Customers using cell phones during checkout

Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is about customers on cellphones. The reader wrote: “I work in retail sales. Some customers bring their merchandise for checkout and continue to talk on their cellphone. It’s difficult sometimes to complete the sale as quickly as possible. The people in line behind the customer give me a look!” — Anonymous, via email

Dear Anonymous: It seems we use cellphones everywhere! Unless it’s an emergency, the customer should take a few minutes to pay attention to the transaction. Why not have a human, face-to-face encounter? Salespeople work very hard and deserve to be acknowledged.

Readers, what say you? — Heloise

Dear Readers: Other ways to use hair conditioner:

* Put into nails as a cuticle conditioner.

* To loosen a ring stuck on one’s finger.

* As shaving cream for smooth skin.

* To keep outdoor tools from rusting.

* Before changing a car’s oil, rub on hands for easier cleanup.

— Heloise

Dear Heloise: Do you have a good recipe for icing that you can pass my way? I prefer to make my cakes from scratch, so when I put store-bought frosting on it, I feel like I’m taking away the “from scratch” factor! — Wanda N., via email

Sure do, and it’s called OLD-FASHIONED ICING. You will need the following:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons flour

2/3 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Cream the butter, shortening and sugar until it’s not grainy. Add flour, one spoonful at a time, beating well after each addition. Add milk, beat, then add vanilla, salt and lemon juice. Turn mixer on high and beat for 12 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. I have many family and friends’ recipes and baking hints in my pamphlet. It also includes some of my mother’s favorite recipes that you will find very tasty. To order a copy of Heloise’s Cake Recipes pamphlet, visit my website, www.Heloise.com, or send $3 and a stamped (68 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope to: Heloise/ Cake Recipes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Baked goods, especially those that are homemade, are always a hit. Glad I could help you with your icing! — Heloise

Dear Heloise: Please remind your readers that it’s important to remove the information from empty medicine bottles before disposing of them. Thankfully, pharmacies seem to be making an attempt to help by leaving a tab that can be pulled, thus destroying the label.

If there’s not a tab, I place liquid dish detergent on the label (a very small amount). I hold the label under warm water, rinsing and scrubbing it until it is no longer readable. The label will still be on the bottle, but no information. — Rose T., via email

Good hint, and here is another way: Rub the label with an emery board. — Heloise