The rules of the house


August 15, 2018


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

“Dear Heloise: Summer is drawing to a close - thank heavens! My husband and I have a beach house, which we thoroughly enjoy. We bought it so my husband of 48 years could recover from a serious heart attack. What we don't enjoy are drop-in visits from people who think that they're staying the week or weekend. So, to people who feel free to drop in, please wait to be invited. This is a home, not a hotel. Show some respect for our privacy.” - A Reader in California

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

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some items to take along as a hostess gift besides the standard bottle of wine:

- A basket of something you've grown, such as tomatoes or flowers.

- A book on a subject the hostess enjoys, such as gardening.

- A bouquet of flowers or a pretty serving dish.

- A cake or a homemade pie.

- Heloise


Sock it to me

Dear Heloise: When sorting my family's laundry, I could never tell which were my son's socks and which were my husband's, because they both wear the same size. Now I code the socks by using a few stitches of red thread for one and blue or yellow for the other. I just sew an “X” on the toe of each sock.
- Becky A., Claremont, N.H.


Electric griddles

Dear Heloise: I have a sticky substance that is stuck on my electric griddle. How do I get it off without damaging the surface? - Abby M., Cumberland, Md.

Abby, first, always clean your griddle after each time you use it. Use a wooden or plastic spatula (not a metal one, which could scratch the nonstick surface) to gently scrape off any stuck-on food into the collection tray or into a corner, then scoop it out. While the surface is warm, pour water on it so that it bubbles. Use the scrubbie side of a sponge (never steel wool) with a little dishwashing soap and water to gently clean the surface. Finish by wiping first with a damp paper towel, then a dry one. - Heloise


Stabbing the fingers

Dear Heloise: It seems that every time I reach into my sewing basket, I stab my fingers on my scissors. Help! - Lennie S., Escanaba, Mich.

Lennie, stick the pointed end of your scissors into a piece of cork. - Heloise


Tomato cork

Dear Heloise: I love growing tomatoes, but in my tiny yard, there's no room anymore. Any ideas?
- Barb O., Middlesboro, Ky.

Barb, you can always grow cherry tomatoes in a hanging basket, or the larger varieties in a pot with a tomato cage. - Heloise

Thanks to those who fight fires
August 8, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On concerns firefighters. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: We recently had a fire in our kitchen that quickly spread to the dining room. We called the fire department, and the team was there in only a matter of minutes. They put out the blaze and checked to make certain everyone was accounted for and unharmed. That included our pets.

“I can’t say enough to thank the firefighters for their rapid response. They probably saved my husband’s life because he was asleep upstairs when the fire broke out. To firefighters everywhere, thank you from the bottom of my heart.” - Linda in Ohio


Fast Facts

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

- Wrap loose pieces of ribbon around one.

- Store plastic grocery bags in them.

- Store Christmas lights (wrap them around a tube).

- Store extension cords inside them.

- Heloise


Strawberries vs. weeds

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

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

- Mattie R., Tupelo, Miss.


Easier school mornings

Dear Heloise: Mornings around my house are so hectic! Half the time my children leave the house but forget something they need. With a new school year about to start, how do I remedy this situation?

- Pat S., Albion, N.Y.

Pat, give each child a box to put things inside. Every evening before bed, have them place everything they’ll need for school in that box. Next morning, it’s simple to grab what they need before they go to school.

 - Heloise


Game boards

Dear Heloise: I love to play board games with my children, but the boards get so frayed! What can I do?

- Sophie M., Iona, Fla.


Sophie, try shellacking those game boards before you give them to your children. One or two coats will help keep the boards smoother longer. - Heloise


Lost socks

Dear Heloise: My daughter has cute, lace-trimmed socks that go with certain outfits. However, sometimes I have a difficult time matching up the socks after they’re washed. Help!

- Laura K., Boone, Iowa


Laura, use a large safety pin to pin the matching socks together before you wash and dry them. - Heloise


Dream boards

Dear Heloise: Ever use a “dream board”? I know it sounds like a lot of silly nonsense, but creating a visual board with pictures and affirmations of what you want in life actually works. I usually focus on three ideas at a time. Example: I’ll post a picture of a place I want to visit next year, plus two other things I want to accomplish, and by putting it where I can see it every day and meditating on it, most often I manage to make it happen. It’s a way to make dreams become a reality.

- Bailey T., Santa Clarita, Calif.

The restroom reflection
August 1, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off concerns filthy public restrooms:

“Dear Heloise: Earlier today I had lunch with a friend, and when I went into the restroom to wash my hands, I was disgusted to find water all over the sink area, paper towels scattered on the floor and just the general, all-over filth of a place that needed cleaning, with stalls that needed painting or replacing. Granted, the public could be a lot neater, but the restaurant owner should really take care to improve the restroom area.

“This is not the first time I’ve come across a dirty restroom in a restaurant. I never go back to a place that does not maintain clean restrooms, because I wonder about other unhygienic habits the staff may have picked up. I wonder if the kitchen is clean or as filthy as the restroom. It doesn’t matter if it’s an up-scale place or a simple burger joint - the restrooms need to be clean!” - Hannah A., Delray Beach, Fla.

Hannah, I agree with you 100 percent. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for self-closing bags:

- Use to store items that might leak while traveling.

- Store crayons, pencils and small toys for children in one.

- Store crackers and cookies in them, rather than in the cupboard.

- Store ribbon or string in them.

- Heloise


Time capsule

Dear Heloise: When my niece was born, my sister and I made a time capsule containing things from the year she entered this world. We put in a newspaper, stamps, silver dollars, photos of fashions and family members, a picture of the house as it was back then, and more. The capsule was stored in my sister’s hope chest, to be opened when my niece was 30 years old. Last week she turned 30, and we gave the capsule to her. She was surprised and excited. In fact, she said it was the best gift anyone had ever given her. - Linnsey T., Eden Prairie, Minn.


Baby shower

Dear Heloise: Two of my friends decided to throw a baby shower for me, but I already had a lot of baby things, so they made it a hospital kit for the “mother to be.” I can’t tell you how grateful I was for their kindness. They had all sorts of handy items: dry shampoo, lip balm, hand lotion, a nice robe and my favorite - a gift certificate for a pedicure! These items meant so much to me after a long and difficult delivery. - Joyce L., Juneau, Alaska


Letter of laughter

Dear Heloise: I used to volunteer at an elementary school. It was Jack’s birthday, so I asked him how old he was. He said he was 7. “How old are you?” He asked me. I said I was 5,921 years old. He said, “Wow, you look a lot younger than that!” - Linda R., Irvine, Calif.

Sparing the spare?
July 25, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off concerns new cars that do not include a spare tire. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: When shopping for a new car, most people don’t bother to check to see if there is a spare tire included with the sale, but in fact, many new cars do not include this item anymore.

“Some cars have an inflator kit included, but this won’t help for serious tire damage, only for tread puncture. Some higher-priced cars come with run-flat tires, which will operate for limited miles after puncture. Neither of these options works as well as a spare tire.

“If you insist on getting a spare tire, some dealers will sell you a kit, which includes a tire, a jack and a lug wrench. It will cost you between $150 and $300, in addition to the purchase price of the car.”
- Fred J. in Detroit

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Other uses for paper clips:

- Clip reminders to a calendar or in a journal.

- Use to clip bags closed.

- Use to hold up a hem in a pinch.

- Let children make necklaces or bracelets with them.

- Heloise


GPS tracking

Dear Heloise: I recently had a laptop computer that went missing at an airport. When I bought a replacement, I had a GPS tracking device installed so I could track down my computer if it went missing again. Some computers have tracking software installed at the manufacturing plant, but if yours doesn’t have it, I highly recommend getting software tracking for your laptop. - Jim Y., Pocatello, Idaho


Dull kitchen floor

Dear Heloise: No matter how often I mop my kitchen floor, it always has a dull look to it. How do I restore the shine? - Karen B., Beaverton, Ore.

Karen, try mopping your floors with just plain white vinegar and water to remove any buildup of soap and other products, which probably will restore the shine to your floors. - Heloise


A common plant question

Dear Heloise: How often should I be watering my plants? - Phyllis T., Erie, Pa.

Phyllis, thump the pot or container, and if it sounds hollow, it probably needs water. If it doesn’t sound hollow, it probably has water. Most plants do not need a lot of water unless they are outside, but indoor plants should be watered at least once a week. - Heloise


Measuring cups

Dear Heloise: I’m tired of dragging a measuring cup to the laundromat; I’ve lost about four so far. Got any hints to help me? - Morgan D., Boulder City, Nev.

Morgan, try a plastic yogurt cup (an 8-ounce container), and use that to measure your laundry soap. If that container gets lost, it’s not a big deal. - Heloise

Movie madness!
July 18, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is from a reader who was annoyed by people in a movie theater:

“Dear Heloise: My wife and I recently went to a movie we had been eager to see. We don’t go to the movies very often, and we might never go again. People were so rude. The people behind us kept talking even after we politely asked them to stop. Another couple let their toddler run up and down the aisle, and the child had a tantrum because his parents wouldn’t take him home. People had cellphones go off and carried on conversations in the theater. We got up in the middle of the movie, asked for the manager and requested a refund. He gave it to us and was very nice.

“People don’t go to a theater to hear you talk or to see your child have a meltdown, and please, folks, turn off your cellphones. It’s just good manners.” - Joseph K. in Milwaukee

Joseph, we’ve gotten so used to big-screen TVs in our homes that people forget it’s acceptable to talk, text and play with your children at home but NOT in a public theater. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Got any old canning jars? Here are some additional uses for them:

- Store extra buttons in them.

- Use to hold loose change.

- They are perfect for holding salt, sugar and pepper packets for a picnic.

- Store small nuts and bolts in them.

- Heloise


Rinse before loading

Dear Heloise: In reference to the recent hint for rinsing dishes prior to loading the dishwasher, it is beneficial for two reasons. First, it prolongs the life of the dishwasher (it’s not meant to be a garbage disposal). Second, studies have shown that dishwashers (properly loaded) save more water than hand-washing dishes.

Living with our California drought problems, we are all very concerned about water conservation. I hand-wash pots and pans, but can load an entire week of dishes prior to running the dishwasher. My previous dishwasher lasted 30 years and was only replaced due to a kitchen remodel.
- Mindy T., Valley Village, Calif.


New versus old

Dear Heloise: Help! My husband wants to buy an old Queen Anne Victorian home and fix it up. I want a new house. Please help us decide. - Sidney S., Topeka, Kan.

Sidney, old homes have charm and character, but they also usually have old wiring, crumbling foundations, ancient plumbing and a long list of other repairs. Talk to a contractor who’s done a lot of remodeling of homes in your area to see what it would cost to remodel an old Victorian home, after you’ve selected the house you are considering buying. Then ask yourselves if you’re up for the mess and strain of a remodeling project. After all, it may take years to finish a home if you’re on a budget. - Heloise

A ban on disposable diapers?
July 11, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is a reply to a letter written by another reader about disposable diapers.
- Heloise

“Dear Heloise: In the matter of disposable diapers, I agree 100 percent that throwing disposable diapers on the ground in parking lots is completely disgusting. When I got out of my car today, there was a dirty disposable diaper there on the ground next to my car. 

“Here in California, plastic bags have been banned because they were flying all over. I would like to see disposable diapers banned as well. I raised four children in cloth diapers, and it was far less expensive than using disposable ones.” - S. Dawson, Fullerton, Calif.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for extra twist-ties:

- Bundle cords together.

- Organize loose keys.

- Secure climbing vines to a fence or railing.

- Hold stitches when knitting.

