Should children get a break?


April 17, 2019


Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is about tax deductions. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Why are there tax deductions for children? I love kids, but I find it blatantly unfair that people with children get tax deductions for having them, and child care tax credits, too. I realize that at one point it was designed to help parents pay for the costs of raising a child, but in an overcrowded world, should we really be encouraging people to have more than one child? Cutting out the deductions for children would give the government more money to work with and create a much more impartial tax system.”
- Roger K., Falmouth, Mass.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for leftover bread:

- Cube bread and bake for inexpensive croutons.

- Make into breadsticks by cutting into strips, then brushing with butter or olive oil and sprinkling with seasonings. Bake until crispy.

- Cube bread into very small pieces and use as a topping for casseroles.

- Heloise


Streaky windows

Dear Heloise: I’m getting ready to do my spring-cleaning, but my biggest problem involves my windows. I always make a streaky mess out of them. Do you have any hints for clean and clear windows?
- Julia Y., Ellicott City, Md.


Julia, this is an easy one. Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 1/2 gallon of water, then put the solution in a clean spray bottle. Spray the window liberally. Dry with crumpled newspaper. If you like this easy and inexpensive solution, you’ll enjoy my six-page vinegar pamphlet that includes dozens of hints, from cleaning and deodorizing things like aluminum pots to removing pesticides from veggies.

To receive a copy, order it at, or send $5, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.

FYI: Though there are many types of vinegar, including balsamic, wine, malt and apple cider, white vinegar is the cheapest and the best type used for cleaning. - Heloise


Hospital visit

Dear Heloise: When I recently went into the hospital, friends would call and ask what I needed. I said I’d love any travel brochures they could lay their hands on. This kept my mind off my impending surgery and helped me plan for my next trip. I liked it better than reading magazines that feature movie stars.
- Patricia D., Great Falls, Mont.


Patricia, what a great idea! You can lie back and visualize yourself on your next adventure. It helps you make plans and takes you out of the hospital atmosphere. - Heloise

Walking the dog

Dear Heloise: Last night, while walking my dog in our neighborhood, a car came out of nowhere and nearly hit me. The fault, however, was mine. I should have had reflective gear on myself and a flashing light on my dog. I will now, but it was a close call. Please tell your readers that many accidents can be avoided if people make themselves more visible when they’re outside at night. - Lewis G., Fresno, Calif.

Call me!
April 10, 2019

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

“Dear Heloise: It irks me when someone expects me to text an entire conversation, wasting up to an hour of my busy life, when a simple phone call would take care of it in less than 10 minutes.”
 - Kaye S., Springfield, Ill.


Kaye, I know how you feel. I’ve seen people driving and texting, looking down at their phones while crossing a busy street or ignoring a date while they text someone else. Cellphones are handy, but they should not take over our lives. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for back scratchers:

- Reach things on high shelves.

- Pull out items from the back of a cabinet.

- Remove leaves from gutters.

- Reach under a bed.

- Heloise


Lipstick on your collar

Dear Heloise: HELP! I went to kiss my husband and missed. I got lipstick on the side of my husband’s shirt collar How can I get it out? - Sherry L., Cocoa Beach, Fla.


Sherry, immediately place the stained area over an absorbent towel and saturate with rubbing alcohol (test a hidden area first to determine colorfastness), then dab the area with a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol. You also may have luck with a pre-wash spray. Rinse and launder the shirt as usual.

In my Handy Stain Guide for Clothing pamphlet, you’ll find quick and easy methods for getting rid of the most common stains, such as baby formula, blood, grass, grease, wine and many more. You can get a copy by sending a long, stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Stains, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Considering what clothing costs today, it’s always better to try removing the stain rather than disposing of an otherwise usable garment. - Heloise


Cookie mister

Dear Heloise: My husband loves cookies, so I bake them fairly frequently. I’ve found that if I make a lot of dough, I can form the dough into one long roll, then freeze it. Anytime I want cookies, I cut off the desired amount I want to bake.

Also, if your cookies end up too brown on the bottom, lightly rub the bottom with your vegetable grater.
- Marcie H., Apopka, Fla.


Iron keeps clogging

Dear Heloise: I still iron my clothes, although my daughter says it’s old-fashioned. However, my iron keeps clogging up. Any hints for this? - Anne M., Bettendorf, Iowa


Anne, to keep your iron from clogging, use only distilled water, and make sure you empty your iron after each use. - Heloise


Baby jar lids

Dear Heloise: I have a terrible time getting the lid off a baby food jar. I’ve tried banging it on the edge of my countertop and running the jar under hot water, but I can’t seem to get some of the jars opened.
- Emma Y., Westover, Tenn.


Emma, when a baby food jar won’t open, try puncturing a hole in the lid. It will break the vacuum seal, and the lid will twist off easily. - Heloise

Toll-free mystery?
April 3, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about toll-free telephone numbers:

“Dear Heloise: Many companies do not provide toll-free phone numbers to call when you want to order something. They give you a website but not a phone number. Some of us do not have computers, don’t want to order online or don’t know how to use a computer. Please tell companies to keep a toll-free number on their products.” - Donna in Pennsylvania


Donna, we receive many letters from people who would rather speak to a person than place an order online. They may have questions that cannot be answered on a website or simply enjoy the interaction with another person. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for shower caps from hotels and motels:

- Cover bowls of leftover snacks: chips, pretzels and popcorn.

- Cover vegetable trays made before a party.

- Cover a hair dryer or shoes while packing for a trip.

- Cover pet ears while bathing them.

- Heloise


No thanks

Dear Heloise: I’ve noticed a new habit of couples who get married: They don’t bother to send out thank-you notes. Recently, two friends and I were invited to the same wedding, and two of us enclosed a self-addressed, stamped thank-you note with the wedding card and money. We both got our thank-you cards about a month later. The third person so far has received nothing in the way of a thank-you.
- Ruth B., Fort Wayne, Ind.


Ruth, a bride should start her thank-you notes within days of returning from her honeymoon. Thanking people for taking the time to shop for a gift is not only the classy thing to do, it’s just plain good manners.
- Heloise


Fortunate idea

Dear Heloise: I went online to learn how to make fortune cookies (it’s not difficult), and then on a piece of paper 3 inches long and 1/2 inch in width I wrote out fortunes, such as: “Temptation is sometimes mistaken for opportunity” or “Take a much-needed vacation to a sunny place.” I placed the fortune cookies in a basket on the table during dessert. It was a big hit because so many “fortunes” hit home with my friends.
- Mia D., Bristol, Conn.


Mia, what a clever and original idea! - Heloise


Memorable pillows

Dear Heloise: When my husband passed away, I took all his Western shirts and made pillows for my great-grandkids. I also gave each one a picture of him wearing that shirt when he was holding them through the years. To this day, they still treasure these pillows and the memories with him. Each one of them got a different shirt and photo. - Lylis Nelson, Canby, Minn.


