ABC Post 16: Nine Life Hacks I Made Up (That Actually Work!)

I’ve always secretly wanted to work as a life-hack inventor.

Surely you’ve seen those weird videos that pop up on Instagram or whatever. They promise to give you amazing life hacks to, say, repurpose old jeans. Next thing you know you’re watching someone turn jeans into bizarre unflattering bedroom slippers, sequined chaps, or ugly chairs, using nothing but a stapler and a hot glue gun.

Yeah. I don’t know who comes up with those things, but I bet I’d be great at it.

I love innovation, and I invent my own life hacks all the time.

Some of them horrify Jenny, such as when I put a sock on my reusable mug because it was too hot to comfortably hold.

Some of them cause Jenny to accuse me of trying too hard to be “not like other girls,” such as when I packed for a trip in my serger carrying case.

“You have a suitcase!” she said.

“Yes, but this is just the right size!” I countered.

However, other life hacks have proved so useful that Jenny, too, has started using them.

So here are nine life hacks I invented. It’s not a comprehensive list…just the first nine things I thought of this evening when I decided to post on this subject.

1. Use rubber kitchen gloves to open jars

I know it’s a stereotype that women can’t open pickle jars, but in my case it’s very much true. My week little wrists start painfully tingling when I exert effort on jar lids.

Once I read that you should wrap a rubber band around the jar lid, and that helped somewhat. But recently I discovered that if you pop on a pair of rubber kitchen gloves, you can open any jar, no matter how horrifically tight the lid, with ease.

(If you don’t already own a pair of rubber kitchen gloves, you should buy one. In my opinion they make cleaning and doing dishes much less dreadful. And they only cost like, four bucks.)

2. Wear a pen in your hair so that you always have a pen

I’ve been putting my hair up with a hair stick or pen for my entire adult life. Usually I go with the hair stick because it seems…I don’t know…classier I guess.

But I go through pen phases too. And there’s something extremely handy about always having a pen on hand.

Not on hand, I guess. On hair.

3. In a pinch you can use hand sanitizer instead of deodorant

One day it occurred to me:

Hand sanitizer kills 99.9% of bacteria, right? And armpit stink is caused by bacteria. So couldn’t you use hand sanitizer instead of deodorant?

I tried it, and it’s surprisingly effective. I still use deodorant, but if I ever forget, or if my deodorant ever fails me, I grab some hand sanitizer, rub it in my armpits, and it solves the problem.

I’ve also discovered that if you rub it on your clothing it kills most of the stink there too.

Now, time for an obligatory embarrassing story:

Once I was doing some last-minute Christmas shopping at Ross, and as I walked into the store, I realized I stank.

I mean, stinking in Ross isn’t the worst thing ever I guess. But I was heading somewhere afterwards and I didn’t want to stink there.

I looked around for some hand sanitizer. Sometimes they have them, you know, on walls near doorways. (Especially now in covid/post covid times, but this incident happened pre-covid.)

Finally, after a lot of searching, I saw it. A large bottle of hand sanitizer…at the checkout counter. On the inside of the checkout counter. Presumably for the cashier to sanitize her hands after handling lots of germy cash.

I would have politely asked for a squirt, but no one was at the checkout counter. So I casually reached over the counter and took a squirt for myself.

Now my hands were full of sanitizer that was quickly evaporating and leaking through my fingers. I booked it for the bathroom.

There was an employee at the bathroom door. I don’t remember if she was cleaning it or why she was there. In any case, I couldn’t open the door because my hands were full of dripping sanitizer, but she quickly opened it for me and I rushed in.

After I’d administered the sanitizer, I exited, and the employee was still there.

“Feel better?” she asked.

I didn’t know how to explain that my frantic rush was about hand sanitizer and armpit stink. So I didn’t.

“Yes,” I said.

4. Use sticky tack to cover annoying electronic lights

I can hardly stand to sleep in a room with bright little electronic lights.

You know, like the ones on your computer, router, etc. Bonus points if they blink. Horrifying. Who can sleep?

I used to throw clothes over the lights, but one night it was hot and the only fan I could find had lights on it. You can’t just throw your clothes over a fan. Not if you want it to fan you. So I had to get innovative.

