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DEAR READERS: Valentine's Day is next week. How about my iconic heart-shaped cake?

Directions: Prepare your favorite cake batter. Pour half in a round pan, and the rest in a square pan. Bake according to package directions.

When the cakes are completely cool, place the square cake portion on a large platter in a diamond position. Cut the round layer in half to create two half-circles. Place the cut edge of each half to the top sides of the diamond, and voila -- a heart! Frost as you wish, using some of the frosting as a "glue" to adhere the three pieces together. Enjoy.

DEAR HELOISE: I keep three different-colored sponges on hand at all times. One is for washing dishes; the second is for cleaning the toilet; and the remaining sponge is for the rest of the cleaning. I never mix them.

Sponges harbor bacteria. Some people place a slightly dampened sponge in the microwave on high for about a minute to kill the bacteria. Should I be reluctant to try that?

-- Bret S., via email

DEAR READER: According to Good Housekeeping magazine, microwaving a saturated sponge two minutes kills 99.9% of bacteria.

DEAR HELOISE: I want to recommend three things:

• Add or have someone install additional grab bars to your tub or shower stall. Stand in the shower stall and, while washing your hair with your eyes closed [be careful if you get dizzy easily -- H], picture where grab bars would help and have them installed there. Also, they should help with your getting in and out.

• There are 3-foot-long plastic grab tools that cost a few bucks and make picking up dropped items much easier.

• A magnifying glass with battery-powered lights makes reading fine print much easier even with glasses.

-- Dennis in California

DEAR HELOISE: Most of the time, glassware looks like it has a white film on it. It is not a film. Usually the glass has been etched by repeated washings in a dishwasher with strong dishwasher detergent.

It is the chemicals in the detergent that eat away at the glass. The damage is not repairable. If you care about your expensive glassware, wash it by hand.

-- Denise G., via email

P.S. I was a chemist before I retired.

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

[email protected]

Weekend on 02/06/2020

Print Headline: Helpful Hints

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