Careless driving


Dec. 12, 2018



Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about irresponsible drivers on our roads. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: We all have turn signals with our cars, so why is it some people don’t turn theirs on when they decide to make a turn, or turn it on just as they are about to turn? I realize driving is an “overlearned” experience, but a stop sign means ‘stop,’ not ‘slowly roll past the sign.’ Now, with the roads becoming icy in many states, it’s more important than ever to drive with care. With the holidays comes drinking, and the police are cracking down on drunken drivers. A DUI can kill your chances of getting a good job or a promotion, and it might land you in jail.

“Please remember: It’s not just a vehicle for transportation; it’s thousands of pounds of steel and rubber. Drive with caution.” - Elizabeth W., Norwood, Ohio

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some supermarket hints:

- Make a list of needed items and stick to it.

- Buy often-used items in bulk, if you have the storage.

- Don’t shop for grocery items when you’re hungry.

- Organize your coupons and keep them in a separate envelope/or compartment in your purse or wallet.

- Heloise


Cast iron on a glass stovetop

Dear Heloise: I have a glass-top stove and have been told NOT to use my cast-iron skillet on it. Nothing tastes the same as when it’s cooked in a cast-iron skillet. It was always my go-to kitchen item, so now what should I do? - Betty D., Van Wert, Ohio

Betty, don’t throw out your skillet just yet. You can use a cast-iron skillet, but there are certain precautions you need to take. First, the Cookware Manufacturers Association advises that you must understand the characteristics of cooking with cast iron on a glass-top stove. The skillet MUST have a flat bottom. Any burn areas or rough spots must be filed off before using. It’s best to place the skillet on the stove before turning on the stove, and use only medium heat. Lift the skillet to move it; NEVER slide it across the glass surface. The skillet must fit the size of the burner. - Heloise

Limp curls

Dear Heloise: My baby-fine hair is always “droopy.” I’d use a curling iron, but the volume and curl would just seem to slide out halfway through the morning. Then a hairdresser told me to first bend forward when drying my hair with a hair dryer, and get the roots dry while my hair is dangling toward the floor. Next, I use a very light blast of hair spray where I plan to curl my hair and use the curling iron after the hair spray dries. No more limp hair. - Karen B., Fairmont, W.Va.


Tea pack

Dear Heloise: When I’m shipping packages, I use tea bags as cushioning material, instead of air pillows or foam. This is an extra treat for the recipient! - Gina A. in New York

Has the meaning been lost?
Dec. 5, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is from a reader who believes we’ve lost the meaning of the holidays.
- Heloise

“Dear Heloise: This is the month of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, three important holidays for most of us. Sadly, we’ve gotten caught up in the lights, the stores crammed with all sorts of items, the wrapping and the gifts. But the holidays are not about these things. As a nation, we’ve lost the importance of these holidays and have given way to the commercialization and the ostentation of outdoing neighbors.

“For Christmas this year, my family agreed that we would give no more than two gifts to people. Not necessarily expensive, but something we know the other person will like or need. Instead of buying a bunch of junk, we’ve made up large Christmas baskets out of laundry baskets for needy families with canned goods, soaps, shampoos, gift certificates and blankets. To us, Christmas is more about giving than receiving.” - Claudia L., Perry Hills, Ohio

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for a pizza cutter. You can cut:

- brownies

- waffles or pancakes

- boiled potatoes

- hard-boiled eggs

- sandwiches

- Heloise


Baking soda

Dear Heloise: How can I remove stubborn spaghetti sauce stains on my plastic food storage containers?
- Faye H., Asheboro, N.C.

Faye, try mixing together equal parts baking soda and chlorine bleach. Put the mixture on the stain and set aside for about 15 to 20 minutes. Wash well and rinse thoroughly. This should do the trick! I have many other stain-removing hints using baking soda in my pamphlet Baking Soda Hints and Recipes. To get a copy, send $5, along with a long, stamped (71 cents), self-addressed envelope, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. You also can order it online at Keeping your home clean and odor-free using baking soda is as easy as sprinkling some on a damp sponge and using as you would scouring powder. In fact, you may never have to buy scouring powder again. - Heloise


Wedding dress

Dear Heloise: Just a word to the wise: BEFORE you spend a dime on a wedding gown that may be difficult (if not impossible) to clean, read the label carefully. I didn’t. I had my gown dry-cleaned and preserved in a special garment bag. When my daughter wanted to see if it fit her for her wedding, I found that the dress had yellowed, the seed pearls were dull and peeling, and the fabric had lost its soft sheen. That was when I read the label, which specifically said that all seed pearls and applique must be removed before dry-cleaning, and to not store in plastic bags. So now, 22 years after my wedding, I have a $7,000 rag that my daughter cannot wear! - Chloe N., Richmond, Va.

Chloe, yes, it’s so very important to read dress labels carefully, especially on garments that we’d like to preserve for future generations. - Heloise

Paying for air?
Nov. 28, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the shrinking size of food packages. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Have you noticed that many food items are now packaged in smaller amounts? Cake mixes, sodas, pastas and frozen dinners have all reduced the portions but not the price. For example, the pasta I buy went from 16 ounces to 13.25 ounces per package. Many canned vegetables went to 13 or 14 ounces, when they used to be 16 ounces. Sugar that I’ve bought for years went from 5 pounds to 4 pounds! I’ve noticed more air in bags of chips.

“Consumers do read labels, and we know that we’re paying more for less. We feel cheated. I know manufacturers are saying that their new packaging is ‘greener’ (more environmentally friendly), and it may be true, but we’re still paying more for those ‘greener’ packages. For larger families, this poses a serious problem with their food budget.

“Manufacturers can complain about the cost of doing business, but the public feels shortchanged. This is especially true when people have to buy two packages of something instead of the one package they’ve bought in the past, just so they’ll have enough to feed their families.” - Renee N. in St. Louis

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old pillowcases:

- As laundry bags.

- As a hobby sack for your knitting, hand-sewing, etc.

- To store out-of-season clothing.

- As a cover for a small dog bed.

- Heloise


Canning jars

Dear Heloise: Years ago, my mother taught me to place a small, wadded-up piece of clean paper toweling in all the empty canning jars to absorb the moisture and musty smells. It works wonders!
- Nina Y., Provo, Utah


Cloudy shower curtain

Dear Heloise: Got a cloudy shower curtain due to mildew? Just pop it into the washing machine with a little soap and 2 cups of vinegar, and wash on “gentle.” When finished, just leave it out to dry, either hanging up in the shower or outside. - Helen P., Boone, N.C.


Magic monster spray

Dear Heloise: My son was terrified of “monsters” that he thought lived in his closet or under the bed. I got a spray bottle and put water in it with two drops of lemon oil. Before my son went to bed each night, I’d take the bottle of “magic monster spray” and pretend to chase the monsters away with two quick zaps under the bed or on the closet floor. No more monsters, and no more nightmares. - Carolyn G., Lynchburg, Tenn.


Animal kindness

Dear Heloise: As the weather gets colder, it’s important to remind people that their pets (cats, dogs, rabbits) need to be kept indoors. They might be animals, but they need to be sheltered from any extreme weather. Do NOT chain a dog up to a doghouse and leave it there. A pet needs attention, love and companionship to thrive. - Maisy M., Nutley, N.J.

No thanks for this giving
Nov. 21, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about being the one who always has to host Thanksgiving dinner.
 - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: In August, I sent out a letter to family members explaining that my husband and I would be on a cruise over the Thanksgiving holiday. Two days ago, both of my brothers called and asked what they should bring for Thanksgiving dinner! I told them we weren’t hosting Thanksgiving again this year and reminded them (and their wives) that I’d sent out a letter in August.

“I’ve hosted Thanksgiving every year for the past six years, and it’s time for someone else to do all the work of housecleaning, shopping, cooking, the cleanup afterward and the expense. We’ll be cruising in sunny, warm waters. Needless to say, this has caused some serious friction in the family.

“Why do so many families rely on one person to host all the holiday events? Wouldn’t it be better to all share in the work or take turns hosting holidays? It’s what I suggested in my August letter, but apparently no one agreed with me.” - Liz in Paterson, N.J.

Fast Facts

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

- Store extension cords inside.

- Store Christmas lights inside.

- Use to wrap ribbon around when you have loose pieces.

- Spray-paint the cardboard, then pinch and tape one end. Store change inside, and when full, shut the other end and give to a child as a gift.

- Heloise


Buyer beware

Dear Heloise: There are some financial lenders who use “clever” language to attract homebuyers. For example:

“No points or fees” - lenders who make this claim usually charge a higher interest rate.

“Secret to paying off your mortgage faster” - this means refinancing a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan, which means higher payments. 

“Call us now for the low rate of (X) percent” - if the annual percentage rate (APR) is higher than your quoted rate, you’ll be paying points and fees to get that rate.

So, buyers beware. - Alex C., Hialeah, Fla.


Wants and needs

Dear Heloise: Please tell your readers to be very careful about credit cards and the interest rates the companies charge. Right after college graduation, I got myself into debt with a card charging a 16.75 percent rate, and I bought things I didn’t really need. I’m slowly paying it off, but what a painful lesson this has been. I should have checked the interest rate or, better yet, cut the card in pieces!
- Lillian H., Merced, Calif.

Lillian, it’s so easy to charge things, but first ask yourself if this purchase is a need or a want. Is it really an emergency? Can you live without it? Would you rather have the item or the debt? How will this item improve your life? Practice restraint. - Heloise


Water marks

Dear Heloise: How do you remove water marks from felt? - Janet R. in San Antonio

To remove water marks from felt and similar materials, use a soft ball of white tissue paper. Rubbing in a circular motion, go over the area with light pressure until the mark is gone. - Heloise

Social insecurity?
Nov. 14, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about Social Security. - Heloise


“Dear Heloise: Recently, on the news, I heard a politician refer to Social Security as an ‘entitlement program.’ I find this annoying because it sounds as if the government is being ‘generous’ in giving back the money I and others worked so hard for to ensure we had retirement income. Now, there’s talk of reducing Social Security and even Medicare, which doesn’t cover enough as it is right now.

