Three Products That Rock My World

by Andrea Karim on 18 February 2010 76 comments
Photo: thumbs up

In a consumer world, I am among the least savvy of consumers. I buy stuff on a whim, often without doing my research, and am frequently disappointed in what I end up buying. But every now and again, I find a product or service that is so incredibly awesome, so life-changingly helpful, that I can't stop telling people about it. Here are three of my awesome finds of the past year. Have you found a product that you think is the bomb? Tell us about it in the comments before Sunday, February 21 at 12:00PM Pacific Time, and you'll be entered into a drawing for an Amazon gift certificate for $25!

The ChicoBag - $5 each

The world is full of reusable shopping bags. Heck, my car is full of reusable shopping bags, which ironically, I never use, much less re-use. While I care about the environment, I suffer from a medical condition known as hyperpneumo craniosis (air headedness), which means that I will end up at the front of the grocery line, only to realize that all of my reusable shopping bags are still in the trunk of my car, or in the front seat, where I put them so that I wouldn't forget them in the trunk when I went inside the store.

This is why I love the ChicoBag: it's a sturdy nylon shopping bag that can hold lots of groceries (or anything else you need to buy), but that folds away into its attached pouch. When all closed up, the ChicoBag is no larger than a Yukon potato, which is small enough for me to fit three of them into the front pocket of my purse. Thus, I am never forced to run out to my car to fetch a mess of folded shopping bags. I just whip the ChicoBag out of my purse and unfold it, impressing cashiers and baggers with my organizational skills.

I bought my ChicoBags at Whole Foods, and thus, my bags are emblazoned with the Whole Foods logo, but the upside was that I spent approximately $3 for each of them, since Whole Foods orders them in bulk and resells them. I can't stress just how much plastic I have avoided using since I bought my ChicoBags (and yes, I know that nylon is a synthetic polymer).

Goo Gone - $5 for 8 oz

I recently had a near-mental breakdown over the state of my toaster oven. Covered in crumbs and melted cheese, and displaying prominent smoke stains, its very existence filled me with anxiety. It just sat there on my kitchen counter, flaunting its filthiness. Latent OCD gripped me and shook me to the core, and I attacked the toaster with a bottle of Windex, some scouring pads, rubber gloves, the Dyson, and a look of utter madness. My boyfriend and dogs cowered in the next room, wondering from whence this crazed cleaning beast had appeared.

After approximately a half hour of scrubbing, vacuuming, and sweating, the toaster looked only marginally better, still displaying signs of smoke stains and fingerprints. Desperate to remove a sticky droplet of some disgusting substance on the front door of the toaster, I broke out my bottle of Goo Gone and applied a few drops. Presto, the blob of mystery goo disappeared. Emboldened, I began drenching paper towels with Goo Gone, polishing the toaster to a brilliant sheen. Cheese smoke, grease, oil — all were smote by the power of Goo Gone, which left behind nothing. No streaks, no marks, just a citrusy scent lingering in the air.

In a full-fledged cleaning frenzy, I cleaned the stove top, the oven, the microwave, the counters — everything was left shiny and beautiful, with minimal elbow grease involved. My kitchen was sparkling and brand-new (for approximately 24 hours, anyway), and I was newly converted to the citrus cleansing power of Goo Gone.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Polish - $4.99 at Walgreen's

I love a good manicure, but I don't think I've ever had one in which I didn't almost immediately ruin the job by slamming my newly-painted fingernails into the closest table, car door, or wallet. As someone who doesn't like spending $20 to get my nails done, anyway, I've tried time and time again to DIY my nails at home. Usually, this involves meticulous painting of several coats of O.P.I. nail polish right before bedtime, with some frantic hand-waving and blowing to attempt to dry the polish before falling asleep. It's never fully dry by the time my eyelids finally droop closed, and I inevitably wake up to find that at least one of the nail's coat is smooshed into my pillowcase.

Honestly, who has time to do their nails?

Enter Sally Hansen's Insta-Dri Nail Color. It goes on thick, dries fast, and I never need more than two coats (unlike the O.P.I. colors). Pre-bedtime manicures take 10 minutes from start to finish, and by the time I've finally given into the Sandman, my nails look awesome.

It's true that the color choices are fairly limited compared to some other brands (you can see the available colors on the product home page), but the palette is enough to satisfy my needs. Pronto Purple is exceptionally pretty, actually.

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Because somebody always asks, I will state for the record that I have received no compensation from the producers of any of the products mentioned here. They're just products that I like and recommend. Similarly, please don't plug your own products in the comments. Of course, I'll have no way of double-checking this, so it'll just be an honor code thing.

So, what products totally rock your world? Make sure to include your email in the email field when you leave a comment! The drawing will take place on Sunday, February 21 at 12:00PM, so let us know your product(s) before then!

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Guest's picture

I'll check out goo gone next time I go out, but I gotta say that I LOVE my Magic Erasers (or the generic brands in Target). I put those to work on my toaster oven and they worked a treat. And of course, works great on the walls and nearly everything else (that will take the scrubbing)

Guest's picture
Adam

The Electrolux Ergorapido is a fantastic vacuum for the kitchen. It's cordless with a nice charging station. Much easier and quicker than sweeping. We love it.

Guest's picture
R

Oxiclean is the only product that will clean my baby's clothes! It's shocking (and depressing) how little is cleaned without it.

Guest's picture
Linden

I am embarrased to say this, but one of the products I love and cannot imagine living without is a wet Swiffer. I live with an Irish Wolfhound and keeping things in order is a minute to minute operation, but I would say the Swiffer has cut my workload in half. I have to admit that I sometimes use rags in place of the pads, but when I find the pads on sale I make a big score.

Guest's picture
Guest

I love love love the shampoo bars by Prairieland Herbs (I promise I don't work for them!). They last forever & work really well. I have really short hair now, but when I had longer hair, the shampoo bars (in combination w/the suggested vinegar rinse--just some apple cider vinegar diluted w/water, no other conditioner) made my hair so soft that I was constantly petting my own head like a freak!

I moved to the UK last year & brought some w/me... & make my US visitors bring some. That's how much I dig them!

Guest's picture
Leo Fair

The top three I can think of right now are:

1) Hot Water Maker
It cost about $13 at Walmart. That thing makes hot drinks so much more convenient especially since I drink instant coffee.

2) Silicone Spatula
You can find these at the Dollar Tree at this point; useful in a lot of ways, but excels at getting extra batter out of bowls.

3) Tape (Duct, electrical, etc.)
Sweet, sweet tape. So far this year I've salvaged my headphones, fixed the light on my bike, and repaired a shipping box so I can reuse it.

Guest's picture
Sarah

I have two products I couldn't do without, both related to the fact that I love cooking.

1. My bread machine. I bake all my own bread because of it. It only takes a few minutes -- dump in all the ingredients, set it to go, and I have bread 3 hours later. It's cheaper than buying bread every week, and tastes better too.

2. My Aerogarden. I like having fresh herbs in my cooking, but if I bought them from the supermarket I'd only use a few and the rest would go to waste. Now I have fresh herbs all the time, year round, and I only have to water them every 2 weeks.

Guest's picture
Kathy

I'm a list maker and prefer to use a nice sharp pencil rather than pens. My trusty electric pencil sharpener broke and a new one would cost $40+. (Gulp!) I started using Bic mechanical pencils and now have no need for an electric sharpener. They are colorful, have great little erasers and constantly sharp tips! I love them!!

Guest's picture
cwaltz

I couldn't live without my crockpot. It isn't a secret that I'm no Betty Crocker. When I cook I prefer something that I can spend 20 minutes tops prepping. The crockpot allows me that option.

Christine

Guest's picture
OHIOGAL

Thin, flexible plastic cutting mats. Much easier to handle than a rigid cutting board, and CHEAP! I can dice away to my heart's content and then just bend the mat and dump the ingredients right into the pot - no hands! And three different colors keeps me from using my "meat" mat for veggies.

Guest's picture
Kate

Thanks for the great tip on the Chico Bags, I'm now considering picking a few up on Amazon...I have the same problem with never remembering to bring my reusable bags with me.

Guest's picture
Trang

I love the OXO kitchen gadgets for their sturdiness and nice, easy to grip handles.

Guest's picture

Some time ago my mom gave me this defrosting plate, which I just through to the side. One day I gave it a try and it worked miracles. Meat doesn't take forever to defrost anymore.

Guest's picture
Robin

I like Burts Bees Milk and Shea Butter Body Wash... it really helps with dry winter skin.

