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
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.
Cast iron on a glass
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
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.
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
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.
“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
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for a pizza cutter. You can cut:
waffles or pancakes
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
www.Heloise.com. 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
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
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.
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,
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.,
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.
“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.
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.
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
Dear Heloise: How do you remove water marks from felt? - Janet R. in
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
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.
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
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 www.Heloise.com. 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
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
- 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
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. -
Drinking creates a ‘buzz’
Nov. 7, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about “buzz driving.” - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: My Sound Off is about people who think they can have a
couple of beers and then drive safely. Don’t people realize that ‘buzz
driving’ can kill people, earn them time in jail or, at a minimum, a
heavy fine? It also can ruin future job opportunities. It’s simply not
worth it.” - Suzanna Y., Astoria, Ore.
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for dental floss:
Tie up trailing vines to a fence or lattice.
Sew on buttons.
Cut a layer cake.
String beads for necklaces.
Let’s not iron
Dear Heloise: Since I lacked enough counter space to serve food when my
family came over, I took my old ironing board and covered it in foil.
Then I draped it with a very large tablecloth, so that it looked more
like a narrow table. It worked perfectly. - Hannah K., Bonita
Dear Heloise: I have four cats that are indoor pets, so that means kitty
litter boxes. Can I use just plain baking soda in the cat box instead of
the expensive, perfumed litter-box deodorizers?
- Hazel A., Fairbanks, Alaska
Hazel, yes, plain baking soda will work just fine. Sprinkle a layer of
baking soda in the cat pan, then the usual amount of kitty litter over
that, and it should work. Some cats don’t like the perfumed smells of
commercial products for their potty pans. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: Before you know it, Christmas will be here. I have seven
brothers and sisters, and some of them now have a family of their own,
so Christmas gift-giving was becoming a very expensive holiday. Instead,
we all agreed to give one gift per family, and since we’re a creative
bunch, it had to be something under $30, and hopefully homemade. I
gathered up some of our childhood pictures, took them to a printer, and
I’m having calendars made up to give to everyone in the family. -
Amanda, via email
Dear Heloise: A couple of years ago, I started a family tradition by
taking my three granddaughters with me to the woods and gathering
natural things to use in a Thanksgiving centerpiece. We’d find chunks of
wood, dried leaves, acorns and things like that to create our
Thanksgiving arrangements. Sometimes we’d go to a crafts store to
purchase a few additional items. Not only was it fun to spend time out
in nature with the girls, but there was a special bonding that took
place among us. - Peggy B., Martinsburg, W.Va.
for the rescuers!
Oct. 31, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about those people who rescue animals.
“Dear Heloise: I believe it was Gandhi who once said, ‘The greatness of
a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are
treated.’ There are many wonderful people who find a sad little stray or
an animal that was dumped by a callous, uncaring person and bring the
animal to us at the shelter. These rescuers dive under trucks, climb
trees and do whatever they need to in order to save a cat or dog or any
animal. They might hear a tiny cry or see a shivering animal, and they
do what they can to provide shelter and food.
“These are the unsung heroes, who seem to know no limit to kindness. To
all of those who cannot look away, who cannot say, ‘It’s not my problem’
when they see a homeless stray, thank you.”
- Natalie C., Muncie, Ind.
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old sheets:
Use as drapes or swags at the window.
Use as a large tablecloth.
Sew two together to make a duvet cover for a comforter.
Dear Heloise: Years ago, when my husband and I went to sell our home, I
had no idea about the dates that we bought things, such as the new
furnace, new windows, a refrigerator, etc. So I now keep a record book
with all my information in it: The dishwasher - bought in 2016; the
replacement windows - bought in 2015; the new front door - bought in
2014; and so on. This book will help us when the time comes to sell our
home. - Rikki K., Pettibone, N.D.
Wasps, yellow jackets
and spiders, oh my!
Dear Heloise: I am a mail carrier in Arkansas. We get ants, wasps,
yellow jackets and spiders that nest in mailboxes. Placing a fabric
softener sheet inside the mailbox will deter them. Replace often.