“For many Americans, Social Security does not keep up with the rising cost of food, utilities, medical care and housing, but at least it’s better than nothing. However, ‘nothing’ is what I worry the government wants to give retired Americans. Perhaps that’s why so many people are working well beyond retirement age.”
- Don K., Crown Point, Ind.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for a single earring when the matching one is lost:

- Break off the post and hot-glue it to a plain gold or silver ring, and you have a new piece of jewelry.

- Use as a lapel pin.

- Suspend it from a necklace or bracelet.

- Glue several single earrings into one piece of jewelry to make a unique pin.

- Heloise


Grout cleaner

Dear Heloise: My bathroom grout is a mess! How can I clean it without damaging the grout? - Ava B., Kirkwood, Del.


Ava, mix 1/4 cup borax, 1/2 cup baking soda and enough hot water to form a paste. Apply to the grout, scrub with a soft brush and let sit 15-20 minutes before rinsing. This is just one of several homemade cleaners you’ll find in my Homemade Cleaning Solutions pamphlet. To get a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Cleaners, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at FYI: Make housekeeping easier, safer and less expensive by using my simple cleaning ideas that you can make in your own kitchen with products you may already have on hand. - Heloise


Dusting powder

Dear Heloise: Please tell your readers to use cornstarch instead of dusting powder. Cornstarch is the basis for dusting powder. My mother used it all her life and on all 12 children in our family. Love your column!
- Roberta G., Terre Haute, Ind.


Roberta, great idea! A number of people are allergic to the perfumes used in dusting powder, and this is a practical and inexpensive alternative to commercial dusting powders. - Heloise


Dishwasher dilemma

Dear Heloise: Why do some dishwashers have two soap dispensers (like mine), while others have only one? Are the dishes getting as clean with one? - An N.C. Reader in Charlotte


The second soap dispenser is for heavy dish loads, when your dishwasher is full to maximum capacity, or for heavily soiled dished and pans. - Heloise

Drinking creates a ‘buzz’
Nov. 7, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about “buzz driving.” - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: My Sound Off is about people who think they can have a couple of beers and then drive safely. Don’t people realize that ‘buzz driving’ can kill people, earn them time in jail or, at a minimum, a heavy fine? It also can ruin future job opportunities. It’s simply not worth it.” - Suzanna Y., Astoria, Ore.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for dental floss:

- Tie up trailing vines to a fence or lattice.

- Sew on buttons.

- Cut a layer cake.

- String beads for necklaces.

- Heloise


Let’s not iron

Dear Heloise: Since I lacked enough counter space to serve food when my family came over, I took my old ironing board and covered it in foil. Then I draped it with a very large tablecloth, so that it looked more like a narrow table. It worked perfectly. - Hannah K., Bonita Springs, Fla.


Kitty’s corner

Dear Heloise: I have four cats that are indoor pets, so that means kitty litter boxes. Can I use just plain baking soda in the cat box instead of the expensive, perfumed litter-box deodorizers?
- Hazel A., Fairbanks, Alaska

Hazel, yes, plain baking soda will work just fine. Sprinkle a layer of baking soda in the cat pan, then the usual amount of kitty litter over that, and it should work. Some cats don’t like the perfumed smells of commercial products for their potty pans. - Heloise


Christmas calendar

Dear Heloise: Before you know it, Christmas will be here. I have seven brothers and sisters, and some of them now have a family of their own, so Christmas gift-giving was becoming a very expensive holiday. Instead, we all agreed to give one gift per family, and since we’re a creative bunch, it had to be something under $30, and hopefully homemade. I gathered up some of our childhood pictures, took them to a printer, and I’m having calendars made up to give to everyone in the family. - Amanda, via email


Thanksgiving centerpieces

Dear Heloise: A couple of years ago, I started a family tradition by taking my three granddaughters with me to the woods and gathering natural things to use in a Thanksgiving centerpiece. We’d find chunks of wood, dried leaves, acorns and things like that to create our Thanksgiving arrangements. Sometimes we’d go to a crafts store to purchase a few additional items. Not only was it fun to spend time out in nature with the girls, but there was a special bonding that took place among us. - Peggy B., Martinsburg, W.Va.

Praise for the rescuers!
Oct. 31, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about those people who rescue animals. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: I believe it was Gandhi who once said, ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’ There are many wonderful people who find a sad little stray or an animal that was dumped by a callous, uncaring person and bring the animal to us at the shelter. These rescuers dive under trucks, climb trees and do whatever they need to in order to save a cat or dog or any animal. They might hear a tiny cry or see a shivering animal, and they do what they can to provide shelter and food.

“These are the unsung heroes, who seem to know no limit to kindness. To all of those who cannot look away, who cannot say, ‘It’s not my problem’ when they see a homeless stray, thank you.”
- Natalie C., Muncie, Ind.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old sheets:

- Use as drapes or swags at the window.

