Category Archives: holidays

Father’s Day gift idea – High-end 1MORE Quad-Driver In-Ear Headphones

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Who doesn’t want really good sound in their headphones? Whether you love music or conduct business on the phone or listen to movies or love the sounds of your video games – or all of the above – headphones are a critical investment item for the modern audiophile. And if your dad’s one, too,  what a great Father’s Day gift idea. And in case he’s never actually had good headphones, it might come as a nice surprise for him.

There’s a consumer electronics audio company out there called 1MORE – we wrote last year about some of their high-quality headphone models – that’s all about sound quality and innovative
design. They’re also dedicated to the idea that you ought to be able to get great sound no matter what your budget is, starting as low as $20 and all the way up to their newest innovation, the Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones for $200.

1MORE quad-driver in-ear headphones

The company has just put this new model on the market as a followup to their success last year with the Triple Driver headphone. You can pre-order this new flagship headphone from USA.1MORE.com and, like all orders placed on their website, it comes with free shipping and the 1MORE 30-day money-back guarantee.  Nothing to lose.  Great sound to gain.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

Finally! Activity tracker dress-ups for less

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
Fitbit Flex in its original rubbery band

OK. I’ll start with a bit of a rant about how much I love my activity tracker, the Fitbit Flex. It has changed my life. I’m healthier, fitter, and 30 pounds lighter – a goal that had been receding further and further with every passing year until this tracker came along. It has amazing capabilities for such a small device. But truth be told, it’s not the most stylish thing to wear on your arm, especially if you’re going somewhere dressed up. I accidentally found a way to hide my tracker on dressier occasions by fastening it a little looser and then slipping it inside a big black plastic bangle bracelet. No one has ever been the wiser. And that bracelet looks at least business-casual dressy but doesn’t work well for fancier occasions.

I had seen last year some classy-looking ornaments and covers and bands for activity trackers, but the prices were outrageous and some of the bracelet covers extremely heavy. Now, to the rescue comes FunktionalWearables.com. They’ve got a wide variety of beautifully designed charms, bands and actual jewelry pieces that don’t just disguise your tracker; instead they make a serious fashion statement. Whether you like like your look flashy, bold or simple, you’re bound to find a design that calls your name. For those of us already dedicated to tracking our steps and so on, this is fabulously exciting news.
If you own and wear an activity tracker – or want to but never wanted something that ugly on your arm – I seriously urge you to visit FunktionalWearables and take your time looking over the merchandise. Affordable beautiful and fun. Would make a fabulous gift for someone who has a tracker or for whom you want to buy one. This line of products includes – mirabile dictu! – even stylish necklaces that hold and conceal that little smart thing that counts your steps. Absolute genius at affordable prices. They start at around $15 for a simple charm or enhancement and go up to maybe $50-ish for a gorgeous engraved silver necklace and earring set. Unbelievable.
Transform your activity tracker! Looks even better without the bandage on the finger.

Take a look. Choose a style or two (after all, they are affordable) that makes you feel good and buy. Then walk – even if it’s on a pad in your living room (which works well if you listen to your favorite rockin’ music ). You will be the happier – and the more stylish – for it, I promise.

You guys are offering some sure-fire-win products. Thank you – and congratulations!
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

Gift guide 2016 – consumables and more

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
Gifts can be so hard to choose.  Especially as we grow older, many of us don’t need any more tsatskes (pronounced in some circles choch-kees, it’s a Yiddish expression for “stuff”), so we tend to go for consumables – and most of us do enjoy receiving such things as candy, coffee, popcorn, etc. So let’s start with a few suggestions for unique wines and spirits and places to treat your friends/family to dinner on Christmas/Eve.
.
Sparkle the holidays with Segura Viudas

For sparkling-wine-loving friends. Segura Viudas Brut (SRP $10) or Freixenet Cordon Negro (in the sexy black bottle – SRP $9), both Spanish cavas that bring full, elegant flavor for value prices. Wonderful with food. Perfect for toasting. And just plain fun to enjoy in front of the fireplace (or a video of a burning fireplace).  Or give them a fireplace DVD for their VCR ($10).

.
For luxury wine-loving friends. Check out the reviews here, here, here and here for ideas for luxurious wines that are sure to make your friends feel truly appreciated if they love full, rich wines with their special meals. SRP $20 up to $100-plus.
HIbiki Harmony Suntory Whisky

For whiskey-loving friends. Japanese Hibiki Harmony Suntory whisky – floral notes play just a small part in this elegant, smooth, balanced and subtly sweet blend of whiskies. Plus it comes in a beautiful bottle. SRP ~$70.

.

Oh, and here’s a cool new book about whiskey – Whiskey: A spirited Story with 75 Classic and Original Cocktails by Michael Dietsch. It just happens to be written by a pal I met during our Freixenet trip to Spain. He’s very entertaining and knows a lot about whiskey. Great gift for one who loves whiskey, making cocktails with whiskey and enjoys a good read.

.
Cool recipes for Jack Daniels seasonal whiskies

And if you want to offer something really unique, Jack Daniels has a whole line of whiskies, including Gentleman Jack (sweet vanilla, citrus, spice), Jack Daniels Tennessee Fire (red hot cinnamon and a touch of sweetness, and a seasonal release called Winter Jack. It’s a mixture of apple cider liqueur and JD whiskey with holiday spices. It’s  very light – not serious sippin’ whiskey – but it makes some fun cocktails. Magnify the image to get the ingredients and instructions. Ah, I can feel myself in front of a fire sipping one of these homey concoctions, can’t you?

.
For after dinner. Amaro is the name the Italians give to the herbal-infused liqueurs they serve after their fabulous many-course Italian meals. Chicago’s own maker right here in the city makes Cinpatrazzo with a secret herbal potion that truly settles the stomach after a big meal – and tastes delicious while doing so. This locally made amaro will impress your giftee with your good taste – and let her/him know how much you care. And, oh, enjoy the beautiful Cinpatrazzo websiteSRP ~$35
.
MAGNUM bottle with Santa hat

And then there’s MAGNUM™ Highland Cream Liqueur, a silky smooth blend of Scotch whisky and pure cream that brims with tastes of chocolate, caramel and rich toffee. What a fabulous dessert drink to serve with your holiday cookie tray. Or try these scrumptious Magnum drink recipes.

.
For your pizza-loving friends/family – Brunch!  Who’d a thunk you could turn pizza into a fabulous brunch menu? Robert’s Pizza Company, has done it in style. Take your gang between 11:30am and 3 pm and check out the mouth-watering-sounding LOXZA PIZZA (with lox, double cream  cheese, chives, red onion, chopped egg, dill and capers) or a cool sweet treat like Robert’s very own ‘ZA DOUGH CINNAMON BUN. ‘Za Dough is their own recipe that was 15 years in the making. Oh, and try their new brunch cocktails like the BRUNCH MONEY COCKTAIL, made with Patron XO Café liqueur, hot coffee and heavy cream.
.
And speaking of meals, how about taking your giftee out for a holiday meal? Check out some Chicago restaurants open for Christmas/Eve.
.
While it’s always best if you can figure out something a particular individual is likely to enjoy, you might be one of us who is not blessed with gift-choosing acumen. Or if you’re blessed with lots of friends/family who have everything – or almost – here’s a brief random assortment of product reviews you that might fit as gifts.
.
For your grandchildren – give twice. From Cricket Media comes a collection of ad-free kids’ magazines for all ages. I took the samples they sent on a visit to my grandkids – ages 9, 7 and 4 – and they all immediately got lost inside the pages of their very own age-appropriate publication. I call that a very positive reaction to the material. Games, puzzles, stories and more. Check ’em out: BABYBUG (6 mos to 3 yrs), LADYBUG (3 to 6 yrs), SPIDER (6 to 9 yrs), and CRICKET (9 to 14 yrs). Hey, something besides digital screens to keep them interested and challenged! On sale for the month of December, subscriptions are $29.95 (regular $33.95) and when you subcribe they will also give a subscription to your choice of one of two charitable organizations. Visit them at www.cricketmedia.com.
.
Bil-Jac apple Dessert Jacs – yes, dogs love ’em

For your dog. Ever feel sorry for your dog because all s/he ever gets to eat is dry brown nuggets? How about a dog dessert for the holidays!? Bil-Jac is offering this year Apple Caramel dog treats – with real chicken as the #1 ingredient. My daughters’ dogs LOVE the taste. And it’s just fun to treat your dog to something special during the holidays – oh, alright, any time at all. Look for the brand at your Chicago neighborhood PetSmart, Pet Supplies Plus, and Petco locations, plus some private pet stores like Let’s Pet, Ruff ‘N’ Stuff Pet Center and others. Anyway, don’t dogs just love anything you get for them?

.
Snap Power faceplates with something extra

For your home. A nightlight that doesn’t stick out from the wall and/or look silly sounds good, doesn’t it? Snap Power makes one that’s totally integrated into an ordinary-looking dual-electrical-outlet faceplate. Some reviewers say they won’t shut off and that the electrical connection is iffy. And a hitch with this and with the USB-charger-equipped model (next paragraph) is that you can’t use them with those high-tech plates with the reset buttons that are now required by most cities to be installed anywhere near where there’s water – usually kitchens and bathrooms.

.
The Snap Power USB-charger-equipped faceplate is a great idea, in that you don’t have to dig out another USB-charging device and plug that in first. For those of us not too comfortable with messing with power sources, it’s a bit daunting to face turning off the power to your outlet before you install the new faceplates. These are both cool ideas and the products look nice. Just to be sure it’s right for you or your giftee, read the Amazon reviews before you make a purchase decision.
.

For your snoring spouse/SO.  In case you want to give something you believe might be helpful to a spouse who suffers – or makes you suffer – with snoring problems, only consider this if you’re pretty sure s/he won’t be insulted! Rest-Rite makes a back-sleeper’s aid that’s designed to gently remind you to sleep on your sides instead of your back – when snoring often kicks in. These are disposable (wish they were reusable) kinda big (about 4 inches in diameter) stick-on molded plastic bumps that stay in place and prevent you from rolling onto your back in the middle of the night. We were surprised to find that it really did stay in place, in spite of some tossing and turning – which we did carefully so as not to have to be reminded mid-turn that we were passing by our back-sleeping option. Gotta think this could help those who drift onto their backs and can’t help sawing logs. You can try a sample pack of 7 for ~$17. Even though that seems high, how can you put a price on your mental health? Let us know how it works for you.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

Review – National Geographic guides to 100 years of national parks

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
Sequoia sempervirens in Redwood National Park
Sequoia sempervirens in Redwood National Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

America’s 59 national parks are celebrating their 100th birthday this year. Even if you don’ think you’ll be able to visit one or more of these national treasures any time soon, you can have a virtual visit easily by looking at the official National Geographic Guide to National Parks 8th Edition just published recently. Gorgeous photos and clear directions for navigating your way through the parks make this book a must-have – even if you’re only visiting in your imagination. An enriching and relaxing way to while away an hour or two any time.

And if you’ve got grandkids, check out the National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA: Centennial Edition. They’ll see cool maps and amazing photos of wildlife; they’ll learn fun facts about forests and about conserving our natural resources. What a fun way to help kids open their eyes to how we can all preserve and protect our precious home planet. If the kids love outdoors, or if you’ll be taking them to a national park soon, they will love this book.

Imagine yourself there:

  • In the East, parks like Acadia, Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah are among the most popular in the nation. They and six other parks showcase the subtle beauties of eastern scenery.
  • Midwest, we Chicagoans can experience national parks close to home or far out in the Dakotas. Environments both suburban and rugged/otherworldly await visitors to this, America’s heartland, where water plays a huge part in building and changing the landscape.
  • South Central hosts four parks – Guadalupe Mountains, Carlsbad Caverns, Big Bend and Hot Springs – with scenery ranging from historical and underground to high and rugged.
  • The Southwest’s 11 parks contain rivers and historical remains of America’s Wild West. The Grand Canyon is an emblem of American heritage and a natural wonder of the world. Mesa Verde preserves natural wonders and the history of a people.
  • The Alaska national parks protect and preserve more than 41 million acres of natural treasures like active volcanoes, glaciers, rugged mountains, giant brown bears, sea lions, whales and wild salmon.
  • The four Rocky Mountain parks feature craggy peaks capped by glimmering glaciers, fields bathed in wildflowers, and lakes as smooth and blue as a summer sky. These also include Southern Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes.
  • The Pacific Southwest parks stretch from American Samoa and the Hawaiian Islands to the snow-clad peaks of California. Visitors can discover everything from coral reefs to volcanic landscapes, and from deserts to monoliths and domes of granite.
  • In the Pacific Northwest parks you can hike the cathedral-like glades of Douglas fir, western red cedar and other conifers of Mount Rainier, and the Olympic and North Cascades mountain ranges in Washington state. Redwood National Park is home to 2,000-year-old trees – and some of the tallest on Earth!. In Olympic, enjoy the beauty of temperate rain forests that soar to the sky near some of the nation’s wildest coastline. Here and at Mount Rainier are the only places you can find such forests in the United States.

Thanks to National Geographic for keeping us all entertained, delighted and informed about the wonders of our country and the ways we can respect our natural world. Visit their website for more fascinating guides to our country’s national natural treasures. And very happy one-century birthday to our national parks!

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram