Tips and Shortcuts for an Easier Life

Some tips to make your life easier:

1. If you are starting a do-it yourself project that involves taking something apart–anything from freeing a paper jam in your printer to taking the toilet apart–take snapshots at each step. If you use your phone camera, you can easily click through the sequence to put it back together in the right order and you won’t have pieces left over.

Before you take it apart, photograph it

Before you take it apart, photograph it

2.  If your checks have duplicates and you are forever losing the separator, simply write the checks from the back to the front of the checkbook. You won’t need a separator, and it doesn’t matter how the numbers run, as long as they are in order.

3.  Flattening chicken or pork reduces cooking time and makes it really tender; but I hate those hammer-like implements that also give meat a weird, felt-like texture. Put the meat in a big ziplock bag and pound it with a heavy bottle, like a wine bottle. Works just fine, and a lot less mess.

4. If you love onions, but they don’t love you, use leeks instead. Cheap, but with a wonderfully mild onion flavor, they work in soups and as a side dish. Cut them length-wise to wash the sand out of them.

5. Wear a lot of wash-and-wear black? Hate the way it fades? Pour a quarter cup of vinegar into the washing machine to set the color. Do it the first three times and the outfit will stay dark for much longer.

6. And while you have the vinegar out, pour a cupful into your coffee carafe, fill it up with water and pour it into your coffee machine. Turn on the machine. Follow with a rinse of plain water. Your coffee will taste a lot better.

7. Like the tube-size facial cleanser and shampoo in the shower, but the cheaper size comes in a big bottle? When the tube is almost empty, take off the lid, squeeze the air out of the tube, then press the mouth of the tube to the mouth of the bottle, which you have turned upside down over the tube. Release the pressure on the tube and it will suck out the contents of the bottle, neatly re-filling itself.

Have fun–add your own favorite tip in a comment.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach. See her work at and