Musings from the Middle: Life Hacks 101
A sweet friend of mine recently posted a really cool cleaning hack. She suggested using a pillowcase to clean a ceiling fan. Just slide a blade into the pillowcase, wipe down the blade, turn the pillowcase inside out, shake off the dust and wash it. Brilliant.
She’s probably got a million other hacks to share, I hope not all based on the idea that I regularly clean things. She has me thinking about all the geniuses out there, just hacking away. Need to know how to sharpen an eye liner pencil without a sharpener? An emery board or the bottom of a ceramic pot on the unglazed portion will do in a pinch.
Want to chop onions without crying? Hold a piece of bread loosely between your lips, and the bread will absorb some of the fumes before they reach your eyes. A quick Internet search says put a rubber band vertically around a paint can and swipe the brush against it to remove excess paint from a brush as it is pulled from the can.
Chill wine with frozen grapes. Cut cinnamon rolls with dental floss. Mark the end of transparent tape with a paperclip. All usable, common-sense loaded, clever hacks.
I wish I could reciprocate by sharing a hack with my friend. Frankly, I’ve got a list of things for which I only wish I had a hack.
Wouldn’t it be handy to know a hack that made hamburger taste like steak? That made hot fudge sundaes not count against the day’s calories?
I would trade lots of daily hacks for a single seasonal hack which confirmed snow fall amounts, rather than taking us on a weekly journey to the grocery, prepping for what could be the next blizzard or only a dusting.
“Go to bed because you WILL have school tomorrow,” I would say. The kid would whine and ask how I know. “It’s a hack! I stuck the meat thermometer with a toothpick wrapped in electric tape at the bottom into the ground at a right angle and it measured at 30 degrees," I would say. “You know it has to be 25 or below for the snow to accumulate. Good night, dear!”
Kitchen and food hacks have taken on a life of their own, flooding talk shows and even newscasts. Since somebody already hacked packing a bagel sandwich in an old CD container, I need to think of one of my own for food storage. How can I repurpose an Altoids tin to keep my arugula lettuce fresh?
Pay no mind to those marginal hacks like storing natural peanut butter upside down so the oily part doesn’t separate. I am currently puzzling my way through a hack to dispense just the right amount of catsup to match each French fry in my pile and one to help me select the bag of Original Guy’s snack mix with the most cashews.
Set aside the tired hack of using a pool noodle or a dustpan to fill a bucket that won’t fit under the faucet. That’s old news. What we need right now is a hack for figuring out which grocery store line to get into to avoid a fellow shopper who needs a price check, or worse yet, is writing an actual check.
Forget dropping the kid’s Legos into a laundry bag and running the whole bag through the dishwasher to sanitize the toys. We need a hack like the one for solving the Rubik’s cube, but for dish placement inside the dishwasher, so that it automatically aligns and holds exactly what we have left in unwashed dishes for that night.
Think no more of using a staple remover to separate and spread apart the rings on a tight key ring to allow us to put on a new key. We need a hack that just helps us find the dang keys when we are in a hurry.
Once we follow a hack on social media, or reply to someone who has posted a video hack, we are inundated with hack ideas, most of which we don’t need. I don’t have to know how to save a pair of flip flops with a plastic bread bag tab, because I can buy a new pair of flip flops for less than a loaf of bread. Oh no! You are looking this one up, aren’t you?
I also don’t need a hack for measuring for nail holes when hanging pictures. I am just going to eyeball it and let my husband find a hack for filling the multiple inaccurate nail holes I made. He needs to be kept busy.
A hacker who shared that she removes “all” the blood from her family’s clothes by rubbing bar soap over the affected areas is truly experiencing much more significant trauma than I want to, if she has had to use her hack more than once. If this same lady had a hack that helped keep me from cutting my fingers into bloody stumps when chopping veggies--that doesn’t involve wearing five thimbles--I might be more interested.
I started to say I didn’t have much interest in a laundry hack I recently saw. The author used a dry erase marker to write a note about clothes in that load that should not be dried, right on the top of her washer, since the finish on the washer is like a white board; in hindsight, that one might actually have been helpful to have known when I shrunk the last pair of jeans I didn’t have to lay down on the bed to zip with an ill-timed wrinkle removing tumble.
After a great deal of thought, I determined I had to go all the way back to my college years to provide readers with perhaps one usable hack. It’s a little-known fact that the metal part on seat belts can be used as a bottle opener. Don’t ask, don’t tell is our path for how I know this hack, folks. In the immortal words of Hank Williams, Jr., let’s just say that a country boy—and this country girl--can survive.
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