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Do You Guys Have Any Secret Conveniences To Share?

The young year is good not only for taking the pulse of stalled projects, but also for filing off the edges of inconveniences. Optimizing, in other words, something process people are good at but project people have to treat like, um, a project.

Over time, I had created an Amazon list I called “Conveniences.” This weekend I went ahead and one-clicked. On what and why? Well, these I have come to rely on for looking generally presentable, when that’s a goal.

Beauty Blender Sponge



I am re-upping on both. I use the pink boingy sponges to apply Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer. Evens out skin color for a no-makeup look, with a little sunscreen and a little coverage.  I use Mercier’s Bisque but it comes in many shades. Thumbs reliably up.

These next, on the other hand, I can only hope to find useful.

Microfiber Towel


I prefer not to blow my hair dry unless social purposes insist. However, I lose patience with drips and huge towels wrapped around my head. I’ve used this once so far, and while it didn’t dry magically, it was very comfortable as a little turban, and soaked up enough water that I could scrunchie a ponybun and go for a walk. Thumbs up, so far.

The Wet Brush


Again, in the service of long wet hair. This is about 15% easier on dripping locks than my Mason Pearson, but not as gentle as the large combs held by a hair stylist. Thumbs wiggling, in an indecisive manner.

Over The Door Hooks


These my daughter asked for. The rack in our guest bathroom doesn’t support large bath sheets or more than one guest with regular size towels. So, let’s try stainless steel “hooks” that slip over the door. Yes, they show on the other side, but minimally. I have neither a drill nor a handyman, it’s good enough. Thumbs will have to wait for her next visit. Just as I do.

And, A Garlic Press

Joseph Joseph Rocker Garlic Press.jpg


I spend a measurable portion of my days chopping garlic and I don’t much enjoy the process. I never liked my old garlic press, too hard to clean out the smooshed pulp. I thought this might work better. Lo and behold it does. Peel your garlic clove, hold both sides of the device, press down while rocking it side to side. Requires some leverage, i.e. I have high counters and thus stand on my tiptoes to get going, but I quite like the experience. This cleans more easily than other presses, since there are no walls around the little pile of garlic nubs. And, extra bonus points, that which you have minced stays put until you scoop it into whatever you’re cooking. Thumbs, happily free of garlic, up.

Do you all have any similar conveniences you’d like to share with the crew? Thank you in advance. It feels surprisingly good to be finally smoothing the small rough spots of life at home.


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54 Responses

  1. Since you called dibs on the Beauty Blender sponge, that leaves me with my new crockpot. I had one (or 3, I think, when we got married almost 33 years ago), but they fell out of favor and I got rid of it/them. Pinterest is what got me “ooing and ahing” over delicious looking crockpot recipes again. And my wonderful eldest daughter and son-in-law got me one for Christmas that has been in steady use!

    1. @Mamavalveeta03,

      Re crockpots – I love my All Clad one. A bit pricey, but worth it, since the removable insert can be used on the stove (to brown meat), or placed in the oven (to brown a bread crumb topping)). Fewer pots and pans to clean.

  2. I have a wet brush and a (different) microfiber towel and a beauty blender. And over-the-door hooks, although they only work on the replacement door in my 19th-c. house. The original doors are too thick.

    As for other conveniences–I have a “hot sock” diffuser for my blow dryer, which I also use as little as possible (the dryer, not the diffuser). The diffuser is good to travel with because it basically fits any dryer, so you can borrow one instead of bringing your own.

    I’ve never owned a garlic press (I just crush with the side of a knife, then chop) but that one does look cool!

    1. @joannawnyc, Even more things in common:). I used to always crush and chop but I get so tired of the bits of garlic sticking to my fingers. This manages to save me from that fate.

  3. I especially love the garlic press, I’m going to get one for sure. Thanks for sharing, as always. Peace, Stephanie

    1. @Stephanie, Hope you like it! Guidance – start rocking right away to avoid garlic fiber developing, and don’t worry if the little garlic nubs don’t clean out right away, they will, and it will still be easier than old-style garlic presses IMO.