Voice of the people

Dear Heloise: Why are so many people angry and vocal these days? It seems like no one is happy.
- Ralph T. (age 13), Darby, Mont.


Angry, vocal people make the news, but there are many happy people in the world. Make up your mind to be one of them. - Heloise


Sibling slights
March 20, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about people who blatantly favor one child over another. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: My mother and father always favored my brother over me, and it’s been a problem between the two of us all our lives. For example, they sent my brother to college, though he barely squeaked by in high school. I was fifth in my class of over 200, and they wouldn’t give me a penny to go to college.

“Now my mother wants me to move home to take care of them (they don’t need taking care of), while my brother lives three blocks from their home. I refused, and they’re angry about it. 

“Favoring one child over another child breeds lifelong resentment and usually ruins any relationship that might have been possible between siblings. The lingering resentment I’ve felt has made me grow closer to my husband’s family than to my own.” - Linda in Florida


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for pool noodles:

- Attach two pool noodles to the inside wall of the garage so you won’t damage the car door when opening it.

- Cut down the side and cut to fit a hanger to avoid creases in your pants.

- Cut down the side, then cut to fit over the springs of a trampoline.

- Heloise


Pre-wash spray

Dear Heloise: I used to have the recipe for your pre-wash spray, but I lost it in a flood. Would you please reprint it for me and others? - Katie T. in California

Katie, this has always been popular with my readers because it’s economical and easy to make. Here it is:|

Heloise’s Pre-Wash Spray

Mix equal parts water, household ammonia and dishwashing (NOT dishwasher) liquid. Place the mixture in a clean, labeled spray bottle. Once you apply this spray to a stain, wash immediately. Keep this out of reach of children and pets.

If you are looking for simple solutions to everyday laundry problems, you will like my pamphlet Heloise’s Handy Stain Guide for Clothing. To receive a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Stain Guide, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at Clothing lasts longer and looks better when properly cared for. My pamphlet also has hints for laundering special-care items and information on understanding care labels. - Heloise


Waste not

Dear Heloise: I use a concentrated liquid detergent for laundry, and I believe I’m wasting too much that’s left in the cap of the bottle. Is there a solution? - Toni B., Mendenhall, Miss.


Toni, if the cap is plastic, throw it in with the laundry. - Heloise


Shower captain

Dear Heloise: My shower curtain won’t slide across the curtain rod. It gets stuck, and I have to keep yanking it across. What can I do to fix this? - Joan R., Clifton, Mass.


Joan, rub a bar of soap or baby oil on the shower-curtain rod. - Heloise

Where are the nurses?
March 20, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the lack of nurses in hospitals. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: I was a patient in a hospital recently and was appalled by the lack of nurses on staff. My nurse greeted me and told me to call her on my cellphone if I needed anything, then gave me her number and left. What if I had fallen out of bed, couldn’t get up and needed help or possibly had a stroke after surgery and couldn’t talk?

“Hospitals charge a hefty amount of money for patient care, but I don’t think we’re getting the care we need. It’s not that nurses aren’t trained properly, there just are far too many patients for the limited number of nurses available.

“There was a time when American medicine was the best in the world. But is it still? I have every reason to believe it’s gone downhill.” - Henry P. in Atlanta


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some storage options for tiny items like beads, sequins, snaps, etc.:

- Empty pill bottles.

- Foam egg cartons.

- A compartment organizer for earrings.

- Fishing tackle box.

- Heloise


Citrus squeezer

Dear Heloise: Want more juice from a lemon or lime? Cut the fruit in half, then cut off the bottom end and place in a citrus squeezer. - Helen B., Sitka, Alaska


Flag care

Dear Heloise: I put my outdoor flag in my washing machine to clean it, and instead it was ruined. It shrank, and a little of the red color in the stripes bled into the white stripes. How should I have cleaned it?
- Kay D., Columbus, Mo.


Kay, try to limit your flag’s exposure to the elements, such as snow, rain and wind. Wash by hand with warm water and a mild soap. Thoroughly rinse, and if storing, make sure it is completely dry. Inspect your flag often. If it becomes too badly damaged to be flown, dispose of it properly. Check with the Veterans of Foreign Wars or any veterans organization on how to properly dispose of an old flag. - Heloise


Scammer alert

Dear Heloise: There are a couple of old scams that your readers should be aware of and take measures to protect themselves. The “Can you hear me?” stunt is being used again. A caller assures the listener that this is not a sales call and will ask, “Can you hear me?” DO NOT answer. Hang up. They wait to hear you say “yes” and use your voice to OK credit cards and other purchases. The second scam is to tell you that your Microsoft license has expired. The caller will say to send a certain amount of money or give a credit card number and all will be well. This is a scam, and you should ignore it. Don’t speak; just hang up on them. - Walter D., Amherst, Mass.

Purchase your pets online?
March 13, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about hypochondria. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Why is it some people love to talk about their aches and pains nonstop? Two of my friends seem to do nothing but complain about every little ache and pain. They weren’t this way years ago, but as they’ve aged, it’s the main source of conversation with them. I’ve tried changing the subject, but they go right back to complaining about their health. After whining about minor aches, they complain that their kids never visit them. They drive people away with their complaints. There’s an old saying, ‘No one wants to hear about your health unless it’s good.’ Even then, keep it to a minimum and don’t exaggerate.

“Instead of looking for the negative side of life, look for the positive, because it’s all around you. No one has a perfect life, and no matter how much you have, there will always be problems of one kind or another. How you handle those problems will determine how happy you are. Complaining about them continuously will leave you lonely and isolated.” - Margie in Houston

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some additional uses for baking soda:

- Sprinkle on carpets to deodorize before vacuuming.

- Use in place of toothpaste.

- Clean a stainless steel sink.

- Open a box and place in the fridge to deodorize.

- Heloise


Off the hook

Dear Heloise: In the Daily American newspaper in Pennsylvania, I read about a person who always got stuck hosting the big family gatherings. Years ago, I had that problem, so after a Thanksgiving dinner with everyone present, I announced that from now on, we would be taking turns hosting the holiday dinners. I now host only once every five years. For those who say they don’t have the room, I suggest they host at their church hall or community building. That means no more excuses! - Mary in Stoystown, Pa.


Mary, holidays are a lot of work, and everyone should pitch in and share the work or take turns hosting the events. This is especially true with large families. - Heloise


Mop head

Dear Heloise: The mop head finally rusted through and fell off, but the handle is still useful. I threaded a folded napkin in the top and now use it to clean the dust bunnies out from under the refrigerator.
- Norma C., Waterloo, N.Y.



