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10 Life-Changing Things To Try In July

Because we tried them for you in June!

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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" 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. Putting cut flowers in the fridge to keep them fresh — free

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed Life

Fresh flowers are the quickest way to brighten up any space. The only bad thing about spending your hard-earned dough on greenery and blooms is that they start to wilt after only a few days. My favorite flowers, like peonies and ranunculus, have an even shorter shelf-life than most, and they tend to be more expensive. After Apartment Therapy tested out different methods for keeping flowers fresh, I decided to try their super-easy solution: putting cut flowers in the fridge. I put my flowers in the fridge every night and they lasted SO much longer! I changed the water once (around day five), and the blooms were still perfectly white and open after almost two weeks. —Jess Probus

2. Decanting Household Products — $10–$20

Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

One of the key things I took away from Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was just how much "noise" branded products add to our space. "The neater the home, and the more sparse its furnishings, the louder this information feels," she writes. "By eliminating excess visual information that doesn't spark joy, you can make your space much more peaceful and comfortable." Meanwhile, a recent New York Times piece highlighted the huge number of ads and branding we're subjected to — without our consent — every day. I took all this to heart and bought inexpensive pump bottles from Muji (white for the bathroom, clear for the kitchen) and Target (green glass for the bathroom, clear for the kitchen). Then I spent about 10 minutes decanting face wash, body wash, shampoo, hand soap, and dish soap into the new bottles. It was such an easy swap and I love how clean, unified, and elegant my counters look now. Turns out, everyday household items really can ~spark joy~. —Rachel W. Miller

3. Casio Leather Analog Watch — $15

Alison Caporimo / BuzzFeed Life

I've wanted a wristwatch for a long time, but felt paralyzed, shopping-wise, by the idea that I was supposed to Make a Statement with it — to invest in a very expensive and/or fashionable watch so that I could justify wearing something so inherently quaint.

That lasted until about a month ago, when a stylish co-worker tipped me off to the treasure trove of cheap, cute Casio watches for sale on Amazon. After just a few minutes of browsing I found the timepiece of my dreams: a sweet little analog model with a white plastic face on a skinny, mint-green leather band. It barely cost more than I spend on a single lunch, and it makes me happy every day.

Alison Caporimo / BuzzFeed Life

The watch is admittedly dinky, which I actually like; it's light and small enough to happily share my left wrist with a silver bracelet that I also wear every day. It works well as a point of interest when I'm wearing a neutral outfit, but I've also found it gives me a reason to try out new color combinations when I'm getting dressed. And the band comes in a handful of other pretty pastels if green isn't your thing.

But I like the watch for more than its looks. I haven't taken an analog clock seriously since I was a teen, living under the iron rule of the wall clocks in every classroom of my high school. This little piece of plastic reminds me that there's a realness to that physical circle of numbers that you can't get from checking a cell phone or a computer screen — a feeling (not to get too philosophical here) that the passing of time is not a threat or a loss but simply a fact.

Sometimes I still find myself instinctively reaching for my phone to check the time, but more and more often I catch myself before I pull it out of my bag and look at my wrist instead. I like what I see. —Rachel Sanders

4. O-Cedar Dual Action Microfiber Flip Mop Damp/Dry All Surface Mop — $19

Natalie Brown / BuzzFeed Life

I am a longtime Swiffer WetJet devotee for quick, weekly mopping. The biggest downside was buying those maxi pad-like refills, but I was convinced that there couldn't be another mop that cleaned my tile floors so well so easily. The proof was on the pad! So when I heard about this mop on The Sweethome, I was a little skeptical... but at just under $13, I figured it was worth a try. And oh. my. goodness.