- Use as a large tablecloth.

- Sew two together to make a duvet cover for a comforter.

- Heloise


Record keeping

Dear Heloise: Years ago, when my husband and I went to sell our home, I had no idea about the dates that we bought things, such as the new furnace, new windows, a refrigerator, etc. So I now keep a record book with all my information in it: The dishwasher - bought in 2016; the replacement windows - bought in 2015; the new front door - bought in 2014; and so on. This book will help us when the time comes to sell our home. - Rikki K., Pettibone, N.D.


Wasps, yellow jackets and spiders, oh my!

Dear Heloise: I am a mail carrier in Arkansas. We get ants, wasps, yellow jackets and spiders that nest in mailboxes. Placing a fabric softener sheet inside the mailbox will deter them. Replace often. Please, do not spray bug killer into the mailbox. The spray gets on the mail, which transfers to your hands and ours.
- Judy in Arkansas


They’re baaaack!

Dear Heloise: Scammers are at it again. They are calling people and asking, “Is this (name)?” They’ll use your name, and you’ll probably say “yes” out of habit, but Don’t answer. Just hang up, because they could record your answer in your voice so they can use it in a fraudulent way. Most people are now not answering the phone if it’s not a number they recognize or it’s from an area code they don’t know about. Be proactive and refuse to give scammers an audience. - Dawson J., Reston, Va.

Rental resentment
Oct. 24, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about problem renters. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: I own six rental properties, and they provide a little extra income for my wife and me. We maintain clean properties with only modern kitchens and bathrooms. We screen all renters, but still we get people who never clean their place, punch holes in the walls, paint walls garish colors, then move out and demand a return of their security and cleaning deposits. If they move out and leave us a mess to deal with, they’re not getting a dime back. One renter moved in the dead of night, taking a refrigerator with her but leaving her pet iguana, which we gave to an animal sanctuary.

“I’ve spoken to other landlords, and they have the same sorts of problems. So, renters, if you want your deposit back, leave the rental property clean and in good condition.” - Disgusted Landlord in Houston

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for paper plates:

- Use as a spoon rest.

- Use under a pet’s dish to catch pet food.

- Put in a microwave to catch drips. Replace as needed.

- Give to children to draw on or make masks out of.

- Heloise


Hardwood floors

Dear Heloise: Hardwood floors need a little TLC, and they’ll look great for years to come. Here are a few hints I’ve learned to keep your wood in pristine condition:

First, never slide furniture across the floor. Pick it up, if you can, or use plastic sliders.

Use rugs on your floor, especially in front of doors that lead into the house.

Try to not wear high heels too often, as they might dent the floor.

Keep your floors clean. Dirt over time wears down the finish and beauty of hardwoods.

- Robert K. in Cleveland


Flat-screen TV

Dear Readers: Many people have flat-screen TVs but don’t know the proper way to clean them. Here are some suggestions from the experts:

1. Turn off and unplug the TV before you start cleaning.

2. Always follow the manufacturer’s warranty guidelines.

3. Use a microfiber cloth to dust the screen. That might be all you need to do, but if smudges remain, use a damp (not wet) microfiber cloth to wipe the smudge.

4. NEVER spray liquid on the screen, never use paper towels or abrasive materials, and never use alcohol or ammonia cleaning products. They remove the anti-glare protective covering on the screen.

- Heloise


Clean that sink

Dear Heloise: Want a truly clean sink? Fill your sink (whether metal or porcelain) with water almost to the brim, add 1 cup of bleach and let sit for 20 minutes. Unplug the sink and drain the water. Then use a scouring powder and sponge, and scrub the sink, including the faucets and every part of the sink. Rinse well. If the area around the drain or faucet is still in need of a little more work, use a toothbrush to scrub it clean. - A Reader, via email

A childish question?
Oct. 18, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about people who choose to remain childless:

“Dear Heloise: Years ago, when my husband and I got married in our late 20s, we decided we weren’t going to have a family. No, we DON’T hate children. We’re simply not ‘child-oriented.’ People with children keep saying, ‘Oh, you don’t know what you’re missing.’ That’s true, because you can’t miss what you never had.

“We applaud those who wanted a family and love their kids, but it just wasn’t for us. We’re not sorry we decided to skip having children, and we really wish family and friends would stop asking rude questions, such as ‘If you didn’t want kids, why did you get married?’ Parenting isn’t for everyone.”
- Mike and Tara D., Nashville, Tenn.


Mike and Tara, you’re right: “Parenting isn’t for everyone.” Lately, more and more couples are remaining childless. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for cotton balls:

- Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and gently dab an ink spot on your clothing. Allow it to air-dry, then dry-clean or wash the garment.

- Got long fingernails? Stuff one or two cotton balls into the fingers of a rubber glove before cleaning to prevent puncturing the glove.

- Soak cotton balls in white vinegar and place on water spots on your chrome fixtures.

- Heloise


Cleaning woodwork

Dear Heloise: How can I clean my woodwork without breaking the bank? - Nina A., Jupiter, Fla.


