Living Columns & Blogs

Hints from Heloise: Scan mementos to put in a digital frame

DEAR HELOISE: I scan mementos into my computer. Some are bulky, but most are invitations, thank-you letters, birth/marriage announcements, etc. I put them onto my flash drive and plug it into my digital frame. Lovely memories play on a side table, kitchen counter or wherever I place the frame. I keep two digital frames just for this. This way, I can discard the mementos themselves.

Marie M., Bend, Ore.

DEAR MARIE: Wow! Don’t you love some of the new techno gadgets? Readers, a digital frame is a “frame” that has a screen display, and the photos rotate through and start over. Rather like looking at a photo album, but you don’t have to turn pages, and the photos won’t fade. Super!

DEAR HELOISE: A tip for seniors on Medicare if you are traveling to a foreign country: Buy trip health insurance. Medicare does not cover you outside the U.S. We learned the hard way. Betty H. in Arkansas

DEAR BETTY: This probably is news to many of my readers. There are a few exceptions, one being if you are in the U.S. but the closest hospital is one outside the U.S., you are probably covered. For example, if you are living next to the Canadian or Mexican border, or traveling through Canada from Alaska and the closest hospital is in Canada.

P.S.: Even if you aren’t on Medicare, check any health insurance plan you have before traveling out of the U.S.

DEAR READERS: Here is a hint I use all the time: Most manuals we get that come with a new item often are in other languages, too. To save space, I tear off the pages I can’t read.

DEAR HELOISE: I know there is a combination of vinegar and something to clean toilets. I am looking for a non-chemical way to clean. Thanks.

Ruth M., Omaha, Neb.

DEAR RUTH: It’s as simple as just pouring several glugs (maybe 2-3 cups) of vinegar into the bowl. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then scrub and flush.

If you want to add some cleaning oomph, sprinkle in a cup or so of baking or washing soda. The powder acts like a scrubber, but it will not hurt the finish or scratch the porcelain. Safe, cheap and a friend to Mother Earth.

There are a bunch of my favorite hints for using vinegar to save you money around the house. To learn these, order my vinegar pamphlet by sending $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (70 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001 (or you can order online at

DEAR HELOISE: My dress shoes were scuffed, and I had no polish, so I sprayed them with foam-type furniture polish and wiped it off. The result was a nice, bright shine.

Ronald N., Alexandria, Va.

DEAR HELOISE: I have a garment that has a fabric-care label for dry cleaning that is a circle with a “W” inside. What does that mean?

Ginni P., via email

DEAR GINNI: The symbol for dry cleaning is the circle, and the letter “W” inside it means wet cleaning, which means exactly like it sounds. Using water, special equipment, plus soaps and conditioners, clothes are cleaned without using the chemicals that are used for cleaning.” However, dry cleaning is not really dry. It means no water is used, but rather liquid solvents and chemicals are used.

Check with your cleaner if you have questions, as they are the go-to experts.

DEAR READERS: Halloween is almost here! Ghosts and goblins are getting ready, too! What’s the best giveaway? It can be tricky (sorry, bad pun!) deciding what to hand out instead of candy, especially with many children having allergies as well as safety concerns. Here are a few Heloise hints:

▪  How about a little sack with a small toy, some stickers or the like. (Most of these items are at dollar stores.)

▪  Coupon for ice cream or frozen yogurt.

▪  Glow sticks, which are fun for adults as well.

▪  Coins! One year I had a big plastic jack-o’-lantern filled with change. The children could have as much as they could grab with one hand!


DEAR HELOISE: The agency I work for provides grants for emergency homeless shelters and subsidies for permanent housing for formerly homeless individuals and families.

Knowing the constant need for personal-care items for shelter visitors, I clip coupons for products such as shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, etc., and match them to sale items. This allows me to periodically donate shopping bags full of much-needed and appreciated products to the shelter. I spend only a few extra dollars and use coupons I would otherwise pass on or toss. It’s possible to really stretch the value of a donation.

Jane S., Augusta, Maine

Send a great hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 79500, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to