Natalie Brown / BuzzFeed Life

I use the dust mop side — the finger-like, solid blue side — dry, without any water or cleaning products, and it picks up all the hair that my three roommates and I are constantly shedding, all the fuzz from my new wool rug, plus other big bits of grime. Then I flip it over to the striped side for wet mopping. For my quick weekly cleanings, I followed the directions that came with the mop and only use water — no cleaning solution — and so far the microfiber fabric seems to be picking up all the gunk as well as any floor cleaner might. For my deeper, once-monthly cleaning, I will heat up undiluted vinegar to gently disinfect (learn more about that here and here). I've used the mop several times, but haven't run it through the laundry yet. Instead, I rinse it out in the bathtub after each use. I'm obsessed with the pad's blue fingers, which look like they're from a Dr. Seuss book, and the mop is way more budget-friendly than WetJet refills. —Natalie Brown

5. Blinkist Book Summaries — $7/month

Blinkist is an app for anyone who doesn't have time to read but still wants to know what's going on during conversations with friends who do. Think of it as a Cliffs Notes for all the books your smart friends are reading.

When you subscribe to the mobile app and website, you get 15-minute written and audio takeaways for acclaimed titles like Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow and Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom. The books are condensed into "blinks," or short summaries of the author's main points. It's an ideal service for curious people interested in learning about a lot of different subjects in a short period of time.

Listening to Blinkist's audio versions has become my favorite activity while folding laundry and washing dishes. After a three-day trial, I signed up for the paid subscription, which costs $7 per month or $80 per year. One month in, I'm pretty happy with my purchase. Blinkist is a great way to get your feet wet with a long read. And I loved the summary of Walter Isaacson's Einstein so much that I bought the full Kindle version to read the whole thing. — Nicole Nguyen

6. A Fancy Animal Gallery Wall — The Market Price Of Fancy Animal Portraits & Frames

Rachel W. Miller / Via therewm.com

When I walked into my friends' apartment for the first time last month, I immediately fell in love with their fancy animal gallery wall. Apparently, David bought the first photo — a "dog gentleman in suit" — on a drunken Amazon shopping spree back in 2011. After hanging it in his room, he decided the portrait was lonely and bought a few more. (Possibly also while drunk.) Then he started dating Carly, who gave him two more portraits for the wall, and when they moved in together, other people started giving them more as housewarming gifts.

"My mom found some coasters depicting dogs as famous people at a garage sale and she had them mounted for us," Carly told me. "My sister added the giant cat on the upper right when Rosie and Frankie joined the family. We got another famous print of two very chic cats painted over a page from a French novel for my bridal shower, and on and on it went."

I always hear people saying they don’t know what to hang on their walls because they don’t have any great photos to frame, so I love the idea of building a gallery wall around a quirky art collection like this! —Rachel W. Miller

7. Cleaning Your Oven With Baking Soda — $5ish

Alanna Okun / BuzzFeed Life

So here is a cute and alluring fact about me: Before last night, I had never in 25 years on this planet cleaned an oven. I moved into my apartment about a year ago and although I cook three or four nights a week, I'm pretty much a stovetop/microwave kinda gal. (But this is all an excuse to cover up the fact that cleaning my oven sort of scared me? Like it would burst into flames or maybe become sentient and gobble me up? Idk.)

This insanely popular pin, about cleaning your oven with baking soda, seemed not at all scary. I LOVE baking soda; I already use it as dry shampoo (brush it through thoroughly so you don't look like you are playing an old woman in a musical) and as a stain remover (mix it into a paste with water, leave on your period-stained sheets or sweat-soaked T-shirts, and toss in the wash). I decided to try cleaning my oven, my oven racks, and my woefully neglected bathtub.

I fooled around with the proportions and wound up using equal parts baking soda and vinegar, as well as a few drops of Dawn and a little lemon juice. What they don't tell you on Pinterest is how fun the mixing process is! Baking soda and vinegar, as you may recall from second-grade science experiments, bubble and froth in a very delightful way. This means that you have to add the vinegar slooooowly so as not to volcano all over your kitchen. (Note: a coworker later informed me that baking soda and vinegar actually cancel each other out so it was basically the Dawn doing all the work; you can just sub in a few drops of water for the vinegar in order to make the paste and avoid my chemically inept mistakes ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

Once you've mixed your ingredients into a paste, wipe it all over the inside of your oven, including the roof (?), with a sponge. I did the same with the oven racks and my bathtub and left them all to sit overnight.

