Dear Heloise: My nails tend to peel and crack, but I don’t want to get artificial nails, which might make my nail beds more brittle than they already are. I’d like HEALTHY NAILS. What can I do? -- Cait E. in Philadelphia

This is a classic Heloise Hint that has left many with beautiful, strong nails. Treat them with white (otherwise known as colorless or decolorized) iodine. Before running out to a big chain drugstore, call around, especially to local or independent pharmacies, and ask the pharmacist if the store has iodine available. It may be kept behind the counter in some states, or your pharmacist may be able to order it for you if you ask. If all else fails, check online using a search engine and typing in the words “white iodine.”

To treat damaged nails, use a cotton swab or a nail-polish brush (cleaned thoroughly with nail-polish remover) to spread colorless iodine on JUST the tips of your nails. After doing this daily for one week, begin to use the iodine only once a week. Continue until you see that your nails are getting stronger.

While using white iodine, DO NOT use hydrogen peroxide or any products that contain hydrogen peroxide, or you will end up with yellow or orange fingertips. Remember, when cleaning up around the house, use rubber gloves to protect your hands and nails. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: To keep tongs from getting tangled in my utensil drawer, I cut a paper-towel tube the right length and slide the tongs inside. Love your column in the Houston Chronicle! -- Jonna C. in Houston

Jonna, great hint! Tongs are handy for turning meatballs when cooking. Don’t have a meatball recipe? Try my Heloise’s Spicy Swedish Meatballs -- they are delicious. To receive a copy of this and other Heloise favorites, like Shrimp Dijon and Southwestern Veggie Rice, simply send $3 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (65 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Main Dishes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Make an extra batch of meatballs and freeze them in a lined egg carton. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Pamela C. from Kihei, Hawaii, sent a photo of her two cats, Boudreaux (on the left) and Scarlett (on the right), watching birds eating birdseed on a windowsill.

To see the cats and birds, just visit my Web site at and click on “Pets.” -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I took an empty coffee can, the kind with a plastic lid, spray-painted it and cut a hole in the lid. I use it to store grocery bags. I also have one that I store twine in. The hole in the lid makes it easy to pull the bags through the lid. It can be decorated to match any room. -- Kim in Illinois

What a cute idea! Readers, what about you? What do you use old coffee cans for? Write in and tell us your ideas. -- Heloise

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

2012, King Features Syndicate