Do more with less with 9 essential tools

This giveaway is now closed. Check back soon for the winner!

Since I’m all about simple living, I’m also all about getting the most out of the things I use in my daily life. To me, living simply isn’t about needlessly suffering without life’s necessities, or as I mentioned earlier, winning some backwards contest over who can get away with the least amount of stuff.

But it does mean being very intentional about what things you allow in your home, and being deliberate about how you spend your time. Living simply asks you to evaluate your choices and make sure they’re congruent with your family’s priorities.

So when I find things in my life that allow me to do more with less, I use them with gusto. I value quality over quantity, which means I’d prefer 10 well-made tools in my arsenal that allow me to manage my home well rather than 100 cheap things that serve only one purpose.

Here are my favorite tools that serve me well, do more than one thing, and are worth their cost. Some are high-tech; others, not so much.

1. Laptop

This first tool might be obvious, but it does so much for me. This workhorse serves as my main portal to the Internet for work, but we also Skype with the grandparents, download and Photoshop family photos, keep records of our family budget, store documents for a bajillion different things, watch TV shows on Hulu and movies on Netflix, and countless other tasks.

On one of our recent semi-monthly dates, Kyle and I plugged in my laptop to our minivan speakers (that’s how we roll as parents, g), went to a city park that had free wifi, and created our own little drive-in theater. Beats spending $20 at the movie theater, in my book.

2. Toaster oven

I hesitated buying a toaster oven when we first moved back to the States because they take up precious kitchen counter space. I’m really glad we have one now, though. They’re great for reheating leftovers (and makes them taste so much better than the microwave does), and besides toasting the obvious, you can also make individual pizzas and quesadillas. We’ve even done hamburgers. This is great for those of us in warmer climates, when heating the full-size oven causes near-heat stroke.

3. Buckets and baskets

We prefer having open-ended toys in our house, and these tend to have loose parts. By “open-ended,” I mean toys that allow the kid to play, instead of entertaining the kid because it plays on its own. We’re not hyper-vigilant about no batteries, but honestly, what’s fun about watching Elmo dance around? Instead, we invest in blocks, cars, wooden train tracks, play food, Tinker toys, dress-up clothes, and dolls.

These all require storage solutions, and buckets fit the bill for us. We got these Trofast buckets for $4 apiece at Ikea, and they also fit beautifully into their Expedit shelving system. Baskets are great, too — thrift stores are a great place to score sweet deals on them.

Baskets and buckets are also perfect for magazines, stuffed animals, art supplies, and keeping a small stash of separate toys in the living room.

4. Printer

Our printer does much more than print. We have the Epson Artisan All-in-One, which not only prints in both color and black and white, but it also scans, photocopies, and faxes (though we don’t use this feature). Plus, it prints photos with a higher quality than our local photo printer, can make lined and graph paper, and can turn any picture into a coloring page. Great for kiddos.

Invest in a quality printer that can handle multiple jobs, and it’ll save you trips out of the house when you need to scan or fax; plus having one machine will save you valuable counter space.

5. Dressers

dresser as buffet
Photo by Nester

I’m inspired by Nester‘s passion for dressers, because as she says, these versatile furniture pieces can hold so much more than clothing. They work beautifully as dining room buffets to hold plates or linens if you’re short on kitchen storage, or if you don’t have storage for towels and toiletries, they can work in the bathroom, too. We currently have a dresser in the living room that serves as our arts & crafts station — it holds drawing and paint supplies, scrap paper, glue, scissors, and the like.

6. Great-fitting jeans

On Facebook last week, I asked those of you who follow Simple Mom to name your favorite brand of jeans. The most mentioned brands were Gap and Levis. These brands aren’t the cheapest, but they’re popular because they fit well.

A great-fitting pair of jeans will carry you from home with the kids and folding laundry to your evening date with the hubby — just change out of your t-shirt and into something eye-catching. Invest in the pair that fit you best, and take good care of them so that they’ll last years.