Guest's picture
Kelli

LUSH solid shampoos are great! They cost around $9 but can last 60-80 washes, especially if you have short hair like mine. They're natural, most are vegan, they smell great, and lather like crazy even in notoriously hard water.

Guest's picture
Christy

I am also a fan of Oxyclean (the as-seen-on TV detergent Billy Mays pitched). You can get it anywhere now, and the stuff really works. All my husbands dingy and stained t-shirts are finally white again.

Guest's picture
blossomteacher

I concur about the Sally Hanson. No matter what I did, my nails never looked good until I tried this stuff. And considering that I almost always paint my nails red or pink, I am fine with their limited colors!

2nd is hand sanitizer with moisturizer. I teach kindergarten...nuff said? :)

My 3rd is my glass cutting board. It was $3 from a promotional company that sells at my school. I love it madly. It doesn't scratch or mar like cheap wood or plastic cutting boards, so it is crazy easy to clean. It is thick and heavy, and I don't think it would break even if I did drop it. If I had known how awesome it would be, I would have ordered more than just 1!!

Guest's picture
kate

I know this one's expensive, but I can't believe I baked for years without it. I use mine several times a week and I'm more likely to cook and bake from scratch because it's a huge time and labor saver.

Guest's picture
Guest

what's the product?

Guest's picture
Guest

Nice-looking sturdy plates that don't weigh a ton and don't shatter when you drop them on a stone counter. And you can buy them at Walmart. Can't believe it took me so long to convert.

Guest's picture
Michelle

I absolutely love Spic-N-Span. It's really cheap, and I can clean the entire bathroom with it. It takes off soap scum with no effort - just smear it around, leave for five minutes, and wipe off!

The best part is that it doesn't have bleach, so my hands don't dry out.

Guest's picture
Eileen

I agree that Spic & Span is one of the best cleaning products around. Would just clarify by saying that I find the powder version in the box much better than the liquid.

Guest's picture
Isabel

Great to know about the Sally's. I've been trying to cut down on mani's and pedi's and I will definitely be trying this. Thank you for the tip!

Guest's picture
Erin

There aren't many things I consider necessary, but there are a couple of things I use frequently.

Flare jeans from NY&C
Chi flat iron
Mechanical pencil I've had since college. After 6 years and a little tape it works great.

Guest's picture
Robert

Magic Bullet. A great affordable alternative to a juicer for veggies and fruit drinks.

By the way Andrea, it's just a toaster oven...why the meltdown?

Guest's picture
Guest

In agreement with the above:
Magic eraser. If you have an Asian neighborhood anywhere near you, look in a housewares department. I get mine at a Japanese dollar store called Daiso for $1.50 per large package. That stuff cleans everything and without chemicals.

Kitchen Aid stand mixer: I also put this off FOREVER but I use it all the time. I got it at a garage sale -- not a giveaway, but really cheap. I saw it out of the corner of my eye and my son still teases me about whipping a U-ie to go get it.

Defrosting plate: I just use a cast iron skillet. Same principle.

Goo Gone: This stuff just makes life more pleasant. No scraping, soaking, etc.

Now on to my own list:
Silver sharpie marker: This is really handy for putting names on dark things. I keep on in my purse. I write on recharger blocks, sd cards, bike locks, keys, lots of stuff. Black is good too, but I use the silver one more often.

Vita mixer blender:
Another thing I put off for a very long time but I use it every day. I use it to grind coffee beans, make smoothies (no overripe fruit gets thrown away around here), convert leftovers or cooked vegetables into soup, and if I'm feeling especially hippie-ish, grind wheat berries into flour and make bread dough. I do have a bread maker I got for $5 at a rummage sale that I use too.

Cast Iron Pan:
I got a new one called Lodge Logic. It comes preseasoned and I have never gotten one seasoned myself as well as that was on day one. I leave it on the stove top and use it for almost all cooking except boiling water. I got a big one -- 14" -- so there is room for family size amounts of food. It was under $20.

Electric skillet:
I use this when I need to make really big quantities of food, to make pancakes, to cook a dozen eggs at once, and to heat a lot of refrigerated food up quickly (more surface area touching the heat). It is out on the counter 4 or 5 days a week.

Guest's picture
Sandra

Be careful about keeping a pain sharpie in your purse! (That's what the silver ones are). I would keep it in a ziploc bag if I were you. Also, did you know you're supposed to try to store them upside-down to keep them working the best?

