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DEAR HELOISE: A favorite way to keep my home warmer is to make and use a "snake in the draft." I fill a tall knee sock with uncooked rice or beans. I tie off the end, stretch it out a little bit, and lay it flat against the bottom of the door frame (on the inside).

It will probably take two socks to cover the bottom completely. It really helps to keep cold air out (and cool air in during the summertime). I'm curious to know some of your readers' hints to help save energy and keep their homes warm in this, the chilliest time of the year.

-- Brenda S. in California

DEAR HELOISE: I keep a tub of baby wipes in each room of my home. A baby wipe is perfect to grab to clean up small spills, because of course they are mild and safe. I'm teaching my kids to pick up after themselves, too.

-- Hilary T.

in Connecticut

DEAR HELOISE: I rinse and pat dry my lettuce; the dressing will have something to cling to. On a wet surface, it just slides off.

-- Jenna D. in Florida

DEAR READERS: Since the weather outside in most areas is chilly and gray, let's talk about some houseplants that are easy to care for, courtesy of Good Housekeeping magazine:

• Devil's ivy, aka the pothos plant, will climb all over, and it can tolerate being over-watered and under-watered.

• Spider plants emit little offshoots, or "babies," that can be planted again. Lots of sunlight is required, and weekly watering.

• The aloe vera plant requires low light and watering only every other week.

• Philodendron? It translates to "love tree." Minimal watering is best for this plant.

• Christmas cactus ... if you're wanting complete ease, any cactus plant will work for you. The Christmas cactus gives off lovely, bright blooms.

DEAR HELOISE: My friend is a new mother, and she had the most ingenious way of making baby food when out at a restaurant, or I suppose at home too.

She uses a dedicated garlic press to squeeze through green beans and carrots, and Baby Henry can eat them. I love it.

-- Bennie T. in Oregon

DEAR READER: Sounds really good. Check with your pediatrician to make sure this is a go, and also ask the server. Sometimes restaurant vegetables are cooked with heavy sauces and spices that could upset baby's tummy.

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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