The share economy teaches us a lesson we learned as toddlers


Letting others use our stuff, sharing experiences and our space with strangers is creating new livelihood and a new of life for those who care to share

All aboard a Boatsetter yachting experience in Marina Del Rey, California, where boat owners host guests for a private cruise experience for an evening or overnight

Our parents told us it was good manners to share our toys when we were kids. Taking turns and letting others play with our treasured possessions kept things peaceful on playdates. As we got older though, most of us stopped this practice. We lived by, “What’s mine is mine and yours’s is yours,” that is, until recently.

With the dawn of the share economy about a decade ago, when people began to accept money to share rides and even their homes with others, society started to look differently at personal assets, regarding them as opportunities to enhance our lives, both monetarily and personally.

The truth is, there’s plenty to go around, and in an ideal world, if we just let others use our things when we aren’t using them, then no one would be without. Imagine the resources we could save by not buying stuff that we only need occasionally.

Consider the freedom of using things for which you do not have to assume risk and responsibility or need to store, maintain, register or license. It seems so logical, but until five years ago, there was no such thing as a share economy. Now, you can share just about anything, and just like when we were kids, everyone wins.

Uber was the first ride share service to take off. This innovative company built an app that allowed just about anyone with a street-legal car to connect with riders who would pay drivers for sharing their ride. The idea was to give transportation to people who were already going your way, and those passengers would compensate you, essentially sharing the cost of the gas and upkeep on your car. It was such as great idea, ride share companies like Lyft, Opoli and others soon got on board.

An Opoli driver takes a client out for a ride in style

Of course, it ended up that more cars, not fewer, ended up on the road, and Uber and the others became basically cheaper and less-regulated taxis. But the sharing economy was born, and a new mentality emerged, whereby society began sharing all sorts of things, and sharing opened up new realms of possibilities and experiences that continue to evolve into a new way of living for tens of millions of people.

Not only does sharing eliminate the need for ownership of expensive things that we only use occasionally, it provides unique opportunities between people of all backgrounds, and in some cases it can be an equalizer between the have and have nots, and it can open up new markets where none existed.

Airbnb allows people to sublet or share their homes, providing a new source of income for hosts and opening up affordable travel to people for whom the cost of hotels was prohibitive. In some cases, Airbnb might be the only accommodations in remote areas where there are no hotels, bringing visitors to previously off-the-grid destinations.

Airbnb allows anyone with extra space to rent it out to strangers, and visitors can find affordable accommodations in cities or places where no other lodging is available

Even travelers with ample budgets often opt for Airbnb accommodations, preferring the privacy of renting of an entire home, the experience of staying embedded in a cool neighborhood, or the companionship of residing with a host, who might share a cup of coffee in the morning or even take guests on a shopping outing, site-seeing tour, surfing adventure or other paid experience.

Soon riffs on home sharing evolved, like Boatsetter, a peer-to-peer boat rental marketplace which connects boatowners with guests who want to enjoy an adventure on the water. The owners can invent experiences in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami and Barcelona, where boatowners host guest on experiences such as deep sea fishing, whale watching or a Live Like a Star party boat ride on a yacht or even a sleepover on a boat with breakfast included.

Though not quite as glamourous as a yacht cruise, TravelCar, which has a fleet of hundreds of cars available in Los Angeles and San Francisco, offers users the opportunity for travelers to rent a car at a discounted rate from a private owner, usually while the owner is traveling. The host receives a portion of the rental fee and gets free airport parking and a car wash in exchange for lending out their vehicle, and if they host as part of TravelCar’s monthly program, TravelCar provides routine maintenance, such as oil changes, wiper fluid, and tire rotation.

Of course, you don’t have to own a home, boat or even a car to be part of the share economy.  Pavemint allows those with parking spaces to lease them out short- or long-term. In Los Angeles, where the company recently launched, already hosts with more than 4,000 parking spaces have signed up to loan out their driveways and unused office building parking lots. Besides bringing in a little spending money to the hosts, utilizing empty parking spots and offering guaranteed parking to visitors has helped boost business in city neighborhoods, like Hollywood, where safe parking – or any parking — is scarce.

Pavemint allows those with a parking spot to let others use it for the hour, day, week or longer

The success of Uber, Airbnb and spinoffs has spawned many other types of share services, particularly in large cities, where companies vie to be the Uber of their lot, like Bird, a Southern California company that rents stand-up electric scooters through a mobile phone app, allowing riders to find and activate scooters that are at depots throughout Santa Monica, Venice and other neighborhoods in Los Angeles and San Diego, for a cost of $1 per ride and 15 cents per minute.

