MetaLifeHack August 10, 2018 7:38 AM   Subscribe

It's the end of another week. Politics is awful like usual, and much of the world seems to literally be on fire. So let's talk about something else instead. Tell me about a cool 'life hack'. Maybe you found a way to pack luggage in a way that has made traveling easier. Maybe you found a way to deal with oily skin using some old world natural remedies. Maybe there's a cool browser extension or add-on that lets you do some nifty thing in your day to day Internet consumption. Whatever it is, feel free to share some life hacks with the MetaFilter community. I'm always excited to learn about ways to make my life a bit easier/better.
posted by Fizz to MetaFilter-Related at 7:38 AM (161 comments total) 91 users marked this as a favorite

Steamed eggs, you guys. Twelve minutes in a pot fitted with a steamer basket, straight into ice water, and the shells come off like tearaway track pants at a Chippendale show. Never again will you lose half the white trying to peel an egg.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:55 AM on August 10 [56 favorites]

When you make a peanut butter & banana sandwich, don't slice the banana.

Open a full banana, break it in half, and cleave it into thirds by pressing your thumb gently into the broken end. You'll end up with 6 equal strips of banana--5 strips arranged side by side will fully cover your bread, and you have a sixth for snacking or as a treat for your dog. No dirtied knife, no banana discs slipping out the backside of your sandwich, and no uneven unbanana'd pockets.
posted by phunniemee at 8:09 AM on August 10 [31 favorites]

Packing cubes are the secret to packing luggage.
Convection (fan) ovens are great for cutting cooking time and ensuring even heat distribution.
Instant Pot > Crock Pot
Do not boil your vegetables. Lightly toss them in oil and roast them.
To cook the best steak you've ever had at home, Google 'reverse sear'
posted by domo at 8:16 AM on August 10 [11 favorites]

How to tangle-proof your earbuds?! [YouTube]
posted by Fizz at 8:17 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]

When trying to swat a fly in the absence of a flyswatter, wait until the fly has settled on a wide, flat surface (like a tabletop), and then instead of bringing a hand down on top of the fly, clap your hands together just above the fly. As it takes off, it will usually fly directly into your hands.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 8:28 AM on August 10 [17 favorites]

Somebody on here said to put a lazy Susan in the 'fridge, and I had one from Ikea that was too big for the cupboard I bought it for, so I threw it in there...? Life altering. The cat gets 1/3 of a can of Friskies in the morning, 1/4 of a can at night. We lost one of the two plastic canlids, so now I stack the lidded can on top of the lidless can, maintaining freshness. That lady that a ton of people on Metafilter recommend for cat-diet advice says to feed mostly chicken, limit fish, so if we have "mariner's catch" or "sea captain's choice," or whatever, that's the quartered can. The thirds can is "mixed grill" or "turkey and giblets;" something with bird livers in it, preferably. We eat a ton of eggs. I keep them in their cartons and stand the cartons on end in the door pocket. I can fit three or four. If you have a uselessly small amount of some crunchy vegetables left over from dinner, like pepper or celery or carrots--anything'll work, really--cut it into confetti, put it in a little teacup, add salt and pepper, and dollop yogurt on top. Serve this at breakfast and say that it is raita.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:40 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]

I learned from Charlie, the cook at The Tasty, to cuff down the bread bag as I go, like rolling up like a sleeve. It keeps your work area clear and your and cupboard tidy.

(Charlie's last day at The Tasty is seen here in the movie "Touching History: Harvard Square, The Bank, and the Tasty Diner" beginning about the 20:59 mark, which is already set in the URL.)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:43 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]

My life has been dramatically improved by learning the "Ian Knot" method of tying my shoes. It's super fast and the bow is nicely symmetrical. I also recently added the "Secure Ian Knot" to my repertoire. Thanks Professor Shoelace!
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 8:43 AM on August 10 [16 favorites]

My mom smooths out disposable plastic shopping bags from CVS and the like, then folds them into thirds the long way, then folds that strip handle-first into triangles (like making a paper football) until the final end tucks neatly inside and the bag can be saved for future re-use.

It makes the closet neater, and we are more likely to grab one or two of those and bring them somewhere than we are to reach into a bag-O'-bags and try to find some things of the same size and wihch can be carried along easily.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:46 AM on August 10 [16 favorites]

This is a really silly one. I got one of those giant detergent jugs with the spigot. The measuring cup that comes with it, if you clap it on over the spigot with detergent still in it, it makes a mess. If you rinse out the cup, then it has water in it, and that, similarly, makes a mess. So... This is so obvious it pains me to admit I only just figured it out. What you do is, you wipe out the measuring cup with a shirtsleeve or a sock or some element of the laundry you're about to wash. I am in my sixth decade. I just hit on this. Just this month.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:49 AM on August 10 [62 favorites]

Tell me about a cool 'life hack'

Arrange your fridge restaurant style.
cooked or ready-to-eat things, leftovers, on top.
minimal cooking (fruits, vegetables) in the middle
meat on the bottom.
Milk in the back.
first in, first out. I do this by making the new things go in the back, pushing older things to the front.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:49 AM on August 10 [11 favorites]

Mine is from DSime from this Ask Metafilter question and OH MY GOD the roll warm/chill flat thing absolutely changed making cutout cookies for me.

We had a cookie contest at work (sort of -- there is ongoing debate about this) and I won (again, sort of -- I do have a certificate for Best in Show but I had to print it out myself and the judge's signature reads "Only God can judge me" in extremely familiar handwriting) and this tip was EXTREMELY helpful. One co-worker assumed I'd bought my cookies at a bakery and it was extremely gratifying. If you're making cutout cookies, roll warm/chill flat! It is amazing!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:50 AM on August 10 [25 favorites]

MetaFilter: "Only God can judge me" in extremely familiar handwriting.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:58 AM on August 10 [19 favorites]

I got rid of my bed and now sleep in my recliner. I discovered that my joints, ravaged from early trauma and current arthritis, ached upon waking in the bed, and didn't ache in the recliner. I think it's because the recliner cradles and supports the joints better than the bed, and I sleep on my back so there's no pressure on the joints. I tested the recliner out for about a month before jettisoning the bed. It's been life-changing and I feel so much better. There's also lots less cracking and crackling going on.
posted by MovableBookLady at 8:59 AM on August 10 [16 favorites]

The colour catcher sheets for laundry that I assumed were a scam are not, and mean you can do everyone's washing in one go.

Those sleeves on baby gro's are so that you can easily tug the entire baby gro down and avoid having to put the *bad stuff* over the baby's head. Wish I'd learnt that one earlier...
posted by threetwentytwo at 9:04 AM on August 10 [7 favorites]

I recently started physical therapy for a torn rotator cuff, and the biggest fix has been....GOOD POSTURE.

People, lift your head, straighten your back, and open your shoulders. You will breath better, your neck will feel better, your shoulders will work better...

posted by wenestvedt at 9:05 AM on August 10 [12 favorites]

Social Fixer. I can't Facebook without it. Reorder your timeline. Mark posts as read and make them disappear. Auto-hide posts based on keyword. And way way more. Sadly, only works on desktop versions of browsers.

An air fryer. I bought this one at Costco last week and have used it at least once a day since. Life changing--cooks food in a fraction of the time without sacrificing texture like in a microwave; especially great for not heating up the house during this awful weather. This is a very large 5 quart model--I wouldn't recommend anything smaller even for people who live alone. Smaller ones have nearly the same footprint but a lot less capacity. [$55 but out of stock online. $5 less in stores. This is a phenomenal price.]

Adaptil collars for our anxious dog. Like Feliway, but for dogs.
posted by QuakerMel at 9:07 AM on August 10 [8 favorites]

Steamed eggs, you guys. Twelve minutes in a pot fitted with a steamer basket

My wife uses our Instant Pot for all kinds of great soups and curried whatnots but about all I use the damned thing for is making batches of perfect hard boiled eggs. Shells just come right off and the egg texture is perfect.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:13 AM on August 10 [9 favorites]

I was just saying this on twitter, but I realised about a year ago that all the products that are made to toddler-proof a house can also be used to clumsy-adult-proof a house. Now I have corner bumpers on my footboard, the chest I put my legs on a lot, and a couple other key places that I tend to bang myself, and suddenly I spend far less time wandering around bleeding from mysterious wounds that I can't explain.

I also recently discovered that Ikea makes a stool called the Marius, and, though not designed for this use, it has the plastic seat, metal legs, drain holes, and slightly grippy feet that make it surprisingly well-suited to being a shower chair. It's also six bucks, which was the factor that tipped me from "Ok, but I don't actually need a shower chair" to "Holy shit, this is fantastic, why didn't I buy one of these years ago?"

