Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off concerns the downside of having a
“Dear Heloise: Summer is drawing to a close - thank heavens! My husband
and I have a beach house, which we thoroughly enjoy. We bought it so my
husband of 48 years could recover from a serious heart attack. What we
don't enjoy are drop-in visits from people who think that they're
staying the week or weekend. So, to people who feel free to drop in,
please wait to be invited. This is a home, not a hotel. Show some
respect for our privacy.” - A Reader in California
hear this often from folks who own a beach house or a lake house. So,
readers, what do you think?
Dear Readers: Here are some items to take along as a hostess gift
besides the standard bottle of wine:
A basket of something you've grown, such as tomatoes or flowers.
A book on a subject the hostess enjoys, such as gardening.
A bouquet of flowers or a pretty serving dish.
A cake or a homemade pie.
Sock it to me
Dear Heloise: When sorting my family's laundry, I could never tell which
were my son's socks and which were my husband's, because they both wear
the same size. Now I code the socks by using a few stitches of red
thread for one and blue or yellow for the other. I just sew an “X” on
the toe of each sock.
- Becky A., Claremont, N.H.
Dear Heloise: I have a sticky substance that is stuck on my electric
griddle. How do I get it off without damaging the surface? - Abby M.,
Abby, first, always clean your griddle after each time you use it. Use a
wooden or plastic spatula (not a metal one, which could scratch the
nonstick surface) to gently scrape off any stuck-on food into the
collection tray or into a corner, then scoop it out. While the surface
is warm, pour water on it so that it bubbles. Use the scrubbie side of a
sponge (never steel wool) with a little dishwashing soap and water to
gently clean the surface. Finish by wiping first with a damp paper
towel, then a dry one. - Heloise
Stabbing the fingers
Dear Heloise: It seems that every time I reach into my sewing basket, I
stab my fingers on my scissors. Help! - Lennie S., Escanaba, Mich.
Lennie, stick the pointed end of your scissors into a piece of cork.
Dear Heloise: I love growing tomatoes, but in my tiny yard, there's no
room anymore. Any ideas?
- Barb O., Middlesboro, Ky.
Barb, you can always grow cherry tomatoes in a hanging basket, or the
larger varieties in a pot with a tomato cage. - Heloise
to those who fight fires
August 8, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On concerns firefighters. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: We recently had a fire in our kitchen that quickly spread
to the dining room. We called the fire department, and the team was
there in only a matter of minutes. They put out the blaze and checked to
make certain everyone was accounted for and unharmed. That included our
“I can’t say enough to thank the firefighters for their rapid response.
They probably saved my husband’s life because he was asleep upstairs
when the fire broke out. To firefighters everywhere, thank you from the
bottom of my heart.” - Linda in Ohio
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for cardboard paper towel cores:
Wrap loose pieces of ribbon around one.
Store plastic grocery bags in them.
Store Christmas lights (wrap them around a tube).
Store extension cords inside them.
Dear Heloise: Did you know that strawberries tend to choke out weeds?
They spread by runners and look good planted under blueberry and rose
- Mattie R., Tupelo, Miss.
Dear Heloise: Mornings around my house are so hectic! Half the time my
children leave the house but forget something they need. With a new
school year about to start, how do I remedy this situation?
- Pat S., Albion, N.Y.
Pat, give each child a box to put things inside. Every evening before
bed, have them place everything they’ll need for school in that box.
Next morning, it’s simple to grab what they need before they go to
Dear Heloise: I love to play board games with my children, but the
boards get so frayed! What can I do?
- Sophie M., Iona, Fla.
Sophie, try shellacking those game boards before you give them to your
children. One or two coats will help keep the boards smoother longer.
Dear Heloise: My daughter has cute, lace-trimmed socks that go with
certain outfits. However, sometimes I have a difficult time matching up
the socks after they’re washed. Help!
- Laura K., Boone, Iowa
Laura, use a large safety pin to pin the matching socks together before
you wash and dry them. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: Ever use a “dream board”? I know it sounds like a lot of
silly nonsense, but creating a visual board with pictures and
affirmations of what you want in life actually works. I usually focus on
three ideas at a time. Example: I’ll post a picture of a place I want to
visit next year, plus two other things I want to accomplish, and by
putting it where I can see it every day and meditating on it, most often
I manage to make it happen. It’s a way to make dreams become a reality.
- Bailey T., Santa Clarita, Calif.
August 1, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off concerns filthy public restrooms:
“Dear Heloise: Earlier today I had lunch with a friend, and when I went
into the restroom to wash my hands, I was disgusted to find water all
over the sink area, paper towels scattered on the floor and just the
general, all-over filth of a place that needed cleaning, with stalls
that needed painting or replacing. Granted, the public could be a lot
neater, but the restaurant owner should really take care to improve the
“This is not the first time I’ve come across a dirty restroom in a
restaurant. I never go back to a place that does not maintain clean
restrooms, because I wonder about other unhygienic habits the staff may
have picked up. I wonder if the kitchen is clean or as filthy as the
restroom. It doesn’t matter if it’s an up-scale place or a simple burger
joint - the restrooms need to be clean!” - Hannah A., Delray Beach,
Hannah, I agree with you
100 percent. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for self-closing bags:
Use to store items that might leak while traveling.
Store crayons, pencils and small toys for children in one.
Store crackers and cookies in them, rather than in the cupboard.
Store ribbon or string in them.
Dear Heloise: When my niece was born, my sister and I made a time
capsule containing things from the year she entered this world. We put
in a newspaper, stamps, silver dollars, photos of fashions and family
members, a picture of the house as it was back then, and more. The
capsule was stored in my sister’s hope chest, to be opened when my niece
was 30 years old. Last week she turned 30, and we gave the capsule to
her. She was surprised and excited. In fact, she said it was the best
gift anyone had ever given her. - Linnsey T., Eden Prairie, Minn.
