Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off is about not sending back an RSVP for seated events. -- Heloise

"Dear Heloise: I recently had a wedding, for which we sent out the invitations four weeks ahead of the event, along with RSVP cards. Sixty-four people said they were coming, but 88 showed up. We sent the RSVP cards because we were having a sit-down dinner for the number who RSVP-ed! We had an evening wedding, which did not include children, and yet people brought small children and infants.

"Have we, as a society, lost our manners? When an RSVP is included in an invitation, you need to reply as soon as possible. If someone's name is not on the inner envelope of a wedding invitation, then that person is not invited, and that includes children." -- Mary Ann and Dave K., Washington, D.C.

Fast facts

Dear Readers: Here are a few uses for a hair dryer besides just drying hair:

  • Use to soften glue on stubborn labels.
  • Use to remove dust from artificial flowers.
  • Use to dry a wet area of your clothing.
  • Use to dry nail polish on toes or hands. -- Heloise

Below the surface

Dear Heloise: I gently press a hard-boiled egg on a hard surface and roll it back and forth in order to generate mini cracks over the entire shell. Then I take a spoon, with the cup side down, and gently insert it into one of the larger cracks and pry the shell from the egg. Oftentimes, the entire shell will come off with one prying action. -- Ginger S., via email

Ask a plumber

Dear Heloise: My plumber told me to never flush facial tissues down the toilet because they can easily clog the pipes: They're meant to keep their shape and strength when wet, unlike toilet paper, which is made to dissolve easier when flushed. -- Happy Mom and Grandmom, Centerville, Ohio

Wrinkle worry

Dear Heloise: I have a new set of 100 percent cotton sheets, which I washed and rinsed in cold water and hung out to dry. Results? A gazillion wrinkles! What should I do differently to remove all of the wrinkles? -- Old Washer Woman in Rockingham, Virginia

Try spritzing the sheets with a light spray of water. First put the pillow in its pillowcase, then lightly spritz with water while holding the pillowcase up by the cuff. Then shake up and down a few times. You can spray the sheets while they hang on the line, then try a little pulling and see if this helps. Otherwise, you'll have to iron your sheets, because 100 percent cotton usually wrinkles to some extent. -- Heloise

Dirty towels

Dear Heloise: If soap and water make you clean, why do towels get dirty? -- Alfred D., Tampa, Florida

Alfred, if you use soap and water properly, the towel won't get dirty. However, dead skin cells will be rubbed off when you dry yourself. Then there is the matter of towels developing mildew and odor from being damp, so they need to be washed frequently. -- Heloise

Safe money

Dear Readers: Are your bank accounts insured? Yes, they are. They are insured through the FDIC. What is the FDIC? The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. ( was established in 1933, during the Great Depression. It will protect your bank accounts if your bank were to fail.

If you are a member of a credit union, your money is insured by the National Credit Union Administration (, whose guidelines are similar. Once you open an account, you are covered.

Some investment products sold through financial institutions are not insured, such as mutual funds and life insurance policies.

Also, the FDIC and the NCUA don't protect you against fraud on your account. But if there's a check written against your account that wasn't written by you, or if there's other fraud on your account, your bank or credit union should fully reimburse you.

The law says banks and credit unions have to give you provisional credit within 10 days, but most banks will give you the credit right away. Check with your bank or credit union for more information. -- Heloise

Phone finder

Dear Heloise: Here's how I prevent losing my phone:

I never place anything over my phone -- no newspaper, mail, purse or blanket.

I put a brightly colored case on my phone, because many car interiors, furniture and purse interiors are black, and trying to see a black phone can be difficult.

I love your column! -- Estelle in Cleveland

Upside down

Dear Heloise: After I open a package of baby wipes or hand wipes and pull one out, I turn the whole plastic package of them upside down, flat, so the "opening" is on the bottom.

This seals out air and ensures that the next one you pull out will be clean, moist and ready to use. I rarely waste any this way. -- Heidi M., Kerrville, Texas

This works for the pouches of wipes; leakage can occur if you turn a jar of wipes upside down. Thank you, Heidi! -- Heloise

A sticky issue

Dear Heloise: Hard to find the end of a roll of tape? Leave just enough at the end to turn it back onto itself. When you go to use it again, just grab the tab you left the last time. -- Dick E., via email

To the rescue!

Dear Heloise: My husband had open-heart surgery, and the hospital staff could not get his wedding ring off. They used a common window cleaner to spray his finger, and the ring came right off. It also worked to get rings to slide over my arthritic knuckles.

I always enjoy reading your column in The Washington Post. -- Kathy S., via email 

A quick tip

Dear Heloise: I have a quick tip about cellphone contacts. When I add a doctor or other business as a contact, I always take a picture of the address and hours from the website or business card, and save it as the contact image. It is helpful to have that info handy whenever I need to call. -- Tamaron J., Reynoldsburg, Ohio

Reference checks

Dear Heloise: I've worked in human resources for over 20 years, and I have a piece of advice for job applicants: Please do not have a friend or family member call a place where you once worked and pretend to be a potential employer doing a background check. I know everyone is curious, but there are some serious problems that might knock you out of the running for a job you really want:

  • No matter how much someone wants to help you, it's entirely possible he or she will ask illegal questions (such as date of birth) or get too inquisitive about your work history. This sets off a red flag. We wonder what you're so afraid we'll find out.
  • Don't assume you can sue a former employer just because your friend heard negative information from the person he or she spoke to. Your friend's word will not hold up in court, especially if the information is true. -- A Reader, via email


Dear Heloise: Very often, I would run out of the house without my phone, because it was charging in another room. Now I put a sticky note on top of my purse that says "phone" to remind me to grab it.

