Random act of kindness
August 4, 2008 1:51 PM   Subscribe

What item do you use all the time and wonder how you ever lived with without it?

I want to show someone special how much I care with a killer gift. Inspired by this essay, I'm in the mood to spend a bit of money on myself (aren't I thoughtful?) but I don't know what to buy. It should be something practical that I can use often, but it can be a luxury item or something cheap. I live in NYC, so I don't have a yard or much space to put something large.
posted by HotPatatta to Shopping (104 answers total) 204 users marked this as a favorite
I'm confused--is this for you or a friend?

On my body: a pair of sports shades with transition lenses that darken/lighten.
On my keychain: small cheap LED light.
In my bag/pocket: a really small camera (mine is the waterproof Pentax W60).
In the kitchen: a digital thermometer and a digital scale.
In the car (probably not your problem): gps.
In NYC: Google Maps for your phone; subscription tix to somewhere like New York Theatre Workshop.
posted by Mngo at 2:05 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Gah. "...how you ever lived without it" Obviously I shouldn't live without grammar checking software.
posted by HotPatatta at 2:06 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

ipod. sonicare.
posted by gnutron at 2:06 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this is really what you had in mind, but now that I have one I cannot imagine living without a kitchen sink garbage disposal! I love it, love it, LOVE IT! It makes cooking, cleaning up, and waste disposal so much easier. Just thinking about it makes me smile. I love you, my precious little kitchen sink disposal!
posted by bahama mama at 2:09 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is for me, Mngo. Perhaps you didn't get the memo, but whenever anyone on MeFi refers to "someone special", they're referring to me.
posted by HotPatatta at 2:12 PM on August 4, 2008 [6 favorites]

My girlfriend.

But seriously, my MacBook or my ipod car charger/fm transmitter.
posted by clearly at 2:12 PM on August 4, 2008

A cool ceramic bowl (doesn't have to be fancy: something from Ross/Marshalls/a thrift store is fine, and no worries if it breaks) for spare change by the place you put your wallet when you walk in the door. $50 every few months is a great little surprise, and a lifesaver if you leave your wallet at work one day.
posted by mdonley at 2:13 PM on August 4, 2008

an immersion hand blender. But then again, I *really* like soup.
posted by gaspode at 2:13 PM on August 4, 2008

Response by poster: On second thought, they're probably referring to ThePinkSuperhero.
posted by HotPatatta at 2:14 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

My really comfortable bed. I bought a new high end queen size bed last september and holy heck, what a change! Getting proper sleep is life changing.

Also, my immersion blender. Ridiculous how often I end up using it. I love it.
posted by gwenlister at 2:16 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

A really good garlic press. I absolutely refuse to cook at someone's house if they don't have one.

Prescription sunglasses were also an excellent investment, if you have bad eyesight. Probably not as big of a deal if you don't drive in the sun a lot, but they're priceless to me.

When I moved, I bought myself a memory foam mattress and nice new sheets. If you don't already have a really cozy, welcoming bed set-up, I think that's a nice gift to yourself.
posted by booknerd at 2:16 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

gaspode scooped me! I should have previewed. LOL
posted by gwenlister at 2:16 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

A nice sized lcd hdtv with a computer hook up so I can use it as an extended desktop with my laptop. Being able to play divx's from my computer on the lcd tv while still using the laptop is amazing!

Oh ... and a deepfryer :)
posted by Arbac at 2:16 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Swiss army knife.

Not one of the insane ones that's as wide as it is long, just the boring type that has a couple of blades, a couple of screwdrivers, and a bottle opener. When I first got one (Christmas 1987) I couldn't imagine what I'd do with it, a few weeks later I was stunned that I'd ever lived without it.
posted by sotonohito at 2:17 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

A really nice down comforter.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:17 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not sure if you cook, but I do and my two most valuable possessions are my heavy duty stand mixer (a Kitchenaid) and my big heavy Le Creuset dutch oven. I use them constantly and would hate to live without them!
posted by katie at 2:18 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

My Xbox 360.
posted by jbickers at 2:20 PM on August 4, 2008

I think the key is to look around and what you use all the time right now, and replace that with something better. A good food prep item is nice (super powerful blender!), but what if you don't cook?