- Heloise

One more step

Dear Heloise: I am writing about the letter from William O’M., in Durango, Colo. He suggested the use of a pill bottle with a childproof cap to keep matches dry on a camping trip. I would like to add to that idea. When needing matches for out-of-doors, dip the sulfur end in paraffin wax and let dry before putting in a bottle. This keeps them dry during rain or if dropped in water. - Ginger H., Livermore, Iowa

 Ginger, that’s an excellent idea. Thanks for the hint! - Heloise


Defrost a deep freezer

Dear Heloise: Here’s how to defrost a deep freezer (chest style): The cold comes from the sides, which is why the frost builds up there. First, unplug the freezer overnight and let it sit. The next morning, remove all the food items and store in baskets or boxes, and cover with heavy blankets. Use a metal spatula to easily scrape the sides and push the frost to the bottom. Scoop up the frost with a dustpan and dump it in the yard or bathtub. Put all the food back in the freezer and, most important of all, plug in the freezer so it starts running again. - Ruth Ann Bartels, Lincoln, Neb.

Watering your plants

Dear Heloise: During these dog days of summer, always water your plants at sunset or later. Not only does it lessen evaporation from the soil, it prevents water droplets from becoming hot and thereby causing small burns on the grass and leaves. - Jackson H., Vicksburg, Miss.

Like Hummingbirds?

Dear Heloise: Hummingbirds love the colors red, deep blue and purple, which is why planting flowers with these colors will attract them. Trumpet-shaped flowers with these colors work best.
- Adam W., Austin, Texas

A word to the wise

Dear Heloise: Please tell your readers to stop sunbathing. Sunbathing not only leads to premature aging of the skin, it also can lead to skin cancer. Use sunblock if you are outside on a sunny day, but quit sunbathing altogether. - Kelsey R., Fallon, Nev.

Don’t have a blast on the Fourth
July 3, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about fireworks on the Fourth of July:

“Dear Heloise: The Fourth of July is almost here, and there will be fireworks in most cities. Let the pros handle the fireworks, not teenagers with cherry bombs or firecrackers that could cause injury. Every year, thousands of people show up at hospital emergency rooms with injuries from firecrackers or even sparklers. Only a responsible adult should use fireworks.” - James D. in Philadelphia

James, here are a few additional rules:

- Never relight or handle fireworks that haven’t fully ignited.

- Never place part of your body over fireworks when lighting the fuse.

- Keep a bucket of water or the hose handy when lighting fireworks.

- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area. Some states have banned sales of fireworks.

- Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Some terrific uses for baking soda:

- Run out of toothpaste? Use baking soda.

- Sprinkle over carpeting, let sit for 30 minutes, then vacuum to remove odors.

- Use baking soda with a wet sponge to clean the bathtub.

- Use a handful in trash cans to help kill odors.

- Heloise


The readers speak up

Dear Readers: We ran a letter from G.T. in Detroit, who was furious over the computer ads that pop up on his screen. We asked readers what they thought about pop-up ads, and apparently many of you were as disgusted as G.T. Here are some of the responses. - Heloise

“I am 100 percent in sync with the writer’s feeling of disgust with the pop-up ads that interrupt anything we’re trying to accomplish on the computer.” - L.G.M., Hagerstown, Md.

“I pay to have an internet provider, NOT to read a bunch of useless pop-up ads!”
- Jean A., Newport Beach, Calif.

“It’s just sheer greed on the part of internet providers to allow those pop-up ads to continue. I believe everyone hates them.” - Bill H. in Houston

Don’t use too much

Dear Heloise: Got streaky windows after cleaning? Don’t overuse cleaning products. Just mist the surface and use a microfiber cloth or squeegee. - Ella G., Norman, Okla.

Start your day

Dear Heloise: Before you get out of bed, sit on the edge and take about five to 10 deep breaths, then stand and stretch with your arms raised toward the ceiling, and gently, slowly twist from side to side about seven to 10 times. Get your blood flowing, which will help you wake up. - Grace Y., Billings, Mont.

Letter of laughter

Dear Heloise: My daughter was only 5 when she was part of our church’s children’s choir. She had a nice voice for a small child, which is why she was asked to sing a solo of “Frosty the Snowman.” It never occurred to me that she might think she heard a different version of “Frosty” until she began to sing, “Froggy the Snowman.” - Joanna H. in Maryland

Readers react to ‘dress code’
June 27, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the responses we got from a letter written by Wallace T. stating his belief that women don’t dress up anymore or take care of themselves. The reaction was overwhelming. Here are some of the voices of our readers. - Heloise

“It’s not just women who dress casually in this country. Men are just as sloppy, if not worse.” - Pam, Columbus, Neb.

“He calls out women solely for a change in custom regarding their choice of dress. Men do exactly the same thing.” - Mari T., Bakersfield, Calif.

“Most of the people in our circle don’t have the kind of money it takes to ‘dress up’ these days.” - Yvonne G., Watertown, Wis.

“If Wallace T. wants to pay for my wardrobe, I’ll dress in designer duds! But since he’s not paying for my clothes, I’ll wear what I can afford.” - Lana J., Avon Park, Fla.

“We all like pretty women, but women today are as pretty and as healthy as they were back in the 1950s or ‘60s.” - Michael W., Telluride, Colo.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some additional uses for ice cube trays:

- Keep an ice cube tray on a workbench for small screws and nails.

- Place one in a desk drawer as a holder for paper clips and small items.

- Use one to organize your change.

- Use as an earring organizer.

- Heloise


Still not a good idea

Dear Heloise: I read a newspaper column where it was stated that it was all right to wear white to someone else’s wedding, so twice in a row I wore a white knit dress. What do you think?
- Margaret M., Mission Viejo, Calif.

