A number of business complaints


August 23, 2017


Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about poorly marked locations:

"Dear Heloise: It is maddening to drive along looking for a business and you can’t find the address numbers. It should be required to have the numbers large enough to see from the road. Not everyone who wants to use your services can drive straight to your location if they can’t find your address.”
- Sherry D., via e-mail

How right you are, and most of my readers agree! Business owners: Pretend you DON’T know where your business is, and try to find the address! I’ve had to park, get out of the car and walk up to the door or window to be able to read the address and hours of operation. Readers? Business owners? Let me hear from you! - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Don’t toss out those empty baby-food jars or containers. Use them for:

- Storing small treats for pets while at the park or in an auto.

- Holding buttons.

- Storing leftover paint for touch-ups.

- Keeping small items organized in a “junk drawer.”

- Heloise

Freezing brown sugar

Dear Heloise: I’ve read your suggestions for freezing brown sugar. I do a lot of baking, especially at Christmas, so I buy a 2-pound bag of brown sugar, using it mostly for cookies and cakes. When I have some left over, I reseal the bag and narrow it down using rubber bands to make a smaller package in my freezer. (HELOISE HERE: You might want to put it in a freezer-safe sealable bag.) Believe me, it is soft and pliable the moment I take it out of the freezer, and I can use my brown sugar all year long.
- Margaret in Lancaster, Calif.

Removing a musty smell

Dear Heloise: My daughter bought an old mahogany dresser for her first apartment. The musty smell is awful, and she can’t put her clothes in it. It also looks like there might be a little mold inside the drawers. How do we get rid of the smell/mold? - Sharon W., via email

What a find! Here are a few hints to try:

- Move drawers to a well-ventilated site. Spritz the inside of each drawer with undiluted vinegar, then scrub the inside with a cloth and let dry.

- Sprinkle the drawers with some baking soda and let it sit overnight, then vacuum.

- Set the drawers outside in the bright sunshine for an hour or so to let Mother Nature do her thing!

- Heloise

Salt reduction in food

Dear Heloise: I enjoy your column in The (Baton Rouge, La.) Advocate. Now I have a hint for you:

When using a packaged pasta mix, I have found that I can use only half of the seasoning packet with no noticeable change in the flavor, and in doing this, I can eliminate half of the sodium. This makes it more adaptable to a low-salt diet. - A Reader, via email

A ‘Ms.’-stake?
August 16, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the use of “Ms.” in place of “Miss” or “Mrs.”:

“Dear Heloise: One thing that irks me is that so many pieces of mail are addressed to ‘Ms.’ instead of ‘Mrs.’ They don’t know me. I could be ‘Miss,’ ‘Mrs.’ or ‘Mr.,’ but not ‘Ms.’ When they came out with ‘Ms.,’ it was for divorced women, and I have never been divorced! It may seem trivial to some, but I don’t like it.”
- Shirley W., Gardiner, Maine

Shirley, the title of “Ms.” is out of respect and politeness. The titles “Mrs.,” “Miss” and even “Ms.” were all derived from the word “Mistress,” which for centuries applied to all adult women, whether married or not. Until the 19th century, most women lacked a prefix before their names; they were often addressed as “so-and-so’s wife,” or simply by their name. Having a title of “Ms.,” “Miss” or “Mrs.” eventually indicated a higher social standing. While “Ms.” is more commonly used today for women whose status is not known, it never indicated a divorced woman, but rather all women. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Most households have cotton swabs, so here are a few more uses for them:

- Use them to clean a computer keyboard and get into those tight spaces.

- Wet one end and use it to seal envelopes.

- Got furniture with fancy carvings? Use one with furniture polish sprayed on the cotton to clean and shine the fancy wood.

- Keep handy to wipe away smeared mascara or nail polish on the areas around the nails.

- Heloise

Keeping it clean

Dear Heloise: When our three daughters had their bridal showers, my mother, my sister and I bought a gift certificate to have their dresses dry-cleaned and preserved as our shower gift. We researched and found a reputable dry cleaner who did this kind of work.

Each daughter was delighted to receive such a lasting gift. It can be expensive to preserve a gown, so it’s nice to include several people in the gift, if need be. - Connie F., Summerfield, Fla.


Connie, that’s a very thoughtful idea, and one I’m sure other readers will appreciate as well! And the next hint has another wedding-gift idea. - Heloise

It’s in the box

Dear Heloise: I have another suggestion for storing a wedding gown: Have it put in a shadow box. My cousin did mine for me, and it’s on display in my living room. I enjoy your information very much.
- Sue G., Harrison, Ark.


Fork it over

Dear Heloise: I went to an estate sale and bought five old metal forks for $1. I use them to uproot weeds such as chickweed and dandelions. It’s one of the most useful and inexpensive tools in my garden!
- Tina P., Shawnee, Okla.

No sale for this customer
August 10, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about department staff who ignore the customer:

“Dear Heloise: I recently went shopping at a major department store, and I asked one of the sales staff if she could assist me, and she said, “No,” she was busy, and just walked off. I saw a group of three giggling salespeople and asked if they could help me, and one young woman said, “In a minute,” turned her back and continued her conversation. I left the store without spending a dime.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve seen salespeople ignore a customer. The majority of salespeople usually are helpful and professional, but it only takes a few bad apples to ruin the reputation of a store. Is it a lack of proper training?” - Emma Y., Scranton, Pa.


Emma, sorry to hear about this unfortunate incident, but you do have options. You can call the store manager to let him or her know of your experience, or write a letter to the corporate CEO. Training might be the issue, but you always can recommend better training in a phone call or letter. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: If you lose your wallet:

- Call the police and report that it’s lost or stolen - do this immediately!