Guest's picture
Ian Erickson

The best purchase I ever made was sadly not cheap. It wasn't even on sale. In 2002 we bought a Brother laser printer, scanner and fax for about $400. It works as a stand-alone copier and fax machine whether it's hooked to a computer or not. It's saved us so much time over the years, the money saved is immaterial. With it, we:

- Sold our house in another state, faxing back and forth endless notarized contracts, instead of going back and forth to Kinko's.

- Did our own taxes, downloading all the 1040 PDFs and instructions from irs.gov and making photocopies for our records.

- Re-use scratch paper for printing. Once you figure out what side the printer prints on, make a note on a piece of tape how to load the paper so it prints on the blank side.

- Make copies whenever we need them. If we need to copy a check or receipt, 5 minutes later it's done with no driving.

- Print maps before taking a trip. Usually on scrap paper. GPS doesn't work everywhere reliably, and the street map for L.A. has almost more pages than the Bible.

- Scan stuff into the computer like color photos or text you don't want to retype.

- Print holiday cards, letters and invitations. It prints black and white, but the printout looks professional.

A laser printer makes all the difference. Unlike an inkjet, the ink doesn't dry out or jam. The toner cartridges are only $30, and they last about 5000 pages. After 8 years, we're on our 3rd toner cartridge. The paper jams occasionally but that's probabaly because we print on the back of scratch paper. It's an MFC-6800. Works with Mac or PC.

Guest's picture
Laure

Lush makes a great lotion cookie, but any brand works. Great for taking on the go. Since they're not liquid, you can (1) take them on an airplane in your carry-on bag and (2) take them anywhere without worrying the bottle will leak inside your purse. Especially in winter, moisturizer is a constant need for me!

Andrea Karim's picture

Thanks for the great product recommendations, everyone! Keep 'em coming!

Robert: I'm not sure why the toaster oven got me like that. It's not as if any part of my house is ever particularly clean, but it just looked so smug and filthy, just sitting there, not doing anything. Once I realized how well the Goo Gone cleaned stuff, I used it on everything in the kitchen, so I'm glad that I got to angry at the toaster.

Guest's picture
Ian Erickson

Toaster ovens are like buffet to cockroaches. There's nothing neurotic about cleaning the ash and food stains off of them. One frozen french fry crumb is like a week's supply of food to those vermin...

Guest's picture
brian

I just started using Goo Gone - literally 10 minutes ago! Painter decided to use a sprayer to do our Kitchen and it was a total disaster. Goo Gone is removing all that latex paint that I was sure ruined all of our dishes and other kitchen stuff.

Another product that is dear to me is my Glad Simply Cooking bags. They aren't particularly cheap or environmentally friendly, but because of them I cook and eat vegetables and otherwise probably would not. And there is no cleanup afterward!

Guest's picture
Eileen

My husband has turned me into a popcorn addict. I buy the organic kernels at Whole Foods and he pops them in the Back to Basics PC17591 Microwave Popcorn Popper that can be purchased on Amazon.com for $12.95. It makes the best popcorn I've ever had, and without any oil or fuss.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000ZZJGUK/ref=oss_product

Guest's picture
Kristin

I love Twixit! bag clips. I bought some years ago from a friend who had a Pampered Chef party (I didn't go to the party, but looked through her booklet for something cheap to order so as to not seem rude). Since then, I've bought more on Amazon.com for both myself and to give as presents. It sure beats the heck out of using paper clips or twisty ties, particularly for anthing refrigerated or frozen that comes in a soft plastic bag.

Guest's picture
Sandra

Just in case you're interested, I saw a small bottle of Goo Gone at Dollar Tree last week.

In place of twix-its, regular wooden clothespins work great!

Guest's picture
Guest

Goo Gone is amazing! My mom (a preschool teacher) had three or four bottles on her shelf, so one day shortly after I got married, I swiped on of them, and I'm so glad I did!

I also adore my giant plastic cutting board from Sam's Club that is DISHWASHER SAFE!!! And their Baker's & Chef's knives that have dishwasher safe handles. But you can't run knives through the dishwasher without them getting dull fast, and I can't stand dull knives! So when America's Test Kitchen recommended a manual knife sharpener that is only $10, I promptly bought one, and a spare set of the ceramic sharpening blades. These three things have made cooking much, much more enjoyable! (FYI it is called the AccuSharp, and can be found on Amazon. I got mine at the ACE Hardware around the corner from my house.)

