25 Brilliant Life Hacks You Need to Try

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These life hacks will help you clean, cook, organize, and just live more efficiently.

1. USE A BOWL AS A MAKESHIFT IPHONE SPEAKER.

Woman with a hand to her ear to listen.
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Pump up the volume at any impromptu party by putting your smartphone in a bowl: The concave shape will amplify the music from its speaker.

2. ADD A LAZY SUSAN TO YOUR FRIDGE.

Woman pulling food out of a fridge.
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Sick of having to take five Tupperware containers out of your fridge in order to reach something behind them? Put a Lazy Susan on each shelf. Next time, all you have to do is spin to access food way in the back.

3. PROGRAM FREQUENTLY USED WORDS TO AUTO-FILL ON YOUR PHONE.

typing on smartphone
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It can be very frustrating to type on your smartphone's tiny keyboard rather than the roomy layout of a computer keyboard. Save time on words you use often by creating custom text replacement shortcuts. For instance, if you type your full name out a lot to fill out forms, set up your initials to autocorrect to your name. Try it for usernames, email addresses, addresses, or simple phrases like "Leaving now" or "Be there soon."

4. TAKE SCRATCHES OUT OF YOUR CDS AND DVDS USING A BANANA.

Close-up of CD with scratches.
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To de-scratch a CD, peel a banana and rub the fruit on the disc in a circular motion. Use the underside of the peel to rub the banana in deeper before wiping away the residue with a lint-free cloth. Lastly, give the disc a spritz of Windex and remove smudges with a new cloth.

5. COOL A WARM SODA IN THREE MINUTES.

Soda cans on ice.
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Say you went to the fridge for a LaCroix, only to discover that no one restocked the shelf. The cans in the pantry aren't cold, and putting one in the fridge now will take forever to cool. To have an ice cold can in just a few minutes, put your drink in a large pot and cover it with ice. Fill the pot with water, add a couple cups of salt, and stir until the salt is dissolved. Your canned beverage will magically be cold. (Alternative: Unless you need the portability of the aluminum can, keep it simple with a cup of ice.)

6. USE A HAIR DRYER TO GET RID OF WATER RINGS.

Rings of water on wooden table.
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So, you forgot to use a coaster once (or many times) and now your nice coffee table is covered in white water rings from the bottom of your glass. Luckily, you can banish them them with a hair dryer. Blast the stains with a low heat setting until they start to disappear. When they're gone, rub a little bit of olive oil on the spot to recondition the wood.

7. USE A MESH BAG TO HOLD SMALL ITEMS IN THE DISHWASHER.

White mesh laundry bag
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When you need to put small things in the dishwasher, like corn-on-the-cob holders, put them in a mesh laundry bag (the kind you use for delicates). That way, nothing will fall through the grates. Try it for tiny Tupperware, measuring spoons, and the caps to reusable bottles.

8. BOIL SALT WATER TO GET RID OF BURN MARKS.

hand scrubbing a pan
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The good news: You cooked yourself a lavish meal. The bad news: Now there are burn marks on your pan. Instead of resigning yourself to ages of hard scrubbing, follow this tip from Martha Stewart. Fill the pot or pan with cold water and two to three tablespoons of salt and let it sit overnight. The next day, bring the water to a boil, pour it out, and do a final wash with soap.

9. EXERCISE BETWEEN 5 P.M. AND 6 P.M.

excercise class
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During this period, your physical performance is at its peak, your risk of injury is at its lowest, and your muscle strength, lungs, and hand-eye coordination are all at their best and most efficient, which puts you in peak workout mode. Plus, if you work out at roughly the same time every day, you'll create a ritual that'll be harder to break when you're feeling less motivated.

10. COLOR CODE YOUR KEYS.

keys with colorful plastic caps on table
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If you have trouble remembering which key is which, color code them to solve the problem once and for all. You don't need any fancy supplies: Just use nail polish. Simply dab a dot of color on the head of the key. Avoid painting any part of the key that makes contact with the lock; you don't want nail polish rubbing off inside of your locks. If you have trouble telling keys apart in the dark, try a glow-in-the-dark paint.

