Tell us about a product that you were pleasantly surprised by its usefulness

A good product for around here is the lawn and leaf chute. Our yard waste is supposed to go in these big biodegradable paper bags. The manufacturers claim the bags will stand up by themselves, but that almost never works, especially if there’s even a bit of wind. The chute makes it easier to unfold the bags properly, and also gives enough stiffness and weight so they actually stand up. Best 12 bucks I ever spent on yard care.

Related: My leaf compost pile and my rotating tumbler composters. We collect all our leaves and put them in a pile (I made an enclosure using field fencing) and by the next fall, we have fantastic compost. I turn the pile ever few weeks during the thawed months.

Our rotating composters handle everything else: Lawn clippings, food waste, all our garden waste (I mulch it first), some of our paper waste, etc. We have 4 bins and it takes about one month to complete a batch during warm months.

Yes, I learned this the hard way on my recently acquired new-to-me classic Mercedes :man_facepalming: Thankfully I plan on getting a new paint job done on it sometime in the not-too-distant future so I’m not bothered by the small cloudy spot.

They work ok on glass though. Which is weird because a Brillo pad will absolutely scratch the hell out of car glass. Something I also learned the hard way.

My contribution: bagless vacuums. I know they’re standard now but ~15 or 20 years ago, when bag vacs were pretty much the standard option, I thought the canister vacuums were just a gimmick: all that swirling air and little tornado of dust couldn’t actually be effective in trapping dirt, right?

Of course, now I know better.

My Instant Pot. My wife got it some time ago. It wasn’t a major event, we have too much crap like that around the house. But now I use it at least once a week. You can cook almost anything in it.

Does it snow where you are, and if so how long is the ground covered in it? I have a big piece of such fencing I’ve been trying to figure out what do do with, and soon will have more leaves than I know what to do with. We average 5 feet of snow a winter, though, and I’ve heard that leaves don’t do much under snow which is why most you don’t get up before it snows are still there whole in April.

I live on the ID/WA border near Spokane, so yes, we get snow. We typically can expect to have snow on the ground Dec-Feb’ish. And no, they don’t do much when it is really cold since they often freeze solid. We try to add as much nitrogen in the form of coffee grounds (my wife gets a lot from her work’s coffee cart) to keep it warm and active, but we give up for a couple months (well, we still dump on the coffee grounds - just don’t stir them in). Coffee grounds are great for composting or just throwing in your garden beds.

Interesting. Maybe I’ll give it a shot and hope that the snow holds off long enough for some composting to happen. I don’t drink coffee but I do have a big bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer I can sacrifice part of in the name of science.

Swedish Dishtowels. These things work as advertised.

I picked up a “hair snake” drain unclogger tool a few years ago in the sale bin at a local hardware store. Basically a length of coated flexible wire with a small pad at one end covered in Velcro hook material (like this one General PDP Template | Canadian Tire). It’s fantastic for getting the wads of my wife’s long hair out of the bathroom sink and tub drains when they start to drain slowly.

Single serving bottles of spring water. It was the commercials for some water purifier that did it – they’d show people using these bottles of water and disposing of them, in a wide variety of ways, to show how badly our disposable culture creates waste. But on me they had the effect of showing me how convenient bottled spring water is.

Also, the robotic vacuum cleaner. Though, not so much its usefulness, which turned out like I expected. The pleasant surprise was how much of a kick I get out of the downstairs getting vacuumed every Friday and Monday morning. I actually use the area differently, knowing that it will be clean.

Gatopescado mentions Rain-X. That’s my Unpleasant surprise. It made my wipers shudder so violently I thought they were going to come apart, and it took a long time to clean it off my windshield though I tried all sorts of cleaners and solvents. I couldn’t believe what a mess they made of driving in the rain, for weeks!

I rolled my eyes when my wife bought a Magic Bullet blender; I thought it was going to sit on our counter collecting dust. But she has used it to make smoothies an average of 3 times a week for the past 10 (?) years and it really it easy to use and clean.

YES! I love these. I bought 3 sets of 6 from Amazon about a month ago. I had a couple already and knew I loved them and used them more than any of the other dish cloths I had. So after I received my new Swedish cloths, I took all of the regular ones out of the drawer and gave them to my husband for garage rags. I also love all of the cute designs there are to choose from.