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DEAR READERS: What's a fun project to keep the kids entertained on a Saturday? How about making Christmas ornaments with my dough recipe? Here it is:

2 cups baking soda

1 cup cornstarch

11/4 cups water

Mix the baking soda and cornstarch in a saucepan, then add the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.

Turn it out on a plate, and cover with a damp cloth. Allow it to cool, then knead until smooth, and either use immediately or seal in a bag and refrigerate.

Shape ornaments by hand, or roll flat and use cookie cutters. Use a toothpick to pierce a hole in the top for a hanger. Let the ornaments dry overnight, or heat them in a 250 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Once dry, the ornaments can be painted or colored, or you can add food coloring to the dough. You also can add ribbon, sequins or buttons to the design. Finish with a coat of clear nail polish or spray varnish and thread a ribbon through the hole.

DEAR HELOISE: Don't give small toys to young children at Christmas -- or older children with younger siblings. There is no end to the choking and up-the-nose antics of young children who think toys may be candy.

-- Donna K., Maryland

DEAR HELOISE: When transporting a casserole topped with hot melted cheese, I was afraid the foil would stick to the cheese.

To solve this problem, I placed a piece of parchment paper over the casserole and then placed the foil over all. Worked perfectly, with no sticking.

-- Carol N., Alabama

Look for parchment paper next to the foil and wax paper.

DEAR HELOISE: I found a way to get in a few extra arm exercises a day. I keep a basket of 2-pound weights in my bathroom. When I use the bathroom, I have a minute or two to grab them and get some arm lifts done.

-- Lucy in California

DEAR HELOISE: I want to urge everyone to refrain from wrapping handrails on stairways with lights or greenery. This is especially important for outside steps, which may be slippery from rain, snow or ice.

Many people need to have the handrails available indoors and outdoors.

-- Carol, via email

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

HomeStyle on 12/15/2018

Print Headline: Helpful Hints

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