Dear Heloise: Two of my friends decided to throw a baby shower for me,
but I already had a lot of baby things, so they made it a hospital kit
for the “mother to be.” I can’t tell you how grateful I was for their
kindness. They had all sorts of handy items: dry shampoo, lip balm, hand
lotion, a nice robe and my favorite - a gift certificate for a pedicure!
These items meant so much to me after a long and difficult delivery.
- Joyce L., Juneau, Alaska
Letter of laughter
Dear Heloise: I used to volunteer at an elementary school. It was Jack’s
birthday, so I asked him how old he was. He said he was 7. “How old are
you?” He asked me. I said I was 5,921 years old. He said, “Wow, you look
a lot younger than that!” - Linda R., Irvine, Calif.
Sparing the spare?
July 25, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off concerns new cars that do not include a
spare tire. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: When shopping for a new car, most people don’t bother to
check to see if there is a spare tire included with the sale, but in
fact, many new cars do not include this item anymore.
“Some cars have an inflator kit included, but this won’t help for
serious tire damage, only for tread puncture. Some higher-priced cars
come with run-flat tires, which will operate for limited miles after
puncture. Neither of these options works as well as a spare tire.
“If you insist on getting a spare tire, some dealers will sell you a
kit, which includes a tire, a jack and a lug wrench. It will cost you
between $150 and $300, in addition to the purchase price of the car.”
- Fred J. in Detroit
Dear Readers: Other uses for paper clips:
Clip reminders to a calendar or in a journal.
Use to clip bags closed.
Use to hold up a hem in a pinch.
Let children make necklaces or bracelets with them.
Dear Heloise: I recently had a laptop computer that went missing at an
airport. When I bought a replacement, I had a GPS tracking device
installed so I could track down my computer if it went missing again.
Some computers have tracking software installed at the manufacturing
plant, but if yours doesn’t have it, I highly recommend getting software
tracking for your laptop. - Jim Y., Pocatello, Idaho
Dull kitchen floor
Dear Heloise: No matter how often I mop my kitchen floor, it always has
a dull look to it. How do I restore the shine? - Karen B., Beaverton,
Karen, try mopping your floors with just plain white vinegar and water
to remove any buildup of soap and other products, which probably will
restore the shine to your floors. - Heloise
A common plant
Dear Heloise: How often should I be watering my plants? - Phyllis T.,
Phyllis, thump the pot or container, and if it sounds hollow, it
probably needs water. If it doesn’t sound hollow, it probably has water.
Most plants do not need a lot of water unless they are outside, but
indoor plants should be watered at least once a week. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I’m tired of dragging a measuring cup to the laundromat;
I’ve lost about four so far. Got any hints to help me? - Morgan D.,
Boulder City, Nev.
Morgan, try a plastic yogurt cup (an 8-ounce container), and use that to
measure your laundry soap. If that container gets lost, it’s not a big
deal. - Heloise
July 18, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is from a reader who was annoyed by
people in a movie theater:
“Dear Heloise: My wife and I recently went to a movie we had been eager
to see. We don’t go to the movies very often, and we might never go
again. People were so rude. The people behind us kept talking even after
we politely asked them to stop. Another couple let their toddler run up
and down the aisle, and the child had a tantrum because his parents
wouldn’t take him home. People had cellphones go off and carried on
conversations in the theater. We got up in the middle of the movie,
asked for the manager and requested a refund. He gave it to us and was
“People don’t go to a theater to hear you talk or to see your child have
a meltdown, and please, folks, turn off your cellphones. It’s just good
manners.” - Joseph K. in Milwaukee
Joseph, we’ve gotten so used to big-screen TVs in our homes that people
forget it’s acceptable to talk, text and play with your children at home
but NOT in a public theater. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Got any old canning jars? Here are some additional uses
Store extra buttons in them.
Use to hold loose change.
They are perfect for holding salt, sugar and pepper packets for a
Store small nuts and bolts in them.
Rinse before loading
Dear Heloise: In reference to the recent hint for rinsing dishes prior
to loading the dishwasher, it is beneficial for two reasons. First, it
prolongs the life of the dishwasher (it’s not meant to be a garbage
disposal). Second, studies have shown that dishwashers (properly loaded)
save more water than hand-washing dishes.
Living with our California drought problems, we are all very concerned
about water conservation. I hand-wash pots and pans, but can load an
entire week of dishes prior to running the dishwasher. My previous
dishwasher lasted 30 years and was only replaced due to a kitchen
- Mindy T., Valley Village, Calif.
New versus old
Dear Heloise: Help! My husband wants to buy an old Queen Anne Victorian
home and fix it up. I want a new house. Please help us decide. -
Sidney S., Topeka, Kan.
Sidney, old homes have charm and character, but they also usually have
old wiring, crumbling foundations, ancient plumbing and a long list of
other repairs. Talk to a contractor who’s done a lot of remodeling of
homes in your area to see what it would cost to remodel an old Victorian
home, after you’ve selected the house you are considering buying. Then
ask yourselves if you’re up for the mess and strain of a remodeling
project. After all, it may take years to finish a home if you’re on a
budget. - Heloise
on disposable diapers?
July 11, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is a reply to a letter written by
another reader about disposable diapers.
“Dear Heloise: In the matter of disposable diapers, I agree 100 percent
that throwing disposable diapers on the ground in parking lots is
completely disgusting. When I got out of my car today, there was a dirty
disposable diaper there on the ground next to my car.
“Here in California, plastic bags have been banned because they were
flying all over. I would like to see disposable diapers banned as well.
I raised four children in cloth diapers, and it was far less expensive
than using disposable ones.” - S. Dawson, Fullerton, Calif.
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for extra twist-ties:
Bundle cords together.
Organize loose keys.
Secure climbing vines to a fence or railing.
Hold stitches when knitting.
