Customer calls out employees


March 22, 2017


Dear Heloise: My Sound Off: Store employees so engrossed in conversations with each other and/or on cellphones that they seemingly don't have time to wait on me!

I understand that employees are friends, and a parent may have kids calling after school and such, but employees should focus on the customer. I'm standing there waiting to pay at a counter, or need help with a question. Thanks for your time. - Jim Y. in St. Louis


Jim, that's an often-voiced complaint. An emergency is one thing, but chitchat on a cellphone in FRONT of a customer is just plain bad business. Readers? Business owners? What do you have to say? Keeping customers is a main goal of business. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Other uses for lemons:

- Run lemon peels through the garbage disposal to freshen it.

- Spray lemon juice to kill weeds in the garden.

- Use dried lemon peel to spice up tea.

- Rub on hands to eliminate onion odors.

- Heloise


Paint project

Dear Heloise: I want to paint my guest bedroom, but determining the actual color to use is difficult.

The light varies throughout the day, and this affects how the color “reads” on the wall. I painted a white board the color I want to use, put it on the wall and checked it throughout the day. Still can't decide, but I have narrowed it down to two colors. - J.S. in San Diego

Play clay

Dear Heloise: Help! My young nieces are coming to visit. You had a recipe for modeling clay that we can make at home - please repeat it! - Sonya in Alabama

Sonya, happy to, and it's soooo easy! Here is the recipe:

2 cups baking soda

1 cup cornstarch

1 1/4 cups water

Mix the cornstarch and baking soda in a saucepan, then add the water. Cook over MEDIUM heat, stirring constantly, until blended. Empty onto a plate and cover with a damp cloth until cool. Knead until smooth, then break into sections. You can add a drop or two of food coloring for fun. Store unused clay in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Baking soda is a must-have around the house. I've compiled a collection of my favorite hints and uses for baking soda in a handy pamphlet. To receive one, visit my website,, to order, or send a long, stamped (70 cents), business-size envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/ Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Before putting new cat litter down, sprinkle a little baking soda in the pan to help keep it fresh. Cats don't like change, so if Kitty stops using the box, dump the soda! - Heloise


Safety hint

Dear Heloise: When my young grandchildren come to visit, I take a bath towel and put it over the top of each door in the house. The door won't close all the way. They can't get stuck in a room, and no smashed fingers by mistake. - Helen B., Jackson, Miss.

Listen closely, callers!
March 16, 2017

Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off is from Ida and her co-workers:

“Dear Heloise: I work in an office, and we have several phone lines. We answer ‘XYZ office.’ Then they ask: ‘Where is this? Who is this?’ and other questions. We respond, ‘XYZ office,’ and they again state: ‘Are you sure?’ Yes, we are sure. Please ask your readers to listen when a person on the other end answers.
- Ida, via email

Oh, Ida! Heloise Central (my office and staff) feels your pain! We answer only “Hello,” and oh, my! “Is this the Dr. ABC office? When do you open? When do you close?” One day I'm going to say, “Yes, 3 a.m. and never!” - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Other uses for sponges:

- Moisten and wipe to remove lint from clothing.

- Freeze and use as a compress.

- Carefully remove a jagged, broken light bulb from a base.

- Put under a pot when scouring to prevent the sink from scratching.

- Cut new sponges into fun shapes for kids’ blocks.

- Heloise


Wedding favors

Dear Heloise: For my daughter's wedding, we used one of your hints for favors.

I bought very nice, STURDY clear plastic spoons, and placed two chocolate-kiss candies inside each spoon. We then wrapped them with nylon net in the bridal colors, tied with a pretty white ribbon, and attached some name cards for the couple.

These really saved us a lot of money, as we were doing this on a budget. - May L., Arlington, Va.


Gift- and plastic-bag use

Hello, Heloise: I considered getting some large gift bags for gifts. I then changed my mind, considering the cost, and decided to give the gifts in a reusable grocery bag. Just before departing for the store, I glanced at your column in the Orange County (Calif.) Register and was surprised to see that was your hint for the day!

Plastic-bag reuse: It doesn't rain very often in Southern California, so we natives are less experienced in surviving the wet stuff. On a previous occasion, I had stuffed a few plastic newspaper sleeves into the pocket of my raincoat. Today when I was out, I found them to be immensely helpful in carrying my fast food from the restaurant. - Julie in Mission Viejo, Calif.



Dear Readers: Houseplants can add a lot to a small or large space. A cheap way to get “NEW” plants is from cuttings from the ones you already have. Many will start in water (a little plant food) and don't take much care. Some such ivy will GROW in water, not soil.

Sometimes I add a couple of drops of green or blue food coloring, or mix them to make ... turquoise! The effect is quite nice and hides the water lines if I use a clear jar or an old vase. - Heloise


Packing pages

Dear Heloise: If you are out of packing peanuts, ball up pages from a magazine, and stuff the box well!
- Sally M., via email

Buy one, don’t want one free
March 8, 2017

Dear Heloise: I have a Sound Off: A lot of coupons are “buy one, get one free,” and sometimes I cannot use two items of the same thing. I am a senior citizen and need to save money, and this makes it hard for many of us to use coupons.

Also, the expiration dates are too small - make them bigger! - A Senior in Indiana

Dear Senior: Even if you can’t use the second item, go ahead and buy it. You can save up a bagful and donate to a shelter or give to a neighbor or friend.

And your “older” eyesight is NOT the problem! That print is small because they must print all the legal disclaimers on a small coupon! - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Other uses for peanut butter jars:

- Store small items in one (hair ties, twist-ties, nails).

- As a disposable drinking glass when traveling.

- As a liquid measuring cup.

- Perfect to store a cut onion in.

And speaking of peanut butter jars, here’s a reader’s hint for cleaning them:

“Dear Heloise: I scrape out peanut butter with a spatula, then fill the jar with water. Add several squirts of dishwashing liquid. Put on the lid and shake the jar. Let sit, and shake several times a day. This usually works overnight.” - Sharyn C., via email

The plastic peanut butter jars are wonderful for all sorts of projects! - Heloise

Letter of laughter

Dear Heloise: I enjoy your column in the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald. Here’s some advice from an old friend:

When you have only short notice of company coming and things are not up to par, take some fresh shirts out of the closet, display them on hangers and apologize for not having put the ironing away yet.

This creates the illusion that you spent so much time ironing, you didn’t have time to clean the house!
- Nancy M., Omaha, Neb.

