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Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off is about letting children run loose in restaurants. -- Heloise

"Dear Heloise: My husband and I went to an upscale restaurant to celebrate our 10th anniversary. It wasn't cheap, but this was a special occasion, and might have been fun if it were not for one couple who let their three very young children run around the restaurant. They were loud, as children will be when playing, ran around tables, nearly tripped a waiter with a heavy tray and would stop at various tables and ask strangers to get them a soda. I love children and have two of my own, but this type of behavior is unnecessary and dangerous for the child." -- Kathy G., Huntington Beach

Fast facts

Dear Readers: People who like to knit baby items, scarves and mittens usually have leftover yarn. There are a number of things you can do with odd pieces of yarn:

  • Use to tie up climbing ivy or roses.
  • Cut short lengths and put outside for nesting birds.
  • Make a scrap-yarn afghan, a striped sweater, scarf or mittens with different colors.
  • Donate it to a nursing home where people like to spend time knitting. -- Heloise

Button, button

Dear Heloise: I bought a beautiful white silk blouse with the cutest buttons, but it didn't come with any spare buttons. To make certain I never lost one of those buttons, I reinforced them by sewing them on with unwaxed dental floss. I've had this blouse four years, and I still have all the buttons! -- Molly K., Glenview, Illinois

Who's that?

Dear Heloise: I just went through some old photos and on the back wrote the names of the people in the photograph, the place, month and year (if I remembered), and anything else I thought was important. This is so my kids can enjoy these photographs and not wonder who it was or where it was taken. I have pictures of my great-grandmother with her mother, but no one would know who they were if it were not for the information on the back. -- Hazel S., Great Falls, Montana

Off with bedspread

Dear Heloise: One thing my family has always done is remove the bedspread in every hotel and motel we've stayed at while traveling. It is the one thing (besides drapes) that doesn't get laundered on a regular basis. Please pass the word along: Remove the bedspread, and don't use it during your stay. -- Jan T., West Carrollton, Ohio

Jan, this is a very good hint, and one I usually do as well. -- Heloise

Sales details

Dear Heloise: I get to know the sales associates and managers at my favorite stores. They tell me about upcoming sales, when new merchandise is due to come out and what's going on clearance! They also can call around to other stores and help find things that they are sold out of.

And I always fill out online surveys, and I give feedback when it's requested. This is helpful to all parties. -- Mary V. in California

Rise up!

Dear Heloise: I found risers for my daughter's bed. They lift the bed 6 to 7 more inches off the floor -- more space to store toys, sweaters, blankets, summer clothes, etc., under the bed.

It is fun for her to literally climb into bed, and it's easier to show her that there are no monsters under the bed!

I found mine at a discount retailer. -- Heather P. in Ohio

Readers, make sure your child is past the stage of possibly rolling out of bed at night before raising the bed. -- Heloise

Staff helper

Dear Heloise: I so enjoy your column.

Question: In our little hometown restaurant, sometimes it is busy and short-staffed, so I will stack our dishes and put them, along with cups and glasses on one side of the table, or even put them in the bus tub on our way out.

Is this helpful and acceptable, or should I leave them alone? Thanks for your input. -- Linda E., Jacksonville, Illinois

Linda, for a small hometown restaurant, it's a nice gesture for you to help clear the dishes. It's a small chore, and if they are short-staffed, I'm sure it's appreciated. Readers, what do you say? -- Heloise

Nailed it

Dear Heloise: I work as a nail technician, and I have something to say. Fellas, you should pay attention to your hands and fingernails. After washing your hands with soap and warm water, when drying them, use the towel to push back your cuticles and rough skin in your nail beds. Nobody thinks raggedy cuticles are cute.

Keep your nails cut short and straight across and filed so there are no rough edges. By the way, yes, men do get professional manicures. I have lots of male clients.

And don't forget about your toes, toenails and rough heels, too. Twenty nails to keep clean and neat. -- Janet T. in Florida

Microwave in place

Dear Heloise: I had a problem with my microwave moving or slipping on my countertop when I pulled the door open. At the discount store, I spied a nonslip bathmat.

This has worked well under the microwave. The bathmat has little suction cups on it. -- H.M. in San Antonio 

Fashion gets a rip

Dear Heloise: I saw on a luxury retailer's site a distressed, washed and ripped sweatshirt for over $100. This is a trend, apparently! I decided to make my own.

I bought a pretty pink sweatshirt from the discount store for $8, and snipped a couple of cuts around the neckline, and a few at the bottom hem. Then I tore the snipped sections to create a raw edge that will fray.

I laundered, stretched and tumbled it dry. It looked as cool as the $100 shirt! (It may take a couple of washes for the fraying to appear.) -- Heather G. in California

Love saving money on these trends! -- Heloise

Rice is nice

Dear Heloise: To make a small "heating pad," I take a cup or two of rice and pour it into an old sock, tie it off and heat it in the microwave for one minute. This works nicely on small areas and sprains, and molds around the body. -- Tanya A. in Cleveland

Test to make sure there are no hot spots in the sock. -- Heloise

The brushoff

Dear Heloise: Once a month or so, I use a dry brush and gently "brush" my skin before showering. This helps to remove dead skin. It can boost circulation, too. -- Leigh M. in Wisconsin

Talk to your doctor to make sure this is safe if you have any skin issues. -- Heloise

Ancient library?

