I originally wrote this blog entry back in 2012 and decided it was time to update! I didn’t change a thing other than adding two new ones at the end – guess useful is useful!
My readers and friends know that I’m OCD about everything, but especially about shopping. It’s not that I’m a compulsive shopper… I don’t overbuy (believe it or not). Rather, I obsess over every. single. purchasing decision and then I take to blogging and posting about it. I’ve been doing this for years; I once spent close to three hours reading and re-reading reviews of every single kind of measuring cup that exists – on Amazon.com, BedBathandBeyond.com, and Target.com. I bought the perfect set and then wrote a review that 353 people found helpful. And it *is* better than the others. Wondering how? Among other things, the 1/4 cup is properly weighted to sit up on its own and the circumferences on all the cups are slightly lower than on other sets, so even the 1 cup will scoop in a canister, and not make a mess when you level off the extra. Cooking is more fun with these.
Anyway, here are a few products I consider to be worth every last penny.
(1) Amazon Prime. For $99/year you get free shipping on almost anything you could ever need, from toiletries to food to baby products and more, with Amazon Prime. Let me tell you, it pays for itself many times over. First off, you’ll never need to go to Target, Walgreens, Babies R Us, Kids R Us, or anywhere other than the mall for your own clothes ever again. A lot of people don’t consider wear-and-tear when they think about driving their car but the federal reimbursement rate is $.55 cents per mile, and gas is only getting pricier. Each trip to Target costs me 40 minutes in the car and 14 miles (so about $8.00 according to the feds). I would probably need to go once every 2-3 weeks as a mom without Amazon prime. Say I went every 3 weeks for a year, and multiply by $8.00/trip. That’s $140. And that’s just Target!! So considering that it literally pays for itself, you’re left with all the time and hassle (and pollution!) you’ll avoid by pointing and clicking on your item. GOLDEN. Bam, your life is so much easier.
(2) A Rockin’ Umbrella Stroller. I’m talking nothing less than a Maclaren, but if you find a sale go for the Uppababy G-Luxe. This stroller weighs just 11 lbs… about as much as a newborn named Matthew. SO easy to pop in and out of your trunk, and folding and unfolding is a DREAM. It’s also a one-handed push. So if you need to run into a store, you pop it out, pop baby in, and you’ve got a free arm for your grocery basket. It also rolls well enough to do walks anywhere, so you’ll never have to lug your heavy jogging stroller over to a friend’s house. The cup holder for your coffee is worth its weight in gold (obviously). And don’t forget to calculate resale value into your stroller purchases… you’ll get a decent return on this someday, and you can subtract that from the sticker price.
(3) The Best Floor Steamer You Can Find. Still mopping? How would you like to mop your floor in 1/5 of the time? Trust me, you’ll NEVER go back. No more getting out soap and waiting for a bucket to fill. No more going back and forth to the bucket with the mop. Just sweep, plug this baby in, run it over your floors, and you’re done. My kitchen floor takes me about 10 minutes to sweep and mop. Bonus: no more cleaning chemicals for your baby to crawl on and then suck his hands. We got the Shark “Vac then Steam”(then on sale at Costco). They don’t make that model anymore, and we never used the “Vac” part, so I now recommend the Bissell for its excellent reviews.
(4) A Kindle. Okay I cheated and my mom gave me her old one. But these are truly worth buying, and have come way down in price since back when I first wrote this blog entry in 2012! Especially if you have a baby – you can read while nursing without needing to hold a book open, you can half-read while you play with your baby (until they get older), you can read on a plane even traveling “infant in arms” because you don’t need both hands, you can read more easily on a machine at the gym, etc.
(5) Key Finders. Probably going to be my new baby shower gift. They should hand these out at the hospital. Found them out of desperation after the 3rd time I searched through a very stinky kitchen garbage can for our keys. Free shipping if you have Amazon Prime!
|Especially if you have a toddler, best $20 (or so) you will ever spend.|
(6) Laundry Sorter with Removable Bags. Space is at a premium for us but we still made room for this thing. Now I can see at a glance what load needs to be done (whites, brights, or darks), grab the bag, and head to the laundry room (down two flights of stairs in our basement). Bonus: It’s a LOT easier to carry a bag than a basket, especially downstairs (and then back up) – safer too. Double bonus: The bar overhead on ours isn’t very pretty but it enables us to keep more hanging clothes in our master bedroom – key, when you live in a 2-bedroom apartment with almost no closet space!