One more step
Dear Heloise: I am writing about the letter from William O’M., in
Durango, Colo. He suggested the use of a pill bottle with a childproof
cap to keep matches dry on a camping trip. I would like to add to that
idea. When needing matches for out-of-doors, dip the sulfur end in
paraffin wax and let dry before putting in a bottle. This keeps them dry
during rain or if dropped in water. - Ginger H., Livermore, Iowa
Ginger, that’s an excellent idea. Thanks for the hint! - Heloise
Defrost a deep
Dear Heloise: Here’s how to defrost a deep freezer (chest style): The
cold comes from the sides, which is why the frost builds up there.
First, unplug the freezer overnight and let it sit. The next morning,
remove all the food items and store in baskets or boxes, and cover with
heavy blankets. Use a metal spatula to easily scrape the sides and push
the frost to the bottom. Scoop up the frost with a dustpan and dump it
in the yard or bathtub. Put all the food back in the freezer and, most
important of all, plug in the freezer so it starts running again. -
Ruth Ann Bartels, Lincoln, Neb.
Watering your plants
Dear Heloise: During these dog days of summer, always water your plants
at sunset or later. Not only does it lessen evaporation from the soil,
it prevents water droplets from becoming hot and thereby causing small
burns on the grass and leaves. - Jackson H., Vicksburg, Miss.
Dear Heloise: Hummingbirds love the colors red, deep blue and purple,
which is why planting flowers with these colors will attract them.
Trumpet-shaped flowers with these colors work best.
- Adam W., Austin, Texas
A word to the wise
Dear Heloise: Please tell your readers to stop sunbathing. Sunbathing
not only leads to premature aging of the skin, it also can lead to skin
cancer. Use sunblock if you are outside on a sunny day, but quit
sunbathing altogether. - Kelsey R., Fallon, Nev.
have a blast on the Fourth
July 3, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about fireworks on the Fourth of
“Dear Heloise: The Fourth of July is almost here, and there will be
fireworks in most cities. Let the pros handle the fireworks, not
teenagers with cherry bombs or firecrackers that could cause injury.
Every year, thousands of people show up at hospital emergency rooms with
injuries from firecrackers or even sparklers. Only a responsible adult
should use fireworks.” - James D. in Philadelphia
James, here are a few additional rules:
Never relight or handle fireworks that haven’t fully ignited.
Never place part of your body over fireworks when lighting the fuse.
Keep a bucket of water or the hose handy when lighting fireworks.
Make sure fireworks are legal in your area. Some states have banned
sales of fireworks.
Dear Readers: Some terrific uses for baking soda:
Run out of toothpaste? Use baking soda.
Sprinkle over carpeting, let sit for 30 minutes, then vacuum to remove
Use baking soda with a wet sponge to clean the bathtub.
Use a handful in trash cans to help kill odors.
The readers speak up
Dear Readers: We ran a letter from G.T. in Detroit, who was furious over
the computer ads that pop up on his screen. We asked readers what they
thought about pop-up ads, and apparently many of you were as disgusted
as G.T. Here are some of the responses. - Heloise
“I am 100 percent in sync with the writer’s feeling of disgust with the
pop-up ads that interrupt anything we’re trying to accomplish on the
computer.” - L.G.M., Hagerstown, Md.
“I pay to have an internet provider, NOT to read a bunch of useless
- Jean A., Newport Beach, Calif.
“It’s just sheer greed on the part of internet providers to allow those
pop-up ads to continue. I believe everyone hates them.” - Bill H. in
Don’t use too much
Dear Heloise: Got streaky windows after cleaning? Don’t overuse cleaning
products. Just mist the surface and use a microfiber cloth or squeegee.
- Ella G., Norman, Okla.
Start your day
Dear Heloise: Before you get out of bed, sit on the edge and take about
five to 10 deep breaths, then stand and stretch with your arms raised
toward the ceiling, and gently, slowly twist from side to side about
seven to 10 times. Get your blood flowing, which will help you wake up.
- Grace Y., Billings, Mont.
Letter of laughter
Dear Heloise: My daughter was only 5 when she was part of our church’s
children’s choir. She had a nice voice for a small child, which is why
she was asked to sing a solo of “Frosty the Snowman.” It never occurred
to me that she might think she heard a different version of “Frosty”
until she began to sing, “Froggy the Snowman.” - Joanna H. in
Readers react to ‘dress code’
June 27, 2018
Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the responses we got from a letter
written by Wallace T. stating his belief that women don’t dress up
anymore or take care of themselves. The reaction was overwhelming. Here
are some of the voices of our readers. - Heloise
“It’s not just women who dress casually in this country. Men are just as
sloppy, if not worse.” - Pam, Columbus, Neb.
“He calls out women solely for a change in custom regarding their choice
of dress. Men do exactly the same thing.” - Mari T., Bakersfield, Calif.
“Most of the people in our circle don’t have the kind of money it takes
to ‘dress up’ these days.” - Yvonne G., Watertown, Wis.
“If Wallace T. wants to pay for my wardrobe, I’ll dress in designer
duds! But since he’s not paying for my clothes, I’ll wear what I can
afford.” - Lana J., Avon Park, Fla.
“We all like pretty women, but women today are as pretty and as healthy
as they were back in the 1950s or ‘60s.” - Michael W., Telluride, Colo.
Dear Readers: Here are some additional uses for ice cube trays:
Keep an ice cube tray on a workbench for small screws and nails.
Place one in a desk drawer as a holder for paper clips and small items.
Use one to organize your change.
Use as an earring organizer.
Still not a good idea
Dear Heloise: I read a newspaper column where it was stated that it was
all right to wear white to someone else’s wedding, so twice in a row I
wore a white knit dress. What do you think?
- Margaret M., Mission Viejo, Calif.
