Living Columns & Blogs

Hints From Heloise: Broccoli stems needn’t be tossed

DEAR READERS: Here’s how I use the stems of broccoli (why toss edible food out?), and it’s tasty too. I use a vegetable peeler to strip off the thick skin, then cut up the now-softer stems into small slivers. I add them to salads, soup or other veggies that I’m cooking. You even can add them to tuna salad, etc., for a little crunch.

DEAR HELOISE: I just moved into a house with a big backyard and want to try composting. Do you have any helpful hints?

– S.L. in San Antonio

DEAR S.L.: Sure do, and good for you! First thing is to designate the right space. Pick a sunny area, and make the enclosure large enough for the amount of “waste product” you think will be generated. Then start saving things! Vegetable peelings, eggshells, coffee grounds, grass clippings and the like are good.

You also can add dead leaves, twigs, etc. Having equal parts of brown material (coffee grounds, twigs, etc.) and green material (grass clippings, vegetable bits, etc.) is what is best to use. Mix in several shovelfuls of soil. The pile should be damp, so add water as needed and turn at least once a week.

Composting can make rich soil and mulch for your yard and flower beds. It also is great to put around new saplings to keep weeds away. – Heloise

P.S.: What not to add? Meat, fish or dairy products. Too many wild critters will be looking for dinner!

DEAR HELOISE: When I was younger, I did a lot of international travel. In European countries, many hotels do not supply washcloths, which is something most Americans are accustomed to. I would take a well-used towel and cut it into washcloth-size squares, and pack a generous supply. After use, they can be discarded.

– Karen in Colorado Springs, Colo.

DEAR HELOISE: We decided to paint the stairs in our house. We weren’t sure how to go about it, because we still needed to use them while we were painting. It took us a while, but we painted one step at a time. We easily could skip the step that was wet, and still were able to use them while painting.

– Cheryl M., via email

DEAR CHERYL: Great idea! Another way is to paint every other step, leaving the others unpainted. Wait for the painted steps to dry, and then paint the other ones.

– Heloise

DEAR HELOISE: My glove compartment was always a mess, and it was difficult to find anything in it. I found a small mail sorter at the store with six different areas for mail. It fit in the glove compartment just so. Now I can easily find what I need.

– A.R. in Oklahoma

DEAR READERS: Have you received a new credit card lately? Does it have a chip in it? These newer credit cards have a microchip as well as a magnetic strip. And they are more secure than the ones with just the magnetic strip.

The good news is that the microchip is very, very hard to counterfeit. Some even have a personal identification number to punch in when using the card. This makes it extremely difficult for criminals to copy it! So take a look at your credit cards to see if there is a silver holograph on the front or the back. Yep, it has a chip!

If you are uncertain, call the financial institution that issued the card and ask.

DEAR HELOISE: When a pair of rubber gloves from the kitchen gets a hole or wears out, I don’t throw out the entire glove. Instead, I cut off the fingertips. They can be used on the ends of brooms, mops or anything you place against a wall. I’ve even put them on the ends of pot handles for an extra grip (just make sure it is not a handle that gets hot).

– Lily D. in Utah

DEAR HELOISE: I have found that a pair of long tongs with silicone tips works very well to reach items from the top shelf in the kitchen cabinet.

– Angie P., via email