Christmas by the letters?

by Hints with Heloise

Dear Readers: Today's SOUND OFF is about Christmas letters:
"Dear Heloise: I hate to be a Scrooge, but I don't really care for Christmas letters. Most of the information is either mundane or exaggerated. Does anyone really care that Susie got her braces off her teeth or that Tommy made a touch-down for his high school team?
"The last Christmas letter I got recounted how the author's father had been in the hospital six times during the year, the family dog died and their daughter dropped out of college. Please, no more Christmas letters." - Larry in Oklahoma
I agree that sad news might be inappropriate during the holidays, but entertaining, newsy letters from family and friends are always welcome. Keep it up, folks! - Heloise


Dear Readers: Here are some repurposing ideas:
• An empty tissue box makes a good place for plastic grocery bags.
• Use address labels to identify your possessions.
• A cardboard six-pack holder can be used for condiments on a picnic.
• Use a plastic shower cap to pack your shoes for a trip.
- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I have been to two lovely weddings and we were seated by number, but sad to say, we were apart from our family and friends. I wish the parents of the bride and groom would work together so they knew where to put us. - A Reader, Canfield, Ohio


Dear Heloise: We have a silly but fun Christmas tradition: On Christmas Eve, after everyone has gone to bed, I put on big boots and create a trail (with sprinkled baking soda) from the chimney to the tree - it's Santa's snowy footprints!
In the morning, the little ones really get a kick out of seeing "evidence" that Santa has stopped by. And bonus -- the carpet is refreshed when I vacuum up the baking soda. - Helen in Illinois
Helen, I love it! Baking soda can certainly look like snow, and it can eliminate odors from the carpet too. It's a workhorse in the home. - Heloise


Dear Heloise: I like to pour meat drippings or gravy over my dog's dry food. He really loves it and licks his bowl clean! - Pam T., Lubbock, Texas


Dear Heloise: I got so frustrated with many of my silky blouses and sweaters sliding off the hangers. A friend of mine suggested a simple remedy: Put two wide rubber bands on the hanger, one on each side. So easy and inexpensive! - Carrie R., Bonner Springs, Kan.


Dear Heloise: I wondered what to get an elderly but very mobile neighbor of mine for Christmas. I found that a gift card to a grocery store was a favorite for many older adults. It helps them stretch their budget and buy a few items they normally wouldn't buy for themselves. - June S., Santa Fe, N.M.

Conquer kitchen clutter

Dear Heloise: Over the past 30 years, I've lived in eight different houses. Some had big kitchens and some had small ones, but no matter the size, I found that the fewer items on my COUNTER, the cleaner it looked. When visitors dropped in, they often commented on how clean my kitchen looked, but that was due mainly to not having a mixer, condiments, knickknacks and more sitting out. It also made the kitchen look bigger, as well as clean. So, if you want a tidy kitchen, get rid of or hide your clutter. - Geena in Rhode Island


Dear Heloise: Please reprint your Pumpkin Bread recipe. I want to make some large batches to give out as Christmas gifts to some of my friends. - Ella M., Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Ella, this is one of my favorite treats and is so easy to make! You'll need:
1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup salad oil
1 cup canned pumpkin

Sift together dry ingredients. Add nuts and mix well. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients and add to the dry ingredients. Mix just enough to blend. Pour into a 9-by-5-by-3-inch greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 F for 60-75 minutes.

If you like this recipe, you'll find it in my Heloise's Baking Soda Hints and Recipes pamphlet, filled with cleaning hints using this versatile, inexpensive product.

To get a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at

If you think the Pumpkin Bread is good, just wait until you try the Carrot Cake recipe, which is also in this six-page pamphlet! - Heloise


Dear Heloise: My family loves potato salad all year long, so I found a way to make it faster than I used to. I cut the potatoes into small cubes, then boil them rather than boiling the whole potato. The cubes take much less time to cook, saving energy. After they finish cooking, I rinse with cold water, mix with the other ingredients, and I have potato salad in 30 minutes! - Taylor K., Lewistown, Pa.


Dear Heloise: My grandchildren love playing with toy food. I have a child-size play grocery cart in my kitchen, and as I cook throughout the week, I place clean recyclable items in the cart.
I'll clean out plastic peanut butter jars, oatmeal boxes, egg cartons, cake boxes, etc. When the children visit, the cart has new surprise items. After getting lots of play hours from the items, I recycle them. - Theresa V., Hamilton, Ohio

(c)2019 by King Features Syndicate Inc.