25 Brilliant Life Hacks You Need to Try

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These life hacks will help you clean, cook, organize, and just live more efficiently.

1. USE A BOWL AS A MAKESHIFT IPHONE SPEAKER.

Woman with a hand to her ear to listen.
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Pump up the volume at any impromptu party by putting your smartphone in a bowl: The concave shape will amplify the music from its speaker.

2. ADD A LAZY SUSAN TO YOUR FRIDGE.

Woman pulling food out of a fridge.
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Sick of having to take five plastic containers out of your fridge in order to reach something behind them? Put a Lazy Susan on each shelf. Next time, all you have to do is spin to access food way in the back.

3. PROGRAM FREQUENTLY USED WORDS TO AUTO-FILL ON YOUR PHONE.

typing on smartphone
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It can be very frustrating to type on your smartphone's tiny keyboard rather than the roomy layout of a computer keyboard. Save time on words you use often by creating custom text replacement shortcuts. For instance, if you type your full name out a lot to fill out forms, set up your initials to autocorrect to your name. Try it for usernames, email addresses, addresses, or simple phrases like "Leaving now" or "Be there soon."

4. TAKE SCRATCHES OUT OF YOUR CDS AND DVDS USING A BANANA.

Close-up of CD with scratches.
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To de-scratch a CD, peel a banana and rub the fruit on the disc in a circular motion. Use the underside of the peel to rub the banana in deeper before wiping away the residue with a lint-free cloth. Lastly, give the disc a spritz of Windex and remove smudges with a new cloth.

5. COOL A WARM SODA IN THREE MINUTES.

Soda cans on ice.
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Say you went to the fridge for a LaCroix, only to discover that no one restocked the shelf. The cans in the pantry aren't cold, and putting one in the fridge now will take forever to cool. To have an ice cold can in just a few minutes, put your drink in a large pot and cover it with ice. Fill the pot with water, add a couple cups of salt, and stir until the salt is dissolved. Your canned beverage will magically be cold. (Alternative: Unless you need the portability of the aluminum can, keep it simple with a cup of ice.)

6. USE A HAIR DRYER TO GET RID OF WATER RINGS.

Rings of water on wooden table.
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So, you forgot to use a coaster once (or many times) and now your nice coffee table is covered in white water rings from the bottom of your glass. Luckily, you can banish them them with a hair dryer. Blast the stains with a low heat setting until they start to disappear. When they're gone, rub a little bit of olive oil on the spot to recondition the wood.

7. USE A MESH BAG TO HOLD SMALL ITEMS IN THE DISHWASHER.

White mesh laundry bag
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When you need to put small things in the dishwasher, like corn-on-the-cob holders, put them in a mesh laundry bag (the kind you use for delicates). That way, nothing will fall through the grates. Try it for tiny containers, measuring spoons, and the caps to reusable bottles.

8. BOIL SALT WATER TO GET RID OF BURN MARKS.

hand scrubbing a pan
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The good news: You cooked yourself a lavish meal. The bad news: Now there are burn marks on your pan. Instead of resigning yourself to ages of hard scrubbing, follow this tip from Martha Stewart. Fill the pot or pan with cold water and two to three tablespoons of salt and let it sit overnight. The next day, bring the water to a boil, pour it out, and do a final wash with soap.

9. EXERCISE BETWEEN 5 P.M. AND 6 P.M.

excercise class
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During this period, your physical performance is at its peak, your risk of injury is at its lowest, and your muscle strength, lungs, and hand-eye coordination are all at their best and most efficient, which puts you in peak workout mode. Plus, if you work out at roughly the same time every day, you'll create a ritual that'll be harder to break when you're feeling less motivated.

10. COLOR CODE YOUR KEYS.

keys with colorful plastic caps on table
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If you have trouble remembering which key is which, color code them to solve the problem once and for all. You don't need any fancy supplies: Just use nail polish. Simply dab a dot of color on the head of the key. Avoid painting any part of the key that makes contact with the lock; you don't want nail polish rubbing off inside of your locks. If you have trouble telling keys apart in the dark, try a glow-in-the-dark paint.

11. DE-SCRATCH FURNITURE WITH A WALNUT.

bowl of walnuts on wood table
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Erase dings and scrapes in wood furniture by rubbing a walnut over the problem area: The oil from the nut will make those scrapes disappear.

12. CUT CLEAN SLICES OF CAKE WITH DENTAL FLOSS.

Slices of a rainbow layer cake.
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To avoid smeared frosting and clumps of cake breaking off, use a long string of unflavored dental floss to cut through a cake. This also works with soft cheeses!

13. HULL STRAWBERRIES WITH A STRAW.

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You don't need a strawberry huller: Take the stems off strawberries cleanly by driving a straw right through from bottom to top.

14. HANG WRINKLED CLOTHES IN THE BATHROOM WHILE YOU SHOWER.

Wrinkled shirt hanging up.
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In a pinch, like when you're traveling, you can spruce up wrinkled clothes by hanging them in the bathroom while you shower. When the room gets steamy, the heat and moisture will help un-wrinkle your duds for you, but you will want to smooth the clothes out by hand afterward.

