Dear Heloise: I have a suggestion for young travelers: Pick out one basic color when planning your travel wardrobe, such as gray, black, brown or even navy, and build around that one color. I use black -- black jeans with a red or white blouse, maybe a black sweater and a white one, a black pencil skirt and black low-heeled shoes. You can switch your clothing around to create new looks every day as long as you stick to one basic color. -- Emma G., Bakersfield
Spread the news
Dear Heloise: I have a suggestion I'd like to pass on for those who travel: Let a close relative or friend know when you're leaving and when you'll be returning, and, if possible, leave a phone number where you can be reached. My dad passed away when I was out of town, and no one had a way to reach me. My brother had to handle everything, and I never got to say goodbye to my Dad. -- Lorrie S., Benbrook, Texas
Dear Heloise: I have kitties, so I use a lint roller a lot. Each time after removing the used sheet on the lint roller, I turn up a small corner to make it easier to find the place to remove the next sheet. I enjoy your column and have found many great hints! -- Martha Q., Villa Park
Dear Heloise: I've discovered an easy way to save cash for a rainy day. I save every $5 bill I get. I put it aside and then, when I go to the bank, I put it in my savings account. I save for Christmas, property taxes, trips and more. Once the money is in the bank, I hate to take it out unless I really need it. Last year, I managed to save nearly $2,000 this way. -- Mandy T., King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
Dear Heloise: I need help cleaning my microwave. Suggestions? -- Connie P., via email
Connie, mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of water in a microwavable bowl and place it in the middle of the interior of the microwave oven. Heat this mixture for 3-5 minutes, depending on how much food is caked on the interior of the microwave. When the heating process is done, keep the door closed to give the steam time to work. Repeat if necessary. -- Heloise
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
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
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
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
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
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
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