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Dear Heloise: Now that the holidays are over, many of us are longing for spring and planting our GARDENS. No matter how small the yard, it's always fun to grow some of your own vegetables.
Tomatoes are easy to grow in a wire cage or even in a pot. There's nothing like homegrown vegetables, picked when they are ripe and ready to be eaten. It's also nice to get the kids involved and teach them where their food comes from and how healthy it is to grow food that isn't coated with wax or insect sprays, or isn't genetically modified.
- Steve and Gloria, Marshall, Ill.
Steve and Gloria, I love growing a few tomatoes, onions and lettuce. It's always fresh and has a wonderful flavor when it comes straight from the garden. It's also a great sense of accomplishment to see the results and then use those veggies in something like the recipe coming up next.
Protect yourself against online scams
Dear Heloise: It's always nice to use social media to stay in touch with friends and family, but beware of SHOPPING ONLINE AT SOCIAL MEDIA SITES. You might see an ad that has a product you'd love to have, and they may even say they give a portion of their profits to a charity. So, you place your order, giving them your credit card or debit card number, but the product never arrives. Worse, they have your financial information, name and address. Here's how to protect yourself:
• Do some research on social media scams by going to BBB.org/AvoidScams or BBB.org/ShoppingOnline. There is also Give.org, where you can check out an organization's reputation.
• Look online for complaints from previous customers.
• If you've been taken advantage of by a scammer, share your concerns at BBB.org/ScamTracker.
- J.B. in Wisconsin
DECLUTTER THIS YEAR
Dear Heloise: Please ask your readers to make an effort to declutter their homes. Once a year, we go through the house, and everything we don't need, don't use, don't like or is broken gets thrown out or given away. I don't want my kids to go through what my husband and I went through when my in-laws passed away. They lived in a large, three-story house with an attic and basement, and they hated to part with anything. It took us two months and two commercial trash bins to get everything out of the house.
Over the years, we offered to help them sort through things and get rid of items that were broken or that they no longer used or needed, but they declined the offer each time.
- June and Chester K., Port Huron, Mich.
WRITING IN RESPONSE
Dear Heloise: I'm writing in response to a reader in a previous column. If her son's fiancee is such a problem with not picking up after herself, never offering to help with anything around the house and other habits she had, then talk to the son about it - not in an accusatory manner, but respectfully.
My own mother-in-law used to rearrange my furniture, rearrange my linen closet, tell me what to fix for her son for dinner, tell me how to raise my kids, was critical of my weight and much more. I never said a word and kept the peace.
-Lois D. in Dallas
Lois, there is a fine line between "keeping the peace" and the refusal to be ordered about in your own home. Most people try to accommodate the needs of a guest, but if a guest wants to be invited back, it's important to remember that they are a "visitor" in the home, not the owner.
A COUPLE OF HINTS
Dear Heloise: If your salad dressing is becoming low in the bottle, add a bit of vinegar and shake well. It comes out tangy and delicious.
Also, I was going to cook a sweet potato but didn't get around to it and noticed it sprouted small green leaves. I put it in a vase (pointy side down). Now I have the prettiest plant in my kitchen.
- Anne in San Pedro, Calif.
Dear Heloise: How long will peanut butter last once it's been opened?
- Lorna R., Bartlesville, Okla.
Lorna, peanut butter keeps well in the pantry for about two to three months after opening. Then refrigerate it to last another three to four months.
Dear Heloise: Why is cottage cheese considered "diet food"?
- Kathy Y., Durango, Colo.
Kathy, probably because it's usually made from skim milk, and it's fresh and unfermented. Cottage cheese is also low in fat, contains calcium and protein, but is relatively high in sodium compared with other dairy products.
Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column. (c)2020 by King Features Syndicate Inc.