Dear Heloise:

My church is putting a package together to send to a soldier in Iraq. I was wondering if there is a hint for keeping cookies fresh longer. Please let me know if you have any ideas. Thank you.

Gerri, via e-mail

First, you probably want to bake cookies that are sturdy, like chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, etc., because the more delicate the cookies, the easier they will break. Coffee cans or potato-chip cans are excellent packaging tools. Put a couple of cookies in a plastic bag and place inside the can, then put a layer of tissue paper for cushioning. Continue until the can is full. Place the can or cans inside a box and cushion well with packing material, like newspaper, packing peanuts, etc.

Keep in mind that it might take a couple of weeks (or more) for a soldier to receive the goodies. So, don't send cookies that don't have a long shelf life.

One of my assistants has a brother stationed overseas. She said that she has mailed him a couple of boxes, and it took almost two weeks for him to get them. She sent store-bought cookies in a tin, and they arrived in good condition. Good luck!

Dear Heloise:

Two of my prescription drugs come as very small tablets, and the bottles are always stuffed with cotton, as the prescription is mailed to me. Several times when I have removed the cotton to throw it away, I have discovered that there are tablets stuck in the cotton. Now I check each time.

Evelyn L. Dunn, Truman, Minn.

Evelyn, I wouldn't have thought of this -- thanks!

Dear Heloise:

Here's a very good way to remove the core and leaves when cleaning strawberries.

Using a regular plastic drinking straw, push the straw into the bottom of the strawberry and push it all the way up through the leaf area.

It will cleanly, quickly and easily remove the entire core. It almost makes the chore fun!

Carol Sanders, Oshkosh, Wis.

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)2004, King Features Syndicate