Then there’s LimeBike, a smart bike sharing company with more than 35 regional locations in cities and college campuses across the US including  Seattle, Washington D.C., Dallas, and Miami. Even Uber, through its subsidiary Jump Bike, has gotten into the two-wheeler share space, offering hosts the opportunity to lease out their bikes in San Francisco, with a fleet of 250 bikes and growing, and plans to soon to expand into other cities.

Bike rentals by the hour or day allow tourists to cruise like locals

With all sharing propositions, there are pros and cons, for both hosts and users. While hosts and their properties are supposed to meet certain standards, sometimes they all short. Likewise, guests and leases are bound to rules of conduct and care that they do not always follow. There are risks to personal property and personal safety in some cases, that both parties accept, which is stated in the fine print of the terms of service to which they agree before participating in the service.

Not only are there risks of letting others use our things, but there are risks to sharing our identity and financial information when we participate in the share economy. According to cybersecurity expert, David Thomas, CEO of Evident ID, “While the sharing economy makes services and goods more accessible than ever, it also asks users to interact with people they do not know and may not trust. That’s why it is important to understand the level of verification and security a sharing economy provider has in place for its community.”

While there are isolated horror stories, with the extreme of Uber driver murders and reports of Airbnb thefts and vandalism, for the most part, sharing works. The benefit of sharing is not just new sources of passive revenue for property owners and wages for many people in need of flexible hours – the old retort when someone in LA claims to be an actor, “Really? What restaurant?” is now, “Really? Uber or Lyft?” – it is also a cleaner environment, a healthier lifestyle, accessibility of affordable transportation and accommodations for travelers, and the advent of new ways for us to interact with each other as a society.

When our parents encouraged us to share as kids, our playdates were more enjoyable and peaceful, and everyone was happier. It has taken us generations as a society to learn that truth that we accepted as young children. Sharing is caring. When we share, we all benefit, in untold and immeasurable ways. As we continue to invent new ways to share, we expand our economy and our minds, and we might not just make some extra money but make a new bestie.


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EasyKicks a shoo-in for parents who are always buying kids footwear


If the shoe fits, wear it; if it doesn’t click on another pair, with EasyKicks shoe club for kids

Finally, a subscription service that is easy for me and a real kick for my kid. EasyKicks is a monthly service where subscribers pay a $20 monthly fee and get to pick and have shipped a new pair of Nike or Converse shoes, as they need them.

One of the most interesting elements of this subscription service is that the shoes come delivered to your door in a personalized box, decorated with kid-friendly graphics to boot, and when you take out the new pair of shoes, you put in an old pair of shoes and ship them back In a prepaid envelope for donation or recycling.

You can even put a couple pairs or more in the box, to go to a good cause. Either way, if your gently used shoes find their way to foster kids in need or if they are recycled through Nike grind, they go to a good cause and are kept out of landfills. They may even become materials to make playground surfaces.

The program allows you to swap out your “kicks,” as they call shoes, as often as you need to, at no extra cost. They send along a guide for measuring feet, with instructions, so you’re sure you get the right size. They even include a shoe-print shaped magnet that resembles those old-fashioned measuring devices in shoe stores, so you can slap it on the fridge and always have it handy.

The on-demand subscription concept came about as a way to end the stress of shopping for kids shoes, and the frustration of buying new shoes for kids to only have them wear them out or outgrow them in a month.

Once you ship off a pair of shoes to swap, you can go to your online account and order a new pair. Your membership allows you to keep one pair at a time, but you can order a new pair before you send your old pair back. But if you try to order another pair, a note on the website will let you know you need to first swap out a pair to get a new pair. You can swap out shoes as often as you need to, but measure often, as pediatricians recommend measuring kids feet for resizing every 90 days. Sure enough, at the third month of my membership, my son had already gone up a half size.

If you ever decide to end your membership, they ask that you send back your old EasyKicks, unless you’ve had them for at least 90 days, in which case they are yours to keep.

The shoes selections are a little limited, with only Nike and Converse brands, but considering those are pretty much the only brands my son wears, it was a good match for us. When I last checked the selection, for my son size, there were more than 40 styles from which to choose.
My son loves to look through the styles himself, and he much prefers to tap on a picture online then for me to drag him to a shoe store to try on the shoes.

For families with many kids, you can set up a profile for each child, which includes the child’s name, age and shoe size. They don’t have a discount for multiple kids in a family at this time, but they do often have promotions to save money, like $5 off the first month of membership with a three-month commitment; and they have a gift membership for a year that is $200.

It figures it took busy parents to come up with this idea of a kids show club, and ironically the founders are shoe industry veterans who happened to notice how quickly their own kids outgrew shoes, and they decided to do something to give busy parents a break and to give worn-out shoes a second life.


