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: http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/vetpen.asp.
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: Connect2affect.org.
- 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.

Disgusting diaper disposal
March 14, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about disposable diapers that are not disposed of properly. - Heloise


“Dear Heloise: Nothing seems to be as disgusting as seeing a used disposable diaper lying in a parking lot, on the ground at a campground or anywhere other than in a trash receptacle. If you need to change your baby’s diaper, carry plastic shopping bags with you, and put the diaper in them until you can get to a proper trash can. It’s an unsanitary and unnecessary habit to just toss a used diaper any other place except into a trash can.” - Claire T., Scottsbluff, Neb.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some things we forget to sanitize but should:

- The handles on refrigerator doors.

- A computer mouse.

- Cellphones.

- Car keys.

- Heloise


No ashtrays

Dear Heloise: There are no ashtrays in my home. They remind me of my mother’s suffering from emphysema. There are plenty of small dishes that could be used instead. - Marsha M., via email

Marsha, yes, and there are other things you can use in place of an ashtray for visitors who smoke: flat seashells, baby-food jars and shallow pet food cans, to name a few. - Heloise


A lesson learned

Dear Heloise: Please tell your readers to wash all of their makeup brushes and applicators at least once a week! I learned this the hard way by being careless about cleaning my makeup tools and brushes, and ended up with a terrible skin infection. It’s cost me a considerable amount of money to clear up, and left my skin looking rough and scarred. - Maddy H., Camp Hill, Pa.


Cleaning doggy paws

Dear Heloise: On rainy days, my pups like to go for walks or out to the yard, and they come in with muddy paws. I use old bath towels (usually cut into quarters) to wipe off their paws before they track mud all over the house. These old towels can be washed and reused, and are better for the environment than paper towels. - Lois R., Fargo, N.D.


Tons of trophies

Dear Heloise: My ex-husband left 42 trophies behind when he moved out, and I’d like to get rid of them. Can anyone else use these items? - Tiffany M., Fort Wayne, Ind.

Tiffany, yes, try the Salvation Army, or possibly, if they are in good shape, remove the nameplates and ask if a local high school could use them. There also are athletic organizations that might be interested, such as the Junior League or a bowling team. - Heloise


Don’t lose your earring

Dear Heloise: At work last week, I lost the back to my earring. I have pierced ears, and the earrings I had on were some of my favorites. I took a pencil with an eraser on the end, cut off the eraser part and used it as an earring back. Worked like a charm! - Corky W., Fort Myers, Fla.

No deposit,  just return
March 14, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about grocery-store customers. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Why do customers take a product off the shelves, then later decide they don’t want it and place that item in another part of the store? We often find melting ice cream or defrosting meats in various aisles where they don’t belong. Please return those items to their proper place, or hand them to the checkout clerk, and he or she will take care of it. Remember, store loss means higher prices to make up for that loss.

“Also, the store is not a playground, and children all too often get hurt when running through the store. Please keep an eye on your children to keep them safe from injury and ‘stranger dangers.’”
- Andrea V., Boca Raton, Fla.


Fast Facts

Dear Heloise: I’ve got several kitchen timers around the house, as they can be used for various tasks:

- Use a timer in the bathroom to help kids remember to keep brushing their teeth.

- Use at the gym to time yourself on the equipment.

- Use a timer to limit phone conversations.

- Got a small water heater? Limit shower time with a kitchen timer.

- Linda Y., Wheeling, W.Va.


Hard-water deposits

Dear Heloise: My shower head is clogged with hard-water deposits. How do I remove the deposits?
- Denise A. in San Antonio

Denise, you can remove the shower head and soak it in full-strength vinegar overnight, or fill a plastic bag with vinegar and slip it up over the shower head so that it is totally submerged in vinegar. Let it soak overnight, and in the morning, remove the bag and scrub the head with a clean brush. There’s nothing like the full force of a shower to wake you up in the morning. If you like this hint, I have many more uses for vinegar in my Fantabulous Vinegar Hints and More pamphlet. To order a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order online at www. Heloise.com. Pour the vinegar from the plastic bag into the toilet to freshen the bowl. Leave it for about five minutes, then flush. - Heloise


Toilet brush

Dear Heloise: To avoid having cleaning chemicals drip into my toilet-brush holder, I keep the brush in the toilet and flush a couple of times to sort of clean it before placing it back in the holder.
- Georgia H., Kona, Hawaii


