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Dear Heloise: I do home repairs all the time because it's my profession. And I have some hints that might save someone from a trip to the ER or burning their house down to the ground.

A ladder is one of the best tools you can own and potentially one of the most dangerous. Just make certain you read ALL of the instructions that come with it for weight and height limits. Please, do not think standing on a chair is safe, because it's not. There are many different types of ladders, so pick one you need for around the house. Use a fiberglass ladder when working around electricity.

Use both hands when climbing a ladder, and use either a belt or a bucket to store your tools in. If you use a bucket, either tie a rope to the handle and hoist it up after you get to the top or have someone hand you your tools as needed.

Know your limitations! I can't stress this enough. Usually, plumbing and electrical work are better left to the pros.

Any time you work around an electrical saw, be extra cautious. Pay attention, and never work with an electrical saw when you are tired. Mistakes happen. Don't let one of your fingers or hand be one of those mistakes. -- Lance W., Orem, Utah



P.O. Box 795001

San Antonio, TX 78279-5001

Fax: 1-210-HELOISE



Dear Heloise: Recently, while my husband and I were in Amish country, we saw people trying to take photos of Amish people who had asked them repeatedly to not take their picture. Still, these rude people kept trying to get them to pose. The Amish placed their hands over their faces or looked down to avoid a picture being taken. It's little wonder Americans are considered rude and disrespectful in other countries. If someone says, "No pictures, please," why can't tourists just back off? -- Lacey A., Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Lacey, I agree with you. Taking photographs of others is terribly rude if you are asked not to take their picture. The Amish feel it's vain and unnecessary, and it is part of their religion to shun picture taking. So, if you are traveling through Amish country, please respect their wishes on this and other customs. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I have a rule of thumb that I follow, and it's served me well for many years. I only use my credit card for an emergency. I pay off the purchase and don't use it again until that purchase is paid off. A purse on sale or a trip is not an emergency. A pair of shoes might be on sale, but I got along just fine without them before the sale, so common sense tells me I cannot have them if my card has more than a zero balance. The day will come when you have something serious to deal with, and you'll need to put that expense on a card. If your credit score is bad, your credit card company won't help you. So keep the credit cards for emergencies only, and that card will be there to help you in a serious situation. -- Lois T., Henderson, Nevada

(c)2022 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

Dear Heloise: Today's paper had your column about what you should keep in your car. I agree with everything except an aerosol to fix tires! I live in Texas, and there have actually been towns here that have reached 120 degrees in the shade, and where it almost always gets above 100 in the summer. I had a thermometer in my car, and sitting in the sun in the summer it reached 150 regularly!

Do not put any aerosols in your car! A good spare tire is a great choice, and there might be a battery powered pump device that can handle our temperatures, but I would advise looking at the label. Do not keep anything in your car that can't handle at least 150 degrees! Thank you for your time! -- Tanda Rasco, via email


Dear Heloise: I have some more hints for reusing newspaper sleeves.

-- They are great to put in your glove compartment or luggage to use as travel trash bags.

-- Place food scraps in the sleeve and keep in the freezer until garbage day.

-- Use a sleeve when you need to fish out something that fell into the garbage disposal.

-- You can also use them when you clean anything gross, like the underneath side of the disposal rubber gasket. When you're done just pull them off inside out and toss. -- Linda Webb, Roland, Arkansas


Dear Readers: Gym bag smelly? If you put your sweaty exercise clothes in it, this will happen. After you have exercised and before you put your clothes inside, sprinkle baking soda over the bottom of the bag to help absorb the odors.

Baking soda also can be used for cleaning, deodorizing and cooking. To learn more, check out my pamphlet "Heloise's Baking Soda Hints and Recipes." Get one by sending $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (78 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. FYI: Need to freshen your carpet? Sprinkle baking soda over it and leave on for 30 minutes, then vacuum. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I occasionally used to forget that I had set the automatic ice cube maker to "on" on our later model refrigerator. It wouldn't be until much later that I'd remember. As you can imagine, there would be overflow ice cubes throughout the freezer. So now I attach a refrigerator magnet to the front of the appliance, when ice cubes are "in progress," and this serves as a noticeable reminder. Of course, it's just as easy to set the timer on the stovetop or microwave oven. -- Diane, Woodland Hills, California


Dear Heloise: I saw your column about different ways to enjoy oatmeal, and I would like to add that there is also the savory option. I like to drizzle a little olive oil on my oatmeal with a couple turns of fresh pepper and then sprinkle some fresh Parmesan cheese and walnuts on top. It's a healthy alternative to the sweet versions of oatmeal, especially if you're trying to avoid sugar. -- A reader, via email