EasyKicks is backed by Nike, which is why the service get access to the latest sneaker styles and gets the best deals in the market. When I did the math, not only did the cost come out to be a steal, the time and energy I saved was priceless.


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Kids that can’t keep still build better brains

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Research shows physical activity fuels kids brains

A new study found that kids who get extra physical activity tend to pay more attention in school and perform better in subjects like reading and math. It’s important that parents find fun physical activities that kids will want to put down the controller and get off the couch to participate in, especially during the colder months when kids are developing cabin fever from staying indoors all day.

Kilian Saekel, CEO of A-Champs, an interactive gaming system that encourages kids to move and play, offers the following ideas on physical activities that kids can do in the comfort of their living room to fuel their brains:

  • Throw a dance party– Kids love dancing and they tend not to think of it as a physical activity, but it does raise your heart rate a significant amount if you throw yourself into it! Crank up some music and let kids create their own dance routines, have dance-off contests, or put on classics like the Macarena and the Electric Slide for choreographed fun.
  • Living room obstacle course– Set up an obstacle course in your living room with stations such as crawling under a sheet or through a tunnel, hopscotch using hula hoops, carrying a ping pong ball on a spoon from one side of the room to the other and rolling up towels to use as a balance beam. You can also have kids use their imagination to create their own stations.
  • Creative twist on reading– Read a book aloud together with your child and when they want to pass the reading duties along to another person they have to do an exercise move such as a jumping jack, sit up or push up.
  • Set the stage– Have kids make up a play or reenact an existing story that involves them acting out different motions such as swimming across an ocean, climbing up a tree or running a marathon. Parents can also shout out different actions that the children have to incorporate into their stories.
  • Put on a video– Introduce kids to new forms of exercise by putting on instructional videos for yoga poses or Zumba and Tae Bo moves. Introduce at least one new pose or move every week and have kids do reps of each one every day.
  • Stick to what kids love – Kids love technology and there are various apps and games that aim to get kids off the couch and participating in physical activities. NFL Play 60 and ROXs are both great options to expose kids to tech without sitting in front of a television.




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Survivalists laugh last


People who prepare for the worst are the ones who save themselves, and others

A lot of jokes are made about fervent survivalists, and they are sometimes the subjects of ridicule, like the character Freida, played by Dale Soules, in the Showtime series Orange is the New Black. Many fans were intrigued to learn that the actress Soules in real life was raised up in a home without running water and was a practitioner of many of the survival skills she demonstrated on screen.


But in the end, just like on the show, the survivalists come out on top, and often they also end up saving the skeptics around them. 


Sometimes it pays to be paranoid, and in all cases, it never hurts to be overprepared. None of us wants to face the possibility of a threat or disaster, natural or man-made, but there are some basics survival tips that every person should know. 


The recent cold snaps on the East Coast, in some areas involving heavy snow and icy roads, confined many people to their homes for several days, and others were trapped on the road or outdoors. Having the right tools, supplies and knowledge could make the difference between life and death in these situations.


If you are ever involved in a disaster, do not count on FEMA or other governmental groups to come to your rescue. While in an ideal world, these organizations are there to aid American citizens, the best advice is for every individual citizen to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.


The most elemental of survival kits will include emergency survival food, water filtration supplies, power and lighting supplies, a first aid kit and medicine, cooking implements, and a means to create fire.


If you’re not sure where to start in putting together a survival kit, check out a specialist supply company, like My Patriot Supply. A company that features one-stop shopping for a wide array of products depending on your needs is much better than trying to put together a kit piecemeal from a variety of sources. Plus, using a supply source that is utilized by a number of hard-core survivalists will give you a great idea of the quality of the items according to online reviews. In general, consumers of this type of equipment are rather serious about it, and the reviews are likewise serious, and reliable.


Whether you are building a kit for yourself, as a single person, or if you are maintaining a kit for a family or a community, it is best to get professional guidance on what supplies and quantities you will need, based on likely disasters or emergencies that you might encounter. Preparedness is assuring, but a surplus is a waste. 


Besides going to reliable websites, like My Patriot Supply, you can also find a number of great books that will educate you on everything from growing your own organic fruits and vegetables to living in drought conditions.


While it’s hard to prioritize survival knowledge, first aid is probably the most critical, as a minor injury could turn into a major one if not treated properly, and preparedness for stings, sprains, burns, allergies, and fractures, which are some of the most common injuries, can help alleviate the distraction of minor injuries in a situation where all your critical faculties are needed.


The key to surviving a life-threatening situation is preparedness. No matter how many public service announcements are broadcast or community workshops held, most of us think we have time to do this, and we put it off. As those who have lived through harrowing experiences can attest, self-reliance will be your savior, so don’t wait to safeguard yourself, and your family.

