Note: I do not get any money from the following recommendations. These are just the items that make our family function a little bit better.

It’s no secret that I am far from a perfect homemaker. I love cooking but I hate cleaning up. A messy house can make me increasingly anxious but my family is plagued by my paper piles everywhere. Some weekends, I’m just thrilled that I got all of the laundry washed and put away.

That being said, there are home items that have made all aspects of home management better, many of them items that we spent forever contemplating and then wondered what we ever did before we spent the money we didn’t want to spend.

Since we are almost through the Christmas season and contemplating a new set of resolutions as we look forward to a (hopefully) greatly improved 2021, here are the four home items that our family has decided we just can’t do without. Yes, I know this is a deviation from the writing norm for me, but sometimes it’s good to give out purely helpful tips.

Robot vacuum

I hate cleaning our floors, which is not good for our house or our allergies since we have had shed-happy dogs for most of our marriage. When robot vacuums appeared to be improving in technology and we had some seasonal gift money, Jeff and I finally caved and decided to join the growing number of people letting robots clean their houses. After all, we already had a robot cleaning our pool. How different would it be to have one cleaning our house?

We started with a bObsweep because we were looking to save some money, but it didn’t take long before we ditched the cheaper versions for our Rumba. Regardless of the model, it transformed our floors and the general state of our house. We had to keep the floors picked up because otherwise things got eaten by a robot that didn’t care what it picked up. We were emptying it out daily and after a week of it still filling up with dirt and dog hair, we finally realized just how dirty our house had been.

In short, we were disgusted.

After over two years, the original Rumba was completely worn out from cleaning up after four humans and two four-legged creatures. We have finally upgraded to a new Rumba with better brushes and a wifi feature that now communicates with us when it runs into trouble. In fact, after only a few days of running, Jeff got the following notification from “Winkie” (our daughter named her after the house elf in Harry Potter):

Sarah Styf | Accepting the Unexpected Journey

Our new Rumba is getting our floors super clean every day and there is no way I’m going back. I just need to suck it up and get our steam mop out to clean the floors after she’s done.

Sarah Styf | Accepting the Unexpected Journey

Pellet grill

When we got our first smoker about fifteen years ago, I rolled my eyes at my husband’s suggestion that we needed one. After all, how different could a smoker really be from using a grill.

I quickly learned, very different.

We have transitioned from electric smoker to propane smoker and now we are on our second pellet grill. Our first pellet grill was a Traeger that we purchased at a big box store and I sang its praises for years. After it started having problems this spring, we bought another, lesser-known brand with more features and it has been…ok. Honestly, I would go back to a new Traeger in a heartbeat, if it didn’t cost so much to replace.

It has been our second oven. During the hot summer months in Texas we prefer to use our pellet grill over our inside stove. It’s easy, can run all night (important when making brisket and pulled pork), and we have made full feasts for guests on our outdoor appliances. If you are looking to replace your grill, it is well worth the investment. We cook and freeze so many meals from our grills that it’s become more necessary than our oven. We even bake chocolate chip cookies on it, a revelation that amazed our daughter’s friends when she took grilled cookies to school for a birthday celebration.

Smart thermostat

We bought our first programmable thermostat when we bought our second house, but we bought our first Nest after we moved into our house in Fort Wayne. When we moved to Texas, we knew from the very beginning that we would need to replace the thermostat immediately. We won our new Nest at a home show that we attended while we were just trying to escape the heat of our camper, which we were living in at the time.

Not only is it energy saving, it allows us to monitor the temperature in the house when we aren’t home and we can turn it on from the road. Seriously, get yourself a smart thermostat. It’s well worth the investment for your finances, your comfort, and the environment.

Sarah Styf | Accepting the Unexpected Journey

Multi-function cooker

I fought it so hard. Everyone got into the Instant Pot craze and I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t going to jump onto the bandwagon. I wasn’t going to be a lemming.

Then this multi-cooker went on sale at one of the big box stores and we just couldn’t resist. It had everything we had been looking for in a single device.

Our primary uses so far are the air fryer and the sous vide settings. After getting used to using my husband’s beer machine to do our sous vide cooking (and if that isn’t something you have tried, you really need to try it), I was crushed when it suddenly stopped working. Now we have a single cooker that appears ready to do nearly everything. And considering that it prepares the best steak that I have ever had, I don’t think I’m getting rid of it.

Sarah Styf | Accepting the Unexpected Journey

So there you have it, the four items that I currently cannot do without. I know that this isn’t my usual writing fare, but if you’re looking to change things up for the new year (or spend that “stimulus” check), these suggestions might be worth it.

Here’s to starting 2021 out right, or at least better than 2020.

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One Reply to “Four Home Gadgets We Can’t Do Without”

  1. Check your user’s manual on the robot vacuum cleaner. I had mine unplugged for a few months and the battery died. I had to purchase a replacement battery in order to get back in the habit of using it again.

Thoughtful and nuanced responses welcome!