Dear Heloise: I am
hoping you can assist me with a question about my cat, Patches. She is
an INDOOR/OUTDOOR CAT, and we are moving to a new home to take care of
in-laws. I would prefer her to be strictly indoors, so that she would
always be safe. She is 13 years old.
Can I train her to
stay inside and become an indoor cat? My vet said to just do it, and
eventually she will quit crying when she learns I’m not going to let her
you give me any pointers on how to make this easier for both Patches and
-- Cheryl in San Antonio
“Meow” to Patches
and “Hi” to you! Moving for any pet (or human) can be upsetting and a
stressful change. As far as her “wanting” to be outside, of course she
wants to! She has been doing so, and now she can’t! You’re a loving and
responsible owner, knowing it could be dangerous for her outside. She
may not come back.
Do set up some
“distractions” for her: a scratching post and new toys. An elevated,
carpet-lined perch by a window will let Patches look outside and keep
watch about what is going on. I once saw a large motor home with a
pop-out “cat window.” The owners had attached a large wire cage, with
carpet on the bottom, to the window. The cat went through the window
“outside” to sit and watch the world go by, but was safe. You could try
something like that for Patches.
She may try to sneak
out when a door is open, so do be sure that everyone in the house keeps
an eye on her. Maybe distract her when you leave. She will fuss and make
noise, but you must stay the course.
generally are healthier and live longer, so she most likely will have
more happy years with you.
While on this
subject, please do be sure that your cat is microchipped. Anyone moving
with pets should get new tags and update contact information.
Karen in Bingham, Maine, sent a picture of her adorable mini schnauzer,
Maggie. Maggie has stretched herself out between the easy chair and the
ottoman. She really doesn’t look all that comfy! To see Maggie and our
other Pet Pals, visit www. Heloise.com.
Dear Heloise: My
wife and I eat breakfast or lunch out several times a week. We meet up
with friends, have a nice meal, and there’s no cooking or cleaning up.
Alice is the cook and I’m the bottle washer, so it’s “the kitchen is
closed” time off.
Here’s how we save a
bundle of money: Drink water rather than iced tea or coffee. A cup of
coffee can run $2.50, and iced tea the same. We each order a salad and
an appetizer sometimes, and not expensive entrees. It adds up.
- Dennis and Dixie, Washington, D.C.
Outwitting sticky pie crusts
Feb. 18, 2015
Dear Heloise: I often purchase the FROZEN PIE SHELLS to
bake pies, and I have difficulty removing slices from the pan after they
are baked; the pie crust is always stuck. Do you have any suggestions
for how to make this easy without breaking up the slices? -- Carole
Owings, Wildwood, Fla.
Carol, that's just a plain ... well ... pain! Here are some hints to
consider. Switch brands to see if a different one does not stick it may
be that simple. It may be the type of pie you are baking. If you
pre-bake the pie crust, poke holes in it, bake, then add the filling
However, if you are baking a pie with filling (pecan, pumpkin or my fave
... blue- or blackberry!), DO NOT poke the shell with a fork. Doing so
will let sticky liquid seep through and will cause the crust to stick.
Do let the pie (and crust) cool before cutting
Last resort? Remove the frozen crust, grease the pan, put the crust back
in and proceed. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: Every year around the holidays, I buy a bottle of cocktail
sauce. I use only a small amount. It sits in the refrigerator for
several months, then I toss it out. Is there any other use for it? I
checked the label, and it only lists shrimp. Should I just buy more
shrimp? -- Dan in McDonald, Ohio
Dan, don't toss the sauce or buy more shrimp! This sauce is basically
spicy ketchup, so get adventurous! Put it on burgers, hot dogs and
fries. It works with crab, too
It makes a zingy dip when poured over cream cheese. I run a fork through
the slab of soft cream cheese to score it, then pour on the sauce. Set
out with crackers, and ta-da ... quick-and-easy eating. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: I purchased a 12-cup coffeemaker. It s the same model as
my previous one. The paper coffee filters almost always collapse, and
grounds end up in the coffee. Any help would be appreciated.
-- Bonnie, via e-mail
have tasted coffee grounds in fresh-brewed coffee! Yes, the same filters
(do be sure they are the old filters) should work. However, I bought
some same brand, same size filters on the Internet, and they did this
too. You can wet the filter to make it stick - this should help. Or try
a permanent filter that you wash out. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: I buy honey at a big-box store. After a while, it
crystallizes, and I would heat it in a pot of water to thin it out.
solved my problem by putting it into small jars. If it starts to
crystallize, I put it on the top rack of the dishwasher. When the cycle
is finished, the honey is back to the way it was before. It works
perfectly. Just be sure the lid is on tight. -- Shirley L. in Florida
Shirley, this is a HONEY of a HINT, and I love it! -- Heloise
on to those ideas
Feb. 11, 2015
Dear readers: In a recent column, Bev A. asked for hints about what to
do with all the plastic hangers she had. Here are just a handful of all
of the hints readers sent:
Dolores S. in Mansfield,
Ohio, wrote: "Please mention the laundromat. I worked at a laundry for
three years, and we could always use hangers. The owner had to buy boxes
of them, and donations would help with expenses. People wanted their
laundry hung up, but wouldn't bring their own hangers."