Dear Heloise: My wife died a few years back, and I now cook for myself. I have a question about potatoes: The eyes and black spots - are they bad for you? And how should I store the potatoes?
- Robert C., Summerfield, Fla.


Robert, first, potatoes should not be stored in a refrigerator. Ideally, they need a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight. As for the eyes and black spots, cut out the black spots. The eyes won’t hurt you. The black spots could be a bruised spot or a fungus, so cutting it out is a safety measure. - Heloise

Purchase your pets online?
March 6, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about buying and selling animals online. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: The internet has made it possible to buy and sell animals online, but there are too many scams out there to trust these people. They will:

- Show a picture of an adorable kitten or puppy, but often this animal’s picture is from some other website.

- Offer to use a ‘courier service,’ but won’t tell you which service. They rarely show a phone number on their website.

- Want money sent to them by Western Union, MoneyGram or some other service, and they may tell you to lie about what the money is for when you’re questioned.

- Have a problem once you pay. They can’t send the pet because the carrier demands insurance or medical clearance or some other bogus excuse.

“Please tell your readers to NEVER buy a pet online, or at least don’t pay until you have the animal in your arms.

“For more information, go to:
.” - Michelle and Mike H., Defiance, Ohio


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for plastic place mats:

- Use to line shelves.

- Use under a pet’s food dish or water bowl.

- Place under the coffee maker on the counter.

- Put under potted plants to keep dirt and water off the floor.

- Heloise



Dear Heloise: A while back, you printed a story from a woman who hated robocalls. First of all, they take advantage of the fact that most people are courteous. If it’s a number you do not recognize, you can ignore the call. If you happen to pick up the phone, do not say anything - just listen. Oftentimes, our voice activates the robocall. When you say “hello,” the recording on the other end is signaled to start a sales pitch. - Francis T., Lincroft, N.J.


Francis, robocalls selling all sorts of products and services have cropped up around the country. One of the worst is the IRS scam, which has robbed the American public of more than $300 million, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Many of the people affected were elderly. - Heloise


Securing her purse

Dear Heloise: Whenever I shop in a store that has shopping carts, I always hook the child seat belts through my purse straps, just in case someone is tempted to walk off with it. Love your hints.
- Carol C., Eatontown, N.J.


Carol, be careful. Those straps can be undone very quickly, and it wouldn’t be difficult for someone to come along and steal your purse when your back was turned. You’re better off with a crossbody bag that you don’t take off and leave in a shopping cart. - Heloise


Utensils slide all over

Dear Heloise: All my cooking utensils get tangled up in a drawer. How do I prevent this?
- Carrie-Ann in Ohio


First, put a small hand towel or kitchen towel in the drawer and secure it with thumbtacks. Next, place all utensils upside down in the drawer. This should solve the problem. You also can use a rubberized shelf liner in place of a towel. - Heloise


Taxed out of house and home?
Feb. 27, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about escalating property taxes:

“Dear Heloise: All over this country property taxes are rising. I understand the need to pay for schools, fire stations and the police, roads, etc., but many cities are pricing people out of the housing market. This is especially true for seniors who live on a limited income and young married couples just starting out in life. Yes, we can fight the increase in taxes on our property, but I usually get a notice that my property taxes are going up a couple of days before there’s a hearing.

“Surely I can’t be the only one who objects to the estimated value of their home or the taxes the city feels I should be paying. I had hoped to stay in my home until I died, but taxes may make that impossible.”
- Grace R. in Texas


Readers, got an issue with the way or amount you’re taxed? Let us know. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Got leftover gift bags from the holidays or a birthday? Try these ideas:

- Reuse the bag to give a gift to someone else.

- Carefully open up the side and use as wrapping paper for small gifts.

- Use large ones to store blankets, pillows or quilts.

- Reuse to carry lunch to work.

- Heloise


Windows a streaky mess

Dear Heloise: Every time I clean my windows, I end up with a streaky mess! This is my first house, and I want it to look nice. - Imogene B., Allendale, Mich.


Imogene, try this simple, time-tested recipe for clean and streak-free windows:

In 1/2 gallon of water, add 1 cup of vinegar. Pour this solution into a spray bottle and spray liberally on the windows. Be sure to dry the windows thoroughly. Vinegar has so many uses in a home. It’s effective and economical to use. To get my pamphlet Fantabulous Vinegar Hints and More, with so many ways to use vinegar and some recipes on cooking with vinegar, send $5, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at This solution can also be used on mirrors. - Heloise


Potato problem

Dear Heloise: I placed two potatoes in my microwave oven to bake them. When I opened the oven door after they were done, the skins popped open. What did I do wrong? - Gale N., Jackson, Tenn.


Gale, before baking, try piercing the potato skins with a fork or making a slit with a knife to let the steam out. This should help. - Heloise


Lost my car

Dear Heloise: I used to forget where I parked my car when I went shopping at the mall. Now I always park in the same general area, and that narrows it down. If I still have trouble finding my car, I use the beeping sound of the door lock, and when I hear it go off, I follow the direction of the sound. No more lost car!
- Jacob K. in Boston


Iron is clogged

Dear Heloise: My iron is clogged. How should I unclog it? - Loretta K., Garner, N.C.


Loretta, pour white vinegar into the iron and let it steam for about five minutes. Then unplug it and let it cool down before dumping out the vinegar. Rinse the iron thoroughly by pouring water in and emptying it out.
- Heloise

Don’t wait to be asked
Feb. 20, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about offering help without being asked. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Why do friends and relatives who know they have a sick or elderly friend or family member wait to be asked before they agree to help? They offer thoughts and prayers. While that is very much appreciated, they seem to forget that there are regular chores that a relative needs help with. The relative may be too proud for his or her own good and might feel that asking is admitting weakness. Sometimes the person wants someone to say: ‘I see your yard needs to be mowed. Would you let me do that for you?’

“Just open your eyes, folks, look around and see where there’s a need, and offer to help.”
- Karol K., Troy, Ohio


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Out of wrapping paper? Here are some substitutions for gift wrap:

- Use an old map or a comic section of the newspaper.

- Use a bandana for smaller gifts.

- Use deflated, shiny helium balloons.

- Heloise


Mild abrasion

Dear Heloise: I save toilet-paper centers when a roll is finished. They provide excellent mild abrasion for things, such as scuff marks on wooden floors (especially ones made by rubber), by rubbing the mark with a flattened center. The centers, along with a liquid cleaner, are useful for cleaning ceramic stovetops. Woodworkers can use them on varnished surfaces, after all the sandpapering is finished, to produce a truly fine surface. - Jack M., Silver Spring, Md.


Unsubscribe to mags

Dear Heloise: I keep getting magazines I did not subscribe to, with some even "welcoming” me back! It’s next to impossible to stop this flow of unwanted magazines in my mailbox. Is there something I can do to make it stop? - Vicki S., Farmington, Ark.


