how to unclog your drain cheaply and naturally (aka diy drano)

How to unclog your drain naturally and cheaply (aka DIY Drano)Every few months, the drain will clog and I’ll run to the drugstore for some Drano to clear it up. It does the job, but after a while, spending almost $10 on a bottle every couple or so months seemed needless. Being the cheap mulitasking cleaning wonder baking soda is, I knew there had to be some kind of baking soda mix that would effectively rise to the task. After some research, I came across two trusted sites (here and here) that endorsed a baking soda + vinegar + boiling water solution and once I tried it, I knew I wouldn’t be buying harsh and expensive Drano again.

You Will Need:

1/2 cup baking soda
2/3 cup white vinegar
Large pot of boiling water
Drain cap (or anything that will keep the fizzing soda-vinegar solution from bubbling up, i.e. a small plate or large bottlecap)

What To Do:

Funnel the baking soda down the drain. I found that some of the baking soda sat at the top, so I used a long toothpick to gently push it down.
Slowly pour in  the vinegar, covering the hole with your drain cap every so often, so that the bubbly fizz stays inside the drain.
Let sit for about 20 minutes, and then pour the entire pot of boiling water down the drain.

It’s that easy. And it really works! For me, it was one-shot deal. But if you have more stubborn buildup, then repeating the process one or more times should serve you well.

*Sources are hyperlinked within post.

i’m getting (kinda’) good at this hair thing

While all of my friends were doing their cute messy buns, fishtail braids and twisty thingies, I’ve been rockin’ the same ‘do for what seems like forever. I was never any good at the execution.

But lately, I’ve come across these gorgeous elaborate hair tutorials all over the web. Easy ones too! So I’ve been experimenting with a few that look easily do-able for an amateur like me.

If you’re looking for some suggestions, here are a few that I’ve personally tried, conquered and loved:

  • I wore this once to a wedding and another time to the grocery store (versatility!). Don’t worry about perfection – it looks good a little messy.
  • Out of all the Katniss-inspired styles I’ve seen, this one is my favorite.
  • My hair is naturally wavy, so when I want to bring that up a notch, I like to use this no-heat technique to do just that. The only difference is I like to first prep my damp hair with a little product, do the twist and pin and keep them in overnight. Here is her quick, easy-to-follow video tutorial.

If  I can do these, you can definitely do these.

diy produce wash | cleaning fruits and vegetables

Instead of spending money on a produce wash, you can make your own, which has proven to be just as, if not more, effective. According to a study conducted by Cook’s Illustrated, a mixture of three parts water and one part white vinegar removed almost all traces of bacteria, as compared to using water alone.

I filled up a a clean spray bottle with the mixture and started to clean all of my smoother-textured produce, such as apples and potatoes. Just a few spritzes and then a final rinse of clean water. Easy as that.

For fruits and vegetables with an odd shape and/or deeper crevices, like cauliflower and blackberries, you can fill up a large bowl with the mixture and let it sit for a minute or two. Afterwards, dry thoroughly.

Bonus: this vinegar-water mixture helps berries to stay fresher for longer too.

And I continue to be fascinated by the many uses for vinegar (remember this one?).

Sources: National Public Radio, Cook’s Illustrated.

easy last-minute pop-culture costume ideas

Is it me or does Halloween seem to sneak up on you every year? I always find I’m scrambling at the last second to pull something together, but it usually works out for the best. All it takes is a smidge of creativity and you’ve got yourself an amazing pop-culture-inspired costume. One of my favorite parts about this day is spotting the Amy Winehouses, the Sarah Palins and the Katy Perrys and seeing people’s different takes on each.

Here’s a short list of people and characters in pop culture that can easily be a.) found in your closet or b.) bought in a clothing/thrift store. Perfect for someone who doesn’t want to spend $30 to $40 for a polyester costume-in-a-bag they’ll only wear once.

1.) ’90s Courtney Love

What you’ll need:
*A lacy slip or babydoll dress.
*A short blonde wig.
*Torn fishnet stockings.
*A small tiara (optional).
*A toy guitar.
*Matte red lipstick (preferably a little smeared).
*A middle finger to occasionally flip people off.




2.) Robert Palmer girl

What you’ll need:
*A black form-fitting dress.
*Shiny, red lipstick.
*Heavy, dark eye-makeup.
*A slicked-back bun.
*Black pumps
*Sheer black stockings
*A toy guitar.
*An aloof attitude and a blank stare.


3.) Sandy from Grease, post-makeover

What you’ll need:
*A blonde wig.
*Shiny black leggings.
*A black leather jacket and/or a black off-the-shoulder top.
*Red pumps.
*A cigarette.
*The phrase “Tell me about…stud” in your back pocket.

4.) Alex from a A Clockwork Orange

What you’ll need:
*White pants.
*White top.
*A black derby hat (they sell an inexpensive one here).
*A cane or walking stick.
*Black combat boots.
*Black eyeliner to draw super long lashes below your right eye.
*A creepy, sociopathic smile.

5.) Any of these ideas from my friend, Jamillah.

My personal favorites are the ones pictured below, but there are tons more. Check it!

This year I’m considering Tom Cruise in Risky Business or Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (both pictured above). And neither require me to buy a single thing! For next year, I’m itching to be favorite hot mess, Courtney Love.

So what about you? Are you into Halloween this year? What are you going as?

Photos: 1.) Sassy ‘n’ Punk, 2.) Philadelphia Weekly, 3.) All Movie Photo 4.) Moviescreens, 5.) Made To Travel

cutting more bottles

I can’t get Bob to willingly replace the shower curtain or take out the trash or pick up his jeans from the bedroom floor. But I can always count on him to volunteer to make me a vase out of a wine bottle. He’s got his priorities in order, clearly.

Turns out some wine bottles are thicker, so it can take a while on the flame before you can get it to break. Eventually, it did and we ended up with a cool-looking vase for my flowers.

If you’re interested in the diy, I’ve updated the original post to include warnings about the thickness of bottles and a safer way to use the flame. Sometimes, you realize these things after a few more experiments.

I wish he would concentrate this hard on the laundry.

I still love him though :)

how to break in your shoes in less than 2 minutes

My new flats were a bit too tight in the toes. So I tried this incredibly simple and neat trick from The Observer via Lifehacker for stretching out the area. And guess what? It worked!

Put on socks  and slip on your shoes. 
Aim the hairdryer on the tight section for a few seconds (wiggle and stretch your feet inside the shoe for maximum benefit).
Keep the shoes on while they cool.
Remove the socks and test out shoes.
It should be stretched out, but if you need more room, then repeat the process.

See? Told you it was easy.

diy taco seasoning

Taco Seasoning (recipe adapted from my Dad)
good for about 1lb. ground beef

Combine spices, about 1-1 1/2 tsp. of each
Cook beef until fully browned on medium-high heat.
Drain the oil.
Place skillet back on stove, add and mix in spice mixture.
Then add about 1/3 – 1/2 cup of water to the beef. You can add a pinch or two of cornstarch (always mix in cold water first!) to help sauce thicken. If not, just wait until water cooks off.

I grew up on Ortega taco seasonings – which by the way, is super delicious – but as soon as I found out that taco seasoning can be easily made with just a few spices, I knew that I wouldn’t buy the store-bought stuff again. It’s easier to adjust the spices to your taste and if you already use and cook with these commonly used spices, it’s cheaper too. Not to mention healthier (no more “caramel color” and maltodextrin, whatever that is).

Taco Tuesdays just got real.


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