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Tips for writing post-holiday thank-you notes

Dear Readers: Have you and/or your kids and grandkids written THANK-YOU NOTES for holiday gifts? A handwritten thank-you note is not only appropriate, it tells the gift-givers that you appreciate them.

Rules for thank-yous, from Good Housekeeping magazine: Mention the gift specifically and how you will use it. Don’t froufrou up your language; write as you would speak. And definitely use the person’s name in your note.

Finally, consider the closing: “Love” is great for family members; “Fondly” for friends; and “Sincerely” for people you may not know as well. — Heloise

P.S. You don’t have to use fancy stationery, but no emails!

SPONGE SCRUBBER

Dear Heloise: Years ago, I jumped on the baking soda/vinegar bandwagon when reading Heloise I [the original Heloise, 1919-1977].

Instead of using cellulose or foam sponges, I found one that is many times better. It is the melamine scrubbing sponge. These, used with or without a baking soda paste, are great. They are similar to a commercial-brand eraser but without the cleaning additive. That’s where the baking soda comes in. — Teresa C., Omaha, Neb.

Teresa, is it possible we were separated at birth? I am with you! Baking soda is an effective scrubber; it gently removes stains and is a workhorse in the home. Nontoxic, safe, cheap and readily available, I keep boxes of this stuff on hand. I’ve compiled a collection of my favorite baking soda hints, recipes and helps into a handy pamphlet. Would you like to receive one? It’s easy. Send a long, stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at www.Heloise.com. Look for large boxes of baking soda in the laundry aisle for even more savings. — Heloise

COAT CONCERN

Dear Readers: When putting your infant, toddler or young child into a car seat, do it WITHOUT a bulky, puffy jacket on the child. The problem? The straps of the car seat are not directly in contact with the child, leaving too much space. During a collision, the child is not secure and could be thrown out of the car seat.

The best thing to do is put the child in the car seat wearing what he or she would wear indoors, then use the coat as a blanket. — Heloise

ON THE BIAS

Dear Heloise: What does “cut on the bias” mean? — A Reader in Florida

Think about what a bias is: a strong feeling, coming from one side or another; a slanted opinion.

When a pattern calls for material to be cut on the bias, it is to be cut on a 45-degree angle (slanted!). This will make the fabric more flexible, and easier to flow over the body. — Heloise

CONTAINMENT

Dear Heloise: I tape together empty and full tissue boxes to make disposal of used tissues easy. I keep one set in the car and one in the house when I have a cold. — Elisea F. in San Antonio

Brilliant! — Heloise

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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.

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