Hacks are cool. No matter what category they fall under, they are simply fairly memorable tips that can help to make your life a whole lot easier. Well, in honor of hacks doing just that, today I thought we should look into some that can make the cleaning up and upkeep of your home a whole lot easier to do. Some of these household hacks, you may have heard of before. Still, something tells me that within these 15 tips, you will learn at least a couple of new things. Are you ready to say "whaaaaa?" a few times?
1. Paint Your Keys
These days, you can go to a local home improvement store and get a duplicate set of keys made in a design so that you can easily differentiate them. Still, if you are more of a DIY person, another option is to simply paint your keys; that way, you can easily tell the difference between what your house, office and car keys are. Some people even do it with nail polish. You can check out a video on how to do that here.
2. Warm Up Vanilla Beans in a Pot
I'll tell you what—something that can have the rooms of your house smelling absolutely unbelievable in under 10 minutes in a half cup of Fabuloso in three cups of water. Just put it into a pot and let it simmer on medium heat. On the other hand, if you're concerned that it could put some chemicals into the air, that's fair, I guess. An alternative is to replace the cleaner with some vanilla beans and/or cloves. Either way, both are a cool alternative to air fresheners (the scents typically last much longer too).
3. Place Straws into Your Vases
This particular hack has reminded me to get back into the habit of buying fresh flowers every Friday (I used to do it often). Anyway, I really dig this back because, while flowers can last for up to 12 days (if you take care of them correctly), around the time that they start wilting, now you don't have to toss them out. All you need to do is put some straws into your vase, all throughout the stems and they will serve as an "anchor" so that your flowers will be able to stand upright again. Pretty cool, right?
4. Apply a Paper Clip to Tape Rolls
Sometimes, it really is the little things, y'all. I don't know about you but something that drives me completely up the wall is trying to find where the end of a tape roll starts. One way to avoid the drama is to mark the end with a paper clip. It makes the end so much easier to find. Plus, now it won't take forever to pull the end of the tape up.
5. Secure Your Toothbrush with a Safety Pin
I keep my toothbrush in a cup, still this is kinda cool. If you're someone who'd prefer to keep your own brush off of your bathroom counter (because they tend to be on the germy side), all you need to do is put a safety pin around the "neck" of it. That way, the part of your toothbrush that you clean your teeth with will be suspended in the air and kept off of the counter.
6. Shave with Hair Conditioner
Instead of buying shaving cream for your legs and underarms, just pick up some cheap conditioner the next time that you're at the store. It works just as well as the commercial brands and it will save you a few coins. Also, if you want to extend the shelf life of your razors before tossing them out, soak them in a glass of olive or sweet almond oil. Make sure the razor part is what's in the oil. The oil will prevent rust from dulling your razors and it will moisturize your skin while you are shaving.
7. Clean Your Toilets with Mouthwash
Do your toilets need some extra cleaning? No worries. Instead of heading out to purchase some expensive toilet bowl cleaner, just pour a couple of capfuls of mouthwash in there and let it sit for 30 minutes before brushing. It will remove the grime and hard water stains pretty easily.
(By the way, mouthwash can cut the stink out of your garbage disposal if you pour a cupful down it as well. Mint is best.)
8. Polish Your Wood Furniture with Essential Oils
There's no need to purchase any furniture polish for your wooden pieces. Just put some olive oil into a bottle, add a few drops of lemon essential oil (and maybe another scent if you'd like) and the combo will work just as well. Plus, it'll be less harsh on your furniture which is definitely a bonus.
9. Use Ice Cubes to Remove Candle Wax
What should you do if candle wax drips onto your furniture? Well, what you should definitely avoid is trying to scrape the wax off because that could damage the finish that's on your tables and whatnot. Instead, put some ice cubes into a plastic bag and place the bag over the wax. It should harden the wax enough that it will be easy to pull it off with your hands without wrecking anything.
10. Sprinkle Some Splenda onto Your Carpets
This one is a trip. If you spill something on your carpet, you immediately sprinkle a lil' bit of Splenda on it and let it sit for 15 minutes, the Splenda should absorb most of the spill so that you can vacuum everything up without a stain being left behind.
11. Clean Pans with Alka-Seltzer
Is there anything more taxing than trying to clean up pots and pans that have "food gunk" all over them? Did you know that if you pour some hot water into them, add an Alka-Seltzer tablet, let the pots and pans sit for 20 minutes and whatever is stuck on should come right off? Try it. It just might amaze you.
