Her Hacks: Life hacks to get your mind off the pandemic


PHOTO CREDIT: Dragan Trifunovic

Seven months into a world seen through the lens of COVID-19, you might be expecting a few pages of hacks to keep the kids on task for learning at home or even some tips on keeping active physically and mentally during trying times.

But let’s be honest. After seven months, we’re swimming in life hacks for every one of our particular situations. We are, as much as we want or need to, becoming experts at pandemic living.

And for Her Hacks grand return to the hallowed pages of magazine-dom, you deserve something a little different.

Life hacks are more than just ways to live your life a little more comfortably. They’re also about that certain type of entertainment where you see something framed in a new way and get a tiny rush of endorphins as the words, “Wow, that’s neat,” spontaneously are spoken aloud.

These are those hacks.

The pasta lighter

While you might be imagining a really cool Bic made entirely out of elbow pasta — and to be honest the Her Hacks team is still working on that one — what we’re talking about is a cost-effective alternative to buying a bunch of wooden lighting sticks.

After all, after March 2020, everyone’s house should be absolutely brimming with two things: Toilet paper and pasta (or rice, but you’re out of luck with the rice).

What you might not realize if you’ve never set your stove on fire while trying to make angel hair pasta and pesto is that pasta burns pretty well considering it’s not purposefully built for such purposes.

It’s a great way to light candles that have burned down a bit and, hey, fire-y pasta.

And as always, handle flames with care.

Highlighters beware

Have you ever picked up a second-hand copy of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” only to find out that a previous owner had highlighted all their favorite sections featuring Cedric Diggory? So annoying.

But do not despair (or buy another copy).

Did you know that lemon juice is capable of fading highlighter marks? And depending on how long they’ve been on the paper, it can sometimes fade them practically to nonexistence.

Plus, there’s the added benefit of making your roommates wonder why you’re sitting in front of book with a sliced lemon and a Q-tip.

Bring dead Sharpies back to life

There’s nothing sadder than a Sharpie marker that has marked its last.

If you’ve got a few minutes to spare — and who doesn’t right now — it might be worth trying to revive that Sharpie like a triumphant ER doctor in a soap opera.

It can be surprisingly simple because it’s not the pigment in the marker that dries up but the medium that carries it.

Crack that marker open, poor just a bit of isopropyl alcohol in there, give it a shake and it should be back to marking. If it doesn’t work, give it another drink of the isopropyl — even markers deserve happy hour.

Easy, no-cost fire starters

Here’s a fun one that’s a very common hack among the Her Hacks team.

Starting fires, perhaps thankfully, can be hard. If you’re camping or trying to get the ol’ fireplace roiling with the sweet dance of flames, no one likes taking 45 minutes just to end up with a smoldering twig.

But with a little bit of preparation, you can have a good supply of cheap fire starters on hand whenever you need them.

The first ingredient? The humble cardboard tube. Every time a roll of household paper product runs out, instead of recycling that little tube, put it in a convenient spot next to the dryer. Then, when you’re changing laundry loads and cleaning the lint trap, don’t throw out that sweet, sweet lint. Instead, ball it up and stuff it in the nearest cardboard tube.

Once you’ve got a few stuffed, they make great, slow burning fire starters that often have a nice whiff of spring breeze dryer sheets.

Wonderful walnuts

Walnuts: They’re nut just for snacking anymore.

If you’ve got any wood furniture that’s got a few too many scratches for your taste, here’s a simple solution. Instead of picking up something at the store, take a walnut, and buff the scratches. Once the oil from the nut has worked its way into the scratches, use your finger to buff it down and follow it up with a soft cloth.

Voila! Wood sans scratch.

Speaking of wood …

Another unsightly problem that wood can suffer from is dents in its surface.

Getting rid of those miniature craters might seem impossible without some lengthy sanding, but fear not. We’ve got a quicker method.

Start with a washcloth and soak it in water. Give it a good squeeze so that it’s still wet but not dripping. Put the cloth on your dented wood. Next, take a clothes iron on its highest setting, and make some small circles on the cloth while it’s still sitting on the dent. Keep it up, and keep up the pressure, and continue until the cloth is dry.

Mmmmmm, hazelnut

It’s not just for coffee creamer anymore.

For everyone who has experienced the benefits of Nutella, I need speak no further.

But if you haven’t tried this Italian-born wonder condiment, pick up a jar the next time you’re at the grocery store. You’re welcome.

And if you’re anything like the Her Hacks team, you’ll inevitably get to the point where you’re desperately scraping the bottom of the jar at 3 a.m. hoping not to wake the dog with your panicked spooning.

Avoiding such a situation is easy, though. Just dollop some ice cream in that Nutella jar and finish it all off in style.

Vacuuming like a metal detector

There are few things worse than dropping tiny objects into the dense forest that is the 1970s-style shag carpeting in your living room.

Great for cold feet on an Iowa morning, but heck on contacts and small pieces of jewelry.

We’ve got a great way around spending hours on your hands and knees plucking through polyester-blend tendrils and avoiding the occasional long lost Lego.

Instead, take some nylons and securely fasten them over the end of a vacuum cleaner hose with a rubber band. Now you’ve got the perfect pick-’em-up tool. Just make sure to catch that little lost artifact when you cut the suction.

Sources: www.familyhandyman.com, www.lifehack.org.

Anthony Frenzel writes for the Telegraph Herald.

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