Readers: Today’s Sound Off comes from a reader who’s concerned about
strangers having access to his private information. He wrote: “I realize
how important it is to donate blood, but I have stopped doing so. Every
time I go, I have to give every bit of ID information to complete
strangers (always a different person). I have a Red Cross card, but I
still must give verbal answers to requests, including my Social Security
- Tony in Fullerton, Calif.
Tony, there are many more reasons to donate than not. Just check out the
Red Cross website if you ever need a reason to continue doing what
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for shower caps:
Have workmen place them over their shoes before coming into your house.
Place over food dishes at picnics or barbecues to keep the bugs off.
As a pie-tin cover when reusing the tin for transporting cookies, fudge,
Cover a seedling for a mini greenhouse.
Place over hotel- or motel-room phones to cut down on the spread of
Dear Heloise: When I bake cakes, I use a toothpick to check if the cake
Lately, I’ve been trying my hand at baking thicker cakes, and now a
toothpick isn’t long enough to check for readiness. Any hints on what I
can use that is as thin as a toothpick?
- Jeri F. in San Diego
Jeri, for thicker cakes, try an uncooked spaghetti noodle. It’s actually
long enough to go all the way down to the bottom of the pan. I have many
other baking hints in a pamphlet that also includes some of my mother’s
favorite recipes for you to try, since you’re trying your hand at
baking. To get a copy of Heloise’s Cake Recipes pamphlet, send $3 and a
stamped (68 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope to:
Heloise/Cake Recipes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. You
also can order on my website, www.Heloise.com. Baked goods, especially
those that are homemade, are always a hit during any occasion. With each
recipe you take a crack at, try stirring your own creative juices, and
see what you can come up with!
Suitcases on wheels
Dear Heloise: I have a great hint, and I came up with it after my
friend’s house burned down. She lost everything, including all family
photos and film that she had stored in boxes, which were too heavy to
Long story short, I went to a thrift store and picked up a few rolling
suitcases. They are still useable and inexpensive. I have my photos in
them. If there’s ever a fire, I can roll them out easily.
- Erin W., Orange, Calif.
Erin, great hint for reusing rolling suitcases, but just remember that
in the event of a fire, life is much more precious than anything else.
Dial a letter?
June 16, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about businesses that use letters
instead of numbers for a phone number:
“Dear Heloise: My Sound Off is that instead of businesses putting their
phone number on TV, they spell out their business. (HELOISE HERE: An
example is my reader fax number, 1-210-HELOISE, or 1-210-435-6473.) Then
we have to look up every letter on our PHONE. It is time wasted!
“Just put the phone number and save me some time from having to look it
up - 1-800-PLEASE!”
- A Reader, Youngstown, Ohio
Good point, and I agree. If you want my biz, make it easy for me to call
Dear Readers: Here are some things you can use to prevent finger burns
when using a hot-glue gun:
1. Wooden chopsticks.
2. Crochet or knitting needle.
3. An opened paper clip or bobby pin.
4. An ice pick.
5. A carpenter’s nail or needle-nose pliers.
Dear Heloise: Please remind drivers, when the weather is bad and
visibility is poor, to turn on their headlights so drivers behind them
can see the car’s back lights
Some vehicles have running lights that turn on automatically, but the
taillights aren’t on. I’ve been behind vehicles during bad weather, and
seeing the taillights only when they’re breaking is frightening.
- Trina T. in Houston
Trina, I hear you, and if you live in Houston and drive much, you know
that seeing taillights are imperative! Please note some states have a
law that headlights must be on in inclement weather. Why take a chance?
Turn on the lights when it’s bad weather.
Dear Heloise: PLEASE, I BEG YOU TO HELP ME! I went to press a polyester
jacket (the sleeves), and the iron left black marks with the design of
the soleplate imbedded in the fabric. I can’t wear it unless I get these
- Monica, via email
I’ll try, but it’s not a STAIN you can get out - it’s actually a burn of
Polyester is a man-made fabric made with polymers (plastic), and your
iron burned the plastic in the material.
You can’t remove it, but you may be able to hide it or cover it up!
First, try rolling up the sleeves so the burn is hidden. Or take the
jacket to a fabric store and talk to a sales associate. These people are
experts at this and probably can offer creative ideas and materials you
can use. You may be able to enhance the look of your jacket. It’s time
to get those creative juices flowing!
Threading with lip
Dear Heloise: When threading a needle, I rub a little bit of lip balm on
my index finger and thumb. Then I rub the end of the thread, and it
stiffens the thread, which makes it easier to slide it into the eye of
- Elsie M., Colorado Springs, Colo.
‘Plane’ solution: back to front
June 9, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off, from a frustrated reader, is about
boarding airplanes. She wrote: “We recently flew to Hawaii. This airline
boards passengers differently than most. I wish they all would do the
“After first class, handicapped and children were boarded and seated,
the general boarding began.
“Instead of boarding from the front, this airline boards from the back
first. Passengers continue to put up luggage and get settled while
others are boarding. The other passengers coming in don’t disturb them.
“This makes so much sense. I hope other airlines read this and take
note. It would speed up the process and save time.”
- Margie M., Kerrville, Texas
Ah yes, the “cattle call” for boarding! I’ve done it so many times, I
probably could do it in my sleep! Yes, I’ve flown on an airline that
boarded from the back, and you are right! It also seemed to reduce the
stress level. Airlines, are you listening?
Dear Readers: Other uses for grapefruit spoons:
Cut the seeds out of bell peppers.
Scrape seeds out of jalapenos.
Clean the inside of artichokes.
Dig small holes when planting.
P.S.: If you don’t have one, definitely buy a few - you will love them,
even if you don’t eat grapefruit.
Dear Heloise: As summer approaches, we find lots of reasons to gather
with family and friends. We have lots of barbecues!
Recently, we’ve stepped up our game and started a tradition that has
been well-received: We ask our guests to look in their pantry and see if
there’s any food that they’d like to donate to a food bank.
All we ask is that it hasn’t expired. They also know that this is
optional - we don’t want anyone to feel obligated to bring something.
As we’ve had more gatherings, the donations have increased. I feel like
people do want to donate - they just don’t have the time. So we do it
- Jackie H. in Oklahoma
Brilliant, and a big Heloise hug for you. Food banks and food pantries
always need donations, and every little bit helps.
Dear Heloise: I’ve found that the best way to clean windows and mirrors
is with newspaper. It’s so much better than paper towels, which tend to
leave streaks and lint all over the place.
simply spray the mirror or window with a window cleaner, crumple the
paper and wipe away. No streaks or lint.
- Barbara, via email
Yes, Barbara, this longtime Heloise Hint is still a standby, and a
“green hint,” too, as you are using the newspapers for another use!
Dear Readers: When baking peanut-butter cookies, use a plastic fork when
placing the “signature” crisscrosses on top of each cookie. The batter
doesn’t stick to the plastic fork.
drop the mic!
June 1, 2016
Dear Readers: A reader wrote: “My Sound Off is about the
all-too-frequent speakers who refuse to use microphones because ‘I talk
loud enough.’ Wrong!
“It’s not pleasant to listen to someone who’s shouting, or whose voice
softens during the presentation. Listeners shouldn’t be expected to
shout out that they can’t hear.
“People with hearing impediments shouldn’t have to embarrass themselves
in front of a group to declare it publicly so the speaker will use the
- Mary Anna, Omaha, Neb.
hear you! I do many speeches and presentations during the year, and
always request a “body mic,” also known as a lavalier. A sound check is
imperative, and many times there are “hot spots” where there is
feedback, and it’s important to get this obtrusive noise fixed. However,
if it’s a small group in a room (not hundreds in an auditorium), I ask
the audience if they can hear me, or would they like me to use a mic. -
P.S.: A funny note: When I wear a headset that has a mic, the metal part
goes around the back of my head, with a loop or ear hook that rests on
my ear. They usually use gaffer’s or duct tape to secure it. When I’ve
finished the speech and take off the headset, there usually is a handful
of my hair stuck to the tape!
Fast Facts about
Dear Readers: Other uses for baking soda:
As a natural deodorant.
To minimize cat odor in litter boxes.
To soothe an upset tummy.
To eliminate other household odors.
Baking soda is so versatile that having some around the house is the
smart thing to do. My pamphlet, which is filled with hints using baking
soda, will save you a bundle of money. To order a copy, visit my
website, www.Heloise.com, or send $5 and a stamped (68 cents),
self-addressed, business-size envelope to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box
795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Baking soda should be in every
kitchen and bathroom. It’s one of those must-have items that is safe,
cheap and friendly to the environment. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Many of you responded with hints related to a Sound Off
about excessive junk mail. K.H. in Jerseyville, Ill., offered this
solution: “Write ‘VOID’ on the offer, fold the envelope it was mailed in
and write ‘No Thanks’ on it. Then take the postage-paid envelope that
came with it, put everything received back in it and mail back.”
Ken in Lubbock, Texas, wrote: “Take out the SASE (self-addressed,
stamped envelope), tear your address off the letter to you and write on
it ‘No Thanks.’ Put it in the envelope and mail it back. That costs the
sender 49 cents postage and 50 cents handling. You will get nothing else
from that company.”
These are a few ways my readers have suggested to stop junk mail! One
even said to write “dead” or “moved” on the “bounce back” and that will
stop it. Maybe!
May 25, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about newspapers with “wrap-arounds”
on the front section.
“My complaint is about the newspaper’s annoying 3/4 page advertising
cover of almost every issue of the paper! It goes straight into the
bottom of the bird cage before I can sit down to read the paper.
“You can’t even hold the entire section to read it without getting rid
of the extra flapping; wasted paper.”
- Sharon in San Antonio
Another reader wrote, “The 1/2 page cover on the front of our newspaper
has become so annoying that as soon as I get the paper, I rip that piece
off and recycle it so I can enjoy the rest of the paper.”
Dear Readers of Newspapers: Today’s newspaper world is far different
from only a few decades ago. Newspapers have to do everything they can
to bring in revenue while supplying information and entertainment for
readers. As someone who has been in this biz for a loooooooooooong time
(I grew up watching my mother, the original Heloise), it’s far better to
change and adapt than to shut the doors.
