Dear Readers: We are in the middle of it: hurricane season. Let’s look at some safety hints. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preparedness is critical:

Have a list of all emergency phone numbers and program them into your phone. Have an emergency kit with stable foods, water, medications, blankets, etc. Make sure your family, especially any elderly folks and those needing special assistance, is aware of all plans. Have a plan for pets also.

Evacuation orders? Never ignore them. Get everyone to safety. Avoid flooded areas. Continue to practice all COVID safety protocols.

Experts are predicting this will be an active hurricane season. Stay informed and stay safe. Read up on hurricane safety on many sites to keep everyone from harm. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: I try to walk for 20 minutes per day. It feels good to move, and my dog likes to go with me! — Eileen P. in Indiana

Eileen, it’s so important for your physical and mental well-being to get outside for a moment each day. Walk, feel the breeze on your skin and the sun on your face, listen to the birds, find tiny insects on the concrete and step carefully over them (bugs play a critical role in our ecosystem), and let your dog romp in the grass. Then, refreshed, you can carry on with your work and daily tasks. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: I came across a delicious idea: I slice a banana into 1-inch rounds, fork each, dip into pancake batter and fry both sides. Then I drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with powdered sugar. It’s a great weekend breakfast for the family. — Hannah K. in Pennsylvania


Dear Heloise: I was thinking about decorating my bedroom in a nautical theme, but I wanted to test out the look. So I redid my bathroom into a nautical theme, with bright blues, whites and seashells and starfish. It worked out nicely, and the bedroom is next! — Anne V. in Texas

Anne, testing out design elements in a small space is a smart idea. — Heloise


Dear Readers: When measuring flour, don’t scoop your measuring cup into the container of flour. This will compress the flour and make it denser, and you will get too much flour for your recipe.

Spoon the flour from its container into the measuring cup for a more accurate measure. — Heloise


Dear Readers: Commercial fabric softeners are full of chemicals and may contribute to allergies and unpleasantness. Here’s how to banish static electricity, naturally, in the dryer: Crumple a couple foot-long pieces of aluminum foil into tight balls and toss them into the dryer. The foil will absorb the electrical charges that make clothes stick together. One ball can be used for up to six months. — Heloise

Frozen grapes

Dear Heloise: Use frozen grapes to cool a glass of wine. This does not water down the beverage, and you can eat them when done. — Jane G. in Woodbine, Pennsylvania


Dear Heloise: When I heat food in my microwave, I always cover it with a wet paper towel. The food stays moist, and the wet towel controls any splatter. My microwave is always clean. — JoAnn A. in San Pedro, California


Dear Heloise: I like to use tapioca as a thickener for my rhubarb pies, but haven’t been able to find it in our stores. I tried substituting a 3.25 ounce box of tapioca cook-and-serve pudding and pie filling in my recipe. Fold in the dry pudding mix along with 1/2 cup of sugar to coat the fruit for a 9-inch pie. Bake as usual. The filling has a tapioca texture and is firm but tender. A box of tapioca pudding will be a new addition to my pantry. — Marcia S. in Inman, Kansas

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