Great and Unusual Online Shopping
• Bargains (Sarah Wernick)
• Bargain Center
• Miscellaneous odd, very specific, and often wonderful specialty items
• Kitchen stuff
• Lamps and lighting (especially for reading)
• Pest control
• Cleaning and laundry
• Health, beauty, and comfort
• Gardens, yards, and composting
GREAT and UNUSUAL ONLINE SHOPPING
• Amazon.com. See camelcamelcamel, a free Amazon price tracker (create Amazon price watches and get alerts via email and Twitter when prices drop).
• Add Alexa in any room with Echo Dot
• Amazon Echo and Alexa devices
• Annual free credit report (as federally mandated)
• Author (and other theme) bookends (Etsy)
• Bamboo Back Scratcher (TungSam)
• c/net reviews of tech products
• Book Club favorites and recommended titles
• Books for writers and editors
• Book Mooch
• Bose noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds (wireless Bluetooth)
• Boy shorts for women, by Comfort Choice (Woman Within catalog). When tight women's panties cause an allergic reaction, try these.
• Bracelet-fastener helper Keeps your bracelet steady while you fasten it so you don't worry about dropping the bracelet. Ideal gift for arthritis sufferers or anyone who has trouble gripping or flexing their fingesrs. Works with almost any clasp, including spring ring clasps, lobster clasps, hook clasps, and toggle fasteners.
• CPR Call Blocker V500 (block robocalls, telemarketer calls, fake IRS calls, solicitations, and junk faxes)
• Catalog Choice (a free service that lets you decline catalogs you no longer wish to receive)
• Consumer World (sign up for newsletter announcing bargains)
• Cool Tools (Kevin Kelly, The Technium)
• CouchSurfing (creating a better world, one couch at a time--connecting travelers with locals in many countries)
• Transparent Kayak (Crystal Kayak Company, $1599 and free shipping!)
• Data Bazaar (printing supplies)
• Demotivator posters (scroll down the page to see samples of these creative ironic posters)
• Etsy, an online community for crafters (buy and sell handmade arts and crafts, vintage items, crafting supplies)
• 4over.com (good price, quality, for printing special postcards, etc.)
• Freecycle (rather than haul that old encyclopedia to the dump, advertise it and give it to someone who actually wants it and will pick it up! a green way to clean house)
• TheFreeSite.com (free product samples)
• Freeshipping.com (free shipping coupons and coupon codes for 850 online stores)
• GoodGuide, rates gazillions of products on safety, health, & environmental factors See Fast Company's article about GoodGuide's community ratings, product recommendations. Is your shampoo safe?
• Gorilla Gripper eyewear holder The cord on the ones I buy is black, strong, and unobtrusive, These are the only eyewear holders I'm found that hold on tight, so I don't lose my reading glasses. They attach over the temple end pieces, and they're kind of hard to hook on, but it's that grip that makes them work so well. I bought these at Colonial Opticians and am glad to see them on Amazon.
• Go Saint Yourself (Great gift for someone good enough to be mock-sainted.)
• Hands-free dog poop bag-holder Gather the poop in your plastic bag, then hook it to the dog's leash with this device, so you needn't hand-carry it home. Combine that with these Hand Armour extra-thick poop pick-up bags and stop dropping your dog's poop in a neighbor's trash can!
• Hidalgo's sunglasses and eye wear(prescription and nonprescription sunglasses and eye wear for pilots, drivers, fishermen, cyclists, hikers, backpackers, mountain climbers, boaters, skiers, people with Lyme Disease, golfers and others)
• Historic Preservation.com (the preservation marketplace)
• Improvements (products to help improve your home and garden -- from hiding menacing electrical cords, to creating space-saving storage ideas)
• iRobot Roomba vacuum robot Wi-Fi Connectivity, self-charging, works with Google Home. Good for pet hair, carpets, hard floors. Comes at various price levels and styles. A very special housewarming gift.
• Lifehacker Top 10 Online Freebies and Deals
• Light bulb buying guide (C/Net) Under federal legislation, the standard 40, 60, 75, and 100-watt incandescent light bulbs can no longer be manufactured. A general guide to what replacement bulbs to buy for various types of lighting devices. What kinds of bulbs are available? A guide to options. See also Consumer Reports Light Bulb Buying Guide
• MagniPro 3X(300%) Magnifying Glass (best and brightest reading magnifier for small print, fading vision, macular degeneration, hard-to-read medication instructions, etc.). Viewing area 4.35" x 2.5".
• Medieval cloak pins (lovely inexpensive pins to hold a cloak together at the neck, or to adorn a coat -- an unusual small gift)
• Microsun reading lamps turn dim corners into beautiful reading areas, especially if you order a Library of Congress reading lamp, which emits a full range of colors, in lighting that allows you to read longer without fatigue. Call 1-888-526-0033 and ask for a catalog.
• NAUPA (unclaimed property, by state)
• Ocean Potion Face Zinc (SPF 50 sunscreen with zinc oxide)
• One-handed tray (Walmart)
• Online Shopping Safety Guide (Steve Weisman, Coupon Chief) Practical advice about data breaches, how to shop safely online, types of online threats you might face.
• Parisot Storage Bed (Oak)
• Pondering Pool greeting cards (not your Hallmark card)
• Rainforest shower curtain (and other fanciful designs)
• Retractable circular measuring tape (Reidea) Click in place to retract and get easy waist, bust, and hip measurements..
