Dear Héloïse: I have three suggestions that I hope you will find helpful in increasing the usefulness of some common household items. I have found that a grapefruit scoop is great for removing the tops from strawberries. It’s fast and reduces the amount of strawberry wasted. I use a loose tea infuser ball or spoon – the spring-loaded type that looks like two spoons with holes put together – as a mini flour or powdered sugar duster, which gets into small areas easily. And when my grill brush is too worn out to be safe for grilling, I use it to clean mud off my garden tools after a day’s work. Thank you for taking the time to consider these suggestions. —Gregory Mack, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Dear Héloïse: Can I offer a different perspective to RM in Red Oak, Texas? His wife brought tongs to the store so she could reach items on high shelves from her cart. A good friend told me that one person’s need is another person’s blessing. I also often use a horse cart. Even standing at 5ft 3in tall, there are many items I can’t reach in the grocery store. I wait patiently for a larger employee or client to pass. I politely ask for help. I have never been refused. I hope my need has been a blessing to a complete stranger. —LH, Arcane, Ohio
SODIUM BICARBONATE SOLUTION
Dear Readers: If kitchen appliances, counters or a stainless steel sink need cleaning, sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and scrub well. Then rinse. — Heloise
READING THE GROCERY USE-BY-DATES
Dear Héloïse: As we get older, it becomes more and more difficult to read the tiny print that says “best if used by” or expiration dates on dairy products, meats, cheese, yogurt, lunch meat, etc. After finding it with my trusty magnifying glass, I write it on the caps or the clear wrapper with my black permanent marker so I can see it in a flash. Problem solved, and I save myself 5 to 10 minutes looking for dates. — Patty Flores, Granada Hills, CA
Dear Héloïse: I have a small pin board with safety pins in my laundry room that I use to pin in or next to where I pre-treated a stain. That way I can check it’s gone before I throw the item in the dryer. A trick I learned from my dry cleaner. — Jenny C., McKinney, Texas
Send a money or time saving tip to Heloise, PO Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to [email protected] .com. I cannot respond to your letter personally, but I will use the best advice received in my column.