Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about poorly marked locations:
"Dear Heloise: It is maddening to drive along looking for a business and
you can’t find the address numbers. It should be required to have the
numbers large enough to see from the road. Not everyone who wants to use
your services can drive straight to your location if they can’t find
- Sherry D., via e-mail
How right you are, and most of my readers agree! Business owners:
Pretend you DON’T know where your business is, and try to find the
address! I’ve had to park, get out of the car and walk up to the door or
window to be able to read the address and hours of operation. Readers?
Business owners? Let me hear from you! - Heloise
Dear Readers: Don’t toss out those empty baby-food jars or containers.
Use them for:
Storing small treats for pets while at the park or in an auto.
Storing leftover paint for touch-ups.
Keeping small items organized in a “junk drawer.”
Freezing brown sugar
Dear Heloise: I’ve read your suggestions for freezing brown sugar. I do
a lot of baking, especially at Christmas, so I buy a 2-pound bag of
brown sugar, using it mostly for cookies and cakes. When I have some
left over, I reseal the bag and narrow it down using rubber bands to
make a smaller package in my freezer. (HELOISE HERE: You might want to
put it in a freezer-safe sealable bag.) Believe me, it is soft and
pliable the moment I take it out of the freezer, and I can use my brown
sugar all year long.
- Margaret in Lancaster, Calif.
Removing a musty
Dear Heloise: My daughter bought an old mahogany dresser for her first
apartment. The musty smell is awful, and she can’t put her clothes in
it. It also looks like there might be a little mold inside the drawers.
How do we get rid of the smell/mold? - Sharon W., via email
What a find! Here are a few hints to try:
Move drawers to a well-ventilated site. Spritz the inside of each drawer
with undiluted vinegar, then scrub the inside with a cloth and let dry.
Sprinkle the drawers with some baking soda and let it sit overnight,
Set the drawers outside in the bright sunshine for an hour or so to let
Mother Nature do her thing!
Salt reduction in
Dear Heloise: I enjoy your column in The (Baton Rouge, La.) Advocate.
Now I have a hint for you:
When using a packaged pasta mix, I have found that I can use only half
of the seasoning packet with no noticeable change in the flavor, and in
doing this, I can eliminate half of the sodium. This makes it more
adaptable to a low-salt diet. - A Reader, via email
August 16, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the use of “Ms.” in place of
“Miss” or “Mrs.”:
“Dear Heloise: One thing that irks me is that so many pieces of mail are
addressed to ‘Ms.’ instead of ‘Mrs.’ They don’t know me. I could be
‘Miss,’ ‘Mrs.’ or ‘Mr.,’ but not ‘Ms.’ When they came out with ‘Ms.,’ it
was for divorced women, and I have never been divorced! It may seem
trivial to some, but I don’t like it.”
- Shirley W., Gardiner, Maine
Shirley, the title of “Ms.” is out of respect and politeness. The titles
“Mrs.,” “Miss” and even “Ms.” were all derived from the word “Mistress,”
which for centuries applied to all adult women, whether married or not.
Until the 19th century, most women lacked a prefix before their names;
they were often addressed as “so-and-so’s wife,” or simply by their
name. Having a title of “Ms.,” “Miss” or “Mrs.” eventually indicated a
higher social standing. While “Ms.” is more commonly used today for
women whose status is not known, it never indicated a divorced woman,
but rather all women. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Most households have cotton swabs, so here are a few more
uses for them:
Use them to clean a computer keyboard and get into those tight spaces.
Wet one end and use it to seal envelopes.
Got furniture with fancy carvings? Use one with furniture polish sprayed
on the cotton to clean and shine the fancy wood.
Keep handy to wipe away smeared mascara or nail polish on the areas
around the nails.
Keeping it clean
Dear Heloise: When our three daughters had their bridal showers, my
mother, my sister and I bought a gift certificate to have their dresses
dry-cleaned and preserved as our shower gift. We researched and found a
reputable dry cleaner who did this kind of work.
Each daughter was delighted to receive such a lasting gift. It can be
expensive to preserve a gown, so it’s nice to include several people in
the gift, if need be. - Connie F., Summerfield, Fla.
Connie, that’s a very thoughtful idea, and one I’m sure other readers
will appreciate as well! And the next hint has another wedding-gift
idea. - Heloise
It’s in the box
Dear Heloise: I have another suggestion for storing a wedding gown: Have
it put in a shadow box. My cousin did mine for me, and it’s on display
in my living room. I enjoy your information very much.
- Sue G., Harrison, Ark.
Fork it over
Dear Heloise: I went to an estate sale and bought five old metal forks
for $1. I use them to uproot weeds such as chickweed and dandelions.
It’s one of the most useful and inexpensive tools in my garden!
- Tina P., Shawnee, Okla.
No sale for this customer
August 10, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about department staff who ignore the
“Dear Heloise: I recently went shopping at a major department store, and
I asked one of the sales staff if she could assist me, and she said,
“No,” she was busy, and just walked off. I saw a group of three giggling
salespeople and asked if they could help me, and one young woman said,
“In a minute,” turned her back and continued her conversation. I left
the store without spending a dime.
“This isn’t the first time I’ve seen salespeople ignore a customer. The
majority of salespeople usually are helpful and professional, but it
only takes a few bad apples to ruin the reputation of a store. Is it a
lack of proper training?” - Emma Y., Scranton, Pa.
Emma, sorry to hear about this unfortunate incident, but you do have
options. You can call the store manager to let him or her know of your
experience, or write a letter to the corporate CEO. Training might be
the issue, but you always can recommend better training in a phone call
or letter. - Heloise
Dear Readers: If you lose your wallet:
Call the police and report that it’s lost or stolen - do this
Get a new driver’s license - this is your most commonly used form of ID.
