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    Posted on Dec 1, 2015

    10 Life-Changing Things To Try In December

    Because we tried them for you in November!

    Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed Life

    The BuzzFeed Life editors are always trying new products, apps, tips, and DIY projects, and we decided it was time to start sharing the best of them with you. Each month, we'll post our recommendations for what's actually worth it. For the sake of transparency, items under "Things We Bought," "Tricks We Learned," and "Things We Made" were purchased with our own money and/or were not the result of a PR pitch. Those under "Things We Tried" are items that were provided to us at no cost for the sake of review. Let us know in the comments what sorts of things you'd like us to review next month!

    1. HGTV for Sherwin-Williams Painting Gloves — $4.29

    Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

    After a few spray-painting projects ruined my hands/nails, I realized that I needed to start wearing rubber gloves when spray painting. So whenever I was painting, I'd grab whatever gloves I could find around the house: Sometimes that meant latex gloves from under the kitchen sink, sometimes it meant an old pair of winter gloves I could sacrifice to the DIY gods, and other times it meant a pair of kitchen/bathroom rubber gloves that, like...technically protected my skin, but also didn't quite fit right and just...were not made for the task at hand. (Pun semi-intended.)

    Then, in June, I spotted these gloves at a Sherwin-Williams and impulse-bought them and my spray-paint life has never been the same.

    Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

    The gloves are thick enough to protect your skin but thin enough that you'll still get a good range of motion when you're wearing them. They are also softer inside than most work gloves, and the way they're constructed at the wrist helps them stay in place while you're working. The first time I used them, I was dealing with a particularly fussy can of spray paint that left paint everywhere; no other gloves would have stood a chance. If you regularly destroy your hands with DIY projects, these gloves are definitely worth the 4 bucks. —Rachel W. Miller

    2. Sunrise Calendar App — Free

    Alanna Okun / BuzzFeed Life
    Alanna Okun / BuzzFeed Life

    I did not think I was a Calendar Person™ until a few months ago, when I realized I was routinely failing to show up to various personal and professional commitments. The 21st century is hard! So I asked my colleague Nicole what calendar apps she used, because she is a beautiful genius and expert on all things gadget- and productivity-related. She recommended Sunrise and I've used it every day since.

    The app allows you to sync all kinds of calendars (like Google and Facebook) into one place, and you can access them offline/underground when you are on the subway, running 20 minutes late to a party whose address you can't remember. You can sync your contacts' birthdays, keep track of work projects that are in Trello or Basecamp, and just generally pretend to be a semi-functioning human being. There's no way I'm using it to its full potential — I haven't taken advantage of its weather services, for example, or the fact that I could somehow apparently tell it my to-do list — but when I wake up in the morning and check my phone it honestly feels way less overwhelming to see my day/week/life laid out in front of me so neatly. —Alanna Okun

    3. Bra Converter Strap — $14

    BuzzFeed Life

    'Tis the season for holiday parties, which for me means, 'Tis the season to burn every dress with a low or open back. I have big boobs, so going braless or wearing one of those backless/strapless things (which would cover, like, half a boob for me anyway) is a joke. There's a dress in my closet that doesn't even have a daringly low back, and yet it still makes my bra show, so I've never worn it in the two years I've had it. It would be great if I can get my money's worth during this Month of Festivities! Out of desperation, I decided to buy this $14 converter strap with the hope that I could finally get some use out of the dress.

    The strap hooked into my bra clasps really easily — and practically doubled in length after I extended it (it only comes in one size, so this is $$$). I did have to loosen my bra straps a little bit to get the back down to the desired spot, but once I did, I was THRILLED to see that no bra was peeking out when I zipped up my dress.

    BuzzFeed Life
    BuzzFeed Life

    The extender wraps around the stomach, and I was a teeny bit worried it would turn into a torture device after I ate a bunch of appetizers, so I tested it by wearing it during a whole day of snacking. To my delight, it felt pretty comfortable the whole time. Bring on the parties, December. —Terri Pous

    4. Maybelline New York The Nudes Palette — $9.99

    Anna Mendoza / BuzzFeed

    This month in Australia (yes, Australia — this is why are prices are way off for anyone reading this from the U.S. of A.) I decided to put 10 Urban Decay dupes to the test against the OG Naked palette. One of the best of those tested was the Maybelline New York The Nudes Palette, which retails here for $25.95 — so, $55.05 less than the Urban Decay palette. (In the United States, the Maybelline palette is $9.99 and the Urban Decay palette is $54.)

    Both of these palettes include 12 shades and come with a double-ended brush. Each palette has the basic taupe, black, and bronze shades. The Naked palette, however, has two shades with a purple undertone, while the Maybelline palette sticks to more traditional “nude” shades. The colour payoff is much higher in the Naked palette, particularly when it comes to applying the more metallic shadows.

    Anna Mendoza / BuzzFeed

    After testing on myself — and borrowing the beautiful skin of our BuzzFeed fellow Shami to test against a different skin tone — the final verdict was that the Maybelline copy was a pretty good dupe. If you're a total makeup addict, you would probably appreciate the quality of the brush and shadow in the Naked palette, but if you're looking for something that covers the basics (and doesn't drain your bank account), you should be pretty satisfied with this Maybelline version. —Gyan Yankovich

    5. Sugared Cranberries

    Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed

    Ever since I saw my first Ocean Spray commercial with the dudes walking around waist-deep in waders in a cranberry bog, I have been obsessed with cranberries. The only issue is this: Cranberries by themselves are pretty bad. And cranberry sauce or juice from concentrate just isn't the same. So, I discovered the best possible way to eat a crap-ton of cranberries: Douse them in sugar!!

    The benefits to this preparation are fourfold: 1) They taste MUCH better than regular cranberries. Sugar > everything. 2) They are SO PRETTY! And can be used in jars or on cakes to great effect. 3) They make a super-seasonal and cost-effective gift when you package them cutely, as above. 4) One of the secondary products that comes from making these is cranberry simple syrup, which also makes a nice gift and tastes delicious in cocktails!

    Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

    Here's how to make them:

    Step 1: Make a batch of simple syrup to cover the amount of cranberries you want to sugar (i.e., if you have 2 cups of cranberries, make ~3 cups of simple syrup.) Let syrup cool.

    Step 2: Soak cranberries in simple syrup for at least 5 hours, or overnight.

    Step 3: Drain the cranberries (saving the simple syrup — for the cocktails mentioned above), then put them in a large zip-top bag with white sugar and SHAKE to coat. Start with a small amount of sugar and slowly add more until all the berries are coated.

    Step 4: Spread the sugared cranberries out on a cookie sheet to dry in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

    Jess Probus

    6. Lasagna Soup

    A Farmgirl's Dabbles afarmgirlsdabbles.com

    As we established last month, soup is the best. So here's my recommendation for you for December: lasagna soup. It's a little more labor-intensive than other soups I've made, but the payoff is worth it.

    I've made this soup multiple times and one thing I've noticed is that when you save the leftovers, the pasta absorbs the soup and turns from soup into something chunky and casserole-like. So when I made it a couple weeks ago, I just cooked the pasta separately and just added it to the individual servings of soup; I also stored the cooked pasta separately and then scooped the shells in before reheating. It's an extra step, but it'll make your lunch of leftovers so much better. —Rachel W. Miller

    7. How to Break in New Shoes

    Mallory McInnis / BuzzFeed Life

    My feet have no desire to ever be anything but barefoot. I know this because whenever I wear a new pair of shoes for the first time, I get at least three blisters. In the past, I've just accepted the fact that my feet are going to hurt the first few times I wear some new footwear, but no more! Last week I got two new pairs of shoes (flats and heels), and I decided to actually try some of the "how to break in a new pair of shoes" hacks I'd previously ignored.

