Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ten Things That Make My Life Easier

On the last page of the Domino Magazine they have a "Ten Things That Make Me Happy" list where a designer or an avid reader shares their favorite things from colors, to furniture, to perfume, to favorite shirt. I have seen other favorite lists and have been wanting to do a family-friendly, busy-mom, favorite list for some time now. So, finally, here it is:

1. Large flexible rubber tub made by Tubtrug (R)

I have two of these tubs in our house. One is outside and holding all of the kids' sports stuff like soccer balls, footballs, shin guards, Frisbees, and the like. The other is inside and is holding all of my youngest 32 stuffed animals (he has got to give some of them away - has a stuffed animal fetish I guess). Those rubber tubs come in six different sizes and in numerous different colors. You can even sit on them and then they bounce back into shape and they are very light weight. I saw them in a magazine somewhere and then saw the large red ones in Costco sold in two for $9.99. You can buy them on their site or on

2. Milk Frothier made by Ikea This milk frothier has saved so much of my time! I love my "Mistos" (Starbucks' name) otherwise known as Café au lait. No need to pull out your espresso machine and deal with all the mess and mine usually gets all clogged up with milk anyway and have to take it apart and all that jazz. With this one all you have to do is fill a mug halfway with milk, heat it up in the microwave, put this milk frothier in the mug and turn it on until you get the desired amount of froth. Meanwhile, make some strong coffee, pour a mug half full (that is not half empty) and maybe some flavoring if you prefer. Then pour your froth on top and wal-la (I guess that is how you spell it) you have a specially made yummy cup of Café au lait! That way I save some money avoiding the trips to Starbucks. But if you want something quicker and so yummy, I have to say Bolthouse Mocha Cappuccino is to "die for." That drink is found in the cold sections of Smart & Finals (much less expensive here) and Henry's Market.

3. Three-quarter sleeve, lightweight cardigan made by JCrew

I am sorry to tell all those who don't live in this area, but it is perpetually 70 degrees (give or take a few degrees) here in San Diego and I pretty much live in these cardigans. Not too heavy and just enough to keep the chill down. Now JCrew can be a bit expensive, but they always have such great sales, sometime you can even get it on a day they have 20% additional off of sale items. Or you can find them at outlet malls where I find mine. They come in so many colors and patterns and they go with just about everything. Dress it up or down, in the winter with a long sleeve shirt under or in summer with your tank top. I don't leave the house without them.

4. World Market (Formerly Known as Cost Plus)

I love this store and if I need to get gifts I can get them all in one store! Gifts can be food items, stemware, pillows, hand lotion, or whatever. The other reason I like this store is because I just love all the international representation in this there. Where else can I find elephants made in India and Dala Horses from Sweden in one store? Although, it was a toss up because there is another store near where I work called Pangaea (voted best gift store in San Diego two years in a row), but they don't have food nor housewares so I had to keep with World Market on my list because I can go in one store for all my household and gift needs which really makes my life easier.

5. The Pizza Stone by Pampered Chef

My entire family loves this stone, even our babysitters have learned to like it too. Let me just say, it is not just for pizza for goodness sake. We bake cookies, biscuits, heat up chicken nuggets, taquitos, among many other items. The only trick about this stone is that you have to put it in the oven while it is heating up or it may crack and you can not put soap on the stone either. Now you can go get an ol' stone at other stores such as Bed Bath Beyond, but if the Pampered Chef stone cracks they will send you another one - no questions asked.

6. Ceiling Fan
What's such the big deal about a ceiling fan? Well, when you don't have one for awhile and then you get one you may wonder how in the world did I live without it? Around here, not too many homes have central air conditioning so fans can be necessary. This one is over our bed and look what a nice, modern look it has. Do you know how difficult it is to find one as simple looking as that one? Yes, difficult, although our neighbor has this same fan in his living room. I have never been in his house, but ya know when the sun is setting and they have a light in their house, I can see right in. Not only the same fan, but the same paint color that is in our bedroom! Maybe they will never know, because they might think we stole the idea from them! By the way, found this heavy duty fan at the sister store of Home Depot, Home Expo, which went out of business.

7. Domino Magazine

Okay, so you might come into our house and see all these fancy combination of colors and interesting rugs, but I have to confess I could not have decorated our house without the help of the Domino Magazine! My husband is really good at paint and color combinations, but he didn't quite know the modern look I was looking for and Domino was the answer. The sad news, which I just found out in this search for a picture of the cover, is that the magazine has folded! No more Domino. I had even canceled my Real Simple subscription to go all Domino!

8. Jojo Cookies Sold at Trader Joes

There were no photos of the Jojo's cookie box, but there was a lot of comments about the cookies all over the web. When my kids get to have their occasion dessert after dinner, I am glad they choose these cookies made out of all natural ingredients. They have them in chocolate, but the boys love the vanilla. The popular flavor of Jojo cookies are the seasonal Peppermint! Way too delicious to be true.

9. Big Barrel Curling Iron by Conair
This iron saves me so much time and makes my life so much easier. I have had lots of hairstyles in my time and my husband really likes it when I get a cute short sassy cut, but I just don't have the time to keep it up. I keep going back to this Conair big 2" barrel iron that keeps my frizees at bay without the tiring effort to straighten my hair.