Margaret, wearing all white as a guest to a wedding is still considered
a no-no, unless the bride requests an all-white ceremony. You can wear a
dress or suit with a pattern that has a white background, but all white
is not a wise choice. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: How can I sharpen dull scissors? - Sharon M. in Miami
Take some very fine grit sandpaper and fold in half. Then cut through it
about 10 to 15 times. Take a damp paper towel and wipe the blades off.
If need be, you can do this a few more times to get your scissors sharp
again. - Heloise
Simple to see
Dear Heloise: When measuring liquids using a measuring cup, I set the
cup in the microwave (located over the range), and then pour in the
can see the measurement lines straight on, and the light in the
microwave also helps. No more trying to hold the cup level as I lift up
the cup and pour. - Sylvia M., The Villages, Fla.
A nod to pods
Dear Heloise: I reuse my single-use coffee pods to start seeds. I rinse
them out and poke a few more holes in them, and put one seed in each
one. - Jo Ann D., via email
Tired of giving?
June 21, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about being bombarded by
organizations asking for money:
“Dear Heloise: I understand that charities and other worthwhile
organizations need money to operate, but I’m tired of the weekly phone
calls and letters from these people asking me to donate money.
“I live on a retirement income, and I can donate only once a year.
Continually calling me for donations to a hospital, policeman’s ball or
other charity is annoying. Then, they in turn sell my name and
information to other organizations, which start calling me. It’s gotten
to the point where I just hang up on them.”
- Sarah H., Key West, Fla.
Sarah, when they call, tell them to remove you from their list of people
to contact, and by law they must stop. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Here are some great ideas for cotton balls:
Give some to pet birds for nesting purposes.
Pack around small objects for shipping.
Give to children to use for a craft project.
Spray with perfume and put in your purse to keep it smelling fresh.
Dear Heloise: It seems every time I see a cockroach, it’s hanging on to
my ceiling. I spray and spray insecticide, but they keep coming back.
What can I do to get rid of them? - Kelly Q., Metairie, La.
Kelly, if the cockroach is on the ceiling, use a broom to brush it off
onto the floor. Use a shoe to kill it, and throw the cockroach in the
trash. If they’re hiding behind a refrigerator or in other hard-to-reach
places, use sticky traps to catch them. Also, look for damp spots in the
house, because roaches are drawn to those places, and to anywhere
there’s food. You might have to call in an exterminator to do the whole
Ants are in hot water
Dear Heloise: I boil a gallon of water and pour it down the center of an
ant mound to kill ants. No chemicals, no danger. - Mimi T., Hanover,
Better safe than
Dear Heloise: As a police officer, I see break-ins every day. Our senior
citizens are the ones most at risk, usually because they are the most
trusting. To better safeguard your home, your life and your valuables,
have a peephole installed on your front door and on the door leading to
your garage. DO NOT open the door to strangers, no matter what they tell
you. Make sure you have at least one deadbolt lock on all doors leading
outside. If someone insists that you need to let them in, or just won’t
go away, call the police.
- James L. in Los Angeles
Dear Heloise: My husband won’t shine his shoes. He says they look fine
and don’t need shoe polish, but they look old and scruffy to me. How can
I convince him otherwise? - Cassy T., Old Town, Maine
Cassy, tell him shoe polish has conditioners that keep shoes supple and
help prevent the leather from getting brittle and dry. - Heloise
June 13, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is about the apparent loss of privacy
for the average American.
“Dear Heloise: I hate these road cams that you see everywhere. I’ve
never received a traffic ticket, but I’m tired of the invasion of my
privacy. It’s bad enough that companies sell our information to other
marketers; now we have Big Brother watching us as well.
“I can understand cameras in a place of business, but technology has
made it possible for anyone to spy on us. Pictures of our homes are on
the internet, and for a small fee anyone can go to an investigator’s
site to find out all the details about your life. Sadly, those details
aren’t always correct. It makes me wonder how many people have lost job
prospects/financial help/sweethearts because of the details, whether
true or not.” - Nora in Salem, Ore.
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old wire hangers:
Straighten out and use as a trellis for potted plants.
Take one camping and use to dry towels by hanging it on a tree branch.
Straighten and use to hang a squirrel feeder or bird feeder.
Return them to the dry cleaner. They’ll appreciate it!
Painting the house
Dear Heloise: We plan on selling our current home and moving to a warmer
climate. We’ve also decided to paint the exterior of our home to
increase its market value, but we’re debating what colors to use. What
colors help sell a house? - Kay T., Rochester, Mich.
Kay, real estate experts agree that colors such as taupe, gray and beige
seem to add the most to a home’s resale value. Also, the front door
should be a contrasting color. - Heloise
What you never should
put in a will
Dear Heloise: As an attorney for many years, I have to counsel my
clients on what they cannot or should not put in their wills. Here are
some common issues:
1. Funeral arrangements: Don’t put them in a will. Tell a close relative
or friend what you want done. The will mostly likely will be read after
2. Jointly held property: “The right of survivorship” means the other
person owns the property in full.
3. Life insurance and retirement funds: Since these already have
beneficiaries named, you do not have to do so in a will.
4. Conditions attached to a gift: Be careful. A court will not enforce
something like “To John, on the condition he divorce his wife.”
A.J., Anaheim, Calif.
Dear Heloise: I’m an avid thrift store shopper. Please remind readers to
remove pictures from picture frames before donating the frames. -
Sara G., Grove City, Ohio
pain of a migraine
June 6, 2018
Dear Readers: June is Migraine Awareness Month, which is appropriate for
today’s Sound Off. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Unless you’ve had a migraine headache, there is no way to
describe the pain, nausea and sensitivity to light and sound that people
with a migraine experience. My co-workers and friends think all I need
to do is take an over-the-counter drug and I’ll be fine. Unfortunately,
those drugs don’t help. I need a prescription medication, and if a
migraine starts and I don’t have my medications with me, I’m in serious
“Many people think that a person suffering a migraine is making too much
of it or faking it to get attention. That’s NOT the case! We’re in pain,
so please be patient with us and know that a migraine is so painful that
it’s often physically exhausting.” - Rochelle F., Standish, Maine
Dear Readers: Here are a few uses for old blankets:
Carry one in your trunk for emergencies.
