Hints from Heloise: Ornaments that cost some dough

Dear Readers: Gloria S. in Huber Heights, Ohio, sent this photo of her 10-year-old tabby, Jerry, who supervised the fall decorating, including the scarecrow he’s perched on! If you have a furry holiday helper, email a photo to Heloise@Heloise.com. Heloise

DEAR READERS: What’s a fun project to keep the kids entertained on a Saturday? How about making Christmas ornaments with my dough recipe? Here it is:

2 cups baking soda

1 cup cornstarch

1¼ cups water

Mix the baking soda and cornstarch in a saucepan, then add the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.

Turn it out on a plate, and cover with a damp cloth. Allow it to cool, then knead until smooth, and either use immediately or seal in a bag and refrigerate.

Shape ornaments by hand, or roll flat and use cookie cutters. Use a toothpick to pierce a hole in the top for a hanger. Let the ornaments dry overnight, or heat them in a 250 F oven for 15 minutes.

Once dry, the ornaments can be painted or colored, or you can add food coloring to the dough. You also can add ribbon, sequins or buttons to the design. Finish with a coat of clear nail polish or spray varnish, thread a ribbon through the hole, and voila!

— Heloise

Avoid a sticky situation

DEAR HELOISE: When transporting a casserole topped with hot melted cheese, I was afraid the foil would stick to the cheese.

To solve this problem, I placed a piece of parchment paper over the casserole and then placed the foil over all. Worked perfectly, with no sticking!

— Carol N., Orange Beach, Ala.

Look for parchment paper next to the aluminum foil and wax paper.

— Heloise

Small toy warning

DEAR HELOISE: Please ask your readers: Don’t give small toys to young children at Christmas — or older children with younger siblings! There is no end to the choking and up-the-nose antics of young children who think toys may be candy.

— Donna K., Fort Washington, Md.

Don’t wrap handrails

DEAR HELOISE: I want to urge everyone to refrain from wrapping handrails on stairways with lights or greenery. This is especially important for outside steps, which may be slippery from rain, snow or ice.

Many people, especially older individuals, need to have the handrails available indoors and outdoors.

— Carol, via email

Send hints to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or Heloise@Heloise.com.