Cancel all credit cards and, if necessary, notify your bank.
Notify utilities in case someone tries to open an account.
If you kept a spare house key in your wallet, have the locks changed.
Dear Heloise: I’m having problems with gnats in my kitchen and
bathrooms. I have the house sprayed for bugs, but I still have gnats. Do
you have a solution to this problem? - Bugs in Kitchen, via email
First make certain all indoor plants are not watered for a couple of
days; gnats lay their eggs in damp soil. Remove all food or fruit bowls
from the counter. Clean all surfaces with an all-purpose cleaner,
including the floors and trash baskets. Cover drains with plastic and
tape it down. Leave this in place overnight.
Then make a gnat trap:
Pour about 1/4 cup of apple-cider vinegar into a jar or plastic
Take a coffee filter and place over the opening of the apple-cider
container. You can use a rubber band to ensure that the coffee filter is
held in place and there is a tight seal.
Poke three holes in the coffee filter, no bigger than 1/4 inch to 1/3
Place in an area where the gnats are, and leave it there for a day or
Interview for two?
August 2, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about bringing another person to a
job interview. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: It should be common knowledge that you don’t bring your
kids, husband or boyfriend, or mother to your job interview. It’s one of
the quickest ways to be eliminated as a candidate for the job. And yet,
just today I was about to interview a young woman of 23, and when I
called her name, her boyfriend got up and said he was going into the
interview with her to see to it that I didn’t ask any questions that he
“When I said he was NOT going into the interview, he said he had a few
questions he wanted to ask, such as how much vacation time she’d get and
could she leave at 3 p.m. on Fridays. I asked them to leave my office.
Unless you need an interpreter, which is allowed, you shouldn’t bring
another person with you to an interview for a job.” - Karen in
Dear Readers: Transparent tape has many uses besides wrapping gifts,
When traveling, pack a small dispenser of tape for mending a loose hem.
In an emergency, you can tape a cut finger and prevent bacteria from
getting into the wound.
The matte tape can be applied to a number of things to allow you to
write your name.
Dear Heloise: I know there must be others like me who like their soft
drinks cold but find that ice melts and dilutes the drink.
pour a bit of a soft drink into each ice-cube tray and freeze it. When I
use these, as they melt, they don’t dilute my drink but still keep it
cold. Love your column in the San Antonio Express-News.
- Billie M., New Braunfels, Texas
Dear Heloise: For beachgoers, there are some things you should always
pack in your beach bag besides tanning oil and a towel:
Sunblock - everyone should use it, but this is especially important for
children and very fair-skinned people who burn rather than tan.
Meat tenderizer - this is good to have on hand if you are near an ocean
that has jellyfish. Mix a little water with the tenderizer to make a
paste, and apply it to the affected area.
Slip-on shoes or rubber thongs for the feet - by midday, sand can get
extremely hot, so don’t go barefoot to the beach.
A hat (one with a wide brim is best) - shield your head in the hot sun,
as well as your eyes from ultraviolet rays.
Bottled water - stay hydrated, and I can’t emphasize this enough.
Alana S., Ocean Park, Maine
Lice aren’t nice
Dear Heloise: My son came home from school with head lice! How could he
have picked up lice?
- Lana F., Barberton, Ohio
Lana, there is no correlation between personal hygiene and contracting
head lice. Tell your son that in the future he is not to share caps,
hats, scarves or other clothing with his friends or classmates. There
are many over-the-counter remedies for head lice. - Heloise
Count it out
July 26, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about salesclerks who don’t know how
to count your change. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: My wife and I read your column in the Antelope Valley
Press in Lancaster, Calif. We have never been disappointed. I personally
enjoy the ‘Sound Off’ issues.
“One of my pet peeves is watching a retail clerk trying to return change
from a $20 bill. One of the first things I learned in grade school was
how to count change. We were told that the reason was so we could be
assured we got the right change. I have had to call a manager while at
the checkout on three occasions just last week. Being retired, I have
the patience to help, but why should I have to?”
- John and Karen H., Lancaster, Calif.
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for ashtrays:
Use it in a bathroom to hold guest soaps.
Use to hold seed to feed the squirrels and birds.
Store hair ornaments in the larger ones.
Use it to hold your car/house keys so you’ll always know where to find
Keep lose change in them.
No oil leaks
Dear Heloise: I went to a beauty-supply store and bought a straight-tip,
leakproof applicator for hair color. Just pour up to 8 ounces of olive
oil into it, tighten the lid well, and you have the perfect applicator
to dispense olive oil. No spills, and no awkward tipping of a large
container. - Frances M., Fayetteville, Ark.
Frances, what a great idea! So many times we forget that useful products
can be found in many different places. With just a little imagination,
you can repurpose any number of things. - Heloise
Plants and air
Dear Heloise: As pretty as plants in our homes can be, they have another
very useful benefit: Green plants clean the air and improve the quality
of the air we breathe in our homes. Plants have air-purification
capabilities that allow them to absorb gases through pores on the
surface of their leaves. But a word of caution: Some plants are toxic to
children and pets, so choose wisely when buying a plant for your home.
- Hollister H., Stamford, Conn.
Hollister, thank you for this information. I love the look of indoor
plants, and the benefits they provide to the air quality in my home.
Did you know?