Use to cover plants in cold weather.
Donate them to a pet shelter in your area.
Use to cover stored furniture.
Dear Heloise: When I have friends in the hospital or who are confined to
bed for several days, I make up a bed basket for them. I put in
hand/body lotion, a hair band, hairbrush, candies (if permitted by the
doctor), mints, a couple of magazines, a pen and a notepad. I also
customize the basket for the person, depending on what she likes or
enjoys doing. - Christina K., Gold Beach, Ore.
And this from a
Dear Heloise: After seeing the hint about reading to your children, a
special poem came to mind that all parents should read. Being a
first-grade teacher for many years and a mother of six, I felt compelled
to send it to you. I have given it to my daughters and granddaughters,
who have profited by it as well:
“You may have tangible wealth untold,
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be,
had a mother who read to me.”
Mother in Ohio
Hi, Heloise: To keep long-sleeved shirts from getting tangled in the
wash, try this:
Turn the shirts inside out by reaching up through the shirt from the
bottom and pulling the neck down and out. The sleeves should stay
“trapped” inside the body of the shirt.
Oddly, by the end of the wash cycle, almost all of the shirts will have
turned right side out again, but the laundry is not tangled! - Jackie
in Cabin John, Md.
Parents, teach your children well
May 30, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about giving children too many
“things” and not doing enough “parenting.” - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Having taught school for nearly 20 years, I’ve noticed
that parents seem to think that giving their children computers,
expensive cellphones or designer clothing makes up for not being present
for their child. At teacher/parent conferences, we see fewer parents
than we did just 10 years ago, and when we do see a parent, he or she is
usually making excuses for the child’s bad behavior or blaming the
school for not teaching subjects that need to be taught at home, such as
good manners, personal hygiene and morals.
“Your children are the ONLY thing you will ever leave behind of any real
and lasting value. Never mind ‘quality time’ - kids require a LOT of
time! Teach them your values, morals, family history and compassion for
others. Demand good grades. Remember, children are a reflection of the
parents who raised them.”
- Mrs. E. in Houston
Dear Readers: Got a bunch of old photograph frames? Here’s what you can
do with them:
Print phone numbers of emergency help (police, family members, hospital)
and frame them. Keep near a phone.
Frame a phrase that is memorable and keep it in sight.
Frame a special letter from someone.
Dear Heloise: Is sunscreen actually necessary all year? - Hannah G.
Hannah, yes, it is very important to use sunscreen all year long. This
is especially important on the eyelids, the area surrounding the eye
sockets and the nose. These areas often are overlooked. - Heloise
Egg cooking times
Dear Heloise: I never know how long to cook eggs. Can you help me? -
Anne C., Shelton, Conn.
Scrambled eggs: 1 minute at 250 degrees.
Poached: 3-5 minutes in boiling water.
Fried: 1-2 minutes at 250 degrees F., or done the way you like them on
one side, then flip and cook another 30-60 seconds.
Boiled: 7 minutes in boiling water.
Online dating scams
Dear Heloise: Millions of people use the various online dating sites in
the hope of finding that “special someone.” Sadly, many scammers have
invaded these sites and other social media sites and chat rooms to prey
on vulnerable and trusting users. Here are the things to watch for: (1)
They declare love for you at lightning speed. (2) They send you a
photograph of themselves that looks like a professional model. (3) Some
will say they are U.S. citizens working abroad. (4) They ask for money
for any number of reasons. (5) They ask you to cash checks for them.
This could be a money-laundering scheme! (6) They say they want to visit
you, and although they make plans, they never come. - Charles H.,
down, then live it up
May 23, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about having self-control with credit
cards. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: My husband and I decided to pay off our credit cards, get
out of deep debt and stay out of debt because we’ll both be retiring in
three years. It hasn’t been easy, but we knew we could do it with a
little self-control. Before either of us bought anything, we’d ask
ourselves, ‘Is this purchase necessary?’ ‘How will this benefit us?’ and
finally, ‘Can we live without it?’
“We cleaned out the house and had a huge garage sale, sold our large
house and bought a small home that has less upkeep. We’re happier now
than we’ve ever been, with less ‘stuff,’ and we have more time and money
to travel, pursue hobbies and enjoy life. I only wish we had done this
30 years ago!”
- Jack and Karen F., Cape Coral, Fla.
Dear Readers: Here are additional uses for bank teller envelopes:
Store one in a car’s glove compartment to keep coupons and gift cards
Keep extra change inside one for toll booths.
Use as a catch-all for receipts, loose papers, candy wrappers, etc.
Does your fire
Dear Heloise: Every home needs a fire extinguisher, but what kind and
what size, and do you know how to use it? If your fire extinguisher has
a plastic operating lever, replace it with one that has a metal
operating lever so that it doesn’t clog or break during use. Make sure
you get rechargeable extinguishers serviced at least once a year. If you
need to use your extinguisher, be sure to pull out the safety pin before
using, and try not to panic. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire, not
at the flames.
- Luke T., Royal Oak, Mich.
Online dating sites
Dear Heloise: I want to try a dating site online, but I never know what
to write. Have you got any hints?
- Mary Ann G., Tempe, Ariz.
Mary Ann, start by staying away from cliches, even if you really do like
“walks on the beach at sunset.” Stay positive and upbeat, and above all,
be honest. Ask your close friends to help you with your personal
profile. Also, choose your photos wisely. - Heloise
Fake job scam
Dear Heloise: Scammers are using a new ploy to steal from the
unsuspecting public, and it involves job interviews. The “interviewer”
uses an online video-conferencing service and asks the viewer to
download a file explaining more about the job. What is actually being
downloaded is malware that will access your password, financial
information and whatever else they want. If in doubt, call the company
directly to see if it is legitimate. - Victor N., Sacramento, Calif.