Oh yes, and if you can, pull out the vacuum cleaner and leave it in a prominent place to be seen. - Heloise


White-ring stains

Dear Heloise: To minimize white rings on wood furniture, use white toothpaste (nongel) and baking soda. Mix the two together and rub gently on the stain, noting that it can take time for the mark to disappear. Wax the piece when the mark has been removed. - Erma in Arizona

No cut fingers

Dear Heloise: I learned this hint the hard way! I reached into a drawer where I store plastic wrap, aluminum foil, etc., and cut my finger pretty badly on the aluminum-foil box. Tell your readers that it is so easy to just turn the cutting side down! - Peggy in The Villages, Fla.

Newspaper has a peel

Dear Heloise: Here is a hint I learned from my cousin Mat: When you are going to be peeling a lot of potatoes, shrimp or other messy foods, use sheets of newspaper to hold the mess. Saves money on paper towels. - M. in Fort Worth, Texas

Do store brands measure up?
March 2, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about store-brand products:

“Dear Heloise: I buy store-brand products and save money on our grocery bill. My friend said that he won’t buy a store ‘no name’ brand because he thinks they are just not as good as the national brand. What do you think?” - N.M.I., via email


I’m with you! Many times the store brand and the national brand have the same quality, and the savings can amount to quite a bit over time.

Do the HELOISE TEST: Buy one of each (store and national brand), then open both at the same time. Most times, you will find that they are the same or almost the same, or it does not really matter. If you are not happy with the store brand, take it back, and the retailer will refund your money. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Hints to use old hardcover books:

- Stack several and display a plant.

- Use to elevate a computer screen.

- Hold down tablecloths outdoors.

- A booster seat for children.

- Heloise


Moldy cheese

Dear Heloise: We use a lot of different types of cheese, but it seems to go moldy before we can finish it all. Help! - J.Y., via email

Help is here! The key is to wrap the cheese tightly in plastic wrap, then put into a zipper-top bag. Keeping air out helps prevent cheese from getting moldy. This is particularly important with soft cheeses.

For hard cheese, such as cheddar or Swiss, dampen a paper towel with JUST a splash of vinegar, wrap the cheese in the towel, then cover with plastic wrap and put it into a plastic bag. Vinegar does kill and prevent most molds from growing, and it won’t hurt the cheese. Who knew vinegar could be used for so many things? That is one hint, and there are more in my vinegar pamphlet. Visit my website,, to order the pamphlet, or send $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (70 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Storing cheese this way shouldn’t affect its taste. If you buy different cheeses, buy the smallest size you can to be sure it’s to your liking. - Heloise


Wash or dry-clean?

Dear Heloise: I have a red, white and blue bedspread. The label reads “dry clean only.” Can I launder it without it fading? - Jenny in Omaha, Neb.

Jenny, if the label says “dry clean only” and you care about the spread, you should indeed do as instructed. If the tag says “dry clean,” you MAY be able to wash it without harm. Test a small red spot with cold water on a cotton swab. See red? Don’t wash the spread! - Heloise


First wash

Dear Heloise: My favorite hint is to keep a medium-size bowl with water and some detergent in the second sink while I’m cooking. I can pre-wash small items right away without having to turn on the water.
- Tally A., Lubbock, Texas

Keep tabs on this softy
Feb. 23, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On is about pull tabs on containers: “I want to thank the manufacturers that are using a new, redesigned ‘soft’ pull tab to seal containers. The hard metal one is pretty easy to pop open, but pulling it back and off the container can be a chore.

“I was amazed how much easier this seal was to pull off the container.

“I also would think that these tabs are much more environmentally friendly than the harder metal ones.”
- Gerald T. in New York

I’m with you 1,000 percent! Sometimes I have moved that top back and forth, back and forth, and the darn thing still won’t come off! Then I have to pour the soup or whatever out with it still attached. Yep, the tin soft cover takes up much less space in the recycle bin and landfills. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Hints for things you can use to store small items:

- pill bottles

- small breath-mint tins

- plastic film canisters (if you can still find these!)

- small, plastic chocolate-candy containers

- small jars like spice, mushroom or pimento.

- Heloise

Commercial-time use

Dear Heloise: Here are a few things I do while watching television when the commercials come on. I try to move around or do a few quick chores:

- Stand up and march in place or walk around.

- Complete a series of arm, body or leg exercises for each commercial.

- Dust end tables and the bookshelf.

- Sort clean laundry to fold or hang up.

- Vacuum one area of the den very thoroughly.

Bottom line is I try to be active during commercials, not just stay like a lump on the couch. Our den stays pretty clean, and it’s one less room I need to worry about. - Mary L., Bastrop, Texas

Love it! I call this “TVCT,” or television cleaning time! It’s amazing how loooong some commercial breaks can be, especially if watching a cable network!

I can get a lot done just watching one movie! Dust, sort newspapers and magazines, vacuum the upholstery and drapes, pop into the kitchen and empty the dishwasher or load it, or pick up the dogs’ food bowls and clean them. - Heloise

Moisture-absorbing packs

Dear Readers: Don’t throw out the silica-gel packs that are in products like shoes, medicine bottles or anything else where moisture needs to be absorbed.

Use them near items that can be ruined by moisture. Place them in boxes holding photos or old letters.

HELOISE NOTE: If you save them, be sure to place them in a sealed container and out of reach of “tiny” hands or pets. - Heloise


Freezing soup

Dear Heloise: Freeze small portions of soup in muffin tins. Place a freezer bag in a tin, then pour a serving in each bag and freeze. Once frozen, pull the soup out and store the frozen bags. Saves space.
- Betty T., via email

No time for business?
Feb. 16, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off from Tom is about businesses posting their hours: “I don’t understand how business owners think when posting operating business hours. They’re either in a very inconspicuous place, in small print or in a color that blends in with the darkness around it!

“On numerous occasions, I’ve had to get out of my car and walk to within 5 to 10 feet from the sign just to see the print. Like that’s safe!

“I have to wonder if whoever creates these signs steps outside during twilight hours to see if the sign is readable from a reasonable distance.” - Tom in Tucson, Ariz.

Tom, I’ve complained and written about this many, many times!

When I give speeches to business groups and owners about customer service, this is a major point. I ask them: When was the last time you drove/walked up to your front door? Can your employees give verbal directions to your business? Have YOU (the business owner) checked your website and internet sites that show maps and give directions? Many, many times they are NOT correct! Good customer relations are more important for businesses today than ever! - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Uses for old spare socks:

- As a cleaning or dusting cloth.

- For polishing shoes, silver or copper items.

- As a sock puppet.

- Tie to plastic hangers to help prevent garments from slipping.

- Place over elastic bandages for added security.

- Heloise


More storage

Dear Heloise: When my daughter moved out, she left behind a large plastic three-drawer cabinet in her closet. I took the three drawers and found new homes for them.