15. BURN CRAYONS IF YOU'RE OUT OF CANDLES.

Lots of crayons.
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If the power goes out and you can't find your emergency candles, grab a box of crayons. Carefully set one upright in a small glass, and use a lighter the same way you would on a regular candle. The crayon should burn for up to 30 minutes.

16. STORE SHEET SETS INSIDE THE PILLOWCASES.

white sheets on clothesline
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No more hunting in your linen closet for the right sheets: Organize each matching sheet set by folding everything and storing it inside one of the pillowcases.

17. WAX YOUR STOVETOP TO MAKE FUTURE CLEANING A BREEZE.

kitchen with stove
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After you've given your stovetop a thorough cleaning, apply a thin layer of car wax and then buff it off with a clean towel. Now, wiping off future spills and blobs of food will be painless, plus your stove will look shiny and new.

18. USE A CLOTHESPIN TO HOLD A NAIL WHILE HAMMERING.

clothespin holding nail
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Once you use a clothespin to hold a nail while hammering, you'll wonder why you ever risked hitting your fingers before.

19. CHILL WINE WITHOUT WATERING IT DOWN.

Glasses of chilled wine.
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Sometimes you need to chill your wine, and under no circumstances do you want melting ice cubes to water down your drink. For a sustainable solution, invest in some reusable plastic ice cubes. Unlike traditional cubes, plastic ones won't melt. These colorful ones from Kikkerland are filled with real water. Or, try these stainless steel wine pearls from Uncommon Goods, which are filled with food-grade freeze gel.

20. USE THE BLENDER TO CLEAN A BLENDER.

A clean blender.
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Don't risk slicing your fingers by cleaning a blender with a sponge—pour in soap and water, turn it on, and rinse it out. Voila!

21. USE THIS TRICK TO TELL IF YOUR EGGS HAVE GONE BAD.

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Determine if an egg has gone bad by placing it in a bowl of cool water. If it sinks onto its side, it's perfectly fine. If it sinks and stands on its smaller end, it's still edible, but won't be for very much longer. And if it floats, it's bad. How does this work? Fresher eggs have less air under their shells, which is why they sink to the bottom.

22. USE DRYER SHEETS AND A FAN AS A MAKESHIFT AIR FRESHENER.

Close-up of a yellow fan.
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Create a makeshift air freshener by turning on a fan and taping a dryer sheet or two on the back. They'll stick on and work efficiently to eliminate odors.

23. KEEP YOUR GARBAGE BAG IN PLACE WITH ADHESIVE HOOKS.

Trash can with a bag.
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If your garbage bag is always slipping into the bin, secure it with this hack. You'll need two sticky wall hooks and a drawstring garbage bag. Attach one hook upside down on the outside of either side of the trash can and hook the trash bag's drawstrings on.

24. USE 'AAA' BATTERIES IF YOU RUN OUT OF 'AA' ONES.

Assorted batteries on an orange background.
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Can't find any more AA batteries in the drawer? When you need to replace the batteries in the remote without trekking to the store, stick a AAA battery in there. Then, roll a small ball of aluminum foil to plug the gap on the negative end of the battery.

25. TOUCH UP WRINKLED CLOTHES WITH A HAIR STRAIGHTENER.

A flat iron against a pastel background.
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While using a clothes iron to straighten hair is an old trick (which is apparently new again?), using a hair straightener on collars and that space between buttons also works.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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10 Facts About Real Genius On Its 35th Anniversary

Val Kilmer stars in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985).
Val Kilmer stars in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985).
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

In an era where nerd is a nickname given by and to people who have pretty much any passing interest in popular culture, it’s hard to imagine the way old-school nerds—people with serious and socially-debilitating obsessions—were once ostracized. Computers, progressive rock, and role-playing games (among a handful of other 1970s- early '80s developments) created a path from which far too many of the lonely, awkward, and conventionally undateable would never return. But in the 1980s, movies transformed these oddballs into underdogs and antiheroes, pitting them against attractive, moneyed, successful adversaries for the fate of handsome boys and pretty girls, cushy jobs, and first-place trophies.

The 1985 film Real Genius ranked first among equals from that decade for its stellar cast, sensitive direction, and genuine nerd bona fides. Perhaps fittingly, it sometimes feels overshadowed, and even forgotten, next to broader, bawdier (and certainly now, more problematic) films from the era like Revenge of the Nerds and Weird Science. But director Martha Coolidge delivered a classic slobs-versus-snobs adventure that manages to view the academically gifted and socially maladjusted with a greater degree of understanding and compassion while still delivering plenty of good-natured humor.

As the movie commemorates its 35th anniversary, we're looking back at the little details and painstaking efforts that make it such an enduring portrait not just of ‘80s comedy, but of nerdom itself.

1. Producer Brian Grazer wanted Valley Girl director Martha Coolidge to direct Real Genius. She wasn’t sure she wanted to.

