Forget those big, impossible-to-keep resolutions. A better way to ring in the new year (conveniently, 1-1-11) is with one small thing you can do each day this month (or really, any time this year). Follow the calendar of tips and ideas to make this year easier, more fulfilling and a whole lot of fun.
Live Your Dream Live Your Dream
Have a creative idea but no cash? Go to KickStarter.com, describe your project and how much funding you need to get started, and site visitors can pledge money to help make it happen. Projects that have received funds include a writer's first novel and a film on country music.
Test a New Paint Color Test a New Paint Color
Before you commit to Mountain Mint or Classic Cherry, try out the shade on Small Wall's new sample boards ($7.99 for two 12"-square boards; MySmallWall.com for stores). The no-mark adhesive backing lets you reposition the board on your wall so you can see how paint will look under direct sunlight and in a dark corner. Plus, unlike poster- or cardboard, the panels hold paint like a primed wall, giving you a realistic idea of how the hue will look in your room.
Bake Cupcakes Mess-Free
Bake Cupcakes Mess-Free
Here's a great way to avoid batter splatters: Instead of clumsily spooning batter into cupcake liners-and dripping it onto the tin, where it gets baked on-funnel it into a turkey baster and squeeze it into the liners, suggests Sarah Randell, author of the new book Weekend Baking. "Not only does this technique allow you to get just the right amount into each cup, it's also a simple way to make two-tone black-and-white cakes. Just layer vanilla mix over chocolate."
Revive a Too-Small Sweater Revive a Too-Small Sweater
Nothing to wear next weekend? Revive the Incredible Shrinking Sweater you accidentally machine-washed by soaking it in a sink full of cool water and 1/4 cup hair conditioner for 30 minutes, says Linda Cobb, author of Talking Dirty Laundry with the Queen of Clean. Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, found in most conditioners, will relax and soften the wool or cashmere fibers, returning the sweater to its original size. After soaking, gently rinse the sweater, roll it in a clean towel to absorb extra moisture (never wring), then lay it flat to dry.
Even Out Your Skin
Even Out Your Skin
Upgrade your concealer to Stila's One Step Correct serum ($36; StilaCosmetics.com), and camouflage all your problem areas at once, says Sarah Lucero, a Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist. The three-in-one product has a green tone to reduce red spots, a peach hue to counterbalance bluish undereye circles, and a lavender tone to brighten sallow skin. Miraculous!
Get a Deal Get a Deal
Calling all bargain hunters: 1SaleADay.com is the latest, greatest must-click site. It offers bargain-basement prices daily on five items, from electronics (a $160 Magellan RoadMate GPS for $40) to kitchenware (a $200 15-piece Cuisinart cutlery set for $30). Check for special promotions, when you can win up to $3,000 worth of goodies if you're one of the first 1,001 customers to order (just pay $10 and shipping costs).
Keep Your Stovetop Spotless
Keep Your Stovetop Spotless
When whipping up a batch of chicken soup (January is, after all, National Soup Month), rest the curved handles of Lori Greiner's new No Mess stirring spoon and ladle on the rim of your pot so you don't have to dirty a trivet. The red, blue or black silicone handles stay cool to the touch ($25 for 5, including a slotted spoon, pasta server and spatula; QVC.com).
Update your same-old surfaces (walls, furniture, shelves, tabletops) with a DIY afternoon. Tempaper's new wallpaper (from $74.95 for a 20 1/2 " x 33' roll; TempaperDesigns.com) is so easy to use, you'll paper like a pro. Available in 10 patterns and 26 colors, it's self-adhesive for simple repositioning and can be wiped clean.
Feel More Energized
Feel More Energized
Finally, an excuse to pull the covers back over your head on those dark winter Sunday mornings: You can actually make up lost sleep. University of Pennsylvania scientists studied people who slumbered for only four hours per night for five nights and then slept for 10 hours on the sixth. "Sleeping up to 10 hours in one night can help you recover alertness and cognitive performance," says study author David Dinges, PhD.
Recycle Your Stuff Recycle Your Stuff
Once and for all, get rid of the half-used cans of paint in your garage and VHS tapes cluttering up your den. Visit the new 1800Recycling.com and choose what you'd like to recycle from 10 categories, such as automotive, household and hazardous. Enter your zip code and the site will give you a list of nearby dropoff locations. Want to get the directions over the phone? Call 800-RECYCLING.
