Helpful Household Hints From Helena

Helena’s many “Household Helpers” stuffed her mailbox with numerous “questions and suggestions” this month. So without further “ado”–or errant misplaced “quotes”–let’s see what’s on their minds!

Dear Helena:

Last month somebody asked you what she could do with all those little chips of bar soap that are too small to wash with but too big to throw away. Your “hint” was that she should melt them down in a frying pan with vegetable oil and pour the mix onto a waffle iron to create “soap waffles” to wash your feet with. I tried this and put one in the shower where my husband Earl stepped on it, slipped and threw his back out. Now he is laid up for at least a month and cannot tend to his work as a contract farmer, with spring planting coming up! I’d like to know what you intend to do about it.

Beverly Oehrke, Tarkio, MO

Dear Beverly–

Please–check my column! I said you should use soap waffles as a welcome washing mat for your pets–not your husband–when they come in from outside with dirty feet. Also, remember that soap waffles are not edible.

Dear Helena:

I tried your suggestion that you could use “dust bunnies” to make clothes from scrap. It was a lot of work, but I recently completed a cute sweater vest and skirt combo. They were a sort of greyish brown, so I dyed them red. I wore this outfit to my bridge club the other day at Sue Ellen Myneke’s house. She just has one window air conditioner and it is in the den where her husband was watching the University of Oklahoma pre-season wrap-up, not where we were playing cards. Long story short, I was sweating like a bitch wolf in heat and when I got home and took my clothes off my body was brick red from my neck to my knees! How am I supposed to get this off?

Eunice C. Othmer, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Dear Eunice:

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! The Oklahoma Sooners “official colors” are crimson and cream, and you should fit right in at the first football game of the season when it will still be hot enough to wear shorts and a sleeveless blouse.

Dear Helena:

My husband came back from the lake last weekend with fifteen catfish, which we have put in the deep freeze until we hear from you. I have never cooked any catfish other than ready-made breaded fillets. Do you have a good recipe I can use?

Mrs. Veneta Sue Dunham, Hoxie, Arkansas

Veneta Sue–

Here is a traditional recipe for oven-baked catfish that my grandmother gave me:

Take catfish fillets, dip in egg and cover with bread crumbs. Season to taste. Set oven to 350 degrees. Place catfish on a cookie sheet. (Add a layer of aluminum foil to avoid scrubbing later if desired.) Put cookie sheet in oven along with a 2 by 4 (get at any lumber yard or Home Depot). Bake for 45 minutes. Throw away the fish and eat the board.


I took the advice of the reader who wrote in, a Mrs. Virginia Buchter, to put sponges in the dishwasher at night to get them clean and make them smell fresh in the morning. Unbeknownst to me, my husband Virgil read in his “Outdoor Life” magazine that the way to get his “gimme” caps clean was to wash them in the dishwasher. Anyway, he put his “Dekalb Seed Corn” cap in the upper rack with the glasses last night where I didn’t see it, and this morning all my sponges and dishes smell like soybeans. Do you have Mrs. Buchter’s address so I can get ahold of her to see if she can help me with this problem?

Wanda Jean Peters, Normal, Illinois


Dear Ms. Peters:

I must maintain the confidentiality of all my corresponents’ personal information under the Federal Advice Column Privacy Act of 2014. However, you might try running a load of dishes with some baking soda instead of detergent. It will either get rid of the odor or remove the pattern on your china.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

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