And there's nothing wrong with buying a super-comfy, super-expensive, super-long lasting pair of shoes. Or replacing all of your socks and underwear in one fell swoop (aka "the ubiquitous item reboot").
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:23 PM on August 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

Maid service.

Trust me--it's better than any material possession. Nothing can beat the experience of coming home to an immaculate, clean-smelling house and sleeping on fresh out-of-the-dryer sheets with hospital corners. I would eat ramen noodles every day if I had to just to keep my maid.
posted by chaplinesque at 2:23 PM on August 4, 2008 [18 favorites]

For me, this essential item would either be my PAC bag, my Gerber lock blade, or my Sony Ericsson Z525a (though I guess any multi-function phone would do).

If stranded on an atoll in the Pacific, I'd take the knife.
posted by Pecinpah at 2:25 PM on August 4, 2008

A towel...

HHGTTG geek.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 2:28 PM on August 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

Do not currently own, but I give my vote to a really good quality bed.

There are many components you can spend loads of money on:
- good quality mattress (preferably latex)
- proper (slatted) frame
- bedframe with electric components etc
You can spend a fortune on your bed. Considering how much time you spend in it it's totally worth it.

Imagine sinking into bed every night feeling great, and properly looking forward to the 8 or so hours you're gonna spend in it.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 2:32 PM on August 4, 2008 [4 favorites]

A dremel. Also hand tools that are not from the dollar store (doesn't have to be pro quality, but Craftsmans or Stanleys after living with cheap stamped wrenches that were probably QC rejects at the Chinese factory are a godsend). And an Otterbox - my non-waterproof camera has been saved by one of these numerous times.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 2:36 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, and if you have lots of things that use AA batteries, eneloops or hybrios or some other low-discharge Nimhs
posted by Calloused_Foot at 2:37 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Probably won't apply to you:
-My adjustable sports bra, good running shoes, and compression shorts.
-Addi Turbo circular knitting needles.
-Gingher craft scissors.
-Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion and a variety of eyeshadow brushes.
-Tweezerman tweezers - cheap tweezers suck by comparison.
-My Hitachi Magic Wand.

If none of those sound up your alley (not sure what you'd do with a sports bra or eyeshadow primer), I'd suggest a super-nice kitchen knife set. I use my knives all the time. Fantastic sheets/pillows, or a luxurious bathrobe, are also worth it.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:39 PM on August 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

took me a long time to think of something. it is hard to think of anything i use every day (apart from work equipment). but eventually I remembered my coffee maker. one of the bialetti rip-offs (stove top, aluminium, you screw it open and there's a funnel inside for the grinds). part of the morning ritual and it - or the coffee at least - is a real pleasure. to be honest, it's probably my third or fourth, since every ten years or so I melt a handle, or lose one moving, or something. anyway, there you go: a "stove top espresso maker" (it's not to make espresso; just strong coffee).

but I'm not sure you can go out and do what you want. we buy an awful lot of crap in our lives. i think maybe you just have to wait for the right thing to stick. what are the odds that you buy "that one thing" tomorrow? even with preparation, i think they are low. i never expected my first coffee maker to become a significant part of my life. maybe you need to look again and see if something is already stuck?
posted by not sure this is a good idea at 2:40 PM on August 4, 2008

iPod, and in addition a transmitter so that you can play it using only the radio. Ideally it would charge the iPod as well. Those were indispensable on long car trips.

Also: a AA battery recharger, if you tend to go through batteries quickly. I have one from Energizer and once I got over the initial expense, it has saved me a ton over the year. The recharged batteries also seem to last longer than regular AAs.

An alarm clock that plays songs of your choosing instead of an annoying buzz or cell phone jingle.

Down-filled bootie slippers for the winter.

Containers to hold various things on your desk and in the bathroom.

A pair of really great-feeling underwear.
posted by amicamentis at 2:40 PM on August 4, 2008

Last thing I gifted that very special person with, are a good quality shaving brush, soap and razor, and 15 minutes a day of self indulgence.
posted by _dario at 2:50 PM on August 4, 2008

iPhone, especially now that third-party apps are available. It has replaced my alarm clock, instrument tuner, voice recorder, calculator, and a big stack of CDs. It also acts as a flashlight (extremely handy), notepad, calendar, address book, mileage recorder, camera, atlas, and music identifier (hold it up to the speakers and it can often tell you the artist and song). Plus I always have something to read, such as the complete works of Shakespeare.

