Dear Readers: Happy birthday, America! Today is July Fourth, the day we celebrate our independence and the birth of our great nation.

Take a moment to reflect on where we have come from and where we can go from here. The future is full of hope, dreams and promise!

— Heloise

Sparkler safety

Dear Readers: Slow-burning and bright, sparklers are fun, especially for young children on the Fourth of July. However, many safety precautions are in order. Here are a few:

• Make sure sparklers are legal in your neighborhood.

• Have your child standing, outdoors, and wearing closed-toe shoes.

• Don’t wave a lit sparkler, and light each one individually.

• Have each child stand six feet from the next.

• Keep a bucket of water nearby to extinguish the sparklers.

• Never relight a “dud” sparkler.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

— Heloise

An original answer

Dear Heloise: What’s the definition of “organic”? I see it everywhere in the supermarket.

 — Don S. in California

Don, “organic,” in the world of cuisine, means foods that are raised naturally, without being treated with chemical fertilizers, pesticides or hormones.

— Heloise

Dishwasher hint

Dear Heloise: After paying several plumbers’ bills over the years, I thoroughly wipe all the grease and oil off everything that goes into the sink or the dishwasher with pieces of paper towels.

My engineer son took apart his dishwasher’s mechanisms and found his problem was caused by accumulated grease. Of course, even the grease that is dissolved by detergent has to be cleaned out.

I normally use small pieces of paper towels to wipe my fingers while preparing food or eating, then save the pieces to use for wiping off grease — double duty before going into the garbage can.

 — Larry B., via email

An apple cider bath a day?

Dear Heloise: Is bathing in apple-cider vinegar a good idea for skin care?

 — Helen B. in Arizona

Hi, Helen. Apple-cider vinegar has some good skin care applications, and some not as good.

• Good to treat with ACV: eczema, dandruff and dry skin.

• Not as effective: sunburn and athlete’s foot.

To draw an ACV bath: Fill the tub with warm (not hot) water and add 2 cups of raw apple-cider vinegar. Stir, and soak for 20 minutes. I have compiled a collection of my favorite vinegar hints and helps into a handy pamphlet. Visit www.Heloise.com to order, or send a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. FYI: To get rid of hair product residue, rinse your hair with 1 tablespoon white vinegar added to 1 cup water. Your hair will be clean, fluffy and shiny.

— Heloise

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