The thief in the lunchroom


Jan. 10, 2018


Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about stealing people’s lunches from the employee refrigerator:

“Dear Heloise: I work in a large office where we bring our own lunch. We either write a name on the lunch or we tag it so it’s identifiable. Someone has been taking food that doesn’t belong to them. Two employees found that someone had taken their lunches the other day. We can’t seem to catch the person responsible. Any suggestions?” - Lois L., Bonne Terre, Mo.

Oh my, the old “Who took my lunch?” dilemma. This is not new at all. Try to keep a close eye on the lunchroom, and mention it in an employee meeting. Posting a sign on the refrigerator might help.

I was at a radio station in Washington, D.C., once and commented to the program director that the “break room” was the cleanest I had ever seen in a radio/TV station. His reply was that since they had put in a camera to prevent items from “going missing,” employees were cleaning up after themselves! Maybe ask management to do the same. It can’t hurt! - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old blankets:

- Local pet shelters need them.

- Keep in the trunk of your car for an emergency.

- Use to keep dirt off when storing furniture.

- Use to cover a bed in the guest room. No pet hair!

- Heloise


The American Dream

Dear Heloise: I’ve read that the American dream is dead for most young people. By “American dream” I mean owning a home, having children, sending the kids to college, building a retirement fund, things like that. - F.W. in California

Floyd, the “American dream,” as it’s called, isn’t slipping away, but it is changing. Instead of big homes, many are opting for smaller homes that require less work and less expense. There also is a trend of multigenerational homes. It’s a different time. - Heloise

Clean lint filter

Dear Heloise: I may be the last male on Earth to know this, but I use a used dyer sheet to clean the dryer lint filter. Much better than a wet finger! - L.H., Bedford, Texas

It’s amazing that what is new to you is old hat to others. Readers, please be sure to clean the lint filter EVERY time the dryer is used. Also, check the exhaust hose. You would be shocked about how many home fires are started by a lint buildup. - Heloise

P.S. DON’T put the clothes in the dryer and then run a quick errand! Oh, by the way, when I visited the USS Santa Fe, a nuclear submarine docked at Pearl Harbor, I learned this hint from them: When they do laundry, someone ALWAYS stays in that room while the dryer is on. Fire on a submarine is very dangerous. Learn from them.

The moving trash can

Dear Heloise: My trash can would slide when we stepped on the lid release, so I purchased a small pet food mat. I use it under the trash can, and no more sliding! - Lynn D., Colorado Springs, Colo.

Thoughts on a new year
Jan. 2, 2017

Dear Readers: As 2018 begins, my wish for you is to think about the coming new year and let’s all HOPE FOR THE BEST!

This space usually is reserved for a reader “Sound Off” about stores not posting operating hours large enough to read, packaging that is difficult to open, or online sites that are not legit.

It’s my turn for a “Sound On” today. Thank you for taking time to write me. Your input (and, many times, negative comments or suggestions about a recent hint) is what keeps this column going. Please know that Heloise Central (what I call my office/assistants) does its best to research and TEST hints before printing them.

Heloise Hint: Just because it’s on the internet or someone forwarded a hint via email, you can’t trust everything you read that is on the internet. Take a moment to consider the source. Does it sound plausible or just plain dumb? Wow, lose 10 pounds in five days, look younger with this cream or buy these “rare” coins as an investment - REALLY?

This column is here for you, and know that you can trust me to tell you the truth. You may not like it, or maybe your mother or father always did it this way, or a friend told you. However, put on your Heloise hat and ask: Is it safe? Will it work? Does it sound like old advice? Is it good for the environment? What would Heloise think about this? See below, where I explained why the reader “hint” may not be safe or work.
- A big hug, Heloise

P.S. Take a little time to reflect on last year, and look forward to set some reasonable goals, NOT resolutions. My New Year’s resolution is to NOT make them!

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Other uses for yogurt containers:

- Use to hold loose change (especially for tolls or doing laundry).

- Fill with dirt and start seedlings.

- Use for small portions of food for a lunch bag or lunchbox.

- Use as a scoop for dry dog food.

