Spring into action on home exterior projects

Dear Readers: Spring is around the corner — time to think about getting the EXTERIOR OF YOUR HOME in good shape. Here are some areas to focus on:

* The air conditioner compressor (the outdoor unit) should be swept and have no leaves or debris around it.

* Get your entire AC unit(s) serviced before the really hot weather hits.

* Your door screens should be clean and free of rips/tears.

* Power-washing the outside of your home, including the walkways and driveways, is not a bad idea. Go in with a neighbor to rent a unit in order to save money.

* Trees and shrubs should not be against the house; this is a perfect conduit for critters to get up on the roof. Trim all greenery.

Use these hints to get your home looking sharp for spring and summer! — Heloise


Dear Heloise: I like to save energy in the kitchen. Here are some hints I use:

The gasket on the refrigerator should fit snugly. If a dollar bill can slip through, the gasket needs to be replaced.

Foods in the freezer will stay colder if the freezer is full. I pack the items close together, too. Also, vacuuming the coils of the refrigerator is critical. I have a dog, so I really need to keep the coils clean — he sheds!

Regarding the oven, it’s really necessary to preheat the oven for only five minutes, and you can shut the oven off 10 minutes before the food is done.

I hope these hints can help! — Randy B. in Los Angeles


Dear Heloise: I’m a teacher, and I remind my students to sneeze or cough into their elbow, not into their hands.

Sneezed-upon hands can then touch anything and anybody — germs can spread. A sneeze caught in the elbow is cut off at the pass. — Ericka W. in Pittsburgh


Dear Readers: It’s been almost two months since New Year’s — how are you doing with your fitness resolutions? Here are some hints to keep you motivated:

Find a fitness activity that you like to do or would like to learn. How about a dance class, spin class or biking outside (if the weather allows)?

Find a buddy to keep you accountable. It’s more fun with a friend; you can encourage each other.

Every week or so, treat yourself to a new piece of workout equipment, a new download of dance tunes or a cute workout outfit. There are some fun pieces out there; just remember not to blow the budget!

Enjoy your journey to fitness, and take the time to appreciate that you are getting stronger, fitter and healthier! — Heloise


Dear Heloise: I slice an onion ring about an inch tall and place it in a skillet with some oil. Then I crack an egg inside the onion ring — this makes a “guide” for the egg shape, and is perfect for making egg sandwiches. The onion also gives a nice flavor to the egg. — Holly P. in ­Dallas


Hints from Heloise run occasionally in Lifestyles. Readers may send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE, or email: Heloise@Heloise.com. Letters won’t be answered personally.