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Hints from Heloise: Stone fireplace can be cleaned safely

Have chimney checked every year for safety

Dear Heloise: My new home has a huge, gorgeous, natural-stone fireplace that's been neglected. What is the best way to clean the stone? —Marjorie Speaker, via e-mail

Marjorie, natural stone varies from state to state, and yours might have been brought in from another area. Since I'm not sure what your fireplace is made from, it would be hard to determine the best cleaning process. You could call or go by a stone-supply company and take a look to see if you can match the stone. It will have products for purchase that are specifically made for the stone.

A safety hint: The Chimney Safety Institute of America suggests that you have your chimney checked annually and cleaned when needed to prevent the threat of carbon-monoxide poisoning and chimney fires. The CSIA is offering a free pamphlet, Chimney Inspections Explained. If you would like a single copy of the brochure, e-mail the CSIA at, call toll-free 1-800-536-0118 or mail your request with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Chimney Safety Institute of America, 2155 Commercial Drive, Plainfield, IN 46168. Make safety your No. 1 priority!—Heloise

Dear Heloise: My small carry-on bag has a zipper that is sometimes hard to grasp. So, to make it a little easier for myself, I attached a key chain to the pull. Now, I can zip and unzip with ease. — Kathi in Nevada

Dear Heloise: My husband and I have lived in our house for 27 years and have found it necessary to change the seat on our toilet a couple of times. The first time, we had a difficult time getting the screws out because they were rusted so badly. After we put the new seat on, I put some petroleum jelly on my finger and filled the screw holes with it. Several years later, we redecorated the bathroom, and the screws were still like new because they were protected by the jelly. —Carole, Canton, Ohio

Dear Heloise: My parents were married in 1920. They were given a clock with beautiful cherubs, etc., around the face of it. It no longer is in working condition, and I have been unable to find clockworks to fit it. It is a beautiful work of art, and I hated to dispose of it, yet I did not want a worthless thing sitting around. So, I removed the hands of the clock and put a wedding picture of my parents inside, and now I have a beautiful memory of two wonderful people. — E.J.H. in Beaumont, Texas

Dear Heloise: When I pick up fast food and either eat on the run or bring it home to eat, in the past I have thrown away the extra napkins. My suggestion is that you purchase a separate napkin holder to store the fast-food napkins and use on a casual night for pizza or a picnic. —

Lou Stoker, Bakersfield, Calif.

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000; Fax: 210-HELOISE; E-mail:

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