Brighten Your Mornings

Illustration: Oliver Munday

Brighten Your Mornings

Level 1, Can Be Done in a Snap: Get Your Coffee Fix Quicker

Save a few precious minutes by bypassing the barista and popping a couple of Jiva Cubes into a mug of hot water or milk. Made of Colombian coffee sweetened with brown sugar, these little blocks of java produce a quality brew (in five flavors, including French vanilla, hazelnut and caramel) in just 30 seconds—and they'll set you back less than two bucks per cup.

Level 2, Takes a Little Effort: Follow the Rainbow

You could spend Sunday night digging through your closet looking for that dress you love but can never find. Or you can save time every morning by color-coding. "We remember what clothes we have based on their colors," says professional organizer and designer Jeffrey Phillip. "To make items easier to locate, hang them by type (i.e., skirts with skirts), then organize them according to ROY G. BIV, the well-known acronym for the colors of the rainbow." The pot of gold? Find that green wrap dress in record time.

Level 3, Requires Elbow Grease: Start With a Stretch

Even if you can't find time for an entire a.m. workout, a few quick stretches can help get things moving. Stefanie Eris, national yoga director for Exhale spa, recommends two moves you can do in bed:

On your hands and knees, inhale and arch your back with your tailbone to the sky, hold for five breaths, then exhale as you tuck your pelvis under, round your spine and drop your head.

To loosen your joints, sit up and make five gentle circles with your shoulders, hips, wrists and ankles.
Sweeten Must-Dos

Illustration: Oliver Munday

Sweeten Your Must-Dos

Level 1, Can Be Done in a Snap: Never Lose a Post-It Again

Stop us if this sounds familiar: You had something really important to remember, so you scribbled it on a Post-it, but now you can't remember the really important thing or where the hell the sticky went. Take heart: With the Post-it Note camera feature on the Evernote app, you can snap photos of your Post-its, digitizing and saving them in a searchable database forever.

Level 2, Takes a Little Effort: Streamline Your Cleaning Supplies

According to cleaning expert Jolie Kerr, author of My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag...and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha, the best, most versatile do-it-yourself cleaning solution is also one of the cheapest and requires just two ingredients. All you have to do is combine water and white vinegar in roughly a 3-1 ratio. "It's a glass cleaner, all-purpose spray, mold and mildew remover, odor-removing spray and, unless you have stone floors, mopping solution," says Kerr.

Level 3, Requires Elbow Grease: Devise a Better Crisis Control Plan

When life goes off the rails—the toilet's leaking! the car won't start! the babysitter's AWOL!—finding help can often by as crazy making as the emergency itself. Now there's a better way: Get your neighbors to join, a private social network that's like Facebook for your community, where you can send out an SOS to others right on your block. When Malina Arevalo's car battery died, she posted a message to members in her San Francisco-based group: "Within minutes, three people responded offering to jump my car."
Elevate Your Dinners

Illustration: Oliver Munday

Elevate Your Dinners

Level 1, Can Be Done in a Snap: Order In

Enjoy cooking gourmet meals without the grind by signing up for delivery services like Blue Apron or Plated—both ship to more than 35 states—which do the meal planning and shopping for you. Select protein preference (meat, fish or vegetarian) or specific recipes, and they'll send you a box of perfectly proportioned ingredients for hearty meals. All you'll need are staples like olive oil, salt and pepper—and an appetite.

Level 2, Takes a Little Effort: Make Your Chicken Dinner a Chicken Winner

Poultry feeling passé? Try pickle juice. "I like to marinate my chicken in pickle juice for a couple of hours before roasting or frying," says award-winning chef Michael Symon, author of Michael Symon's 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes= 120 Fantastic Dinners. "I'm opposed to long brining because it can change the chicken's texture, but this quick trick really amps up the flavor. All you'll need is the liquid from the jar of your favorite pickles."

Level 3, Requires Elbow Grease: Cook From Root to Stalk

If you often find yourself discarding more than half of a vegetable, like the stems or the tops, chef Olivia Roszkowski, an instructor at the Natural Gourmet Institute, says you can use them to make meals even tastier. Here are her suggestions for two overlooked "scraps": "Removing the thick outer layer from broccoli stems exposes an almost translucent pale green interior that you can shave, pickle or even eat raw. And carrot tops taste great raw or quickly pureed with herbs." For full recipes, click here.
Spiff Up Space-Make it Better

Illustration: Oliver Munday

Spiff Up Your Space

Level 1, Can Be Done in a Snap: Transform Your IKEA Furniture

They won't be able to help you assemble your IKEA furniture any faster, but Prettypegs can make that Karlstad sofa look even nicer. Based in (where else?) Sweden, Prettypegs offers stylish legs (or "shoes for your furniture") in various shapes, sizes and fun colors that can easily twist into your favorite IKEA chairs, sofas, storage cabinets and beds. The company has recently launched a new line of taller table legs that work on almost any tabletop.

Level 2, Takes a Little Effort: Embrace the Power of Duct Tape

While duct tape has been used for years to mend everything from a smashed taillight to a worn-out wallet, it also has endless design potential, say Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman, bloggers and authors of the forthcoming book A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home. "Using duct or electrical tape to create a pattern—like stripes or polka dots—is an inexpensive way to add charm and whimsy to drab appliances and furniture," says Chapman. For more inspiration, visit

Level 3, Requires Elbow Grease: Color Outside the Lines

"Inviting color into a room doesn't have to mean a huge overhaul," says Will Taylor, blogger and author of Bright Bazaar: Embracing Color for Make-You-Smile Style. He suggests painting the top and outside edge of an interior door in vibrant neon for a surprise flash of color: "It will immediately turn an unmemorable feature into an unexpected star of your space."