Please, do not spray bug killer into the mailbox. The spray gets on the
mail, which transfers to your hands and ours.
- Judy in Arkansas
Dear Heloise: Scammers are at it again. They are calling people and
asking, “Is this (name)?” They’ll use your name, and you’ll probably say
“yes” out of habit, but Don’t answer. Just hang up, because they could
record your answer in your voice so they can use it in a fraudulent way.
Most people are now not answering the phone if it’s not a number they
recognize or it’s from an area code they don’t know about. Be proactive
and refuse to give scammers an audience. - Dawson J., Reston, Va.
Oct. 24, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about problem renters. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: I own six rental properties, and they provide a little
extra income for my wife and me. We maintain clean properties with only
modern kitchens and bathrooms. We screen all renters, but still we get
people who never clean their place, punch holes in the walls, paint
walls garish colors, then move out and demand a return of their security
and cleaning deposits. If they move out and leave us a mess to deal
with, they’re not getting a dime back. One renter moved in the dead of
night, taking a refrigerator with her but leaving her pet iguana, which
we gave to an animal sanctuary.
“I’ve spoken to other landlords, and they have the same sorts of
problems. So, renters, if you want your deposit back, leave the rental
property clean and in good condition.” - Disgusted Landlord in
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for paper plates:
Use as a spoon rest.
Use under a pet’s dish to catch pet food.
Put in a microwave to catch drips. Replace as needed.
Give to children to draw on or make masks out of.
Dear Heloise: Hardwood floors need a little TLC, and they’ll look great
for years to come. Here are a few hints I’ve learned to keep your wood
in pristine condition:
First, never slide furniture across the floor. Pick it up, if you can,
or use plastic sliders.
Use rugs on your floor, especially in front of doors that lead into the
Try to not wear high heels too often, as they might dent the floor.
Keep your floors clean. Dirt over time wears down the finish and beauty
Robert K. in Cleveland
Dear Readers: Many people have flat-screen TVs but don’t know the proper
way to clean them. Here are some suggestions from the experts:
1. Turn off and unplug the TV before you start cleaning.
2. Always follow the manufacturer’s warranty guidelines.
3. Use a microfiber cloth to dust the screen. That might be all you need
to do, but if smudges remain, use a damp (not wet) microfiber cloth to
wipe the smudge.
4. NEVER spray liquid on the screen, never use paper towels or abrasive
materials, and never use alcohol or ammonia cleaning products. They
remove the anti-glare protective covering on the screen.
Clean that sink
Dear Heloise: Want a truly clean sink? Fill your sink (whether metal or
porcelain) with water almost to the brim, add 1 cup of bleach and let
sit for 20 minutes. Unplug the sink and drain the water. Then use a
scouring powder and sponge, and scrub the sink, including the faucets
and every part of the sink. Rinse well. If the area around the drain or
faucet is still in need of a little more work, use a toothbrush to scrub
it clean. - A Reader, via email
Oct. 18, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about people who choose to remain
“Dear Heloise: Years ago, when my husband and I got married in our late
20s, we decided we weren’t going to have a family. No, we DON’T hate
children. We’re simply not ‘child-oriented.’ People with children keep
saying, ‘Oh, you don’t know what you’re missing.’ That’s true, because
you can’t miss what you never had.
“We applaud those who wanted a family and love their kids, but it just
wasn’t for us. We’re not sorry we decided to skip having children, and
we really wish family and friends would stop asking rude questions, such
as ‘If you didn’t want kids, why did you get married?’ Parenting isn’t
- Mike and Tara D., Nashville, Tenn.
Mike and Tara, you’re right: “Parenting isn’t for everyone.” Lately,
more and more couples are remaining childless. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for cotton balls:
Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and gently dab an ink spot on your
clothing. Allow it to air-dry, then dry-clean or wash the garment.
Got long fingernails? Stuff one or two cotton balls into the fingers of
a rubber glove before cleaning to prevent puncturing the glove.
