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Hello, Lover December 17, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Food, Gadgets.

my-keurigYou know that scene in Sex in the City when Carrie drools over the Manolo Blahniks? That was me on Friday except I was drooling over my new Keurig single cup coffee maker. One girl’s love of shoes is another girl’s love of coffee. This thing is awesome. It brews a great cup of coffee, cocoa, or tea in warp speed. For all those people out there about to bust on me for not being eco-friendly as I toss out those little k-cups, I got a “my k-cup”. It’s reusable and allows me to brew my own cup of joe from Redding Roasters. Ha! I can have my coffee and drink it too.

P.S. Thanks to Rebecca for putting me on the right track!

The Perfect Blowdry November 26, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Around Town, Eco/Green, Gadgets.

dyson-airbladeWhen we visited Founding Farmers, one of the more exciting moments for me was going to the restroom. No, not because I’m a big girl who can go by myself. Being an eco-friendly establishment, there are no paper towels to dry your hands. Instead there’s a hand dryer, but not just any old hand dryer. It was a Dyson Airblade. This thing is AWESOME! I know it seems weird to get all excited about a hand dryer, but I hate those old school versions where you stand there rubbing your hands together tirelessly and still walk out with clammy palms. This thing works like the dryer at the end of one of those drive-thru car washes. A couple of swipes of the hands through the Dyson Airblade and your hands are perfectly dry. Gosh, I love technology. Kudos to Andrea for posing as my hand model!!

Ergonomics 101 September 17, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Gadgets, Work.

If you sit in front of a computer for 8 hours a day, then you have surely heard of ergonomics and repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). It’s all about the height of your monitor, the distance you sit from your keyboard, the position of your feet on the floor. I mean, there’s even a diagram that shows you all the correct angles. Clearly, someone has mastered the use of a protractor. All of this looks like one of those GUIs from Stranger Than Fiction.

I try to be conscious of my seated position at work, but the reality is that I ususally look like this guy to the left.  How you sit at your computer is only one aspect of ergonomics.  There are other ways to prevent RSIs, like giving your eyes a rest, walking around, and stretching your neck and shoulders.  I discovered a site called Workrave a couple of weeks ago. It’s a program that you upload to your computer that informs you, through pop-up windows, when to take a “micro-pause” (30 seconds) and when to take a “rest break” (5 minutes). During the “rest break”, it shows you different exercises and stretches for your shoulders, back, neck, and even your eyes. I’ve been using the program for about a week.  It can be a bit annoying when the window pops up in the middle of something you’re working on, but it is a good reminder to take care of yourself first.

(pen)chantment August 7, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Gadgets.
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There is something about a good writing instrument that enthuses me. I’ve always had an appreciation for good handwriting which is only made better with a good writing instrument. I’ve been like this since I was a small child, maybe because of my parents’ excellent penmanship. I remember spending my allowance on new pencils, pens, erasers, pencil boxes, notebooks…if it had to do with writing, it was in my possession.

All through my school years, and even now, I owned a plethora of fine writing instruments. I hated when kids would ask to borrow a pen or pencil because it usually meant that I would never see that item again. Then I smartened up and started carrying a stash of crap pens and crap pencils for the express purpose of serving as “loaners”. I’m still this way, even with my husband! If I let him borrow a pen out of my purse, I make him give it back immediately after he has finished using it, otherwise I can kiss it goodbye. I keep only the crappy pens on my desk while the “good” ones stay locked away in my drawer.

You either know what I’m talking about or you think I’m a loon. Regardless, it does give me a sense of comfort to know that there are others out there like me.

What do I like? Well, I’m a fine tip kinda gal. I also prefer blue ink. Through the years, I have found that Zebra, Parker, and Cross tend to meet my high standards.

Trackin’ Those Miles April 19, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Gadgets, Running.
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I received a Garmin Forerunner 205 as a birthday gift a few years ago. I have loved using this GPS wristwatch for all of my runs. It tracks my distance, time, average pace, and calories burned. About a year or so ago, Garmin created an upgrade to the 205 with the Forerunner 305. This version included the addition of a heart rate monitor. Just recently, they’ve added the Forerunner 405 to the collection. This newest model features a touch bezel to allow you to easily scroll through all of the features during your workout and it has a wireless transmitter so that when you are within range of your computer, your data transfers automatically. Nice.

Another exciting gadget on the horizon is the Nike+ SportBand. I love Nike. I run in Nike+ shoes which when paired with an iPod nano and Nike+ SportKit can track your distance, pace, and calories burned. Now that so many races have banned earphones and music players, it renders the Nike+ iPod of the past useless. Enter the SportBand which eliminates the need for a music player. Simply drop the sensor in your shoe and slap on the wristband. When you’re finished with your workout, remove the Nike+ link and plug it directly into the USB of your computer. With your Nike+ account, you can track everything on your computer and share it with others. Don’t run in Nike+ shoes? No worries. You can purchase a ShoePouch which attaches to the laces of any athletic shoe and holds the Nike+ sensor.

So many options to track those runs!

Herb-a-licious March 21, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Food, Gadgets.
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Herb SavorI love to make caprese salads in the summer. It reminds me of a restaurant that we enjoy when we visit the San Francisco/Napa Valley area. I typically will buy fresh basil at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. The bummer about buying fresh herbs is that they spoil so quickly. So when I saw the Herb Savor in a magazine, I just had to check it out online. It’s made by a company called Prepara. I watched their demo video, but I’m still not convinced. I keep my herbs in water which I change out as necessary; however, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. What’s so special about standing it up in this gadget? Maybe I’m not understanding the underlying features.

The other item that I noticed on their website was the Power Plant Mini. It uses aeroponic technology and an automatic watering/nutrient application system to keep your plants growing and looking great. At about $40, maybe I’ll start growing my own basil…since I’ve been unsuccessful in the past.

The Good, The Bad, and The Disposable February 26, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green, Gadgets, Shopping.
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I was standing in a store at DCA last week and a rack caught my eye. It was a rack of DVDs that had the following statement on the package: No Return DVD Rental. What the heck? Ok, so now my interest is peaked. I picked up the package and began reading. It’s a DVD that, once opened, is only good for 48 hours. It’s actually called an EZ-D and upon opening the package a bonding resin on the DVD reacts to the atmosphere around it making the disc unreadable after 48 hours. It’s the development of a company called Flexplay.

Environmentalists are up in arms about this product. They are complaining that these EZ-Ds are an unnecessary disposable product. Why take a perfectly good reusable product like a DVD and add a time limit which turns it into waste? Art LeBlanc, the president of Flexplay, said that the development of this product “is intended to address people who find renting inconvenient.” I’m not that convinced about the convenience factor that this provides. We subscribe to Netflix and there’s no inconvenience there (is it that hard to walk to your mailbox?) nor is there a time limit for how long I can keep the movie. The one positive aspect that Flexplay provides is that the discs are fully recyclable. You can visit their website and request a prepaid label to send your EZ-Ds back to Flexplay for recycling. However, what is the environmental impact of creating these EZ-Ds? Supposedly it’s no different than a regular DVD. What about price? The price point seems to hit around $4.99 per disc.

I can see some value in offering this type of product in an airport when you might be looking to view a movie on the “fly”, but in regular day-to-day viewing, I’m not really sure that I see the added convenience that it is supposed to provide to the consumer.

Need a Little Air? December 17, 2007

Posted by smooregasbord in Food, Gadgets.
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VinturiLooking for the perfect wine lover’s gift for Christmas? Here’s an interesting item: Vinturi Wine Aerator. It’s even more perfect if the wine lover is also a gadget lover!

Instead of using the glass decanters that have become so popular and take F-O-R-E-V-E-R, why not entertain your guests while providing them with a better tasting glass of wine instantly. It seems impossible, but trust me this thing works. You simply hold the Vinturi over your wine glass and pour the wine directly through. It quickly infuses the wine with the right amount of air as you pour. The lady from whom we purchased our Vinturi did a little before and after taste test and there was an unbelievable difference in the smoothness and finish. It’s hard to believe that something so simple can do something so extraordinary! I most recently used my Vinturi on a glass of Callaway Vineyard’s Nebbiolo Bello…YOWZAA…delicious from the first glass to the last. At a cost of about $40 (and crossing your fingers you can find one), this would make a wonderfully unique gift for anyone…especially yourself!

Sucking the Pictures Right Out of Your Camera December 4, 2007

Posted by smooregasbord in Gadgets, Shopping, TV/Movies.
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I was watching a segment on the Today Show Monday morning about technology gifts for the holidays.  They featured a lot of cool gifts, but one item in particular stood out to me….Eye-Fi. This is a wireless SD card which communicates with your home’s wireless network to pull the pictures right off of your camera when it’s within range (45-90+ ft). How cool is that?! The card works with virtually any camera that uses an SD card, and it holds up to 2 GB of photos. The other cool thing is that you can instruct it to place the photos in multiple locations such as your hard drive, Shutterfly, Flickr, or other various web locales.

Roomba & SpotBot: Match Made in Heaven? November 30, 2007

Posted by smooregasbord in Gadgets, Home/Design, Shopping.
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New CarpetSo a few weeks back we had new carpet installed at our house. It only took us two hours to decide on the perfect shade of neutral! It looks fantastic and I couldn’t love it more, but between our three pets it was only a matter of time before somebody got something on the carpet. Thanks, Dixie, for leaving us that little present Sunday night! We typically use an enzyme-based cleaner which does a pretty decent job. I was talking with my Dad last night and he told me about a new product from Bissell called SpotBot. It’s supposed to be a hands-free carpet cleaner. You simply place it on top of the spot, turn it on, and *abracadabra* spot be gone. I’m a bit of a skeptic when it comes to some gadgets because nine times out of ten they don’t work. I checked out SpotBot on the Bissell website and it just seems like the constant spinning motion in one spot would degrade the fibers of the carpet and make it look worn. With a $129 price tag, I don’t how soon I’ll be trying it out without some concrete reviews from other pet owners.