Highly Useful Items to Order

Over the years I have learned how to purchase common items more efficiently. One example is ordinary bandages. I used to buy assortments that have only a few of the sizes I really want, and always seem to include that odd-shaped bandage with two sets of straps, for which I have never found a use. One day at work I needed a regular 3/4 inch bandage and discovered that the pros buy 100 ct. boxes of the same size. So I now buy like the pros: McKesson 100 ct, 1 inch, 100 ct 3/4 inch, and 100 ct of a smaller size that is oval shaped - perfect for tiny cuts!
 Along with these products, I have come upon several others that have changed my life. OK. maybe not "life-changing" but at least problem-solving:

Extra long cotton-tipped swabs/applicators

Decent mechanical pencils - box of 12.

Decent erasers for the pencils - 3 inches long. I can cut the exact size I want.

Pencil lead refills - box of 12 plastic containers that hold 12 each. They are "2B" instead of the dull, standard issue "HB" that is too light.

Bright motion-activated night lights that would also be perfect for stairs.

Post-It notes that have full length adhesive on the back. Much more likely to remain in place.

Dinner plate dividers made of felt in assorted sizes. These keep each plate separated from the rough bottom of the one above it.

Very handy holders for sports drink vessels. They have straps that snap over fanny pack belts or even pants belts.

Extra strong thread that is truly as thick as the "button/carpet" thread that you used to be able to buy.

Shower head valve. You simply screw this valve behind the shower head. You can eliminate the ridiculous full-throttle water flow due to poorly designed shower controllers that require full force in order to get warm water.

Tiny dust plugs that cover the "lightning port" charger opening of iPhones. Keeps out the dust/moisture which can create erratic charging. NOTE: won't fit new charging port on iPhone 15. The center contact protrudes into the cavity.

Small rubber drawer drawer stops. Put these on cabinet drawers for a silent close. Also you can put them on door moulding to stop noisy door slamming.

And a personal fav: A unique belt that is lightweight, flexible, and that has a flush buckle.


Bandages in Boxes of 100
 You can buy bandages in useful quantities and sizes! Each is a box of 100. No more buying small boxes of assorted types, about 10 of each, including that strange configuration (the one with two sets of straps) that doesn't really work no matter where you try to fit it.
 Further, these are fabric rather than latex rubber.
 And further still, the small oval one works for small cuts and surrounds the cut rather than have it be open on the sides.

bandages bandages bandages

Extra Long cotton swabs with enlarged tip.
 I have never been able to find a long cotton-tipped applicator, but finally came upon these priceless little gems. These are perfect for the times you can't reach your back! Maybe you have a tiny bite or other irritated area and need to apply some lotion or anti-itch compound. Or maybe you would like to spread a little bit of lotion on your back.
 They would probably work fine for cleaning in corners as well.
 The images shows them in comparison to the classic "Q-tip". They are approximately 8 inches long, and are supplied in a pack of 100.


Mechanical Pencils
 Here are some excellent mechanical pencils. They are in an assortment of colors - red, blue, green, violet. The package contains 12 pencils. You can then have the same type of pencil in the office, the kitchen, and other rooms, and also have plenty of spares.
 This link is for the "0.7 mm" size, insuring less breakage while you are writing. But the "0.5 mm" size is also available.


Pencil Lead Refills
 Tired of buying a blister pack of 1 or 2 small holders with 12 leads each? Here's a package of 12 of the holders, for a total of 144 leads!
 Do you find yourself vaguely aware that your notes are hard to read but you have never gotten around to looking up the codes for "hardness" - and was it "#2" that was darker than "#1" or was it the other way around?
 It turns out that there are various degrees of "hardness" - 1H, 2H, 3H, and varying degrees of "Blackness" - 1B, 2B, 3B. The almost universal default for leads is "HB" (usually considered to be equal to a #2 pencil). It is apparently supposed to be a compromise between too hard or too black, although I find that it's too hard and doesn't provide much contrast.
 I have found that "2B" is ideal. It's much more readable than HB without being too soft.
 This link is for 0.7 mm thickness, which is much less likely to snap while writing.



pencil lead

 Do you have trouble finding the correct eraser to fit your mechanical pencil? Tired of buying erasers that aren't much longer than the ones that are worn down? Here is a package that will keep you in erasers for the rest of your natural life!
And, you can cut them to the length you desire!
 These will fit the pencils shown above.


Motion Activated Bright Night Lights
 Want a bright night light that is motion-activated? This would make an excellent stair light. (See the lower image on the right.)
 If you don't have stair lights at this time, you can add - or have an electrician add - electric outlets on the stairs. It's not too difficult. For our 4 sets of stairs, there was an outlet on the other side of the stair walls in 3 cases. You would add an "old-work" outlet on the stair side, just opposite of the existing outlet on the other side. Just run a short piece of romex from the original outlet to the old-work box. The second outlet on each flight of stairs was a bit more difficult. I had to remove the 6-inch moulding so that I could drill a hole in the studs between the existing outlet to the second old-work box.
 The fourth set of stairs was opposite a tall "crawl space" (our house was built on a hill). I ran romex cable from an existing switch in the crawl space to the two old-work boxes.
 I am planning a new article on how to do all this - I have already documented the process by taking pictures of all the steps when I added these electrical outlets.