- Get a new driver’s license - this is your most commonly used form of ID.

- Cancel all credit cards and, if necessary, notify your bank.

- Notify utilities in case someone tries to open an account.

- If you kept a spare house key in your wallet, have the locks changed.

- Heloise


Nasty gnats

Dear Heloise: I’m having problems with gnats in my kitchen and bathrooms. I have the house sprayed for bugs, but I still have gnats. Do you have a solution to this problem? - Bugs in Kitchen, via email


First make certain all indoor plants are not watered for a couple of days; gnats lay their eggs in damp soil. Remove all food or fruit bowls from the counter. Clean all surfaces with an all-purpose cleaner, including the floors and trash baskets. Cover drains with plastic and tape it down. Leave this in place overnight.

Then make a gnat trap:

- Pour about 1/4 cup of apple-cider vinegar into a jar or plastic container.

- Take a coffee filter and place over the opening of the apple-cider container. You can use a rubber band to ensure that the coffee filter is held in place and there is a tight seal.

- Poke three holes in the coffee filter, no bigger than 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch wide.

- Place in an area where the gnats are, and leave it there for a day or two.

- Heloise

Interview for two?
August 2, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about bringing another person to a job interview. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: It should be common knowledge that you don’t bring your kids, husband or boyfriend, or mother to your job interview. It’s one of the quickest ways to be eliminated as a candidate for the job. And yet, just today I was about to interview a young woman of 23, and when I called her name, her boyfriend got up and said he was going into the interview with her to see to it that I didn’t ask any questions that he didn’t like.

“When I said he was NOT going into the interview, he said he had a few questions he wanted to ask, such as how much vacation time she’d get and could she leave at 3 p.m. on Fridays. I asked them to leave my office. Unless you need an interpreter, which is allowed, you shouldn’t bring another person with you to an interview for a job.” - Karen in Louisiana

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Transparent tape has many uses besides wrapping gifts, such as:

- When traveling, pack a small dispenser of tape for mending a loose hem.

- In an emergency, you can tape a cut finger and prevent bacteria from getting into the wound.

- The matte tape can be applied to a number of things to allow you to write your name.

- Heloise


Diluted drinks

Dear Heloise: I know there must be others like me who like their soft drinks cold but find that ice melts and dilutes the drink.

I pour a bit of a soft drink into each ice-cube tray and freeze it. When I use these, as they melt, they don’t dilute my drink but still keep it cold. Love your column in the San Antonio Express-News.

- Billie M., New Braunfels, Texas


Beach bulletin

Dear Heloise: For beachgoers, there are some things you should always pack in your beach bag besides tanning oil and a towel:

- Sunblock - everyone should use it, but this is especially important for children and very fair-skinned people who burn rather than tan.

- Meat tenderizer - this is good to have on hand if you are near an ocean that has jellyfish. Mix a little water with the tenderizer to make a paste, and apply it to the affected area.

- Slip-on shoes or rubber thongs for the feet - by midday, sand can get extremely hot, so don’t go barefoot to the beach.

- A hat (one with a wide brim is best) - shield your head in the hot sun, as well as your eyes from ultraviolet rays.

- Bottled water - stay hydrated, and I can’t emphasize this enough.

- Alana S., Ocean Park, Maine


Lice aren’t nice

Dear Heloise: My son came home from school with head lice! How could he have picked up lice?
- Lana F., Barberton, Ohio

Lana, there is no correlation between personal hygiene and contracting head lice. Tell your son that in the future he is not to share caps, hats, scarves or other clothing with his friends or classmates. There are many over-the-counter remedies for head lice. - Heloise

Count it out
July 26, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about salesclerks who don’t know how to count your change. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: My wife and I read your column in the Antelope Valley Press in Lancaster, Calif. We have never been disappointed. I personally enjoy the ‘Sound Off’ issues.

“One of my pet peeves is watching a retail clerk trying to return change from a $20 bill. One of the first things I learned in grade school was how to count change. We were told that the reason was so we could be assured we got the right change. I have had to call a manager while at the checkout on three occasions just last week. Being retired, I have the patience to help, but why should I have to?”
- John and Karen H., Lancaster, Calif.

Fast facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for ashtrays:

- Use it in a bathroom to hold guest soaps.

- Use to hold seed to feed the squirrels and birds.

- Store hair ornaments in the larger ones.

- Use it to hold your car/house keys so you’ll always know where to find them.

- Keep lose change in them.

- Heloise

No oil leaks

Dear Heloise: I went to a beauty-supply store and bought a straight-tip, leakproof applicator for hair color. Just pour up to 8 ounces of olive oil into it, tighten the lid well, and you have the perfect applicator to dispense olive oil. No spills, and no awkward tipping of a large container. - Frances M., Fayetteville, Ark.

Frances, what a great idea! So many times we forget that useful products can be found in many different places. With just a little imagination, you can repurpose any number of things. - Heloise

Plants and air

Dear Heloise: As pretty as plants in our homes can be, they have another very useful benefit: Green plants clean the air and improve the quality of the air we breathe in our homes. Plants have air-purification capabilities that allow them to absorb gases through pores on the surface of their leaves. But a word of caution: Some plants are toxic to children and pets, so choose wisely when buying a plant for your home.
- Hollister H., Stamford, Conn.

Hollister, thank you for this information. I love the look of indoor plants, and the benefits they provide to the air quality in my home. - Heloise

Did you know?

