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Joy

The 15 small upgrades that made a ‘huge difference’ in people's homes

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make big improvements.

home improvement, easy home improvement, affordable home improvement

A couple snuggling after a hard day working on the house.

When we consider ways to improve our homes, we often think big: new bathrooms, solar panels, or redoing the landscaping. These renovations can be costly and, in these economically challenging times, too much for many people’s budgets.

However, a series of minor tweaks, like mini-makeovers, can breathe new life into our homes. We can make countless small, affordable changes to our living spaces that make them cozier, more functional and energy efficient.

Some minor fixes can increase your property value, too.

Recently, a group of Redditors came together to share some small changes that have made an enormous difference in their homes. It all started when a user named Super_Dupa2 asked, “What small upgrade made a huge difference at your house?”


The prompt was a big viral hit, receiving over 8,300 responses in just one day. Here are 15 small upgrades that can make a huge difference in your house.

1. New shower head

"A better shower. If you can't redo the whole bathroom, just replace the head. This also works if you rent. Just keep the old one in a box, so you can bring the nice one to your next house." — Maartenvanheek

"And a curved shower curtain rod. You get so much more arm space." — Cripnite

2. More chargers

"Methodically buying phone chargers with long enough cables to not have to ever move one again." — ihadtowalkhere

3. Blackout curtains

"Blackout curtains for sleeping. Such a game changer." — blehbleh 1122

"And they keep my bedroom cooler." — BunjaminFrnklin

4. New lighting fixtures

"Fixtures are now properly grounded, the interior looks more updated, and there is more/better light." — SnooCaliflowers9981

"Lighting can absolutely make a huge difference in the way you feel in your room. Get some shoulder-height (when you are sitting) lamps for your living room. You will notice a shift in how much more relaxed you feel when you use those instead of the overheads." — ShoesAreTheWorst

5. Laundry room light

"Motion-activated light switch for the laundry room. Never have to worry about turning off the light when leaving with an arm full of clothing." — Amazing Asian

6. Attic fan

"Attic heat exhaust fan. Our attic used to get up to 140F on the hottest days; on those days, our ceilings were hot to the touch. The whole house was consequently uncomfortable. Now the attic fan is thermostatically controlled to 90 degrees, and the whole house is cooler." — jermleeds

"I added a passive whirlybird that does the same thing. Heat rises and escapes before it can accumulate to those extreme levels. It also happens to be clear acrylic, so now there's always light up there too which helps keep away any vermin." — cantwejustplaynice

7. Hanging artwork

"Spending a day mounting my artwork. It felt so much more like my home after that." — GinGimlet.

"Every time I've moved, I put that off for way too long, then finally break down and do it and the house feels so much better to be in." — Elegant-Nature-6620

8. New blankets

"My wife and I are getting separate blankets. No more fighting about who takes the covers while we’re sleeping. Highly recommend 10/10." — Akumamatata8080

9. Fake stained glass

"I had a window above the stairs the neighbors could see through, so I went on Amazon and spent 40 bucks on some plastic window film that makes it look like stained glass. It turned out AMAZING and lasted forever." — OathofFenanor

10. Bidet

"I get mad when I have to use a different toilet now. I’m truly converted." — Itwasmyshadow

"The worst part of owning a bidet is going on vacation." — TinyPieceofYarn

11. Rice cooker

"I save so much time and energy. Plus, there's less washing up to do since all I need to wash is the pot inside, instead of a saucepan, a wooden spoon, and a colander." — Molwalk

12. RoboRock

"Using a $150 GC my sister gave me for my birthday. I picked up a RoboRock Q5 robot vacuum ($70 out of pocket after the GC). I have it running on a daily schedule at 2 pm while I'm at work, and my hard floors are always immaculate." — Matt314159

13. Solar panels

"Fitted 4 solar panels to my shed roof attached to a lithium battery and inverter. Not the cheapest upgrade at about £1000. But unlimited free electricity in my shed. Can plug all my power-hungry man stuff in there and it’s guilt-free! And when there’s a power cut I just run an extension lead into the house, and I’m good! and way simpler than grid tie-in system."— Badger906

14. New windows

"After living here for 35 years. We had all the windows in the house replaced 5 months ago. The house is so much more comfortable and quiet. It was expensive but worth it. We replaced 11 windows of varying sizes with Renewal by Anderson. All had to be custom-made because of their outdated sizes. The largest was 5’X7’. They are composite materials with heat-reflecting glass. It is incredible to stand behind the window in direct sunlight and open and close them to feel the difference of the heat they block out. The house was definitely more comfortable during the hot summer, and the electricity bill was about 20% lower. They look beautiful, and the crew of 6 guys removed the old and installed the new in one day and did not leave a mess of any kind. We ordered them in the last week in March, and they were installed in the first week of June. Total cost was $23K." — Blizzard7788

15. Get a dishwasher

"It has changed our arguments over dishes." — xuknownx26

"No washing dishes! A handy place to hide all your dirty dishes! A handy place for your clean dishes to dry! And no dish rack on the draining board has freed up loads of space/made it look a lot less cluttered." — binglybleep

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Pop Culture

Here’s a paycheck for a McDonald’s worker. And here's my jaw dropping to the floor.

