This week I’m sharing some of my favorite things–items that are making my life more productive, more pleasant, or just more fun.
Having your favorite tools and other items around you each day can bring you joy and improve your productivity
For this coming holiday season, I thought I’d share some of my favorite things to which you might treat yourself. Some would make good gifts too!
“Meat masher” tool
Technically, the one I have is called the “Farberware Professional Heat Resistant Nylon Meat/Potato Masher.” It might seem like a silly thing, but it’s a game changer for a very specific purpose: it’s perfect for breaking up ground meat when you’re cooking it. If you’ve ever been aggravated trying to do that in a skillet with a wooden spoon, you’ll want to try this little tool. It can also mash potatoes or cooked chicken that needs to be shredded for soup or tacos. It’s safe for non-stick cookware and dishwasher safe. I wish I could describe what it looks like, but I love this thing. There are several different versions by different manufacturers, but the Farberware one I have costs less than $10 on Amazon.
My Always Pan
This is a premium skillet with a non-stick ceramic coating. It’s designed to replace a fry pan, sauté pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, and more. The pan comes with a wooden spatula that fits into the built-in spoon rest, as well as a steamer basket. It comes in tons of pretty colors, and I love how easily it cleans up. The manufacturer currently has holiday sales going on. Check the pan out here.
Countertop suction slicer and grater
This is another somewhat silly thing to be so happy about, but I love this thing. It attaches to the countertop by suction to keep it in place while you use it, and then you turn a handle to grate or slice your cheese, potatoes, or whatever else you might otherwise use a grater for. Faster than doing it by hand (and you don’t risk scraping your fingers on the grater) and quicker to set up and clean up than a food processor. I first learned about this in a cooking video on Mandy In the Making YouTube channel. I don’t remember where I bought mine (I think it was on QVC.com, per Mandy’s recommendation), but will link to a couple of places you can look to see what I’m talking about. Less than $30 and comes with 3 interchangeable barrels for fine shredding, coarser shredding, and slicing. Find examples on Amazon or QVC.
- The Magnolia Table cookbooks, volumes 1 and 2. I bought mine at Target. Here is a link to Volume 1.
- The Secret Ingredient Cookbook, by Kelly Senyei (guest on TPW348). Subtitled 125 Family-Friendly Recipes with Surprisingly Tasty Twists.
- I definitely recommend Tranquility by Tuesday, by Laura Vanderkam, which was the subject of our most recent Productive Reading installment, TPW420
- Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much, by Anne Wilson Schaef. Brief daily readings featuring (as the back cover copy says) “sage advice, warmhearted humor, encouraging reminders, and inspiring thoughts from women around the world [to] help you discover a much-deserved calm amidst the whirlwind of your life.”
- For those who are writers, artists, musicians, or just interested in creativity, highly recommend Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making, by Andrew Peterson. He writes from an overtly faith-based Christian perspective, but most of what he has to say about creativity and living a creative life applies regardless of your religious perspective.
- Coffee table books
This is not necessarily what they’re intended for, but I like finding books about a topic I’m interested in that also happen to look nice as part of the decor on a shelf or coffee table. For me, the topic is home decor and creating a welcoming home. A few I’m enjoying (both to read and to look at on my living room shelf):
- Restoration House: Creating a Home that Gives Life and Connection to All Who Enter, by Kennesha Buycks
- Home Made Lovely: Creating the Home You’ve Always Wanted, by Shannon Acheson
- Still: The Slow Home, by Natalie Walton
- The New Design Rules: How to Decorate and Renovate, from Start to Finish, by Emily Henderson
Subscriptions (productivity & self-care)
- Sips by Tea – The monthly box arrives with samples (enough for about 4 cups each) of 4 different types of tea, customized to your preferences, plus discounts if you want to buy more of the teas in the sampler box. Referral link to learn more. (Not sponsored, but if you use my link you’ll get $15 off your first box and I’ll get some points if you decide to subscribe.) They also offer other tea-related items, like mugs, tea infusers and filters, and more, that will make great gifts for a friend or family member who enjoys tea (or for yourself).
