I confess. I really like gadgets and short cuts. I also love online shopping. I love wandering the internet. I’m retired and have time on my hands. I read reviews and take chances. I hate articles that make you read 3 pages of build up before they get to the good stuff so let’s just do it.

Here are a few of this years’ finds.

Jillmo Danish Dough Whisk

It’s weird looking. I use this baby to whisk dry ingredients but it really shines when I use it on sticky dense stuff. I have no idea why it works so well. And who the heck invented this? I picture some Danish guy with a broken and bent whisk with a little light bulb above his head. Hey, this thing works! Indeed it does.

Downy Wrinkle Releaser

I tried this stuff years ago. Meh. Yeah, it helped but not that much. Then my cousin Jerry gave me a bottle of the new version. I was in a rush and didn’t feel like ironing so I gave it a chance. The heavens opened up and shined golden light onto my wrinkled tee shirt. POW! No wrinkles. They must have reformulated this stuff. Now I buy them two a a time and never bother putting it away. I put my iron away instead.

Nespresso Creatista Plus Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville.

I’ve bought way too many espresso machines in my lifetime. It all started when I wandered around Italy for a few weeks. My traveling companion was totally addicted to coffee. If we didn’t stop for her fix every 3-4hrs she got a headache and made me hate her. I quickly learned to spot cafes from blocks away. I drank enough espresso to give me a stroke. (I didn’t know that would come later)

Anyway, I keep buying machines. I tried budget models. Old fashioned pots. A top end Nespresso machine. A low end Nespresso machine. I was never truly happy. Until I met Mr. Right.

I am in love with this espresso machine.

Short and Sweet …just like my espresso. There were always problems. Usually the problem involved steaming the milk. The Nespresso frother sucks. It burns milk, overheats and is a disaster to clean. Others had a built in frother arm but it took longer to clean it after each use than it did to drink my espresso.

Then Breville entered my life. It uses Nespresso coffee/espresso pods. Don’t even bother checking other brands. Nespresso is the best. George Clooney does their ads because he loves it so much. Case closed.

You pop a pod into this wonder and in just a minute or two that magical gift from the Gods comes streaming out. The Carmel color crema on top forms perfectly. When I want steamed milk for a cappuccino, it froths instantly and then….. it cleans itself! I’ve had this machine for over a year and I am still deeply in love.

Nod Pod

I struggle with sleeping. I take melatonin and anything else I find around the house. This thing helps.

It’s like a weighted blanket for your eyes. Its not heavy, just some beads or something inside super soft cuddly fabric. The gentle weight combined with super soft cloth makes it easy to block out all light. The slight weight on my forehead is oddly comforting. I got one for my mom when she broke her leg and had too much pain to get good sleep. Now she loves it too.

Ghirardelli Brownies Dark Chocolate.

OMG. Do not buy any other kind of brownies. I don’t care if you prefer milk chocolate. Shut up and buy these. We’ve had a freind staying with us thru the pandemic. With three women in the house, things can get tense. In such instances, I immediately get to the kitchen and make these brownies. As soon as the house fills with the smell of these brownies, everyone starts to calm. Who can be grumpy knowing these gooey amazing brownies from heaven will be ready in a little while?

Get some now. Get in the car.

Get an extra box for emergencies.

Cica Tape

What the heck is Cica Tape? It’s reusable silicone tape that reduces scars. Occupational Therapy recommended it years ago when I had carpal tunnel surgery. After my bypass surgery I used it on my incision. It’s pretty amazing I. You just stick it on the scar. It’s stays in place for about 3 days even in the shower. After that it starts to fall off. You can wash it and reuse but I used to just replace it. I wore it for about 2 months. Every time i go to the ER the staff comments on how good my scar looks. Yes, my life is boring enough that “Nice scar!” is a great compliment. (It works on old scars and wrinkles too. Search Amazon for silicone for scars and wrinkles)

Bondic LED UV Liquid Plastic Welding Pen

Have you ever had a cavity treated that the dentist put stuff on your tooth and then applied a UV light for a few seconds? Now you can buy the same product to fix things around the house. It bonds pretty much everything. Just apply it by squeezing the applicator pen. Then when you are ready, flip the pen to the other side that has the UV light. Shine for a little bit on the spot and…it hardens. It must be tough if they use it on teeth! I’ve fixed so mush jewelry and other stuff! Now I can’t wait for something to break.

L’Oréal Vitamin C Serum

Yes, I am that old. It’s available right in CVS but I get it on Amazon. I tried a few of the super expensive lines of skin care and this is just as good at a third of the price. It’s great for your skin and leaves your face soft and smooth. I just feels so nice and I really think my skin looks better. And I love a deal.

Perricone MD tinted moisturizer

I’m pretty low maintenance. This one is a little pricey but worth it. I can just slap it on any old way and it looks pretty darn good. Like wearing just a tiny bit of foundation. Works for any complexion and is a very nice moisturizer. I’ve tried other products but I always come back to this. (FYI- I keep an eye on morning TV promotions like Steals and Deals and often get it 50% off. I stock up when I can)

Garlic Garni

I take garlic very seriously. I NEVER buy the gross white mesh packs of garlic from China that we see in every grocery store. It tastes like plastic and gets hot if you use a lot of it. No to garlic powder too. Dried to dust and still sold when it’s years and years old. Yuk.

And don’t get me started on the prechopped stuff in a jar. It is just the worst. Every time you use it…an Italian grandmother cries.

I was at a Home Show years ago and This company had a booth. I tried this stuff and have not bought any other garlic seasoning since. Did you know there is an area in California that specializes in garlic? They grow so much garlic that they have a big garlic festival every summer. It’s fresh, there are lots of varieties and it comes from AMERICA!

I use this as a garlic substitute a lot. Garlic bread, shrimp scampi, marinating steak, meatloaf and more. It tastes fresh and doesn’t get hot when you use a heavy hand with it. It’s a cooking staple in my house.

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My other garlic options: I regularly buy 6-8 heads of garlic from California online. I peel it using this easy technique that I saw on the internet. Then I run it thru my mini food processor with a touch of olive oil. I spread the paste on a chopping board about a half an inch thick and put it in the freezer. Later, I take it out and cut it into cubes. The cubes go in a ziplock and go back in the freezer and I have GOOD garlic ready to go for a few weeks.

I like making soup. I think there is something zen about the chopping, and stirring and tasting and adjusting . Generally I use whatever broth is on sale. The truth is they all kind of suck. They just don’t have enough flavor. Enter…Better Than Bouillon. It’s a soup base concentrate that I use all the time. I use it to amp up chicken broth, make chicken broth or just add flavor to whatever I’m cooking. It comes in vegetable, beef, chicken, mushroom, roasted garlic (it’s good) and low salt. I never let myself run out of this stuff.

My list of cool secret stuff goes on and on but I’ll save some for next time.

If you use any of these, tell me about it in the comment section. I’d really like to hear about some of your favorite things too! Write me.