We probably all consider ourselves pretty technologically savvy at this point. Most of us now own a smartphone whereas circa 2008, the Motorola Razr was one of the most popular phones. Think about it.
Right now, you probably know about the latest iPhone model, the latest Android operating system KitKat, and the hottest tablet on the market. But what about some of the latest tech accessories?
Iíve rounded up 5 items that not only help maintain our plugged-in lifestyle, but do it in style. Yes, you donít need any of them (or maybe you do), but I assure you that youíll want all of them!
1. Mighty Purse Charging Clutch ($99.95)
This cute clutch comes in four colors and is made of genuine leather. Itís no ordinary purse though; it may carry your credit cards and your phone, but itíll also charge your phone. A full charge on the clutch provides enough power to charge a smartphone twice. Itís compatible with micro-usb smartphones, a Kindle or Kobo e-reader, and the iPhone 4 and 4s.
2. LSTN Troubadour Headphones ($150)
Like guitars, violins and pianos, these headphones are made from wood, which channels a naturally warm and resonant sound. Each pair is individually handcrafted from real, reclaimed wood, available in ebony, cherry, or beech wood. No two pairs are exactly alike, and for each pair sold, LSTN helps restore hearing to a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation.
3. MuseMini Bluetooth Speaker ($29.95)
Standing at about two inches tall, this small wireless speaker challenges the notion that bigger is better for audio. Sleek and cylindrical, itís designed to be portable, and it delivers surprising sound for its size. Just charge via USB for an hour and you get six hours of listening time.
4. Unlace Silicone Lace ($12.95)
This colorful, rubber, twistable silicone lace comes in two sizes and colors. If youíve ever gotten frustrated over a tangled mass of cables or just disliked the general clutter of wires, tame them with a strong and bendable lace to keep them in place. Plus, it can also double as a stand for a device.
5. Unlace Screenster Protective Finger Puppet ($7.95)
Whimsical and bound to bring a smile to your face every time you use it, this protective microsuede finger puff brushes away smudges on your screen and leaves no trace of fingerprints. When it gets too dirty or dusty, just give it a good wash.
What are some of your favorite (and stylish) tech accessories? Share in the comments.
If youíve been out casually browsing the department stores as I did this past weekend, youíll notice an old retail trick: lining the space around the checkout area with quick deals and impulse buys that you may pick up, adding another few dollars to your order.
This is because those items are high-margin products for the retailers. They make for great impulse purchases because theyíre cheap, fun, deliver instant gratification, and may have an nostalgic element to them -- like with a classic game of pick up sticks or your favorite bubble gum.
But squandering a few dollars here and there for items that cease to amuse us past the first hour of our purchase creates waste. And when the items are used as gifts, such as stocking stuffers, they end up as meaningless gifts.
To put together some acclaimed stockings this year, limit the dollar floral notepads, soap, or key chains and check out this roundup of problem solvers that provide practical solutions in an Ďahaí way.
Cuppow ($7.95) -- No more spilling hot coffee on the go. This is a lid for your mason jar, turning it into a portable travel mug.
Bubi Bottle (Starting at $14.95) -- Foldable, versatile, and durable, this water bottle can scrunch up in your pocket or double as a cold or hot compress.
Glove.ly ($29.95) -- These gloves let you use your whole hand on the touch screen if you want, and theyíre extra warm and soft with an insulated layer of warmth.
Gleener ($19.95) -- Eliminate unsightly fuzz and lint with this nifty shaver on your favorite cardigan.
OnHand ($19.95) -- For college students rushing back and forth, store your files in this wrist-ready USB flashdrive.
PocketMonkey (Starting at $18.95, Set of 2) -- This tool packs twelve functions together into a one-millimeter piece of stainless steel that's the size of a credit card.
When the Snuggie first came out, I have to admit I turned my nose up at it. Or rather, I laughed my socks off. But one day, to my horror, I came home to two newly acquired Snuggies in my living room, courtesy of my mom. Despite my initial aversion to it, I grew to appreciate its ability to keep me comfortably warm.
With the temperatures steadily dropping, Iíve rounded up a collection of Grommets thatíll keep you warm and cozy around or out of the house -- minus the cringe factor of a Snuggie.
French Bull Slippers ($30) -- If youíre looking for something more comfortable to move around the house in and something a lot more colorful, these slippers will cover your feet and have you walking on clouds.
Yogibo, Max ($229) -- My friend has two of these bean bag Yogibos in the living room, and I swear theyíre more comfortable than an actual bed. Itíll make you feel like a warm baby bird in a nest.