Don't throw it away
May 17, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the billions of dollars of food
that is thrown out every year in America. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Americans waste millions of tons of food each year. It
gets dumped in a landfill, where it rots and produces methane gas, which
is considered a greenhouse gas.
“What can we do to avoid wasting food? You can freeze almost anything,
so why not freeze leftovers? Or plan how much food will be needed for a
meal, and purchase that amount and no more. Plan a leftover night on
Saturday or Friday. Even if food is on sale, don’t buy it unless you
know you’ll use it all.”
- Melissa F., Berkeley, Calif.
Dear Readers: May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, so to help avoid skin
Wear a hat outdoors.
See a dermatologist regularly.
Is stress killing
Dear Heloise: One of the most serious health issues today is stress. As
a yoga teacher, I see people every day who are trying to find ways to
cope with their stress levels. I’ve found that there are three easy
methods to help us handle stress in our lives:
1. Stop multitasking: Focus on doing a good job on one thing at a time.
2. Meditate: Set aside at least 10 to 15 minutes per day to sit in a
comfortable position, close your eyes, focus on your breathing and let
your mind go blank.
3. Stop checking your electronic gadgets: Some people check email, text
messages and social media every few minutes. Instead, schedule a block
of time at the end or beginning of each day for those tasks.
Brenda W., Yakima, Wash.
Dear Heloise: Many people are timid about asking for a “senior
discount,” but people over 62 always should ask if there is a senior
discount on services and products. You can save on things such as
cellphones, restaurants, hotels, entertainment, national park entry
fees, auto insurance/repairs and medications. But you MUST ASK if a
discount is offered, and discounts can, and sometimes do, vary or change
without notice. - Helen M., Orlando, Fla.
Dear Heloise: Old tires can be hung on a farmer’s fence with “no
trespassing” written on it, or paint a tire purple, which is a sign to
hunters meaning “no hunting allowed.”
Old tires also can be put on top of farm implements for weight. So don’t
throw out those old tires!
- Kent R., Rago, Kan.
No more bunny ears
Dear Heloise: Recently, I purchased a small television, but found I
couldn’t afford cable. I now use an “indoor antenna.” These are not the
rabbit ears of the 1950s, and I don’t need anything on my roof. It’s
connected with a TV antenna jack (and all TVs have an antenna jack).
There are a variety of indoor antennas, so search online for the best
price and service. - Meghan W., Charleston, S.C.
toys off the street
May 9, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about children’s toys left in the
street. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: The street I live on has several young families with very
young children. Every day, they leave their tricycles, bikes and toys in
the street. I’m worried that one day, one of the children will run out
into the road to retrieve a toy and will get hit by a car. It’s nearly
happened a couple of times. Why don’t parents teach their children to
pick up their toys and keep them out of the road? This is a serious
situation that may one day have tragic results.” - Diana J., via
Dear Readers: Here are some things to take when visiting a patient in
Magazines and books on subjects he or she enjoys.
Body lotion/hand cream/lip balm.
Notecards with stamps.
Slippers or thick socks.
Yourself - spend some time with the person to keep loneliness away.
Save those eggshells
Dear Heloise: As an avid reader and bird lover, please tell your readers
not to throw away eggshells. Toss them in the yard for the birds. Crows
and robins and many other birds pick them up to eat. The calcium in the
shells makes their own eggshells stronger. - Bootsie D., Trinity,
Dear Heloise: I did it again: I ran out of diapers! I think nearly every
parent has, at one point or another. I started storing diapers and wipes
in the glove compartment, to be used only in an emergency. It has been a
lifesaver on more than one occasion. - Pam L., Beaverton, Ore.
Dear Heloise: I tried a sugar-and-olive-oil scrub for my face, and it’s
wonderful! My skin is smoother and brighter-looking. One tablespoon of
sugar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil - that’s all it took!
- Jane, Dorset, England
Dear Heloise: As a makeup artist, I see many women on the street who do
not blend their makeup properly. Don’t just apply blush; get a clean,
soft brush and blend it out toward the hairline. If you’ve applied too
much blush, lightly powder over it with your face powder. No more harsh
- Joanna N., Burbank, Calif.
Dear Heloise: I found that if you spray an eyebrow brush with hair
spray, then brush your brows upward while the brush is still wet with
hair spray, your brows will look good all day long. - Cindy T., Erie,
No greasy chips
Dear Heloise: I pour chips and crackers onto a napkin before eating
them. This helps to drain and absorb some of the excess grease. -
JoAnne E., Hammond, Ind.
A waste of food?
May 2, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about edible food being tossed out at
places that serve food. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: I have heard that a lot of the uneaten food at
restaurants is thrown out at closing time instead of being given to the
poor or even to employees! Even animal charities can use some of the
food. I know these places worry that someone will claim that he or she
picked up food poisoning, but I seriously doubt the homeless, the
disadvantaged or the elderly who live on next to nothing would mind if
the food was left over from the day. If it’s still edible, why not feed
those who can use it, rather than throwing it in a landfill? It’s waste
of the worst kind!” - Jessica S. in Texas
Dear Readers: For the housebound, make up a basket with the following
Tube of hand cream
Medications he or she will need
Small package of tissues
Bottled water (with a cap)
Hiding a compost pile
Dear Heloise: I want to start a compost pile, but they’re not very
attractive. Any suggestions on where to put it and how to disguise it?
- Holly D., Lake Charles, La.
Holly, probably the best place is in a back corner of the backyard.
It’ll be easy to use, but to conceal it, try growing a double row of
sunflowers or any combination of high- and low-growing plants. Be sure
to use some kind of containment for the compost pile, such as concrete
blocks, shipping pallets on end or a huge bin. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I save the lids from things like cottage cheese, yogurt,
sour cream, etc., and use them under items such as bottles of oil,
jellies and jams, honey or just about anything that is sticky and messy.
