Dear Heloise: I know that “REUSE AND RECYCLE” is important to your readers, so I wanted to pass along my suggestion. When our families get together for the holidays, I try to have a craft/activity for the little ones to keep them occupied during all the food preparation. I purchased color-your-own place mats one year at a crafts store and let them create colorful place mats for the whole family.
Last year, instead of purchasing place mats, I tore pages from a book of wallpaper samples. I cut them to the right size and had the kids attach cutouts or stickers, or draw something with markers. The pages were nice weight and could even be wiped off, if necessary. The paper comes in so many colors and patterns, and I think most home-improvement stores would probably be glad to give away their outdated books. -- Brenda B., Tyrone, Pa.
Brenda, how creative and resourceful on many counts: keeping the children busy and letting them help decorate, too. Plus, you have one-of-a-kind keepsakes. -- Heloise
P.S.: Outdated books usually can be had by just asking!
Dear Heloise: Starting off for a walk on a chilly day, I noticed the sweater I wanted to wear was wrinkled. I threw it in the dryer on low heat. Putting on the warm sweater was great for the first few minutes of my walk. As I gradually warmed up, the sweater cooled off. I do four miles an hour, so it’s a brisk walk, and I get very warm. Now I plan to heat up clothing for all my winter walks. I think I’ll throw in my gloves and knitted hats, too.
Another winter hint: When taking a warm bath in winter, put a well-sealed bottle or jar of body lotion or moisturizer in the tub with you. When you get out and pat dry, it will be just the right temperature for rubbing into your skin. -- Y.K., via e-mail
Dear Heloise: After yet another unpleasant encounter with trace oils (even though I wear gloves) when cleaning jalapeno and other hot peppers, I finally realized the same product that removes mascara and waterproof makeup works wonders on quickly dissolving the hot-pepper oils from knife handles, cabinet pulls and, above all, MY HANDS!
I keep a package of makeup-remover cleansing towelettes in the kitchen. After taking off the gloves and wiping my hands, I use the towelettes on the knife handle, drawer pulls, refrigerator-door handle and especially the compost bucket and garbage-can lid knobs. No more hours of burning sensation! -- Valerie Taber in North Texas
Dear Heloise: I just hate it when I am in a public restroom and the paper is stuck in the dispenser. I have to reach underneath and work hard to find the end to pull out. I make a point to leave a bit hanging for the next person. -- Barb from Clark, N.J.
Send a hint to