While you may not like the “wrap-around,” it serves a purpose. So take a
hint from Heloise: Take the advertising page off (most do) and recycle.
It takes only a few seconds to do so. Enjoy your newspaper.
- Hugs, Heloise
P.S.: Please note, as an internationally syndicated newspaper columnist,
I do have a very strong vested interest in newspapers and in helping my
readers. Don’t give up!
Dear Readers: Other items that can be used to store pierced earrings:
1. Old neckties
2. Place mats
3. Strips of ribbon
5. A sentimental T-shirt.
Dear Heloise: When my grandmother passed away, I ended up with totes
full of stuff from my childhood. They have a really bad mothball smell.
Please, can you help me?
- Patricia M., via email
Patricia, this is a tough smell to get rid of. Generally, it’s only air
circulation that will help the smell to dissipate. So, let Mother Nature
work for you:
1. Hang garments outdoors in the breeze.
2. Put clothing into the dryer on ONLY “fluff dry” and toss in several
Highlight the dates
Dear Heloise: I recently saw a reader complaining about the size of the
expiration dates on coupons and how difficult they are to find. When I
find the date, I highlight it. This makes it easier to find the next
time I view the coupon.
also try to organize them according to the expiration date. This helps
me stay mindful of old and current coupons.
- Jerry V., Galveston, Texas
Dear Readers: Here’s a hint to rescue a blanket that may have shrunk in
the dryer: Just sew a long strip of matching-color fabric to the bottom
of the blanket. You can tuck this section under the foot of the
mattress. - Heloise
April 21, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about caulk or
silicone waste. A reader wrote: “As homeowners for many years, we’re
always doing some kind of fixing of something. Every year there’s a trip
to the hardware store for caulk or silicone. It gets used and capped for
the small odd job and then stored on a shelf for the next job.
“But every time we go to use it, it’s dried up, so we throw it away
(waste of money). Back to the hardware store (waste of time). Why can’t
they produce a half-size cartridge to fit our standard caulk guns?” -
Bruce and Diane B. in New York
feel your pain, and you are not alone. I found many “mini-caulking” guns
on the Internet. Spend a little time, and I think you will find what you
are looking for. Also, visit a local “mom and pop” hardware store, and I
bet they can help you.
There are many hints to prolong the life once the cartridge is opened.
There are a lot of variables: When is the next job? Where to store it?
Some hints to consider: Wait until you have multiple jobs. Check with
neighbors to see if they could use your leftovers. Finally, see about
donating unused portions to onsite builders or the Habitat builders.
Dear Readers: Other uses for old towels:
1. To dry pets with after a bath.
2. On the floorboards of vehicles when raining.
3. To wrap breakables when boxing for transport.
4. Under the seats of small children during mealtimes.
5. To wipe and shine fixtures in bathrooms.
Baby shampoo followup
Dear Heloise: I tried your recent hint on using baby shampoo to remove
eye makeup. The shampoo didn’t begin to remove the makeup. It doesn’t
work on mascara or eyeliner.
However, for years I’ve used baby oil (which is just mineral oil), and
it removes every trace easily. - Linda C., via email
Linda, are you wearing waterproof mascara and eyeliner? Instead of a
half-and-half solution, use undiluted baby shampoo. Yes, baby oil or
mineral oil does work, but if you wear contacts, remove them first.
Thanks for writing.
Cutting board odors
Dear Heloise: I use wooden cutting boards. What’s the best way to remove
any odors that might be lingering before I put them away? I feel like
you’d be the best “go-to” person for this!
use many of your hints that have been printed in our Houston paper.
Thanks, and keep them coming!
- Victoria M. in Houston
Thank you for your letter, Victoria! The best way to remove smells like
onion or garlic from wooden cutting boards is to sprinkle the board with
salt and rub the surface with a cut lemon or lime. Let sit 10-15
minutes, then wash with warm, soapy water and air-dry.
case of the unfit pillows
April 21, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off comes from a reader who
is not too happy with the sizes of her pillowcases.
She wrote: “Pillowcases are too narrow to get a bed pillow in! I’ve been
fighting them for years.
“They were never this narrow when I was growing up. Every set of sheets
I have has pillowcases that don’t easily fit any of my pillows without
being a frustrating battle.” - Kay H., Palmdale, Calif.
Kay, maybe the bigger problem here is that the pillows nowadays are
thicker and fluffier than when we were growing up. If so, then maybe
manufacturers need to rethink pillowcase sizes because of this fact. -
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for muffin tins:
1. Make large ice cubes for punch bowls.
2. Use as an “equal portion” device.
3. Turn over to hold taco shells while filling.
4. For different paint colors when painting.
5. As a snack tray at children’s parties.
Dear Heloise: Growing up, my mother was the “Cleaning Queen” of the
neighborhood, and vinegar solutions were her go-to products. I HATED the
smell of vinegar! Now that I am older, I see the usefulness of vinegar
as a cleaner/deodorizer. As I use it more and more, I also am finding
its scent to be a bit more tolerable!
