I wonder how well I’d do as a contestant on the hit TV show, Survivor. Have you seen the rules for what contestants are allowed to bring? Basically, it’s the clothes on your back, sunscreen and one luxury item. For example, a toothbrush is considered an acceptable luxury item; a hairdryer is not. Paper and pen—yes; Macbook Pro—no.

While I’m certain I could survive in my life with far fewer things than I do (I have in the past, trust me), there are things that I depend on heavily and use nearly every day—16 to be exact. These are things I love because they bring efficiency, joy and beauty to my life.

I’d need to be granted some kind of exception to allow me 16 rather than one luxury item on Survivor Island. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?


1. SHARK NAVIGATOR. Just the most amazing vacuum cleaner known to mankind. The bonus is that it is also inexpensive. While there are many models, I love my Shark Navigator with the Liftaway option and hard floor attachment. Simply indescribably efficient.

2. DYSON HANDHELD VAC. While not exactly the one pictured (mine is now 8 years old, because they change up the look with each model, I use my Dyson handheld vac every single day, sometimes multiple times. It’s like a member of the family.

3. BREVILLE SMART OVEN. Where do I start? This counter top oven should not be thought of as a “toaster oven.” although it does have a “toast” setting and make great toast. It also bakes, roasts, broils; has a convection option and knows how to adjust if contents are frozen. It has an awesome pizza setting and times every event. That’s because it has a brain. I can’t explain it, but continue to be amazed by it. It is my go-to oven, always. It’s so beautiful I don’t mind have it on the counter at all times. I love it so much, I’m noticing that I hardly ever use the oven that’s part of my stove.

4. SPOT SHOT. If spots on carpet drive you mad, here’s the best therapy ever. Bar none. So far, I cannot come up with a homemade option that works anywhere nearly as well.


5. THE RINGER. If you, like I, pride yourself on your well-seasoned cast iron skillet or other piece of cast iron cookware, you know not to come anywhere close to it with detergent. And you know not to scrape it with steel wool or metal utensils. That makes cleaning the thing a bit of a challenge—unless you have a Ringer. Don’t ask me how and why this works because it is made of stainless steel chainmail. But it does work. And cleans up cast iron without removing the seasoning And oh, so well.

6. INDUCTION COOKTOP. I stumbled into the world of induction cooking when we lived for 18 months without a stove or traditional cooktop. The learning curve was a bit steeper than I’d signed up for, but I had it down within a week. Oh my. Whoever invented this thing deserves a medal. The cooktop doesn’t get hot. In fact I can put my hand on it without feeling a thing, even when set to it’s highest. It reacts to the cookware (stainless steel or cast iron) and makes the vessel and its contents hot, not the burner itself. Just read the reviews and you’ll learn so much more. I am an induction cooking fan, big time! This single burner keeps me in the game.

7. FOODSAVER. No more spoiled food in our trash can. I’m a Foodsaver nut—vacuum sealing just about anything that’s standing still. An amazing invention, that allows me to buy anything in bulk from rice to strawberries—baked goods to meat and poultry. What normally would last for a week or two, is now good for months at the Hunt Home. And even more months when vacuum sealed items go into the freezer.

8. REAL SALT. I’m an ordinary cook. But don’t tell my friends and family. They think I’m an awesome cook. The truth is I use Real Salt, and have for at least 15 years. I found it in the gift shop at Salt Lake City airport. The best salt ever. It’ll make you cook like a Food Network rockstar. I buy the stuff by the 10-pound bucket (not as pictured); one bucket lasts for more than two years.


9. KNITTING NEEDLES. Yes I love to knit. The right knitting needles turn a tedious activity into a soothing, calming, dreamy pastime. These Knitter’s Pride interchangeable needles with their extra pointy metal tips are truly a dream come true. They’re to be revered, respected and enjoyed for the fine quality tools that they are. Know a knitter you’d love to surprise with the perfect gift? You will not go wrong with this collection.

10. WATERPIK. My dentist insists. Twice a day—with warm salt water. Enough said.

11. FLAT WHISK. I have a few kitchen tools, some that I like, not many I love. My 8.5 inch Rolele flat whisk sits at #1 on the Love List. I reach for it the way some folks reach for their iPhones, and by that I mean constantly. It fits in my hand, takes care of every imaginable task in my kitchen. And once in the garden. Shhhh!

12. CUTEX POLISH REMOVER. I don’t need this every day, but when I do need to remove nail polish, I do not want a mess. I don’t want a bottle tipping over and ruining everything in its wake. I want a product that will take polish off all ten nails with one disposable pad and in less time than I would expect. Bam! That’s Cutex Polish Remover Pads. Love ‘em.


13. LAUNDRY DETERGENT. I do a lot of laundry even though there are only two of us.Don’t give me a hard time about that, okay? I’d rather not live with have a backlog of dirty clothes and linens. So, I wash nearly every day. There is no better HE compatible liquid laundry detergent on planet Earth than our amazing EC Homemade Laundry Detergent.

14. LESTOIL. I’m new to this product, which has made me wonder where I’ve been! Every time I use this product I bless the day a number of readers told me about it. I use it mostly for very stubborn laundry stains. I’m talking about the stains that will not come out with Soilove; stains that are old and have been washed and dried repeatedly. It smells like something from an industrial factory, so be warned. I spray it on a stain sparingly, allow it to sit for at least 20 minutes (or overnight), then launder as usual. The industrial smell disappears along with the stain. Lestoil (as in “less toil”) has many other uses as well—including cleaning bakeware. Read up on it starting with all the reviews.

15. TUB SHOWER SCUM CLEANER. It’s magic, folks. That the only way to describe our EC homemade tub and shower soap scum eliminator. Specific recipe and directions are in this previous column. Use it as a daily shower spray and enjoy the magical results. You’ll save so much time and money—you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

16. STEAM IRON. Yes I am one of the few people in the world who loves to iron. That means I know a good steam iron when I use it and this Rowena fits that bill. I keep it at the ready at all times and use it—as I may have said already—daily. I do have a dry cleaner quality iron that I’ve written about in the past, but this is my daily go-to.

There you go—the things I use almost every day, which I’d not want to have to survive without!

Question: Do you have items you use so often you’re quite sure you could not survive without?