Nancy Meyer, via email, wrote: "We help settle refugees, and really need
hangers when we set up their apartments. Spread the word to check with
an agency in the area that settles refugees. They will gladly take
reader, via email, wrote: "Other great ideas for extra hangers are to
contact hospitals. The hangers seem to disappear from the patient rooms
when patients are discharged."
All good hints, and it's wonderful to find out about great ways to
recycle hangers. Here is another hint from me: See if nursing homes and
assisted-living facilities would be able to use extra hangers. -
Ready for exercise
Dear Heloise: Many people have made a New Year's resolution to exercise
or get more fit. I have a piece of advice that works for me. Have
workout clothes ready. If you have to search for the socks, the shoes,
the top and the pants, it won't take long to be discouraged.
have walked every day (2 miles) for 37 years, and I have my clothes
ready to jump into in the morning. Another hint: Get it done in the
morning, if you can. As the day progresses, you are less likely to feel
like doing it. - Corrinne B., Universal City, Texas
Dear Heloise: With the popularity of gift bags instead of wrapped
presents, a lot of tissue paper is needed. I never buy tissue paper
because I gathered all the paper from last year's gift bags and ironed
them. They are good as new, and I am able to use the paper several
times. - Kaye in Arkansas
Dear Heloise: Ever wonder what to do with all the chopsticks that come
with takeout Chinese food? Wonder no more. Chopsticks make great paint
stirrers if you have small cans of paint. Don't pull the chopsticks
apart, and they will work great to mix your paint. Heloise, thanks for
the helpful hints. I read your column every morning. - Marla S., Seal
Hi, Marla. Thanks for reading my column. I use the chopsticks for my
potted plants to aerate the soil.
- Hugs, Heloise
Dear Heloise: I created a folder I have saved to my desktop on my
computer, which I update every time I finish a book. Then, when I go
shopping for more books, I print a copy and take it with me to prevent
buying a book I have already enjoyed. - Conrad, via email
Carry those back
to the store?
Feb. 4, 2015
Dear Heloise: In the
Houston Chronicle, I read the hint from a reader in your column about
ways to use cardboard wine carriers from grocery stores. (Heloise here:
The reader uses them to store glassware.) My local stores are happy to
have both them and the nice wine bags returned. - Robin Rodriquez,
Robin, thank you for
writing. You and many readers suggested the same hint, to take them back
to the stores. However, you should call first, because there may be a
health-code issue about using these for another customer. However, if
the stores recycle them, it's a win-win all around! - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I read
your hints in The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. I just wanted to pass
on two hints that have helped our household.
We bought standing
coat hangers (Heloise here: Not a wire coat hanger that stands by
itself, but a "coat hanger," usually wood or metal, that stands upright
and is used to hang coats on. A fun play on words that sometimes does
get confusing!) and put them in the bedrooms. They are great for hanging
sweats, pajamas, robes, etc., rather than piling them on the bed or
Also, I have two hampers, one for whites/off-whites and one for colors.
This makes doing laundry a snap versus separating on laundry day. -
Melissa B., Harrisburg, Pa.
Hey, Melissa, I,
too, have a "coat hanger," but it's in my closet. I use it to hang my
sweaters. I first fold the sweater in half lengthwise, then drape it
over a clothes hanger like it's a shawl. The arm area goes around the
hook part, and the rest is hung over the hanger. No creases from being
folded and put in a drawer or on a shelf. - Heloise
P.S.: A Texas
"howdy" to my friends in Harrisburg! I met such friendly and nice people
when I was there at the home show talking about my Five-Point Plan for
Clutter Control. It's been a few years, but oh my, some of the tasty
treats to eat in that city? Perfect comfort food in the winter.
Dear Heloise: Our
newspaper is delivered in a clear plastic sleeve. I store my neck
scarves by folding them in half and rolling them to fit the bag. I can
find the scarf I am looking for, and when they are removed from the bag,
they are not wrinkled. Sunday papers are much larger, so those bags work
great for larger knit scarves. - Joyce A., Nipomo, Calif.