    What didn't work? Putting a bag of water into each of my shoes and freezing them. I tried this with a pair of flats. Maybe this would work better with a pair of "deeper" shoes (sneakers? men's shoes?), but after two nights of freezer time, my shoes felt exactly the same. Unsuccessful. I ended up "breaking" in these flats by sticking in some heel liners and getting small blisters on the tops of my feet.

    What did work? Wearing the shoes *with socks* around the house for a few days. Every day after getting home from work I'd slip on a pair of socks and wander around the house for the rest of the evening wearing my new heels. I didn't want to stretch out the shoes toooooooooooo much, so for the first few days I wore a very thin pair of socks: no change. But after wearing them with a pair of my wooliest winter socks (drumroll, please) — they actually became comfortable! I wore them out for the night and didn't get a single blister! Thanks, socks. —Mallory McInnis

    8. Cleaning Squash With a Grapefruit Spoon

    Rachel Christiensen / BuzzFeed Life

    A kitchen logic problem: I love eating squash. I hate cleaning squash.

    I love eating grapefruit so much that I got a grapefruit spoon.

    Solution: What if I used that spiky little spoon to clean my squash, since it can grip the edges and scoop in one fell swoop?

    FASTER SQUASH CLEANING, that is what. Now I can make this for the fourth time. And this. And this. And this. —Rachel Christiensen

    9. Vivino App — Free

    itunes.apple.com

    Scanning a wine label.

    itunes.apple.com

    The rating, price, and reviews.

    Hi, I'm Natalie, and I really, really like wine. I buy at *least* one bottle every week, sometimes two — whether it's to go with dinner, to take to a party, or to give to a friend. This means I've also tasted enough wine to know two things: 1) bad wine is bad, and 2) decent wine doesn't have to cost more than dinner.

    But when I'm in my favorite wine store faced with that daunting wall of bottles, I don't really know what's ~worth it~. That's where the Vivino app comes in: I pull it out, pick a bottle that's in my price range, and scan it with the app. (Basically, you take a photo of the wine label.) The app recognizes the label, and takes me to a page with a rating, the average price of the wine, details about it, other users' reviews, a place to write my own notes and put in my own rating. This way, I never end up picking out a bad wine, and I know I'm not overpaying for it.

    Vivino has tons of other features — for example, as you rate different wines that you try, it puts together a personal "Taste Profile" that will help you understand what you actually like (and dislike) about wines. But my favorite feature is the ability to figure out exactly what I'm about to buy before I buy it! —Natalie Brown

    10. Tile — $25

    Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

    There are a lot of location-tracking gizmos around: minimalist ones, ones for your wallet, ones for your kids. Tile is one of the first and most successful trackers, which is why I wanted to try it for myself. It's a small plastic square that connects to an iPhone or Android device via Bluetooth and can reveal an item's location up to 100 feet away by triggering a loud tone or show the item's last known location on a map.

    The most obvious place to put Tile is a key ring, although you could technically attach it to anything (your car, luggage, wallet, bike, etc.). I tested the second-generation Tile, which has an updated ringer that's even louder than before (apparently the loudest on the market). It definitely came in handy when my keys were buried in jean pockets at the bottom of my dirty clothes heap.

    The app and web app are very easy to use. They show the location of your Tile (or Tiles) and your phone, plus a "Find" button to ring Tile's alarm. Because Tile's location is synced to your account, you can log into Tile from any computer or phone and see where both your phone and Tile are. Another great feature is being able to reverse-find your phone by double pressing the "e" in Tile. You can also share Tiles, which is great for roommates with a single mail key, for example.

    One major downside to Tile is that its battery lasts one year and it cannot be replaced. After 11 months, you have to "re-Tile" for about half the original price, $12. But this isn't so bad — you could just gift the Tile for that person who's too busy to remember where their shit is, year after year after year. —Nicole Nguyen

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