Unitasker Wednesday: Baby Care Washer

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Reader Wendy sent in this week’s untiasker selection to us and I have to admit that I thought her email was a joke, like the product was something The Onion would make into a decoy gift box. My thought process went like this: 1. Haha, what a great fake product! 2. Imagine if something like that were actually real! 3. I’ll just click on the link to see how brilliant of a site they have set up for this fake product … 4. WHAAAA?!! NO WAY! HOW IS THIS REAL?! THIS CAN’T BE REAL! OMG, IT’S REAL! 5. Well, now I know I’ll be using the Baby Care Washer as next week’s unitasker:

In case you can’t tell from the image, this is a washing machine specifically made for washing only your baby’s clothes.

Let that sink in for a second.

Only. Your. Baby’s. Clothes.

Yep.

According to the product’s marketing, the reasons you need a special washing machine exclusively for your baby’s clothes and diapers are because your current washing machine doesn’t rinse detergent out of the clothes well enough (which might be true if your washing machine is from the 1970s and doesn’t have a second rinse cycle AND you have a baby with extremely sensitive skin) and your crappy washer doesn’t allow the water to get hot enough to sanitize your child’s clothes (which might be an issue for you if you’re using a detergent made out of germs instead of soap or not using a clothes dryer after using your germ-infused detergent or don’t have water temperature controls on your machine). Obviously, to fall for these ridiculous marketing points you must be in denial about the fact that your baby with super sensitive skin will eventually grow into a child with sensitive skin and then a teenager with sensitive skin and his/her clothing will need a normal washing machine much larger than this thing. What? I shouldn’t point that out??

Now, maybe I’m out of line, but if you have $600 to spend on a special washing machine just for your baby, isn’t it extremely likely you already have a super, fancy, full-capacity washing machine with the exact same specs and bells and whistles as this one but that everyone in your family can use? What is the likelihood that someone is willing to drop $600 on this device and doesn’t already own a high-end, deluxe washing machine? I’d say that likelihood is either zero or so close to zero as to be statistically irrelevant. Even “basic” washers have second rinse cycles and water temperature controls, and the “high-end” models even have things like disinfecting steam cleaning modes these days (which are great for pillows, by the way).

Another thing that made me laugh about this unitasker was something I found on the official Samsung website. The product description stated: “Designed especially for your baby, this washer features powerful double-rinsing technology that minimizes detergent residue, protecting your baby’s sensitive skin.” The sentence structure is so poorly constructed that it seems as if you could wash your baby in the washing machine instead of his/her diapers. Oh, Samsung.

Thanks again to reader Wendy for this unitasker discovery!

Unitasker Wednesday: Electric Peanut Butter Maker

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

This week, I’d like to introduce you to an appliance the size of a toddler that extrudes peanut butter and does nothing else. Introducing the Electric Peanut Butter Maker:

Obviously this thing is a unitasker. Obviously. But in addition to being a unitasker, it has to be a total pain in the arse to clean. It’s as if it wants to make life harder for the people who buy it.

Anyway, if you aren’t into buying peanut butter in jars at the store, you can easily make peanut butter at home without this unitasker. All you need is a food processor or a blender with a decent motor on it:

If you don’t already own a food processor or blender, by all means please consider purchasing one of those amazing multitaskers before a unitasker. You could also use a mortar and pestle to make peanut butter by hand, especially if you want to build the muscles in your forearm for your tennis game or ice cream scooping speed.

Unitasker Wednesday: Handpresso Auto Espresso Maker

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

This week’s unitasker is technically a multi-tasker — it brews espresso while you drive your car and it creates burn victims for ER doctors to treat! Introducing the Handpresso Auto Espresso Maker:

For $160 (yes, the low, low price of $160!), you too can hit a pothole and send 200ºF of pressurized liquid spray throughout the interior of your vehicle! All you need is a 12v cigarette/electrical outlet, specialized ESE pods for brewing (sold separately), and a willingness to be scalded when you turn a corner or get into a fender bender.

Also, imagine the wrecks you can cause by being the world’s most distracted driver when you pull the shot of espresso while going 65 mph on the highway! Clearly the developers of this product were of the impression that texting while driving wasn’t distracting drivers enough — they wanted to take distraction to the next level, and they succeeded! The Handpresso Auto Espresso Maker IS the NEXT LEVEL!