One sits on a pantry shelf and holds various chip/popcorn/snack bags. Another is in a cabinet in my craft room to hold scraps of material. The third, the shallowest, is on my husband’s work table for small tools he uses. - Frances, via email


Memory hint

Dear Heloise: I needed a way to remember to do things. I’d always remember them when I was nowhere near paper and pencil. I carry tiny, colorful binder clips, and as a reminder comes to mind, I take a clip from my purse and attach it to the strap of my purse.

If another reminder comes to mind and I can’t write it down, I will simply grab another clip and place it on the strap. It jogs my memory. - Sarah V., Amarillo, Texas


Save the container

Dear Heloise: My family likes the variety of lunchmeats that come in resealable plastic containers. I save these containers because I have multiple uses for them.

I use them to store leftovers, or dry goods in my pantry. They work great as small gift containers when giving multiple items. 

When we have gatherings, I use these containers to send food home with family members. I don’t mind buying meats that way, since the container serves multiple purposes. - Rachel T., via email

Are apps too special?
Feb. 8, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the mobile apps on phones. A reader wrote: “I’m a senior citizen and really get upset with all the companies, grocery stores, restaurants, etc., that in order to get special deals, you need to put on your apps.

“I don’t have one, and I think this is very unfair. Not everyone has a mobile phone or computer. Recently, I talked to three employees at a fast-food restaurant about their ‘after five hot drinks, the next is free’ deal. All you have to do is download the app on your phone.

“I was told by all three, basically, tough luck if you don’t have the app.” - Barb M., Colorado Springs, Colo.

Best-case scenario is that more and more people let these companies know that this is unfair and that they should find another way to make this offer available to non-mobile-phone users. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other reasons to have multiple-size baskets in your home:

- Put a small one in the guest bathroom for extra toiletries they can use.

- A medium-size one can be filled with “themed” items to give as gifts for any occasion.

- Take a small one with you while shopping to hold small items that you plan to purchase.

- Any size can be used in a craft room to hold supplies or scraps.

- Put in your personal space to hold pocket change, jewelry, compacts, etc.

- Heloise


Do what you’ll say you’ll do

Dear Heloise: Recently, you wrote about helping or not helping the hostess at a party. I would like to add that if you offer to bring something to a dinner or a party, do your best to bring what you promised.

I had a friend offer to bring a dessert to my dinner party. She arrived with a box of store-bought cookies, saying she didn’t have time to make something.

If that should happen, at least call your hostess ahead of time to tell her so that she can make something else. - Carolyn in The Villages, Fla.


A more restful sleep

Dear Heloise: A while back, you wrote about other things you can do with shoulder pads, and I would like to share one with you:

I recently took two black shoulder pads and overlapped two points to make a sleep mask. Then I sewed elastic from two outside points to go behind the head. It’s the most comfortable mask ever. - Cathy G., Spokane, Wash.

Thanks for another great shoulder-pad hint, Cathy. Try putting them in the fridge or freezer for a somewhat cooler pad for your eyes. - Heloise


Freezing meat

Dear Heloise: When I buy meat in bulk, I portion it out for my meals and then freeze the portions. Once frozen, I will place them all in one freezer bag.

Because I freeze them this way, they don’t stick together, and I can take out what I need when I need it quite easily. - Graciela, via email

A recipe for irritation
Feb. 2, 2017

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

“I often find recipes online. My pet peeve is people who write reviews when they’ve NOT tried the recipe.

“For example: ‘Looks good. I just might try it someday.’ I also don’t like it when people change every single ingredient and write a review of that OTHER recipe that they made up, and not the original one that’s posted online.” - Gwen in Arkansas

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for extra pillowcases:

- Place one inside another and stuff with items going to thrift stores instead of using boxes or large plastic bags.

- Place over small plants during cold weather to protect them.

- Cover decorative pillows before using them for other things besides decoration.

- Place on the back of padded chairs to protect from food and stains.

- Cut a small hole in the center and place over your hanging clothes for protection.

- Heloise

Bloodstain removal

Dear Heloise: What is the best rule of thumb for removing bloodstains? My son occasionally has nosebleeds. I’d like to give him a good hint for removing blood from his clothes and prevent permanent stains on some of his favorite clothes. - Patsy H., via email

Patsy, blood is a protein stain, as opposed to grease, oil and other nonfood stains. Because it’s a protein stain, he needs to get cold water on it as quickly as possible before he washes it. Unfortunately, children and stains seem to go hand in hand. Sometimes they’re identifiable, but sometimes even the child has no idea what it could be. For that and many more reasons, I’ve collected my best hints for removing all kinds of stains in a handy pamphlet appropriately titled Heloise’s Handy Stain Guide for Clothing. If you’d like to order one, visit www., or send $5, along with a long, self-addressed (68 cents), stamped envelope, to: Heloise/Stain Guide, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Teaching children how to get a jump on common stains definitely will help when you get down to washing them out! - Heloise

Teach them well

Dear Heloise: I recently asked my grandchildren if they could tell the difference between hard-boiled and raw eggs, and surprisingly, they could not.

So I grabbed one of each from the refrigerator and gave a “set” to each child. I asked them to roll each one and observe what happens.

Long story short, they now know how to tell if an egg is hard-boiled or raw. It was a great teachable moment! - Teresa P., via email

Nozzle problem

Dear Heloise: I have a problem with the small rotating nozzle on a spray bottle of cleaner. The “on/off” or “spray” word is in the same color as the plastic end and is hard to read. - Judy G., via email

Judy, consider taking permanent colored markers or nail polish and marking the different sections. Or try coloring over the letters and then rubbing them so that the marker or nail polish outlines the letters.
- Heloise

Address this website problem
Jan. 26, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about internet sites wanting your email address. Rene wrote: “The internet is my ‘go-to’ source for information. Many sites want me to enter my email before continuing when I’m only looking for some quick information. I did it once, and was I sorry! The number of emails I received in a day was huge. I started receiving bimonthly brochures, too.” - Rene J., via email

Rene, I hear you, I hear you, I hear you, and the majority of my readers do, too! Here’s a hint from Heloise: Get a free email account, and DON’T use your full real name. Use first name and last initial, all initials or a John/Jane Doe. Use THIS address for those websites you DON’T want to get junk email from. I’ve done it for over a decade or so, and no one knows it’s me. -, aka

P.S. It’s OK to do this, and you are protecting your personal email address.

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Other uses for mailing labels from charities wanting a contribution:

- As tape when wrapping gifts for friends or family.

- Inside books as an ID.

- To hold chip bags closed.

- As a marker for starting and stopping points on projects.

- Heloise

Easy pizza

Dear Heloise: Here’s my hint for making the best pizza for my family. I know what they like, so I make a list of the ingredients.