(c)2022 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

Dear Heloise: When you have extra coffee filters that don't fit your new coffee pot, don't throw them away. I like to use mine to line small bowls for snacking. No washing afterward; I just toss the liner away. -- Mary Ann K., Fishersville, Virginia


Dear Heloise: I'm out on my own now and cooking a lot of my meals. I'm hoping you'll reprint your one-pot chicken dish for me, because as I recall, it was not only easy to make but very tasty as well. I'm learning to cook a number of things, but that recipe is one of my all-time favorites. ---- Jacob Q., Jacksonville, Florida

Jacob, this is one of my most requested recipes and is a fan favorite:

One-Pot Chicken

1 teaspoon oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup diced potato (1/2-inch cubes)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped celery

1 cup water

1 bay leaf

1/8 teaspoon thyme

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup canned peas

2 3-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Heat oil in a heavy, large skillet and add onions and potatoes. Cook over medium heat while stirring until they begin to brown. Add the remaining ingredients as listed except peas and chicken. Stir and bring to a boil. Place chicken in sauce, reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for about 12 minutes. Then add peas and continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced, about 5 minutes or so. To serve, place one chicken breast on each plate and spoon the sauce over the top. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

This is a delicious but simple recipe, just like the other recipes in my pamphlet "Heloise's Main Dishes and More." With so many people working these days, no one has the time to cook the way our parents did. To get a copy of my pamphlet, just go to or send $3, along with a stamped, self-addressed, long envelope to: Heloise/Main Dishes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Whenever you need a fast, economical and easy recipe, you'll have this pamphlet at your fingertips.


Dear Heloise: My family loves soup, and I like to make it rather than buy prepared soup from a can. My only problem with my own homemade version is that it's often too watery. That also applies to my gravy. How do I fix this problem? -- Monica D., Bogota, New Jersey

Monica, just add some instant mashed potatoes to either your soup or gravy. If your stews are too thin, then puree some vegetables and add that to the stew. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I have an automatic rice cooker, but rice sticks to the bottom, and I have a terrible time getting all of it out. Help! -- Nancy H., Dolores, Colorado

Nancy, spray the bottom of the rice cooker with a non-sticking spray, and your problem should be solved. -- Heloise

(c)2022 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

Dear Heloise: We have reached our 70s and have a small dog that usually, but not always, accompanies us on trips from home. We thought that we should keep info about our dog in our wallets, along with the usual contact information. If something should unexpectedly happen to us and we're in need of emergency personnel, we have a note that explains that we have a dog at home alone. It has his name and what plans we have for him in case of our unfortunate demise. We've not only included his name, but also contact information should both of us be indisposed.

You never know when something bad might happen, and the pet doesn't need to be an unfortunate victim, too! We read your column daily in the Kennebec Journal here in Augusta, Maine! -- Greg B., via email


Dear Heloise: I keep some flour in an empty spice jar. This is very handy when coating meat or fish, working with dough or dusting a baking pan. A spice jar could also be used for powdered sugar. -- Margaret S., La Mirada, California


Dear Heloise: Another thing about baking a loaf of anything in a coffee can is, coffee cans used to be a whole pound of coffee. The cans were bigger and thicker. I still make Steamed Boston Brown Bread at Christmastime in coffee cans that I saved from over 10 years ago, when they were bigger and thicker. I wash them and dry them thoroughly after I make the bread and store them for the next year. Of course, they are steamed in the cans in a canning kettle on a rack, not baked in the oven.

My point is the size of the cans has changed, as you pointed out. They are now, maybe, 10.5 ounces of coffee! The cans are much smaller, which is part of the problem. -- Rusti Stover, Houston, Texas


Dear Heloise: I save the plastic bags from newspapers, bread, grocery produce, etc., and use them in my kitchen sink. I hang them over the garbage disposal spout for garbage as I am preparing meals. It keeps me from going back and forth to the garbage can. I store them in an empty dishwasher pod container. When my grandsons were in diapers, the bags were perfect for dirty diapers, especially when your garbage pickup is only once a week. Tie in a knot and toss. -- Patty, Bakersfield, California

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

(c)2022 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

Today's Sound Off is about teaching your child to swim:

Dear Heloise: Nearly seven years ago, I lost my son in a boating accident. He was only 5 years old and didn't know how to swim. I always thought I'd enroll him in swimming classes when he got a little older.

My ex took him out for a boat ride on the lake, and although he had on a life jacket, it wasn't fastened in front, and he slipped out of it when he fell out of the boat. In only a matter of minutes he was gone forever. I can't stress enough how important it is for a child to learn this valuable skill. If my son had known how to swim he might have survived.