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Dining in Los AngelesEat & DrinkLifestyleRestaurantsThe Left Coast

Il Picollo Verde offers LA diners small-town Italian with a big heart



Il Picollo Verde is fine Italian dining that is approachable in price and atmosphere. The restaurant is relatively small, occupying a long and narrow storefront on Barrington Place in Brentwood Village. The heated patio overlooks a relatively quiet street, and is almost as large as the cozy restaurant inside. For those opting for the dining room, The ambience inside is mellow and romantic, with low lighting and tables lit by small oil lamps.


It was the perfect atmosphere for a date night, or in our case, an intimate family dinner.

The restaurant and staff are welcoming, and like the menu, very approachable. Chef Pablo Merida prepares the made-to-order from-scratch Italian specialties in an open kitchen, along with his able and friendly crew.

In addition to many traditional dishes, the restaurant features a Verde Naturale menu with a number of health-conscious, low-calories options made with organic, unrefined, raw and pressed oils and organic gluten-free grains and leafy greens and vegetables.

We first tried a family favorite, the App Calamari Friti, which was lightly fried and not overly greasy, served with a tangy marinara sauce. While it was not an appetizer per se, we decided to have the Ravioli Casarecci before our entrées, because we didn’t want to miss the restaurant’s favorite famous homemade pastas, but we all had our minds set on non-pasta dishes.

For our main courses, we had the Lemon Chicken Naturale, grilled with garlic, herbs, vegetables, lemon juice, millet Verde, which was very similar to the Petto Di Pollo Al Limone chicken breast, though the former served in a lighter sauce.
My nine-year-old was in the mood for seafood indulged in the Cioppino, a seafood stew of clams, mussels, calamari, shrimp, fresh fish, and served with Crostini for dipping. We also had the Salmone, a grilled salmon fillet served with broccoli and roasted potatoes.
Though the restaurant was out of gelato the night we visited, we had two other delicious desserts from their dessert menu of a custard pie with almonds and a ricotta cheese pie.
While we didn’t have the appetite for it the night we visited, the restaurant is known for its New York style pizza, which our table neighbor had ordered and which looked tantalizing. In particular, the Bianca E Neve pizza looked appetizing, covered with mozzarella and ricotta cheese and spinach. For that, we will have to come back, which we surely will.

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Choosing a winning lawyer


The best legal advise you can get, is to get a good lawyer

There’s a joke in the legal profession that the person who represents himself or herself has a fool for a client. Indeed, the legal field is, to say the least, very complicated to navigate on one’s own. Lawyers have pretty much solidified their place in our lives, despite Shakespeare once prophesying that in order to achieve societal harmony, first we must, “Kill all the lawyers.” Once we have accepted this reality, of the necessity of having doctors of jurisprudence argue our disputes, there is the matter of finding a good lawyer to fight your fight.


For starters, heed this wisdom from experienced litigants, who concur that how you choose your lawyer is often a reliable predictor of your case’s success. The best referral is from a personal or professional acquaintance who has had a winning experience with a lawyer. In order to get a referral, it may be embarrassing to confide in others that you need legal help, but chances are they have been there themselves, and if you’re lucky, they may have someone good to recommend.


If no one you know can refer you to an attorney, utilize some of the online sites to locate and check ratings on lawyers, similar to Yelp – which can be a source in itself, though a low-credibility one due to their pay-to-play business model. One of the more popular rating sites is Avvo. While all review sites contain fraudulent reviews, generally they still can provide some insight if read with a discriminating eye. Usually you can spot a fake review by either its effusively enthusiastic narrative with no critical comments, or its overly nasty and negative invective that might have been written by a sore-loser litigant who was actually beaten by the lawyer they are reviewing; so check out the middle-of-the road reviews as well as the top and bottom reviews to get the fairest assessment of the lawyer.


When it comes to the in-person or phone interview part of the hiring process, it’s important that you have a positive rapport with your would-be attorney. Many attorney’s will offer a free consultation, so take advantage of this meeting to feel out the attorney’s manner and tone.

Trust will be a crucial part of your relationship with your attorney, so you must feel that this is a person you can trust on both a personal and professional level. If an attorney suggests ethically or legally questionable strategies, such as hiding money in a bankruptcy proceeding, then run don’t walk away from that attorney. If a lawyer has a shady modus operandi, you can bet he or she will be shady in business practices, including in client-attorney dealings.