Dear Readers: The U.S. Postal Service handles about 43 percent of the
world’s mail. The next closest to that is Japan’s, with 6 percent. -
July 19, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about recycling:
“Dear Heloise: We all live on one planet with dwindling resources and a
growing population. So why don’t more people recycle as much as they
can? I would encourage folks who think it’s too much trouble to recycle
to reconsider. Got an empty can or glass bottle? Just a quick rinse
under the tap and into a recycle bin or bag it goes. My husband and I
don’t have kids yet, but we feel that we are merely custodians of the
planet, not owners. Let’s all recycle our paper, plastic, glass and
metal, and leave this world in better shape than we found it, for
generations to come.” - Charlotte M., Green Bay, Wis.
Charlotte, I couldn’t agree more! My staff and I recycle everything we
can, both in the office and at home.
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for cat litter:
Use to absorb fresh oil and grease on the driveway or garage floor.
Use under tires on icy streets.
Use to reduce odors and moisture in a basement.
Dear Heloise: Girls no longer seem to receive hope chests upon
graduation from high school in anticipation of getting married, so at an
estate sale, I bought one. I took it home and lightly sanded the
interior to bring out that cedar scent. After vacuuming and wiping the
interior, I used it to store sweaters, parkas and other winter clothing
and wool blankets. I may not be thinking about marriage right now, but I
am thinking about moths not eating my favorite sweaters. - Lucy R.,
Snails and slugs
Dear Heloise: I had a nasty problem with snails and slugs, but I used a
trick my grandmother always used. We kept eggshells in a bag in the
refrigerator. When we had a fair amount of shells, we’d crush them and
sprinkle the broken eggshells around our plants. Snails and slugs won’t
crawl over the sharp pieces. Hamster litter made from cedar usually had
the same effect as eggshells. - Jean O., Florence, S.C.
When less is more
Dear Heloise: I clean houses for a living, and more often than not, I
have to clean windows. Most people think using newspaper is the best way
to get streak-free windows, but it’s not. It used to be, but the
newspapers changed the ink formulation, and that made all the
difference. Instead, use a soft cloth (microfiber is best) and a little
vinegar (1/2 cup) in a gallon of water. Don’t use too much liquid, or
you’ll get lots of streaks. Spray and wipe. - Lynn G., South Gate,
Save me from the offer!
July 12, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about stores that hound us to open a
credit card account with them:
“Dear Heloise: I absolutely hate it when I go shopping and the
salespeople pester me about opening an account with them. I don’t want
credit card debt. In fact, I don’t want any debt, because we’re looking
to buy our first home. When I say ‘No, thank you,’ they persist with,
‘What! Do you mean to tell me you don’t want to save 20 percent on
today’s purchase?’ It seems like everywhere I go, someone is trying to
pressure me into signing up for a credit card. I wish salespeople would
get the hint - ask once, then leave me alone!” - Brandon K., Cypress,
Brandon, I know it gets annoying, but many stores give the sales force
quotas requiring them to open up a certain number of accounts or in time
lose their jobs. Just ignore their pleas. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for popcorn tins:
Paint the tin a color you like and label it for storage of small tools
in the garage.
Reuse the tin the following year for a large or awkward-shaped gift.
Store dry pet food in one and keep the lid on it. Keeps out insects!
Wrap in pretty contact paper or wrapping paper and use to store sewing,
knitting or crafting supplies.
Dressing like the
Dear Heloise: What do all the celebrities do with their red-carpet
clothing? Can I buy some of the gowns I see on the runway, or do they
ever give them to friends? - Ines M., Brattleboro, Vt.
Ines, those beautiful gowns, the fabulous jewelry and even the evening
purses usually are donated by designers for some big event and are
returned promptly the next day. Some stars purchase something if they
really feel they have to have it, but when they decide to clean out
their closets, many items are donated to charities to be auctioned off.
However, there are stores in and around Hollywood that specialize in
clothing worn by celebrities. You can find them online. - Heloise
Recycling for the
Dear Heloise: You reach thousands of readers all over America and
Canada, so please remind them to recycle all of their paper, hard
plastic, wood and glass. Find the collection centers in your area if you
don’t have regular collection on a weekly basis. Take old clothes that
still have good use to a charity center or to any place that helps the
homeless and poor. Churches often have clothing drives. The old saying
“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” is so very true. - Dr.
James T., Daytona Beach, Fla.
Not quite photogenic
July 6, 2017
Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the deceptive photographs on food
“Dear Heloise: I’m so tired of seeing photographs on frozen-food
packages and drive-thrus that show a delicious-looking item, but when
you get it home, the item looks nothing like the picture. I recently
bought frozen lasagna in the ‘family pack’ for a quick dinner for my two
children and myself. The portions were small, and the lasagna inside was
nothing like the photograph on the box. To me, that’s deceptive
advertising!” - Belinda M., Sparks, Nev.
Belinda, I’ve noticed the same thing. Manufacturers, are you listening?
Dear Readers: Here are some items you might consider taking to someone
who is in the hospital (but always check with the nurses to see what is
allowed in a patient’s room):
A small room freshener (no candles) to freshen the room.
A packet of mints or breath fresheners is nice.
Various magazines/books on subjects that interest the patient.
Hand/body lotion - unscented is best - or moist towelettes.
To tattoo or not to
Dear Heloise: My 16-year-old son is bugging me about getting a tattoo. I
don’t care for tattoos, but I don’t know what to say except “No.” Are
there any dangers to tattooing? How do I get him to reconsider a mark
like that, which will be with him for many years? - Linda K., Upland,
Linda, tell your son to think before he inks. Tattoos can and have
killed job opportunities for many people. There are some serious issues
Infections: Dirty needles can pass infections from one person to
Allergies: Allergies to various inks can occur.
Scarring: Unwanted scar tissue may cause scarring when getting or
removing a tattoo.
