Pack a carry-on. Purge your medicine cabinet. Tell a joke. Fold a fitted sheet. Fall asleep when you can't. Make cut flowers last longer, and more.
Expert: Manicurist-to-the-stars Deborah Lippmann, creator of the Deborah Lippmann Collection sold on HSN.
As long as you have the same color handy, you're good to go.
1. Pour a few drops of nail polish remover into a small bowl. Dab the pad of your index finger in remover, so skin is damp, not drenched.
2. Press finger directly onto chip, then lift. Let dry for 10 seconds.
3. With same finger, gently nudge polish forward toward edge of nail to smooth out ridge. Let dry 1 minute.
4. Remove brush from polish and gently dab a tiny bit of color right on top of the nick; let dry 1 minute.
5. If chip is still visible, apply one superthin layer of color to entire nail.
6. Seal edge by brushing over the tip. (This will prevent future chips.)
7. Wait one minute, then brush on topcoat. Let dry at least 5 minutes.
Expert: Frequent flier (typically around 25 trips per month!) Anne McAlpin, author of Pack It Up: The Essential Guide to Organized Travel book and DVD set.
Before you choose a bag for any getaway, check your airline's website or the link below for exact size and weight limitations to avoid charges. (Each carrier has slightly different rules.) Packing is best done in two layers.
A. Fold pants on their natural creases, laying the waistband on the left of the suitcase with the legs hanging over the right edge. Repeat this step, alternating sides.
B. Put socks and undergarments in plastic bags and tuck them in shoes or corners.
C. Wrap belts around inner perimeter.
D. Shoes and other heavy items go on the bottom (by wheels, if applicable), so weight is evenly distributed.
E. Tightly roll the rest of the clothes. This causes significantly fewer wrinkles and creates more space in the suitcase.
F. Bring pants legs over the top so they're wrapped around rolled items.
G. Place toiletries, purses, other miscellaneous articles and anything you might immediately need on top.
Bonus Tip: Layer dry-cleaner bags between clothes to further minimize wrinkles.
Expert: Long Island, New York, Walgreens Pharmacy manager Elana Denrich.
1. Toss all expired medications. Before you throw pills in the trash, seal them in a plastic bag mixed with coffee grounds or kitty litter to prevent kids or pets from accidentally ingesting. Better yet, bring to a pharmaceutical take-back program, where they'll be mailed to a special facility for environmentally friendly disposal. Find one in your area at disposemymeds.org.
2. Restock the basics. Musts: ibuprofen for aches and pains; acetaminophen for fevers; bandages and antibiotic ointment for cuts and scrapes; hydrocortisone cream for rashes and other skin irritations; and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for allergic reactions.
3. Repeat. Do every three to four months.
Expert: Teri Gault, founder and CEO of GroceryGame.com.
Shopping at the same store every week affords you the opportunity to learn the layout—and order your list for efficiency. Also:
•If possible, shop during the day (but not during lunch hour) or after dinner.
•Don't wait idle at counters. For instance, while the butcher preps and wraps your meat, or your deli items are sliced, cherry-pick the produce section.
•Organize your coupons according to your shopping list for easy reference in the aisles.
•At checkout, bag like items together to make the putting-away process quicker.
Expert: Stand-up comedian Vicki Barbolak, winner of Nick@Nite's Funniest Mom in America contest and a member of Jay Leno's Laugh squad.
1. Jump in. "Unless someone is bleeding, there's no bad time."
2. Don't announce it. If you catch people off guard, they're more open-minded, less critical.
3. Be appropriate. "It should be obvious, but no off-color jokes to your minister!"
4. Opt for crowd-pleasers. Relationship quips are a sure bet because the conflicts between men and women never get old. Other hot topics: teenagers and automated answering systems.
5. Avoid trouble zones. Race, weight, religion and politics are too hard to pull off. Steer clear.
6. Practice, practice, practice. "In that moment when you stammer or struggle to recall what comes next, people lose interest."
7. End on a high note. When you're done, stop and give them time to laugh.
Expert: Julie Edelman, author of New York Times bestseller The Accidental Housewife: How to Overcome Housekeeping Hysteria One Task at a Time.
Sleek stacks of your cottons or flannels—as opposed to unsightly wads—are a simple pleasure. To do:
1. Remove sheet from dryer when still warm, before wrinkles set in.
2. Lay sheet flat on your bed, upside down, elasticized edges facing up. Straighten, smooth and flatten down all four corners.
