We discovered rolling tool bags from a big-box hardware store. This bag has an extra-wide mouth and base; the dumbbells are distributed evenly in the bag. This makes lifting the bag in and out of a car easier. The bag is sturdy and attractive.
Deborah in Aberdeen, Md.
Dear Readers: Mary H. in Arlington, Va., sent a picture of her two roommates — Zoe the boxer and Bernie the Lab. Mary drapes a sheet over their bed, which is easier to launder than a huge stuffed pillow!
To see Zoe and Bernie, visit Heloise.com and click on “Pet of the Week.”
Dear Heloise: Is there anything that can be used in a birdbath to cut down on the stains and not hurt the birds?
Edda B., Williamsport, Md.
Edda B.: Yes, we must take care of our feathered friends! A great, nontoxic cleaner is one of my faves — baking soda! Sprinkle a small amount in an empty birdbath, and add enough water to make a paste. Scrub with a stiff brush, and rinse thoroughly. Then fill with fresh water.
Baking soda is a workhorse in and around the house — it’s safe, cheap and readily available. I’ve been using baking soda for my entire career, and in that time, I’ve compiled a collection of my favorite baking soda hints in a handy pamphlet. Would you like to receive one? Visit Heloise.com to order, or send a stamped (71 cents), long, self-addressed envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Baking soda can scrub out the sink, toilet and tub in your home, as well. No scratches!
Dear Heloise: For taking cupcakes or cookies to school, I use a flat cardboard tray that canned beverages come in. The tray is a convenient size, and can just be tossed afterward. To make it look festive, cut a strip of colorful paper to glue around the outside.
For serving grapes, I cut the stem into pieces with the grapes attached. That way, when someone reaches for a grape, he or she can take a little sprig, and the whole bunch doesn't get picked over, which leaves unattractive bare stems on the serving dish.
And I've come up with another hint: I needed a small rack for a roasting dish, so I broke bamboo skewers to fit and laid them in a crisscross pattern to support the roast off the bottom of the pan.
Thanks — I've learned a lot from your column over the years.
J.R. in Alaska
Dear Heloise: Why don't businesses check bathrooms for the height of coat hooks? If you are a person who uses a wheelchair and need to take off your coat in the restroom, you have to put it on the floor, which is unsanitary and has happened to me!
Jerry L., via email