Nina, mix 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts water. Using a clean sponge, dip into the water/vinegar solution, wring out the excess water and wipe the woodwork. Dry the woodwork, then polish with a clean cloth.

If you like this easy, effective method of cleaning, you’ll love my pamphlet Heloise’s Homemade Cleaning Solutions, which is full of household cleaning hints using everyday cleaners that you probably have at home and special formulas that are safe and inexpensive. Just send $5, along with a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Cleaning Solutions, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at FYI: Give those yucky sponges a weekly cleaning by tucking them between glasses or cups in the top rack of the dishwasher. - Heloise


A hostess idea

Dear Heloise: I read your informative articles in The Westfield News in Southwick, Mass. There was a hint by Janet H., of Park City, Utah, asking for hostess gift ideas to take with her when she plays cards. Here are a few suggestions:

- Homemade cookies stacked in a cellophane bag tied with a ribbon

- A potted plant that blooms

- Pretty napkins

- Notepaper

- A good bottle of olive oil or balsamic vinegar

- Rachel T., Southwick, Mass.


A good ‘goo’ question

Dear Heloise: How can I get that sticky goo from plants off my pruners? - Irene M., Ionia, Mich.

Irene, spray your pruning shears with vegetable oil spray before use, and the goo will slide off. - Heloise

Phone scams make me sick
Oct. 10, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about phone scammers. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: I’m sick of phone scammers! Things have gotten so bad, and the scammers have gotten so sophisticated, that I’m afraid to answer the phone if it’s a number I don’t recognize. So now, even if a charity calls, I simply say, ‘I take no solicitations by telephone.’ Then I hang up.

“The other day, I received an email that looked legitimate from my internet carrier, but something cautioned me to phone and inquire whether or not they had actually asked for my Social Security number, along with banking information (which I NEVER give out). They hadn’t sent me an email and told me to report this to the state consumer protection office or to the Federal Trade Commission’s online Complaint Assistant. I’ve been cautious, and I hope others will be as well.” - Marla S. in San Diego


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some early holiday hints:

- Start making your own holiday traditions.

- Make some new dishes that will become holiday favorites.

- Do as much as you can in advance so you can enjoy the holiday, too.

- Have the whole family involved in the decorations, food and music.

- Heloise


‘File for Life’

Dear Heloise: As a retired member of the fire department, I keep a “File for Life”  in case anything should happen to me. I also update all my medications, and I keep one list on my refrigerator and one in my vehicle glove compartment. This is so paramedics can locate it to see what medications I am currently taking to treat my medical issues. - Bill B., Mingo Junction, Ohio


Bill, that’s an excellent idea. Everyone should also take the time to attend to the paperwork needed for a living will, as well as any other important wishes you have. Don’t assume anyone will automatically know what you want. Tell them. - Heloise


Better safe than sorry

Dear Heloise: I live in a very warm climate, and we have a problem with insects. No matter how clean a home is, water bugs find a way in. To help keep them out of my pantry, I put all cereals, flour, staples and spices in airtight plastic containers rather than leave these items in their original packages. Not only does it keep my foods fresher, it also keeps the bugs out. I do the switch-out from package to plastic container as soon as I get home from the grocery store. - Malia K., Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii


Simple garden lanterns

Dear Heloise: You can take any jar, even a baby-food jar, and place a votive candle in it to use as a lantern in your garden. Either place them around the patio or among the plants, or suspend them by wire or ribbon from tree branches to provide a soft, romantic light for the evening. - Rae-Ann R., Leesville, La.

Where, oh where, has service gone?
Oct. 4, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about looking for salespeople in department stores:

“Dear Heloise: Two days ago, I went into a major department store to make a purchase, found what I wanted, but I had to hunt down a salesperson to ring it up! So many stores have cut back on one of their most important assets - PEOPLE.

“Why bother to open your doors if you don’t have enough people to wait on customers, help them find what they are looking for and then ring up the item? And so many salespeople are poorly trained or are burdened with additional chores, making it difficult to pay attention to a customer. I guess customer service is becoming a thing of the past.” - Vicki T., Middle River, Md.

Vicki, this seems to be a growing problem across the nation. So, readers, do you face this problem where you live? Write and let us know. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some new ways to dress up an old plastic plant pot:

- Glue seashells to the outside, put a little plant in and give as a gift.

- Decoupage the outside with old, used stamps, pictures or photographs.

- Glue buttons on the exterior.

- Paint in vibrant colors and add lace, ribbons or other embellishments.

- Heloise



Dear Heloise: My husband is accident-prone. How do I get out bloodstains?
- Rhonda B., Walla Walla, Wash.

Rhonda, first soak the shirt in cold water - this works best if done immediately. If the stain remains, pour hydrogen peroxide over the area to remove it. (Test a hidden area first to be sure the hydrogen peroxide doesn’t remove any color.) Then wash in cold water and laundry detergent.

If you’d like a guide on how to remove stains of nearly every type you can think of, order my pamphlet Heloise’s Handy Stain Guide for Clothing by sending $5, along with a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to:

Heloise/Stain Guide
P.O. Box 795001
San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.