Soak cotton balls in white vinegar and place on water spots on your
Dear Heloise: How can I clean my woodwork without breaking the bank?
- Nina A., Jupiter, Fla.
Nina, mix 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts water. Using a clean sponge,
dip into the water/vinegar solution, wring out the excess water and wipe
the woodwork. Dry the woodwork, then polish with a clean cloth.
If you like this easy, effective method of cleaning, you’ll love my
pamphlet Heloise’s Homemade Cleaning Solutions, which is full of
household cleaning hints using everyday cleaners that you probably have
at home and special formulas that are safe and inexpensive. Just send
$5, along with a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to:
Heloise/Cleaning Solutions, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.
Or you can order it online at
www.Heloise.com. FYI: Give those yucky sponges a weekly cleaning by
tucking them between glasses or cups in the top rack of the dishwasher.
A hostess idea
Dear Heloise: I read your informative articles in The Westfield News in
Southwick, Mass. There was a hint by Janet H., of Park City, Utah,
asking for hostess gift ideas to take with her when she plays cards.
Here are a few suggestions:
Homemade cookies stacked in a cellophane bag tied with a ribbon
A potted plant that blooms
A good bottle of olive oil or balsamic vinegar
Rachel T., Southwick, Mass.
A good ‘goo’ question
Dear Heloise: How can I get that sticky goo from plants off my pruners?
- Irene M., Ionia, Mich.
Irene, spray your pruning shears with vegetable oil spray before use,
and the goo will slide off. - Heloise
scams make me sick
Oct. 10, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about phone scammers. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: I’m sick of phone scammers! Things have gotten so bad,
and the scammers have gotten so sophisticated, that I’m afraid to answer
the phone if it’s a number I don’t recognize. So now, even if a charity
calls, I simply say, ‘I take no solicitations by telephone.’ Then I hang
“The other day, I received an email that looked legitimate from my
internet carrier, but something cautioned me to phone and inquire
whether or not they had actually asked for my Social Security number,
along with banking information (which I NEVER give out). They hadn’t
sent me an email and told me to report this to the state consumer
protection office or to the Federal Trade Commission’s online Complaint
Assistant. I’ve been cautious, and I hope others will be as well.” -
Marla S. in San Diego
Dear Readers: Here are some early holiday hints:
Start making your own holiday traditions.
Make some new dishes that will become holiday favorites.
Do as much as you can in advance so you can enjoy the holiday, too.
Have the whole family involved in the decorations, food and music.
‘File for Life’
Dear Heloise: As a retired member of the fire department, I keep a “File
for Life” in case anything should happen to me. I also update all my
medications, and I keep one list on my refrigerator and one in my
vehicle glove compartment. This is so paramedics can locate it to see
what medications I am currently taking to treat my medical issues. -
Bill B., Mingo Junction, Ohio
Bill, that’s an excellent idea. Everyone should also take the time to
attend to the paperwork needed for a living will, as well as any other
important wishes you have. Don’t assume anyone will automatically know
what you want. Tell them. - Heloise
Better safe than
Dear Heloise: I live in a very warm climate, and we have a problem with
insects. No matter how clean a home is, water bugs find a way in. To
help keep them out of my pantry, I put all cereals, flour, staples and
spices in airtight plastic containers rather than leave these items in
their original packages. Not only does it keep my foods fresher, it also
keeps the bugs out. I do the switch-out from package to plastic
container as soon as I get home from the grocery store. - Malia K.,
Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii
Dear Heloise: You can take any jar, even a baby-food jar, and place a
votive candle in it to use as a lantern in your garden. Either place
them around the patio or among the plants, or suspend them by wire or
ribbon from tree branches to provide a soft, romantic light for the
evening. - Rae-Ann R., Leesville, La.
oh where, has service gone?
Oct. 4, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about looking for salespeople in
“Dear Heloise: Two days ago, I went into a major department store to
make a purchase, found what I wanted, but I had to hunt down a
salesperson to ring it up! So many stores have cut back on one of their
most important assets - PEOPLE.