(7) A DSLR Camera. Oh, we had to save up for this. I believe it was my birthday present from parents, in-laws, and husband and then some. But this is another purchase that pays for itself. And the new version is now LESS than what we paid for ours way back when – click here to check it out! We’ve never once paid for professional photos (update: We did start these, when my son turned 3). While we certainly still would if we could, we really had to choose. We chose the camera and have never looked back. I love that we have such high-quality photos from all ages and all trips, with all family members and with backgrounds that are meaningful to us and will bring back so many memories over the years. After a *lot* of research we settled on the Canon over the Nikon. I can tell you why, if you’re in the market.
(8) The Libman Soap Wand. I’ve been through all the other brands and they all either leak soap or require you to repeatedly press a worthless button to get soap out. This is the one to get. Makes doing dishes a breeze – you don’t have to bother getting soap out or opening it. I also wear some cheap kitchen gloves (from the grocery store, or often available as an “add-on” item on Amazon) – that way the water can get scorching hot and it doesn’t damage my skin. Hot water + this thing = dishes done in a snap, even the ones that can’t go in the dishwasher.
(9) A Backpack Diaper Bag. Nobody ever listens to me on this one, because they want something “cute.” But if you’re a SAHM, believe me, the last thing you want to do 24/7 is have your baby on one hip while you’re balancing something else entirely on your other shoulder. I had the Columbia Trekster Diaper Bag, but they don’t make it anymore. The newer diaper bag backpacks look a lot better, actually.
It almost makes me want to have another kid. No. No no no.
|Those were the days|
|Looks awesome. No for real. See more like it here.|
(10) Lemon/Lime Juicer. Best $1.99 I ever spent. If you’re serious about cooking, you’re going to end up juicing lemons and limes – and there is a **major** difference between fresh squeezed juice and that nasty stuff in the plastic bottles. You’ll need lemon juice for salads like the divine Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing, or in various cakes, cookies, and glazes. I’ve also discovered that a little fresh lemon juice stirred well with sugar can really jazz up a fruit salad – add some crushed mint leaves; even better. Lime juice you’ll need for various tex-mex dishes and meat marinades. Lemons and limes are a major pain to juice without a juicer, but even the very cheapest juicer will make the task a piece of cake. Ours (like the one pictured) is apparently too simple for Amazon but here’s one that looks great – for $5, measures the juice and strains seeds.
|Ours is too simple for Amazon – snagged it in the grocery store.|
(11) I’ll end this piece with a list of other kitchen gadgets I would never want to live without.
- A cookie dough scoop – scoop cookie dough (and muffin batter!) 5x as fast and have more even cookies, wish I had invented this one.
- Mini muffin tins for Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies – an absolute all-time fave.
- An immersion blender for Curried Butternut Squash & Pear Soup – the recipe that is the staple of our autumns.
- Glass “tupperware” like these or for babies, these – so much safer than plastic and so much nicer to use – goes straight in the oven or microwave.
- I also think any serious cook needs a Le Crueset. Mine was my Christmas gift from Dear Husband last year – his idea, kudos to him!
- And a *really wide and flat* “pancake spatula,” like this.
- Oh oh OH! And I could NOT live with out our egg cooker – best $20(ish) ever spent! Hardboiled eggs for all our salads and for egg salad and deviled eggs (it also soft-boils and poaches) at the push of a button – and they always peel easily!
- Finally, our newest addition: The Griddler. Best gift EVER EVER EVER. It is crazy-easy to use and it grills perfectly indoors, or use the flat side as a griddle for the easiest pancake flipping ever!
|Egg Cooker. Best $20 (or so) you’ll ever spend.|
And there you have it, my master list. If anyone else has products they can’t live without, I’d LOVE to hear about them!
And if you’ve been following me for awhile now, please join me in my new Facebook group where we all post our best-find deals and coupon codes on high-end kids’ and women’s toys and clothing! Click here for the group!
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