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DEAR HELOISE: When my daughter was getting married, I gave her a number of bulky items for her shower, including towels and plastic storage bowls.

As I shopped for wrapping supplies, I was disheartened at how expensive it would be to make a pretty presentation and that the wrapping paper would soon be trash. I spotted large reusable shopping bags -- the shiny kind that stand on their own. They had a variety of bright designs to match my daughter's style, fit her low-waste lifestyle and were rather inexpensive. A little tissue paper and ribbon added flair. Five years later, she still uses the bags in a variety of ways.

I have started doing the same with other gifts, including smaller novelty theme bags for children. There are a quite a variety, and it's nice to know the "wrapping" will have extended use.

-- Irene in Ohio

DEAR HELOISE: After I use one of those pre-moistened floor cleaning pads that attach to the mop, I turn the pad over and use the other side to clean the baseboards. This is a time- and money-saver.

-- Cathy in Texas

DEAR READER: Great idea. I love getting the most out of a product.

DEAR HELOISE: I found an easy way to really clean my metal miniblinds. I fill my bathtub with soapy, warm water and lay the blinds in the water for about 20 to 30 minutes. I then let about half of the water drain from the tub and scrub the blinds with a car wash brush that has an extension pole. Then I rinse them in the tub and take them outside to dry in the sunlight. Using the long-handled brush makes the job easier and saves my back.

-- Harold in Louisiana

DEAR HELOISE: To freshen my drapes, I put them in the dryer with a dyer sheet on a cool or air-dry setting. They come out smelling fresh and free from cat hair and dust. This is a good way to freshen drapes when there's very little time to do anything else with them.

-- Donna in New York

DEAR READERS: If you are taking medications and are planning to travel, here are a few things to keep in mind:

• Make a list of all medications you're taking, including the dosage.

• Take enough of each medication to last the length of the trip and maybe a day or two extra, just in case.

• Keep medications in the original containers with their labels from the pharmacy.

• Always take your medications with you in a carry-on bag if you are flying.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email


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