Of Samples, Spills and Substitutes

Whether it’s making sure a mailing label remains legible all the way to its destination or packing light for vacation, my readers have the best ideas, tips and tricks. Here’s a small sampling from my mail that is sure to both educate and amuse!


photo credit: dinner-mom.com

JUST LIKE GRILLED. If you want the same taste as grilled corn on the cob but don’t have a grill or the time, place one corn cob (do not shuck prior to cooking) in the microwave on high for exactly 3 minutes. Use a potholder to remove the corn from the microwave and while cutting through the entire cob and shucks at the bottom of the corn. The corn will slip easily right out of the shucks and it will taste just like grilled corn. Hmmm…good! Suzy

WATERPROOF LABEL. When mailing packages, I rub a candle across the mailing label to make it waterproof. There’s nothing worse than a package not arriving because the address label met up with a rainstorm en route. Macy

LOAD UP ON SAMPLES. All through the year I obtain samples from various websites or phone apps like SampleUp.com, FreeSamples.org, Hunt4Freebies.com and and FreebieFindingMom.com, then save them for vacation. Taking samples size containers of shampoo and other personal care products reduces the volume of stuff in our suitcases and leaves nothing to haul home. Carla

MAGIC PLASTIC POOL CLEANER. I wanted to offer a tip for those of us out there that have those soft sided pools, the kind where you inflate the top ring and fill the pool with water. Well I got tired of using those stupid scrub brushes they sell to clean the pool. So one day I whipped out the Mr. Clean magic eraser sponges. Instead of scrubbing for an hour or more, I was done in about 20 minutes on a 15-foot pool. It only took one wipe and the dirt was gone. It may not have saved me a lot of money by using something disposable but it sure saved me a lot of time and a back ache. Myriah

SPILL CONTAINER. When cooking something in my microwave that might boil over, I place a large paper plate under the container. It catches what boils over, making clean-up much easier. Ethel

CLEVER SUB FOR CELERY. Celery usually sells in a bunch, but my husband and I can’t use that much before it spoils. Instead, I keep around cans of water chestnuts to use as a substitute because they are moist and crunchy similar to celery. They work great in stuffing, casseroles, and Chinese wok meals. Melody

BIRTHDAY TRADITION. We have six children and their birthdays fall in the months of August and September. I don’t like wrapping presents or paying for wrapping paper. We have a tradition using a “birthday bag”—the largest, unisex colorful, sturdy gift bag I can find. It comes out for each family birthday celebration. Multiple gifts are wrapped in tissue and loaded into the big bag. Our last bag lasted two years, and only had to be given up because we moved. Regardless of how each child celebrates, we have a family-only celebration of cake and ice cream for breakfast on their birthday. The birthday bag is as much a part of this as eating cake in your pajamas, the fake-fur birthday cake hat, and getting thrown into the pool!  Juanita

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11 replies
  1. guest123
    guest123 says:

    i knew a guy that use to put the corn in a paper sack for a few minutes in the microwave….i forget how many minutes but it wasnt too long….anyway the corn was really tasty…i had never saw that done before…thats been like 20 years ago so i forgot the exact timing on it….i know he didnt even shuck the corn or anything….just put it in a paper sack and away you go…

  2. ABC
    ABC says:

    Re: rubbing the mailing label with a candle….too much trouble. I’ve shipped a lot of ebay packages and I’ve learned that you should just cover the whole label, not just the edges, with the packing tape (if you use the good, clear kind, not the cheap, yellowish stuff). The lady at the PO told me that they actually prefer that people do this and that it does not hinder the scanning of the bar code at all.

    I’m going to have to try that microwave corn trick! Thanks, Suzy!

  3. Gehugh
    Gehugh says:

    Great ideas! I would offer that I frequently pull out the glass tray in my microwave (it has a turntable) and clean it BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE IN THE HOUSEHOLD will bother. I try not to use paper plates and paper towels.

    • ABC
      ABC says:

      One thing I can’t stand is a dirty microwave. If someone’s microwave is downright filthy, I have serious reservations about eating at their home. Yuck.

      • guest123
        guest123 says:

        the smartest thing is dont eat anything from anybody….just ask them to put it in something so you can take it home to eat later….when you leave their house and get out of their sight find the nearest garbage can…..no feelings hurt and you dont get sick….

  4. Luisa
    Luisa says:

    An entire bunch of celery is a large amount for this house, too. I wash celery as soon as I get it home, cut it into sticks of any size, from half a rib to small dipping size, and wrap them securely in foil, They will stay fresh and crisp longer with this method than any other I’ve found.

    • Bookworm
      Bookworm says:

      A glass jar keeps it well, too, and is reusable. I haven’t timed it against the foil, so I don’t know if it is as good or not.

  5. Ann
    Ann says:

    I visited the free sample sites. The first one is not found; two of the
    remaining three want my date of birth. I feel that is excessive. One
    just asks gender and an age range age. Don’t know why a company needs my
    d.o.b. to send me a sample of shampoo. Ann

  6. Linda Callaghen
    Linda Callaghen says:

    An entire bunch of celery is too much for my husband and me as well, but it’s usually cheaper than any substitute. So when I need celery I buy a bunch, and whatever’s too much gets chopped up and frozen. It loses its crunchy texture after freezing, but you’ll never know in soups or stews! This way I only need to buy celery if I specifically need the crunchy fresh texture, and for those meals where that doesn’t matter, I take some from the freezer. Saves money AND time!

  7. Becky Walker Phillips
    Becky Walker Phillips says:

    That corn in the microwave trick really works! We love it like that! After you slip it out of the husks, roll it in a thin layer of butter and sprinkle with seasoned salt. It’s FANTASTIC!!!


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