Granulomas: These are small knots or lumps that form around material
that the body perceives as foreign, such as tattoo pigment.
You may not like the results: There are tattoo artists whose work is not
professional. Skill varies from one artist to another. There is no way
to be certain that the ink used is safe.
Adopt a best friend
Dear Heloise: Do any of your readers need a best friend? Adopt a pet at
any local shelter or animal-rescue organization. So many irresponsible
people don’t spay or neuter their pets, and that produces too many
unwanted pets. A pet is a wonderful companion, and the health benefits
of having a pet are well-documented. So, you can adopt a best friend at
any local shelter. - Glenda T., Frankfort, Ky.
Glenda, I agree. A pet is a wonderful comfort and companion. I’ve
adopted many animals and have loved each of them. A pet also can teach
children compassion and responsibility. - Heloise
this a recording?
June 30, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off concerns recorded messages that may lead
you to believe you’re actually talking to a real person. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: There seems to be something new going around. It’s a
recorded message that sounds friendly, and there are pauses in the
conversation, but it’s recorded. I asked the voice at the other end who
she represented, but got no response. I asked her to take me off the
list of phone numbers, but the sales pitch continued, and I finally hung
“I wish companies would stop calling people with these recordings where
we can’t ask them questions or they try to sell us things we don’t want.
Perhaps the ones that I find especially confusing are the ones that tell
me I filled out a request for their call when I know I didn’t and have
no interest in their product. I only hope this method of selling stops
soon.” - Tess D., Norman, Okla.
Dear Readers: One of the most useful items I’ve found is dryer sheets!
They have multiple uses:
Take one used dryer sheet and slip it into a pillowcase to keep the
pillow smelling fresh.
Use under a drawer liner to keep “undies” smelling nice.
Use in the closet where you store your linens to have sweet-smelling
Stain on a leather
Dear Heloise: I dripped olive oil on my expensive genuine leather couch.
Do you have any magic formula to absorb it and get rid of the dark spot?
I tried blotting repeatedly, gently sponging with a mild liquid
detergent, more blotting, etc., but I am left with the oil stain. Any
suggestions? - F.P.B. in Texas
F.P.B., you’ve already tried blotting and soap and water. When an oil
stain first appears on leather, immediately sprinkle baby powder or
cornstarch on the spot and let it sit overnight, then brush it off with
a microfiber cloth in the direction of the grain. However, since you’ve
had this oil stain awhile, you might try the following:
Mix together the following ingredients to form a paste:
3/8 cup distilled water
1/8 cup sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white flour
tablespoon baking powder
Do a patch test first on an area that doesn’t show, and if it doesn’t
lift the dye in the leather, then proceed to apply it to the stain. Use
a soft cloth to apply it in dabs (be gentle, and don’t scrub). Let the
area dry completely. Carefully wipe off with the grain of the leather.
This may require more than one or two applications.
Another suggestion is equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar. Dab
on and gently wipe off after a couple of hours. Some of my readers have
had success with this formula.
Readers, do you have a suggestion you’ve used and liked for leather
stain removal? - Heloise
taxing phone conversation
June 21, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the phone bill’s added charges
and taxes. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: I recently moved into my first apartment and was shocked
to discover that my phone bill, which includes a landline, my computer
and cellphone, was about 25 percent to 30 percent taxes! I called the
phone company and asked for an explanation of my bill, because there
were things on there that I’d never heard of. The woman I spoke with
didn’t seem to know what half of the charges were for, either. When I
signed up for telephone service, no one told me about all these taxes
and other charges. Why can’t the telephone companies tell us the truth
about all these nuisance charges, and why don’t they pick up some of
these expenses instead of burdening the public with them?” - Roberta
G., Dayton, Ohio
Dear Readers: Button, button, who’s got the button? There are a number
of uses for recycled buttons:
They can be used in jewelry making to create interesting, new designs.
Attach to the ends of drawstrings to keep from pulling through casings.
Great for decorating picture frames, and for gift decorations.
Instead of pebbles in a pot, try a couple of handfuls of old buttons.
How to clean a
Dear Heloise: My sister and I have been wondering how to properly clean
a mattress. We both recently bought new ones, but haven’t a clue as to
how to keep them clean. - Tanya M., Elk Grove Village, Ill.
Tanya, the first thing you can do is spray a water repellent on the
surface of a mattress on both sides. Wait until it is completely dry
before covering it with a good-quality mattress pad to help keep out
dust, dander and dust mites. After you’ve done this, try the following:
Vacuum your mattress once a month.
Wash the mattress pad once a month in hot water and soap to kill dust
If you spill any liquid on the mattress, soak up as much of the liquid
as you can with a bath towel or paper towels. Use upholstery cleaners to
shampoo out the stain left behind, but make sure your mattress is
completely dry before putting the mattress pad back on the bed.
Most mattress manufacturers say we do not have to “flip” our mattresses
every six months anymore, but I still like to rotate mine every other
Feed your plants
Dear Heloise: I have an old home recipe for outside plants that works to
kill bugs while feeding the plants. It’s simple and easy to use with a
spray bottle that hooks up to a hose.
One small can of beer - any kind
5 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing detergent (or use baby shampoo)
2 tablespoons of commercial plant food in liquid or powder form
Once this is in the spray bottle and attached to the hose, water your
plants as usual. The soap kills bugs, but not plants. - Rhonda P.,
for the lake house
June 15, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is about house rules at the lake:
“Dear Heloise: Three years ago, my husband and I built our retirement
home on a beautiful lake, where we hoped to enjoy a relaxed lifestyle.