Dear Readers: The U.S. Postal Service handles about 43 percent of the world’s mail. The next closest to that is Japan’s, with 6 percent. - Heloise

Recycling request
July 19, 2017

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

“Dear Heloise: We all live on one planet with dwindling resources and a growing population. So why don’t more people recycle as much as they can? I would encourage folks who think it’s too much trouble to recycle to reconsider. Got an empty can or glass bottle? Just a quick rinse under the tap and into a recycle bin or bag it goes. My husband and I don’t have kids yet, but we feel that we are merely custodians of the planet, not owners. Let’s all recycle our paper, plastic, glass and metal, and leave this world in better shape than we found it, for generations to come.” - Charlotte M., Green Bay, Wis.

Charlotte, I couldn’t agree more! My staff and I recycle everything we can, both in the office and at home.
- Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for cat litter:

- Use to absorb fresh oil and grease on the driveway or garage floor.

- Use under tires on icy streets.

- Use to reduce odors and moisture in a basement.

- Heloise


Hope renewed

Dear Heloise: Girls no longer seem to receive hope chests upon graduation from high school in anticipation of getting married, so at an estate sale, I bought one. I took it home and lightly sanded the interior to bring out that cedar scent. After vacuuming and wiping the interior, I used it to store sweaters, parkas and other winter clothing and wool blankets. I may not be thinking about marriage right now, but I am thinking about moths not eating my favorite sweaters. - Lucy R., Mansfield, Ohio

Snails and slugs

Dear Heloise: I had a nasty problem with snails and slugs, but I used a trick my grandmother always used. We kept eggshells in a bag in the refrigerator. When we had a fair amount of shells, we’d crush them and sprinkle the broken eggshells around our plants. Snails and slugs won’t crawl over the sharp pieces. Hamster litter made from cedar usually had the same effect as eggshells. - Jean O., Florence, S.C.


When less is more

Dear Heloise: I clean houses for a living, and more often than not, I have to clean windows. Most people think using newspaper is the best way to get streak-free windows, but it’s not. It used to be, but the newspapers changed the ink formulation, and that made all the difference. Instead, use a soft cloth (microfiber is best) and a little vinegar (1/2 cup) in a gallon of water. Don’t use too much liquid, or you’ll get lots of streaks. Spray and wipe. - Lynn G., South Gate, Calif.

Save me from the offer!
July 12, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about stores that hound us to open a credit card account with them:

“Dear Heloise: I absolutely hate it when I go shopping and the salespeople pester me about opening an account with them. I don’t want credit card debt. In fact, I don’t want any debt, because we’re looking to buy our first home. When I say ‘No, thank you,’ they persist with, ‘What! Do you mean to tell me you don’t want to save 20 percent on today’s purchase?’ It seems like everywhere I go, someone is trying to pressure me into signing up for a credit card. I wish salespeople would get the hint - ask once, then leave me alone!” - Brandon K., Cypress, Calif.

Brandon, I know it gets annoying, but many stores give the sales force quotas requiring them to open up a certain number of accounts or in time lose their jobs. Just ignore their pleas. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for popcorn tins:

- Paint the tin a color you like and label it for storage of small tools in the garage.

- Reuse the tin the following year for a large or awkward-shaped gift.

- Store dry pet food in one and keep the lid on it. Keeps out insects!

- Wrap in pretty contact paper or wrapping paper and use to store sewing, knitting or crafting supplies.

- Heloise

Dressing like the stars

Dear Heloise: What do all the celebrities do with their red-carpet clothing? Can I buy some of the gowns I see on the runway, or do they ever give them to friends? - Ines M., Brattleboro, Vt.

Ines, those beautiful gowns, the fabulous jewelry and even the evening purses usually are donated by designers for some big event and are returned promptly the next day. Some stars purchase something if they really feel they have to have it, but when they decide to clean out their closets, many items are donated to charities to be auctioned off. However, there are stores in and around Hollywood that specialize in clothing worn by celebrities. You can find them online. - Heloise

Recycling for the future

Dear Heloise: You reach thousands of readers all over America and Canada, so please remind them to recycle all of their paper, hard plastic, wood and glass. Find the collection centers in your area if you don’t have regular collection on a weekly basis. Take old clothes that still have good use to a charity center or to any place that helps the homeless and poor. Churches often have clothing drives. The old saying “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” is so very true. - Dr. James T., Daytona Beach, Fla.

Not quite photogenic
July 6, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the deceptive photographs on food packaging/drive-thrus:

“Dear Heloise: I’m so tired of seeing photographs on frozen-food packages and drive-thrus that show a delicious-looking item, but when you get it home, the item looks nothing like the picture. I recently bought frozen lasagna in the ‘family pack’ for a quick dinner for my two children and myself. The portions were small, and the lasagna inside was nothing like the photograph on the box. To me, that’s deceptive advertising!” - Belinda M., Sparks, Nev.

Belinda, I’ve noticed the same thing. Manufacturers, are you listening? - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some items you might consider taking to someone who is in the hospital (but always check with the nurses to see what is allowed in a patient’s room):

- A small room freshener (no candles) to freshen the room.

- A packet of mints or breath fresheners is nice.

- Various magazines/books on subjects that interest the patient.

- Hand/body lotion - unscented is best - or moist towelettes.

- Heloise


To tattoo or not to tattoo?

Dear Heloise: My 16-year-old son is bugging me about getting a tattoo. I don’t care for tattoos, but I don’t know what to say except “No.” Are there any dangers to tattooing? How do I get him to reconsider a mark like that, which will be with him for many years? - Linda K., Upland, Calif.

Linda, tell your son to think before he inks. Tattoos can and have killed job opportunities for many people. There are some serious issues to consider:

- Infections: Dirty needles can pass infections from one person to another.

- Allergies: Allergies to various inks can occur.

- Scarring: Unwanted scar tissue may cause scarring when getting or removing a tattoo.

- Granulomas: These are small knots or lumps that form around material that the body perceives as foreign, such as tattoo pigment.