It saves me having to scrub and scrape my shelves. - Meghan V., Los
Dear Heloise: I inherited a beautiful black pearl necklace from my
grandmother, but I need to have the pearls restrung. How do I keep them
as nice-looking as my grandmother kept them?
- Emily O., Lowell, Mass.
Emily, I love pearls! First, to clean them, use a very soft cloth and a
cup of water with just a drop of shampoo in it. Gently clean each pearl,
rinse with water, then dry with another clean cloth. To keep them
looking good, wipe them down with a clean cloth after each wearing. When
you have the pearls restrung, ask the jeweler to tie a knot between each
pearl, so if the strand breaks, you will only lose one pearl.
Dear Heloise: I have a bamboo backscratcher that I keep in the laundry
room and use to pull clothes from the back of the dryer. No stooping and
stretching to reach. - Tom F., Canyon Lake, Texas
Veterans are the target of scammers
April 25, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about veterans who are singled out by
scammers. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Scammers are targeting American veterans with various
schemes to take advantage of them. Veterans should be very wary of any
phone calls that are unsolicited. That includes someone who asks you to
pay a fee, create a trust or buy an annuity to be eligible for an
assistance program. General information on veterans benefits can be
found online at: http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/vetpen.asp.
NEVER give out personal or financial information over the phone to
anyone. According to AARP, a veteran is twice as likely as a nonveteran
to be targeted by scammers, so be on your guard.”
- Robert G., Washington, D.C.
Dear Readers: Got an extra magnet at home? Here are some uses for it:
Use to pick up needles and pins on the floor.
Use to hold notes on the refrigerator.
At the laundromat, place one on the door of a washer or dryer to show
which one is yours.
Put one on a dishwasher to signal when the dishes are clean or dirty.
Great questions to
Dear Heloise: As a widow, I’ve had to manage on one income with two
kids. To keep from derailing my budget when I’m tempted to splurge on
something frivolous, I always ask myself: First, do I really need this
or just want it? Second, how is this going to benefit my children or
myself? Lastly, if I buy this, what do I have to give up to afford it?
This has saved me from some very foolish expenditures.
- Pat J., Springfield, Ore.
Dear Heloise: So many elderly people are isolated and need interaction
with someone - a family member, neighbor or friend to talk to or visit
with. The effects of isolation and loneliness have a negative influence
on a person’s mental and physical well-being, and are often the cause of
depression. If you don’t know how to get started or need a list of
places that help the elderly, go to: Connect2affect.org.
- Irene D., Gainesville, Fla.
Dear Heloise: When we stay at a hotel for more than three nights, we
always leave a tip for the maids. We put the money in an envelope with
“For housekeeping” written on it, and leave it in the room on a desk.
- Penny N., Fort Wayne, Ind.
In a jam
Dear Heloise: The retractable handle on my wheeled suitcase was jamming.
Before replacing it, I decided to lubricate the handle with a commercial
lubricating oil. It worked like a charm. - Linda W., via email
April 18, 2018
Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about waiting even though you have an
“Dear Heloise: Since when is it OK to have an appointment at 10 a.m. and
not get in until 11:30 a.m.? There are no emergencies for these people;
they just seem to be overbooking. How do your readers feel about this?”
- Liz V. in San Antonio
Liz, I understand your frustrations. I have friends who’ll wait no more
than 15 minutes at an appointment, then leave. Readers, what do you do?
Dear Heloise: Got an old baby bathtub? There are still some great uses
It makes a wonderful pet bathtub for small animals.
I take mine camping so I can wash dishes in it.
My husband fills it with warm, soapy water and soaks his feet in it.
My sister, a clothing designer, uses hers to dye fabric.
Helen K., Alpena, Mich.
Dear Heloise: After reading Rita’s idea about a reward message for
returning a lost cellphone, I thought of another idea: I downloaded a
free doodle app to my phone and wrote on my screen photo: “If found call
(I put in my husband’s phone number). Reward for return of phone.” This
way, if someone finds my phone, he or she will have my information
without unlocking my phone. - An Avid Reader, The Villages, Fla.
Dear Heloise: Living out in the country, I often take long walks, and I
notice stones along the road. Some have interesting markings; others are
a pretty color. I started to collect these stones and found uses for
them. I put them in the bottom of vases, about 3 inches deep, fill with
water and put cut flowers in the vase. This not only keeps the vase from
tipping over, but helps to hold the flowers in place. I also fill
attractive glass containers with these stones and display them on a long
buffet table in my dining room.
- Kelly W., Santa Fe, N.M.
Dear Heloise: I read in your column about the exhausted folks who dread
the arrival of houseguests at their vacation home. Here are a few ideas
from someone who has experience with this:
Always ask your guests to bring their own sheets and towels (and take
those items home with them).
Plan easy meals where everyone cooks (even the kids).
Ask your guests to plan something special as entertainment, either at
home or by taking you out.
You can welcome them without dread! - Susan G., Forestburgh, N.Y.
An act of kindness
April 11, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about the thoughtfulness of people.
“Dear Heloise: Recently I became very ill. I called my hairdresser to
let her know I’d have to cancel my appointment, despite the fact that my
hair was a mess and needed to be cut. She offered to come to my house
and do my hair that afternoon, and believe me, I was so grateful for her
kindness. I want to thank those who come to our aid with very little
fanfare, who aren’t getting rich, but they go that extra mile for
someone else in need. For those you help, your kindness and generosity
mean the world.”
- Nell K. in San Antonio
Dear Readers: Here’s how to recycle 2-liter plastic soft drink bottles:
Cut off the bottoms and use as covers for tender new plants if
Cut off the bottom, leaving a 2- to 3-inch rim, and use as a snack bowl,
water or food bowl for a pet, etc.
Make a seed starter out of the bottom half.
