Dear Heloise: My husband's brother and sister-in-law are coming for a visit, and I'd like to "wow" them with some tasty dishes, especially since my husband has bragged so much about my cooking. What I need, however, is a SALAD that's a little novel to serve with a main dish of shrimp and rice. Got any ideas? -- Etta N., Eugene, Ore.
Etta, I think my Hearts of Palm and Artichoke Salad would be a wonderful addition to your main dish:
1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained and sliced
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
1 medium head radicchio, torn
1 bunch watercress, torn
1/4 cup creamy buttermilk salad dressing
Pepper and salt
In a large bowl, gently toss together the hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, radicchio and watercress. Pour dressing over all, tossing gently to coat. Season with pepper and salt to taste. Cover and chill until serving time. Serves 4. -- Hugs, Heloise
HANG ON TO MEMORIES
Dear Heloise: Now that I have my mom's old recipes, I find that I can't read parts of them due to stains, poor penmanship, etc. If I search the internet, usually the recipe will come up. Still, it's so nice to save the original in my mother's or grandmother's own handwriting. -- Susan G., Brea, Calif.
SHARING WITH OTHERS
Dear Heloise: I work at a food pantry where we collect and distribute food in our community. With the holidays coming up, we need more canned goods for families who would otherwise go without a decent meal. In this land of plenty, there should be no hungry children, but the groups so often overlooked are the elderly and shut-ins. I would urge people to invite one or two extra people -- a serviceman or -woman, or an elderly neighbor, for example -- to share this Thanksgiving. -- Christina C., Eau Claire, Wis.
Christina, how right you are! It's not fun to eat alone on the holidays. -- Heloise
A HANDY LIST
Dear Heloise: I found a long pad of lined paper on which to make lists. It has a magnet on it and now hangs on the front of my refrigerator. When anyone in our family sees that we are running low on something, he or she simply adds it to the list of items on the pad that I need to get the next time I'm at a grocery store. This is why we never run out of milk, toilet paper, paper towels or coffee. -- Janet T., Elmira, N.Y.
Dear Heloise: For Thanksgiving and Christmas, I like to use a long, beautiful tablecloth for the adult table. However, I set a children's table with a fancy paper tablecloth and paper plates with plastic cups. They can sit down to a nice dinner without having to worry that they might spill something on a tablecloth or break a plate. When they're done, I recycle the plastic cups and then take each corner of the paper tablecloth, form a sack with all the paper dishes inside and toss it out. -- Debra S., Naples, Fla.
A smell by any other name ...
Dear Readers: You might think the terms "UNSCENTED" and "FRAGRANCE-FREE" mean the same thing. NOT!
"Fragrance-free" usually means no extra fragrance has been mixed in, but the cosmetic, drug or household item may have an existing aroma or smell from other ingredients in the product.
"Unscented" is a different scenario. It can almost be stated as "de-scented." Unscented products typically are treated with chemicals to remove, mask or cover up scents in products. The chemicals used to "unscent" an item may be irritating to people with fragrance sensitivities, but they're not ordinarily considered harmful or dangerous. Ask your medical professional for advice when dealing with fragrance allergies and sensitivities. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: With the way the world is today, I need to "unplug" and take time away from the news and all these electronic devices. I try to spend at least 30 minutes to an hour a day outside, just listening and observing nature. -- Julie W., Fort Wayne, Ind.
I'm with you! Even five or 10 minutes is beneficial. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: When I was helping my auntie move to assisted living, one task I did was shoot a nice set of photos of her apartment, with close-ups of her beloved things. I included one of her, smiling, in her favorite chair. I made a little book of those snapshots; she loved having it handy.
Now that she is gone, I have a small memento of her in her natural surroundings with her beloved things. And I was better able to let go of those items and not have them come to clutter my house! -- A.C.T., Punta Gorda, Fla.
Dear Heloise: I am a daily drinker of multiple pots of coffee, and I have lots of used grounds to dispose of.
Using a grocery bag to put grounds in before throwing them away works well. This cuts down on garbage aroma until it's time to take out the garbage. -- Mary L., International Falls, Minn.
Hi, Mary: Did you know that used coffee grounds are rich in nourishment for acid-loving plants? They also can absorb odors in the freezer (poke holes in a margarine tub and pour some in).
Sprinkle a generous amount in the compost pile as well. One more reuse for coffee grounds? Pour dry into an old sock and tuck into stinky sneakers to absorb sneaker-feet smell! -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: I use the plastic lids on cans of nuts as coasters. They keep the table dry and are easy to replace if they are damaged. -- Pauline F.M., via email