Also, flushable cat litter. Life changing. I scoop the litter directly into the toilet, flush, and am done. It costs like thirty dollars for a giant bag, and it's worth every damn penny.
posted by mishafletch at 9:16 AM on August 10 [14 favorites]

I make grilled cheese sandwiches without using the stove.

1. Grab two pieces of bread.
2. Stick them in the toaster on whatever setting you prefer. I go with all the way to the right.
3. When the toast pops up slap your cheese between the slices of toast.
4. Microwave the sandwich until the cheese is melty good. It's 17 seconds in my microwave.
5. Eat
posted by COD at 9:27 AM on August 10 [8 favorites]

Excel tips! Use the Name box (it's to the left of the formula bar) for focus targeting. You can easily select huge amounts of cells this way. No more dragging! For instance, if you need to copy a formula into an entire column, just Ctrl+C the formula, click on the Name box and type in the cell range you want, like A1:A2345, hit Enter, then Ctrl+V and voila! Done.

If you change the format of a column and the cells are not updating and you don't want to double-click each one to make them update, you can use text-to-columns to force a format refresh. Run text-to-columns on the cells that are giving you trouble. Choose delimited, but do not select a delimiter. The cells won't split, but the format will refresh.

You can jump to the last entry in any row or column by pressing Ctrl+an arrow key.
posted by domo at 9:32 AM on August 10 [28 favorites]

none of these are ground breaking, but they've all been handy for me

- sign up for a gym on your way home from work. literally, i have to pass it on the way to the subway and it makes all the difference in the world
- turn off every single notification on your phone save for text messages, phone calls, and calendar reminders. or whatever combination of 'essentials only' you need. i can't believe how many people are like, "but what about email?! or the news? or instagram?!" if you need it, open the damn app. don't let it dictate to you.
- keep seltzer water and other "fun" drinks that aren't just boring water at home, so you can make mocktails when you get the urge to be interesting instead of cocktails all the time.
- keep extra chapstick EVERYWHERE -- purse, car, bathroom, bedroom, work desk, gym bag -- so that when you inevitably lose one or many on a cold day, you won't be far away from another one
- seconding above that EVERY vegetable should be roasted

and another great tip about life hacking in general I learned is to not think of "hacking" as all or nothing -- any movement towards bettering something, even if it doesn't wholly FIX a problem, is just adding that option to your "success bin".
posted by knownassociate at 9:49 AM on August 10 [14 favorites]

This is so obvious it pains me to admit I only just figured it out. What you do is, you wipe out the measuring cup with a shirtsleeve or a sock or some element of the laundry you're about to wash.

You're supposed to just toss the whole cup into the wash, I'm pretty sure.
posted by phunniemee at 9:51 AM on August 10 [22 favorites]

greyscale phone screen (and setting the triple-button click to turn it on/off) has been great for keeping me from idly playing with my phone. It's no fun now!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:53 AM on August 10 [13 favorites]

My best tip for finding things that are lost:
Wherever it should be, that’s probably where it is - just cleverly hidden from sight.
posted by machinecraig at 9:56 AM on August 10 [7 favorites]

You're supposed to just toss the whole cup into the wash, I'm pretty sure.
That's what I used to do! But there's the risk of a mishap where the cup doesn't present itself properly and ends up getting bundled into a sheet and you have to fool around looking for it than which there is no waste of time more hellishly enraging. Or it gets so bundled and you forget about it and it ends up in the dryer.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:08 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]

greyscale phone screen (and setting the triple-button click to turn it on/off) has been great for keeping me from idly playing with my phone. It's no fun now!

Turns out you can do it in Android too by enabling developer options and fiddling the the "Simulate Color Space" option. But I disagree -- it's kind of fun.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 10:30 AM on August 10 [3 favorites]

> jessamyn:
"setting the triple-button click to turn it on/off"

how do you set this?
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 10:34 AM on August 10

I make grilled cheese sandwiches without using the stove.

Does the toast retain it's crunch/toast factor? Microwave tends to make bread very limp. At least that has been my experience.
posted by Fizz at 10:41 AM on August 10

how do you set this?

Under Settings > General > Accessibility there is, all the way at the bottom, an Accessibility Shortcut option. You can pick an accesibility option you can turn on with a triple-click. So handy!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:47 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]

Under Settings > General > Accessibility there is,

I'm not a big fan of Apple products, but I do recognize that they make their phones with all kinds of accessibility options/settings and I appreciate that. I think Android has made some good strides but Apple feels like they're always been a bit more on the ball for these types of needs/changes/settings.
posted by Fizz at 10:48 AM on August 10

Or maybe they've just made them simpler to work with. Android is all about customization but sometimes you can get buried in menus and it can get a bit finicky.
posted by Fizz at 10:51 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]

Speaking of iOS, when browsing with Safari, long tap a link with two fingers to open in a new tab behind current tab.
posted by Jesse the K at 11:10 AM on August 10 [9 favorites]

I learned this on the Green somewhere, but using boiling water to unclog the shower/tub (apparently the clog is hair + dried soap, and the boiling water melts the soap, allowing it to move down the pipe) is so amazing. My shower went from 0% clogged to 100% clogged the other day from some kind of clog witchcraft, and 5 pots of boiling water plus a healthy plunging session made it good as new, without any chemicals.
posted by jabes at 11:57 AM on August 10 [17 favorites]

Not really a hack so much as a D'oh- if your aphid load is too high on a plant that's at least a little sturdy- fucking hose them off at medium pressure, *before* you spray what's left with mineral oil. You'll waste less mineral oil/Insecticidal soap this way (shits expensive).
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:07 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]

Oh! and when pickling anything, lay the jar on its side and slide everything in. Doing it from the top down is just impossible.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:08 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]

I make grilled cheese sandwiches without using the stove.

You have to try reusable toaster bags! I was very sceptical but dammit they work -- not all brands (I've tried a couple of doozies) -- but if you go for the slightly longer and better quality bag, you won't need the microwave and they'll last a lot longer.

Fizz, the toast defnitely retains the crunch factor too.

(I like to spread the bread with a thin coat of mustard mayo then fill with vintage cheddar and smoked ham. In fact, that's what I'm having for supper tonight.)
posted by humph at 12:12 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]

Dried bugs on the car got you down? Crummy windshield wipers don’t budge them? Take a used dryer sheet, wet it, squeeze out excess water, and voila!—dried bugs wipe right off. You might have to rinse off some smears, but this is truly an amazing thing.
posted by scratch at 12:18 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]

Metafilter hack: I have so much more free time since I’ve started turning off my computer when I start making a comm
posted by forforf at 12:19 PM on August 10 [25 favorites]

I was completely unaware that toaster bags existed.

Fizz: There is basically no moisture in the bread after toasting, so zapping it to melt the cheese has no effect at all on the texture of the bread.
posted by COD at 12:43 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]

Also awesome on iOS is the "shake to undo" feature.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:44 PM on August 10

- if you get a tiny piece of shell in your egg when you crack it, use the rest of the shell to scoop it out. It won't stick to a spoon, but it will stick to another piece of shell.
- My cardigans and wraps always fall off my shoulders and I hate it, so I safety pin them to my camisoles.
- I keep charging cables from becoming a huge jumble in my drawer with zip-lock baggies.
- When I get a new purse I sew a piece of fabric elastic to the lining and attach a carabiner to it. I never lose my keys in the bottom of my purse.
- I've posted about this a bunch of times; but I keep sweaty bras and suit jackets smelling OK and in good shape with a 30/70 vodka/water mixture. I spray them with it and hang them on a hook to dry (spray the jacket lining only). The vodka kills odor causing bacteria.
posted by Stonkle at 1:41 PM on August 10 [24 favorites]

When I get a new purse I sew a piece of fabric elastic to the lining and attach a carabiner to it. I never lose my keys in the bottom of my purse.


posted by knownassociate at 1:49 PM on August 10 [15 favorites]

I learned this on the Green somewhere, but using boiling water to unclog the shower/tub (apparently the clog is hair + dried soap, and the boiling water melts the soap, allowing it to move down the pipe) is so amazing. My shower went from 0% clogged to 100% clogged the other day from some kind of clog witchcraft, and 5 pots of boiling water plus a healthy plunging session made it good as new, without any chemicals.

