Dear Heloise: There's nothing I like more than a hearty, WARM BOWL OF SOUP in chilly weather. Have you got any tasty recipes I can make for my family? -- Rose H., Springfield, Ore.

Rose, I have one from a friend of mine that I think you'll really like. It's called Marilyn's Garden Cheddar Soup, and it's terrific in chilly weather.

Marilyn's Garden Cheddar Soup

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 small zucchini, halved and sliced

2 tomatoes, peeled and cut into wedges

1 celery stalk, sliced

1 cup portobello mushrooms, sliced

1 onion, halved and sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 1/2 cups beef broth

1 1/2 cups tomato juice

1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced

1/2 cup dry red wine

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a stockpot, add first nine ingredients and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in basil, wine, salt, pepper and parsley. Sprinkle top of each serving with cheddar cheese.

If you like this recipe, you'll love my Heloise's Spectacular Soups pamphlet. To receive a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Soups, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. If you need to thicken a soup, add some instant mashed potatoes to it, a little at a time. -- Heloise

MAPLE SUGAR

Dear Heloise: I recently read a column about brown sugar and thought I'd mention maple sugar as a yummy substitute. It can be used in everything that may call for brown sugar, although you'd need to use a little less. I find it tastier. I also use maple syrup on occasion. -- Jean L., via e-mail

STORING BACON

Dear Heloise: When I buy a pound of bacon, I divide the package into three- or four-strip packages since I won't be using it all at once. I wrap each group of strips in clear food wrap and place them in a long, narrow box. They take up so little space in the freezer and are nice and straight when I want to cook them. -- J.P., Bedford, N.H.

REFREEZING MEATS

Dear Heloise: I've always been told not to refreeze meat that has been frozen and thawed out. Why can't I refreeze meat that's been thawed? Is it dangerous? -- Clint W., Auburn, Wash.

Clint, according to the University of Nebraska's Institute of Agriculture, if food is thawed in a refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking it. However, the quality of the meat will change due to moisture lost in the thawing process. The institute recommends not refreezing meat left outside of a refrigerator for two hours or more. -- Heloise

NO SALT FOR BIRDS

Dear Heloise: Please tell people not to give leftover chips at the bottom of the bag to birds! It may seem like a good idea, but the salt is not good for them. -- Sheila M., via email

Shelia, I checked on this, and you're right. Garden birds are unable to metabolize salt. In large quantities, it's toxic for birds. Never add salt to bird food, and don't put salt in a birdbath to keep it from freezing in winter. -- Heloise

Misses vs. juniors?

Dear Heloise: How do "JUNIORS" CLOTHES DIFFER FROM "MISSES" in the department store? -- Suzanne H., Nashville, Tenn.

Suzanne, great question. Juniors clothes typically are designed for maturing young ladies who have outgrown the girls department.

Juniors clothes are sized with odd numbers (3, 5, 7, etc.), while misses clothes have even sizes. Juniors garments also are cut straighter than misses clothes -- teen girls can tend to have smaller hips and be less "curvy," and juniors tops and dresses aren't as broad in the shoulders or bust.

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Juniors clothes are trendier, and are age-appropriate for teen girls not in the professional workforce; the collections might have cutouts, message-printed T-shirts and more "fun" designs. And lots of denim! -- Heloise

HINTS FROM HIM

Dear Heloise: As I go down the road, there are people who won't turn their headlights on until it's really dark, even in snow and fog!

Anytime I have a passenger sitting beside me, he or she should act like a co-pilot in an airplane and should observe everything at all times.

Pedestrians should at all times -- when walking or running -- FACE the oncoming traffic. -- Merlin F., Dakota City, Iowa

Wonderful safety reminders! -- Heloise

STAINED MUGS

Dear Heloise: I, like you, love baking soda! I noticed that the insides of my coffee cups were looking dingy, so I made a paste of baking soda and water, and scrubbed gently with a paper towel. After a rinse, the mugs are bright again! -- Harriet B., Columbus, Ohio

How right you are! Baking soda is cheap, nontoxic and readily available, and it is great to use all over the home! I've compiled a collection of my favorite baking soda hints and recipes in a handy pamphlet. Would you like to receive one? It's easy -- visit www. Heloise.com to order, or send $5, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/ Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Be sure to rinse the mugs in the sink to freshen the drain as well! -- Heloise

GRAB THAT AND GO

Dear Heloise: I read your laundry advice for college students. I've discovered something better than sorting laundry. I use "color grabbing" laundry sheets. I toss EVERYTHING into one load: whites, blacks, reds, underwear, towels, shirts -- you name it!

I cut the grabbers in half and reuse them. You'll know when it's time to replace with a new sheet. It will turn a dingy gray.

My husband hasn't had pink underwear in years! And with just us at home, I can do only one or two loads a week. -- Ruth, via email

TO HAIR IS HUMAN

Dear Heloise: I changed hairstylists, and the drive is a little longer, so I was finding myself running late. I decided to "pay for my sin" and give her $1 per minute I was late for my appointment. Several times I gave her $2-$5 extra!

My stylist got a kick out of it and appreciated my effort to be on time! -- A Reader, via fax

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