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Today's Sound Off is about weight loss jealousy:

DEAR HELOISE: I have been able to lose 65 pounds with diet and exercise, and although I had to really work at it, the rewards have been great. I have fewer aches and pains, my blood pressure is lower and there has been a significant improvement in my HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, too.

I never talked about it, because I didn't want to appear as if I were bragging, but when some people noticed they would say, oh, you look gaunt (or tired or too skinny, etc.).

Please tell your readers to never discourage people who slim down. Many people do it to improve their health and extend their lives. If a friend drops a few pounds, keep encouraging them to hit their goal instead of trying to sabotage their efforts. If someone drops you as a friend because you've slimmed down, then they never were a real friend in the first place.

-- Katherine in Illinois

DEAR READER: Congratulations for having the self-discipline and determination to stick with your diet and exercise plan.

DEAR READERS: Gift ideas for a retirement party:

• Gift card to a crafts store

• Fishing equipment

• Golf balls and accessories

• Personalized travel mug

• Tickets to an event you know they would enjoy

• Engraved compass

-- Heloise

DEAR HELOISE: I have gold rimmed dinner plates that are not dishwasher safe. If I just send them through with hot water only, will that preserve the gold rim?

-- Verna D.,

San Antonio, Texas

DEAR READER: It's not recommended. The heat from the dishwasher may remove some of the metal rim. It's always best to hand-wash china that has any metallic trim and to never use an abrasive scrubber.

DEAR HELOISE: With school being out my young daughters and I are baking more and making more dinners at home. The girls love to help out in the kitchen, but an apron is just too clumsy for them. Instead, they wear their dad's old T-shirts. Afterward, all I have to do is toss the T-shirts in the laundry.

-- Courtney

in Minnesota

DEAR READER: Terrific idea. Old shirts are good for all kinds of messy projects for kids: gardening, crafts and more.

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]

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