A Few of My Favorite Things {February 2015}

posted by Andrea | 02/3/2015

favorite things 2-15

Here are a few of my favorite things for the month of February… and as always, be sure to check out some of my favorite things from past months.

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

Furniture Moving Pads

furnature moving pads

I’m honestly not sure why I’ve never mentioned these before — after all, I use them regularly when I randomly decide that I absolutely MUST arrange a bedroom or move a large cabinet or chest while Dave is at school 🙂

These little pads (which I got free after rebate from Menards YEARS ago) have helped me move a whole bunch of furniture all by myself — which, as you know, is one of my favorite ways to do things!

Just last week, I pulled the moving pads out of the closet to rearrange our current guest bedroom that we’re thinking of transitioning into Simon’s future room (we’re not sure if we’re going to have him share a room with Nora just yet). Within minutes, I had everything rearranged while both kids played in the play area, right outside the door

One word of caution, the pads we have are only designed for use on carpeted surfaces as they could potentially scratch wood or tile. If you are moving furniture on hard floors, consider these movers (or you can do what we do and just flip small carpet scraps upside down so the carpet part is rubbing on the hard floor).

Oh, and if you need a little smile today, Nora frequently pretends that our movers are “hats like Grand-père” from Daniel Tiger 🙂

crazy nora

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the dress + mittens combo is because she is also pretending to be Anna searching for Elsa in the cold snow (the high heels were unfortunately cut off from this photo). I’m not sure what the sunglasses are for — just because she’s Nora and she’s crazy.

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Tiny Slow Cooker:

tiny slow cooker

I know I’ve talked about my various slow cookers on my blog before (I have 3 different sizes!) but I just can’t get over how often I use our tiny slow cooker — which, by the way, was purchased from Walgreens on sale for about $4.99 when we were first married!

It’s only 1.5 quarts, but it always seems to be the perfect size for our small family. I can cook up a handful of  meatballs, a 1 lb. meatloaf, 3 or 4 chicken breasts, a small amount of soup, a half batch of my slow cooker mac and cheese, etc. etc. It’s also the perfect size for a batch of chili cheese dip — which is a favorite of mine to take to parties or group gatherings.

Because it’s so small, it cooks a lot faster than a larger slow cooker — and of course, takes up MUCH less space in the cabinet and on my counter tops. I’d say we use our “tiny slow cooker” (as Nora has named it) at least 2-3 times a month, if not more — so yes, it was definitely worth the $5 I paid for it many years ago!

I don’t have a website link to my exact slow cooker, but here are similar models on Amazon.com.

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MAM Bottle Cleaning Brush

bottle brush

We never had any sort of bottle cleaning brush before Simon was born — I guess I thought we didn’t have a need for one since Nora didn’t take bottles.

I was SO WRONG!

Of course, we use our MAM Bottle Cleaning Brush for cleaning Simon’s bottles, but it’s an amazing tool for so many other cleaning needs. It’s great for tall skinny water bottles, thermoses, or reusable coffee mugs. It’s also perfect for cleaning out those reusable food pouches I like to use when my kids are around Simon’s age.

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As you can see by the photo above, it has a lot of really convenient features for cleaning all sorts of odd-shaped, skinny items. My favorite feature… the fact that it’s silicone and not a gross spongy fabric that can’t be washed. You can simply pop this brush in the dishwasher to have it perfectly clean again!

I think I’ll probably use one of these bottle cleaning brushes LONG after we have babies and bottles — it’s SO handy!

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Eric Carle: My First Smart Pad

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Nora got her first “iPad” as she calls it for Christmas — from my parents. It’s an Eric Carle My First Smart Pad.

I thought it would be WAY to advanced for her, but she’s actually really good at using it… and it’s actually quite educational.

There are activities she can do all on her own (like locating letters and sounding out words) and also a set of Eric Carle books that come with the Smart Pad so we can read and interact together.

