Dear Heloise: With the holidays coming up, I plan to bake cookies for our smallish family gathering. How should I determine how many cookies to bring?

— Jo in Kansas

Jo in Kansas: You should plan on having between three to six cookies for each person, depending on the size of the cookie and if other desserts are offered.

Dear Heloise: Recently I took a look at all of the cleaners I had accumulated under the sinks and in the utility room of my home. I've found there are only five cleaners I use all the time, so I decided to organize these areas by asking myself:

● Do I use this product at all?

● Is it too old or ineffective to keep?

● Could this item be dangerous for my pets or children? If so, could it be stored more safely?

● Is the container still in good condition ... no leaking?

This has really helped me sort through things I might have kept with the excuse "Maybe someday I'll need it." Now it's organized and clean under my kitchen sink.

— Jean in Illinois

Dear Heloise: My dishes had not been getting clean in my dishwasher for the past couple of months. I couldn't figure out why, until my daughter looked at the spray arms. The holes were almost all plugged up. She started digging with a toothpick and then with tweezers and started pulling out little pieces of plastic from the holes in the sprayer arms. I had switched from boxed detergent to the plastic pods, and the pods had not completely dissolved. I think I'm going back to the boxed dishwasher detergent. I read your column every day in the Omaha World Herald.

— Andrea S., via email

Dear Heloise: We had a bad fish smell near our kitchen and ended up replacing the refrigerator to stop the smell, but to no avail. It turned out that the smell was from a couple of overheating circuit breakers. They felt warm to the touch and fell apart when the electrician tried to replace them. He commented that they should be replaced every 20 years! I don't think any of us do that, but it certainly could have started a fire. Thanks for all your hints.

— Rich Z., via email

Dear Heloise: I love marinated meats, but I hate the mess my husband makes when he decides to barbecue a steak or ribs. It looks more like he's marinating the kitchen counter, sink and floor! Help!?

— Mandy in Wyoming

Mandy in Wyoming: Put all the ingredients, including the meat, in a large plastic bag and seal it. Forcing out as much air as possible, place the plastic bag on a plate (just in case of a leak) in the refrigerator. Then, when you need to turn the meat, all you do is turn the bag.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

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