Do fares take flight?


Oct. 18, 2017


Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about airfares offered in an ad, and what it really takes to get those fares:

“Dear Heloise: I’ve lost all patience with travel websites that advertise round-trip airfares at significant savings. The problem: You never can actually find these fares. You can spend hours adjusting the dates, hours and departure location and still not find the advertised fare. There should be a law requiring travel websites to clearly state what days are associated with the advertised fare. Then consumers can decide if it’s right for them or not.” - Sterling D., Dayton, Ohio

Sterling, there are laws about false advertising, but one answer to this problem would be to phone the travel agency that placed the ad and ask how you can get the advertised fare. The agency placed the ad, so let them do the work to find you the best deal possible. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Heloise: I saw your recycling suggestions on amber pill bottles, so I thought I’d send you some of my uses for the empty containers:

- I keep one filled with mints so they don’t get scattered in my purse.

- I keep loose change in them.

- I use one to hold tiny things, such as screws for my glasses, earring backs, safety pins, etc.

- I also carry an additional supply of cream sunblock in one.

- A Reader, via email

And here’s another hint about amber pill bottles:

“I saw the amber pill bottle reuse suggestions, and I thought I’d send in one of my own. Here in Hawaii, it is a custom of ours to have a ‘House Blessing’ when you buy a new place. After we bought our home, my husband and I composed a prayer and wrote it out on paper, then folded it very small and placed it in a pill container. Later in the evening, we had an open house with family and friends, and the minister blessed the house. We then took the pill container, with the prayer inside it, buried it in a deep hole in the front yard and planted a mango tree on top. This house has weathered hurricanes, storms, four kids and six dogs in 15 years, and it’s still here.” - Malia K., Oahu, Hawaii

Floral vases

Dear Heloise: When you accumulate a number of floral vases and containers that you don’t want to keep, call a local florist and ask if it would be interested in reusing them. Sometimes the florist will even pick them up and offer to pay for them. - Linda M., via email

The key is graphite

Dear Heloise: A locksmith once told me never to use a household lubricant on a key lock. There is one very popular lubricant in a can that many people use, but on a lock, it just causes a gummy buildup. Instead, use graphite - white graphite if you can find it, black if you can’t. - Lois B. in Arkansas

Did you know?

Dear Readers: Although only about the size of a golf ball, the blue-ringed octopus has enough poison to kill an adult human in a matter of minutes. - Heloise

Cars and bikes don’t mix well
Oct. 11, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about cars that hog the road and endanger bicycle riders. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Today, while my biking group was in our bike lane, a driver drove so close that she knocked a rider off the bike. Thank heavens he had his helmet on! She claimed it was an accident, that she didn’t see him, but with nine of us in colorful outfits, in a single line, we’re hard to miss. This isn’t the first time it’s happened.

“I know we drive slower than cars because we’re pedaling, but please stay out of our lane, and we’ll do our best to stay away from yours. We have as much right to be on the road as a car, and many of us are going as fast as we can while trying to build up endurance for competitions.” - Terry V., Austin, Texas

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: When you have empty tissue boxes, don’t throw them away. First, if you or your children want to decorate them, it can be a lot of fun. Then you can use them for other things, such as:

- In the kitchen - use to store plastic grocery bags.

- In the bathroom - use to store cotton balls or makeup-remover pads.

- Remove the entire top and store cat toys for Fluffy.

- Use one to store receipts or coupons.

- Use as a trash collector in your car.

- Heloise


The wedding gift

Dear Heloise: I enjoy your column with its many hints in the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. Today, however, I have a hint for you:

I was wrapping a wedding gift of flatware to help complete the couple’s dinnerware. I was looking for something to cushion the pieces in the package, so I wrapped each piece in a clean dust rag that the bride can use, instead of tissue paper that would get thrown out. - Jane A., Beavercreek, Ohio


Refrigeration of food

Dear Readers: Here are two questions related to refrigerating food:

“How long can I keep cooked chicken in my refrigerator?” - Sadie D., Inkster, Mich.

“How long will bacon and sausage stay fresh in my refrigerator?” - Patsy L., Dagger Falls, Idaho


Sadie, cooked chicken will keep well for three to four days in a refrigerator and two to six months in a freezer.

Patsy, bacon will stay fresh enough to eat for seven days in the refrigerator and one month in the freezer.