• SlickDeals.net (news of sales on the Web)
• Square Wave collection (kinetic sculpture by Kinetrika) Take a look.
• Stacks and Stacks (stuff to organize with)
• The Sweethome, a list of the best home goods like bedsheets, blenders, duct tape, and screwdrivers, for people who don't want to take the time to figure out what to get.
• Umbra tissue box cover (sleekly house-shaped, with tissues emerging from chimney)
• Uncommon Goods (cool and usual gifts). See 31 Of The Coolest Things You Can Get On Uncommon Goods (AnaMaria Glavan, Buzzfeed, 4-16-17)
• Van Dyke's Restorers (antique products for your house restoration projects). Oddly they don't seem to appear on the OldHouses.com list of suppliers and services.
• Vermont Country Store (hard-to-find classic household, personal, and food products, items other stores no longer carry)
• Wake up Light Alarm Clock Sunrise Simulation Light Alarm (My friend K says "I have a new wake-up device - a lamp that starts brightening a half an hour before the wake-up time. I don't like checking the clock, as then I find it impossible to fall back asleep, haunted by "only 30 more minutes til time to wake up." But in the summer, I can just peek out from under my eye covering to see if it's light. This recreates that summer time mode. It took me a few days to adjust, but last night it worked great, and I slept more than 8 hours, something of a record for me. It is not the easiest device I've ever used, and the directions seem inexpertly translated, but I eventually figured it out.") On the other hand, especially useful for hearing-impaired who do not sleep with their hearing aids in, consider the Sharper Image alarm clock for heavy sleepers with its piercing 113 decibel alarm.
• Walking sticks or hiking sticks may be aluminum or wood, some can fold or telescope, and you can even make your own (VeryWellFit).
• Window-mounted bird feeder for close-up views of your favorite wild birds.
• The Wirecutter, a list of the best gadgets—like cameras and TVs—for people who don’t want to take a lot of time figuring out what to get.
• Your Best Digs (in-depth reviews of home products)
Food (particularly good, a specialty, or hard to find)
• Abba Zabba candy bars (24 count box, but they sell smaller amounts) Taffy and peanut butter and my favorite candy bar in the world. If it sits long enough to get hard, unwrap it and zap it for 7 seconds in microwave first for full gooeyness. Part of the Annabelle's line of chewy candies popular in Southern California and the West but now also available through Amazon. Products in the Annabelle line: Rocky Road (milk-chocolate-covered marshmallow topped with seasalt and cashews--their first big seller), Big Hunk (nougat and nuts), Look (chocolate covered nougat with peanuts), and U-No ("a chocolate-coated bar with a yummy chocolate nougat center, best eaten refrigerated or frozen but also good at room temperature." Amazon also sells them,, including a special Abba Zabba and Big Hunk combo box.I link to the 24-count box because these are rarely available in stores east of the West coast; for someone who loves them, they are a great gift, because so hard to find. Annabelle's candy bars seem to be shrinking in size, year by year.
• Big Island Candies. This firm's shortbreads and chocolate candy (including macadamia nut crunchies) are delicious. A wonderful gift. (Thank Leslie Lang for this Hawaiian treat.)
• See's Candies (my favorite: Nuts & Chews)
• Cheryl's Cookies that are better than homemade--a fabulous gift for a special occasion or a sick friend. (Thanks, Andie, Kristin, and Sandy!)
• Favoritesof.com (Moon Pie, Abba Zabbas, and other regional and nostalgia candies). This firm appears to be closing shop.
• L. A. Burdick Chocolate (handmade chocolates -- Bon Goût Ne Peut Mentir)
• CandyFavorites.com (you need to buy a lot of it!)
• Vermont Country Store (practical and hard-to-find candy and other foods, including regional specialties people away from home feel nostalgic about)
• Enstrom Candies (favorite candy of Jane and Michael Stern, authors of Road Food). Lynne Lamberg got me hooked on their Dark chocolate almond toffee
• Kringle Danish and other pastries (expensive but delicious)
• Meduri World Delights (dried fruit, nuts, and fruitcakes)
• Mrs Prindables chocolate and caramel dipped pretzels (Yum. H/T to Jane Firor) Mrs P also sells caramel dipped apples.
• Pearson Farm (Georgia pecans)
• Give the gift of pie: 6 mail-order picks (Jane Stern and Michael Stern, on The Splendid Table)
• Bon Bon tea from Steven Smith Teamaker. A delightful, caffeine-free confection in a cup, combining the creamy flavor of Northwest grown peppermint leaves with the sweet cinnamon, licorice, ginger, and distinct notes of chocolate. This is the best herbal tea I've ever tasted, with a slight anise/licorice flavor and no sugar (yet it doesn't taste as if "it's good for you"). Great house gift.
• King Arthur Flour (an "excellent, employee-run company in Vermont that once was a family business," wrote a friend/admirer, both a baker's store and bakery, offering online baking classes and recipes. There you can buy things like barley flour and graham flour to make the yummy, healthy recipes in King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains
• Pittman & Davis (tree-riped fruit from Texas, cheaper than Harry & David. One novelist sends gift boxes of Ruby Red/Ruby Star grapefruit to her beta readers.