Or you can order it online at also can try dampening the bloodstained area with cold water, then sprinkling on some meat tenderizer. Let it sit for a while, then wash as usual. - Heloise


Where did I park?

Dear Heloise: I never can remember where I parked my car at the mall. Got any good hints for finding it?
- Stacy D., Lexington, Ky.

Stacy, look at the huge letters of the store name nearest you, and make a mental note of which row you are parked in. Or if you think you are in the vicinity of your vehicle, press the door lock button on your key fob to get the honking sound, and just follow the noise. - Heloise


Messy linen closet

Dear Heloise: My linen closet in my tiny apartment is too cramped and messy. What should I do?
- Marla V., Elmira, N.Y.

Marla, fold your towels in half, lengthways. Then tightly roll them up. They’ll take up less room that way. - Heloise

A call that needs an answer
Sept. 26, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about leaving a pet outside all year. - Heloise


“Dear Heloise: One of my neighbors got a large dog and keeps it in their backyard. They claim that it’s too large to live in the house. If that’s the case, then DON’T get a large dog. It’s too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter to leave a pet outside all year. A doghouse does not provide the protection a dog needs. Besides the elements, animals get lonely.

“Dogs and cats need human interaction, so if you’re not willing to bring your pet indoors or feed it a healthy diet, then please don’t get a pet or watchdog or any animal at all.” - Elsa and Frank T., Tempe, Ariz.


Fast Facts

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

-  Cut one down to make into a boy’s tie.

-  Braid three of them together to make a pet toy.

-  Cut them up and make into baby quilts or pillows.

- Heloise


Smelly fridge

Dear Heloise: We have a terrible smell coming from our refrigerator. What should I do to get rid of the odor? - Elaine J., Hollywood, Fla.


Elaine, first take everything out of the refrigerator, including shelves. Wash down the interior with warm, soapy water, then wipe with a clean, damp cloth to remove any soap. Dry with another clean cloth.

To keep refrigerator odors at bay, place an open box of baking soda on a shelf, or if you’re worried about it spilling, pour the baking soda into a plastic food container and poke holes in the lid. Works great! For other cleaning and deodorizing hints involved baking soda, order my Heloise’s Baking Soda Hints and Recipes pamphlet by sending $5, along with a long, stamped (71 cents), self-addressed envelope, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at When it’s time to replace the baking soda (the recommendation is every three months), pour it down the drain as a deodorizer. - Heloise


Slippery subject

Dear Heloise: When you are frosting a cake, sprinkle a little powdered sugar or flour on the cake, and you’ll find the icing stays put rather than sliding around. - Jennifer M., Hawthorne, Nev.


Clean from to top to bottom

Dear Heloise: Before I shower, I always rinse and clean my hairbrush and comb. During rehab, my therapist asked me why I did that every day. I told her clean hair needed a clean brush. I’m 91, and I read your column in the Journal-News. - Hilda C., Hamilton, Ohio

A call that needs an answer
Sept. 19, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the loss of “the human touch.” - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: I’m tired of hearing ‘Press 1 for English, press 2 for ...’ I want to talk to a person. I called my bank recently and got a recording with options, none of which can answer my questions. I had to call the water department, and not one of the recorded messages could steer me in the right direction.

“Some companies have done away with customer service departments. We’ve lost the human touch that makes it easier and far more pleasant to do business. And when I called my doctor’s office with a question about my test results, I wasn’t allowed to speak with him, but instead was sent to a physician assistant, who couldn’t answer my questions. To all companies and offices that do business with the public, please put people back on the phones!” - Audrey in San Jose, Calif.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old miniblinds:

- Mark off inches and use as a ruler.

- Cut lengths and hang from a fruit tree to deter birds.

- Glue on the sides of birdhouses for better insulation.

- Cut and use as name markers when planting rows of seeds.

- Use in craft projects. Be creative.

- Heloise

Finding Space

Dear Heloise: Since I live in a small apartment, where finding storage space is difficult, I store sweaters, winter hats, gloves and scarves in my suitcases. My sister puts Christmas decorations in her suitcases. I have storage boxes under the bed that hold a number of things.

Also, when one of my friends has a garage sale, I always volunteer to help out, and in exchange I get all the unwanted items and can sell them. - Kelly T., Aspen, Colo.

Get ride of roaches

Dear Heloise: Help! I need your Heloise formula to get rid of roaches. - Janice N., Clearwater, Fla.


Janice, we have gotten a ton of mail over the past few months requesting this formula, so here it is:

Gather these ingredients: 8 ounces of powdered boric acid, 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 of a small onion (chopped), 1/8 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of shortening or bacon drippings and enough water to form a soft dough.

1. Mix boric acid, flour and onion. Next, cream shortening and sugar and add the flour mixture to this. Mix well, then add enough water to form a soft dough.

2. Shape into small balls and put around the house in areas prone to roaches. If you place the balls in open sandwich bags, they’ll keep longer without drying out. When the dough balls become hard, replace them with fresh ones.