I'd be really tempted by the maid idea, though. Really tempted.
posted by PatoPata at 2:56 PM on August 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

Contrary to his adopted namesake, not sure this is a good idea's is a really good one, actually (and, Bialetti handles and pretty much everything else are available as spares here in Italy - memail as needed)
posted by _dario at 2:56 PM on August 4, 2008

-TomTom One Auto GPS unit...

...has transformed me from freaking out when driving into unknown territories to someone who will willingly, eagerly, and enthusiastically drive anywhere.
posted by imjustsaying at 3:00 PM on August 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

A moleskine journal and compact Fisher Space Pen - they go with me everywhere and capture my thoughts before I forget them

A good tailor - who does perfect work, knows your name, and charges a fair price

For cooking, I second the dutch oven and silicone spatulas. And one quality 8" chef's knife - you don't need a whole set.
posted by junesix at 3:01 PM on August 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

GPS and kitchen tongs.
posted by beccaj at 3:01 PM on August 4, 2008

A pepper mill. Doesn't have to be a fancy one. But the difference between freshly-ground pepper and pre-ground is night and day.

Seconding sotonohito on the Swiss army knife, although I do have one of the "insane" ones. In fact, I've used at least 2/3 of the various features on it at one time or another, so I consider the super-featured ones worthwhile.

Seconding booknerd on the prescription sunglasses.

Seconding Mngo and imjustsaying on the GPS receiver. (I do a lot of solo road trips)

Mini Composition Books for writing reminders to myself or other notes. Fits easily in a pants pocket, and unlike my PDA, I don't care if I put it in the same pocket with my keys, sit on it, etc.

Broadband wireless internet. (too obvious?)

Chaco sandals. I like the Z/1, but they have other styles too. The price may seem high for sandals, but they're worth it.

A high-end universal remote. I have this one. Again, the price may seem excessive if you've never had a really good universal remote. It's not.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:01 PM on August 4, 2008

No "stuff" is really going to change you life. Having said that I can nth, memory foam, smart phones, satnav, and hand blenders. The single thing which most changed my life is a good Athens Password.

[Afterthought: If you fly fish, go buy Roman Moser Leaders. They totally improved my casting in a way I never expected]
posted by roofus at 3:02 PM on August 4, 2008

I am also going to vote for a really good mattress. Is there anything else that you use ~50 hours a week? If you want to really splurge get some really great linens too. Generally, I'm pretty frugal, but if I had the resources I could drop $5k on a new bed and linens easily. Truly, I lust.
posted by kimdog at 3:04 PM on August 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

maid +a gazillion, mine comes once a month and I LOVE those days!
good kitchen knives
detachable keychain if you have lots of keys
posted by dolface at 3:05 PM on August 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

A Leatherman Surge. I use it all the time. I was totally amazed how much more useful it was than the medium sized swiss army I used to carry.
posted by Mitheral at 3:12 PM on August 4, 2008

count me in the iPod/sonicare camp.
posted by Lucinda at 3:15 PM on August 4, 2008

Leatherman Micra. I use it daily. Also, prescription glasses. My eyesight is pretty good, but even my weak prescription reduced my headaches.
posted by mecran01 at 3:27 PM on August 4, 2008

An Xtracycle. In my former locale, I used to ride quite a bit recreationally and on errands. I hated carrying stuff on my back while riding, and panniers generally suck in terms of carrying real poundage, plus they're just not very cool to have on your bike, they sway, catch the wind, you worry if they're going to disappear and so forth.

I moved to a city where I knew I'd be on my bike everyday, so made my bike into a sport utility bike (SUB) by adding an Xtracycle.

An Xtracycle extends your carrying capacity by multiples over a standard bike frame. It's a frame that you add to the rear of your bike, extending the wheel backwards 14" and adding some high capacity bags. 4-6 bags of groceries, no problem. Lumber, cabinets, surfboards, no problem.