  4. Your Aquis towel has caught my eye. Hair rituals have evolved over the past few years more than I thought possible. I’ve gone from dead straight through my teens to beautiful waves with body through most of adulthood. Since menopause I’ve evolved to haphazard, dry frizzy curls. (You can guess my preference, I’m sure.) I rely on conditioner to wash and refresh my hair – I use shampoo rarely, and only a specific no-foam type. Regular cotton towels are a no-no. Somehow the loops are devastating to the frizz. I bought a pair of microfibre gloves at the hardware store and use them to squeeze the water out of my hair and shake through the curls. They’ve been helpful dealing with the aggro of fussy wet hair.

  5. I read about the wet brush recently but your vote is still OUT?
    That garlic press looks like FUN!I use my MOTHERS which is OLD and I love it but maybe I will try this as I too am ALWAYS doing the GARLIC THING!
    I like the idea of the KNOB at the TOP of the DOOR!
    GADGETS………who thinks of these things then FOLLOWS through to have them MADE!?!!TONS of people……….I need to come up with a GADGET!

  6. Crock pot
    Simple Tortoise comb for wet hair
    Hand held immersion blender
    Wire whisk for whipping
    wooden salt cellar
    Flat stanley zip pouch from India Hicks for gathering receipts and notes to myself
    Index cards
    post it notes
    and more…..

  7. I love my Nespresso Inissio machine — I can have a small cup of excellent coffee in a minute–I mostly use it for decaf after dinner or late afternoon, but I have some caffeinated capsules for when I just need a quick pick me up. The capsules are about 80 cents each, for coffee at least as good as my local coffee shops, and waaaay better than any K-cup I’ve had–they make a standard coffee cup of about 6 oz. just fine, so two to make a Starbucks tall. A fair deal and super convenient.

  8. I am deeply interested in this garlic thing. I won’t chop it by hand because smelly, but I hate cleaning the press. I will consider one of these doodads.

    I was given a microfibre turban for Christmas and I LOVE it.

    I don’t think I have any other magic secrets to share.

  9. Love the Blender sponge use it all the time. I also now use one of those micro shavers to rub garlic on. I prefer it to a garlic press. Seems to make the garlic less pungent.

    Great idea for a post.

  10. I use a microplane for my garlic rather than a press. I sometimes prefer slicing thin slivers, but the microplane produces a very nice puree that’s wonderful to whisk into salad dressing. My other favorite kitchen tool is known as a bench scraper. It can be used to collect pieces of dough, crumbs, sugar crystals, etc. from a large counter without scratching it. Also can use it to cut dough, and I often let my grand-niece use it as a very dull knife.

  11. The best brushes for wet hair have a cushioned base and single-piece “bristles” (by which I mean they don’t have a separate ball on the end; usually made of nylon, I think). It took me years and a trip to London to find one to replace an old brush that was falling apart. I think this is what I now have, and it’s great: I also have an old cheap turban towel that I got years ago, and I find it very handy for after swimming, as I can wrap it around my head to keep my hair from dripping as I get dressed.
    I’m going to buy the garlic press right now. You might also like a garlic peeler, which takes the skin off a garlic clove surprisingly well. See, e.g.,

    1. @MJ, Have you ever tried a Mason Pearson? If so, do you like it better than the Denman? And, do you like the garlic clove peeler more than just smashing enough to deal with the extra overhead of a gizmo to search for?

  12. The Breville Fast Slow Cooker is a wonderful machine. It is a slow cooker AND pressure cooker that also steams and sautés. Much appreciated in our much smaller kitchen since downsizing.

  13. I use my Bodum French Press coffee pot daily and when inspired I also like my LeCeuset Dutch Oven for preparing a pork or beef roast that meets all the comfort food requirements. Having a meal in one pot is always a plus for me!

  14. Just ordered the garlic press. Genius ! I have those Aquis towels and they are useful. Been using them for years now. If you do need to blow dry, they get you started by getting the drips. I have an avocado scoop that makes nice little cubes. It’s from Williams Sonoma. Nice for salads, guacamole, etc.