- Heloise


Names on clothing

Dear Heloise: Please rethink the advice not to put children’s names on clothing and lunchboxes! So many items go missing throughout the year. Names can be placed on the inside so strangers can’t see them.
- Karen J., a kindergarten teacher, Los Alamitos, Calif.

Karen, good point. Any identifying information should be put inside a lunchbox or clothing. This is especially true for a backpack. - Heloise

Purse in a shopping cart?

Dear Heloise: I read your column about not leaving your purse in a grocery cart. I close my purse, place it in the child’s seat, then use the straps and wrap them around the purse handle several times and snap shut. - Linda L., via email

Linda, this may be true, but anyone can unzip your purse or cut the straps and steal your wallet in a second. Carry your purse with you, or take just your wallet and coupons. - Heloise

A holiday message
Dec. 27, 2017

Dear Readers: It’s the HOLIDAY SEASON, and many of us are with family and friends, or you might be by yourself. Whatever your situation, please know that I send you my warmest and happiest greetings!

Here are a few short hints from me, your friend Heloise:

- DO try to enjoy yourself and take some time for YOU.

- DO use care when in the kitchen. Watch food on or in the stove, or in the microwave.

- DO keep an eye on pets and small children so they don’t get into mischief.

- DON’T light a lot of candles around your home and walk out of the room!

- DON’T burn wrapping paper in a fireplace!

- DON’T put sharp knives in the dishwater - it’s easy to get cut.

My wish for you today? If it can wait, LET IT WAIT! Dust, dirt and leaves will be there tomorrow!

Big holiday hug! - Heloise

Fast facts

Dear Readers: Here are some additional uses for “sticky notes”:

- Stick one on a bathroom mirror to remind you of your hair/dental/doctor appointment date and time.

- If you’re going somewhere, put one on the back of the door by which you leave to tell yourself what you need to take with you.

- Label clothing by color if colorblind.

- If you have a list of errands you need to get done, write them out on a sticky note and attach it to the car’s steering wheel.

- Heloise


All bottled up

Dear Heloise: When traveling by air, there’s one thing you really need in your carry-on bag: an empty water bottle. After going through security, you can fill it up at a water fountain. Many times I’ve been on a rough flight where refreshments were not served, and it came in handy. - Kathy P., Port Charlotte, Fla.


Keeping in touch

Dear Heloise: Most of us have friends who, for many reasons, have drifted away. A couple of years ago, some of my friends and I started to reconnect, and we decided to get together once a month. We choose a restaurant using the alphabet: first month the letter A, the second month the letter B and so on. Sometimes we travel out of our community, and sometimes we meet close by, but we always have fun and stay in touch with each other. - S.D.J.B., via email


To eat or not to eat

Dear Heloise: Is household paraffin wax edible? Nowhere on the box does it say “edible.” - Janice P., via email

Janice, paraffin is used as an ingredient in making chocolate, especially chocolates that are given shapes, such as Easter Bunnies or Santas. A little wax is mixed in to make the chocolate hold its shape and to add shine. Paraffin wax is actually non-digestible, which means it passes through the body without being absorbed. However, eating a large amount of paraffin is dangerous and can lead to intestinal blockage, which can be very serious! - Heloise

Be cautious with a pet gift
Dec. 20, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about gifting an animal for Christmas. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Please advise your readers to think twice about giving an animal, such as a dog or cat, as a Christmas gift. A pet should be given ONLY if the recipient has requested a particular pet and is above 12 years of age. It’s better to allow the recipient to select the pet rather than to pick one out for him or her. However, if the pet is for a child, it must be understood that the child needs to feed it, water it and play with it. All too many children lose interest in the pet after the newness wears off, so think carefully. It’s a living, breathing, feeling creature, NOT A TOY.” - Angela in Detroit

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for a potato peeler:

- Cut thin slices of cheese with it.

- Sharpen pencils.

- Shave chocolate to make chocolate curls.

- Carefully remove fuzzy sweater balls from sweaters.