• The Virginia Chutney Co, (southern-style chutney, "best served with cheese")
• Kwik’pak Marketplace (Yukon River salmon)
• Allen Brothers (Beef Wellington and other fine beef specialties)
• Krups Egg Cooker (for easily perfect boiled or poached eggs, every time; a great gift)
• Bezrat's beautiful Sagrada stemless wine glasses (Barcelona), available on Amazon. Expensive. A lovely gift?
• Instant Pot Smart Electric Pressure Cooker (use as pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker or warmer)
• Cuisinart CPT-440 Touch to Toast 4-Slice Toaster
• Swing-A-Way Comfort-Grip Jar Opener. A good gift for ANYone who has trouble opening a jar, but especially for people whose physical strength is diminishing (or who asks you to help them open a jar). Pampered Chef also makes a good jar opener, and check out the ergonomic 5 in 1 multi-function can opener + bottle opener kit with silicone handle (easy to use for children, elders, or arthritis sufferers).
• OXO Good Grips bag cinch Replaces weak and cumbersome bread tags and twist ties.
• Mueller Pro onion and vegetable chopper This 4-blade chopper is durable, dependable, easy to clean, and makes prepping veggies easier and more fun. Same size veggie bits cook more evenly.
• Vremi collapsible vegetable steamer basket to sit inside a small or large pan
• Rubbermaid food storage containers with easy-find red lids.
• Etee reusable food wraps (biodegradable, nonplastic, nontoxic, sustainable, compostable)
• OXO Good Grips measuring cup (this angled, 2-cup device lets you read measurements from above, so you don't have to squat to read them)
• 3-Compartment Bento lunch-boxes (kid-friendly containers, easy-open lids, made from FDA-approved, high-quality polypropylene #5 plastic; No BPA, PVC, or phthalates)
• Stackable glass Rubbermaid good storage containers with easy-find lids.
• Stackable 3-compartment food containers (INEVIFIT Meal Prep Containers)
• Lodge pre-seasoned heavy cast-iron skillet (Lstyle 10SK3, 12 inches wide, 2 inches deep, for kitchen or camping--there are slope-sided and straight-sided versions of this pan) Read the comments on Amazon for tips on cleaning, seasoning, degree of heat, etc.; many opinions on this classic (heavy, safe) pan.
• Cuisinart enameled cast-iron 7-quart round, straight-sided casserole,
• Le Creuset enameled cast-iron 5-1/2 quart Dutch oven (much pricier than the Cuisinart, and both cook well)
• ThermoWorks ThermoPop superfast thermometer with backlit rotating display (red) . Hold the ThermoPop in either hand or read it when it's upside down. Any angle is convenient. Super-Fast readings are within the final degree in only 5 to 6 seconds! Designed for serious chefs and professionals, with big digits and backlight for reading in dark conditions. Also good, and much cheaper: ThermoPro TP03a digital instant-read kitchen cooking thermometer
• Kitchenmade stainless steel measuring cups (6-piece set)
• Adjust-a-teaspoon and -tablespoon measuring set
• Silicon baking sheets (Silpat) Bake using these non-stick baking pads (instead of parchment paper) and use less grease, butter, and flour.
• J.K. Adams Large Reversible Maple Carving Board This two-sided carving board made of Vermont maple has a large groove around the edge on one side, to hold juices, and on the other side has an indented imprint, to hold a chicken or roast in place.
• Prepworks Cutting Board (polyethylene, dishwasher-safe and fits into dishwasher easily, but large enough at 17.38" X 11.25" to hold a fair amount)
• Victorinox 12-inch Granton edge slicing knife with Fibrox handle cuts with precision through muscle meat, making it easy to slice a roast. The oval scallops of the Granton edge provide a thinner cutting edge while allowing heft in the top part of the blade. Recommended by America's Test Kitchen.
• Heavy-duty kitchen shears (Chef Remi brand, rated best multi-purpose utility scissors for poultry, fish, meat, vegetable, herbs, BBQ--"as sharp as any knife")
• Weber 6673 Original Wide Spatula with a nonslip grip, an angled neck, and a spatula head wide enough to turn fish and larger foods. For grilling outdoors, there is also a longer-handled Weber 6671 spatula.
• OXO Good Grips 16-inch locking tongs pick up a bunch of asparagus, an ear of corn, a piece of meat, without damaging them
• Peugeot Paris 9-Inch Pepper Mill (first cracks then grinds peppercorns - ensures the most flavor and aroma is released from the pepper)
• Levav salt and pepper grinder set, stainless steel
• Zulay milk frother (for capuccino or hot chocolate drinks)
• Lindy's stainless steel stovetop popcorn popper (6-quart) (top of the line but there are cheaper alternatives on same page)
• Whynter ICM-15LS Ice Cream Maker, selected Best Ice Cream Maker by The Sweethome.
• Zojirushi Rice Cooker 5-1/2-cup computerized rice cooker and warmer cooks all types of rice plus oatmeal (steel cut oats) and porridge
• Handheld, battery-operated milk frother, a foammaker for cappuccino, hot chocolate, etc.
• Propresser Garlic Press (stainless steel, large capacity basket, easy to clean, dishwasher-safe)
• Etekcity digital kitchen scale, stainless steel( 7.1 x 0.7 x 5.5 inches)
• Chef'n StemGem strawberry huller
• Prepworks apple slicer and de-corer Core and slice an apple into 16 pieces, with one push.