The grocery store near me has a salad bar. I can pick up just the right amount of ingredients for our pizza. A bonus is that the ingredients are in small pieces, so I can skip the cutting and preparing part. For my family, it’s the perfect solution for our homemade pizza. - Bridget, via email

Bridget, love it! Plus, you aren’t wasting half a red pepper or an open can of black olives, or time cutting everything up. - Heloise


Dear Heloise: When my children were younger, we acquired a red wagon from my parents, who had used it to haul us around when we were young. As parents, we did the same thing with our children.

Now I’ve found other uses for it. I cleaned it up, gave it a fresh coat of paint and brought it into the house. It has been used as a plant holder, extra coffee table, books and magazines holder, and my favorite, to haul laundry from one place to another. It’s so versatile, I may not be apt to pass it on to my children.
- Daria T., Fort Wayne, Ind.

Wading pool for winter fun

Dear Heloise: Our children’s plastic wading pool has many other uses, even in winter. During outdoor parties, I fill it with bottled drinks and ice. My kids and I place it in the middle of the backyard and try to pitch a large sponge ball into it. When it snows, we put it in the garage and have “sandbox” time.
- Rick B. in Dallas

Frustration is in the bag
Jan. 19, 2017

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off comes from a reader whose frustrations center around the bags inside breakfast-cereal boxes.

Jim S. in Houston wrote: “One of my pet peeves is the difficulty in opening plastic bags inside boxed items such as cereal. One would think that in this technological age, someone would have figured out how to make easy-to-open bags. Do you have any solution other than scissors?"

Jim, the best solution I have is scissors, because it’s only sometimes that “the powers that be” are on your side and these bags can be easily opened. Since that’s a rarity, your best bet is a pair of scissors.
- Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some things you can consider making when you have skeins of leftover yarn:

- Crochet simple scarves or mittens and give to homeless shelters.

- Knit baby caps and give to hospitals for NICU (neonatal intensive-care unit) babies.

- Knit or crochet large squares or rectangles and send to animal shelters for bedding or covering.

- Make articles of clothing and place in donation boxes/stations.

- Search the web for free patterns for one-skein projects.

- Heloise

Good uses for extra skeins

Dear Readers: I just gave you some hints for using up those extra skeins of yarn, which are listed in the Fast Facts. A reader wrote in about what she does with her skeins, and since it supports the column so well, I thought I’d share it with my readers. - Heloise

“I crochet small projects and have leftover yarn. My winter project is combining the leftover skeins and making 50-by-6-inch scarves with multicolored tassels on each end and donating them to a local food pantry.

“I use simple crochet stitches, such as single and double. It keeps me busy, and someone can always use a warm scarf. A word of caution: Don’t make them with scratchy-fiber-type yarn.” - C. Duffy in Alabama

Follow-up on binder clips

Dear Readers: I’ve seen a few letters cross my desk with other ways to use binder clips. The ones below are hints I’d not considered but were great hints nonetheless. - Heloise

Mary H. in Arlington, Va., wrote: “When the ‘stand’ on my digital egg timer broke, I used a medium-size binder clip to replace it. Worked perfectly.”

Emily S. in Borger, Texas, wrote: “I read your column in the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News each day and just finished reading your hints for binder clips. I am a quilter and use them to hold the quilt top, batting and backing taut so that I can start pinning everything together before quilting.” 

Alice A. in San Antonio wrote: “I make and quilt baby quilts and pads. Instead of pinning the quilt pieces together for sewing, I roll them together and place about five large, black clips on the roll. It holds the pieces in place and allows me to free-motion quilt with ease.”

Lane selection goes down the line
Jan. 11, 2016

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about grocery-store cashiers not being considerate of people who’ve been in line waiting to check out. - Heloise

“Often when standing in line to purchase merchandise at a grocery or other store, an employee will open a new cash-register line and signal the person farthest behind me, who has been waiting the least amount of time, to come over to her newly opened line. Why do they rarely invite the person who has been waiting the longest in the nearby line to start the new line?

“I understand why they don’t if I’ve put my merchandise on the conveyor belt; then I’m stuck in my line. But often I’m standing in plain sight and have been waiting a long time, and could easily move over to the new line without making anyone back up.

“I’ve occasionally said something, with the result of being scowled at as if I’m being rude for even mentioning it.” - A Faithful Waco, Texas, Reader

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for an over-the-door plastic shoe bag:

- Put near a makeup table for shadows, lipsticks, powders, etc.

- Hang in your bedroom to separate and store jewelry.

- Put in a craft room to hold small items like spools of thread or buttons.

- Hang in the bathroom to hold toiletries.

- Put in a garage to store nuts, bolts, washers, staples, etc.

- Heloise

Chess pieces for board games

Dear Heloise: I read your column regarding gaming pieces but didn’t see ours mentioned, so I thought I’d write you and tell you what we use for any of our board games that are lacking pieces. We’ve found that small chess pieces work well. Not only is there a queen, king, knight, bishop, rook and pawn, but you also have your choice of black or white!

Twelve different pieces to choose from is plenty, even for my large family. I love reading your hints in the San Antonio Express-News, and have found many of them useful in day-to-day living. Thanks!
- Valerie R., via email

Extending magazine subscriptions

Dear Heloise: The women in our neighborhood share many things that are life-, money- and/or time-saving. One thing we do to save money and paper is swap magazines.

This gives us more to read without having to subscribe to another magazine, which helps with our family budget. An added bonus is that by sharing copies, we figure we’re saving on paper, too.

At the end of each swap, I’ve offered to gather any magazines we don’t care to keep, cut off any address labels and take them to a nearby senior-citizens community. - Blanche D., via email


Blow-drying labels

Dear Heloise: Love your column! A reader recently shared how she soaks the labels off old prescription bottles. I’m a pharmacy tech, and we get them off with a hair dryer. A few seconds of blowing and it peels right off.

This blow-drying technique works with a lot of other labels, too. - Susan, via email


Pull forward to pay it forward
Jan. 5, 2016

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound On comes from a reader who works as a morning manager at a fast-food restaurant in San Antonio. - Heloise

“It’s a different experience working the morning shift as opposed to the evening or night shifts. Morning customers seem to be much more pleasant, probably because their day’s just beginning!

“More than twice, while working the drive-thru, customers have paid for their meal but have also picked up the tab of the vehicle behind them. This action prompted the people in that vehicle to pick up the tab of the vehicle behind them, and so on and so on.

“One morning, 14 customers ‘paid it forward’ by paying for the next customer’s order. The last car in the line had no one behind him, so he graciously accepted the ‘paid in full’ gift of the previous customer.

“This simple little action keeps me believing in the niceness of people!” - Ryan A., via email

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other things you can use as gaming pieces for board games:

- tiny wads of colored sticky notes

- buttons

- pebbles or rocks

- coins

- seashells.

