The Average Girl's "How To" Guide

Advice on how to live a well-balanced lifestyle

Category: Being Handy

How To: Solve The Mystery Of Why Women Live Longer Than Men

by Shannon

Dear Science,
I wanted to send a quick note to let you know that I have solved the mystery of why women live longer than men. I would like you to read this post, an excerpt from my very favourite book/bible (How To Be A Woman, by Caitlin Moran, available on Amazon), and then realize the incredible amount of stress that we women deal with each and every day, being attacked by our own brains as if they were Gremlins and fed after midnight. It is this incredible exposure to psycho-stress that we face daily that has built up an outstanding resistance to most causes of death. For those of you scientists suggesting that men begin self-analyzing to this extent in order to join us in our octogenarian days, I would immediately ask that you stop, because otherwise I will never get to live out my Golden Girls fantasy (I’m Dorothy, obviously), and I am really looking forward to it.
Yours in science,

How To: Start A Revolution

by Shannon

Guys – here’s what you do. You just meet a dude at a bar who has an Idea Blog, and then you just come up with brilliant ideas.

Here’s my latest one, all about a brilliant little idea call a 2 honk horn.

How To: Make Ugly Things Pretty

by Rachel

I did it. This hideous hideous table is now one of the most beautiful tables I have ever seen.



Super cool table right? Super uncool colours and materials.
So… We did this!



TABLETOP: entirely replaced with pine. Go to a local furniture maker and they can whip up a new table top for ya! This one was $70. Do multiple coats of Minwax Polycrylic for a glossy protected finish.
LEGS: spray painted gold. Gold is the best.
CHAIRS: stripped of the flesh coloured paint (what a bitch!) And repainted with a beautiful Aqua blue. Coated with Minwax Polycrylic for durability.
SEATS: easily recovered right over top of the old.

It was a fair bit of work and time consuming but 110% worth it!

How To: Make The Perfect Road Trip Mix

by Shannon

Rachel and I are going on a kick-ass road trip in July, and needless to say, WE ARE SUPER EXCITED.

Rachel just got a new car, one that has a CD player, and this is big news. It means mix CDs!

In highschool we both had tape decks, and spent long hours putting together the perfect mix. To this day, I can’t hear The Used’s ‘Taste of Ink’ without thinking ‘Train in Vain’ by The Clash is coming up next.

Now, it’s been awhile since I’ve created a mix tape or a mix CD, but I’d like to think I’m up for the challenge.

I like to start off with a big crowd pleaser. Nothing too expected, no Journey or anything, but something that gets everybody going, and everybody excited.

Following that, it’s good to switch up the pace. You can do this by decade, genre, or vibe. Sometimes slow, super sad songs are really fun to sing along to, and who doesn’t like ‘Summertime’ by Mungo Jerry, amiright?

And finally, the closer. It’s gotta be good, and of course, leave everybody wanting more. A solid Beastie Boys is always a good choice, or a sweet singalong song.

What’s your favourite song to throw on a mix, the one that you can’t live without?

Now, go forth, young lovers, and make those mix CDs!

How To: Redo Furniture for Cheap

by Rachel

I just bought a sewing chair in a bit of rough shape.


But this is like my bread and butter… I love to refurbish shit furniture because old stuff has so much more character/one of a kindness compared to the generic stuff made today. It can get expensive though, so to save money I design the pieces based on what I already have.


See above the finished the product. The paint I used was leftover from our bedroom paint, and the fabric was leftover from another chair I refurbished (actually the whole seat is from that old chair, the frame broke and the seat was perfect size!).
All in all it took about a day and a half and only cost me $20.
Its just so satisfying.

How To: Throw An Axe

by Shannon

This has definitely got to be one of the more bad-ass posts we’ve had.

This past weekend, Liam and I hit up the Backyard Axe Throwing League. As you can see from their website, here’s the gist:

  • They teach you how to throw axes
  • It’s BYOB (they even have a fridge)
  • They set up a competition for you
  • You can bring your own food in or have it delivered

What more do you want?

We went for my friend Sommer’s birthday, and she had specified that everyone dress up as a Lumberjack, because of course that’s what you should do. Luckily, I have some experience making beards, so Liam and I took home co-first place.

batl1 batl2 batl3 batl4

Regarding, you know, the actual throwing of axes, it’s really not that difficult. You more or less just pick up the axe, and throw it, just like you’d think. I’m not saying the instructor’s weren’t great and didn’t teach us the tips and tricks (they were pretty awesome dudes), I’m saying that it’s just that easy.

I’m definitely planning to hit this place up again, and I will probably buy a couple hatchets just so I feel safe walking home alone at night.

How To: Get Rid Of Stale Bread

by Shannon

Dude, just make garlic bread with that shit!

