Dear Readers: Here is this week’s SOUND OFF, about sick children in a doctor’s waiting room:

“My daughter’s pediatrician has the waiting room broken up into two sections. There is a ‘well’ waiting area and a ‘sick’ waiting area. When my daughter is sick and I take her to the doctor, I am the only one sitting in the ‘sick’ area. Everyone else has his or her sick kids in the other part of the waiting room, contaminating it! I am sure I am not the only one who follows the guidelines and gets frustrated by this. -- Sonya in Colorado”

Oh my! The doctor’s office is where you should be safe from germs; however, it’s NOT safe, in many cases. Arm yourself with hand sanitizer or wipes. If you are really upset, ask the receptionist if there is somewhere you can wait AWAY from all of the sick children. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Other uses for compact-disc cases:

* Slip colored paper inside and use as coasters.

* Place DVDs in them for travel.

* Hold recipe cards to protect from splatters.

* Make into picture frames.

* Place under candles to protect the surface from wax.

-- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I remember you had a recipe for “One-Pot Chicken,” I believe is what you called it. Could you reprint that recipe? -- Janie in Utah

Yes, I can! Heloise’s One-Pot Chicken, Potatoes and Peas is easy to make, low-cost and delicious. I would be happy to print it. You need:

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup diced potato (1/2-inch cubes)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped celery

1 cup water

1 bay leaf

1/8 teaspoon thyme

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup canned peas

2 3-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Take a large, heavy skillet and heat it. Add onion and potato, and cook over medium heat until they start to brown. Add remaining ingredients except peas and chicken. Bring to a boil and stir. Add chicken and reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for about 12 minutes. Add peas and continue cooking until liquid is reduced, about 5 minutes. Serve and garnish with parsley. I have put together a Heloise pamphlet with all of my family’s and friends’ main-dish recipes. To order a copy, send $3 with a long, self-addressed, stamped (66 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Main Dishes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Buy chicken when it’s on sale and freeze it, and you will always have some on hand. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: To keep track of my refillable debit-card’s balance, I put a plain, white computer address label, or part of one, on the front of the card and write the balance. After each transaction, I cross out the last amount and enter the new amount. -- A Reader, via e-mail

As with credit cards, keep in a safe place, because this debit/credit card is like cash! -- 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.

, King Features Syndicate