However, our children (we have six between the two of us) and a couple
of our friends tend to drop in a lot. So this year I wrote everyone a
letter with the lake house rules:
“Hello to All: As much as we love all of you, we need to set down some
new house rules for all of you to follow. We ask that you respect these
rules and not ask us to make exceptions.
“Please wait to be invited to our home. DO NOT drop in, even if you
happen to be in the neighborhood.
“Bring your own towels and snacks.
“Due to my husband’s health, we need to limit our entertaining and
baby-sitting to no more than a couple of days.”
Margaret S., Kenosha
Dear Heloise: I have no idea where lost socks go, but it seems my
husband has several pairs that are missing their mate. This is what I do
with those lonely, single socks:
I keep one in the glove compartment of my car for covering my hand when
I’m scraping the windshield in winter, or to pick up something I’d
rather not touch with my bare hand.
They make wonderful dust rags - just slip your hand inside.
I have one in my laundry room to put loose change in when I check
pockets before washing.
I gave one to my young son to put his small plastic toys inside so they
don’t get lost
Reader, via email
advice for men
Dear Heloise: I’ve been a jeweler for nearly 30 years, and I have some
advice for young men who are considering surprising their girlfriend
with an engagement ring:
As lovely as it is to surprise a woman with a proposal, it might be
better to let her select the ring she’ll wear for the rest of her life.
If you two are shopping together for rings, give her a price range to
select from. Limit yourself to what you can reasonably afford.
If she would rather have a colored gem than a diamond, let her have what
she wants, but stay within your budget.
Do not bring a third or fourth person along with you. This is a private
matter, and you don’t need a third opinion. It doesn’t matter what her
mother or best friend thinks about her ring.
Shop around for a style and price you both can live with after all the
excitement dies down.
Ronald P., Norman, Okla.
The average wedding in America costs between $26,000 and $35,000!
Almost half of millennials say they will wait to wed until after the age
Utah has the youngest brides, with an average age of 23.5 for women and
25.6 for men.
Washington, D.C., has the oldest brides, with an average age of 29.8 for
women and 30.6 for men.
Late isn't great
June 7, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about people who are perpetually
late. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Why are some people always late for everything? I have a
friend who seems to think showing up on time is beyond her capabilities.
She’ll say things like, ‘Time is my enemy.’ If we’re meeting for lunch,
she is sure to be 20 to 40 minutes late. Several of our mutual friends
have stopped inviting her to various functions for this very reason. I
only hope this will give others who are never on time a chance to think
about how it affects others.” - Charlotte F., Hot Springs, Ark.
Dear Readers: Here are some hints for repurposing old books:
Stack up several volumes to make a side table by a chair.
Create a multilayered wall collage with pages from any book.
Hollow out the inside of the pages and hide valuables in there, then
place on a bookshelf.
Cut pages into strips and glue to a lampshade for a “novel” look for
Dear Heloise: I use a facial mask that is wonderful and all-natural. It
works well on nearly everyone I know:
Grind 5 tablespoons of oatmeal in a blender or food processor until it’s
a coarse powder.
Add 1 tablespoon of honey.
Add 2 tablespoons of plain nonfat yogurt.
Add 1 egg yolk, optional.
Mix everything together and apply to your face for 30 minutes in order
to achieve best results. If you have time, lie down and relax during
this treatment. Everything in this mixture is designed to brighten the
skin, remove dead skin cells and nourish the skin. - Vanessa K. in
Dear Heloise: My ex-husband and I decided years ago that no matter what
happened, we would always take a “family portrait” every year. This was
for the sake of our three daughters. The girls agree that we are still a
unit, and it’s nice to see how the girls have grown and how my ex and I
have changed through the years. We’ve been doing this for 15 years, and
I believe it’s helped keep a civil relationship between my ex-husband
and myself. - Courtney J., Suffolk, Va.
Courtney, that’s a good idea, and I agree that exes should remain civil
to one another for the sake of the kids and for their own peace of mind.
Dear Heloise: In my family, we try to take something from our mother’s
wedding or grandmother’s wedding and incorporate it in our wedding dress
or veil. I used a handkerchief that my grandmother carried on her
wedding day and had it worked into the bodice of my dress. It was my
- Constance D., Glenrock, Wyo.
The stamp of approval
June 1, 2017
Readers: Today’s SOUND ON is about a U.S. Postal Service worker, Kevin
“Dear Heloise: We have a co-worker, Kevin Kennedy, who’s retiring with
40 years of service from the U.S. Postal Service. Kevin takes his breaks
in my office and reads your column out loud so all of us in the office
can hear. Kevin also has cut out some of our favorite hints and hung
them on the board, and we just love your column.” - Sandy V., via
Dear Readers: Ever wonder what to do with those empty, amber pill
bottles you get from your pharmacy? First, remove the labels with your
personal information, and wash them thoroughly. After they dry, you can
use them in a number of ways:
They’re handy to keep in your car to store change for tolls or parking
They can hold toothpicks and dental floss for those times when you can’t
rush home to remove something stuck in your teeth.
Cat toy: Place a small rock or bell inside and secure the cap with glue.
The pill bottle makes enough noise to entertain a cat, and easily can
roll across the floor.
Drill a few holes in the bottom of the container, then spray a cotton
ball with perfume and place in a drawer to keep everything smelling
Store salt and pepper packets for brown-bag lunches.
Arms fall asleep at
Dear Heloise: I will sometimes fall asleep with my arms raised over my
head, which causes my arms and hands to fall asleep. When I mentioned
this to my mother, she told me to gently rock my head from side to side,
and this would quickly restore feeling in my arms and hands. It works.