Unitasker Wednesday: Beer Briefcase

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

My husband is a homebrewer and sometimes when we go to friends’ houses for dinner we bring his beer instead of a bottle of wine or champagne or an orchid as a hostess gift. When we do this, we bring the bottles of his homebrew in a cardboard six-pack case you get for free at the store when you buy beer. We simply save a few of those cardboard cases — maybe four or five a year — and reuse them. (Yay! Reuse! It is Earth Day, after all.) Reusing the containers is super easy, especially since they fold flat so when we store them it doesn’t take up much room in the pantry. One thing we’ve never had need for or even considered wanting is a Beer Briefcase:

That’s right, it’s a briefcase for your bottles of beer. And, no, that isn’t some type of fancy cooling mechanism around those bottles, it’s regular foam. All it does is protect your bottles from clanging together, not chill them for drinking. Even if you were a beer distributor and wanted to bring samples of beers for your clients to taste, this would be less helpful for you than a small cooler.

So. Um. Yeah. Definitely a unitasker.

Thanks to Unclutterer Jacki for finding this gem for us. And, speaking of Jacki, I am sad to report that her last regular post with us will be next Monday, April 27. She’s retiring from online writing and our Unclutterer family isn’t going to be the same without her. We will miss all her Canadian and British spellings, her non-US insights, and especially her knowledge of uncluttering, organizing, and the manufacturing industry.

Unitasker Wednesday: Snap-On Can Strainer

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

There’s not really much to write about this week’s selection because it’s so obviously a unitasker. The Snap-On Can Strainer:

Clearly the people who designed this device have never thought to use the lid of the can for this purpose. Or a colander. Or even your hand. There are probably a dozen other items that are already in your kitchen that you could use to strain the contents of a can that simply aren’t popping into my brain right now. Oh! A large fork could do it.

Even if you were someone with limited dexterity this device would be harder to use than a colander — lining up the lid and snapping it into place is more difficult than pouring the can’s contents into a strainer. I’m not sure who this device is marketed toward. People who have never opened cans? People who don’t cook? Now I wish I had their sales numbers to find out how much product them move and who buys this thing.

Unitasker Wednesday: Juicer Pro

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

I’ll admit, I’ve never understood the purpose of little plastic doodads that you stick into citrus fruit to extract their juice. My husband has one, and it only gets half the juice out of the fruit and it has to be washed in the dishwasher afterward and it never inserts into the fruit easily and he usually still has to cut the fruit open and … I don’t get it. A knife and clean hands are all I need. But, I’ll admit, at least with the one he has, the opening for juice to pour out of it is large so that a single fruit seed doesn’t clog the device. This, however, isn’t even the case with the Juicer Pro:

Seriously, could that spout be any smaller and more cloggable? (Cloggable? Clogable? Clog-able? Able to be clogged?)

I’m starting to feel like the majority of kitchen unitasker purchases could be prevented if people simply checked YouTube first. “Should I buy this gadget? Let me check YouTube first to see if I can do this same thing with tools I already own.”

For example, in this clip, Jamie Oliver can teach you how to juice a lemon using a knife and your hands — two things people who intend on juicing lemons very likely already own:

Unitasker Wednesday: Loose Leaf

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

My family eats a lot of kale. It’s the one vegetable I can set in front of both my kids that they will devour and ask for more. I don’t know why, but I’m not complaining, especially since they aren’t big on eating red meat and kale is packed with iron. Anyway, a few years ago, I learned a ridiculously simple trick for how to de-stem an entire head of kale in usually less than a minute using only your hands. The trick is so easy that it makes the Loose Leaf wholly unnecessary when de-stemming kale:

How is the Loose Leaf a unitasker? If you have two hands and have enough grip strength to use the Loose Leaf, you have no need for the Loose Leaf. The device and the simple trick pretty much employ the same concept, except one requires you to spend money on the special tool pictured above, waste time and energy using and cleaning it, and then sacrifice some of your space to store it … and the other doesn’t.

What’s the simple trick? Let an adorable child demonstrate it for you:

That’s it, easy peasy! No knife or Loose Leaf needed to de-stem the kale and nothing to buy, clean, or store. Woo hoo, hands!

Thanks to reader Amy for bringing this unitasker to our attention.

Book review: Better Than Before

It’s rare that I come across a book and think, “every Unclutterer reader could benefit from reading this book.” But Gretchen Rubin’s latest book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives falls into that exclusive category.

As the title suggests, this book is about creating beneficial life-long habits. The book doesn’t prescribe which habits a person should create, rather it’s a comprehensive exploration of HOW to make lasting habits that YOU want to make. If you want to be more productive, manage your time better, stay current with household chores, live in an organized manner, have better follow through, or any of the other “Essential Seven” changes like exercise regularly or eat and drink more healthfully, this book can help you to make that happen.

First and foremost, Rubin acknowledges that everyone is different and a one-size-fits-all approach to habit formation is ineffective. In the Self Knowledge section, she provides questions and examples to help the reader learn more about him/herself to determine what methods and strategies will actually stick. She points out that most people fall into one of four habit tendencies — she calls them The Four Tendencies — and structures the advice in the book around this concept. (For example: I’m predominantly an Upholder, but have a few Questioner leanings. Therefore, I know her suggestions for Upholders will almost always work for me and if not, the Questioner suggestions are what I should try next.)