Vicki, try this hint: Write to a magazine’s subscription department by email or a letter, and let it know that you do not want the magazine, you did not subscribe to the publication and you are canceling ALL further deliveries. Include your name, address and phone number.

Also, you can register at to stop unsolicited mail. Go to the website for more information.
- Heloise


Seed starter

Dear Heloise: Here is an idea to start seeds in your kitchen and later to transplant them in your garden: Take the bottom of an egg carton, fill each egg slot with dirt and plant a seed in each one. The best place for them is on a windowsill. Water them, and later transplant the seedlings in your garden.
- Leigh H., Marion, S.C.

An age-old complaint
Feb. 13, 2019

Dear Readers: Today's SOUND OFF is about age discrimination. - Heloise

"Dear Heloise: I retired last year from a job I held for over 25 years. I'm in excellent health, and I want to work part time. Before I retired, I was a district manager and well-respected in my field. My resume was done professionally and mentions the awards and achievements of my career. The problem is, no one seems to want to hire people my age.

ÒI'm not alone, because I've heard the same thing from other retirees who want to put in an honest day's work but can't get hired. We'll work for the money that's offered; we'll show up on time and do the job. We have so much experience and numerous skills, but age discrimination is our biggest problem. Employers should really take a second look at retirees and give us a chance to show how loyal, trustworthy and reliable a senior employee can be when given the opportunity." - Roger H., South Bend, Ind.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: For those who receive a daily paper, here are some suggestions for the plastic sleeves that go over the newspaper:

- Use as an umbrella cover for storage.

- Decorative outdoor banners can be stored in them.

- Slip over golf clubs for storing.

- Heloise

Improve your health

Dear Heloise: Improving your health is as easy as brushing and flossing your teeth, or so says my dentist. Is this really true? - Alicia V., Lincoln, N.D.

Alicia, yes, it's true. Research has found a link between oral care and overall health. Bacteria will in time build up in the mouth, making the gums susceptible to infection. Before long, the infection becomes gum disease, which affects the whole body. Your dentist can tell you more in detail.

Readers, I strongly suggest making an appointment with your dentist for a cleaning and X-rays to ensure you stay as healthy as possible. - Heloise


Dear Heloise: My daughter-in-law was given a medication for my grandson, and the nurse told her to give him 1 teaspoonful at bedtime. It's even written on the bottle's label. The following day, I noticed half the bottle was gone! My daughter-in-law had inadvertently overdosed my grandson, apparently believing that if a little is good, more is even better. Please tell your readers that it's crucial to read the prescription label, listen to the doctor's instructions and follow them to the letter. My grandson suffered no long-lasting harm, but not all children will be as lucky as he was. - Y. in Texas

Valentine's Day

Dear Heloise: How can I get my husband to remember me on Valentine's Day? He says it's a made-up celebration so shopkeepers can make money. He doesn't even give me a card. - Poppy in Washington

Poppy, it's time for a sit-down with your husband to let him know it hurts your feelings when he ignores you on Valentine's Day. Your husband will make points with you if he remembers to buy you a box of candy or flowers, or does some thoughtful gesture. - Heloise

All work and no pay?
Feb. 7, 2019

Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off is about an unethical practice by employers:

"Dear Heloise: In 1995, I went to work as a desk clerk at a motel. All I had to do was check people in or out and take reservations. Over the next five years, management kept adding more and more chores, until I was folding laundry, checking the pool chemicals, picking up the Christmas tree for the lobby, cleaning up the breakfast area, cleaning rooms the maids forgot to clean and even taking a co-worker to the emergency room at 2 a.m. All this with no increase in pay! It was blatantly unfair."
- Ann W., Fort Wayne, Ind.

Ann, we get many letters like yours every week. Employers depend on loyal employees to fill gaps where additional help is needed. Unfortunately, they sometimes neglect to increase that employee's paycheck or offer some kind of reward for these additional tasks. That's how they lose a valued member of their staff.
- Heloise

Fast Facts

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

- Use to double-bag wet kitchen scraps.

- Use outside to collect weeds and other debris in the yard.

- Slip over your hand and use as a pooper-scooper when walking your dog.

- Put shoes inside when packing for a trip.

- Heloise


Dear Heloise: My husband takes vitamins, and that's good, but I think he overdoes it with all the vitamin supplements he takes daily. What do you think? - Delores T., Boring, Ore.

Delores, too much of certain vitamins may cause health problems. Your best bet is to consult with your doctor on what vitamins your husband should be taking. - Heloise

Stay close to your grandkids

Dear Heloise: As a marriage and family counselor, I see a lot of families that have drifted apart, but none sadder than a grandparent who wants to be closer to the grandchildren. Whether they live in the same city or a thousand miles away, I always recommend calling the grandchildren frequently to stay in touch. Make your questions specific rather than open-ended, and have short calls rather than long ones, especially when the child is very young. Video calls also are a good way to stay in contact. Just be sure to never call after the child's bedtime or at mealtimes. - Marion B., Johnstown, Pa.

Makeup makeup magic for mature women

Dear Heloise: My sister reads your column daily, so maybe you can drop a hint for her. Her makeup makes her look like a clown, and at 53 years of age, that's not a good look for a professional woman.
- A Reader, Majestic, Ky.

A mature woman needs a light hand with her makeup: Soft colors and all blush MUST be blended and natural-looking. This really is a case of "less is more." - Heloise

Not so charitable
Jan. 31, 2019

Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off is a follow-up about resumes. - Heloise

"Dear Heloise: I saw a recent letter in your column about resume mistakes. I get resumes every day here in Human Resources, and I think about 90 percent of the ones we get are so poorly written, they're almost funny. But the seriousness of job hunting is NOT funny. There are thousands of people looking for work, so here are some suggestions to avoid common mistakes:

"Misspellings and misuse: Never misuse a word or misspell words on your resume. Example: 'There' for 'their' or 'to' for 'two.' Spellcheck is your new best friend.

"Lies: I can promise you, you'll get caught. Employers aren't gullible, and many now do a complete background and credit check. Didn't graduate from college? Don't say you did.

"Gaps in employment: Every employer wonders what you did if there are large gaps in employment. Did you use that time to acquire new skills or certification/training in your field? If so, add it to your resume.

"Limit your resume: Keep it short and to the point. One page is best, but NEVER more than two pages. Avoid slang and humor.

"DO NOT give out references (unless you're asked for them), list your hobbies or send a handwritten resume. If you want the job, a well-written resume is the first step to let your employer see your potential.
 - Wade M. in New York

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some handy uses for tall potato chip cans:

- Store knitting needles in them.

- Keep fireplace matches in them.

