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DEAR HELOISE: What is the rule of three when it comes to decorating?

-- Helen S., Monroe, La.

DEAR READER: Helen, the Rule of Three is a good framework for decorating a room. The idea is that three items grouped together are symmetrical and "balanced." There is one item in the middle and one on either side.

This works on the fireplace mantel and down the dining room table with candles, or with a grouping of framed pictures on a side table. Any odd number works, as long as there is one piece in the middle, so five or seven pieces would be a "go" also.

The term may have started from furniture placement: a sofa, love seat and easy chair work together as the basis for a traditional living space.

Try it and see how you like it!

DEAR HELOISE: In my apartment, I use my dishwasher, but only as a drying rack. I actually prefer to wash my dishes by hand, but air-drying them in the dishwasher racks frees up more counter space.

-- Barbara S.

in New York City

DEAR READER: Barbara, in New York City you most likely have limited space, but there is good space inside the dishwasher. I've been known to store my pots, pans and bakeware in there! However, manufacturers recommend running the dishwasher at least once a month to keep it working properly.

DEAR READERS: Wax paper and parchment paper are both useful in the kitchen, but they are hardly interchangeable.

Wax paper, naturally, is coated with wax on either side. It is cheaper than parchment paper and can be used to line your work surface with when mixing and measuring ingredients like flour and sugar (use the wax paper as a "funnel" and pour any excess back into its container), or putting together a meatloaf, etc.

But that's where it ends. Wax paper is not safe for oven use -- it could melt or even catch fire.

Parchment paper is perfect to line cake pans. Use a dab of butter to "glue" the corners of the paper to the baking sheet.

Cookies baked on parchment paper should release easily. Silicone is what makes parchment paper nonstick.

You'll find both in the baking aisle.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

Heloise@Heloise.com

Weekend on 03/07/2019

Print Headline: Helpful Hints

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