- Clarisse R., via email
Clarisse, I love using vinegar, not just as a cleaner but also as an
ingredient in recipes. I actually have a pamphlet titled Heloise’s
Fantabulous Vinegar Hints and More. In it are many hints and recipes for
using the different types of vinegars. To get a copy of the pamphlet,
send $5 and a stamped (68 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope
to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. You
also can order it on my website, www.Heloise.com. The more you know
about the various types of vinegars, the more you will find yourself
using them for more than just cleaning. Vinegar is just that versatile!
Dear Heloise: Whenever I garden, I wear a straw hat. Inside the hat is a
damp cloth to keep my head cool, especially if I am out in the heat for
If the cloth gets warm, I take it out and shake it a few times. This
action cools the cloth off and allows me to continue working.
- Heather T., Austin, Texas
Dear Heloise: Family gatherings equal lots of leftovers. When taking
plates of food home, we use a hardy paper plate and load it up with
food. We cover it with plastic wrap, then slip another plate under the
first plate to hold the wrap in place.
- Judy in Houston
Dear Readers: Buy a brand-new powder puff and place it in your flour
canister so that it will be handy when you need to dust a baking pan.
of mixed messages
May 3, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s
Sound Off is about not having enough towel racks in hotels:
“Dear Heloise: In today’s ecologically correct world, hotels leave notes
requesting guests to please reuse towels by hanging them up. Why haven’t
they made this feasible by actually providing an adequate number of
“During a recent hotel visit, our family had a lovely suite that slept
six people. We used the one towel rack available and then hung the
remainder of our wet towels over the shower-curtain rod.
“After daily maid service, they were all removed and replaced with clean
towels! So much for saving water!”
- Glo in Colorado Springs, Colo.
hear you! It can be confusing sometimes. The notes generally do say to
please put towels you want replaced on the floor. Which, in my mind, is
pretty disgusting to plop down a mess of wet towels for housekeeping to
pick up. Yes, my mother taught us to never leave wet towels on the floor
- put them in the tub!
Hanging damp towels over the shower-curtain rod is what we do,
especially if there are no extra towel racks. I’ve used a hanger and
draped the towel over that.
Heloise hint? Call housekeeping early and tell them you don’t need fresh
towels, only the amenities, or maybe just empty the trash. Or leave a
- Too Many Hotel Stays, Heloise
P.S.: Housekeeping works very hard, so please remember to tip them a few
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for empty bread bags:
1. For cleaning cat litter boxes.
2. As extra packaging material when mailing packages.
3. To pack multiple sandwiches for beach or picnic outings.
4. As a doggy scoop bag when walking the dog.
5. To cover fan blades when painting ceilings.
Chopsticks for plants
Dear Heloise: Whenever we eat at a Chinese restaurant, I take the wooden
disposable chopsticks home, where I use them to help support my indoor
potted plants. They work great!
- Chris W., via email.
Chris, I love chopsticks! There are different types, too. I have some I
brought home from China and Japan. Some are beautiful hand-painted ones,
some purple, and there’s a stunning black lacquer pair. I use them to
put my hair up.
- Hugs, Heloise.
Dear Heloise: We’re a household of five, and I HATE washing socks -
washing, sorting and putting them away! I purchased a mesh laundry bag
for each of my three children. When I do the laundry, I wash the bags of
socks. There is no more than a week’s worth at a time.
When dried, I give each child their bag for them to sort and put away.
Now I don’t mind washing socks!
- Alice M., via email
No bubbling over
Dear Heloise: When I make potato salad for a family gathering, I wipe
some butter or cooking oil on the inside top of the pot. This seems to
help prevent that awful bubbling over.
- Mary S., San Marcos, Texas
comforter lacks some comfort
April 27, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the size of comforter sets.
Ruthi S. wrote: “I just purchased a new queen-size comforter set that is
too short for the bed.
“A king size would be too wide, so that is not an option. It seems that
mattresses are getting thicker and thicker, and the comforters are
getting smaller and smaller.
“When I compared this new one to the one I am currently using, the new
one is at least 9 inches shorter. If the manufacturers think they are
saving money by using less material, they need to realize that they also
are losing sales over this practice.”
- Ruthi S., Martinsburg, W.Va.
Ruthi, thanks for sharing your comment! This is an ongoing problem. The
old saying “The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing”
Yes, mattresses are getting “thicker"; thus, older sheets, bedspreads
and comforters do not fit properly. As to the comforter manufacturers,
there is a vast amount of difference in dimension! The only thing I can
say is, measure YOUR mattress, including height, before shopping for
When we got adjustable beds (which I LOVE, by the way), I had to resort
to making a bedspread! It’s a good thing I can sew, or we’d be using TWO
queen bedspreads. Sooooo ... there you “sew”!
Dear Readers: Other uses for old leather belts (additional holes may be
1. As an earring holder.
2. To hold barrettes or hair clips.
3. Hang from a wall to display commemorative pins.
4. Wrap around a pot plant to add some flair.
5. As a purse or camera strap.
Dear Heloise: I am a retired school nurse. I used to gather unclaimed
garments at the end of the school year, take them home and wash them. I
would keep whatever I thought I may use in the upcoming year. Students
may have a need for clothing I salvaged.
The extra I would take to places in town that distribute clothing to
people. You’d be surprised at the quality of some of the items. I always
had use for the items, as students had “accidents” during the year, and
parents could not be reached. I could furnish jeans, or a jacket if it
don’t know if school policy would allow this anymore, but it sure came
in useful for me when I worked.
- Margie M., Kerrville, Texas
Margie, you are one special person! Yes, schools do need extra clothing
for students who may have a mishap, tear something, get sick, etc.
Readers, check with schools in your area to see if they need clothing.
This is a prefect service project for a school club. - Hugs, Heloise
Dear Heloise: To get my great-grandchildren to wash their hands long
enough, I put a few drops of food coloring into the liquid hand wash.
They have to keep washing until the running water comes clear.
- Helen L., Abbot, Texas
Opening answer to resealable bags
April 21, 2016
Dear Readers: I got to Sound Off recently about my frustration with
opening resealable cheese, produce, even dog-food plastic bags. You
agreed and shared your Hints for Heloise to manage with this
“convenient” inconvenient packaging:
Grace in California said
she cuts the bag open and puts the contents in sealable containers.
Judy in Illinois said she takes her scissors and cuts off the very top
edge, which leaves her with more plastic to open the package.
Two readers, Mary and Carol, said that after opening, they use a chip
clip or a clothespin to close the bag.
Finally, Bruce, a retired M.D. in Little Rock, Ark., said to make a
“scoop” cut in the middle of one side of the top of the package to have
a way to pull it open.
Bruce, were you a surgeon? This sounds like you might have been!
One office “magpie” tried Bruce’s “scoop” hint. She cut a notch in the
center of the bag, and it worked.
HOWEVER, it seemed wasteful, redundant and superfluous to then put the
contents in a zip bag!
P.S.: I challenge manufacturers to take 100 of your packaging bags, hand
them to employees and see what happens! No knives or scissors allowed.
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about pockets:
"Dear Heloise: I am unhappy that athletic pants for women have no
pockets, but almost all athletic pants for men have pockets.” -
Barbara in San Antonio
wish I had an answer for you! I’ve looked online - some retail sites say
they have women’s athletic pants with pockets, but I sure had a hard
time finding some. You could TRY men’s pants and see if they fit.
Dear Readers: Other uses for a high school/college calculator’s soft
Hold writing supplies.
Store eyeglasses in a pinch.
Carry medications, such as diabetic pens.
Store a cellphone, charger and cord.
For grooming supplies: tweezers, combs, mascara, etc.
Dear Readers: It’s time for students to be coming home, packing up dorms
or apartments for the summer. Here’s a low-cost hint for packing dishes
and plates that will speed up the process and protect them during
Use cheap paper or foam plates to place between each dish. Wrap a small
stack (no more than five plates) with some kind of nonprinted paper.
Newspaper is a cheap and standby thing to use - just be aware that the
ink might rub off. Use sheets, towels or shirts to wrap.
Pack tightly into boxes cushioned with bath towels, sheets or other
materials that you are moving.
Dear Heloise: I take clean, mismatched socks sprayed with dusting spray
and use them to gently clean my figurines. I hold them gently in my
hands and clean off the dust. Works great!
- Alexia V., Fort Worth, Texas
put this lid on it!
April 13, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about flip-top cans. A reader wrote:
“I don’t have the strength in my hands to pull flip-top cans open.
“To make matters worse, these cans cannot be opened with a can opener.
The rims of the cans are too high for a can opener to open. There’s not
a can out there, from fruit to nuts, that doesn’t have this type of lid.
“I know you reach a million readers, and someone from one of these
companies will see it. I have called the customer-service number on each
can. Their response was they would pass it on. So, that’s it. I hope you
can get the word out.” - Jeri B., San Angelo, Texas
Jeri, there’s an inexpensive gadget you can buy to help you and others
(including me!) get these darned lids off. It’s a ring-pull opener and
is designed specifically for flip-tops. It takes the stress off the
hands. Also, do look closely at the bottom of the cans - many can be
opened with a can opener on the bottom.
Dear Readers: Here is a short list of easy and inexpensive gifts that
anyone, especially seniors, will appreciate:
1. The gift of your time.
2. A picture collage of multiple family members.
3. A good letter or a simple greeting card that they can cherish always.
4. A meal at their favorite restaurant, or bring them a meal from there.
5. Take them with you when visiting other family members
Dear Heloise: We’re trying to cut back on salt, and I was told that you
had a salt-substitute recipe that I could make and use. Love your column
and all the great hints I can use. - Carolina T., Springfield, Ill.
This is one of my favorites, and it is flavorful. Note: It uses onion
and garlic powders, not salts.