- Store uncooked spaghetti inside.

- Store beads, sequins or other small craft items in them.

- Heloise

A one-dish meal

Dear Heloise: My husband came up with this idea: Cook one box of macaroni and cheese. When done, stir in some lean chunks of ham. It makes a great one-dish meal. - B.P., Middletown, Ohio

The Land of Lost Socks

Dear Heloise: Whenever I wash my daughter's baby socks, they seem to get lost! Any hints on how to keep track of them? - Ava J., Rosedale, Md.

Ava, those little items get lost so easily! Just take a safety pin and attach them to a larger item, such as a towel. They wash nicely and come through the dryer without getting lost. - Heloise

Closet Problem

Dear Heloise: Help! My closets have a musty smell. How can I get rid of it? - Jerrie L., Raton, N.M
Jerrie, make sure your closets are well-ventilated by keeping the doors open at night or during the day while you're at work. Never put dirty or damp clothes in your closet, not even in a hamper. You also can try putting baking soda in a bowl or jar without a lid and placing it in a corner of your closet. - Heloise

Not so charitable
Jan. 23, 2019

Dear Readers: Here's another Sound Off about the phony calls people get. - Heloise

'Dear Heloise: I read in your column recently about scammers, and I thought I'd add my 2 cents. It seems like every other phone call I get is someone trying to get me to send them money or trying to tell me I won a cruise or a free this or that. These are all scam calls, and when I question them, they usually hang up. I got one the other day and told them I do not make contributions to organizations I don't know and certainly not until I investigate them. They look for people like me whom they believe are senile because we're retired, or in our 70s and 80s. Just because a person is over the age of 65 does not mean he or she is unable to detect a scam.

'Please keep all bank account information secret, and don't share information about credit cards with people soliciting donations. Instead, ask them to send you information about their organization.'
- Betty S., Newberry, S.C.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for the comics in the Sunday papers:

- Cover an old book.

- Use as wrapping paper.

- Use them to teach your child to read.

- It makes a terrific border for a bulletin board.

- Heloise

Reader not in agreement

Dear Heloise: I don't agree with a recent reader's letter about traveling without children and instead leaving them with grandparents. It's nice to travel, but take the kids with you. It's educational for them, and they enjoy time with their parents.

Too many people today rely on grandparents for money, baby-sitting, help fixing things, etc. My generation managed on our own, with little or no help. - A Reader in Indiana

I can understand wanting to get away for a trip with just the two parents and no children, and I also can understand the desire to take the youngsters along. How do you readers feel about this? Should children be included on every trip? Let us know. - Heloise

Adults only?

Dear Heloise: Regarding a recent reader's letter, the most tactful way to handle having no children at a wedding reception is that when your invitations are being printed, they should say at the bottom: 'You are invited to an adults-only reception at ...'

Printers do this all the time. - A Reader, Jacksonville, Fla.

Easy beauty

Dear Heloise: When I put on or take off pantyhose, I use plastic gloves. No nail snags. 

Also, when I pull on or off a garment over my head, I cover my face with a shower cap. No makeup stains.
 - Gail in Los Angeles

Not so charitable
Jan. 16, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about scammers who use charities to fool people. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Please warn your readers of the charity scams that are now very popular with thieves. Someone calls, is very friendly on the phone and wants you to donate to some worthy cause such as a children’s charity, homeless animals or some medical cause, for example.

“If they want you to donate, have them mail you information on their charity so you can think it over. Never let anyone pressure you into giving out personal finance details. Better yet, simply say, ‘I take no solicitations over the phone’ and hang up. Don’t listen to anything they have to say after your refusal to discuss the matter.”  - Frank H., Washington, D.C.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old credit cards:

- Wash and cut into strips. You can use them to scoop out face creams.

- Use the strips as a replacement for collar stays.

- Remove a bee’s stinger by scraping the edge of a card across the skin at the wound site.

- Scrape gum off carpet or tile after placing ice on the gum.

- Heloise


Travel planning

Dear Heloise: When my husband and I got married, we decided that we would travel the world. We lived on his income and saved my earnings. At the end of the year, we sat down and decided where we’d like to travel. One year he’d pick a place, and the following year I would pick the place. The money left over was always invested. We’ve been married over 30 years, have seen the world and have a wonderful nest egg for retirement.

I recommend that all young couples who are planning to get married should sit down, decide what they want and work out a plan to ensure their dreams come true. Build some flexibility into your plans, and never mind what others are doing. - Hattie in San Antonio



Dear Heloise: We all know how expensive lipstick is today. Well, I usually scoop out what is left of my lipstick and put it in a small plastic tub from the dollar store. I microwave the container with the lipstick. This melts the lipstick, making it easy to blend colors. Use a lip brush to apply the new color.
- Myrna F., Lady Lake, Fla.


Myrna, it’s an economical and clever way to use all of your lipstick. - Heloise


Plastic vs. fabric

Dear Heloise: I know a lot of states and cities have banned plastic bags, and I understand their reasoning, but I can’t say I like it. I always reused my plastic bags, but now I’ve had to use cloth bags, which I don’t like. I have to make sure I have enough bags with me when I shop. I hate it. - Gloria J., Portland, Maine


Well, readers, what do you think about plastic versus cloth bags? - Heloise

Too much yard art not smart
Jan. 9, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about people who have too much “yard art”:

“Dear Heloise: Two neighbors across the street from me have far too much art in their yards. They seem to think it’s cute to have every concrete figurine they can find sitting in the front yard. Another neighbor has a gnome village in her front yard, complete with fake shrubs and bridges. They hang all sorts of spinning things from the trees and have pathways leading to nowhere. Too much yard art ruins the look of any house and yard.”  - Pam in San Antonio

Well, readers, do any of you have neighbors who love decorating their yard so much that they don’t know when to stop? - Heloise


Fast facts

Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for old calendars:

- Save to keep a record of birthdays and anniversaries.

- Save the pictures, laminate them and use as place mats.

- Cut into squares and use the back as a notepad.

- Heloise


Keep product manuals

Dear Heloise: Please advise your readers to keep their product warranties and instruction booklets in a file cabinet, a binder or someplace that holds all of the instruction booklets that come with an item they’ve bought. When you need it - and eventually you will need it - the information will be at your fingertips.
 - Annalise D., Lime Ridge, Wis.


Carpenter ants

Dear Heloise: We suspect we have carpenter ants in our house. I’d call an exterminator, but we live on Social Security, and our budget is tight, so can you recommend anything we can use to kill carpenter ants? - Nell P., Meridian, Miss.