Dear Heloise: I
still love to use bar soap. I keep it from dissolving in the soap dish
by using a flat-sided nailbrush with the brush bristle side up. I set
the soap on top, and it stays dry. The added benefit is that there is
always a little soap on the bristles when I clean my nails. - Amy
Griffiths, Ravenna, Ohio
the bite on 'Energy Vampires'
Jan. 28, 2015
Dear Readers: How
many electronic devices do you think are in your home? How many of them
are you NOT using, but they might still be pulling power? Take a little
stroll around your place and count. I just walked through our kitchen,
den and rec room and counted 10. That's in just three rooms. Apparently,
the average household has 25 electronic devices that use electricity.
All of these can be
adding to your energy bill. Even if you aren't using them, if they are
plugged in, they can potentially use energy. If it has an LCD or LED
display, meaning the numbers light up, it's pulling power! Here are
hints to make these "energy vampires" less powerful:
* Unplug devices you
are not using or you don't use daily. For example: an old stereo or TV
in a guest room.
* Use sleep modes on
electronics that have them. The device will "sleep" or power down, and
will use less electricity.
* Use power strips
to control multiple appliances with one off/on switch. Think kitchen:
coffee maker and toaster oven or toaster.
* When shopping for
new electronics, look for the ENERGY STAR designation. These are the
most efficient and use less energy, so you are saving money while you
Dear Heloise: We
live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, we have rain, and we do not
wear shoes in the house. For guests, I keep a basket of cute little
pairs of ankle socks (tied with a bow) available in the entry. Our
guests pick out a pair, and the socks are theirs to keep. The silly sock
prints create a fun conversation, as everyone wants to see what the
others are wearing. - Mary A., Vancouver, Wash.
Dear Heloise: In
our neighborhood, people often leave perfectly good items by the street
to be picked up by the trash collector or others who may want them.
A couple of days
ago, I noticed a small pink tricycle that was just right for my
great-granddaughter. It was there the next day. I noticed several other
toys in the driveway that appeared to be for the same age group.
Possibly a 2-year-old had left her tricycle near the street. I suggest
parents teach their toddlers that they could lose their toys if left
near the street. - Doug J., Denham Springs, La.
Another use I might suggest to conserve water is to store the gallons of
water collected after cleaning the refrigerator filter. Put the water
into clean gallon milk jugs and use it in a room humidifier.
- Bruce M., San Angelo, Texas
Dear Heloise: I use
some over-the-counter medicines. Most have childproof caps with arrows
you line up in advance to help in low light such as early morning or
bedtime. I use a permanent marker on the arrows so it's easy to get the
bottles open regardless of light or glasses. - Steve J. in Alabama
The men speak out
Jan. 21, 2015
Dear Heloise: When I
get an advertisement from lawyers, doctors or businesses on magnets, I
don't throw them away -- I use them. I take a picture of a family member
or pet that's about the same size. I paste it over the advertisement,
then put it on my refrigerator. My family loves my collection, and I
even send them to friends. - Earl Harmon, Port St. Lucie, Fla.
P.S.: I love your
hints in the magazine (Good Housekeeping magazine - Heloise) and
newspaper columns. The other day, I was at a home-improvement store to
pick up supplies for a hint I read in your column. The salesman asked
what I was making. He said, "What a great idea - did you think of it?" I
couldn't lie and said I read it in your column. He said, "Wow ... I
thought all those helpful hints were about making cupcakes." I think he
is a follower now.
Regarding placing a tarp over your car to easily remove snow: It may
work on some cars, but it likely will destroy the luster on most. Snow
is heavy, and on top of a tarp it can scratch your car. The more often
you do this, the more scratches will accumulate.
To those wives whose
husbands think they are too manly to read your articles: I'm a
55-year-old man who fishes, works on cars, operates heavy equipment and
fixes almost anything. I not only learn something occasionally, but I
enjoy reading your column. Thanks. - Dave in Dayton, Ohio
Dear Earl and Dave:
Thank you both for writing and reminding folks that this column is not
just about baking, sewing and housework. It's about life, and how to fix
things, prevent and solve problems and take care of yourself.
It's amazing to
me that there are still new hints to learn! Here are some Heloise do's
Don't put your
cellphone in a microwave to dry it - yes, people have done this!
Don't use ammonia
for a pet-urine stain - it smells like urine! It will attract the animal
back to that spot.
Don't put fine
crystal wineglasses in the dishwasher. It can scratch (etch) them.
Do recycle and
reuse. Yes, newspapers are still good for the bottom of a bird cage,
garbage can and to clean windows.
I'm still here
testing, calling experts and researching hints for you. I'm the gal you
Thank you for continuing to read Hints From Heloise, and I hope I'll be
here for you for a long time.
