DIY

10 Life-Changing Things To Try In May

The best of what our editors tried in April!

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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. Merona liner socks — $3 a pair

Rachel W. Miller

I know most people don't put a ton of thought into their socks, but these little guys are legitimately one of the most exciting purchases I've made this year. For the low price of $3, they turn shoes that were mostly comfortable into nothing short of fucking magical. (Plus they keep your shoes from getting gross.) Target.com doesn't have the exact pair I bought in the store (I went with the 100% cotton ones) but these are similar. If you just go to the sock department in the store, you will find plenty of options; the ones labeled "liners" are the kind that will actually be invisible with typical flats. (Meanwhile, the ones labeled "socks" offer more coverage and are good for sneakers.) When I first put the liners on with my loafers, they still showed on the sides of my feet a bit, so I just scrunched the sides down a little and then popped my pinkie toes out so they'd stay in place. Easy! As someone who frequently goes barefoot in her shoes, I feel like I've wasted the best years not having liner socks. Rachel Wilkerson Miller

2. Cordskinz — $9.99

I'm the type of person who shoves her earbuds into bags with brute force, so I'm usually dealing with a tangled ball from headphone hell. But then I came across Cordskinz, a cord cover that permanently prevents buds from becoming a gnarled mess. It's essentially a thin, rubbery tube with a slit down one side. The Cordskinz tube is stiffer than the earbud cable itself, so when I pull my headphones out, they bounce right into their original non-tangled shape as if fresh right outta the package. This simple accessory has saved me *so* much time pre-workout. The only downside is that if your buds are wound too tightly, the Cordskinz tube starts to separate from the headphone cord. I fixed that with a tiny amount of superglue on each end of the tube. At $10 a pop, Cordskinz is totally worth it. Now, if only there were a version to prevent tangled JEWELRY. Nicole Nguyen

3. EZ-DUZ-IT can opener — $8.99

Jess Probus

Nothing turns me into the raging, flailing "before" woman from an infomercial faster than a a can opener that doesn't quite work. The worst is when it opens only a fourth of the can and then stops forever, or opens it in such a way that you manage to cut yourself and spill everything out of the can at the same time. I don't open cans so often that I felt like investing in an expensive tool, but every time I actually needed to open one with my crappy Ikea version, I got so frustrated that I'd end up just stabbing the can open with a knife, which was primitive and satisfying, but not at all efficient. Then I discovered this EZ-DUZ-IT can opener, which has so many good reviews on Amazon and Williams-Sonoma that it almost seemed fake. The name alone is worth it, but it also costs less than $10 and works so easily that I never have to give can opening a second thought, which is exactly how it should be. Jess Probus

4. Pacifica, an anxiety-regulating app for iOS and Android — free to download with additional in-app purchases

When I wake up in the morning, I grab my phone and swipe through, in order: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, work email, personal email, and now this lil guy. It's so simple: You can record and track your mood over time using a series of preset descriptors, practice a meditative breathing exercise, and set goals for your emotional health. There's also a physical health tab (with categories like sleeping, eating, and drinking) where you can record how well you're treating the husk that carries your brain around.

The app itself is free, and so are the health and mood trackers, but in order to have full access to the exercises you have to upgrade for $3.99 a month or $29.99 for the year. Otherwise, each one is only available on certain rotating days. It's truly mind-boggling how long it took me to pony up for full access because, like, I spend several dozen times more than that on therapy every month?

Today, for example, I woke up feeling kind of frantic and destabilized. I recorded that I only felt "OK" because I was "Stressed." After spending five minutes with the breathing exercise, though, I upgraded to "Good" because I was "Relaxed." I like looking at the map of my brainscape over the past month and having a record of the highs and lows; usually the lows feel so big and dramatic that it's actually comforting to realize what a relatively small percentage of my life they comprise. Alanna Okun

5. Outside the Lines coloring book — $14.99

Mallory McInnis

I've been a fan of coloring to relieve stress ever since I was in high school (when I colored parts of the body for anatomy class), but it's only lately that I've found the perfect book to use my marker collection on: Outside the Lines. There's more than 100 illustrations to color and each one is by a different artist. Some "adult" coloring books are so intricate that coloring them can add to your stress level rather than abate it, but the artists who contributed to this book draw in a wide variety of styles, so you can flip through and — depending on your mood — color something incredibly minimalistic or fairly complex. Added bonus: The back of each page is blank. This is nice because (if you like to use markers, as I do) the color doesn't bleed through. And if you really love your work, you can tear it out and frame it. Take that, stress. Mallory McInnis

6. Paper towel coffee filter — free

Natalie Brown

I am one of those people who must have a cup of coffee before any other morning functioning can occur. So when I discovered one early morning last week that my dear roommate had used the last coffee filter — and was too lazy to get dressed and go to the store to buy more — I searched the kitchen for something to use as a substitute. My eyes landed on the paper towels. Could a single sheet of Bounty save the morning for me? I googled the idea before trying it, and, turns out, paper towels are a legit coffee filter substitute in a pinch (though too pricey to use on a regular basis). There are several tutorials out there but since I hadn't had coffee yet, I couldn't be bothered to read the tutorials. Instead, I just tucked the paper towel into the plastic basket that holds the filters, then folded the corners and edges down inside the basket so it was approximately in the shape of a filter. Then I carefully took out the folded paper towel and turned it inside out, so the edges were facing the inside of the basket — this kept the edges from sticking up and getting in the way of the dripping water. It worked just fine! Natalie Brown

7. eyeCare Chrome Extension — free

BuzzFeed Life

After eight-plus hours of staring at pictures of dogs wearing costumes online every day (and other work-related things), my eyes started getting super dry. By the end of the day I couldn't focus well and I would get strain-headaches just from reading. Turns out, that isn't normal. In fact, I didn't realize just how much my eyes were suffering until I installed this free Chrome extension. It pops a notice up in your browser every 20 minutes to remind you to look away, to close your eyes, or to get up and walk around. You can even program it to say whatever you want. (So naturally mine says, "HEY GIRL.") And it's not just about eye health, either. Working on the ~internet~ and the computer for so long, I tend to get so absorbed in the content and the community that I forget to zoom out, to expand my perspective once in a while. Jess Probus

8. Lime Crime Velvetine in Wicked — $20

Rachel W. Miller

I'm typically a rose/nude lip kind of gal, but after seeing this lip color on one of my favorite Instagram makeup artists (in a BuzzFeed post, as a matter of fact), I bought it, and... I've never gotten so many compliments on anything I've ever worn in my life. It's just a luscious and velvety black cherry lip stain. (It reads red in photos but it's a lot darker and more dramatic IRL.)

The caveat: It's a bit high-maintenance, with a learning curve similar to that of liquid eyeliner. If you dab it on in the wrong spot and, say, try to clean up your mistake with your finger, you will end up with red smears on your face and finger...and yet the original mistake will remain. It mostly wears like a stain...but can still somehow migrate to other parts of your face by the end of a long day of wear. (As my husband put it one evening when we were lying in bed, "You're starting to look like the Joker.") But the extra attention to detail feels like a small price to pay for a color this good. Rachel Wilkerson Miller

9. Clean Slate: A Cookbook and Guide: Reset Your Health, Detox Your Body, and Feel Your Best — $17.10

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed Life

I am embarrassed to admit this, but the minute I saw its 24 beautifully photographed smoothie recipes, the Clean Slate cookbook took up permanent residence in my kitchen. I am well beyond the point where I should need recipes to make smoothies. But now the book's strawberry, grapefruit, and ginger smoothie is one of my new go-to snacks, and I will not apologize. (I also fondly retitled it "the butthole smoothie" because of how it looks when I make it, and I will not apologize for that either.)

Clean Slate, released in December by the editors of Martha Stewart Living, has merits that go beyond its small chapter on smoothies. There's an appealing section of breakfasts that emphasize whole grains and lean protein, another chapter for veggie-packed lunches, and delicious dinners that use meat sparingly. My friend and colleague Katie Notopoulos swears by the cauliflower soup recipe. I love some of the book's more inventive flavor combinations, like roasted sweet peppers with oranges, carrots, and hazelnuts. And my roommate/boyfriend loves the recipe for wild salmon, asparagus, and shiitakes cooked in parchment. (I'm not annoyed that I've known how to cook fish in parchment — ahem, papillote — since culinary school, but it took Martha Stewart to make him love the technique. That's fine, whatever.)

It's not a perfect cookbook: Advanced cooks won't be super-inspired, and the "action plans" — three-day and 21-day eating schedules that tell you exactly which recipes to try — don't take leftovers into account. But it's otherwise full of tons of helpful and practical information about how to eat a balanced, healthy diet. So if you're trying to break out of a grain bowl rut or learn to cook healthy, delicious food, well, then...first you should try our Clean Eating Challenge. But then you could also buy this great book. Emily Fleischaker

10. The Laundry Pod — $79.95

In my corner of the world, the closest washing machine is two flights of stairs and a block and a half away, in a "laundromat" that's really just a dirty, dark hallway pretending to be a place where things actually get clean. So, for the past two and I half years, I have hand-washed my nicer clothes in one of these bins. It is always a long, damp process, but at least I can do it in my well-lit bathroom and not worry that an ancient washer is going to chew up and swallow my expensive sweaters.

This is precisely the situation where The Laundry Pod is actually helpful. I used lukewarm water, the recommended amount of detergent, and the recommended washing cycle (soak for a few minutes in soapy water, agitate for two minutes, drain the water, refill with fresh water, agitate in clean water for two minutes, drain again, and spin the water out of the clothes) — and was able to get two wool sweaters, a couple of bras, and some workout clothes cleaner than I could ever get them with normal hand-washing, without spending too much time or effort. (It takes some shoulder and bicep work to keep cranking it for two minutes, but it was nothing I couldn't handle.)

Natalie Brown

The directions say you can wash up to 10 garments at a time, which is true if you're just washing bras, underwear, and lingerie. My largest load was eight items — but, in fairness, it was two pairs of leggings, one pair of knee-length shorts, three tanks, and two sports bras.

If you bathe in BBQ sauce or shower in Sriracha, The Laundry Pod won't come to your rescue unless you get the stains out by hand before running it through the spin cycle. I stained two T-shirts (pre-treating the stains on the shirt on the right) to test it out and the results weren't terribly impressive.

First row on each shirt: red lipstick, cream foundation, gray eyeshadow. Second row: sriracha, bbq sauce, ketchup, whole grain mustard. Third row: peanut butter, red wine.

TL;DR The Laundry Pod is perfect for small loads of clothes that you'd otherwise hand-wash, but not great for getting out heavy stains, and not a replacement for a family-size washer. Natalie Brown

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