• All Ware pineapple easy slicer and de-corer (stainless steel; read the comments). I'm not sure I see the difference between that one and this one (though the latter appears to dice).
• Spiralizer® Tri-Blade Vegetable Spiral Slicer, (veggie pasta Spaghetti Maker for low carb/Paleo/gluten-free meals ("By spiraling our squash and zucchini I make our 'pasta' noodles (which the kids think are real pasta and eat them!"). You do need space for this one.
• Vege-magic Vegetable Spiral Slicer , smaller than previous item (easier to store). See video demo from Raw Food Magic
• Glazed Stoneware butter keeperNorpro marble butter keeper, off-white. And on that page you will see other styles.
• Polar-themed popsicle molds Use fruit juice.
• Tovolo perfect cube ice trays (set of two, choice of colors)
• Chilled Creation Large Ice Cube Trays creates extra-large 2-inch, slow melting ice cubes and is good for freezing and storing one-serving portions of leftover juice, wine, sauce, baby food or creating frozen treats.
• Joie’s covered no-spill ice cube tray
• 20 unusual and creative ice cube trays (Toxel.com),
• Arctic Chill large ice cube tray (2-inch cubes keep your drink chilled for hours without diluting)
• Alphabet ice cube trays (Martha Stewart, who has other themes, too--flowers, romantic, etc.)
• Batman Ice Cube Tray (DC Comics)
• Chillz Ice Ball Maker (I know--I went a little overboard on the ice cube trays!)
• Simplehuman slim step trash can (10.6 gallon)
• Simplehuman rectangular stainless steel step trash can (custom fit liners).
• Dishwasher sign; "Hello, the dishes are clean" "or dirty"
• Dishwasher Basket Clutch that keeps little things (like baby bottle tops) safe in the dishwasher
• Flexible sponge holder for kitchen sink (keep sponges from getting grungy)
• Sink squeegee and countertop brush Squeegee for wiping wet spills, nylon bristles for sweeping dry spills.
I have only begun to search for the best information on this subject. Please let me know of anything important or useful I should consider adding.
• What to Look for in LED Lighting (OttLite)
• Why Lightbulb Choices Matter (Natural Eye Care) What is said here about blue light in LED bulbs is of some concern.
• Best and Worst Light Sources for Your Eyes (Horizon Eye specialists and Lasik Center, 5-26-17)
• Microsun is where I buy all my reading lamps. Their Library of Congress reading lamps emit a full range of colors, resulting in lighting that allows you to read for a longer period of time without fatigue. Floor lamps, table lamps, swing-arm lamps; as well as wood, porcelain, brass, nickel, bronze, etc., bases, and lamps in various styles: Art deco, Amish-made hardwood, neoclassical, porcelain, ultrastreamlined, etc. Their replacement bullbs are fairly expensive but they last for years. I'll soon replace my silk shades, as the lining is weakening from years of wear. Call 1-888-526-0033 and ask for a catalog.
• Light bulb buying guide (C/Net) Under federal legislation, the standard 40, 60, 75, and 100-watt incandescent light bulbs can no longer be manufactured. A general guide to what replacement bulbs to buy for various types of lighting devices. What kinds of bulbs are available? A guide to options. See also Consumer Reports Light Bulb Buying Guide
• TaoTronics TT-DL034 LED Desk Dimmable Table Lamp. LED bulbs are expensive up front but last years longer, are highly energy efficient, superior light (of several kinds, usually specified in the descriptions). But see what first articles say about blue light from LED bulbs.
• TaoTronics Stylish Metal LED Desk Lamp, Office Light with USB Charging Port
• OttLite 13-watt SlimLine Task Lamp, White, Desk Lamp
• Task Plus 24w Floor Lamp with OttLite bulb (the OttLite is a full-spectrum bulb--doesn't give off the heat an incandescent bulb does)
• Cree 60W 4Flow Replacement A19 A Better LED Bulb
• LED flickering, flameless candle tea lights (timer function 6 hours on, 18 hours off, warm white)
Finding these items was especially satisfying during top pest season.
• Doggy Dare trash can lock (Lasso security cables) Raccoon, dog and varmint proof your garbage can (can not included).
• Bugzooka bug catcher/vacuum. My friend John satisfies his hunter instincts sucking up bugs and spiders around the house (including flying insects), which are then caught in a trap from which he CAN release them to the wild (or he can drown them, if Mary isn't watching). They say this bug-sucker is a great gift for the friend who has everything. I watched John catch about 20 termite-like insects in 5 minutes. No battery required. Does not do well with flies (they're too quick and get away). For that they use the Bug-A-Salt (see next entry)
• Bug-A-Salt 2.0. Shoots a shotgun spray of regular table salt, which decimates flies on contact. Has an effective range of 3 feet for flies. Cock it, click off the safety, and fire away. John and Mary's second-favorite hunting weapon.
• GAT Mosquito Traps Can Be Effective Even without Pesticides (Ed Ricciuti, Entomology Today, 5-31-16) Available from BioQuip.
• Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard (a moisturizer that is also a very effect bug/mosquito repellent). Years ago I heard of this use for Skin-So-Soft for friends in the South and urged Avon to market it for this purpose, and they weren't interested--but customers in mosquito-heavy parts of the country used it regularly. Now they market this "bug guard" package of their lotion. And I don't think the regular part of their business is doing so well.