12. Zap Your Sponges in the Microwave
Ain't nothin' worse than the smell of a nasty sponge. If you're someone who is quick to toss them, consider soaking them in some water and putting them in the microwave (on high) for a couple of minutes instead. Oftentimes, the issue isn't that it's time for the sponge to go; it just needs the odor-causing bacteria to be taken away from it. Your microwave is what can make that happen.
13. Scare Ants Off with Cinnamon Powder
Do you have a bit of an ant problem? Something that they hate—to the point where it kills them if they come into contact with it—is cinnamon powder. So, either sprinkle a little around their hangout spots or pour it onto them directly. It's a safer way to remove them without putting you or your pets at risk of the toxic fumes that come with standard insect sprays. Oh, and if spiders are your problem, they hate the smell of peppermint. Just for the record.
14. Freeze Your Pillowcases
Words can't express, just how much I hate going to bed when I feel hot. That's why I have a cooling mattress pad on mine, I make sure to turn my thermostat down (to around 67-68 degrees) and sometimes, I freeze my pillowcases. If you put your own cases in a big Ziploc bag and let them sit in your freezer for about 20-30 minutes, they'll be cool enough for you to fall asleep comfortably.
15. Squeegees Are Great for Pet Fur
Last one. It's been a while since I've had a pet. Yet something that used to be a pain was the pet fur that they left behind. A cool remedy? After vacuuming up as much as you can, simply run a Squeegee over the leftover hair. It should pick everything right on up. Then you can run the Squeegee underwater and use it again as usual on your mirrors 'n stuff. It's one of the best household hacks going, chile. Enjoy!
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
As I move through life and experience different highs and lows, one thing that has become increasingly clear is the importance of self-love and self-worth. Now, I’m not saying it’s always easy, but I do feel like if it’s in a good place, people experience life more fully. And when it comes to love, my friend Amanda Wicks and her husband, Will Ford, are the perfect example.
Amanda may not remember this, but years ago, on one of her many visits back to Atlanta (we both went to Clark Atlanta University), she sat across from me at a dinner table and declared she was done looking for love. She was happy with who she was, and while she still desired it, it was no longer something she was chasing. “If it happens, it happens,” she said. The statement was so bold it made me quickly reroute our usual dating story catch-ups and awkwardly move to a different topic.
Well, the next time we met up, she told me she had met someone and was moving to Houston to live with him. Imagine my surprise and concern. Later, I’d find out that this decision, like so many other elements of their relationship, flowed naturally and organically. Their whole partnership has been full of peace and vulnerability.
Fast forward to today’s conversation, they’re still living together, celebrating four years of marriage, and planning to create a family. And while this stage of their story sounds generally normal, the way they got there is nothing but. Check out the "How We Met" feature below to see how a couple who never spoke on the phone and lived in different states ended up in a loving marriage full of ease, art, and authenticity.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
Walk me through your ‘How We Met’ story.
Amanda: We met on Instagram (laughs). He followed me first, and I followed back because he does art, and I was intrigued by that. Honestly, we followed each other for a while before we connected. But I remember one day I saw a post where he had on a Martin t-shirt that I liked, and that sparked our conversation. He ended up telling me he made the shirt and actually mailed me one. So when I got it, I made a post wearing it, and that’s where the conversation started. Since that day we’ve communicated every day since.
Will: Yeah, I initially saw her on a short-hair Instagram page and followed her because I thought she was attractive. I actually showed her to my co-workers on one of our monthly outings as an example of my “type” – something I had never done. But one thing I will say is, I noticed she had on a Nina Simone shirt in one of her photos, that’s what got me. It showed she had more depth.
I guess that answers my next question. Did you have an initial attraction to each other?
Will: (Laughs) Yeah, I did.
Amanda: For me, no. I just wasn’t looking at him through that lens. I didn’t follow him because he was attractive. I don’t follow people online because of that. I actually remember a time when we were going back and forth, and I was like, “Aye, you kinda cute.” It was a specific moment. Once I started looking through his page more often, I started to view him that way, but it still was more of an acknowledgment. We really connected primarily because of our creative interests.
So, how did it go to the next level?
Amanda: I was in Nashville, and he was in Houston. But I’m somebody where if I feel like doing something, I’m going to do it. I had been meaning to go to Houston for a while to see a friend, so I felt like it was the perfect combination of a circumstance. We had been talking a lot, and I knew I liked him as a person and really wanted to meet him, but of course, I was aware of the idea that it could blossom into more. I remember I sent him a text saying, “Would you think I was crazy if I pulled up to Houston?”
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
What was your reply? Did you think she was crazy?
Will: In my mind, I was like, I don’t know. (Laughs) I wanted her to, though, so I wasn’t going to say yeah. It was a little wild, but I encouraged it.
