DEAR HELOISE: For a long time, I've been saving up hints to send you, but before I get to those, I'd like to say thank you for some very helpful ones that you and your readers have shared. They have made my work in the kitchen a lot easier.
First up is cleaning a frying pan with stuck-on food. Simply sprinkle a little water, dish soap and baking soda until it loosens. It works every time, no matter how burnt-on the food may be.
Next is cleaning tea stains on cups. Dip a wet cloth or paper towel in baking soda, then scrub. It works beautifully on my good china. It doesn't scratch, there isn't any soaking involved, and it's quick!
I always use rubber gloves when washing dishes in the hottest water. Another hint is to wipe the gloves dry with a dish towel, just as one would wipe dishes. So simple, but I just never thought of it!
And one last thing: A reader suggested cleaning the kitchen sink with dishwashing liquid and a scrubby sponge, but there's no need for harsh chemicals. I have a stainless steel sink and found that adding a dash of baking soda keeps it looking clean for longer. It only takes a few minutes, so it's no problem to clean daily.
-- A Reader
DEAR READERS: To clean most coffeemakers, run full-strength white vinegar through a normal brew cycle. Then run several cycles with plain water.
DEAR HELOISE: My husband died eight months ago, and to my surprise, he had no life insurance. We didn't have much in our bank account, and I don't have a high paying job.
Now, whenever I make a purchase, I ask myself a few questions: How will this improve my life or that of my son? Is this purchase really necessary? Can I get it cheaper somewhere else? Can this purchase wait, or does it meet a current need?
By turning my thinking to the practical side, I have saved us from making useless purchases and to celebrate the holidays more for what it signifies rather than gifts. We now avoid clutter and have learned how to make do. I believe we are better off for it.
in South Dakota
DEAR L.T.: I am sorry for your loss.
Thank you for your incisive letter. You offer an important hint that we can all use.
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