Hints From Heloise: The great indoors?


Feb. 26, 2015



Dear Heloise: I am hoping you can assist me with a question about my cat, Patches. She is an INDOOR/OUTDOOR CAT, and we are moving to a new home to take care of in-laws. I would prefer her to be strictly indoors, so that she would always be safe. She is 13 years old.

Can I train her to stay inside and become an indoor cat? My vet said to just do it, and eventually she will quit crying when she learns I’m not going to let her out.

Can you give me any pointers on how to make this easier for both Patches and me?

-- Cheryl in San Antonio


“Meow” to Patches and “Hi” to you! Moving for any pet (or human) can be upsetting and a stressful change. As far as her “wanting” to be outside, of course she wants to! She has been doing so, and now she can’t! You’re a loving and responsible owner, knowing it could be dangerous for her outside. She may not come back.

Do set up some “distractions” for her: a scratching post and new toys. An elevated, carpet-lined perch by a window will let Patches look outside and keep watch about what is going on. I once saw a large motor home with a pop-out “cat window.” The owners had attached a large wire cage, with carpet on the bottom, to the window. The cat went through the window “outside” to sit and watch the world go by, but was safe. You could try something like that for Patches.

She may try to sneak out when a door is open, so do be sure that everyone in the house keeps an eye on her. Maybe distract her when you leave. She will fuss and make noise, but you must stay the course.

Indoor cats generally are healthier and live longer, so she most likely will have more happy years with you.

While on this subject, please do be sure that your cat is microchipped. Anyone moving with pets should get new tags and update contact information.

- Heloise



Dear Readers: Karen in Bingham, Maine, sent a picture of her adorable mini schnauzer, Maggie. Maggie has stretched herself out between the easy chair and the ottoman. She really doesn’t look all that comfy! To see Maggie and our other Pet Pals, visit www. Heloise.com.

- Heloise



Dear Heloise: My wife and I eat breakfast or lunch out several times a week. We meet up with friends, have a nice meal, and there’s no cooking or cleaning up. Alice is the cook and I’m the bottle washer, so it’s “the kitchen is closed” time off.

Here’s how we save a bundle of money: Drink water rather than iced tea or coffee. A cup of coffee can run $2.50, and iced tea the same. We each order a salad and an appetizer sometimes, and not expensive entrees. It adds up.

- Dennis and Dixie, Washington, D.C.

Outwitting sticky pie crusts

Feb. 18, 2015

Dear Heloise: I often purchase the FROZEN PIE SHELLS to bake pies, and I have difficulty removing slices from the pan after they are baked; the pie crust is always stuck. Do you have any suggestions for how to make this easy without breaking up the slices? -- Carole Owings, Wildwood, Fla.

Carol, that's just a plain ... well ... pain! Here are some hints to consider. Switch brands to see if a different one does not stick it may be that simple. It may be the type of pie you are baking. If you pre-bake the pie crust, poke holes in it, bake, then add the filling

However, if you are baking a pie with filling (pecan, pumpkin or my fave ... blue- or blackberry!), DO NOT poke the shell with a fork. Doing so will let sticky liquid seep through and will cause the crust to stick. Do let the pie (and crust) cool before cutting

Last resort? Remove the frozen crust, grease the pan, put the crust back in and proceed. -- Heloise



Dear Heloise: Every year around the holidays, I buy a bottle of cocktail sauce. I use only a small amount. It sits in the refrigerator for several months, then I toss it out. Is there any other use for it? I checked the label, and it only lists shrimp. Should I just buy more shrimp? -- Dan in McDonald, Ohio

Dan, don't toss the sauce or buy more shrimp! This sauce is basically spicy ketchup, so get adventurous! Put it on burgers, hot dogs and fries. It works with crab, too

It makes a zingy dip when poured over cream cheese. I run a fork through the slab of soft cream cheese to score it, then pour on the sauce. Set out with crackers, and ta-da ... quick-and-easy eating. -- Heloise



Dear Heloise: I purchased a 12-cup coffeemaker. It s the same model as my previous one. The paper coffee filters almost always collapse, and grounds end up in the coffee. Any help would be appreciated.
-- Bonnie, via e-mail

I have tasted coffee grounds in fresh-brewed coffee! Yes, the same filters (do be sure they are the  old  filters) should work. However, I bought some  same brand, same size  filters on the Internet, and they did this too. You can wet the filter to make it stick - this should help. Or try a permanent filter that you wash out. -- Heloise



Dear Heloise: I buy honey at a big-box store. After a while, it crystallizes, and I would heat it in a pot of water to thin it out.