Wedding-bell blues

Dear Heloise: If you want to have a beautiful wedding but are on a tight budget, set the amount you can spend, and don’t go over it. Figure out how much you’ll need for flowers, food, clothes and other things, then start cutting back if you don’t have the funds. When the wedding is over and all the excitement dies down, you’ll be glad you stuck to your budget! It’s better to have a small, intimate wedding and have money left to put down on a house than to go into debt to have a splashy affair. - Lara G. in Miami


Casual country?
March 7, 2018

Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off is about the American casual way of living. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Why don't Americans dress up anymore? You rarely see people in most parts of the country get dressed up to go out to dinner, or for special occasions. I recently noticed a couple of young women wearing jeans and a T-shirts in church. I miss the days when women dressed stylishly in beautiful dresses when they went out for dinner in a nice restaurant, or to the opera. Now, so many women throw on sloppy attire and consider themselves dressed for the day. It's as though our national pride in ourselves has gone.” - Wallace T., Brandywine, Del.

Fast Facts

Dear Heloise: My husband and I received several lovely picture frames as wedding gifts. We've used some of them for things other than just framing photographs:

- I put a copy of my wedding invitation in a beautiful frame.

- There is a poem my husband wrote to me in another one.

- Pressed flowers (a hobby of mine) are in one.

- I put a recipe card in one from the night my husband cooked dinner for me and asked me to marry him.

- Ashley G., Tupelo, Miss.


This takes the cake

Dear Heloise: Some of us ladies here in Texas have found numerous ways to reuse the clear, plastic covers on store-bought cakes. You can store paper plates in the larger ones, mix a salad in them, cut up fresh fruit in one, or in a pinch they can be used as a washbasin for dirty little hands and faces.
- Eighties Ladies in Abilene, Texas


Discolored nails

Dear Heloise: After using red nail polish on my nails, they began to yellow. I used a whitening toothpaste on them to remove the yellow. I rubbed it on each nail, let it sit for 10 minutes, and my nails were much whiter. To prevent that yellow color, I found out you have to use a clear coat of nail polish on your nails before you put any color on them. - Jen H., Wahiawa, Oahu, Hawaii


Zipper idea

Dear Heloise: I have trouble using a zipper on clothing due to arthritis, so my husband took a large paper clip and attached it to each zipper, and that made it much easier to hold, which helps me dress myself.
- Ruth D., Findlay, Ohio


Return on your investment

Dear Heloise: As an artist, I carry samples of my work with me when I visit a client. Somehow I managed to leave my work in a cabbie's trunk while in a large city. About a week later, the portfolio, with all my samples, was mailed back to me because I had put my name and address on it. It's a good idea to label all important items. - Ken S., Paterson, N.J.

Pets on the inside
Feb. 28, 2018

Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off is about the treatment of family pets:

“Dear Heloise: Over this past winter, I've noticed far too many people who leave their dogs or cats outside in freezing temperatures. I'm not talking about a chow or a husky - dogs that are bred for colder climates - but dogs that have a short coat or are very small. A doghouse offers little protection from the cold unless it's heated. Our pets need to be inside in any extreme weather condition, whether it's a hot summer day or a cold winter night. A dog or cat is a family member and needs to be treated as such.”
- Anita S., Milford, Conn.


Anita, you make a very valid point. Dogs and cats are domesticated animals and need to be kept indoors, fed regularly and kept clean. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for the plastic scoops that come in large coffee cans:

- Keep one in each canister containing flour, sugar, salt, etc.

- Keep one in the container of bath salts in the bathroom.

- Scoop out just enough fertilizer to sprinkle around a plant.

- Scoop up a dead bug or snail in the garden.

- Heloise


Freezer bag freeze-up

Dear Heloise: I put meat in freezer bags and place them in my freezer, but I have a problem with the bags sticking to the freezer itself. How can I avoid this? - Wendy S., Stratton, Ohio


Wendy, if you are not using bags that are designed specifically for the freezer, you'll experience sticking problems. The thinner sandwich bags or plastic wrap will not work as well as proper freezer bags. Make sure the bags are dry on the outside. - Heloise


Give floppy boots the boot!

Dear Heloise: I put bottles in my winter boots to keep them upright. You can use liter water bottles, wine bottles, etc., whether empty or filled. Just make sure the bottles are clean and capped to prevent leakage.
- Mary H., Arlington, Va.


That’s using your head

Dear Heloise: Save the worn heads of your electric toothbrush. You can use them to turn the brush into a mini powered scrub brush, perfect for cleaning around faucets and drains. - Dan in Alexandria, Va.