The drain millipede is amazing for bathroom sink clogs. It can be a little gross, but it means not dumping sodium hydroxide down the drain. The clearing of the drain is oddly satisfying regardless of the ick factor.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:10 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]

re: shoe-lace tying - I bought some elastic laces so I never have to worry about tying my shoes ever again; they're all basically slip-ons now. Makes dealing with TSA lines so much easier, and I never have to worry about them coming undone at the slightest provocation. (Yes, I know that bit about how tying a granny knot makes them more likely to fall apart. I've tried both ways and they'd still come undone without a double-knot for me.)

re: Detergent jugs with spigots - I just chuck the cap in with the wash to clean it. If you save the cap from a previous jug, you can replace it with a clean, dry cap without even waiting.
posted by Aleyn at 2:10 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]

This is dumb but apparently it blew the minds of several people I was talking to the other day with similar issues to mine re: actually ever cooking, and it blew my mind when I discovered it, so... they sell pre-cooked pre-cubed chicken breasts in the freezer section. Those plus various frozen/canned vegetables plus various sauces in a jar plus either pasta or rice equate to full meals with all food groups that require almost no prep time and involve no fresh food and no separate thawing time which will therefore not require throwing things away if you decide you're not even up to that and wind up getting McDonald's tonight.

And the meals involved wind up tasting passably like real food, and I can have all the supplies ready so that on any given evening I can start rice and decide later if I'm making the version that will involve black beans, corn, and salsa, or the version that will involve butter chicken sauce and broccoli, or whatever. And the chicken bought from the store like this does not have the problem with freezer burning that cubing and freezing my own chicken breasts seems to if I don't really precisely figure out how fast I'm going to use them.
posted by Sequence at 2:20 PM on August 10 [15 favorites]

We have a 2017 car with a screen and digital bells and whistles. Had no idea I could hook it up to my phone until 2 weeks ago. Pair it via Bluetooth, sure. But not to the extent I'm now doing.

Downloaded Android Auto. Connected my phone to the "smartphone USB" port that I had previously assumed was useless. Car now displays navigation on its screen with voice commands, allows me to access Spotify and my phone's podcast player and also make hand's free calls and send texts by dictation. Voice commands and a touchscreen are all I need.

I never have to look at the phone again while I am driving. Far safer. Much more convenient.
posted by zarq at 2:25 PM on August 10 [9 favorites]

Leather furniture wipes are great for a quick clean up of shoes/boots on your way out in between polishes.
posted by ellieBOA at 2:27 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]

I've been eating eggs for breakfast pretty much every day for the last six years and finally reached the point of going, "Hmm, I am a smidge bored with this." Then I added some cheddar and parsley. BAM! I'm set for the next six years. It's not even, like, fresh parsley. I think I got it from the dollar store a year ago. But it ups the game so much.

I also discovered a while ago that you can send any document you please to your Kindle. Any piece of your or your friends' writing, any fanfiction, any short story you find online. My partner used to struggle significantly with cutting screen time before bed. Now they just ask me to send them some of the ten million little rambling pieces of writing we've created together over the years (as the organized one, I end up being the one to save them all to a Google Drive) and they settle into bed with their Paperwhite with glee.
posted by brook horse at 2:27 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]

This year, at the age of forty-six, I learned how to use a needle threader. I had seen them around in sewing boxes and never knew what they were. I cursed my klutziness every time I had to thread a needle. (Not very often- I replace a button about once a year or so.) I would have remained in the dark for the rest of my days except I bought a compact sewing kit that had a little piece of paper that listed its contents - including "needle threader". One quick search on "how to use a needle threader" and I was enlightened.
posted by Daily Alice at 2:44 PM on August 10 [9 favorites]

I woke up with jet lag the other week and rather than just stare at the ceiling for a couple of hours, I thought "let's see how long it takes to walk to work rather than take the metro". Turns out it's the same time walking through central Madrid down some lovely side streets and I'm not stood waiting on the platform. For the last three weeks, I've been walking to/from work, doubled my steps, lost a little waistline and saved on the metro pass.

4" charging cables for the phone will save juggling cables and a battery pack.

This recipe for Italian panzanella bread salad is wonderful ; ignore the intricacies, basically soak day old bread in olive oil and lots of tomatoes and enjoy.
posted by arcticseal at 2:53 PM on August 10 [12 favorites]

A hefty, steel, flask of tea is a useful weapon to hit a burglar with, in a residential street of a rural English market town in the middle of the night. You can also then drink the tea (which will keep you warm) as you sit on the dazed and complaining robber so he doesn't run away while you wait for the police to turn up.

No I did not offer him any, as he was too busy using cuss words.
posted by Wordshore at 3:01 PM on August 10 [111 favorites]

I recently found an amazingly effective way to shut off my mind and fall back to sleep. (It's probably based on something I read somewhere, but I don't remember where.) You start with A-100 and count forward from A and backward from 100: B-99, C-98, D-97, etc. Requires just enough mental effort to keep you from thinking about anything else but isn't interesting enough to keep you awake. (I suppose you could use all numbers, too: 1-100, 2-99, 3-98, etc.)
posted by Redstart at 3:08 PM on August 10 [22 favorites]

Oh, and square biscuits. Much more efficient. Cut them with a pizza cutter or metal dough scraper or chopping knife instead of a round thing. (Round is probably slightly more optimal for even baking because you don't have corners, but it doesn't really make that much difference.) You can do the same thing with roll-out cookies, too, unless you have kids who think cookie cutters are way more fun.
posted by Redstart at 3:17 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]

This one is for the parents with small kids.

Tooth Fairy:
I told my children they couldn’t just stick their tooth under the pillow. They had to put their tooth in an envelope, marked with their name, age and the date.

Now I have a shoebox of baby teeth sorted and filed.

Not sure what to do with them tho...
posted by stellathon at 4:12 PM on August 10 [30 favorites]

This is too silly to count as a real hack, but: I have a pewter (?) stegosaurus on my desk, about three-four inches long, given to me by my mother as a paperweight. Turns out that if I want to take my wedding ring off to cook (if I'm handling raw meat, raw onions, etc.), it fits perfectly dangling on the stegosaurus' neck. I get a safe place to put my ring where I won't forget it or lose it, dino gets a cool necklace/collar.
Also, my husband got this instant table-tennis set where you can just clasp the net onto any given table you might have and play, no real ping-pong table required. We tried it out yesterday and found it's an excellent form of low-key stress-relief.
posted by huimangm at 4:23 PM on August 10 [12 favorites]

People, lift your head, straighten your back, and open your shoulders. You will breath better, your neck will feel better, your shoulders will work better...

(Does so, finds breathing easier.) Huh. Seems I was slouching after my tiring day. Thanks, wenestvedt!
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 4:26 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]

If you lift your shoulders straight up and then from there bring them straight back and then from there let them drop, it's a fairly natural posture. Learned that from a choir director in sixth grade. Doesn't work as well since the boobs arrived, but it still feels like a good reminder.
posted by lauranesson at 4:41 PM on August 10 [7 favorites]

Your favorite mode of enhancing proprioception sucks.

Sorry, couldn’t resit.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:46 PM on August 10

My wife and I have a very weird "let's spin down" trick: alphabetically go through a category. It can be MBTA stations, airport codes, fruits and vegetables. Doesn't really matter what it is, but just something to focus on that isn't all the other stuff.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 4:52 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]

Regarding detergent jugs with the spigot: I put mine on a shelf with the spigot hanging over the opening to my (top-loading) washer. About ten years ago I counted how long it took to dose the cup, then, used that cup once and tossed it. The cups now get recycled as soon as they enter the house. And now I just push the button, count to five (or whatever, I eyeball how much more or less I have than an average load), and close the lid on the washer and go on with my day. Experienced bartenders will recognize this trick, as working like a "4 count spout" on a bottle, which is where I stole the idea.

My dogs' wet food (in my case, wet food + pumpkin + yogurt) gets blended in batches, divvied up into ice cube trays, frozen, and nuked for mealtime. I can do it half asleep and they seem to enjoy the frozen center while I enjoy my coffee and try to wake up.

Bonus hint: you can microwave metal bowls and cans. Yes, really. No sparks.

If you're really OCD like me, look at all the possible silverware bins in your dishwasher, and decide that one is only for knives, one for forks, one for spoons, and the rest however you please. Now the next time you unload your clean silverware, be amazed at how quickly you can sort them by grabbing one bin at a time. Yes, it takes a certain sort of sickness to really appreciate this trick, no, my wife does not play along.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 4:59 PM on August 10 [10 favorites]

Use marker (or watercolor if you care about lightfastness) on a paper before you color with colored pencils (pencil crayons for our UK friends) will save lots of time and can be used for very interesting effect.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 5:06 PM on August 10

If you accidentally use a permanent marker on a dry erase board, scribble over it with dry erase marker, and then erase as normal. It should come off.

For small picnics on hot days, freeze juice boxes to use as ice packs. They will hopefully be defrosted, and your food kept cool, by lunch.