11. DE-SCRATCH FURNITURE WITH A WALNUT.

bowl of walnuts on wood table
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Erase dings and scrapes in wood furniture by rubbing a walnut over the problem area: The oil from the nut will make those scrapes disappear.

12. CUT CLEAN SLICES OF CAKE WITH DENTAL FLOSS.

Slices of a rainbow layer cake.
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To avoid smeared frosting and clumps of cake breaking off, use a long string of unflavored dental floss to cut through a cake. This also works with soft cheeses!

13. HULL STRAWBERRIES WITH A STRAW.

strawberries
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You don't need a strawberry huller: Take the stems off strawberries cleanly by driving a straw right through from bottom to top.

14. HANG WRINKLED CLOTHES IN THE BATHROOM WHILE YOU SHOWER.

Wrinkled shirt hanging up.
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In a pinch, like when you're traveling, you can spruce up wrinkled clothes by hanging them in the bathroom while you shower. When the room gets steamy, the heat and moisture will help un-wrinkle your duds for you, but you will want to smooth the clothes out by hand afterward.

15. BURN CRAYONS IF YOU'RE OUT OF CANDLES.

Lots of crayons.
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If the power goes out and you can't find your emergency candles, grab a box of crayons. Carefully set one upright in a small glass, and use a lighter the same way you would on a regular candle. The crayon should burn for up to 30 minutes.

16. STORE SHEET SETS INSIDE THE PILLOWCASES.

white sheets on clothesline
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No more hunting in your linen closet for the right sheets: Organize each matching sheet set by folding everything and storing it inside one of the pillowcases.

17. WAX YOUR STOVETOP TO MAKE FUTURE CLEANING A BREEZE.

kitchen with stove
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After you've given your stovetop a thorough cleaning, apply a thin layer of car wax and then buff it off with a clean towel. Now, wiping off future spills and blobs of food will be painless, plus your stove will look shiny and new.

18. USE A CLOTHESPIN TO HOLD A NAIL WHILE HAMMERING.

clothespin holding nail
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Once you use a clothespin to hold a nail while hammering, you'll wonder why you ever risked hitting your fingers before.

19. CHILL WINE WITHOUT WATERING IT DOWN.

Glasses of chilled wine.
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Sometimes you need to chill your wine, and under no circumstances do you want melting ice cubes to water down your drink. For a sustainable solution, invest in some reusable plastic ice cubes. Unlike traditional cubes, plastic ones won't melt. These colorful ones from Kikkerland are filled with real water. Or, try these stainless steel wine pearls from Uncommon Goods, which are filled with food-grade freeze gel.

20. USE THE BLENDER TO CLEAN A BLENDER.

A clean blender.
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Don't risk slicing your fingers by cleaning a blender with a sponge—pour in soap and water, turn it on, and rinse it out. Voila!

21. USE THIS TRICK TO TELL IF YOUR EGGS HAVE GONE BAD.

eggs in a carton
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Determine if an egg has gone bad by placing it in a bowl of cool water. If it sinks onto its side, it's perfectly fine. If it sinks and stands on its smaller end, it's still edible, but won't be for very much longer. And if it floats, it's bad. How does this work? Fresher eggs have less air under their shells, which is why they sink to the bottom.

22. USE DRYER SHEETS AND A FAN AS A MAKESHIFT AIR FRESHENER.

Close-up of a yellow fan.
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Create a makeshift air freshener by turning on a fan and taping a dryer sheet or two on the back. They'll stick on and work efficiently to eliminate odors.

23. KEEP YOUR GARBAGE BAG IN PLACE WITH ADHESIVE HOOKS.

Trash can with a bag.
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If your garbage bag is always slipping into the bin, secure it with this hack. You'll need two sticky wall hooks and a drawstring garbage bag. Attach one hook upside down on the outside of either side of the trash can and hook the trash bag's drawstrings on.