Just cut up your delicious loaf of stale baguette, throw some butter on there, cover in cheese and garlic powder, stick it in the oven on broil, and go to town.

You won’t be sorry.

How To: Throw A Dinner Party

by Shannon

You know what? It’s really not that hard.

As Rachel can attest to, I started throwing Dinner Parties in high school, and they were awesome. We’d limit the guests to about 8 or 10 people, everyone would dress up, bring hostess gifts, we’d serve sweet food, and it was awesome. It was fun to act like grown-ups and talk about stocks and bonds in fake British accents all night, which is definitely what we thought grown-ups did at parties.

Now that I’m in my mid (okay, late) twenties, I still totally throw Dinner Parties, and they’re still totally awesome.

Step One: Invite some people. I find it works best when you invite people who might know of each other, but aren’t super close friends. It means conversations don’t get stuck on inside jokes and the same thing you talk about every time you see them, and it means people can make new friends.

Step Two: Pick your food. Something that doesn’t take a lot of work to prepare is best, as well as something that you can fluctuate on the cooking time. The first Dinner Party I ever hosted, we had pasta with chicken, and it was bone cold. Not the greatest. This time, we had shiskabob’s from the St. Lawrence Market, and roasted sweet potatoes. Super delicious, easy to make, and we could do all the prep in advance, which is definitely key.


Step Three: Tell people what to bring. Don’t bother pretending they don’t have to bring something; it’s a waste of your time, and people typically like bringing something to a party – I know I do. This time we assigned our guests with booze and dessert, and it worked out great. Plus, our dessert guests brought Dufflet cakes, which were insanely delicious, and something Liam and I never would have thought of, so we got to try something new.

Step Four: Create a theme. This isn’t necessary by any means, but I like to have an activity, or a little something special to set each Dinner Party apart. One of them I had a Slip N’ Slide at and we played croquet, another one was black-tie themed. A little theme never hurt anyone, and adds a fun extra. I received a sweet-ass cocktail book for Christmas, so we had welcome drinks of White Russians and Whiskey Sours (with homemade sugar syrup!) for everyone. We also had a Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection tasting, and had some Prosecco as we toasted a friend’s grant approval. Safe to say, our theme was booze.

That’s pretty much all there is. You can add little details, like nametags, or thank-you gifts (which we forgot to give our guests, so… put those by the front door or something), and make sure there’s great music, but beyond food and booze, people don’t need much to have a good time.

Liam and I are planning on getting back into throwing more Dinner Parties, now that we’re really grown-up and mature. The only thing we’ll do different is perhaps drink less whiskey sours, ‘cus this girl is definitely hungover.

How To: Fix Bulbs on Ceramic Christmas Trees

by Rachel

This is a pretty specific how to. I mostly just want to talk about this amazing ceramic Christmas tree I found at Value Village. As you can see below, there’s a few bulbs missing:


I almost didn’t buy it because of this. One of my rules, of course, is to not buy broken crap at thrift stores. But my brain exercises seem to be working because as I put it back on the shelf I figured out the solution:

Marbles! This is like, my husbands level of problem solving that I have only now reached for the first time.
I hot glued marbles where the missing bulbs were and it is virtually unnoticeable.


What up!

How To: Decorate for the Holidays…

by Rachel

Without spending a lot of money and collecting more STUFF!

During the holidays, it is sooooo hard not to buy a bunch of crap for ourselves. We are already spending enough money on gifts and getting enough stuff as gifts, so why spend more money and get more stuff just to decorate the house?
Here are a few ways I have added some holiday decorations from nature, garbage and a few things I already had.

Things you need:
-an old pallet (often found on curbs and near dumpsters)
-paint and stencils (unless you are a master painter you can freehand)
-a handy person to build the base
And you get this awesome, pretty much free tree. Quote optional. Inspiration from


Things you need:
-green books
This is a pinterest find. You can pile green books and put pinecones or a star topper for a book tree. Or just pile green and red books together with a pinecone topper.


Things you need:
-soup tins of various sizes
-metallic spray paints (and primer!)
-piece of barn board as base
-dogwood and greenery from nature
Another pinterest gem. Prime and paint the cans and stick them on the board. Once we get a tree I will add greenery to the dogwood and a few more Christmas ornaments and I have a holiday centerpiece!


Things you need:
-existing vases
No explanation needed.


Things you need:
-old jar
-fake tree
-fabric scraps
-glitter that doesn’t float
This is a craft from Shannon’s wedding, a homemade snow globe! Glue the tree onto the lid, put water and glitter in the jar, glue and screw the lid and add your fabric. So easy and cheap.


Things you need:
-old and new Christmas cards
-photo holders (wooden ones are from Shannon’s wedding!)
Just put ’em on display.
Easy as pie… And ginger cookies, and Christmas pudding, and fruitcake…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

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