• Effects of mosquito sprays on humans, pets, and wildlife (Colin Purrington) Are these chemicals safe for humans? Are pyrethroids safe for pets? Do pyrethroids kill other animals? Pyrethoids are engineered to last for weeks. Signage and notification requirements. How local governments can help. Is spraying effective? Do garlic sprays work? Automatic fogging systems ("Don't. Just don't.")
• Tips for killing and repelling mosquitoes (Colin Purrington) Excellent tips for alternatives to spraying, illustrated.
• Consumer Reports: How to get rid of lice. "Comb them out instead of using Nix, Rid, or other chemicals. Use a metal nit comb—not plastic—that is thin-toothed and finely spaced." Reader Hilda Ward added this comment: "Wash hair with Dawn dish soap. Leave it on hair for at least 15 minutes. Use it for three or four days in a row for any eggs that you missed with the nit comb. Does not wreck your hair, actually adds body to it." Good for pets and humans.
• ClinicalGuard V7 metal lice comb removes lice without damaging the user's hair or scalp. (Amazon shows several versions of a metal lice comb).
• Dr. Ben's Evictor. Formulated to control BED BUGS, mites, and other insects that reside in hotel mattresses, box springs, pillows, and other personal space areas. Perfect for a housekeeping staff to have on hand while cleaning rooms after check out. It also comes in handy for pilots, stewardesses, and travelers of all kinds that come into contact with potential bug-infested areas.
• The Bedbug Registry (a free, public database of user-submitted bed bug reports from across the United States and Canada. Founded in 2006, the site has collected about 20,000 reports covering 12,000 locations.)
• Bed bugs: Do-it-yourself control options (Insects in the City, Texas A&M AgriLife ExtensionS)
---Waterproof/Bed Bug and Dust Mite Proof - PREMIUM Zippered Mattress Encasement & Hypoallergenic Protector (Hospitology Sleep Defense System)
---Zippered Waterproof Mattress Encasement - Bed Bug Proof Mattress Cover (Utopia Bedding)
---6 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Bed Bugs (Joan Clark, Tips Bulletin)
---Bed Bug Interceptors. There are many other versions of the same device (you put them under legs of bed).
• How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs – Tips and Products That Really Work (HowIGetRidOf)
• Bed Bugs: Get Them Out and Keep Them Out (EPA). Includes list of Pesticides to Control Bed Bugs. and a Bed bug product search tool. Information pages on many aspects of bed bug control on the EPA site, which I found via Tuck's Bed Bug Guide.
• Dust mites and bed bugs (Mattress Help, Why You Should Clean Your Mattress). If this is a marketing page, it's very effective.
• 14 Great Ways to Keep Spiders Out of Your Home Naturally (Joan Clark, Tips Bulletin)
Mice and other four-legged animals
• Snap-E Mouse Trap by Kness. After months of no mouse catches on the humane traps put out by our condo exterminator, I bought two of these, which got mostly glowing reviews. Within hours after I put overripe banana on the bait part, I had two dead mice--the first one moments after I turned off the kitchen light. Easy to dispose of the dead mice.
• Black Hole Rodent Trap. Apparently you need something a little more powerful, like this highly-rated trap, to catch a rat or a gopher.
• How to Get Rid of a Norway Rat (HowIGetRidOf)
• Raccoons as Neighbors (Wildlife Center of Virginia) Adorable as they are, they can cause problems
• What to do about raccoons (Humane Society of the United States -- see Our Big Fights (fighting for all animals)
Moths and other little flying pests
• Dr. Killigan's Pantry Moth Traps (sticky glue traps for food and cupboard moths in your kitchen)
• How to Get Rid of Green Flies (HowToGetRidOf)
• Catchmaster Pantry Pest Traps (those little bugs that are drawn to flour products in your kitchen stick to these traps)
• Scott Pro Shop Towels (Blue) My brother had these in his car; I bought some from a local auto supply store. They last far longer than regular paper towels and get stronger when wet.
• iRobot Roomba vacuum robot Wi-Fi Connectivity, self-charging, works with Google Home. Good for pet hair, carpets, hard floors. Comes at various price levels. A very special housewarming gift.
• Joseph Joseph blade-brush knife and cutlery cleaner Clean both sides at once; easily stored.
• Dishwasher Basket Clutch Keeps little things like baby bottle tops safe in the dishwasher.
• Dishwasher sign "Hello, the dishes are clean" "or dirty."
• Crown all-purpose dish-cleaning scrubber-cloth (dishwasher safe, no-smell dish-scrubber-cloth lasts longer than sponges, doesn't scratch, and does the job) Great at scrubbing crud off stove surfaces without scratching the enamel.
• Scrub Daddy cleaning sponge Cleans better (without scratching) and is more hygienic than a traditional sponge. Read How a sponge company became the biggest 'Shark Tank' success story (Richard Feloni, Business Insider, 4-17-15).
• Sink squeegee and countertop brush Nylon bristles for sweeping dry spills, squeegee for wiping wet spills.
• The Ringer, chainmail for scrubbing that cast iron skillet Read the comments, as owners of cast iron skillets are fanatic about how to clean those things.
