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This article was published April 5, 2014 at 2:15 a.m.

DEAR READER: With the start of spring begins many home-improvement and cleaning (garage and window) projects. With many spring projects, you need a ladder, but before you drag the ladder out, here are some hints for staying safe, from the American Ladder Institute:

Do not use a ladder that has any missing parts or is damaged in any way.

Do not use a ladder if there are high winds or storms in the area.

Make certain the ladder you are using is the correct size for the job you are doing. You should never have to stand on the top rung to reach the area where you need to work.

Never allow more than one person on the ladder at a time.

Do not place the ladder in front of a closed door that can be opened into the ladder (essentially knocking a person off).

P.S.: Be ladder safe, not ladder sorry.

DEAR HELOISE: I love to entertain my girlfriends for coffee and tea, but we are sick and tired of cucumber sandwiches. Do you have anything I can make to add variety to our get-togethers?

  • Debra in California

DEAR READER: Try my Fast Shrimp Spread. It can be made quickly and served with crackers or veggies. You will need:

8 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise

4 ounces tiny cocktail shrimp, drained and rinsed, preferably fresh

2 tablespoons seafood cocktail sauce

1/2 cup finely chopped onion, yellow, white or red

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Mix the cream cheese and mayonnaise until blended.

Mash or chop the shrimp and add to the mixture. Then stir in the remaining ingredients.

Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Making a recipe that calls for whole milk? Use nonfat dried milk powder instead to cut calories.

DEAR HELOISE: I wash out my used plastic mayo jars, oleo tubs, etc. Then I fill them with a variety of doggy treats. I keep these in the car, and when I see a homeless person with a dog, I give them one, and sometimes a few bucks.

  • Joan M., via email

DEAR READER: You almost got me. I thought you were giving the doggie treats to the person, not the dog! I’m sure both of them appreciate your kindness.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

HomeStyle, Pages 38 on 04/05/2014

Print Headline: HELPFUL HINTS


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