One of the biggest complaints clients express regarding attorneys is that attorneys do not return calls in a timely manner and are unresponsive to their emails; so ask an attorney candidate what his or her response time will be when you call or email, i.e. , calls are returned within 24 hours. Make sure your attorney has the bandwidth to give your case proper attention. If it was hard to get an appointment because their office was too busy, chances are they will be too busy to return calls and to give due attention to your matter.

Experience matters

Just as you would with a doctor how many times he or she has performed a procedure you must undergo, ask your attorney what his or her experience is in the pertinent area of law and how many cases they have handled like yours. You would not want a doctor to be doing his first surgery on you, just as you do not want to be an attorney’s first case in a particular area of law.

Make sure they have ample experience and a favorable win record in the proper field. While a family law attorney may have an excellent record in custody matters, they may never have tried a personal injury case, defended an DUI, or filed a bankruptcy, so search for a specialist, such as personal injury attorney tampa, for the best results.

Just because you have a trusted friend or acquaintance who is a lawyer, this does not mean he or she can handle your case.  Even if a lawyer friend offers you services pro bono, if that lawyer is a wrong fit, it is not worth any savings you might realize, if you lose your case because they did not give qualified advice.


Often the deciding factor in hiring an attorney is price. Fees will vary widely depending on the experience of the attorney. You can expect to pay anywhere from $250 an hour to $650 an hour, depending on the expertise your case requires. Make sure in your retainer agreement with the attorney that there is an understanding of how they bill, such as in 10- or 20-minute increments. Many attorneys will require an upfront retainer that can be a couple thousand dollars or $20,000, depending on your type of case. If you are not able to reach a settlement, and as trial approaches, an attorney may require a retainer of over $100,000 if they expect your trial to last for several days or longer. Attorneys know that after trial is over, it is very difficult to collect fees – especially if they do not win the case – so that is why they collect payment upfront.

It is hardly ever the case that the hiring a lawyer is not an expensive endeavor. If worse comes to worse, and you have to use legal intervention to settle a dispute, the least you can do is choose your attorney wisely so that you have the best chances at a favorable outcome.

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Living large in a Lincoln Navigator, and loving it


Family Size Matters

By golly, bigger is better, at least when it comes to the Lincoln navigator. I’ve been driving an SUV for the past 11 years, but driving the Navigator was a first-time experience, and a great one — a great, great big one.

I was recently given the opportunity to drive around in a Lincoln Navigator for five days in Los Angeles, and riding in such a large vehicle was at first outside my comfort zone, and then I realized, I actually stepped into a new, enormously comfortable zone.
Getting behind the wheel and looking over the hood from a perspective of what seemed like 10 feet up, I felt powerful.

I know it’s cliché, but I understood instantly why the Paul Bunyan-esque big country boys from my home state of Virginia were so enamored of luxe-size vehicles. The front compartment resembles first-class accommodations in a 747. The large and roomy seats are like lazy boy loungers, complete with a side table with cup holders. Of course, all the wood trim and finishes of lacquer and chrome are of high quality and bespoke materials.

The backseat, or I should say backseats, are equally spacious, and the first row even features its own controls for the stereo system.

The interior of this car hollers comfort, and taken as a whole, the undeniably loud statement this car makes is “power.” Not that this luxury SUV is made for a monster truck rally or racing, but it puts forth through it’s prodigious presence an aura of superiority and strength. This is, I am sure, the allure for many drivers, though in my case, I also was endowed with the feeling of safety.

Driving a car this size made me feel protected on the road. Driving around Los Angeles, occasionally through questionable neighborhood and sidestreets, I felt like no one could touch me, and they wouldn’t dare. I also thought that, heaven for bid, if I got into an accident, I would not be the one who had to worry about being crunched.

This car gave me a feeling of confidence and calm, which is a great feeling for a mom carting around her kids. It may not be totally PC to say, but it was a secure feeling to know that I was the biggest, baddest most intimidating vehicle sitting at the traffic light, and my vehicle was saying to others, “Don’t mess with us.”

Other features that gave me peace of mind about safety including the driving aids like a back up beeper, warning alerts when you drive too close to the curb or the car in front or back when parking, and I appreciated the projection onto the front windshield of navigation directional signs, my current speed, the speed limit, and the time of day, so that I never had to take my eyes off the road.

It’s also a gratifying feeling to drive into a place and get instant respect and attention, like when I pulled into the valet at the H Hotel near LAX, and the valets were tussling over who would get to take my vehicle.

Besides the psychological benefits of driving this vehicle, the amenities are nothing to overlook. You name it, it’s got it. Full-size screen navigation, check. Kick-butt sound system, check. Reclining and fold-down seats that are like a bed, check. The design of this car is all about luxury, comfort and making it easy for the driver to relax and enjoy the ride. The details are also all about providing a VIP experience for everyone, driving or riding, down to the sideboards that automatically slide out from under the car when a door is opened, as soft purple lights illuminate the step and the ground. Is the feeling of someone taking your hand and guiding you as you step down out of the car.

