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Hints from Heloise: Cooking comes from heart

Dear Heloise: I read your hints every day in our local paper. Many of them I have done for years. A few months ago, you printed a reader's letter about sending baskets to families upon their losing a loved one.

I never believed in sending flowers, so I take the amount that I would spend on them and make up a full meal for the first night. Everyone is busy and upset and would usually rather not go out to eat. I make one of my slow cookers full of some kind of meat dish and take buns or bread, a large salad and dessert. I take it to the house and have everything ready for them when they come home from making arrangements. I plug the slow cooker in on low, put the rest in the fridge, and they can eat whenever they feel like it.

I have had so many thank-you cards saying that they thought the meal was the best thing anyone did for them during their time of loss. You can't eat flowers. — Willadean Ketteman, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Your hint is a heart hint that will help a lot of people. Nothing beats a home-cooked meal, especially at this stressful time — it sure beats takeout. Glad you read the column in The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. — Heloise

Dear Readers: Here are some more ideas on how to reuse empty, miniature, cylinder-shaped containers from candy-coated chocolate pieces, sent in by Sarah McCoy of Hammond, Ind.:

Use to hold change.

Great to hold adhesive bandages.

Hold small tubes of glue.

Use for safety pins, small buttons or cotton-tipped swabs.

Add thread, needle and small folding scissors to make a sewing kit.

— Heloise

Dear Heloise: Always keep several get-well cards on the mantel. If unexpected guests arrive, they will think you've been sick and unable to clean. — A Reader, via e-mail

You certainly gave my office a laugh! This beats leaving the vacuum out. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: I have a great suggestion for a family gift. One year, I gave my mom something very unique. I bought a picture frame that has two openings, side by side. I found a toddler picture of myself and put it in one opening, and then put a current family portrait in the other opening. This gift was a big hit with all my mom's friends. — Crystal Flood, Stephens City, Va.

Dear Heloise: I'd like to express how frustrated I am with yet another "reality" show. Isn't that why we want to watch television — in order to escape reality for a few moments? Most recently, I sat down and began flipping through the channels and was amazed at what people find as entertainment. My thoughts are, I watch television to escape from reality, not have other realities imposed on me! Thank you for letting me sound off! — Claire, Austin, Texas

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000; fax: 1-210-HELOISE; e-mail: © King Features Syndicate Inc.