I've since learned that even infants can be taught how to swim. It's wonderful exercise, and you never know when it might come in handy. I would urge every parent to see to it that their child is taught to swim and to not be afraid of the water. -- Laura S., Waukesha, Wisconsin

Laura, swimming is an easy skill to learn, and everyone should know how to swim. If nothing else, a swimmer can be taught how to float or do a back stroke if they become tired while swimming. Knowing how to swim has saved many lives, including my own. -- Heloise



P.O. Box 795001

San Antonio, TX 78279-5001

Fax: 1-210-HELOISE



Things your child should know before entering kindergarten:

-- Their full name, address and phone number.

-- How to make a phone call.

-- The names of colors.

-- How and when to say "please" and "thank you."

-- How to dress themselves, tie their shoelaces and comb their hair.


Dear Heloise: With summer comes camping for my family. We love getting out to enjoy the outdoors, cooking over a campfire and hiking. The only problem is that we need to clean our sleeping bags. What should I do to get them clean? -- Lisa H., Aspen, Colorado

Lisa, first look for the directions on a label that should be attached to your sleeping bag and follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

Most bags can be washed, and if your sleeping bag is one of those, use warm water on a gentle cycle. You will probably have to use the spin cycle twice to get all of the excess water out. One of the best ways to dry your sleeping bag is to unzip it and spread it out on the patio or clothesline and let it dry in the sun. Have fun camping! -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I had a dripping faucet, and although my dad said he could fix it, he couldn't get to my place until the weekend. The dripping was driving me crazy, so I tried one of your suggestions. I tied a string around the faucet and got the water to run down the string and into the drain. At least I didn't have to listen to a dripping faucet for three days. -- Brenda L., Englewood, New Jersey

(c)2022 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

Dear Heloise: We save plastic bags for many uses (T-shirt and newspaper types).

* Fold the bags smooth. This will remove most of the wrinkles and the bags will look nicer when carrying a gift or treat to a friend. Store them in a container so you can get one at a time.

* Pull the bag over your hand and up the arm to pull up poison ivy. Then pull down over the plant and trash it without getting the oil on your skin. A newspaper bag works best for handling poison ivy.

* Line small trash cans throughout the home. It saves on buying liners and keeps trash cans clean.

* Collect coffee grounds for composting. There will be liquid, so double-bag the trash can, remove the paper filters and dump into the compost container or on your acid-loving plants once a week.

* Keep one in your car to collect trash.

* Put one in your handbag. You never know when you might need it. -- B.B. in Virginia


Dear Heloise: This is a problem that every woman who wears makeup deals with at some point. So often, mascara begins to clump way before its usefulness has ended. Or eyelashes get stuck together and need to be separated so you don't get the tarantula look. It is entirely too expensive to toss sooner than necessary. Using the mascara brush over and over only makes the problem worse.

One day while cleaning my teeth I noticed the interdental brushes used to clean between teeth were simply a miniature of the mascara brush. So after applying my mascara I used the tiny brush just like I would the mascara brush to remove the tiny clumps and separate the mascara-fused eyelashes. It worked perfectly. I clean the tiny brush with a tissue, which allows me to use it several times before pulling out a new interdental brush. They come 20 to a package. It's an inexpensive solution to tossing mascara too soon. -- Debbie, via email


Dear Readers: After you cook hamburgers, you can remove the splattered grease easily. Just spray the stovetop with vinegar and then wipe it down for a shiny, clean result. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Instead of throwing out flower vases after the flowers have dried, please drop them off at your local flower shop. It saves the landfill and reduces cost for the flower shop. Thank you. -- Janet Lee, in North Dakota


Dear Heloise: If Leo T. doesn't want to be awakened by a phone call in the morning, all he has to do is turn the ringer off at night when he goes to bed. I've been doing this for years. -- Margaret S., La Mirada, California


This is our favorite pet. His name is Rosko, and he is a 6-year-old Catahoula Leopard dog. He loves to swim and retrieve. He's very sweet and amazingly smart.-- Catherine West, Van Nuys, California

Readers, to see Rosko and our other Pet Pals, go to and click on "Pet of the Week."