- You may not like the results: There are tattoo artists whose work is not professional. Skill varies from one artist to another. There is no way to be certain that the ink used is safe.

- Heloise


Adopt a best friend

Dear Heloise: Do any of your readers need a best friend? Adopt a pet at any local shelter or animal-rescue organization. So many irresponsible people don’t spay or neuter their pets, and that produces too many unwanted pets. A pet is a wonderful companion, and the health benefits of having a pet are well-documented. So, you can adopt a best friend at any local shelter. - Glenda T., Frankfort, Ky.

Glenda, I agree. A pet is a wonderful comfort and companion. I’ve adopted many animals and have loved each of them. A pet also can teach children compassion and responsibility. - Heloise

Is this a recording?
June 30, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off concerns recorded messages that may lead you to believe you’re actually talking to a real person. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: There seems to be something new going around. It’s a recorded message that sounds friendly, and there are pauses in the conversation, but it’s recorded. I asked the voice at the other end who she represented, but got no response. I asked her to take me off the list of phone numbers, but the sales pitch continued, and I finally hung up.

“I wish companies would stop calling people with these recordings where we can’t ask them questions or they try to sell us things we don’t want. Perhaps the ones that I find especially confusing are the ones that tell me I filled out a request for their call when I know I didn’t and have no interest in their product. I only hope this method of selling stops soon.” - Tess D., Norman, Okla.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: One of the most useful items I’ve found is dryer sheets! They have multiple uses:

- Take one used dryer sheet and slip it into a pillowcase to keep the pillow smelling fresh.

- Use under a drawer liner to keep “undies” smelling nice.

- Use in the closet where you store your linens to have sweet-smelling sheets.

- Heloise


Stain on a leather sofa

Dear Heloise: I dripped olive oil on my expensive genuine leather couch. Do you have any magic formula to absorb it and get rid of the dark spot? I tried blotting repeatedly, gently sponging with a mild liquid detergent, more blotting, etc., but I am left with the oil stain. Any suggestions? - F.P.B. in Texas


F.P.B., you’ve already tried blotting and soap and water. When an oil stain first appears on leather, immediately sprinkle baby powder or cornstarch on the spot and let it sit overnight, then brush it off with a microfiber cloth in the direction of the grain. However, since you’ve had this oil stain awhile, you might try the following:

Mix together the following ingredients to form a paste:

3/8 cup distilled water

1/8 cup sea salt

1/2 teaspoon white flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

Do a patch test first on an area that doesn’t show, and if it doesn’t lift the dye in the leather, then proceed to apply it to the stain. Use a soft cloth to apply it in dabs (be gentle, and don’t scrub). Let the area dry completely. Carefully wipe off with the grain of the leather. This may require more than one or two applications.

Another suggestion is equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar. Dab on and gently wipe off after a couple of hours. Some of my readers have had success with this formula.

Readers, do you have a suggestion you’ve used and liked for leather stain removal? - Heloise

A taxing phone conversation
June 21, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the phone bill’s added charges and taxes. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: I recently moved into my first apartment and was shocked to discover that my phone bill, which includes a landline, my computer and cellphone, was about 25 percent to 30 percent taxes! I called the phone company and asked for an explanation of my bill, because there were things on there that I’d never heard of. The woman I spoke with didn’t seem to know what half of the charges were for, either. When I signed up for telephone service, no one told me about all these taxes and other charges. Why can’t the telephone companies tell us the truth about all these nuisance charges, and why don’t they pick up some of these expenses instead of burdening the public with them?” - Roberta G., Dayton, Ohio

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Button, button, who’s got the button? There are a number of uses for recycled buttons:

- They can be used in jewelry making to create interesting, new designs.

- Attach to the ends of drawstrings to keep from pulling through casings.

- Great for decorating picture frames, and for gift decorations.

- Instead of pebbles in a pot, try a couple of handfuls of old buttons.

- Heloise

How to clean a mattress

Dear Heloise: My sister and I have been wondering how to properly clean a mattress. We both recently bought new ones, but haven’t a clue as to how to keep them clean. - Tanya M., Elk Grove Village, Ill.

Tanya, the first thing you can do is spray a water repellent on the surface of a mattress on both sides. Wait until it is completely dry before covering it with a good-quality mattress pad to help keep out dust, dander and dust mites. After you’ve done this, try the following:

- Vacuum your mattress once a month.

- Wash the mattress pad once a month in hot water and soap to kill dust mites.

- If you spill any liquid on the mattress, soak up as much of the liquid as you can with a bath towel or paper towels. Use upholstery cleaners to shampoo out the stain left behind, but make sure your mattress is completely dry before putting the mattress pad back on the bed.

- Most mattress manufacturers say we do not have to “flip” our mattresses every six months anymore, but I still like to rotate mine every other month.

- Heloise

Feed your plants

Dear Heloise: I have an old home recipe for outside plants that works to kill bugs while feeding the plants. It’s simple and easy to use with a spray bottle that hooks up to a hose.

Mix together:

- One small can of beer - any kind

- 5 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing detergent (or use baby shampoo)

- 2 tablespoons of commercial plant food in liquid or powder form

Once this is in the spray bottle and attached to the hose, water your plants as usual. The soap kills bugs, but not plants. - Rhonda P., Lodi, Calif.

Rules for the lake house
June 15, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is about house rules at the lake:

“Dear Heloise: Three years ago, my husband and I built our retirement home on a beautiful lake, where we hoped to enjoy a relaxed lifestyle. However, our children (we have six between the two of us) and a couple of our friends tend to drop in a lot. So this year I wrote everyone a letter with the lake house rules:

“Hello to All: As much as we love all of you, we need to set down some new house rules for all of you to follow. We ask that you respect these rules and not ask us to make exceptions.