“Why bother to open your doors if you don’t have enough people to wait
on customers, help them find what they are looking for and then ring up
the item? And so many salespeople are poorly trained or are burdened
with additional chores, making it difficult to pay attention to a
customer. I guess customer service is becoming a thing of the past.”
- Vicki T., Middle River, Md.
Vicki, this seems to be a growing problem across the nation. So,
readers, do you face this problem where you live? Write and let us know.
Dear Readers: Here are some new ways to dress up an old plastic plant
Glue seashells to the outside, put a little plant in and give as a gift.
Decoupage the outside with old, used stamps, pictures or photographs.
Glue buttons on the exterior.
Paint in vibrant colors and add lace, ribbons or other embellishments.
Dear Heloise: My husband is accident-prone. How do I get out
- Rhonda B., Walla Walla, Wash.
Rhonda, first soak the shirt in cold water - this works best if done
immediately. If the stain remains, pour hydrogen peroxide over the area
to remove it. (Test a hidden area first to be sure the hydrogen peroxide
doesn’t remove any color.) Then wash in cold water and laundry
If you’d like a guide on how to remove stains of nearly every type you
can think of, order my pamphlet Heloise’s Handy Stain Guide for Clothing
by sending $5, along with a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long
P.O. Box 795001
San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.
Or you can order it online at
www.Heloise.com.You also can try dampening the bloodstained area
with cold water, then sprinkling on some meat tenderizer. Let it sit for
a while, then wash as usual. - Heloise
Where did I park?
Dear Heloise: I never can remember where I parked my car at the mall.
Got any good hints for finding it?
- Stacy D., Lexington, Ky.
Stacy, look at the huge letters of the store name nearest you, and make
a mental note of which row you are parked in. Or if you think you are in
the vicinity of your vehicle, press the door lock button on your key fob
to get the honking sound, and just follow the noise. - Heloise
Messy linen closet
Dear Heloise: My linen closet in my tiny apartment is too cramped and
messy. What should I do?
- Marla V., Elmira, N.Y.
Marla, fold your towels in half, lengthways. Then tightly roll them up.
They’ll take up less room that way. - Heloise
that needs an answer
Sept. 26, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about leaving a pet outside all year.
“Dear Heloise: One of my neighbors got a large dog and keeps it in their
backyard. They claim that it’s too large to live in the house. If that’s
the case, then DON’T get a large dog. It’s too hot in the summer and too
cold in the winter to leave a pet outside all year. A doghouse does not
provide the protection a dog needs. Besides the elements, animals get
“Dogs and cats need human interaction, so if you’re not willing to bring
your pet indoors or feed it a healthy diet, then please don’t get a pet
or watchdog or any animal at all.” - Elsa and Frank T., Tempe, Ariz.
Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for old neckties:
- Cut one down to make into a boy’s tie.
- Braid three of them together to make a pet toy.
- Cut them up and make into baby quilts or pillows.
Dear Heloise: We have a terrible smell coming from our refrigerator.
What should I do to get rid of the odor? - Elaine J., Hollywood, Fla.
Elaine, first take everything out of the refrigerator, including
shelves. Wash down the interior with warm, soapy water, then wipe with a
clean, damp cloth to remove any soap. Dry with another clean cloth.
To keep refrigerator odors at bay, place an open box of baking soda on a
shelf, or if you’re worried about it spilling, pour the baking soda into
a plastic food container and poke holes in the lid. Works great! For
other cleaning and deodorizing hints involved baking soda, order my
Heloise’s Baking Soda Hints and Recipes pamphlet by sending $5, along
with a long, stamped (71 cents), self-addressed envelope, to:
Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you
can order it online at www.Heloise.com.
When it’s time to replace the baking soda (the recommendation is every
three months), pour it down the drain as a deodorizer. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: When you are frosting a cake, sprinkle a little powdered
sugar or flour on the cake, and you’ll find the icing stays put rather
than sliding around. - Jennifer M., Hawthorne, Nev.