I use mesh laundry bags as packing cubes so that I can throw delicates in the washer without worrying about them.
posted by invokeuse at 5:11 PM on August 10 [11 favorites]

I rinse the laundry soap measuring thing under the running water in the washing machine, swish it around and pour it into the washer as it fills. I am in an apartment building with shared laundry, so I set a timer on my phone for the length of the cycle. No more forgotten clothing!
posted by janepanic at 5:17 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]

If you're a parent of small children (especially babies), don't park in the closest spot to the store, park in the closest spot to the cart return.

You're welcome.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:35 PM on August 10 [46 favorites]

My mom smooths out disposable plastic shopping bags from CVS and the like, then folds them into thirds the long way, then folds that strip handle-first into triangles (like making a paper football) until the final end tucks neatly inside and the bag can be saved for future re-use. It makes the closet neater...
posted by wenestvedt at 8:46 AM

This reminded me of an old SNL commercial parody that i haven't thought of in years. The product was "Speed", which helped the motor-mouth spokeswoman (mother, nuclear physicist, commission with multiple interests and hobbies) get through her busy day. Around :45, the woman opens a kitchen cupboard to show off her collection of neatly folded and carefully organized grocery bags!

Thank you for triggering the memory. (Apologies to your mom.)
posted by she's not there at 6:03 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]

This will make life better, if not necessarily easier: learn how to make Italian butter cream frosting and use this for all cakes, cookie fillings, etc. Potential downside—you might lose all tolerance for regular butter cream frosting.

(Cake is a pretty rare treat for me. If I'm going to indulge, I don't want to half-ass the experience.)
posted by she's not there at 6:28 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]

Good brand soap they sell at Whole Foods has almost cured my terribly red keratosis pilarus rash on my forearms after years of trying all sorts of lotion and creams.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 7:36 PM on August 10 [8 favorites]

What brand is it?!
posted by Stonkle at 8:14 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]

Don’t reheat pizza in the toaster oven (and especially don’t reheat it in the microwave). Reheat it in a skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. When the toppings feel warm, tap the bottom crust; when it's hard and makes a hollow sound, it’s done.
posted by holborne at 8:21 PM on August 10 [7 favorites]

When you make a peanut butter & banana sandwich, don't slice the banana.... No dirtied knife

But... but didn't you use a knife to get the peanut butter onto the bread first? A knife you can then use to slice banana discs without needing to wash another one, and thereby avoid getting banana wedged down under your thumbnails?

The system I finally lit on for consistent bananfication of peanut buttered toast is to place a line of banana discs the long way across the middle of the toast first--generally four discs for my bread--then lay offset three-disc lines above and below, so they're nestled in there tight like stacked ball bearings. I am totally trying the long strips tomorrow, though!
posted by miles per flower at 8:50 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]

Oh also: If I know I'm about to be walking from a light space into a dark one--a room where someone's already sleeping, a dark forest path or movie theater, an unlit tunnel--I close one eye so it can start adjusting to the dark. Then when I leave the lit space, I open both eyes and have partially dark-adapted vision and am far less likely to trip over or bump into stuff. (I often do this while brushing my teeth at night.)
posted by miles per flower at 8:58 PM on August 10 [12 favorites]

Don’t reheat pizza in the toaster oven (and especially don’t reheat it in the microwave). Reheat it in a skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. When the toppings feel warm, tap the bottom crust; when it's hard and makes a hollow sound, it’s done.
posted by holborne

If I may. I am a bit drunk now. But this is a thing I like.

I use a cast iron pan. You use what you wish.

Take two slices of cold pizza. Heat up a pan. Put butter in a pan. If you do not put butter in a pan, I am sorry. You do you. This is me.

Make a pizza sandwich. Fillings inside, crust outsde. You do get this right?

Fry in pan until one side is toasty. Then add more butter. YOU MUST DO THIS.

Fry other side.


Thanks me.
posted by Splunge at 9:16 PM on August 10 [32 favorites]

Here's some tech stuff I'm into lately.

• Oh man, 90-degree charging cables are amazing. I used to wear out the wires at either end of all of my charging cables, reading on my phone in bed or on the couch, phone leaning on my stomach, inevitably and irrevocably crimping the wires. No more! The 90-degree bend also provides a nice hook for your hand. I just wish they sold more high-quality braided 90-degree charging cables of longer lengths, 'cause I like the feel of those better. But the 90-degree thing is still a game-changer. Also, super long cables are the way to go. Cables of 6 feet to 10 feet are amazing, especially when traveling, as the closest outlet to the bed might not necessarily be in the most convenient spot.

• Also, the travel accessory I still get perhaps the most compliments on is this little Belkin surge protector. Pair that with a 3-foot Slimline flat-plug extension cord for a lightweight way to ensure just about everyone you're coworking with can charge what they need to charge. Those flat-plug extension cords are also amazing for solving the problem of needing to plug in lamps and phones on bedside tables when the sole outlet at the head of the bed is directly behind it, making plugging things in dangerous and difficult.

• Chromecasts are an awesome new way to show friends and family your vacation photos—it's a much more tolerable version of the slide carousels of yore, much less annoying than passing around a phone whose screen might lock in 30 seconds. And if you tire of what you're seeing, you can always playfully battle and kick the presenter off in favor of a goofy YouTube video or your own photos. It's a nice way to actually share and bond over the hundreds of photos we all take all the time now; I've done it with family and friends a few times, and it's a lot of fun. It's also a great way to take advantage of most streaming services and watch stuff together without requiring a lot of hardware or channel-changing.

• Another tech thing I love lately, which isn't particularly new, but which my remote team at work has started using together every Friday, is a shared DJ room (we use I highly recommend doing this with friends who live in other places, or even friends in the same room to collaboratively contribute to the room's ambience. Sharing screen on videos and watching them together on video chat, MST3K-style, is excellent, too. Zoom is like the gold standard for doing this without intolerable lag. Jitsi Meet isn't bad, either.
posted by limeonaire at 9:29 PM on August 10 [13 favorites]

I have weak little hands and zero pain tolerance. A wide rubber band, doubled, makes a fine grip when I need some kind of food or beverage out of a wide-mouthed bottle or jar.

Anti-perspirant makes an acceptable styptic for shaving wounds and volcano zits, in a pinch.

If I feel like a creepy guy might be following me at the store, I beeline for the tampon aisle. So far I’m either wrong that they’re following me or I’m right that it’s an effective way to lose them. YMMV.
posted by armeowda at 10:06 PM on August 10 [13 favorites]

Good brand soap they sell at Whole Foods has almost cured my terribly red keratosis pilarus rash on my forearms after years of trying all sorts of lotion and creams.

I have just got my eczema under control by mixing a few drops of pure (olive derived not shark derived) squalane oil into the emollient cream. I don't know how long it'll stay effective, but anyone with eczema knows any amount of relief, and avoiding use of steroid creams, is good.
posted by tavegyl at 10:20 PM on August 10 [9 favorites]

I have weak little hands and zero pain tolerance. A wide rubber band, doubled, makes a fine grip when I need some kind of food or beverage out of a wide-mouthed bottle or jar.

I can do you one better. This thing is amazing. I haven’t fought with a jar in almost a decade. Works on ANY size jar.
posted by greermahoney at 10:49 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]

Stonkle - the brand is “good” and it’s stamped into the soap. And it’s usually in its own little wooden kiosk at my WF stores in several different varieties.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 10:52 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]

Opening jars! I can do this one. Take a small flathead screwdriver, slip its flat into one of the places where there's a gap between the jar lid crimp part and the glass, and twist gently. The lid will go POP and the seal will release. That's why I keep a screwdriver in the kitchen along with the pasta fork and the rice cooker server thing.
posted by huimangm at 10:58 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]

Stonkle - the brand is “good”

Why do companies name themselves unsearchable things in this day and age? I had a coat I wanted to find for a friend and the tag said the clothing company was called “View.” For an exercise in futility just google “View clothing.”
posted by greermahoney at 10:58 PM on August 10 [18 favorites]

I keep my garlic and hot peppers in the freezer nowadays. As soon as I buy them, I clean them (peel the garlic, remove the stems of the peppers) and put them in their own plastic boxes and freeze them... and I never run out now, the garlic doesn't dry out, the peppers don't get mouldy, it's so much easier.

Here's a quick way to get your shoes to look nice and shiny if you can't be bothered to use shoeshine:
Wipe them with a cotton ball that's been dipped in milk. Don't get them too wet. No rubbing, no buffing, just spread it thinly, let it dry and your shoes will look like you just spent at least half an hour polishing them.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:41 AM on August 11 [5 favorites]

You can use a salad spinner full of water when washing gritty greens or veggies like spinach or leeks. Spin wet, remove insert and dump water, then spin dry. Repeat as necessary. It seems to require fewer changes of water due to the whole centrifuging thing.

