Helpful Hints

Posted: August 4, 2014 at 2:25 a.m.

DEAR READERS: Here is this week's Sound Off:

"My Sound Off is about people who leave their pets outside in extreme weather. I live in South Texas, where it gets extremely hot. I see pets left outside with no water or access to shade. These animals have no escape from the heat. Please, if you must leave your dogs outside, give them plenty of water and a shady spot to retreat to."

-- A Pet Lover in Texas

How right you are!

DEAR READERS: Cleaning hints using baking soda and water:

• Wooden cutting boards.

• Refrigerator and freezer shelves and drawers.

• Stainless-steel sinks.

• Kitchen counters (not marble).

• Cooked-on grease in pots and pans.

DEAR HELOISE: I seem to have misplaced your recipe for pico de gallo. Could you please reprint it? I loved that recipe!

-- R.T. in Texas

DEAR READER: This is a great recipe that can be eaten with so many things. Here are the ingredients:

• 1 cup coarsely chopped tomato

• 1/4 cup coarsely chopped onion

• 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro (or more, if you like cilantro)

• 2 or 3 minced fresh serrano peppers

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir all of the ingredients together and sprinkle with the salt. Serve immediately. If you can't, or if you want to save it, it will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two. However, here in San Antonio, where we love our "pico," as we call it, when it's fresh, it's divine. Don't just eat your pico de gallo with chips; try it on eggs and potatoes for something new.

DEAR HELOISE: My husband and I shared a bottle of wine on our first anniversary. We saved the bottle, and now we use it as a candleholder. We place long, tapered candles in it of varying colors. The wax melts and runs down the side of the bottle. It is a beautiful reminder of our first anniversary.

-- S.S., via email

DEAR HELOISE: When camping, we always were in need of an extra "dressing room." We took one of the kids' hula hoops and an extra shower curtain. We attached the curtain to the hoop the same way you place it on a shower rod -- with curtain rings. We hung it in a tree and had an extra place to change in privacy.

-- A Reader, via email

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

ActiveStyle on 08/04/2014