Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about how lawns are mowed: “My
complaint is about people who mow their lawn and blow all the grass and
mowed garbage all over the sidewalks and out into the street.
“All this waste goes down the street and pollutes our water supply by
going down our water drain. It also blocks the grates, which blocks
drainage and causes large puddles.
“Why not sweep or blow the clippings back onto the grass to help protect
it from the sun?”
- A Reader, Syracuse, N.Y.
Dear Reader: This is a discussion all over the country. Many areas say
not to bag it - mulch it and leave it on the lawn. Others say bag it!
You are right that it’s a shame and a waste to have it go down the water
drain and clog the grates, as well as cause other problems. Readers?
Comments? - Heloise
Dear Readers: Veronica asked, “Do you have any suggestions for how to
repurpose CD cases?” Yes!
Glue some together to make a planter, desk organizer or napkin holder.
Add pictures or artwork to personalize.
Use as changeable picture frames.
Glue corkboard squares to them and use as coasters.
As a recipe holder.
Create a large wall mural, placing parts of the whole mural in each.
Dear Heloise: Please remind your readers to use caution when choosing
how they will “bookmark” the pages of a book. As a librarian, I’ve found
credit-card receipts, bills, invoices, doctor’s papers, checks and even
money in books.
Our library makes an effort to track down the owner. If readers don’t
have a bookmark, cut the corner off a used envelope and use that on the
corner of the page they wish to come back to. - Trey P., via email
Trey, thanks for the reminder! It’s amazing what we use as bookmarks. I
just found one (in my book) that was a boarding pass from a trip to
Greece in 1998! Fond memories. - Heloise
Graduates of 2016
Dear Heloise: As graduation approached, we found ourselves with a few
announcements. We couldn’t attend all, but we sent cards with a monetary
We sent a check in the amount of their graduation year. So, this year,
graduates got a check for $20.16. It wasn’t much, but it was something.
With a fixed income, this was doable! - Beatrice S. in Pennsylvania
Beatrice, great hint! A little math and money! Do add a note saying,
“$20.16 for the grad of 2016” so they get the point. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I save foam trays and store them after thoroughly cleaning
and drying. I use them when I mail photos or documents I don’t want bent
take two trays and cut them slightly smaller than the envelope. I place
the pictures between the trays and slide into the envelope. No need to
purchase expensive padded envelopes. - Erin B. in Ohio
Too big to see
July 20, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the size of print on
frozen-food packages. The reader wrote: “I buy my meat in bulk at a
warehouse store, and my complaint is about the size of the printing on
the packaging. It’s so large that I can’t inspect the meat.” - Laura
D., via email.
Hey Laura, a common complaint. If there is a butcher available, you can
always ask them to unwrap it for you. Or why not find out the store’s
policy, and you may be able to ask for a particular cut. As stated
before in this column, if you are unhappy when you open the package at
home, take it back! Do keep your receipt to show them. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Other uses for napkin rings:
Around small candles for decorations.
Slide onto a scarf as a decoration.
Attach a hanger and use as an ornament or decoration.
Slip around appliance cords to keep them organized.
To hold a small bouquet of flowers.
Bread bags in
Dear Heloise: I recently read about the different uses for bread bags,
and I have one of my own. I travel with small children, and public
restrooms are necessary.
Before they sit, I insert each arm of the toilet seat into a bread bag.
That way, if they touch the seat, they touch the bread bag instead.
When finished, I just grab the wrappers by the end and put in the trash.
For children, it’s much more sanitary than toilet paper on the seat.
- Roslyn in Savannah, Ga.
Dear Heloise: My daughter has a favorite teddy bear that desperately
needs washing. I thought about sticking it in the washer on the gentle
cycle, but thought I’d check with you first about the actual process and
type of detergent I should use.
Thanks for your hints. As a single dad, I appreciate them. -
Christopher in New York
You’re on the right track, Christopher. Use the detergent you normally
use, but don’t overdo it! Less is more. Put the teddy bear in a mesh
laundry bag or pillowcase (close with safety pins), and wash alone, with
no other items. Use a second rinse, then into the dryer. In this case
(and with most laundry), it’s better to use a lower heat setting and a
longer time period than high heat for a short time. Give the bear and
your daughter a big hug. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I try to clean out my refrigerator the night before or the
morning of trash day. This way, it doesn’t linger long in the trash can
and become stinky, which then attracts neighborhood varmints!
If some things need to be thrown out before trash day, I’ll combine it
all into one large resealable bag and freeze it until trash day. I just
need to remember that I have frozen food to throw out on trash day!
- Veronica G. in Colorado
off the market!
July 13, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off made me chuckle! It comes from a woman
whose fiancé proposed, and now everyone knows she’s “off the market”!
She wrote: “Recently, my boyfriend proposed, and I lovingly accepted. I
now sport an engagement ring, while he sports nothing!
