Life Hacks – Tips and Tricks for Making Life Easier

There are countless problems you encounter on a daily basis that can put a little speed bump in your day. Life hacks are those “a-ha!” moments where you find the simplest solution to your daily problems, often using items immediately at your disposal. Each month this column will take you through some creative hacks to use in all different areas of your life to make your day to day as simple as possible. We’re in the dog days of summer now, and it seems almost impossible to escape the heat. Here are a few hacks to help you stay cool on these triple digit days.

Whether you’re throwing together your dinner for the evening or prepping for a big summer party, you have to make sure your drinks are icy cool on these hot days. If you’ve just grabbed a pack of sodas or beers from the store and need to get them frigid quickly, try wrapping them in a wet paper towel and placing them in the fridge. In the time that it takes to cook your meal you drink will go from room temp to icy cold.

If you’re forced to be outside for ball games or work, or even if you’re just out catching some rays, try creating your own little bottle of cooling spray. It’s simple, and many of the items are already in your house. Combine ¼ cup aloe vera gel, ¼ cup witch hazel and 2 to 3 drops of peppermint essential oil in a spray bottle. Shake or stir well to mix, and then spray as needed to help cool off, provide relief from bug bites or sunburn.

Your pets suffer through these hot days, too. If you want to give your pet a special cool treat, try this recipe for pupsicles. Gather one large frozen banana, two tablespoons natural peanut butter with no added salt or sugar, two tablespoons of honey, a 17.6-ounce container plain Greek nonfat yogurt and sturdy edible dog chews. Cut the frozen banana into pieces and blend with peanut butter and honey. Blend on high for three minutes until smooth. Add yogurt and blend for three more minutes until you reach a milkshake-like consistency. Pour the mixture into ice pop molds or 8-ounce disposable cups and put edible chews in the center. Freeze for at least two hours and then dip cups or mold in a bowl of hot water for a few seconds and twist out of the cup or mold.

Having stylish hair during the hot, humid days of summer is quite the challenge. If you’re shooting for those fashionable beach waves without the heat of all of the styling products, try grabbing a simple elastic headband. Comb your hair to lay where you want your part to remain and stretch the band around your head. Tuck hair in sections all the way around the band taking the end from the previous section of hair and combining with the tuck of the next section, so all of your hair is tucked into the band. If you have a lot of hair, you may need the assistance of bobby pins to help hold the thicker sections of hair. Get a good night’s rest and in the morning carefully remove the headband and unveil gorgeous heat-free curls.

Ice cream treats can get pricey during the summer, so why not try your own ice cream creation? Grab your favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor or other pint-sized ice cream and slice into the container with a sharp knife, cutting in half-inch to one-inch slices. Bake your favorite cookie or grab a pack of your favorites from the store and sandwich an ice cream slice between. Cut the paper container left around the ice cream and pull away and, voila, your very own signature ice cream cookie!

Sleeping in hot weather can be miserable, and you can only turn the thermostat down so low before your electric bill becomes more unbearable than the weather. If you need a cool fix to get you to sleep, try chilling your sheets. Fold your top sheet and pillowcases and place them in a freezer bag. Stash them in the fridge or freezer for three to four hours before bed. Remove and immediately put on the bed for best results.