• Scotch-Brite Lint Rollers (adhesive removes lint, fuzz, human and pet hair from clothes)
• Wenol metal polish. Writes one Amazon reviewer: "The best feature of Wenol is that it can be used on sterling, plated silver, stainless steel, pewter, copper, chrome, etc. One polish for all your needs. You still have to rub and buff, but you can't beat the shine. Wouldn't use any other product!" It lasts, so you might want to start with a tube of Wenol metal polish.
• Zwipes microfiber cleaning cloths (use them to clean and dust; can be washed and reused countless times)
• Chesapeake Wiper & Supply, Inc. ("Rag Lady") (Stevensville, MD, 1-866-724-7787) For cleaning historic furniture, Conservator Tad Fallon buys their 50-lb boxes of washed cotton t-shirt rags; explore this website for other tempting cleaning resources. firstname.lastname@example.org
• Gojo orange pumice hand cleaner (cuts grease and oil, so ideal for cleaning hands after working on a car -- also sold at Walmart, Costco, etc.)
• Bar Keepers Friend cleanser & polish. Make that stainless steel sink shine again. Good for copper, tile, brass, stainless steel, and glass cooktops.
• Lilly mini pet hair detailer Use the mini-brush on the stubborn pet hair first, then use the vacuum.
• HOST spot remover for carpets
• O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop
• BrassCraft Zip-It Bath and Sink Hair Snare (unclog drains clogged with hair)
• Alpha Grillers BBQ grill brush Popular because it works so well, and at only $12.95, a great hostess gift.
• Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright Vacuum Cleaner
• Bissell small featherweight stick bagless vacuum (less expensive than the Shark Navigator)
• Slim laundry basket with wheels Tall, thin black-and-white dirty laundry container ideal for thin spaces. Read the comments.
• The Best Cleaning Products For Every Situation (Jen Reviews, 7-31-16)
• EWG Consumer Guides (Env ironmental Working Group's ratings of laundry products led me to cleaning products that don't bother my skin; they "grade" products in several categories. Worth a look.)
• Wool dryer balls As they tumble around in the dryer, wool dryer balls lift and separate laundry allowing the hot air to circulate better. Toss them into the dryer and your clothing will dry faster, fluffier and softer, with fewer wrinkles and less static cling. An alternative to plastic balls and liquid softener.
• Laundry balls
• Molly's Suds (all natural unscented laundry powder, free of harsh chemicals, gentle on sensitive skin and excema--doesn't cause itching). Not as good at removing stains, for which one customer pre-treats with Dawn dish soap.
• Stout Eco-Degradable Plastic Trash Bags (plastic bags modified to accelerate aging in a process that safely returns the organic carbon, from which plastic is made, to the natural bio-cycle as a food source for microorganisms)
• Hills Portable 170 Clothesline, based on the classic, wonderful Australian Hills drying rack , (the Hills Hoist height-adjustable rotary clothes line )
• Whitmor Natural Wood Clothespins (100 of them)
• Whitmor wire over-the-door ironing caddy Hang/store iron and ironing board.
• Sports Cap Washer-Shaper (a device to shape a baseball cap as it washes and some customers seem to wash them in the dishwasher -- do not use lemon-scented dishwashing detergent if you do!)
• How Often You Should Wash Your Bed Sheets, According to a Microbiologist (Erin Brodwin, Business Insider, Science Alert, 8-15-18) Once a week. We spend one third of our time in bed. Beds can quickly blossom into a "botanical park" of bacteria and fungus, according to New York University microbiologist Philip Tierno.
For eliminating dust mites that inflame allergies:
My neighbor Suzanne S. recommends these cleaning products for dealing with allergies to dust mites. "There are no chemicals or insecticides in these products. They seem to work by process of non-ionic surfactants and do seem to remove more dust than anything else I've used. Presumably, less dust, fewer dust mites."
• Allergen Wash Laundry Detergent (removes dust mite allergens, pet dander, pollen, and mold from all fabrics without having to use water temperatures of 140 degrees or higher)
• ADS Anti-Allergen Dust Spray (use on carpet, area rugs, bedding, and soft furnishings to neutralize allergens, denature mite and cat allergen protein)
• Alen Paralda Dual Airflow HEPA Air Purifier Tower. "Running it on low medium only when I’m in the bedroom has eliminated 99% of dust in that room," says SS.
• X-Mite Anti-Allergen Moist Powder Carpet Cleaner
• Omron 10 Series wireless upper arm blood pressure monitor (cuff fits standard and large arms)
• Acne patch Said to shrink blemishes overnight.
• Acupressure mat for aching backs
• Everlasting Comfort seat cushion (memory foam ergonomic comfort) Suffer from sore tailbone, sciatica, office sitting? Your back end and bottom will thank you for this.
• Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard (a moisturizer that is also an effective bug/mosquito repellent).
• NeilMed NasaFlo Unbreakable Neti Pot with 50 Premixed Packets (a lovely lightweight, plastic, unbreakable, easy-to-use neti pot to saline-rinse your nasal passages and sinus when phlegm is making it hard to breathe). Good alternatives include this low-maintenance Ceramic Neti Pot (dishwasher safe) and the inexpensive Neilmed Sinus Rinse Starter Kit. Come with pre-mixed packets to combine with warm water for saline rinse. You can also find these at Target and drugstores.