Guest's picture
babelfish81

I bought this item 5 or 6 years ago when our gas oven broke and we didn't have enough money to replace it. It's a full-blown oven that works on a standard electrical outlet and sits on my kitchen counter. It has settings for bake, broil, convection, and even rotisserie. We noticed we were saving so much money on our gas bill that we've been using it ever since. I've even loaned it to friends who have been remodeling their kitchens. I now only use my bigger gas oven (which we did eventually have to replace) when I roast a turkey.

Guest's picture
Debbie M

@19, plus Corelle is lightweight, stackable (no matter how little room you have) and good in the microwave (the food rather than the dish gets hot).

Favorites of mine:
* ibuprofen - I get a lot of headaches, and this always works for me.
* books, libraries, the internet - I love learning stuff the easy way and having easy access to the work of so many talented people
* Niagra flapperless toilet - a low flow toilet with very simple (fun-to-watch) mechanics that always works, plus I got a really good deal from my local utilities company
* Rain-X - in a pouring, heavy rain, I can see perfectly without using the windshield wipers. You just have to remember during a sunny to apply it.
* LLBean pants - they fit me.
* sneakers - so comfy.
* hot cocoa. And covers. (in the winter)
* fans. And shorts. And hats. (in the summer)
* filing cabinets and file folders - so great for sorting organizing all kinds of things neatly, out of sight, and out of the dust.
* refrigerators and freezers

Guest's picture

I have to put in a plug for my Dyson Animal vacuum cleaner. Worth every bit of the $600 I spent on it.

Guest's picture
Susan

I tried BacOut for the first time when my kids were in cloth diapers. It's an all-natural "enzyme cleaner" (I don't know what that means) that is very effective on *organic* stains. It sure worked on the diapers, and now it works on the carpet, their pants, etc.

Guest's picture
Lauren

I found your page via the cooking with peeps page, when, on a joke, I said peeps should come with blood sugar test strips...and googled to see if there were any existing jokes or images to back it up.

Anyway, I read to the bottom, and saw a familiar face...yours! And lo and behold, you're in Seattle, where I lived for three years.

So I've got to ask...did you used to sell soap?!

Andrea Karim's picture

There are a few Andrea Dicksons out there (I tried starting a Facebook group, but the others weren't as excited as I was). As much as I can figure, there was an Andrea Dickson who grew up in Bellevue (I grew up on the other side of the mountains). I don't know where she lives now, but I get plenty of friending on Facebook from people who think that I am her.

There's also another Andrea Dickson who lives on the East Coast and who I get TONS of email for, so I just forward them on to her.

Guest's picture

Goo Gone is good, but Goof-Off is even better in my opinion! It will take the paint off your car if you aren't careful.
Good products tips!

Guest's picture
Susan Reimers

I don't care if you've already listed it, my favorite product is absolutely GOO-GONE!!! I've been using it upwards of two decades now but my best Goo-Gone story happened just a couple years ago: I was wearing a black skirt and I spilled Wite-Out on it. Goo-Gone happens to be in my desk toolkit, so that is precisely what I used to get the Wite-Out out of a black skirt. And it worked. GOO-GONE rocks, rocks, ROCKS!!!

Guest's picture
Jenny

I absolutely love my Redi-Fork meat thermometer. I use it constantly when I'm cooking meats on the stovetop. I love the long handle so I don't end up with popping burns!

I'm also in love with my salad shooter. I try to sneak a lot of veggies into casseroles and the like. It's amazing how many veggies can be neatly grated and hidden inside a delicious casserole. And the salad shooter turns what would have been a long and arduous process into a two-second job.

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

"Covered in crumbs and melted cheese, and displaying prominent smoke stains"

Wait, toasters are NOT suppose to look like this?

Guest's picture

I think we've all got little products that "rock" our world.

For me, I happen to love "Greening the Cleaning". Don't even know if the make it anymore, but its one of the best household cleaners I've ever found.

Second, I recently discovered "shamwows". They have completely replaced kitchen washcloths in my home.

Guest's picture
Kate

I love, love, love my Kirby vacuum. We got it 17 years ago, and while it was pricey, it has more than paid for itself. In 17 years of heavy use (we vacuum every day) we've only had to have it serviced a couple of times and had a couple of inexpensive parts replaced.

