A Few of My Favorite Things {February 2020}

posted by Andrea | 02/3/2020

a few of my favorite things

In many ways, this past month seemed to drag on forever (it feels like I shared my massive list of 20 favorite things 4 months ago instead of 4 weeks ago!) 

In other ways, it went by in a flash… 

Who can relate?

I wasn’t quite sure if my Favorite Things posts would make the “cut” now that I’m no longer sharing new content every weekday. However, so many of you made it very clear that you would be super disappointed if I stopped sharing these posts on the blog. 

So for now, they will stay! 🙂 

DISCLOSURE: None of these products are sponsored; however, some of the links below are affiliate links — if you click through and take action, 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.

Also, check out my Amazon Shop for all my favorite things.

No-Tie Shoe Laces

no-tie shoe laces

Simon has been obsessed with the idea of tying his own shoes for months now — but he loses patience with the tying process very quickly. 

While I think there is merit in sticking with a task or project until it’s mastered, I also don’t want him asking his teacher to re-tie his shoes 87 times a day. 

So… we work on tying his shoes at home, and he gets shoes with special no-tie laces at school.

learning to tie his own shoes

We purchased this 4-pack of no-tie laces and have been SUPER happy with them.

The laces were extremely easy to install into his various pairs of shoes using the instructions provided. The laces are very user-friendly (even for little boys with chubby fingers), and (so far) they’ve held up really well.

how to install no-tie shoe laces

no-tie shoe laces

no-tie shoe laces

After several months of using and abusing his school shoes, the laces are still going strong! 

Simon loves them (James does too) and I don’t have to worry about them asking their teachers for help every time their shoes come untied! 

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Pampered Chef Cut ‘n Seal Sandwich Press

pampered chef sandwich press

Oh my word — this tiny kitchen tool has been invaluable to me over the last 5 years! I cannot believe I haven’t included it in one of my Favorite Things lists yet! 

A very long time ago, I found a Pampered Chef Cut ‘n Seal Sandwich Press for $1 at a local thrift store. At the time, Nora wouldn’t even eat sandwiches and Simon was just a baby — so it was a slightly silly purchase. But I knew it was a good deal and I had a feeling it would come in handy in the very near future. 

Boy, was I right! 

Just a year or 2 later, Nora and Simon both started eating sandwiches — and in their eyes, a circular sandwich with the crust cut off was just about as fun and exciting as anything! 

Now, 4 kids later, our DIY Uncrustables are a regular lunch request! 

making sandwiches

I do usually save the crusts in a bag in our freezer and eventually use them for homemade croutons, overnight french toast, or this egg casserole (I try to keep the toppings inside so they don’t get on the crust).

And if you feel like you’re giving in by cutting the crusts off your children’s sandwiches, read this post! 🙂

extra bread chunks in the freezer

NOTE: I really like the Pampered Chef sandwich press I have. However, if I were purchasing another one now, I’d probably go with something like this one (here’s the Canadian link) — with different size/shape options and a separate cutter for making meat and cheese sandwiches. 

3 different sandwich press shapes

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Bags of Activated Charcoal

bags of activated charcoal

I have a fairly sensitive nose — a.k.a. I can smell ANYTHING and EVERYTHING (good and bad). 

This heightened sense of smell has been helpful over the years — however, it’s a pain in the neck when I want to get rid of a pesky odor but don’t just want to “cover it up” with another chemical smell from cleaning products or an overpowering air freshener (I hate air fresheners!)

Instead, I use these little bean-bag size bags of activated charcoal to naturally absorb odors around our home… WITH NO EXTRA SMELL! 

NOTE: here’s a link for Canadian shoppers (apparently the link above wasn’t working for some of you!)

I keep them hidden behind rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom, on the shoe shelf in the mudroom, tucked behind stacks of clothing in every closet, in the pantry, by the laundry hamper, behind the garbage can, etc. etc. 

I also keep several “on-hand” for putting inside stinky backpacks, lunch bags, gym bags, shoes, and boots (these skinny charcoal bags are the perfect size to stick inside shoes).

Every month (usually on the 1st of the month) I gather up my bags and set them on the front porch to “recharge” in the sun for a couple of hours (I recharge my laundry balls at the same time).

Even if it’s cloudy, they are still getting UV rays.  

recharging charcoal bags in the sun

NOTE: if you’re worried you’ll forget where you hide your bags, just make a list and tape it to the inside of a kitchen cabinet. 

I have been extremely happy with my little charcoal bags… they are the perfect way to eliminate odors without just “covering them up” with other smells! 

I’ve always thought this would be a fun gag gift for adult children, coworkers, neighbors, etc. — literally giving them “lumps of coal”, but something they could actually use too! 

bags of activated charcoal

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The Manplow 42″ Shovel

manplow snow shovel

Dave has talked about buying a huge shovel for several years now — and he finally made the purchase this winter! 

