Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dyson's New No-Blade Fan

If you use a fan for Summer cooling, you might have run into the same problem I have--many fans don't come apart to clean and you end up having to throw the whole thing away at a certain point.  This is so wasteful.  Last year, I bought a new fan by Honeywell that said it was easy to take apart for cleaning, but when I tried to get it apart, after several screws, it still would not detach.

Enter Dyson's new bladless fan.  Here is a fan you will never have to throw away because you can't clean it.  The air circulates via what they call "air multiplier technology" which is supposed to draw in air and recirculate it amplified smoothly.  It's fairly quiet, especially on the low speeds.  The fan comes with a remote control, which, true to Dyson's craftiness, magnetically attaches to the fan so you won't lose it when you're not using it.

The fan is very good looking and has a sleek, modern design.  The indicator light is a nice cobalt blue and the buttons are all intuitive.  It has a very small footprint and takes up very little space.  It's not the eyesore some fans are, it looks nice in the room, bordering on functional art.

The only thing I can find that I'm not crazy about is the price tag.  For some this won't matter, but others might want to look for it on sale.  I fell in love with Dyson a couple of years ago with their cannister vacuum which is still going strong.  Both the fan and the vacuum are great for people with allergies.  You can easily clean dust off the fan on a regular basis and the vacuums are allergy tested and certified.
If you have children or animals that might get caught in fan blades, this fan has a lot going for it safety wise.  You can put your hand right through the hole and all you feel is air.  Very innovative.  Check out Dyson's new fan selection HERE.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Grand Trunk Beach Shelter: Easy Portable Shade

Love the beach but need some shade?  Grand Trunk has a super easy solution for this, the Celio Beach Shelter.  This works well at a sandy beach, or a rocky beach, a park, outdoor concert, or anywhere you need portable shade.  The Celio comes with stakes to stake it down, and it has sand pouches sewn in to keep it anchored at the beach.

It literally takes just a couple of minutes to set this up, but even more importantly to me, it takes the same amount of time to take it down.  It also fits easily back into its storage bag which is great, so often these things are near impossible to get back in the bag.  It's well made and will last.

This is ideal for taking little ones to the beach where the sun can be too intense for tender skin.  The tent walls offer a sun protection that's rated UPF 50.  The bottom is removable so that they can still play in the sand under the shade.  I've seen cheaper versions of this, but that's what they are, cheap.  They look like they won't make it through a Summer while this is very well made and will easily last you many many seasons. 

The poles remain attached with their fold up design so they won't get lost.  Everything stays together in the carry bag and weighs 6 pounds.  It's great for keeping right in the car ready for action.  When you've found your spot, sling it around your shoulder and off you go.  Find it Here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Organic Summer Bedding: Savvy Rest Woolsy Mattress Topper

Wool for Summer?  Yes.  Because it's so warm and toasty during Winter, we tend to think of wool as inappropriate for warmer weather, but it's just the opposite.   Wool is ideal for Summer because it wicks away moisture and helps regulate body temperature, it actually helps keep you cool.

Wool is naturally flame and dust mite resistant, and it is hypo-allergenic so it's a great option for people who can't handle down or synthetic materials.  And speaking of synthetics, bedding can be fraught with toxic chemicals and carcinogens.  Organic wool is free of harmful substances that can disturb sleep and your health. 

This Savvy Rest Woolsy Mattress Topper is fabulous.   It's soft and billowy and comforting.  I sleep on a very pleasing mattress to begin with--a Tempurpedic (if I had it to do over I'd go with something more eco friendly, but it's incredibly comfortable).  I didn't think I could improve much on how soft and cozy my bed is, but the Woolsy made it even more luxurious and plush, it really stepped up the comfort level.  I'm also a bit of an insomniac, so anything that helps me sleep is worth its weight in gold. 

This topper is not washable, however, so if you want to protect it you have to place something over it.  I am currently searching for an appropriate solution to this and will let you know when I find one.  I'd hate to have anything happen to this wonderful bedding.

We spend eight hours of our day in bed, that's a third of our lives.  We should have the healthiest, most comfortable bedding possible.  The Woolsy is made from high quality organic wool and cotton and will likely improve your sleep, it did for me.   Good sleep is critical to rejuvenation and good health and great organic bedding is worth the investment.  Find it HERE. 

In Their Words: Savvy Rest is the nation's leading organic mattresses and bedding brand, made in Virginia and sold in a growing network of eco-themed stores across the country. Savvy Rest's product line was developed in response to consumers' increasing concerns about indoor air quality and the toxic chemicals used in most conventional mattresses. Savvy Rest Organic Mattresses are made of all-natural latex rubber, certified organic wool and certified organic cotton. The Savvy Rest bedding line includes organic mattress toppers, sheets, mattress pads, and pillows.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Overland Equipment Shasta: Great Summer Sling

Overland Equipment's Shasta bag is a great pick for Summer adventures.  Whether you're traveling, hiking, or just tooling around town, this is a nice minimalist comfortable pack.  The sling style makes it very easy to get to your stuff while still wearing the bag.

At first I thought this bag would be too big.  I liked that it was half of a backpack and wanted it to be compact.  Well, it is.  After you use it a few times, it breaks in, and feels just right.  It can be adjusted to fit your frame, which is great for me since bags are often too long for me.

Small, medium, and large zippered compartments make for just the right amount of organization.  The first is ideal for the cellphone and lip balm, the other two are plenty big enough for a lunch, a jacket, magazines, flip flops, other electronics, etc., and there's a loop that you can put a carabiner through for keys. The bag holds a lot of stuff.   I love the open water bottle at the top, probably my favorite feature.  It will hold a pretty big bottle, making it great for Summer treks around town.  The mesh backing wicks away moisture helping to keep you cool.  Find it Here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tub Trugs: Colorful Multifunction for Your Organic Garden and Beyond

Tub Trugs are fabulous for the garden.  I use them to weed, to transplant, to temporarily hold starts, to water...and to look beautiful out and about.  The bright colors are cheerful to see and set a fun tone in the back yard and inside.  I love them in the house for laundry, toys, camping gear, car or bicycle washing, arts and crafts, the uses are endless.  You can even drill holes in the bottom and use them as planters.

For me, you can't have too much color when it comes to utilitarian items.  Color affects mood, and when you're trudging round the garden, it's nice to have that bright color to sort of give you a boost.  I'm super tired of the same old boring colors you find--mainly forest green and that horrid beige.  These scream life, action, energy!  They're eye candy.  So they had me at first sight with the color.

But then they sealed the deal with function.  They're food grade plastic, are UV and frost protected so they won't break down in the sun or cold, are flexible but super strong, and come in many gorgeous colors.  They're so well made, you buy them once, but I recommend a variety of sizes for all the different functions you can think of.  They stack nicely and are easy to store when not in use.  Find them HERE.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

SUMMER CAMPING: Packing Checklist

I consider car camping to be pretty luxurious, so why not go all the way and indulge in gourmet food and creature comforts?  When packing, be sure to keep items together in their respective groups to help with organization and easy set up.  Here is my packing list for Summer car camping (it's a loose list, so feel free to add or subtract based on your own needs):

tent and footprint/tarp
sleeping pads/mattress
sleeping bags
camp pillows
book to read in bed/light to read by
mallet or hammer for stakes (or do what I do and use a rock)
mini dust pan/brush

bear proof container or plan to keep food in car to prevent raccoons, bears, etc. from invading your camp
cooler stocked with healthy foods--salads and fresh fruit and veggies are totally doable
reusable plates/utensils/mugs
pots and pans for cooking (I like stainless for non toxicity and durability)
bamboo skewers for veggie kabobs
sticks for roasting vegan marshmallows
extra large water jug(s)
cutting board/knife
kitchen towels (colorful ones that make your camp look festive)
salt and pepper shaker, spices
pet food/bowl

Site Comforts & Camp Necessities:
extra blankets
camp chairs
long nose butane lighter
trash bags

chemical free wipes
biodegradable earth friendly soap
sunscreen, insect repellent (non-deet, non toxic-- badger balm makes good ones)
lip balm
first aid kit

Practical Extras:
extra batteries
extra fuel (for stove, torches)
duct tape
clothes line
small shovel
mallet for stakes
extra stakes
reflective guy lines
solar shower
waste bags

iPad and popcorn for watching a movie after sundown--it's allowed!
solar or battery operated festive string lights
french press/organic coffee
festive tablecloth
board games, playing cards

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Travel Part 3: Kids

While sitting on a train staring out the window for me is meditative bliss, my six year old gets a bit restless.  A few strategically packed activities make all the difference in the world.  Beyond electronics, like my beloved iPad and iPod which help make waiting times roll by with ease, I think it's important to have non-electronic things to do.  Good old fashioned writing activities are still fun and stealthily help prepare your child for school.  Peaceable Kingdom makes fabulous Write and Wipe Books perfect for the car or plane.  They can be used over and over and traded amongst kids.  They come in different themes, the Silly and the Spy are my favorites.  They also have various card games, like the piratey Crazy Mates which is great for interaction and making new friends.  I love the Peaceable Kingdom graphics so much, I wish they would come out with prints, really fun modern stuff.

For plane travel, I love these die cast Airport Play Sets by Daron.  You can find pretty much any airline you want and how fun for kids to be able to play with a miniature version?  This gets them acquainted with airport functions and eases anxiety.  They're made well, and hold up to tough six year old play.  I think they're great for boys or girls.  If you have more than one child, they can each have their own favorite airline.

 To get those imaginations going, Story Cubes do the job in a very fun game-like way.  You roll the dice which have several unique graphics, and then make up a story based on the pictures you come up with.  My son loves these and so do I.  This sort of open ended play is versatile and lends itself to many different situations and players.  They're great at restaurants too.

 All of the above are very inexpensive and worth their weight in gold when they are needed.  I like to gift-wrap stuff like this and pull it out at the  right moment just as things start to go South, parents, you know exactly what I mean.  A healthy snack and a fun activity can get you a lot of mileage.  Happy travels!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

OPA COVE pfds for Kids

If you have a little one that's going to be around water this Summer, you have to see this fabulous PFDs and Swim Assist Vests from OPA COVE
In and effort to "enhance family life and create products that foster family interaction, children's safety, and fun, ” the folks at Opa Cove have come up with the coolest kids pfds and swim vests I have ever seen.  Talk about combining function with brilliant design, these combine safety with great design.  Certified by the US Cost Guard, these pfds are something your children will want to wear, maybe something they won't want to take off.

They come in two versions, the swim assist to help children learn to swim and the pfd which is suitable for canoeing, water skiing, kayaking, and wake boarding.  Appropriate for ages 2-7, the vests keep kids safe while allowing them the joy of pretending to be a dolphin, clownfish, shark or orca whale.

I'm not sure about the sizing for these, my son measured for the medium, but took a large.  They do sell them at REI, so you can try them on first.

Monday, July 18, 2011

ZOKU: Instant Gratification for Summer

Zoku has turned popsicle making into an art form.  Check out these beautiful pops you can make with this thing!   What's different about this pop maker?  You can have them ready to eat in 10 minutes, amazing.  And that instant gratification makes the Zoku especially entertaining to kids.  That, and the creativity you can employ to make lovely edible art.

I love that You control the ingredients.  That means wholesome organic healthy ingredients.  My first go at this was a flop, I'm not sure what I did wrong, but I have been experimenting regularly with great success.  I think the trick is to make sure the Zoku has been in the freezer for at least 24 hours and that the ingredients are also cold.

You can pour in some juice--even a green smoothie and in a few minutes, voila!  Pops!  If you want to get really fancy, Zoku has a special tool kit so that you can include little star shapes (how cute for the Fourth of July) and layers among other things.  Find Zoku HERE.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

YAKIMA HighLite Hitch Mount Bike Rack

 When I heard about the new Yakima HighLite bike rack, I got very excited because at long last, there was a hitch mount bike rack that would be manageable for me.  The HighLite is a departure from the traditional hefty steel mounts, it's aluminum and very light weight, and I can lift it with one hand.  It's also extremely simple and easy to install. It will fit both 2 inch hitches and class two 1 1/4 inch hitches.

At first, when I lifted the box, I thought it was heavier than expected.  As I opened the box, the inside had a cheeky message for me, "Told you it was light,"  and sure enough, the main body was light, the part that was adding the weight to the box was the shank, which attaches to the hitch and you don't lift that part again after attaching it.  The HighLite body is so light even my six year old lifted it easily with one hand.  This is great if you want to take it off and store it for the winter or switch it to a different vehicle.  It's a piece of cake to attach and detach.

Getting the bikes on and off was the tricky part for me, having never used this type of mount before, but after doing it once, I had the hang of it.  I don't have a ton of upper body strength and I was able to get two bikes on and off the arms by myself just fine.  The hardest part for me was maneuvering the rubber straps which are very stiff at first.  The arms feature anti-sway cradles to keep bikes from scratching each other and provide stability, and there are straps to help secure your wheels and handlebars and keep everything nice and tight.  If your bike is odd shaped or lacks a top bar, you can get the Tubetop adapter which clamps right on.

There are two locks, one at the bottom so that someone can't detach your rack, and an integrated cable lock at the top to secure your bikes, both are simple to use and Yakima includes two keys.  The arm folds down when not in use, you just pull the trigger latch at the top and they come right down.  The whole rack also tilts by pulling a knob at the bottom so that you can get inside your hatch easily.  This works great and the rack is very low profile and out of the way when you need it to be.  We have a wagon which is quite long and I wondered if the carrier would make it harder for me to park and whatnot, but it poses no problem at all, I hardly notice it.  

The HighLite comes in a two and three bike version and is available in silver or white.  I love this rack, it makes me feel empowered and ready for adventure.  Yakima really tried to think of everything, you'll even find bottle openers on this carrier to hydrate after an invigorating ride.  Find it HERE. 

Monday, July 11, 2011


The Jetboil Sol was designed with extreme conditions in mind.  But even if your adventures don't take you into the back country, this is a wonderful thing to have.   This little stove is perfect for boiling water for coffee, tea, your morning oatmeal or soup on the fly.  It takes about three minutes, so why not use this instead of firing up the big boy.  Or, use it right along side the bigger stoves.

It's also a great thing to have in your emergency backpack.  I've been two weeks without power after a hurricane, and boy do you miss warm food and drinks.  Jetboil is well known to fire right up even in freezing cold weather.  I love the ignition button which sets it apart from other compact stoves, you don't need matches, it self starts. 

The stove is super light weight at only 10.5 oz. and it's so well designed and self contained it's ideal for backpacking.  Even for leisurely day trips on the trails, it's a wonderful thing to take along for a nice meal at a scenic spot.  You can take the Jetboil on the plane (without the fuel) which makes it great for back-door style travel.  Included is a stabilizing tripod, a pot stabilizer, the heat indicating and insulating cozy, lid with pour spout and strainer--everything you need but the fuel. 

Besides the great function, did I mention the super cool looks?  The handsome charcoal gray pairs perfectly with the orange, making this as aesthetically pleasing as it is useful. If you're into the outdoors and/or travel, check out the Jetboil Sol.  Find it, and watch a demo video HERE.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mountainsmith Modular Hauler 3 System

Need a great way to stay organized while car camping or traveling?  Check out this cool Hauler system from Mountainsmith.  These are color coded storage cubes that fit into a larger open case.  This has so many uses--car travel, home storage, kid toys and supplies, pretty much anything you can think of.

The individual cases are well made and will hold some weight.  The color coding is so smart, you can give one to each child and have them pack their stuff, or you can code your gear.  The Haulers come in two, three, and four cube systems to fit your needs.   Cube tops are see through laminated mesh with zipper access.  The hauler portion is made from heavy duty ballistic nylon while the cubes are constructed of durable rip stop nylon.

A big part of making camping fun and keeping things running smoothly, is staying organized.  Things can get stressful if you can't find what you're looking for, especially if you're camping and it's dark.  How wonderful to have a place for everything and everything in its place for easy access.  Find this fabulous system HERE.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Vertical Bike Storage System from Gear Up

If you live in a small space, you know it can be tricky to store your bike(s).  Even if you live in a big place, it's always nice to be organized.  I love the household real estate saving quality of this vertical bike rack from  Gear Up. 

This is a floor to ceiling rack that uses tension to hold everything up.  It has a very small footprint and will keep those bikes up and out of the way while looking great.   There is padding on either end of the main structure to protect floors and ceilings.  It's perfect for apartment dwellers, and everyone who would prefer not to put holes in the ceiling and will accommodate 7-11 ft. high ceilings.

The body of the rack is heavy duty airplane grade aluminum and works fine indoors or on balconies, carports, garages or basements.  If it will be exposed to weather elements, say stored outside on a covered porch, it is recommended that you occasionally apply some WD-40 to the nuts and bolts to extend their life as they are the most vulnerable parts, which the company is happy to replace when and if needed.  The arms are carbon steel coated with vinyl--strong but gentle on bikes.  The rack is built to last and something you buy once. 

Set up is pretty straight-forward.  On the box it says it takes minutes, and now that I have done it, yes, I can see it taking minutes, but for the first time you might want to allow a good half hour.  Should you run into any problems, Gear Up has an extremely helpful and friendly staff that will walk you through it over the phone. 

For odd shaped bikes,  there are adapters that you can get that will facilitate mounting the bike.  I had this issue with my commuter-cruiser hybrid, but with the adapter bar, it fits fine.  You can purchase extras arms to mount additional bikes up to 200lbs, though I think aesthetically, two is really ideal unless they are kids' bikes. 

It is a good looking design that would match many different styles, I think it has an industrial modern look and I can see it in a variety of settings.  I really like this for use indoors--there's something fun about seeing your bike in the house.  Gear Up has many different styles and storage solutions to choose from, find them HERE.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ellington's Amelia IN-FLIGHT TOTE: Carry On Perfection

For years I have been on the lookout for the ideal carry on for the plane.  Not the luggage carry on, but the "personal item" carry on.  Ellington's Amelia In Flight Tote more than fits the bill, I'm so excited to have discovered it!

There's a million pockets, for one thing.  Places to put your phone, your ipod, your sunglasses, snacks, wallet and travel documents, umbrella, magazines, pretty much whatever you want.  Four of the compartments have magnetic closures (I love those) making it easy to open and close and keeping your stuff secure.  There is a hook for your keys and an optional shoulder strap so you can wear it two ways.  The hardware is silver which adds to the bag's good looks. 

The main compartment zips and there is another zipped compartment inside.  I love the bottle holder on the inside--usually you find those on the outside.  Moms will appreciate the washable nylon and abundant space for kid stuff.  It has the optional opening in the back so you can slide it right over the handle on your wheelie bag. 

It makes a perfect in flight tote indeed, but I think it would also be wonderful for other purposes.  Commuting to work, for instance, or a train or car trip.   Any time you want to take a minimalist approach to what you have with you travel-wise, this is a great way to maximize your minimalism.   This tote and a carry on wheelie bag is all you need for a trip lasting two days to two weeks.  The classic design and high quality construction will make this a lasting staple.  It comes in different colors, but I always opt for black, particularly for air travel.