7. Google Calendar

You can create unlimited calendars within Google Calendar, and I use my account all throughout the day. I have one calendar for our family events, another for our menu plan, and Simple Living Media keeps track of its editorial calendar with a separate calendar for each blog channel (which each writer can see in their own account). Our local church uses Google Calendar, too, so I’ve imported this into my own account as well — this way, we can easily see when it’s our turn to serve in the nursery. And last year, I also had a separate one for our homeschool syllabus.

8. Baking soda and vinegar

I have a box of baking soda in my kitchen pantry, one under the sink, another in the laundry room, and yet another upstairs in the master bath. This is because I use it for cooking, cleaning the house (some of my recipes are in my new book), and cleaning my hair. Baking soda is a gift from God.

Likewise, I have a giant bottle of all-purpose vinegar in the laundry room and smaller bottles in the same places mentioned above. I also use vinegar to cook, clean the house, and clean my hair. This product, too, is a miracle.

9. Smartphone

A smartphone is much more than a phone.  It’s a tool for staying connected on the Internet, for taking and storing photos, for listening to music, for watching movies on the go, for serving as your GPS, and a bajillion other things (some that increase productivity; others, not so much).

What’s that, you say — you don’t have a smartphone yet?  Well, how about you win one, then?

Giveaway time!

Microsoft wants to give one Simple Mom reader one of their brand new Windows Phone 7 smartphones! These things really are hot off of the press…  They were just released this month in the U.S.

Be one of the first to get your hands on one of these phones, and let this tool help you do more with less.  It’s valued at about $500.  So fun!

How to Enter

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post! Easy peasy. You can leave a comment every day from now until the 29th, so long as it’s useful, not spammy, and is about doing more with less.

This giveaway is open until Novemeber 29.  After that, I’ll randomly draw the winner’s name and will be in touch with them about details.  Head here to read the nitty-gritty official rules of the contest.

So, to get you started on entering the contest, here’s today’s post question:  What’s your favorite tool in your life that helps you do more with less?

This giveaway is brought to you by the new Windows Phone 7. Less MIA. More PTA: Learn more about Windows Phone online and see it in person at local T-Mobile stores today.

top photo source
Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. My Blackberry is like having my computer with me at all times! Although internet browsing is minimal, I can check & write email, update Twitter & Facebook and control my calendar among all the typical uses of most phones these days! I would love to have the new Windows Phone!

    • I’ve yet to purchase a smart-phone. It seems it would come in handy when comparing prices while shopping, accessing my calendar, and checking email (especially if you are a freecycler). I may still live in the dark ages with my calendar though. I have a paper weekly planner from Staples that I’ve been using for years. We also have a giant wall calendar above our computer desk so I can keep my family aware of all our appointments, etc… Perhaps a smart phone would be a lot more simple (and would definitely make more room in my purse!) than a 5 x 8 paper planner.

  2. My favorite tool that helps me do more with less is almost a smart phone – it’s my iPod touch. It wakes me up in the morning (alarm and my email), keeps me updated throughout the day (twitter and facebook), entertains me in the afternoons while I’m waiting for my kids to finish a lesson or a meeting (games games games!), and helps me fall asleep at night (a game of sudoku just before bed). The only thing it doesn’t do is let me make phone calls. It’d be great to win this giveaway! 🙂

  3. Definitely my laptop. If I were more tech-savvy, I’d utilize it even more than I already do. For low-tech things, I use a melon baller all the time. It’s good for balling melon, of course, but also for coring apples and pears and other fruits, and it’s safe enough that I can let my four-year-old help. I can’t believe how much I use it.