• Olay body wash with shea butter My friend Ina recommended this to eliminate itchy dry skin.
• Clarins extra-firming lip and contour balm (gets slightly mixed reviews but did eliminate some lines around my lips)
• Wart Stick (for the removal of common and plantar warts). Read the frank comments by Amazon customers.
• Dead Sea Mud Mask for Facial Treatment Good price for a popular product.
• Xtava cordless hair clippers and beard trimmer One customer takes it to the barber because he doesn't like being shaved/trimmed with unsterilized equipment.
• Stencil for do-it-yourself neck hairline haircutter
• Gold Bond Rough & Bumpy Daily Skin Therapy Read "customers' comments" for comments pro and con. Appears to be helpful for KP (Keratosis Pilaris), bumpy skin.
• Optimal Vitamin D3 Liquid
• Lasko blower fan (model U12100). I LOVE this multi-purpose pivoting utility fan, which is sturdier and more powerful than any I've owned. When I am drying clothes indoors, turning this fan on dries them quickly without the damage a dryer does. Three speeds and you can change the direction from lower to higher. It's different from traditional fans so it takes a while to figure out how to position it, but it is easy to carry and store.
• Vicks UV 99.999% germ-free humidifier. Hate humidifiers that get moldy? Try this one.
• Full reclining sofa (La-z-boy, "Owen Power La-Z-Time," great for people who need to elevate their legs)
• Sorbus hanging hammock porch-chair swing seat for indoors or outdoors. See also additional products for some interesting alternatives.
• Jakemans throat and chest lozenges (I like the anise-menthol flavor, and they are very effective; there is also honey and lemon, chili and lime, cherry, and peppermint.) Available at these stores and online.
• Loratadine antihistamine. These two containers of Simply Right Loratadine (the generic version of Claritin) are MUCH cheaper than what I find at my local pharmacy, and each contains 200 tablets. For those of us with allergies, this is a great bargain.
• Cough Catcher (1-877-782-6844)
• Look under Cleaning & laundry for products to eliminate dust mites to which many of us are allergic.
• Dave's Garden (Gardening by mail, for gardeners, by gardeners--where and where not to shop online, best gardening books, etc.)
• Organza drawstring jewelry bag To keep squirrels from getting to your figs, raspberries, etc., use these sheer bags, maybe in the 5 x 7 size for a cluster of cherry tomatoes. You can also use knee-high nylon stockings cut down to size a bit, with the toe part intact. Slide them over your precious green tomatoes, the nylon stretches as the tomato grows, and the squirrel leaves frustrated, said one local gardener.
• Garden Kneeler and Seat (Yard Butler GKS-2). Kneel for a while and work, then turn it over and have a seat.You can also buy a Garden Tool Pouch For Kneeler
• InSassy Garden Kneeler This simple foam pad is also useful for kneeling to wash child in bathtub, for praying, and for household chores.
• Garden Clogs Waterproof, with arch support, meadow design. A nice gift, if you have their shoe size.
• Muck Boots (Scrub Boot-U)
• O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream (3-ounce tube)
• Felco F-2 classic manual hand pruner
• Corona snipper with straight blade A small precision snipper fordead heading, cutting flowers, light pruning.
• Hori Hori Japanese gardening knife (a combination knife/trowel)
• CobraHead weeder and cultivator (pointed head and curved shank make it easy to weed, dig, cultivate, plant, etc.)
• Treegator slow-release watering bag for trees . That's the original. Here's a variation on the Treegator.
• Amish 30" bird feeder with double copper roof (high fashion in bird feeders, built by Amish)
• Amish-made painted mailbox (in beige and Navajo) (read the Amazon reviews).
• The YardStash III: space-saving outdoor bike storage, garden storage, and pool storage
• Natural Rolled Bamboo Fence (put a screen around the unsightly stuff like garbage cans)
• Oxo gardening chair, for which (since it doesn't seem to be for sale yet) you might try this substitute: Vertex rocker garden seat (in black or green)
• Just Scentsational TP-128G Trident's Pride organic liquid fish hydroponic soil fertilizer (smells a bit but plants seem to love it).
Compost: Warning about composters: Once you start composting you may become addicted, as it is deeply satisfying to watch garden scraps become rich, dark enrichment of your garden soil -- WITHOUT wasting food.
• Algreen Products Soil Saver Classic Compost bin (read the customer reviews on these composting products, to see if they sound like they suit your conditions)
• Worm Factory 360 Worm Composter (turn those table scraps into rich soil)
• OXO compost bin (countertop bin for collecting scraps for outdoor composting)
• All Seasons Indoor Composter and All Seasons Bokashi (SCD Probiotics).
• Gopher Pick-Up and Reaching Tool as seen on TV (Ace Hardware, $10)
• Universal Battery Tester Tool (price, $5.99) Wonderful and very helpful when you find AA or AAA etc. batteries around and don't know if they're duds or still working. Excellent token gift (when a major gift would be too much)
• Battery Organizer Storage Case
• Simicore 4-port USB charging station This universal charging station works seamlessly with Apple iOS, Android, Windows and other platforms, with any USB powered device, smartphone, tablet, e-Reader, bluetooth headphone or gaming controller.
