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Household Queen Comes Home to Arlington

Heloise reminisces and offers special tips to local homemakers.

If you have a household problem, there’s a good chance she’s got a solution. Heloise, author of the syndicated newspaper column “Hints From Heloise,” a contributing editor of Good Housekeeping magazine and the woman behind its monthly column “Ask Heloise,” has been doling out domestic advice since 1977.

When she returned to the Washington area recently for the 2013 Home and Remodeling Show, she spent time in Arlington, a place for which she feels a special connection. “I have a lot of fond memories of Arlington,” she said.

Heloise lived in Arlington when her father, who was an Air Force officer, was station at the Pentagon. “We were here from 1962 to 1966,” she said. “We lived at the River House Apartments in building three. I woke up every morning looking at the Washington Monument and the Pentagon. And my mother, who was [the original] Heloise, ran her office out of our apartment.”

As a student at Gunston Junior High School (now Gunston Middle School), Heloise says her adolescence was filled with adventurous activities like skateboarding around her apartment complex and learning to play chess from a Russian diplomat.

“I once fell into the Tidal Basin,” she said. “My brother would build radio-controlled boats. One time when we were at the Tidal Basin, I was going after his boat and I fell in.”

Arlington offered her the chance to be a spectator at historic events. “I watched the Martin Luther King March on Washington with my dad,” she said. “We were standing on the sunroof [of our apartment building] with binoculars.”

“I have a lot of fond memories of Arlington.”

— Heloise

In addition to professional obligations, Heloise planned to spend time with friends and dine out at a few restaurants on Glebe Road while she was in town. “Arlington is like my second home.”

Heloise also offered a few hints for Arlington residents, like how to manage the dearth of closet and storage space in many homes. “I’ve visited the homes of some of my friends who live in Arlington,” she said. “Unless you live in the White House, you don’t have a lot of space. In those cases, you have to think seasonally.”

She suggests keeping often used items in close proximity. “Think about what is necessary during winter: boots, hats, gloves, mittens,” she said. “If you don’t use it often, it can be kept further away. If you don’t make lemonade for winter, then that pitcher doesn’t need to be the first thing you see when you’re in your pantry.”

One of her secrets for maintaining order is thinking in fives: “For example, open your junk drawer and deal with either five things or spend five minutes organizing,” she said. “If you keep at it a little bit at a time, then it doesn’t build up to be this huge overwhelming project that eats up all you time.”

What about getting rid of the odors, especially those from the infamous stink bugs? “There are ozone-based aerosol room deodorizers that don’t necessarily cover up the odor, but they neutralize the odors in the air. Several of them kill odor and bacteria too.”

She also recommends essential oils. “There are some essential oils that will get rid of an odor, like essential oil of orange or lemon,” she said. “You can make your own room spray using [a solution of] half isopropyl alcohol and half water and then one or two drops of the essential oil.

“Put a few drops of oil on a cooled light bulb, as it warms, the scent fills room.”

When it comes to essential oils, it is OK to splurge, however. “Buy the best that you can buy — don’t but the ones that are diluted,” Heloise said. “This is a case where it is better to spend more on the best product.”