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One more positive for this “toy” is that it’s very compact and easy to hold onto, so it could potentially be good for traveling!

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Reusable Shopping Bags:

reusable shopping bag

Again, this is something I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned yet — I use them at least once every single week, if not more!

Our reusable shopping bags are all from Meijer as we got them free several years ago when the bags first came out (I think you could get 6 for free at the time). Some of them are getting a little ragged, but over-all, they have held up extremely well over the past several years.

Obviously it’s great that they help to save the environment from millions of plastic bags, but if I’m honest, my favorite things about reusable shopping bags are:

  • They hold SO much more than paper or plastic bags which means fewer trips in and out of the house carrying groceries
  • The handles never rip off and spill your groceries everywhere
  • They are super easy to carry (I can even put them over my shoulders)
  • They are washable if something spills

I’m assuming many of you have access to free, or very frugal, reusable shopping bags at your local stores, but just in case, here’s an Amazon.com link to a boatload of different types and styles of reusable shopping bags.

shopping bag

That’s all for me this month.

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

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17 comments

  1. Abigail

    04/23/2015

    Those furniture moving pads are awesome! My husband usually move things by himself and I think these will definitely come in handy! One of my fave things is the chopper! I got it a few weeks ago and I use it almost everyday. Thanks for sharing your favourite things Andrea, Man With Van Mayfair Ltd.

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  2. Julia

    02/03/2015

    I love my reusable shopping bags! The ones I have are from Envirosax. They’re kind of pricey, but I like that they fold up so small I can fit several in my purse. They also don’t take up much storage space at all in my kitchen. You might want to try them out! And I’m totally with you on furniture moving pads. My husband isn’t always thrilled when I get the bright idea to rearrange rooms. Those things are a life (& back) saver!

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  3. Dana

    02/03/2015

    I purchased one of the Eric Carle book sets for my 2 year old at Christmas. I thought it may be awhile before he could really use it much. But he loves it and we can play together or he gets it out by himself. And he is starting to recognize that letters are other places too. They are all A right now. 🙂 But it is a step in the right direction.

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  4. Barbara

    02/03/2015

    I have 3 sizes of crock pots too and I love them all. I started with a big one when I had a family to feed. Then I got a very small one when I was an empty nester and divorced. At that time I just wanted to make a small amount. I wasn’t in to freezing or leftovers. Now I mostly use the medium size crock pot for every day. However, I still use the largest and smallest when the need arises like extra large pots of soup to freeze or a small little meal just for one serving. I hate it when I waste money on appliances that don’t get used. After 20 years I have gotten my money’s worth from all three and glad I had the foresight to invest in three kitchen appliances I have used..

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    Andrea Reply:

    that sounds cool Barbara! My only issue would come when I wanted to use all 3 at the same time (which I’ve done more often lately!) I LOVE the space-saving features though!

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  5. Melinda

    02/03/2015

    Thanks for the great post! I always look forward to your favorite things.

    I’d like to share one of my favorite things as long as we’re on the subject of slow cookers. Years ago I purchased a 3-in-1 slow cooker. I was fortunate enough to find mine in “like new” condition on Craigslist for $10. It includes 1 slow cooker base with 3 different sizes of crocks. Since it’s just the 2 of us at home now, most of the time I use the smallest crock, but if we have family over I have the choice of 2 more sizes to use.

    I LOVE that it only takes up enough space for 1 slow cooker, but I have the choice of 3 different ones to use. In case you’re interested in looking at it, it’s the Hamilton Beach 3-in-1. Here’s the link:

    http://www.amazon.com/Hamilton-Beach-33135-6-Quart-Stainless/dp/B000R8A1OK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422994204&sr=8-1&keywords=3-in-1+hamilton+beach

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  6. Liane

    02/03/2015

    Love the shopping bags. I have a stupid amount of those since I live in a state that has banned plastic bags starting in the future – not sure when – but my county has already banned them. I don’t really care since I always took paper bags instead, until they started charging for them – 10 cents unless you are on welfare, in which case the taxpayers buy them. I bought several cloth bags which did not hold up to laundering. I bought plastic woven bags which irked me to no end since they are full of BPA and made from oil. I finally found a good solution to the washing issue, which is to place every package of meat, fish or poultry in a produce bag, and have two colors. One for raw meat, and the other for produce and dairy. The tan ones from Amazon are great.