  15. Fish oil is the bomb for winter-dry skin and also helps my dry eyes. No need to suffer through the big pills since Barleans makes delicious flavored liquids. You’ll want to take about 2,000 mg a day which is 2 T of regular strength or 1 T ultra strength. It’ll take about 3-4 weeks to see a difference and 8 weeks to be fully effective. The only problem is it’s one more source of fat, although Barleans is sugar free.

  16. ooh, fun question!

    e.l.f. stipple brush for blending makeup (bonus: it’s under $5)

    binder clips

    Zyliss salad spinner

    4-in-one screwdriver (tools make a lot of things possible)

    1. @lc, Binder clips? Do you use them for bags of frozen vegetables? I confess I’ve been know to;). And I love my salad spinner too. No more pools of water in my salads:).

    2. @lc,

      Binder clips are good for all sorts of things, they’re basically little clamps. Food bags, to hold a curtain back, to keep papers together … And as an artist/craftperson, I use them a lot to hold materials together while I’m working, or to ‘sketch’ out something.

  17. I must have that garlic press!

    My favorite for the kitchen, after the microwave, is my immersion blender.
    Microplane grater
    Stand alone freezer (I know this is a major appliance, but it is well worth it for cooking ahead.
    Food saver – buy in bulk, divide for 1 or 2 servings and freeze
    Power screwdiver

  18. I store almost everything in boxes, so my Brother P-Touch label maker is priceless. I never have to open the box(es) and rifle through to see what I have. The newest model label makers (finally) have some fancy fonts.

  19. Interesting! Love the look of the over-the-door hook. I require lots of hooks in a bathroom. My house-host added three hooks that match his other bathroom fixture metal to the wall by the shower in “my” bathroom, which is his second upstairs bathroom, so I can hang my white cotton waffle robe, a bath sheet, and my lounging clothing. My garlic press is an OXO, which I adore. Chopping garlic makes me want to run away, but I can get the amount I want (a lot) quickly with an OXO. You flip it inside out to clean the press, it pushes the garlic leavings, somewhat inefficiently, out of the press with rubber nubbins. ( Have you tried a Denman brush for de-tangling your wet hair? I use a Mason Pearson for brushing my hair, and a Denman to detangle it when it is wet. Everyone but me loves the Laura Mercier product you like. I feel wistful about that. I’ve tried it; I find it feels too tacky. Natura Bisse had a tinted product with sunscreen I love to use with a light pale powder to finish if I’m feeling energetic, but NB discontinued it. I tend to put a curse on products I like. I’m using the remainder of my tube, and looking for a replacement. Most of the time I wash my face, put on a serum and then sunscreen and call it a day. I need to up my game, but there’s been too much going on in the last year or two. Now I’m going to try to turn back to me. I’d add I can’t live without a good cheese plane. Many cheese people pooh-pooh cheese planes, but they’re so good for shaving thin slices of Jarlsberg or whatever. I was at a dinner party recently faced with a large wedge of Swiss cheese and a small cheese knife. People had sawed of odd-shaped chunks. I longed for a cheese plane. It was a good way to avoid cheese calories, though, so there is that.: ) In addition? Form good relationships with a cobbler, a go-to restaurant where they know you, a dry cleaners, and a tailor. I’m currently looking for a good tailor. Let me know if you have someone you like in Palo Alto or Menlo Park.

  20. Ooh, that garlic press looks excellent. I never seem to get much actual garlic out of the standard ones, they seem very wasteful.

    We have two of over the door coat racks was we couldn’t drill into the doors or wall when were were flatting. Very useful for drying shirts on hangers when drying space is limited (and we don’t have a dryer).

    I use my fingers to blend foundation… not sure that it’s the best way, but I’m still getting used to actual foundation after ages just using concealer and powder.

    Our aeropress coffee maker is deeply inconvenient but somehow we’ve gotten addicted to it. It does seem to make the most delicious coffee.

    My favourite convenience thing is a decent sized freezer! After four years with a shoebox-sized freezer, I’m just loving being able to freeze bags of peas, my favourite Vogels bread, oven chips etc for easy dinners.