Clean from to top to
Dear Heloise: Before I shower, I always rinse and clean my hairbrush and
comb. During rehab, my therapist asked me why I did that every day. I
told her clean hair needed a clean brush. I’m 91, and I read your column
in the Journal-News. - Hilda C., Hamilton, Ohio
that needs an answer
Sept. 19, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the loss of “the human touch.”
“Dear Heloise: I’m tired of hearing ‘Press 1 for English, press 2 for
...’ I want to talk to a person. I called my bank recently and got a
recording with options, none of which can answer my questions. I had to
call the water department, and not one of the recorded messages could
steer me in the right direction.
“Some companies have done away with customer service departments. We’ve
lost the human touch that makes it easier and far more pleasant to do
business. And when I called my doctor’s office with a question about my
test results, I wasn’t allowed to speak with him, but instead was sent
to a physician assistant, who couldn’t answer my questions. To all
companies and offices that do business with the public, please put
people back on the phones!” - Audrey in San Jose, Calif.
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for old miniblinds:
Mark off inches and use as a ruler.
Cut lengths and hang from a fruit tree to deter birds.
Glue on the sides of birdhouses for better insulation.
Cut and use as name markers when planting rows of seeds.
Use in craft projects. Be creative.
Dear Heloise: Since I live in a small apartment, where finding storage
space is difficult, I store sweaters, winter hats, gloves and scarves in
my suitcases. My sister puts Christmas decorations in her suitcases. I
have storage boxes under the bed that hold a number of things.
Also, when one of my friends has a garage sale, I always volunteer to
help out, and in exchange I get all the unwanted items and can sell
them. - Kelly T., Aspen, Colo.
Get ride of roaches
Dear Heloise: Help! I need your Heloise formula to get rid of roaches.
- Janice N., Clearwater, Fla.
Janice, we have gotten a ton of mail over the past few months requesting
this formula, so here it is:
Gather these ingredients: 8 ounces of powdered boric acid, 1/2 cup of
flour, 1/2 of a small onion (chopped), 1/8 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of
shortening or bacon drippings and enough water to form a soft dough.
1. Mix boric acid, flour and onion. Next, cream shortening and sugar and
add the flour mixture to this. Mix well, then add enough water to form a
2. Shape into small balls and put around the house in areas prone to
roaches. If you place the balls in open sandwich bags, they’ll keep
longer without drying out. When the dough balls become hard, replace
them with fresh ones.
You can skip the water and just use the dry ingredients. Mix powdered
boric acid with an equal or larger amount of flour, cornmeal or sugar.
Keep this out of the reach of pets and children; large amounts of boric
acid can be toxic. If ingested, call your doctor immediately. -
A 'responsible' return
Sept. 13, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about returning RSVP cards:
“Dear Heloise: Recently we had a retirement party for my father and sent
out invitations with RSVP cards, so that the hotel would know how many
tables to set up and how much food to prepare. When an RSVP is sent out,
you’re supposed to send it back with ‘Yes, I’ll attend’ or ‘No, I can’t
attend.’ Eighteen people showed up who had not returned a card! The
caterers quickly set up tables in the back of the room, and those guests
were served last, which meant their food was almost cold.
“Please tell your readers that when they receive an RSVP, they should
return it as soon as possible, because it’s rude to just show up.” -
Emma in Sarasota, Fla.
Emma, I have to agree with you. It’s only good manners to return an RSVP
card. - Heloise
Dear Readers: Here are some additional uses for duct tape:
Store a roll in the glove compartment for roadside emergencies.
Use to temporarily hem a skirt or slacks.
Use to remove pet hair or lint.
Great for removing a splinter.
Sunscreen all year
Dear Readers: Many people figure sunscreen is only useful at the beach,
but actually, we need it all year long. However, many people are
confused by the labeling of sunscreen products. Here are some
definitions from the Skin Cancer Foundation:
UVA (ultraviolet A) is the longer UV ray from the sun that causes
long-lasting skin damage and premature aging.
UVB (ultraviolet B) is a shorter ray than UVA that causes sunburn and
skin damage. Both UVA and UVB can cause skin cancer.