As long as the numbness isn’t caused by something serious, it should
work every time. If the numbness is prolonged or recurring, you need to
see a physician. - Susan H., Kokomo, Ind.
Dear Heloise: I teach at a college level, and I’ve noticed that so many
students turn in papers that haven’t been proofread, the content isn’t
cohesive and spellcheck must have been turned off. I have some
suggestions for your college (and high school) students to help them
improve their essays:
Print your essay and manually go over it slowly and carefully.
Ask yourself if it’s easy to read and understand.
Review the introduction - this sets the tone of your essay.
Check each paragraph. Eliminate irrelevant words and statements. Each
idea must smoothly transition to the next.
Check the conclusion to make sure it’s polished to the best of your
Read your essay aloud. You’ll discover better ways to express an idea.
Follow the requirements and rules of the assignment. Abide by the word
Fact-check - I can’t stress this enough.
Ann W. in Denver
Soliciting a negative reaction
May 25, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about all the airlines, from a former
“Dear Heloise: I’ve worked as an airline flight attendant for two major
airlines over an 11-year period.
“We love our passengers, and we strive to make them happy and
comfortable. With summer vacations comes a higher volume of travelers,
so I have a few suggestions for passengers who fly the airlines:
Even though the airlines have blankets and pillows, you might want to
bring a small throw and travel pillow from home. People do best when
traveling with items that are familiar to them. This is especially true
It’s usually a good idea to pack a few disinfecting wipes in a plastic
bag to use in the restroom and on the tray tables. During flu and cold
season, this is especially important.
Always make certain you have identification on all carry-on bags. Many
bags look the same, and this will help you find yours.
If you have special dietary needs, please let us know when you book a
flight, and we’ll do all we can to ensure your needs are met.
When asked to turn off your cellphones and other electronics, please
comply. We want to make sure you have a safe and comfortable flight.
If you have any questions about your connecting flights, ask a flight
- Diane N. in Atlanta
Dear Readers: You might not play tennis, but if you have extra tennis
balls around the house, here are a few suggestions for you:
They are great for dogs to play with, especially if you throw them for
You can massage your feet by rolling them with the bottom of your foot.
Put in the dryer with down pillows to help them fluff.
Hang one from the ceiling of the garage to help you gauge the distance
from the wall when parking your car.
A white wedding?
Dear Heloise: Do first-time brides have to get married in white or ivory
dresses? My mother says yes, but I’d rather wear a color, because white
makes me look like a corpse.
- Tracy in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Tracy, no, you don’t have to get married in white. In fact, a lot of
brides are now choosing to wear a shell pink, or a blue sash with a
white dress, and some of the more daring brides are opting for red or
turquoise. I’ve seen brides wear silvery gray and dusty lavender
dresses, and they looked beautiful. Perhaps the best part is that those
dresses can be worn again at cocktail parties or other formal occasions.
Did you know?
There will be a total solar eclipse viewable in parts of North America
on Aug. 21, 2017.
A total solar eclipse can cause the temperature to drop as much as 20
An annular solar eclipse happens when the moon is farther away in its
orbit and there is a bright ring around the moon.
Soliciting a negative reaction
May 19, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about asking wedding guests to fund a
“Dear Heloise: I received an invitation to my former college roommate’s
wedding, and it gave the website where they were registered. Turns out
they’re asking people to give them money for their honeymoon instead of
gifts. I have to admit, I was surprised. They specified that $150 to
$300 per person or couple would be an appropriate amount because they
want to spend two weeks in Hawaii. I’ve never seen this sort of thing
before, and I can’t say I like it, especially since they don’t have a
house, an apartment or anything else that newlyweds need!” - Ava L.,
Ava, apparently asking people to financially donate to the honeymoon is
something new. It’s nice to give a gift of cash at a wedding, but it’s
not mandatory. - Heloise
Dear Readers: You can do much more with pencils than just write with
Erase crayon from walls painted with satin or gloss paint.
The eraser can be used to push back cuticles.
Use as a stem support for weaker plants.
Use the eraser as an earring back by cutting it off and pushing it onto
the earring post.
Let them cake
Dear Heloise: I had a pamphlet of yours with cake recipes, and I loved
it! I think I made every cake recipe in the pamphlet, but unfortunately
I loaned it out to a friend, who begged me to let her keep it. So, I’d
like to order another one for me and one for my daughter. - Laura W.,
Laura, thank you! My cake recipe pamphlet is one of the most requested.
Just go to my website, www.Heloise.com, to order it, or send a stamped
(70 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope, along with $3, to:
Heloise/ Cakes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. If any of
my readers have a favorite cake recipe they’d like to share with us,
please send me a copy of the recipe, especially if there’s a story
attached to it. - Heloise
Remember to cover your butter so it doesn’t absorb refrigerator odors.
Butter should not be stored in the refrigerator for more than two weeks.
If you need to keep it longer, freeze it.
Anything labeled “tropical oils” usually is coconut or palm oil.
The majority of nondairy creamers are made from coconut oil, which makes
them high in saturated fats.
Dear Heloise: I always heard that you should put stones in the bottom of
pots before plants go in so that the plants have better drainage.
However, I live in an apartment and didn’t have any rocks or small
stones, so I used plastic foam and layered the bottom of my potted
plants. There’s also less weight on my patio this way, and the drainage
is just as good as with stones. - Frances B., Tyler, Texas
Soliciting a negative reaction
May 10, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about companies that solicit
donations. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: I get tired of all the pleas for contributions and the
companies that sell your information to other companies. They spend all
that money on staff, stamps, envelopes and address labels. Why not use
the money for the charities instead of begging me for money?