Dan, it's also a great way to clean grout lines and jewelry. - Heloise


Defining a goal

Dear Heloise: Writing down a goal on paper helps me achieve it. Leaving a note on my cellphone is not the same thing. The tactile feeling of writing makes me commit to a project and a goal!
- Julian H., age 17, Fort Wayne, Ind.

The need to read for children
Feb. 22, 2018

Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off is about people who don't read to their children or encourage their children to read. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Study after study has found that parents should read aloud to their children from the time they're born through elementary school. Having taught school for over 22 years, I've noticed that children who were read aloud to at home developed better verbal skills, better writing skills and a larger vocabulary.

“Unfortunately, many parents today don't read to their children. I've heard adults say they don't have time to read to their children, but they need to turn off the TV and make time. Your children are the only thing you'll leave behind of any real and lasting importance, so start reading aloud to them, and make them read aloud to you to improve their communication skills.” - Mary Beth M., Amherst, N.H.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Before you throw away that older lemon, here are some uses for it:

- After cutting an onion, just rub your hands with half a lemon to remove the odor.

- Want to bring out the shine in your hair? Use the juice of one lemon in a cup of water to do the final rinse on your hair after washing it.

- Take half of a lemon dipped in coarse salt on the cut side and, in a circular motion, clean the bottom of copper pots to remove tarnish.

- Garbage disposal smell musty? Cut a lemon into quarters and grind it up in your disposal.

- Heloise


Taking her name

Dear Heloise: Although it is traditional for a woman to take a husband's name, my fiancé and I have come to an agreement on a last name: He never liked his last name, so he wants to take my last name after we are married. His mother keeps telling me that it's not legal, but in fact, a woman taking a husband's last name is nothing more than tradition, and a marriage is legal no matter what surname you use.
- Ashley N., Bloomfield, N.J.


Ashley, you also can hyphenate your last names, or combine the two surnames into a new last name, but no matter what you do, your marriage's legal status is not in danger if your husband wants to take your last name. - Heloise


Rubbey gelatin

Dear Heloise: To avoid rubbery gelatin, especially on the bottom, add one capful of vinegar to the mixture after you boil the water. You won't taste it, and it keeps the gelatin from forming that rubbery substance on the bottom. - Karen H., Kinston, N.C.


Happy Hour

Dear Heloise: I like to serve cocktails before a dinner party, but I limit the “happy hour” to only 45 to 60 minutes before dinner. This way, people can mingle and chat, but not overindulge in alcohol before they eat. A long cocktail hour on an empty stomach usually makes people sleepy, sick or inebriated.
 - Laura W., Holyoke, Mass.

Contain that garbage!
Feb. 14, 2018

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

“Dear Heloise: My father is in a nursing home and needs around-the-clock care. The nursing staff takes excellent care of him and provides the cheer and warmth I wish I could provide but can’t since I’m working full time. As a single mother, I have no choice except to hold down a full-time job.

“Many of these unsung heroes go about their daily tasks without expecting praise or acknowledgement, but without their help, life for my father would be very difficult. They keep him engaged in activities, bathe him, feed him and see to it that he takes his medications. Even though my sons and I spend as much time with him as we can, it’s still not enough. I’m grateful for the caring staff at his nursing home who provide so much and ask for so little in return.” - Susan J., Spokane, Wash.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for plastic grocery bags:

- Wrap shoes in them when traveling.

- Cut through the handles and use as a child’s bib.

- Stuff cloth dolls or homemade teddy bears with old plastic bags.

- Use during cooking to put food scraps, bones, etc., in and then take out to the trash.

- Return to a recycling center.

- Heloise

Beating the winter blahs

Dear Heloise: This is the time of year when people can become a little sad or depressed because of overcast days and the early darkness of night. It’s at times like this that a “mood booster” helps to dispel the feeling that winter will never end. Here are some suggestions:

1.) Open the blinds and curtains, and get as much natural light in your home as you can. Use bright colors (or a bright white) on your walls and upholstery. Get rid of all clutter, and make sure your place is clean.

2.) As soon as you get up in the morning, make your bed. You’ll feel as though you’ve accomplished something worthwhile.

3.) Stay active. Go for walks, sign up for a dance class of some kind, go to the gym or try some new activity. Exercise always helps boost a person’s mood.

4.) Stay in contact with friends and family, and don’t be afraid to ask for their support and encouragement on dark days. A phone call, a chat over hot cocoa, a handwritten letter, or a text or an email can help you stay connected.

5.) Eat a healthy diet, avoid alcohol and limit the amount of caffeine you drink. Pamper yourself with a long, hot shower, or a pedicure, or maybe a facial.

- Lorraine C. in Illinois









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