SPF stands for sun protection factor. It’s a measure of the sunscreen’s
ability to protect someone from UVB rays damaging the skin.
Broad spectrum means protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Check your credit
Dear Heloise: Please advise your readers to check their credit scores on
a regular basis. Why? Anyone can go to a post office and fill out a
change-of-address card and have your mail diverted to another address.
This gives identity thieves the opportunity to check on what you owe,
how much money you have, where your investments are and much more
information that you’d rather keep private. - Naomi K., Willmar,
Dear Heloise: I have a terrible time sticking to a budget. I tend to
spend on frivolous items I don’t need, and I order online all the time.
Any hints on how to stick to a budget? - Ann-Marie A., Muskegon,
Ann-Marie, first ask yourself how an item will enrich or improve your
life. If tempted to buy something not in your budget, wait 24 hours
before buying. Stay away from the shopping sites you normally frequent.
When you pay off a bill, keep paying that same amount into a savings
account so that you have some extra cash on hand. - Heloise
The real emergencies
Sept. 6, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about 911 calls. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: Working as a 911 operator, I’ve handled many emergencies.
However, some people seem confused by the word ‘emergency.’ It means: a
fire, a crime (especially if it’s still in progress), a car crash where
someone is hurt or a medical emergency.
“It does NOT mean calling because McDonald’s ran out of Chicken
McNuggets (this really happened), or telling the operator that a
person’s house is on fire when it is not. Calls like that can earn you
jail time and a stiff fine, depending on where you live.
“We’re trained to handle emergencies, not annoying calls. Please only
call in a real emergency. If you do call with an emergency, you’ll be
asked a number of questions in order to assist you and analyze the
situation, so stay calm and answer the operator.” - Jennifer F. in
Dear Readers: Other uses for clean ice cream tubs:
Use to hold yarn or crayons.
Paint one and use it as a planter.
Store wrapping decorations in one.
Wash one out and use as a pet food bowl on trips.
Dear Heloise: It used to be the custom to throw rice at a wedding, but
now it’s birdseed that’s thrown. However, please get permission before
tossing any seed at the happy couple. Much of it is eaten by birds, but
the seeds that are not eaten may sprout weeds in a church lawn. - The
Reverend’s Wife, via email
As a reminder
Dear Heloise: Just as a reminder, inside of the card for a wedding gift,
make some notation of what the gift is. Something like “We hope you
enjoy the blender” or “I hope you enjoy this floral vase for many years
to come.” If the gift and card get separated, at least the couple will
remember what you gave them when writing thank-you notes. - Arlene
J., Bismarck, N.D.
Dear Heloise: Can you freeze butter? - Chloe D., Aberdeen, Wash.
Chloe, yes, you can. Store it in its original container or tightly
wrapped until needed. The freezer life for butter is about two to three
months. To make it easier to spread, leave it on the counter for a few
Good for both!
Dear Heloise: I’m big on matching my body wash, lotion and fragrance,
but the women’s versions of wash and lotion can be pricier.
buy the men’s variety of body wash and lotion in my fave fragrance, and
I save a lot. The men’s is a nice counterbalance to the ladies’ perfume.
- Shelley B. in New York
August 30, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about declining educational
standards. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: This will be my last year of teaching because I’m
entering another profession. In the 12 years I taught school, I noticed
that education begins in the home with parents demanding good grades and
not settling for poor performance. In fact, our whole educational system
needs an overhaul.
“They have taken away a teacher’s authority and respect, and lowered our
educational standards, which is why students in this country rank so low
in math, science, geography and world history. Let dedicated teachers
design a new curriculum and set educational standards, and you’ll see a
very positive change in our schools.” - B.H. in Oregon
Dear Readers: Got an old, chipped coffee mug? Here are some uses for it:
Place it on a desk and fill with pencils and pens.
Use to scoop out laundry soap.
Use to put dirt into a pot when planting.
Plant herbs in it and place on a kitchen windowsill.