Sausage usually will keep for one to two days in the refrigerator, and one to two months in the freezer.
- Heloise


Make room in your life

Dear Heloise: So many young people are under the misconception that as they move through life, they’ll make more money and they’ll be happy because they won’t have any worries. That type of thinking leads to disappointment. Go after the dream, not the money. Don’t base your life strictly on how much money you can make. A soul-crushing career will only make you miserable. You’ll work a long time, so make sure that it’s something you really enjoy doing, then do the best work you can. - Margaret B., Inglewood, Calif.

The view is garbage!
Oct. 4, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about garbage cans left in plain view. We’ve had several letters on this subject, and here is one of them:

“Dear Heloise: Why do people leave their ugly garbage cans out in front of their house not just on pickup days, but all the time? Not only is it tacky-looking, but it affects the entire neighborhood’s appearance. Many of us keep our homes painted and our yards maintained, but when someone parks a garbage can on the front porch or in front of the garage door, it makes the whole street look bad.” - Walter D., Newport, R.I.

Walter, judging by the letters we get every week, this is an annoying subject for many, all across America. If you belong to a homeowners association, perhaps it can ask everyone in the neighborhood to store garbage cans out of sight. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: If you have an old toothbrush, don’t toss it out - clean and disinfect it, and use it for some of the following tasks:

- As a dry brush for cleaning dust from knickknacks.

- Clean bathroom faucets.

- Clean jewelry (nonabrasive toothpaste works well here).

- Clean small, narrow-necked vases.

- Heloise


The retiree rules

Dear Readers: I received several letters from readers who agreed with “The Rules of the Lake House” that guests need to limit their visits and come only when invited. Here are a few responses. - Heloise

“Frankly, it exhausts us to have overnight guests. We hear the same comments from our retired friends. Our children live out of state, and one of their visits means cleaning, shopping for groceries, baking and entertaining, and it wears us out!” - J., via email

“We love to have our family and friends over, but we also love to see them go. At our ages (74 and 76), we just can’t take more than two nights with company!”- Maryann H. in Denver

“I’m a widower and love to have my daughter and grandkids come for a visit. I just wish they’d leave after three days. Last year, my daughter wanted me to take the grandkids for a month in the summer, and I said, ‘Sorry, darlin’, I’m too old and too tired for that kind of stress.’” - Jake L., Florence, Ala.



Dear Heloise: I read your advice in the Roswell (N.M.) Daily Record. When you’re going to be out of town, I would like to advise turning off the clothes washer’s water valves. The hose can rupture and flood the house. - Todd S., Roswell, N.M.


Foam packing pieces

Dear Heloise: I donate foam packing pieces to packing stores, and they’ll gladly accept them. In some cases, they’ll even welcome used cardboard boxes. - Patty D., via email


Can-do with a spray can

Dear Heloise: To keep my spray can of starch from falling off my ironing board, I put a rubber band around the middle and lay the can down on its side. That way, it won’t roll off the ironing board.
- Cathy R., Holly Lake Ranch, Texas

Closing the door on ads
Sept. 20, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about too much nudity and bad language on television. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Please believe me when I say I’m not a prude. I’m a 28-year-old schoolteacher at a middle school who is tired of the nudity and profanity on television. So many of my students see programs on TV that are completely inappropriate for their young ages, and scenes that give them the idea that ignoring their studies is acceptable, dropping out of school is cool, using terrible grammar is the way they should talk and that they shouldn’t take responsibility for their lives or actions. They’re kids, and as such are not prepared for so many of the adult themes on TV. They tend to copy what they see.

“If you have children, turn off the TV and have dialogue with your kids, and stay connected with their teachers.” - Yvette C., St. Paul, Minn.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: As summer heat fades away, many of us are left with a worn-out garden hose - but there are things you can do with that old piece of plastic tubing:

- Cut pieces off and slit them down one side. Then use those pieces to cover cutting tools, such as saws.

- Puncture with holes and make a soaker hose out of it.

- Before you run a rope around a young tree to steady it, run the rope through a length of hose to keep the rope from cutting into the tree.

- If you have no use for the hose, be sure to place it in the recycle bin.

- Heloise

Beware of scams

Dear Heloise: How can my dad protect himself from all the scams? He invested in what I believe was a scam, then six months later those same people called and offered to swap the bad investment for what they called “a much better investment” to help him recover his money. The problem was, they wanted $1,500 upfront! I talked him out of it, but I don’t know when these people will call again.
- Kate R., Orange, Calif.