I'm a coffee lover with coffee loving family and friends. I got a Keurig with my Christmas money and I love it! The ones at Sam's come with 72 free K-cups. I've only been to Starbucks 2x in the last month because I love my Keurig so much! Considering that I have a Starbucks gift card so the Starbucks cost isn't an issue, I've been amazed at how happy I've been to just stay home or grab my own coffee to go. I love the price. I love the fact that I can have a perfect cup of coffee in under a minute with no waste. I love the fact that when we entertain, everyone can have the kind and amount of coffee they prefer. I also love the fact that I have instant access to very hot water - we use it for tea, the dc use it for their instant oatmeal, etc.

I also have to chime in on Magic Erasers - love 'em! Sam's has a great price for a big box of them.

Kate

Guest's picture
Christie

**Pink Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I even painted my kitchen pink to match it. And just bought a pink blender to match as well. I use it several times a week, sometimes several times a day! Awesome!

**Santuko knife (also in pink :) I'm finding that I got rid of most of my other knives and use my santukos pretty much exclusively now. Love to chop!

**salad spinner. Now I know that my salad is clean and dry before I eat it!

(how much space do I have? There are so many useful things!!)

**disinfecting wipes. So nice to be able to clean and really know it is clean, especially with the flu bugs around.

Guest's picture
Jamie

Silly but true...I have a jar with a screw on lid that I use to mix flour and water or milk to make gravy. I have no idea where the jar came from, but it's "Mom's gravy making jar" and everyone knows to be careful with it.

Six months ago, I would have said my Franklin planner, but now it's my iPhone.

Finally, it's my insulated coffee tumbler. I don't know the brand because I got it as a promotional gift from an insurance company. It rocks - can't go anywhere without it.

Oh, the simple pleasures in life.

Guest's picture
aylaeh

there is a lip balm by philosophy called kiss me. i've used it since 1996. it was about the only thing that helped my chapped lips. i loved this product. recently they have changed this product. because of this i've had to look at finding a new favorite lip balm. it sucks when companies do this but it happens.

Guest's picture
jamie g

Hey There,

I made a big move to Richmond, Virginia a year ago for my first job. My Garmin NOVI GPS is awesome! Yes, sometimes it tells me the inconvenient equivalent of "driving into the lake," but overall it has been IMMENSELY helpful.

I'm kind of a nervous driver, and even worse with directions in new cities. But I feel so confident with my GPS and don't worry that I'll get lost if I miss a turn or an exit.

If you know someone who is a recent graduate or someone relocating, a GPS would make a very helpful gift! I love my Garmin, but I'm sure others are great, too.

Guest's picture
Kandace

I couldn't live without my Bissell Steam Mop. With two cats and a crawling baby, it's important to me to have a clean floor without using chemicals.

Guest's picture
Fran K.

Lystoil is my favorite cleaner. It works for greasy stains on clothing. I love it to wash windows and mirrors. Just mix up a bucket of water with a dash of Lystoil. Wipe down your windows and mirrors with and old rag them wipe until dry with an old terrycloth towel.

I love my bread machine for Pizza dough!

I can't survive the winter without my oversized down comforter!

Guest's picture
Stefanie

One of my absolute favorite products is a weighted bookmark. I got mine on ebay a few years ago, and it is wonderfully perfect for holding books open without breaking their spines in all sorts of locations - in the kitchen for cookbooks, in the office for academic books while reading and typing on the computer (I'm a grad student), even just when you have a new(ish) book that you're reading while eating a messy lunch - and you don't want to get it dirty with your gloppy hands to hold it down. So simple, yet so useful, and so cheap (mine is leather and was less than $10). You can even make your own!

Guest's picture
Sandra

Didn't realize my previous comment wouldn't nest under the author, so here are my beloved items...

Conair blow-dryer that also straightens... $40 is more than I'd usually pay for a blow-dryer, but this thing makes my hair much more soft and manageable and dries my hair much faster. Totally worth it!

Vacuum attachments. Crumbs on my counter? Vacuumed! Dusty up-lamp? Vacuumed!
As a pair with this, earplugs! I have a great vacuum but it is LOUD. I can't believe I never thought to wear earplugs while vacuuming until recently.

Clorox spray mop thingie. I am way too lazy to mop otherwise, especially because it's hard to even tell you've done so with my apartment's sad old linoleum. I got this free off of freecycle, and several refills of the pads and the liquid from another freecycler. Once I run out of the pads I will use rags instead.