“It starts to become a problem when we’re out in public and women bat
their eyes or stare longer than normal! He seems not to notice, BUT I
“Even my friends who have committed partners each sport some kind of
ring that lets the world know they are ‘off the market’! So, in that
light, I purchased a ring for him to wear until we actually exchange
“Call me crazy; I don’t care! He’s my man, and HE’S OFF-LIMITS!” -
Ashley R., Austin, Texas
Dear Readers: Here are some things to take a picture of and save on your
2. Appointment cards.
3. Business cards.
4. Class worksheets so a tutor can review.
5. Repair problems on a vehicle or in the home.
Roast beef marinade
Dear Heloise: I’m looking for a really good marinade for roast beef, and
I thought you might be able to help. Love your column in the San Antonio
Express-News. - Thomas W., via email
Thomas, to marinate 3-5 pounds of roast beef, try this recipe that my
mother brought back from China in 1959. It was an all-time favorite back
then, and I think you’ll see why:
3-5 pounds roast beef
Garlic and/or onion slivers
1/2 to 1 cup white or apple-cider vinegar
Cut slits through the roast beef and place the slivers in the slits. Put
the meat in a bowl and slowly pour the vinegar over the slits. Cover
with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24-48 hours. When ready to cook,
pour off the vinegar before placing the meat in a heavy pot. This recipe
also calls for cooking it in brewed coffee! If you’re interested in the
complete recipe, I have a pamphlet titled Heloise’s Main Dishes and
More. To get a copy, just send $3 and a long, self-addressed, stamped
(68 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Main Dishes, P.O. Box 795001, San
Antonio, TX 78279-5001. You also can order on my website,
www.Heloise.com. Many of the dishes are my mother’s favorite
tried-and-true recipes that have stood the test of time. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: Along with other useful items in my purse, I carry a few
clothespins. They can be used for just about anything that needs
sealing, covering or closing.
attach one to my grocery cart and use it to hold my grocery list, and
another one to hold the coupons that I will use at checkout. - Gracie
C., via email
Dear Heloise: I’ve found an easy way to lessen the “ouch” factor when
removing adhesive bandages: Just rub baby oil on it first. That loosens
the “stick,” and makes it a lot less painful. - Jenna U., via email
Pills by the picture
July 6, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is a comment in response to a column
about taking pictures of medications to show physicians. A reader wrote:
“Bringing the actual pill bottles can give valuable information to the
“1. Is it being refilled in a timely manner?
“2. Are the pills being taken accurately?
“3. Do the pills in the bottle match the prescription?
“4. Are the pills current or discontinued?
“If a senior has difficulty self-medicating, checking the actual pill
bottles would reveal more than a picture would.” - A Nurse-Daughter,
Council Bluffs, Iowa
good point, and, especially coming from you, a nurse, one to be taken
into consideration. Unfortunately, with many seniors taking multiple
medications, it’s a lot to check. Ask the physician or health-care
professional which they would prefer. - Heloise
P.S.: When in doubt, check it out! Don’t guess about medications.
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for journals:
Keep favorite recipes.
Document travel information.
Track goings-on in your garden.
As an art journal to sketch in.
Tape or glue miscellaneous mementos with date and time.
Never too old!
Dear Heloise: Every year, I try to do or learn something that I’ve not
done before. Craft stores offer a variety of classes. I picked up a
brochure of classes, and boy, was there a lot to choose from! I took a
beginning crochet class and loved the one-on-one attention I received.
The verdict on whether I can crochet is still out!
plan to go back and pick up other classes and engage that neglected part
of my brain! - Terri L., via email
Terri, stepping out to try something new is good! Go online to the
store’s website. Click the “Classes” tab to see what’s offered. You can
even sign up for classes, too. Good luck! - Heloise
Another use for beer
Dear Heloise: I have a hint for reusing those beer-bottle carriers. We
use them to bring in water bottles from the fridge in the garage, and
then take the empties to our reusable bags in the garage to take to the
enjoy reading your column in the Ventura County (Calif.) Star. - Marlene
P. in California
Dear Readers: Here is a way to recycle/reuse empty boxes of processed,
shelf-stable cheese: Use them to organize your stuff. Reinforce the
bottom with duct tape (or spray-paint, as I did one) to set in the
pantry. They’re sturdy and can be used in craft rooms, garages or inside
drawers. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: When I make gooey desserts like puffed-rice treats, here’s
a tried-and-true hint: Before spreading the mixture, I spray the spoon
with cooking oil. This will keep the marshmallow from sticking to it,
and spreading the mixture will be easier. - Karen M., Spokane, Wash.
‘berry’ bad lady?
June 29, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is about grocery-store shoppers. A
reader wrote: “Not too long ago, I was in a grocery store, and I saw a
lady opening packages of strawberries and pulling from them the
better-looking berries to replace the ones she had in her container.
“I suggested to her that she should stop. She didn’t throw anything, use
foul language or give me mean looks; she just kept on doing what she was
doing. By the time I found the store manager, the lady was gone.”
- Tim D., via email
Tim, I’ve seen this too, and have written about it. It’s not really
illegal, but maybe not good manners. You might ask the store manager
about their policy. It’s the same with a bag of grapes - you don’t HAVE
to buy all that are in the bag. Store managers and readers, what say
Dear Readers: Here are some other things you can use as napkin rings:
Kids costume-jewelry bracelets.
Decorate and cut cardboard paper-towel rolls.
The cuffs of long-sleeve T-shirts or sweatshirts.
Dear Heloise: Women in my neighborhood formed a group that plans
activities to do at least once or twice a month. Attendance is optional,
and we’ve taken advantage of each other’s “creative” strengths. The
activities don’t involve a lot of money, just a time to be together and
socialize. Different women offer their home each time we meet.
We’ve created homemade cards, learned to crochet, quilted easy place
mats, baked and more.
At each meeting, we decide the next meeting time, date and place. It’s
been a great way to stay in contact with each other and informed/updated
about neighborhood activities.
- Martha A., via email
And learn from each other! Maybe you could donate some of your projects.
Check out local shelters and ministries, and see what they may need. You
can learn new skills, have a nice time and do well!
Dear Heloise: I am really trying to practice portion control, but when
it comes to eating chips, I fall short. I love a good sandwich and
decided to try chips inside my sandwich. I put just enough to get a chip
taste in every bite. I dropped my intake from about 40 to about five!
