Community & Current Events

Quick and easy fixes for life's little problems

By: Wendy Graves

Author: Canadian Living

Community & Current Events

Quick and easy fixes for life's little problems

By: Wendy Graves
This story was originally titled "Quick Fixes" in the April 2011 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

Life never fails to throw us a curve ball when we least expect it. For those moments of alarm-sounding anxiety, here are a few of our top tips for handling the situation:

• Panicking over how you're going to finance your newborn's post-secondary education?

Start by saving a loonie a day. Assuming a future rate of return of 7.5 per cent, in 20 years you'll have saved $15,806. Double that to $2 a day, and you're looking at about $31,612.

The real estate agent is coming with a potential buyer for your home.
Straighten out the family photos hanging on the wall by affixing 1/2-inch diameter stick-on vinyl bumpers to the bottom corners of the back of each frame. "The soft, antiskid rubber keeps the frame from sliding out of position," says Karen Kirk, Canadian Living's senior decor editor.

"While renovating the kitchen, I scuffed my linoleum floor. Is there any easy way to cover this up?"
Your floor will look like new in no time with either of these easy fixes,
says Kirk. Simply rub the mark with a small amount of white (non-gel) toothpaste and a dry cloth. Alternatively, spray some WD-40 on a towel and rub the scuffed area lightly. (Clean with liquid dishwashing soap and warm water to remove any greasy residue.)

• Don't get stuck in the cold.
If your car battery goes dead, try one of these remedies straight from your medicine cabinet: either drop two acetylsalicylic acid pills (such as Aspirin) into the battery, or dissolve about 2 tbsp of Epsom salts in warm water and add to the battery cells.

• Nut too big for the wrench?

According to Five Minute Fixes (Reader's Digest, 2005), you'll need a wedge (and they don't mean a shoe). Simply place a coin between the nut and the wrench to fill in the gap.

• If your door lock freezes, try one of these two solutions, also from Five Minute Fixes:
1. Spray some WD-40 into the lock to loosen it.
2. Heat your key with a lighter or match, then put the key in the lock to thaw it.

Page 1 of 5 - Learn more quick fix solutions on page 2.

More DIY solutions:

Not enough sleep last night?

To banish dark under-eye circles, layer a light-reflecting concealer over a corrector. This will cancel out the colour you're trying to hide, says Katherine Flemming, Canadian Living's associate fashion and beauty editor. "And always pat, don't rub, or the concealer will travel and cover the wrong area," she adds.

• To cure the hiccups:
Brew yourself a cup of mint or ginger tea – both are natural remedies for stomach spasms, says Penny Kendall-Reed, a doctor of naturopathic medicine in Toronto. Let it cool, then bend over so you're upside down and sip from the opposite side of the cup.

• "I'm making a presentation at work today, but I woke up with a scratchy, sore throat. What should I do?"
Try this soothing concoction: 1 tsp honey, 1/2 tsp crushed fresh ginger and 1/2 tsp lemon juice, mixed with warm water. "Honey coats the mucous membranes, ginger increases circulation and lymphatic flow to help clear away congestion, and lemon increases the ability of the honey and ginger to adhere to the membranes," says Kendall-Reed.

• No time to wash your hair after the gym?

Powdered dry shampoo will sop up oil and gives your strands a boost in less time than it takes to gargle with mouthwash, says Flemming.

• "My budding Picasso draws all over the kitchen. How do I get his crayon sketches off the walls before the party I'm throwing tonight?"
Luckily, the solvent is close at hand. Grab the box of baking soda from your fridge and sprinkle a little on a damp sponge. Gently rub over the masterpiece, then wipe with a dry cloth. If this doesn't completely do the trick, run to the bathroom and grab a tube of non-gel toothpaste. Put a dab on a dry cloth and wipe.

• If you've smudged a nail during a DIY manicure:
Add a drop of water to the nail and smooth gently with your fingertip. Reapply the colour and finish with a shiny topcoat.

Page 2 of 5 - Don't fret over spilled milk (or wine!). More quick fix tips are on page 3.

A few more magical fixes:

• To remove scratches from your glassware:
First wipe the surface with a soft cloth, says Kirk. Cover the scratch with a dab of non-gel toothpaste, gently scraping off any excess. Let the toothpaste dry, then wipe off with the cloth.

