VCC Savvy Surfer Life Hacks #003

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Happy Autumn Savvy Surfers! It might be the start of September, and officially the beginning of autumn, but don’t think that the summer is completely done and dusted just yet.

We’re back this week with five sensational solutions to help you sail smoothly into the next season and make the most of those final balmy, sunny days.

Our aim each week is to provide you with some helpful life hacks that will speed up everyday tasks, save you time and money, and surprise you with their simplicity. As the author and minimalist advocate Francine Jay says:

“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.”

So, in that spirit, here are our top “do less” hacks this week:

Strawberry Straws

Hulling strawberries with knife

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Strawberries are a famous British institution, and eating them is practically a national pastime. They’re fresh, juicy, sweet and no summer would be complete without them. Plus they even count as part of your five a day.

But did you know that there’s a better, less messy, way to remove the hull?

The hull, or calyx as it is sometimes known, is the green leafy stalk at the top of the strawberry. It needs to be removed before the strawberry is eaten or cooked.

Unfortunately, unlike some other berries, it’s not as simple as just pulling the stem to take it out, as it’s very deeply and strongly attached.

Cutting out the hull is often seen as the easiest way to remove it. But not only is it very fiddly and messy, you often end up cutting out more than is necessary, wasting some of that precious, juicy red flesh.

So, instead of faffing about with knives, take a simple drinking straw and push it firmly into the bottom of the strawberry.

Keep pushing the straw straight up through the strawberry until the green top pops off.

Now you’ve got a beautiful, mess-free berry and the stem can easily be removed from the straw to be composted. Strawberry heaven!

Now if we can just come up with a way to remove the temptation of eating them all whilst hulling them…

Hulling strawberry with straw

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Garden Shed Tap

Plastic bottle tap

Image Credit: Author’s own.

This is a great time of year to get out and enjoy the garden. The flowers are still in bloom and there are lots of lovely little jobs that you can do to prepare your plants for the colder weather to come.

And, whether it’s mowing the lawn, pruning the roses or potting some perennials, you’re bound to end up with some green or possibly brown fingers at some point!

Hopefully, you’ll be lucky enough to have an outside tap to wash your hands with, but what if you don’t? Or what if you’re doing some dirty DIY in your garden shed, which is down the end of the garden?

Well, we have the solution for you.

Take an old plastic bottle, cut the bottom off with a pair of scissors (be careful when poking the scissors through the plastic to make the first cut), turn the bottle upside down and then nail or tie it in position.

The open top of the bottle will allow you to fill your “tap” with water, then just unscrew the cap a little bit to allow the water out and you’ll have clean hands in no time. Screw the cap back up tightly and the water can stay in there until the next time.

This method saves water and is much easier than trying to balance and squeeze a bottle of water between your knees to wash your hands. And it saves you trying to open your back door with your forearms so as not to get the handle dirty!

As the water will splash on the ground, we recommend fixing your tap to the door of your shed or garage, so that you can open the door and allow the water to spill onto the grass or patio etc.

Alternatively, you can attach it to the outside of a shed, any wall or even a tree. This means that your tap will collect it’s own water when it rains making it an environmentally friendly option too!

To make your tap portable, fix a little loop of string or rope through holes in the plastic near the open end and now you have a “travel tap” ready to hang from a branch, wing mirror or beach umbrella. Ta-da!

Making plastic bottle tap

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Waterproof Shoes

Waterproofing shoes DIY

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One of the best things about summer is simply slipping on some sandals, a comfy pair of canvas kicks or your beloved but battered boat shoes. With our footwear at the mercy of the great (or often not so great) British weather though, we always run the risk of getting our feet wet and damaging our summer shoes.

If you’ve been wondering how best to protect your precious pumps, then we have a simple home-made remedy to suit.

Follow our step by step instructions and keep your feet and footwear free from drips, drizzle, and the occasional splash in a puddle.

Step 1. Make sure that your shoes are clean and dry. Then take some beeswax or candle wax (non-coloured candles such as tea lights work best) and test a small, discreet area by rubbing the wax directly onto the shoe.

Step 2. If the wax doesn’t stain (expect it leave a pale milky residue at first until you melt it) then you’re ready for action. Cover the entire surface of the shoe in wax, rubbing it in well, in a circular motion.

Step 3. Now take a hairdryer and on a high heat, melt the wax into the shoe. You can rotate both the hairdryer and the shoe to ensure that you have liquefied all of the wax. The film that was on the shoe will disappear once all the wax has melted and been absorbed. Your fancy footwear is now finished and you’re good to go!

Milk Carton Watering Can

DIY watering can

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Hosepipes have become a contentious issue these days, with climate change, environmental concerns and water conservation at the front of peoples’ minds.

We’ve got a quick trick that will help to keep your plants healthy in warm weather, without wasting any excess water.

Ditch the hose and sprinkler and water your thirsty plants by hand with a homemade milk carton watering can.

Not only will this give you a better workout as you wander around the garden, but you won’t waste any water as you go.

To make your fancy new piece of apparatus, just take an old milk carton and poke holes in the top using a pin or thumbtack.

Once you have the desired amount of holes, you can make them bigger by using a skewer or cocktail stick to enlarge them.

Now fill up your new watering can, screw on your “spout” and off you go to give your flowers a much-needed drink!

The handle of the milk carton makes this homemade gadget really practical and you’ll wonder why you ever did it any other way.

To be extra green, you can collect rainwater in a water butt and fill up your container from there. Remember, slow the flow and save H2O!

DIY watering can milk bottle

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BBQ Dip Tray

Cake tin dip tray

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Entertaining is fun, and what better way to enjoy the good weather than to cook up a barbeque for friends and family. What’s less enjoyable though is all the preparation that goes into being a host and worse still, the big clean-up operation afterwards!

Our last tip this week is a quick and handy way of serving condiments outside at a barbecue or picnic. Instead of carting around numerous bottles of ketchup, salsa, relish and dressing, just squeeze out the desired sauces into a muffin tray.

Now you have a convenient condiment serving station that you can pick up and put wherever. Unlike bottles, your tray is sturdy and won’t fall over in the grass or get blown about by the wind.

You can put whatever you like in your holes, from jalapenos to HP sauce, to guacamole and gherkins. And if you really want to level up your laziness, use cake cases to line your baking tin first and then you won’t even have any washing up to do afterwards. Sweet!

Cake tin tray bbq

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We hope that you find these savvy summer sizzlers useful. If you’ve got a bugbear that you want solving, then challenge our team to find the solution. Send in your gripes and we’ll select the best (or should that be worst?) of them to try and solve each week.

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