Helping You Help Yourself #25

feature image via shutterstock

Do you have some weird-ass lighting fixtures and you cannot figure out how to change the bulbs in them? Maybe this exhaustive post will help. Unfortunately it does not cover the awful track lighting in my bathroom, the bulbs of which seem designed to bring me pain, but I hope you fare better than me.

Some thoughts on procrastination from Lifehacker.

I am real, real tired of constantly losing socks in the wash and having a growing family of solo socks sitting around in my drawer, so I finally got a smallish mesh laundry bag that zips shut, and now I put all my dirty socks in there and throw the whole bag in the machine when I do laundry. My socks get clean and are contained inside the bag, where they cannot escape or fall in the stairwell as I’m carrying the laundry hamper, never to be seen again. Magic!

A small tip for making your home smell nice in a minimum amount of time is to put a tiny bit of vanilla extract, like maybe a teaspoon, into a coffee mug then put the coffee mug in the oven before turning the oven on to a low heat, like 250. As the vanilla heats up it will get really aromatic in a nice, subtle way; you just have to make sure you remember to turn off the oven.

Here is a tumblr post with a tutorial for making the pockets in women’s jeans larger.

Of the many services Google offers — search! Email! Chat! Phones! — Google Voice, its phone service, sometimes flies under the radar. Which makes sense; you likely already have a phone. It has a few neat tricks, though, which you may be unaware of! The thing I probably use it for most often is that if you set it up associated with your phone number, it can transcribe any voicemails you get and email them to you. The transcription is done by a computer, so isn’t perfect, but is usually enough for me to figure out what the message was and call back without having to open up and listen to my voicemail. It also has more detailed blocking/screening features than your phone likely regularly does; you can block callers with the click of your mouse, set certain numbers to screen so you listen to the voicemail as it’s being left and decide whether you want to pick up, and you can leave different voicemail messages for different numbers, so if you’re on a job search you can leave a formal voicemail prompt for potential employers and a more casual one for friends. Here are a few tips, and here’s a more comprehensive guide.

You have perhaps heard of “4-7-8 breathing,” a breathing technique that claims to relax you and maybe help you fall asleep if you hold the tip of your tongue behind your top teeth and breathe in for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds, and breathe out for eight seconds, with your tongue in place the whole time, for a few rounds. Does that work? I don’t really know, I’m not a doctor. What I do know, though, and what is glossed over in most of the headlines about it, is that allegedly for that technique to really be effective (or help you fall asleep in one minute, or whatever the idea is) it has to be practiced every day for at least a month or so. If you’d like an app to help you with that, the best one I’ve found is called Breathe; it will count the breath phases for you, remind you twice a day, and keep track of your streak with practicing.

Some information relevant to all of our interests: the best way to wrap a sandwich.

Wise Senior Editor Yvonne reminded me this week to remind you to clean your glasses. Seriously, if you wear them, they’re almost definitely dirty right now, and cleaning them off will make your day better.

How To Grow the Fuck Up, a great resource which I consult often for this column, posted a job hunting success guide this week. Check it out!

The Kitchn did a seven-day kitchen Spring Refresh; if your kitchen or life generally could use a little refreshing, maybe it is for you.

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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. re: “4-7-8 breathing,” in Yoga we do the “square” breathing technique: you picture a square and you travel around it at a steady pace. The first section is for breathing in. Second section is a pause. third section is breathing out. fourth section is pause. repeat.
    So you’re spending as much time on breathing in, breathing out, and pausing.

    It’s super relaxing and helps bring down your heartrate quite well I find, even though the feeling of having to hold your breath at the beginning can be a bit weird.

    Also I HATE having ANYTHING on my glasses I clean them like 5 times a day.

    On the procrastination thing : not sure “just starting” is enough for me. I “just start” about 30 times throughout the day. It’s just that right after (say, 5 minutes) of “just starting”, I “just stop”. :/

  2. I appreciated the post about pocket extenders. A prerequisite for my pants is that they must have pockets. I’ve thought about sewing a bigger pocket, but it feels beyond my sewing abilities. The article almost made it seem doable.

    Also Google voice! My wife set it up on my computer so I could use texting for work without having to purchase a cell phone.

  3. I don’t really have trouble losing socks but I’m using that idea anyway because I have a lot of socks that need to be dried more delicately than the rest of the clothes they get washed with, so this will be much easier to separate them. GENIUS. with the added bonus that I definitely won’t lose any.

    • “I don’t really have trouble losing socks” <--- this is so aspirational! i am in awe! A+ work!

      • I almost WISH it were a problem because in replacement I seem to occasionally lose reusable menstrual pads. D:

        (those are also going to go in a bag now)

  4. The procrastination article is me. Those are all my vices and I’m so aware of them! I think this weekend was the first weekend in a very long time I was super productive and set myself up for success this week and upcoming weeks. I’m excited for my new goals and plans and being a doer and a non-procrastinator.

    • ah that sounds so great yvonne! i’m very happy for you! i did succeed in making several meals this weekend with lots of leftovers so i have many meal options in my fridge to start the week, and i am attempting to focus on that success rather than beating myself up for not doing more work-work.

      anyone else with weekend successes? share them!

      • I bought a bike this weekend so I can get regular exercise without paying for a gym membership while I search for a job!! IT’S PINK.

  5. I think the most important decision I made today was to stop procrastinating by reading that article about procrastination. .

  6. I have my Google voice # set-up on my phone to hand out when I don’t want to use my main #. works great as the Caller has to say a name ± hear before pressing one to accept the call.

    • As long as they’re the close in height and fabric a similar consistency they totally match.

  7. That’s why I always buy the same kind of socks, so when they become widows they can remarry

  8. I recently bought a pair of secondhand jeans that have FAKE POCKETS in the front, which I didn’t realize until I got them home. I spent too much time in that changing room making sure they made my ass look good and not enough time questioning their practicality. Woe, woe is me.

  9. I just cleaned my glasses and it *DID* make my day better, thank you!

    Also, the vanilla-oven trick only works if the inside of your oven isn’t already covered with burnt-on cake batter, cheese and veggie-sausage-grease.

    Also on the topic of socks, I think your mesh bag must be the ultimate Rachel but what also works is when you take them off and put them in the wash, ball them at the top ends, so you’re not making them into a proper sock ball, just attaching them to each other as pairs. When they come out they are still in pairs! Life changing.

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