DEAR HELOISE: Reading the recent letter concerning the dangers of cleaning brushes for grills compelled me to write about our experience. While attending a community barbecue, my husband consumed a hamburger that contained two metal brush bristles that had not been detected.
He ended up in the hospital for a tracheotomy, on a ventilator and having surgery to remove the bristles, which were lodged sideways in his esophagus and formed an abscess. Over the next few days, he went into heart failure and got his nourishment via a stomach tube. He eventually recovered, but we make it a point to tell people to eschew the brushes and use a raw onion cut in half for cleaning purposes. It makes the grill smell yummy and leaves no life-threatening metal parts behind!
-- Shirlley Gooding, via email
DEAR HELOISE: I just read the hint where the reader arranged her attic in zones and made a map to find where everything is. Good idea, but my husband had a different idea to print 8x10 signs with names of what was up there and put them into plastic covers so he could track them at each area. Now, all he has to do is look for the sign: Christmas, Easter, Spring, etc.
-- Jimmie Ruth Taylor, Bryant
DEAR HELOISE: My neighborhood often has driveway parties where everyone comes and it's BYOB, with a snack or potluck item to share. I often bring a food item that fits on a paper plate so that I don't need to worry about leaving a dish or container behind. Wrapping food on a paper plate with plastic wrap does not always create a good seal to protect the food item while en route, and the plastic wrap often comes loose.
I've discovered that if I wrap the paper plate and food item in an oversized piece of plastic wrap and place the whole thing on top of a second empty paper plate, the second plate holds the plastic wrap in place more securely, and the food stays safe. The same holds true for an item covered with aluminum foil. It also makes the whole thing a little easier to carry.
-- Carin, The Villages, Fla.
DEAR READERS: Have any fingerprints on appliances? Mix half vinegar and half water together. Use a soft terry towel. Dip the terry towel into the mix and then wipe off the fingerprints, and the surface will be shiny.
Vinegar is such an indispensable and safe household product, which can be used for cleaning, deodorizing and cooking. FYI: To clean dirty hairbrushes, soak them overnight in a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water. Rinse thoroughly.
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