3 Trivial Products That Are Making My Life Better This Year

August 23, 2016

Last year, I had something of an epiphany: if there were little things about my life that was consistently annoying me, I could probably fix it.

For the record, I am terrible at this kind of thing. I hate spending money on little things, and I tend to have a high tolerance for inconvenience, so I can go a long time without dealing with little issues.

For example, Bart’s car came with two clickers (you know, the little fobs that let you remotely lock or unlock your door, plus, best of all, a red button that draws your toddler’s attention like a homing beacon so that you’re quietly preparing dinner and then suddenly your car alarm starts blaring out of nowhere).

But that was four years ago, and both of the clickers had died sometime last year.

Since Bart mainly drives that car, it wasn’t a huge deal, but anytime I have to drive that car with the girls, it is an enormous pain (you know, assuming your life is extremely easy and first-worldly) because I have to get all the girls out, then go back around to the driver’s door and lock the whole car.

Anyway, I end up driving his car every month or two for one reason or another, and I always loathe it because of that clicker situation.

Last week, I had to drive his car the entire week because my car’s rear window locked/broke rolled down, and with the August weather in Phoenix, it was absolutely impossible to keep the car even remotely cool when you can’t close the windows and it seemed quite unkind to make Star drive inside a blow dryer for a week. Not to mention the fact that your odds of getting robbed or your car stolen are ten thousand times better when your window is hanging completely open.

Bart said, “Let’s look at clickers and see how much they cost to replace.”

We hopped on Amazon, and do you know how much it cost to buy two replacement fobs? EIGHT DOLLARS.

And do you know how long it took Bart to program them when they arrived? TWO MINUTES.

I’m so glad that I saved that two minutes and eight dollars for the past year and made my life way more inconvenient than it needed to be.

Anyway, all of that is to say that I’m trying to be better about identifying things that are an annoyance to me and solving them quickly and inexpensively if I can.

These three products have done just that for me.

1. Sunless Tanner. I am naturally very fair-skinned, and not only do I not like to sit out in the sun, I also live in fear of skin cancer. Plus, wear jeans basically every day and then when Sunday rolls around and I wear a skirt or dress, my legs are just so white because they NEVER see the sun. This has really annoyed me for several years, but I did exactly nothing about it until just before I went to Mom 2.0 in California this spring, I posted a picture on Instagram in a dress and someone said, “You need some self-tanner, pronto.” Happily, Merrick saw that comment and when I stayed at her house two days later, there was a bottle of her favorite brand on the guest bed waiting for me. I’ve used it all summer and I love it. It’s quick to put on (I can do my whole body in about 5 minutes), non-streaky, and I do it two or three times a week. I’m not trying to look super tan, I just don’t want my glowing white legs to be the focal point anytime I wear a skirt. I ran out of the bottle Merrick gave me a few weeks ago, and just ordered a replacement bottle – I looked around and it’s half the price on Amazon that it is from Ulta.

2. A better blowdryer. When we went to visit Merrick in December, I used her blow dryer and my brain basically exploded over how much faster and better her blow dryer was than mine (considering I bought mine at Wal-mart for $10 five years ago, this shouldn’t have come as a shock, but it did). So when my blow dryer died in the spring, I decided to not buy the cheapest one at Wal-mart. I asked the girl who cuts my hair for a recommendation and she suggested this one, but considering I only blow-dry my hair about once every eight days, I wasn’t ready to fork out $140 for one. I ended up going with the Hot Tools Turbo dryer which was “only” $50 and had killer reviews. And I’ve loved it. It’s so much faster, doesn’t smell like it’s going to explode when I use it, and my hair doesn’t look all frizzy afterward. I love that thing. Also, it makes me happy that it’s purple.

3. A curling wand. Last year, I wrote about making the change to a better shampoo, and a few months later, one of my friends texted and said, “What do you think about that shampoo?” I like it, but I really think the biggest difference for my hair has been switching from a curling iron to a curling wand. Bart bought me one for my birthday last year and I’ve had more good hair days this year than my entire life combined (excepting that glorious stretch where I had this amazing random curling iron in London (which I left there, since it’s not U.S. compatible) combined with the best pregnancy hair of my life). I don’t have an expensive one (it’s only $25), but it works perfectly and I use it on the highest setting, which was 410 degrees.

(Also, I recognize that this all makes me sound like the shallowest person on the face of the planet. So it goes).

And if you have any products you super-duper love, I’d love to hear what they are.

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  • Reply CoolGreenDays August 23, 2016 at 11:38 am

    You sweet thing, you don't sound shallow at all !

  • Reply Karen August 23, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Hmmm…so I am interested in your replacement fobs. Are they separate from the key or just the top part of the key? If they are part of the key, you don't have to replace the whole key? (Amazingly expensive these days!) We have one car key where the top works, but we keep needing to super glue it so that it holds together. Maybe this would be a solution.

    • Reply Janssen August 23, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      They are separate from the key (my car has a key with the clicker embedded, so I know what you're talking about, but the Mazda clicker is its own thing). These are the ones we bought:

  • Reply Jenn August 23, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    How do you apply your sunless tanning lotion? Do you use a glove or do you use your hands and then wash your palms afterwards?

    • Reply Janssen August 23, 2016 at 5:16 pm

      It comes with a mitt (and a pair of surgical gloves). It's actually a spray (the consistency of water), so I don't think it'd even be possible to put it on with your hands.

      You spray it on the mitt and then use the mitt to wipe it over your skin.

  • Reply Jessica August 23, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    I'm an avowed under-buyer too (about most things) but recently went around the house and bought a bunch of little things that we needed but didn't need in the sense that we had successfully lived without them thus far. I'm a little embarrassed by how much satisfaction I've gotten from a new ironing board cover (padding! not faded and ugly!). I realize that this makes me sounds like a 90-year-old hausfrau, but so be it!

  • Reply Katherine August 23, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Ok you finally convinced me to buy a new hairdryer! Mine is literally falling apart and has bothered me for months but I'be been dithering about the exact same obstacles you mentioned. I read this post on my lunch break, left the restaurant immediately, and stopped by Ulta on my way back to work. Done in 10 minutes and now I'm so excited for tomorrow morning!

  • Reply Paige Flamm August 23, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    We'd been debating about buying an entire new knife set for months because ours are cheap, dull, and unimpressive. Instead we bout a $6 knife sharpener from Bed Bath and Beyond, and it was life changing. Like, I actually cut a tomato without almost killing myself.

  • Reply diana August 24, 2016 at 1:29 am

    I completely understand about the key fob! My husband's car didn't even come with one and anytime I end up driving his car with our son it's such a pain, especially if we are running errands and the only key hole is on the driver door (why not on the trunk?!?!). And the cheap internet fobs didn't work for us (we tried multiple, checked batteries, etc.)…but this is convincing me we should just suck it up and go to the dealership to get one. It would make it SO MUCH EASIER. And also, a new hairdryer. I don't dry my hair often (I can put gel in it because it's a little curly) but when I do I use a 20 year old hairdryer…probably not the most efficient but I hate to throw away while it's still working!

  • Reply Monica Packer August 24, 2016 at 3:47 am

    Totally relate to the hair dryer situation. I have been so curious about sunless tanner, but I can't even keep up the habit of painting my toenails, so I'm thinking it will be a fruitless endeavor for me!

  • Reply Nita August 25, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    Oh the hair dryer…totally relate to that, lol. Ours is about 15 years old and I probably paid $15 for it. It sounds like one of those little remote control cars on speed and smells like burning hair. But it works, so I haven't replaced it. Would love love love a nice one with a (gasp) diffuser like the hairdresser uses. But mine still works and my thrifty mind can't get past that. 🙂

  • Reply Jodi August 27, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    Haha. This is totally me. I just deal with things. And Im also an under buyer so I hold off until I fine the best thing, or I'm like nag I really don't need it. Like how my disposal was leaking for a month, and I kept griping about argh we need to get that done. Taylor bought one that moment on amazon and it took 10 minutes to replace. Who knew! Thank goodness that's fixed.

  • Reply Meghan September 15, 2016 at 3:08 am

    i can't believe the things people say on Instagram to you. i'm slowly learning about the clicker type incidents in my life. Matt's much better about spending the money to increase convenience etc.

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