I grew up in a house without ceiling fans and it took living in a house that did have them to persuade me of their inherent greatness. If you live in a place that gets hot, seriously consider installing a ceiling fan. I think I’ve just recently convinced my parents of this.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:17 AM on August 11 [6 favorites]

If you have pet hair issues, buy a cheap pack of lint rollers (3 for £1 in any of the remaining UK £ stores), set the ironing board up and roll away - no more strips of sellotape across the fingers! Also great on sofas and rugs.

Great for removing hair from rugs before vacuuming (even if you have a "pet vacuum"), are these tools. You won't believe how much extra hair you'll collect that the vacuum misses.
posted by humph at 4:17 AM on August 11

Steam peeled chunked potatoes for potato salad in a metal vegetable steamer instead of boiling them. No messing around with a big pot of boiling water, no more almost mashed potato salad.
posted by jointhedance at 4:27 AM on August 11 [7 favorites]

jointhedance, I nuke them at full blast in the microwave for 7 minutes and that works too.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:46 AM on August 11 [6 favorites]

I've recently upgraded both my keyboard and my mobile device, and unfortunately they are designed with an annoying single point of failure - the socket for the cable. With the keyboard, this is annoying because everything else on it is designed so well. Instead of having the cable running into the housing, you're left with a microusb port which is obviously going to get decidedly wonky when it's been moved around over time. Similarly, with the mobile device, the usb-c socket for charging is nice, but if it goes wrong, there's no wireless charging as a backup.

So - magnetic cables to the rescue. No moving the socket! Moving the cable is ok! And when the magnet clicks on magically, it's very satisfying!

Also, my new favourite hacking material is sugru. I bought a satchel recently, and instead of those plastic inserting connectors it has those old metal things, where you poke a metal stick through the leather strap to secure the flap. BUT: I hate this because it makes opening and closing so slow, much slower than with the plastic connectors, and the metal cylinder on the clasp jangles much too much when I'm moving around. So, today I broke out the sugru to the metal studs that attach the straps on the flap, and put super powerful magnets from the 100 yen shop on top of the sugru. The bestest part is that the magnets are the same size as the studs, so you can't really spot them easily. So I'll have a hidden magnetic closing mechanism! And with the rest of the sugru, I stuck down those metal cylinders, so no more jingling, Mr. Bag!

I'm afraid, I'm a bit of a bag snob.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 5:21 AM on August 11 [6 favorites]

You can make a very effective fruit fly trap using an empty bottle or tallish jar from your recycling and a piece of paper. (My current one is a corn syrup bottle; its opening is about the size of a typical water bottle.) Put a piece of fruit in the bottle. Roll the paper into a cone with a little hole at one end and a big hole at the other end, tape it to hold it together and insert it into the bottle so the small end is down near the bottom and the big end fills the opening. You can use scissors to trim off the part sticking out of the bottle so it only sticks up a little.

The flies find their way down to the fruit but can't find the one tiny exit hole. If you leave the flies and fruit in there for too long the flies will lay eggs and larvae will hatch and pupate. So at least once a day take the bottle outside and let the flies go and every day or so rinse out the bottle and put in new fruit. Apparently you can also use apple cider vinegar with a drop of dish soap as bait and then the flies drown instead of having to be released outside.
posted by Redstart at 6:54 AM on August 11 [9 favorites]

I love everyone in my open-plan office more now that I've splurged on noise-canceling headphones.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:55 AM on August 11 [6 favorites]

My mom smooths out disposable plastic shopping bags from CVS and the like, then folds them into thirds the long way, then folds that strip handle-first into triangles (like making a paper football) until the final end tucks neatly inside and the bag can be saved for future re-use.
I learned this one from my Japanese sister-in-law. Apparently, this is what everyone does with plastic bags in Japan. You can buy little towers to put your folded bag pucks into. Japanese people have lots of great hacks like that, because most of them live in teeny, tiny apartments and don't have space for clutter.

Speaking of Japanese folding hacks, it took me a few tries to master this method for folding t-shirts, but now I can impress small children with my t-shirt-folding deftness. (And I am not a person who is typically described as deft at anything.) I also really like the Kon Mari pants folding method. You end up with something that stands up vertically, and then you put them all side by side in the drawer. You can fit a lot more pants in each drawer that way, and you can see them all immediately when you open your drawer.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:13 AM on August 11 [7 favorites]

I haven’t fought with a jar in almost a decade. Works on ANY size jar.

I use this one, same thing. Magic. Also when mine broke after... I dunnow a decade of solid use, OXO gave me another one for free.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:13 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]

I use a neoprene-lined pot holder. But when I was growing up, we had a rubber sheet thing my mom unironically called it a "rubber husband."
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:40 AM on August 11 [8 favorites]

Here's an old one from my grandmother - tell your kids! No need to use a phone or computer, or memorize a rhyme, in order to tell whether a month has 31 days or not. Just use your finger to touch your knuckles and the space between them. Start on your first knuckle for January (31 days), then the space between to the next knuckle is February (not 31 days), then the next knuckle is March (31 days), the next space is April (not 31 days), and so on. Start over on the same hand with your first knuckle to continue with August till December.

Also, this tip is around a number of places, but bears repeating - for jars of things like natural peanut butter where the oil separates out, store the unopened jars upside down. Lots less stirring or no stirring is then required when you open them.
posted by gudrun at 11:02 AM on August 11 [10 favorites]

ArbitraryAndCapricious, that makes total sense because they have been doing business with Japanese clients, and visiting once or twice a year, for decades.

No doubt she picked it up there among other habits, like wrapping up my dad's lunch neatly in a fabric bundle with a clever fold/knot as the Japanese do with furoshiki to avoid disposable packaging.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:24 AM on August 11 [5 favorites]

Or wear a rubber glove to open a jar more easily.

Also for the fruit fly trap, if you haven't got fruit or vinegar to hand you can use wee.

To use the last bit of honey from the jar, pour in boiling water, swish it round, then pour that water on your herbal teabag.

To get the last bit of salad dressing, tahini etc. out of the jar, wipe inside with the salad etc. you were going to pour it on.

Use the last bit of the toothpaste, shampoo etc. by just slicing the container open, if ness. with a serrated knife so it doesn't slip. No need for 'toothpaste saver' gadgets.

For nice skin, put oatmeal/oats into the end of an old pair of tights, tie off, thow it in the bath and use as sponge.

Thick black tights are basically just nylon rope. Use then to tie things together/transport things with.

Eggs: if they float in water, they're bad. The more they sink the better.
posted by runincircles at 12:54 PM on August 11 [6 favorites]

Doubling down on rubber bands for jars, because they fit in my purse better than mail-order gadgets or rubber gloves, and I don’t do all my bottle/jar-opening at home.

I remembered another one: toothpaste can help get the smell of onions off your hands anytime you’re sadistic enough to cook with them.
posted by armeowda at 1:54 PM on August 11

I went to the library with my husband today, and discovered that he has placed his library card in his wallet so that the barcode is visible above the edge of the card slot, so that he can scan it at the self check-out without taking it out. Clever!
posted by BrashTech at 2:08 PM on August 11 [6 favorites]

At big box shops with strongly delineated entrances and exits (for me, Home Depot and Ikea), more people want to park nearer to the entrance. I am more likely to find parking close to the store if I search near the exit area. This suits me -- it means I don't have as far to walk with a laden cart/bag or whiny child.
posted by linettasky at 2:09 PM on August 11 [4 favorites]

Need an extra day on a bill? Take a thumbtack and poke out the dots on your check between the routing number and the account number. The machine will spit it out and it will have to be processed by hand, buying you an extra day. Don't judge me.
posted by KazamaSmokers at 4:03 PM on August 11 [35 favorites]

TL;DR - zengargoyle's optimal manual aluminum can crushing method.

Take a 12 floz aluminum can. Pour some water in it and swish it around and then drink it. You want to clean the can because otherwise: "That's how you get ANTS!"

Stick your pinky into the mouth-hole and press that tab of metal up flat against the top.

Looking down from the top, orient the mouth-hole to about 8 o'clock. Then rotate it forward so that you're looking at the side.

Ignore the top and bottom, they're curved and sculpted and reinforced, you can't flatten them without splitting the can and creating sharp edges.

Pretend the middle of the can is a square/rectangular prism instead of a cylinder. Sorta like this picture:

      /                         \
      |                         |
      |                         |
      |  +-------------------+  |
      |  |                 / |  |
      |  |               /   |  |
      |  |              /    |  |
      |  |            /      |  |
      |  |           /       |  |
      |  |          /        |  |
      |  |         x         |  |
      |  |       /           |  |
      |  |      /            |  |
      |  |    /              |  |
      |  |  /                |  |
      |  |/                  |  |
      |  +-------------------+  |
      |                         |
Place your thumbs at the 'x' and create a valley fold from bottom-left to top-right of the imaginary rectangular face of that prism pretending to be a cylinder.