Stair lights Stair lights
stair lights
post its

Post It Stickers with Full Adhesive
 I discovered by accident one day that there is a "Post-it" sticker whose entire back side has adhesive, instead of just the top part. This makes the Post-it notes stay in place much easier. We now use them, among other things, for labeling freezer bags of left-overs, bread, or other food items that we wish to preserve.

post its

Felt Dinner Plate Dividers
 Want to preserve that "like-new" appearance of your new dinner dishes? These felt pads will keep the rough bottoms of the plates from scratching the top surface of the plate beneath it. These pads also help prevent chipping when you are putting up your dishes.
 They can be used also for non-stick pans. They protect the non-stick surface when you stack pans on top of one another.

plate pads
plate pads

Drawer/Door Pads
 These little "Bumper Pads" are excellent to use as drawer and cabinet door pads. If your existing drawer and/or cabinet door pads are hardened or missing, replace them with these. Use one on each side of a drawer and one on the top and bottom of a cabinet door.
 Here's a good tip: Place 3 or 4 on these on the "door stop" in the center of the door jamb. The door stop is the smaller piece of wood that the door strikes when you close the door. This eliminates "slamming" of the door. Now the early riser can ease the door shut when they get up, allowing the late sleeper to be undisturbed. And you can use them on the kids' doors. No more slams when the kiddos "forget" to close the door quietly.

foam stops rubber stops

Extra thick thread
 Over the years I have bought numerous spools of what I had hoped to be "extra thick", or "button" or "carpet" thread. They looked convincing in the store, but when I brought them home I was always disappointed to find they were only marginally thicker than regular thread. I remembered the real thing years ago. I could sew on a button using just 4 or 5 threads of the stuff. Not any more.
 Recently I searched on Amazon and finally found what I had been searching for over the years - a truly "heavy duty" and substantial thread! Check out the image on the far right, comparing this product to a spool of alleged "button and carpet" thread.
 I even used it to tie up my boat at the boat dock the other day because I forgot to bring the mooring line. OK. Maybe it's not that strong! And, um, maybe I don't have a boat. . .




Shower Valve
 In my view, one of the dumbest ideas - one of the biggest insults to our status as an intelligently evolved species - is the typical shower valve which has only one control handle. So you have to turn it to almost full volume to get warm water. There is no separate temperature control.
 This ingeneous product solves that problem and doesn't require a new shower valve plumbing assembly. You remove the shower head, insert this valve onto the threaded pipe, and replace the shower head.
 Now you can turn the flow down to a trickle while you are washing yourself and then open the flow for rinsing.
 This particular model is stainless steel and is much more substantial than the cheaper valves often sold at the big box home improvement stores. I have had to replace two of those valves because the handle's retaining ring gave way.




iPhone Charging Port Plug
 NOTE: Won't fit iPhone 15. These have USB-C ports, not "lightning" ports.
 I am constantly taking my iPhone out to the bay or to the beach here in the Pacific Northwest for pictures. This tends to make me nervous about corrosion forming in the "lightning" connector/charging jack. Also, dirt can get into this opening. A former device that I owned almost became unusable due to an intermittent connection while attempting to charge it.
 These tiny rubber plugs seal the port and keep out the salty spray as well as eliminating possible dirt in this critical jack. It's easy to just pop it out to permit charging, and then put it back. And there's 10 of 'em in the package in case you lose one or two.

vessel holder


vessel holder

Versatile Flask Holders
 I have purchased numerous hiking fanny packs in my time, and many of them had drink holders on one or both sides. But every one of these drink holders would carry at most a typical plastic water container. I prefer to bring my tea or water in the 21 oz hydroflask container, and usually I had the rubber "Hydroskins" jackets over the flask - for better grip. None of this kind of gear would even begin to fit in the tiny drink holders of the typical fanny pack.
 I recently discovered these large size drink pouches on Amazon. They will easily hold a 21 oz Hydroflask, even with the rubber jackets. These pouches come with two button down straps on one side (the black pouch in the far left image). You can snap these straps on the belt of a hiking fanny pack or even on your pants belt. The rightmost image shows the pouch secured to the belt of a smaller fanny pack.

vessel holder

Travel Pillow
 It's hard to find a lumbar support pillow that is "just right" - not too small, not too big. This pillow is adjustable. The product is filled with a "die-cut memory foam". For me, it's just about right. But if you want a bit firmer or thicker pillow, it can be adjusted. If you open the fill valve (seen on the upper left on the first image), the pillow expands due to the filling. You close the fill valve when it reaches the desired thickness. If you want it smaller, open the valve and compress the pillow a bit. Then close the valve.
 It comes with a mesh bag, or you can just leave it out of its mesh bag and attach it to your backpack/travel gear. (The pillow has its own strap.)






Arcade Elastic Belts With Flush Buckle
 I found one of these in an outdoor activity store several years ago. They are elastic fabric material with sturdy plastic buckles. I have been using them for several years and find them to be quite reliable and trouble free. The thin, compact buckle, combined with the elastic material, create a belt that you won't notice wearing.
 And, you can breeze right through the "guilty until proven innocent" metal detector at airports!
 There are quite a few well-selected color combinations for these belts.
 (Second image is courtesy of the manufacturer.)


Copyright © 2023 J.A.