Simple Tools

I remember reading a story about how NASA researched for years to develop a pen that would work in the anti-gravity world of space. They spent a lot of time and money creating a workable writing instrument. At the same time, the Russian cosmonauts used a pencil.

When I was a teenager, my mom told me that I insisted on doing things the hard way. Which probably meant not her way. But there is some truth to the comment. At that time, we had an electric can-opener, which looked something like this:

can opener

I thought it was ridiculous to use this energy-sucking device when we had a hand-held can opener that worked just fine.

I prefer walking to riding in a car (maybe because I have to drive so much for work.) I prefer raking the leaves rather than using a gas-powered leaf blower. Usually this preference saves me money and aggravation. The rake always works, doesn’t need repairs or fuel.

I don’t always prefer to do things “the hard way.” As mentioned before, I like my washing machine rather than beating the clothes on a rock. But I like to be mindful of the machines I invite into the house. Sometimes the simpler tool is the best one.

How about you all? What are some simple tools you prefer to more complex ones that do the same job?


13 thoughts on “Simple Tools

  1. Lisa says:

    Oh, praise the hand held can opener! I come from a hand held home, my hubs from electric. When he insisted the electric opener was a must in our new home together, we compromised. I rid us of something called a an electric roaster (nothing more than a giant crock pot), and he got the electric opener of his dreams. Baby steps when minimizing the hubs. 🙂 I’ve also found that my cherished set of cherry handled screwdrivers, received from my folks many years ago as a gift, work far better for putting a screw in a wall to hang a heavy picture than the hubs’ overpowered drill. 🙂


  2. Patricia says:

    Getting rid of some of my appliances has been in the back of my mind for some time. Maybe, my mixer will go since i use the whisk 90% of the time for baking and can use the hand held potato masher. Thanks for the nudge to give this more thought


  3. Melodee says:

    In the early 90s I was given an electric can opener similar to this as a gift. I told the giver I would never use it and asked them to take it back. I prefer hand washing my few dishes over waiting for a dishwasher to load up and hand mix over using an electric mixer.


  4. Diane says:

    When I was young, I got zapped using my parents’ electric can opener; got zapped using their electric frying pan; and watched the pressure cooker explode which led to having to scrape cauliflower off the kitchen ceiling. After that, I chose to manually open cans, fry food in a regular pan, and refused to put any pressure on my food. I recently inherited their electric knife and worked up the courage to try it on a baguette. The blades kept separating in two and it was noisier than a leaf-blower, so I threw it in the garbage and invested in a good bread knife. Sometimes using electric may save time, but really, are we THAT busy to not spend a few seconds or minutes longer doing things manually?

    Other wastes of money and electricity are (in my humble opinion) electric rice makers (really, how hard is it to add water and rice to a pan, bring to a boil, then let simmer); electric bread makers (better to knead it manually as a good workout for those flabby upper arms); electric woks; electric blanket (beware of thunderstorms); electric heating pad (hot water bottles are better — I travel with mine 🙂 ); and electric toothbrush which has to be the ultimate in laziness.


  5. suzie says:

    My favorite can opener is a Swing-Away that mounts on the side of a cabinet. It works like a charm has a magnet to hold the lid when the can is removed. Takes a bit of getting used to, but worth the effort. It also never gets lost in a drawer.


  6. NicolaB says:

    I prefer drying clothes on the line to a tumble dryer (although at this time of year they have to be dried indoors and we have ended up buying a dehumidifier as the house was getting mouldy…still I imagine that the dehumidifier uses less energy than the tumble dryer and/or keeping the house hot with the air conditioning).

    We have a washing machine, but no dishwasher and I quite enjoy doing the dishes; I use the mini food processor quite regularly to grate beetroot etc for soup; don’t use the icecream maker anymore so perhaps that can go.

    I’ve never heard of an electric can opener or potato masher! Most cans here now have ring pulls on the top, so manual can opener only needed when they fail.

    I dislike complex DIY tools- a basic screwdriver is fine, I find the ratchet ones and the electric ones too complicated.

