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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Jura Koncius
Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, 9:09 p.m.

Home and lifestyle expert Heloise joined staff writer Jura Koncius recently on our Home Front online chat. Here is an edited excerpt:

Question: What's your best hint on how to get organized? Instead of “a place for everything and everything in its place,” my home is more like a place for everything and everything all over the place.

Answer: I like the five-point plan. It really does work. Look at a closet or a shelf or a drawer. It looks overwhelming at first to see all the stuff in there. But if you say, “I will spend five minutes” or “I am going to touch and deal with five things,” it isn't so bad. So go through that junk drawer and pick up five things and toss them. Or spend five minutes sorting. It will make you feel a lot better because you have made a dent. Try to do this every day. Even do it when you are on hold on the phone.

Q: This one is a classic: I need ideas for what to do with the inevitable overload of kiddie arts and crafts.

A: Take a photo of your kids' artwork and download it on your computer. This way you can keep the really special pieces in your collection. Consider writing a message on the back of some of the pieces and giving them to grandparents or special friends.

Q: My glass shower doors have mildew or mold around the metal that attaches the doors to the walls and floor. What's the best way to clean them? Is there a way to keep it from coming back?

A: Vinegar. Put it on a brush or sponge and scrub the area a couple of times each week. This should kill the mold and keep it from coming back.

The normal vinegar you get at the store has 5 percent acidity. Some vinegar is 9 percent, and that works better but is very hard to find. Vinegar is a better choice than bleach.

Q: I'm getting my house in shape to sell. I've never gone to any of the area home shows and am wondering whether they would be helpful or just overwhelming. I appreciate your thoughts.

A: I have been to a lot of these shows in the past. David, my husband, is a builder, so I learned a lot from going to these shows with him. I think you'd enjoy going, and you'll certainly learn a lot.

Q: I recently moved and gave away a large entertainment center to make way for my wheelchair. It left embedded imprints in the carpet. How do you get these imprints out? Ordinary vacuuming doesn't seem to work.

A: The old hint is an ice cube. Place cubes in the indent, and as they slowly melt, the water will wick up the fiber. Then, fluff the carpet with your fingers.

Q: In my relatively new master bath, I seem to have some light blue staining on my white ceramic tile near the shower. I don't use any chemical cleaners, so that is not the cause. Any ideas on how to remove it?

A: It could be the well water. For cleaning, I would suggest baking soda and vinegar. Pour a few tablespoons of baking soda on the stain and put a tablespoon of vinegar on it. Use a brush to scrub it out.

Q: I'm thinking about replacing my old linoleum kitchen flooring with ...? It's a busy room with two young boys, a dog and two adults. What stands up the best? We have Pergo in the other rooms adjacent to it. Would it be weird if it didn't match? Thanks!

A: Linoleum is really a perfect product for a kitchen with a lot of traffic. It's good. And it would look fine with the Pergo in the other two rooms.

Q: What is the most effective way to make sure laundry doesn't pile up. Do you have any tips?

A: Less is more. Meaning if you do a small load of laundry every day or two, it's less demanding. I throw in a load when I see it's piled up. I don't like doing it all in one day.

Jura Koncius is a staff writer for The Washington Post.

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