Every year, a friend or colleague introduces you to something you just love instantly -- and not something glamorous: more something utilitarian, helpful, simple, a great idea and product you now couldn't imagine doing without. We polled the BlogHer editorial staff, and here are our top picks.
Wool Dryer Balls
I know, could there be something less glamorous to be excited about? But since laundry is a part of daily life, anything that makes it faster and less annoying is a must. And that's what these 3 ivory felted wool balls do: you toss them into your dryer, and they punch the clothes around, helping them dry about thirty percent faster (take that off your electric bill after three months and they've paid for themselves), and add their natural woolly goodness to the mix, acting as a natural fabric softener (with no horrible "delightful scent" added). Plus these are WAY quieter than the tennis balls or plastic hedgehogs that make such a racket in the dryer it sounds like there are rocks in it. And there's the cute factor. Who knew laundry could be cute? I've kind of fallen in love with the hide-and-seek of seeing where the balls end up when I take the laundry out. Stuffed into my son's pant leg? Anchored in the sleeve of a sweatjacket? Or just lying at the bottom of the dryer, all in a row, like three peas in a pod, just waiting to make my laundry a little more adorable.
Stacy Morrison, Editor in Chief
Sunbeam Heated Mattress Pad
I don't have this yet, but my sister-in-laws have one and they say you just turn it on a few minutes before bed, and then you are so cozy and warm. In my imagination, it's like a car seat warmer (which I also love), but a million times better.
Jane Tunks Demel, Food Editor
Ninja Three-in-One Cooking System
This slow cooker/roaster/baker/ is so easy, it’s now the only way to cook in my house. And clean-up is a bloody breeze (this part being of particular importance to me, since I’m the cleaner-upper around here).
Denise Tanton, Senior Community Manager
The Yoga Studio App
I found out about this while editing a BlogHer post; the author mentioned it was something she couldn't live without, so I decided that since it was only a few dollars, I'd try it. It has changed my life. I'm finally back to doing yoga every day before I start writing. It comes with me on my phone, so I've done yoga in hotel rooms, at other people's houses, and wherever I can find a quiet space. I fit the yoga around my schedule, rather than waiting for a class to begin at my old yoga studio. I choose the amount of time I have to spend, rather than being tied to the length of class chosen by the teacher. Maybe someday I'll go back to yoga at a studio, but even if I did, I think I would continue using this app because I feel so grounded and centered after my morning session.
Melissa Ford, Health/Blogging & Social Media Editor
Fiskars Pruner with Carabiner Loop
This is my favorite yard tool. It's more powerful than it looks, and the carabiner loop means it's easy to hang, grab and hold on a basket handle or bucket rim. Plus it just makes it feel grounded in your hand and is satisfying to use and twirl about dangerously, like if Edward Scissorhands was getting ready to go hiking. I want every tool to have a built in carabiner, now that I think about it.
Deb Rox, Entertainment Editor
Sharkclean Steam Mop
The very first thing we did when we bought our house was rip out the carpets in the bedrooms (they were GROSS) and install hardwood floors because my husband has allergies. When steam mops first came out he was intrigued by the commercials but not ready to buy one himself. A couple of years ago I bought him one for his birthday and he thinks it is the best! thing! ever! He doesn't know how we lived without one. (And yes, my husband mops. He also does the dishes and laundry.)
Karen Ballum, Community Manager
My family thought I had finally lost it when they saw a hundred-dollar food thermometer on my birthday list. But I now use this thing every single time I cook, be it grilling, roasting, frying, baking, or candymaking. It takes about three seconds to get a precise reading, while other so-called “instant read” thermometers can take 20-30 seconds to come up to temp. When you’re working with hot coals or boiling sugar, or have your oven door open and losing heat every second, half a minute dithering over a gadget can actually affect your dish … and/or your personal safety. (And, no surprise to anyone who knows me, I’m, er, accident-prone in the kitchen.) Other thermometers also aren’t as accurate, while the Thermapen is superprecise, and it’s a fun science project to calibrate. And other thermometers seem to break constantly; the Thermapen seems indestructible -- it folds flat so the pointy bit doesn’t catch on anything. The fold also makes it easy to transport, and I now take my Thermapen on vacation with me … and totally regret it when I forget it at home.
Julie Ross Godar, Executive Editor
Kleenex Hand Towels
I host a lot of dinner parties, and I've found these to be the best things for my bathroom (and for my 7-year-old son). I'm one of those people who switches out wash cloths daily and towels every 2-3 days. I find that I'm always washing a lot of linens, so these are truly the best.
Feminista Jones, Love & Sex Editor
What can you not live without?
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