“I finally stopped them, even the ones I liked. Just write ‘Do Not
Solicit’ on the bill or request for funds and send it back to them. I
kept a list so I’d be sure there were no repeats. It worked.”
- JoAnn A., Booneville, Miss.
Dear Readers: Lemons not only smell fresh, but have the added advantage
of multiple uses:
Rub half a lemon over a chopping block to remove odors and kill
Sprinkle lemon juice over foods that tend to turn brown after they’re
sliced, such as apples and avocados.
Remove stains from plastic.
Whiten fingernails that have turned yellow from nail polish.
Dear Heloise: We just bought our first home on an acre of land, and I
want to compost materials for the vegetable garden we’ve started. I know
there are things I shouldn’t compost, but what are they?
- Molly K., Brookfield, Wis.
Molly, yes, there are several things that shouldn’t go into your
No cat or dog droppings. These might contain parasites.
Coal or charcoal.
Anything that has fungus, such as fungus on plants.
Fish, cheese or meat leftovers. These attract raccoons, opossums and
Oil and grease.
No bones. Like coal and charcoal, these take a very long time to
So glad to know you’re starting a compost pile. This will enrich your
soil with nutrients the natural way.
Dear Heloise: As a recent graduate of dental school, I can tell you
there are many uses for old toothbrushes. After replacing your
toothbrushes, try using them for:
Cleaning tile grout with baking soda. A toothbrush gets into the grout
Applying hair dye to the roots is easier with an old toothbrush.
Use the handle to poke a hole in the ground, then drop in a seed or
seeds and use the brush part to cover the hole with dirt.
It’s wonderful for cleaning under your fingernails.
Use it to brush your eyebrows. A cheap child’s toothbrush works well for
Lana V., Fresno, Calif.
What’s in a makeup’s name?
May 4, 2017
“Dear Heloise: Why do makeup and hair-dye companies try to be trendy
with the names they give to colors? I was looking for eyeliner in a
dark-purple shade, but had no idea what shade Mystic Night or Tahitian
Seas was. What’s wrong with just saying ‘purple’ or ‘dark purple’ on the
packaging? The tiny square on the package, which was supposed to be a
representation of the color, looked identical to three other eyeliners
by the same manufacturer. It’s the same with lipsticks. It’s impossible
to tell the difference between French Rose, Honeysuckle Pink and
Hawaiian Sunset. Turns out, they’re actually red. Women just want to
know what they are buying with names that represent the actual color,
because the color charts are never correct.” - Caroline B., Walla
Dear Readers: If you enjoy frozen dinners in which food is steamed in a
slotted tray set inside another tray for the liquid, here are some
things you can do to reuse the plastic trays:
Use the slotted tray as a drying station for sponges and bars of soap in
Take a slotted tray to the beach and let kids sift sand with it.
Use to wash shells and rocks in when your kids bring home their little
The top and bottom trays, which don’t have slots, can be used as
pet-food dishes while traveling. They’re small and lightweight, and fit
in the glove box.
Both the top and bottom trays are great as seed starters once they’re
filled with soil.
Dear Heloise: We read your column in the Orange County (Calif.)
Register. Please give me an idea of what to do with squeaky shoes. They
are not old. - Victoria Q., Irvine, Calif.
Victoria, sprinkle some talcum powder, cornstarch or a baby powder under
the shoe liner, if it is removable. If you don’t have any powder, then
try a dryer sheet under the insole, if it’s removable. You also can try
wearing socks with the shoes that squeak. The moisture from your feet
perspiring may be the cause of the squeaking. Leather shoes might make
noises if the leather has dried out. Try using a leather conditioner,
left on the shoes overnight to soak into the shoes. As a last resort,
you can take them to a shoe-repair shop for help. - Heloise
An old wives’ tale
Dear Readers: The bride must walk into her new home by the front door,
and must not trip or fall. This is how the tradition of carrying the
bride over the threshold started. It was said to be a good omen if the
bride entered her home for the first time as a wife without stumbling.
Mind over mattress?
April 28, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about mattresses:
“Dear Heloise: Why are mattresses in this age of space technology not
made stain- and water-repellent? Why aren’t mattresses made in colors
that don’t show the dirt, and why aren’t there handles on the sides of
mattresses to make flipping them much easier? Seems to me there’s a lot
of room for improvement.”
- Janice M., Waterbury, Conn.
Janice, I’m with you on this! Yes, they do sell mattress protectors,
which you buy, then put OVER the mattress. Here is the Heloise Hint: Buy
a fabric/ leather protector spray and use this on your mattress. It’s
best to do several light coats, rather than one heavy.
The handles are supposed to be used when placing the mattress on the box
spring, not really to “flip” the mattress. However, most of us do use
them when it’s time to flip or rotate the mattress. Also, today MOST new
mattresses have “pillow” tops, and unless the pillow is on both top and
bottom, you can’t flip it!
Love your idea of colored mattresses! I’d want purple! - Heloise
Dear Readers: Uses for leftover wallpaper:
Coordinate frame mats with room decor.
Line shelves in the kitchen.
Use as wrapping paper.
Cut to fit for a border trim for walls.
Dear Heloise: Here is how I make a marker for the seeds I’ve planted: I
go to the dollar store and purchase inexpensive wooden spoons with long
handles. Then I paint the front and back of the bowl part of the spoon,
plus 2 or 3 inches down the handle from the bowl. When it dries, I write
the name of the seeds I’m planting with a waterproof marker on the front
of the spoon.
These are cheap and nice-looking plant markers. - Joyce M., Cape
An old wives’ tale
Dear Readers: “If you sweep dust out the door after dark, it will bring
a handsome stranger to visit.”