- Heloise

Feather-duster dilemma

Dear Heloise: I have a feather duster that’s in dire need of cleaning. I’ve tried different powders and gentle solutions, but haven’t had much success. Do you have any ideas, or should I just give it up and purchase a new one? - Frank M., via email

Frank, try cornstarch. Simply place the duster in a strong plastic or paper bag, then pour in a box of cornstarch. Hold the bag closed tight and shake hard for about 15-30 seconds. This is best done outside. Remove the feather duster from the bag and shake out until the rest of the cornstarch is removed. Some of my best cleaning solutions are in a pamphlet titled Homemade Cleaning Solutions. To get one, visit www., or send a business-size, self-addressed, stamped (68 cents) envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/ HCS, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Should you decide to make any of my cleaning solutions, be sure to label your bottles appropriately, since different cleaners work on different surfaces, and you would hate to ruin a surface because you used the wrong cleaner! - Heloise

‘Tis nobody’s business

Dear Heloise: I was reading your article on removing or destroying the labels on empty medicine bottles and was curious as to why one would do that. What info can someone get off them? - Jamie H., via email

I posed this question to my office staff. Here’s what came out of the discussion: It was unanimous that it’s nobody’s business what is prescribed.

One staff member stated, “If you had meds for a ‘transmitted’ disease or were on meds for some kind of emotional disorder, would you want that information out in the open? Maybe, maybe not, but that should be your choice, not chance’s choice.” Bottom line: Better to be safe than sorry. - Heloise 

Goodbye, Christmas!
Dec. 29, 2016

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about after-Christmas decorations. The reader wrote: “I agree with Rita in Austin, Texas, who complained about stores setting up Christmas displays so early.

“She also might be interested to know that as the operation superintendent of a large chain department store, I had orders to clear out all decorations before opening for business on Dec. 26.

“So, the entire display crew plus some extras came to work at 4 a.m. to accomplish the task. Sadly, that really proved to me how commercialized we have made Christmas.” - John R., Mission Viejo, Calif.

So, to clarify: Your workers enjoyed Christmas Day with their families, knowing they needed to cut the evening short so that they could go to bed early and get up early, so that they could get to work early to take down decorations! That’s a holiday downer! Hope they were paid at least time and a half. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other objects to use as a pencil holder:

- A tall pill container.

- A plastic commemorative cup.

- A toothbrush holder that is sectioned.

- A clean, decorative jelly jar.

- A small terra-cotta planter.

- Heloise

And the survey said!

Dear Readers: The verdict’s in! Recently, I asked you to tell me how you felt about music in stores, and the response was unbelievable! So many of you sent in your thoughts on the subject that I could write a research paper, but I won’t!

With 250-plus letters and emails, here’s a summary of the responses:

- Eighty-eight percent of you overwhelmingly oppose the loud music. Some walk out; others won’t even walk through the door. The No. 1 response for this group: it’s nerve- wracking!

- Seven percent are OK with the music and said that it puts them in a better mood. Some even sing or hum along while shopping.

- Only 5 percent of the responders were “on the fence.” These readers can take it or leave it. Some said they’re not even aware of it until someone starts singing or humming along.

Some research suggests that stores now play music that targets a certain age group, based on its customers. - Heloise

Shredder container

Dear Readers: If you have a non-working paper shredder, consider holding on to the container. Here are just a few ways you can use it:

A reader from Huntsville, Ala., wrote in and said that because of its height, it was perfect for soaking a foot or leg.

It also can be placed between tight spaces and used as a wastebasket, an extra clothes hamper or a toy container. - Heloise


More countertop space

Dear Readers: Here’s a hint to consider if you find yourself needing a little extra countertop space in the kitchen: Try opening a drawer all the way and placing a cookie sheet in it. If possible, close the drawer until the cookie sheet fits tightly. The lip around the sheet will keep anything from going inside the drawer.
- Heloise

Christmas gift gets boxed out
Dec. 21, 2016

Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off is about the boxes given out at Christmastime to fill for needy children. A reader wrote: “For quite a few years now, there have been projects to gift children in need with toys at Christmas, and many use shoebox-size containers for this.

“However, it's difficult to find appropriate gifts that fit inside a shoebox (like a small basketball and hoop, or a tea set). I wish more manufacturers would take this into consideration and package more toys to fit this requirement.

“I have no problem finding smaller items, like yo-yos, jump ropes, dolls, etc., but I sure have a hard time with the 'main gift.'“ - Gigi in Colorado Springs, Colo.

I'll bet there are others who feel as you do, and to that I'd say, “It really is the thoughtfulness that counts.”
- Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for clean cereal bags:

- As a cookie sheet for cooling cookies.

- Place spices and meats inside to coat before grilling.

- Place crackers inside before crushing.

- Use between rows of baked items for transport.

- To block the drain when peeling vegetables, eggs, fruits, etc.

- Heloise

Flavored tea

Dear Heloise: I saw your column about flavored teas. I use loose tea and add dried orange or lemon peel. Then I add dried rose petals.

During the holidays, I add cloves and cinnamon. What keeps my teas from becoming bitter is my blend of a variety of teas with orange, calendula petals, ginger and dried mangos. I enjoy your column in The Columbian. - Annie, via email

Annie, you've just proven that making flavored tea has endless possibilities, which is why I've created a pamphlet of hints for experimenting with both coffees and teas. To get one, simply go on my website, www., and order my pamphlet titled Heloise's Flavored Coffees and Teas. Or you can send $3 and a stamped (68 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope to: Heloise/Coffee, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Flavorful coffees and teas seem to be much more popular and, therefore, enjoyable than before. - Heloise

Gaming pieces

Dear Heloise: We have game night often. Therefore, we have a variety of board games, which come with game pieces. In an effort not to lose them, I bought a tin that came with its own lid.

I placed all the pieces for each game inside its own “snack” bag, labeled it and placed it inside the tin. We bring it out every time it's game night. We've not lost a piece yet! - Sandy W. in Houston


Another soap dish

Dear Heloise: You listed some good makeshift soap dishes, but not the one I made the permanent one in my guest bathroom. I use a clear glass butter dish, which easily holds a bar of soap. I also have a pump dispenser to please everyone's taste. - Terri D., Brea, Calif.

With glass, consider placing a strip of non-adhesive shelf liner under it to keep it from slipping. - Heloise

Monarch madness!
Dec. 14, 2016

Dear Readers: Today's Sound On comes from a reader who, along with her neighborhood, is trying to make a positive impact on rebuilding the declining monarch butterfly population. She wrote:

“My neighborhood has become afflicted with 'monarch madness'! We are trying, one plant at a time, to make our 'hood' into a monarch butterfly oasis. There are several houses on each block that have milkweed plants, which provide food for the monarch caterpillars and the hatched butterflies.