Dear Heloise: Today, everything is at our fingertips. Got a question? Look up the answer on the internet on your phone.

The thrill of the pursuit of information seemingly is over. I loved going to the library, flipping through the paper catalog and going on a treasure hunt for the book I wanted up in "the stacks" (the book storage area).

Just curious -- what do your readers think of this? Is the library becoming a dinosaur? -- Rick D. in Pennsylvania

Shoes in the house?

Dear Readers: Wearing shoes in the house? Maybe you shouldn't. Here are some reasons:

  • Shoes you wear out of the house can get really dirty! They may pick up germs and dirt from streets, office buildings, elevators or public restrooms.
  • Hardwood floors can be damaged from high heels!
  • Feet need to "rest" and relax -- you know, when you take off work shoes, heels or boots and say, "ahhhhhhhhh!"

Consider your lifestyle: Your feet should be happy and healthy, and if so, you will feel better. Barefoot gal in Texas! -- Heloise

Fresh fruit in tea

Dear Heloise: I've discovered a delicious way to infuse fruit flavors into my iced tea. I skewer blueberries, strawberries or raspberries (sometimes all of them) and set them in the teapot when I brew tea for my iced tea. This adds a little bit of flavor. -- M.M. in Texas

Well, as a Southern gal who drinks of lot of "home-brewed" iced and hot tea, I love this! I take a peek in the refrigerator to see what fresh fruit is there. I'll rinse and cut up strawberries, blackberries, peaches and even apples to drop into the teapot. This makes delicious tea for a cup of hot tea or a glass of iced tea! I brew it strong, so when poured into a glass filled with ice, the tea still has that wonderful quenching effect.

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If you would like to learn a little more about tea and coffee, I put together a pamphlet filled with my favorite tea and coffee hints. Visit to order it, or send a long, stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope, along with $3, to: Heloise/Coffee and Teas, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio TX 78279-5001. A quick way to "spice up" a pot of hot tea? Hard candies like peppermint, butterscotch or peach. -- Heloise

Shower power

Dear Readers: If you or a family member uses a shower seat, the plastic seat can be slippery when wet.

Cover the seat with shelf liner. Some, you will find, have a "nubbly" texture that is nonslip. This will give a more comfortable and safer place to sit. -- Heloise 

Kitchen clutter

Dear Readers: Does your silverware tray slide around in the drawer? Take paper towel cores and slip them behind the tray. This should keep the tray snug in the drawer. -- Heloise

Removing fingerprints

Dear Heloise: I use the last slice of white bread on my walls. I mash it into a ball, then sort of mush it into a smudge or fingerprint to remove it. -- Dannie T., Dayton, Ohio

Head to the mall?

Dear Heloise: I'm wondering how your readers feel about shopping malls? When I was a kid, I loved spending time at the mall with my friends; some malls had carousels, ice-skating rinks and movie theaters, and they all had wonderful food courts with delicious choices of eats. But now so many malls are going out of business.

In San Antonio, we still have malls that are doing well, but off-price stores and shopping online are gaining in popularity.

Will your readers always go to the mall? Do you like the energy there? The service? The people? It was convenient to have all the big stores under one roof, and years ago, I used to walk in the mall for exercise. That was fun.

The salespeople in the kiosks outside of the stores can be pretty pushy, but I've learned to just say, "No, thank you."

Is the shopping mall becoming a thing of the past? Hopefully not! -- Jana B., Helotes, Texas

Readers, what do you say about the shopping mall? I've done many book signings in many malls over the years -- a great place to come together! -- Heloise

Save it for later

Dear Heloise: I read your column (regularly). I want to keep some of your hints to reference later.

To hold your column until I'm ready to "laminate" (with tape) the front side, I lay the back side of the newspaper column against the sticky side of leakproof sealing wrap. Then I cover the front side of the article with the clear packaging tape.

Now I can cut it out and tape it to the fridge, microwave, a mirror, a notebook or wherever I want, and it is protected from splashes. -- Jackie in Santa Ana

Hint from him

Dear Heloise: There's no need to slice yourself instead of your bagel. Lay the bagel flat, cut first downward so that you have two semicircles. Then stand each half-bagel on its flat cut and slice downward again.

Four perfect quarter-bagels that still fit in the toaster just fine. If you then insist on having circles again, just spackle the pieces together with a little extra cream cheese! -- Neil S., Falls Church, Virginia

Trunk cleanup

Dear Readers: Take an hour to clean out the trunk of your car. Sort and donate things you don't use, and find a place in the house for things you do use. Carrying less cargo may improve your gas mileage!

Next, sprinkle some baking soda in the trunk to deodorize. Let it sit for an hour or overnight, and then vacuum thoroughly.

The baking soda will absorb any bad odors, and is a multiuse workhorse around the house, outside and in your auto. It is cheap and safe. If you would like a collection of my favorite money-saving baking soda hints, visit to order, or send a large, stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio TX 78279-5001. To freshen a drain, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda mixed with 1/4 cup of salt into the drain, and then add 1/2 cup of vinegar. The mixture will bubble! Let it sit for 30 minutes, and flush with lots of water. -- Heloise

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