5 teaspoons onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or black)
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
Mix all of the ingredients and store in a container in a cool, dry
place. If you’d like other ideas, I have compiled recipes in a
seasonings pamphlet. To order a copy of Heloise’s Seasonings, Sauces and
Substitutes pamphlet, visit www.Heloise.com, or send $3 and a stamped
(71 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope to: Heloise/ SSS,
P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Depending on the dish,
sometimes a drop or two of lemon juice will perk up a salad. Trying to
cut back on using table salt? Taste the dish first, then a second time,
and only then salt. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I visit a memorial area where my wife’s ashes are
scattered, and I take flowers. I take a cordless drill, drill holes into
the ground and place the flowers in the holes in the ground. Works fine,
and the flowers stay put. - Mr. William B., Dayton, Ohio
April 6, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about junk-mail offers. A reader
wrote, “My gripe is about the ‘junk mail’ offers from banks and
credit-card companies who feel the need to print my name and address not
only on the envelope and cover letter, but elsewhere in the enclosed
“When recycling this sort
of mail, I have to riffle through all the pages to make sure that my
personal information is removed before disposing of it.
“This does not endear me to the company trying to gain my business.”
- Mary H., Louisville, Ohio
It can be a pain in the neck to open or tear up junk mail with your
personal information on it. Anything from your bank or credit-card
issuer should be opened and then destroyed, or just tear the letter up!
You can’t be too careful these days.
You can call/email/write them and tell them you want to be on their
no-solicitation list. It helps! - Heloise
Dear Readers: Other uses for cardboard wine carriers, which can carry or
Different kinds of salad dressings.
A variety of small crafting tools.
Boxes of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, etc.
Small gardening tools.
No Yucky Bar Soap
Dear Heloise: I have young children who are constantly being reminded to
wash their hands. I’ve found that a bar of soap lasts a whole lot longer
than liquid soap, which the kids never felt like one squirt was enough
for clean hands.
To keep the soap from liquefying and getting nasty in the soap dish, I
placed a baby brush, bristle side up, in the dish. The soap rests on top
of the brush and stays nice and dry. - Hannah in Nipomo, Calif.
Dear Heloise: I have a problem opening produce bags and sometimes cannot
get them open. One day, I happened to think of using one of the stickers
on the produce. I stuck part of it on the top of one side of the bag. I
was able to pull the bag open.
Now I have no problem opening them. I also use the same sticker on all
the bags I need to open.
- Margaret in Temple, Texas
Well, Margaret, I think you just gave my readers a very useful hint for
using those pesky stickers that no one really likes. - Heloise
Degrime in No Time
Dear Readers: Do you have a favorite deck of cards that you use every
time you play cards with friends or family? Are they getting grimy?
Here’s an easy hint to clean them.
Put the deck of cards in a plastic bag with a scoop or two of cornstarch
or baking soda. Shake it up for a minute or two. Remove the cards and
wipe off the powder.
Degrimed in no time! You can use this hint to clean cards from board
games and other card games that your kids may enjoy playing. -
‘Who Is This?’ Is
March 30, 2016
Dear Readers: This week’s Sound Off is about people who dial the wrong
phone number and are rude. Read on and see what you think:
“Dear Heloise: I am tired
of people calling me by mistake and then asking who they are talking to.
I try to ask,’Who are you trying to reach?’ and they keep asking me,
‘What number is this? Who is this?’
“Please ask your readers that if they misdialed or are not sure, they
should ask for such and such business or so and so person by name. I
live alone and am NOT going to give them my name. I hate being rude.”
- No Name, via email
Dear No Name: Hello, who are you? Where are you writing from? I’m with
you. I’ve had people call one of my phone numbers and say, after I
politely said THREE TIMES that there is no one here by that name, “Oh,
well, lady, you don’t have to be rude about it.” Really! - Heloise
Dear Readers: Other uses for a clothespin:
Close a chip or bread bag.
Close curtains in a hotel room.
Hold a recipe card.
Clip packages of salad-dressing mix.
Clip to a planter with the date you last added plant food.
Care Packages for
Dear Readers: Here is a simple and wonderful way to support our troops
overseas. St. Michael’s Soldiers is a nonprofit organization that
creates care packages for troops stationed abroad.
They can use all sorts of items, including pantyhose (for cleaning
weapons - now that’s a Heloise hint!), dental floss, stationery, cards,
envelopes and stamps (yes, they still write letters). Fun stuff: comic
books, travel cards, footballs, food, hot sauce, gum, hard candy, girly
stuff, perfume or makeup samples, hand lotion, trail mix, cookies and
Send your items to: St. Michael’s Soldiers, 1635 Farm Way, Suite 409,
Middleburg, FL 32068. If you need to call, the phone number is
904-599-7855. To learn more and see other items, visit their website:
StMichaelsSoldiers.org. They have a comprehensive list of items
requested most by the troops.
hug and salute to one and all. Thank you. - Heloise
P.S.: You can use a U.S. Postal Service Flat Rate box, which is cheap!
Remember, the organization can always use money - it’s the right size,
and it buys more.
Fix a Leak or Pay a
Dear Heloise: I was reading one of your books, titled “Heloise Conquers
Stinks and Stains,” and found a hint that made me chuckle.
The title, “To Prevent Oil Stains on Your Garage Floor,” gave these
hints, in this order:
$$$$ Buy a new car
$$$ Have the leak repaired at your local garage
$$ Treat the floor with a masonry sealer that will be effective for
Place a drip tray under the car
Funny and cute. If you can fix the leak yourself, it’s cheaper than all
of the hints. - C.L., Fort Worth, Texas
This: Eardrops not so easy
March 23, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is a complaint about medications, and I
concur with a loud roar!