Dear Heloise: The phone scam artists are back. People get a phone call
from someone claiming to be from their internet server, informing them
that they have spyware on their computer or that they have detected
malware, none of which is true. I verified this with three different
carriers, and they all claimed they do NOT call people and tell them
they have found a problem with their computer. It’s just another way
scammers take your money and do nothing for you. - Nessa C., Elk
These hints are gems
Dear Heloise: So many women destroy their jewelry because they don’t
remove it before doing their housework. Silver jewelry will tarnish if
it’s exposed to rubber gloves, vinegar or eggs. Gold is damaged by
mercury and some cleaning chemicals. Alloys in gold and soldered areas
are weakened by chlorine.
- Brooke L., Syracuse, N.Y.
Dear Heloise: There’s no genteel way to put this except to say that I
have four tomcats (all neutered) who have been spraying inside my house!
The smell is getting to me, even though I scrub my floors and walls
constantly. Any hints? - Bridget S., Rumson, N.J.
Bridget, a temporary solution is to use equal parts of vinegar and water
to clean the affected area. But you need to start with why the cats are
peeing or marking territory in your home. Are there health issues with
your cats? Dirty kitty litter? Too few potty pans? Are the cats upset
over changes or perhaps prevented access to the kitty litter box?
Also, use a black light (available in hardware stores or online) to find
the urine spots. Cat urine glows under black light.
You’ll have to find a good enzyme cleaner to kill bacteria and rid your
home of the urine scent. Above all, patience is the key. - Heloise
August 22, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off concerns wedding gifts:
“Dear Heloise: I recently attended the wedding of a friend’s daughter,
and since they made no bones about wanting cash for their honeymoon, I
gave them $100.
“I was told that asking people to fund a honeymoon is now the new normal
for couples getting married. Am I out of step with modern weddings?”
- Brandi W., New Braunfels, Texas
Brandi, we’ve had several letters on this new trend of couples asking
for money for their honeymoon. Readers, what would you do if you were
asked to give money for a couple’s honeymoon? - Heloise
Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for old newspapers:
Cut into narrow strips to use in mice and hamster cages.
Use as packing material.
Cut into smaller pieces and place in a compost pile.
Place on the ground, wet with water from a hose, then cover with soil or
gravel to keep weeds from coming up.
Fishing for needles
Dear Heloise: Want a perfect sewing basket for all of your sewing
supplies and loose buttons? Use a fishing tackle box. It’s perfect for
your scissors, threads, thimbles and more. - Patsy K., Little Creek,
Patsy, great idea! And the next letter has another useful sewing hint.
This hint is “sew”
Dear Heloise: If you use a bar of soap with the wrapper on it as a
pincushion, it not only will hold a lot of pins, but the soap also will
actually lubricate the needles, making them slide easily through various
fabrics. - Meghan P., Latrobe, Pa.
Dear Heloise: Whenever someone I know moves into a new house, I always
give the person a housewarming gift. Over the years, I’ve found that
some items are really appreciated more than others because of their
usefulness. Things such as a hand cart, a gift certificate to a
home-improvement store or hardware store, a set of screwdrivers, or even
small items such as a flashlight or a basket of energy-efficient light
bulbs are a huge help to people when they move. - Judy T., Kingman,
Judy, these are excellent suggestions. When you move, you may realize
you need more light bulbs than you did in your old place, along with
shower curtain rings, a hammer or many other items. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: My concern is about bikes. Kids get them for birthdays and
Christmas. As soon as a tire goes flat, the bike becomes useless. Kids
need exercise - too much TV and too many video games!
My question is: Can’t tire manufacturers make solid bike tires? - A.W.
in Temple, Texas
The rules of the house
August 15, 2018
Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off concerns the downside of having a
“Dear Heloise: Summer is drawing to a close - thank heavens! My husband
and I have a beach house, which we thoroughly enjoy. We bought it so my
husband of 48 years could recover from a serious heart attack. What we
don't enjoy are drop-in visits from people who think that they're
staying the week or weekend. So, to people who feel free to drop in,
please wait to be invited. This is a home, not a hotel. Show some
respect for our privacy.” - A Reader in California
hear this often from folks who own a beach house or a lake house. So,
readers, what do you think?
