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For safety, label your toxic houseplants

Comment: I'd like to share a quick and easy hint on accident prevention for those who, like myself, enjoy houseplants but also have small children or dogs. First, I wrote down the names of all my houseplants, then I called the local poison control center. I asked whether each plant was toxic or non-toxic and checked off each toxic one.

Next I took a box of plastic picnic spoons and broke off the handles. On the handles I wrote with a permanent marking pen either "toxic" or "safe" and stuck them in the various pots. I put all the toxic plants out of reach of little hands or mouths and the non-toxic plants I put lower.

Now I know at a glance which ones to keep up high should I rearrange them and should a child or pet bite one of the toxic leaves, I'll know to call the poison control center immediately instead of waiting for signs of a reaction.

I can also enjoy my plants with peace of mind now. _ Karen Hickerson, Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

Sweet smell of success

Comment: Nothing smells better than vacuuming your carpets after using a good carpet deodorizer, but some of those powder deodorizers are expensive, and the scent doesn't last that long.

Something else that smells good is a load of freshly dried laundry after it takes a tumble in the dryer with a fabric softener sheet.

Brainstorm! I placed a couple fabric softener sheets in the vacuum-cleaner bag. When the vacuumed air gets forced out of the bag and into the room, it takes that fresh scent with it. The room smells great.

Two sheets last for a long time (until you change the bag), and every time you vacuum you've got freshness creeping all over the place. _ Randall Russell, Little Rock, Ark.

Stamp of friendship

Comment: At the death of a friend or relative, instead of sending a floral offering or preparing food for the family, my contribution is an ample supply of postage stamps for the many thank-you notes and other correspondence that needs to be taken care of. The family sure appreciates this gesture. _ Ruby Dillion

Reply: What a nice way to show you care. Why not go one step further and offer to address envelopes? _ Heloise

Curb your umbrella

Comment: On rainy days, shopping with a wet umbrella can sure make a mess. I would often end up with wet clothing and also make a puddle on the floor. Many times I would leave the mall before I was finished shopping because I didn't want to mess up store displays with my soppy umbrella.

Recently, during a heavy downpour, I put a plastic grocery bag in my pocketbook before leaving home to shop. When I got inside, I put the dripping wet umbrella in the plastic bag and slipped the handle of the bag over my arm.

Now I enjoy shopping regardless of the weather. _ Dorothy C. Smith, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279, or fax it to 512-HELOISE.