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Cool summer stuff you will be glad you’ve got when it’s hot outside

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Essentials for fun in the sun, entertaining and vacationing all summer long

Got Game

Hitting the road with kids for a long drive to your summer vacay spot can mean hours of, “Are we there yet?” Or, with the coolest of old-school electronics, Mini Arcade Games ($19.99, Walmart), like Rampage, the kids will be toppling buildings with George, Lizzie and Ralph and dodging helicopters, all from the backseat, without you having to say, “Let’s play I spy” once. Other games include Pac-Man, Space Invades, Q*Bert, Centipede, and Frogger, with all the sounds and retro-styling you remember, just smaller.

Bunch ‘o fun

All kids love to throw water balloons, but most kids hate to fill them up and tie them, as do their parents. Bunch O Balloons solved this age-old hassle with their ingenious design that allows you to fill up 100 balloons and seal them off at once, in 60 seconds. New to the Bunch O Balloons family is the Marvel Avengers branded balloons ($9.99), featuring character symbols printed on the balloons, such as Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk, for a water balloon battle of superhero proportions. Add some zing to the water warfare with the Bunch O Balloons slingshot (SRP $19.99) that can launch balloons over one hundred feet! Available at toy retailers nationwide.

Soft Ball-ish

The irresistible Koosh ball is back. Easy to pick up, but hard to put down, this squishy rubber-haired ball is the original fidget toy that’s almost as fun to hold as it is to throw. Toss them indoors or outdoors, use them for games, stress relief or even grip therapy. These fist-quenching balls come in an assortment of bright color combinations, including new neon and black combinations. Ages 3+ SRP $3.99 each. Available at toy retailers nationwide.

Bubble Up

Talk about a win-win situation – when your opponent scores at Bubble Pong (SRP $19.99), you get blasted with bubbles! This fun-for-all-ages game (3 and up) is played with singles or teams who bounce ping-pong balls onto an opponent’s side to score points. When the game is over, turn on bubble machine mode for a nonstop bubble party! Ages 3+.

Sipp it

There’s nothing like a refreshing bubbly, fruity drink to satisfy your thirst on a hot summer day. Sipp organic sparkling beverages, infused with culinary extracts and lightly sweetened with agave, can be enjoyed straight up or mixed in a drink to craft a natural, fresh cocktail, with fun flavors including Zesty Orange, Ginger Blossom, Mojo Berry, Lemon Flower, Ruby Rose and Summer Pear.  Available in 12oz bottles and 10.5oz cans. Sold on Amazon and select retailers.

New hair day

When school’s out for summer, keep the kids busy and keep them out of trouble, or you can do both with a little Splat. Your little juvies can look like bad-apples, but in a fun way, with this comb-in, low-mess temporary hair color, in vibrant hues like Piercing Pink, Red Pop, Bolder Blue, Vivid Velvet, Mango Mash, and Eclectic Green. It’s out in one shampoo, and your little angels are back to their old selves, just in time for grandma’s visit. Splat kits are $6.99 at Walmart or SplatHairColor.com.

Hot shot

Get the hottest blaster for backyard battles on the block, the Thermal Hunter ($29.99), featuring a heat-seeking scope that detects a heat source up to 60 feet away. When a warm-blooded target is in the cross hairs, the scope will turn red to let you know when to pull the trigger, with blasting power of up to 100 feet. The 10-count dart clip allows you to hit multiple targets without having to stop and reload. Available at Target.

Drink up

Forget those sugary sodas and serve up some naturally and deliciously sweet drinks at your summer soiree with Zevia, the top-selling sparkling beverage brand that has zero calories, no sugar, no dyes, and just the right amount of sweet. Now with a multitude of flavors and drinks in a variety of categories, from sparkling waters to mixers and energy drinks, Zevia’s clear and clean formulas are a favorite at parties for all ages. Sold at Amazon, Whole Foods and other grocers nationwide.

Scent of summer

Luxuriate in the scents of summer, with the sweet aromas of a 100-percent soy wax Jaded Candles. This line of handmade, clean, refreshing candles contain no additives, chemicals or colors and are made from pure soy. Soothing scents for the season include Island Hibiscus, Green Tea Lemongrass, and White Tea Berries Candle.  $15 to $35.

Summer cleaning

Washing the car will be a chore you won’t mind doing, armed with the Brush Hero, as showcased on Shark Tank. This handy hose adapter turns an ordinary garden hose into a powerful weapon of cleaning, using water pressure to power its turbine and bust grime from cars, motorcycles, bikes, BBQs, lawn furniture or whatever else needs cleaning.  It does the spinning and scouring while you just adjust the water flow as needed to release its scrubbing power. Available on Amazon for $34.99.

After the sunning

Enjoy spending time outdoors in the summer sun, even if you suffer from dry skin or eczema, with dermatologist-awarded Theraplex ClearLotion ($18.50), a light, fast-penetrating emollient oil spray that seals in moisture when applied to just-showered skin. The formula of a special petrolatum fraction and natural jojoba oil helps to provide added protection against moisture loss and prevent dryness without irritation and leaves skin soft and smooth. For extra moisturizing day or night, Theraplex Eczema Therapy ($18) relieves dry skin with superior soothing that lasts for hours.

Walking and talking

Even if the kids are too young for their own smartphones, they will feel like the smartest kids at the pool, theme park, campground, or wherever they are using their Cobra ACXT360 Walkie Talkie Radios ($69.99). This three-pack of simple-to-use, two-way radios has a 23-mile range and loads of handy features, including hands-free operation, automatic severe weather alerts, 22 channels, and the ability to program up 221 privacy codes. They also have a keylock, to prevent accidental button pushing, a Roger beep after you finish talking, a battery level indicator, and a backlit LCD display for low-light conditions. If recharging them using the micro USB charging isn’t handy, they can be powered by regular AA alkaline batteries.

Tapped out

Nothing is worse than warm, flat beer when you are out in the hot summer sun, fishing, camping or hanging at a backyard party with friends. Keep the brew fresh and cold with a TrailKeg growler, a vacuum-insulated pressurized container that keeps beverages cold for 24 hours and perfectly carbonated until opened. TrailKeg’s gallon stainless steel bottle ($89.99) is suitable for any beverage and is the perfect vat to cart along to your favorite locally crafted beer brewery, to fill up with cold nitro brew to keep it satisfyingly chilled and fresh when you take it home.

Take it outside

There’s a million backpacks on the market, but if you’re looking for a tough one, then the Lizardskin brand name says it all. The rugged Cache Lifestyle Backpack by Lizardskin ($109.99) is one fine bag, where urban style meets durability. The roll top opening and magnetic clip provide an adjustable storage space to protect all your necessities, and a side zip pocket gives quick access to your electronic devices. It also features webbing for carabiners, an adjustable magnetic sternum strap, and lots of pocket and pouches for organizing all the stuff you carry along on a summer adventure.

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The ultimate Mother’s Day gift guide for every kind of mom

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Moms who love adventure, tech, fashion or beauty will love these awesome Mother’s Day gifts

Full Steam a-dress

Whether it’s a big day at work, date night with Dad, or off for a vacay, Mom always wants to look her dapper best. The lightweight JOY 900-Watt Supreme Steam Go Mini Steamer ($19.95 at HSN.com) makes it easy to remove wrinkles from her shirts, slacks and dresses, at home or wherever she goes. The included zippered bag is perfect for storing it in a closet, car or suitcase.

Foot forward

Start off Mom’s day with positive vibes, from head to toe, starting with her feet.  Notes To Self socks are emblazed with affirming messages like, “I am a Great Mom,” and, “I am Amazing,” and the special Mom gift set ($32.98 for 2 pairs) comes in a pink heart-shaped gift box tied with a satin ribbon.  The ankle-height athletic socks are high-quality cotton-blend with a reinforced soft cuff, breathable mesh top and extra cushioning arch support.

She’s in charge

Mom’s smartphone is her lifeline for work, coordinating kids’ activities, shopping, staying in touch on social media, and everything else she does, so help her keep it charged and ready with the MagicMount Pro Home/Office ($69.99, scosche.com). This stylish stand and wireless magnetic charger mounts at home or the office on a desk or other surface with a stickGRIP suction base and uses Qi wireless charging technology, ideal for the new iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X, so Mom never has to search for and fumble with charger cables. It also features a Optional Apple Watch® Charging Mount that works with lightning charging cable.

A bed for all seasons

Let Mom sleep in on her special day, snuggled in a luxurious Bedgear ensemble. Bedgear Performance Pillows ($99.99 – $199.99) are dreamy clouds of comfort that can be individually personalized for different sleeping positions and body types using a Pillow ID app. Close to her skin, Mom will relish the cool, silky sensation of Ver-Tex Performance Sheets (starting at $299.99), made of a hi-tech quick-dry fabric blend that regulates temperature on the sleeping surface. 

 

To complete Mom’s performance sleeping ensemble,  top it off with a Ver-Tex Medium Warmth Climacore Blanket ($299.99), a cool-to-the-touch, all-season top layer that promotes air flow and dissipates body heat, keeping mom cozy and cool all night long.

See Jane run

Mom works hard, and works out hard, so get her performance exercise apparel that can keep up with her. Endeavor Athletic’s premier women’s Run Short ($58) feature a handy pocket, four-way-stretch fabric panels, moisture wicking technology, and built-in micro-mesh briefs that eliminate the need for an under layer and allow for free movement. Whether she’s training for a quick 5k or an ultra-marathon, these women’s running shorts will help her perform her best.

Get dressed

One dress cannot be everything for everyone, or can it? In the Nuu-Muu ($78-$88), Mom will be suited up for just about anything she’s game for. This flattering and functional slip-on dress comes in an assortment of styles that fit a variety of body types, and its comfortable stretch fabric will keep Mom comfortable no matter what’s she’s doing, from shopping and lunching, to exercise or a walk on the beach. With so many patterns, Mom could have a closet full of these versatile jumpers and wear a different one every day of the month; and if the weather is too chilly for going sleeveless, she can always pull over a Nuu-Muu layering Tee ($62) for warmth that exudes coolness.

 

 

Sleeping in luxury

For the traveling mom, give her a luxury sleep experience on the road, with a Brave Era Travel Sheet. This compact and light-weight, machine-washable 100-percent mulberry silk bed liner folds as compact as an iPhone to fit into a small suitcase or even a purse. Mom can carry it along on her adventures and sleep comfortably, whether she is in a hotel room or on a cot at the airport, knowing that the layer of fabric between her and her sleeping surface is clean and fresh. Moms’ Day sale priced at $79.99.

Good hair day

When Mom hits the road, she can bring her own salon with her, with the HSI Professional Travel Styling Kit ($79.99). It includes a Glider Mini flat iron, Groover Mini curling iron, and Dryonizer Mini blowdryer and two airflow nozzles and a hairstyling clip. With all these accoutrements, mom can have straight hair during the day and fun curls that night and rock any look for her vacation photos.

 

 

Glam ma’am

One mom who has been rockin’ it for four decades as a professional model, and making it look easy, Christie Brinkley, graciously has made her own collection of cosmetics available to make women of all ages look great, without a lot of fuss. As an encore to her line of skincare products, Christie Brinkley Authentic Beauty provides high-quality yet affordable beauty basics in wearable shades that streamline every beauty routine. Perfect for Mother’s Day, the packaging is a feminine and elegant reflective rose gold that will even make mom’s vanity counter look lovely. From $14 to $49.

She wears the pants

Outdoorsy moms can ditch their fancy pants and slip on some comfortable yet rugged Mountain Khakis Teton Crest pants ($79.95). Made for a life lived untucked, these durable pants for adventurers are guaranteed to fit. With styling for fit and function, mom will be ready for whatever the great outdoors can throw at her, and she will look good doing it.

Wonder water

mom likes to stay hydrated for good health, but sometimes water can just be boring, unless she has Cirkul. This cool new concept in flavored water includes a special dispenser bottle with a lid featuring a flavor cartridge. Mom can dial up the intensity of flavor she wants, or she can drink the water straight up, to suit her taste. The cartridges come delivered each month to her doorstep through a subscription program, with a pack of new flavors each month. Because the bottle is reusable, mom can be proud to do her part to save the planet and eschewing disposable plastic bottles. $27 for 8 cartridges per month.

Accessory to style

If mom loves to decorate and surround herself with beautiful things, accessories her with fashionable and functional décor items like a Mermaid Blue Chenille Throw Blanket ($20.99) that she can cuddle up with on the couch watching her favorite show, or a Eucalyptus Leaves Cobblestone Candle ($9.99) she can light up to relax with some mood lighting and aromatherapy. Dress up her dresser with a 2-Tier Jewelry Stand ($14.99) that displays her bobbles and adds a little bling to her décor. All from Kirkland’s

Pretty in pink

She loves her hair to look fabulous, even in high humidity, and with hot-pink-packaged Color Correct Frizz Control system, Mom can smooth her locks and look lovely and smoldering all summer long. CrazySmooth Anti-Frizz Shampoo ($39.00) features a 100-percent vegan proprietary blend of exclusive oils including Camellia Oil from Japan and Abyssinian Oil from Africa, with seaweed and shea butter, to instantly smooth unruly frizz. CrazySmooth Anti-Frizz Condition ($39.00) leaves hair vibrant, glossy, and smooth-as-silk while nourishing, detangling and defending hair with color and heat protection. CrazySmooth Anti-Frizz Treatment Masque ($48.00) mends and deeply moisturizes hair with a blend including soybean lipids, seaweed and shea butter, making hair instantly looks up to 10 years younger. RadicallySmooth Anti-Frizz Serum ($28.00) instantly smoothes for long-lasting, frizz-free style with full spectrum UVA/UVB color and heat protection. Available at ColorProof.com.

Well rounded

Give Mom the tools for success, starting with her hair brush. The Ostia Collection’s Round Copper Brush ($24-28) is has a pure copper core that retains and distributes heat evenly for a smoother and healthier finish to Mom’s style. The extra-long Tourmaline bristles and boar strip work together to create the perfect tension for styling. For a static-free styling, she can spray on Ostia Collection 3-in-1 Mist ($18) that smooths and adds shine while hydrating heat-styled hair.

She brings home the bacon, and fries it up in …

The kitchen is Mom’s domain, so give her cookware worthy of her Highness, with the Swiss Diamond XD Nonstick Cookware collection, dubbed the Rolls Royce of cookware.  The XD-double-coated Swiss Diamond Fry Pan Duo ($189.95) features a 9.5-inch and 11-inch frying pans that make the perfect pair for everyday cooking, from a succulent steak to a simple cheese omelet. The extra-thick, cast aluminum body and PFOA-free XD coating, reinforced with real diamonds and a rivet-free cooking surface, offer years of trouble-free cooking, maximum protection against bacteria build up and easy clean-up. The ergonomic handles are designed to fit comfortably in Mom’s hands and are engineered to stay cool on the stovetop. Additionally, both pans are oven safe up to 500°F (260°C).

Out in style

Active Moms need performance clothes that can keep up with them. Whether she’s out shopping or relaxing round the campfire, Craghoppers has an outfit for that, like Insect Shield Luna Tights ($48), the agile travel and adventure leggings that freedom of movement, while providing UPF 50+ sun protection and InsectShield insect-repellent fabric coverage from waist to ankle; or the all-purpose classic Kiwi Long-Sleeve Shirt ($36), a easy wash-and-wear quick-dry poly-cotton shirt with UPF 40+, and NosiDefence insect bite-proof construction to keep off the skeeters and other bugs on the trail.

Wired for sound

Tech savvy audiophile moms love themselves some wireless earbuds, but tangled lines or low- or dead-batteries are a bummer.  With myCharge’s PowerGear Sound ($24.99) Mom will always be charged up and ready to listen to her favorite music or podcast for her daily workout, traveling and anytime she needs to turn on and tune out. This portable protective charging earbud case supplies up to 14x extra battery life and is compatible with Powerbeats 2, Powerbeats 3 and most other Bluetooth earbuds.

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Your maid just might clean out your house

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One in three home contractors flunk background checks

I found out the hard way that not finishing on time or making a mess is not the only crime you have to worry about with a home contractor. I had the unfortunately experience of hiring a handyman who came back a few days after he finished a painting job to burglarize my house, making off with about $40,000 worth of jewelry and other valuables.

So I was not surprised when I read that when home services app SERVIZ put applicants through a pre-employment background check, they discovered that as many as a third of home contractors had prior criminal records.

Concerned at these numbers, SERVIZ then researched and assembled its groundbreaking new Home Safety Rankings (HSR) Index for over 100 metropolitan areas across the U.S. It’s a comprehensive look at statistics and findings on home safety across the U.S., with participation from the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and other national organizations.

The list ranked cities according to highly specific home safety and crime statistics, and the results included more than a few surprises, with cities in the Los Angeles, Dallas and San Diego metro areas appearing in the top 10 safest, and with multiple cities in the Phoenix, Los Angeles, Denver and other metro areas also falling in the bottom 10 as the least safe.

In addition to the nationwide rankings on 108 cities, the HSR examined the home safety habits and concerns of residents through city page infographics. The study shows homeowners vital facts about their city’s potential safety and offers important statistics and tips, with insights on such cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, New York, Washington D.C., Denver, and Austin.

The study found that Los Angeles’s Home Safety Score was C+, San Diego scored a B-, New York scored a B, and Washington D.C. scored an F. New York ranked 27 (100 is safest) on the Crime Index, with 40,599 annual crimes, while Los Angeles ranked 19, with 121,241 annual crimes. Washington ranked 3 on the Crime Index, with 39,966 annual crimes.

Shockingly, a person’s chance of becoming a victim of a crime is 1 in 33 in L.A., 1 in 41 in New York, 1 in 17 in Washington D.C., 1 in 39 in San Diego, and 1 in 35 across the U.S. (Average). What is even more concerning is that people nationwide are actually unsuspectingly letting criminals into their homes.

SERVIZ found that home service pros failed SERVIZ background checks a rates as high as one in nine in Los Angeles, with as many as 1 in 6 carpet cleaners failing checks. One in six handymen in New York and San Diego failed criminal background checks, and one in four home repair pros failed background checks in Washington D.C.

The statistics may be frightening, but much less terrifying than coming home to a broken window screen and all your jewelry gone and your home ransacked, like mine was, so be smart, and only hire through a verified service that does a thorough criminal background check.

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