Wiping all those surfaces down the next day was downright satisfying. The (frankly deeply alarming amount of) grime came right off, without any of that chemically smell I associate with cleaning. I did still go over the walls of my shower with my usual all-purpose cleaner, but that was mostly because I don't think I made enough of the baking soda concoction to really cover them. And I don't know that I'll be switching to this method permanently — I'm kind of agnostic when it comes to cleaning supplies unless I am waxing poetic about my vacuum — but I'll absolutely use it again. Next year. —Alanna Okun

8. Lipstick Queen Cupid’s Bow Lip Pencil in Eros — $22

My main lipstick concerns are as follows: lasting power, color, and ease of application, in that order. Lately I’ve been trying a few “long-lasting” formulas that stick pretty well, but anytime I need to reapply, layering the new coat on top of hours-old lipstick makes me look like I stuck my lips in a jar of Nutella (which I’ve actually done, so I know what that scene looks like). Then at the end of the night, I need a washcloth, an exfoliator, and some blind faith to remove the lipstick. It’s a mess.

Lipstick Queen recently came out with this Cupid’s Bow lip pencil, and I was sold after one day of wear. The giant pencil is basically fool-proof — it’s like coloring in your lips. Plus it comes with a sharpener already in the box, which is extremely rare. I’m a heavy coffee drinker (at least three cups in the morning) and I’m constantly chugging water, but the bright pink color managed not to budge from my lips. I barely needed to reapply, but I went to the ladies room to freshen up after work and instinctively applied a new layer of the color, and it looked good as new. At night, it comes off with just a tissue. Oh, and I felt especially ~magical~ because almost every person I saw the first day I was wearing it (right down to a random woman on the subway) complimented me on my lipstick. Since then I’ve bought it in another color and I’m never looking back. —Augusta Falletta

9. Cabeau Memory Foam Evolution Pillow — $34.99

Alison Caporimo / BuzzFeed Life

After I booked my flight to Italy, I knew that I needed something to make the eight-hour plane ride feel less like a journey through hell, so I decided to try the Cabeau Memory Foam Evolution Pillow. Well, did it work? I now direct your attention to Exhibit A: a photo of me passed the fuck out. YES. This is the first travel pillow I've ever owned, so maybe I've just been missing out FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE, but the pillow was soft (but not too soft) with a velour-ish feel to it and drawstrings so that you could clip it around your neck for legit support. It also has a pocket to fit your phone in case you want to listen to music. And it rolls into a carrying bag to become roughly the size of a grapefruit (not the tiniest thing, but it's the price you pay for memory foam magic). I won't be traveling without it. —Alison Caporimo

10. Washable Area Rug From Ruggable — $150

Melissa Harrison / BuzzFeed Life

I have been known to spill things. Water on my work keyboard, coffee on the subway, sophomore-year sangria on the IKEA rug my roommates and I all chipped in for so that our first off-campus apartment would feel ~adult~.

Memories of that decade-old SangrIncident crept back into my mind — Remember how the wine stain never completely faded? Remember how I would drink Sprite + red wine and call it sangria? — when I came across Ruggable, a line of machine-washable area rugs. A glance at their website will tell you that the rugs are seemingly aimed more at parents with accident-prone toddlers, rather than (eternally) accident-prone twentysomethings. But I tried it out anyway.

The rug itself comes in two pieces: a non-slip, rubber-backed base ($49.99) that lies thin and flat against the floor. Then there's a machine-washable cover ($99.99) that you put over it — that's the part you can lift up, change out, and clean. When used together, they're a a cohesive, sturdy unit, and not an obvious two-piece set.

The covers come in several different sizes, colors, and designs. They sent me this one, and while I wasn't crazy about the print, the product itself does exactly what it promises: The rug base is durable, and the cover is easily attached and removed. And, when you inevitably need to clean it, it'll fit into a (even fairly small) washing machine. I folded mine — a full 58" x 88" — down into a little square that was roughly the size of two bath towels. And then I poured one out for that old IKEA rug. —Melissa Harrison

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