- Heloise


Cleaning gravestones

Dear Heloise: Do you have a hint for cleaning gravestone markers? I would like to remove enough grime to make them legible. - Jack in San Antonio


Jack, you didn’t mention what materials the markers were made of; however, never use a stiff-bristled brush on a grave marker. Avoid pressure washing and bleach, and do not use a regular household cleaner on any marker.

- Granite headstone: Use a nonionic detergent, by mixing 1 ounce of detergent with 1 gallon of water. Using a soft-bristled brush, gently scrub the marker.

- Marble or limestone markers: Clean with a cup of ammonium hydroxide in a gallon of water to kill such things as moss, algae and lichen. Again, use only a soft-bristled brush.

- Bronze marker: The cleaning tip for granite markers also applies to bronze markers. Do not try to remove the green patina that comes with time from bronze. It adds an aged beauty to the marker.

- Heloise


Teaching kids about money

Dear Heloise: I found a great way to teach my kids about money: I gave my son $20 and told him he had to figure out a dinner that would feed a family of four, then I had him come with me to the grocery store. The things he learned were (1) $20 doesn’t go very far; (2) you can’t do impulse buying when shopping for dinner on $20; and (3) you need to look for bargains!

He made spaghetti with a meat sauce, tossed salad and heat-and-serve rolls. Dessert was a sherbet that was on sale. There was 11 cents left over from the $20. He’s had a greater appreciation of money ever since. - A Reader, via email


Contact list

Dear Heloise: When I add a contact to my cellphone, I always list the person’s relationship to me - I have probably five or six “Jennifers” in my phone, and I need to be sure I am speed-dialing the correct one!
- Maria F., Tallahassee, Fla.

Dec. 12, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about not sending back an RSVP for seated events. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: I recently had a wedding, for which we sent out the invitations four weeks ahead of the event, along with RSVP cards. Sixty-four people said they were coming, but 88 showed up. We sent the RSVP cards because we were having a sit-down dinner for the number who RSVP-ed! We had an evening wedding, which did not include children, and yet people brought small children and infants.

“Have we, as a society, lost our manners? When an RSVP is included in an invitation, you need to reply as soon as possible. If someone’s name is not on the inner envelope of a wedding invitation, then that person is not invited, and that includes children.” - Mary Ann and Dave K., Washington, D.C.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are a few uses for a hair dryer besides just drying hair:

- Use to soften glue on stubborn labels.

- Use to remove dust from artificial flowers.

- Use to dry a wet area of your clothing.

- Use to dry nail polish on toes or hands.

- Heloise


Getting below the surface

Dear Heloise: I gently press a hard-boiled egg on a hard surface and roll it back and forth in order to generate mini cracks over the entire shell. Then I take a spoon, with the cup side down, and gently insert it into one of the larger cracks and pry the shell from the egg. Oftentimes, the entire shell will come off with one prying action. - Ginger S., via email


Just ask a plumber

Dear Heloise: My plumber told me to never flush facial tissues down the toilet because they can easily clog the pipes: They’re meant to keep their shape and strength when wet, unlike toilet paper, which is made to dissolve easier when flushed. - Happy Mom and Grandmom, Centerville, Ohio


Worried about wrinkles

Dear Heloise: I have a new set of 100 percent cotton sheets, which I washed and rinsed in cold water and hung out to dry. Results? A gazillion wrinkles! What should I do differently to remove all of the wrinkles?
 - Old Washer Woman in Rockingham, Va.

 Try spritzing the sheets with a light spray of water. First put the pillow in its pillowcase, then lightly spritz with water while holding the pillowcase up by the cuff. Then shake up and down a few times. You can spray the sheets while they hang on the line, then try a little pulling and see if this helps. Otherwise, you’ll have to iron your sheets, because 100 percent cotton usually wrinkles to some extent. - Heloise


Dirty towels

Dear Heloise: If soap and water make you clean, why do towels get dirty? - Alfred D., Tampa, Fla.

