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10 Life-Changing Things To Try In October

Because we tried them for you in September!

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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!

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1. Pocket Hose — $19.99

When you find a truly ingenious "As Seen On TV" product, you just have to shout it from the rooftops —or, in my case, a lone rooftop in Brooklyn, New York. My girlfriend and I have a rooftop garden where we grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs out of containers and pretend like we are hardcore farmers. Our greatest issue has been finding the perfect hose. Some of the hoses we had got tangled too easily while others sprang leaks. Also, hoses can randomly be kind of heavy, allowing them to catch on corners so that you have to walk back and forth to free it as you go. Enter the solution to our problems: the Pocket Hose Top Brass. The pocket hose is super light and it expands as water fills into it — watching it come to life is pretty mesmerizing. When you're all done, the hose crinkles back into its deflated state, making it super easy to store in a small spot. Your garden will thank you. —Alison Caporimo

2. Online Watercolor Class — $5

Rachel W. Miller

After liking hundreds of cute illustrations and hand-lettered graphics on Instagram over the past few months, I found myself wanting to learn to paint. Not because I expect to suddenly have the skills of a professional artist, but because I like the idea of having an idea for a visual project and being able to bring it to life on my own. Sometimes a girl just wants to paint a pretty little picture, calligraph a cheeky caption on it, and post a photo of it on Instagram, you know? After not finding any watercolor classes that I really connected with on YouTube, I decided to try something more formal.

I started with Jenna Rainey's watercolor class on Brit.co. (Note: When you create an account, you get a $10 off code via email, which knocks the cost of the class down to $10.) Rainey is really talented and I learned some good techniques, but the way the video is shot (read: way more shots of the artist than her canvas) was frustrating. A few days later, down some kind of Pinterest rabbit hole, I came across Creativebug, which turned out to be just what I needed.

Floral images done after taking the Brit.co class / Rachel W. Miller

I signed up for Intermediate Watercolor: Painting Florals, taught by Yao Cheng. She explains things in a really clear way and the video makes it easy to follow along. (Though, with all the online art and calligraphy classes I've now tried, I've found that I have to pause the video and practice for several hours over the course of a week to really get it.)

Creativebug is super cheap — $5 a month gets you one "credit," which is good for one class. Plus, you own the class videos forever, including the one you get during the 14-day free trial. The video I did was really well shot and I love how organized it is on the back end; it's divided into chapters and you can easily access high-res versions of the paintings Cheng does in the video if you want to take a closer look.

While I'm not great with watercolors yet, I am getting better, and I've found that practicing for a few hours each week is a really lovely creative activity, and one that's been especially helpful during a very stressful few weeks. It's been nice to be able to put on music, paint some fuckin' flowers, and forget about the world for a while. —Rachel W. Miller

3. iShows app — free for iOS

BuzzFeed Life

I watch so many TV shows that I used to have a hard time keeping track of them all. When I complained about this dire problem to one of my friends, she told me that I should just cut back — ha! Not an option. A few weeks ago I discovered the perfect way to keep track of all of the episodes I need to watch: the iShows app. Just search for your favorite shows, add them to your account, and the app will tell you when a new episode airs. It's one of the only apps on my phone that I allow to send me push notifications: "There's a new episode of Rectify? Sweet." And as someone who gets a true jolt of pleasure from marking things off a to-do list, I love being able to check off the episodes I view as I binge watch a show on Netflix: I'm proud of my accomplishments. —Mallory McInnis

4. Mauna Loa Milk Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nuts — $17.99

We New Yorkers are extremely spoiled with the amazing food selection the city has to offer. Almost 100% of the time, if you want it, NYC has got some awesome hole-in-the-wall restaurant or cute family-owned market place that's got it. But being born and raised in Hawaii, I've found it a struggle to find good local food or goodies here that aren't ridiculously overpriced or "mainland-ized" (since I guess it's not correct to say "Americanized."). Which is why it's important to have a superhero mom who will send you care packages with things like Mauna Loa Milk Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nuts!

I'm not a huge dessert person. I prefer salty and crunchy any day of the week. Each of these macadamia nuts is lightly salted, covered in a coat of coconut, and finished with a very generous layer of milk chocolate. Before you know it, you've eaten a quarter of the Costco-size bag in one sitting. If you like coconut and chocolate (and don't have nut allergies), I highly recommend them.

A friend of mine who lives in Indianapolis told me she found them at Costco the other day. (Kudos to you, Midwest Costcos.) But if you don't live in Indianapolis, you don't have a Costco membership, or you don't have a mom in Hawaii who will send them to you in bulk every month, you can buy them online from Mauna Loa or Sam's Club. They're incredible, and — for me anyway — they make home feel a little less far away. —Shannon Rosenberg

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5. Anker Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger — $9.99

Jess Probus

As someone who uses their phone almost constantly throughout the day, my battery life situation was getting very dim. And after the 50th time of being "that person" at a bar who asks if there's a place to charge my phone, I knew it was time to do something about it.

I have tried every different kind of external phone battery: the Mophie case (expensive and bulky), an off-brand battery case purchased on Groupon (broke in two days), various portable power banks purchased at the airport as a last resort (heavy and annoying to recharge). This tiny Anker version was the No. 1 most popular portable charger on Amazon and had over 16K reviews, most of which were really good. Plus, it comes in several cool colors (for an extra $6).

On a recent trip out of the country where I was using my phone to get around a foreign metro system like nobody's business, I was able to use this charger and completely rejuice TWO PHONES back to 100% on a single charge. Plus, it's super light, comes in its own little carrying bag, and fits anywhere, including a jacket pocket. —Jess Probus

6. Otis & Eleanor Bongo Speakers — $140

Matt Ortile

In my ongoing attempt to live a totally wireless life, I've been through a good amount of Bluetooth speakers. And yet, it's been difficult finding the holy trinity of good sound quality, long battery life, and fab aesthetics in one speaker. Enter Otis & Eleanor's Bongo speakers.

It's a cute little thing that packs a punch. It's so light it went unnoticed in my bag for a week. The bamboo case and colorful drivers (the round grillz, if you will) give it a caj summery vibe not out of place on an episode of The O.C. And pairing your phone with the speakers is super quick. The Bongo paired with my iPhone easily, for which it already deserves four gold stars because, you guys, pairing via Bluetooth is always so complicated for some reason? I've stationed the speakers in my bedroom, so when I turn it on, it automatically finds my phone. Without having to plug into anything, my Demi Lovato jam sessions transition seamlessly into the house!

The battery life is all right. It held its own for an afternoon on my roof deck (a humblebrag for the sake of this review) soaking up the last bits of summer. And the sound quality was surprisingly lovely. The sound felt open — rather constrained or canned — and the bass was solid, considering it's such a tiny thing. The Bongo filled the deck with music and I'm sure it'd supply a highly attended backyard barbecue or dinner party with an ambient aural vibe without overpowering the conversations being had.

Once the battery ran low in the evening, I plugged the speaker into my computer via its USB cable to charge. While it's charging, the Bongo becomes a sound output so you can still play music on your computer through it. There's also an aux port and a cable included, so you can plug it into anything.

The Bongo is an awesome Bluetooth speaker, but it's rather pricey at $140, considering you can get other speakers with more features at that price point. But because it's a wonderful and simple dude that gets the job done and looks good while doing it — a character with which I highly identify — I'd definitely recommend it for your next jam sesh. —Matt Ortile

7. Using Lint Rollers for Cleaning More Than Just Lint

BuzzFeed Life

The lint roller doesn't get the respect it deserves. Most people have one and they'll pull it out when they need to get some cat hair off of their peacoat or some fuzz off their black leggings, but for the most part they leave the ol' LR sitting forlornly in the bottom of a drawer — what a waste! The lint roller is the MVP of my cleaning arsenal and there are few surfaces in my home that haven't been cleaned with it.

Crumbs in the bottom of my bag or on the floor of my car? Get the lint roller. Dust on your lampshades, window shades, or speakers? Lint roller o'clock. Sandwich particles all over your desk? Yeah, you could get a paper towel — but nah: LINT ROLLER. Have an ant invasion? Run 'em over with the roller. Spill glitter while you're crafting? You know what to do. So bid adieu to all the minuscule debris befouling your home and buy a fleet of full-size rollers to keep at your house and a few mini-rollers to keep in your purse. You'll be ready to rock and ~roll~. —Mallory McInnis

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8. Baron Fig Confidant Sketchbook — $16

Cathy Ngo

Confession: I’m addicted to collecting sketchbooks, even though I have a ton of unfinished ones lying around. Hardcover sketchbooks have a permanent spot in my heart. The only problem is that you can’t draw on the back pages because the book doesn’t lay flat. Softcover sketchbooks get destroyed in my bag of endless stuff, and wire-bound books are bulky and the coils often get in the way of sketching.

