not speaking to me because I wouldn’t cancel a doctor’s appointment to baby-sit her three kids. I’m not alone, either. Many of my friends have gone through the same thing.” - Gloria in Wisconsin


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for coffee filters:

- To polish silver.

- As a bowl cover in the microwave.

- Place under a plant to absorb moisture.

- To clean a mirror or window.

- Heloise


Lost rings

Dear Heloise: I have a habit of removing my rings when I wash my hands in a public place. To keep from losing them, I do one of two things: I either put them in my pocket or thread them on the stem of my glasses. I learned this the hard way when I forgot to put my rings back on until after I had left a restaurant! Sadly, they were gone, and no one turned them in to the management. - Beverly T., Mount Pleasant, S.C.


The brown and the white

Dear Heloise: We use a lot of eggs in my home, so the only way I can tell the fresh ones from the older eggs is to buy brown eggs one week and white the next week. Works well for me.
- Patricia B., Tiverton, R.I.


Soaking your nibs

Dear Heloise: The writing end of a fountain pen is called a nib, and here is one way to unclog it. Heat vinegar in the microwave for about 18 to 20 seconds, then place the nib in the vinegar and let it sit overnight. The next morning, your fountain pen nib should be clean and unclogged. - Harold F., Bellefontaine, Ohio


Police are there to help

Dear Heloise: Recently, I saw a mother grab her very young son and threaten him with calling the police and sending him to jail. The boy couldn’t have been any older than 6 or 7. This may be a short-term way to get him to behave, but he needs to learn that the police are there to help him and keep him safe instead of making him terrified of a police officer. - Barbara L., Boise, Idaho


Barbara, you’re correct. Children should NEVER be threatened with jail as a form of punishment for misbehaving, or taught to be afraid to ask for help from the police. - Heloise

No discipline?
May 15, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is from a schoolteacher who claims students lack discipline:

“Dear Heloise: For over 20 years, I’ve taught school and seen a number of policy changes that were enacted to help students but have had the reverse effect. Students come to class without homework and tell me they didn’t feel like doing it, or hand in sloppy work with grammatical errors and terrible spelling. With poor grades and a lack of self-discipline, they’ll never make it in college.

“How can we get parents more involved with their children? How can I stress the importance of spending time (NOT money) with their children?” - Lenore N. in Michigan


Lenore, parents need to put down the cellphone, turn off the TV and computer, and spend time with their kids. Our children are the only truly important thing we will leave behind. - Heloise


Fast facts

Dear Readers: Here are a few safety measures for the kitchen:

- Always pat dry the foods you plan to fry. Hot grease and water cause splattering, which can be both dangerous and painful.

- Never leave cooking food unattended.

- Always turn the handle on a pot away from the front of the stove to avoid anyone knocking it off while walking by.

- When taking a lid off a pot, always tilt it away from you.

- Always keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

- Heloise


Wood polishing

Dear Heloise: I have real wood paneling in my new home, but I’m worried about cleaning it. I don’t want a waxy buildup from furniture polish. What do you suggest? - Vera W., Harwood, Md.


Vera, I have a solution that cleans fingerprints, mild dirt and dust off wood paneling, but as always, test on an inconspicuous place first.

Mix 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts water. Dip a clean rag in the solution, wring it out to remove excess water and wipe the surface of the wood. Dry and polish with a clean cloth.

If you want inexpensive cleaning ideas that work well without using harsh chemicals, then you’ll enjoy my pamphlet Heloise’s Homemade Cleaning Solutions. To order a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (70 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 FYI: Vinegar alone also works great for removing price tags, cleaning the barbecue grill and loosening burned-on foods in pots and pans. - Heloise


Foot massage

Dear Heloise: My job requires that I stand for long periods of time. By the time I get home, my feet are killing me. I take a tennis ball and place it under my foot while I’m seated and roll it back and forth. This is an easy way to give my tired feet a massage. - Bernadette V., Manchester, N.H.

No wedded bliss for this location?
May 8, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about destination weddings:

“Dear Heloise: Why have destination weddings become so popular? My niece is getting married in Hawaii, which is thousands of miles from family and friends. Neither the bride nor the groom lives in Hawaii, so it’s not as though they’ve established a life there. Although I’ve received an invitation, I can’t afford to go right now, nor can most of the people invited. Even the girl my niece wanted as her maid of honor said she can’t go since she just started a new job and can’t get the time off. The bride’s parents aren’t happy about it, nor are the groom’s. Am I wrong in thinking a destination wedding is a little selfish?”
- Nancy E., Waterbury, Conn.


Nancy, well, it’s inconvenient to get married so far away from family and friends, but couples are entitled to the wedding of their choice. Readers, what do you think about destination weddings? - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for paper towel cores:

- Wrap Christmas lights around for storage.

- Store extension cords inside.

- Hold plastic grocery bags.

- Spray-paint silver and give to young kids to use as lightsabers.

- Heloise


Novel garden path

Dear Heloise: Everyone likes to have a unique yard, so for my garden path, I used tree slices as steppingstones. My husband cut 2-inch slices of a thick log. We lined the path with newspaper, wet it down with a hose, then poured about 2 inches of fine sand over the newspaper. We placed the wood slices on the sandy bed, then poured fine gravel in between the slices. It’s easy and economical, and the newspaper keeps weeds at bay. - Verity M., Sherman, Ky.


Kitty cat

Dear Heloise: I love animals, but I’d really rather keep my neighbor’s tomcat away from my garden. Is there anything that will deter this sweet kitty from spraying my plants and flowers? - Lois G., Carson City, Nev.


Lois, try using vinegar around the outer edges of your garden, or a sprinkling of chopped onions or chives also might do the trick. Most cats do not like a strong scent. You can also try cayenne pepper, but use that as a last resort. - Heloise


Crows vs. squirrels

Dear Heloise: Help! We have crows that are invading our squirrels’ tree. What can I do to stop the crows from taking their peanuts? We refuse to stop feeding our squirrels, but we need to get rid of the peanut-eating crows. - Yvonne S., Covina, Calif.


Yvonne, there are a few things you can try. Hang wind chimes close to the feeder or hang something shiny, such as a mirror or strips of metal. Birds dislike both of these. You also can buy a plastic owl and hang it close to the feeder or from a tree. Crows are intelligent birds, and when they’ve found a place with food, they’ll be difficult to deter. Good luck! - Heloise









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