- Hugs, Heloise
Dear Heloise: I
take a lot of vitamins that come packed with cotton. I save the cotton
to use with nail-polish remover. - Debbi in Florida
gift might need some coverage
Jan. 15, 2015
Dear readers: Did
you receive (or buy) a pricey piece of electronics, such as a new
television, cellphone or DVD player, or lovely jewelry? You probably
need to INSURE that added item. Most folks don't think about it, but now
is the time to contact your insurance agent to see if you need to add a
floater or adjust your policy.
A special floater
covers property that you lose or that is damaged, whether in your home
or away. Maybe a wedding ring falls down the sink at home, or while on
vacation! Or that special camera gets broken by mishap beyond repair.
Contact your insurance company today to find out what you may need to do
to be covered. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: It
used to be that ATMs and gas pumps swallowed your credit/debit card and
spewed it out when your transaction was finished. Nowadays, most require
you to insert and then pull the card out very quickly. Because of a
medical condition, it takes me too long, and the transaction is
Now I keep a small
pair of long-nosed pliers in the armrest and use them to hold the back
of the card as I insert it and withdraw it immediately. - John S. in
Dear readers: In a
recent column, a reader wrote about being asked to bring prescription
bottles to every doctor visit. Other readers shared their hints:
Carol J. in Texas
wrote: "When my mother lived with me, I kept a copy of her medications
list on the refrigerator in case of an emergency. It could be retrieved
quickly by the ambulance crew to take to the hospital."
Eleanore J. in New
Hampshire wrote: "I always keep a copy of my and my husband's medical
list, including doctors, medical histories and medications. I keep each
list in a small, plastic bag, ready in case of emergency anywhere."
Becky H. in Texas
wrote: "I have one son who is a firefighter, and another is a paramedic.
They insist that I carry a list of my medications, with dosage. I carry
this in an outside pocket of my purse. Firefighters and paramedics DO
NOT like to go through a patient's purse or wallet to find medical
Dear Readers: Thanks
to all who shared their helpful advice. This information is especially
true if you or someone you care for has a serious medical condition. As
to the "not like to go through a patient's purse or wallet," the first
thing a responder will do is try to stabilize a patient. A purse, wallet
or cellphone is not high on the list at that moment. However, the
information will be helpful a little later on. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I
keep chain necklaces from getting tangled by rolling them onto foam hair
- Suzy K., Columbus, Ohio
Jan. 9, 2015
Dear readers: Here
are some of your responses to a past column about how to recycle or
donate old National Geographic magazines. This topic must have hit home
with many of you. Here goes:
Jill Wilson, via
email, wrote: "Artists across the U.S. are looking for old National
Geographics to use in making abstract paintings. The magazines are
difficult to locate and would be of great use to crafts organizations or
Betsy Creamer, via
email, wrote: "Please consider veterans hospitals. They love them. We
took 40 years' worth and were met at the door eagerly."
Jan in California
wrote: "I have seen old National Geographic magazines for sale in
Al Bayless in Kihei,
Hawaii, wrote: "I give them to a doctor or dentist to put in the waiting
room. I once asked a doctor why he didn't subscribe to it for his
office. He said, 'Because they are stolen so quickly.' So, please donate
them." - Heloise
No bug bites
Make sure you check your boots, galoshes, etc., before you put them on
your feet. Spiders and other insects could have made their homes in
there. Spray them first with a bug spray. Insect bites can be very
painful. - Bob Choolijian, Plaistow, N.H.
Bob, the first rule
of camping or staying the night in a wilderness cabin is: Shake out
shoes and boots! Don't just put your hand or foot into footwear! You
never know what may have crawled in during the night.
Dear Heloise: I love
this time of year, when the holidays have come to an end but there are
plenty of leftover candy canes. I use them to stir my coffee and tea for
an added hint of mint. - Jerry H. in Colorado
This is a
resourceful way to use leftover holiday candy. As a coffee and tea
drinker, I like to add a pinch of nutmeg, candies or cremes for
different flavors throughout the year. I have many more hints in my
Heloise's Flavored Coffees and Teas pamphlet to help make your coffees
and teas tastier. To order one, please send $3 and a long,
self-addressed, stamped (70 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Coffees, P.O.
Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Other candies that can be
dropped into a hot drink are lemon drops, red-hot cinnamon candies,
peppermint candy and chocolate, of course! - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I
enjoy entertaining. Before my guests arrive, I put fresh rolls of toilet
paper in each bathroom so that I do not have to deal with that common
problem. - Anita N., via email
Anita, a good hint
that I use myself. Put a fresh roll on, and store the half-roll under
the bathroom sink.
Dear Heloise: Save
your empty paper-towel rolls to wind up the Christmas tree lights on. No
- Susan in Huntington Beach, Calif.