Dear Readers: With summer in full swing and many of us spending time outdoors, now is the perfect time to FIX UP THE FRONT YARD and give your home curb appeal. This is especially important if you are planning on selling your home. Here are some simple, cheap and easy hints. Remember, first impressions do count:

* Clean all visible hardware (and repaint if needed). Take a look at the old, tired mailbox. Will a coat of paint fix it, or do you need a new one?

* Install solar lights leading to the front door. They are not very costly. Plus, it looks lovely and inviting at night.

* Trim trees and landscaping. Make sure there are no tree branches hanging low over walkways. No one wants to duck a low-hanging branch.

* Clean the front door and apply a new coat of paint.

-- Heloise


Dear Readers: Brenda C. sent in a picture, via e-mail, of her cute, curly-haired dog, Phoebe Jo, sitting in the front seat of the car with her pink sweater on. Brenda says that Phoebe Jo is always ready to get on the road. To see Phoebe Jo’s picture, go to my Web site,, and click on “Pets.” -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I bought a roll of red plastic wrap to gift-wrap a big basket. I did that and left it on our oak table. When I went to take it off, it was stuck. I pulled it off, and it left a red stain on our beautiful oak table. How can I get this off without ruining the finish on the table? -- Sarah in Maryland

P.S.: I read your column religiously in The Washington Post.

Sarah, first, do no harm! Make a paste of baking soda and a little water, and rub it in the direction of the grain of the wood. Wipe with a damp cloth, then dry. This should remove the color. If not, use a good commercial wood cleaner — not wood polish — to clean the stain. You should be able to find it at a home-improvement store. Do follow directions carefully, and don’t overdo it. If some of the stain is removed, but not all, try repeating the steps to see if you can remove the rest. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: My husband works a construction job and is often stepping in mud. He takes our leftover grocery bags and sticks them in his truck. When his boots are muddy, he slips a plastic bag over them before getting into his truck. This way, his truck is protected and stays clean. -- P.T. in Texas


Dear Heloise: I hate it when the erasers on my pencils stop working while the pencil is still good. I solved the problem with sandpaper. Take a piece of sandpaper and gently rub the pencil eraser. It will renew the eraser, and you won’t have to get a new pencil. -- A Reader, via e-mail

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, or e-mail it to

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