1. Archive

"Prize' was an elaborate hoax

Dear Heloise: I was one of those suckers who received a letter stating that had I won one of five prizes, and the only thing I had to do was see some land for sale. The prizes offered were unbelievable! The least expensive was a 20-inch television set. There was $500 cash, a boat, car, the TV and a giant-size TV projection system.

I thought, well, why not take the ride because we have nothing to lose but gas money (it was 100 miles away). The letter also said if we went during the week we would definitely get a prize worth $100, so we went on a Monday. My husband and I took the day off from work.

To make a long story short, we were shown land that seemed worthless and we told the salesperson we weren't interested. He really tried pushing but we held firm.

He then took us to the sales office to pick up our prize. We won the "giant-size projection system," which contained a cardboard "screen" about 3 by 3 inches and a round plastic magnifying gadget. It was supposed to go on your TV set and send the picture to the screen. The best part was that it would be upside down so you had to get your television adjusted.

By the way, the prize worth $100 was three nights in Las Vegas, but you had to get there yourself! You can imagine how disgusted we were!

Just remember you probably will not get anything worthwhile when you go to one of these. _ Joyce Brady, San Antonio, Texas

Answer: My secretary went to one and was amazed that they could get away with it.

She even called beforehand and asked if she truly had won one of those fantastic prizes and was told yes.

You know the old saying that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Thanks for writing, and if this has happened to others I'd like to hear from you. _ Heloise

Post time

Dear Heloise: My little girl has pierced ears but she doesn't wear earrings all the time.

When I put earrings in her ears, I put antibiotic ointment on the posts. It helps the earrings go in easier and the medicine keeps her ears from getting infected. _ Christi Harris, Port Washington, N.Y.

Snap those straps

Dear Heloise: I like shoulder-strap handbags, but one of the two straps invariably slips off my shoulder constantly. I finally came up with an idea that works great for me.

I machine-stitched a 2-inch strip of self-adhesive tape to the one strap at the shoulder and the other piece of it to the second strap. They now automatically snap together nicely when I use the handbag.

Of course, the tape pulls apart easily when I want it to. _ Virginia Weiss, Lehigh Acres

Battle of the bulge

Question: Sometimes the bottoms of soda cans bulge out and they don't stand correctly. Are the contents still safe to drink? _ Karen Tarrago, Edison, N.J.

Answer: Good question! I called a major bottling company here in San Antonio and was assured that the contents are perfectly safe.

The top and bottom of the can are the weakest points. If the carbon dioxide (the stuff that makes it bubble) inside becomes agitated, the pressure can cause either end to swell.

Heat can also cause this, so be sure to always store sodas in a cool place. _ Heloise

She's jamming now

Dear Heloise: I make jelly and jam milk shakes with the little bit left in the bottom of the jar. I fill the jar with milk, put the lid back on and shake vigorously.

My kids really enjoy the instant shakes and I manage to use the last bit of food in the jar. _ Anna Lee, Huntsville, Ala.

Answer: Stretching the food budget is not easy to do, but this is a real treat. Yummmm! _ Heloise

She's not a dome supporter

Question: I tend to be the birthday cake baker of the family and usually do a pretty good job. My problem is that even though I only fill the pans half full and tap the batter flat, the cake still comes out dome-shaped. I use the correct temperature and don't live in a high altitude. How can I prevent this?

I'm desperately hoping for an answer to this dilemma and thought if anyone would know, Heloise would! _ Melanie Iacobucci, La Habra, Calif.

Answer: My secretary was really excited when she saw your question because she just learned the answer in a cake-decorating class. Baking the cake at 250 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes is the trick. She tried it on the cakes she had to bake for class and says it worked great.

If, however, you don't want to take the extra time, there is something you can buy that wraps around the outside of the pan and keeps the top from bubbling up. Check at a store that sells cake-decorating supplies, and good luck with your next cake. _ Heloise

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio Texas 78279. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.