I also have one for "water" to remind me to take the water in the fridge. -- Jeri G., Washington, D.C.

Leftover hint

Dear Heloise: In response to Betsy M., who said her husband refuses to eat leftovers, I said the same thing to my wife about three weeks after we were married. She handed me an apron and pointed toward the kitchen. If I wanted original meals every night, she said I should get busy and start cooking. That was 46 years ago, and I've been a good boy ever since. By the way, I eat leftovers! -- Stanley H., Leesburg, Virginia

The following letter has another hint about leftovers. -- Heloise

No leftovers?

Dear Heloise: To help the new bride whose hubby won't eat leftovers, I suggest she call them "planned-overs." That's what I have called them for years, and it goes over much better with my family. -- Lisa R., Cayce, South Carolina

Coffee fund

Dear Heloise: My daughter was recently hospitalized. Several nurses and support staff did an excellent job of caring for her.

Instead of buying a bouquet of fresh flowers that will eventually die, I bought a container of live plants and suggested that the staff auction it off after seven days. The proceeds went to the staff's coffee fund. I was told that it worked out very well. -- Luetta S., via email

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The payoff

Dear Heloise: My friends and I are trying something new. We are taking one day per week and making it a "No Spend Day." The goal is to spend absolutely no money during the course of that one day. Sounds great, right? It's not as easy as it sounds, and it requires planning.

The biggest plan necessary is for lunch and snacks at work and school. This can be an incredible expense. We didn't realize how much money we are actually spending!

We shop for meals one day per week and make a list to take to the store, and stick to that list.

We are college students, and every penny is important to us. The "no spend" challenge is a hard one, but it's worth it! We can see the difference in our bank accounts. -- Carrie S., Austin, Texas

Kudos, Carrie! Planning ahead? I'm in. Saving dollars? I'm in! -- Heloise

Hey, watch it!

Dear Heloise: I enjoy your column. Can't we buy a windup watch anymore? Many big-box retailers won't change batteries for watches unless you've purchased the watch from them.

I hope I can put a "bug" in someone's ear to get manufacturers to make windup watches. -- A Senior Citizen in Pittsburgh

Handful of hints

Dear Heloise: Here are some of my hints:

  • With a felt pen, I label and date everything I put into my refrigerator.
  • I made a throw with a large pocket for the arm of my rocker. I keep a flashlight, a phone and the TV remote in it.
  • On the end table, I have a pen and paper. Each time I call a company for repairs or anything, I write down the name of the company, the date and time, and the phone number I called.
  • When I bake cookies, I freeze and wrap them separately. I can pack them for lunches. -- Elaine H., Port Charlotte, Florida

Right name

Dear Heloise: I taught my kids the correct words for their body parts, not cute "baby-talk" terms. It was difficult at first, I admit, but many experts say that we need to be real with our children at all times. Embarrassment passes quickly.

This could come in handy if the child has a medical issue. The child may have to talk to a teacher, doctor or other authority figure. We need to understand our kids! -- Sarah D. in North Carolina

Honesty is always best. Very young children may not understand big words, but do the best you can. -- Heloise 

Leave a message!

Dear Heloise: Why do people call and not leave a message? I may just be in the yard, with the dog outside or in the shower. Please leave me a message! -- A Reader, Youngstown, Ohio

Pins in tins

Dear Heloise: Every time I get a safety pin from the dry cleaners, I store it in a little tin that once held breath mints. You never know when you'll need a safety pin, and it recycles both the pin and the tin. -- Nell F., Ellsworth, Maine 

Recycling check

Dear Heloise: In response to the reader who tries to be green and wanted to know where he can recycle plastic foam: I recommend that the reader check with his city's or county's solid waste agency. Our agency's site lets us enter a product online and tells where that item can be recycled in the jurisdiction. -- Liz B., via email

Houseplant helper

Dear Heloise: Crushed eggshells are a great fertilizer for houseplants. I save them up until I have about two dozen. I don't rinse them, for fear of washing away wonderful nutrients, but I let them dry completely, and crush them into fine pieces in a zippered bag.

I dig a shallow ditch under the plant, sprinkle in the shells, then re-cover and water as usual. Oh my! The plants nearly double in size, and they are covered in blooms! -- B.J., via email

Hair conditioner

Dear Heloise: Rub an inexpensive hair conditioner into bare nails, cuticles, toes and heels at night, but be sure to wear socks to keep the sheets clean. Your nails will feel and appear stronger and healthier. -- Sharon L. in San Antonio

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio TX 78279-5000; fax: 1-210-HELOISE; email: