Dear Heloise: I was faced with the task of writing dozens of thank-you notes and lamented to my son that my cartridge was running out of ink. He advised me to remove it, shake it vigorously and replace it. Not only was I able to write all my notes, but months later, it continues to print.

Jane S., Rochester, Minn.

Jane S.: Do you have a hidden camera in my office? The main printer (and an old one in another office) indeed does need this “shake-up” every now and then.

Dear Heloise: We have school-age children. It’s difficult and expensive to get away on vacation. My husband suggested that we pitch our tent in the back yard and spend a family night. No cellphones, tablets or other electronic gadgets.

We all had such a good time! The only time we could “get back to the city” was to use the bathroom. The exception was me (or Dad) cooking food and bringing it to our campsite.

Now, the whole family helps plan the next “trip,” including the food. We agree on “where” and then study up on weather, terrain, plants, animals and other interesting facts. The tent may or may not stay up for the next trip, depending on the weather and how long before we “pack up” for our outing.

The Suttons in Texas

Suttons in Texas: Wow, it sounds like fun. Much cheaper and simpler than loading the auto, packing food and supplies, and driving for way too looooong! This is what some readers refer to as a “staycation” -- a small/short vacation without leaving home. Take photos just like you do when camping, and you must read scary stories!

Love it! Close to home, yet far enough away.

Dear Heloise: I’m going to be traveling abroad for the first time — eight cities in 14 days, and I am so excited. But do I need an electronic converter for each country?

Ted H., via email

Ted H.: Probably not! If you are going on a guided tour (and it sounds like you are), ask the tour operator what is needed. You can take an adapter (it only makes your plug fit the wall outlet) and a converter (it changes the voltage) with you. Both are small and lightweight. Or buy the items you need there, and you won’t have to worry at all. Have a wonderful trip!

Dear Heloise: During colder months, I wear long-sleeve garments around the house. They get in the way when cooking. Instead of changing tops, I took an old pair of knee-highs and cut off the cuff.

I put one on each arm and push up the sleeves. No more messy sleeves or catching on a pan handle.

Doreen in Little Rock

Dear Readers: To prevent stains on new tablecloths, spray them several times with soil-repellent spray. Most spills will wash right out.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

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