Roll the can 180° and do the same on the back. Then roll 90° and do the third side. (If at this point the third side is way skinny, you made your valley folds too deep... practice makes perfect). Then roll a final 180° and do the last side...

At this point the can will twist and shrink in height. Apply some torque and pressure but don't go overboard yet.

Your left hand points up and your right hand points forward, put the bottom of the can in your left palm and the top in your right palm and squeeze your hands togeter while twisting. Try to cover the mouth-hole with your right palm to keep up some air pressure (it makes the squishing more smooth and predictable), but you will have to let a few farts sneak out.

You probably won't be finished just yet. Put your hands together as if in prayer (or clapping, etc.) and put the base of the can at the bottom of your palms and make a heart shape with your fingers which are pressing down on the top to squish it that final bit. The best squishes are when the top rotates 135°, the peaks and valleys on the top and bottom mesh nicely.

If you do this right, the whole middle of the can will twist-and-fold-and-squish up inside that bit of space that the top/bottom of the can provide and you'll be left with a little hockey puck like thing with no sharp edges or pointy bits that you can safely toss across the room into a trash bag for recycling. Or chuck it at a friend without worrying about slicing their face off. Or let the cat play with it. Etc.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:33 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]

Void in Michigan.
posted by clavdivs at 5:12 PM on August 11 [9 favorites]

I know this is mostly the 3/4 of a bottle of wine I just drank, but I’m laughing and crying at

The best squishes are when the top rotates 135°,

Because the chances of my recognizing 135 degrees without a protractor is... slim. That’s just very specific.

But... *eyes the very full recycling* I should probably crush my cans so I don’t have to take out the recycling so much.
posted by greermahoney at 6:30 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]

90° would be 1/4 turn and would bring the top left corner directly on top of the bottom right corner. 180° would be a 1/2 turn and still bring the top left corner on top of a bottom right corner on the next side. You want it to be 3/8 of a turn 90°+45°=135° so the top left corner nestles down between the bottom left corner and bottom right right corner of the next side. Then it goes like:
instead of:
That's sorta also why you want the mouth-hole at 8 o'clock. At 9 o'clock some of the insides tend to poke out of the open mouth-hole.... at 8 o'clock they don't.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:16 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]

This set of lifehacks borders between trival and OMG WOW!: HOW TO CRAFT SAFETY. It's community sourced post-disaster getting through those few days sorts of hacks put together by NHK World Japan.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:56 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]

Your left hand points up and your right hand points forward, put the bottom of the can in your left palm and the top in your right palm and squeeze your hands togeter while twisting.

I pretty much just put the bottom of the can in my left palm, put the top in my right palm, make a claw with my right fingers and pinch the can in a little as I twist the two ends in opposite directions. It doesn't result in the uniformity you describe, but it's one fluid motion that takes like a single second.
posted by fedward at 8:25 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]

Squalor control: place spare garbage bags underneath the one being used in the bin so you do not have to go make a trip to refill (this works real well for bathroom waste baskets); place a package of cleaning wipes, toilet bowl cleaner and toilet brush in a clap pot with drip tray near the area of filth i.e, the toilet. You do this when you want to give a wipe down of your toilet area and also very quick squirt and clean of the toilet. Bonus for having that trash bin near the area. Why visible? Cause it reminds you. Why near? So you can be lazy. Time it takes to do a squalor control clean? 5 minutes slightly more if you need to put some muscle behind any encrustations removal. Why use a houseplant pot with drip tray? Because you will not get mold from resting the toilet brush in it. It can also be somewhat decorative so you can pretend you got style or some boho chic thing going on.

You hate chemicals but you have soap scum from hell and you are dealing with stupid natural stone tiles that will not let you use better living through chemistry. Make a paste of dish soap and baking/bicarb soda. Scrub your stuff down and then rinse. This works for glass showers since the dish soap rinses very nicely and hey, no spots. But if you are an obsessive then get a squeegee after the rinse.
posted by jadepearl at 9:51 PM on August 11 [6 favorites]

My life hack is crêpes for breakfast on a work day, from batter kept in a jar with a pouring lip in the fridge. I can make three crêpes with lemon and sugar in the time it takes my coffee to brew, there's nothing to clean up, and I go to work feeling delighted.
posted by aws17576 at 10:36 PM on August 11 [25 favorites]

Jadepearl, totally trying your dish soap and clay pot suggestions!
posted by arcticseal at 1:18 AM on August 12

I had a hard time finding underwear that did what I wanted it to do: be cheap, be mostly made from cotton, don't look too feminine, be very comfortable and stay in place. I found it once I was willing to reach across the aisle and grab a pack of boxer briefs.
They're designed for people with parts that I don't have, but the cheap ones aren't very much shaped, and mostly rely on stretch for accommodating outie-type genitals. There's not a lot of leftover fabric; not enough to be a problem, anyway.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:33 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]

make grilled cheese sandwiches without using the stove

HERESY! Where is the melted buttery goodness?!?

Meatbomb's Lazy Guy 120 Second Grilled Cheese

Trick is you do not need to SPREAD the butter, it is going to melt in the pan!

Turn on pan, get sammich ready - bread-cheese-bread, and a cut pat of butter on top, cut second pat for the flip and leave on counter.
Stick sammich in pan, as butter sizzles you swoosh the sammich in a circle to sop up the butter. In 30 seconds you stick the next pat on top.
Flip that sammich, swoosh it. Hurry up Internet is waiting.
YOUR GRILLED CHEESE IS READY GUY, return to Internet! Run! No need to clean the pan you are gonna make another one soon!
posted by Meatbomb at 6:23 AM on August 12 [14 favorites]

Since many of us are focusing (rightfully) on grilled cheese, here's my groundbreaking shift: use garlic butter spread instead of butter/margarine/whatever. Classy grilled cheese with zero extra effort.
posted by VioletU at 8:41 AM on August 12 [12 favorites]

Jar opening hack in addition to those mentioned above, and that I have related elsewhere in MeFi and have finally got round to sharing with Mr MMDP after 21 years of marriage - for grungy, sticky, welded shut receptacles, tighten the lid. Just enough so it moves a fraction and breaks the seal. It's much easier than trying to twist it open.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 8:48 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]

Not new, certainly not to me, but another famous one is if you want to stir something, like a cup of coffee or tea, instead of moving the spoon around the cup in circles (which just moves the liquid en bloc), hold the spoon facing you and move it backwards and forwards.

Another one from that Japanese YouTube channel, like the t-shirt one.
posted by Grangousier at 11:20 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]

Speaking of grilled cheese, use mayo instead of butter and be pleasantly surprised.
posted by Splunge at 11:34 AM on August 12 [6 favorites]

Not a hack but slightly life-changing: adjustable closet organizers maximize storage space so we'll, we wondered why we didn't install them sooner. We ended up buying and installing four kits in a week.>
posted by filthy light thief at 11:50 AM on August 12

Splunge you squirt the mayo on after as a dip. Never delete the butter, it is a "yes and" thing.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:52 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]

Children's fabric pencil bags make better wallets for cash than regular wallets, and they are cuter.
posted by bleep at 1:52 PM on August 12 [3 favorites]

- I've posted about this a bunch of times; but I keep sweaty bras and suit jackets smelling OK and in good shape with a 30/70 vodka/water mixture. I spray them with it and hang them on a hook to dry (spray the jacket lining only). The vodka kills odor causing bacteria.

Stonkle, you saved my butt with this just now. I bought an expensive-for-me blouse that I really loved a few weeks ago, wore it for the first time to Disneyland during a heat wave, kept dumping water on myself in an effort to stay cool, and then realized that the blouse smelled like swamp ass after laundering (twice!). I thought I was going to have to get rid of it after one wear but I tried the vodka mixture and it appears to be destinked!
posted by sunset in snow country at 2:07 PM on August 12 [10 favorites]

That's great to hear! I'm glad your blouse is saved. The bacteria was probably still hanging out in there until you zapped it with vodka.

Another clothes tip: I'm not an armpit sweater, but if you are you can use dress shields. You just tack them in with a couple of stitches, then remove them and throw them in the washing machine. You can also sew snaps on your garment and the shield if you're feeling energetic. I don't like the stick-on kind because they loosen with moisture and can be hard on delicate fabrics.
posted by Stonkle at 2:45 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

Egg Peeling. I read an article about this from a chef who tried all kinds of experiments. Get the water as boiling hot as possible before you put the eggs in. Do not put the eggs in before you start boiling the water. The freshness of eggs, types of eggs, etc. does not matter.
posted by xammerboy at 3:24 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

For those of us who don't keep vodka around, wil isopropyl alcohol work as a deponging spray?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:55 PM on August 12

We've found white vinegar does the trick as well as vodka. And we found it works like a fabric softener.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:48 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

Here is one that has saved me time during the week: Pre-salt your meats. Some call it dry brining. Here is the article on pre-salting You want another genius move? If you plan to grind your own burger sprinkle salt over the meat chunks before grinding or whiz in the food processor. Doing this adds flavor and lightly preserves.