- “Please wait to be invited to our home. DO NOT drop in, even if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

- “Bring your own towels and snacks.

- “Due to my husband’s health, we need to limit our entertaining and baby-sitting to no more than a couple of days.”

- Margaret S., Kenosha

Fast Facts

Dear Heloise: I have no idea where lost socks go, but it seems my husband has several pairs that are missing their mate. This is what I do with those lonely, single socks:

- I keep one in the glove compartment of my car for covering my hand when I’m scraping the windshield in winter, or to pick up something I’d rather not touch with my bare hand.

- They make wonderful dust rags - just slip your hand inside.

- I have one in my laundry room to put loose change in when I check pockets before washing.

- I gave one to my young son to put his small plastic toys inside so they don’t get lost

- A Reader, via email


Engagement ring advice for men

Dear Heloise: I’ve been a jeweler for nearly 30 years, and I have some advice for young men who are considering surprising their girlfriend with an engagement ring:

- As lovely as it is to surprise a woman with a proposal, it might be better to let her select the ring she’ll wear for the rest of her life.

- If you two are shopping together for rings, give her a price range to select from. Limit yourself to what you can reasonably afford.

- If she would rather have a colored gem than a diamond, let her have what she wants, but stay within your budget.

- Do not bring a third or fourth person along with you. This is a private matter, and you don’t need a third opinion. It doesn’t matter what her mother or best friend thinks about her ring.

- Shop around for a style and price you both can live with after all the excitement dies down.

- Ronald P., Norman, Okla.


Wedding trivia

Dear Readers:

- The average wedding in America costs between $26,000 and $35,000!

- Almost half of millennials say they will wait to wed until after the age of 30.

- Utah has the youngest brides, with an average age of 23.5 for women and 25.6 for men.

- Washington, D.C., has the oldest brides, with an average age of 29.8 for women and 30.6 for men.

- Heloise

Late isn't great
June 7, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about people who are perpetually late. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Why are some people always late for everything? I have a friend who seems to think showing up on time is beyond her capabilities. She’ll say things like, ‘Time is my enemy.’ If we’re meeting for lunch, she is sure to be 20 to 40 minutes late. Several of our mutual friends have stopped inviting her to various functions for this very reason. I only hope this will give others who are never on time a chance to think about how it affects others.” - Charlotte F., Hot Springs, Ark.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some hints for repurposing old books:

- Stack up several volumes to make a side table by a chair.

- Create a multilayered wall collage with pages from any book.

- Hollow out the inside of the pages and hide valuables in there, then place on a bookshelf.

- Cut pages into strips and glue to a lampshade for a “novel” look for your lamp.

- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I use a facial mask that is wonderful and all-natural. It works well on nearly everyone I know:

- Grind 5 tablespoons of oatmeal in a blender or food processor until it’s a coarse powder.

- Add 1 tablespoon of honey.

- Add 2 tablespoons of plain nonfat yogurt.

- Add 1 egg yolk, optional.

Mix everything together and apply to your face for 30 minutes in order to achieve best results. If you have time, lie down and relax during this treatment. Everything in this mixture is designed to brighten the skin, remove dead skin cells and nourish the skin. - Vanessa K. in Detroit

Family portraits

Dear Heloise: My ex-husband and I decided years ago that no matter what happened, we would always take a “family portrait” every year. This was for the sake of our three daughters. The girls agree that we are still a unit, and it’s nice to see how the girls have grown and how my ex and I have changed through the years. We’ve been doing this for 15 years, and I believe it’s helped keep a civil relationship between my ex-husband and myself. - Courtney J., Suffolk, Va.

Courtney, that’s a good idea, and I agree that exes should remain civil to one another for the sake of the kids and for their own peace of mind. - Heloise


Wedding tradition

Dear Heloise: In my family, we try to take something from our mother’s wedding or grandmother’s wedding and incorporate it in our wedding dress or veil. I used a handkerchief that my grandmother carried on her wedding day and had it worked into the bodice of my dress. It was my “something old.”
- Constance D., Glenrock, Wyo.

The stamp of approval
June 1, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND ON is about a U.S. Postal Service worker, Kevin Kennedy:

“Dear Heloise: We have a co-worker, Kevin Kennedy, who’s retiring with 40 years of service from the U.S. Postal Service. Kevin takes his breaks in my office and reads your column out loud so all of us in the office can hear. Kevin also has cut out some of our favorite hints and hung them on the board, and we just love your column.” - Sandy V., via email

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Ever wonder what to do with those empty, amber pill bottles you get from your pharmacy? First, remove the labels with your personal information, and wash them thoroughly. After they dry, you can use them in a number of ways:

- They’re handy to keep in your car to store change for tolls or parking garages.

- They can hold toothpicks and dental floss for those times when you can’t rush home to remove something stuck in your teeth.

- Cat toy: Place a small rock or bell inside and secure the cap with glue. The pill bottle makes enough noise to entertain a cat, and easily can roll across the floor.

- Drill a few holes in the bottom of the container, then spray a cotton ball with perfume and place in a drawer to keep everything smelling nice.

- Store salt and pepper packets for brown-bag lunches.

- Heloise

Arms fall asleep at night

Dear Heloise: I will sometimes fall asleep with my arms raised over my head, which causes my arms and hands to fall asleep. When I mentioned this to my mother, she told me to gently rock my head from side to side, and this would quickly restore feeling in my arms and hands. It works. As long as the numbness isn’t caused by something serious, it should work every time. If the numbness is prolonged or recurring, you need to see a physician. - Susan H., Kokomo, Ind.