Dear Readers: Here are some items to take along as a hostess gift
besides the standard bottle of wine:
A basket of something you've grown, such as tomatoes or flowers.
A book on a subject the hostess enjoys, such as gardening.
A bouquet of flowers or a pretty serving dish.
A cake or a homemade pie.
Sock it to me
Dear Heloise: When sorting my family's laundry, I could never tell which
were my son's socks and which were my husband's, because they both wear
the same size. Now I code the socks by using a few stitches of red
thread for one and blue or yellow for the other. I just sew an “X” on
the toe of each sock.
- Becky A., Claremont, N.H.
Dear Heloise: I have a sticky substance that is stuck on my electric
griddle. How do I get it off without damaging the surface? - Abby M.,
Abby, first, always clean your griddle after each time you use it. Use a
wooden or plastic spatula (not a metal one, which could scratch the
nonstick surface) to gently scrape off any stuck-on food into the
collection tray or into a corner, then scoop it out. While the surface
is warm, pour water on it so that it bubbles. Use the scrubbie side of a
sponge (never steel wool) with a little dishwashing soap and water to
gently clean the surface. Finish by wiping first with a damp paper
towel, then a dry one. - Heloise
Stabbing the fingers
Dear Heloise: It seems that every time I reach into my sewing basket, I
stab my fingers on my scissors. Help! - Lennie S., Escanaba, Mich.
Lennie, stick the pointed end of your scissors into a piece of cork.
Dear Heloise: I love growing tomatoes, but in my tiny yard, there's no
room anymore. Any ideas?
- Barb O., Middlesboro, Ky.
Barb, you can always grow cherry tomatoes in a hanging basket, or the
larger varieties in a pot with a tomato cage. - Heloise
to those who fight fires
August 8, 2018
Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On concerns firefighters. - Heloise
“Dear Heloise: We recently had a fire in our kitchen that quickly spread
to the dining room. We called the fire department, and the team was
there in only a matter of minutes. They put out the blaze and checked to
make certain everyone was accounted for and unharmed. That included our
“I can’t say enough to thank the firefighters for their rapid response.
They probably saved my husband’s life because he was asleep upstairs
when the fire broke out. To firefighters everywhere, thank you from the
bottom of my heart.” - Linda in Ohio
Dear Readers: Here are some uses for cardboard paper towel cores:
Wrap loose pieces of ribbon around one.
Store plastic grocery bags in them.
Store Christmas lights (wrap them around a tube).
Store extension cords inside them.
Dear Heloise: Did you know that strawberries tend to choke out weeds?
They spread by runners and look good planted under blueberry and rose
- Mattie R., Tupelo, Miss.
Dear Heloise: Mornings around my house are so hectic! Half the time my
children leave the house but forget something they need. With a new
school year about to start, how do I remedy this situation?
- Pat S., Albion, N.Y.
Pat, give each child a box to put things inside. Every evening before
bed, have them place everything they’ll need for school in that box.
Next morning, it’s simple to grab what they need before they go to
Dear Heloise: I love to play board games with my children, but the
boards get so frayed! What can I do?
- Sophie M., Iona, Fla.
Sophie, try shellacking those game boards before you give them to your
children. One or two coats will help keep the boards smoother longer.
Dear Heloise: My daughter has cute, lace-trimmed socks that go with
certain outfits. However, sometimes I have a difficult time matching up
the socks after they’re washed. Help!
- Laura K., Boone, Iowa
Laura, use a large safety pin to pin the matching socks together before
you wash and dry them. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: Ever use a “dream board”? I know it sounds like a lot of
silly nonsense, but creating a visual board with pictures and
affirmations of what you want in life actually works. I usually focus on
three ideas at a time. Example: I’ll post a picture of a place I want to
visit next year, plus two other things I want to accomplish, and by
putting it where I can see it every day and meditating on it, most often
I manage to make it happen. It’s a way to make dreams become a reality.
- Bailey T., Santa Clarita, Calif.