Kate, remind him to NEVER do investment business over the phone with strangers. If he wants to invest, he needs to do so with a registered firm, a trained, experienced professional agent and, better yet, to never make any investments unless he first discusses it with one of his children. You also might want to speak to an attorney to see how you can legally protect your dad from scammers. - Heloise

The dog vs. the pill

Dear Heloise: Giving my dog a pill was always a hassle and traumatized him afterward. Now I either hide it in a chunk of meat or roll it in a ball of butter. The butter works best because my dog loves it, and the butter makes it go down quickly. - Georgia F., Wheat Ridge, Colo.


To ‘bee’ or not to ‘bee’

Dear Heloise: If you have a bee settle on you while outside, stop moving. It’s harder for a bee to see you if you stand still until the bee moves off. - Joe K., Olathe, Kan.

Closing the door on ads
Sept. 20, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about too many junk flyers:

“Dear Heloise: I want people to please stop leaving ads for various restaurants, child care, lawn and tree-trimming services, religious information and all the other info. It’s stuffed in my door, left on the porch or, more often than I like, thrown on my front lawn. I put a ‘No Solicitation’ sign on my door, but that hasn’t stopped anyone.” - Miranda L., Kennewick, Wash.

Miranda, this can be a problem, especially if you’re out of town for a while. Unfortunately, they are not going to stop! Most times, these are delivered by a separate company. Also, all of the piled-up papers signal that no one is home, and basically says to a thief, “Hey, break in!” If you are gone for a while, ask a neighbor (or pay a neighborhood teenager) to pick the stuff up daily. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for the cardboard tubes inside paper towels:

- Slit one side and use to push all of your computer, phone and printer cords through the slit and out of your way.

- Store prints or posters inside.

- Use to store plastic bags inside.

- Close up the ends and use to mail letters, pictures or other items.

- Heloise


To ring or not to ring?

Dear Heloise: I have some good advice for young men (Heloise here: or older ones, too) about surprising their girlfriend with an engagement ring. First, you don’t have to have a ring to ask her to marry you; find some unique way to ask. I asked my now-wife to marry me, then we went ring shopping.

We decided on a jeweler, and I went by myself to discuss a price I could afford. He was to have a tray of possible ring sets to show her the next day. We both went back, and she selected five sets she liked. I returned alone, chose one from the five sets and surprised her when I gave her the engagement ring a few days later.

We have been married for 54 years. - Sheridan G., Fullerton, Calif.

Sheridan, what a lovely story, and one I hope will give others some insight that some things do NOT always have to be done in the traditional way. - Heloise


Pet-hair removal

Dear Heloise:  As much as I love my dog, he sheds on my sofa and chairs. Instead of yelling at him to get off the furniture, I use a damp, clean sponge (after vacuuming as much as possible). I lightly rub the sponge in small circles, which causes the pet hairs to collect together. Then I take tape of any kind and press on the clumps of pet hair. It’s easy and takes less time than writing this hint! - Tammy R., Kent, Ohio

This does work well; just be sure the sponge is clean! We keep a very-thin-material shower curtain on the bed so that when Chammy jumps up, the hair stays on it. - Heloise

Don’t let your purse be carted off
Sept. 13, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about leaving your purse in the cart at the grocery store. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Once again, we had someone in our grocery store who left her purse unattended in the grocery cart. A thief walked by and apparently reached in and stole her wallet and cellphone. Please advise your readers to never leave their purses in a grocery cart, because it’s just too easy for someone to reach inside and grab their wallet or to take the entire purse. So far this year, we’ve had five such incidents. We even placed a sign on our doors asking women not to leave their purses unattended. Most people are honest, but sometimes there is one person who is not. Why tempt fate?” - Gerald D., Pascagoula, Miss.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: If you have an ice-cream scoop, there are a number of ways to use it besides for scooping ice cream:

- Use to shape meatballs.

- Use to scoop out shortening.

- Use to remove eggs from boiling water.

- Use to dig holes for bulbs in the garden.

- Heloise


The must-haves

Dear Heloise: I just moved into my first apartment, and money is really tight right now after having paid all the deposits and rent and picking up a few essentials, such as sheets, towels and a shower curtain. So, if I were to go out and buy a few cleaning items, what would you suggest? - Carol M., Muskegon, Mich.