Alfred, if you use soap and water properly, the towel won’t get dirty. However, dead skin cells will be rubbed off when you dry yourself. Then there is the matter of towels developing mildew and odor from being damp, so they need to be washed frequently. - Heloise

Say ‘no’ to contact info
Dec. 6, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about advertising on the internet/webpages:

“Dear Heloise: I get annoyed at websites where pop-up ads say, ‘Get a free, no-obligation quote.’ Life insurance, for example: I understand asking smoking and health questions, but why do they have to ask my name? This is only one example of a large number of sites that want contact info. WHY? Asking my name is an invasion of my privacy. If I’m interested, I’ll call them.” - Vicki B., via email


Vicki, I understand completely! I’m tired of ads covering up news stories, and the big banner ads at the top of every screen. The worst, for me, is that they say they’re free but want your credit card number. I’d like to know how other readers feel about this problem. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are a few suggestions for water conservation to prevent waste:

- Boiling pasta? Save the water and, after it cools, use to water plants.

- Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth.

- Make sure your dishwasher and clothes washing machine are full before running.

- Water your lawn late in the day or early in the morning to reduce evaporation.

Remember, water is a precious commodity. Let’s not waste it. - Heloise


Wedding rules of etiquette

Dear Heloise: Is it proper to ask people to attend a wedding shower but not the wedding?
- Richard B., via email

Richard, there are some hard and fast rules for wedding etiquette that deserve repeating:

1.) If you’re invited to a shower, it is generally understood that you also should be invited to the wedding. An “office shower” might be the one exception to this rule.

2.) The bride/groom sends out handwritten thank-you notes for each gift, making certain to mention how they plan to use it. These go out as soon as possible after the honeymoon.

3.) The bride and groom personally thank everyone for attending their wedding, while at the reception.

4.) No one but the bride should wear white to the wedding. Don’t put the bride in an uncomfortable position by asking if you can wear white to her wedding.

- Heloise


Lampshade vs. dust

Dear Heloise: I have dog hair and dust on my lampshades, and even though I vacuum them, the dust still clings to the shade. What to do? - Lydia M., Hastings, Neb.

Lydia, if the lampshade has a flat surface, you can use a lint roller to remove nearly anything. If your shade is fluted with ridges and valleys, take it outside and use a clean paintbrush to brush the dust off in downward strokes. - Heloise

The forgotten ones
Nov. 29, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about spouses who forget important occasions:

“Dear Heloise: For the fifth year in a row, my husband has forgotten our wedding anniversary. A year after we were married, he stopped taking me out for my birthday. Many men, like him, work hard, don’t abuse their wives and love their kids, but they alienate their wives by missing special occasions. I grew up in a house where Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries and more were to be celebrated and enjoyed. To me and many women like me, ignoring these occasions is the same as saying, ‘You don’t matter to me anymore.’ I wish men would remember the old saying, ‘Happy wife means a happy life.’” - Betty R., Tulsa, Okla.


Betty, I hope your husband reads this column, as well as all the other men who forget or ignore the things that strengthen the bonds between husband and wife. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for leftover wallpaper:

- Use as shelf liners or to wrap around smooth canisters.

- Take to a copier store and have custom place mats made by having the desired size encased in plastic to match your kitchen decor.

- Use to make book covers.

- Heloise


Leftover hint

Dear Heloise: In response to Betsy M., who said her husband refuses to eat leftovers, I said the same thing to my wife about three weeks after we were married. She handed me an apron and pointed toward the kitchen. If I wanted original meals every night, she said I should get busy and start cooking. That was 46 years ago, and I’ve been a good boy ever since. By the way, I eat leftovers! - Stanley H., Leesburg, Va.

The following letter has another hint about leftovers. - Heloise


Call it a ‘planned over’

Dear Heloise: To help the new bride whose hubby won’t eat leftovers, I suggest she call them “planned-overs.” That’s what I have called them for years, and it goes over much better with my family. I enjoy reading your column in The (Martinsburg, W.Va.) Journal. - Lisa R., Cayce, S.C.


Coffee fund

Dear Heloise: My daughter was recently hospitalized. Several nurses and support staff did an excellent job of caring for her.

Instead of buying a bouquet of fresh flowers that will eventually die, I bought a container of live plants and suggested that the staff auction it off after seven days. The proceeds went to the staff’s coffee fund. I was told that it worked out very well. - Luetta S., via email


This view isn’t camouflaged
Nov. 22, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the wearing of camouflage clothing:

“Dear Heloise: People from babies to adults are wearing camouflage clothes. It’s used on sheets, towels and whatever.