- Making Light candles– Family-owned business run by David and Tauria Catlin (she was our guest back on TPW205). Their candles are made from all-natural soy waxes, cotton wicks, and reusable and recyclable containers. Each box contains 2 candles in reusable 8-oz. tins plus a tea-light candle in the following month’s featured fragrance. Boxes can be customized via a brief questionnaire when you buy your subscription.
- Calm– They are a sponsor (but not this week). I really do love this app, and consider it a self-care investment.
- Password managers– For online security, it’s so important to use secure, complex, unique passwords for all your online accounts. Passwords can be difficult to remember, so a password manager is a true necessity. I use LastPass–have for 10-plus years. There are others as well, usually operating on an annual subscription basis.
- Text Expander– we’ve talked about this a lot. Makes it easier to be efficient when you’re typing, by allowing you to create snippets that when you type them will expand into anything from a phone number to several paragraphs of formatted text. Past sponsor, but I believe my link still works to get you 20% off your subscription: TextExpander.com/tpw
- Decor Steals– this isn’t actually a subscription service, but a place to find great deals on decor items for your home or office. You can sign up to get daily alerts, either via email or via text message, of “steals” — items available for a great price. You’re never obligated to buy anything, but if and when you do, shipping is only $5 per item, no matter the size. You can find everything from wall art to candle holders to furniture pieces, usually at really great prices. Four times a year they offer a seasonal “Steal It Box” that contains several decor items around a theme for a great price. I just got their Winter 2022 box last month and looking forward to using the very pretty items in my Christmas decor soon.
- A new UPS (uninterruptible power supply)– It plugs into my computer and monitor, so if our power goes out (which happens a few times a year, usually during thunderstorms), it powers the electronics long enough for you to power them down safely. In addition to the one in my home office, we have one in Mike’s office and one upstairs that our internet router is plugged into. It’s important to protect electronics that can be damaged by sudden power loss or power surges. Here is a link to the one I just bought.
Hand-held rechargeable vacuum device – for my desk/craft table. This little device is great for picking up crumbs from when I eat at my desk, debris from pencil erasers, and paper clippings from craft projects. It’s rechargeable and palm-sized. Less than $20. LOVE IT! Mine is the ODISTAR Desktop Vacuum Cleaner.
- Cricut Joy– A cutting machine for craft projects. Easy to use to create greeting cards, labels, all kinds of paper and vinyl crafts. Here is a link to the machine on Amazon.
- Digital Photo Frame– This is one our oldest son gave me as a gift last year. I download an app to my phone that lets me send photos to the frame, and it displays them. It can create playlists and you can send invitations to friends and family members so they can share photos to the frame too. It sits on the counter or can be mounted on the wall. I love seeing photos we’ve taken on our phones displayed for everyone to enjoy. The one Matthew gave me is by Nixplay. I’m not sure where he got it, but they are available on Amazon (link to the one I have as an example) in different frame styles and colors. I saw other types on Amazon as well.
- Sleep headphones– I have mentioned that I use Bluetooth headphones to listen to Calm sleep stories at night without disturbing Mike when I’m having trouble sleeping. I recently found a new option that’s been a game changer: Sleep Headphones Bluetooth Headband. It’s a soft, stretchy headband with small speakers inside that line up with my ears and connect to my phone or iPad via Bluetooth. It’s very comfortable (I’m a side sleeper and can sleep easily with this headband on.) About $20 from Amazon.
What do you think?
What are some of your favorite things these days–whether as gift suggestions or to make your own life a bit easier or more fun? Post your suggestions in the comments section below or in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group, or email me.
Resources and Links
Help Spread the Word!
Tell a friend about The Productive Woman podcast. Share an episode using the social sharing buttons at the top of this post, and consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts
Click here to discover my favorite apps!
I would love to have your help!
Royse City, Texas