Hints from Heloise: Step stool can help ailing pets to climb onto furniture

DEAR HELOISE: After losing our 12-year-old, much-loved cat, my daughter surprised me with a 6-week-old kitten.

I brought my kitten home after she had been spayed and microchipped. The instructions were to try to keep her from jumping.

To keep her from trying to leap on and off the bed, I placed a two-step step stool next to one side of the bed. I only needed to show her once how to walk up and down, and she has been using it ever since. This is a good hint for other pet owners whose pets are sick or are recovering from surgery.

– L.W., via email

DEAR HELOISE: I recently purchased a large bag of coffee beans at a local big-box store. As I left, I forgot to grind the beans in the storie’s grinder. Realizing that it would take forever to grind with my little coffee grinder, I used my food processor’s short metal blade and was able to grind the coffee to just the way we like.

– Jackie H. In Texas

DEAR JACKIE: I’ve done the same thing when I received some coffee beans as a gift. I used my blender, and it did the job. Coffee is such a tasty drink, with so many types to choose from and different ways to flavor it. I start my day with a cup or two and even wrote a pamphlet about coffee. Heloise’s Flavored Coffees and Teas is filled with delicious recipes and fun facts. To receive one, send $3 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (66 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Coffee & Tea, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.

DEAR HELOISE: Another idea for parents taking children to amusement parks, zoos, etc.: If the child is given a wristband, write your cellphone number on it. If not, make sure the child knows the number. If the child is separated from the parents, she should look for another mother with children and ask that mom to call her parents. We always say to find an employee, but often they’re not readily accessible or are busy. There always are mothers around who will help.

A friend’s pediatrician recommended this.

– Grandmother Of Seven, via email

DEAR HELOISE: After replacing a TV remote control (iced tea was spilled on it), I came up with an idea that works: Wrap your remote controls in plastic wrap, and they will be safe from any spills.

– Helen B. In Florida

DEAR HELOISE: I have a hint to add to your hints regarding preventing TVs from toppling on small children: This same danger applies to aquariums. Never let small children near an aquarium without close-by adult supervision. Unfortunately, my small niece ran excitedly to my aquarium, grabbed the top edge and pulled it over onto herself. Broken glass, water and fish went everywhere. Thankfully, she was uninjured, other than being terribly frightened.

– Patsy S., via email

DEAR PATSY: Oh, my! I’m so glad your niece is all right. Readers, please take note of this important information. It just may save a young child from serious injury.

DEAR HELOISE: Do you have a recipe for a low-calorie salad dressing?

– A Reader In Wyoming

DEAR WYOMING: I do have a recipe. It is simple to make. Here is what you need: 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese, 1/4 cup skim or low-fat milk, 1 teaspoon wine or apple-cider vinegar, herbs and salt and pepper, to taste. Mix the ingredients together in a blender for one minute or so, and you’ll have an easy, made-at-home, low-calorie dressing for all your salads.

There are a lot of uses for vinegar in the kitchen. To make a tangy cucumber snack, soak cucumbers in apple-cider vinegar and water for 10-15 minutes. Great with a salad.

DEAR HELOISE: My family and I have a large get-together during the holidays where we exchange presents. With so many people, and the gift wrap flying, the presents often get mixed up in the process. I have found it helpful to write on the present itself who it is for and who it is from. I write it somewhere small and out of the way, like the bottom. This helps get the presents to the right person at the end of the night.

– Sean In Texas

DEAR HELOISE: I have two dogs that I take for a walk around my neighborhood every night. To help us be more visible to traffic, I purchased red blinking lights at a pet store for about $5 each. The other day, I found children’s blinking necklaces. I bought a couple and found that they work just as well as the more-expensive lights from the pet store.

– Lisa P., Somersworth, N.H.

DEAR HELOISE: I repainted my outdoor chairs, and I was thinking of things to put under them so I wouldn’t leave a mess. My husband suggested that I use the plastic shower-curtain liner. We needed a new liner anyway, but I saved the old one for painting in the future.

– Megan N. In Dallas