Okay, so tell me about the date.
Amanda: I don’t know if you’d call it our first “date,” but the first time we met, we went to a skating rink. I was a little nervous about meeting him in person. Like, what if we don’t have chemistry – that was in the back of my head a little. But I brought my friend with me as a buffer, and thank God I did because he was so quiet the whole night. I literally can’t think of one thing he said the entire time. But the saving grace was that we had built a rapport. We reconnected the following night and were together until 5 a.m. – just sitting there talking. We ended up spending the whole weekend together.
Will: I’m socially awkward if I don’t know you. Also, before the date, I didn’t know what she sounded like or anything because, that’s another thing, we hadn’t talked on the phone. (They both really don’t like phone calls, so everything was through texts at this point.) I guess I could say I was kinda nervous, too. I had never met someone through social media, and then here I was, meeting her in person at a skating rink. I hadn’t skated in years, I was hoping I didn’t fall. But we had just been talking so much that I was open to it.
What made you want to take that risk?
Will: She has a level of authenticity that I’ve never seen in any other woman before, and once I saw her, it solidified that. I knew I wanted her around.
Amanda: I don’t think it was anything specific. It’s not hard for me to connect with people. But there were no red flags. We align across the board. That was different. We really connect on how we see the world.
"She has a level of authenticity that I’ve never seen in any other woman before, and once I saw her, it solidified that. I knew I wanted her around."
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
Out of curiosity, what are your love languages?
Amanda: I connect with all of them. I think it just depends on what I’ve been lacking. I appreciate words of affirmation because I’m so big on actions that I like those bold statements of love, and of course, I appreciate quality time. The older I get, the more I appreciate physical touch, but that’s not something I need. With receiving gifts, I like thoughtfulness, and I like giving thoughtful gifts, too. But acts of service is for sure my biggest one. I love when someone considers me and makes my life easier. That speaks to me most.
"I love when someone considers me and makes my life easier. That speaks to me most."
Will: I think it all depends on how I’m feeling, too. But probably also acts of service. I like how Amanda will buy me deodorant when I run out (laughs). She just does so much all the time to show that I’m thought of.
At what point in your connection did y’all have the “what are we” conversation?
Will: I don’t think we ever had that convo. We never defined anything, we just kinda went with how it was going. However, I knew I wanted it to be more serious when I went to visit her. She had been coming to Houston once a month, and I went to Florida (she was there for work) to see her. I realized I felt comfortable coming into her space, too. That gave me that last little bit of whatever I needed.
Amanda: Yeah, I can’t say I had a defined moment like that. But again, as we had more and more interactions, there were just no red flags. The more we thought about it, the more we realized no matter where we went relationship-wise, we were adamant about being a part of each other’s lives. We never had the “talking to other people” conversation or anything. But we did both understand we weren’t going anywhere. Eventually, it graduated to convos around building a life together, but even that was over six months in. I just liked him as a person.
Have there been any negative revelations that your partnership and marriage have taught you about yourself?
Amanda: I’ve always felt that partnership is supposed to make the other person’s life easier. For me, it was a struggle to let someone help me in all the ways I didn’t really know I needed help. As I started having less capacity, I had to realize that it doesn't work anymore. It was hard for me to acknowledge and ask for help. I think that’s something I am still coming to terms with, even with other relationships in my life.
Will: I think I’m learning and still learning how to get out of my head. I’m the kind of person who always has to visualize stuff before it happens. And this relationship is the first thing that I don’t do that with. Of course, we plan stuff, but I know it’s gonna be good regardless. It allows me to stay in the moment. If I can do that with this, which is the most important thing to me, why can’t I do that with other things?
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
What challenges have you faced together?
Will: For me, the preconceived challenge was living together. I’ve never lived with a woman before. Even in my previous relationship, it was long-distance. I’m also the type of person that likes my space, but as soon as she got here, that was out the window. It was so smooth it made me feel stupid for questioning it.
Amanda: I’m grateful to say we don’t necessarily have challenges between each other together. But we have been struggling with infertility and health issues. Our biggest challenge thus far is trying to get pregnant. Even articulating that makes me realize I’m grateful it hasn’t caused a rift between us. I think we have been able to face it in a healthy way. But that’s an example of how having someone else there can be helpful. I was so functional as a full-blown individual doing everything by myself.
So, in my head, I don’t need anyone, but having someone there who is happy to support me has taught me it’s okay to welcome that. It’s made us stronger because it’s taught us how we both function under duress – it’s good to know it’s not terrible (laughs).
