Helping You Help Yourself #13

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We don’t usually anticipate cleaning emergencies — landlords dropping by unexpectedly, a get-together getting relocated to your place at the last minute, your crush texting to say she’s in the neighborhood and can she come by. That’s why they’re emergencies. That’s why you should keep the UFYH emergency last-minute cleaning guide close at hand; better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Tomato season is drawing to a close! Do you have a tomato bounty that you need to do something with, quick? Here’s how to can them, duh.

A hot tip from Laneia:

“I’d like to share that if you have frozen bagels that are uncut and you absolutely must eat one right now, you can defrost them by running them under water real quick, then putting them in the oven for about 5-10 mins at 400 degrees, then you can cut it open and put the cut sides up under the broiler and BOOM. Toasted bagels that were frozen less than 30 mins ago, what a wizard you are.”

Just FYI, light roast coffee is actually more caffeinated than dark roast; the roasting process actually cooks out some of the caffeine, and so you lose more the longer the roast.

Here is a Detroit Tigers fan to show you how to untangle a necklace chain.

Do you have a whiteboard that’s had marker on it for ages and ages and now the marker just won’t erase the heck off, no matter what you do? The thing that’s always worked best is Bon Ami, rubbed into the whiteboard surface with a damp cloth. The marker comes right off!

I just spent 45 minutes on the phone with somebody from my credit card company! Live a better life than me. Here are tips on making customer service phone calls as painless as possible. When you’re done, please remember to explicitly thank your customer service rep, who is just trying to do their job, not make your life harder! It’s best if you can use a full sentence with their name in it — “Thanks so much, [name], you’ve been really helpful,” so that their manager hears it in any recording of the call. If the person you talked to really went above and beyond, you can ask to speak to their supervisor just to tell them that they were great.

Haven’t found the exact right planner for you in the vast universe of planners? Why not just create your own?

Here are ways to use up the last bits of jam, mustard, and/or tomato paste.

Winter is coming. Here’s what you should do to get your place of residence ready.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. What? No! Making frozen bagels ready to eat is not that hard! Just pop one in the microwave for 30 seconds. Cut and put in a toaster or broiler if your feeling real fancy.

    • i think the key difference between methods is “ready to eat” vs. “fully toasted.” so many different kinds of bagel preferences!

  2. “Just FYI, light roast coffee is actually more caffeinated than dark roast” … OMG how did I not know this?!

  3. If Bon Ami’s not part of your regular cleaning arsenal, my favorite trick for battling stubborn dry-erase marks or stains is to simply color over it with another layer of dry-erase marker, let that dry, and then wipe clean. I use a dry-erase calendar in my home office space, and often it’s hard to get the dates cleaned off after a month, so I use this method a lot.

  4. yeah i wrap a frozen bagel in a damp paper towel and microwave that sucker for like 30 seconds. comes out feeling pretty fresh and ready to toast!

  5. I love making my own planner, I use a different way than the link shows, but still DIY planners are the best! I marble lots of watercolor paper front and back, then staple it so its like a flip book and draw a calendar on it. The squares aren’t very large for each day but enough for me to put my schedule and keep track of what I need to get done.

  6. That necklace thing just motivated me to open my jewelry box and deal with the situation I’ve been ignoring for months.

  7. Great idea of using the customer service representative’s first name. I always try to make a point to thank them since I know how under-appreciated their job must be, dealing with crabby customers all day. But it didn’t even occur to me to use their first name in case the manager listened to the call (besides, everyone likes being addressed by their first name).

  8. I read part of the caption as “make your customer service phone calls less terrible and more–” instead of being a finished sentence, and I practically yelled ” LESS TERRIBLE AND MORE WHAT????” because I had to make two phone calls today and I kept accidentally talking over the person both times. Some of us just need more help lmao

  9. I always try to be super extra triple nice to customer service reps, especially when I get frustrated. I always apologize if my frustration seems directed at them, because it’s not, and I try to use their name whenever possible. I often thank them for just existing, because I’m a million times better off talking to a human, than a robot. Their job is hard, and I know how nice it feels when someone recognizes how hard it is to do your job, and do it with a smile.

  10. This article is a godsend!

    My tip for cleaning in a hurry is if you have more that one toilet, clean the downstairs one properly, the other(s) only vaguely and when the guests ask where to go, direct them to the good one! That’s a tip straight from my mum :)

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