You can skip the water and just use the dry ingredients. Mix powdered boric acid with an equal or larger amount of flour, cornmeal or sugar.

Keep this out of the reach of pets and children; large amounts of boric acid can be toxic. If ingested, call your doctor immediately. - Heloise

A 'responsible' return
Sept. 13, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about returning RSVP cards:

“Dear Heloise: Recently we had a retirement party for my father and sent out invitations with RSVP cards, so that the hotel would know how many tables to set up and how much food to prepare. When an RSVP is sent out, you’re supposed to send it back with ‘Yes, I’ll attend’ or ‘No, I can’t attend.’ Eighteen people showed up who had not returned a card! The caterers quickly set up tables in the back of the room, and those guests were served last, which meant their food was almost cold.

“Please tell your readers that when they receive an RSVP, they should return it as soon as possible, because it’s rude to just show up.” - Emma in Sarasota, Fla.

Emma, I have to agree with you. It’s only good manners to return an RSVP card. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some additional uses for duct tape:

- Store a roll in the glove compartment for roadside emergencies.

- Use to temporarily hem a skirt or slacks.

- Use to remove pet hair or lint.

- Great for removing a splinter.

- Heloise

Sunscreen all year

Dear Readers: Many people figure sunscreen is only useful at the beach, but actually, we need it all year long. However, many people are confused by the labeling of sunscreen products. Here are some definitions from the Skin Cancer Foundation:

UVA (ultraviolet A) is the longer UV ray from the sun that causes long-lasting skin damage and premature aging.

UVB (ultraviolet B) is a shorter ray than UVA that causes sunburn and skin damage. Both UVA and UVB can cause skin cancer.

SPF stands for sun protection factor. It’s a measure of the sunscreen’s ability to protect someone from UVB rays damaging the skin.

Broad spectrum means protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

- Heloise

Check your credit scores

Dear Heloise: Please advise your readers to check their credit scores on a regular basis. Why? Anyone can go to a post office and fill out a change-of-address card and have your mail diverted to another address. This gives identity thieves the opportunity to check on what you owe, how much money you have, where your investments are and much more information that you’d rather keep private. - Naomi K., Willmar, Minn.


Budget-friendly ideas

Dear Heloise: I have a terrible time sticking to a budget. I tend to spend on frivolous items I don’t need, and I order online all the time. Any hints on how to stick to a budget? - Ann-Marie A., Muskegon, Mich.

Ann-Marie, first ask yourself how an item will enrich or improve your life. If tempted to buy something not in your budget, wait 24 hours before buying. Stay away from the shopping sites you normally frequent. When you pay off a bill, keep paying that same amount into a savings account so that you have some extra cash on hand. - Heloise

The real emergencies
Sept. 6, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about 911 calls. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Working as a 911 operator, I’ve handled many emergencies. However, some people seem confused by the word ‘emergency.’ It means: a fire, a crime (especially if it’s still in progress), a car crash where someone is hurt or a medical emergency.

“It does NOT mean calling because McDonald’s ran out of Chicken McNuggets (this really happened), or telling the operator that a person’s house is on fire when it is not. Calls like that can earn you jail time and a stiff fine, depending on where you live.

“We’re trained to handle emergencies, not annoying calls. Please only call in a real emergency. If you do call with an emergency, you’ll be asked a number of questions in order to assist you and analyze the situation, so stay calm and answer the operator.” - Jennifer F. in Phoenix

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Other uses for clean ice cream tubs:

- Use to hold yarn or crayons.

- Paint one and use it as a planter.

- Store wrapping decorations in one.

- Wash one out and use as a pet food bowl on trips.

- Heloise


Wedding tradition

Dear Heloise: It used to be the custom to throw rice at a wedding, but now it’s birdseed that’s thrown. However, please get permission before tossing any seed at the happy couple. Much of it is eaten by birds, but the seeds that are not eaten may sprout weeds in a church lawn. - The Reverend’s Wife, via email


As a reminder

Dear Heloise: Just as a reminder, inside of the card for a wedding gift, make some notation of what the gift is. Something like “We hope you enjoy the blender” or “I hope you enjoy this floral vase for many years to come.” If the gift and card get separated, at least the couple will remember what you gave them when writing thank-you notes. - Arlene J., Bismarck, N.D.


Better butter

Dear Heloise: Can you freeze butter? - Chloe D., Aberdeen, Wash.

Chloe, yes, you can. Store it in its original container or tightly wrapped until needed. The freezer life for butter is about two to three months. To make it easier to spread, leave it on the counter for a few minutes.
- Heloise


Good for both!

Dear Heloise: I’m big on matching my body wash, lotion and fragrance, but the women’s versions of wash and lotion can be pricier.

I buy the men’s variety of body wash and lotion in my fave fragrance, and I save a lot. The men’s is a nice counterbalance to the ladies’ perfume. - Shelley B. in New York

Educational failure?
August 30, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about declining educational standards. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: This will be my last year of teaching because I’m entering another profession. In the 12 years I taught school, I noticed that education begins in the home with parents demanding good grades and not settling for poor performance. In fact, our whole educational system needs an overhaul.