    In the summer I use 3 big zipper topped insulated bags into which I put blue ice just before leaving for the store since I have a black car which gets really hot inside and the closest full service grocery is 20 plus minutes away depending on traffic. I got mine at Trader Joes. Navy and light blue with palm trees on them and they have a white lining which probably has BPA also, but they only hold food that is already bagged. I take them for my monthly meat stock up and I intersperse frozen food with the meat, like bags of frozen spinach, chard, butternut squash etc.

    I also take the Amazon ones like pictured to the farmers markets and stands since they cannot give out bags either.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I love that you say “I have a stupid amount”! I too got SOOOO many of them for free, but I slowly weeded them out of my house by using them for donation bags that I could just leave at the donation places.

    Now I have 6 that I keep in my car for groceries and maybe 2 more inside for various other needs. It’s enough for now because our stores still offer bags if we forget or run out of our reusable ones!

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    janet Reply:

    Liane,

    You must live in CA. In my county, the price of paper bags just went up to 25 cents!!! I now ALWAYS remember to bring my reusable bags!

    I’m all for being good stewards of this earth God gave us, but don’t want to be paying the government for it! 🙂

    Love this post, Andrea. Thanks for some great faves.

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    Liane Reply:

    Now 25 cents would really annoy me. A dime is bad enough. My biggest gripe with the paper bags is that they are super thin and have no handles. I rarely shop here since the only store is small and very crowded and often go either to Trader Joes or Raleys out of town. Where I get bags galore to stash for the future. They do last a long time. Yesterday I met a lady in Safeway who had those Grabbags as seen on TV. They look awesome. I have to take my groceries to my motorhome since we cannot park it here and there is no power in the storage facility. The grab bags can fold very small and are actually very sturdy. I looked them up at Amazon but am unclear which ones are the good ones so may order directly via their website. I like the beige ones from Amazon for regular groceries but prefer bigger ones for the motorhome transfers.

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  7. Amy

    02/03/2015

    I also love my reusable shopping bags! I have made my own bags from some lined cafe curtains that were in our house when we moved in. I made a couple of different sizes (the handles are different so I can quickly see which one I want for the task at hand) so that I have some that accommodate large boxes of cereal or some slightly smaller that are great for canned goods and bags of flour or sugar. I made sure to wash on the hottest cycle my washing machine and dryer have so that when I launder them, I don’t have to worry about shrinkage.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow — so crafty! That’s impressive that you made your own bags! And I like the idea of making them different sizes too 🙂

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  8. susie

    02/03/2015

    The furniture movers are good for excersizing too!

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    Andrea Reply:

    What do you mean? I’m having a hard time picturing them used for any type of exercise… but you’ve definitely got me interested!!

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    susie Reply:

    We have used them many times in class, sliding lunges, sliding pushups…. I have seen a you tube video that has a whole series of ways to work out with sliders!

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  9. Katy

    02/03/2015

    I like your idea on the furniture movers. I have found that diaper boxes can perform a similar function. I simply cut pieces out of a diaper box and placed the pieces shiny/printed side down under the piece of furniture. I am then able to slide the heavy item easily. I do this all the time now, since I always have a diaper box around 🙂 I have carpeted floors, so I’m not sure if it would work on hard surface floors…but for me, it’s a great (frugal) way to move furniture myself.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, there are many frugal alternatives to buying the moving pads new. However, since ours were free after rebate, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give them a try. Boy am I glad I did!

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