Dear Readers: Hard water seems to be a fact of life here in my home state of Texas. Vinegar to the rescue. But not just room temperature. Heat (don't boil) white or apple-cider vinegar on the stove or in the microwave. Carefully pour this liquid gold into the bowl, plate or cup, and watch deposits bubble away. Bonus: The heated vinegar also helps get rid of kitchen odors.

To freshen the toilet bowl, pour a cup or two in, swish with the brush and flush.


Dear Readers: A handwritten note or letter seems to mean more today than years ago. Text and email are fine for quick notes, but a birthday card or handwritten note is something one can keep forever.

Do you know your postage rates and how to address an envelope? A lot of people don't! Here is a refresher course:

Postage for a 1-ounce letter is 49 cents. You can use a "forever" stamp, too. These are great, and you should buy a bunch now.

Even if postage rates go up (which you know they will), the "forever" stamp can be used ... well, forever.

Postage for a standard postcard is 35 cents.

The ZIP code should be written on the same line as the city and state, not as many of us were taught, which was to put the ZIP code dropped below the city and state.

Making someone's day for 49 cents? That's a bargain!


Dear Heloise: This is a hint for people who have their furnace inspected periodically. Ask that they (the service person) bring with them and use a carbon-monoxide detector.

My furnace was inspected and diagnosed with a crack in the heat exchange. Three estimates later, another HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) man (a friend of my son) came over and used a detector. There was no carbon monoxide in my house! A new furnace was not necessary.

Barb E., Dayton, Ohio

Barb, thank you so very much for writing! It's unfortunate that some service people might take advantage of customers. Most companies, both national and independent, are honest and would not do this.

You were wise to get three estimates, and lucky that your son's friend came to help.


Dear Heloise: My husband, Lee, taught me a great hint about crushing dog pills. He used the garlic press to mash up the large heartworm pill. How smart is that?

Kay E., Waco, Texas

Contact the writer: heloise@heloise.com

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