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Dear Abby 12/22
Cook with special recipe means to keep it that way
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    DEAR ABBY: I have a special cake recipe that I have perfected over the years. I get compliments on it and requests for the recipe every time I take one to any non-family gathering.
    People often ask me to make these cakes for them for special occasions. I always tell them that I will need to charge them for it because the ingredients are expensive. No one has a problem with paying me.
    I love to cook, and it gives me pleasure to see people enjoy something I have prepared. However, because I use my special recipe as another source of income — albeit a small one — what can I say to those people who demand that they must have the recipe?
    I usually evade the question by ignoring them, which I know is rude, but I don't know how to tell them "no" without seeming offensive and snobbish. Please help. — FRUSTRATED COOK
    DEAR FRUSTRATED: Saying no nicely shouldn't be difficult if you say it with a smile. One way would be to say, "I'm sorry — I don't share this recipe because it's a way I can earn extra money." That's not rude; it's the truth. Another smiling response might be, "Coca-Cola isn't giving away its recipe, and neither am I!"
    DEAR ABBY: I go to church with a woman who is generous and means well, but she likes to give away her old hand-me-down clothing. Recently she gave me two old dresses that fit me, but I wouldn't be caught dead in. I'm 15, and she doesn't understand that.
    I didn't want to hurt her feelings, so when she asked if they fit and if I liked them, I told her they did and they were pretty.
    My mom is planning to donate the dresses to charity. But now the woman is saying she wants to give me more of her old dresses. I don't know how to handle this. — SECONDHAND TEEN
    DEAR SECONDHAND TEEN: Your neighbor is both kind-hearted and generous. She also appears to be into recycling, which is a good thing.
    Before you turn your nose up at what she is offering, please consider that vintage clothing can be valuable. Some of it is "classic" and can be worn regardless of what the current fad may be. Members of the Hollywood crowd, as well as fashionable members of New York society, already know this. I often see their photos in magazines wearing some of the marvelous items they have collected.
    However, if your neighbor's dresses are really not your style, then you should be honest and graciously tell your neighbor that they're not for you.

    DEAR ABBY: When you're at a restaurant, after you have made your selection from the menu, what should you do with it? Do you place it closed directly in front of you, or place it hanging halfway off the table? — CONFUSED IN DENVER
    DEAR CONFUSED: If the server has not yet taken my order, I close the menu and place it beside me on the table. (The closed menu signals to the server that I have made my choice.) After my order is taken, I hand the menu to the server.
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