Remove Salt Stains from Shoes Remove Salt Stains from Shoes
Have salt stains on your suede or leather shoes put you in a pinch? Soak a cotton ball in a mixture of 1 cup water and 1 Tbsp white vinegar and swipe it over the spots, says Erin Bried, author of the new book How to Build a Fire and Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew. The acetic acid in the vinegar gently dissolves salt without damaging the leather.
Kickstart Your Weight Loss
Kickstart Your Weight Loss
Turns out you really can get skinnier in your sleep. A recent University of Chicago study found that when dieters slept 8 1⁄2 hours per night they lost 55 percent more fat than when they ate the same lowfat, low-calorie diet but slept for only 5 1⁄2 hours (when they shed mostly muscle). "Losing lean body mass reduces your ability to burn calories and maintain weight loss," says study author Plamen Penev, MD, PhD.
Wipe Out Frizz Wipe Out Frizz
Colder temperatures have probably put an end to letting your hair dry naturally, but hours under the blow dryer can dehydrate locks and cause flyaways. A better solution: After you get out of the shower, pat your hair with a microfiber towel, suggests Michelle Breyer, founder of the website NaturallyCurly.com. "This material absorbs more water than cotton or terrycloth, so you'll need less time for blow-drying," she explains. One to try: Sephora Collection Microfiber Hair Towel ($20; Sephora.com).
Create Instant Kitchen Space Create Instant Kitchen Space
Preparing for an impromptu Friday dinner party is easier with OXO Good Grips' space-saving over-the-sink cutting board ($29.99; OXO.com). It expands horizontally so you can slice, dice and mince without wasting precious counter space. The board also comes with a stainless steel food basket that lets you collect and easily discard unused scraps or quickly add cubed veggies to a sauté pan or stew pot.
Pull Off the Latest Style Pull Off the Latest Style
A stroke of jean-ius: Eliminate the denim bunching that results when the legs are stuffed into tall boots with the newest fashion fix-it: Strapdowns. Wrap one of these clear plastic bands ($9.95; IsABelt.com) around your lower pant leg, clasp in place like a belt, and jeans will stay put.
Paint Drip-Free Paint Drip-Free
Time for a touchup? Don't forget the coffee filter, suggests designer and HGTV.com contributor Erinn Valencich. Cut a small slit in the bottom and poke the paintbrush handle through (make the slit large enough to fit the handle, but small enough so the brush head won't slide through). The filter will catch stray drips before they land on your clean floor.
Prevent Shirt Gaping Prevent Shirt Gaping
Is your buttondown not keeping you buttoned up? Press a piece of double-stick tape between the buttons to close the gaping fabric, suggests Kathryn Finney, founder of TheBudgetFashionista.com. "It's also a great way to keep your shirt closed if you've lost a button and you're on the go."
Fix Things in Minutes Fix Things in Minutes
Put down the rubber cement. Patch up that crack on the handle of your favorite mug with sugru ($16.50; Sugru.com), a sticky, malleable silicone material that's waterproof, dishwasher-safe and heatresistant up to 350°F. As for the leftover material, there's no end to what you can do with it-mold it into a protective shell for the corners of your iPad or laptop, wrap it around a kitchen knife for a better grip…
Defuse a Temper Tantrum Defuse a Temper Tantrum
When your daughter wails, "I want a toy!", first assess your own anger or embarrassment at the situation. "This stops knee-jerk reactions, like shouting at or ignoring your child," says psychotherapist Fran Walfish, PsyD, author of the new book The Self-Aware Parent. A better solution: Say, "I know you really want that doll, but we're not buying toys right now." Empathy helps your child see that you value her feelings-and will put her at ease.
Improve Indoor Air Quality Improve Indoor Air Quality
When the weather puts a damper on your open-window policy, a lack of ventilation may up levels of toxic chemicals often used to make household materials. Clear the air by bringing in plants, which absorb airborne chemicals through tiny openings in their leaves and break them down. The authors of Home Made Simple, based on the TLC series, recommend these plants that scientists consider most effective: pot mums, gerbera daisies, peace lilies, bamboo, Chinese evergreen, corn plant, English ivy, golden pothos, Janet Craig, marginata and warneckii.
Make Your Lipstick Last Longer Make Your Lipstick Last Longer
Don't let your brand-new shade give you the kiss-off. Before you smooth it on, line and fill in lips with a nude pencil (like MAC Lip Pencil in Subculture, $13; MacCosmetics.com). "The waxy consistency of the pencil better adheres to our naturally moist lips," explains Keri Blair, senior makeup artist for MAC Cosmetics. "Applying a pencil first creates a more matte surface that creamy lipstick can hold on to longer." Which means you'll spend less time reapplying throughout the day.