A-pril Tea Infuser ($13.95) -- This cute tea infuser keeps to its artistic roots from Germany company Koziol, but yet is practical. The strainer allows you to mix up your own blend while the flower cover keeps the heat in while your tea steeps and then serves as a holder for the strainer afterwards.
Pleece Hat ($40) -- This pleated fleece or ďpleeceĒ hat from Design House Stockholm features the companyís classic modern-meets-classic stylings. The unique blend of polyester and viscose will keep your head wonderfully warm wrapped in plush and softness.
Zkano Organic Socks ($14) -- All-American and made from certified organic ring-spun cotton, these socks come from a family-owned business of sock makers in Alabama. The socks come in many designs so theyíre great for adding a pop of color to your winter outfit while keeping your gams warm.
Alpaca Infinity Scarf ($32) -- Scarves have an uncanny way of putting the finishing touch to any outfit. This handmade alpaca wool and acrylic mix scarf is soft, durable, and provides warmth. And best of all, it wears multiple ways as a necklace, scarf, or neck warmer.
What are some of your favorite items for staying warm? I wonít judge if you own a Snuggie.
Most cat lovers adore their furry companions so much that theyíre willing to put up with the shedding, collateral damage to furniture, and interrupted sleep. So what does it take to live in harmony with your beloved cat?
Short of turning into a cat yourself, setting up your apartment for compatible cohabitation will help immensely. To do so, it may take a few unique pieces. Take a look at this roundup of apartment fixings that will keep you and your little Snowball content.
1. Furniture for People and Cats
Located in Japan and Hong Kong, THE9LIFE describes itself as a lifestyle brand of home products and furniture for stylish people who share their homes with cats, especially where space is a luxury. Check out the Afternoon Table; I think itís a really creative piece even if cat-less.FULL ENTRY
The toiletís leaking. Thereís only a bottle of ketchup in the fridge. And the oven hasnít been cleaned since the last attempt at a roast.
This is probably the reality for many first-time renters. Last month, the masses of college students moved back to Boston and other college towns. Amidst the flurry of picking up textbooks, checking out classrooms, and making new friends, many were probably setting up their off-campus apartments. And not too long before that, newly minted graduates were also moving into their first real apartments.
If youíre a renter, you must already have intimate knowledge of the exhilarating and frustrating highs and lows of renting. For those who are new to renting and just learning to be independent, get ahead of the game by stocking up your ďrenterís arsenalĒ to prepare for any moments of díoh!
1. Cookina BBQ and Cuisine Cooking Sheets; $27.95
Little expenses add up. Besides, not everyone always remembers to pick up aluminum foil, parchment paper, or cooking oil at the supermarket. The reusuable, nonstick, and food-safe Cookina mat works as an alternative to aluminum foil or parchment paper and can withstand heat up to 500 degrees. You can use the mat on the grill, as a baking sheet, or on the bottom of the oven, saving you money and from shopping hassle.
A couple of weeks ago, I met up with a friend for coffee. We hadn't spoken in a while, and the conversation invariably led to our hectic schedules. By no means were we married with kids like some of our friends but, with a laugh, we both acknowledged how work had become our boyfriends.
As we near the holiday seasons, life tends to get a bit more hectic. We want to do it all. We want to be the perfect employee, mother, husband, daughter, girlfriend, friend, and even dog mom. But on top of our normal obligations, the mere addition of another to-do -- let alone the mammoth task of holiday shopping -- is enough to make most folks sweat.
Here is a roundup of 5 simple things that will save you a few minutes here and there -- enough to tide you over until the New Yearís, hopefully.
If the clutter in your bathroom is making it hard to locate things, this holster will help take things off your counter and keep hot styling tools safe and organized. Donít spend the morning looking for things.
Sunglass and reader holders keep your items scratch-free, but theyíre an extra thing to carry around and take up space in your bag. The Flipcase is a sturdy case that folds up flat when not in use. Slip it in a side pocket in your bag and itíll be a tad faster to find your keys.
3. HICKIES: Elastic Lacing System; $19.99
Discard your dirty laces and the hassle that comes with tying shoelaces for HICKIES. Theyíll turn your shoes into slip-on ones and you can choose the colors to match your outfit. An added bonus is that you wonít have to spend more time throughout the day retying your shoes.
4. Siconi: Sticky Pad (3 Pack); $25
This may be for the truly lazy -- or the truly resourceful. Instead of searching your kitchen or fridge surface for a magnet to hold your note, just stick it to this adhesive high-grade silicone pad. It sticks to most non-porous surfaces and does not leave a sticky residue. Keep your to-do lists front and center with this sticky pad.