He bought this Manplow 42″ snow shovel and has loved using it so far. 

Apparently it is excellent for quickly clearing snow from walkways, sidewalks, etc. — I told him I’ll just take his word for it! 🙂

NOTE: we do have plow service for our LOOOONG driveway, and we have a small snowblower that we use regularly. The Manplow is just for “cleaning up” after the snowplow, shoveling walk-ways before the plow arrives, and other odds-and-ends snow removal needs. 

If you want to quickly clear a bunch of snow, this shovel is for you! 

manplow shovel

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Redmond Real Salt 

bags or redmond real salt

I switched to Redmond Real Salt about 2 years ago — and I’ve never looked back. 

This stuff is AMAZING! 

Honestly, I think it tastes better — plus I love the (slightly) courser texture. 

I use this salt for all our cooking and baking — even for my homemade bread

redmonds real salt

If you’re wondering what’s so amazing about salt… let me explain: 

Redmond Real Salt is an unrefined, unprocessed ancient sea salt with trace minerals. It’s totally natural with nothing added and nothing removed.

It’s mined in Utah from an ancient seabed protected from modern pollution and has a subtly sweet taste (weird, but true — and SO delicious!)

It comes in a variety of sizes and textures. 

Refill bag for fine salt shakers (26 oz) 

Small (fine) salt shaker (4 oz)

Large (fine) salt shaker (10 oz)

Course salt grinder with refill bag (16 oz)

I keep a couple of shakers in the pantry and by the stove. However, I mostly just use refill bags to fill our glass salt shakers. (NOTE: These are similar to our glass salt and pepper shakers).

redmond real salt shaker

 

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That’s all for me this month.

Check out my previous months’ favorite things — and feel free to share some of YOUR favorite things in the comments below!

a few of my favorite things

 

Filed under: LifeMy Favorite Things

Leave a comment

44 comments

  1. Michelle

    02/05/2020

    I may not know what I’m talking about…but a little iodized salt is a good thing too. At least that’s what my grandma said when she had her goiter removed. I’m sure you’ve done your research and I haven’t. Just passing along what my grandma said. I want to try your yummy salt!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, you are correct! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  2. Christina M

    02/04/2020

    As always, I love your favorite things post. I bought a set of sandwich sealers a couple years ago, and I agree – they are a huge hit with the kids. I did not consider saving the crusts for croutons. I’m definitely going to try that!

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    Andrea Reply:

    glad you (and your kiddos) like the sandwich cutters!
    And yes, save those crusts — they make REALLy good croutons!

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  3. Katie

    02/03/2020

    I literally just got those plastic sandwich makers a week ago that you have as a maybe. They are awesome and my daughter is loving them in her lunch. And I have those same charcoal bags! They work miracles!

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh good — glad you are enjoying them!

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  4. Erin

    02/03/2020

    I have the press and seal sandwich maker that you linked from amazon. It is amazing and we use all 3 shapes to give some variety in our lunches. I can make homemade uncrustables that my peanut allergy kiddo can eat.

    Love the idea of those shoelaces. Might have to buy them.

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    Andrea Reply:

    glad to know you like the sandwich press too! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Dawn

    02/03/2020

    I LOVE the favorites post too! I am always learning something new with these posts. I think the charcoal bags sound awesome especially where the dog bed and shoes are. I need to buy some!

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks for the feedback Dawn!

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  6. Ann

    02/03/2020

    Yeah for favorite things posts! My daughter told me at Christmas that she is sure I will buy anything you recommend! 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well you obviously have really good taste! 🙂

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  7. Janice

    02/03/2020

    Please don’t ever stop doing your “Favorite Things” posts. I love them! I look forward to the first of every month because I know that my friend Andrea will have a treat for all who follow her. Just recently I shared 2 of my window washing cloths (Siga brand) with a friend. You had featured them in a past post, I had ordered some, and loved them. Now she is going to order her own package. I don’t always order something from the “Favorites” post but I ordered 3 items today. I ordered the charcoal packets, shoelaces, and the sandwich cutters. I may order the salt a little later on, but since we live in Arkansas and don’t get much snow, I did not order the manplow. ☃️. I am not a shopping addict, but it is so helpful to have someone tell you about favorite things they have run onto which simplify life. I know my friend is so happy to find out about the Siga brand window washing “wonder” cloths.

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    Andrea Reply:

    lucky that you don’t need to deal with the snow 🙂
    Hope you love all your other goodies — and that they quickly become some of your favorites!

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  8. Leslie H

    02/03/2020

    Your monthly favorites post is MY favorite!! Thanks for keeping it! I’ve bought many of your favorites over the years!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Leslie!

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  9. JoDi

    02/03/2020

    I’m glad you decided to post these to the blog and not just email them. I don’t always buy something from every post, but I have gone back to earlier posts several times to buy something later. I don’t keep emails for reference so having them on the blog to come back to is very helpful!

