DEAR HELOISE: I have a vacation planned to a foreign beach, and I would like to bring home some seashells. Do you know if you are allowed to bring seashells back into the United States?
A Reader In Virginia
DEAR VIRGINIA: Yes, you are, but there are some guidelines. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, seashells usually are allowed into the United States, with a few stipulations:
They must not be from endangered or threatened species.
They must be completely clear of creatures, sand, soil, etc.
A traveler may bring only a small amount for personal use.
Stones and pebbles also are acceptable in small quantities, following the same guidelines.
Here is a hint for cleaning shells: When you get back to the hotel, fill the tub with hot water and add some hair shampoo, which usually is in the room. Soak for a while, and use a clean washcloth or hairbrush to scrub away sand, dirt and grime, then rinse thoroughly.
Know that all of these items must be declared with customs when entering the United States. You should check with authorities at your destination about any regulations they have. Also, be careful: Even if you buy an item in a shop, it does not mean you will be allowed to bring it into the United States.
P.S.: Use the plastic "laundry bag" in your room to put them in, then into your suitcase or carry-on bag.
DEAR HELOISE: My friend told me about a bride who got married in the heat of the summer. She bought spray deodorant (Heloise here: I think you mean antiperspirant, which keeps you from perspiring. A deodorant keeps the perspiration from smelling.) and sprayed her entire body before getting dressed. It really worked. She was cool as a cucumber in the high temp of summer. Thought this might work for summer brides.
Corrinne In Universal City, Texas
DEAR CORRINNE: What a helpful hint! This also works on feet. Just be careful: Some antiperspirants and deodorants may stain the fabric. Want to know what to look for when buying a gown? Or how to take care of it after the wedding? I have put together a pamphlet with all of my favorite bridal hints. To order, send $3 with a long, self-addressed, stamped (66 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Bridal, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. When trying on gowns, have someone take a picture of you in each dress so you can see how you look and how it will photograph.
DEAR READERS: Here is a friendly reminder when going to doctor's appointments: Be aware that germs are everywhere.
Germs are on the obvious places but also are on other surfaces like elevator buttons, door handles, pens at the check-in desk, magazines, etc. So always carry hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes with you to the doctor, medical facility or nursing center. Use it, and use it often!
Send a great hint to Heloise, P.O. 79500, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.