“I think this is a slap in the face to our men and women in the armed forces, who have earned the right to wear this type of clothing. I feel people should respect the camouflage clothes of the armed forces like we respect the American flag. Haven’t our men and women in the military earned the right to wear camouflage, and NOT everyone else?” - Martha N., Riverton, Ill


Martha, although I don’t wear camouflage, I think it’s OK if others want to wear it. To some people, this is a way of showing support for and solidarity with our armed forces, while others find the design to be attractive, and hunters have used camouflage for years. It’s currently a trend, but it may fade in time.
- Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are a few ideas for using wicker baskets:

- Use one to hold all the remote controls in your home.

- Use a large basket for your pets to sleep in, with a towel or pillow on the bottom.

- Save them to place gifts in. They make a nice presentation when handing a gift to someone.

- Heloise



Dear Heloise: My company is now encouraging employees to meditate during our breaks and if we have time during our lunch hour. It’s an innovative idea and is becoming more common in the workplace, because there are benefits to both the company and the employee. First of all, when people meditate, they also form the ability to concentrate better on their work. We just seem to have more focus, more energy and feel better all over. Some of my co-workers swear they have a better quality of sleep after meditating. I’d like to see more companies help their employees to learn meditation. It’s certainly helped to cut down on turnover in our company! - Lillian G., Bismarck, N.D.

An idea to ‘dye’ for!

Dear Heloise: Jeans seem to last forever, but they do fade. So, twice a year, I dye them with two bottles of navy blue on the soak cycle of my washing machine. Then I run them through the regular cycle and clean my washer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I wash them only with blue items or alone after that. I’ve been doing this for years, and my jeans still look good. - Edna R., Rineyville, Ky.


Smooth as satin

Dear Heloise: I sew or pin a satin pillowcase over my pillow. When putting on the clean pillowcase, the pillow just slides over the satin with ease. - Eileen B., Lima, Ohio


No treat for pets

Dear Readers: It’s best to keep pets away from sugary treats during this holiday season. Ask visitors to refrain from giving your pets people food, and you’ll avoid an upset tummy for Fido or Fluffy. - Heloise

Donating the gift of life
Nov. 15, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about organ donation. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: My 17-year-old son received a new kidney after the tragic death of a young woman in an auto accident, and he is now doing fine. He had kidney problems almost from birth, and the doctors said I’d lose him before he turned 30 unless he received a kidney transplant. No parent wants to outlive his or her children, but thankfully a donor was finally found. I would like to raise awareness of how desperately donated organs are needed. To those who have graciously become organ donors, thank you, from a very grateful mother.” - Lisa G., Ann Arbor, Mich.


Fast Facts

Dear Heloise: Here are some money-saving tips that help people all year:

- Clip coupons and carry them in a separate container in your purse or wallet.

- Brown-bag it to work. Going out to eat gets expensive.

- Before you make a purchase “just because you like it,” ask yourself if you really need it.

- Call credit-card companies or banks and ask them to drop their penalty or overdraft fees.

- A Reader, via email


Pop the cork!

Dear Heloise: Aloha! I’ve been saving wine bottle corks, and I use them to top skewers when preparing a whole chicken for roasting. You’re safe from poking yourself or tearing the foil, and it’s easy to remove when the cooking is done. - Liz H., Kauai, Hawaii

Liz, aloha to you, too! - Heloise


Plastic container ideas

Dear Readers: The question of what to do with all of your empty plastic containers motivated many of you to send me some hints:

Carol F. wrote: “Call a day care center. They usually can use empty plastic containers for crayons, paints or other craft materials."

Win G. wrote: “I give them to a local senior center, and they use them to send any leftovers home after the daily lunches."

April B. wrote: “I keep them and fill them with Christmas cookies and candies.”

June K. wrote: “I keep a supply of chalk in empty containers so my granddaughters can draw on the sidewalk when they visit.”