“Our local hardware and garden center found out about the monarch project and offered a very nice discount on the plants.” - Karen in Oxnard, Calif.

For those who might not know, the milkweed plant is a hardy plant that is easy to grow and maintain. The blooms are colorful and provide food for many species of butterflies, as well as hummingbirds and bees.
- Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here is a list of other things you can use as ornament hooks:

- Paper clips

- Bread-bag ties

- Thin, decorative ribbon

- Natural jute or twine

- Large safety pins.

- Heloise

Letter of laughter

Dear Heloise: I used to be a secretary in customer service at the Naval Supply Center in San Diego. In addition to U.S. ship personnel, we received calls from personnel assigned to foreign ships visiting the area.

I always answered my phone, “Customer service, Kathy Potts.” I answered as usual one day and was greeted by silence. I could hear background noise and knew that connections were not always clear, so again I said, “Customer service, Kathy Potts.”

Someone cleared their throat on the other end of the line. I said, “Good morning, this is Kathy Potts in customer service.” A heavily accented voice on the line asked, tentatively, “Coffee pots?” I still laugh aloud when I share this story. - Kathy Potts, via email

Free gifts

Dear Heloise: A while back, David W. wrote in about putting money in library books. While that would be a nice treat to find, I would be concerned that someone had “accidentally” left it there and then would be out the money, especially if it is a large bill.

So, I would like to suggest that he put a note with the money, stating something to the fact that this is a free gift. Enjoy! - A Reader, via email

This is what I would call making an original hint even better! I'll bet many of us would do exactly as this reader and not recognize a free gift if it fell in our lap! - Heloise

Three rules for conquering stains

Dear Readers: When you are ready to conquer a stain, keep these helpful hints in mind:

1. The sooner, the better. The longer it is left on fabric, the more difficult it will be to remove.

2. Lift the stain slowly. Some stains will require time, patience and perseverance.

3. Repeat as often as necessary. Some stains require more than one attempt.

- Heloise

In search of 'free'
Dec. 7, 2016

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about evaporated-milk containers. A reader wrote: “We usually keep an open can of evaporated milk in the refrigerator for coffee, cooking, etc. 

“I don’t understand why the manufacturers don’t offer this milk in a container that you can close or seal to avoid spillage and picking up odors from the refrigerator.

“So until the manufacturers wake up, we just snap on a clean pet-food lid!” - Paul in Bella Vista, Ark.


Paul, thanks for your Sound Off, and your solution! I’ll bet others who also use this milk and have this same problem will try your hint. - Heloise


Fast Facts

Dear Heloise: In sorting all my clothes, I’ve removed dozens of shoulder pads. I know they can be used as potholders, but what else? - Jean A., Alexandria, Va.

Here are some other uses for shoulder pads:

- Washable makeup-remover pads.

- Scales for a homemade fish costume, or quilt a blanket with them.

- Eye patches at Halloween.

- Light-bulb removers.

- Heloise

Grocery-shopping etiquette

Dear Readers: Many of you were sympathetic with Yssa’s frustrations about grocery shopping, and voiced your own frustrations as well.

In theory, it’s easy to say, “Let’s be realistic” or “Who has time to plan ahead” or my favorite, “Find a different time to shop, either late at night or early in the morning, when the shelves are stocked and the shoppers are few,” but the bottom line is this: Grocery shopping can be a frustrating experience.

Other issues mentioned include the following:

- Don’t let your kids go wild pushing the shopping cart.

- Pushing the basket down the left side of the aisle impedes traffic flow.

- If you must talk on your phone, get out of the shopping aisle, especially if the call has nothing to do with shopping.

- When checking out, don’t wait until the checker has totaled your order before looking for your “payment plan.”

- If the sign says, “Twenty items or less,” that means no more than 20 items!

Don’t shoot the messenger! This list is compiled from my readers, who took the time to share their thoughts and frustrations about grocery shopping. - Heloise

Shrinking socks

Dear Readers: Recently, a reader wrote in about her socks shrinking over time, and she wanted hints on preventing this from happening. Here’s what others said:

Constance W., via email, said some companies are now making “extended” socks for larger feet. Her podiatrist also said that feet tend to “grow” because our arches gradually drop as we age.

Elizabeth W., via email, said: “Socks with spandex shrink in the dryer and stay that way. Cotton socks can be partially dried on ‘cool’ and then manually stretched and hung to dry in order to maintain size.”

Finally, a reader from Kansas said: “Stores aren’t carrying 100 percent cotton socks. Instead they are 75 percent cotton, 25 percent polyester and 2 percent spandex.” (Which, by the way, is 102 percent, but I get your point!) - Heloise

In search of 'free'
Nov. 30, 2016

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about finding phone numbers without having access to “the white pages.” (For the young readers, that’s a reference to the printed phone book! - Heloise) A reader wrote: “My Sound Off regards trying to find a phone number or address without the white pages.

“I’ve tried online search engines that claim to be FREE, but after they compile what amounts to a dossier on the person whose number and address are the only things you need, up pops a screen with prices for a subscription with the company.

“How do these companies get away with saying something is FREE, then expect you to pay for the service?”
- Lynda D. in San Antonio

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other ways that binder clips can be used:

- Clip to calendars and hang on the nail instead of the hole on the pages.

- To keep draperies or curtains closed.

- To keep pants, skirts and/or tank tops from slipping off hangers.

- To keep the rolled part of your toothpaste tube from unrolling.

- To seal the opening of chip, candy, cracker, etc., bags.

- Heloise

Off-limits Update

Dear Readers: Back in July, I posted a Sound Off from a young lady who bought an “engagement” ring for her fiancé.

A wise, sympathetic reader wrote: “My husband of 43 years stopped wearing his wedding ring shortly after we were married because the type of work he did almost caused him to lose a finger. It’s never bothered me.

“Just remember, someone will cheat no matter what. In this day and age, I don’t really think seeing a ring on someone’s finger stops many people.” - J.K., via email

The commitment is in the bond you have with your life partner, with or without a ring. - Heloise


Bacteria on sponges

Dear Heloise: I read that to remove bacteria from kitchen sponges, you should dampen with water and then stick them in the microwave on high for about 30-60 seconds. Does this really work?
- Georgia H. in San Antonio

Georgia, the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) found that two effective ways to sterilize sponges are in the microwave and in a dishwasher that has a water-temperature-boost feature and a heated drying cycle.

