my ‘right stuff’ for living

living productsSORRY, NO PRADA SHOES or bling on this list to catch anybody’s eye. My must-have’s for living these days are more service-oriented than flashy, each performing regular duty to make life work better. Like the just-right “extra” little freezer with clever basket-like drawers (since I am the Freezer Queen), or the online spice and tea places for everything I can’t get nearby, or the only piece of exercise equipment I needed to create a home gym above my barn.

I admit that I love scoring really functional stuff. I was over the moon when my contractor neighbor showed me the super-bright (but not big) flashlight he uses, or the physical therapist revealed the brand of heating pad that actually does therapeutic-level duty, or when entomologist friends arrived to go “mothing” at night with their LED headlamps on–which turn out to be a hands-free light source for any nighttime or cellar chore.

The discoveries below (disclosure: some are Amazon affiliate links) are my old reliables of rural living, and maybe they’d work in your life, too, wherever you are.

WATER RIGHT HOSES: Many years ago I gave away all my too-heavy garden hoses in favor of lightweight, drinking-water-safe and US-made ones by Water Right Inc. The 400, 500 and 600 series each have slightly different diameter; most of mine are 500 series. My favorite color is the olive. The most asked-about tool here in my garden during tours.
NOBLE OUTFITTERS MUDS BOOT: A not-too-clunky short rubber boot that can stand up to all seasons, including mud and snow, is hard to find. This one is a durable winner, and comfortable, too.
SANGEAN WIFI RADIO: I can't imagine life without my Sangean wifi radio, which through its high-quality speakers (not out of the side of my laptop!) allows me to stream the world's radio stations--like
TEA TUMBLER: A personal infuser, made of double-walled borosilicate glass, that keeps tea hot and yet isn't hot to the touch. I drink right out of mine (there is a screen up top to keep leaves down), then refill for a second steeping.
3 CUBIC FOOT FREEZER: I am the Freezer Queen. When I outgrew my home and office refrigerators' freezers, I invested in a 3 cubic foot Energy Star model from Supentown with 3 basket "drawers" for orderly storage. Love it.
RISHI ORGANIC TEAS: All certified organic, from a Milwaukee-based company whose service and practices (and teas!) I like, including an exceptional selection of green teas. Get on their email list to get 15% off your first order, then watch for sale emails to stock up.
KALUSTYAN'S SPICES and more: If there is a spice, bean, specialty flour, chutney, or other ingredient I need, this 70-year-old NYC-based resource has it online and by mail, too.
RANCHO GORDO BEANS and more: Spectacular chili powder, and a selection of heirloom beans you won't find elsewhere, for cooking (or sow a row of them!). Makes a great gift for cook friends.
JUMPSPORT REBOUNDER: After a year of rebounding, I upgraded to the Jumpsport, which is springier and has adjustable elastic cords (not fixed-tension metal springs like my first trampoline). Crazy fun. Stabilizing handlebar is optional.
MY FIRST REBOUNDER: I started rebounding with the Urban Rebounder, maybe $130ish (comes with stability handlebar), and have since upgraded. This is a great value for those exploring rebounding.
MICROWAVEABLE WRAP: Velvet-covered ample 9x28-inch wrap from Dreamtime is filled with grains plus cinnamon, clove and eucalyptus. Can also be frozen in a sealed plastic bag for cold therapy.
MICROWAVEABLE SHOULDER WRAP: The velvet-covered Dreamtime shoulder wrap is filled with grains spiced with cinnamon, clove and eucalyptus. Can also be frozen in a sealed plastic bag.
RADAR SCOPE APP from Weather Decision Technologies is definitely not your average dumbed-down weather radar (and I keep promising to do the whole tutorial and learn the advanced features). If you want to play weatherman, you can even use the “draw” function to mark up your map. An app for Apple or Android.
SUPER-BRIGHT FLASHLIGHT: The Slyde 250 lumen LED flashlight by Nebo, with built in worklight (you "slyde" it open to reveal the worklight, as in photo) has a magnetic end to "hang" it up. Uses 3 AAA batteries.
THERMOPHORE HEATING PAD: A physical therapist turned me on to this arthritis-strength pro heating pad years ago, and I've even given them as gifts since. An ample 14x27 inches; get the model with auto switch that turns off after 20ish minutes.
HOSER CLASSIC MUCK BOOTS: I got a pair of these the year they came out, and they're still going strong. Finally got a new pair recently for wearing "out" (not in the yard, I mean).
GLERUPS FELTED SLIPPERS: In ankle-high booties or low and clog-like, in a range of colors, these Danish slippers of felted wool are the coziest, and durable. Mine have leather soles but if you plan to go outdoors in them, there is a rubber-bottom version in some styles now, too.
FIRE CIDER: As a daily tonic or to add zest to salad or juice, the zippiest apple cider vinegar ever, enlivened with oranges, lemons, onions, ginger, horseradish, habanero pepper, garlic, turmeric. And a little honey.