24. USE 'AAA' BATTERIES IF YOU RUN OUT OF 'AA' ONES.

Assorted batteries on an orange background.
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Can't find any more AA batteries in the drawer? When you need to replace the batteries in the remote without trekking to the store, stick a AAA battery in there. Then, roll a small ball of aluminum foil to plug the gap on the negative end of the battery.

25. TOUCH UP WRINKLED CLOTHES WITH A HAIR STRAIGHTENER.

A flat iron against a pastel background.
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While using a clothes iron to straighten hair is an old trick (which is apparently new again?), using a hair straightener on collars and that space between buttons also works.

The 8 Most Expensive Dog Breeds in the World

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iStock/ClarkandCompany

Big dogs, little dogs. Fuzzy, hairless. Tiny ears, floppy ears. Shelter dogs, fancy dogs. We love them all (especially shelter dogs). While Americans shell out an average of about $1675 per year on their dogs, purebred-loving pet parents are willing to pay more than five times that just to acquire the breed they've always dreamed of. Here are eight of the most expensive dog breeds in the world, according to The Dog Digest.

1. LÖWCHEN

Nancy, a 18-month-old Lowchen or Little Lion Dog bitch, poses for a photograph on the second day of Crufts Dog Show at the NEC Arena on March 10, 2017 in Birmingham, England.
Matt Cardy, Getty Images

​Löwchens are a petite, long-haired dog that have been a popular breed since the Renaissance, and are even featured prominently in paintings from that period. Nowadays, these "little lions" are extremely rare, pushing their cost to as much as $10,000 in some places around the world.

2. SAMOYED

A Samoyed sits in a flower-filled field
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This breed's name comes from the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia, who used these fluffy white dogs to herd reindeer and pull sleds for their nomadic groups. The competitive, strong dogs can cost from $8000 to $10,000.

3. TIBETAN MASTIFF

Beautiful Tibetan mastiff on the background of the winter landscape of nature
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The Tibetan Mastiff originated with the ancient nomadic cultures of China, Nepal, and Tibet. Tribes of Himachal Pradesh used this breed as a guard to protect sheep from predators, making them a very protective breed for any owner. The massive dogs can weigh up to 160 pounds and be as tall as 33 inches. The price for this breed is equally as massive, reaching up to $7000.

4. PHARAOH HOUND

Pharaoh hound with a leather collar lying down on a snow in winter
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The Pharaoh Hound is a Maltese breed whose native name, Kelb tal-Fenek, means "rabbit dog," because they were traditionally used for hunting rabbits. These dogs are highly intelligent as well as athletic. Some bloodlines of this breed can cost owners $6500. We hope the rabbits are worth it!

5. AKITA

Akita dog in grass
iStock/baiajaku

The Akita breed originated from the mountainous regions of northern Japan. An Akita can be categorized as either a Japanese or an American Akita, but all come with a short double-coat similar to that of a Siberian Husky. Certain breeds of the Akita can be priced as high as $4500.

6. AZAWAKH

Azawakh on a white background
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The West African Azawakh is one of the few breeds of African breeds that is available for purchase in the United States and Canada. This lively dog requires lots of physical activity and moves with a distinct feline gait. They can be identified by their almond eyes, thin bodies, and sandy color. These exotic pooches can be priced from $3000 and up.

7. PERUVIAN INCA ORCHID

Photo of a Peruvian hairless dog
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This pup is a hairless dog with origins in Peruvian pre-Inca cultures. As they're completely hairless with elephant grey skin, the dogs are quite unique in appearance. This breed is priced up to $3000.

8. SALUKI

Portrait of a Elegant Saluki Arabian Hound
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​The Saluki is the Royal Dog of Egypt, meaning it has been man's best friend since the pharaohs roamed the pyramids. Salukis are classed as a sighthound, with long legs and a deep chest. Being tall and lean, the males can weigh up to 60 pounds and measure up to 28 inches. Prices of these pups can reach up to $2500.