I love my reusable shopping bags and I use the HECK out of them. I am one of the rare people, apparently, who has been able to get into the habit of bringing them from the car. Also, if I am buying a small amount of stuff, I will just hand-carry it to the car if I didn't bring a bag, and put it in the bag when I get outside.

Cheap mesh laundry bags. You can buy "nice" ones made by woolite for like $8 but the zipper on mine broke after not too long. I got a couple of them while living in Japan at the dollar store equivalent, and got more at my local http://www.daisojapan.com/ for $1.50 each to supplement my supply. I use them for all sorts of things to keep my clothes in better condition, then air dry them.

Guest's picture
Ann Marie

Here are my 3 "must-have" items.

1. Magic eraser. I don't use it for every task, but it has been a lifesaver when I'm moving and cleaning the old apartment or when I need to clean the windowsills in my house. It's also magic (ha ha) for getting rid of crud in the bathtub and on the stove burners.

2. Metal tea filters. I use loose-leaf tea all the time, and having reusable tea filters is a lifesaver. There's much less waste than using tea bags, and I can easily re-use high-quality leaves. My favorite is one that looks like a basket and has a lip so the top sits on top of your mug but the tea leaves are fully submerged.

3. Bon Ami cleaner. It's super cheap, cleans almost everything (an unstoppable combo with Magic Eraser), is gentle, and is great for removing stains on on my white Caesarstone countertops (I didn't buy them... I live in a rental).

Guest's picture
Ginny

I bought a mini-laptop pc from a friend and even though he canceled his paid subscription, I can get Internet pretty much anywhere. I have a larger notebook at home that I do not want to take out of the house so this one can fit in most purses! We took it on a trip and so much easier to manage. Packed it in carry on. Do not do secure buying or bank account checking just general use.
Also, love Uncle Sam cereal. It is low glycemic, no sugar and has flax seeds. 10 grams of fiber per serving. Everyone who tries it likes it too.
Also, love the French Press, mine broke but will replace soon.

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bobthebunny

Greased Lightning - takes out ALL SORTS of stains, from clothing to household objects. It's a lifesaver, seriously.

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Lauren

That's insane then. I really don't recall the Andrea I'm thinking of's last name......it was your FACE in your avatar that made me think it was her. That's craziness. You have a twin.......with the same name? Bonkers.

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Cathy K.

I used to dread buying all the fixings, the time and effort it took cleaning and chopping, and, if you didn't eat it quickly enough, the wasted produce and money.

Now, I simply buy a bag of whatever type salad I'm in the mood for, and..voila, instant gratification!

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Em

FrayChek or washable fabric glue. It has saved dozens of pieces of clothing by stopping the fabric from unravelling when the hole or snag is too small or difficult to repair.

I like the $4 Tide mesh bags because nothing snags. Washing socks in them means no more matching.

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Sabina

1. Lysol all purpose cleaner, wipes the grease away and smells so good

2. Nutella, there are no words to express my love for you

3. Jacuzzi hot tub

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Susanne

I have a jar opening... thingy, that I can't live without. Don't know if it has an official name, but it's metal with plastic handles and different sized, ridged metal rings. I can fit it to anything from a pop bottle lid to the lid of a large jar. It's a lifesaver!

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L. Michelle

Of course, the computer is my top one! At 40, I can easily remember what it was like not to have this incredible tool of information, deals (love to save), and a way to stay connected.

My second choice is the GPS! Love, love, love that voice that tells me how to get to places even where there is construction; I love not being lost!

My daughter loves the same Sally Hansen nail polish you wrote about - on that same note - the Neutrogena acne system that comes with the wash, day lotion, and night lotion is amazing. It is much better than the prescription that my daughter received from the dermatologist (was way too drying). The day lotion also has sunscreen and a non greasy feel. Great product that truly works!

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rox

I'm a Southern transplant to New England. I always wanted a pair of L.L. Bean Wicked Good Slippers, but at $50 I just didn't want to spend the money (even though I'm a die hard L.L. Bean fan and know their stuff is top quality).

My in-laws gave me $50 for my birthday one year so I decided to spend it on the wicked good slippers. I love these things! I'm sure I saved at least $50 on my heating bill the first month I owned them. I've now had them about five years and they are still as wonderful as the first day I wore them.