    Used to have an electric toothbrush but when it broke I started buying non electric compostable ones.


  7. Swissrose says:

    I prefer manual tools, too, and have instinctively avoided electric gadgets over the years. I am glad of my washing machine, electric kettle and vacuum cleaner, though! But I can do without them easily enough, I find, when I am on holiday and those things aren’t available. Otherwise I use knives, masher, whisk, snow shovel, mop etc. instead of machines. And a cast iron pot slow cooks, too.


  8. jenny chicago says:

    Hi Faye it has got to be my blender. I gave my juicer away and refused to use my dad’s nutribullet too because I think my blender actually serves multiple uses – one as a JUICER, another as a FOOD PROCESSOR (does great for mixing stuff for pesto pasta) and a CHOPPER(chopping up walnuts) and my next experiment is to use it to ground coffee beans in lieu of a COFFEE GRINDER! As you can see my good ole blender is absolutely multi purpose and helps eliminate the need for at least 4 gadgets that I can think of! I love your blog Faye and I absolute get so excited when you post a personal count of your items and items within your home. It’s an automatic queue for me when I see a post like that to revisit mine. Keep posting those pics! You are a great inspiration!


  9. Béatrice says:

    I think I am on the opposite trend on that one.

    I never really bought much electric tools (where I live, the cans always come with a knob to open them, so no need to have a can opener), not because it was a principle of mine but I just thought they would take too much space.

    I always had a hand mixer though and I would have a hard time to live without one (I love soups!). For many years I lived without a vacuumcleaner and a dishwasher. I used a broom and water and I enjoyed the silent meditative aspect of it. Both my boyfriend and I enjoy doing the dishes so we did not use the dishwasher that was in our appartment. I did not have an electric kettle or a toaster. I have always shared a washing machine and dryer with other households in the same building and that works fine for me.

    But now, with a family, I find that my life is easier with the electric kettle and toaster that I use everyday. This summer, we bought a small cordless vacuumcleaner and it has greatly simplified our life. With kids, it is just easier to vacuum than to make small piles of dust that would spread everywhere before one has the time to pick them up!!! We started to use our dishwasher 2 weeks ago and that allows us to spend more time together in the evening, so that is very positive because time is a rare entity with small children. We have decided to use it only on weekends when we eat 3 meals a day.

    And then, dare I to tell you? This is totally nonsense but my dream since I was little is to have an electric pencil sharperner!


  10. Romana says:

    My kitchen is probably boring and non-functional to other women my age. There’s no KitchenAid. I’ve always mixed cookie dough, cake mix, banana bread batter, etc. with a bowl and spoon by hand. I use the electric mixer for whipped potatoes and instructions that call for it to be used. I’ve tried various vegetable chopper gadgets but cleaning and storing them was such a hassle. It’s easier to clean and store a cutting board and knife. I buy bread, dried fruit, beef jerky, beans, cupcakes at the store. Making these myself sounds like a mess I’m not going to want to clean up and appliances I don’t feel like spending money on, storing or taking care of. I only like smoothies, or shakes as I like to call them, once in a while, so the blender only comes out once or twice a year. Taco fixings are set out in “Tupperware.” What isn’t used gets a lid put on it and goes in the fridge. I do have an electric can opener. The manual one is too hard on my hands anymore. Simple is best and there are 10 or so things I think I make real well that I and my family enjoy. I accept that I’m no Martha Stewart in the kitchen nor will I torture myself into trying and thinking I should be.


  11. Chandra says:

    I was actually thinking about this today. We got snow here so my husband and I went out and shoveled it. He has asked a few times if we can get an electric snow blower, but I refuse! We waited until evening after most of the snow had fallen and it was so peaceful… Not to mention a good excuse to get us off the couch! While I am young and physically able I will stick to my simple shovel.


  12. Anastasiya says:

    Everything here. No appliances except a magic bullet. Use a pan instead of a toaster. A pot instead of microwave. Whisk instead of mixer. Knife instead of vegetable chopper, cheese slicer, etc. oven instead of toaster oven or dehydrator. Hands instead of dishwasher. Line instead of dryer.


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