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DEAR HELOISE: Recently, we had an outdoor fire pit built using native stone on the exterior. Upon its completion, the workers suggested that in one week I scrub the exterior using a stiff brush and 1 pint of vinegar to 1 gallon of water. They said this would “brighten” the rocks and concrete.They further stated that after working with cement, they used this method to clean their hands at home. I even was able to clean our birdbaths, and they were the cleanest they had been in years.

  • John W. in Arkansas

DEAR READER: This is a wonderful way to clean certain stone/rock areas. Just make sure vinegar can be used on the type of stone you have, because you should not use it on limestone, marble or travertine.

DEAR HELOISE: What is the proper way to insert a greeting card into the envelope?

  • Rosa H., Moundridge, Kan.

DEAR READER: There is not a right or a wrong way. A good way to follow is to hold the card with the card front facing up and slide it into the envelope so the fold ends up at the bottom of the envelope.The front of the card should be toward the back of the envelope. That way, when the recipient opens it, he or she immediately sees the front of the card. And by grabbing the open side of the card, it prevents anything sent inside the card from falling out. Readers, what do you think?

DEAR HELOISE: I usually buy whichever brand of facial tissue that is on sale. I’ve found that the cheaper brands typically take the box with them when you’re trying to remove the tissues. So, I have found all kinds of unique square tissue-box holders at thrift stores or discount stores. I have boxes all over the house and in my office, so I didn’t want to spend a ton on holders. They are always heavy enough to hold the box in place when removing a tissue, and now I have quite a random collection that matches my decor.

  • Marj A., Garland, Texas

DEAR HELOISE: I just read the idea to use twin size sheets as tablecloths. The reader might try using a twin ready-made quilt, too. I’ve used them with seasonal motifs.

  • A Reader, St. Francisville, La.

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

Weekend, Pages 38 on 03/20/2014

Print Headline: HELPFUL HINTS

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