Proofreading essay

Dear Heloise: I teach at a college level, and I’ve noticed that so many students turn in papers that haven’t been proofread, the content isn’t cohesive and spellcheck must have been turned off. I have some suggestions for your college (and high school) students to help them improve their essays:

- Use spellcheck.

- Print your essay and manually go over it slowly and carefully.

- Ask yourself if it’s easy to read and understand.

- Review the introduction - this sets the tone of your essay.

- Check each paragraph. Eliminate irrelevant words and statements. Each idea must smoothly transition to the next.

- Check the conclusion to make sure it’s polished to the best of your ability.

- Read your essay aloud. You’ll discover better ways to express an idea.

- Follow the requirements and rules of the assignment. Abide by the word count.

- Fact-check - I can’t stress this enough.

- Ann W. in Denver


Soliciting a negative reaction
May 25, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about all the airlines, from a former airline employee.
- Heloise

“Dear Heloise: I’ve worked as an airline flight attendant for two major airlines over an 11-year period.

“We love our passengers, and we strive to make them happy and comfortable. With summer vacations comes a higher volume of travelers, so I have a few suggestions for passengers who fly the airlines:

- Even though the airlines have blankets and pillows, you might want to bring a small throw and travel pillow from home. People do best when traveling with items that are familiar to them. This is especially true of children.

- It’s usually a good idea to pack a few disinfecting wipes in a plastic bag to use in the restroom and on the tray tables. During flu and cold season, this is especially important.

- Always make certain you have identification on all carry-on bags. Many bags look the same, and this will help you find yours.

- If you have special dietary needs, please let us know when you book a flight, and we’ll do all we can to ensure your needs are met.

- When asked to turn off your cellphones and other electronics, please comply. We want to make sure you have a safe and comfortable flight.

If you have any questions about your connecting flights, ask a flight attendant.”
- Diane N. in Atlanta


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: You might not play tennis, but if you have extra tennis balls around the house, here are a few suggestions for you:

- They are great for dogs to play with, especially if you throw them for your pet.

- You can massage your feet by rolling them with the bottom of your foot.

- Put in the dryer with down pillows to help them fluff.

- Hang one from the ceiling of the garage to help you gauge the distance from the wall when parking your car.

- Heloise


A white wedding?

Dear Heloise: Do first-time brides have to get married in white or ivory dresses? My mother says yes, but I’d rather wear a color, because white makes me look like a corpse.
- Tracy in Ypsilanti, Mich.

Tracy, no, you don’t have to get married in white. In fact, a lot of brides are now choosing to wear a shell pink, or a blue sash with a white dress, and some of the more daring brides are opting for red or turquoise. I’ve seen brides wear silvery gray and dusty lavender dresses, and they looked beautiful. Perhaps the best part is that those dresses can be worn again at cocktail parties or other formal occasions.
- Heloise


Did you know?

Dear Readers:

- There will be a total solar eclipse viewable in parts of North America on Aug. 21, 2017.

- A total solar eclipse can cause the temperature to drop as much as 20 degrees.

- An annular solar eclipse happens when the moon is farther away in its orbit and there is a bright ring around the moon.

- Heloise

Soliciting a negative reaction
May 19, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about asking wedding guests to fund a couple’s honeymoon:

“Dear Heloise: I received an invitation to my former college roommate’s wedding, and it gave the website where they were registered. Turns out they’re asking people to give them money for their honeymoon instead of gifts. I have to admit, I was surprised. They specified that $150 to $300 per person or couple would be an appropriate amount because they want to spend two weeks in Hawaii. I’ve never seen this sort of thing before, and I can’t say I like it, especially since they don’t have a house, an apartment or anything else that newlyweds need!” - Ava L., Meriden, Conn.


Ava, apparently asking people to financially donate to the honeymoon is something new. It’s nice to give a gift of cash at a wedding, but it’s not mandatory. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: You can do much more with pencils than just write with them:

- Erase crayon from walls painted with satin or gloss paint.

- The eraser can be used to push back cuticles.

- Use as a stem support for weaker plants.

- Use the eraser as an earring back by cutting it off and pushing it onto the earring post.

- Heloise

Let them cake

Dear Heloise: I had a pamphlet of yours with cake recipes, and I loved it! I think I made every cake recipe in the pamphlet, but unfortunately I loaned it out to a friend, who begged me to let her keep it. So, I’d like to order another one for me and one for my daughter. - Laura W., Hagerstown, Md.


Laura, thank you! My cake recipe pamphlet is one of the most requested. Just go to my website, www.Heloise.com, to order it, or send a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope, along with $3, to: Heloise/ Cakes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. If any of my readers have a favorite cake recipe they’d like to share with us, please send me a copy of the recipe, especially if there’s a story attached to it. - Heloise

Food Facts

Dear Readers:

- Remember to cover your butter so it doesn’t absorb refrigerator odors.

- Butter should not be stored in the refrigerator for more than two weeks. If you need to keep it longer, freeze it.

- Anything labeled “tropical oils” usually is coconut or palm oil.

- The majority of nondairy creamers are made from coconut oil, which makes them high in saturated fats.

- Heloise

Plant drainage

Dear Heloise: I always heard that you should put stones in the bottom of pots before plants go in so that the plants have better drainage. However, I live in an apartment and didn’t have any rocks or small stones, so I used plastic foam and layered the bottom of my potted plants. There’s also less weight on my patio this way, and the drainage is just as good as with stones. - Frances B., Tyler, Texas

Soliciting a negative reaction
May 10, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about companies that solicit donations. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: I get tired of all the pleas for contributions and the companies that sell your information to other companies. They spend all that money on staff, stamps, envelopes and address labels. Why not use the money for the charities instead of begging me for money?