It satisfies my need to eat chips with my sandwich and controls the
number of chips I consume. It’s a small step in the right direction.
- M.H., via email
Dear Heloise: I usually take a paring knife to work so that I can cut
into my fruit at lunch. In transporting it to and from work, I carry it
in a travel toothbrush holder. It fits well in my lunch bag, and the
items in it are protected.
- Dorian G., via email
Dorian, good hint! But can you leave the knife at work in your desk or
locker? No transportation worries.
Giving more than blood
June 22, 2016
Readers: Today’s Sound Off comes from a reader who’s concerned about
strangers having access to his private information. He wrote: “I realize
how important it is to donate blood, but I have stopped doing so. Every
time I go, I have to give every bit of ID information to complete
strangers (always a different person). I have a Red Cross card, but I
still must give verbal answers to requests, including my Social Security
- Tony in Fullerton, Calif.
Tony, there are many more reasons to donate than not. Just check out the
Red Cross website if you ever need a reason to continue doing what
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for shower caps:
Have workmen place them over their shoes before coming into your house.
Place over food dishes at picnics or barbecues to keep the bugs off.
As a pie-tin cover when reusing the tin for transporting cookies, fudge,
Cover a seedling for a mini greenhouse.
Place over hotel- or motel-room phones to cut down on the spread of
Dear Heloise: When I bake cakes, I use a toothpick to check if the cake
Lately, I’ve been trying my hand at baking thicker cakes, and now a
toothpick isn’t long enough to check for readiness. Any hints on what I
can use that is as thin as a toothpick?
- Jeri F. in San Diego
Jeri, for thicker cakes, try an uncooked spaghetti noodle. It’s actually
long enough to go all the way down to the bottom of the pan. I have many
other baking hints in a pamphlet that also includes some of my mother’s
favorite recipes for you to try, since you’re trying your hand at
baking. To get a copy of Heloise’s Cake Recipes pamphlet, send $3 and a
stamped (68 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope to:
Heloise/Cake Recipes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. You
also can order on my website, www.Heloise.com. Baked goods, especially
those that are homemade, are always a hit during any occasion. With each
recipe you take a crack at, try stirring your own creative juices, and
see what you can come up with!
Suitcases on wheels
Dear Heloise: I have a great hint, and I came up with it after my
friend’s house burned down. She lost everything, including all family
photos and film that she had stored in boxes, which were too heavy to
Long story short, I went to a thrift store and picked up a few rolling
suitcases. They are still useable and inexpensive. I have my photos in
them. If there’s ever a fire, I can roll them out easily.
- Erin W., Orange, Calif.
Erin, great hint for reusing rolling suitcases, but just remember that
in the event of a fire, life is much more precious than anything else.
Dial a letter?
June 16, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about businesses that use letters
instead of numbers for a phone number:
“Dear Heloise: My Sound Off is that instead of businesses putting their
phone number on TV, they spell out their business. (HELOISE HERE: An
example is my reader fax number, 1-210-HELOISE, or 1-210-435-6473.) Then
we have to look up every letter on our PHONE. It is time wasted!
“Just put the phone number and save me some time from having to look it
up - 1-800-PLEASE!”
- A Reader, Youngstown, Ohio
Good point, and I agree. If you want my biz, make it easy for me to call
Dear Readers: Here are some things you can use to prevent finger burns
when using a hot-glue gun:
1. Wooden chopsticks.
2. Crochet or knitting needle.
3. An opened paper clip or bobby pin.
4. An ice pick.
5. A carpenter’s nail or needle-nose pliers.
Dear Heloise: Please remind drivers, when the weather is bad and
visibility is poor, to turn on their headlights so drivers behind them
can see the car’s back lights
Some vehicles have running lights that turn on automatically, but the
taillights aren’t on. I’ve been behind vehicles during bad weather, and
seeing the taillights only when they’re breaking is frightening.
- Trina T. in Houston
Trina, I hear you, and if you live in Houston and drive much, you know
that seeing taillights are imperative! Please note some states have a
law that headlights must be on in inclement weather. Why take a chance?
Turn on the lights when it’s bad weather.
Dear Heloise: PLEASE, I BEG YOU TO HELP ME! I went to press a polyester
jacket (the sleeves), and the iron left black marks with the design of
the soleplate imbedded in the fabric. I can’t wear it unless I get these
- Monica, via email
I’ll try, but it’s not a STAIN you can get out - it’s actually a burn of
Polyester is a man-made fabric made with polymers (plastic), and your
iron burned the plastic in the material.
You can’t remove it, but you may be able to hide it or cover it up!
First, try rolling up the sleeves so the burn is hidden. Or take the
jacket to a fabric store and talk to a sales associate. These people are
experts at this and probably can offer creative ideas and materials you
can use. You may be able to enhance the look of your jacket. It’s time
to get those creative juices flowing!
Threading with lip
Dear Heloise: When threading a needle, I rub a little bit of lip balm on
my index finger and thumb. Then I rub the end of the thread, and it
stiffens the thread, which makes it easier to slide it into the eye of
- Elsie M., Colorado Springs, Colo.
‘Plane’ solution: back to front
June 9, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off, from a frustrated reader, is about
boarding airplanes. She wrote: “We recently flew to Hawaii. This airline
boards passengers differently than most. I wish they all would do the
“After first class, handicapped and children were boarded and seated,
the general boarding began.
“Instead of boarding from the front, this airline boards from the back
first. Passengers continue to put up luggage and get settled while
others are boarding. The other passengers coming in don’t disturb them.
“This makes so much sense. I hope other airlines read this and take
note. It would speed up the process and save time.”