  4. My laptop – for sure!

  5. What’s your favorite tool in your life that helps you do more with less?
    I have to say my poultry shears or as I call them… my Chicken Scissors 🙂
    Not only great for cutting other meats, also good for cutting kids meals down to size for them, cutting string, new packages, opening the mail, sauce packets, paper for the budding artist, on and on … My Chicken Scissors are RED … we can “always” find them 🙂

  6. I have to agree, it’s my laptop. After my husband and child, it’s what I would grab next if there was ever a fire! Although, I am beginning to appreciate the versatility of my food processor…but I’d leave that if the house was burning down.

  7. Can I say my husband? We do a lot more as a team and with way less stuff. : ) But besides that, yeah, our laptop.

  8. Okay, so I was doing the mental checklist on your list- – and came to baking soda & vinegar, and thought… hmm… I could definitely start using that more in my life- then I got to the phone giveaway… that was totally unexpected! lol. But, hey, I may as well enter the contest, because I just recently upgraded to a cell phone that has a texting keyboard, and it sure has saved a lot of time… but I’m imagining one of these phones just might be even better at doing more with less time. 🙂

  9. My laptop is definitely indispensable and has become the place I not only do work (part-time from home) but also photo organizing, recipe organizing, music organizing, etc. … However, I admit to being practically a Luddite with my cell phone that only makes phone calls. I would love to make the digital leap into the future! 🙂 Thank you for the fabulous giveaway!

  10. My list would include all of yours except the toaster oven & dressers. 🙂 We use our panini/grill/griddle for quick meals (everything from pancakes to hamburgers to grilled cheese or quesadillas.) As far as the dressers…. maybe I need to rethink them. 🙂

    Smartphone giveaway…. A.W.E.SO.M.E. 🙂

  11. My favorite tool isn’t an object… it’s the internet. I cannot live without it! I am a SAHM so I consider part of my ‘job’ to be making my husband’s paycheck stretch as far as I can. I use the internet to find so many deals and savings that otherwise would take me forever to figure out on my own. And that’s just ONE of the many uses I have for it.

    Have to add too… what an awesome giveaway! I would have a hard time deciding if I should keep it or give it to my hubby for Christmas. (Because you know he’d be super jealous if I had one and he didn’t, LOL!)

  12. Oh and random question for you. (Hopefully you’ll see this mixed with all of the other comments!) Do you have a button for your blog? I would really love to add it to my blog since you are one of my favorites. 🙂

  13. Totally agree with the Google calendar, I have ditched most of my other calendars and planners and such. Dinner menus, mom & Z plans, work stuff, social events, girl scout events…love it! I would have to say that my most useful tool is my phone. I have a HTC Hero currently, and it manages my life! My calendar is on there, notebook, friends, music, etc. I am interested in what the windows phone has to offer, I am going to go check it out now!!

  14. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing. I have to check out the calendar too. I love my blackberry calendar with the reminders but a central calendar would be great for the whole family to use.

  15. Wow, what a useful post! This one is certainly a saver.

  16. I am also a BIG fan of dressers. Back in the US we lived in a turn-of-the-century home that had precious little storage space, so we had a dresser in our upstairs bathroom. It held towels, toiletries, and anything else we need to keep out of sight.

    We now live in Berlin, Germany, and live in a much smaller space than we lived in before. To keep things neat and clutter at bay, we have a large, four-drawer Ikea dresser in our entryway. In this we keep hats, gloves, and other odds and ends in the top two drawers.

    The other drawers hold our seven-year-old daughter’s clothes. She shares a room with her two younger brothers and stashing her clothes in this dresser helps keep her from waking them up in the morning while she gets ready for school.

    So yes – in love with dressers and am considering adding one to our dining room soon as well.

    • Yes, I think they’re especially popular outside the U.S., where built-in closets aren’t the norm. When we lived overseas we had ONE closet for the entire family, so we had either dressers or wardrobes in every room. Life saver.

  17. Holy Cow, a Smart Phone. This is something that I could totally use but can’t bring myself to spend the money on. Nice!

  18. About two months ago we cut the Blackberry out of our budget and went back to regular cell phones. I keep telling myself that I feel free without it, but really? The minute our financial situation turns around, I’d like to reactivate my storm. 🙂

  19. My favorite tool would have to be my laptop. I do so much with it. I would love a smartphone! My phone functions as a phone but that’s it. I would love some organizational capabilities on the go.

  20. I love the Google calendar!

    • I have a google account and noticed many sites (including my son’s cub scouts site) let’s you add right to the calendar. Maybe it’s time to check it out and take it for a spin.

  21. I L-O-V-E my laptop! Ditto on baking soda! It is truly the most amazing and diverse agent.
    I upgraded my cell phone and can’t stand it! It is a different brand and has almost non of the features of my previous phone. (It would be wonderful to win this great phone.)

  22. I’m reading this at 3:30 am on my nokia e71… Need I say more?

  23. Cast iron pans. You can start on the stove and end in the oven. They are also nonstick when well seasoned. I love my cast iron pans.

  24. Erin L Thiele says:

    My iPhone. Not that I need to win the contest, but wanted to post for new moms ( I have a 10 week old daughter). An app called Baby Connect tracks everything for baby. All in one place. When mommy brain and lack of sleep collide, this is a lifesaver.

    • What type of things does Baby Connect keep track of? I tried to check out their website but received a server error. Our newest little guy is 12 weeks and that may be something worth checking into.

  25. My computer. It’s great for devotions, organizing, recipes, and just a little down time once in awhile!

  26. Hmmm… its hard to name just one.

    I too thought Kitchen Shears. They are great for so many things.

    The Internet… I live in a small town so on-line shopping is great but also staying in contact with friends, getting information,

    Daily Docket… I love this thing. When I use it, I get 100% more done!

  27. I have to say the google calendar is a godsend. Hubby and I both have smartphones that sync with it, so I no longer have to tell him four times a day what all is going on that day. When the kids are old enough, we’ll be able to sync them up to it as well.

  28. We recently purchased a vitamix. It has saved so much time in the kitchen for me.

  29. Some times I hate it, but I’d have to say my computer. It holds recipes for me, keeps me in touch w/ my family, friends and fellow church folk, provides info. for homeschooling both for me and my kiddos and so much more.

  30. For me it’s my clipboard. I can keep all my list (to do, shopping, ect…) in one place. I also include any info that I currently need such as pattern info, sales flyers, and the school calender. It helps me a great deals since everything is together but it’s not big, bulky, and heavy.

  31. I would have to say my computer. I would love a laptop or a smart phone so I could do more on the go, or access the internet whenever I need to.

  32. I really love using your daily docket. That thing is amazing!

  33. Sturdy wooden tv trays!! We have a simple set of four and they are SO portable and therefore useful in every room in the house! Not only can you eat supper in front of the latest episode of Big Bang Theory, but they also make instant game tables, craft tables, jigsaw puzzle tables, temporary organizing space, Christmas Card writing surfaces, etc. etc.

  34. My laptop….so easy to access recipes, help kids with school work, store and edit photos and other important info.

  35. Favorite high tech: My laptop, naturally. I write, keep in touch with friends, keep track of EVERYTHING. My life is all stored in it. First runner up: Netflix. We have it hooked to our Wii so we can access tons of movies instantly.

    Favorite low tech: Kitchen shears (sorry to be so unoriginal.) First runner up: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Why does it work so well? No idea but it does.

  36. My laptop…. great for finding recipes, helping kids with homework, staying in touch with family, storing and editing photos and other important documents.

  37. We have a lot of open ended toys in our house as well. I am a big fan of letting my children do the “play/work”. I believe that is how they learn best!

  38. My Daily Docket!!! (Thanks Tsh!!!)

    Honestly, it’s a piece of paper but it sure does make me feel like I have a little control in this chaotic life!

    I stopped using it for a while and can’t figure out why? I feel so much better when I’m using it!

  39. My kitchen shears are my favorite tool. I rarely every cut chicken with them but they are useful for everything else- like cutting quesadillas and pizza into toddler sized pieces etc…
    If I won a smartphone I’m sure my answer would be totally different than kitchen shears!

  40. My computer and the internet definitely helps me to do more with less.

  41. Thanks so much for the great post! I am making a conscious effort to have a more simplified life. I am always looking for ways to do that better.

    Becky <

  42. I’m with you- vinegar and baking soda are my two most valuable resources. I use them in the shower, for all my cleaning, and for deodorizing (three boys can make for some stinky situations!). “Gift from God” sums it up perfectly!

  43. MangoTreeMama says:

    Hmm, I’m learning my way around Google calendar, I’m guessing it will make it’s way onto my list in the future. For now, the 2 things that come to mind that are multifunctional/don’t-want-to-be-without are my baby wrap (home-made moby style), and Evernote! The list of things I use Evernote for keeps getting longer, and with 6 of my children being under 7, it’s been a long time since I’ve been sans baby wrap!

  44. My favorite all-purpose tool is my kitchen scissors. I use them for everything!

  45. Really?! What an awesome give away. My favorite tool is my food processor, I use it for so many things and it makes things go so much quicker too!

  46. corinne hilton says:

    I appreciate your top 10! One of my favorites is my tall blue cup that follows me around my house full of water each day. I’ve had it for years and it keeps my hydrated and happy! I wouldn’t mind if a smart phone followed me around all day too. 🙂

  47. I don’t currently have a cell phone but with one in school this year I have been thinking of getting one. I do have an electronic organizer that goes with me everywhere. It is my phone book, calendar and memo pad. I added programs to it to play music and podcasts and read ebooks. It even has a suite of simple kids games for those appointment waits that run long.

  48. definitely my macbook! i love it and use it all throughout the day for all kinds of things! i love your idea about using a dresser for a buffet, though – i have small children and having things hidden away would be great. i’m going to keep my eye out for a cool one!

  49. My laptop is a big one. My husband just got a Droid, so we’re linking up calendars on Google Calendar, and that seems to be working.

    A lot of people have said kitchen shears, but I wanted to just say a good knife is worth its weight in gold. We use baking soda and vinegar a lot for cleaning – I wouldn’t have thought of that, but it’s true that they definitely make my life more simple.

  50. Becki Hone says:

    I don’t know what I’d do without paper towels. I love them!

  51. wow, Tsh, you really did have a GOOD one up your sleeve!!!!! I’m super impressed and am so excited about a possible chance to win one!

    By the way, I am about half way through your book, and might I just add that I am already a changed Mama!

    Thanks, Kate

  52. My family jokes about me being addicted to my laptop but it truly does help me get more done with less! I pay bills, buy gifts, keep in touch with others, watch TV, plan meals, find deals and many other things on my computer.

  53. Elizabeth S says:

    Great ideas/comments – and thanks for the opportunity to win a Microsoft Smartphone!

  54. probably a silly answer, but my favorite all time tool for doing more with less is my old fashioned paper and pencil notebook. I get these for free often or just dirt cheap and use them for everything. a spare one in the car makes a wait at the dr.’s or out to dinner fun for kids, lists galore fill them up to help me stay organized, journaling by hand is fun and theraputic, writing little notes to my kids brings them a smile……

  55. LAPTOP!!! and wireless internet 🙂

  56. My first thought is my laptop… I use it to pay bills, do research, blog, talk to my daughter’s and friends, shop…
    It let’s me do more in less time than running all around. The only problem is, I probably spend more time on it 😉

  57. The ope tool I can’t get the day without I would have to say is my cell phone. But it would be even better if I could have a SMART phone. Then I could even get some work done with my job when I am away from the house.

    So sign me up !! And thanks for doing this !

