I know, it has been a while! I have been traveling heavily this January, spending 12 of the last 26 days on the road…and trying to plan a cross-country move when time allows. Life has been a little hectic, but I have sat on enough planes (six, to be exact) to thoroughly catch up on my magazine habit and get some inspiration for this next post.
I tend to be a magazine reader (vs. a book reader) because a) I have a short attention span and b) I want current information that can enhance my life. I read a LOT of magazines every month and at the top of my pile is always Real Simple. It is jam packed with articles that advise, instruct & inspire. This year’s January issue didn’t disappoint & it inspired this post. The issue covered the “smartest, most useful products for: home, fashion, cooking, beauty, & health.” I am going to borrow their categories & give you my MUST HAVES…many of which happened to pop up in the issue itself! Below you will find my list of things I cannot live without. Anything on it has at least two years of use in my home. So here it goes…you will find pictures of everything in every header.
MY LIST OF THE SMARTEST, MOST USEFUL, PRODUCTS FOR…
- The Dyson Animal Vacuum w/ Telescoping Wand The price may make you squint your eyes and scream “What?!? For a vacuum!!!?!” but I assure you it is worth it! I fill up its bag less container every week with more pet hair than I even imagined blanketed my home. It has a bare floors setting, which means the broom is obsolete. Check the target ads, usually they run a special where you pay full price, but get a $100 gift card which somehow makes it less of a blow. I actually look forward to vacuuming now!
- Spot Shot This carpet cleaner is the only one that gets the nastiest of nasty stains out of my white carpet. From muddy puppy paws, to kitty puke-this one has kept my carpet sparkling. I went through about a dozen brands before I found this one. You can buy it in 4 packs at Sam’s or Costco.
- Method Wood for Good Most wood cleaners I have used in the past were so waxy that they would catch the cat hair floating in the air & make the surface I just cleaned look dirty is seconds, not to mention sticky for days. This is a pleasant almond scented cleaner that is non toxic & gentle on you & the environment. Couple it with Get a Grip, the microfiber cloth and you’ve got yourself a great cleaner for that kitchen table & nightstand that will make them both shine.
- Starbucks Proteo Barista Espresso Machine Though Starbucks no longer makes this machine, it is found on eBay & craigslist at very affordable prices. This gem of a purchase has probably saved me more money than any appliance. Starbucks sells the espresso “pods” so you can make the perfect strength espresso shot to drink alone or in my case, add to my latte in the morning. I swear this machine paid for itself in 6 months. I can make a better cup of coffee at home than any Starbucks can!
- Chilewich Table Mats I stumbled upon these a couple of years ago at the Sur la Table in town & fell in love with the line. I have the mini basket weave, in shades of green in a set of four for my table and these look identical today, to what they did three years ago. They are made of “plynyl” and can be cleaned in the sink w/soap and water, or even with bleach if you want to get aggressive. The real simple also features their rugs, which I cannot vouch for. I am probably going to splurge on one this year…
- Everyday Food This magazine has transformed my cooking! A Martha Stewart Magazine, it covers not only tons of recipes but educates readers about all things cooking! From veggies to knives, it is so educational. I find the recipes easy & healthy and many of them are our household staples. It is one of those smaller magazines that you can grab near the checkout but of course, a subscription is cheaper. A few times a year there are supplements called “Good Things” that are creative compilations of crafts and tips for homekeeping.
- Allrecipes.com Another resource that has transformed my cooking! This is a huge user driven database of recipes. There are a few features that make this place great. First, you can sort recipes based on how many stars they have been given. You can also see the number of reviews and base your decisions on how many other people cook that recipe. The BEST feature is the comments feature. Much like epicurious, those who have tried the recipe can post comments about their alterations. Usually, you can find a few people who made each recipe much healthier and improve the quality of the meal by using the suggestions.
- Nordicware I love to bake but in order to make a pretty finished product, the pan must be high quality. I have Nordicware for all seasons, since they make beautiful molds in many shapes & sizes. My most used: pumpkin loaf pan. Somehow food just tastes better when it is beautiful! You can find most Nordicware for 50% off after the holidays at Sur La Table, my favorite cooking store!