Nell, first make certain there are no tree branches touching your house. That’s one way they get inside. If you see small piles of sawdust, you might have carpenter ants. If you find a site, then mix up 4 tablespoons of peanut butter, 5 tablespoons of honey and 1 tablespoon of borax (found in most hardware stores). Add a little water, about 1 or 2 tablespoons, to keep it from drying out. Mix well and apply 1 teaspoon to affected sites. I use water bottle caps filled with this mixture. Be very careful to NOT INHALE borax. Keep it away from pets and children. - Heloise


Pet evacuation

Dear Heloise: We love our sweet little dog, and he sleeps next to me every night. To make sure he never gets lost, we keep a leash on the back of our bedroom door and on both outside doors of our home. In case of an emergency where we might have to evacuate our home quickly, we have a leash to put on him so he doesn’t get lost. - Linda M., Hobart, Wash.


Turkey baster

Dear Heloise: We have some beautiful plants sitting on tall cabinets at the office. They look great, but they are very hard to water. So we use a turkey baster. Works great! - Verna T., Rosemount, Minn.

Making New Year's Resolutions
Jan. 3, 2019

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about making New Year’s resolutions:

“Dear Heloise: Why do people make New Year’s resolutions? Nearly everyone I know makes them (we all promise to lose weight), but no one keeps them. I was once told to write them down and put them somewhere I could see them every day, so I put them on my large bathroom mirror. I saw my resolutions every day and still did not paint the bathroom, take a class in French or lose 15 pounds. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak.” - Gordon T., Scranton, Pa.

Well, readers, do you make resolutions? Do you keep them? Let us know what resolutions you’ve made or broken. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for old ashtrays:

- Use them to hold loose change.

- When doing watercolors, use the cigarette slots to hold your brushes.

- Use as a soap dish in the bathroom.

- They’re good candle bases.

  - Heloise


Chinese beets

Dear Heloise: You have a recipe for Chinese Beets that I dearly love! I’ve moved several times over the past two years and lost my copy, so could you reprint it for me and others who love beets with a tangy taste?
- Angie R., Lincoln, Neb.

My mother’s (1919-1977) recipe for Chinese Beets has always been very popular, and personally, it is one of my all-time favorites. You’ll need:

  6 cups cooked, sliced beets, or 3 (16-ounce) cans of sliced beets

  1 cup sugar

  1 cup vinegar

  2 tablespoons cornstarch

  24 whole cloves (this makes it strong, so maybe start with only 12 cloves)

  3 tablespoons ketchup

  3 tablespoons cooking oil (optional)

  1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  Dash of salt

Drain the beets, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the beet liquid. Place the beets in a medium saucepan with the reserved liquid and the remainder of the ingredients. Mix well and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat or until the mixture thickens. Let it cool, then store it in the refrigerator.

This recipe and others are found in my pamphlet All-Time Favorite Recipes. To get a copy of these mouthwatering treats, just send a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Recipes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at You and your family will have the recipes for some of my tastiest dishes, which includes my Shrimp Spread, Coleslaw and Apricot Preserves. FYI: Use a binder-style photo album with magnetic pages and dividers to organize your favorite recipes. - Heloise


Travel scam

Dear Heloise: You get a telephone call or email telling you that you’ve won a trip, a vacation or a sweepstake. This is what happens next: You’re told you need to send a fee, or taxes or some other amount of money, then they ask for credit card or banking information or ask you to wire money. Don’t do it!
- Charles W., Lima, Ohio

You’re right, Charles. Readers, be sure to:

1. Keep your money and ALL personal information to yourself. Never share your financial information, and do not wire them money.

2. Report this scam to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357, or online at

Don’t become a statistic! - Heloise

A new Christmas tradition
Dec. 27, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about creating new family traditions. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Every family has its own traditions for Christmas. My husband and I both came from families that had huge gatherings at someone’s home, but all of the family lived within a few miles of each other. Today, we’re all spread out across the country, so we reserve Christmas Eve just for us, have a nice dinner at home, call family to wish them a happy holiday, open our gifts and then relax with a glass of wine and enjoy the lights on the tree. Christmas Day, everyone is welcome to our buffet.

“These are new traditions for us, but we like them, and being so far away from the rest of the family gave us the opportunity to start a few new traditions of our own.” - Grace and Joseph S., Tacoma, Wash.


A tree of remembrance

Dear Heloise: While I admire “designer trees” with all the matching balls and bows on them, my all-time favorite is the one with memories. Shortly after we were married, I asked my mother-in-law for a few Christmas ornaments from their collection, so I could use them on our tree. I did the same thing with my mother, who sent me a couple of very old glass ornaments from my childhood. My grandmother sent me three handmade ornaments from Poland that had always been on her tree. Over the years, I’ve received ornaments from various friends and family, and picked up some on our travels. This has made our Christmas tree very special to us. - Hattie C., Kalamazoo, Mich.


Get the kids involved

Dear Heloise: This year I did something a little different. The kids (ages 5, 8 and 10) and I got together about five weeks before the holidays and made our ornaments for the tree. I bought plain balls, glue glitter and ribbon, and turned them loose to make whatever they wanted. The 5-year-old made a construction paper chain for a garland, and we put some of our Christmas cards on the tree as well. It was so nice to see all three of them really engage in the holidays. - Darla T., Carrington, N.D.


Thank you

Dear Heloise: This year I was planning to have my children write thank-you notes to those who gave them gifts. They’re 11 and 13, and I feel it’s time that they started to do their own thank-yous. My husband disagrees. He said they will do it when they’re adults. Who’s right? - Denise O’R., Texarkana, Ark.

Denise, you’re both right. Children are able to express a thank-you verbally at a young age, and they should start writing their thank-you notes by second or third grade, then keep it up all through life, which of course includes adulthood. It’s never too early to learn a little gratitude. - Heloise

Less than our best for the holidays
Dec. 19, 2018

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

“Dear Heloise: I love the Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays! However, it can bring out the worst in a person with so much to do, company coming, financial budgets strained and, as always, what to get everyone. I work in a major department store and yesterday saw a woman reprimand her son because he wasn’t moving fast enough. I’ve seen couples fighting in public, and some very nasty customers who seem to think it’s my job to select the gifts they’ll hand out to others. Or those who snap at a salesclerk because the size 10 dress doesn’t fit anymore. It’s not the salesclerk’s job to select the gifts you give, nor is it that person’s fault if you can’t squeeze into that size 10 dress.

“If the holidays are stressing people out, just take a moment to remember why we celebrate these holidays. It doesn’t matter if the house is perfectly decorated or what size you wear, and you really don’t need to give anyone a gift. It’s your holiday, too, so relax and enjoy it.” - A Reader, via email



Dear Readers: Here are some uses for an old phone book:

- Keep it in your car’s trunk for reference.

- Wad up the pages and use as packing material.

- Use as a booster seat for a young child.

- If nothing else, recycle it.

