DEAR HELOISE: After adopting my rescue dog last year, I noticed when buying her cushioned beds, the washing instructions said to throw the whole bed into the washing machine! I don't know about your house, but my washer cannot handle a whole dog bed, and it's inconvenient and expensive to take them to the laundromat. So, I took a couple of my old, pretty tablecloths, cut them up and sewed big "pillowcases" that are open on one end where the beds can slip into. This way, I just slip off the cover whenever they start to get smelly, and my washer can handle that job just fine.
Another benefit is that during the warmer months, lying on cotton fabric has got to be cooler than lying on a fleece-covered bed.
-- Karen S., Oxnard, Calif.
DEAR HELOISE: I am a grandma who came up with a gift for my other grandma friends that they love and look forward to. They don't need anything, but love to bake, so each one gets a bag of nuts -- walnuts, pecans and almonds. Nuts are expensive, but they tend to go on sale before the holidays.
Other options would be vanilla or other baking supplies that someone on a fixed income might not buy themselves all the time. It makes gift-giving easy and appreciated. It is a gift that keeps on giving.
-- A Grandma, via email
DEAR HELOISE: Good morning. While I understand how "Frustrated Shopper" disagrees with the favorable parking spots for "armchair shoppers," I think the extra walking from spaces farther away benefits most people.
Further, to the shoppers who stop in the middle of the lots (often without turn signals or flashers on) to secure advantageous spots, please consider parking farther away. The extra steps will benefit you! Most lots have aisles in between parked cars for a safer passage inside the store. Trust me, unless you have ailments, you'll feel better after the healthy little hikes.
-- D.G., Chino Hills, Calif.
DEAR HELOISE: Getting the water out of a fresh pumpkin is a problem. After I drain the cooked pumpkin in a strainer, I use my salad spinner. Place a small amount in the spinner at a time and process as you would salad. Works great!
-- Chuck Gerringer, Findlay, Ohio
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