Battery baggage

Dear Heloise: My sister-in-law gave me a hint I’d like to pass along. When traveling, I take all battery-operated items and place them in a plastic bag AFTER I REMOVE THE BATTERIES. Then I place the items on top of my clothing. I usually pack brand-new batteries, in their original wrapper, in my purse. The logic is this: The “on button” can accidentally be turned on while my luggage is being handled and transported. And if I pack the batteries in a separate plastic bag, they can touch each other and possibly start a fire. While it’s rare, it’s still a risk I won’t take with lives of others on the plane. — Terry K., Lamar, Colo.


Dear Heloise: My 4-year-old son left his artwork in crayon on my living room walls. How do I get this mess off without destroying the recently painted walls? — Melissa M., Ypsilanti, Mich.

Melissa, crayon marks on a painted wall can easily come off by sprinkling baking soda on a damp sponge and gently rubbing the spot in a circular motion. It’s a simple method that you can find in my pamphlet Baking Soda Hints and Recipes. There are many more cleaning, freshening and even some baking hints included, too! To receive one, send a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at Did you know that baking soda also can remove coffee and tea stains from cups? Why spend more than you need to on cleaning products when baking soda can do the job easily and economically? — Heloise


Dear Heloise: Please warn your readers that when an advertisement for a credit card says “as low as,” it does NOT promise to give you that rate, and usually charges more interest than the lowest rate mentioned in the advertisement. “Preapproved” does not mean you don’t have to apply for a credit card, because you’ll be required to go through the whole approval process before any card is issued to you. — Richard S., Rhinebeck, N.Y.


Dear Heloise: Just a reminder that there are many homeless people who would love to have warm coats or jackets. Please ask your readers to consider donating to shelters or other organizations that help the needy. It’s cold outside, and a donated coat or jacket might save someone’s life. — Laura W., Hillsboro, Ore.


Dear Heloise: I work in human resources for a large company. We get hundreds of resumes each month, and my job is to review them. To help some of your readers find a better job, there are few do’s and don’ts:

¯ Don’t include a photo of yourself unless you’re an actor or a model.

¯ Use high-quality paper (white, light gray or ivory) and a clear, easy-to-read font.

¯ One page is best, but certainly no more than two pages.

¯ Don’t get “wordy.” Check your spelling and grammar. Neatness counts.

¯ Don’t try to be humorous, don’t use slang, and stay away from cliches such as “I’m a people person.”

— Tyler G. in Philadelphia


Dear Readers: O CHRISTMAS TREE! Have you put yours up yet? There’s still time. In fact, experts agree that a live Christmas tree shouldn’t stay in your home for more than two weeks. Here are some hints for selecting a beautiful, live Christmas tree:

¯ Location, location, location. Decide where in your home you’d like the tree to be. Real trees prefer a cooler area, so the fireplace and other warm areas are out.

¯ Make heading to the lot a family affair. Everybody should have a say in what type of tree to get.

¯ Look for fresh, bright needles that don’t come off under pressure. Gently tap the tree trunk on the ground. You should not see a shower of needles. A fresh pine scent is required, as is a rich green color.

¯ Keep your live tree in water so it will retain its moisture. Have the folks at the lot make a new cut to the base upon purchase.

¯ Buying a tree with a root bulb is a wonderful option — you can plant it in the yard before New Year’s Day!

— Heloise


Dear Heloise: My husband and I have endured years of “cover wars”! My solution is to make the bed with two sets of overlapping top sheets with a shared comforter. No more middle-of-the-night grumpy sheet retrievals! — “Z.Z.Z.,” Dayton, Ohio


Dear Heloise: About this time each year, my large family circulates an email “wish list.” We can coordinate who gets what gift, and who will give what to whom. This prevents Grandma from getting 12 pairs of slippers and seven robes. — Catherine G. in Oklahoma


Dear Heloise: Our family tradition around Christmastime is to collect special ornaments. We give and collect ornaments that have the date and origin marked on them, so decorating the home becomes an affair to remember!

It’s especially meaningful if we all can’t be together for the holidays. — Robin R. in Maine


Dear Heloise: Getting published in your column is on my bucket list! With two little ones, we ended up with many puzzles. Keeping the puzzles organized was a hassle.

Our solution? We bought an alphabet stamp set. Each puzzle is assigned its own letter, and the letter is stamped on the back of each puzzle piece. Now they are easily organized.

We place a photo of the puzzle along with the pieces in a small mesh laundry bag. — John and Anne, Columbus, Ohio


Dear Heloise: My electric company tells me that my refrigerator uses about 20 percent of my electricity. They recommend the fridge should be set at 38 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and the freezer should be at 0 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. — Ellen in North Dakota

EDITOR’S NOTE: Send your great money-saving or timesaving hint to to Heloise at P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, Fax to 1-210-HELOISE, or email to She can’t answer your letter personally butv will use the best hints received in her column.