Have you said to yourself, "Man I need to stockpile dulce de leche?" And who hasn't? Here is how you make dulce de leche in a slow cooker. tl;dr -> put cans in slow cooker, cover with water, low cook for 8 hours.

Really, efficiency is just another word for lazy; elegant lazy.
posted by jadepearl at 5:26 PM on August 12 [5 favorites]

Ethanol is better to use on clothing than isopropyl alcohol. You should still spot test vodka, especially on dark colours, but isopropyl alcohol will definitely cause some dyes to run and can discolour dark clothing (which is why it's a great stain remover for pen ink etc.). Isopropyl alcohol will also dissolve acetate, which is what most lining fabrics are made out of.

Vinegar is acidic and I personally would never use it on delicate clothing, especially if I wasn't going to wash it asap. It also stinks and doesn't dissipate as quickly as ethanol. The vodka hack is not supposed to be used as a pre-wash treatment; it's for clothing that you don't want to launder frequently or at all, or for clothing that gets soaked in sweat and has to be fresh and dry in a matter of hours - which is why we use it in theatre.
posted by Stonkle at 5:58 PM on August 12 [7 favorites]

Okay, hydration bladders? Like out of a CamelBak or Osprey pack? They're a PITA to clean and they love to grow mold. So when you get home, rinse the bladder and hose out with tapwater and shake it empty. Then throw the whole bladder, hose and all, in the freezer. Nothing grows in the freezer.
posted by workerant at 8:59 AM on August 13 [10 favorites]

uncleozzy: thank you, thank you, thank you for the tip about steamed eggs. I bought a steamer basket yesterday, and the egg I peeled for lunch today was perfect.
posted by minsies at 11:03 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I'm with minsies. I steamed some quail eggs and they were delish plus did not bang all over the pot while being boiled and get broken and disgorge their contents into the water. I'm a convert.

Re CamelBaks, for daytrips in summer freeze the full bladder for icyfresh trail sipping. (Does everybody already do this? Probably.)
posted by Don Pepino at 11:44 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]

A vodka spray is also the only thing I've found that can come close to de-stinking ski boots with 60+ days a season on them.

Beer brewing is great if you want to learn about beer, but it takes a lot of time and effort to get as good or better than good commercial beer, and it still costs almost as much. The same cannot be said for home coffee roasting. Outstanding coffee at 1/4 the price of buying roasted outstanding coffee without much in the way of time/money investment (at least if you do it the way I do, which is on a WhirleyPop on an outdoor gas burner).
posted by craven_morhead at 11:51 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]

I'm a huge fan of black electrical tape covering any lights in my bedroom. I do best when I have complete darkness at night and not seeing the power strip light has gone a long ways for me.

That plus blackout curtains have been great.
posted by Twicketface at 1:46 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]

-Summer baked potatoes (or not waiting a long time during any season baked potatoes): scrub potato, stab all over. Microwave for 6-7 minutes. Wrap in foil immediately after taking out of microwave. Wait ten more minutes.

(I also use this approach for sweet potatoes, and at the end you can scoop out all the mush and mix it into anything. You can even use it kind of like a spread.)

-For my friends who don’t “do” social media for various reasons, when I find funny posts that I know they would like, I’ll take a screenshot and send it to them (like twitter jokes, not personal stuff or anything). We can still laugh about it, but they don’t have to have an account or check it all the time or scroll through a feed. Direct sharing.

-For heating up smaller quantities of frozen vegetables: pour frozen veggies in a bowl. Cover with hot water. Microwave for 1.5 minutes. Drain, pour back in bowl, microwave until hot. I hate cleaning a bowl and a pot when I can just clean a bowl.

-For last minute office lunches on days when I failed to pack anything but don’t want to go stand in line, I keep a glass bowl with a plastic lid at the office, along with plain couscous. The water that comes out of the coffee machine is hot enough to make cooked couscous, and then you can mix in whatever is on hand. (I’m partial to peas, walnuts, and shredded parmesan.)

-I figured out how to make sandwich sized egg patties in the microwave (I didn’t like the taste of the pre-made ones at the store, plus I can use cage free), so I can make a very super fast and fresh breakfast sandwich on my way out the door. Most grab and go breakfast options tend to be sweet rather than savory (granola bars, pastries), so that has been a big improvement for me.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 2:35 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]

TIL that you can open a plastic wrapped pad of post its stupidly easy by bending it in half (with the bottom side in the fold). Shit just snaps open with a delightful pop.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:21 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]

I hate packing for work trips.

So I packed for a work trip, came home, and only swapped things out; my bag is now *always* packed for a work trip.

Way less stress.
posted by talldean at 4:06 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]

It seems a lot of my hacks relate to cleaning. Do you have a teapot or something with unsightly coffee or tea stains? Lazy like I am? Well, denture cleaner is your friend. Just pop in an unflavored 1-2 tabs of denture cleaner and just let it soak. All stains get removed without scrubbing. I have teapots and the spouts were always a pain to clean and just filling the pot and popping in cheap denture cleaner is easy. In a clutch vinegar works.

Which leads me to the cleaning of one's electric kettle. Cheap vinegar soak is the way to go. If you live in a hard water region this works just fine. Sydney water leaves this funky something in my kettle and I clean it out once a month or so.
posted by jadepearl at 4:19 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]

Summer baked potatoes (or not waiting a long time during any season baked potatoes): scrub potato, stab all over. Microwave for 6-7 minutes. Wrap in foil immediately after taking out of microwave. Wait ten more minutes.

Putting on my safety monitor hat to mention that potatoes in foil are a botulism risk when the potato is 41-135 degrees fahrenheit. Refrigerating the potato in foil is also a no-no.

posted by delight at 6:01 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

If you've got a wasp flying around your house, spray them with water. Their wings get wet and they can't fly around nearly as well. Then you can deal with them according to your house rules.
posted by joycehealy at 6:15 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]

Dictation on my phone saves me endless amounts of time typing. I used to dictate term papers into Google Docs then edit on a desktop. Seriously, you have a mouth, why are you using your hands?

Stainless steel wedding rings look just like white gold and cost $50. Keep the nice one stored away for special occasions and wear the cheapo one instead.

Put your keys on one of these for easy on/off. Nice and thin so it adds very little bulk. Also serves as a good place to keep your stainless steel wedding ring if you're the type to forget your ring in the morning but remember it when you get to work (me).

Related to this: any barcode can be turned into a barcode on your phone with a free app. So when the library, the children's museum, and the swim school all give you “convenient” barcode thingies to bulk up your svelte keychain, turn them into barcode images on your phone instead.
posted by Tehhund at 6:27 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]

Do you drink boxed wine?

Hate it when the flow gets sloooow at the end?

Turn the box upside down. Squeeze the spout AND DON’T LET GO until the schwoooooshhhhh of air stops.

Turn box right side up. Squeeze spout to dispense wine.

This will get out all but about 2Tbsp of wine. Deconstruct the box to milk the rest if you wish.

Note, this is a finishing move, as it introduces air into the bag.
posted by slipthought at 6:50 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]

my new favourite hacking material is sugru

I've made the diy version with cornstarch and silicone caulk (google for recipes). I was happy with the results, but I've never used the real thing, so I can't compare.
posted by she's not there at 11:58 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]

I now keep all my jars of herbs and spices in a wide draw, rather than a cupboard. This means I can easily see what I have and find what I need, which means I don't have to reach up blindly, overturning perilously stacked jars, and I don't keep buying jars of cinnamon because I can't find them.

This is so simple but if you use a lot of herbs and spices it's a game changer.
posted by Dwardles at 6:52 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]

Question for a fiendish thingy: But how do you make sandwich-sized eggs in the microwave?

My number 1 life hack is mental rather than physical and it requires accepting reality rather than attempting to change it. It is about acknowledging who I am and my needs rather than shitting all over myself with "shoulds". Example below.

This summer has seen a heatwave all across Europe (and other places). As it happens, I am acutely but in no way uniquely sensitive to temperature variations. If I am too warm or too cold my brain basically goes on strike. This has been a problem for me as a freelancer because the local library (free! convenient! relatively quiet!) has not actually been cool enough for me to work.