- Margie M., Kerrville, Texas
Ah yes, the “cattle call” for boarding! I’ve done it so many times, I
probably could do it in my sleep! Yes, I’ve flown on an airline that
boarded from the back, and you are right! It also seemed to reduce the
stress level. Airlines, are you listening?
Dear Readers: Other uses for grapefruit spoons:
Cut the seeds out of bell peppers.
Scrape seeds out of jalapenos.
Clean the inside of artichokes.
Dig small holes when planting.
P.S.: If you don’t have one, definitely buy a few - you will love them,
even if you don’t eat grapefruit.
Dear Heloise: As summer approaches, we find lots of reasons to gather
with family and friends. We have lots of barbecues!
Recently, we’ve stepped up our game and started a tradition that has
been well-received: We ask our guests to look in their pantry and see if
there’s any food that they’d like to donate to a food bank.
All we ask is that it hasn’t expired. They also know that this is
optional - we don’t want anyone to feel obligated to bring something.
As we’ve had more gatherings, the donations have increased. I feel like
people do want to donate - they just don’t have the time. So we do it
- Jackie H. in Oklahoma
Brilliant, and a big Heloise hug for you. Food banks and food pantries
always need donations, and every little bit helps.
Dear Heloise: I’ve found that the best way to clean windows and mirrors
is with newspaper. It’s so much better than paper towels, which tend to
leave streaks and lint all over the place.
simply spray the mirror or window with a window cleaner, crumple the
paper and wipe away. No streaks or lint.
- Barbara, via email
Yes, Barbara, this longtime Heloise Hint is still a standby, and a
“green hint,” too, as you are using the newspapers for another use!
Dear Readers: When baking peanut-butter cookies, use a plastic fork when
placing the “signature” crisscrosses on top of each cookie. The batter
doesn’t stick to the plastic fork.
drop the mic!
June 1, 2016
Dear Readers: A reader wrote: “My Sound Off is about the
all-too-frequent speakers who refuse to use microphones because ‘I talk
loud enough.’ Wrong!
“It’s not pleasant to listen to someone who’s shouting, or whose voice
softens during the presentation. Listeners shouldn’t be expected to
shout out that they can’t hear.
“People with hearing impediments shouldn’t have to embarrass themselves
in front of a group to declare it publicly so the speaker will use the
- Mary Anna, Omaha, Neb.
hear you! I do many speeches and presentations during the year, and
always request a “body mic,” also known as a lavalier. A sound check is
imperative, and many times there are “hot spots” where there is
feedback, and it’s important to get this obtrusive noise fixed. However,
if it’s a small group in a room (not hundreds in an auditorium), I ask
the audience if they can hear me, or would they like me to use a mic. -
P.S.: A funny note: When I wear a headset that has a mic, the metal part
goes around the back of my head, with a loop or ear hook that rests on
my ear. They usually use gaffer’s or duct tape to secure it. When I’ve
finished the speech and take off the headset, there usually is a handful
of my hair stuck to the tape!
Fast Facts about
Dear Readers: Other uses for baking soda:
As a natural deodorant.
To minimize cat odor in litter boxes.
To soothe an upset tummy.
To eliminate other household odors.
Baking soda is so versatile that having some around the house is the
smart thing to do. My pamphlet, which is filled with hints using baking
soda, will save you a bundle of money. To order a copy, visit my
website, www.Heloise.com, or send $5 and a stamped (68 cents),
self-addressed, business-size envelope to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box
795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Baking soda should be in every
kitchen and bathroom. It’s one of those must-have items that is safe,
cheap and friendly to the environment. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Many of you responded with hints related to a Sound Off
about excessive junk mail. K.H. in Jerseyville, Ill., offered this
solution: “Write ‘VOID’ on the offer, fold the envelope it was mailed in
and write ‘No Thanks’ on it. Then take the postage-paid envelope that
came with it, put everything received back in it and mail back.”
Ken in Lubbock, Texas, wrote: “Take out the SASE (self-addressed,
stamped envelope), tear your address off the letter to you and write on
it ‘No Thanks.’ Put it in the envelope and mail it back. That costs the
sender 49 cents postage and 50 cents handling. You will get nothing else
from that company.”
These are a few ways my readers have suggested to stop junk mail! One
even said to write “dead” or “moved” on the “bounce back” and that will
stop it. Maybe!
May 25, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about newspapers with “wrap-arounds”
on the front section.
“My complaint is about the newspaper’s annoying 3/4 page advertising
cover of almost every issue of the paper! It goes straight into the
bottom of the bird cage before I can sit down to read the paper.
“You can’t even hold the entire section to read it without getting rid
of the extra flapping; wasted paper.”
- Sharon in San Antonio
Another reader wrote, “The 1/2 page cover on the front of our newspaper
has become so annoying that as soon as I get the paper, I rip that piece
off and recycle it so I can enjoy the rest of the paper.”
Dear Readers of Newspapers: Today’s newspaper world is far different
from only a few decades ago. Newspapers have to do everything they can
to bring in revenue while supplying information and entertainment for
readers. As someone who has been in this biz for a loooooooooooong time
(I grew up watching my mother, the original Heloise), it’s far better to
change and adapt than to shut the doors.
While you may not like the “wrap-around,” it serves a purpose. So take a
hint from Heloise: Take the advertising page off (most do) and recycle.
It takes only a few seconds to do so. Enjoy your newspaper.
- Hugs, Heloise
P.S.: Please note, as an internationally syndicated newspaper columnist,
I do have a very strong vested interest in newspapers and in helping my
readers. Don’t give up!