Thanks to all my readers who had so many great ideas to share. - Heloise


That ‘caps’ it

Dear Heloise: It’s easier to replace the cap on a spray product if the cap is placed upside down on the counter and the upside-down can is pressed into the cap. - Marge G., via email


Hint from Chammy

Dear Readers: My little dog, Chammy, has suggestions of her own: It’s always a good idea to wash out pet food bowls every week with soap and hot water to make sure that there’s no bacteria growing on your dog’s or cat’s food and water bowls. - Heloise


Paying for the ‘privilege’?
Nov. 8, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is about the fees charged by stores for the privilege of shopping there:

“Dear Heloise: There are a couple of large discount stores that charge a fee to shop there, and frankly, I don’t understand why I need to pay for a discount! I asked the clerk why I had to pay for the ‘privilege’of spending my money in that store, and the clerk said that they have a low markup on all items, and the fees are the main source of the company’s revenue. As a businesswoman, I find that difficult to believe.”
- Lori M. in Dallas

Readers, how do you feel about paying a fee to shop at a particular store? - Heloise


Dear Readers: Here are some uses for stale bread:

- Make croutons out of it and freeze them for future use.

- Stale bread is best for bread pudding.

- You can crumble it and put it in a meatloaf or use it in stews (to thicken the sauce).

- Heloise


A devoted reader

Dear Heloise: I love reading your column in our local Free Lance-Star newspaper! Here are two hints I’d like to share:

1. An empty tea-light holder is a perfect place to store your rolled-up fabric measuring tape.

2. The plastic cover from a store-bought cake can be reused/recycled as a drip tray for a plant.

- Dawn W., Fredericksburg, Va.


Wedding-day gowns

Dear Heloise: Please tell brides to step outside for a moment when trying on wedding gowns, especially if they are having an outdoor ceremony. This way, they can tell whether sunlight shows everything under the skirt. I had to make a last-minute slip out of a nightgown when I discovered this mistake at my wedding. If I had known about this before the wedding, I’d have bought a half slip! - Julianna T., Bettendorf, Iowa


‘You can wear it again’

Dear Heloise: Why do brides tell their bridesmaids that the dresses they’ve chosen for their attendants can be worn again? Six times I’ve heard, “Just shorten the skirt and you have a cocktail dress.” One of my bridesmaid dresses was in black-and-white stripes! Lined up at the altar, we looked like an overdressed chain gang! I wish brides would just pick simple styles with no adornment for their attendants so we really could wear them again. - Connie A. in Boston


Cleaning silk flowers

Dear Heloise: In response to cleaning silk flowers, a designer of silk flowers recommended using a hair dryer once a month to blow dust off flowers. It works! - Judy I., The Villages, Fla.

Judy, I’ve tried this method, and yes, it works like a charm! - Heloise

Grief without relief
Nov. 1, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the grieving process when you lose a pet. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: We recently had to have our beautiful 17-year-old black Lab put to sleep due to kidney disease. I can’t even begin to explain the grief and pain we feel at the loss of this sweet pet. I just wish people would stop saying things such as, ‘You can always get another dog.’ Yes, we can, but nothing takes the place of a beloved pet. Or ‘Time heals all wounds.’ Sure, but right now, I’m grieving the death of my dog, and I don’t want to hear things like this.

“I wish people would just listen when I need to vent about my sorrow. I don’t want to hear about the death of someone else’s pet; I’m too consumed by my own loss. Please, just let us grieve when we lose a dear pet. Listen without offering advice, and don’t brush off our loss, because it’s very real and very painful to us.”
- Mavis G., Marietta, Ga.


Fast Facts

Dear Heloise: I have some rubber shelf liner left over, and I’ve found several more uses for it:

- I cut out a square and placed it under a sofa cushion that kept slipping forward.

- I put it under my pet’s bedding to keep it from sliding across the kitchen floor.

- I cut a small square and used it to remove pet hair from my furniture.

- I wrapped a few delicate things in the liner before shipping them by mail.

- Loretta W., Springfield, Mo.


