A step up on getting projects done — Hints from Heloise

Dear Readers: You may be immersed in fall cleanup and fix-up projects right now. What can help you? A STEP STOOL. And yes, there are hints about purchasing one:

— If your step stool has multiple steps, it should have a handrail for safety.

— Make sure you have a spotter: someone to help you keep your balance.

— The stool must be sturdy and stable, with nonslip steps. Use the stool only on a dry, flat surface.

Before you shop for a step stool, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website,, for recalls and other safety hints. The store you buy from may or may not let you try out the step stool (they wouldn’t want you to fall in the store), but you can ask for a demonstration.

These hints can help you “step up” your fall projects game. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: I’d like to tell your readers to beware of buying items that are captioned “NWOB” or “NWOT” from auction sites. These stand for “New Without Box” and “New Without Tags.”

These could possibly, but not necessarily, be stolen or ill-gotten merchandise. Check the seller’s feedback and/or reputation. It can be easy to sell stolen items over the internet. This is my experience — it may not be your readers’ experiences. — Mary B. in Florida

Reputation means a lot on the internet; know as much as you can about the seller. Many auction sites provide consumers with protection against fraud. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: A paste of baking soda and water removes bugs from the car windshield. I apply it with an old stocking. — Ron A. in Cleveland

Baking soda is my go-to cleaner! Safe, pure and cheap, it’s available everywhere. To receive a collection of my best baking soda hints, visit to order, or send a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. A box of baking soda in the freezer absorbs food odors. After a month, pour it down the drain for freshness. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: I keep a paper plate by the microwave. It covers plates and dishes while they are microwaving to prevent splattering, and it’s replaceable when it gets soiled. — Karen M., Fort Wayne, Ind.

Put a small glass of water in the microwave when reheating foods, too; this will add moisture. Be careful — the water will be hot! — Heloise


Dear Heloise: In my opinion, people wear too many baggy clothes. Here’s the look I like: Pair a free-flowing and flirty blouse or lightweight sweater with a fitted pant or skirt.

Or choose a snug turtleneck top with a breezy, layered skirt. With a dress, belt it so you’re not swimming in it, or choose a shirtwaist style that is fitted at the top. One element should be tighter (or not baggy), and one loose. This looks more fashionable! — Wendy S. in Pittsburgh