Dear Readers: Other items that can be used to store pierced earrings:
1. Old neckties
2. Place mats
3. Strips of ribbon
5. A sentimental T-shirt.
Dear Heloise: When my grandmother passed away, I ended up with totes
full of stuff from my childhood. They have a really bad mothball smell.
Please, can you help me?
- Patricia M., via email
Patricia, this is a tough smell to get rid of. Generally, it’s only air
circulation that will help the smell to dissipate. So, let Mother Nature
work for you:
1. Hang garments outdoors in the breeze.
2. Put clothing into the dryer on ONLY “fluff dry” and toss in several
Highlight the dates
Dear Heloise: I recently saw a reader complaining about the size of the
expiration dates on coupons and how difficult they are to find. When I
find the date, I highlight it. This makes it easier to find the next
time I view the coupon.
also try to organize them according to the expiration date. This helps
me stay mindful of old and current coupons.
- Jerry V., Galveston, Texas
Dear Readers: Here’s a hint to rescue a blanket that may have shrunk in
the dryer: Just sew a long strip of matching-color fabric to the bottom
of the blanket. You can tuck this section under the foot of the
mattress. - Heloise
April 21, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about caulk or
silicone waste. A reader wrote: “As homeowners for many years, we’re
always doing some kind of fixing of something. Every year there’s a trip
to the hardware store for caulk or silicone. It gets used and capped for
the small odd job and then stored on a shelf for the next job.
“But every time we go to use it, it’s dried up, so we throw it away
(waste of money). Back to the hardware store (waste of time). Why can’t
they produce a half-size cartridge to fit our standard caulk guns?” -
Bruce and Diane B. in New York
feel your pain, and you are not alone. I found many “mini-caulking” guns
on the Internet. Spend a little time, and I think you will find what you
are looking for. Also, visit a local “mom and pop” hardware store, and I
bet they can help you.
There are many hints to prolong the life once the cartridge is opened.
There are a lot of variables: When is the next job? Where to store it?
Some hints to consider: Wait until you have multiple jobs. Check with
neighbors to see if they could use your leftovers. Finally, see about
donating unused portions to onsite builders or the Habitat builders.
Dear Readers: Other uses for old towels:
1. To dry pets with after a bath.
2. On the floorboards of vehicles when raining.
3. To wrap breakables when boxing for transport.
4. Under the seats of small children during mealtimes.
5. To wipe and shine fixtures in bathrooms.
Baby shampoo followup
Dear Heloise: I tried your recent hint on using baby shampoo to remove
eye makeup. The shampoo didn’t begin to remove the makeup. It doesn’t
work on mascara or eyeliner.
However, for years I’ve used baby oil (which is just mineral oil), and
it removes every trace easily. - Linda C., via email
Linda, are you wearing waterproof mascara and eyeliner? Instead of a
half-and-half solution, use undiluted baby shampoo. Yes, baby oil or
mineral oil does work, but if you wear contacts, remove them first.
Thanks for writing.
Cutting board odors
Dear Heloise: I use wooden cutting boards. What’s the best way to remove
any odors that might be lingering before I put them away? I feel like
you’d be the best “go-to” person for this!
use many of your hints that have been printed in our Houston paper.
Thanks, and keep them coming!
- Victoria M. in Houston
Thank you for your letter, Victoria! The best way to remove smells like
onion or garlic from wooden cutting boards is to sprinkle the board with
salt and rub the surface with a cut lemon or lime. Let sit 10-15
minutes, then wash with warm, soapy water and air-dry.
case of the unfit pillows
April 21, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off comes from a reader who
is not too happy with the sizes of her pillowcases.
She wrote: “Pillowcases are too narrow to get a bed pillow in! I’ve been
fighting them for years.
“They were never this narrow when I was growing up. Every set of sheets
I have has pillowcases that don’t easily fit any of my pillows without
being a frustrating battle.” - Kay H., Palmdale, Calif.
Kay, maybe the bigger problem here is that the pillows nowadays are
thicker and fluffier than when we were growing up. If so, then maybe
manufacturers need to rethink pillowcase sizes because of this fact. -
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for muffin tins:
1. Make large ice cubes for punch bowls.
2. Use as an “equal portion” device.
3. Turn over to hold taco shells while filling.
4. For different paint colors when painting.
5. As a snack tray at children’s parties.
Dear Heloise: Growing up, my mother was the “Cleaning Queen” of the
neighborhood, and vinegar solutions were her go-to products. I HATED the
smell of vinegar! Now that I am older, I see the usefulness of vinegar
as a cleaner/deodorizer. As I use it more and more, I also am finding
its scent to be a bit more tolerable!
- Clarisse R., via email
Clarisse, I love using vinegar, not just as a cleaner but also as an
ingredient in recipes. I actually have a pamphlet titled Heloise’s
Fantabulous Vinegar Hints and More. In it are many hints and recipes for
using the different types of vinegars. To get a copy of the pamphlet,
send $5 and a stamped (68 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope
to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. You
also can order it on my website, www.Heloise.com. The more you know
about the various types of vinegars, the more you will find yourself
using them for more than just cleaning. Vinegar is just that versatile!
Dear Heloise: Whenever I garden, I wear a straw hat. Inside the hat is a
damp cloth to keep my head cool, especially if I am out in the heat for
If the cloth gets warm, I take it out and shake it a few times. This
action cools the cloth off and allows me to continue working.
- Heather T., Austin, Texas
Dear Heloise: Family gatherings equal lots of leftovers. When taking
plates of food home, we use a hardy paper plate and load it up with
food. We cover it with plastic wrap, then slip another plate under the
first plate to hold the wrap in place.