- Heloise


Proper Wedding

Dear Heloise: I’m getting married, for the second time. My first wedding was a huge affair, with a formal gown and a long veil. It ended in divorce. My fiancé has never been married before and wants to have a big church wedding, the white dress, bridesmaids, etc., but I’m not sure what is proper and what is not for a second church wedding. Got any hints for me? - Stephanie R., Kansas City, Mo.


Stephanie, some second-time brides want to marry in white, but others may prefer to wear a color they believe is more flattering to their skin tones, such as blush or pale blue. However, second-time brides usually do not wear a veil. Some brides like to scale back the number of bridesmaids for a second wedding, some skip having a flower girl or ring bearer, but it’s your wedding, and you can call the shots. - Heloise


They’re at it again

Dear Heloise: Please let your readers know the phony IRS calls have begun again. The IRS DOES NOT CALL. No matter what the caller threatens you with - arrest, loss of home, prison - it’s all a lie. First of all, the IRS sends out a letter if it needs to contact you. So, DO NOT give out any personal information, financial information or anything else to these callers. Just hang up on them. - Harold K., Fairfax, Va.


Beachfront house

Dear Readers: Here’s a letter in response to a recent complaint about uninvited guests:

“Dear Heloise: My sister has a bad habit of telling other people they can stay at my beachfront house without telling me at all. It really angers me!” - Arkansas Reader

Tell your sister to stop inviting people!  - Heloise

Careless driving
Dec. 12, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about irresponsible drivers on our roads. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: We all have turn signals with our cars, so why is it some people don’t turn theirs on when they decide to make a turn, or turn it on just as they are about to turn? I realize driving is an “overlearned” experience, but a stop sign means ‘stop,’ not ‘slowly roll past the sign.’ Now, with the roads becoming icy in many states, it’s more important than ever to drive with care. With the holidays comes drinking, and the police are cracking down on drunken drivers. A DUI can kill your chances of getting a good job or a promotion, and it might land you in jail.

“Please remember: It’s not just a vehicle for transportation; it’s thousands of pounds of steel and rubber. Drive with caution.” - Elizabeth W., Norwood, Ohio

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some supermarket hints:

- Make a list of needed items and stick to it.

- Buy often-used items in bulk, if you have the storage.

- Don’t shop for grocery items when you’re hungry.

- Organize your coupons and keep them in a separate envelope/or compartment in your purse or wallet.

- Heloise


Cast iron on a glass stovetop

Dear Heloise: I have a glass-top stove and have been told NOT to use my cast-iron skillet on it. Nothing tastes the same as when it’s cooked in a cast-iron skillet. It was always my go-to kitchen item, so now what should I do? - Betty D., Van Wert, Ohio

Betty, don’t throw out your skillet just yet. You can use a cast-iron skillet, but there are certain precautions you need to take. First, the Cookware Manufacturers Association advises that you must understand the characteristics of cooking with cast iron on a glass-top stove. The skillet MUST have a flat bottom. Any burn areas or rough spots must be filed off before using. It’s best to place the skillet on the stove before turning on the stove, and use only medium heat. Lift the skillet to move it; NEVER slide it across the glass surface. The skillet must fit the size of the burner. - Heloise

Limp curls

Dear Heloise: My baby-fine hair is always “droopy.” I’d use a curling iron, but the volume and curl would just seem to slide out halfway through the morning. Then a hairdresser told me to first bend forward when drying my hair with a hair dryer, and get the roots dry while my hair is dangling toward the floor. Next, I use a very light blast of hair spray where I plan to curl my hair and use the curling iron after the hair spray dries. No more limp hair. - Karen B., Fairmont, W.Va.


Tea pack

Dear Heloise: When I’m shipping packages, I use tea bags as cushioning material, instead of air pillows or foam. This is an extra treat for the recipient! - Gina A. in New York

Has the meaning been lost?
Dec. 5, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is from a reader who believes we’ve lost the meaning of the holidays.
- Heloise

“Dear Heloise: This is the month of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, three important holidays for most of us. Sadly, we’ve gotten caught up in the lights, the stores crammed with all sorts of items, the wrapping and the gifts. But the holidays are not about these things. As a nation, we’ve lost the importance of these holidays and have given way to the commercialization and the ostentation of outdoing neighbors.

“For Christmas this year, my family agreed that we would give no more than two gifts to people. Not necessarily expensive, but something we know the other person will like or need. Instead of buying a bunch of junk, we’ve made up large Christmas baskets out of laundry baskets for needy families with canned goods, soaps, shampoos, gift certificates and blankets. To us, Christmas is more about giving than receiving.” - Claudia L., Perry Hills, Ohio

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for a pizza cutter. You can cut:

- brownies

- waffles or pancakes

- boiled potatoes

- hard-boiled eggs

- sandwiches

- Heloise


Baking soda

Dear Heloise: How can I remove stubborn spaghetti sauce stains on my plastic food storage containers?
- Faye H., Asheboro, N.C.

Faye, try mixing together equal parts baking soda and chlorine bleach. Put the mixture on the stain and set aside for about 15 to 20 minutes. Wash well and rinse thoroughly. This should do the trick! I have many other stain-removing hints using baking soda in my pamphlet Baking Soda Hints and Recipes. To get a copy, send $5, along with a long, stamped (71 cents), self-addressed envelope, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. You also can order it online at Keeping your home clean and odor-free using baking soda is as easy as sprinkling some on a damp sponge and using as you would scouring powder. In fact, you may never have to buy scouring powder again. - Heloise


Wedding dress

Dear Heloise: Just a word to the wise: BEFORE you spend a dime on a wedding gown that may be difficult (if not impossible) to clean, read the label carefully. I didn’t. I had my gown dry-cleaned and preserved in a special garment bag. When my daughter wanted to see if it fit her for her wedding, I found that the dress had yellowed, the seed pearls were dull and peeling, and the fabric had lost its soft sheen. That was when I read the label, which specifically said that all seed pearls and applique must be removed before dry-cleaning, and to not store in plastic bags. So now, 22 years after my wedding, I have a $7,000 rag that my daughter cannot wear! - Chloe N., Richmond, Va.

Chloe, yes, it’s so very important to read dress labels carefully, especially on garments that we’d like to preserve for future generations. - Heloise

Paying for air?
Nov. 28, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the shrinking size of food packages. - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: Have you noticed that many food items are now packaged in smaller amounts? Cake mixes, sodas, pastas and frozen dinners have all reduced the portions but not the price. For example, the pasta I buy went from 16 ounces to 13.25 ounces per package. Many canned vegetables went to 13 or 14 ounces, when they used to be 16 ounces. Sugar that I’ve bought for years went from 5 pounds to 4 pounds! I’ve noticed more air in bags of chips.