• There's no use crying over spilled wine.
To get red wine out of your carpet, first blot up as much as possible with a paper towel, then soak the stain with club soda or water. Repeat blotting and soaking until the only wine you see is in your glass.

• Stuck your foot in your mouth and inadvertently hurt your friend?
We asked Winnipeg-based Lew Bayer, Canada's civility expert, how to make amends. Here are her tips.
1. Say you're sorry in person. If this isn't possible, apologizing over the phone is second best (no voice mail, though). Emailing your apology should be a last resort. And timeliness matters. "When it comes to apologies, sooner is always best, but late is better than never," says Bayer.
2. Focus on the person to whom you're apologizing. For example, don't answer your cellphone mid-apology.
3. If your act has cost the other person time or money, offer appropriate reimbursement.
4. Say you're sorry – and mean it. "When we apologize, we should show that we accept responsibility for our actions, always acknowledge what happened and be accountable for our part," says Bayer.
5. Let the other person express her feelings, too. She may not be ready to move on or may wish to vent a little.

• Has your dog returned from his walk smelling like something that, well, the cat dragged in?
To freshen him up, just add a little vinegar to his bathwater.

• You've hair-sprayed your hair into a fabulous style. Now, how do you get the hairspray off your glasses?
1. Combine equal amounts cold water and rubbing alcohol.
2. Wipe your glasses with a cotton ball dunked in the mixture.
3. Rinse glasses with cold water.

Page 3 of 5 - Spruce up your day look and more with our tips on page 4.

How to deal with a few more surprises:

• Remove a splinter with duct tape.

"If the splinter is not too deep, it should pull out easily," writes Reena Nerbas in Household Solutions 2 (Centax, 2007).

• "I completely forgot about the event we're all attending after work tonight. I won't have time to go home and change, so how can I spruce up my business attire on the fly?"
This happens to everyone once in a while. One simple solution: Keep a black, metallic or sparkly clutch in your desk (or borrow one from a colleague), says Flemming. This will instantly dress up any ensemble. Also, applying a colourful lipstick – think red or deep berry – will refresh your overall look.

• You're hitting the road with your family for a few days and your house-sitter just cancelled. Now what?
Don't worry about your houseplants going thirsty while you're playing tourist. Try this ingenious idea from More Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things (Reader's Digest, 2009): Slice the bottom off a two-litre plastic bottle and stuff the top with paper towels. Stick the neck into the soil of the potted plant, then fill the bottle with water. Your plants will get a slow, steady watering as the water makes its way through the paper towels.

• Yikes! The movers are coming, and you've run out of packing bubbles.
Quick, grab the popcorn, which works just as well for mailing out fragile packages – and it's much more environmentally friendly.

• "My husband just called to say he's bringing four out-of-town colleagues home for dinner. What's something I can whip up to feed four extra mouths?"

"I look to classic pantry-inspired recipes when stuck with an impromptu dinner party," says Annabelle Waugh, food director of The Canadian Living Test Kitchen. "You can make spaghetti alla puttanesca in minutes, entirely from pantry staples. I always keep my cupboards stocked with flavourful add-ins such as capers, anchovies, tuna packed in olive oil, jarred pesto, olives, canned tomatoes and sundried tomatoes, so I can throw together a tasty pasta in minutes."

Page 4 of 5 - Out of baking soda? Discover quick ingredient substitutions from our Test Kitchen on page 5.

A few DIY solutions around the house:

• Your most recent foray into feng shui-ing your living room has left some unsightly indents in your carpet.
Remove those reminders of your less-balanced life by melting an ice cube into each imprint; once dry, fluff the area with your fingers.

• You're in the middle of making something for the bake sale at school when you realize you're missing an ingredient.
Go with these substitutions from The Canadian Living Test Kitchen.

If you don't have: 1 tsp baking powder
Use: 1/2 tsp cream of tartar plus 1/4 tsp baking soda

If you don't have: 1 tsp cream of tartar
Use: 1 tsp white vinegar (when beating egg whites)

If you don't have: 1 cup sifted cake-and-pastry flour
Use: 1 cup minus 2 tbsp unsifted all-purpose flour

If you don't have: 1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
Use: 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sifted cake-and-pastry flour

If you don't have: 1 cup self-rising flour
Use: 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 tsp baking powder and ¼ tsp salt

Page 5 of 5 - Learn a quick fix to scuffed floors plus what to do when your locks freeze on page 1.

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Community & Current Events

Quick and easy fixes for life's little problems