“Dear Heloise: It seems
that each time we renew a prescription, the pills change size, shape
and/or color. Even the bottles sometimes change.
“We easily see the DISADVANTAGE of this to patients, especially those
who get their pills from a three-month supplier. Sometimes the size,
shape and color of one prescription will be different from the past one,
adding to the confusion.
“What earthly advantage is this to the manufacturer? Improper dosage has
certainly resulted in countless needless trips to the emergency room.”
- Charles and Marva C., Universal City, Texas
This is not a new complaint. I’ve written about this for many years, and
the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has gotten complaints, too.
You are right; it can cause confusion and even interfere with the
compliance of taking a medication correctly. One thought is that
manufacturers may be trying to make pills easier to swallow, since this
is a major complaint of patients.
If the dispensing pharmacy changes suppliers for a medication, you might
as well spin the roulette wheel. The bottles may be different, the pills
themselves may be a different color/size/ shape!
My hint: Check all meds closely before taking them. Also, ask the
pharmacist or dispensing pharmacy (if mail-order) why there was a change
and could you stay with the same pill. It’s worth a shot! Bad pun!
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for pants hangers. Use to hang:
costume necklaces, rings or bracelets
Dear Heloise: Coffee was never my beverage of choice. Now I am branching
out and trying new coffees. It’s nice on cold winter days. I was
wondering if you could help me. I now have a LOT of different ones and,
well, I only drink two to three cups a day. Half a pot usually is left
over. Hints? - Teri in Huron, S.D.
You bet your cup of joe (a slang term for coffee)! When the coffee is
cool, pour it into a container with a lid, and put into the
refrigerator. Iced coffee with a dash of cinnamon or a splash of vanilla
is a nice change. Also, put ice cubes in a blender, add cold coffee,
milk or cream and sweetener, and blend away: a coffee slush! For more
coffee hints and recipes, order my coffee pamphlet. Visit
www.Heloise.com, or send $3 and a long self-addressed, stamped (71
cents) envelope to: Heloise/Flavored Coffees and Teas, P.O. Box 795001,
San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Pour cold leftover coffee into ice-cube
trays, freeze and use in iced coffee, or to “cool” down a too-hot cup of
java. - Heloise
No more slippage
Dear Heloise: I crocheted around hangers to keep tops from sliding off.
I have a simple solution I now do: I use sheet felt material. Cut out
3/4-inch-by-4-inch rectangles and hot-glue one to the top of each
“branch” of the hanger. - Jeri, via email
Identify yourself, please
March 16, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about how the phone is answered at
“People who work at
businesses should clearly identify themselves and the business or
service where they work. When I worked, I responded with: ‘Hello, this
is (my first name and the name of the business).’
“With so many people using cellphones, because of digital technology,
often the first syllable spoken is lost in transmission. If someone
answers with a short name, it is unintelligible if they don’t use that
old reliable word ‘Hello’ first.
“I read your column in the Houston Chronicle on my tablet, even though I
live far from Houston now.”
- Eric Z., Alpine, Texas
Eric, you are right. It only takes a few seconds to say “Hello, Eric Z.
here, EZC Company.” - HELOISE HERE: Goodbye!
P.S.: Say hi to my friends in Alpine - interesting hot-air ballooning
Dear Readers: Other uses for eyeglass cases that snap shut:
1. Extra lipstick case.
2. Hold toothpicks and small dental supplies.
3. Tissue container.
4. Jewelry case.
5. Pen and pencil case.
Travel Hint - Fewer
Dear Heloise: You had given a great hint for storing dress scarves
around paper-towel tubes.
To enhance that, try wrapping numerous scarves you want to take on a
trip around a paper-towel roll. You don’t need as many blouses/tops,
since you can take a plethora of scarves.
Then gently push them inside a “knee-high” hosiery (with its mate
stuffed in the tube) so they don’t get disturbed in the luggage. -
Vicki M., Fredericksburg, Va.
Scarves can change the look of an outfit in a minute! A white/black/red
blouse can look like several different ones with a scarf tied, wrapped
or draped over the blouse. - Heloise
Shop and Save Money
Dear Heloise: I used to walk the grocery aisles deciding my needs for
the week and purchasing items I thought I would use that week.
I’ve learned that if I plan meals, make a list of the needed items and
stick to the plan, I have plenty of food for the week. Also, my bill is
ALWAYS between $50 and $100 cheaper.
bonus is that this takes out the guessing game I played trying to figure
out “What’s for dinner?”
- Bea C., Paradise Valley, Ariz.
Soaking an Itch
Dear Readers: If you get an itch or rash after swimming or wading in
lakes or ponds, it’s not all in your head! It’s caused by tiny little
parasites that can be in the water, usually fresh water. Do rinse off in
fresh, clean water and dry well with a towel.