I solved my problem by putting it into small jars. If it starts to crystallize, I put it on the top rack of the dishwasher. When the cycle is finished, the honey is back to the way it was before. It works perfectly. Just be sure the lid is on tight. -- Shirley L. in Florida

Shirley, this is a HONEY of a HINT, and I love it! -- Heloise 


Hang on to those ideas
Feb. 11, 2015

Dear readers: In a recent column, Bev A. asked for hints about what to do with all the plastic hangers she had. Here are just a handful of all of the hints readers sent:

Dolores S. in Mansfield, Ohio, wrote: "Please mention the laundromat. I worked at a laundry for three years, and we could always use hangers. The owner had to buy boxes of them, and donations would help with expenses. People wanted their laundry hung up, but wouldn't bring their own hangers."

Nancy Meyer, via email, wrote: "We help settle refugees, and really need hangers when we set up their apartments. Spread the word to check with an agency in the area that settles refugees. They will gladly take them."

A reader, via email, wrote: "Other great ideas for extra hangers are to contact hospitals. The hangers seem to disappear from the patient rooms when patients are discharged."

All good hints, and it's wonderful to find out about great ways to recycle hangers. Here is another hint from me: See if nursing homes and assisted-living facilities would be able to use extra hangers. - Heloise


Ready for exercise

Dear Heloise: Many people have made a New Year's resolution to exercise or get more fit. I have a piece of advice that works for me. Have workout clothes ready. If you have to search for the socks, the shoes, the top and the pants, it won't take long to be discouraged.

I have walked every day (2 miles) for 37 years, and I have my clothes ready to jump into in the morning. Another hint: Get it done in the morning, if you can. As the day progresses, you are less likely to feel like doing it. - Corrinne B., Universal City, Texas


Reuse paper

Dear Heloise: With the popularity of gift bags instead of wrapped presents, a lot of tissue paper is needed. I never buy tissue paper because I gathered all the paper from last year's gift bags and ironed them. They are good as new, and I am able to use the paper several times. - Kaye in Arkansas


Paint stirrer

Dear Heloise: Ever wonder what to do with all the chopsticks that come with takeout Chinese food? Wonder no more. Chopsticks make great paint stirrers if you have small cans of paint. Don't pull the chopsticks apart, and they will work great to mix your paint. Heloise, thanks for the helpful hints. I read your column every morning. - Marla S., Seal Beach, Calif.

Hi, Marla. Thanks for reading my column. I use the chopsticks for my potted plants to aerate the soil.
- Hugs, Heloise


Book list

Dear Heloise: I created a folder I have saved to my desktop on my computer, which I update every time I finish a book. Then, when I go shopping for more books, I print a copy and take it with me to prevent buying a book I have already enjoyed. - Conrad, via email


Carry those back to the store?
Feb. 4, 2015

Dear Heloise: In the Houston Chronicle, I read the hint from a reader in your column about ways to use cardboard wine carriers from grocery stores. (Heloise here: The reader uses them to store glassware.) My local stores are happy to have both them and the nice wine bags returned. - Robin Rodriquez, Huntsville, Texas

Robin, thank you for writing. You and many readers suggested the same hint, to take them back to the stores. However, you should call first, because there may be a health-code issue about using these for another customer. However, if the stores recycle them, it's a win-win all around! - Heloise


Two hints

Dear Heloise: I read your hints in The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. I just wanted to pass on two hints that have helped our household.

We bought standing coat hangers (Heloise here: Not a wire coat hanger that stands by itself, but a "coat hanger," usually wood or metal, that stands upright and is used to hang coats on. A fun play on words that sometimes does get confusing!) and put them in the bedrooms. They are great for hanging sweats, pajamas, robes, etc., rather than piling them on the bed or floor.

Also, I have two hampers, one for whites/off-whites and one for colors. This makes doing laundry a snap versus separating on laundry day. - Melissa B., Harrisburg, Pa.

Hey, Melissa, I, too, have a "coat hanger," but it's in my closet. I use it to hang my sweaters. I first fold the sweater in half lengthwise, then drape it over a clothes hanger like it's a shawl. The arm area goes around the hook part, and the rest is hung over the hanger. No creases from being folded and put in a drawer or on a shelf. - Heloise

P.S.: A Texas "howdy" to my friends in Harrisburg! I met such friendly and nice people when I was there at the home show talking about my Five-Point Plan for Clutter Control. It's been a few years, but oh my, some of the tasty treats to eat in that city? Perfect comfort food in the winter.


Scarf storage

Dear Heloise: Our newspaper is delivered in a clear plastic sleeve. I store my neck scarves by folding them in half and rolling them to fit the bag. I can find the scarf I am looking for, and when they are removed from the bag, they are not wrinkled. Sunday papers are much larger, so those bags work great for larger knit scarves. - Joyce A., Nipomo, Calif.