Enter Baron Fig, a Kickstarter project that launched into a company famous for their community-approved sketchbooks. The Confidant has a light-gray cloth cover with a yellow ribbon bookmark. They’re available in ruled, dotted, and blank pages. The last 12 pages are perforated for easy removal, which is a surprising bonus. The best part about this sketchbook is that it actually lays flat. The end pages are as easy to draw on as the first couple of pages! No more awkward curved pages or cramped drawing space.

Cathy Ngo

It doesn’t weigh too much since the spine is thinner than most hardcovers. At 5.4-by-7.7 inches it would fit comfortably in a medium purse or backpack. Writing with a pencil and pen is a dream on this paper. Experimenting with gel pens left positive results. Sharpies don’t bleed through to the next page (but the marks are still visible on the back). With 192 pages in total, there’s enough here to last for a while.

Final conclusion: If you love hardcover sketchbooks, you should consider adding this sketchbook to your collection. It’s a minimalistic sketchbook that will look great on your bookshelf. —Cathy Ngo

9. SteriPen Ultra — $100

The bacteria-murdering powers of the Steripen at work / Nicole Nguyen

There are plenty of food- and survival-related camping hacks that come in handy on the trail — but when it comes to water, don't take shortcuts. I've been told time and time again that water's the one thing you want to get absolutely right because mishaps can be deadly. I've hiked hundreds of miles and have always relied on iodine tablets to purify water. It's not the best. Have you ever had coffee that tastes like iodine? Blergh. What about iodine ramen? Double blergh. So I jumped at the chance to try the SteriPen Ultra, a portable UV wand that zaps bacteria, viruses, and protozoa in under a minute without any metallic aftertaste.

I took the pen on a two-nighter into Silver Peak Wilderness. The pen charges via USB, and will treat up to 50 liters of water on a full battery. The thing about the SteriPen is that it's so easy to use, it's hard to believe that it's actually doing anything. Here's how simple it is: dunk a 1-liter bottle into a water source, turn the SteriPen on, swirl the pen around (take a peek inside — the UV light is insane) and, when the display is finished counting down, drink! I used it all weekend for all of my water needs, including drinking and cooking, and I can only assume it worked because, well, I'm not sick or dead (yet). It works by scrambling the organisms' DNA so that they can't reproduce. If you let the water sit in sunlight for a while, the organisms *can* reactivate, so beware.

The author, who's still not dead, drinking sterilized river water / Nicole Nguyen

The SteriPen is a purifier, and one downside with all purifiers is that it doesn't remove the small pieces of dirt or particulate that a filter would. The streams in Silver Peak Wilderness were clear and flowing, so I didn't need to pre-filter the water. If your source is muddy, I'd recommend using a coffee filter, bandana, or something like this to strain your water first.

I ultimately decided that the SteriPen is an invaluable asset for any backpacker, hiker, or traveler. It's ultra-portable, easy to operate, eliminates the need to carry your own water, and can SAVE YOUR LIFE, which is pretty cool. But be sure to carry a backup water purifying method. Sometimes tech will fail when you need it most, just because it can. —Nicole Nguyen

10. Osmia Himalyan Body Buff & Body Mousse — $42 each

Julie Gerstein

Shaving is the worst. I am all for not doing it, if that's your thing ("u do u" is my life motto) but I happen to like the feeling of smooth legs. My latest foray into capturing a perfect smooth leg ~experience~ is with Osmia's beauty products. First, I exfoliate with Osmia's Himalayan Body Buff, which is made with pink salt, supposedly from the Himalayas, but whatever. The important thing to know is that this will make your legs feel SO FUCKING SOFT. After exfoliating, I shave. And then here's the kicker: right when I get out of the shower, I slather on Osmia's Rosemary Body Mousse. This stuff will make your body smell like delicious focaccia bread. You want to smell like delicious focaccia bread, trust. Also, it will make your legs feel like delicate soft baby deer legs. Yes, it is on the expensive side, so you might want to ask someone to get it for you for your bday or Christmas or something, but it's totally worth it. —Julie Gerstein

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