People are always asking me about it because it stands out in crowd, a bike with an X on the back. It changed my bike from being a useful machine to a pack animal on two wheels.
posted by diode at 3:34 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

For outdoor work, the Grass Gator - it's a game changer.
posted by neilkod at 3:35 PM on August 4, 2008

Oh yeah, my road bike.
posted by neilkod at 3:37 PM on August 4, 2008

Best answer: A really good chef's knife makes a hell of a lot of difference when you're cooking. I also don't know how I ever survived without an iPod.
posted by sveskemus at 3:37 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Swimming goggles with prescription lenses. They cost far more than I could afford, but they are fucking awesome and I would have bought them years ago if I knew how happy and swimming-obsessed I'd be if I could see in water.
posted by carbide at 3:38 PM on August 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

Cool Tools is basically a huge list of reviews of stuff that (for some people at least) meets the criteria.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:43 PM on August 4, 2008 [4 favorites]

A year after getting it, I find myself folding into the fetal position when I think about the possibility of having to give up my Palm Treo with unlimited data plan. You will probably opt for an iPhone, but anything that you can use to read e-mail, surf MeFi, access Wikipedia and read the daily news from the comfort of anywhere is a beautiful thing.

I also can't imagine living without a second monitor on my computer, going a month without a therapeutic massage or walking in my house without my gentle, loving kitty welcoming me.
posted by bristolcat at 3:50 PM on August 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

My TiVo.
posted by cnc at 3:53 PM on August 4, 2008

If you travel at all, invest in good, well-made luggage with a lifetime guarantee.* It doesn't have to be a whole set, in fact I'd recommend getting just one amazingly awesome carry-on and learning how to travel with only the one bag. I finally bought one great carry-on last year and it has entirely changed how I pack and travel.

*The lifetime no-matter-what guarantee can't be praised highly enough. It's worth every extra penny after all the crappy luggage that have gotten ruined after only one or two trips.
posted by platinum at 3:54 PM on August 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

A rice cooker.
posted by pluckysparrow at 4:07 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm in the iPod/iPhone/Palm Treo camp too. I can't even imagine living without my iPod touch, and I won't give it up for anything (unless it's for an iPhone when they stop their deal with AT&T).

The other thing would be a DVR recorder of some kind, in conjunction with an HD TV. Going back to normal TV is pretty painful at this point, as I only watch what I want when I want it these days. This might be way beyond your budget, though... ;)
posted by gemmy at 4:10 PM on August 4, 2008

A simple metal flip-top card-holder. $10 if you look in the right place; $20 for the geek version. This might seem gimmicky or affected to some, but I promise, it's a great way to keep your necessary handful of cards (a couple credit cards, various ID, a few business cards) on your person at all times, whether in a pocket or your purse, without the cards getting bent or misplaced. Never knew how useful it would be until I finally found a version for $10 at a local store and started using it.
posted by limeonaire at 4:14 PM on August 4, 2008

Best answer: two words:
Iron. Skillet.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 4:15 PM on August 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

- Leatherman Micra (swiped by the TSA) or my replacement Squirt P4 scissor version attached to key chain, it's come in handy more times than I can count
- Pepper mill
- Down duvet (available at Ikea for a reasonable price)
- Good quality knife(s) for cooking

/there's a number of other items I'd be reluctant to part with, but I'd suggest to go with something practical and useful
posted by hungrysquirrels at 4:17 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Things that I would miss terribly if they were gone:

SLR camera with normal-length lens (28mm on a 1.6x crop, 50mm on a normal one)
Acoustic guitar
Good quality electric toothbrush (Sonicare for me)
Good quality laptop
Decent (though cheap) chef's knife.

Each of these has made a real impact on my everyday existence.
posted by Magnakai at 4:18 PM on August 4, 2008

Do you drink wine? If so, think about a couple of Riedel glasses. I used to think it was ridiculous- $60 or more for a wine glass? After I tried them though, I was sold. Any half decent bottle of wine in a regular glass tastes fine, then as soon as it's poured into a Riedel it completely opens up, you'll find flavours and depths you never realised were there.