Bar soap

Dear Heloise: I still love to use bar soap. I keep it from dissolving in the soap dish by using a flat-sided nailbrush with the brush bristle side up. I set the soap on top, and it stays dry. The added benefit is that there is always a little soap on the bristles when I clean my nails. - Amy Griffiths, Ravenna, Ohio

Put the bite on 'Energy Vampires'

Jan. 28, 2015

Dear Readers: How many electronic devices do you think are in your home? How many of them are you NOT using, but they might still be pulling power? Take a little stroll around your place and count. I just walked through our kitchen, den and rec room and counted 10. That's in just three rooms. Apparently, the average household has 25 electronic devices that use electricity.

All of these can be adding to your energy bill. Even if you aren't using them, if they are plugged in, they can potentially use energy. If it has an LCD or LED display, meaning the numbers light up, it's pulling power! Here are hints to make these "energy vampires" less powerful:

* Unplug devices you are not using or you don't use daily. For example: an old stereo or TV in a guest room.

* Use sleep modes on electronics that have them. The device will "sleep" or power down, and will use less electricity.

* Use power strips to control multiple appliances with one off/on switch. Think kitchen: coffee maker and toaster oven or toaster.

* When shopping for new electronics, look for the ENERGY STAR designation. These are the most efficient and use less energy, so you are saving money while you sleep!
- Heloise


Guest hint

Dear Heloise: We live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, we have rain, and we do not wear shoes in the house. For guests, I keep a basket of cute little pairs of ankle socks (tied with a bow) available in the entry. Our guests pick out a pair, and the socks are theirs to keep. The silly sock prints create a fun conversation, as everyone wants to see what the others are wearing. - Mary A., Vancouver, Wash.


Leaving toys

Dear Heloise: In our neighborhood, people often leave perfectly good items by the street to be picked up by the trash collector or others who may want them.

A couple of days ago, I noticed a small pink tricycle that was just right for my great-granddaughter. It was there the next day. I noticed several other toys in the driveway that appeared to be for the same age group. Possibly a 2-year-old had left her tricycle near the street. I suggest parents teach their toddlers that they could lose their toys if left near the street. - Doug J., Denham Springs, La.


Water use

Dear Heloise: Another use I might suggest to conserve water is to store the gallons of water collected after cleaning the refrigerator filter. Put the water into clean gallon milk jugs and use it in a room humidifier.
 - Bruce M., San Angelo, Texas


Helpful hint

Dear Heloise: I use some over-the-counter medicines. Most have childproof caps with arrows you line up in advance to help in low light such as early morning or bedtime. I use a permanent marker on the arrows so it's easy to get the bottles open regardless of light or glasses. - Steve J. in Alabama

The men speak out

Jan. 21, 2015

Dear Heloise: When I get an advertisement from lawyers, doctors or businesses on magnets, I don't throw them away -- I use them. I take a picture of a family member or pet that's about the same size. I paste it over the advertisement, then put it on my refrigerator. My family loves my collection, and I even send them to friends. - Earl Harmon, Port St. Lucie, Fla.

P.S.: I love your hints in the magazine (Good Housekeeping magazine - Heloise) and newspaper columns. The other day, I was at a home-improvement store to pick up supplies for a hint I read in your column. The salesman asked what I was making. He said, "What a great idea - did you think of it?" I couldn't lie and said I read it in your column. He said, "Wow ... I thought all those helpful hints were about making cupcakes." I think he is a follower now.


Careful tarping

Dear Heloise: Regarding placing a tarp over your car to easily remove snow: It may work on some cars, but it likely will destroy the luster on most. Snow is heavy, and on top of a tarp it can scratch your car. The more often you do this, the more scratches will accumulate.


To those wives whose husbands think they are too manly to read your articles: I'm a 55-year-old man who fishes, works on cars, operates heavy equipment and fixes almost anything. I not only learn something occasionally, but I enjoy reading your column. Thanks. - Dave in Dayton, Ohio


Dear Earl and Dave: Thank you both for writing and reminding folks that this column is not just about baking, sewing and housework. It's about life, and how to fix things, prevent and solve problems and take care of yourself.

It's amazing to me that there are still new hints to learn! Here are some Heloise do's and don'ts:

Don't put your cellphone in a microwave to dry it - yes, people have done this!

Don't use ammonia for a pet-urine stain - it smells like urine! It will attract the animal back to that spot.

Don't put fine crystal wineglasses in the dishwasher. It can scratch (etch) them.

Do recycle and reuse. Yes, newspapers are still good for the bottom of a bird cage, garbage can and to clean windows.

I'm still here testing, calling experts and researching hints for you. I'm the gal you can trust.