- Judy in Houston
Dear Readers: Buy a brand-new powder puff and place it in your flour
canister so that it will be handy when you need to dust a baking pan.
of mixed messages
May 3, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s
Sound Off is about not having enough towel racks in hotels:
“Dear Heloise: In today’s ecologically correct world, hotels leave notes
requesting guests to please reuse towels by hanging them up. Why haven’t
they made this feasible by actually providing an adequate number of
“During a recent hotel visit, our family had a lovely suite that slept
six people. We used the one towel rack available and then hung the
remainder of our wet towels over the shower-curtain rod.
“After daily maid service, they were all removed and replaced with clean
towels! So much for saving water!”
- Glo in Colorado Springs, Colo.
hear you! It can be confusing sometimes. The notes generally do say to
please put towels you want replaced on the floor. Which, in my mind, is
pretty disgusting to plop down a mess of wet towels for housekeeping to
pick up. Yes, my mother taught us to never leave wet towels on the floor
- put them in the tub!
Hanging damp towels over the shower-curtain rod is what we do,
especially if there are no extra towel racks. I’ve used a hanger and
draped the towel over that.
Heloise hint? Call housekeeping early and tell them you don’t need fresh
towels, only the amenities, or maybe just empty the trash. Or leave a
- Too Many Hotel Stays, Heloise
P.S.: Housekeeping works very hard, so please remember to tip them a few
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for empty bread bags:
1. For cleaning cat litter boxes.
2. As extra packaging material when mailing packages.
3. To pack multiple sandwiches for beach or picnic outings.
4. As a doggy scoop bag when walking the dog.
5. To cover fan blades when painting ceilings.
Chopsticks for plants
Dear Heloise: Whenever we eat at a Chinese restaurant, I take the wooden
disposable chopsticks home, where I use them to help support my indoor
potted plants. They work great!
- Chris W., via email.
Chris, I love chopsticks! There are different types, too. I have some I
brought home from China and Japan. Some are beautiful hand-painted ones,
some purple, and there’s a stunning black lacquer pair. I use them to
put my hair up.
- Hugs, Heloise.
Dear Heloise: We’re a household of five, and I HATE washing socks -
washing, sorting and putting them away! I purchased a mesh laundry bag
for each of my three children. When I do the laundry, I wash the bags of
socks. There is no more than a week’s worth at a time.
When dried, I give each child their bag for them to sort and put away.
Now I don’t mind washing socks!
- Alice M., via email
No bubbling over
Dear Heloise: When I make potato salad for a family gathering, I wipe
some butter or cooking oil on the inside top of the pot. This seems to
help prevent that awful bubbling over.
- Mary S., San Marcos, Texas
comforter lacks some comfort
April 27, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the size of comforter sets.
Ruthi S. wrote: “I just purchased a new queen-size comforter set that is
too short for the bed.
“A king size would be too wide, so that is not an option. It seems that
mattresses are getting thicker and thicker, and the comforters are
getting smaller and smaller.
“When I compared this new one to the one I am currently using, the new
one is at least 9 inches shorter. If the manufacturers think they are
saving money by using less material, they need to realize that they also
are losing sales over this practice.”
- Ruthi S., Martinsburg, W.Va.
Ruthi, thanks for sharing your comment! This is an ongoing problem. The
old saying “The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing”
Yes, mattresses are getting “thicker"; thus, older sheets, bedspreads
and comforters do not fit properly. As to the comforter manufacturers,
there is a vast amount of difference in dimension! The only thing I can
say is, measure YOUR mattress, including height, before shopping for
When we got adjustable beds (which I LOVE, by the way), I had to resort
to making a bedspread! It’s a good thing I can sew, or we’d be using TWO
queen bedspreads. Sooooo ... there you “sew”!
Dear Readers: Other uses for old leather belts (additional holes may be
1. As an earring holder.
2. To hold barrettes or hair clips.
3. Hang from a wall to display commemorative pins.
4. Wrap around a pot plant to add some flair.
5. As a purse or camera strap.
Dear Heloise: I am a retired school nurse. I used to gather unclaimed
garments at the end of the school year, take them home and wash them. I
would keep whatever I thought I may use in the upcoming year. Students
may have a need for clothing I salvaged.
The extra I would take to places in town that distribute clothing to
people. You’d be surprised at the quality of some of the items. I always
had use for the items, as students had “accidents” during the year, and
parents could not be reached. I could furnish jeans, or a jacket if it
don’t know if school policy would allow this anymore, but it sure came
in useful for me when I worked.
- Margie M., Kerrville, Texas
Margie, you are one special person! Yes, schools do need extra clothing
for students who may have a mishap, tear something, get sick, etc.
Readers, check with schools in your area to see if they need clothing.
This is a prefect service project for a school club. - Hugs, Heloise
Dear Heloise: To get my great-grandchildren to wash their hands long
enough, I put a few drops of food coloring into the liquid hand wash.
They have to keep washing until the running water comes clear.
- Helen L., Abbot, Texas
Opening answer to resealable bags
April 21, 2016
Dear Readers: I got to Sound Off recently about my frustration with
opening resealable cheese, produce, even dog-food plastic bags. You
agreed and shared your Hints for Heloise to manage with this
“convenient” inconvenient packaging:
Grace in California said
she cuts the bag open and puts the contents in sealable containers.
Judy in Illinois said she takes her scissors and cuts off the very top
edge, which leaves her with more plastic to open the package.
Two readers, Mary and Carol, said that after opening, they use a chip
clip or a clothespin to close the bag.
Finally, Bruce, a retired M.D. in Little Rock, Ark., said to make a
“scoop” cut in the middle of one side of the top of the package to have
a way to pull it open.
Bruce, were you a surgeon? This sounds like you might have been!