5. Toydozer: Toy Clean Up Tool; $14.95
For those with a little one who loves Legos or other little toys (or even if youíre just a Legos enthusiast), donít waste your time trying to collect the million pieces. The Toydozer is like a dustpan designed to scoop up Legos, blocks, or game pieces for storing away.
What are some of your tried and true time savers? Share in the comments.
Being a sports-shy person, Iíve always peered from the sidelines of my friends' devotion to sports (I do enjoy a good game of tennis though). I do appreciate, however, how sports are able to rally a community. Here in the great city of Boston, weíre blessed to have plenty to entertain us through the seasons.
Just the other day, I decided to ask a devoted sports friend of mine about tailgating. Itís always been something I associated with red-blooded manly men and parking lot hot dogs. In the most laid-back and straightforward manner, he told me the three simple ingredients needed for a good time: football, beer, and food.
We spent the next ten minutes or so talking about getting early to sports games, cooking, eating, and playing -- to which I promptly asked that he bring me and my other friend along during his next tailgating party. It then got me thinking about what would go into the preparation for such adventures.
If you're about to embark on a tailgating experience, here are eight items that will ensure youíre comfortable as a clam as you indulge in food and drinks in the parking lot of your favorite football team:
To prep salsa and guacamole:
Quickly carve an avocado with the Avoloop ($19.95) for a smooth and easy way to remove the flesh from the rind. Then when youíre ready to present your salsa or guacamole, serve them in a Salsabol ($16) whose strategically engineered lip allows for a stable scoop without losing precious chunks of veggies.
To serve up some different booze:
The Menu ($62.95) is a baggy wine coat, which holds the bladder from boxed wine since it doesnít always look good drinking wine out of a box, despite its convenience. The wine coat maintains that convenience while holding the wine bag -- with room for an ice bag, too.
If youíre hesitant about bringing a box of wine (in a wine coat, of course) or bottles of wine, then transport them in a Vino-2-Go ($19.99). These tumblers are shatter-proof with a double-wall construction to prevent condensation as well as keep your wine at a controlled temperature.
To stay warm:
The ChappyWrap ($110) is a cozy and woven blanket made in Germany with a special Jacquard loom. The designs are woven into the fabric, not printed. Shrink and pill-proof and warm, these blankets are the perfect go-to blanket for indoor or outdoor hangouts.
The OneLogFire ($23.95) is a portable campfire thatís totally self-contained and mess-free. This handy log is quick to light, provides warmth for up to two hours, and is made of non-toxic materials, making it perfect for roasting marshmallows and other light cooking.
To sit back and relax:
Everyone has their favorite lawn chair and the Blue Ridge Chair Works XL Deck Chair ($170) may just be the one. Itís rock solid and extra roomy (or you can get the standard Outer Banks Chair). American-made and built to last, theyíre constructed out of Ash hardwood and finished with protective Danish oil.
And if youíre already in that chair, you may not want to constantly get up to open your beer. With a pair of Brewsees Bottle-Opener Sunglasses (starting at $29), you can look great, protect your eyes, and open bottle after bottle with your sunglassesí anodized aluminum tips.
Have you ever been tailgating at a sports event? Tell me about your experience in the comments.
When it rains, it pours. In Boston, weíre no stranger to bouts of rain at a time. We are lucky, however, that weíre not subject to Orlandoís downpours nearly every day during its rainy season from June to September.
During my days as a merchandising intern at Disney World, I swore that the rain gods had a rain party every time I planned a visit to Animal Kingdom -- thereís nothing quite like having to sprint into the shade from being drenched in a virtual rainforest.
Here is a roundup of sturdy, innovative items to help you stay dry during the next downpour -- in Boston or Orlando:
At Disney World, the best way to stay dry was by wearing a poncho (to free up your hands), which costs a pretty penny in the parks. And they werenít exactly lightweight although you could probably get a few cycles of uses from the ponchos before having to toss them.
Invest in a RAINRAPS hooded wrap and pouch instead. Itís lightweight and waterproof as well as fashionable without hampering its practicality. You can wear it like a pashmina or shawl; the material is surprisingly soft, unlike the crickly hard plastic of traditional ponchos. Just bring it along folded up compactly in your purse.
For those who would rather more classic rain gear, these umbrellas are strong, aerodynamic, easy to control, and made of Quick Dry Polyester. The tensioned canopy allows them to withstand wind without putting stress on the carrier. Plus, there are no sharp points at the edge of the canopy so the fabric wonít easily tear away from the covered tips. They also come with a lifetime guarantee.
Do you usually carry an umbrella with you in the event of bad weather? Tell me about your favorite rain gear in the comments.
Last week, I spent three days on one of the Boston Harbor Islands camped under the stars and amongst the trees and wild blackberries. It was my first time camping.