“I finally stopped them, even the ones I liked. Just write ‘Do Not Solicit’ on the bill or request for funds and send it back to them. I kept a list so I’d be sure there were no repeats. It worked.”
- JoAnn A., Booneville, Miss.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Lemons not only smell fresh, but have the added advantage of multiple uses:

- Rub half a lemon over a chopping block to remove odors and kill bacteria.

- Sprinkle lemon juice over foods that tend to turn brown after they’re sliced, such as apples and avocados.

- Remove stains from plastic.

- Whiten fingernails that have turned yellow from nail polish.

- Heloise

Compost no-nos

Dear Heloise: We just bought our first home on an acre of land, and I want to compost materials for the vegetable garden we’ve started. I know there are things I shouldn’t compost, but what are they?
 - Molly K., Brookfield, Wis.


Molly, yes, there are several things that shouldn’t go into your compost:

- No cat or dog droppings. These might contain parasites.

- Coal or charcoal.

- Anything that has fungus, such as fungus on plants.

- Fish, cheese or meat leftovers. These attract raccoons, opossums and other critters.

- Oil and grease.

- No bones. Like coal and charcoal, these take a very long time to decompose.

So glad to know you’re starting a compost pile. This will enrich your soil with nutrients the natural way.
- Heloise


Old toothbrushes

Dear Heloise: As a recent graduate of dental school, I can tell you there are many uses for old toothbrushes. After replacing your toothbrushes, try using them for:

- Cleaning tile grout with baking soda. A toothbrush gets into the grout lines.

- Applying hair dye to the roots is easier with an old toothbrush.

- Use the handle to poke a hole in the ground, then drop in a seed or seeds and use the brush part to cover the hole with dirt.

- It’s wonderful for cleaning under your fingernails.

- Use it to brush your eyebrows. A cheap child’s toothbrush works well for this idea.

- Lana V., Fresno, Calif.

What’s in a makeup’s name?
May 4, 2017

“Dear Heloise: Why do makeup and hair-dye companies try to be trendy with the names they give to colors? I was looking for eyeliner in a dark-purple shade, but had no idea what shade Mystic Night or Tahitian Seas was. What’s wrong with just saying ‘purple’ or ‘dark purple’ on the packaging? The tiny square on the package, which was supposed to be a representation of the color, looked identical to three other eyeliners by the same manufacturer. It’s the same with lipsticks. It’s impossible to tell the difference between French Rose, Honeysuckle Pink and Hawaiian Sunset. Turns out, they’re actually red. Women just want to know what they are buying with names that represent the actual color, because the color charts are never correct.” - Caroline B., Walla Walla, Wash.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: If you enjoy frozen dinners in which food is steamed in a slotted tray set inside another tray for the liquid, here are some things you can do to reuse the plastic trays:

- Use the slotted tray as a drying station for sponges and bars of soap in the bathroom.

- Take a slotted tray to the beach and let kids sift sand with it.

- Use to wash shells and rocks in when your kids bring home their little treasures.

- The top and bottom trays, which don’t have slots, can be used as pet-food dishes while traveling. They’re small and lightweight, and fit in the glove box.

- Both the top and bottom trays are great as seed starters once they’re filled with soil.

- Heloise

Squeaking shoes

Dear Heloise: We read your column in the Orange County (Calif.) Register. Please give me an idea of what to do with squeaky shoes. They are not old. - Victoria Q., Irvine, Calif.

Victoria, sprinkle some talcum powder, cornstarch or a baby powder under the shoe liner, if it is removable. If you don’t have any powder, then try a dryer sheet under the insole, if it’s removable. You also can try wearing socks with the shoes that squeak. The moisture from your feet perspiring may be the cause of the squeaking. Leather shoes might make noises if the leather has dried out. Try using a leather conditioner, left on the shoes overnight to soak into the shoes. As a last resort, you can take them to a shoe-repair shop for help. - Heloise

An old wives’ tale

Dear Readers: The bride must walk into her new home by the front door, and must not trip or fall. This is how the tradition of carrying the bride over the threshold started. It was said to be a good omen if the bride entered her home for the first time as a wife without stumbling. - Heloise

Mind over mattress?
April 28, 2017

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

“Dear Heloise: Why are mattresses in this age of space technology not made stain- and water-repellent? Why aren’t mattresses made in colors that don’t show the dirt, and why aren’t there handles on the sides of mattresses to make flipping them much easier? Seems to me there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
- Janice M., Waterbury, Conn.

Janice, I’m with you on this! Yes, they do sell mattress protectors, which you buy, then put OVER the mattress. Here is the Heloise Hint: Buy a fabric/ leather protector spray and use this on your mattress. It’s best to do several light coats, rather than one heavy.

The handles are supposed to be used when placing the mattress on the box spring, not really to “flip” the mattress. However, most of us do use them when it’s time to flip or rotate the mattress. Also, today MOST new mattresses have “pillow” tops, and unless the pillow is on both top and bottom, you can’t flip it!

Love your idea of colored mattresses! I’d want purple! - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Uses for leftover wallpaper:

- Coordinate frame mats with room decor.

- Line shelves in the kitchen.

- Use as wrapping paper.

- Cut to fit for a border trim for walls.

- Heloise

Plant identifier

Dear Heloise: Here is how I make a marker for the seeds I’ve planted: I go to the dollar store and purchase inexpensive wooden spoons with long handles. Then I paint the front and back of the bowl part of the spoon, plus 2 or 3 inches down the handle from the bowl. When it dries, I write the name of the seeds I’m planting with a waterproof marker on the front of the spoon.

These are cheap and nice-looking plant markers. - Joyce M., Cape Coral, Fla.

An old wives’ tale

Dear Readers: “If you sweep dust out the door after dark, it will bring a handsome stranger to visit.”