From there, Rubin recommends strategies for how to determine which habits you wish to cultivate and why you may wish to introduce specific habits into your life. She believes, as I do, that “How we schedule our days is how we spend our lives.” Our daily habits are who we are. She defines habits as “freeing us from decision making and from using self-control,” and more clearly explains this definition of habits a few paragraphs later:

When possible, the brain makes a behavior into a habit, which saves effort and therefore gives us more capacity to deal with complex, novel, or urgent matters. Habits mean we don’t strain ourselves to make decisions, weigh choices, dole out rewards, or prod ourselves to begin. Life becomes simpler, and many daily hassles vanish.

So, once you have clarity of what you wish to do and what habits you wish to incorporate to reflect your identity, you can set forth on your habit creations and life changes. She believes there are four Pillars of Habits: Monitoring, Foundation, Scheduling, and Accountability. You’ve likely encountered these concepts before in terms of goal setting — you need to be able to monitor (in a quantifiable way) the process and outcomes, you need to begin with a foundation of changes that will produce results quickly and in a rewarding way, you need to schedule when the habits will take place, and then have a way to be accountable for your changes. Rubin provides varying types of strategies in each of these Pillars based on your tendency type.

Next, she addresses how to begin the new habits. And then, what I see as the most valuable part of the book, Rubin explores the most common ways people fail at sustaining good habits and how to overcome those problems based on their tendencies. In the chapter “Desire, Ease, and Excuses,” I was most drawn to the sections on Safeguards and Loophole-Spotting.

Safeguards, at least as I interpreted them, are plans you create in advance for when you expect to fail or when you will make exceptions to your habits. It’s knowing yourself well enough to predict how you will fall off the proverbial wagon and then plan what you will do about it when it happens. They’re backup plans formulated in the If-Then method: “If _____ happens, then I will do _____.” For example, I abstain from eating doughnuts — I’m not a huge fan of them and they’re not a healthful food choice. However, based on experience, I know there is one situation where I have virtually no self-control when it comes to consuming them. Therefore, I have a safeguard in place for when I find myself in that specific tempting situation. “If someone offers me a doughnut, then I will eat one ONLY if I am standing in a doughnut shop and the doughnut is hot and fresh off the production line.” I am a person who doesn’t eat doughnuts except in that specific situation, and since I am rarely in that situation, I at least know how I will handle myself if/when I encounter it. In 10 years, I have only encountered that situation twice.

Loophole-Spotting is similar to Safeguards in that it requires you to plan how you will behave when you seek out loopholes. I’m not a huge loophole seeker (I like to finish projects more than start them), but one of the loophole examples Rubin provides was something I do all the time. She names 10 common loopholes (you’ve likely used the “This Doesn’t Count” Loophole when you’re sick or on vacation and the Tomorrow Loophole when you put things off until tomorrow) and the one that screamed at me was the Concern for Others Loophole. This loophole is when we excuse our behavior because we believe our exceptions to our habits are for another person’s benefit, when that actually isn’t the case. She provides numerous examples that I’ve made countless times in my life and one just the other day: “It would be rude to go to a friend’s birthday party and not eat a piece of cake.” Similar to doughnuts, I’m not a huge fan of cake and I prefer to abstain, yet I eat a slice of cake at every birthday party I attend because I don’t want to seem rude! Her advice for dealing with loopholes is sound:

By catching ourselves in the act of invoking a loophole, we give ourselves an opportunity to reject it, and stick to the habits that we want to foster.

I personally found this book to be incredibly helpful. If you want to make changes in your life through the adoption of positive habits, I strongly recommend Gretchen Rubin’s latest book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. Again, I truly believe all unclutterers could benefit from the research and analysis contained in it. Establishing uncluttering and organizing habits can simplify one’s life, and Rubin’s methods can show you how to do this effectively.

Unitasker Wednesday: Willy Wonka Chocolate Bar Wrapper with Golden Ticket Replica with No Chocolate Included

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

On Tuesday, Disney announced it had tapped Tim Burton to direct a live-action remake of Dumbo. After reading this news, I instantly remembered another Tim-Burton-related unitasker I saw at a white elephant gift exchange a couple years ago. It’s linked to Burton’s 2010 remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and it is a cruel unitasker that is sure to upset every candy lover who comes into contact with it. Introducing the Willy Wonka Chocolate Bar Wrapper with Golden Ticket Replica with No Chocolate Included:

Seriously, how twisted of a person must you be to give someone a faux candy bar? “Hey! I know you love chocolate so I got you a replica of a candy bar! There’s absolutely no chocolate in it at all. Enjoy!”