Be sure the sponges are damp before sticking them in the microwave, and be careful when done. They will be EXTREMELY HOT!
- Heloise


Shaving with shampoo

Dear Heloise: Here’s a hint I stumbled upon quite by accident. One day, I lathered my beard with a little shampoo before applying my shaving cream. The shave seemed to be better!
- James F. in San Francisco

James, you stumbled on a longtime Heloise hint. Many women do the same when shaving legs. Sure can’t hurt.
- Heloise

That's a holiday wrap!
Nov. 17, 2016

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about holiday plates: “Why can’t manufacturers make a nice variety of square and rectangular holiday plates for goodies? Have you ever tried to put foil or plastic around a large circular plate? It never fits!” - Barbara C. in Montana

Barbara, it’s a little bothersome and somewhat frustrating. Here is a hint: Rather than putting the wrap over the food, then tucking it UNDER the plate, place the wrap UNDER the plate (put several pieces on the counter, “fanned out” in a circle) and pull the wrap UP over the food. Twist to seal, or close with a twist-tie. Thanks to my husband, David, for showing me this hint! - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Other uses for cotton swabs:

- Use to dip into a lipstick tube to get the last bit!

- Dip in rubbing alcohol and clean around yucky computer keys.

- For knickknacks, to clean small areas.

- For a small paint touch-up.

- Remove nail polish from cuticles.

- Heloise


Iron the wax

Dear Heloise: To get candle wax off my carpet, I placed a paper towel on top of the wax and ironed it very lightly with an iron on the lowest heat setting. I repeated this process until no more wax appeared on the paper towel. This process lifted all the wax off the carpet. - Dora G., via email

Dora, just remember that before taking an iron to spilled wax on carpet, the wax must be DRY AND COOL first. - Heloise


Denver Brew Sauce

Dear Heloise: I seem to remember you had a marinade/barbecue sauce recipe that uses dark beer. It was really tasty and different. Can you please find it for me? - Virginia M. in Houston

Yes, I do! It does have a “kick” to it, and is easy to make. Here it is:

Heloise’s Denver Brew Sauce/Marinade

1 cup dark beer

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon sugar

Whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Use as is right away, or put into a lidded jar or bottle, then store in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to seven days. For more delicious sauces and marinades, including many family recipes, order my Seasonings, Sauces and Substitutes pamphlet. Please visit www., or send $3 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (68 cents) envelope to:

Heloise/SSS, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.

Meat that has been marinated tastes better than simply seasoning it before grilling or cooking. Once you make this one, next time make it your own by adding different ingredients! - Heloise

Calling for some human interaction
Nov. 10, 2016

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about customers on cellphones. The reader wrote: “I work in retail sales. Some customers bring their merchandise for checkout and continue to talk on their cellphone. It’s difficult sometimes to complete the sale as quickly as possible. The people in line behind the customer give me a look!” - Anonymous, via email

Dear Anonymous: It seems we use cellphones everywhere! Unless it’s an emergency, the customer should take a few minutes to pay attention to the transaction. Why not have a human, face-to-face encounter? Salespeople work very hard and deserve to be acknowledged.

Readers, what say you? - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Other ways to use hair conditioner:

- Put into nails as a cuticle conditioner.

- To loosen a ring stuck on one’s finger.

- As shaving cream for smooth skin.

- To keep outdoor tools from rusting.

- Before changing a car’s oil, rub on hands for easier cleanup.

- Heloise

Icing recipe

Dear Heloise: Do you have a good recipe for icing that you can pass my way? I prefer to make my cakes from scratch, so when I put store-bought frosting on it, I feel like I’m taking away the “from scratch” factor!
 - Wanda N., via email

Sure do, and it’s called Old-Fashioned Icing. You will need the following:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons flour

2/3 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Cream the butter, shortening and sugar until it’s not grainy. Add flour, one spoonful at a time, beating well after each addition. Add milk, beat, then add vanilla, salt and lemon juice. Turn mixer on high and beat for 12 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. I have many family and friends’ recipes and baking hints in my pamphlet. It also includes some of my mother’s favorite recipes that you will find very tasty. To order a copy of Heloise’s Cake Recipes pamphlet, visit my website,, or send $3 and a stamped (68 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope to: Heloise/ Cake Recipes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Baked goods, especially those that are homemade, are always a hit. Glad I could help you with your icing! - Heloise

Removing labels

Dear Heloise: Please remind your readers that it’s important to remove the information from empty medicine bottles before disposing of them. Thankfully, pharmacies seem to be making an attempt to help by leaving a tab that can be pulled, thus destroying the label.

If there’s not a tab, I place liquid dish detergent on the label (a very small amount). I hold the label under warm water, rinsing and scrubbing it until it is no longer readable. The label will still be on the bottle, but no information. - Rose T., via email

Good hint, and here is another way: Rub the label with an emery board. - Heloise

The end of one-stop shopping?
Nov. 3, 2016

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about shopping, and multiple letters came in about this:

A reader in Columbus, Ohio, wrote, "To get the most value for my shopping dollars, I have to shop at several grocery stores.”

A Texas reader wrote: “Whenever I shop, I make a list and then shop at three different stores to get everything on the list. One large chain store is my favorite, but it doesn’t carry everything I need, so I complete the list at the other two stores. I think I’m going to try online shopping very soon.”

But then Rosemary Q.W., via email, said, “If everyone continues to shop online, eventually we will have no local stores, which equals empty storefronts and more unemployment.”

So, what’s your take? Which reader can you identify with? Send me your thoughts.
- Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here is a list of other places a bar stool could come in handy besides under your kitchen island:

- In a craft room under your sewing or cutting table.

- In the bathroom for young ones to sit on as you help them get ready for the day.

- In a game room for gamers.

- A lower stool for under your vanity mirror and as an extra seat in the bedroom.

- As a work stool when working in the garage at a table or flat surface.

- Heloise

Another use for binder clips

Dear Heloise: If you have a computer keyboard with a missing foot or two, take a medium-size binder clip and divide it into three parts. Replace the keyboard legs with the wire parts of the binder clip.

This will give the computer keyboard a bit more height than the original feet gave it. I find it easier to type on the computer keyboard with the added height. - Mary, via email

I tried this hint on two different keyboards in my office, and a staff member tried it on her computer boards at home. We couldn’t get the height you mentioned. Help me out, readers. What are we missing here?
- Heloise

New lid is not a snap
Oct. 27, 2016

Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about the new lids that are on margarine containers. Linda wrote: “My Sound Off is about the new lids manufacturers are placing on margarine containers.

"They won’t stay on the margarine, and the product takes on odors from the fridge. I have called several manufacturers. They are nice enough but offer no solution. Give me back my snap-on lid! Thank you.”
- Linda, Frustrated in Louisiana

New designs are supposed to make things better. Maybe this new lid is easier to open but more difficult to seal. Manufacturers will listen if enough people call in with their concerns. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for ice cubes:

- To water hanging plants and Christmas trees.