"Our biggest challenge thus far is trying to get pregnant. Even articulating that makes me realize I’m grateful it hasn’t caused a rift between us. I think we have been able to face it in a healthy way."
What are some of the shared values that are important to your relationship?
Will: How we see life, what we’re here for, and how you’re supposed to treat people. It sounds really simple, but it’s not as common as you think.
Amanda: We value being really good people – without strings. We both don’t value money, but we value stability. So we don’t have to endure the “why are you not hustling” arguments. We were both stable people individually, and we came together. Also, we both value meaningful connections, alone time, reflection, and family. That guides us in what we do and how we build a life.
Finally, what is your favorite thing about each other?
Amanda: I’ll say one of my favorite things about him is that he’s brilliant. I view myself as a smart person, but in my head, he can do what I’m doing ten times faster. There are times I want to push myself to do stuff, and I’ll just ask him because I know he can do it. It’s incredible.
Will: My favorite thing about her is how people see her. Being a witness to how important she is to other people’s lives is amazing. Standing to the side and seeing how she affects them is really special.
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Feature image courtesy of Amanda Hicks and Will Ford
Dating can be a complicated journey, especially if you are someone who was never taught how to date. It serves various purposes for different people, but two distinct approaches stand out: dating for practice and dating with the intention of marriage.
Understanding the difference between these two approaches can help individuals navigate the world of romance more effectively.
Should We Be Dating for Practice?
As a dating coach for women of color for the past 13 years, I tell my clients all the time that dating is an opportunity for practice. Dating for practice is often characterized by meeting new people, broadening your horizons, and enjoying the process of getting to know others without the immediate intention of tying the knot.
This less pressurized environment is a prime opportunity to learn about yourself, your preferences, and your values in a relationship. By interacting with diverse individuals, you discover what traits, interests, and personalities resonate with you!
Dating for practice and without immediate commitment allows you to take your time and make informed choices. There's no pressure to rush into a serious commitment, and it's acceptable to date multiple people concurrently to find the BEST person for YOU. Dating, like parenting, brings up all of your ‘ish’ to the surface, which gives you the opportunity to heal it (without serious repercussions).
Any unresolved inner child wounds, lack of boundaries, and fear of vulnerability can be examined and changed by using dating experiences to explore the parts of ourselves that we don’t normally acknowledge.
Charles Olu-Alabi/Getty Images
The Argument for Dating for Marriage
“I’m dating with intention (marriage)” is something you’ve probably heard often if you’ve been in the dating scene for a while. While it sounds great, there are some potential pitfalls that you may want to avoid. The aim of dating for marriage is clear: to establish a committed relationship that may lead to marriage. Conversations about the future, family, and life goals are often on the table from the start, which brings a level of clarity to the courtship.
By being goal-oriented, most people dating for marriage will stick to dating longer. This is important because dating is a marathon, not a sprint. The longer you are dating, the more successful you will be. The downside of being goal-oriented is that some will be so focused on getting married that they will overlook some serious red flags because they want to be married so badly and end up in horrible relationships.
Dating for marriage requires a level of selectivity to know what you want, which is great. The downside is that what you want is maybe not what you need.
As someone who helps women get into amazing relationships every week, most of the time (90-95%), their partner doesn’t look like what they imagined, but they feel the way they always imagined. Individuals hyper-focused on marriage may be eliminating people who would be good partners for them because they don’t align with their pre-existing vision of marriage.
Zia Soleil/Getty Images
How Do We Balance Dating for Practice With Dating for Marriage?
It is important to remember that these two dating approaches aren’t mutually exclusive, and people often shift between them as their life circumstances and personal preferences evolve. My recommendation is to combine both and date with strategy!
Dating with strategy looks like:
- Dating online and offline to give yourself the best chance of finding love
- Date without expectations – 97% of people you talk to won’t make it past date three
- Having a phone date before going on a physical date
- Getting clear on your needs (based on what you didn’t get from your parents), not just wants (based on what looks good)
- Widening your net and evaluating potential mates based on your new clarified needs
- Practice your vulnerability (sharing feelings) and boundaries (expressing desires) often
Dating for practice and dating for marriage are two distinct approaches to romantic relationships, each with its unique merits and intentions. The key is to have a dating strategy with your personal goals and values, ensuring that you are on a path that feels right for you at any given stage of your life.
Ultimately, dating is about personal growth and building meaningful connections, regardless of the specific goals you set.
Coach Anwar is a certified dating and relationship coach who has 13 years of experience helping Black and brown women date with strategy, meet relationship-ready men, and get into the best relationship of their lives.
Featured image by Lorado/Getty Images