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Dear Readers: Today's Sound On is about organ donation. -- Heloise

"Dear Heloise: My 17-year-old son received a new kidney after the tragic death of a young woman in an auto accident, and he is now doing fine. He had kidney problems almost from birth, and the doctors said I'd lose him before he turned 30 unless he received a kidney transplant. No parent wants to outlive his or her children, but thankfully a donor was finally found. I would like to raise awareness of how desperately donated organs are needed. To those who have graciously become organ donors, thank you, from a very grateful mother." -- Lisa G., Ann Arbor, Michigan

Fast facts

Dear Heloise: Here are some money-saving tips that help people all year:

  • Clip coupons and carry them in a separate container in your purse or wallet.
  • Brown-bag it to work. Going out to eat gets expensive.
  • Before you make a purchase "just because you like it," ask yourself if you really need it.
  • Call credit-card companies or banks and ask them to drop their penalty or overdraft fees. -- A Reader, via email

Pop the cork!

Dear Heloise: Aloha! I've been saving wine bottle corks, and I use them to top skewers when preparing a whole chicken for roasting. You're safe from poking yourself or tearing the foil, and it's easy to remove when the cooking is done. -- Liz H., Kauai, Hawaii

Liz, aloha to you, too! -- Heloise

Container ideas

Dear Readers: The question of what to do with all of your empty plastic containers motivated many of you to send me some hints:

Carol F. wrote: "Call a day care center. They usually can use empty plastic containers for crayons, paints or other craft materials."

Win G. wrote: "I give them to a local senior center, and they use them to send any leftovers home after the daily lunches."

April B. wrote: "I keep them and fill them with Christmas cookies and candies."

June K. wrote: "I keep a supply of chalk in empty containers so my granddaughters can draw on the sidewalk when they visit."

Thanks to all my readers who had so many great ideas to share. -- Heloise

That 'caps' it

Dear Heloise: It's easier to replace the cap on a spray product if the cap is placed upside down on the counter and the upside-down can is pressed into the cap. -- Marge G., via email

Cleaning jewelry

Dear Heloise: I love turquoise jewelry. What's the best way to clean it? -- Crystal M. in California

Crystal, turquoise is a lovely light-blue stone. It is fairly hardy, but high temperatures can damage it. Wash your turquoise pieces in warm, soapy water. Don't use ultrasonic or steam cleaners. Lay flat to dry. -- Heloise

Vertical style

Dear Heloise: I've discovered that if I fold my T-shirts and stand them up vertically in the drawer, I can fit more shirts in, and I can see exactly what colors I have, and the quantity of each.

This works for jeans, socks and bras, also. -- Susan in Texas

Take a break

Dear Readers: The boss might not like this, but it's a fact: Taking breaks throughout your workday can increase your productivity.

You need to rest your eyes from your computer -- this will help with stress headaches, too. A walk around, if it's feasible, will allow you to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.

Taking breaks helps you accomplish more at work, and that should please the boss! -- Heloise

Be happy

Dear Heloise: My hint is simple: I don't worry about things I can't control. This mindset has given me freedom! -- Annalisa G. in New York

Wedding views

Dear Heloise: Please tell brides to step outside for a moment when trying on wedding gowns, especially if they are having an outdoor ceremony. This way, they can tell whether sunlight shows everything under the skirt. I had to make a last-minute slip out of a nightgown when I discovered this mistake at my wedding. If I had known about this before the wedding, I'd have bought a half slip! -- Julianna T., Bettendorf, Iowa

Wear it again?

Dear Heloise: Why do brides tell their bridesmaids that the dresses they've chosen for their attendants can be worn again? Six times I've heard, "Just shorten the skirt and you have a cocktail dress." One of my bridesmaid dresses was in black-and-white stripes! Lined up at the altar, we looked like an overdressed chain gang! I wish brides would just pick simple styles with no adornment for their attendants so we really could wear them again. -- Connie A. in Boston

Silk flowers

Dear Heloise: In response to cleaning silk flowers, a designer of silk flowers recommended using a hair dryer once a month to blow dust off flowers. It works! -- Judy I., The Villages, Florida

Judy, I've tried this method, and yes, it works like a charm! -- Heloise

What's your sign

Dear Heloise: Homeowners should make sure their address is easily visible from the street. I have had to call friends to ensure I was at the correct house because the house number was not visible at night.

This could be a potentially dangerous situation if an emergency response vehicle (e.g., ambulance, police, fire company) had to take extra time to find your address. -- Beatrice G., Hazleton, Pennsylvania

Check with your city government to see what it recommends, and for hints on painting your house number on the curb. -- Heloise

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Extra button

Hi, Heloise: I enjoy your column. Whenever I buy an article of clothing with an extra button included, I write a description of the article and the month and year I bought it on the price tag, and staple it to the little bag containing the button.

I keep all of these in a box. Every year or two, I go through the box and pull any buttons for articles to go to donation. This method also helps me find the extra button I need quickly. -- Karen D. in San Antonio

Great attention to detail, Karen! -- Heloise

Solar lights

Dear Heloise: I wanted to do something special for my beloved mother when she passed away; silk flowers fade quickly.

I found twinkling solar lights, and I thought this was the perfect thing to put by her headstone. The twinkling of the lights in the evening made a joyful sight. -- Helen J., Columbus, Ohio

My condolences on the loss of your precious mom, Helen. Moms are the best. Readers, how do you honor your parents who have passed on? -- 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: