A Few of My Favorite Things {January 2017}

posted by Andrea | 01/3/2017
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Another new month and YEAR… which means I’m sharing a few more of my favorite things (one “Favorite Thing” not listed: a teacher-husband who is home all Christmas break!)

As always, be sure to check out some of my favorite things from past months and share your favorite things in the comments!

DISCLOSURE: None of these products are sponsored; however, some of the links below are affiliate links — which means that at no cost to you, I may get a small commission. Please know that I use these products daily in my own home and life. Read my full disclosure policy for more information.

Bambini + Me Reusable Food Pouches

If your children are anything like my children, the allure of sucking food from a pouch can persuade them to eat almost anything!

Even at 5 years old, Nora still gets so excited about “baby yogurts” as we call our reusable food pouches (mainly because I almost always put yogurt in the pouches.)

I’ve used different brands of reusable food pouches over the years — some better than others. However, about 5 months ago, I purchased the Bambini + Me brand of reusable food pouches and we absolutely LOVE them!

These pouches are HUGE — they hold 7 ounces (twice as much as the other reusable food pouches we’ve used) so they are perfect for older kids.

The seals are extremely durable (we’ve been using the same 3 pouches the entire time with no broken seals), they are very easy to wash, they are leak-proof, and they are VERY inexpensive!

We paid around $12 for 8 large pouches, and we haven’t even used 5 of them.

As I mentioned earlier, we mainly use them for yogurt, but they are great for smoothies, applesauce, pudding, or any other pureed food.

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Riccar Summer Breezes Zone Heater

One of the not-so-nice things about living in a 125 year old home that has been extensively added onto and renovated is that some rooms are A LOT colder than other rooms in the winter.

Our infamous “blue bedroom” is one of these rooms.

Despite being on the 2nd floor, (which you would think would be warmer since “heat rises”) it is FREEZING cold in the winter — easily 10-15 degrees cooler than the rest of our house.

A few years ago, after looking into many different options, Dave and I decided that investing in a quality portable heater was the best, easiest, and most economical option to heat this medium-sized bedroom.

At the time, Dave’s parents already had a Riccar heater, and they were very happy with it. We decided that although they are quite pricey, we would try to find a deal… and we found one!

We purchased the display model from our local Gall Sewing and Vacuum Cleaner store in March (when they were trying to get rid of the heaters). We got it for about 40% off “retail” — but that was still almost $400! Crazy, I know!

However, it has a good warranty, it’s easily movable, it can be used as an end table, it is very simple to operate, it seems to be quite energy efficient, and it’s 100% COOL TO THE TOUCH (which means almost no chance of anyone getting burnt or starting a fire).

It also has a feature that somehow keeps the humidity in the air — so it’s not dry and static.

During the cold winter months, we leave it on all day and we hardly notice any difference in our electric bill.

Although it was a bit of an expense, this small portable heater keeps our play room nice and cozy all winter long — and because of that, it tops my list of favorite things!

Also, it has been nice to have a good heater on hand as our furnace pooped out on us in the middle of winter last year. We were able to heat most of our living room and kitchen areas with this heater while we waited for the furnace to be fixed!

NOTE: I couldn’t find this heater anywhere on Amazon or even on Riccar’s website. However, I found it for sale here, on a sewing machine website. It doesn’t give a price, but you can at least scroll down and read more about it.

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Cloth Napkins

It’s hard to believe that Dave and I have been using cloth napkins for almost 10 years now!

I can vividly remember the day, only a few months after we were married, when a friend of mine shared that she and her husband (also recently married) had gotten cloth napkins for a wedding gift. She explained how they used the same napkin for a couple of days and simply set it on their chair after each meal.

That same day, I broke out our set of cloth napkins… and we’ve been putting them on our chairs after each meal ever since.

We often use paper napkins when we have company, and there are some meals (like spaghetti or pizza) when we give our kids paper napkins to avoid massive stains on our cloth napkins, but our family uses cloth napkins 98% of the time, and they truly do not feel inconvenient in any way.

We have a set of 12, so we use 4 at a time (James doesn’t use one yet) and just rotate them out as they get dirty. I bleach them all with the towels and kitchen linens every week and we put them back in our basket next to the table.

Although I’m definitely not the most environmentally conscious person around, I feel that this small gesture is one way we reduce paper waste with very little time or effort on our part. Plus, we save quite a bit of money as we’ve never replaced our napkins in 10 years!

These are the exact napkins we use from Williams Sonoma. They were a wedding gift — we didn’t register for them, but I’m glad we got them!)

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Snow Plow Service

When we were first married, Dave and I dutifully shoveled our driveway everyday before work (back in our old house with a short driveway). We upgraded to a small snow blower the next winter… and when we moved to our farmhouse, we purchased a lawnmower with a large snow blower attachment.

At the time, snow plow service seemed like a frivolous luxury that we really didn’t want to pay for… but then we had Nora a year later (in November) and the thought of either of us waking up any earlier than absolutely necessary seemed unfathomable!

It took Dave well over an hour to clear our VERY LONG driveway every time it snowed — it took 5 minutes for the snow plow.

Since then, we’ve gladly paid a few hundred dollars a season for our plow company to clear our driveway. Dave still goes out after school and “cleans things up” a bit… but the hours of time and extra sleep we’ve saved over the past 5 winters are most definitely worth the money for us at this point in our lives.

We will most likely have our kids help with snow removal at some point in the future, and I can easily help too once I don’t have to worry about sleeping babies inside… but for now, we will happily write a check and enjoy snuggling under the covers as we hear the plow truck outside!

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Swiffer Sweeper

A couple years ago, I shared my favorite reusable swiffer pads… but I’ve never actually included the Swiffer Sweeper on my list of Favorite Things!

Since most of our main floor is hardwood, it’s safe to say I use our Swiffer at least 4 or 5 times a week, sometimes daily — and yes, it is DEFINITELY one of my favorite things!

Our old Swiffer lasted 10 good years before it finally “died” last month. After living without it for almost 2 weeks (I wanted to see if I really needed it) I decided I had to buy another one ASAP as our floors were getting quite dusty.

I got the pretty new green Swiffer and it makes me smile every time I grab it from the laundry room.

For me, the Swiffer helps keep our floors clean enough that I don’t feel the need to mop them. I vacuum up the crumbs, then swiffer the dust and any remaining hairs or small particles, and I feel that’s “good enough” for me right now.

I do use a damp cloth to spot-clean sticky areas in the kitchen, but I rarely ever mop my floors (maybe a couple times a year at the most). Maybe that’s why I love my Swiffer so much 🙂

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That’s all for me this month.

Make sure you check out my previous month’s favorite things — and feel free to share some of YOUR favorite things in the comments below!

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18 comments

  1. Patti Bozeman

    01/20/2017

    I would love to know where to get your red & white napkins. I just love them.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    they were from William Sonoma YEARS ago (like 12-13 years ago)

    [Reply]

  2. Lynda

    01/06/2017

    Ever seen the Swiffer sweep & vac? I love this thing, swiffers and vacuums up crumbs at the same time. Perhaps not as good as your vacuum would but I use this thing all the time Just thought I’d share. Happy new year!!

    [Reply]

  3. Heidi

    01/05/2017

    I cannot imagine living somewhere where I needed snow plow service- we’re forecasted for a couple of inches over the weekend and that’ll probably be all the snow we get all winter! 🙂

    [Reply]

  4. Susanne

    01/04/2017

    Wish we had a snowplow service! My husband puts a small blade on his small mower and gets our passable. Luckily, we both teach school and we usually do not have to get out if it is a big one.

    We have used cloth napkins exclusively for years! I even use them in our lunch boxes. I cannot even remember buying paper napkins!

    Love your Favorite Things posts!

    [Reply]

  5. Emily

    01/03/2017

    We were gifted some reusable pouches and as much as I loved the concept, they were terribly small and did not work well. I will definitely be ordering the ones you recommended! We have the same Riccar space heater and have used it all over our house. Currently it resides in the kitchen. 🙂 Definitely worth the investment! Our good friends own a vacuum store here in the Kalamazoo/Portage area and I’m pretty sure you can only get them at a Riccar dealership. Always love your favorite things posts! Happy New Year!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Emily! I’ve gone through my share of reusable food pouches as well. I think this is the 4th kind we’ve tried and the first ones we REALLY love.

    [Reply]

  6. Michelle

    01/03/2017

    One of my favorite things is the E-cloth mop. After 34 years of mopping the floor on my hands and knees and trying (and not liking) several different mops, I came upon the E-cloth products and decided to try the mop. I really love it! It is microfiber and cleans with only hot water. You can pull the mop head off and do a quick rinse and reattach it and keep going. In between moppings I use the dust mop head and take it outside and shake it out when I’m finished. It truly a back and knee saver.

    I’m also in love with their glass and polishing cloth…it cleans windows and mirrors perfectly. I also use it on my appliances. No more smears and streaks. Just last week when cleaning the outside of the toilet I was getting so frustrated because no matter how I wiped or how many times I rinsed my cloth I couldn’t get the hairs and fuzzies to come off. I grabbed the glass and polishing cloth to wipe it and successfully removed that stuff.

    I like their other cleaning items as well and am slowly purchasing more items to make cleaning easier.

    I, too, always look forward to your favorite things list each month. I bought the OXO brush set you featured a couple months back and really like that too.

    Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Michelle! I’ve never heard of the E-cloth mop before and just looked it up on Amazon! Cool!
    Here’s the link for anyone else who is interested 🙂

    [Reply]

    Michelle Reply:

    You can buy directly from them at http://www.ecloth.com as well.

    If you sign up for their e-mail list they notify you when they have a sale.

    Michelle

    [Reply]

    Michelle Reply:

    Oh…I almost forgot…free shipping!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Michelle!

    [Reply]

    e-cloth (Laura) Reply:

    Hi ladies.

    Thank you Michelle for your e-cloth recommendation! We appreciate it! Thanks for sharing with your readers Andrea!

    Best,
    -Laura
    Customer Service, e-cloth

    [Reply]

  7. Amanda

    01/03/2017

    I LOVE You my favorite things list!! I look forward to reading it each month!

    [Reply]

  8. Ruth

    01/03/2017

    Several years ago, I tried changing my family over to some cloth napkins I bought at sams club. With 3 dirty kids, I like new napkins at each meal but the Sams club were huge, so it was impractical. Plus they were a polyester blend and those don’t absorb. I knew my kids liked to wipe their mouths on their shirts, so I took an old flannel sheet and cut it into small squares and sewed up the edges. Nothing fancy, they are all odd sizes, uneven and thread doesn’t match the fabric color but these have been perfect! They are small, so we can use a new one each meal and they take up no space in the laundry. The flannel is 100% cotton so it’s very absorbent and soft on the skin. They do get food stains but that’s cause I don’t care about if they look bad. Now, any clothing item that gets worn out gets cut up into napkins. Although my boys do refuse to use the ones that use to be their sister’s pajama pants cause they say her butt was on it ! Lol

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    This is such a great idea Ruth! I’ll remember this the next time we are ready to toss out fleece PJs! Our napkins are definitely bigger than they need to be (especially for the kids) but so far, it hasn’t been a huge problem for the kids.
    Also, I laughed out loud when I read how your boys won’t use your daughters pajama pants. I could totally see Nora having a fit about something like that 🙂

    [Reply]

  9. Lyss

    01/03/2017

    I would totally do the snow plow service if my driveway looked like that in the winter! Here we find it inconvenient and annoying if our windshields are iced over. Lol. I guess we have no idea! It’s hard for me to fathom. I’ve never lived where it snows. Looks lovely, but cold and a lot of work! Texan girl here.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes! The plow service felt like an extravagant expense at first, but we save SO much time and energy — it’s definitely worth it when you think of how much money we spent versus the hours upon hours we save!

    [Reply]