If you don't drink wine, you could buy some for me?
posted by twirlypen at 4:33 PM on August 4, 2008

cat + litter + wood floor = ROOMBA
posted by yeoja at 4:44 PM on August 4, 2008

My Sidekick LX, for all the same reasons as the Palm Treo listed above.
posted by lizzicide at 4:57 PM on August 4, 2008

Nthing maid service. I LOVE my maid!!
posted by pearlybob at 5:11 PM on August 4, 2008

Gorilla Glue. Seriously, I can't count how many things i've fixed with gorilla glue...
posted by saxamo at 5:25 PM on August 4, 2008

Thirding the Le Creuset dutch oven. It's coming to the grave with me.
posted by Succa at 5:41 PM on August 4, 2008

If you love to cook, there's nothing more useful than a really good quality santoku or chef's knife.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:05 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Picking up on the favorited answers here, I see you sense you are knife-worthy. This is good.

You will not be able to live without one of these if you begin to use it.

posted by jeremias at 6:22 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

When I moved to Boston, I got one of the small Moleskine city notebooks in order to always have a map on hand. I never leave the house without this thing. The blank pages act as a catch-all for notes that I need to jot down, leaving my actual journal free for, well, journalling. The thought of life without a small all-purpose notebook OR a map of the city with me at all times is depressing thought indeed.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:23 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

- Leatherman Wave, though it's a lot larger than the smaller one recommend up-thread. It gets used at least several times a week, and I'm not in a 'mechanical' profession. (I use the Wave and am quite happy with it, but they have some newer ones that look equally as spiffy.)

- A Mini Maglite. (Prices vary: don't pay more than $10.) Despite being insanely cheap, I'm impressed with it even after 2+ years of ownership. It's bright, it's light, and boy is it solid. (I've been tempted to buy a considerably-more-expensive Surefire light for a while, but so far the Mini Maglite keeps on impressing me. That and I'm cheap.)

- A good battery charger and a whole bunch of rechargeable batteries for it. I used to swear by my 15-minute rechargeables, but I just had one of them die prematurely, and discovered that the 15-minute chargers are apparently pretty harsh on the batteries.

- More RAM for your computer. My computer had 1GB, even back in the XP days when 1GB was still halfway decent. I bumped it up to 2GB, and the difference was amazing.

- I loved my Fisher Space Pen, until I lost it. The "it writes in space and underwater!" is obviously of no use, but have you ever tried holding a sheet of paper to the wall and writing... in vain? It also felt solid, looked good, and wrote really well.

- Really comfy stuff. I recently bought new socks, and am amazed at the difference between the new ones and my threadbare old ones. I also have a nice fluffy towel, which I'd been taking for granted for a while until I mistakenly picked up the wrong one, which felt like sandpaper by comparison.

- I know it sounds silly and missing the point, but getting rid of stuff I didn't use also made me feel really good. It's amazing how much of the stuff around the house has probably sat for a solid year without me picking it up.

- If you drive, a GPS. Once in a while it helps me when I'm lost, but perhaps the biggest effect has been on 'reassuring' me. I never though of myself as particularly nervous/anxious when driving through unfamiliar areas, but I'm sure a lot more confident knowing that, no matter where I end up, I can pull the GPS out of my glovebox and fire it up if I need to.

- An external hard drive to back up my (whole) computer to.

I'd nth a smartphone, but I think that's something you have to decide for yourself. I love my Treo to death, but will probably get an iPhone when the time comes. But it's amazing how much I rely on the thing. I used to have a cell phone and a PDA, but I usually forgot the PDA. Having it in my phone means I always have it with me. It syncs with Outlook (or other programs if you hate Outlook... as I do, actually...), keeping my contacts and calendar synced. It has a notepad which is a great way for me to jot down thoughts. Mobile web and e-mail is surprisingly useful, as is Google Maps. (Even without GPS capability in my (aged) phone.) I have an app to store all my passwords (encrypted), so I use nice strong passwords everywhere. (And keep a 'backup' paper copy... Somewhere I'm not saying.) It's also my alarm clock. Aside from clothing and furniture, it's probably my most-used gadget.
posted by fogster at 6:24 PM on August 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

New England speaking: heated bathroom floor and heated toilet seat.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:39 PM on August 4, 2008

Best answer: Smartwool socks.

posted by altcountryman at 7:09 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Echoing GregNog and junesix that one silicone spatula (or more?) is a great addition to a kitchen of any level (and cheap enough to add on to your other luxuries
posted by zachxman at 7:10 PM on August 4, 2008

My single speed bike.
My commercial blender.
My food processor.
posted by dobbs at 7:16 PM on August 4, 2008

Old Bay Seasoning.
posted by emelenjr at 7:51 PM on August 4, 2008

posted by sunshinesky at 7:55 PM on August 4, 2008

.. not an item...
posted by sunshinesky at 7:55 PM on August 4, 2008

One of those super-fuzzy robes from Restoration Hardware. I felt ridiculous buying it (even on sale) but after a week I was hooked. It's an extravagant robe, but for jumping out of the shower on a weekend morning in winter...it's perfect. My mom has one made from similar material that isn't from Restoration Hardware, but I kind of feel like the term "plush robe" could mean different things to different people. Why take a chance?