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    Ann Reply:

    AGREED! My email storage is almost gone so I have to keep finding more things to delete. I can’t save anything with photo attachments any more. I will LOVE these still on the blog!

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    Andrea Reply:

    WHAT! You use Gmail and your storage is almost used up? I’ve never heard of anyone outgrowing their gmail storage limits! That’s impressive!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Oh good — we’ll keep them on the blog for a while yet!

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  10. Carol

    02/03/2020

    Five Stars for Redmond Real Salt at our house too! It is so flavorful, you don’t even need as much. Plus, you aren’t dumping dextrose and other additives into your food. We’ve been using it for around 15 years!

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  11. Annette Silveira

    02/03/2020

    I’m excited about those charcoal bags. We have pets, so lots of stinky places. I’m going to see if Real Salt has a kosher-type option. I use Celtic for my fine salt.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, Redomond DOES have a Kosher option — and yes, get the charcoal bags!!!

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  12. Debra Gunter

    02/03/2020

    Added the charcoal bags and salt to my Amazon cart. I have actually used charcoal pieces in shoes etc before. But this would be so much better. We live in a hot humid area so smells are a problem!! Also, do you know if the salt clumps bad? Trying a small container because of this.

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    Andrea Reply:

    glad you found another goodie to (hopefully) simplify your life!

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  13. Jen

    02/03/2020

    I’m with you! It feels like January 400 to me today. Lol! But, it’s supposed to be sunny and 74 in Charlotte today, so I’ll take it!

    I just got some of those exact charcoal bags and I LOVE them!

    Happy Monday!

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    Andrea Reply:

    It’s sunny and in the 40’s here today — I’ll take that in February for sure!

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  14. JJ

    02/03/2020

    Thank you for this post!!! I normally end up getting something from each of these posts. I need those charcoal bags. I am super sensitive to smell, too. Never knew about them!!!

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  15. Ashley

    02/03/2020

    We love real salt in our house too! I actually bought a 5lb bucket, we go through so much if it.

    One of my very favorite things is my single blade safety razor. Hubby and I each bought one almost 3 years ago and have been looked back. We purchased them at a local shave shop for about $35 each, and they each came with 10 different blades to try. We now purchase blades every couple of months; a box of 10 is under $3 and each blade lasts about 2 weeks. So economical and they give a GREAT shave! I’ve never had an ingrown hair since switching (regardless where I shave ) and hubby’s face is so smooth.

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    Andrea Reply:

    cook — thanks for the tip on the razors!

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  16. Marva

    02/03/2020

    I’m so happy that your Favorite Things made the cut! I’m 64 and I learn about new things from you every month!

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    Thisler Reply:

    yes……yes and more yes……..

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks 🙂

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  17. Rhonda

    02/03/2020

    Do you know if the Real Salt is iodized? I can’t tell from the description.

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    Andrea Reply:

    no, it is not Iodized — at least not the kind I buy.
    There are a few different varieties of Real Salt, but I believe the difference is just the coarseness of the salt, so I don’t think any of them are Iodized

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    Rhonda Reply:

    I think you’re probably right. I like the course salt too, but my mom (who is a nurse) reminded me that we should also use some iodized salt in the household since your thyroid needs iodine! If any readers are unsure about this, they should probably ask their pediatrician or family doctor.

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    JJ Reply:

    Yes, about the iodized salt! I have avoided much salt since a girl(my family all had high blood pressure and I was on the verge of having it when I was young). However, because of low iodine consumption, I have several nodules on both sides of my thyroid. They were biopsied and thankfully not cancerous, but at some point I will probably have to have them removed.

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    Andrea Reply:

    good to know — this is very interesting!

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    Margaret Reply:

    Around the Great Lakes is a “goiter area”–there isn’t sufficient iodine in the soil. I have always limited salt intake, and about 30 years ago developed a goiter the size of an egg. No way of knowing if it was cause-and-effect or not. I have been on Synthroid ever since, but I am careful to buy iodized salt.
    I realize this is probably not an issue for people who eat a lot of processed and/or fast food, but it’s something to think about if you cook for yourself and try to eat local.

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    Jen Reply:

    Yes, another RN had the same thought. Read up on RELIABLE sources, and talk to your doctor or APN or registered dietitian.

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  18. Kim

    02/03/2020

    I have been using the charcoal bags for years. Best product ever!
    We just purchased a newer car and I realized I let one get away b/c I forgot it was under the seat.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh bummer — well at least they are pretty inexpensive so you can always buy a few more!

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  19. Leanne

    02/03/2020

    I love those charcoal bags…. they work wonders in all the stinky places my boys create! especially our dirty clothes area… the scents don’t linger 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    yup, they are awesome! how often do you “recharge” yours in the sun? I’ve heard of people who never do it — and I’m starting to wonder if I’m “wasting” my time by recharging them, or if they would keep working without the extra effort??

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