5 Tips I Wish I Had Known Sooner

I learned quite a bit at the UT Sustainable Business Summit last Friday, including this little factoid: tea is one of the few crops that goes directly to from the field into a bag and then into your waiting cup of hot water to drink. WITHOUT BEING WASHED, chems and all (if non-organic). Though it’s obvious upon reflection (if you washed tea leaves, you would ruin them), I almost shot out of my chair when this was casually mentioned.

Anyways, this sort of why-didn’t-I-know-that?-moment happens often to me. Which led me to wonder…what top five tips that I’ve learned in my life do I wish I had known all along? Not because they are cool facts, but because they have actually improved my life in some way over time. Here are my immediate thoughts.

If Snuffy would just curl his gorgeous lashes, he might actually be able to see out of those great big eye balls!

#5: Heating an Eyelash Curler with a Hair Dryer. As you may know if you see me every day at work, I am exceedingly lazy with my make-up. I often will just dab some concealer on whatever red splotch might be on my face that week and go in. Except for this trick…hold the metal eyelash curler up to the hair dryer for 8 or so seconds, then curl the lashes quickly; it’s not mascara but it’s pretty close and you get long-lasting curl. It’s so effective that I actually do it every morning, sometimes (gasp!) also taking a few seconds to lazily apply dark brown eyeliner just before. Then, if I’m going all out, I will apply lip balm. Hey, this is still more than a man will ever have to do. Also, careful on that hot eyelash curling! You’ll want to make sure you don’t burn your eyelid (ye-ouch).

#4: Neti Pots Actually Kinda Work. Dear Lord, I truly HAVE gone hippie. Or have gotten desperate. But, I finally broke down (in the middle of a sinus infection during a time when I had been taking a daily Claritin for months) and bought one of the stupid things and the stupid salt that goes with it. And, the first time I used it, I didn’t use much salt (because I had the crazy idea that salt would hurt going through my sinuses) and found out just how chlorinated city water is. Next time I used the recommended amount of salt and it worked great. Unfortunately. Because though it works great, and I no longer take Claritin, and I haven’t had a sinus infection (though I still get allergies) since I started using it, I’ve become a sideshow freak in my own house. “Daddy! Come quick! Mama’s using the neti pot!” They’ve only tried to break out the camera once. Luckily, I haven’t used it as a gateway device to pouring really odd things in and out of my sinuses. (Stick with the video for the coffee and whiskey parts.)

#3. Oil Stains Are Actually Pretty Easy to Get Out. It took me a stupefyingly long time to finally figure out that a bit of dishsoap will take out any oil stain, even if it has already been through the dryer. This has saved countless items of clothing at Casa Crain, and kept me from throttling my 3 year old toddler, who is completely adorable, even when dumping most of his dinner onto his shirt each and every time we eat. If I pull something out of the dryer and notice an oil stain on it still (pretty easy to “spot”–ha ha–because the stain will almost always be just a shade or two darker than the garments normal colors), I’ll just put a dab on it and throw it back in the hamper for the next round. Two times almost always does the trick; I think the most I’ve ever had to send something back through was three times (damn you, pesto).

#2. The Warm Washcloth Trick. This one I have to credit to my friend Lisa, who is apparently a medical genius. This is by far the best and easiest short term remedy for congestion (outside of a hot shower) that I have tried. Basically, you take a clean wash cloth and run it under hot (not warm) running water and squeeze it out (again, try not to burn yourself) but you’ll end up with a very warm, damp washcloth that you then hold over your mouth and nose to breathe through. Breathe in and out a few times through your mouth, then blow your nose into it like a hanky (obviously then throw it in the wash so someone cleaning up doesn’t get an unpleasant surprise in picking it up) but this WORKS. The best part is if you are careful, it works really, really well on toddlers when they get stuffed up. Benji’s gotten to the point where he asks me for a warm washcloth when he’s feeling congested because he knows it’s the quickest way to feel better soon. (Hmmm. Side note: it’s sort of telling as to how big a role my sinuses have played in my life that two of the top five are allergies related.)

#1: Ditching the Top Sheet. I’ve always sort of hated top sheets in bedding; I just didn’t really realize how much until one night when I got all wound up in it and stumbled out of bed for some random reason, only to trip. Top sheets make making the bed a pain and they never get properly shared (at least, not in our bed). So, a few years back, we stopped using one. We just use our fitted sheet and a comforter that is encased in a duvet that I wash regularly. What a change! Nick or I make the bed every day (fluff and arrange the four pillows, straighten the duvet…takes either of us about 12 seconds). Voila! If nothing else goes right during the day, I know I can return home to a nicely made bed.

What helpful tip do you wish you had known sooner? Please share! 🙂


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  1. I was about to head to the coffee room for my morning cup of tea, but now I’m rethinking that. Thanks for the tips. I definitely think I’ll use the washcloth one.

    1. I know, right? I’m still drinking tea as of this morning…but being more careful to make sure that it’s organic (may still have unpleasant junk on it but probably nothing too zany). I hope I haven’t ruined tea drinking for anyone! (It’s my favorite.) But the Sweet Leaf lady on one of the panels mentioned it and my eyes bugged out of my head. I don’t know anything about how tea is raised, though, really, so maybe they don’t use pesticides on it even with the conventional stuff? (Let’s hope.)

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  2. Yesterday, when the windows in my car fogged up from the cold, I remembered a tip. If your car windows fog up on the inside, turn on the AC in your car (I just leave mine on all the time now anyway). The AC takes the moisture out of the air, and it will still blow hot.

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