(Please note, these are all just my opinions. I don't profit from any of them, and was in no way compensated for these happy remarks, except by the convenience or satisfaction they bring me when I use them.)
The Sourdough Cookbook I've tried sourdough at least four times in the past, but I've never been able to master it. The starter didn't work, it turned moldy, the bread didn't turn out well or the process outlined in the books were for artisan breads that took multiple days to make and I just couldn't hack it. On a not-very-hopeful whim, I picked up The Sourdough Cookbook from my library. It was written in the 70's by a lady who looks like she was channeling the Betty Crocker of her era, but wow is it amazing! The starter was simple, took right away and works like a charm! The recipes are easy, widely varied and flexible. The bread turns out delectably, and I can't wait to try the sweet rolls, cookies and waffles too! If you've been eying the health benefits of sourdough but have struggled for success like I did, snag yourself a copy of this and enjoy!
Watermelon Frosty I am not a huge fan of watermelon, and only eat bananas if they're baked into something. But when I got a giant watermelon from the CSA, I figured I'd have to get creative to use it all up before it went bad. I'm still not sure how an entirely healthy treat, made almost entirely out of two ingredients I'm not thrilled with ends up being so awesome, but I've decided not to worry about it. Try it. I bet you'll love it too!
Redken Smooth Down Shampoo & Conditioner I love having long hair, but it has a tendency to frizz in any kind of humidity which drives me nuts! (We get a lot of humidity around here.) I finally got up my nerve to ask my hair-stylist neighbor if he could recommend anything and he was happy to toss me some samples of this fabulous stuff! I've never been one to spend lots of money on hair products, and this isn't cheap, but it's SO worth it! Combined with Paul Mitchell's Super Skinny Relaxing Balm it keeps my hair soft, non-frizzy and completely free of the gunky, sticky, un-touchable mess that it can quickly become if I try to use hairspray or gel. The sheer amount of stress reduction involved in not having to worry about or fuss with my hair throughout the day is fantastic! (Hint: if you know a stylist, ask if they'd be willing to barter with you for good hair products! They can buy this stuff for half what it costs the rest of us, and many would be glad to swap some out for whatever you have access to. Yeah for tax-free bartering!) :0)
Pinterest Yes, I admit that if you struggle with managing your online time you probably want to stay far away from Pinterest. But if, like me, you find your web browser bookmarks spilling over into double pages and making it a struggle to find the recipe, museum exhibit idea or the link for that shirt you wanted to buy every time you hop on this could be the perfect solution! It's essentially an online corkboard that allows you to grab a picture from any website, caption it, and “tack” it to a themed board of your choice without interrupting anything else you're doing. (I have boards for the museum, food, clothes, holiday gifts ideas, etc.) When you want to find something again, you pull up the board and all your photos are there, making it easy to scroll through and snag the one you want. Click on it, and it auto-opens to the original link! You can also send “pins” to people or see what other people are pinning. It has seriously cleaned up my browser and saved me a bunch of time.
Pottery Barn Color Palette Okay, so this hasn't actually made my own life easier but it's such an awesome idea I had to include it anyway. Benjamin Moore puts out a paint palette (on display at my local hardware store) with all the current Pottery Barn colors! I would be one of those people that marketers hate; I refuse to spend $500 on PB decor when I can recreate the look for a lot cheaper with similar pieces from The Christmas Tree Store. If you are the same way, check your local store for this display. It's a great resource to have, especially if you're looking to recreate a color scheme with accessories – grab a few paint chips, tuck them in your purse and take them shopping with you! It's the best way I've found to ensure that all your pieces from various places match and you end up with the same coordinated look as if you shelled out oodles of money at PB or its equivalent.
Hope some of these make your life easier the way they have mine!