REALLY? How about a handsome stranger with lots of money! - Heloise

Clean solar panel

Dear Heloise: My husband and I are big advocates of renewable energy, so we had solar panels installed. While I love using solar energy, I don’t know how to clean the panels. - Sandy, Mesa, Ariz.

Sandy, good for you, and in Mesa, Ariz., there is a lot of sun, so the solar panels can really provide you with energy. The easiest way to clean them is to just rinse them off with the hose. If they have too much dirt/debris on them, try rinsing well, then cleaning with a MICROFIBER CLOTH OR SQUEEGEE, along with some mild soap and water. Squirt with the hose, and you’re done! - Heloise

P.S. Speaking of renewable energy and using MOTHER NATURE to the fullest, wait until it rains, and then squeegee the panels!

Garage treats

Dear Heloise: When it’s time to clean out the garage, I put an ice chest filled with soft drinks, water and some bagged fruit and veggies out there. No excuse to leave! - Tired but Happy, via email

Service with sarcasm
April 18, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about calling service people:

“Dear Heloise: I recently called for tech support at a computer company and got the worst service I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve had service people who were sarcastic or rude. The background noise was so loud, with people laughing and shouting, that I couldn’t hear the young man who was talking. When I said I couldn’t hear him because of the noise, he hung up on me.”
- Sarah J., Hampton, Va.

Sarah, this is a common complaint from my readers. One thing I’ve done: If the phone agent is NOT being helpful, I say “goodbye” and call back to get another agent. Readers, what’s your “call” (bad pun intended!) on this dilemma? - Heloise


Dear Heloise: I think I must live in the mosquito capital of America. I can’t set foot outside the door without being bitten several times. Do you have a recipe to kill these pesky critters?
- Belinda F., Brownsville, Texas

Belinda, I sure do! Give this simple hint a try:

1 cup hot water

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 2-liter bottle

1 tablespoon active yeast

Cut the plastic bottle in half. Mix the brown sugar with the hot water and allow to cool. When the mixture is cooled, pour it into the bottom half of the bottle.

Add the yeast - no need to mix. Place the funnel part of the bottle upside down into the bottom half of the bottle and tape them together. Leave the top uncovered.

Change the solution every week or so, or when you see lots of dead mosquitoes in the liquid.

Buzz, buzz no more! - Heloise

P.S. The amounts are just an estimate; don’t worry about measuring exactly.

Wedding gifts

Dear Heloise: I recently went to a wedding and did not know what to get the couple, who have everything after living together. I gave them an envelope with cash. After the wedding, the mother of the bride hinted that she didn’t think I’d given them enough to cover the expense of my dinner. I’m retired, my income is limited, and I thought I gave the couple a substantial amount. What is the correct amount to give at a wedding? - Lynnette G., New London, Conn.

Lynnette, there is no real rule, per se. In the old days, many thought a cash gift or the price of the gift should cover your food and drink. However, that has changed over time. Give what you can afford, and don’t feel guilty. Guests are invited to help the happy couple celebrate the wedding, not to pay for it. - Heloise

Ice-cream-cone plants

Dear Heloise: I like to start my garden a little early, so I start the seeds in an ice-cream cone that has a flat bottom. When the seedlings are ready to be planted, I place the plant, still in the ice-cream cone, into the ground. The cone is biodegradable! - Vivian M., Greensboro, N.C.

Free with a fee?
April 13, 2017

Dear Readers: This week’s Sound Off is about mail-order companies:

“Dear Heloise: My complaint is with mail-order companies that have a free-shipping-and-handling promotion and then have the nerve to charge a processing fee (usually $2.95) in case the order gets lost in transit. This fee supposedly will expedite the search. Chances are it won’t get lost, so they make an extra $2.95 per order for nothing! What a rip-off!” - Gloria R., Highland, Ind.

Gloria, the handling fee isn’t “in case it gets lost.” Companies need to pay someone to package the product and get it sent out. There’s paperwork, such as invoices that need to be filed for tracking purposes, and more. It seems to me that $2.95 is a reasonable amount to request for all of that. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some warm-weather hints:

- Put deodorant on a mosquito bite to stop the itching.

- Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth to stop “brain freeze.”

- Put your nail polish in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before applying. It goes on smoother.

- Flattened pillow? Place the pillow in the sun for 40 minutes. The sun will absorb moisture and plump up your pillow.

- Heloise

Fruit cups

Dear Heloise: I think I found a storage solution that your readers might enjoy: I buy fruit cups for my kids, and I found that stacking them top to top saves a little more space in my refrigerator.
- Liz D. in Philadelphia

Space-saving ideas

Dear Heloise: When my husband and I travel, we try to pack so that we can save space in our luggage using the following ideas:

- Place shoes inside of a shower cap.

- Put shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant in a plastic bag, and then put that plastic bag in the pocket of a garment. Be sure to seal the bag shut! - Gina R., Tampa, Fla.


Recycled packing peanuts

Dear Heloise: I recycle my foam and packing peanuts by placing them in a large garbage bag and taking it to a shipping store. They always seem happy to get them. - Patricia Q., Bellevue, Neb.


Bobbin storage

Dear Heloise: I’ve found that if you store wound bobbins in weekly pillboxes, they won’t become lost or tangled up. - Ronna S., Virginia Beach, Va.

Ronna, that’s a good idea! Here are a few more sewing ideas:

- Binder clips can be extra hands. They’re perfect for holding your binding in place, or a stack of quilting squares.

- Before working with lace fabric, wash it in mild, soapy water, rinse and let it air-dry. If it loses its stiffness, use spray starch and iron on low to medium heat.

- If you are trying to sew a straight line, don’t watch the needle. Train yourself to watch the guide instead to achieve that straight line.

- Heloise









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