Have a Family Game Night Have a Family Game Night
Spend this Saturday night with your nearest and dearest playing Call-It! ($14.95; at Nordstrom stores). Players each get a category (say, musical instruments, body parts or animals) and symbol cards (moon, stars, sun). The object is to flip the symbol cards, match with at least one other player's and be the first to shout out a word from their category. Indoor voices not necessary.
Boost Your Brainpower
Boost Your Brainpower
Another reason to put on your walking shoes this weekend: New research from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that walking at least 6 miles each week may prevent brain shrinkage and, in turn, preserve memory. Brain scans of 299 participants showed that those who walked about 6 to 9 miles per week had more gray matter (less can indicate memory problems) and cut their risk of developing cognitive issues in half. "Though we're not sure why, exercise increases the growth and survival rate of neurons," says author Kirk Erickson, PhD.
Get Kids to Do Their Chores Get Kids to Do Their Chores
With a marker, write chores ("Make your bed" or "Organize bookshelf") on Ping-Pong balls and mound them in a bowl, suggest Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch, authors of the new book Pretty Neat: The Buttoned-Up Way to Get Organized and Let Go of Imperfection. Set a timer for 15 minutes; let little ones choose a ball, complete the task and repeat until time runs out. Whoever finishes the most tasks wins a small prize, like a new toy.
Spice Up Dinner Spice Up Dinner
Channel your inner Food Network star even if dinner needed to be on the table five minutes ago. Create a quick and delicious marinade, salad dressing, dry rub or salsa with cooking pro Jamie Oliver's new Flavour Shaker ($29.95; Amazon.com). Add the ingredients (anything from spices to nuts to oil to citrus rind) to the bowling pin- shaped container, pop in the ceramic ball and give the whole thing a good shake. The ball crushes and grinds the contents so you don't have to spend time chopping ingredients. Visit FlavourShaker.co.uk/Recipes for some marinade recipes.
Read a Good Book Read a Good Book
You'll want to put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door when you sit down with this page-turner. Call Me Irresistible, the latest novel by bestselling writer Susan Elizabeth Phillips, is a charming only-in-Texas tale about one man who comes between his fiancée (the former president's daughter) and her maid of honor, who suspects that Mr. Perfect can't possibly be as great as he seems. $25.99; Amazon.com
Stay Fresh-Faced All Day Stay Fresh-Faced All Day
If your foundation looks flaky, blame the thermostat. "Harsh indoor heating can rob skin of moisture-and since dry skin doesn't absorb makeup well, you could end up with powdery patches," says Charlotte Willer, global makeup artist for Maybelline New York. A quick fix: Dab a bit of your moisturizer over your foundation and massage it in with your fingertips or a makeup sponge. The lotion rehydrates dry spots to even out skin tone instantly.
Say Goodbye to Aches Say Goodbye to Aches
He may be a pain in the neck sometimes, but your husband can also help you feel better, according to new research from Stanford University Scientists showed people pictures of their significant others while applying hot temperatures to their hands. "Viewing pictures of a beloved activated reward centers in the brain to make participants feel euphoric," says lead study author Jarred Younger, PhD. "This sent messages down to the spinal cord to cut off their pain signals."
Sidestep Painful Blisters Sidestep Painful Blisters
Go ahead, put on your highest heels if you're going out on the town tonight. But before you slip your bare feet into them without hose or tights, mist your feet lightly all over with aerosol antiperspirant. "The spray creates an invisible barrier between your skin and the insides of your shoes, which decreases the friction that will ultimately lead to blisters," explains Tina Aldatz, a certified pedorthist in Long Beach, California.
Ward Off Colds and the Flu Ward Off Colds and the Flu
Echinacea, schmeckinacea. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that after a 45-minute Swedish massage, subjects experienced an increase of white blood cells, including lymphocytes, the cells that serve as your first line of defense against infection. "Massage stimulates the movement of these cells from the lymphatic system to the blood, where they improve immune function," says study author Mark Rapaport, MD.
Save for the Holidays Save for the Holidays
Decide how much you want to spend next year, divide that number by 10 and set aside this amount monthly. "Open a savings account that will automatically transfer this sum from checking," says Carmen Wong Ulrich, author of The Real Cost of Living: Making the Best Choices for You, Your Life and Your Money.
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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