  58. This probably sounds lame, but my vacuum cleaner. I love to vacuum. I don’t “clean” sometimes….I just run the vacuum and put the brush attachment on and “dust” with it and everything looks great…oh and no shoes in the house helps me do more with less.

  59. My Crockpot !!! I love it, I can throw in the makings for a soup, stew or any type of meat we may feel like eating that night. Turn it on low and walk away, I get to spend the day with my kids, doing whatever we have planned then when it’s dinner time, it’s ready to go. No worry, no fuss, no hassle. 🙂

  60. My smartphone is my #1–it is my second brain. Altough we recently bought a giant expedit shelving unit for my son’s room (and some Closetmaid bins from Target to fit inside), and it has improved the organization of his toys 100%.

  61. My favorite “tool” is my freezer. It makes my life so much simpler. I take a few minutes, and make homemade pancakes or waffles or french toast (sometimes all three!). Then, I let them cool and freeze them, two at a time, in freezer bags. In the morning, when I’m getting the kids ready for school, I can pull out their breakfast choices and stick them in the toaster. I scramble a few eggs and voila!, full breakfast in 5 minutes! It’s my morning lifesaver. Also, you can freeze pb&J for a quick lunch for the kids.

  62. I LOVE the drive-in theater in the minivan 🙂

  63. Karyn Hostetter says:

    My favorite tool is my daily planner–necessary for each day. I can get more done if I list it out daily.

  64. Definitely the Google calendar, which I learned to use from reading your website. So thanks!

  65. I use my KitchenAid stand mixer several times per week to make bread. It has been months since I last bought sandwich bread from the grocery store.

    The toaster oven gets used by not only me but by my two older children who like to make english muffin pizzas and such.

    Thanks for the opportunity to win a Smartphone. My cell phone has a camera in it. This was a substantial upgrade for me when I had to replace my old one, (it accidentally got run over and pulverized by a lawn mower), a year ago. I can only imagine the usefulness that I’d experience/appreciate from a really advanced tool.

  66. One of my most useful items is my chef’s knife. I paid a lot for it, but it works for everything and makes dinner prep so much easier.

  67. Google Calendar is the one tool that makes my life easier. I can connect to it from almost anywhere. I especially like how you can share your calendar with others. My mother is not very techy but she does use Google Calendar quite a bit because of me. If I need her to watch the kids I just add an asterisk to the event on the calendar. Since she checks her calendar daily, she just shoots me an email letting me know if she can watch the kids or not. We do spend a lot of time together but the calendar helps deal with the minor things I don’t want to deal with when we are all spending ‘quality’ time together.

    That’s just one example but the there is so much more Google Calendar has to offer.

  68. What a fabulous give-away!

    The tool that helps me do more with less is our computer. I store photos, music, and market my business. I can research for my business as well as keep in contact with clients.

    My husband, a professor, has spent countless hours on the computer for his job as well. He communicates to students via community black boards and logs grades for all his classes as well as composing lectures and exams.

  69. I would have to say my freezer. It allows me to buy meat, as well as other items, in bulk when on sale and freeze it in portions, saving me money major money on my grocery bill.

  70. LOVE the tools, and I’d absolutely LOVE the phone!!!

  71. um, in all honestly, it’s probably my coffeemaker! without it I woudn’t get ANYTHING done around the house!! 🙂

    but i do love a laptop and my toaster oven. I use the toaster oven for all sorts of things besides toasting. I use it instead of a microwave to reheat leftovers, melt butter, and cook small things.

  72. I’m going to have to re-look at our kitchen shears – apparently they’re under-utilized and if they do what they’re supposed to, could make some of our meals much easier to prepare.

    As for the WP7 device – I bought one on launch day and it’s pretty cool. Of course, I’m a smartphone user to begin with, but don’t start thinking of MS’ prior phones when you think of this one – it’s completely different. The minimum specs mean the device just feels better to use. The soft-keyboard works really well. Developers have a pretty good number and variety of apps available. MS even has its first enhancement/service pack set for January – finally no more waiting to see if the carrier will give us an upgrade or not. And don’t forget that this integrates well with the Zune Pass – if you’re a subscriber, you have pretty much instant music to download to your device on the go. That’s pretty cool!

  73. mmmh, favourite tool… probably my sewing machine. I make clothes, have made nappies, a sling, notecards, presents… but the one i use the most is surely our computer… keeps me connected, sane, organized, informed… would be wonderful to have a carry with me option, in the shape of a smartphone…;)

  74. I have a notebook that I carry that helps me get more done with less. Anytime I think of something I need to do, I write it down in the notebook. I cross it off when it’s completed. It is essential for me that I don’t have all of my to-dos swimming around in my head. I’m sure a Smartphone could serve the same purpose, however …

  75. My favorite tool? Plain old washcloths in the kitchen. We clean dishes, spills, kids, you name it!

  76. This is tough btween laptop and phone. I guess it’s phone. I don’t have a smartphone but I use my phone for so much. First it really helps me keep in touch with my children, especially the one away at college. He prefers texting most days and it allows me to keep in touch with what is going on in his life without being to over bearing. Also it it there when I need it to take memory pics when I don’t have a regular camera on hand and wouldn’t want to miss a spontaneous moment. I also use the alarm, calculator and memos.

  77. Wow – great post and great comments! Yes – kitchen shears, vinegar and laptop.

    But as a family fitness maven, I think my biggest multi-tasking tool is my camelback (water bottle sack in a backpack). When the kids were little it was my hands-free hydration source. It never got knocked off the balance beam or bench, never got forgotten, dirty or was left out of reach like regular water bottles. But I could also stick in a diaper, some snacks and all the essentials. Right at my back without getting in my way.

    As the kids got bigger it was perfect for a starter backpack on hikes. Just the right size for little ambitious hikers.

    And I still use it now as we go on family bike rides and hikes since it still has tremendous capacity and is easy to take along.

    You can get BPA-free water bags that fit inside now as well!

    BTW, total luddite when it comes to phones. My husband and I share a cell phone since it’s rare that we’re both on the go – and there are always payphones. But we’re ready to get moving on bigger adventures with the kids so the phone would be great!

  78. I’d have to say one of my favorite tools are shower curtain rings. I’ve found so many uses for them. I use them to hang baby toys from the toy bar of the bouncy seat when we loose the originals. I use them to keep hair elastics together and organized. And bracelets/necklaces too. Keeps things from getting tangled. There very inexpensive and have so many uses. 🙂

  79. Hi! I discovered your blog about a week ago and bought your book last week. As a homeschooling mom to four boys (5 months to 10 years), I appreciate all the advice and encouragement to take control of our house and life!

  80. Right now I’d have to say it’s my planner. I have 1 girl in school, 1 in daycare, my husband is an over the road truck driver, and I’m in school myself at the moment. There is a lot of running around going on in our house, and I need to SEE what I need to do next at all times. Right now I just have a netbook, but I need a more functional laptop for my program at school starting in January, so I’m getting one very soon. A smartphone would help out a lot!

  81. OOOH I almost forgot. My Dymo labeler!!! I guess I’m a labeling freak but it helps keep everything organized from pantry items to the kids toys.

  82. I would have to say one of my favorite tools is my cast iron skillets. I love cooking with them and feel like I am cooking in something alot healthier than aluminum pans. Also my chefs knife. I could not cook without it.

  83. Kirsten Dehmlow says:

    My laptop – but it can also be a time waster if I am not careful! I have stated using Google cal. but have not mastered it yet.

  84. My good old fashioned day planner…it keeps me organized and reminds me where I need to be and when. With 4 kids it keeps me on top of things.

  85. My Palm Z22 — I call it my external brain. It helps me remember things! I have to admit, though, that I am always searching for the perfect gadget or plan or idea that will bring my life together in lasting peace and harmony. Probably NOT gonna happen! but I can’t stop searching.

  86. I think it would be our family whiteboard! I’m a full-time graduate student and my husband a first time stay-at-home dad. We use it to help us to organize our days, keep running lists of things to communicate throughout the day, and give gentle reminders of things-to-do or not to forget. =)

  87. My MAC is my favorite tool. I email on it, do research, find directions, Facebook, get recipes, encouragement and advice on great sites like YOURS! Thank You.

  88. My Ipod Touch is probably my favorite tool – – my music, calendar, email, facebook and twitter, and “white noise” application for when I have to sleep with my entire family in one hotel room 🙂

  89. My laptop!

  90. hi-tech love: digital picture frame (with built in digital clock), my entire family watches it everyday commenting about the time we….. and the built in clock is one less thing to have setting out to dust :).

    low-tech love: my portable digital timer. it has a clip on it so i can attach it to my clothes if i’m on the move (ie: going outside with kids while baking or soaking something in the washer, dyeing my hair SHHHHH!, or a 10 minuet family cleaning frenzy). oh it’s also magnetic, so i can store it on the fridge, stove, or dishwasher!)

    i’d love to win the smartphone… i bet it has a built-in timer app and then i can simplify even more :).

  91. I’d say my desktop (not my laptop) since that’s where I organize our finances, photos, write my blog etc. My husband just got a Smart Phone a few weeks ago and we all use the different apps available.


  92. I would agree on the laptop. My husband just bought me a Sony Vaio with Windows 7 and I love, love, love it. I also think a dishwasher adds to my simplifying my life. I’ve had one for years and when I hear that one of my friends doesn’t have one, I’m astonished. I have four boys and could not imagine not having one. I wouldn’t mind a commercial one that did dishes in minutes! A good bed and a nice retreat is another important one. A good safety first, dependable automobile. =)

  93. I agree with all the ones you posted. I am a basket fanatic and the toaster oven is used at least once a day!

    I would add crockpot to the list!

  94. Courtney Milam says:

    Love the Google calendars, idea! Had no idea google had this feature!

  95. I would say my laptop. It is great for so many things, finding recipes, reading great blogs (like this one!), digital scrapbooking, e-mailing, calendars, and so much more. Since recently my kids got apple juice on my blackberry and it is on the fritz, I would be thrilled with a smart phone!

  96. I would have to say in the kitchen it would be one good knife, you don’t need several different ones. Get one good one and your good to go for everything!

  97. My favorite multitasker in the kitchen is my trusty food processor. When we got married 11 years ago, this was one of the pricier items we registered for. But it is probably the most used item of all those wedding gifts, and I use it for making pizza dough, chopping veggies or chicken for salads, grating cheese and veggies for baking, and making hummus. It makes prepping dinner easier on most days!

  98. I also had no idea that Google had a calendar feature, but now I’m going to check it out for sure. One thing that I love to have in my house is a good pair of kitchen shears — I’m sure that some of the things I use them for (opening packages of meat, etc) are not the best for my shears, but I find myself reaching for them on a daily basis and wishing I had more than one pair.

  99. Like someone said, my essential tool is the internet. I use it to purchase things, to look up information, to plan our holiday season, to find directions, nutrition and allergen information, games and crafts for the kiddos, the possibilities are endless!

  100. Lark Terry says:

    My laptop is probably my most used tool because I do all of my studying for school online, I also skype with my parents (who are missionaries in Africa), look up recipes and do my banking, and the list goes on. I also love my Iphone…not only do I love all the features it offers, I am also able to download apps for my toddler (who is about as Iphone-savvy as I am) and can play educating games with him. When it’s time to go over the alphabet, we can use the little flashcards provided on my Iphone or do the “shapes” game. When driving long distances, he is able to play with it and stay occupied for a bit. I love it!!!