10. Dark Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts

I love dark chocolate macadamia nuts! We have been to Hawaii twice and have come back with several boxes of these fabulous candy and intending to give them as gifts, but keep them instead in the freezer and eat at them over time. I think we would usually come back with the MaunaLoa brand, but I have now found them around town (don't get them at Henry's bulk area, because they are not that great there). You can also order them online as well as go to Nutsonline, the MaunaLoa site as well as the Hawaiian Host site. They are way too fabulous and if you are drinking a cup of tea you just dip one in the tea and plop it in your mouth and it will be so melty. Then wait, I just found a recipe for dark chocolate macadamia brownies. Geez, can it get any better? And what a great way to end the post - now we are all hungry!

What item(s) makes YOUR life easier? (You can list ten things or one, but the list only contains THINGS. People are a different story and we can't live without them!)

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  1. Hmm... what makes my life easier??

    1. MY HUSBAND!!!

    2. MY PARENTS & BFF.

    3. I have to copy yours- LOVE Trader Joe's. They make shopping on a budget EASY! :)

    4. Tear-free Johnsons Shampoo. No tears, no crying, and lots of splashing during bath time for my kiddo.

    5. My fridge that provides ice and filtered water with a push of a button.

    6. Sippy cups that don't spill even when thrown all around the house like crazy!

    7. My EXTRA-LARGE-PRINT clock/radio by my bed. I'm blind without my contacs. When I wake up in the middle of night and glance over, I can actually see the time.

    8. Post-its and 3X5 cards. (convenient reminders and to-do-lists!)

    9. my laptop with wi-fi connection

    10. recently the blow-up pool we bought my son. Endless hours of play for him!

    This was fun Sharon! Such a good reminder to be thankful for what we do have in our life!

  2. Loved your list Sharon and had fun thinking of what mine would be. ~Suzy
    Here it is:

    1. Reisenthel Carry Bag - great for putting things in when you have lots of errands to run or when shopping for just a few items. Very chic!
    2. Braun Electric Water Kettle - We use this every morning to make coffee, plus it's great for making jello or anytime you need boiling water fast!
    3. OXO Good Grips Kitchen Tongs - Love these things. Great for cooking.
    4. Envirosax...rolls up and fits into my purse so I always have a reusable bag on hand..even when I've forgotten my other bags when grocery shopping.
    5. Alaska Fish Fertilizer - the best fertilizer out there, in my opinion. Use it on anything. Downside - your garden, in my daughter's words, will smell like Sea World for a couple days.
    6. Prepaid Verizon calling cards from Costco. Saves us a bunch of money on long-distance and we can even use it to call our friends in Australia.
    7. My clothesline. I love line drying clothes. It saves on energy, clothes last longer and they smell fresh and clean.
    8. Fresh eggs from my backyard chickens. The best! Rich, golden yolks, I know what they've eaten and no chemicals or hormones added :-)
    9. - a new website I discovered on Now I go directly to them when I want to purchase a book. Their prices are reasonable, they have free shipping and they donate a portion to 3 or 4 different charities.
    10. The library. Claire and I have used the library weekly this summer. We order books online then pick them up when they come to the branch we selected. We have also been to an amazing magic show that was FREE!

    - I had to add a couple more -

    11. Sherwin-Williams - you can buy $5 paint samples that cover a large space before you buy a large quantity of paint. This has saved me much grief!
    12. Claw hairclips - I love these things, esp. on a hot summer day. I shower, put some product in my hair, comb, twist and stick on hairclip. Ready to go in less than 5 minutes :-)
    13. My husband - who can fix almost anything!

  3. Wow! What great lists! I think much better than mine for sure. @NixonsMamma, so true about our refrig - we take some things for granted sometimes & if I had a laptop w/ wi fi that would be my most favorite time saving thing ever. @suzy, so true about those hairclips, roll the hair up clip and wham out the door w/ a decent look. Glad you both had fun w/ the list!

  4. 1. my husband- he cooks, he cleans, he builds, he fixes, he's amazing.

    2. My Palm Centro phone with internet. It's my connection to the outside world (facebook and email), my alarm clock, my Bible, 411, and the weather channel all in one small device.

    3. disposable coffee cups with lids from smart and final. May not be the most eco friendly option but coffee taste so much better in a paper cup and it saves me $ because I'll make coffee every day if I have a paper cup to put it in.

    4. Marshalls. I love clothes and shopping and I always find great deals here.

    5. Our computer hooked up to our tv. We dont have cable to safe $ so when there is nothing on the 5 free channels, I switch our tv to computer mode and watch free episodes online!

    6.A good hair cut. recently found this salon (Foxy's Hair design). it a hole in the wall type of place, but I can get my hair cut on my 30 min lunch break because they are so fast and really close to my work. The lady I went to did such a good job that I dont have to do much in the morning, it just falls in the right spots. Even my semi curly frizzy hair works with a wash and go.

    7. Family vacations. I am lucky enough to have parents that will pay for my vacation with them so they can hang out with me. I am truly greatful for these times because Lord nows I can afford my own vacation and without vacation I'd be going crazy right now.

    8.Hanes men's v-neck undershirts. I wear these all the time. Comfortable, cheap, and cool.

    9. My sewing machine. I dont use it all that much yet, but its so nice to have. I can make my pants long enough to wear heels and make curtains etc.

    10. Fancy foam pillow. I have neck problems when i sleep and this thing works wonders. Found a cheaper version at Marshalls!!

    Thanks for a fun idea Sharon!!

  5. correction to #7..."Lord knows I can't afford my own vacation"