It’s Christ­mas tree time!

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK -

DEAR READ­ERS >> The time is right to choose a fresh or ar­ti­fi­cial CHRIST­MAS TREE. First of all, there’s lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion in your home. Fig­ure this out, and you’ll know what size tree you’ll need. A cor­ner of your home usu­ally works best (you can hide a bad spot and “an­chor” the tree to the wall with some fish­ing wire so it won’t tip over), or in front of a pic­ture win­dow can be beau­ti­ful too, es­pe­cially with glis­ten­ing lights. The tree by the fire­place is a no-go — it’s too hot there, and it could be a fire haz­ard.

Check the nee­dles on a live tree. Run your fin­gers from the trunk out on a branch — nee­dles should not shed. Also, the tree should have a lovely fresh pine scent.

Place your live tree in a stand of fresh wa­ter im­me­di­ately. Use a turkey baster or ice cubes to add wa­ter to the stand. Two weeks is about the right time to keep a live tree in your home.

P.S. Look for a live tree with the roots still at­tached; you can plant it in the yard af­ter­ward.

DEAR HELOISE >> I read your col­umn in the Mont­gomery (Alabama) Ad­ver­tiser. Do you know of an easy pro­ce­dure for “soft­en­ing” that “new” fin­ish on pants? I find the stiff­ness un­com­fort­able.

I’ve tried warm wa­ter with heavy liq­uid soft­ener to no avail. I also tried adding a cou­ple of dryer sheets to the dryer. I sure would like to hear from you.

— The Old Fel­low, via email

DEAR THE OLD FEL­LOW >> New gar­ments are of­ten treated with siz­ing to make them wrin­kle less, but you’re cor­rect: The siz­ing can make clothes stiff and un­com­fort­able.

What will I reach for? One of my fa­vorite handy helpers — vine­gar! Add 1 cup white vine­gar to the fi­nal rinse cy­cle. It may take a cou­ple of washes, but your clothes will be soft and fluffy.

Know­ing how to prop­erly laun­der dif­fer­ent fab­rics can be a daunt­ing task. In my eight-page pam­phlet Handy Stain Guide for Cloth­ing, you’ll find a sec­tion on “Spe­cial Care Laun­der­ing Hints” and also “Un­der­stand­ing Care La­bels.” To re­ceive a copy, visit, or send a long, self-ad­dressed, stamped (70 cents) en­ve­lope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Stains, P.O. Box 795001, San An­to­nio, TX 782795001. FYI: To re­move soap residue that can cause black cloth­ing to look dull, rinse the items in a so­lu­tion of clear wa­ter with vine­gar added.

DEAR HELOISE >> The in­struc­tions for us­ing drain cleaner say to “pour 1/5 bot­tle in the drain.” The bot­tle is opaque. How in the world do I know when I’ve poured too lit­tle or too much?

Why don’t they man­u­fac­ture it in a clear plas­tic bot­tle with lines de­not­ing what is 1/5, ½, etc.? Seems like it would be cheaper for them to make rather than an opaque bot­tle. Or at least have a “stripe of clear” down the length of the bot­tle, again with lines mea­sur­ing the amount.

— C.D.B., Orange, Calif.

DEAR HELOISE >> My wife and I put a four-cup cof­feepot un­der the spout of our pod-us­ing cof­fee maker (with the lid up to avoid splash­ing). We use the same pod to make two large cups. That will fill the four-cup pot. It works with al­most any cof­fee pod with no sac­ri­fice of fla­vor.

— Doug in Ohio

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