“They have taken away a teacher’s authority and respect, and lowered our educational standards, which is why students in this country rank so low in math, science, geography and world history. Let dedicated teachers design a new curriculum and set educational standards, and you’ll see a very positive change in our schools.” - B.H. in Oregon

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Got an old, chipped coffee mug? Here are some uses for it:

- Place it on a desk and fill with pencils and pens.

- Use to scoop out laundry soap.

- Use to put dirt into a pot when planting.

- Plant herbs in it and place on a kitchen windowsill.

- Heloise


They’re back!

Dear Heloise: The phone scam artists are back. People get a phone call from someone claiming to be from their internet server, informing them that they have spyware on their computer or that they have detected malware, none of which is true. I verified this with three different carriers, and they all claimed they do NOT call people and tell them they have found a problem with their computer. It’s just another way scammers take your money and do nothing for you. - Nessa C., Elk City, Okla.


These hints are gems

Dear Heloise: So many women destroy their jewelry because they don’t remove it before doing their housework. Silver jewelry will tarnish if it’s exposed to rubber gloves, vinegar or eggs. Gold is damaged by mercury and some cleaning chemicals. Alloys in gold and soldered areas are weakened by chlorine.
- Brooke L., Syracuse, N.Y.


Cat urine

Dear Heloise: There’s no genteel way to put this except to say that I have four tomcats (all neutered) who have been spraying inside my house! The smell is getting to me, even though I scrub my floors and walls constantly. Any hints? - Bridget S., Rumson, N.J.

Bridget, a temporary solution is to use equal parts of vinegar and water to clean the affected area. But you need to start with why the cats are peeing or marking territory in your home. Are there health issues with your cats? Dirty kitty litter? Too few potty pans? Are the cats upset over changes or perhaps prevented access to the kitty litter box?

Also, use a black light (available in hardware stores or online) to find the urine spots. Cat urine glows under black light.

You’ll have to find a good enzyme cleaner to kill bacteria and rid your home of the urine scent. Above all, patience is the key. - Heloise

Honeymoon help?
August 22, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off concerns wedding gifts:

“Dear Heloise: I recently attended the wedding of a friend’s daughter, and since they made no bones about wanting cash for their honeymoon, I gave them $100.

“I was told that asking people to fund a honeymoon is now the new normal for couples getting married. Am I out of step with modern weddings?” - Brandi W., New Braunfels, Texas

Brandi, we’ve had several letters on this new trend of couples asking for money for their honeymoon. Readers, what would you do if you were asked to give money for a couple’s honeymoon? - Heloise

Fast Facts

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

- Cut into narrow strips to use in mice and hamster cages.

- Use as packing material.

- Cut into smaller pieces and place in a compost pile.

- Place on the ground, wet with water from a hose, then cover with soil or gravel to keep weeds from coming up.

- Heloise

Fishing for needles and thread

Dear Heloise: Want a perfect sewing basket for all of your sewing supplies and loose buttons? Use a fishing tackle box. It’s perfect for your scissors, threads, thimbles and more. - Patsy K., Little Creek, Del.

Patsy, great idea! And the next letter has another useful sewing hint. - Heloise

This hint is “sew” clever

Dear Heloise: If you use a bar of soap with the wrapper on it as a pincushion, it not only will hold a lot of pins, but the soap also will actually lubricate the needles, making them slide easily through various fabrics. - Meghan P., Latrobe, Pa.

Housewarming gift hints

Dear Heloise: Whenever someone I know moves into a new house, I always give the person a housewarming gift. Over the years, I’ve found that some items are really appreciated more than others because of their usefulness. Things such as a hand cart, a gift certificate to a home-improvement store or hardware store, a set of screwdrivers, or even small items such as a flashlight or a basket of energy-efficient light bulbs are a huge help to people when they move. - Judy T., Kingman, Ariz.


Judy, these are excellent suggestions. When you move, you may realize you need more light bulbs than you did in your old place, along with shower curtain rings, a hammer or many other items. - Heloise

Tire troubles

Dear Heloise: My concern is about bikes. Kids get them for birthdays and Christmas. As soon as a tire goes flat, the bike becomes useless. Kids need exercise - too much TV and too many video games!

My question is: Can’t tire manufacturers make solid bike tires? - A.W. in Temple, Texas

The rules of the house
August 15, 2018

Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off concerns the downside of having a beachfront house:

“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

I hear this often from folks who own a beach house or a lake house. So, readers, what do you think?
- Heloise

Fast Facts

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.

- Heloise


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.


Electric griddles

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., Cumberland, Md.

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. - Heloise


Tomato 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

Thanks 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 pets.

“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


Fast Facts

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.

- Heloise


Strawberries vs. weeds

Dear Heloise: Did you know that strawberries tend to choke out weeds?

They spread by runners and look good planted under blueberry and rose bushes.

- Mattie R., Tupelo, Miss.


Easier school mornings

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 school.

 - Heloise


Game boards

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. - Heloise


Lost socks

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


Dream boards

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.









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