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Jill Hacks

Every so often I come across a process or product or shortcut that makes such a huge difference in my life I wonder how I ever lived without it. I've shared a few of these discoveries with you over the last few months. There was the Vitamix, the carpet cleaner, the Zippy, and, of course, the vacuum. Today I have (drink) a collection of life changers for hacks, I believe is the trending phrase these days.

First off...Alexa. We all know she's a handy little device. But the one feature for which she is indispensable is lists. If you have an Alexa (and if you don't, you might want to consider getting one solely for what I'm about to share with you), do yourself a favor and take advantage of this feature. Once upon a time, a magnetic notepad occupied the front of our (drink) refrigerator and when we ran out of something, we TRIED to remember to stop what we were doing, find a pen, and add it to the list. Half the time, we would find ourselves standing over the list, puzzled, trying to remember what the heck we meant to add to it. We would eventually remember, but more often than not, it was after the grocery shopping had been done.

Not anymore! Now, we have a much more efficient two-step process. Two-steps may not be required in all households, but for us, it is a must because since we have so many mouths to feed, we buy in bulk and keep backup supplies in the basement. So we created two lists: a grocery list, and a basement run list. Here's how it works: say I drain the last of the milk. Without breaking (drink) stride in my cereal preparation, I simply say, "Alexa, add milk to my basement run list." The next time one of us is in the basement, we ask the Alexa dot down there what is on the basement run list. We procure whatever items Alexa dictates and if we take the last of something, we tell her to add it to the shopping list. We then ask her to clear the basement run list, thereby starting with a clean slate for the next go-round. It's pretty seamless.

AND you don't have to remember to take your (drink) shopping list to the store with you. Perhaps you have a few minutes to spare on your way home from work and decide to do a quick grocery run. Not to worry! Assuming you have your phone with you, you also have your list. PLUS, if someone at home happens to add something to the list while you're out, it automatically syncs (drink) and you'll immediately see it pop up. This can be rather annoying if the kids know you're at the store and start messing with you (i.e. ten pounds of fudge and a Lambo find their way onto the list). Or if you're in the dairy section and the item added is an avocado, but it's better than circling back to the store five minutes after you walk in the door.

Now, if you want to take this hack to the next level, you can sync your Alexa lists to your favorite list-app. I'm partial to Any List because (drink) I like the way it organizes my items by department. How's that for OCD grocery shopping?

But wait! There's more! Lists don't need to end with procuring groceries. Say you have a vacation coming up (like in 2022 when things go back to normal...hopefully). As you're scrubbing the toilet, you think to yourself, don't forget to pack the Tequila. To ensure this necessity doesn't escape your mind, you just instruct the nearest Alexa dot to create a packing list, and voila! Every (drink) time you think of a vacation necessity, just add it on and your packing is practically done for you.

Enough about Alexa and lists. Let's talk about purging the crap. And by crap I mean stuff kids collect that you can no longer stand to provide housing for. Like those cheap toys that come in Kinder Eggs. Or craft projects they bring home that aren't winning any creative kid of the year awards. Or stuffed animals (drink) you know they won't miss. Or you think they won't miss. The problem is that the second you throw said item away, they will turn the house upside down searching for it. Which is why you need to establish a holding bin. For me, the holding bin is a cabinet they would never think to look in. But it can be anything - a box, a trash bag, a drawer, a suitcase you keep in the attic - it doesn't matter as long as they can't find it. That's key or your screwed. Simply place annoying objects in the holding bin and let them sit for at least two weeks. If no one seeks them out, you're free to toss them with very unlikely consequences. Works like a charm.

Moving on. In this next section, I have two kitchen organization tricks I think are worth a mention. Let's start with the pesky Tupperware cabinet. For the longest time, I could never seem to figure out where (drink) the bottoms of missing tops escaped to and vice versa. Then I saw my mother-in-law's brilliant solution. She dedicated two drawers to Tupperware - one for tops and one for bottoms. It's a lot of real estate to commit to one category of kitchenware, but it's well worth relocating seldom used items to solve the Tupperware (drink) conundrum once and for all. I'm not entirely sure why it solves the problem - if a top is going to go missing, wouldn't it do so regardless of how well organized the vessels are? Got me, but it works. And it's so satisfying to easily procure leftover containers in a jiffy rather than losing my shit about where to store the Lima beans nobody ate. Just kidding. We don't serve Lima beans.

Another food storage solution is for something we have plenty of in this household and that is candy. Halloween is not the only culprit of manifesting our children with vast quantities of sugar. There's Easter, Christmas, birthdays, even St. Patrick's Day with all those gold coins. Five kids, many holidays, grandparents who love to jack our kids up on sugar - you do the math. That's a lot of candy. And a lot of potential squabbles over the rightful owner of the last Kit Kat. If you have more than one kid, I advise you to follow our lead and assign a Tupperware (throw out the lid or your new storage system will be disrupted) to each child (drink) and label them. Not only does it eradicate ownership disputes, but it promotes fair trade. I often find them negotiating swaps that benefit both parties and the haggling occupies them for a good ten minutes. Anything that occupies them without creating too big a mess or tears is a winner in my book.

I've got more but I've been a bit long winded. I tend (drink) to get oddly enthusiastic when it comes to lists and organizing. Put me in the Container Store and I'll emerge three hours and $500 later. I'm not allowed there anymore. To be continued at some point. I hope I've changed your life for the better.

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