Cut off the top and use as a funnel when pouring salt or sugar into
Dear Heloise: Want to attract butterflies? When planning your garden
this year, think of butterflies. They like to gather at wet spots to
drink water. Set out an old cookie sheet or plate, with a little gravel
lining the bottom, and keep it wet. You also can wet brick pavers and
watch the butterflies sip water from the various depressions in the
brick. - Jill E., Tupelo, Miss.
Why is saffron
Dear Heloise: I love Spanish and Indian cooking, but when I went to
purchase the spice saffron, I was floored at the expense! - Gloria
P., Bend, Ore.
Gloria, saffron is harvested by hand from the fall-flowering crocus, but
there are only three threads of saffron in each flower; 1 pound of
saffron requires 1 acre of flowers (about 70,000 crocus flowers).
Because it’s so expensive, it’s often mixed with turmeric. Usually, you
need only a pinch of saffron to about a cup of rice.
Dear Heloise: What is the difference between “sell by date” and
- Karen T., Chubbuck, Idaho
Karen, “sell by” is the last date the item should be sold before it’s
pulled from the store shelf. The “expiration date” is the last date the
item should be sold or eaten. - Heloise
Letter of laughter
Dear Heloise: Recently, I baby-sat for a friend who has a 6-year-old
boy. He asked me if I “had any babies,” and I said, “No.” He then said,
“Well, you better get some babies soon, because you’re old.” I asked him
how old he thought I was. He said, “One hundred.” I am 33. - A
Reader, via email
April 4, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about volunteering. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Maybe you’ve heard the expression ‘Many hands make the
workload light.’ It’s true, and never more so than for organizations
that are on a tight budget, such as animal shelters, services for the
elderly and children’s organizations. If any of your readers are
thinking of volunteering, pick an organization and help out when you
can. To those who already volunteer, thank you many times over. Your
help is invaluable, and your service to your community is very much
appreciated.” - Hazel W., Wabash, Ind.
Dear Readers: Got empty tissue boxes? Reuse them:
To store small plastic grocery bags.
As tissue receptacles for used tissues when you have cold.
To store cotton balls.
In a laundry room to hold lint from the dryer.
From pottery to path
Dear Heloise: Got broken pottery? Broken watches or old jewelry you
never wear? Make steppingstones out of them by pouring cement into a
shallow cardboard box or an old pie or cake tin. When it has set a
little, press glass pebbles, broken pottery, watch parts or anything you
want into the surface. When the cement has set up completely, turn it
out (a cardboard box works best for this), and you have a one-of-a-kind
concrete steppingstone for your garden. -DeeDee B., Cheyenne, Wyo.
Dear Heloise: I live on a street that’s dark and has no street lights.
To make finding our place easier for guests, especially after dark, I
put a blue bulb in our porch light and just tell them to look for the
house with the blue light. - Andrea L., via email
Dear Heloise: Can you name some flowering plants for me that are
deer-resistant plants? The deer are destroying my yard. - Jane P.,
Here are some common flowers that deer don’t like:
American holly, bleeding heart, buttercup, cactus, daffodil, flowering
tobacco, gladiolus, lavender, lily of the valley, peony, sweet alyssum
and thyme. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: When wrapping a wedding gift, I always put the card inside
the box so it doesn’t get lost, and I put my address label on the
envelope so the couple will have it handy when they write thank-you
notes. This is especially handy if someone wants to include cash or a
check with the gift.
- Randall J., Blountville, Tenn.
Dear Heloise: To avoid running out of checks, I place a sticky note on a
check that’s two checks from the last one to remind me to carry a fresh
stack of checks with me. This way, I don’t run out while I’m out
shopping. - Vickie H., Hammond, La.
March 28, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about visitors and visiting hours at
hospitals. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: As an RN in a busy hospital, we often need to ask people
to leave so the patient can get some rest, or to take a crying,
sometimes screaming, toddler out of the hospital. We have patients who
are very ill, and they need peace and quiet to recover.
“If a patient is dying, we gladly allow family members to stay in the
room IF they are quiet and do not have a child under the age of 14 with
them. Sometimes nurses are asked to ‘keep an eye’ on someone’s child,
but we’re so busy with our duties and patients that we cannot assume
- Lisa W. in Buffalo
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for extra buttons:
Teach children to make jewelry out of them by stringing them together.
Use to decorate gift packages.
Use as decoration on clothing.
If you have enough of one kind, change out buttons on an old garment to
give it a new look.
Toad in the garden
Dear Heloise: So many gardens benefit from having a toad or two to keep
down pests. They’ll eat insects and will even devour slugs. A small pond
or just a shallow dish of water will keep them happy and safe, but also
provide some type of shelter, such as a clay pot on its side. - Fred
D., Southfield, Mich.
Moving cactus plants
Dear Heloise: I need to move my cactus plants from a small planter to my
garden, but I don’t know how to transplant them without getting hurt.
- Kathleen M., Los Gatos, Calif.
Kathleen, use tongs to gently lift the cactus out of the old pot and
into the new location. Use the tongs to keep the cactus upright as you
spoon dirt around the cactus roots. The back of the spoon or a trowel
can be used to press the dirt down around the roots. - Heloise
Risotto versus rice
Dear Heloise: What is the difference between risotto and rice? - Jim
Y., Lawton, Okla.
Jim, risotto usually is made from Arborio rice. The name “risotto” is
that of a finished dish, and not the rice itself. Risotto is made by
quickly sauteing the rice in olive oil or butter, followed by adding
some stock and stirring continuously until the rice absorbs the stock,
at which time a little more stock is added and stirred for about 20 to
30 minutes. Generally, meats, fish or vegetables are added to this
Italian dish. - Helois
New life for old
Dear Heloise: I have an old teapot that was given to me by my
great-grandmother, but I dropped the lid, which broke into many pieces.
I put a plant in the teapot, and it now grows on the windowsill in the
kitchen. - Patty G., Lincoln, Neb.