So we've all heard the numbers, but what does that mean in reality? Here's one year's wages — yes, *full-time* wages. Woo.

Making a little over 10,000 for a yearly salary.


I've written tons of things about minimum wage, backed up by fact-checkers and economists and scholarly studies. All of them point to raising the minimum wage as a solution to lifting people out of poverty and getting folks off of public assistance. It's slowly happening, and there's much more to be done.

But when it comes right down to it, where the rubber meets the road is what it means for everyday workers who have to live with those wages. I honestly don't know how they do it.


Ask yourself: Could I live on this small of a full-time paycheck? I know what my answer is.

(And note that the minimum wage in many parts of the county is STILL $7.25, so it would be even less than this).

paychecks, McDonalds, corporate power, broken system

One year of work at McDonalds grossed this worker $13,811.18.

assets.rebelmouse.io

This story was written by Brandon Weber and was originally appeared on 02.26.15

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Joy

A 9-yr-old cheerleader’s veteran dad couldn't help with her routine, so a high schooler ran to her side

Sensing something was wrong, he sprang to action with many witnessing his kind act.

Images from YouTube video.

Addie Rodriguez does her cheer.

Addie Rodriguez was supposed to take the field with her dad during a high school football game, where he, along with other dads, would lift her onto his shoulders for a routine. But Addie's dad was halfway across the country, unable to make the event.

Her father is Abel Rodriguez, a veteran airman who, after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was training at Travis Air Force Base in California, 1,700 miles from his family in San Antonio at the time.

"Mom missed the memo it was parent day, and the reason her mom missed the memo was her dad left Wednesday," said Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, Addie's mom. She continued, "It was really heartbreaking to see your daughter standing out there being the only one without their father, knowing why he's away. It's not just an absentee parent. He's serving our country."



But as Addie sat there in front of the game's crowd, with no one to join her on the field, someone ran toward her. That person was Central Catholic High School senior Matthew Garcia, who went to her after realizing she was the only cheerleader without a partner.


Garcia told local news station FOX 29, "I ran down from the bleachers right here, and I just hopped the fence, and I went over, and I kneeled down, I talked to her and I said, 'Are you OK?'"

He then lifted Addie onto his shoulders just like the dads did with their daughters so she could participate in the routine. Many onlookers quickly realized they were witnessing an extraordinary act of kindness, and social media was abuzz:

It may have been a small gesture for Garcia, but as Addie tells it, that little bit of assistance meant the world to her. They posed for a picture after the routine was done, and it's clear this will be one encounter she won't soon forget.

inspiring, culture, mental health, friendship, mentors

Addie Rodriguez and Mathew Garcia.

Images from YouTube video.

"I just felt like somebody saved my life," Addie said, adding, "I thought that's so nice, especially since my dad's serving for us.”

Watch the YouTube video below:

This article originally appeared on 08.21.18

A woman looking at her phone while sitting on the toilet.

One of the most popular health trends over the last few years has been staying as hydrated as possible, evidenced by the massive popularity of 40-oz Stanely Quencher cups. The theory among those who obsess over hydration is that, when you pee clear, you’ve removed all the waste in your body and are enjoying the incredible benefits of being 100% hydrated. Congratulations.

However, according to Dr. Sermed Mezher, an NHS doctor in the UK, peeing clear isn’t always a sign of being healthy.


“If you’re peeing clear, that means you’re having more than 2.5 liters (85 ounces) of fluid per day, which means your kidneys are working overdrive to keep that water off your brain,” Dr. Mezher said. He goes on to add that when kidneys can't keep up with their water intake, it can cause water intoxication, which can lead to dangerous, even lethal, brain swelling.

Stop Trying to Get Your Pee Completely Clear #hydration. 

@drsermedmezher

Visit TikTok to discover videos!

According to Dr. Mezher, it's all about finding balance when it comes to hydration and the goal shouldn't be to pee clear all the time. "Of course, like most things in life, too much is not great, and too little isn't either," he continued. Two liters (68 ounces) [of water] is good for a healthy adult, and babies under six months shouldn't be given any water at all."