Still itching? Over-the-counter medications for allergies will help
relieve the itching. Home remedies include one of my faves - baking
soda. The other old-fashioned one is regular oatmeal (not brown-sugar
flavored!), or even Epsom salts. Soak in a tub of cool/warm water, with
a cup or so of any of the above added. - Heloise
Charitable Deluge Drowns Interest
March 9, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Of is really a slew of Sound Offs:
Margaret in Lubbock,
Texas, wrote: “I’ve been overwhelmed with pleas for contributions for
charities I’ve never had on my list! I wish they would save their money
and clean up their lists. I’ve received free greeting cards, calendars
and enough mailing labels to last me 100 years!”
Stella in Danville, Ky., wrote: “We make several donations annually in
the spring. Now just about every group and several new ones are asking
for donations at the end of the year. What a waste of paper and postage.
We only donate once a year.” HELOISE HERE: The end of the year,
especially during the holiday season, is “prime” charity solicitation
time ... they pull at your heartstrings.
Mary Ann in Orange, Calif., wrote: “My Sound Off is about organizations
that send address stickers (sometimes with incorrect spelling) that can
be destroyed only by shredding. I’ve written, but to no avail. I have a
once-a-year budget rule for these needs, but am considering stopping
Dear Readers: You are not alone. This has been going on for DECADES!
Here is about all you can do: If there is a paid return envelope, put
everything back in and mark on the contribution slip “REMOVE FROM LIST.”
If a phone number is listed, call. Remember, they are asking you - you
did not invite them into your home. Do not feel guilty, either! Donate
to the charities you can and to the ones you care about. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Uses for fake credit cards and used gift cards:
Scrape ice off windows/mirrors.
As a straight edge when graphing or designing patterns.
Clean the mud or grime off your shoes.
Tape identification to it and use as an ID tag.
Scrape dried particles off countertops.
Dear Heloise: Eye-makeup remover can be expensive, but it doesn’t have
to be. I put a few drops of tearless baby shampoo on a round makeup pad
and run it under the water. It dissolves my mascara and brow pencil very
well. I rinse it off with water, and presto, no more eye makeup.
buy the travel size, as I don’t need the big bottle. Thanks for your
great ideas! - Molly S., Dayton, Ohio
Molly, you are brilliant! I use baby shampoo and water (about half and
half) in a pretty hand-soap dispenser as a hand and face-makeup wash.
Now I’m going to use it for eye makeup, too! Cheap at thrice the price.
Wooden Cap Holder
Dear Heloise: My husband has a variety of baseball-type caps. I rounded
up his “frequent use” caps, took a wooden pants hanger, opened it up,
slipped those caps onto the wooden rod and closed the hanger.
The new “cap hanger” was hanging in the laundry room when he came home
from work, and he was very impressed with my apparatus! - Sarah M. in
March 2, 2016
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about new homes’ landscaping:
"This is more grief than
anger. It seems that every newly bought home gets raided of its mature
trees. Then the owners plant saplings in their place. I wish to appeal
to your readers not to kill trees, unless they are diseased.
“It takes a lifetime to grow, and a tree is a beautiful thing to
behold.” - Margaret in North Little Rock, Ark.
Dear Margaret: Thank you for writing, and I’m with you all the way on
this subject. The sad fact is that it’s cheaper for builders to clear
the property and then build a house than to try to make the house fit on
the property. (I got input from my husband, David, a retired contractor,
who built our house and did save as many trees close to the house as
When commerce intersects with nature, sometimes it’s not a draw. -
Dear Readers: Today’s Fast Facts was sparked by a reader letter: “This
quandary seems like it would be right up your alley. I need a good way
to store twist-ties so they don’t wander all over.”
- Margie P., Beavercreek, Ohio
Hints to store twist-ties:
1. Wrap around kitchen knobs/handles.
2. Store in a plastic bag with a self-closing seam.
3. Store in a large, empty pill container.
4. Store in an empty, plastic powdered-drink container.
Stain removal in the
Dear Heloise: I’ve moved into my first apartment, and I know that you
have homemade cleaning solutions that I can make. Thanks in advance.
- Bernice V., Odessa, Texas
Bernice, thanks for writing, and this Heloise All-Purpose Cleaner is
simple to make, cheap and works on a multitude of things. Mix 1/2 cup of
ammonia with enough water to make 1 gallon of cleaner. Heloise Cleaning
Solution No. 2 is 1/2 cup of nonsudsing ammonia, 1/2 cup of rubbing
alcohol and 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, with enough water to make
1 gallon of cleaner. If you want to learn about other cheap-to-make
cleaning solutions, order a copy of Heloise’s Homemade Cleaning
Solutions pamphlet. Send $5 and a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed,
business-size envelope to: Heloise/ Cleaning Solutions, P.O. Box 795001,
San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. You also can order it on my website, www.
Heloise.com. Knowing how to handle stains as they arise and responding
quickly is the best way to eliminate stains as well as aid in redeeming
your initial security deposit when moving out. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Wet and dripping produce is an annoying inconvenience many
deal with. If your store does not have paper towels handy, here is a
hint many of you voiced:
“I reach for the produce, covering my hand with the clear bag, grab it
and turn the bag inside out.”
- Nanci, via email
Many of you also saved the wet wipe that usually is at the front of the
store when you come in. It’s perfect for drying hands. - Heloise