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Hints from Heloise: Include lots of useful items on 'Kitchen Maid' gift

Dear Heloise:I have the directions for the "Mr. Honey Do" but need the directions for the "Kitchen Maid." Can you help me? —Nancy B., Navarre, Ohio

Sure, I'd be glad to help! Here are the directions to make the maid that helps without being paid. But remember, when putting a Kitchen Maid together, be creative — use things that you know the recipient will need and use.

An ironing board with a cover makes the body, and use a string mop for a great head of hair! An apron with pockets around the middle of the ironing board is perfect to fill with small kitchen items such as utensils, an egg timer, hot pads, a feather duster, etc. Add a dustpan at the wide end of the ironing board for the feet, or if you have a larger budget, set the ironing board on top of a vacuum and secure it with a couple of elastic cords under the apron.

Attach a plunger to one side of the ironing-board back and a toilet-bowl brush to the other to make two arms. And for the face, two nylon-net scrubbies make grand eyes; use a small sponge for the nose, and a nailbrush can be used for the mouth. —Heloise

Dear Readers: Does shopping for a new perfume or cologne leave you with sensory overload? I'll share a few simple hints to make shopping for your next fragrance a success.

A nose can only handle so much of a good thing before it gets overloaded and loses its keen sense of smell. That's why a good rule of thumb is to never try more than three scents at a time when you're shopping for a new fragrance.

You might want to apply the fragrance directly to the skin when testing a new scent, since you'll want to know how it will react with your own body chemistry. Test by applying a few drops or sprays to your wrist. Allow the heat of your body to develop the fragrance for a minute or so, then sniff.

To test one or two more scents, apply one to the other wrist . . . wait . . . then apply the third scent inside the bend of your elbow.

If you plan to walk around to "get to know the scents" for a while, just be sure to write down which fragrance you put where, so you'll know which is which later on. —Heloise

Dear Heloise: I read your article on cleaning can openers. I became tired of the old electric can opener always needing a cleaning when I needed it, so I did away with that one and bought two manual, dishwasher-safe can openers. Now when one is in the dishwasher waiting to be cleaned, I still have another one that's clean and ready to use.

This is much more sanitary and requires nothing but a little muscle power. —Larry, via e-mail

Dear Heloise: The toothpaste my family uses has baking soda and peroxide for whitening teeth. Recently, my dark-colored hand towels started showing spots that looked like they had been bleached! I think I've figured out what those stains on my towels are from, as I never use bleach.

When any of our five kids uses a hand towel after teeth-brushing, the peroxide from the toothpaste left on the person's hands and mouth is wiped onto the towel — therefore, it seems that the peroxide "bleaches" the color out of the hand towels after sitting for a while! I know there is no way to fix the towels, but wanted to let other readers know about this. —Jill Lickteig, Elk Horn, Iowa

Thanks for the good advice! This can also happen with some acne medications, so be careful with colored towels. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: I keep a floor duster with removable pad behind the bathroom door. Every morning after showers, I run it over the floor to pick up hair, lint, etc. I find that this makes the weekly floor cleaning a little easier. —Carole Read, via e-mail

Here are two helpful hints from Anita in California:

If you have a door that keeps closing when you want it left open, simply remove one of the pins holding the door on. Bend the pin slightly with a hammer and replace it. You might have to experiment by removing the pin again and turning it slightly. Works every time.

We moved into our new home before the window coverings could be ordered. I attached sheets to the insides of my windows with binder clips. Worked great, and no unsightly tack holes in the walls.

Dear Heloise:Early Christmas greeting! Just wanted to send you a hint about something I do while wrapping gifts. When I have small pieces of paper that I cut off of a larger piece or a tiny bit left on a roll, I put those small pieces in a special place. Then when I start wrapping the stocking-stuffer gifts, I have all the pieces already cut and ready for these small items. Enjoy the season. —Kathy Carlson, Hondo, Texas

Dear Heloise: While working on a complete remodel of my hair salon, I have had to purchase, return and repurchase so many items that another trip to the hardware or home-improvement store was madness.

All I needed was a liner for the paint-roller pan. I created my own by taking a plastic grocery bag, sliding it inside out over the roller pan's deep side and hooking the handles over the shallow side. The "liner" didn't slide down, and my sanity was, well, less fragile!

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or e-mail it to I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column. © King Features Syndicate Inc.