Helpful Hints

DEAR HELOISE: Almost every recipe I read starts with: "Heat oven to the 'appropriate' degree." Most ovens will heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 10 minutes. Some recipes' prep time is 30 minutes or more; therefore, you are wasting energy and money. While I realize the importance of heating for the finished product, I wait until I'm about 5 minutes from finishing prep time to start the oven.

-- Smitty,

McGaheysville, Va.

DEAR HELOISE: I endorse the "tap on the floor" method of breaking the seal on a lid. It works for me. But you must be very careful that the lid hits "flat" on the floor. If there is any tilt or some other part of the lid hits the floor first, you risk denting the lid.

-- Robert D. Kelly, via email

DEAR READERS: To repair a small tear in a wire screen, you can push the wire strands back into place with an ice pick. If you cannot close up the hole completely, sparingly brush clear nail polish or shellac across the opening. After the sealer dries, reapply until the pinhole is sealed. Blot up any drips of sealer that run down the screen to make this a neat job.

DEAR HELOISE: The best way to get the stink out of anything is to put 1 teaspoon of shampoo in a gallon of water and use it to wash out whatever is inappropriately smelly. It works for skunk-sprayed dogs, too.

-- Carol, via email

DEAR HELOISE: I have one more hint to add to the growing list of how to save soap slivers. I just add mine to a small, mesh soap-saver bag that fits in the palm of my hand. They are easy to hold and lather up even better than when they were a whole bar. And you get the benefit of exfoliation if you use a soap saver that is intended for this purpose. Thank you for all of your hints!

-- Melanie,

Southbury, Conn.

DEAR HELOISE: I have a hint about soggy cereal for breakfast. If you like your cereal crunchy, but it gets too soggy by the time you eat it, try this out: One of my younger sisters told me to put the milk into the bowl first, then add only a small handful of cereal at a time. Finish eating that small amount, then add more the same way. You will have crunchy cereal for every bite. I do this each time I eat any flaky cereal. Success!

-- N.S., in Ohio

DEAR HELOISE: Please remind people to never give chicken or fish that contain bones to their pets. My cat nearly choked to death on a chicken bone last night. The bones break too easily and can get stuck inside a cat or dog's throat.

-- H.B., in New Mexico

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