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Birthday cards for every year

Dear Heloise: I bought a birthday card for each of my children every year and wrote them a quick note stating their likes, friends, hobbies and a few anecdotes. It took 5 minutes once a year. I put the cards in a shoe box in my closet. When each child turned 18, I presented them with a history of their childhood. It meant so very much to them. — Nancy, via email

BANANAS

Dear Heloise: I am picky about my bananas. If I buy a bunch that are just right, in two days the rest of the bunch is too ripe. If I put them in a refrigerator to slow down the ripening process, by the second day they have started turning black. I found this does not happen if I separate them and put them in a foam cooler or ice chest with a frozen gel bag. This keeps them about 50 degrees or cooler, and they don’t turn black.

I have also had luck putting them outside in cool weather as long as it is above 32 degrees. If you have the opposite problem, and they are too green, put them in a bag with an apple, and they will ripen much faster. — Alex, Camarillo, California

HOW TO OPEN PLASTIC BAGS

Dear Heloise: Here’s a quick and sanitary way to open those pesky plastic bags in grocery store produce aisles that cling shut: Breathe on the fingertips of one hand and roll the bag edges between those fingers. You need to do this quickly since the little moisture it puts on your fingers soon evaporates. This is much cleaner than the old way of licking your dirty (yucky) fingertips. — Bill R., Merrimack, New Hampshire

CLEANING ­STAINLESS-STEEL ­FLATWARE

Dear Heloise: A simple way to shine stainless-steel flatware is to wad a small (8 inches by 8 inches) sheet of aluminum foil and put it in the dishwasher flatware basket and wash as usual. The aluminum foil will be darkened from the tarnish on flatware. When finished, toss the aluminum wad in the recycle bin.

Hopes this helps those who hate polishing but want shiny flatware without the hassle. — Jessie, Long Beach, California

STORING APPLIANCES

Dear Heloise: I love reading your column daily in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. To keep my kitchen counters somewhat clutter-free, I store handheld and stand mixers, blender, electric can opener, toaster and crockpots on the lazy Susan turntable in the base cabinets. It makes for easy access and lots of counter space. — Nancy R., via email

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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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