Helpful Hints

Posted: February 8, 2018 at 1:39 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: Summer is a few months away, but trust me when I tell you and your readers to start shopping for swimsuits, sandals, shorts and sundresses now.

The stores are currently receiving this merchandise in February and March; retail is always one step ahead of the game. I work for a major retailer, and have spoken to many disappointed people who can't find summer goods in the summer! They want water shoes (handy when hitting the river or the ocean) in July, when we may be sold out.

The same thing goes for the season just past, too. Many folks were disappointed that we were sold out of Christmas sweaters in the few weeks before Christmas.

So my message is: Plan ahead, and shop early.

-- Rita W., Maine

DEAR HELOISE: I use a bit of baking soda and warm water to create a freshening facial scrub. This formula is mild and gentle, and doesn't irritate my skin. It's a once-a-week treat.

-- Mary T., Omaha, Neb.

DEAR READER: Mary, even this time of year, mild exfoliation can be good for the skin (avoiding the eye area), and baking soda is mild, readily available and inexpensive.

DEAR HELOISE: When I have a stray sock, I turn it into a coffee cup cozy. I cut the "foot" part off, which leaves the elastic cuff. This slips easily over a coffee cup to insulate it. For a mug, I snip out an opening for the handle.

-- Janet T. in Chicago

DEAR READERS: Pay attention to the fast-food restaurants. The times are changing; some brands have hired dietitians to tweak menu items.

Sodium counts are lowering, there can be fewer artificial ingredients in the foods, and they may even be adding vegetarian and vegan options.

And those huge drink cups? They are going away. Calorie counts also are posted on menu boards.

Fast food should still be just a treat, maybe once a week, but notice how the brands are improving and the foods are getting healthier.

DEAR HELOISE: When I'm baking muffins, I grease each well of the muffin pan, of course, but I also grease the top of the pan. If the muffins rise up and spill over the well, they won't stick to the pan -- this saves a big mess!

-- Heidi D. in Ohio

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

Heloise@Heloise.com

Weekend on 02/08/2018