DIY

10 Life-Changing Things To Try In November

Because we tried them for you in October!

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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" and "Tricks We Learned" 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. Plant Nanny — Free for iOS and Android

Plant Nanny / BuzzFeed Life

I've never been very good at staying hydrated. Realizing at 4 p.m. that the only liquid I've ingested all day has been a venti iced coffee from Starbucks is a typical occurrence for me. Whoops. There are dozens of apps that will remind you to drink more water, but most of them tend to be complicated affairs that also track your activity and help you count calories. I didn't want to deal with any of that. I just wanted an app with one function and one function only: to get some water into my parched bod. (It's not, contrary to the title, about remembering to water your plants on time.)

Which is why I was excited when Plant Nanny worked for me. It's like caring for a Tamagotchi, only your pet is a plant with eyes and caring for it means you're *also* caring for yourself. Like a real plant, your digital one will die if you don't give it enough water; trying to keep my plant from wilting inspires me to walk over to the water cooler so much more than I ever did when I was only trying to keep *myself* from wilting! And the glug-glug noise the app makes when you water your little sprout is super satisfying. Now my plant is flourishing and so am I. —Mallory McInnis

2. Insulating Window Plastic — $14 for a pack of nine

homedepot.com

I need to make a gargantuan disclaimer re: this review, because I did not actually install these myself; my mom came to visit and she did the whole thing. (She also cleaned my blinds, installed curtain rods, and drove me to the grocery store, which in New York City is an unimaginable luxury.) So really this is a review of moms, and if we had a rating system I would give mine all of the stars.

These window coverings work in an almost suspiciously simple way. You attach large sheets of plastic around the perimeter of each window and secure them with special tape. It's supposed to keep drafts from sneaking in, and it actually works! We haven't had a bitterly cold day yet this year so I might be singing a different tune in the dead of January, but those annoying little gusts that plagued me in the early mornings of last fall haven't been able to get in again.

They are, unfortunately, kind of ugly; even if you manage to wrestle them perfectly smooth (a time-consuming and fiddly process) there's no way to avoid the fact that you just Saran-wrapped your house like day-old leftovers. But curtains and blinds help distract from this, and the temperature payoff is worth it. THANKS AGAIN, MA. —Alanna Okun

3. Scanner Pro app — $2.99 for iOS

Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

I've had the Scanner Pro app on my iPhone for a while. When I was a freelancer, I used it constantly (all those W-9s and contracts!) and I rely on it for scanning receipts when I'm doing my expenses. Beyond capturing images that are shockingly crisp, I love how easy it is to send the scans to your Dropbox, Google Drive, or Evernote.

This month, I was reminded just how much I love this app when I was sketching out charts for a BuzzFeed post and needed to scan them into my computer so I could edit them in Photoshop.

Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

The photos above show my original pencil drawing, what the Scanner Pro scan looked like, and how the image looked after I cleaned up some stray marks and added color in Photoshop. If you find yourself scanning things... basically ever, this $3 app is completely worth it. —Rachel Wilkerson Miller

4. Wet N Wild Megaslicks Balm Stain — $3

I love the way lipstick looks on me, but I hate constantly having to reapply. So, when my mom — who shares my pale lips and distaste for high-maintenance makeup — told me I had to try this balm stain, I did.

It stayed put ALL. DAMN. DAY.

Julia Reinstein / BuzzFeed Life

Seriously! I did not reapply once. In fact, I actually forgot I was wearing anything on my lips at all. And at the end of the day, the color had barely faded. My lips got a little dry throughout the day, but nothing a little lip balm couldn't fix. (One of my favorite things about this balm stain is that you can apply lip balm over it without messing up the color.)

After borrowing my mom's just once, I went out and bought it in three colors. They usually cost $3, but nearly every time I've seen them in stores, they've been on sale or there have been coupons for them. You can buy them online for $1.99 at Walgreens right now, and oh my god you should.

I've worn this stain every day since I first tried it. It's ridiculously low-maintenace, inexpensive, easy to apply, and the colors are so pretty. As always, mom knows best. —Julia Reinstein

5. An Amazing Taco Soup Recipe

smithratliff.com / Via cupofjo.com

Soup weather is finally upon us, friends! I could happily live on soup; there are tons of recipes that are inexpensive, healthy, and easy to make, and making a batch on Sunday or Monday means I'm all set with work lunches for the rest of the week. So as soon as it dipped below 60 degrees in October, I pulled this fantastic taco soup recipe up on Evernote and headed to the grocery store. I used ground beef instead of turkey and was lucky enough to find frozen onions (something of a grocery store urban myth as far as I'm concerned) which made the process that much easier. The soup came together so quickly (this recipe is definitely easy enough for beginner cooks!), and I topped it with sour cream and avocado for extra deliciousness. —Rachel Wilkerson Miller

6. Velcro for Fixing Gapping Button-Front Shirts

Kristin Chirico / BuzzFeed

Hi, my name is Kristin, and I suffer from chronic shirt gapping. Unfortunately, I am also a trash monster at DIY stuff and too messy an eater to be trusted with any expensively tailored shirts. So, for all the ladies out there who are either lazy or strapped for cash, I decided to test out four lo-fi, easy shirt-gapping solutions. The winner? Sticky-back Velcro.

You're supposed to let it set for 24 hours, so I of course let it set for about 30 seconds. AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENED!

