Fast Tip Friday: the Shampoo Hack

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In a perfect world, all shampoo and toiletry bottles would have wide, flat tops, like this one. And then when you are trying to get at the last drops you can simply invert the bottle and gravity does the rest of the work.

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But in the real world there are a bunch with round tops, or tops too narrow to support the weight when the bottle is turned upside down.

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So they fall over. And you can’t get to that last drop of shampoo-y goodness. And it’s very frustrating. I do have an elegant invention in my brain-meats involving silicone rings but today the solution is much more accessible for the moment.

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Grab yourself one of those mesh plastic bags you’ve saved from buying fruits or vegetables. I keep these suckers for all sorts of reasons. Cut off any bits that seal it closed so you have an open tube.

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And grab yourself some string. Or rope. Or chain. Or shoelace. You’ll need two pieces, and you’ll need one that you can tie up.

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Weave the piece you will be tying up through the holes in the mesh. If you want to avoid the rough edges, fold the mesh over before you start weaving.

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Slide your shampoo bottle into the mesh bag with the top of the bottle pushing through the hole. Tie the string so the mesh is tight against the bottle.

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Bunch the open end of the mesh bag grab your other piece of string or whatever and thread it through the mesh to hold it closed.

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Hang that from a hook in your shower, from the tap, or a suction cup you picked up from the dollar store.  It ain’t pretty, but it works. And you can fancy it up anyway you want. Now you have access to that very last drop!

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Humidifying – without a humidifier

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I don’t know what winter is like where you live (if, in fact, it IS winter where you live), but here in the Ottawa Valley winter is cold. Very cold. And very, very dry. It’s not uncommon to spontaneously bleed from the nose as you battle a searing headache and croak for more water through parched lips. And that’s not even an extreme case. In our house, the Pie’s sinuses dry up and cause him to snore. My asthma acts up, meaning I cough and wheeze all the time, and, because we have wall-to-wall carpeting, Gren has been avoiding us because we static shock him every time we pet him. It’s no fun.

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We have a humidifier in our bedroom, and it helps a whole bunch. We did our research and got the one that worked the best for the money we wanted to pay and we’re very happy with our choice (remember, kids: always do your research when buying an appliance). I also picked up a travel-sized humidifier for the various hotel rooms I seem to be finding myself in these days (and Winnipeg is even colder and dryer than Ottawa, and I’m in it as we speak).

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But sometimes you don’t want to buy a humidifier. Sometimes you can’t afford one (the ones that won’t give you Legionnaires’ Disease or fester with black mould tend to run a bit expensive). Sometimes your dormitory has ruled them out (usually for mould reasons). Or maybe you just need to give a bit of extra oomph to the humidifier you have. Here are seven quick-and-dirty tips to help you humidify your home the old-fashioned way.

1. Shower with the door open.

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Yeah, so this won’t work if you have roommates or small children or larger children or children at all. But if you don’t, skip turning on the exhaust fan and get things all good and steamy.

2. Get more house plants.

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So plants, when they’re done with all the nutrients and stuff in the water they suck up through their roots, basically sweat out water vapour through their leaves. It’s called transpiration. And sweaty plants make for a more humid environment.

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3. Skip the dryer.

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When you’re doing laundry, hang your clothes to dry inside the house in a warm spot. As the clothes dry the water on them will evaporate into the air in your house, making it more moist. MOIST. Plus you save on energy costs.

4. Spritzy-spritzy.

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Grab a spray bottle of water and gently – GENTLY – spritz your curtains with a little bit of water. You don’t want them soaked or anything, but a little misting on them will produce the same effect as wet laundry – without putting your skivvies in the middle of the living room.

5. Set out bowls.

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Place shallow dishes of water on sunny windowsills or on top of heating vents and the water will evaporate as it warms. Make them pretty crystal vases and you’ll add to the decor of your home. Add a floating bloom or some pretty pebbles. Granted, if you have small children or pets, leaving a bowl of water on the floor in your kitchen is asking for trouble, so be warned.

6. Wet a towel.

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Run a small dish towel under your tap and then wring it out thoroughly. Lay it over a heating vent (make sure the fabric isn’t so thick that it blocks the warm air completely) and let the heat percolate through and humidify the air as the towel dries. Again, probably not a good idea with small children. This is why we can’t have nice things.

7. Cook!

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When in doubt, cook. Whip up a batch of chilli or soup, anything on the stovetop that will get hot and steamy. I like to make a giant pot of tea, and when the kettle whistles and I’ve poured my pot and turned off the burner, I put the kettle back on the cooling element to let it steam itself out.

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You could also try a “simmer,” which is super trendy right now. Set a saucepan full of water on your stove and heat it to a low simmer. Toss in some whole spices: bay leaves, cardamom pods, star anise, cinnamon, and allspice; or rosemary, citrus zest, and lavender – or some combination thereof – and let that sit there simmering and scenting your house while it steams it up. Just keep an eye on the pot and add more water occasionally so it doesn’t all boil away.

Packing Tips: Last Out, First In and the Bits and Bobs Box

Last Out First In 1 I have one last packing tip for you (and thanks to everyone who has contributed their own packing dos and don’ts). You already know when packing that you need to pack up the stuff you rarely use first, and as you get closer to moving day, you start packing up the more often-used items.  But what about the things you’re going to use on moving day?  For this, you need a Last Out, First In box.  This is the stuff that you need in order to actually unpack and move into your new home.  It’s the last box that leaves your old house and goes into the truck last because it’s the first box that enters your new home. A typical Last Out, First In box will probably include some of the following:

  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Toilet Paper & Hand Towels
  • Tools (Hammer, Screwdrivers, Allen Keys)
  • Box Cutter (more than one would be useful)
  • Documentation (Rental Agreement, Proof of Insurance, etc.)
  • Shower Curtain (there is never a shower curtain when you move into a new apartment, or the one that is there has seen better days)
  • Bedding (gotta sleep somewhere that first night)

And most importantly, your Last Out, First In box will include all the little pieces you carefully saved when you dismantled all your furniture before you moved: the casters from chairs, picture hooks, screws from your table … all those pieces.  I put all these things in separately labeled baggies in my Bits & Bobs Box.  I have done this for three moves now and it’s the smartest thing I have ever done.  Many people will just tape the screws or nuts and bolts or whatever to the actual furniture from which it came, but the number of times I’ve seen those come off and get messed around on the floor of the truck is just sad. So if you put them all in the same box, into your most important box, then you will know where they all are at any time. As I take apart my shelving and my tables and desks and whatnot, I put all the little pieces that hold them together in a baggie, label it, and shove it in this box. Last Out First In 2 If I grab little random pieces from around the house and don’t have a second to sort them properly, they go into this box-within-the-box so that I can sort them later and not worry about them getting lost in the interim. Last Out First In 3