5 Ways You Can Help California's Wildfire Victims

Fire Captain Steve Millosovich carries a cage full of cats after a wildfire destroyed homes and land in Paradise, California.
Fire Captain Steve Millosovich carries a cage full of cats after a wildfire destroyed homes and land in Paradise, California.
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

The “Camp Fire” in Northern California’s Butte County has killed more than 40 people and destroyed more than 7100 homes since it started tearing through the region on November 8. Authorities are still investigating the cause, but it has already been labeled the deadliest wildfire in California’s history. At the same time, two other fires—Woolsey and Hill—have been wreaking damage in areas northwest of Los Angeles. Here are some ways you can help the victims.

1. DONATE MONEY

Making a financial contribution to a nonprofit that’s helping wildfire victims is usually the best way of ensuring your donation will be utilized, according to the Center for International Disaster Information. The flexibility of a monetary donation lets disaster responders decide what’s most needed at any given moment. Listed below are a few of the charities and companies accepting donations on behalf of victims, according to The New York Times.

American Red Cross

California Community Foundation’s Wildlife Relief Fund

California Fire Foundation

Enloe Medical Center

Google (Scroll down and click "Yes, Donate")

Humane Society of Ventura County

North Valley Community Foundation

Salvation Army

United Way of Greater Los Angeles

Before determining which charity to choose, it pays to visit Charity Navigator and do a little bit of research to determine which organizations are the most reputable, and how much of your donation will make it directly to the victims.

2. DONATE FOOD

If you’re based in California and want to contribute something other than money, you have a few options. But first, make sure you’re choosing an organization that has the time and resources to coordinate these donations. Los Angeles firefighters, for example, received way more goods (to the tune of 5000 pounds) than they could handle. However, you can still donate non-perishable food items to the Salvation Army Ventura Corps, which is assisting individuals affected by the Woolsey and Hill fires in Southern California. If you happen to see days-old requests for donated goods, just visit that organization's website or social media channels first to make sure they aren't at full capacity.

3. OPEN UP YOUR HOME

Airbnb is encouraging people in the Butte County region to open up their homes to wildfire victims while the figure out longer-term arrangements. From now through November 29, Airbnb users can advertise their homes as free, temporary shelters for aid workers and evacuees, The New York Times reports. Hosts have the chance to communicate with potential guests in advance, and hosts can also determine the length of stay. Hosts in Butte County are welcome to sign up (click here for more info), as well as those living in Ventura, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Diego counties (click here for info).

4. FOSTER OR ADOPT A PET

Just as humans are being displaced by California's wildfires, so too are their pets. Whether it's because they've been separated from their families or their pet parents are in a temporary living situation that does not allow for animals, hundreds of now-homeless pets are arriving at shelters around California every day. In order to make as much room as possible for more intakes, LA Animal Services posted an urgent call for fosters and adopters on its Facebook page. If you're not in the California area, donating money and supplies to these same shelters is also an option. SPCAla, for example, has set up an Amazon Wish List.

5. VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME AND EXPERTISE

Caring Choices, a nonprofit in Northern California, is currently accepting applications from volunteers with medical backgrounds or other skills—such as data entry, radio communications, or animal care—that are currently needed. (Manual skills, like being able to remove debris, are also listed on the volunteer application form.)

They’ve already received thousands of volunteer applications and aren’t able to sift through them all immediately, but they’re still urging volunteers in the region to apply. “This a marathon and not a sprint,” the organization wrote on its website. “We will need more volunteers in the coming weeks and months as we continue through the disaster response, relief, and recovery efforts.” To apply, fill out this application and email it to aavendano@caring-choices.org. You may also want to consider volunteering with the United Way or The American Red Cross.

Keep checking California Volunteers for additional volunteer opportunities.

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