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Toula

I just have to mention how much I love my Riders Jeans, by Lee. I don't know about the "instantly slims you" slogan, but I do know that a chunky gal like me can use all the help I can get! Also, I hate kneeling down/leaning over/sitting cross legged at my son's "circle time" at playgroup and having a gap between myself and jeans. The Riders jeans have finally eliminated that for me! And at $24 Cdn per pair at Wal-Mart, I've got no problem buying them in different colours/washes. They last a long time and are really comfortable too. I wish they made more clothing, not just jeans! (A friend of mine says they also make shirts! I'm looking forward to finding them!)
Also, thanks for the tips on GooGone - I'm going to try that!

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Guest

I got it as a gift and thought I would mostly use it to avoid bringing a bag of books on vacation, but it has become much more then that. As a working single Mom, money and time are at a premium. Being able to order a book from anywhere (often at a better price) saves me the 40 minutes round trip to a good bookstore and the negotiating with my book-loving children whether they can make a purchase. When snowed in or tending to a sick child, I can treat myself to a book. As a result, I have been able to make a beloved and relaxing hobby that I had let slide again be part of my life.

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pdxcyn

After years of $100 vacuums that seemed to emit as much dust as they were picking up, I finally resolved to get a good vacuum cleaner. A Kirby sales rep had shown up at my door one day with their usual hard sell and a price that began at around $2400 dollars but had magically dropped to around $1300 by the time we pushed her out the door. I was impressed by the product though, and ended up buying a slightly used one for substantially less soon afterwards and totally love it!

I have been lusting after a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for a long time. After so many positive comments, I think I'm going to have to break down and get one.

Andrea Karim's picture

Hi, everyone, and thank you for your comments and product suggestions! A winner was picked randomly from the group and has been emailed. If the winner doesn't respond within 72 hours, we will pick another winner.

Please feel free to continue sharing your product recommendations, but please note that any comments left after the cut-off date of Sunday, Feb 21 (12:00 Pacific Time) won't qualify for the drawing.

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Guest

I would add that would-be international volunteers shouldn't go abroad until they get their feet wet with volunteer work performed in their own countries. Also, you don't even need to leave your house; I found a volunteer position with an overseas organization that needed someone to correct their English-language documents. The organization would e-mail the documents to me, and I would send the corrected version back. I found the position through Idealist.org.

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Ginny

I'm amazed how many people love the same stuff, but I'm going to say it again:

Goose down comforter-- saves a LOT on heating bill

Magic eraser pads, or actually the generic kind from 99c store or Dollartree

Greased Lightning cleaner--it says don't use on painted surfaces but I do anyway--it's the only product I've ever tried that will take grease right off. 

My old IBM laptop which keeps going and going and going

 

 

Guest's picture
Guest
  1. Awesome spray cleaner (sold at discount retailers like Dollar Tree).  This stuff gets stains out of my children's clothes in one wash.
  2. Shea Butter (100%)- use on dry cuticles, chapped lips, etc.
  3. Lysol 4 in 1 cleaner- works great, smells great, and is very economical
  4. Odo Ban- cleaner, disinfectant, odor eliminator (no harsh chemicals) (You can even use a little in your laundry to freshen your towels!)
  5. Flushable wipes
  6. One quart and one gallon freezer storage bags- uses are endless
  7. Insulated "cooler" tote bags
Guest's picture
MidSouthMouth

Burt's Bee's medicated lip balm stick: secretly CLOVE flavored tingliness

reusable grocery bags with cute designs that can double as purse

jamaican ginger beer

Guest's picture
Guest

In response to loving "flushable wipes" - I have a relative who owns his own plumbing business and he said one of the top reasons for clogged toilet/pipes/drains = flushable wipes. I used to use them and don't anymore for this reason. Just thought I'd pass that along.

Guest's picture
blueeyedcat

I love all of the comments.

Like the Chico bag, I have some of the envirosaxx and they come in a variety of colors and designs. The envirosaxx bags fold-up and can be carried in your purse. Envirosaxx are a bit expensive, but they work. You can get the same bag at Bath and Body Works right now for $2.50 ina variety of colors...strong enough to carry 2- six packs of beer.

Goo Gone - By far one of the best products ever made.

Magic Eraser - anohter great product.

Pizza Stones - I live in a very small apartment that does not have much storeage space in the kitchen. I use my pizza stone for cooking pizza, nachos, cookies, rolls, etc. It works well and is easy to clean.