Margaret, wearing all white as a guest to a wedding is still considered a no-no, unless the bride requests an all-white ceremony. You can wear a dress or suit with a pattern that has a white background, but all white is not a wise choice. - Heloise


Dull scissors

Dear Heloise: How can I sharpen dull scissors? - Sharon M. in Miami

Take some very fine grit sandpaper and fold in half. Then cut through it about 10 to 15 times. Take a damp paper towel and wipe the blades off. If need be, you can do this a few more times to get your scissors sharp again. - Heloise


Simple to see

Dear Heloise: When measuring liquids using a measuring cup, I set the cup in the microwave (located over the range), and then pour in the liquid.

I can see the measurement lines straight on, and the light in the microwave also helps. No more trying to hold the cup level as I lift up the cup and pour. - Sylvia M., The Villages, Fla.

A nod to pods

Dear Heloise: I reuse my single-use coffee pods to start seeds. I rinse them out and poke a few more holes in them, and put one seed in each one. - Jo Ann D., via email

Tired of giving?
June 21, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about being bombarded by organizations asking for money:

“Dear Heloise: I understand that charities and other worthwhile organizations need money to operate, but I’m tired of the weekly phone calls and letters from these people asking me to donate money.

“I live on a retirement income, and I can donate only once a year. Continually calling me for donations to a hospital, policeman’s ball or other charity is annoying. Then, they in turn sell my name and information to other organizations, which start calling me. It’s gotten to the point where I just hang up on them.”
- Sarah H., Key West, Fla.

Sarah, when they call, tell them to remove you from their list of people to contact, and by law they must stop. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some great ideas for cotton balls:

- Give some to pet birds for nesting purposes.

- Pack around small objects for shipping.

- Give to children to use for a craft project.

- Spray with perfume and put in your purse to keep it smelling fresh.

- Heloise


Help! Coachroach!

Dear Heloise: It seems every time I see a cockroach, it’s hanging on to my ceiling. I spray and spray insecticide, but they keep coming back. What can I do to get rid of them? - Kelly Q., Metairie, La.

Kelly, if the cockroach is on the ceiling, use a broom to brush it off onto the floor. Use a shoe to kill it, and throw the cockroach in the trash. If they’re hiding behind a refrigerator or in other hard-to-reach places, use sticky traps to catch them. Also, look for damp spots in the house, because roaches are drawn to those places, and to anywhere there’s food. You might have to call in an exterminator to do the whole house.
- Heloise


Ants are in hot water

Dear Heloise: I boil a gallon of water and pour it down the center of an ant mound to kill ants. No chemicals, no danger. - Mimi T., Hanover, N.J.


Better safe than sorry

Dear Heloise: As a police officer, I see break-ins every day. Our senior citizens are the ones most at risk, usually because they are the most trusting. To better safeguard your home, your life and your valuables, have a peephole installed on your front door and on the door leading to your garage. DO NOT open the door to strangers, no matter what they tell you. Make sure you have at least one deadbolt lock on all doors leading outside. If someone insists that you need to let them in, or just won’t go away, call the police.
- James L. in Los Angeles


Shiny shoes

Dear Heloise: My husband won’t shine his shoes. He says they look fine and don’t need shoe polish, but they look old and scruffy to me. How can I convince him otherwise? - Cassy T., Old Town, Maine

Cassy, tell him shoe polish has conditioners that keep shoes supple and help prevent the leather from getting brittle and dry. - Heloise

A lack of privacy
June 13, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is about the apparent loss of privacy for the average American.
- Heloise

“Dear Heloise: I hate these road cams that you see everywhere. I’ve never received a traffic ticket, but I’m tired of the invasion of my privacy. It’s bad enough that companies sell our information to other marketers; now we have Big Brother watching us as well.

“I can understand cameras in a place of business, but technology has made it possible for anyone to spy on us. Pictures of our homes are on the internet, and for a small fee anyone can go to an investigator’s site to find out all the details about your life. Sadly, those details aren’t always correct. It makes me wonder how many people have lost job prospects/financial help/sweethearts because of the details, whether true or not.” - Nora in Salem, Ore.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old wire hangers:

- Straighten out and use as a trellis for potted plants.

- Take one camping and use to dry towels by hanging it on a tree branch.

- Straighten and use to hang a squirrel feeder or bird feeder.

- Return them to the dry cleaner. They’ll appreciate it!

- Heloise

Painting the house

Dear Heloise: We plan on selling our current home and moving to a warmer climate. We’ve also decided to paint the exterior of our home to increase its market value, but we’re debating what colors to use. What colors help sell a house? - Kay T., Rochester, Mich.

Kay, real estate experts agree that colors such as taupe, gray and beige seem to add the most to a home’s resale value. Also, the front door should be a contrasting color. - Heloise


What you never should put in a will

Dear Heloise: As an attorney for many years, I have to counsel my clients on what they cannot or should not put in their wills. Here are some common issues:

1. Funeral arrangements: Don’t put them in a will. Tell a close relative or friend what you want done. The will mostly likely will be read after you’re buried.

2. Jointly held property: “The right of survivorship” means the other person owns the property in full.

3. Life insurance and retirement funds: Since these already have beneficiaries named, you do not have to do so in a will.

4. Conditions attached to a gift: Be careful. A court will not enforce something like “To John, on the condition he divorce his wife.”

- A.J., Anaheim, Calif.

Picture pages

Dear Heloise: I’m an avid thrift store shopper. Please remind readers to remove pictures from picture frames before donating the frames. - Sara G., Grove City, Ohio

The pain of a migraine
June 6, 2018

Dear Readers: June is Migraine Awareness Month, which is appropriate for today’s Sound Off. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Unless you’ve had a migraine headache, there is no way to describe the pain, nausea and sensitivity to light and sound that people with a migraine experience. My co-workers and friends think all I need to do is take an over-the-counter drug and I’ll be fine. Unfortunately, those drugs don’t help. I need a prescription medication, and if a migraine starts and I don’t have my medications with me, I’m in serious pain.

“Many people think that a person suffering a migraine is making too much of it or faking it to get attention. That’s NOT the case! We’re in pain, so please be patient with us and know that a migraine is so painful that it’s often physically exhausting.” - Rochelle F., Standish, Maine


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are a few uses for old blankets:

- Carry one in your trunk for emergencies.

- Use to cover plants in cold weather.

- Donate them to a pet shelter in your area.

- Use to cover stored furniture.

- Heloise


Bed basket

Dear Heloise: When I have friends in the hospital or who are confined to bed for several days, I make up a bed basket for them. I put in hand/body lotion, a hair band, hairbrush, candies (if permitted by the doctor), mints, a couple of magazines, a pen and a notepad. I also customize the basket for the person, depending on what she likes or enjoys doing. - Christina K., Gold Beach, Ore.


And this from a reader...

Dear Heloise: After seeing the hint about reading to your children, a special poem came to mind that all parents should read. Being a first-grade teacher for many years and a mother of six, I felt compelled to send it to you. I have given it to my daughters and granddaughters, who have profited by it as well:

“You may have tangible wealth untold,

Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be,

I had a mother who read to me.”

- A Mother in Ohio


Inside Out

Hi, Heloise: To keep long-sleeved shirts from getting tangled in the wash, try this:

Turn the shirts inside out by reaching up through the shirt from the bottom and pulling the neck down and out. The sleeves should stay “trapped” inside the body of the shirt. 

Oddly, by the end of the wash cycle, almost all of the shirts will have turned right side out again, but the laundry is not tangled! - Jackie in Cabin John, Md.

Parents, teach your children well
May 30, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about giving children too many “things” and not doing enough “parenting.” - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Having taught school for nearly 20 years, I’ve noticed that parents seem to think that giving their children computers, expensive cellphones or designer clothing makes up for not being present for their child. At teacher/parent conferences, we see fewer parents than we did just 10 years ago, and when we do see a parent, he or she is usually making excuses for the child’s bad behavior or blaming the school for not teaching subjects that need to be taught at home, such as good manners, personal hygiene and morals.

“Your children are the ONLY thing you will ever leave behind of any real and lasting value. Never mind ‘quality time’ - kids require a LOT of time! Teach them your values, morals, family history and compassion for others. Demand good grades. Remember, children are a reflection of the parents who raised them.”
 - Mrs. E. in Houston


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Got a bunch of old photograph frames? Here’s what you can do with them:

- Print phone numbers of emergency help (police, family members, hospital) and frame them. Keep near a phone.

- Frame a phrase that is memorable and keep it in sight.

- Frame a special letter from someone.

- Heloise


Skin protection

Dear Heloise: Is sunscreen actually necessary all year? - Hannah G. in Indiana

Hannah, yes, it is very important to use sunscreen all year long. This is especially important on the eyelids, the area surrounding the eye sockets and the nose. These areas often are overlooked. - Heloise


Egg cooking times

Dear Heloise: I never know how long to cook eggs. Can you help me? - Anne C., Shelton, Conn.

Scrambled eggs: 1 minute at 250 degrees.

Poached: 3-5 minutes in boiling water.

Fried: 1-2 minutes at 250 degrees F., or done the way you like them on one side, then flip and cook another 30-60 seconds.

Boiled: 7 minutes in boiling water.

- Heloise


Online dating scams

Dear Heloise: Millions of people use the various online dating sites in the hope of finding that “special someone.” Sadly, many scammers have invaded these sites and other social media sites and chat rooms to prey on vulnerable and trusting users. Here are the things to watch for: (1) They declare love for you at lightning speed. (2) They send you a photograph of themselves that looks like a professional model. (3) Some will say they are U.S. citizens working abroad. (4) They ask for money for any number of reasons. (5) They ask you to cash checks for them. This could be a money-laundering scheme! (6) They say they want to visit you, and although they make plans, they never come. - Charles H., Washington, D.C.

Pare down, then live it up
May 23, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about having self-control with credit cards. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: My husband and I decided to pay off our credit cards, get out of deep debt and stay out of debt because we’ll both be retiring in three years. It hasn’t been easy, but we knew we could do it with a little self-control. Before either of us bought anything, we’d ask ourselves, ‘Is this purchase necessary?’ ‘How will this benefit us?’ and finally, ‘Can we live without it?’

“We cleaned out the house and had a huge garage sale, sold our large house and bought a small home that has less upkeep. We’re happier now than we’ve ever been, with less ‘stuff,’ and we have more time and money to travel, pursue hobbies and enjoy life. I only wish we had done this 30 years ago!”
- Jack and Karen F., Cape Coral, Fla.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are additional uses for bank teller envelopes:

- Store one in a car’s glove compartment to keep coupons and gift cards inside.

- Keep extra change inside one for toll booths.

- Use as a catch-all for receipts, loose papers, candy wrappers, etc.

- Heloise


Does your fire extinguisher work?

Dear Heloise: Every home needs a fire extinguisher, but what kind and what size, and do you know how to use it? If your fire extinguisher has a plastic operating lever, replace it with one that has a metal operating lever so that it doesn’t clog or break during use. Make sure you get rechargeable extinguishers serviced at least once a year. If you need to use your extinguisher, be sure to pull out the safety pin before using, and try not to panic. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire, not at the flames.
- Luke T., Royal Oak, Mich.


Online dating sites

Dear Heloise: I want to try a dating site online, but I never know what to write. Have you got any hints?
- Mary Ann G., Tempe, Ariz.

Mary Ann, start by staying away from cliches, even if you really do like “walks on the beach at sunset.” Stay positive and upbeat, and above all, be honest. Ask your close friends to help you with your personal profile. Also, choose your photos wisely. - Heloise


Fake job scam

Dear Heloise: Scammers are using a new ploy to steal from the unsuspecting public, and it involves job interviews. The “interviewer” uses an online video-conferencing service and asks the viewer to download a file explaining more about the job. What is actually being downloaded is malware that will access your password, financial information and whatever else they want. If in doubt, call the company directly to see if it is legitimate. - Victor N., Sacramento, Calif.

Don't throw it away
May 17, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the billions of dollars of food that is thrown out every year in America. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Americans waste millions of tons of food each year. It gets dumped in a landfill, where it rots and produces methane gas, which is considered a greenhouse gas.

“What can we do to avoid wasting food? You can freeze almost anything, so why not freeze leftovers? Or plan how much food will be needed for a meal, and purchase that amount and no more. Plan a leftover night on Saturday or Friday. Even if food is on sale, don’t buy it unless you know you’ll use it all.”
- Melissa F., Berkeley, Calif.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, so to help avoid skin cancer:

- Use sunblock.

- Stop sunbathing.

- Wear a hat outdoors.

- See a dermatologist regularly.

- Heloise


Is stress killing you?

Dear Heloise: One of the most serious health issues today is stress. As a yoga teacher, I see people every day who are trying to find ways to cope with their stress levels. I’ve found that there are three easy methods to help us handle stress in our lives:

1. Stop multitasking: Focus on doing a good job on one thing at a time.

2. Meditate: Set aside at least 10 to 15 minutes per day to sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, focus on your breathing and let your mind go blank.

3. Stop checking your electronic gadgets: Some people check email, text messages and social media every few minutes. Instead, schedule a block of time at the end or beginning of each day for those tasks.

- Brenda W., Yakima, Wash.


Senior discounts

Dear Heloise: Many people are timid about asking for a “senior discount,” but people over 62 always should ask if there is a senior discount on services and products. You can save on things such as cellphones, restaurants, hotels, entertainment, national park entry fees, auto insurance/repairs and medications. But you MUST ASK if a discount is offered, and discounts can, and sometimes do, vary or change without notice. - Helen M., Orlando, Fla.


Purple tires

Dear Heloise: Old tires can be hung on a farmer’s fence with “no trespassing” written on it, or paint a tire purple, which is a sign to hunters meaning “no hunting allowed.”

Old tires also can be put on top of farm implements for weight. So don’t throw out those old tires!
- Kent R., Rago, Kan.


No more bunny ears

Dear Heloise: Recently, I purchased a small television, but found I couldn’t afford cable. I now use an “indoor antenna.” These are not the rabbit ears of the 1950s, and I don’t need anything on my roof. It’s connected with a TV antenna jack (and all TVs have an antenna jack). There are a variety of indoor antennas, so search online for the best price and service. - Meghan W., Charleston, S.C.

Keep toys off the street
May 9, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about children’s toys left in the street. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: The street I live on has several young families with very young children. Every day, they leave their tricycles, bikes and toys in the street. I’m worried that one day, one of the children will run out into the road to retrieve a toy and will get hit by a car. It’s nearly happened a couple of times. Why don’t parents teach their children to pick up their toys and keep them out of the road? This is a serious situation that may one day have tragic results.” - Diana J., via email

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some things to take when visiting a patient in the hospital:

- Magazines and books on subjects he or she enjoys.

- Body lotion/hand cream/lip balm.

- Notecards with stamps.

- Slippers or thick socks.

- Yourself - spend some time with the person to keep loneliness away.

- Heloise


Save those eggshells

Dear Heloise: As an avid reader and bird lover, please tell your readers not to throw away eggshells. Toss them in the yard for the birds. Crows and robins and many other birds pick them up to eat. The calcium in the shells makes their own eggshells stronger. - Bootsie D., Trinity, Texas


Be prepared

Dear Heloise: I did it again: I ran out of diapers! I think nearly every parent has, at one point or another. I started storing diapers and wipes in the glove compartment, to be used only in an emergency. It has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion. - Pam L., Beaverton, Ore.


Facial scrub

Dear Heloise: I tried a sugar-and-olive-oil scrub for my face, and it’s wonderful! My skin is smoother and brighter-looking. One tablespoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil - that’s all it took!
- Jane, Dorset, England


Blended edges

Dear Heloise: As a makeup artist, I see many women on the street who do not blend their makeup properly. Don’t just apply blush; get a clean, soft brush and blend it out toward the hairline. If you’ve applied too much blush, lightly powder over it with your face powder.  No more harsh lines.
- Joanna N., Burbank, Calif.



Dear Heloise: I found that if you spray an eyebrow brush with hair spray, then brush your brows upward while the brush is still wet with hair spray, your brows will look good all day long. - Cindy T., Erie, Pa.


No greasy chips

Dear Heloise: I pour chips and crackers onto a napkin before eating them. This helps to drain and absorb some of the excess grease. - JoAnne E., Hammond, Ind.

A waste of food?
May 2, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about edible food being tossed out at places that serve food. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: I have heard that a lot of the uneaten food at restaurants is thrown out at closing time instead of being given to the poor or even to employees! Even animal charities can use some of the food. I know these places worry that someone will claim that he or she picked up food poisoning, but I seriously doubt the homeless, the disadvantaged or the elderly who live on next to nothing would mind if the food was left over from the day. If it’s still edible, why not feed those who can use it, rather than throwing it in a landfill? It’s waste of the worst kind!” - Jessica S. in Texas

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: For the housebound, make up a basket with the following items:

- Cellphone

- Tube of hand cream

- TV remote

- Medications he or she will need

- Small package of tissues

- Bottled water (with a cap)

- Heloise


Hiding a compost pile

Dear Heloise: I want to start a compost pile, but they’re not very attractive. Any suggestions on where to put it and how to disguise it? - Holly D., Lake Charles, La.

Holly, probably the best place is in a back corner of the backyard. It’ll be easy to use, but to conceal it, try growing a double row of sunflowers or any combination of high- and low-growing plants. Be sure to use some kind of containment for the compost pile, such as concrete blocks, shipping pallets on end or a huge bin. - Heloise


Less mess

Dear Heloise: I save the lids from things like cottage cheese, yogurt, sour cream, etc., and use them under items such as bottles of oil, jellies and jams, honey or just about anything that is sticky and messy. It saves me having to scrub and scrape my shelves. - Meghan V., Los Gatos, Calif.



Dear Heloise: I inherited a beautiful black pearl necklace from my grandmother, but I need to have the pearls restrung. How do I keep them as nice-looking as my grandmother kept them?
- Emily O., Lowell, Mass.

Emily, I love pearls! First, to clean them, use a very soft cloth and a cup of water with just a drop of shampoo in it. Gently clean each pearl, rinse with water, then dry with another clean cloth. To keep them looking good, wipe them down with a clean cloth after each wearing. When you have the pearls restrung, ask the jeweler to tie a knot between each pearl, so if the strand breaks, you will only lose one pearl.
- Heloise


Laundry backscratcher

Dear Heloise: I have a bamboo backscratcher that I keep in the laundry room and use to pull clothes from the back of the dryer. No stooping and stretching to reach. - Tom F., Canyon Lake, Texas

Veterans are the target of scammers
April 25, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about veterans who are singled out by scammers. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Scammers are targeting American veterans with various schemes to take advantage of them. Veterans should be very wary of any phone calls that are unsolicited. That includes someone who asks you to pay a fee, create a trust or buy an annuity to be eligible for an assistance program. General information on veterans benefits can be found online at:
Remember, NEVER give out personal or financial information over the phone to anyone. According to AARP, a veteran is twice as likely as a nonveteran to be targeted by scammers, so be on your guard.”
- Robert G., Washington, D.C.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Got an extra magnet at home? Here are some uses for it:

- Use to pick up needles and pins on the floor.

- Use to hold notes on the refrigerator.

- At the laundromat, place one on the door of a washer or dryer to show which one is yours.

- Put one on a dishwasher to signal when the dishes are clean or dirty.

- Heloise


Great questions to ask

Dear Heloise: As a widow, I’ve had to manage on one income with two kids. To keep from derailing my budget when I’m tempted to splurge on something frivolous, I always ask myself: First, do I really need this or just want it? Second, how is this going to benefit my children or myself? Lastly, if I buy this, what do I have to give up to afford it? This has saved me from some very foolish expenditures.
- Pat J., Springfield, Ore.


Elder isolation

Dear Heloise: So many elderly people are isolated and need interaction with someone - a family member, neighbor or friend to talk to or visit with. The effects of isolation and loneliness have a negative influence on a person’s mental and physical well-being, and are often the cause of depression. If you don’t know how to get started or need a list of places that help the elderly, go to:
- Irene D., Gainesville, Fla.


Hotel tipping

Dear Heloise: When we stay at a hotel for more than three nights, we always leave a tip for the maids. We put the money in an envelope with “For housekeeping” written on it, and leave it in the room on a desk.
- Penny N., Fort Wayne, Ind.


In a jam

Dear Heloise: The retractable handle on my wheeled suitcase was jamming. Before replacing it, I decided to lubricate the handle with a commercial lubricating oil. It worked like a charm. - Linda W., via email

Hospital rules
April 18, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about waiting even though you have an appointment:

“Dear Heloise: Since when is it OK to have an appointment at 10 a.m. and not get in until 11:30 a.m.? There are no emergencies for these people; they just seem to be overbooking. How do your readers feel about this?” - Liz V. in San Antonio


Liz, I understand your frustrations. I have friends who’ll wait no more than 15 minutes at an appointment, then leave. Readers, what do you do? - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Heloise: Got an old baby bathtub? There are still some great uses for it:

- It makes a wonderful pet bathtub for small animals.

- I take mine camping so I can wash dishes in it.

- My husband fills it with warm, soapy water and soaks his feet in it.

- My sister, a clothing designer, uses hers to dye fabric.

- Helen K., Alpena, Mich.


Cellphone ID

Dear Heloise: After reading Rita’s idea about a reward message for returning a lost cellphone, I thought of another idea: I downloaded a free doodle app to my phone and wrote on my screen photo: “If found call (I put in my husband’s phone number). Reward for return of phone.” This way, if someone finds my phone, he or she will have my information without unlocking my phone. - An Avid Reader, The Villages, Fla.


Pretty pebbles

Dear Heloise: Living out in the country, I often take long walks, and I notice stones along the road. Some have interesting markings; others are a pretty color. I started to collect these stones and found uses for them. I put them in the bottom of vases, about 3 inches deep, fill with water and put cut flowers in the vase. This not only keeps the vase from tipping over, but helps to hold the flowers in place. I also fill attractive glass containers with these stones and display them on a long buffet table in my dining room.
- Kelly W., Santa Fe, N.M.


Houseguest helper

Dear Heloise: I read in your column about the exhausted folks who dread the arrival of houseguests at their vacation home. Here are a few ideas from someone who has experience with this:

- Always ask your guests to bring their own sheets and towels (and take those items home with them).

- Plan easy meals where everyone cooks (even the kids).

- Ask your guests to plan something special as entertainment, either at home or by taking you out.

You can welcome them without dread! - Susan G., Forestburgh, N.Y.

An act of kindness
April 11, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about the thoughtfulness of people. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Recently I became very ill. I called my hairdresser to let her know I’d have to cancel my appointment, despite the fact that my hair was a mess and needed to be cut. She offered to come to my house and do my hair that afternoon, and believe me, I was so grateful for her kindness. I want to thank those who come to our aid with very little fanfare, who aren’t getting rich, but they go that extra mile for someone else in need. For those you help, your kindness and generosity mean the world.”
- Nell K. in San Antonio


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here’s how to recycle 2-liter plastic soft drink bottles:

- Cut off the bottoms and use as covers for tender new plants if temperatures drop.

- Cut off the bottom, leaving a 2- to 3-inch rim, and use as a snack bowl, water or food bowl for a pet, etc.

- Make a seed starter out of the bottom half.

- Cut off the top and use as a funnel when pouring salt or sugar into another container.

- Heloise


Watering butterflies

Dear Heloise: Want to attract butterflies? When planning your garden this year, think of butterflies. They like to gather at wet spots to drink water. Set out an old cookie sheet or plate, with a little gravel lining the bottom, and keep it wet. You also can wet brick pavers and watch the butterflies sip water from the various depressions in the brick. - Jill E., Tupelo, Miss.


Why is saffron expensive?

Dear Heloise: I love Spanish and Indian cooking, but when I went to purchase the spice saffron, I was floored at the expense! - Gloria P., Bend, Ore.

Gloria, saffron is harvested by hand from the fall-flowering crocus, but there are only three threads of saffron in each flower; 1 pound of saffron requires 1 acre of flowers (about 70,000 crocus flowers). Because it’s so expensive, it’s often mixed with turmeric. Usually, you need only a pinch of saffron to about a cup of rice.
- Heloise


Package confusion

Dear Heloise: What is the difference between “sell by date” and “expiration date”?
- Karen T., Chubbuck, Idaho

Karen, “sell by” is the last date the item should be sold before it’s pulled from the store shelf. The “expiration date” is the last date the item should be sold or eaten. - Heloise


Letter of laughter

Dear Heloise: Recently, I baby-sat for a friend who has a 6-year-old boy. He asked me if I “had any babies,” and I said, “No.” He then said, “Well, you better get some babies soon, because you’re old.” I asked him how old he thought I was. He said, “One hundred.” I am 33. - A Reader, via email

Hospital rules
April 4, 2018

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

“Dear Heloise: Maybe you’ve heard the expression ‘Many hands make the workload light.’ It’s true, and never more so than for organizations that are on a tight budget, such as animal shelters, services for the elderly and children’s organizations. If any of your readers are thinking of volunteering, pick an organization and help out when you can. To those who already volunteer, thank you many times over. Your help is invaluable, and your service to your community is very much appreciated.” - Hazel W., Wabash, Ind.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Got empty tissue boxes? Reuse them:

- To store small plastic grocery bags.

- As tissue receptacles for used tissues when you have cold.

- To store cotton balls.

- In a laundry room to hold lint from the dryer.

- Heloise


From pottery to path

Dear Heloise: Got broken pottery? Broken watches or old jewelry you never wear? Make steppingstones out of them by pouring cement into a shallow cardboard box or an old pie or cake tin. When it has set a little, press glass pebbles, broken pottery, watch parts or anything you want into the surface. When the cement has set up completely, turn it out (a cardboard box works best for this), and you have a one-of-a-kind concrete steppingstone for your garden. -DeeDee B., Cheyenne, Wyo.


Blue light

Dear Heloise: I live on a street that’s dark and has no street lights. To make finding our place easier for guests, especially after dark, I put a blue bulb in our porch light and just tell them to look for the house with the blue light. - Andrea L., via email


Deer resistance

Dear Heloise: Can you name some flowering plants for me that are deer-resistant plants? The deer are destroying my yard. - Jane P., Topeka, Kan.

Here are some common flowers that deer don’t like:

American holly, bleeding heart, buttercup, cactus, daffodil, flowering tobacco, gladiolus, lavender, lily of the valley, peony, sweet alyssum and thyme. - Heloise


Wedding gifts

Dear Heloise: When wrapping a wedding gift, I always put the card inside the box so it doesn’t get lost, and I put my address label on the envelope so the couple will have it handy when they write thank-you notes. This is especially handy if someone wants to include cash or a check with the gift.
- Randall J., Blountville, Tenn.


Check reminder

Dear Heloise: To avoid running out of checks, I place a sticky note on a check that’s two checks from the last one to remind me to carry a fresh stack of checks with me. This way, I don’t run out while I’m out shopping. - Vickie H., Hammond, La.

Hospital rules
March 28, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about visitors and visiting hours at hospitals. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: As an RN in a busy hospital, we often need to ask people to leave so the patient can get some rest, or to take a crying, sometimes screaming, toddler out of the hospital. We have patients who are very ill, and they need peace and quiet to recover.

“If a patient is dying, we gladly allow family members to stay in the room IF they are quiet and do not have a child under the age of 14 with them. Sometimes nurses are asked to ‘keep an eye’ on someone’s child, but we’re so busy with our duties and patients that we cannot assume that responsibility.”
- Lisa W. in Buffalo

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for extra buttons:

- Teach children to make jewelry out of them by stringing them together.

- Use to decorate gift packages.

- Use as decoration on clothing.

- If you have enough of one kind, change out buttons on an old garment to give it a new look.

- Heloise

Toad in the garden

Dear Heloise: So many gardens benefit from having a toad or two to keep down pests. They’ll eat insects and will even devour slugs. A small pond or just a shallow dish of water will keep them happy and safe, but also provide some type of shelter, such as a clay pot on its side. - Fred D., Southfield, Mich.

Moving cactus plants

Dear Heloise: I need to move my cactus plants from a small planter to my garden, but I don’t know how to transplant them without getting hurt. - Kathleen M., Los Gatos, Calif.


Kathleen, use tongs to gently lift the cactus out of the old pot and into the new location. Use the tongs to keep the cactus upright as you spoon dirt around the cactus roots. The back of the spoon or a trowel can be used to press the dirt down around the roots. - Heloise

Risotto versus rice

Dear Heloise: What is the difference between risotto and rice? - Jim Y., Lawton, Okla.


Jim, risotto usually is made from Arborio rice. The name “risotto” is that of a finished dish, and not the rice itself. Risotto is made by quickly sauteing the rice in olive oil or butter, followed by adding some stock and stirring continuously until the rice absorbs the stock, at which time a little more stock is added and stirred for about 20 to 30 minutes. Generally, meats, fish or vegetables are added to this Italian dish. - Helois

New life for old teapot

Dear Heloise: I have an old teapot that was given to me by my great-grandmother, but I dropped the lid, which broke into many pieces. I put a plant in the teapot, and it now grows on the windowsill in the kitchen. - Patty G., Lincoln, Neb.









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