- LeCreuset Silicone Spatula Alas, the best spatula ever!! Even visiting cooking friends have commented on the perfect design of this kitchen tool. I initially bought this one because it was hot pink and sparkly (sparkles are in the silicone) but soon found it to be perfectly balanced & easy to grip the rounded handle. The silicone is the perfect consistency! Tuesday Morning often carries the LeCreuset line of silicone highly discounted, but never in as cool colors as Sur La Table. :)
- Jo!e Non Stick Omelet Pan Just the perfect size for a single omelet! I have the double pan and the single one, along with the mini flipper & the mini whisk. The double pan makes the most fluffy, perfect omelet every time. It fits perfectly on an English muffin for a great egg sandwich. Every tool & pan has the cute little egg guy on the handle!
- Bare Minerals This is my favorite line of makeup. I don’t wear a lot, but my favorites in this line that I do wear just about every day are the SPF 15 Foundation, Faux Tan (better than Warmth for a bronzer), and Mineral Veil (no more shine!). I really do love this line of makeup & it is great for your skin!
Kerastase Reflection Most of you know that my redheadedness is not natural…thus I need a great shampoo & conditioner to hold that color! My blonde locks just want to let it go…This is the best shampoo & masque I have found. It makes my hair shiny as ever!
Super Solano Hair Dryer I have had this same hair dryer since my junior year of college and it is still going strong 6 years later! Talk about a worthwhile investment! This dryer cut my drying time in half when I first purchased it and when people visit & use it…they usually end up buying one of their own!
Chi 1in Flat Iron This is the only hot tool I use. It can curl just as well as a curling iron and yet flatten straight as a board! A one stop shop! This is the original ceramic flat iron.
Fish Oil Capsules I swear these make my skin more hydrated. Since I began using them, I have seen a big difference. There are also an insane amount of health benefits associated with their consumption–click the link above to see the Mayo Clinic’s evidence. My OB also said that taking these along with a prenatal vitamin during pregnancy prevents the need to use a stool softener since fish oil is naturally provides that benefit. I had a hard time taking them at first because I didn’t like the taste I burped up…but Martha taught me if you freeze them & take them just before bed, you wont get any of the nasty taste! My vet even encouraged me to give one or two a day to my dog to shine up his coat. He now drools for them…
Vaniqa You know that bit of peachy fuzz we ladies get on our cheeks that we [oh, no she didn’t] shave, wax & pluck? Meet Vaniqa. A prescription cream that keeps that fuzz from growing. It stops any hair growth where you rub it in. It says to use it twice per day, but I only rub it on once per day and it has kept my face nice and hairless for three years! Patience is necessary…it takes about 6 months of use to start working but it is GREAT!
Prenatal Vitamins Most doctors will tell you the generic brand you find at Costco will suit you just fine. Did you know that you have to be taking a Prenatal Vitamin BEFORE conception to reap all the benefits for your baby? Since 50% of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned, it’s not a bad idea to be taking one just in case. I know, you’re on the pill…but of these unintended pregnancies, 44% are behavior related method failures. What can it hurt to take one anyway? Thicker hair? Beautiful fingernails? Not a bad idea! **NEW NEWS 1/31/08-a study of over 35,000 women who took folic acid supplements for at least a year before becoming pregnant cut their chances for very early preterm births (20-28wks) by 70%. Most prenatals have at least 400mcg of folic acid, try to find one w/ at least 800mcg(.8mg) if you can!
Heart Rate Monitor Ever at the gym and wonder how hard you are working? The best way to know is to wear a heart rate monitor & be sure you are at your target heart rate. I have a Polar HRM and it has lasted over 8 years now. I am so impressed that most of the cardio machines have picked up this technology and have built in sensors so you can actually set your Target Heart Rate at the start of your run and the speed will adjust so you always hit your THR. Genius!
Nalgene OTG Bottles It pretty much goes without saying, but we need to drink a lot of water. My favorite bottle for in the car and for working out is this Nalgene bottle that I can open with one hand. It holds just enough water for a good workout and is the prefect fit for in the car cup holders. I take one with me on the road everyday and have a commitment to myself to drink the whole thing before I am back home. It sounds easy…but I think it is a challenge!
What are your MUST HAVE favorite things??