The news came as a bit of a shock to some folks in the comments. "One minute it's not enough water, the next it's too much... I'm tired," Tiyana wrote. "I always thought the goal was clear," Mountain Witch added.

If you have concerns about the color of your urine, please consult a doctor.


This article originally appeared on 3.26.24

Pop Culture

Listen to this organ in Croatia that uses the sea to make hauntingly beautiful music

It's a 230-foot-long organ that turns the rhythm of the waves into actual music.


In 2005, a Croatian architect designed a 230-foot-long organ that turns the rhythm of the waves into actual music.

Nope, not nonsensical bellows or chaotic tones. Real, actual, music.


Most of us have never seen, or heard, anything like it.

Imagine walking along the picturesque Adriatic Sea, treading lightly on a set of white stone steps as a cool breeze rolls past.

Carved into the steps are narrow channels that connect to 35 organ pipes, each tuned to different meticulously arranged musical chords.

As the waves lap against the steps, they push air through the pipes and out whistle-holes in the surface above, making a harmonious and completely random musical arrangement.

But you don't see what's happening below the surface. You close your eyes and all you hear is a song like you've never heard before, one completely unique to the movement of the sea at that exact moment.

Take a listen: Here's what it sounded like at one particular moment, on one particular day. On any other day, it might sound completely different.

(Hit the orange button to hear it.)

Pretty amazing, right?

The Sea Organ, or the Morske Orgulje, is an incredible feat of architecture designed to bring life back to one of the world's oldest cities.

Photo by Lisa/Flickr

assets.rebelmouse.io

Zadar, a 3,000-year-old city on the coast of Croatia, was almost completely destroyed in World War II –– so many of its ancient landmarks lost forever. Years after a rebuilding that featured lots of plain, concrete structures, award-winning architect Nikola Bašić was brought in to bring some delight back to the coastline.

That's when he came up with the idea.

No doubt he was inspired by the hydraulis — a nifty little instrument built by the ancient Greeks that used water to push air through tuned pipes — or even the Wave Organ in San Francisco — a set of curved tubes built in the 1980s that amplify the gurgles and howls of the Pacific Ocean.

But the intricate design of the Sea Organ is what sets it apart and makes it truly something to marvel at.


This article originally appeared on 11.06.15

Health

To the men I love, about men who scare me.

I went to get a drink by myself, and I have a message for men everywhere.

Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

For the well-intentioned men in my life.


I got a promotion a few days ago, so I decided to stop for a drink on my way home — just me and my sense of accomplishment.

I ended up alone in the bar, running defense against a bouncer who held my ID hostage while he commented on my ass (among other things) and asked me vaguely threatening questions about my sex life.


This is not a Yelp review. It's not an angry rant, and it's definitely not something women need to be reminded of.

As far as I can tell, there is only one good lesson to pull out of this otherwise shitty and all-too-familiar interaction: In my experience, a lot of thoroughly decent men are still having trouble understanding this.

I have a friend who once joked that it was all right for him to catcall women because he's good-looking. I had another ask me in faux outrage why it was OK for me to describe a cupcake (as in an actual chocolate baked good) as a “seven," but not OK for him to rank women the same way. I was recently at a house party where a group of guys referred to a soundproofed recording studio in the basement as the “rape room" 45 times.

Some of these jokes were a little funny. Some of them really weren't. But they were all endemic of something more sinister, and I honestly don't think the men in question even realize it.

So to the generally well-intentioned men in my life, please consider this:

I have a friend who once joked that it was all right for him to catcall women because he's good-looking. I had another ask me in faux outrage why it was OK for me to describe a cupcake (as in an actual chocolate baked good) as a “seven," but not OK for him to rank women the same way. I was recently at a house party where a group of guys referred to a soundproofed recording studio in the basement as the “rape room" 45 times.

Some of these jokes were a little funny. Some of them really weren't. But they were all endemic of something more sinister, and I honestly don't think the men in question even realize it.

This has made me defensive. It has put me more on my guard than I would like to be.

men, women, community, mental health

Navigating the bar scene.

Photo by Alex Voulgaris on Unsplash

Decent male humans, this is not your fault, but it also does not have nothing to do with you.

If a woman is frosty or standoffish or doesn't laugh at your joke, consider the notion that maybe she is not an uptight, humorless bitch, but rather has had experiences outside your realm of understanding that have adversely colored her perception of the world.

Consider that while you're just joking around, a woman might actually be doing some quick mental math to see if she's going to have to hide in a bathroom stall and call someone to come help her, like I did three days ago.

Please adjust your mindset and your words accordingly.


This article was written by Laura Munoz and originally appeared on 03.08.16.