DEAR HELOISE: In a recent letter, a reader inquired about removing wine residue from a lead-crystal decanter. Please do your readers a service and warn them about a medical directive stating that wine should never be stored in lead crystal, as lead can and will leach into the wine. In addition, pregnant women are advised against drinking anything from lead crystal.
Barbara C., Scotch Plains, N.J.
DEAR BARBARA: Barbara, you are right. The Food and Drug Administration advises that lead can leach into wine if stored for a long time in the decanter. However, it's OK to use this type of decanter for serving wine right away. Additionally, the FDA recommends that all lead crystal should be used with caution, especially with children and women of childbearing age they should use lead-free crystal, if possible. None of this information is now on the FDA website. However, it is available when you call the FDA at (888) 463-6332.
P.S.: Not all crystal is "lead crystal."
DEAR HELOISE: Is there a proper way to care for wooden kitchen spoons and spatulas? Should I "season" them?
Debbie B., Struthers, Ohio
DEAR DEBBIE: Yes, there is; yes, you should; and it's simple to do! Start by washing the wood spoons in soap and hot water, then let them dry. Next, wipe each with mineral oil (not olive or vegetable oil, because it can become rancid).
Let the spoons sit for a couple of hours or overnight. Next, wipe off the excess, and they are ready to use.
It's always a good idea to hand-wash wooden items. Placing them in the dishwasher can cause damage from the hot water, strong detergent and high temperature of the drying cycle.
DEAR READERS: Have you ever wondered how many times you can apply lipstick from a single, standard tube? Manufacturers say that a tube of lipstick has approximately 260 applications that equals about three months' worth (if you apply lipstick three times a day).
Lipstick has a shelf life of one to two years. However, if it looks, smells or tastes funny, that is an indication that the lipstick needs to be disposed of.
How many tubes of lipstick do you have? We would love to hear from you.
DEAR HELOISE: I buy the large bags of dog and cat food. When a bag is empty, I use it for trash. It is especially handy for heavy, messy stuff. Before I put it in the garbage can, I close the top and then staple it shut.
Shirley In Harrisburg, Pa.
DEAR HELOISE: After almost every time I order something online, the company bombards me with promotional emails. That's OK sometimes, but it is tiresome to wade through lots of emails every day.
My hint: There is usually an option at the bottom of the email to opt out from receiving the emails, or to receive one per week, one per special event, etc. I pick the option that works best for me. One warning, though: It might take 10 days or longer to be removed from the companies' email lists.
DEAR HELOISE: I'm a 10-year-old girl who loves to read your column in the Ventura County Star. I have a hint for watering your lawn. You should water your lawn early in the morning or late at night, because if you water it in the afternoon, the water will evaporate. You'll save money that way by watering your lawn and not giving it to the sun. -Vanessa L. in California
DEAR VANESSA: So true, Vanessa! Great green hint! Thanks for writing, and please keep reading the column and writing to me!
Living in San Antonio, water conservation is a way of life. Turning the water off while brushing your teeth can save a lot of water. Don't believe it? Put the stopper in the sink and take a look.
DEAR HELOISE: I recently was on a business trip, and when I got to the hotel, I realized I had brought the incorrect phone charger. I was without transportation and asked the front desk for help.
The clerk brought out a crate full of every imaginable charger that guests had left and not claimed. Within seconds, we had found a compatible charger. So, if you forget your charger, the front desk might have one that another guest left at the hotel.
DEAR GARLAND: How right you are! They seem to have an abundance of "left behind" items like this. Just ask!
DEAR HELOISE: I would like to comment about hanging clothes back on the rack at department stores. A few years ago, I was trying on an outfit and left the dressing room to get a second opinion. When I returned to the dressing room, my clothes were gone!
My sister started searching for my clothes. She found them on the rack next to the cash register with other clothing to be sold!
DEAR HELOISE: Good uses for newspapers: Ball up newspapers loosely and put them in empty plastic containers to help keep strong odors out.
I use large balls of newspaper to get odors out of ice chests when storing them after summer uses.
DEAR HELOISE: My dogs love to play in my fenced-in backyard. This time of year, the grass can turn into a mud pit.
I keep a container of unscented baby wipes next to the back door. When they come indoors, their feet get cleaned quickly, without worry of mud all over the house.