I was surprised at how much stuff we had to bring. As we were lugging our belongings off the ferry boat towards the bare wooden ranger cabana, I had inspected the load. Sleeping bags. Tents. Gallons and gallons of water. Coolers of food. Cooking pots and pans. Small propane tanks. And of course, all the stuff I couldn't see, like changes of clothes, snacks, books, bug repellent, and cameras. To my further surprise, my friends kept marveling at how much less stuff we had brought this year.
For a party of nine, I was delighted to find that what we brought was indeed a good distribution of food and gear. We always shared and were able to cover all our bases without duplication.
And as a packing enthusiast, I started thinking about the balance of things and needs. When camping, we're forced to pack efficiently, but what about the things we keep in our homes and workplaces?
With fall coming up, we're all getting ready to clean and organize, but I think it's also important to take a step back to get a snapshot of what we own -- in order to efficiently own things. To do that, we can make more conscious and deliberate decisions in what we buy and keep.
So I went through my wish list and tried to analyze whether the things I wanted were useful or just wasteful, whether they did double duty through being eco-friendly, aesthetically-pleasing, and being space-efficient. Here's a roundup of a few things that I decided to keep on the list:
From left to right, top to bottom:
1. The Laundry POD. It uses no electricity and just a tiny bit of water. It's great for doing small loads (or just delicates) when I may not want to go to the laundromat yet.
2. Velity Cubed Whiskey Stones. Handmilled and made of 100% soapstone, these don't dilute your drink the way ice cubes do, and I won't have to throw out broken, plastic ice cube trays every few months.
3. FAS Projects Padded Storage Ottoman. This ottoman is made of reclaimed pallet wood (did I mention how much I adore pallets?) and is a storage container.
4. Hangups and Baggage Wallpaper Design Coat Rack. It looks pretty, but it's made of powder-coated steel. Not only will it hold several coats, it serves as a wall ornament.
Last week, I attended HubSpotís Inbound 2013 conference in Boston, where Arianna Huffington was a keynote speaker. Endlessly charming and eternally wise, she spoke about how unsustainable the idea of success has become -- itís fueled by burnout. An important part of success, she argued, is well-being.
The takeaway was clear: If you donít take care of yourself, you wonít be able to take care of your professional or personal life.
It got me thinking about what we do to take care of ourselves. While sleep and rest are immensely important, what about what we select to eat? In this frozen dinner and fast food world, not only do daily turkey sausage breakfast sandwiches and weekly late-night runs for chicken nuggets wreck havoc on our bodies, they add up in the bank.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spent over $2,505 on food away from home in 2010. In that same year, the fast food industry spent $4.2 billion on marketing, hinting at the high profitability of this industry.
One way to save money? Pack your lunch. Here are the four essential packing items you need to pack a whole meal -- and a healthy one at that -- for the road:
This 3-set classic stainless steel lunch box includes an upper food container, a lower food container, and a small nesting snack container. It has everything you need to pack a healthy meal. There is no need to buy three separate containers or keep a supply of plastic sandwich bags.
For the types of snacks that arenít easy to take with you, the BNTO adaptor turns mason jars into lunchboxes or great snack-carrying containers. Place chips or celery sticks in a canning jar and pour salsa or ranch sauce in the BNTO, then place in the jar, and twist the lid back on. Packing your own snacks will prevent you from being tempted to buy unhealthy snacks when out.
3. Vapur Flexible Water Bottle (2 Pack); $17.95
Buying drinks may not be a noticeable hole in your pocket, but one or two drinks a day at two dollars a pop can add up to over $50 a month in drinks alone. This flexible bottle is perfect for folks who are always on the go; it flattens when empty and fits in your pocket, purse, or backpack.
4. PackIt Freezable Personal Cooler; $19.95
Lastly, put all your packed food and drink into a stylish ECO-GEL-lined lunch pack. These innovative lunch packs may be placed in the freezer and will stay cold for up to 10 hours during the day. This way, you can take healthy food with you without having to worry about it perishing in transit, saving you from resorting to processed and packaged foods.
What are some of your true and tried frugal food tricks? Share in the comments.
About The GrommetWe launch undiscovered products and help them succeed; we call them Grommets. Grommets aren't just things. Grommets are products with a purpose invented by people with stories. More »
Caroline hails from a tiny tropical island originally, but calls Boston home. A curious bird, she spent a spring trekking all over Ireland, has been an Air Force Junior ROTC cadet, and worked at Disney World as a merchandising intern. With a love for all things interesting, she found herself at The Grommet, where she gets to eat, sleep, and breathe innovative undiscovered products. Say hello to her on Twitter.