Real talk: life is hard. It doesn't take much to get bogged down in the hustle and bustle of Being Alive in 2023. Our jobs are busy, our families are busy, even our very minds are busy. Simply put, every one of us can use all the help we can get.
That's why we're highlighting some products we've deemed Essential Extras. Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Well, these aren't essential in the same way that, say, these baking tools are. These are a few of our favorite little gadgets and gizmos that make the business of living easier or more comfortable. Each of the following products carries rave reviews and a price tag that's a little more "special treat" than "serious investment." So go ahead: toss a few in the cart and see just how much your life improves.
Start your morning right with some upbeat music while you shower! This portable bluetooth speaker from iFox is 100% waterproof (yes, you read that right-it even floats) and features a super-strong suction cup base so you can pop it onto your bathroom wall and get grooving. You could even answer a phone call if you wanted to. Remove the suction cup and toss it in your beach bag, clip it to your hiking pack, or tote it along to the pool. A fully charged battery lasts up to 10 hours for all day play.
I love my SipCaddy so much that I'm tempted to classify it as a straight-up essential rather than an extra. It features a cradle that will accommodate anything from a wine goblet to a beer bottle to a coffee cup. I've even been known to fit a martini glass in there from time to time. The suction cup backing, when applied properly, can hold an impressive seven pounds of weight. Use it anywhere that has a glass, mirror, or glazed tile surface. One outside-the-box-thinking reviewer even sticks it to the airplane window to free up space on their tray table. Genius!
Technically, this gooseneck mount is intended for the car, but I feel its ideal application is in the bath. While bathtub trays are a classic piece of bathroom decor, I find that I'm constantly in fear of moving my knee or sliding around in a way that might knock the whole thing right into the water. But stick this gadget's gel pad reinforced suction cup to the wall or the outer edge of the tub and you've got a more secure, hands-free way to enjoy a movie or scroll through social media while you soak!
Have you ever gone to light a candle only to find that your old disposable lighter is out of fuel? No matter how hard you shake it, the flint just won't catch? My friend, meet the flameless lighter. It's rechargeable, windproof, and water-resistant-not to mention way better for the environment. Flameless lighters use a high voltage arc to create heat rather than relying on flammable liquids like butane. When it starts to go dim, just plug it into the provided micro USB and you'll be back in business.
Full disclosure: an ex of mine was the one to pass along the Dash Rapid Egg Cooker, and for that reason, I was initially resistant to try it. But I am a woman who isn't afraid to admit when she's being stubborn, and I must say, I'm glad I finally gave this a shot. It really does its job perfectly; that's something that can't be said for every kitchen appliance! I like to make myself soft-boiled eggs and pretend I'm enjoying hotel room service, and the Dash cooker has become an indispensable tool to ensure creamy, just-set whites and runny yolks every time. It also makes poached eggs, omelets, and scrambles. The auto shut-off function means you can set it and by the time you're done getting dressed for the day, breakfast is ready! Plus, the diminutive design makes it a space saver as well as a time saver.
Wrangle your broom and mop with a pair of these Command grippers and cleaning may become slightly less of a headache. They stick to your closet wall using Command's revolutionary adhesive gel pads, making installation quick, easy, and tool-free. When it's time to take them down, just pull the tab to release. Easy-peasy!
Speaking of tackling clutter, it might seem logical to stack your baking pans in your cabinets from largest to smallest, but what happens when you need your cookie sheet? You have to lift everything up and take from the bottom. And Lord help you if you need something from the middle! Do yourself a favor and get a few of these bamboo racks. They cost less than $10, and it's so much quicker to just grab the pan or dish you need when it's stored on its side.
Have you ever seen a dish rack so magnificent? This thing is perfect for kitchens lacking in horizontal space. Made of high-quality stainless steel, it boasts multiple tiers of racks, knife holders, utility hooks, and storage baskets and can hold up to 70 pounds of dishes and kitchenware. Plus, the non slip rubber feet are adjustable to keep everything balanced even if the area around the sink itself isn't level. An engineering marvel.
This is truly a "work smarter, not harder" tool. The Rubbermaid Power Scrubber is like a giant electric toothbrush for grout and hard-to-reach places like behind the faucet. Powered by four AA batteries, it oscillates 60 times per second and comes with two interchangeable heads for getting into corners and tight crevices. Your shower mildew will not stand a chance against this tool.
This pocket-sized USB-rechargeable fan delivers a powerful breeze for anyone afflicted with hot spells. Weighing in at just three ounces and roughly the size of a cell phone, it's perfect for tossing in a purse or backpack. A fully charged battery lasts up to eight hours for all day comfort.
By now, we all know the health risks of sitting at a desk all day or spending hours doubled over, gazing into our phones. Taking some time to stretch out the back is more important than ever before and a device like this one can help ease discomfort and improve posture. The plate is adjustable to allow you to control the depth of the stretch, plus it's covered with acupressure massage points to get deep into the tissue, promoting circulation. Aaahhhh...
I suffer from chronic nosebleeds, and hands-down, the worst place to be caught without a supply of tissues or napkins is in the car. (I dare you to try to explain bloodstains in the upholstery to the detailer...) Granted, that's a pretty specific problem, but there are plenty of normal reasons to keep paper hankies around: greasy fast food from the drive through, kids with sticky hands, etc. You can even fill it with disposable masks! This dispenser clips to the sun visor and is easy to refill thanks to the Velcro-closure envelope design.
This genius accessory fits snugly into any standard-sized car cup holder and is compatible with bottles up to 4" in diameter, meaning you can securely tote along your Nalgene, Hydro Flask, or Big Gulp. There's even a notch cut out to accommodate a coffee cup handle! It's a car hydration game-changer.
For many, the end of WFH meant the return of the ol' doing-your-makeup-in-the-car routine, and unfortunately, the passenger seat of a Honda Accord isn't exactly known for its spectacular lighting. Luckily, someone very clever came up with a solution! This extra large lighted mirror fits on any standard visor and features 60 dimmable LEDs. One touch-sensor button turns the lights on and off while the other controls the brightness and color temperature. Choose between warm lighting, cool, or a mixture of both!
Anything that makes a workday easier is a win in my book. This little arm sticks to the back of a computer monitor and holds documents at eye level, easing neck stiffness and eye strain. The extra strong clip can handle up to 30 pages at a time and when you're finished using it, just swing it out of sight.
I love this product. My apartment is old and the front door has a sizeable gap between it and the floor, meaning that for a time, all manner of uninvited guests were waltzing in and making themselves at home. But since I installed this strip, I have had no problems with creepy crawlies and I've even noticed that my heating and cooling bill is lower! It's so easy to install. All you do is measure and cut to size, prep the door by cleaning it, and stick the strip on. The adhesive backing is really strong, but you can also tack in a few small nails for added reinforcement.
Let there be light - in the closet, under shelving, or wherever you need it! These LED strips attach to surfaces via a strong magnetic strip and are rechargeable by micro USB, making them easy to place where they'll do the most good regardless of wiring or proximity to an outlet. Plus, there's a motion sensor feature in addition to the on/off switch so they can be used, for example, as a bathroom nightlight or inside dark cabinets. The indicator light will tell you when it's time to charge it up and a full battery lasts a whopping two-four weeks on motion sensor mode. A very bright idea, indeed.