Cast Care

Dear Heloise: As a nurse, I’ve seen many casts put on people who’ve broken a bone, and there are a few things we normally tell the patient to help them avoid injuries. First, don’t use a wire hanger or any sharp object to scratch an itch under the cast. Try sprinkling baby powder under the cast. If a cast gets wet, use a blow-dryer set on low heat to dry the cast. You also can use an old sock or knit cap to keep your toes or fingers clean and warm. - Lois G., Livonia, Mich.


The very last drop

Dear Heloise: I generally buy 32-ounce jars of mayonnaise, and the last inch or more is so difficult to get out. I discovered that a frosting spatula does the job easily. - Leslie W., Alexandria, Va.


Jigsaw puzzles

Dear Heloise: I make a lot of jigsaw puzzles. When I first open the box, I pour all the pieces into a colander and shake it over the trash bucket, thus getting rid of the paper sawdust. - M.Z.S., Santa Ana, Calif.


Easy email

Dear Readers: When sending email to someone who might have trouble with his or her eyes, enlarge the font. Size 12 to 14 or bigger is easier to read. Your recipient will thank you! - Heloise

A memorial or a mess?
Oct. 25, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about memorials:

“Dear Heloise: My pet peeve is litter. People leave flowers, candles in glass containers, stuffed animals and other items in a place where someone died. The thought might be good, but tell that to the person who has to clean up that mess. These piles of trash can be found along highways, on sidewalks or on private property.

“Instead of leaving behind some pile of mementos, why not make a donation to a charity in the name of the deceased? It seems to me that this is a far better way to honor the person - with a donation that will go toward doing something positive. If the person loved animals, for example, then make a donation to an animal charity, or if he or she had heart problems, make a donation to the American Heart Association.”
- Richard T., Miamisburg, Ohio

Richard, that’s an excellent idea. All charities need financial help, and it’s a lovely way to honor someone we’ve lost. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Most of us have hair conditioner at home, and here are some additional uses for it besides on our hair:

- Loosen a tight-fitting ring.

- Use it to shave your legs.

- Use on your dog after its bath to keep the coat smooth and fresh-smelling.

- Add a little to the final rinse of hand-washed lingerie.

- Heloise


Everything is just ‘peachy’

Dear Heloise: My husband loves fried peach pies. However, I have been unable to find dried peaches in any grocery store in our area for several years now. Do you know why they are unavailable?
 - Mary Helen F., Hooks, Texas

Mary Helen, try a specialty store, such as a health-food store, or if you search the internet, you will find places that sell dried peaches. Just type in “dried peaches,” and you’ll find various sources that will sell you dried fruit of any kind. - Heloise


Spider control

Dear Heloise: I read your column in the Orange County (Calif.) Register, and I have a question: Do you have a recipe using baking soda or vinegar to control insects (spiders and roaches)?
 - Dennis D., La Palma, Calif.

Dennis, yes, I do, and in fact there are several ways to repel spiders and roaches.

In a large spray bottle, add:

1 cup of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 4 drops of peppermint oil (or citronella or tea tree oil), then fill up the rest of the bottle with water and shake well.

Spiders hate the smell of peppermint, citronella and eucalyptus. Be sure to spray all nooks and crevices, windowsills and around doors. Spray any spiderwebs you see, compost piles and in your garage. - Heloise


Flat coffee filters

Dear Heloise: We use a basket-type coffee filter, and the last ones in a package tend to get flat. I discovered that if you turn them upside down and use the bottom ones first, that problem is fixed!
- Cindy H. in Ohio

Do fares take flight?
Oct. 18, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about airfares offered in an ad, and what it really takes to get those fares:

“Dear Heloise: I’ve lost all patience with travel websites that advertise round-trip airfares at significant savings. The problem: You never can actually find these fares. You can spend hours adjusting the dates, hours and departure location and still not find the advertised fare. There should be a law requiring travel websites to clearly state what days are associated with the advertised fare. Then consumers can decide if it’s right for them or not.” - Sterling D., Dayton, Ohio

Sterling, there are laws about false advertising, but one answer to this problem would be to phone the travel agency that placed the ad and ask how you can get the advertised fare. The agency placed the ad, so let them do the work to find you the best deal possible. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Heloise: I saw your recycling suggestions on amber pill bottles, so I thought I’d send you some of my uses for the empty containers:

- I keep one filled with mints so they don’t get scattered in my purse.