One office “magpie” tried Bruce’s “scoop” hint. She cut a notch in the
center of the bag, and it worked.
HOWEVER, it seemed wasteful, redundant and superfluous to then put the
contents in a zip bag!
P.S.: I challenge manufacturers to take 100 of your packaging bags, hand
them to employees and see what happens! No knives or scissors allowed.
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about pockets:
"Dear Heloise: I am unhappy that athletic pants for women have no
pockets, but almost all athletic pants for men have pockets.” -
Barbara in San Antonio
wish I had an answer for you! I’ve looked online - some retail sites say
they have women’s athletic pants with pockets, but I sure had a hard
time finding some. You could TRY men’s pants and see if they fit.
Dear Readers: Other uses for a high school/college calculator’s soft
Hold writing supplies.
Store eyeglasses in a pinch.
Carry medications, such as diabetic pens.
Store a cellphone, charger and cord.
For grooming supplies: tweezers, combs, mascara, etc.
Dear Readers: It’s time for students to be coming home, packing up dorms
or apartments for the summer. Here’s a low-cost hint for packing dishes
and plates that will speed up the process and protect them during
Use cheap paper or foam plates to place between each dish. Wrap a small
stack (no more than five plates) with some kind of nonprinted paper.
Newspaper is a cheap and standby thing to use - just be aware that the
ink might rub off. Use sheets, towels or shirts to wrap.
Pack tightly into boxes cushioned with bath towels, sheets or other
materials that you are moving.
Dear Heloise: I take clean, mismatched socks sprayed with dusting spray
and use them to gently clean my figurines. I hold them gently in my
hands and clean off the dust. Works great!
- Alexia V., Fort Worth, Texas
put this lid on it!
April 13, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about flip-top cans. A reader wrote:
“I don’t have the strength in my hands to pull flip-top cans open.
“To make matters worse, these cans cannot be opened with a can opener.
The rims of the cans are too high for a can opener to open. There’s not
a can out there, from fruit to nuts, that doesn’t have this type of lid.
“I know you reach a million readers, and someone from one of these
companies will see it. I have called the customer-service number on each
can. Their response was they would pass it on. So, that’s it. I hope you
can get the word out.” - Jeri B., San Angelo, Texas
Jeri, there’s an inexpensive gadget you can buy to help you and others
(including me!) get these darned lids off. It’s a ring-pull opener and
is designed specifically for flip-tops. It takes the stress off the
hands. Also, do look closely at the bottom of the cans - many can be
opened with a can opener on the bottom.
Dear Readers: Here is a short list of easy and inexpensive gifts that
anyone, especially seniors, will appreciate:
1. The gift of your time.
2. A picture collage of multiple family members.
3. A good letter or a simple greeting card that they can cherish always.
4. A meal at their favorite restaurant, or bring them a meal from there.
5. Take them with you when visiting other family members
Dear Heloise: We’re trying to cut back on salt, and I was told that you
had a salt-substitute recipe that I could make and use. Love your column
and all the great hints I can use. - Carolina T., Springfield, Ill.
This is one of my favorites, and it is flavorful. Note: It uses onion
and garlic powders, not salts.
5 teaspoons onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or black)
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
Mix all of the ingredients and store in a container in a cool, dry
place. If you’d like other ideas, I have compiled recipes in a
seasonings pamphlet. To order a copy of Heloise’s Seasonings, Sauces and
Substitutes pamphlet, visit www.Heloise.com, or send $3 and a stamped
(71 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope to: Heloise/ SSS,
P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Depending on the dish,
sometimes a drop or two of lemon juice will perk up a salad. Trying to
cut back on using table salt? Taste the dish first, then a second time,
and only then salt. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I visit a memorial area where my wife’s ashes are
scattered, and I take flowers. I take a cordless drill, drill holes into
the ground and place the flowers in the holes in the ground. Works fine,
and the flowers stay put. - Mr. William B., Dayton, Ohio
April 6, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about junk-mail offers. A reader
wrote, “My gripe is about the ‘junk mail’ offers from banks and
credit-card companies who feel the need to print my name and address not
only on the envelope and cover letter, but elsewhere in the enclosed
“When recycling this sort
of mail, I have to riffle through all the pages to make sure that my
personal information is removed before disposing of it.
“This does not endear me to the company trying to gain my business.”
- Mary H., Louisville, Ohio
It can be a pain in the neck to open or tear up junk mail with your
personal information on it. Anything from your bank or credit-card
issuer should be opened and then destroyed, or just tear the letter up!
You can’t be too careful these days.
You can call/email/write them and tell them you want to be on their
no-solicitation list. It helps! - Heloise
Dear Readers: Other uses for cardboard wine carriers, which can carry or
Different kinds of salad dressings.
A variety of small crafting tools.
Boxes of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, etc.
Small gardening tools.
No Yucky Bar Soap
Dear Heloise: I have young children who are constantly being reminded to
wash their hands. I’ve found that a bar of soap lasts a whole lot longer
than liquid soap, which the kids never felt like one squirt was enough
for clean hands.
To keep the soap from liquefying and getting nasty in the soap dish, I
placed a baby brush, bristle side up, in the dish. The soap rests on top
of the brush and stays nice and dry. - Hannah in Nipomo, Calif.
Dear Heloise: I have a problem opening produce bags and sometimes cannot
get them open. One day, I happened to think of using one of the stickers
on the produce. I stuck part of it on the top of one side of the bag. I
was able to pull the bag open.
Now I have no problem opening them. I also use the same sticker on all
the bags I need to open.