- To remove dents in the carpet made from recently moved furniture.

- Place inside a soft cloth and rub it over a wrinkle before ironing.

- Place in pet bowls for cool water on hot days.

- To mask the taste of medicine, suck on an ice cube to numb the taste buds.

- Heloise

Flavored tea

Dear Heloise: I’ve seen more and more “tea” shops springing up in our malls and stores, and I have to ask, “What’s up with that?” I drink tea, and to me, this is a drink that is so easy to be creative with that you can try almost anything to creatively enhance the flavor. Can you give me other ideas for special tea flavors? I love to experiment with flavors, and will try almost anything at least once! - Tory D. in Houston

If you haven’t done this yet, try adding candy, like peppermint sticks, lemon drops or even a couple of red-hot cinnamon candies. For a comprehensive list, along with facts, methods, instructions and hints, you can go on my website,, and order my pamphlet titled Heloise’s Flavored Coffees and Teas. Or you can send $3 and a stamped (68 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope to: Heloise/Coffee, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Great-tasting tea shouldn’t have to come from tea shops. Learn to make your own flavorful teas, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money! - Heloise


Dear Readers: We recently wrote about other uses for bedsheets, and readers wrote in to tell me how they use them. These responses were sent via email:

Marta W. said she drapes them over newly budded shrubs or plants if a frost is predicted for the overnight hours, then removes them in the morning to let the sun shine on them.

Sherry G. carries sheets in her car in case an animal gets injured. She will use the bedsheet to carry the injured animal to wherever it needs to go. She handed an injured dog to its owner, bedsheet and all, so that he could take the dog home in its weakened condition.

And finally, Anita B. said that local animal shelters love to get all sorts of bedding, bath towels and throw rugs (without rubber backing). - Heloise

Watch what you spray
Oct. 21, 2016

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is from a reader complaining about aerosol sunblock. She said: “My pet peeve is people who spray aerosol sunblock without noting the wind and who might get a faceful when they spray it. At a recent trip to the beach, I received a faceful of it several times when the wind blew it my way. My daughter, who has asthma, is unable to breathe when many aerosols are sprayed.

“Please ask your readers to be kind to others and be aware of the breeze when spraying aerosol of any kind outdoors. It could end up in someone’s eyes, mouth or all over the food they’re eating.”
- Betty, via email

A solution to the problem could be to have people hold a large towel behind them and then in front of them (like wings) while getting sprayed. That could eliminate some aerosols from being airborne. - Heloise

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Here is a list of a few natural exfoliators you can use instead of commercial ones:

- oatmeal

- baking soda

- coffee

- sea salt

- sugar.

You might ask, “Why go natural when commercial is easy to buy and comes in a variety of choices?” Research shows that many of these products contain microbeads, which are terrible for the environment. These small, plastic beads don’t biodegrade, and they are being washed into our water supply. Reason enough for me!

- Heloise

Letter of laughter - baking soda to the rescue

Dear Heloise: I thought you might enjoy a baking-soda story. One Saturday morning, my husband was out doing some work on his pickup while my neighbor and I were inside enjoying a cup of coffee.

After a little while, my husband came leisurely strolling in the back door and said to me, “Mama, would you get me a box of soda, please?” I just said: “Why? What are you going to do with it?” He replied, “Well, I just need some out there.”

After a couple of more questions and answers, he began to lose patience, and finally said: “DARN IT! MY TRUCK’S ON FIRE!” At that point, I got up and got him the soda. He used it on the fire, and the truck was fine. - Jeanne J., San Angelo, Texas

Less paper-towel usage

Dear Heloise: Here’s a hint I use to save on paper towels: Place a paper towel on top of several sheets of newspaper, then place fried meats or veggies on the paper towel to absorb a lot of grease without using more than one or two paper towels. Saves money and paper towels. 

I also do the same after frying bacon in the microwave. Then I just toss all of the old papers in the trash.

- Donna W., via email

Easy grip for bags

Dear Heloise: My husband cut an old garden hose into pieces that I can use to protect my fingers when carrying grocery bags. Works great! - Harriet B., via email

Cart Courtesy
Oct. 13, 2016

Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about shopping carts. A reader wrote: “It’s always very busy when I grocery-shop. The last thing I want to do is wait for people to decide which item they are going to buy while their shopping cart is either on the opposite side of them or, worse yet, in the middle of the aisle, blocking both sides of the traffic flow.

“Is it too much to expect people to keep their cart in front of them?

“Plan ahead, find what you need, grab it and go, and keep that cart right in front of you. Just this little consideration would make some people’s shopping experience so much nicer.” - Yssa W., via email

Fast Facts

Dear Readers: Place mats can get pretty pricey. Here’s a list of other things you can use as place mats:

* A vinyl tablecloth cut into shapes of your choice.

* Quilted squares reinforced with backing sewn onto it.

* Children’s artwork, laminated.

* Floor laminate.

- Heloise


Letter of laughter: Do you have T-I-M-E?

Dear Heloise: One day while following a recipe, I discovered I was out of thyme, so I went next door and asked my neighbor, “Do you have any thyme?” She said “yes” and proceeded to invite me to sit down.

After about 15 minutes of chitchat, I said I had to leave to finish my cooking, so if she had the thyme, I should get it and get going. Upon seeing a puzzled look on her face, I think we both realized that she was thinking “t-i-m-e.” - Mary W. in Missouri

Creative gift-giving

Dear Heloise: I read in the Orange County (Calif.) Register what Beatrice S. wrote about how she gives monetary gifts to graduates. For years, I’ve been doing something similar with my faraway grandchildren.

Beginning when they were small, I would send a check for twice or three times (no four times yet) their age at that birthday, telling them that for me they’re worth that much. For them it’s been a source of fun to expect a check from Grandpa for an odd amount, like $63 when they turned 21 years young.
- A Happy Grandpa, Irvine, Calif.

How lucky the kids are to have you, Grandpa! It’s a nice positive reinforcement. - Heloise

Expired chocolate?

Dear Heloise: I bought a box of chocolates from a “closeout store.” However, the chocolate looks gray, and I don’t know if it’s still good to eat. - James, via email

Enjoy that chocolate without worry! The grayish color is called “bloom,” and it occurs when the cocoa butter in the chocolate rises to the top. This usually happens when the candy is stored in a warm or humid area. It doesn’t affect the candy in any way, except for the change in appearance. - Heloise









Milwaukee events  |  Waukesha events  |  Washington Co. events Ozaukee Co. events Milwaukee news  |  Waukesha Co. news Washington Co. News   |  Waukesha Freeman  |  West Bend Daily News  |  Waukesha Freeman | Ozaukee Co. News Graphic | Oconomowoc Enterprise