Dear Readers: When it comes to housework, organization is key. You'll save steps, get more done and have more time for other things. A daily schedule, with all of your tasks listed, can help get chores done. Here's an example:

  • Monday: Bathrooms. Deep clean sinks/toilets/tubs/showers.
  • Tuesday: Kitchen. Tackle the fridge and throw out spoiled foods. Wipe out the microwave. Clean the floor.
  • Wednesday: Living room. Thorough dusting and vacuuming. Flip the couch cushions, and pick up newspapers and clutter.
  • Thursday: Bedrooms. Change the sheets. Dust, and clean the floor well.
  • Friday: Pickup day for little chores.

Saturday and Sunday usually are laundry days for many families. Get the family on board and have them pitch in. Everyone can help, even with a simple chore. -- Heloise

Funeral funding?

Dear Heloise: We recently read a request in an obituary for contributions to be given to the children or grandchildren of the deceased for their education. Also, requests are made to send contributions to the funeral home to defray the cost of the funeral. I've seen this a few times, and it seems new to me. -- Gin, Lewistown, Pennsylvania

Gin, a lot may depend on the family's circumstances or customs. Most importantly, do what you feel is right. Many notices will have that in place of flowers, donations be made to an organization, such as a medical one, or an animal rescue or other group. However, if you are uncomfortable with that, send a nice card with a handwritten note. It will mean a lot, I promise! -- Heloise

Fast facts

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for masking tape:

  • Remove pet hair from clothing, lampshades, sofas, chairs, etc.
  • Tag computer wires for an easier installation after a move.
  • Use as nameplates for jars and shelves.
  • Label the containers when freezing foods. -- Heloise

A sweet scent

Dear Heloise: I have another use for those perfume and cologne strips in magazines: If you cut the strips from the magazines without opening them, they make great bookmarks for your latest novel or magazine article. You get a whiff of the fragrance each time you open your books. -- Kelly M., Gerrardstown, West Virgina

It's certainly a nice way to open a book. However, please don't use this on very old or antique books, as it may harm the paper. -- Heloise

P.S. I tear the ads out and save them. Then when it's time to reline the bathroom wastebasket, I open the scent part and squish the whole page down into the bottom. It seems nice for some time, and when I empty the trash can, I dump the whole thing. No mess on the bottom, either. A double-duty hint!

Readers, what do you do with these lovely scented inserts? Oh, if you don't like them, most magazines can send you a magazine that does not contain any.

Wash your hands

Dear Heloise: Please tell your readers to wash their hands before they put away their groceries. They've used a cart with a handle that several people have touched; handled money, which is filthy; and handled boxes that were stacked by someone else. This is especially important during flu and cold season. -- Gloria M., Bellingham, Washington

Yuck! However, you are correct. If you can't wash your hands, do use a hand sanitizer. I keep a small one in my purse and find myself using it several times a day when out and about. -- Heloise

Clean coffeepot

Dear Heloise: How can I clean the office coffee machine? It gets clogged with minerals because it is on all day, and we go through a lot of pots of coffee. Help! -- Amy W. in Ohio

Amy, don't panic. Help is here. Of course, you should check the manual or look it up online. However, my trusty buddy, full-strength white or apple-cider vinegar, will do the trick safely.

Fill the water reservoir with 1 or 2 cups of vinegar, and turn on the machine. Run the hot vinegar through a second time. Pour the vinegar down the drain in the break room for freshness. Run the machine with several cycles of water to remove any trace of vinegar.

For more hints on using vinegar, send for my pamphlet. Go to www.heloise.com to order, or send $5 and a stamped, self-addressed, long envelope to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio TX 78279-5001. Wash the coffeepot and basket with warm, soapy water, then rinse and dry to prevent water spots. Also, the drip area of the machine can accumulate oil; clean it, too. -- Heloise

I don't drive!

Dear Readers: Here is a letter of laughter from 1981 that rings true for any parent or grandparent. -- Heloise

"Heloise: After an exasperating day with my preschool son, I had taken all I thought I could take. 'James!' I cried, 'You're driving me crazy!'

"With big, innocent eyes, he said, 'Mom, I can't be doing that -- I don't even know how to drive!'" -- Janie

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The notebook

Dear Heloise: I gave my little granddaughter her own small notebook. I wrote in it little notes and phone numbers. She pretends she's my secretary, and she's keeping notes for me. Every time we meet, I add in a new note or number! -- Grandma Ruth, Reading, Pennsylvania 

All bottled up

Dear Heloise: When traveling by air, there's one thing you really need in your carry-on bag: an empty water bottle. After going through security, you can fill it up at a water fountain. Many times I've been on a rough flight where refreshments were not served, and it came in handy. -- Kathy P., Port Charlotte, Florida

Keeping in touch

Dear Heloise: Most of us have friends who, for many reasons, have drifted away. A couple of years ago, some of my friends and I started to reconnect, and we decided to get together once a month. We choose a restaurant using the alphabet: first month the letter A, the second month the letter B and so on. Sometimes we travel out of our community, and sometimes we meet close by, but we always have fun and stay in touch with each other. -- S.D.J.B., via email

Paraffin wax

Dear Heloise: Is household paraffin wax edible? Nowhere on the box does it say "edible." -- Janice P., via email

Janice, paraffin is used as an ingredient in making chocolate, especially chocolates that are given shapes, such as Easter bunnies or Santas. A little wax is mixed in to make the chocolate hold its shape and to add shine. Paraffin wax is actually nondigestible, which means it passes through the body without being absorbed. However, eating a large amount of paraffin is dangerous and can lead to intestinal blockage, which can be very serious! -- Heloise

Spaghetti squash

Dear Readers: The humble spaghetti squash can be used in place of pasta, but unlike pasta, spaghetti squash has only 42 calories per serving (1 cup); pasta can have nearly 200 calories per serving (1 cup). Pasta also is lacking in vitamins C and A, while spaghetti squash has both vitamins. Spaghetti squash is high in beta carotene, which helps prevent heart disease. The level of potassium in spaghetti squash helps lower high blood pressure over time. The omega-6 fatty acid is excellent for the brain, and the folate contained in spaghetti squash is essential for pregnant women to help prevent birth defects. Also, spaghetti squash contains zero grams of cholesterol.

When a recipe calls for pasta, you might want to replace it with spaghetti squash for a more interesting and nutritious dish. -- Heloise

Stronger, healthier

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: heloise@heloise.com.

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