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Helen’s Top Five Favorite Home Products

By Helen Malkin

As the elder member of the Bump Club and Beyond team, I’ve been married for close to 30 years, raised (and still raising) two children, 25 yrs. old and 20 yrs. old, and have lived in 10 homes since starting a family.  I know that’s a lot of numbers I just shared (notice, I didn’t share my age, but with a bit of math, you’ll come close), but I hope my many years creating what I believe was nurturing and comfortable family life lends to my so-called expertise.  Plus, let’s not forget, we were in a Pandemic recently and we had a lot of time at home!  These five products were well tested and used, and I hope you check them out!

 

HelloFresh

Hear me out!  I know it’s not necessarily the most cost-effective way to eat at home, but because we were all getting tired of the meals that I had on rotation, my family and I were spending way more money eating out, using Grubhub, etc.  PLUS, I had a secret agenda!  I was tired of being the primary meal planner and maker while my family felt comfortable to subtly, and not so subtly, complain.  AND, thanks to Hello Fresh’s easy step by step cooking instructions and already portioned ingredients, my husband, daughter, and son could easily take over for a night and cook a family meal…without asking me a million questions throughout the process.

You can select a plan that has a little as 2 meals per week which is what I did.  Also, you can skip a week if you need to which comes in handy if you have other plans.  The best part are the recipe cards that you can save and use in the future and the access to their “cookbook” which has thousands of meal recipes.  You can filter the cookbook by ingredient which I love.  You can never have enough chicken recipes!  Another unexpected perk was the ability to add additional ingredients to your weekly order, which I did during the Pandemic when shelves were bare.

At this point, you may be thinking, “this is all great, Helen, but did your secret agenda actually work?”  YES, IT DID!  Tuesdays and Thursdays were HelloFresh nights and one of BEST things about our Hello Fresh subscription was the memories I have of my husband and son or son and daughter preparing and making a meal together and debating about who had the better knife cuts or presentation skills.  Not only were they hysterical to listen to from the family room (where I was watching Bravo), but my son learned many cooking skills which he still uses when cooking for himself away at college AND they stopped complaining the other nights.  They truly gained a newfound understanding and appreciation for planning and cooking family meals.

 

Brooklinen

Brooklinen was one of my “no regrets” Pandemic splurges.  I have always loved a comfy, cozy bed and during the Pandemic, my bed was a sanctuary and sometime office workspace.  Like me, I’m sure you were fed a lot of Brooklinen ads on social media and saw influencers raving about their products and like me, you probably clicked to see what all the hype was about.  Well, let me tell you, they did not disappoint!

I started out small and added their down pillows to my cart first.  Ours were well worn and past their lifetime.  I purchased two standard plush down pillows and I knew I was in trouble when I purposely moved the new Brooklinen pillows to my side of the bed, leaving my husband in the dark.  After a couple of weeks, I added the king sized down pillows to my shopping cart, making my husband very happy, and soon added the king all-season down comforter.  Not only does this comforter have the little loops at the corners to attach your duvet cover and ensure that it doesn’t gravitate to one side or end, but it is also quiet.  If you have purchased a new down comforter in the past, you may know what I’m talking about…sometimes, they make annoying crinkly sounds because the fabric shell is stiff.  This one was soft, plush and very snuggly!

I finally broke down and purchased their Luxe Hardcore Bundle after I confessed to a friend about my recent pillow and comforter splurges, only to find out that she purchased their sheets.  The Luxe Hardcore Bundle included a sheet set (flat and fitted sheets with two pillowcases), a duvet cover and two additional pillowcases (because, of course, you have at least four pillows!).  The color choices are very muted and on trend.  The only downside is their limited print color choices.  I ended up adding some decorative pillows to our bed for some fun.

 

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

For all those other nights that we don’t cook a HelloFresh meal, I like to use our Instant Pot Pressure Cooker whenever possible.  What I like about the Instant Pot is the many different functions it has.  I remember my parents had a pressure cooker back in the day and it was a new and exciting kitchen appliance, along the lines of the microwave, but this newer and improved pressure cooker is more than just that.  It is a rice maker, a slow cooker, and more, eliminating a number of additional appliances.  I love a product that has multiple uses and it helps to justify the cost.

I will say that I was nervous at first to use the Instant Pot pressure cooker function and read the instructions thoroughly and multiple times.  I’ve heard the stories and had many friends share their experiences.  One friend in particular used her Instant Pot as her primary kitchen appliance when she was remodeling her kitchen and didn’t have access to her stove and oven for months.  She was, perhaps, its greatest fan and invited me over to her house for dinner and an in-person demonstration.  I jumped at her invite, not just for the demonstration, but also for a taste of her chili!  Needless to say, all went well and I was able to confidently and successfully use my Instant Pot.

 

Lap Desk 

This was a Pandemic purchase and I never thought I would purchase a lap desk, especially since graduating college, but I will admit this has been one of my favorite home office  products.  I will confess that I still use it to this day, not everyday, of course, but every once in a while!  Since I no longer work in our office and am working from home full time, I do need a change of location sometimes and this lap desk is a huge help.  It’s lightweight, easy to carry from couch to bed, and very easy to hide away when not in use.  I love the mouse pad because I love using my mouse and hate how sensitive my laptop mouse pad is.  Also, there is a slot to hold my iPhone which allows me to keep an eye on it in case I receive a notification.  I’ll be honest, I rarely use the light which is detachable, but you never know so it’s currently stored in my “real” desk drawer.

 

Keurig Single-Serve Coffee Maker

I’ve purchased a couple of Keurig’s in the past since they first came out, but the Pandemic made this an essential purchase.  My local coffee shops were no longer open and my need for coffee grew greater during that time so I pulled out my Keurig and purchased a variety of k-cups online.  Now, I know some of you are Team Nespresso and are not impressed by my Keurig and to you, I say, “to each their own.”  I believe we are all on the same team – Team Saving Money!

Pre-Pandemic my coffee shop purchases could run as high as $20/day.  Sometimes I would stop twice a day – before work and at that 3pm I need caffeine to get me over the “hump hour” AND sometimes, I would purchase more than just coffee, like a blueberry muffin, lemon loaf, or protein pack.  By the way, when I say “coffee”, I really mean latte or macchiato.  This can quickly add up and I found that I was spending anywhere from $120 to $300 per month.

Now I only spend less than $1/day!  I purchase my favorite the Original Donut Shop vanilla latte k-cups on keurig.com in bulk and use their subscription option in order to save on cost.  Plus, if you sign up with your email, they often email you additional discount codes.  Costco also has a great selection of k-cup brands and varieties, including my husband’s favorite Peete’s.  I also make sure and clean my machine monthly to so it continues to work in tip top shape and I find great satisfaction seeing how quickly and easily it cleans up.

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