Following the commercial success of 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds, there was an influx of bawdy scripts that played upon the same idea, and Real Genius was one of them. In 2011, Coolidge told Kickin’ It Old School that the original script for Real Genius "had a lot of penis and scatological jokes," and she wasn't interested in directing a raunchy Nerds knock-off. So producer Brian Grazer enlisted PJ Torokvei (SCTV) and writing partners Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz (Splash, City Slickers) to refine the original screenplay, and then gave Coolidge herself an opportunity to polish it before production started. “Brian's original goal, and mine, was to make a film that focused on nerds as heroes," Coolidge said. "It was ahead of its time."

2. Martha Coolidge’s priority was getting the science in Real Genius right—or at least as right as possible.

In the film, ambitious professor Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton) recruits high-achieving students at the fictional Pacific Technical University (inspired by Caltech) to design and build a laser capable of hitting a human-sized target from space. Coolidge researched the subject thoroughly, working with academic, scientific, and military technicians to ensure that as many of the script and story's elements were correct. Moreover, she ensured that the dialogue would hold up to some scrutiny, even if building a laser of the film’s dimensions wasn’t realistic (and still isn’t today).

3. One element of Real Genius that Martha Coolidge didn’t base on real events turned out to be truer than expected.

From the beginning, the idea that students were actively being exploited by their teacher to develop government technology was always fictional. But Coolidge learned that art and life share more in common than she knew at the time. “I have had so many letters since I made Real Genius from people who said, 'Yes, I was involved in a program and I didn’t realize I was developing weapons,'" she told Uproxx in 2015. “So it was a good guess and turned out to be quite accurate.”

4. Val Kilmer walked into his Real Genius audition already in character—and it nearly cost him the role.

After playing the lead in Top Secret!, Val Kilmer was firmly on Hollywood’s radar. But when he met Grazer at his audition for Real Genius, Kilmer decided to have some fun at the expense of the guy who would decide whether or not he’d get the part. "The character wasn't polite," Kilmer recalled to Entertainment Weekly in 1995. "So when I shook Grazer's hand and he said, 'Hi, I'm the producer,' I said, 'I'm sorry. You look like you're 12 years old. I like to work with men.'"

5. The filmmakers briefly considered using an actual “real genius” to star in Real Genius.

Among the performers considered to play Mitch, the wunderkind student who sets the movie’s story in motion, was a true genius who graduated college at 14 and was starting law school. Late in the casting process, they found their Mitch in Gabriel Jarrett, who becomes the third generation of overachievers (after Kilmer’s Chris and Jon Gries’s Lazlo Hollyfeld) whose talent Hathaway uses to further his own professional goals.

6. Real Genius's female lead inadvertently created a legacy for her character that would continue in animated form.

Michelle Meyrink, Gabriel Jarret, Val Kilmer, and Mark Kamiyama in Real Genius (1985).Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Michelle Meyrink was a staple of a number of ‘80s comedies, including Revenge of the Nerds. Playing Jordan in Real Genius, she claims to “never sleep” and offers a delightful portrait of high-functioning attention-deficit disorder with a chipper, erratic personality. Disney’s Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers co-creator Tad Stones has confirmed that her character went on to inspire the character of Gadget Hackwrench.

7. A Real Genius subplot, where a computer programmer is gaming a Frito-Lay contest, was based on real events.

In the film, Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite) plays Lazlo Hollyfeld, a reclusive genius from before Chris and Mitch’s time who lives in a bunker beneath their dorm creating entries to a contest with no restrictions where he eventually wins more than 30 percent of the prizes. In 1969, students from Caltech tried a similar tactic with Frito-Lay to game the odds. But in 1975, three computer programmers used an IBM to generate 1.2 million entries in a contest for McDonald’s, where they received 20 percent of the prizes (and a lot of complaints from customers) for their effort.

8. One of Real Genius's cast members went on to write another tribute to nerds a decade later.

Dean Devlin, who co-wrote Stargate and Independence Day with Roland Emmerich, plays Milton, another student at Pacific Tech who experiences a memorable meltdown in the rush up to finals.

9. The popcorn gag that ends Real Genius isn’t really possible, but they used real popcorn to simulate it.

At the end of the film, Chris and Mitch build a giant Jiffy Pop pack that the laser unleashes after they redirect its targeting system. The resulting popcorn fills Professor Hathaway’s house as an act of revenge. MythBusters took pains to recreate this gag in a number of ways, but quickly discovered that it wouldn’t work; even at scale, the popcorn just burns in the heat of a laser.

To pull off the scene in the film, Coolidge said that the production had people popping corn for six weeks of filming in order to get enough for the finale. After that, they had to build a house that they could manipulate with hydraulics so that the popcorn would “explode” out of every doorway and window.

10. Real Genius was the first movie to be promoted on the internet.

A week before Real Genius opened, promoters set up a press conference at a computer store in Westwood, California. Coolidge and members of the cast appeared to field questions from press from across the country—connected via CompuServe. Though the experience was evidently marred by technical problems (this was the mid-1980s, after all), the event marked the debut of what became the online roundtable junket.