Vail Daily column: Make life a little easier |

Vail Daily column: Make life a little easier

Butch Mazzuca
Valley Voices

Butch Mazzuca

Last summer, I purchased a book titled "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," by Marie Kondo. Kondo's book isn't nearly as entertaining as say, "A Tale of Two Cities," by Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" or the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, but her book had an enormous impact on my wife and me.

How many times have we decided to organize the garage or the kids' room, or your den or office only to find that before you know it the room is back in its unkempt state? You don't have to answer that; the question was rhetorical.

After reading Kondo's book and then spending a full weekend following its protocols, we removed 24-medium to large sized boxes full of stuff we no longer needed. (I mean, how many mixing bowls does on family need anyway?)

Afterward, I decided to take this notion of household organization a step further and began searching for some simple and easy-to-do methods of not only staying organized but also saving time and money regarding all things chez nous. Here are just a few, hope you find them as helpful as we did.

• When buying storage containers chose square or rectangular units rather than round ones. They're easier to stack, less likely to tip over and they offer more storage capacity. Storage in a round 14-by-6 inch container has 924 cubic inches, while a 14-by-14-by-6 inch container has 1,176 cubic inches.

• Beware of CD or DVD racks with slots — whether you arrange alphabetically or by category, you will have to shift your whole collection every time you want to make space for a new addition — and where will you put the boxed sets?

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• If you buy wine or liquor by the case, then save the empty box with the dividers intact; it makes an idea storage unit for Christmas ornaments wrapped in tissue, rolled up posters, gift wrap or fine but infrequently used crystal goblets.

• You can repair a small hole in a screen by dabbing it with a bit of model airplane glue, and when the glue dries, the mend will be barely visible.

• Avoid elevator pranksters. If you step into an elevator and you find that all the buttons have been pressed, then you can avoid stopping on each floor by pressing each button again twice.

• Forget to chill the wine? You can chill wine by placing a few frozen grapes in the glass and it won't water down the wine.

• Putting a dry tea bag in smelly shoes and gym bags will absorb bad odors.

• When you wash windows inside and out, use vertical strokes on one side and horizontal strokes on the other. This way you'll know instantly which side has any streaks.

• Putting your phone in airplane mode will stop ads while playing games.

• Putting your phone in airplane mode will also charge it twice as fast.

• Do you ever have trouble matching socks? Try keeping a jar of safety pins by the washing machine and pin pairs together before they go into the wash.

• To prevent furniture from scratching or marking your floors when moving the piece, put sweat socks over the legs first.

• Wrap a wet paper towel around a bottle of beer and put it in the freezer. It will cool in about two minutes.

• Save your thumb and try using the "pinch end" of a clothespin to hold a nail while hammering.

• Use a can opener on obnoxious plastic packaging.

• After popping microwave popcorn, separate the opening of the bag just enough for the unpopped kernels to fall out, and then shake upside down over the sink or your kitchen trash bag.

• Rub a walnut on damaged wooden furniture to cover up dings.

• A frozen, saturated sponge in a plastic baggie makes a great icepack that won't drip all over when it melts.

• Wrinkled shirt? Throw it in the dryer with a few ice cubes for 5 minutes. Wrinkles gone.

• Add a teaspoon of baking soda when you boil eggs and the shells will peel off much more easily.

• Don't add fabric softener to water you wash towels in — it diminishes their absorbency. If your towels have already suffered this fate, then bring them back to life by adding a cup of distilled vinegar to the rinse cycle.

• In fact, you can save money by replacing fabric softener altogether and using vinegar instead — just make it a habit of adding a cup to the rinse cycle for soft fresh smelling clothes.

• These aren't the only uses for vinegar in the laundry room; to keep items from discoloring, soak in salt water for 10 minutes before washing then add a dash of vinegar to the wash cycle.

So there you have it; nearly two dozen helpful tips to make your life a little bit easier.

Quote of the day: "Organizing is what we do before we do something, so that when we do it, it's not all mixed up" — A.A. Milne.

Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at