Do you have a furry friend to share with us? Send a photo and description to -- Heloise

(c)2022 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

Dear Heloise: My niece is graduating from high school and going on to college. She had excellent grades and worked hard to graduate in the top 5% of her class. We're all very proud of her. I would like to get her a nice gift, but I'm out of ideas. Got any hints on what to give a graduate of 2022? -- Brenda M., Altoona, Pennsylvania

Brenda, my best wishes to your niece on her graduation. Here are some gift ideas:

-- A thesaurus and/or dictionary

-- An engraved letter opener and/or magnifying glass

-- Plastic storage containers

-- A gift card to a large online retailer

-- An emergency road kit (if she has a car)

-- A small microwave for her dorm room (if the college permits it)

-- A gift card for office supplies (stapler, printer paper, pens, etc.) -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Working as a hair dresser, I see a lot of product built up on many women. Most of it is hairspray that has not been properly removed. I usually tell women to wet their hair then put a generous amount of baking soda in the palm of their hand along with some shampoo, and to scrub their hair and scalp. Rinse and wash again with only shampoo. Use a conditioner, massage into the hair, and rinse all of it out. Don't skimp on the conditioner part, and don't forget to rinse well. -- Wendy A., Newberg, Oregon

Wendy, for women who color their hair it is especially important to take time to do a deep conditioning. This is also vital for women whose hair is turning white or gray. Our hair usually gets drier as we age, so keeping it clean and healthy is important. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: My doctor wants me to take a multivitamin and a little extra vitamin D. Unfortunately, I keep forgetting to take them and usually remember when I'm about to drift off to sleep. How can I remember to take my vitamins? -- Shelly K., Fresno, California

Shelly, keep your vitamin in the same place that you keep your cereal bowl or your coffee, or place them on the kitchen counter where you'll see them every day. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: When traveling I would occasionally lose one of my earrings. However, I found a simple solution to this problem. I bought a pillbox that is labeled with each day of the week. I placed a pair of earrings in each little compartment. However, I didn't like the way my earrings seemed to rattle around in these compartments, so I bought a sheet of felt at a craft store. Then I cut out small squares to fit the compartments and glued them down. My earrings are cushioned, and I haven't lost a single earring to date. -- Laura J., Albany, New York


Dear Heloise: Our family physician told my husband and me that we had to cut back on certain foods to keep our cholesterol down. One of the easiest ways was to cut back on the amount of red meat we consume. Three times a week we go meatless all day. We have lots of fruit and vegetables, and I have a huge cookbook with vegan recipes. Our cholesterol has dropped significantly, and our HDL is lower than our LDL! -- Diane and Bob W., Mapleton, Utah

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

(c)2022 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

Dear Heloise: I have three suggestions that I hope you will find useful to increase the usefulness of some common household items. I found that a grapefruit spoon is great for removing the tops of strawberries. It's quick and reduces the amount of strawberry lost. I use a loose leaf tea infuser ball or spoon -- the spring-loaded kind that looks like two spoons with holes put together -- as a mini flour or powdered sugar duster, which gets into small areas easily. And when my grill brush is too worn to be safely used for the grill, I use it to clean the mud off of my garden tools after a day's work. Thank you for taking the time to consider these suggestions. -- Gregory Mack, Fayetteville, Arkansas


Dear Heloise: May I offer a different perspective to R.M. in Red Oak, Texas? His wife took tongs to the store so that she could reach items on high shelves from her rider cart. A good friend told me that one person's need is another person's blessing. I often use a rider cart, too. Even standing, at 5 feet, 3 inches tall, there are many items I cannot reach in the grocery. I patiently wait for an employee or taller shopper to pass by. I politely ask for help. I have never been refused. I hope my need has been a blessing to a perfect stranger. -- L.H., Arcanum, Ohio


Dear Readers: If kitchen appliances, counters or a stainless-steel sink needs cleaning, sprinkle baking soda onto a wet sponge and rub well. Then rinse off. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: As we age, it gets harder and harder to read the very small print that says "best if used by" or use-by dates on dairy, meats, cheese, yogurt, lunch meat, etc. After I have found it with my trusty magnifying glass, I either write it on top of caps or across the clear package with my black permanent marker so that I can see it in a flash. Problem solved, and I save myself five to 10 minutes looking for the dates. -- Patty Flores, Granada Hills, California


Dear Heloise: I have a small bulletin board with safety pins in my laundry room that I use to pin into or next to where I've pretreated a stain. That way, I can verify it's gone before tossing the item into the dryer. A tip I learned from my dry cleaner. -- Jenny C., McKinney, Texas

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

(c)2022 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

Dear Heloise: My husband has to travel a couple of nights a week for business, which often leaves me free at dinnertime. Instead of going out to eat dinner alone, I plan ahead. Whenever I make a big dinner, I set aside a portion and freeze it. On the evenings my husband is gone, I microwave my "Mini-Me-Meal" and enjoy a home-cooked dinner while watching my favorite shows on TV. -- Sheila R., Tyler, Texas