3. Fold bottom sheet edge up to the middle, then fold top edge down to middle, so they meet in the center. Smooth with hands.
4. Take the bottom up to the top and fold it again. You should now have one long rectangle.
5. To keep sheet as flat as possible, use your forearm to smooth it out, then fold in half in the other direction. Continue to smooth and fold in half until you're left with a neat, tidy square.
Expert: Tech whiz Dan Tynan, FC contributing editor and former executive editor of PC World.
Committing keyboard combos to memory saves time. (Who doesn't want more of that?)
For Mac Users:
Most keyboard combos rely on the Command key (called the Apple key or "splat") and Option (Opt). Substitute Command (Cmd) for Ctrl and you can avail yourself of many of the Windows shortcuts noted below. A few more:
Cmd-Tab Cycle through all open applications quickly and efficiently.
Cmd-+ (plus sign) Cmd-- (minus sign) Zoom in or zoom out in a browser window; no reading glasses required.
Cmd-Ctrl-Eject Close all programs and reboot. Yes, even Macs need an occasional kick in the pants.
Cmd-Opt-Eject Hibernates the Mac without turning it off, so you can quickly pick up where you left off.
For Windows Users:
The usual drill is either the Control (Ctrl) or Alternate (Alt) key along with one or more alphanumeric keys. The Delete (Del) and Function (F1, F2, etc.) keys are also generally useful.
Alt-Tab Have 17 windows open at once? Alt-tabbing cycles you through quickly to get to the one you want.
Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V Select all text in the active window (A), copy it (C), then paste it into another window (V). This comes in handy if you write things offline before pasting them into a blog, for example.
Alt-F4 The quickest way to close an application.
Ctrl-Z, Ctrl-Y Undo (Z), redo (Y). Repeat.
F1 Windows-speak for "Help me, Obi Wan—you're my only hope." It brings up an assistance box in Windows and many other programs.
Expert: Adam Greenberg, president of online retailer UsBedbugs.com.
A single female bedbug that makes its way into your home can multiply to 30,000 in just six months. Protect your household:
1. Research hotels before you confirm reservations. Tripadvisor.com and Bedbugregistry.com are good info sources.
2. Print a photo of a bedbug to keep in your bag when you travel, so you know what to look for.
3. Pack a portable LED flashlight, magnifying glass or camera with a good zoom function to inspect your room at check-in.
4. Search between the mattress and box spring, behind the headboard and under the nightstand drawer. Bedbugs hide, so you may only see the black spots they leave behind, which look like mold spots.
5. Bring a variety of zipper-top plastic bags and store stuff inside when not in use.
6. Search home mattresses for bedbugs every time you change the sheets.
Expert: John Wilson, M.D., director of the sleep clinic at Loyola University's Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, Illinois.
You do all the right things—lay off caffeine after 2 p.m., hit the hay at about the same time every night, keep your bedroom cool and dark. Still, sleeplessness strikes. What to do:
•Turn the clock around so you can't see it, and stop telling yourself how tired you're going to be in the morning. These things will only make you more anxious.
•If there's something specific on your mind, either come up with a plan for how to deal with it tomorrow or decide there's nothing you can do and mentally set the issue aside.
•Warm some milk on the stove or in the microwave and drink it. Yes, really. Hunger can cause insomnia, and milk can take the edge off.
•Stretch, especially any body part that's a little achy.
•Lie on your back and inhale and exhale to counts of four until you settle into slumber.
Expert: Horticulturist Melinda Myers, author of more than 20 gardening books and host of Melinda's Garden Moments on television and radio stations nationwide.
Step 1: Cut
(If starting with store-bought blooms, skip to step 2.) Snip in early morning or evening, when flowers contain the most moisture. Submerge stems in room-temp water.
Step 2: Prep
Wash vase thoroughly. Fill with tepid water. Enhance water with florist's preservative or a drop of bleach and 1/2 cup clear non-diet (with sugar) soda per quart of H20.
Step 3: Re-cut
Cut bottoms of flower stems at a 45-degree angle, ideally under running tap water. Strip lower leaves from section of stems that will be submerged.
Step 4: Arrange
Place in vase without overcrowding. Situate vase in bright but not direct light, away from heat or air conditioners. Re-cut ends and replace water as needed.
Originally published in the September 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.