Usually I go through yet another list of life hacks with a bit of skepticism, because I am generally too lazy, for example, to make my own mix of baking soda, lemon and whatever else is required to get a simple cleaning product I can just buy. I don’t see the point of adding yet another difficulty level when I can use good professional stuff to solve the issue for me. Thus, the household cleaning hacks that ended up in my list are those that offer the truly easiest solution to the problem, not yet another alternative option. So here we go – 20 household cleaning hacks I found useful: Continue reading My favorite household cleaning hacks
Did you know that statistically at least 1/4 of all apps downloaded are opened only once and then never used again? I can totally relate to that. A whole bunch of apps has a catchy description, nice layout and if on top of that they are free you think “why not?” and press the “get” button… only to delete it shortly after, or just let it hang in your smartphone if space allows.
Today I would like to share some of the free apps that I actually not only downloaded but also use on a regular basis. Continue reading My favorite free apps: Stuff I actually use almost daily
I started talking about market segmentation in one of my previous posts (that the mid-segment is disappearing, but the lower segment and upper segment are simultaneously on the rise – see here for more). However, even if you are a household that is searching ways to save money there are numerous possibilities how you can get premium quality items. First, Continue reading Pre-owned and pre-loved: Simple ways to afford premium quality items
There is not that much stuff that is really “essential for survival”, however there are certain things that make life easier. This type of stuff is what I like. So, here we go – a list of my favorite things (in the order of remembering, not in the order of significance):
- Robotic lawn mower – if your terrain is relatively big this is simply a life-saver! I cannot even imagine how many weekends were saved by this machine. It just does what it has to do and you get a perfect lawn, so you can get yourself a glass of wine and admire your picture-worthy backyard (or front-yard, or both). Ours is Robomow RS630. Of course, this thing is not cheap, but it is worth every penny.
- Nespresso Aeroccino – I like to have a strong espresso in the morning, but my second cup is usually a latte. How I used to make it was just putting in the respective capsule in my Dolce Gusto machine. The problem was – this way I got only 8 cups of coffee per box of capsules (instead of 16 which I get with a box of espresso capsules), making it pricey. Also, it limited the choice of milk – if I felt more like skimmed or wanted to use for instance almond milk – bad luck! Obviously if you have an espresso-maker with a milk frothing function, you don’t need any additional devices. However, if you brew your coffee in a french press, or use any other device (Aeropress, siphon, percolator, Dolce Gusto machine…), for a perfect latte Aeroccino is a very good choice.
- Silicone mat and rolling pin – mine are from Lekue – I am their devoted fan. If you have ever tried to roll dough with a traditional rolling pin you know what I mean. Yes, it also works, but be honest how many times you were scraping the dough from the rolling pin (or from the table) and swearing like hell? Even if you weren’t, trust me with a silicone mat and rolling pin it is just easier. Full-stop.
- Stand-mixer – if you bake on a regular basis this is a must, otherwise you can do without. My stand-mixer serves also as “a classic kitchen design element” because it is a KitchenAid Artisan. I do bake, so I use it intensively. Also, its flat-beater makes perfect mashed potato!
- Steam-mop – at first I was skeptical if it will clean the floor thoroughly. However, after I cleaned it with our steam-mop, I wiped the previously dirty floor with a clean paper tissue and was positively surprised to find it absolutely clean. The only problem I have with my model is that the cable is not long enough… Otherwise, my Black+Decker is a perfect cleaning companion.
- Oven and cooking surface with integrated timer and automatic switch off – this is simply genius! If I hadn’t had it, I would have surely burnt a lot of pots… And would have bought a couple of stand-alone timers in the end. 🙂 I still remember that once I put water to boil in a kettle and forgot about it, to come to my kitchen and find the kettle glaring red in the darkness. Scary! It was by pure luck that a fire didn’t start! So I am now sooo happy with my Neff oven and induction hob with integrated timer and switch off function – you just set for how long it needs to cook and then it just switches off and informs you about it with a loud beep. Amazingly convenient!
- SodaStream – I simply love this device. It allows you to make sparkling water with a taste of your liking from just usual tap water. Normally I have about 6 to 8 different syrups to choose from: from unusual limited edition stuff like “raspberry, lychee, rose” to traditional cola or orange (~Fanta) or lime (~Sprite).
- Gym Ball (big one – 90 cm / 35.4 in) – I used it when at one point in time my son was being difficult at falling asleep and required some gentle shaking (it is much easier to do it while sitting on a gym ball). I use it for doing exercises at home. And finally, I just use it instead of a chair at the dining table already for two years. I personally find it very convenient for my back to sit on it and then again – if while sitting I move my fine ass a bit, my conscience becomes clear that I already did at least some exercises today (giggle).
- Tempur bed with Tempur mattress – We spend at least a quarter of our life in bed, so the investment in making this time better makes a lot of sense. For many years I was waking up in the morning and feeling discomfort in every part of my body, before I discovered this bed and mattress. The material used in the mattress was developed by NASA scientists and is temperature-sensitive and able to evenly distribute body weight. Tempur offers better sleep than inner springs, air, and “memory foam” – tried them all. This beauty sadly comes with a price tag, but my back says “thank you” for it every single morning!
- Kindle Paperwhite – for long I was refusing to read from electronic devices, because I wanted to have the real feel of a book. However, with moving to another country I gave it a try and never regretted! Kindle Paperwhite gives you the feel that you are reading from a paper. Even in the bright sunlight there is no glare and no reflection whatsoever. Additionally, eBooks are much cheaper than paper books (which also require to be delivered, hence add delivery costs) and don’t require space on your shelf.
Other items I have around the house are nice-to-have ones or just nice ones, but not even close to being essential. Frankly, also the above items are not essential, but for me they are still pretty close to being such.
What are your favorite items around household that simplify your life? I would love to know, as maybe I am missing something spectacular!
Coming home from vacations can be tough. Coming home from vacations with kids? Well, raise to the power of your liking. This is of course not about a short trip or a day-out, it is more the issue for coming back from at least a 7 to 10 day vacation or longer. I am not going to be talking about dealing with that psychological phenomena that you might feel down or depressed when you come home; I just want to touch upon purely practical issues and share some of my tips on how to get back to “real life” as smoothly as possible.
- If you are flying and you happen to have a choice, pick an early flight back. The day of departure is anyway a lost day in a sense, so if you can just get home in the morning and still have some time for a smooth transition to your everyday life and for adjusting back kid’s schedules, use that! In general try to have at least a day to breathe out before jumping back to work, school and all the everyday chores. If you are able to schedule your vacation so that you have a weekend at home that’s even better. During your vacations you tend to loosen up daily schedules, you tend to have somewhat different eating habits and in general vacation time is obviously not the same as your daily routine. Additionally travel itself from point A to point B tends to be tiresome, especially for the little ones. Thus, if you arrive on Sunday and on the next day your kids need to go to school that will be very harsh on them! That will also be very harsh on you. So if you have a chance – take it easy and factor in the “adjustment time”. Small note on a daily schedule: on the day of arrival try to get kids to sleep at the usual hour and also get them up at the usual hour the next day – even if the next day is Sunday. Yes, 7 a.m. on Sunday might sound counter-intuitive, but trust me that would make the following Monday much easier.
- If you have that possibility do the laundry on the pre-last day of your vacation to arrive back with clean clothes instead of two-three full machines work. Big-big “but” here – only in case it is not too much of a hassle, as it is not the idea to actually ruin one of your vacation days! For us this time we just came back from our vacation at my mom’s, so doing the laundry for us was totally not a problem. Also if you were on vacation in a country where laundry service doesn’t cost the same as renting a limo you might consider using that. But to be honest the beauty of having laundry already done is worth even some extra bucks.
- Try sorting your clothes in your luggage in a way that it is possible to immediately take them out and put them in your closet. To be able to do that you need 1) to sort them at least per person (use plastic or paper bags; or just “divide the luggage in necessary amount of parts and assign a part for each of the travelers) and 2) to fold them in the same way you usually fold your clothes to put in your closet at home. What I mean by the latter is that if you for example usually fold your t-shirts flat to put them in the closet there is no point of rolling them to put them in your luggage, as you will get yourself an additional work when you come home.
- If this option is available to you – order your groceries online in advance, as your fridge is probably empty, isn’t it? What we usually do is order everything to be ready for a pick up on the day of our arrival. All we need then is just to quickly pass the supermarket and pick the boxes assembled for us. If that would not be possible we would need to physically go to the supermarket and lose at least an hour. If that can be avoided – by all means avoid it!
- Unless you have been away for just couple of days the amount of dust everywhere will be surprising in a bad sense of the word. You will have some time for a thorough cleaning later on, but upon arrival try quickly going over some common surfaces like a table, night stand, TV with a wet cloth (or a cleaning tissue). Same for the floor – “Swiffer” or analogues works perfect as a quick so-to-say “in-between cleaning” solution. You can of course skip this point if sounds irrelevant for you, but I personally prefer to have it relatively clean around at all times, and that way according to me is also a nice “take-it-easy transition to reality”.
As you have probably noticed I have a lot of “ifs” in my suggestions. Obviously. Some of the options will not be available for everyone (like a possibility to order groceries online, or an option to choose the morning flight), thus you have to see for yourself. The main point I want to make is – just have it at the back of your head that there are various ways how you can simplify your life upon arrival back home if you just do some homework in advance.
P.S. Some additional alarms on the first workday after vacations might also be a nice-to-have – like an alarm to remind you that you need to pick up your toddler from school! 🙂