Dear Heloise: Years ago, a friend of mine gave me a pamphlet you authored on baking soda and its many uses, including recipes. I loved it and referred to it numerous times. Well, it must have grown tiny feet and walked off, because I can't find it anywhere. I'm desperate; I need another copy. In fact, I need two copies: one for me and one for my daughter-in-law. How can I go about getting a new copy? -- Karen P., Clifton, New Jersey

Karen, getting a new copy of my Heloise's Baking Soda Hints and Recipes pamphlet is easy. Just go to or send $5 per pamphlet, along with a stamped, self-addressed, long envelope to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.

If you like the baking soda pamphlet, you'd love its cousin, Heloise's Fantabulous Vinegar Hints and More. It's $5, at Heloise/Vinegar, same address as baking soda. Armed with both of these pamphlets, you can clean just about anything, produce some tasty dishes and save time and money while you're at it. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I had so many recipes I'd cut out of magazines that would get lost or torn. Finally, I bought a large photo album, and now I keep all my recipes in there. I have four such books: one for main dishes, one for vegetables and pasta, one for desserts, and one for heart-healthy recipes. Now I don't lose recipes, and it's so easy to find the one I want. -- Angie C., Henderson, Nevada


Dear Heloise: I always hated the way oil would gather at the top of the peanut butter jar. I usually made a mess when I tried to stir it together with the peanut butter. Finally, a neighbor of mine told me to turn the jar upside-down on my pantry shelf. It was a little trick he learned from your column. Thanks, Heloise, for many years of informative information. -- Kathy and Susan, Glenrock, Wyoming


Dear Heloise: My husband and two sons love oatmeal at breakfast. They used to eat a sugary brand of oatmeal, but I didn't like them consuming so much sugar. Things had to change. Now I make oatmeal with 1% fat milk instead of water and add just a little honey and some fruit. My husband liked the idea of eating healthier. The boys became accustomed to it very quickly, but then like most teenage boys, they just inhale food rather than eating it. -- Margie B., York, Pennsylvania

(c)2022 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

Today's Sound Off is about selling your home:

Dear Heloise: I'm tired of people calling me at all hours and asking if I want to sell my home. I've told them "No, and please do not call me again."

As it so happens, I'm on the Do Not Call list, but so far that hasn't stopped anyone. I sincerely believe many of these callers are scammers, and if they are not, they are certainly a bunch of creeps.

If I wanted to list my house for sale, I would do it with someone I know and trust, not some random stranger. As things are now, I plan to stay here for a long time.

Lately I've been gathering the phone numbers of the callers, and I plan to hand it over to the people at the Do Not Call Registry. I've been told there is a stiff financial penalty for violating this service. -- Lisa E., Camden, New Jersey

Lisa, 31 days after you register with the Do Not Call Registry you can file a claim in small claims court. It will cost you money and legwork, but you can sue a company that repeatedly violates your privacy and time. The fine to the company or telemarketer varies from state to state.

The Federal Trade Commission pursues violators. You can also go to or call (888) 382-1222 for additional advice and information. -- Heloise


Leaving a phone message for someone? Please remember ...

-- Speak a little slower.

-- Be sure to leave your full name and phone number.

-- Keep your message as brief as possible.

-- Don't mumble or hold the phone too close to your mouth.

-- If at all possible, don't talk on the phone while driving.


Dear Heloise: What is the difference between kosher salt and regular table salt? -- Ava T., Hanover, New Hampshire

Ava, regular salt is granulated and usually has a free-flowing agent added. Kosher salt is a coarse flake without a free-flowing agent added. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I've never been a slave to fashion, and decided years ago to live in comfortable clothing. At 81, I feel I've earned the right to wear comfortable shoes, which means I don't wear high heels anymore. By wearing tennis shoes and ballerina flats, I've avoided falling, bunions and back problems. Personally, I believe more people should wear flats and ignore fashion. Fashion trends are for the young, but older women should wear what they want. After all, no one looks good when their feet hurt. -- Beth V., Kent, Washington

Beth, wearing an ill-fitting shoe can cause damage to the foot, which might create a need for surgery. Bunions, hammer toe, foot corns and Morton's neuroma are just a few problems associated with wearing ill-fitting shoes. If it's a toss-up between beauty and comfort in shoes, go for comfort. Even movie stars have been known to wear tennis shoes under designer evening gowns that cost thousands of dollars -- Heloise

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

(c)2022 by King Features Syndicate Inc.