DEAR HELOISE: My great-grandmother was Amish, and she had her own particular way of doing things. She would clean her floors with hot water, olive oil, vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice from one lemon. Of course, the floors were sealed, and she never measured anything. She could tell by sight how much to use. But I asked my aunt how much of each my great-grandmother would use, and she said that for every gallon of hot water, add the following:
1 cup vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
The juice of one lemon (mostly for the scent)
This method kept our floors from getting that waxy buildup some wooden floors produce, and it was certainly very economical to use. We cleaned anything wood with this mixture, including window frames, doors and more. After washing, we'd let the wood dry and go back over everything with a microfiber cloth (or a soft cotton T-shirt), as well as polish the wood.
-- Amy D., Lancaster, Penn.
DEAR HELOISE: An old trick for cleaning wallpaper is to take a slice of white bread, wad it up into a ball and scrub the wallpaper. This is especially useful for wallpaper that is flocked when it gets dirty.
-- Janet S., San Diego
DEAR HELOISE: This past Thanksgiving, I made a beautiful centerpiece for my table and the long table in the entry, and it didn't cost me a dime. I found a piece of wood in my husband's workshop and used some leftover paint to paint it black. Then, I went for a walk in the woods and found some small branches, twigs, colorful leaves and pinecones. I picked them up and stuffed them into a bag I was carrying. I also found an empty bird's nest and some acorns. With just a little hot glue, I had a nice arrangement to show off the fall season during Thanksgiving Day.
-- Casey P., Dolores, Colo.
DEAR HELOISE: I found out that I could request paper bags at the grocery store instead of the plastic ones. So many waterways are clogged with those plastic bags that have ruined the beauty of many public parks and beaches. We live on one planet. and it should be -- needs to be -- better cared for than people presently care for it. I've heard a saying that we are just gatekeepers of Earth. We'll be passing Earth onto our children. Why would anyone want to give their child a cluttered, dirty planet?
-- Lucy H., Fairfield, Conn.
DEAR READER: You're right. We don't really own the planet, we just live here for a while. It's up to each of us to pick up after ourselves, recycle and not overbuy products. I once had a reader brag to me that she owned 112 pairs of shoes. Personally, I don't find that anything to be proud of. There are better things we can all do with our time and money. It's up to all of us to make sure we leave this earth in better shape than the way we found it on the day we were born.
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