Some disclaimers: Obviously, I tried this on flannel, and it may work differently on other fabrics. Also, this is meant to be permanent (and washable, if you follow the instructions), so you can peel it off afterward, but it's not as easy as with regular tape.

Also, PLEASE PLEASE (PLEASE!) TRY A SPOT TEST FIRST if you want to try this on your fave shirt. If you decide you hate the Velcro and want to peel it off, you want to make sure it won't ruin your shirt. My shirt was fine when I peeled it off, but every shirt is different!

Did it hold my shirt together? You bet your sweet bananas it did!

Did it last throughout the day? Dude, yes, it was crazy! I was asking people basically all day if a) anything was holding together my shirt, and b) if they could see what was holding it together. Literally no one could tell that anything was there, let alone Velcro!

If you really stare, you can tell it's slightly curved, because I stuck the Velcro on there while I was wearing the shirt (maybe don't do that) but no one is paying that close attention, and let's take our lazy victories where we can. —Kristin Chirico

7. Learning to Be Body Positive One Selfie at a Time

I don't really understand what my body looks like. I can look in a mirror two times in a day and see something totally different. Unfortunately I spend much of that mirror time pulling apart things I dislike about it. It can be exhausting and is not great for my self-care. So I decided to try something new.

For the whole month of October, I took photos of every outfit that made me feel good about my body. I uploaded some to my Snapchat story (saving them once they'd loaded up) but I kept most on my phone and favorited them so they'd collect in an album. I got this idea from two people; the first was BuzzFeed BFF boss and all-around good person Summer Anne Burton who said we should take more selfies in 2015 because we're all beautiful. The second was a stylist named Cindy Gordon whom I hired to redo my closet last year to help me become comfortable with my personal style. She told me that we should always take photos when trying on clothing because it shows us what others see, as opposed to what we see. And it's true. Over the course of the month I found myself becoming more understanding of my body. I naturally gravitated toward items of clothing that were both flattering and ~classically me~. And on days when I just felt like I couldn't be there for myself I was able to find an outfit that gave me a little push instead of heading to the baggy sweaters that I usually do. It also had the added bonus of creating a Cher Horowitz–style virtual closet. Taking selfies gets a bad rap, but now that my phone is filled with photos of me looking my best, I'd never go back. —Mackenzie Kruvant

8. PopTop Popcorn Maker — $19.95

Popcorn is a lovely snack for a lazy afternoon (particularly an afternoon spent staring at Netflix like a zombie). But I can't stand the taste of typical microwave popcorn — sorry if you love it, but it tastes weird to me — and while stovetop popcorn is delicious, standing over my stove shaking a pan back and forth really interfered with my laziness. This is where this silicone microwave popcorn maker comes in handy. You use normal stovetop popcorn kernels, a drizzle of olive or vegetable oil (you can also pop it without oil, but I think it's too bland like that), and your microwave.

Natalie Brown / BuzzFeed Life

When you stick it in the microwave and the kernels first start popping, a couple of kernels will escape onto the rotating glass tray. NBD! I just toss them back in the bowl at the end. At a certain point the top does pop open, and I like to watch the mountain of popcorn get bigger and bigger. When it's done, I shake a bunch of salt over it — and sometimes some pepper and garlic powder if I'm feeling fancy — and then stuff it in my mouth by the handful. —Natalie Brown

9. Lettermate — $9.95

Terri Pous / BuzzFeed Life

As someone who compares her own handwriting to jazz, I'm always a little worried about hand-addressed notes and letters getting lost in the mail. I found the Lettermate stencil on Pinterest; it's an envelope addressing guide that helps keep your handwriting consistent. I had a feeling it would be the answer to my scrawly problems.

I found that the Lettermate will help you make all of your letters level, evenly spaced, and ready for little embellishments like serifs and dingbats. It also comes with a super-helpful tip sheet and examples, and the website has printable practice envelopes, sample letters, and adornments, and a bunch of videos that show you how to get the most out of it.

It won't, however, magically give you better handwriting. It took some practice to ensure that all of my E's looked kind of the same, and even with practice, rounded letters still appeared boxy around the edges. Using a very fine felt-tip pen definitely helped, and $9.95 isn't terribly expensive for something that should last through several seasons of addressing holiday cards. If you're hand-addressing invitations or thank-you notes, then it's way cheaper than paying a stationer, and much more personal than running envelopes through the printer. —Terri Pous

10. Carpe Lotion — $14.95

BuzzFeed Life

Have you ever gone to shake someone's hand only to realize mid-shake that your palms were holding pond-levels of sweat? Not the greatest moment. While sweat is completely natural and you shouldn't be ashamed of it (or anything your body does), it's *also* completely natural to be embarrassed if you witness someone wiping their hands off on their pants after shaking your hand. I recently tried a lotion that could save the sweaty-palmed humans of the world from a moment like that.

Carpe Lotion is antiperspirant for your palms instead of your armpits. The directions instruct you to rub a pea-sized amount of lotion on your hands in the morning to keep your hands dry all day. The verdict? It works! At first my hands felt sort of gross (almost TOO dry with a bit of a residue), but after washing them they seemed normal...but sweat-free. While my hands aren't sweaty enough to bother putting on the lotion on a daily basis, I'd definitely dab some on if I was nervous about meeting someone: No one who isn't a sea creature wants to be associated with the word "clammy." —Mallory McInnis

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