That’s when I tried sticky tack. One little blob on the light, and it blacked it right out.

5. Use sticky tack to keep your plugs in place

For some reason, the outlets in my apartment are really loose. I mean, like, the holes must be bigger than usual because the plugs slip right out of them.

Sticky tack to the rescue! A few dabs on the plug and it sticks firmly in place.

6. Use a clothespin to make your teapot infuser fit your mug

Loose-leaf tea is tastier than tea-bag tea, but most people stick to tea bags because it’s so much easier.

However, instead of messing with fiddly infusers like this:

I’ve begun to just take the infuser that came with my teapot, stick a clothespin on it so it doesn’t fall to the bottom of my mug, and pour in the tea and hot water.

Loose leaf, now, is still a bit more complicated than teabags but not much. One spoonful of tea goes into the infuser, I pour the hot water in, I wait five minutes, and I pull the infuser out by the clothespin. Then I dump the leaves into the trash or compost.

7. Carry a mug and tea bags with you

It’s usually quite easy to find free hot water. Many places have hot water dispensers, or at least a microwave in some back corner. Coffee shops, at least ones in the USA, will give you free hot water (although if they’re busy I recommend giving a tip).

This way you can have a free comforting hot drink wherever you go.

If you don’t like tea, you can do a similar thing with 3-in-one coffee packets.

Similarly, I recommend taking instant noodles with you on airplane trips, nabbing some hot water from a coffee shop, and enjoying a virtually free hot meal on your layover.

8. Get the noisiest kid to calm the other kids down

I discovered this hack by accident years and years ago, and it’s surprisingly effective.

If you’re ever in a situation where you’re surrounded by a bunch of rowdy children who need to calm down, instead of yelling, try this:

Pinpoint the rowdiest ringleader of the bunch. Tap that kid on the shoulder. “Hey Billy. It’s time to line up to go inside, but the other children aren’t paying attention. Can you help me get them to line up?”

Suddenly Billy is putting his leadership skills to good use. The kids are calmly lined up in no time.

9. Use a piggy cell phone grip to solve your drainage problems

While composing this post this evening, I asked Jenny for help. “Can you think of any life hacks I’ve invented?”

“You mean good life hacks or funny ridiculous life hacks?” she asked.


“Well,” she laughed. “There was the time you used the phone piggy thing to unplug the drain.”

Okay, so.

One Christmas, Mom gave us all these “piggy cell phone grips.” They were supposed to prop your phone up, but I never used mine because I had a pop socket that did the same job. So I stuck the piggy cell phone grip in a drawer.

Then, later that year, our bathroom sick drain was having issues. You know this kind of drain plug, right? You’re supposed to be able to raise and lower it with a knob behind the faucet?

Well, the raising-and-lowering capability quit working. If you set it just so in the sink, it would drain fine. But if it fell down in, it was almost impossible to get it back out.

One day I had a brilliant idea: The piggy grip!

I suctioned it to the drain plug, and it worked perfectly. Now, if the plug fell in, you could grab the soft rubber pig body and pull it up again.

Now: doesn’t that seem like the sort of thing that ought to be featured in a ridiculous life hack video?

If you know of any life-hack-video-producers, put in a good word for me, please!

Speaking of life hacks, Phoebe posted on Wednesday about one of her must-have camper life hacks: quakehold museum putty.

Or, if you’re tired of reading about life hacks, you can head over to Mom’s blog to read yesterday’s post about MLMs, moms, and product pressure. She will post again on Monday.

Have you invented any fun life hacks? Let me know in the comments!


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11 responses to “ABC Post 16: Nine Life Hacks I Made Up (That Actually Work!)

  1. If you ever get the goat chariot, I’ll ride with you. Epic picture. 😁👌

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have my own recent Ross story! I bought a bottle of hand soap that I could not get the pump to work. I probably wouldn’t have bothered returning a $4. bottle of soap but I also had a pair of pants that didn’t fit my husband. So I returned them both. Since my bathroom was still out of soap I determined to get another but try the pump 1st. I didn’t even need to twist the pump to get it started on the one I wanted. Some previous person had already tried it. I gave a generous pump, nothing wrong with this one! Now what?! A hand full of soap and I couldn’t find any tissue in my purse. I figured wiping it on on a nearby shirt wasn’t exactly proper so I headed to the rest room. I very much could relate to your predicament!


  3. I love these! I’m going to have to try the rubber glove hack–I have tiny wrists and have so much trouble opening up jars sometimes too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Not on hand, I guess. On hair.” this phrase gave me a good laugh! Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am totally going to use the clothespin hack!

    My name is Deborah, and I discovered both you and your mom’s writing a couple months ago. Fun fact- I live in Virginia! Near Roanoke. And my family … wait for it… lives in Dallas, Oregon.
    Needless to say, as I’ve read your blogs, it’s been on my mind to comment. I love your writing and your honesty.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like to pre-cook and freeze some basic food items to speed up meal prep: chicken, hamburger, beans, and rice. This was especially helpful when I had a day job.

    I usually cook chicken in the crock-pot, starting with salted hot water in which to cook the chicken (salt on the chicken seems to wash off). I generally use plenty of water so I get broth. I don’t usually time it, but hang around and leave it in several hours. Once I can smell it, it’s likely finished. Drain it (this step is important), debone it, and then cool in the fridge (I like sauted chicken skin so well that I usually fry the crock-potted skin later and eat it separately). To freeze, I spread it out in a glass cake pan, cover it, and freeze it. Take out of the freezer and uncover it, to thaw it just enough to put into freezer bags. If properly drained this step should not take long. Whenever you need some chicken, grab just what you need for that meal.

    For hamburger, season it and then stir it occasionally to get the chunks out. Drain, cool, spread out, freeze, then package.

    For dry beans, I generally cook them stove-top with garlic and or a ham hock. You could also do them in a crock pot, however you like to cook beans. Though there are mixed opinions on this, I wait to salt them till they are cooked. Drain, cool, spread out, freeze and package.

    Rice is a little trickier, but it’s basically the same: cook, drain, cool, spread out, freeze, and package it. My brother taught me that it’s better to saute left-over rice than to cook it.

    Draining after cooking is probably the most important step to make it possible to pull out just one serving.


  7. I have a new sewing machine, and the wheel to lift the needle by hand– what’s it called? — is made of hard, smooth plastic. I realized it was taking more effort than seemed reasonable to turn it, and improved the situation by putting a wide rubber band around it. Now it has more grip and is less fatiguing to use.
    I solved some mother-daughter conflict with those plastic tags that close a bread bag or a sack of potatoes. My daughter received some hand-me-downs, and I had opinions about which dresses were suitable for home, school, or church, but she didn’t necessarily know them (i.e., my opinions), and she didn’t like being asked to change. I wrote H, S, and C on the tags with a Sharpie, and clipped them onto the hangers.
    We keep a fingernail clipper stuck to a magnet on the fridge. There are some safety pins there too.
    Which brings me to one of my best tips: PIN SOCKS TOGETHER! This I learned about and resisted doing for quite awhile before I actually started doing it, but it works and really saves time. Use a safety pin–I like about a 2″ size best– to pin both socks of a pair together when you take them off. Throw them into the wash this way, and you never have to match socks again. Pull one out of the basket, and you’ve got them both. I keep a pretty little dish with pins in our room, and my husband pins his too. (The children do or don’t; they’re old enough to deal with their own socks. I would do this for little children)
    If you need to keep track of the age of things in the fridge, I recommend using a list pad. Keep a pen nearby and write the abbreviated date and item. E.g.,
    Sa23 veggie soup
    Su24 meatballs
    M25 rice
    Tu26 garbanzo beans
    Cross off what gets used. I did this in the days before I had teenagers and could actually keep leftovers. Another idea is to use a wet-erase marker and write on the container or lid. (Some plastics might be stained by this)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I know I’m supremely late to comment on this post, but I just had to say that the ‘hand sanitizer’ tip has improved my life in wonderful ways! Ha.
    Class trip with my students on a hot summer day… this works wonders. Lightbulb moment… sanitizer kills the bacteria! So when a reapplication of deodorant really isn’t helpful… sanitizer to the rescue! I’m going to carry it on daytrips, I do believe.
    Thanks for this one!!

    Liked by 1 person

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