REALLY? How about a handsome stranger with lots of money! - Heloise
Clean solar panel
Dear Heloise: My husband and I are big advocates of renewable energy, so
we had solar panels installed. While I love using solar energy, I don’t
know how to clean the panels. - Sandy, Mesa, Ariz.
Sandy, good for you, and in Mesa, Ariz., there is a lot of sun, so the
solar panels can really provide you with energy. The easiest way to
clean them is to just rinse them off with the hose. If they have too
much dirt/debris on them, try rinsing well, then cleaning with a
MICROFIBER CLOTH OR SQUEEGEE, along with some mild soap and water.
Squirt with the hose, and you’re done! - Heloise
P.S. Speaking of renewable energy and using MOTHER NATURE to the
fullest, wait until it rains, and then squeegee the panels!
Dear Heloise: When it’s time to clean out the garage, I put an ice chest
filled with soft drinks, water and some bagged fruit and veggies out
there. No excuse to leave! - Tired but Happy, via email
Service with sarcasm
April 18, 2017
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about calling service people:
“Dear Heloise: I recently called for tech support at a computer company
and got the worst service I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, this isn’t the
first time I’ve had service people who were sarcastic or rude. The
background noise was so loud, with people laughing and shouting, that I
couldn’t hear the young man who was talking. When I said I couldn’t hear
him because of the noise, he hung up on me.”
- Sarah J., Hampton, Va.
Sarah, this is a common complaint from my readers. One thing I’ve done:
If the phone agent is NOT being helpful, I say “goodbye” and call back
to get another agent. Readers, what’s your “call” (bad pun intended!) on
this dilemma? - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I think I must live in the mosquito capital of America. I
can’t set foot outside the door without being bitten several times. Do
you have a recipe to kill these pesky critters?
- Belinda F., Brownsville, Texas
Belinda, I sure do! Give this simple hint a try:
cup hot water
1/4 cup brown sugar
tablespoon active yeast
Cut the plastic bottle in half. Mix the brown sugar with the hot water
and allow to cool. When the mixture is cooled, pour it into the bottom
half of the bottle.
Add the yeast - no need to mix. Place the funnel part of the bottle
upside down into the bottom half of the bottle and tape them together.
Leave the top uncovered.
Change the solution every week or so, or when you see lots of dead
mosquitoes in the liquid.
Buzz, buzz no more! - Heloise
P.S. The amounts are just an estimate; don’t worry about measuring
Dear Heloise: I recently went to a wedding and did not know what to get
the couple, who have everything after living together. I gave them an
envelope with cash. After the wedding, the mother of the bride hinted
that she didn’t think I’d given them enough to cover the expense of my
dinner. I’m retired, my income is limited, and I thought I gave the
couple a substantial amount. What is the correct amount to give at a
wedding? - Lynnette G., New London, Conn.
Lynnette, there is no real rule, per se. In the old days, many thought a
cash gift or the price of the gift should cover your food and drink.
However, that has changed over time. Give what you can afford, and don’t
feel guilty. Guests are invited to help the happy couple celebrate the
wedding, not to pay for it. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I like to start my garden a little early, so I start the
seeds in an ice-cream cone that has a flat bottom. When the seedlings
are ready to be planted, I place the plant, still in the ice-cream cone,
into the ground. The cone is biodegradable! - Vivian M., Greensboro,
with a fee?
April 13, 2017
Dear Readers: This week’s Sound Off is about mail-order companies:
“Dear Heloise: My complaint is with mail-order companies that have a
free-shipping-and-handling promotion and then have the nerve to charge a
processing fee (usually $2.95) in case the order gets lost in transit.
This fee supposedly will expedite the search. Chances are it won’t get
lost, so they make an extra $2.95 per order for nothing! What a
rip-off!” - Gloria R., Highland, Ind.
Gloria, the handling fee isn’t “in case it gets lost.” Companies need to
pay someone to package the product and get it sent out. There’s
paperwork, such as invoices that need to be filed for tracking purposes,
and more. It seems to me that $2.95 is a reasonable amount to request
for all of that. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Here are some warm-weather hints:
Put deodorant on a mosquito bite to stop the itching.
Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth to stop “brain freeze.”
Put your nail polish in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before applying.
It goes on smoother.
Flattened pillow? Place the pillow in the sun for 40 minutes. The sun
will absorb moisture and plump up your pillow.
Dear Heloise: I think I found a storage solution that your readers might
enjoy: I buy fruit cups for my kids, and I found that stacking them top
to top saves a little more space in my refrigerator.
- Liz D. in Philadelphia
Dear Heloise: When my husband and I travel, we try to pack so that we
can save space in our luggage using the following ideas:
Place shoes inside of a shower cap.
Put shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant in a plastic bag, and then put
that plastic bag in the pocket of a garment. Be sure to seal the bag
shut! - Gina R., Tampa, Fla.
Dear Heloise: I recycle my foam and packing peanuts by placing them in a
large garbage bag and taking it to a shipping store. They always seem
happy to get them. - Patricia Q., Bellevue, Neb.
Dear Heloise: I’ve found that if you store wound bobbins in weekly
pillboxes, they won’t become lost or tangled up. - Ronna S., Virginia
Ronna, that’s a good idea! Here are a few more sewing ideas:
Binder clips can be extra hands. They’re perfect for holding your
binding in place, or a stack of quilting squares.
Before working with lace fabric, wash it in mild, soapy water, rinse and
let it air-dry. If it loses its stiffness, use spray starch and iron on
low to medium heat.
If you are trying to sew a straight line, don’t watch the needle. Train
yourself to watch the guide instead to achieve that straight line.