Last month my kid, bless her, introduced me to the coolest, by temperature, coffeehouse in Stockholm that I have ever been in. I can actually work there. But it annoys me that the only place that works for me is a commercial coffeehouse and it annoys me that it has a constant soundtrack I find distracting. So I attempted to force myself to work other places. They did not work as well. Honestly, buying coffee every working day is still a ton cheaper that renting space as a co-working place. Also, I have an old and battered sound-canceling headset that works well enough for now and that I will replace when it does not.

Sorry this is so longwinded but honestly, I think a fair number of us have difficulty just acknowledging our own needs and allowing ourselves to meet them. It has been a struggle for me my whole life. So this is the most important life hack I have discovered and I discovered it only this summer. (And I will probably forget it and then have to rediscover it later.) TL;DR: It is more than okay to give myself what I need to be a productive, healthy adult when I can, in fact, afford to and when not doing it has real risks to my financial or other well-being.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:54 AM on August 14 [9 favorites]

On the temperature sensitive theme...I hate hate hate the cold. If it's below about 15c (60f), I'm miserable. Last year I decided to wear a thermal Barcelona. Damn what people think, it made my autumn and winter SOOOOO much better and less grumpy.
posted by conifer at 8:13 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]

Adding to jadepearl's advice: denture cleaner will also work for the toilet, among other uses.
Dwardles, yes! At-a-glance spice storage can happen on the inside of a cabinet door, if you can't spare the drawer. Or, hang a clear shoe organizer behind a pantry door.

(I, too, would like to know more about a fiendish thingy's microwave egg hack.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:10 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]

Are you so cheap/freaked about the landfills and the garbage gyres that you've become the type to save everything endlessly? Are you teetering on the brink of squalor and worried that you'll topple and end up a recluse who is notorious in your neighborhood for skulking around at four in the morning collecting roadkilled squirrels in an old Radio Flyer that is missing a wheel? Apply this simple rule to avoid that otherwise inevitable fate:

If you will use the item at least weekly, you can save it.


Dryer lint! Are you going to use it? Suuuure you are! You're going to make a fire-starter with it! Are you going to do that THIS GODDAMN WEEK? Having made the fire starter are you then going to burn it THIS GODDAMN WEEK? If no, then throw it awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Old T-shirt that is too full of holes to continue to serve as a garment! Are you going to use it? Sure! You're going to cut it up and make in-house snotrags out of it. You can use one of those today! Keep it! (Cotton rags and legit cloth handkerchiefs are way, way easier on your nose than even the very soft paper tissues with lotion in them.)

Completely threadbare in-house snotrags that are too exhausted to serve in even that menial capacity. Are you going to use them? Yep! Store these under the sink and use them to wipe the grease off pots, pans, and plates before washing them so that the grease doesn't go down the drain and clog it. Throw the grease-soaked rags away, happy in the knowledge that you have successfully squozen every possible bit of use out of them.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:41 AM on August 14 [13 favorites]

For those of you who do laundry at a laundromat: use a squeeze ketchup bottle.

If you use liquid detergent, save a squeeze ketchup bottle when it's empty, and wash it out. Then you can buy the large size detergent, use it to fill the squeeze bottle, and leave the heavy detergent bottle home. It's also less messy to just squeeze out some detergent into the machine.
posted by fings at 9:50 AM on August 14 [9 favorites]

Grilled vegetables: I love 'em. Everyone else does, too. The problem is making enough when company's over, cuz there's only so much room on the grill. Forget the grill pan or grill rack; just use skewers. You can cook enough to feed a mob all at once by threading all those vegetable chunks onto skewers.

Pizza tip: if your pizza tends to stick on the peel when you're trying to slide it into the oven, pat out the dough on a piece of parchment or silicon mat, then just let it sit for about ten minutes. This lets the top of the crust dry out a bit. Then flip the dough over onto the peel, pull off the parchment, add your toppings. That slightly drier dough on the bottom will make your pizza slide smoothly off the peel, and give the bottom a slightly crisper texture, too.
posted by Lunaloon at 10:20 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]

If you're having trouble getting the plastic bag open in the produce section, go over and grab a cucumber. A bit of the wax will transfer to your fingertips, making the bag-opening easy.
posted by Rash at 7:36 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]

When making deviled eggs, turn the eggs over in the carton the night before you boil them. This will “center” the yolk within the egg and keep you from having thin walls on your egg white part after boiling.
posted by kabong the wiser at 4:34 AM on August 15 [8 favorites]

For plastic bags, you can also try placing the troublesome bag between your palms and rubbing your hands together in fiendish delight.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:34 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]

... is just licking your fingers gross? I mean, it is, but is it unacceptably gross?
posted by uncleozzy at 9:37 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]

At home? Nah. At some market, or while walking the dog? Friction method ftw, because ours is a world full of beauty and botulism.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:53 AM on August 15 [4 favorites]

I got a memail asking for more specificity re: microwave eggs, so:

Find a bowl or large mug with a flat bottom that is the approximate size of your sandwich holder (I use an English muffin). I use the smallest bowl in this Pyrex style.

It took some time for me to figure out the timing & power levels, and this set of instructions is what I use in a 900 W microwave. You can fiddle with them depending on your microwave’s power level.

1. Beat egg in bowl
2. Microwave at 70% power for 45 seconds
3. Using a large spoon, scoop out egg, flip over. (At this point, there should be a little bit of uncooked egg on the bottom, which ends up coating the cooked part when flipped.)
4. Microwave at full power for 30 seconds. If desired, pause when 10 seconds are left and lay a piece of cheese on top so it gets melty. Microwave for the final 10 seconds.
5. Scoop patty out, put on sandwich or bread or bagel or in tortilla or in face.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:18 AM on August 15 [10 favorites]

if I have trouble opening plastic bags I will blow on my hands. I guess the added moisture helps my fingers stick better.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:19 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]

I just touch the lettuce/other wet veggies before trying to open a plastic bag at the grocery store. Works like a charm.
posted by jabes at 1:06 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]

Do you work a lot with electronic calendars and time zones? When creating an appointment, even one that's just a reminder to yourself, create it in the time zone where it will happen and let the computer figure out when it is in your current time zone. We all think we can do simple time zone math easily but the fact is we all screw it up frequently.

Example: scheduling a remote training session where most people are on Central US time, but you're in Eastern? If everyone is discussing the training based on 2 PM Central, use that when creating the appointment. There's a huge number of ways that you can forget and make a mistake and make it 1 PM eastern instead of 3, so let the computer do it for you. The machine will figure out that it's 3 PM to you so don't do that translation in your head.

Same goes for things like lunch or dinner appointments when you're traveling. If you're meeting at 6 PM on the west coast, change the time zone to Pacific US and enter 6 PM. This has saved me repeatedly because I'm terrible at remembering whether to add or subtract.
posted by Tehhund at 2:18 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]

Update: I do not recommend the 90-degree charging cable I linked above anymore. The wire on the non-90-degree end of mine has already started to pull apart and fray, and I've only had the cable for a month and a half. I love the concept, but heh, the Belkin version has not actually solved the fraying problem it was meant to solve.
posted by limeonaire at 2:22 PM on August 15 [4 favorites]

I've been using this 90° cable for 1.5 years and am happy with it.
posted by Tehhund at 2:37 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]

uncleozzy , I tried steaming some eggs last night and o-m-g. I am never going back!
posted by halcyonday at 5:26 AM on August 16 [3 favorites]

I did this recently and it really made unpacking from travelling much easier ymmv.

When packing for a stay away of more than a few nights, be sure to pack an empty large plastic bag/bin bag/ laundry sack if you have one.

While on trip place all dirty clothes in sack/bag.

When you get home you can pull out the one bag and know that that is the stuff that needs to be washed /laundered.
posted by Faintdreams at 10:19 AM on August 16 [2 favorites]

Ooh, better than that, that I've been doing for so long I'd forgotten it was a trick - large Ziploc bags for the underwear - each time you take something off, fold it small, put it in the bag, force out the air, seal. Sequesters the laundry and its smell together in one place. Also works for smaller shirts.

And Muji sell packing cubes (they call them garment cases on their UK website) - put shirts in one, trousers in another, etc, etc. So gather the clothes for the trip, fold them, count them, make sure they're the ones you want and put them into their holding bags, then put the bags into the suitcase. Because you're packing square things it makes everything a lot easier.

I discovered these things about fifteen years ago, and they improved my life exponentially.
posted by Grangousier at 1:42 AM on August 17 [1 favorite]

Ziplock bags are just good in general for air travel. If I'm checking a bag and putting anything liquid in it, I stick the thing in a ziplock bag, because liquids have a way of escaping their containers in the cargo hold. Also, there was once a narrowly-averted disaster involving a bottle of maple syrup in my checked luggage. If that hadn't been in a ziplock bag, things could have been very ugly.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:59 PM on August 17 [4 favorites]

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