Dear Heloise:

Do you know the proportions to mix your own pumpkin-pie spice mix and apple-pie spice mix? I thought it might be cheaper than buying the mix if I already have the ingredients.

Mary, Cedar Grove, N.C.

Pumpkin-pie spice can be made by combining:

* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

* 1/8 teaspoon allspice

* 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

This makes enough spice for one pumpkin pie.

FYI: Did you know that properly stored ground spices have a shelf life of one to two years, while whole spices can last up to five years, and leafy herbs only six months to one year.

Dear Heloise:

My friend e-mailed me and said she had a temporary medical condition that, among other things, would keep her in pain while doing much-needed grocery shopping. I told her to get someone else to do the groceries, and she said, "Yeah, right." Here was my suggestion to her:

Save all your labels. Put them in a folder, like an accordion with dividers. Place them by the food groups. Then when something comes up, tell one of your boys or your husband, "Grab the accordion and go get groceries!"

Hope this helps other people in the same predicament.

Sandra M. Schott, Arabi, La.

Dear Heloise:

Put a half-cup of apple-cider vinegar in a bowl or cup in each room of the house. It takes out odors, including tobacco.

I am allergic to the smell of cigarettes and have been limiting my visits to my son's home. His wife used the vinegar for our last visit, and the house smelled clean and fresh. When I got home from a four-week vacation, I did the same thing to eliminate the musty smell of a closed-up house. Isn't vinegar great?

V.H., via e-mail

It sure is! This favorite hint was one my mother printed more than 40 years ago, and it still works great today! Vinegar and baking soda are two of my favorite cleaners.

Did you know that you can also use baking soda to remove tobacco odor? In a car, sprinkle some baking soda in the ashtray to remove the odor, and at home, sprinkle some baking soda into the carpet, let it sit and then vacuum up the soda -- and the odor.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. Please include your city and state when faxing or using e-mail. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.(c)2003, King Features Syndicate