“Consumers do read labels, and we know that we’re paying more for less. We feel cheated. I know manufacturers are saying that their new packaging is ‘greener’ (more environmentally friendly), and it may be true, but we’re still paying more for those ‘greener’ packages. For larger families, this poses a serious problem with their food budget.

“Manufacturers can complain about the cost of doing business, but the public feels shortchanged. This is especially true when people have to buy two packages of something instead of the one package they’ve bought in the past, just so they’ll have enough to feed their families.” - Renee N. in St. Louis

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old pillowcases:

- As laundry bags.

- As a hobby sack for your knitting, hand-sewing, etc.

- To store out-of-season clothing.

- As a cover for a small dog bed.

- Heloise


Canning jars

Dear Heloise: Years ago, my mother taught me to place a small, wadded-up piece of clean paper toweling in all the empty canning jars to absorb the moisture and musty smells. It works wonders!
- Nina Y., Provo, Utah


Cloudy shower curtain

Dear Heloise: Got a cloudy shower curtain due to mildew? Just pop it into the washing machine with a little soap and 2 cups of vinegar, and wash on “gentle.” When finished, just leave it out to dry, either hanging up in the shower or outside. - Helen P., Boone, N.C.


Magic monster spray

Dear Heloise: My son was terrified of “monsters” that he thought lived in his closet or under the bed. I got a spray bottle and put water in it with two drops of lemon oil. Before my son went to bed each night, I’d take the bottle of “magic monster spray” and pretend to chase the monsters away with two quick zaps under the bed or on the closet floor. No more monsters, and no more nightmares. - Carolyn G., Lynchburg, Tenn.


Animal kindness

Dear Heloise: As the weather gets colder, it’s important to remind people that their pets (cats, dogs, rabbits) need to be kept indoors. They might be animals, but they need to be sheltered from any extreme weather. Do NOT chain a dog up to a doghouse and leave it there. A pet needs attention, love and companionship to thrive. - Maisy M., Nutley, N.J.

No thanks for this giving
Nov. 21, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about being the one who always has to host Thanksgiving dinner.
 - Heloise

“Dear Heloise: In August, I sent out a letter to family members explaining that my husband and I would be on a cruise over the Thanksgiving holiday. Two days ago, both of my brothers called and asked what they should bring for Thanksgiving dinner! I told them we weren’t hosting Thanksgiving again this year and reminded them (and their wives) that I’d sent out a letter in August.

“I’ve hosted Thanksgiving every year for the past six years, and it’s time for someone else to do all the work of housecleaning, shopping, cooking, the cleanup afterward and the expense. We’ll be cruising in sunny, warm waters. Needless to say, this has caused some serious friction in the family.

“Why do so many families rely on one person to host all the holiday events? Wouldn’t it be better to all share in the work or take turns hosting holidays? It’s what I suggested in my August letter, but apparently no one agreed with me.” - Liz in Paterson, N.J.

Fast Facts

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

- Store extension cords inside.

- Store Christmas lights inside.

- Use to wrap ribbon around when you have loose pieces.

- Spray-paint the cardboard, then pinch and tape one end. Store change inside, and when full, shut the other end and give to a child as a gift.

- Heloise


Buyer beware

Dear Heloise: There are some financial lenders who use “clever” language to attract homebuyers. For example:

“No points or fees” - lenders who make this claim usually charge a higher interest rate.

“Secret to paying off your mortgage faster” - this means refinancing a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan, which means higher payments. 

“Call us now for the low rate of (X) percent” - if the annual percentage rate (APR) is higher than your quoted rate, you’ll be paying points and fees to get that rate.

So, buyers beware. - Alex C., Hialeah, Fla.


Wants and needs

Dear Heloise: Please tell your readers to be very careful about credit cards and the interest rates the companies charge. Right after college graduation, I got myself into debt with a card charging a 16.75 percent rate, and I bought things I didn’t really need. I’m slowly paying it off, but what a painful lesson this has been. I should have checked the interest rate or, better yet, cut the card in pieces!
- Lillian H., Merced, Calif.

Lillian, it’s so easy to charge things, but first ask yourself if this purchase is a need or a want. Is it really an emergency? Can you live without it? Would you rather have the item or the debt? How will this item improve your life? Practice restraint. - Heloise


Water marks

Dear Heloise: How do you remove water marks from felt? - Janet R. in San Antonio

To remove water marks from felt and similar materials, use a soft ball of white tissue paper. Rubbing in a circular motion, go over the area with light pressure until the mark is gone. - Heloise

Social insecurity?
Nov. 14, 2018

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about Social Security. - Heloise


“Dear Heloise: Recently, on the news, I heard a politician refer to Social Security as an ‘entitlement program.’ I find this annoying because it sounds as if the government is being ‘generous’ in giving back the money I and others worked so hard for to ensure we had retirement income. Now, there’s talk of reducing Social Security and even Medicare, which doesn’t cover enough as it is right now.

“For many Americans, Social Security does not keep up with the rising cost of food, utilities, medical care and housing, but at least it’s better than nothing. However, ‘nothing’ is what I worry the government wants to give retired Americans. Perhaps that’s why so many people are working well beyond retirement age.”
- Don K., Crown Point, Ind.


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for a single earring when the matching one is lost:

- Break off the post and hot-glue it to a plain gold or silver ring, and you have a new piece of jewelry.

- Use as a lapel pin.

- Suspend it from a necklace or bracelet.

- Glue several single earrings into one piece of jewelry to make a unique pin.

- Heloise


Grout cleaner

Dear Heloise: My bathroom grout is a mess! How can I clean it without damaging the grout? - Ava B., Kirkwood, Del.


Ava, mix 1/4 cup borax, 1/2 cup baking soda and enough hot water to form a paste. Apply to the grout, scrub with a soft brush and let sit 15-20 minutes before rinsing. This is just one of several homemade cleaners you’ll find in my Homemade Cleaning Solutions pamphlet. To get a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Cleaners, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at FYI: Make housekeeping easier, safer and less expensive by using my simple cleaning ideas that you can make in your own kitchen with products you may already have on hand. - Heloise


Dusting powder

Dear Heloise: Please tell your readers to use cornstarch instead of dusting powder. Cornstarch is the basis for dusting powder. My mother used it all her life and on all 12 children in our family. Love your column!
- Roberta G., Terre Haute, Ind.


Roberta, great idea! A number of people are allergic to the perfumes used in dusting powder, and this is a practical and inexpensive alternative to commercial dusting powders. - Heloise


Dishwasher dilemma

Dear Heloise: Why do some dishwashers have two soap dispensers (like mine), while others have only one? Are the dishes getting as clean with one? - An N.C. Reader in Charlotte


The second soap dispenser is for heavy dish loads, when your dishwasher is full to maximum capacity, or for heavily soiled dished and pans. - Heloise









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