- Margaret in Temple, Texas
Well, Margaret, I think you just gave my readers a very useful hint for
using those pesky stickers that no one really likes. - Heloise
Degrime in No Time
Dear Readers: Do you have a favorite deck of cards that you use every
time you play cards with friends or family? Are they getting grimy?
Here’s an easy hint to clean them.
Put the deck of cards in a plastic bag with a scoop or two of cornstarch
or baking soda. Shake it up for a minute or two. Remove the cards and
wipe off the powder.
Degrimed in no time! You can use this hint to clean cards from board
games and other card games that your kids may enjoy playing. -
‘Who Is This?’ Is
March 30, 2016
Dear Readers: This week’s Sound Off is about people who dial the wrong
phone number and are rude. Read on and see what you think:
“Dear Heloise: I am tired
of people calling me by mistake and then asking who they are talking to.
I try to ask,’Who are you trying to reach?’ and they keep asking me,
‘What number is this? Who is this?’
“Please ask your readers that if they misdialed or are not sure, they
should ask for such and such business or so and so person by name. I
live alone and am NOT going to give them my name. I hate being rude.”
- No Name, via email
Dear No Name: Hello, who are you? Where are you writing from? I’m with
you. I’ve had people call one of my phone numbers and say, after I
politely said THREE TIMES that there is no one here by that name, “Oh,
well, lady, you don’t have to be rude about it.” Really! - Heloise
Dear Readers: Other uses for a clothespin:
Close a chip or bread bag.
Close curtains in a hotel room.
Hold a recipe card.
Clip packages of salad-dressing mix.
Clip to a planter with the date you last added plant food.
Care Packages for
Dear Readers: Here is a simple and wonderful way to support our troops
overseas. St. Michael’s Soldiers is a nonprofit organization that
creates care packages for troops stationed abroad.
They can use all sorts of items, including pantyhose (for cleaning
weapons - now that’s a Heloise hint!), dental floss, stationery, cards,
envelopes and stamps (yes, they still write letters). Fun stuff: comic
books, travel cards, footballs, food, hot sauce, gum, hard candy, girly
stuff, perfume or makeup samples, hand lotion, trail mix, cookies and
Send your items to: St. Michael’s Soldiers, 1635 Farm Way, Suite 409,
Middleburg, FL 32068. If you need to call, the phone number is
904-599-7855. To learn more and see other items, visit their website:
StMichaelsSoldiers.org. They have a comprehensive list of items
requested most by the troops.
hug and salute to one and all. Thank you. - Heloise
P.S.: You can use a U.S. Postal Service Flat Rate box, which is cheap!
Remember, the organization can always use money - it’s the right size,
and it buys more.
Fix a Leak or Pay a
Dear Heloise: I was reading one of your books, titled “Heloise Conquers
Stinks and Stains,” and found a hint that made me chuckle.
The title, “To Prevent Oil Stains on Your Garage Floor,” gave these
hints, in this order:
$$$$ Buy a new car
$$$ Have the leak repaired at your local garage
$$ Treat the floor with a masonry sealer that will be effective for
Place a drip tray under the car
Funny and cute. If you can fix the leak yourself, it’s cheaper than all
of the hints. - C.L., Fort Worth, Texas
This: Eardrops not so easy
March 23, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is a complaint about medications, and I
concur with a loud roar!
“Dear Heloise: It seems
that each time we renew a prescription, the pills change size, shape
and/or color. Even the bottles sometimes change.
“We easily see the DISADVANTAGE of this to patients, especially those
who get their pills from a three-month supplier. Sometimes the size,
shape and color of one prescription will be different from the past one,
adding to the confusion.
“What earthly advantage is this to the manufacturer? Improper dosage has
certainly resulted in countless needless trips to the emergency room.”
- Charles and Marva C., Universal City, Texas
This is not a new complaint. I’ve written about this for many years, and
the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has gotten complaints, too.
You are right; it can cause confusion and even interfere with the
compliance of taking a medication correctly. One thought is that
manufacturers may be trying to make pills easier to swallow, since this
is a major complaint of patients.
If the dispensing pharmacy changes suppliers for a medication, you might
as well spin the roulette wheel. The bottles may be different, the pills
themselves may be a different color/size/ shape!
My hint: Check all meds closely before taking them. Also, ask the
pharmacist or dispensing pharmacy (if mail-order) why there was a change
and could you stay with the same pill. It’s worth a shot! Bad pun!
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for pants hangers. Use to hang:
costume necklaces, rings or bracelets
Dear Heloise: Coffee was never my beverage of choice. Now I am branching
out and trying new coffees. It’s nice on cold winter days. I was
wondering if you could help me. I now have a LOT of different ones and,
well, I only drink two to three cups a day. Half a pot usually is left
over. Hints? - Teri in Huron, S.D.
You bet your cup of joe (a slang term for coffee)! When the coffee is
cool, pour it into a container with a lid, and put into the
refrigerator. Iced coffee with a dash of cinnamon or a splash of vanilla
is a nice change. Also, put ice cubes in a blender, add cold coffee,
milk or cream and sweetener, and blend away: a coffee slush! For more
coffee hints and recipes, order my coffee pamphlet. Visit
www.Heloise.com, or send $3 and a long self-addressed, stamped (71
cents) envelope to: Heloise/Flavored Coffees and Teas, P.O. Box 795001,
San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Pour cold leftover coffee into ice-cube
trays, freeze and use in iced coffee, or to “cool” down a too-hot cup of
java. - Heloise
No more slippage
Dear Heloise: I crocheted around hangers to keep tops from sliding off.
I have a simple solution I now do: I use sheet felt material. Cut out
3/4-inch-by-4-inch rectangles and hot-glue one to the top of each
“branch” of the hanger. - Jeri, via email