  21. Such a good post! That garlic press is excellent, it reminds me of a gadget my Dad bought me years ago, from Williams Sonoma I think, that I adored: an onion chopper thing. Put in a whole onion, press down and perfect fine chops result. Chopping onions is not my favourite activity so I used it all the time and then I broke it.
    I must get one of those hair turban drying towels! xo

  22. For wet hair combing through, without damaging or stretching the hair shaft, I can recommend the Tangle Teezer brush. I got one in lurid pink for my three-year-old daughter who was born with a fabulous mop of thick hair which just gets on getting thicker and more lustrous every year. I borrowed her brush after a shower and l loved it. Super fast and pain free combing through. All thanks to my pre schooler who spotted it on a pharmacy shelf (on account of aforementioned lurid colour).

  23. I love the beauty blender sponge. Your over the door hooks look nicer than mine, which are plain white plastic. They are also wonderful for airing out clothes before returning them to the closet, or hanging them to get a little steam from the shower.

    I recently discovered using a microplane for garlic, but that device looks very elegant and swear by a bench scraper for getting stuff off kitchen counters.

  24. By accident I discovered an REI microfiber camping towel works even better than an Aquis for gently blotting most of the moisture out of my short hair while leaving waves intact. Not sure how it would work on longer or very thick hair. It’s great for travel because it rolls up tiny and dries fast.

  25. Very interesting and useful!
    I have Over the door hooks here and in my Adriatic apartement(not so beautiful like yours) and they are perfect
    I love your garlic press and must buy it( don’t like garlic smell on my fingers)
    My GEFU spiral slicer make perfect zucchini or carrot “spaghetti”
    Purple hand whisk for whipping bought in Copenhagen
    Can’t live without Saeco professional coffee machine(or Dolce Gusto coffee machine at the seaside)
    Whipped cream bottle-guilty,I know :-)

  26. My greatest “secret convenience” is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology bird cams operating 24/7 online, year round. Had enough pre-election campaign news? If so, here’s mama Great Horned Owl sitting on her two eggs @ Savannah GA. I go here many times a day just to shake off the partisan newscycles of an election year. Total relaxation.

  27. I have the same garlic press, a few years now, still works as new. Your over the door hook is very nice looking, I have a few from UMBRA, very functional. And I actually have a dollar store one in bright pink that I bring travelling- never enough hooks in the bathrooms???
    I heard (untried) that an old cotton tee shirt can be used for wet hair, diminishing the frizz factor.
    Two of my conveniences not already mentioned : headstrap flash light for hands free action, and a leather square valet by the front door (keys, sunglasses etc.)

    Thank you again ! Suz

  28. My go to secret convenience is my beloved tube squeezer made by the appropriately named Tube Wringer Co. It will squeeze every last cm of what’s in your toothpaste or cosmetic cream tubes. I think they have metal ones but mine is a blue plastic one that works really well. Highly recommended!

  29. The world’s best garlic press — spendy, but beautifully engineered and so sturdy it will outlive you — is the Rosle; it is double-hinged, first for crushing power, second so that everything inside it flips out and can be cleaned in an instant. Sometimes of course it’s better to slice garlic, but for speed and uniform mincing this thing is unbeatable.

    (Also I am a huge devotee of Aquis towels.)

  30. I use microfiber towels to wash my face. They are the best. Clean thoroughly and gently. I get a huge pack of them at Costco in the automotive aisle. Yep, designed for detailing cars. I cut them in quarters for face cloths. They are so soft and absorbent and get the gunk out of my pores without over irritating my skin. I have even cut them into smaller squares to use like cotton wipes. I use one clean one a day. I rinse them out well, hang dry and then toss in a bucket in my laundry room. When I collect a bunch I soak in hot water and a little clorox, then run through the washer, rinsing well. Do not use fabric softener. Hang or tumble dry. Also great for traveling. I hate to use a white terry cloth to take off makeup and these dry fast and I can just throw them away if I want. I also travel with one or two dollar store over the door hooks. Hotels are ridiculously and persistently stingy with towel bars and robe hooks. Little things make a cookie cutter hotel feel a tiny bit more comfortable.
    Luv U! U R Awesome!

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