Thank you for continuing to read Hints From Heloise, and I hope I'll be here for you for a long time.
- Hugs, Heloise

Cotton balls

Dear Heloise: I take a lot of vitamins that come packed with cotton. I save the cotton to use with nail-polish remover. - Debbi in Florida

New gift might need some coverage

Jan. 15, 2015

Dear readers: Did you receive (or buy) a pricey piece of electronics, such as a new television, cellphone or DVD player, or lovely jewelry? You probably need to INSURE that added item. Most folks don't think about it, but now is the time to contact your insurance agent to see if you need to add a floater or adjust your policy.

A special floater covers property that you lose or that is damaged, whether in your home or away. Maybe a wedding ring falls down the sink at home, or while on vacation! Or that special camera gets broken by mishap beyond repair. Contact your insurance company today to find out what you may need to do to be covered. - Heloise


Helping hand

Dear Heloise: It used to be that ATMs and gas pumps swallowed your credit/debit card and spewed it out when your transaction was finished. Nowadays, most require you to insert and then pull the card out very quickly. Because of a medical condition, it takes me too long, and the transaction is canceled.

Now I keep a small pair of long-nosed pliers in the armrest and use them to hold the back of the card as I insert it and withdraw it immediately. - John S. in Delaware


Medication hints

Dear readers: In a recent column, a reader wrote about being asked to bring prescription bottles to every doctor visit. Other readers shared their hints:

Carol J. in Texas wrote: "When my mother lived with me, I kept a copy of her medications list on the refrigerator in case of an emergency. It could be retrieved quickly by the ambulance crew to take to the hospital."

Eleanore J. in New Hampshire wrote: "I always keep a copy of my and my husband's medical list, including doctors, medical histories and medications. I keep each list in a small, plastic bag, ready in case of emergency anywhere."

Becky H. in Texas wrote: "I have one son who is a firefighter, and another is a paramedic. They insist that I carry a list of my medications, with dosage. I carry this in an outside pocket of my purse. Firefighters and paramedics DO NOT like to go through a patient's purse or wallet to find medical information."

Dear Readers: Thanks to all who shared their helpful advice. This information is especially true if you or someone you care for has a serious medical condition. As to the "not like to go through a patient's purse or wallet," the first thing a responder will do is try to stabilize a patient. A purse, wallet or cellphone is not high on the list at that moment. However, the information will be helpful a little later on. - Heloise



Dear Heloise: I keep chain necklaces from getting tangled by rolling them onto foam hair rollers.
- Suzy K., Columbus, Ohio

Geographic suggestions

Jan. 9, 2015

Dear readers: Here are some of your responses to a past column about how to recycle or donate old National Geographic magazines. This topic must have hit home with many of you. Here goes:

Jill Wilson, via email, wrote: "Artists across the U.S. are looking for old National Geographics to use in making abstract paintings. The magazines are difficult to locate and would be of great use to crafts organizations or children's programs."

Betsy Creamer, via email, wrote: "Please consider veterans hospitals. They love them. We took 40 years' worth and were met at the door eagerly."

Jan in California wrote: "I have seen old National Geographic magazines for sale in antiques shops."

Al Bayless in Kihei, Hawaii, wrote: "I give them to a doctor or dentist to put in the waiting room. I once asked a doctor why he didn't subscribe to it for his office. He said, 'Because they are stolen so quickly.' So, please donate them." - Heloise


No bug bites

Dear Heloise: Make sure you check your boots, galoshes, etc., before you put them on your feet. Spiders and other insects could have made their homes in there. Spray them first with a bug spray. Insect bites can be very painful. - Bob Choolijian, Plaistow, N.H.

Bob, the first rule of camping or staying the night in a wilderness cabin is: Shake out shoes and boots! Don't just put your hand or foot into footwear! You never know what may have crawled in during the night.
- Heloise


Candy stirrer

Dear Heloise: I love this time of year, when the holidays have come to an end but there are plenty of leftover candy canes. I use them to stir my coffee and tea for an added hint of mint. - Jerry H. in Colorado

This is a resourceful way to use leftover holiday candy. As a coffee and tea drinker, I like to add a pinch of nutmeg, candies or cremes for different flavors throughout the year. I have many more hints in my Heloise's Flavored Coffees and Teas pamphlet to help make your coffees and teas tastier. To order one, please send $3 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (70 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Coffees, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Other candies that can be dropped into a hot drink are lemon drops, red-hot cinnamon candies, peppermint candy and chocolate, of course! - Heloise


Party preparedness

Dear Heloise: I enjoy entertaining. Before my guests arrive, I put fresh rolls of toilet paper in each bathroom so that I do not have to deal with that common problem. - Anita N., via email

Anita, a good hint that I use myself. Put a fresh roll on, and store the half-roll under the bathroom sink.
- Heloise


Light holder

Dear Heloise: Save your empty paper-towel rolls to wind up the Christmas tree lights on. No tangles.
 - Susan in Huntington Beach, Calif.









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