I would be remiss not to mention the actual mechanics and the driver of the car. It should go out without saying, that this car has an engine to match it’s muscular exterior. Though it is a sizable vehicle, the acceleration is quick, so if the mere size of the vehicle alone doesn’t make other drivers let you in when you try to pass, then the speed of it will get you out front, or wherever you need to be.

Needless to say, kids love this car. It is an indoor playground. Kids of all ages, i.e., those in their 20s, 30s and beyond, love this car, because it is a party on wheels. It is easy to see in my mind’s eye a bachelor party, or a bridal shower, or a weekender with the girls or the guys, on-the-go in this vehicle. It’s not just a pleasure to drive, it is a treat to ride in, from any vantage, including the rear third row, which has space behind it for shopping bags, sports gear or a couple carry-ons.

For sure, this is the ultimate road-trip vehicle, loaded with luxury features and prestige to make the ride incredible, with the caveat that you might not want to get out once you reach your destination.

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Home goods that make the holidays happy


Holiday gifts that will make a home warm and welcoming, safe and sound

Ess-scential candles

Even if the weather outside is frightening, you can enjoy nature indoors with the warm, soft light of a candle flame and nature-inspired fragrances from the Heritage Collection by Chesapeake Bay Candle ($15-25). These stylish, modern designed candles can make a home feel cozy, homey and romantic with an array of soothing, energizing and refreshing scents naturally crafted with essential oils Available in small and large jars, two- and three-wick coffee table jars and diffuser styles in 12 scents. Available at, Target, Amazon and major home good stores nationwide.


B to ZZZs

Give a good night’s sleep to someone you love with bedding from B Your Bed. This affordable line of luxury bedding includes extra-long bedding to accommodate thicker mattresses and bed toppers. Not only are the fabrics ultra-comfortable, all B Your Bed products carry a seal that ensures consumers that the bedding is made with verified high-quality materials, and the company guarantees the dimensions, thread counts, fill rates and materials meet specifications. The beautiful styling and patterns of these comforter sets and accessories make you never want to get out of bed, hence the company name, that promises those who sleep engulfed in this comfort being will be one with the bed. Available at


Smarter Home

No smartly decorated home these days can be without a smart voice-activated speaker, not just to play music but to operate all the smart devices in the home, like light bulbs, switches, window blinds, thermostats, and TVs. The 808 Audio XL-V premium smart speaker ($129) is a new entrant to the Alexa-responsive speaker systems, that works in concert with Amazon’s Alexa app, enabling the 808 XL-V to access music and book libraries on Amazon, as well as other streaming services – and it has the ability to stream the same music from another 808 XL-V simultaneously, in other rooms. It can also connect via Bluetooth to stream audio from other Bluetooth-enabled devices or serve speaker for non-Bluetooth and non-smart devices using an aux in jack.


Watch me ne-ne

Give the gift of peace of mind to yourself or love ones with the Honeywell Lyric C2 Wi-Fi Security Camera ($169.99), an easy-to-install and use security system that keeps on eye on your home while you’re away, or inside. Using the Lyric app on a phone or tablet, the C2 streams live video and records using free secure cloud storage (up to 1 GB) and 8GB SD-card storage for back-up, so that you can download surveillance clips from the past 24 hours. The system features voice control capability using the Alexa app, sound detection, night vision, and an HD 145-degree wide-angle view that captures video in sharp 1080p high definition.


Think in a vacuum

A freshly vacuumed carpet gives the impression of a clean and well-groomed home, and with iRobot’s Roomba, a home can have that just-vacuumed look all the time. The original and most tech-forward of the automatic vacuum brands, Roomba has developed an army of round robots designed for a variety of carpet and floor surfaces, with its most advanced units, like the w-fi connected Roomba 980 ($899), featuring smart technology that allows Roomba to be operated and programmed using an app or with voice- command devices like Echo or Google Home. While Roomba doesn’t do windows, it’s a great helper around the house that won’t complain about chores, and with its endearing Jetson-esque robotic voice, Roomba may just become your next pet, that picks up fur instead of shedding it.

roomba w Alexa

Knead a break

“I don’ like massages,” said nobody, ever. It’s true, everyone likes to get massages, so make everyone feel good right at home with HoMedics Fold-Away Massaging Shiatsu Lounge Chair ($399). Sit back and relax while this comfy no-assembly-required lounge chair kneads the neck, shoulder, back and legs in an immersive deep-kneading shiatsu massage experience, with an option to apply soothing heat, all controlled with a programmed remote. The seat adjusts for different height levels and features three massage zones that concentrate on different areas, so every family member can enjoy a massage to their liking. When not in use, the chair folds compactly for easy storage. Available online at Bed Bath & Beyond or at store locations.

massage chair

Raising the towel bar

Refine and refresh the look of any bathroom with the modern style and rich colors of bath towels from the Lacoste Court Bath Towel Collection ($17.99). These thick and absorbent towels are crafted of high quality and durable soft 100-percent Supima cotton, with luxurious fibers that offer a beautiful luster and a design that features Lacoste’s signature croc patch. The colors from the towel collection complement the full collection from Lacoste Home, in case you want to wrap up on a matching bath robe.


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AdventureLifestyleOutdoorsShoppingWomen's Interest

Girl’s guide to glamping


Must-have gear for women who love the outdoors but also love creature comforts

Hitting the back woods and camping out does not mean you have to completely rough it.  Whether heading for the hills for a weekender with the family or a girls getaway, take along the right gear that will make your next outdoor adventure a pleasure.

Trailing ahead

Trail blazers can hit the hills running in INOV-8 PARKCLAW 275 GTX ($150) trail running shoes, built to handle versatile terrain, from road running to trails. This durable yet comfortable footwear is engineered with a membrane that bonds directly to the shoe’s upper to create a protective casing that keeps feet dry and performs in harsh running conditions yet has the fit and feel of a regular running shoe. INOV8 features a full line of women‘s and men’s running shoes and runner apparel and accessories available at INOV-8 at or running specialty retailers nationwide.


Shirts and skin

Whatever the weather, the Showers Pass Bamboo Merino Henley shirt ($60-76) for women and is perfect for it.  This ultimate outdoor all-season performance shirt features down-to-earth high-tech UPF 50+ protection fabric consisting of bamboo and merino fibers woven together are designed to create a soft cool touch on one side and a warm layer on the other side. The side mesh panels of the shirt are body mapped to vent off excess heat, and the flat stitching and continuous underarm panels reduce chaffing.


Sock it to me

Suit up head to toe for any weather and step into Showers Pass Crosspoint Waterproof Socks ($27.20-$31.20), featuring three layers, including a knit exterior that feels like a regular sock, a breathable waterproof membrane and a moisture-wicking antibacterial lining so that it feels like a sock but protects like a rain booty.


Get lit

Brighten up a camper’s holiday with the Dark Star 1000L Flashlight ($49.99) from Bass Pro Shops. This powerful beacon will illuminate any night with four light settings – low, medium, high and strobe, and the handle features a push-pull control that can adjust the beam from a spotlight to a flood light. The aluminum housing with anodized finish protects against rough wear, with a casing so solid that it could serve to wack a bear in a pinch. Requires nine AA alkaline batteries.


Cooking with sass

Outdoor cooks will love to stir up gourmet eats in the Bass Pro Shops’ 5-Piece Cook Set ($49). This light (42-ounce) and compact set, made of sturdy aluminum, comes with a 4.7-quart pot, a 3.2-quart pot, 1.6-quart frying pan, two lids, and a handy nylon carry bag. All the cookware features silicone-coated, folding handles and abrasion- and a stick-resistant coating for easy cleanup. When it’s time to pack up, the nesting design keeps everything compact.


Bag it

Sleeping under the stars is a dreamy experience, if you have the right sleeping bag, like the warm and cozy Slumberjack Big Timber Pro 20 ($89.95). Built for comfort, this bag features a larger footbox than tapered bags, allowing you to sleep on your back with your feet up in a natural and comfortable position, similar to a bed like experience. Equipped with a soft flannel liner, durable canvas outer shell and robust zippers – which can be joined with a second bag for two sleepers, the Big Timber Pro comes in 20 degree, 0 degree and -20 degree ratings.


Ground up

Whether camping out in the deep wood or the backyard, avoid the hazards and discomfort of sleeping on the ground by bunking up on a Slumberjack Tough Cot ($89.95). This highly durable cot can hold up to 350 pounds and has a no-squeak steel construction to help you get a sound sleep. It features a spacious sleep surface and sits up high to give plenty of room underneath to store gear. It sets up easily (watch this video to see how easy: and comes with a carry bag for transporting and storage.


Outdoor gourmet

Franks and beans are easy eats when you are cooking outdoors, but for those who prefer more elaborate camp cuisine, the GCI Outdoors SLIM-FOLD Cook Station ($80) has all you need for preparing meals the way you like ‘em. The station sets up and breaks down quickly with a hassle-free one-piece design. It has an aluminum counter top, a lower rack for storage and four plastic fold-out side tables. The side tables feature beverage holders, stem glass holders and hooks that can be used as a garbage bag holder or to hang cooking utensils.


