Here are the previous 7. These are things I really like. I am not affiliated with any of the companies, and I was not asked to write these reviews or compensated in any way.
1. Pentel Clic Eraser. This handy desk accessory, which I use every day both at home and at work, solves the problem of pencil erasers getting used up or hardening into uselessness before the pencil’s writing ability is exhausted. I use pencils a lot, and I make my share of mistakes, so I’ve often had this problem. Not only does the Clic Eraser provide a large supply of easy-to-use eraser, but it’s a better kind of eraser than those pink rubber ones–it erases more completely with less pressure, and it doesn’t “go bad” even if it gets wet!
2. Locker basket. I’m not recommending a particular brand here, just saying that a small wire-mesh basket with a big magnet on the back is useful not only for organizing a school locker but also for stashing pencils and such in any location where you have a steel surface on which to stick it and a need to access pencils or other small items. (Why can I not find a good example of one online?? I bought mine at Target in the school-supply section in August, when it was on sale for $2.) In our kitchen, we had been keeping a pencil for writing on the shopping lists and a permanent marker for labeling freezer bags in a specific portion of our scarce counter space, but this didn’t work very well because anything spilled on the counter would get on our pencil and marker. But our steel kitchen cabinets provide a plethora of places to stick a handy pencil basket! I have, however, learned two Things Not to Do with this basket:
- Don’t put anything in it that sticks out significantly beyond its rim. I had a 5″x7″ clipboard that I’d used to hold my main grocery list since 1993 (and it was at least 10 years older than that…) because it used to have magnets on the back so would hang neatly on the fridge or cabinet, but after one magnet fell off, we started balancing it on the edge of the kitchen backsplash behind the canisters. This was supposed to be only temporary, until we found the right glue to reattach the magnet, but it had been a couple of years (during which I tried a few wrong glues), and the clipboard was every so often falling on my hands as I tried to use the canisters–so when I got this basket, I put the clipboard in there. The thing is, its sticking out meant that I kept snagging on it and knocking it out or, usually, knocking the entire basket and its contents into, say, a mixing bowl full of food. Finally one day I dashed the clipboard to the floor such that its clip broke. Now we have the main grocery list, like all the “stores we visit less frequently” lists, simply held on the cabinet with a magnet.
- Don’t hang it at shoulder, elbow, or forehead height. You will bang into it, and this will almost always happen at the least convenient moment imaginable, and it is about 98 times as startling and infuriating an experience as you’d think it would be. Instead, hang the basket just above head height, where you can easily reach up into it.
3. Funny Times. This newspaper of cartoons and humorous columns has been a staple of my existence for 21 years. My parents renew my subscription every birthday (thanks, Mom and Dad!) and I read every bit of every issue, then store them for a few years, then read them again and cut out the funniest cartoons and stick them into a photo album (my homemade cartoon treasury!).
4. Kirkland Signature Nature’s Path organic Ancient Grains granola with almonds. All three members of my family love this delicious, high-fiber cereal, despite its cumbersome name! It’s available only at Costco, at a price much lower than most granolas (especially organic ones) sold anywhere. It’s lower in sugar than many granolas, yet we never feel it needs more sweetening; in fact, it really sweetens up a bowl of plain yogurt. Something about its balance of carbs seems to be really good for my migraine-prone brain. Maybe it’s those ancient grains…which are not literally old but are fresh versions of grains people consumed in ancient history, with different amino acids and whatnot than modern wheat. Anyway, it tastes good and makes us feel good!
5. Tandoor Chef frozen vegetarian pad thai. If you know anything about ethnic cuisine, you’re probably disinclined to buy Thai food with a brand name that refers to an Indian cooking method. But I started eating this stuff when it was Green Guru brand. (They were bought out or rebranded or something.) It is awesome! Except for the fried tofu (a/k/a grease sponges), but there are only 3 chunks of that in each portion. It’s mostly noodles saturated in deliciousness, vegetables, and crushed peanuts. Yeah, it’s a wasteful individually-packaged meal–even EnviroBecca makes some compromises on busy days, and I recycle the cardboard box and reuse the plastic plate and then recycle it.
6. American Apparel cotton leggings. These are by far the best leggings of the many brands I’ve worn, whether for wearing as pants, wearing as a layer under skirts or jeans, or wearing as pajamas. They’re close-fitting without feeling squeezy. The seams are tiny and soft, denting my inner thighs much less than most leggings, yet they rarely need mending. The waistband stays up, lies flat, and doesn’t pinch. The fabric is extremely soft yet holds up well; I’ve had two pairs for almost three years with no holes in them, no pilling, and no fading of the beautiful bright colors. Amazingly, these leggings not only feel comfortable when I am in bed with a fever for days on end, but they don’t get smelly even after being soaked with sweat and worn continuously for 48 hours! Furthermore, American Apparel makes everything in California, so their environmental practices and worker treatment have to meet U.S. standards, and their stuff is shipped shorter distances than things made in Asia. I have to warn you, though, that American Apparel’s Website flashes photos of models in underwear unexpectedly (so you might not want to browse it while you’re in public) and my one experience with ordering online from them was confusing and took months to resolve. Shopping at their stores is more pleasant.
7. K. Bell footie socks. I bought a 10-pair pack of these at Costco 3 years ago. Only one sock was a dud (heel wouldn’t stay in place), so they’re 95% perfect, whereas in my experience, other brands of affordable footie socks are 0-50% perfect when brand new and deteriorate rapidly. The 9 pairs of K. Bell socks I’ve been wearing and washing over and over again for 3 years are still perfect and still look great! I wear these as my undersocks for the 5 months of the year when I wear multiple layers of socks at all times, so it’s crucial for them to stay in place while I walk several miles every day–I don’t want to stop on a snowy sidewalk, put down my bag in the slush, take off my boot, and pull down my fuzzy sock and regular sock with my cold fingers in order to get my undersock back in place, only to have to repeat the whole process two blocks later! I also wear these footie socks in bed about 9 months of the year. They are cute and very comfortable, as they’re seamless and have a relatively smooth texture instead of big terry loops.
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