You might as well get some fake bacon for the bacon lover in your life or a model of a salad! As strange as Tim Burton’s movies are, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he’s behind the no-chocolate candy bar …

Unitasker Wednesday: Nose Shower Gel Dispenser

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

This week’s unitasker was picked because it has an “ewwww” factor of a million. Introducing the Nose Shower Gel Dispenser:

Putting on my Unclutterer hat for a moment, I think it’s completely unnecessary to transfer shower gel from its original packaging into a giant nose. It creates one more step to a simple process. (It’s a weak attempt at an explanation for why I think this is a unitasker, but at least I’m trying. I haven’t blown it altogether with this, right?)

However, if I take off that Unclutterer hat and replace it with my normal human hat, at face value, I think this device is plain ol’ icky! I’d probably stop taking showers with this in my bathroom.

Unitasker Wednesday: The lettuce knife

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are for entertainment — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Growing up, my mom had a giant green plastic knife that she kept in our family’s kitchen tool drawer. When I got my first apartment, she asked me if I wanted it. Seeing as I had no idea what the knife did since I’d never seen her use it, I had to ask her why I could possibly want to take it with me. She informed me it was a “lettuce knife” for the purpose of cutting lettuce. Apparently, she continued, it also prevented lettuce from browning when/if you cut it. The lettuce knife looked similar to this:

A couple weeks ago, I randomly started thinking about that knife and how strange it was. It reminded me of a movie or play prop, not something you would actually use in a kitchen.

I researched what a couple of the most trusted food scientists today had to say on the matter of traditional knives causing lettuce to brown to see if they were true.

Harold McGee in his book On Food and Cooking on page 318 strongly suggests to use a regular knife to cut lettuce:

If the leaves need to be divided into smaller pieces, this should be done with the least possible physical pressure, which can crush cells and initiate the development of off-flavors and darkened patches. Cutting with a sharp knife is generally the most effective method; tearing by hand requires squeezing, which may damage tender leaves.

Since the plastic lettuce knives are about as sharp as a plastic knife you might use at a picnic (which isn’t sharp at all) and they can’t be sharpened, this excludes the lettuce knife as a possible tool to keep lettuce from browning. (His statement also dismisses tearing leaves as a viable method to prevent browning.)

The magazine Cook’s Illustrated studied lettuce in their test kitchen for more than two weeks and came to a different conclusion than McGee, but it’s hardly an endorsement for buying a lettuce knife just to cut lettuce. They used a stainless steel blade (one with a super-thin high-carbon steel blade), the Zyliss Fresh Cut Salad Knife, and tore some, too:

Though all lettuce began showing some browning on the ribs after 10 days, none showed any signs of browning on the cut or torn surfaces. After 12 days, the heads cut with metal knives showed faint signs of browning on these surfaces, and the lettuce cut with the plastic knife followed a day later. The torn lettuce was last to brown on its ruptured edges, starting to turn at 2 weeks.

In short, the test kitchen discovered that lettuce naturally browns by 10 days, making the methods for cutting or tearing pointless since the cut/torn edges didn’t brown until a couple days later. As I said, it’s hardly an endorsement to buy a special knife.

My guess is that most people don’t keep lettuces in their refrigerators for more than 10 days, especially since they can’t be frozen. People buy lettuce and use it in a week. If you are someone who does keep lettuce for more than 10 days, the lettuce will already be brown, so using a plastic lettuce knife won’t matter.

For best results when cutting lettuce, use a very sharp, very thin, stainless steel blade and then plan to consume the lettuce immediately or up to 10 days after purchase. If you plan to cut it and store it, be sure to buy the freshest lettuce you can so as to make it those full 10 days (if the lettuce is old, it won’t even last 10 days before browning). You can also tear lettuce with your hands if you plan to use it right away, not dirtying any knives at all.

Knowing how to use and care for the knives you already own will save you from spending money on specialty tools you don’t need, especially when the specialty tools don’t improve or benefit your desired outcome.

Unitasker Wednesday: Pocket Card Tip Table

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are for entertainment — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

This week’s unitasker selection is much like a retirement party. It’s an opportunity to express our gratitude for the many years of service given by the Pocket Card Tip Table:

In the time before cell phones, people carried this quaint little card around with them in their wallets. It helped to quickly determine the amount to tip someone for their services. It only served one purpose, even then, but it had utility and was convenient.

But then came the prevalent flip-style cell phone in the 1990s with its multipurpose calculator program, which made this little Tip Table less necessary. And now, making the Tip Table obsolete, there are hundreds of tip and bill splitting apps for smartphones that provide multiple features and require no space in your wallet. (Android and iPhone) Not to overlook the obvious, either, that service tipping has always been able to be determined by doing math in one’s head, one one’s fingers, or working it out on a slip of paper.

Here’s to the Pocket Card Tip Table. You served us well, old friend. Enjoy your retirement!