Monday, November 23, 2009

Items That Make Life Easier

Thanksgiving is about 3.5 days away which means that homes around America are in the thick of the annual prep for the big day. Whether this means cleaning, cooking, baking or decorating - just about everyone I know has a to-do list in their pocket.

Then, once Thanksgiving is over, it's time for the ultimate quick-change to Christmas which seems to literally happen on 12:01am the following day. Frankly, as much as I love it, it is all a bunch of craziness really.

That is why, in times of such madness, I find myself mercilessly searching for any and all items to make my life just a little bit easier. After years of trial and error, I think that I have complied a pretty good list. These are basic goods which don't just talk the talk, they walk the walk. They are the cat's meow. They are all that and a bag of chips. They are, as the English say, the dog's bollocks. (I will let you figure that one out yourself.)

So, without further ado - here are my tried and trusted, go-to, fail-safe tools to make my life just a little bit easier. I hope that they help you as they have helped me:

This list had to include these. HAD TO. I really hope that everyone has already discovered this modern miracle of a cleaning product, and if not, go right now to get some. I am totally not kidding here. There is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, that these cannot clean. From caked-on spills in the kitchen (not that I ever have those) to bathtubs to crayon on the wall - I am telling you - these will get it all out with ease. I continue to find new ways to maximize these puppies. And - the best part? All you have to do is run it under water. No harsh chemicals at all. This is an AMAZING, amazing sponge.

This is a Silpat baking sheet. It is made in France of silicon and fiberglass and you simply just place it on your cookie sheet before adding the cookie dough. Once you bake cookies with one of these, you will never want to go back - I promise you. Baked cookies slide off with ease and clean-up is so simple. It is heat-resistant, oven/freezer/microwave safe. You can find these all over from to Williams Sonoma. Get one. Do it.

Now, this next item might not look like much, but let me tell you, this is hands-down, the last windshield ice scraper you will ever buy. It is called the Scrape-A-Round and I first picked one up at a local ski and snowboard show here in Portland. The company is based out of Utah where they know snow! What makes this special (as you are scraping your windshield when it is freezing cold and you are already running late) is that due to its shape, there is an 18" scraping surface and no matter which direction you use it in, you are scraping the windshield. I usually just move it around in a big circular motion and it gets the job done quickly. But wait - it gets better. One the very top, there is a surface with little spikes on it and this is to help you crack through ice if it is really on there thick. THEN - if for some reason you need to fill your car with extra coolant or the like, the top part comes off and acts as a funnel so that you do not spill. If you live in a place with ice and snow and you HATE scraping your windshield like I do - you need this product. They are sold in packs of 3 for $15.00. Not bad at all.

Sometimes I am tired. Sometimes I am lazy. Sometimes I am both tired and lazy and I simply cannot waste any time between getting ready for bed and actually getting some shut-eye, so I reach for one of these. Because I am actually pretty anal about my skin care routine, one of these packs lasts me a long time because I use sparingly - but, let me tell you, when you are so tired that you think How I Met Your Mother is actually funny, do yourself a favor and give your face a quick once over with one of these and call it a night. They actually do a really good job removing make-up and smell nice too. You can thank me later.

I am one of those people that gets really excited about cuddly, fresh smelling laundry. There is just nothing like it as it is pulled out of the dryer. However, often to achieve such fluffiness, you need to use fabric softener, which I never bothered with until I discovered the Downy Ball. I mean, I'm sorry...but there is no way that I will remember to go add fabric softener during the rinse cycle - just isn't going to happen. With the Downy Ball, however, all you do is fill it up when you first put in the laundry and toss it in. It opens when it is supposed to and that is all you have to do. Love it.

Part of our family Thanksgiving tradition is having a big breakfast the next morning because apparently we didn't get enough food they day before. Over the past few years I have become the designated maker of quiche which is maybe my most favoritest food ever. That and salmon. And mashed potatoes. Grrr - why do I even try to play the "name your favorite food" game? Anyway, whenever I have to grate a lot of cheese, I am so thankful for these graters from IKEA. They cost $5.99 for a pack of two are are just about the greatest thing ever. Because you are able to grate with a downward pressure instead of awkwardly holding something sideways, it goes a lot quicker and is much friendlier on the arms. Then, as you grate, all of the cheese goes into the attached dish making it a quick and easy clean-up.

Last but not least, I will share with you one of my little luxuries: a shu uemura eyelash curler. The is the BEST eyelash curler around - it really is. At $19 however, it is a bit spendy, but I'm telling you, it is worth the cost. I do not know how they made this different, but they obviously know something that other eyelash curler manufacturers don't know. There is no pain or pulling, no straining and zero kinks in the eyelashes. You hardly can tell that you have a strange metal contraption so close to your eye :) The downside is that it comes with only 2 rubber pads and they do not sell replacements which means that you have to buy a whole new curler once you have worn them out, but if you are a curled eyelash freak like me, you will appreciate this item.

Okay - that is all for now. I am sure I will do another post like this in the future as there are a lot more products that I hold near and dear, but I am sure you would all like to move on with your lives. I hope that you have a great week and that the Thanksgiving prep is smooth sailing.



  1. Funny because I've seen all these things around here. Oh holler at the scrapers, I need one.

  2. Silpats are definitely a must have!!


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