Carol, congratulations on your new apartment! If you want some very inexpensive cleaning products, I highly recommend old-fashioned vinegar and baking soda. Vinegar has been around for thousands of years to clean and polish sinks, floors and more. I have a number of cleaning ideas and tricks for cleaning in my pamphlet Vinegar Hints and More. To order, you can go to my website at, or you can send a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. There’s nothing more welcoming than coming home to an apartment that looks, smells and feels clean. - Heloise


Traditional wedding with a twist

Dear Heloise: I want a very traditional wedding: long white dress, face-covering veil, bridesmaids and lots of flowers. This is not my first wedding (I eloped the first time), but I’m now divorced, with one daughter, age 7, and a terrific guy who wants to marry me in a big wedding. I don’t want to look foolish at my second wedding, so what’s allowed and what’s not? - Ava H., Marion, Ind.

Ava, best wishes on your coming marriage. Today, many brides wear white even if it’s not their first wedding. However, a face-covering veil traditionally is only for first-time brides. There are many other options available: a veil down the back, flowers or a hat, to name a few. Go ahead and have bridesmaids, flowers and whatever you want. Use your favorite colors, dance and have fun. This is YOUR wedding, and the bride gets to have her wedding, her way. - Heloise

Kids on the loose!
Sept. 6, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about letting children run loose in restaurants. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: My husband and I went to an upscale restaurant to celebrate our 10th anniversary. It wasn’t cheap, but this was a special occasion, and might have been fun if it were not for one couple who let their three very young children run around the restaurant. They were loud, as children will be when playing, ran around tables, nearly tripped a waiter with a heavy tray and would stop at various tables and ask strangers to get them a soda. I love children and have two of my own, but this type of behavior is unnecessary and dangerous for the child.” - Kathy G., Huntington Beach, Calif.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: People who like to knit baby items, scarves and mittens usually have leftover yarn. There are a number of things you can do with odd pieces of yarn:

- Use to tie up climbing ivy or roses.

- Cut short lengths and put outside for nesting birds.

- Make a scrap-yarn afghan, a striped sweater, scarf or mittens with different colors.

- Donate it to a nursing home where people like to spend time knitting.

- Heloise


Don’t lose that button!

Dear Heloise: I bought a beautiful white silk blouse with the cutest buttons, but it didn’t come with any spare buttons. To make certain I never lost one of those buttons, I reinforced them by sewing them on with unwaxed dental floss. I’ve had this blouse four years, and I still have all the buttons! - Molly K., Glenview, Ill.



Dear Heloise: I just went through some old photos and on the back wrote the names of the people in the photograph, the place, month and year (if I remembered), and anything else I thought was important. This is so my kids can enjoy these photographs and not wonder who it was or where it was taken. I have pictures of my great-grandmother with her mother, but no one would know who they were if it were not for the information on the back. - Hazel S., Great Falls, Mont.


What’s hiding on top of the bedspread?

Dear Heloise: I read and enjoy your column in the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News.

One thing my family has always done is remove the bedspread in every hotel and motel we’ve stayed at while traveling. It is the one thing (besides drapes) that doesn’t get laundered on a regular basis. Please pass the word along: Remove the bedspread, and don’t use it during your stay. - Jan T., West Carrollton, Ohio

Jan, this is a very good hint, and one I usually do as well. - Heloise

No knees, please
August 31, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the apparel young women wear on television:

“Dear Heloise: I have a comment and a question. Why is there not enough budget money for the news and weather women to have clothing that would cover their knees?” - Anonymous in San Antonio

Dear Anonymous: Many young women keep up with the fashion trends (just like their mothers and grandmothers did), and the current trend for young women is short skirts. Their mothers wore the miniskirt in the ‘60s, and during World War II, when cloth was rationed, women raised their hemlines. In the ‘20s, women who wore short dresses and rolled down their stockings were considered very daring. Fashions come and go, and no doubt hemlines will drop again. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Protect yourself from telemarketing fraud with some of these hints:

- If it sounds too good to be true, it more than likely isn’t true. It’s OK to be skeptical!

- Never, ever give out banking information, your Social Security number, passwords or any other personal information. Telemarketers have NO RIGHT to ask those types of questions.

- Use caution when a company won’t give you its name, address or references.

- DO NOT be pressured into making a decision immediately, no matter what they tell you.

- Heloise

Reusable and Recycled

Dear Heloise: I always either recycle or reuse plastic containers. I save them for a number of uses, such as a container for small gift items (jewelry, watches, belts, scarves, etc.). For example, I’ll take a container that held strawberries, put some shredded paper on the bottom and put the little gift on top, then put a ribbon around it. I used a tub that held a whipped topping by painting it gold and decorating it for Christmas, then placed home-baked cookies inside. - Kaycee D., Chelsea, Mass.

Kaycee, what a great hint! It’s an inexpensive gift-giving idea and environmentally friendly. Readers, do you have more suggestions for empty plastic containers that you’d like to share? - Heloise

Help is on the way!

Dear Heloise: HELP! I just got lipstick on my husband’s favorite Egyptian cotton shirt. How do I get it out without ruining his shirt? - Carla Y., Manchester, N.H.

Carla, immediately place the stained area over an absorbent towel and saturate with rubbing alcohol (test hidden area of fabric for colorfastness). Then rub the area with a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol. You also may have good results with a pre-wash spray. Rinse and launder as usual. This and many more stain-removing ideas are in my Handy Stain Guide for Clothing pamphlet. Just go to, or you can send a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Stain, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. There’s no need to throw away good clothing because of a stain that can easily be removed with a few simple cleaning instructions. - Heloise

A number of business complaints
August 23, 2017

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

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

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

Fast Facts

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

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

- Holding buttons.

- Storing leftover paint for touch-ups.

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

- Heloise

Freezing brown sugar

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

Removing a musty smell

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

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

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

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

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

- Heloise

Salt reduction in food

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

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

A ‘Ms.’-stake?
August 16, 2017

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

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

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

Fast Facts

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

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

- Wet one end and use it to seal envelopes.

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

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

- Heloise

Keeping it clean

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

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


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

It’s in the box

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


Fork it over

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

No sale for this customer
August 10, 2017

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

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

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


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

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: If you lose your wallet:

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

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

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

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

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

- Heloise


Nasty gnats

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


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

Then make a gnat trap:

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

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

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

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

- Heloise

Interview for two?
August 2, 2017

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

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

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

Fast Facts

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

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

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

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

- Heloise


Diluted drinks

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

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

- Billie M., New Braunfels, Texas


Beach bulletin

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Alana S., Ocean Park, Maine


Lice aren’t nice

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

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

Count it out
July 26, 2017

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

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

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

Fast facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for ashtrays:

- Use it in a bathroom to hold guest soaps.

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

- Store hair ornaments in the larger ones.

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

- Keep lose change in them.

- Heloise

No oil leaks

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

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

Plants and air

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

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

Did you know?

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

Recycling request
July 19, 2017

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

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

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

Fast Facts

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

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

- Use under tires on icy streets.

- Use to reduce odors and moisture in a basement.

- Heloise


Hope renewed

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

Snails and slugs

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


When less is more

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

Save me from the offer!
July 12, 2017

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

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

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


Fast Facts

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

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

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

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

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

- Heloise

Dressing like the stars

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

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

Recycling for the future

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

Not quite photogenic
July 6, 2017

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

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

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

Fast Facts

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

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

- A packet of mints or breath fresheners is nice.

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

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

- Heloise


To tattoo or not to tattoo?

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

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

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

- Allergies: Allergies to various inks can occur.

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

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

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

- Heloise


Adopt a best friend

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

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

Is this a recording?
June 30, 2017

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

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

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

Fast Facts

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

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

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

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

- Heloise


Stain on a leather sofa

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


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

Mix together the following ingredients to form a paste:

3/8 cup distilled water

1/8 cup sea salt

1/2 teaspoon white flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

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

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

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

A taxing phone conversation
June 21, 2017

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

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

Fast Facts

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

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

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

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

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

- Heloise

How to clean a mattress

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

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

- Vacuum your mattress once a month.

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

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

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

- Heloise

Feed your plants

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

Mix together:

- One small can of beer - any kind

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

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

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

Rules for the lake house
June 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

- “Bring your own towels and snacks.

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

- Margaret S., Kenosha

Fast Facts

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

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

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

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

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

- A Reader, via email


Engagement ring advice for men

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Ronald P., Norman, Okla.


Wedding trivia

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

- Heloise

Late isn't great
June 7, 2017

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

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

Fast Facts

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

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

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

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

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

- Heloise


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

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

- Add 1 tablespoon of honey.

- Add 2 tablespoons of plain nonfat yogurt.

- Add 1 egg yolk, optional.

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

Family portraits

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

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


Wedding tradition

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









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