Dear Heloise: I live in a small home and have a few SPACE-SAVING HINTS:
1. The dirty clothes go directly into the washing machine. When it's full, I take the clothes out, sort and wash. I also store the detergent container in the washer.
2. A drawer will hold more by having a plastic tool tray to keep things organized. In the desk drawer, I fold papers in thirds and stand them up as in a file cabinet.
3. I like interesting-looking baskets (I get them cheap at yard sales). They are decorations AND storage space.
4. In the kitchen, trays, cutting boards, place mats, trivets, cookie sheets, etc., stand up together in the cabinet.
5. There was space going to waste in the refrigerator. Canned, bottled and packaged items go in it, even if they don't need refrigeration. The refrigerator runs more efficiently when fuller, too.
— Jean F., Three Forks, Mont.
Wonderful! With the new year upon us, it's time to declutter and get organized! — Heloise
Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for old ashtrays:
• Use them to hold loose change.
• When doing watercolors, use the cigarette slots to hold your brushes.
• Use as a soap dish in the bathroom.
• They're good candle bases.
UP AND DOWN
Dear Heloise: I have a wooden knife rack that my steak knives go into. For years, I put the steak knives into the slots with the cutting side DOWN.
One day, I looked at the rack and noticed that the knives were cutting into the wood! Now I put the knives into the rack with the cutting side UP. Why didn't I think of that years ago? — Martie in Fullerton, Calif.
IT'S IN THE BAG
Dear Heloise: When I'm shopping for groceries, I may have errands to run before returning home. When I buy meat and other perishables, I'm concerned about them staying safe and fresh.
I have an insulated bag in my car, but to ensure that everything stays cold and protected, I also buy a couple of bags of frozen vegetables. This gives me peace of mind, and who can't use an extra bag or two of vegetables? — Dianne in Masontown, Pa.
Dear Heloise: Removing the inside protective cover from a jar of mayonnaise can be frustrating. These covers have small tabs that can be hard to get hold of and pull to remove.
I keep a pair of needle nose pliers in my kitchen gadget drawer for this task. They just grab those pesky little tabs and allow me to get that cover right off. — Sharry, via email
Dear Readers: Three quickies to help lower your heating bill this winter:
• Check to see if windows are sealed properly.
• Add insulation to your garage.
• Look into a smart thermostat — it knows where you are in your home.
You may qualify for a rebate from your energy company if you have the smart thermostat; call and ask. — Heloise
Dear Heloise: My husband maintains our cars. When he changes the oil, he resets the A trip odometer. When he rotates the tires, he resets the B trip odometer. I can check how long it's been to keep up with these maintenance items.
Also, in the kitchen, I refill everything refillable at once. If the pepper grinder is empty, I also refill the saltshaker, the dish soap and paper napkins, and the sugar bowl. — Carol in Orange County, N.Y.
GETTING A LEG UP
Dear Heloise: I enjoy reading your column every day in the (Harrisonburg, Va.) Daily News-Record. With the cold weather coming on, here's a hint:
If my legs get cold at work, my employer doesn't allow me to have a heater under my desk. I wear leggings under my pants legs. I have different colors to match, but mostly have black ones. People can't tell I have them on, and I stay warmer! If I get too hot, I take the leg warmers off! — Patsy E., Timberville, Va.
CHEAP AIR FRESHENER
Dear Heloise: Cologne from the dollar store makes a great air freshener for bathrooms. — Leslie W. in Dallas
Dear Readers: What will this year bring for you and your family?
Did you know that one of the best ways, as my old friend says, to predict the future is to create it?
Decide what you want, then go make it happen! But use baby steps. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, adjust your diet, up your exercise and be patient.
Want to pursue a new career? Learn all you can about it, and network with the proper people.
Want to get more organized? Daily, go through some stuff and downsize. You'll notice that your bank account will grow in the process!
Whatever you aspire to, I wish you success! — Heloise
Dear Heloise: You ran a column about teaching young kids to know their parents' names, address and phone numbers. Another thing parents should consider is taking a picture of the child before he or she leaves the house for school, or when the family arrives at a theme park or other event.
This way, if the child wanders off or goes missing, the parent has a picture of what the child looks like and what he or she is wearing, which makes it easier for officials to track down the child. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. — Rosemary J., Summerfield, Fla.
Excellent, Rosemary. Take pictures of your kids often. Weight, hair and clothing styles all change. — Heloise
Dear Heloise: I've been trying to find a pair of women's pajama bottoms with side pockets — impossible! Yet in the men's department, it is rare to find a pair without pockets.
I wish clothing manufacturers would understand that ladies like a place to stow things too, even when they're relaxing! — Kathy S., via email
YOU'D BETTER WORK!
Dear Heloise: I'm retired from a well-known discount store as a cashier. The lines were always backed up. There weren't self-checkouts, express lanes were a joke, we couldn't get enough relief cashiers to step in, and customers were stressed.
Why? Most people don't want to work nights, weekends and holidays for a low wage! — Moppy, a lifelong retail worker, via email
WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER?
Dear Heloise: I've been surprised by how many homes and apartments don't have house number signs. I understand people don't want solicitations, but a house number can mean the difference between life and death during an emergency.
In my area, mailboxes are clustered together, and it could be difficult for an EMT or a policeman to find a home. In many communities, EMTs depend on standard map apps, which are sometimes inaccurate. — Katherine M., via email
STICKY BUGS AND NEEDLES
Dear Heloise: I use a wad of duct tape with the sticky side out to dab up bugs and Christmas tree pine needles that are on the rug or floor. — Barb T. in Northwest Indiana