Pump it up

Why give up a good night’s sleep just because you’re camping? With a Coleman Quickbed Plus High Airbed (Queen size $59.99) , you can have a restful night’s sleep wherever you are. The antimicrobial treated sleep surface resists odor, mold, mildew and fungus that you might encounter in a camping environment, and it comes with the convenience of an included pump, so you’ll always be ready to inflate your bed, indoors or outdoors. Once you find the desired firmness, the airbed’s air-tight closure prevents leaks, and the soft top offers cushioning for added comfort. When you’re ready to pack up, the bed fits into an included carry bag for easy storage until your next adventure.


Give three shelter

Three can be a crowd, but not on a three-dog night when you are huddled together in the Slumberjack Nightfall 3 ($169).  This lightweight, versatile and very compact three-person tent raises the bar for mountain tents. With only three poles, it’s quick and easy to set up, and the external pitch pole architecture keeps the inner tent dry even while pitching in the rain. The near vertical side walls provide plenty of interior space, and the no-see-um mesh keeps out even the littlest gnats and skeeters, to make your camp experience pleasant and pest-free.


Blow up your kayak

If you’ve always wanted a kayak but didn’t think you had the space to store one, Innova Kayaks has a solution that blows traditional kayaks out of the water. These inflatable kayaks are lightweight and constructed of heavy duty natural and synthetic rubber that will last for years, even decades.  They blow up in minutes with a high-capacity foot pump, and after the adventuring they fold up compactly and can be carries away in an oversized backpack and loaded into even a compact car. One-person and three-seater models available, with capacity up to 900 pounds. Available at dealers nationwide $399 to $1,299.

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Beauty productsGiftsShopping

A beautiful new you for the New Year


Look your best for the holiday season and year-round with these beauty boosters

Lash out

LashControl Squeeze mascara ($18) is the only mascara with squeeze control, featuring a patented tube that dispenses precisely as much mascara as you need on your brush every time you use it. You simply pinch the tube as you pull the brush out, and access formula stays in the cylinder. LashControl mascaras are formulated with botanicals and a beeswax base to keep lashes hydrated and conditioned, with formulas to promote lengthening and volumizing, and a clearcoat that can be used as a topcoat or a brow fix for a perfect finish. Available at


Smart blonde

Look your blondest best for the holidays and year-round with Tony Odisho Ostia Collection Beautiful Blonde Shampoo and Conditioner. This deep purple formula deposits violet color on locks to highlight natural and colored blonde sheen and knocks out dullness.  Also great for grey hair. $24 for two 8 oz. bottles.


Raise the dry bar

The Dryonizer 5500 Pink ($109) from HSI Professional is a salon quality hairdryer to-dry-for. This powerhouse of a beauty appliance has an adjustable thermostat and three heat levels to prevent hair damage from excess heat. It also features speed settings for quick drying or a lower speed for styling, for salon looks you can achieve at home.


Exotic beauty

Keprea skincare line, developed from rare botanicals harvested in North Africa, features patented anti-inflammatory and antiaging ingredients that nourish and transform skin and protect against environmental stresses. The Keprea Multi-Active Crème Day ($69.95) is a lightweight intensely nursing moisturizer that protects and repairs skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines to give skin a smooth and healthy appearance. Keprea Multi-Active Creme Night ($89.95) it is a rich and luxuriously hydrating night treatment that renews, restores and repairs skin by infusing hydration and nourishment overnight to improve skin clarity and texture.


Note-able looks

When you want make-up that will transform you from drab to dazzle, but you don’t want to break the bank, take Note. The wallet-friendly Note Cosmetics collection features rich-pigment shades in ultra-fine milled powders that are blendable, smooth and long wearing. Developed by leading European chemists, the formulas are infused with globally sourced botanical ingredients enriched with essential oils and vitamins, Paraben-free and never tested on animals. The holiday Shimmer and Shine gift set ($25) includes three Note best sellers: Terracotta Powder in Stardust, Eyeshadow Pencil in Pearl Beige and Long Wearing Lipgloss in Honeylove.



Wrinkles away

The trusted name in anti-aging, StriVectin, can help you fend off Old Man Time with its high-performance skincare and haircare solutions powered by science. At the center of every formula is patented, proprietary NIA-114 technology that supercharges StriVectin products, all invented by skin scientists using a body of knowledge gathered in 35 years of research. SD Advanced Intensive Concentrate ($79, 4.7 ounce) is one of the line’s toughest wrinkle fighters, promising to reduce the look of wrinkles in just 15 days, getting you looking good just in time for party season.

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