Oh, and Rainbows.
posted by crinklebat at 8:52 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Cutco knives. I swear by 'em.

My iPod.

A well-fitting suit.
posted by Happydaz at 9:19 PM on August 4, 2008

I threw away 100% of all of my socks, went to Costco, and bought 48 pairs of identical socks. This means that on laundry day, I do not have to match socks anymore- all I have to do is pair them up in any order whatsoever. Best gift I have given myself in years!
posted by crazyray at 9:45 PM on August 4, 2008 [10 favorites]

DSL Internet.

Because dialup sucks.
posted by Zeker at 10:29 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Really well cut, comfortable underpants. Don't look at the price tag, the good ones are always expensive. Instead when you find that pair that never bunches, never sags, never gives horrible lines, always looks good and just generally feels great wear after wear after wear, go out and buy a whole set. Like ten pairs or so, enough that you always have some clean.

I'd link the exorbitantly expensive pants I wear but they aren't likely to be your style. My boyfriend also has a few fancy pairs of Bonds men's undies which are amazing, and he loves wearing them. Fancy pants are so worth it.
posted by shelleycat at 10:45 PM on August 4, 2008

a really really good chair.

a really really good pillow.

a headlamp.

artwork you enjoy.
posted by ig at 10:56 PM on August 4, 2008

Best answer: You might not need scrip sunglasses, but polarized ones will rock your tiny world, if you've never had them before.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:23 PM on August 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

I have this footstool. I can't stop sitting on it. Right now I have four chairs in this room and I am sitting on this footstool. I carry it into other rooms when I want to sit in them. My dog comes and sits in between my legs and my chin rest just on top of his head when I am on this footstool and, when he wants belly pets, I can easily reach all the good places from the footstool. I use it for a table when I sit on the floor and eat supper. I use it to get my short self up to the top of closets. I have painted every room in my house with it and sat on it while I tiled my bathtub. I plan on being buried upright, sitting on this footstool.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:25 PM on August 4, 2008 [4 favorites]

Nice left-hander kitchen scissors.

It is the only pair in this home that never ever gets lost because only I can use it.

(Though I guess this one might not apply for you if you're a righty, but buy a pair anyway - it'd sure be fun to watch you try to cut through stuff using the wrong hand.)
posted by mcbeth at 11:51 PM on August 4, 2008

All Piano, John Tilbury plays the music of Morton Feldman,

a good stereo (mine's NAD stuff with Acoustic Energy speakers, nothing too fancy),

a bottle of Laphroaig 15,

A Glencairn glass,

and a Siamese cat.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:27 AM on August 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

My swiss army knife. It's a champion.

* performed home surgery with it
* fixed electronic devices with it
* vaporised very small ants with the magnifier
* broken into offices at work (when people have forgotten their keys) with it
* cut things, reamed things, cleaned under my toenails
* the pliers have held, crushed and twisted more things than my tired old fingers remember
* cut things, sliced things, prepared many meals with it.

It's like an old friend.
posted by flutable at 5:28 AM on August 5, 2008

Steelcase Leap ergonomic chair.
A great recliner.
A good pen.
Post-it flags for marking books.
UltraFire C3 Cree flashlight. Smaller than a MagLite and UNBELIEVABLY BRIGHTER.
Boker Wharcom. My favorite pocket knife.
Disposable contacts.
A keychain pill fob.
Custom orthotics.
Comfy shoes. (Nikes and Naot.)
posted by callmejay at 6:29 AM on August 5, 2008 [4 favorites]

Post it notes. My bro-in-law divides life into "BPN" and APN."
The internet.
posted by nax at 7:01 AM on August 5, 2008

nylon pan scrapers.

mine were all of 75¢.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:05 AM on August 5, 2008

As stated several times above, a lovely bed set-up. For me, nothing beats really, really, ridiculously expensive, smooth white sheets (always bought in the January sales, when they're more than 60% off, of course) and perfect pillows.

A Le Creuset dutch oven is worth every penny, several times over. I've revised my cooking skills just to maximize use of this gorgeous piece of kitchenware. I've lent it to my mother-in-law for extra-impressive brownie points. I made sure to get it back very shortly, of course.

A PS3. Yes, it's good for games - also for storing and viewing your digital photos and music. We also loaded Linux onto it and use it for group web-browsing (Hey, you GOTTA see this site! or let's plan our holiday!) on the nice big flat screen TV instead of hovering around the PC.

A pony and a castle. Well, I WISH I had those, and certainly would refuse to live without them once obtained.
posted by InfinateJane at 9:18 AM on August 5, 2008 [3 favorites]

Weekly massage therapy.
posted by bz at 9:31 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Stainless steel water bottle. I don't drink soda, and I use it every day. It's dishwasher-safe, too.
posted by annsunny at 1:23 PM on August 5, 2008

Leatherman - I use this daily.

A good chef's knife.

Mini Maglight

Computer stuff - Evernote software (especially now with the iPhone app), monitor calibrator (I have a Huey Pro), and a continuous ink system for my inkjet.

iPhone - I'm not sure how I lived my life without this. I never get lost, never eat at a bad restaurant, never overpay for something, never go without music, never forget things, and never get bored waiting in line or on the train. I can use it as a level, snapshot camera, a flashlight, a note taking device, calendar, alarm clock, timer, etc. If I had to choose one thing that I couldn't live without it would be this.
posted by bradbane at 1:36 PM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

A coffeemaker with a timer. I have tried the stove-top coffee setup, and it's too many moving parts for me--and too hard to clean. I tried the Senseo, I tried a normal espresso maker. I finally got a coffeemaker--just the normal American kind of coffee--with a timer, after trying five thousand other things, and it has really changed my life. Suddenly, I'm a morning person! Mine was five bucks at the Goodwill.

Del.icio.us. I am on about five different computers as part of my day. Having all my bookmarks saved in one account is a lifesaver. Between this and the next piece of software, my life is so much easier.

Google Calendar. It sends text-message reminders to your cell phone. I put every appointment in it and I have almost never forgotten another appointment.

Big expensive item: countertop dishwasher. I had to get one of these because I live in an apartment, and even though it looks terrible in my kitchen, I don't care. It was completely worth it.

Nthing maid service, seriously great!
posted by aarwenn at 2:26 PM on August 5, 2008

A really nice mattress, picked specifically for yourself. I had a pretty good one I shared w/ my ex, but after we split up, I went and bought a high-end, super thick pillowtop w/ some kind of memory foam hybrid filling that is just perfect for me. It's heaven, I love it.

The other thing...my macbook pro and very fast wifi. The ability to use my laptop from anywhere in the house including the deck out back = priceless. Never going back to a slow/glitchy/bulky Dell. No way.
posted by ozinn at 2:34 PM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

it's too many moving parts for me--and too hard to clean

don't clean it, just rinse it out with hot water. it develops a dark lining of what i assume are oils and the taste improves.
posted by not sure this is a good idea at 3:31 PM on August 5, 2008

My Aeropress has been very good to me. I didn't think I'd really be that enthused about a coffee maker, and sort of asked for it as a christmas gift so my grandmother would have something to buy and wrap instead of cutting me a check, but it was actually very nice and beat the stuff my mom's automatic drip maker, uh, makes. It's fast, tastes good, and is much cheaper than a coffee shop, and I find it makes having small cups of coffee over the day, as I like to drink it, much easier than using a machine and it lets one make mock-espresso.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:59 AM on August 6, 2008

I'm a nut for these kinds of threads! Ok, I'm going to interpret "can't live without" to mean "gives way more utility/pleasure than I thought it could"

1. Decent home espresso machine (Rancilio Silvia in my case) & cheap burr grinder.
2. Pocket knife
3. Ipod Touch/Iphone: OMG almost the perfect device for the digital side of my life. (bonus ++ with audiobooks and podcasts)
4. Good, well-fitted and tuned bicycle (lugged steel, and setup right).
5. Decent/good Chefs knife. Splurge on one good one, keep it sharp and throw the crappy knives away. (bonus points for a sturdy, heavy cutting board/block)
6. DSL.
7. multifunction bicycle tool. With that in my bag, and my pocket knife I've got more functionality than leatherman, or swiss army knife.
8. LED headlight, bought on a whim but use it many times a week (drop something under a desk? Need to find that box in the attic? Cats yeowling in the backyard at midnight and need to investigate?)
9. Learning how to make tea properly. This may in fact be the most important thing on the list.
posted by gofargogo at 12:36 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

surprisingly enough, my LCD screen.
always was a CRT type - but I didn't realize just how much the extra real estate would boost my productivity.
posted by radiocam at 1:08 PM on August 6, 2008

I'm going to second the Xbox 360, but I didn't feel that way until i figured out how to stream mp3's and xvid from my computer to my TV, or until I got some good friends on there and figured out how to do private chat outside chatting with the knuckleheads on xbox live.

Also Griffin makes an itrip that fits the ipod 4gb like a sleeve and has no wires. Don't know if it's still around, but it's perfect.
posted by bend2squares at 2:38 PM on August 6, 2008

Bread machine, greasemonkey scripts.
posted by starman at 5:12 PM on August 6, 2008

My Utili-Key.
posted by ThirstyEar2 at 7:29 PM on August 6, 2008

Also, in the way of PC software, Launchy. If you're on a Mac, Quicksilver.
posted by ThirstyEar2 at 7:59 PM on August 6, 2008

Listed in order of best first, life is so much more comfortable and happy with it. All are quite affordable:

Crocs: ugly and spectacularly comfortable. The knock offs from Chinatown. $5.

Parodontax: A Dutch/German toothpaste, salty with herbs: incredible for reversing peridentitis. My mouth would be miserable without it.

Calcium citrate/magnesium citrate, never had such happy digestion.

Chromalux lightbulbs, "the closest thing to natural daylight".

Pantene Pro-V Deep Fortifying Conditioner

Telephone earphone for walking around/doing chores and talking for home land line.

Pilot retractable ballpoint black fine tip pens. Superb for writing and cheap.

Japanese back scrubbing cloth.

Zipper slide bags for food storage and traveling.

Rubber garlic peeler.

This vegetable chopper.

Swiffer duster.

Spray n Wash Laundry detergent.

Badedas: a shower never smelled so good.

Muscle Soak Sugar Salt Glow Body Scrub
, washing in the shower never felt so good afterwards.
posted by nickyskye at 9:00 PM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]

1. Simple Human trash can for the kitchen.
I thought it was ridiculous to pay so much. But it makes the kitchen trash chore SO much easier. And no smell when the lid is shut.

2. Aleppo pepper

3. Expert, carefully-chosen body-workers -- my chiropractor and foot reflexologist.

4. Really good insect repellent purchased from these people. The bug repellent is not on the web site -- you have to call. It's made of essential oils -- no DEET. It works great. They make it themselves.
posted by valannc at 9:31 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

My iPhone. Seriously, I've only had this thing for a few weeks, but I'm constantly amazed at how many things it helps me with (and up there ^ are a few more I didn't know about. I hate carrying stuff around in my pockets or carrying things and it lets me carry one thing that does so much in a small, surprisingly light package. Seriously.
posted by dg at 2:55 AM on August 29, 2008

I'm hopelessly addicted to my --

Sonicare toothbrush
GUM Eez-Thru super-slick flossers
Acoustic guitar
Propel "Mind" bottled water
Tempur-pedic mattress and pillows (replete with high thread-count bed linens)
Aircraft Inertial Reference Units utilizing GPS (now I don't need the sun or stars to steer by)
cell phone (far more sophisticated than Captain Kirk's communicator!)

Worse yet: my wife and I own two 19-year old Hondas that still look and run like they came from the showroom floor (we haven't spent more than a sum total of $500 for both cars' maintenance expenses over and above normal wear and tear): they will probably run the next two decades just as inexpensively. So in January we found ourselves in a position to purchase a new (2008) Acura RL in Alberta White Pearl with the Tech package -- and find that a 12-minute drive to the grocery store is a "quickie."
posted by Whaledriver at 1:36 AM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

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