Dear Readers: A spring weekend affords the opportunity to boost the curb appeal of your home! There are lots of areas you can spruce up; here are a few hints:

* Repair cracks in the driveway. Pull and kill weeds, and remove any staining. Sweep thoroughly.

* Freshen up, polish or replace hardware: house numbers, doorknobs, light fixtures, etc. Maybe a new color for the front door?

* Take a look at the mailbox: Fresh coat of paint, new flag, new plants around the base? All good choices. The style of your mailbox should coordinate with the look of your home.

* Cut away dead overgrowth and brush in front of the house. Consider renting a power washer to deep-clean the concrete.

Experts agree: Symmetry is key (matching flowerpots on either side of the entry, for example) and will make your home stand out this spring!

Dear Heloise: My wife of 30 years came up with this nifty trick at lunch. When you are served bread with cold, foil-covered butter pats, instead of smooshing the hard butter into your soft bread, hold the butter pat in your closed hand for a minute.

Open the foil and spread nice, soft butter onto your bread. Works like a charm!

Big Mike, San Clemente, Calif.


Duncan wears the “cone of shame” after getting his teeth cleaned. He’s the Pet of the Week. (Family photo)

Dear Readers: Duncan, a Pet Pal alum, is back after having his teeth professionally cleaned. He’s wearing the “cone of shame” so he won’t scratch his mouth. Pro cleanings are important to keep the mouth and teeth healthy.

To see Duncan and our other Pet Pals, visit Heloise.com and click on “Pet of the Week.”

Do you have a furry friend you’d like to share? Email a picture and description to Heloise@Heloise.com.

Dear Heloise: Most of the suitcases at airport baggage claims are black. While a traveler can tie a bright ribbon to the suitcase handle, it's difficult to spot one's luggage if it arrives upside down. I solved that problem by applying brightly colored stickers to the bottom of my checked bag.

Sally T. in Minneapolis

Dear Heloise: By applying a tiny bit of petroleum jelly and then a bit of lipstick to my cheeks, it makes for a great cheek color and always matches my lipstick.

I can make it as dark or light as I like. I can even dig it out of the tube and put the lipstick in an old powder, cheek-color container along with a bit of the petroleum jelly.

Dotty, via email

Dear Heloise: During a cold spell last month, I became Ms. Clean for a few days. I disinfected doors, cabinet knobs, phones, keys, wall light switches, the refrigerator, microwave and stove handles, water spigots and handles on toilets.

I did the car steering wheel, the gearshift and all the buttons and door latches, too.

Elaine H., Port Charlotte, Fla.

Elaine H.: Thanks for sharing!

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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