- I keep loose change in them.

- I use one to hold tiny things, such as screws for my glasses, earring backs, safety pins, etc.

- I also carry an additional supply of cream sunblock in one.

- A Reader, via email

And here’s another hint about amber pill bottles:

“I saw the amber pill bottle reuse suggestions, and I thought I’d send in one of my own. Here in Hawaii, it is a custom of ours to have a ‘House Blessing’ when you buy a new place. After we bought our home, my husband and I composed a prayer and wrote it out on paper, then folded it very small and placed it in a pill container. Later in the evening, we had an open house with family and friends, and the minister blessed the house. We then took the pill container, with the prayer inside it, buried it in a deep hole in the front yard and planted a mango tree on top. This house has weathered hurricanes, storms, four kids and six dogs in 15 years, and it’s still here.” - Malia K., Oahu, Hawaii

Floral vases

Dear Heloise: When you accumulate a number of floral vases and containers that you don’t want to keep, call a local florist and ask if it would be interested in reusing them. Sometimes the florist will even pick them up and offer to pay for them. - Linda M., via email

The key is graphite

Dear Heloise: A locksmith once told me never to use a household lubricant on a key lock. There is one very popular lubricant in a can that many people use, but on a lock, it just causes a gummy buildup. Instead, use graphite - white graphite if you can find it, black if you can’t. - Lois B. in Arkansas

Did you know?

Dear Readers: Although only about the size of a golf ball, the blue-ringed octopus has enough poison to kill an adult human in a matter of minutes. - Heloise

Cars and bikes don’t mix well
Oct. 11, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about cars that hog the road and endanger bicycle riders. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Today, while my biking group was in our bike lane, a driver drove so close that she knocked a rider off the bike. Thank heavens he had his helmet on! She claimed it was an accident, that she didn’t see him, but with nine of us in colorful outfits, in a single line, we’re hard to miss. This isn’t the first time it’s happened.

“I know we drive slower than cars because we’re pedaling, but please stay out of our lane, and we’ll do our best to stay away from yours. We have as much right to be on the road as a car, and many of us are going as fast as we can while trying to build up endurance for competitions.” - Terry V., Austin, Texas

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: When you have empty tissue boxes, don’t throw them away. First, if you or your children want to decorate them, it can be a lot of fun. Then you can use them for other things, such as:

- In the kitchen - use to store plastic grocery bags.

- In the bathroom - use to store cotton balls or makeup-remover pads.

- Remove the entire top and store cat toys for Fluffy.

- Use one to store receipts or coupons.

- Use as a trash collector in your car.

- Heloise


The wedding gift

Dear Heloise: I enjoy your column with its many hints in the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. Today, however, I have a hint for you:

I was wrapping a wedding gift of flatware to help complete the couple’s dinnerware. I was looking for something to cushion the pieces in the package, so I wrapped each piece in a clean dust rag that the bride can use, instead of tissue paper that would get thrown out. - Jane A., Beavercreek, Ohio


Refrigeration of food

Dear Readers: Here are two questions related to refrigerating food:

“How long can I keep cooked chicken in my refrigerator?” - Sadie D., Inkster, Mich.

“How long will bacon and sausage stay fresh in my refrigerator?” - Patsy L., Dagger Falls, Idaho


Sadie, cooked chicken will keep well for three to four days in a refrigerator and two to six months in a freezer.

Patsy, bacon will stay fresh enough to eat for seven days in the refrigerator and one month in the freezer.

Sausage usually will keep for one to two days in the refrigerator, and one to two months in the freezer.
- Heloise


Make room in your life

Dear Heloise: So many young people are under the misconception that as they move through life, they’ll make more money and they’ll be happy because they won’t have any worries. That type of thinking leads to disappointment. Go after the dream, not the money. Don’t base your life strictly on how much money you can make. A soul-crushing career will only make you miserable. You’ll work a long time, so make sure that it’s something you really enjoy doing, then do the best work you can. - Margaret B., Inglewood, Calif.









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