DEAR HELOISE: I read your column in The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger. I am interested in getting rust off garden tools. I think you can use vinegar. Do you have a solution?
Jacquelin L., Short Hills, N.J.
DEAR JACQUELIN: You're right the answer is my beloved vinegar! Small garden tools, like clippers, can be placed in undiluted white or apple- cider vinegar overnight or longer. Let soak, scrub with a brush or scrubbie, rinse and then dry. For larger tools, you can take vinegar-soaked rags or towels, wrap them around the rusty areas and then cover with plastic wrap. If bolts and screws are lightly corroded with rust, a good soaking in vinegar can remove the rust. There are so many uses for environmentally green vinegar. To receive a Heloise vinegar pamphlet, just send $5 with a long, self-addressed, stamped (65 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.
DEAR READERS: It's inevitable: Jeans get holes, skirts may become too short, and seams fall apart. When your favorites need a patch-up, try something different! Repairs and fix-ups are a great time for using embellishment, creative stitching and fabulous fabrics or remnants. Add fabric trim to a short skirt, or leftover pieces to cover holes in jeans. Spiff up your wardrobe while saving money!
DEAR HELOISE: I like to save money and recycle by reusing old glass jars that held food such as pickles, jellies and sauces. I always wash them with soap and water, but at times it seems like an odor still lingers from the food that it used to contain. I finally realized that if I store the jars with the lids off, allowing for air circulation, the odor eventually goes away and stays away.
Diane S., Via Email
DEAR HELOISE: I fell and broke my left femur and wrist. After surgery and rehab, I returned home. Bending to retrieve whatever had fallen was a problem, but a reaching grabber saved the day many a time.
When the object needing to be picked up is too small for the grabber, I take a piece of double-sided tape and affix it to the top of a cane, and I am able to reach it every time. Tiny pieces of paper, a pencil and a piece of uncooked pasta are just some of the items I've been able to pick up in seconds.
S.C., Bridgewater, N.J.
DEAR HELOISE: Here is a hint I use when feeding my cats. Most canned cat food comes with a pull-tab lid to open the can.
I pull off the lid, hold the lid with one finger through the pull tab, dump the food onto a plate or dish, and use the edge of the lid to slice up the food. It seems like the cats prefer the food chopped in this manner, and it keeps me from dirtying a utensil.
Ashley W., Via Email
DEAR HELOISE: I read your reply to a question regarding the shelf life of olives. We use olives a lot and keep them in their original brine in the refrigerator. The past few months, when we've opened a jar that some olives have been used out of, there has been mold on the top, they've tasted funny, and we've ended up throwing them out. Any ideas?
I.H., Via Email
DEAR I.H.: Hmmm. Olive manufacturers say olives last for up to 12 months in the jar in the refrigerator. But never use your fingers to get the olives out of the jar! You may be adding bacteria or germs.
If white film or mold develops, remove it by tipping over the jar and pouring out the film. You can add a teaspoon or so of vinegar to the jar to keep this film from forming. The olives still should be safe to eat. However, if they taste funny, then you should throw them out!
DEAR HELOISE: Here are two hints about eggs: When I am buying eggs, I always open the carton and give each egg a twist to make sure it isn't broken or cracked.
Once home, if you find an egg stuck to the carton, try this hint: Run a little cool water into the carton, after removing the other eggs, and let it sit for a few minutes. The water will loosen the egg enough that you can remove it. I have found that some stuck eggs weren't even broken or cracked, they just needed help getting out of the carton.
Georgia D. In North Carolina
DEAR HELOISE: What does thread count mean? And what should I look for when buying sheets?
DEAR A: The number of threads per square inch of fabric is what determines thread count. Generally, the higher the thread count, the softer the sheet, but that is not always the case. Also, consider the fiber (cotton, silk, etc.). Be aware that a sheet with a smaller thread count made with better-quality fibers might feel softer than a higher thread count with lower-quality fibers.
Consider finishing also. Most sheets go through a finishing process to help them not shrink, pill or wrinkle. A lesser-quality set may not have been finished thoroughly.
DEAR HELOISE: I booked a hotel online and received a confirmation email, with a confirmation number, dates and charges, which were prepaid. When we arrived, the hotel did not have our reservation and had no rooms available. I gave the hotel staff the confirmation email to show that I had prepaid. They apologized profusely. They secured us another room at a hotel across the street and gave us our money back, but it still was an inconvenience. I am glad I brought the confirmation email, but next time I am going to call the hotel beforehand and make sure it has our reservation.
A Reader in Florida
DEAR A: A quick phone call can save the day or the room!
DEAR HELOISE:We have a lot of family members in other states. When birthdays or holidays roll around, I receive numerous emails asking what to get my children. While presents are not necessary, I found it easier to make an online wish list. Some of the major online-shopping websites allow you to make a wish list, which others can view online. They even can purchase and ship the item with just a few clicks.
A Reader in Washington