• Foldable tablet phone set Prop your phone up and charge it at the same time
• 'Shintop cable and cord clips to organize your desktop
• Hands-free magnetic phone mount for car
• Leatherman New Wave Multitool ("a versatile mix of tools, great ergonomics and solid construction") and if it is too pricey for you, check out second-best Leatherman Skelitool. See review The Best Multitool on The Wirecutter (Harry Sawyers, 7-23-14)
• Upcart (the all terrain stair-climbing folding cart)
• Kik Step Rolling Step Stool (Cramer). You may see this stool in the aisle at your library; it's handy to sit on and scoot down the aisle looking at the books on the lower shelves. It's equally handy in the home, because you can also stand on it. And then use it as a foot stool. I love this product!
• Bear Motion wind-up emergency FM/AM radio with flashlight, cellphone charger -- crank and solar power
• Hagerty's anti-tarnish storage bags for silver (15-by-15-inch zippered Holloware bag, blue)
• Etekcity digital body-weight bathroom scale (2 AAA batteries required)
• Victorinox Swiss Army Climber II Pocket Knife (the "smartphone of gadgets," with a knife, scissors, tweezer, and bottle opener)
• Digitone Call Blocker (for $100, you own it and you block all those annoying calls from Card Services, etc.). Available also through Amazon. An automatic way using Caller ID service to block unwanted calls yet allow all others to ring their phones. Phone does NOT ring at all, unlike some other call blockers.
• Pink Tools (Tomboy Tools, hands-on education and high-quality tools for women)
• The Library of Congress Shopify catalog, including such items as a a canvas haversack bag (recalling the kit bags carried by soldiers in " The Great War"), an "I cannot live without books" pillow, a delightful collection of mugs, various totes and backpacks, and a banned book tie.
• Button Pant Extender (slips over existing button and gives you an extra inch at the waistline)
• Vermont Country Store (you'll find LOTS of classic but hard-to-find items there, including Lanz flannel nightgowns, Tangee lipstick, blackhead removers, Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, and Mary Jane slipper socks)
• 15 unusual and creative doorstops (Toxol.com, 9-1-09), many of which you can order through Amazon. For example, Wizard of Oz Red Ruby Slippers doorstop
• The 100 Best Pens, As Tested by Strategist Editors (Karen Iorio Adelson and Lauren Ro, New York Magazine, 11-20-18) Gels, ballpoints, rollerballs, felt-tips, and fountain pens — we tried them all.
• Colorful scratch-off sticky notes
• rOtring 600 mechanical pencil (iconic tool, popular with architects, designers, draftspeople) and a sister pencil with a retractable touchscreen stylus
• Mini pencil grips for children
• Gaff Gun If you're a filmmaker, you need this thing (a gaff gun). It might come in handy for any event in which someone might trip over a long cord on the floor.
• Map Pins
• Monkey hook picture hangers
Suggestions in this category?
(Items and services in alphabetical order)
Airbnb (rent unique places to stay from local hosts in 190+ countries). Save money and time. But be aware also of limitations: Home-Sharing? Don’t Ignore Liability (Ron Lieber, Your Money, NY Times, 4-20-12) and Living and Dying on Airbnb (Zak Stone, Medium, 11-9-15) "My dad died in an Airbnb rental, and he’s not the only one. What can the company do to improve safety?" For links to four home-sharing and house- and pet-sitting exchanges, see first entries in Traveling in Retirement.
Airfare Watchdog travel tips
---The Travel Rewards Credit Cards You Need in Your Wallet Targeted to your style/frequency of travel.
Airline baggage fees top $2.5 billion (Natalie Avon, CNN, 12-13-10, on which airlines are gouging most from baggage, change, and cancellation fees).
Atlas Obscura (sign up for "weekly wonders" and learn about sites you’ll never find in a guidebook)
The Bedbug Registry (free public database of user-submitted bed bug reports from across U.S. and Canada--check out that hotel or apartment before you book a reservation).
A Beginner's Guide to Airline Miles (Thorin Klosowski, Lifehacker, 6-19-14)
---Priceline (travel deals)
---SeatGuru (your guide to choosing seats on various airlines) With new Guru Factor comfort rating system. See How to avoid the worst seat on the plane(JetSetter)
---Kayak (this travel search engine searches for flights, hotels, and other deals so you can compare deals for specific price and quality ranges and locations
---LastMinuteTravel.com (last-minute travel bargains on hotels, packages, flights, vacations, special activities). See also Smarter Travel (aggregated list of last-minute airfare discounts (e-savers).
---The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards (The Wirecutter, 1-3-17)
---The Best Travel Reward Credit Cards of 2018 (Creditcards.com)
---Best Ways To Rack Up Frequent Flyer Miles Without Flying (Daryn Kagan, Next Avenue, Forbes, 8-22-17)
---FareCompare.com (find cheap flights fast).
---Cheap Tickets (this discount airfare aggregator now searches for deals on trains, car rentals, and cruises also)
---CleverLayover. "Hack travel. Book differently. Save Money. Combine two roundtrip tickets from non-partner airlines to find the cheapest flights.
---Yapta.com ("your amazing personal travel assistant"), tags flights to let you know if you are entitled to a refund if a flight price drops after you book (under "guaranteed airfare rules").
Best websites for booking cheap hotels (Joseph Hostetler, Million Mile Secrets, 6-23-2020)
Black Diamond Storm Headlamp "for climbing, skiing and other outdoor pursuits where bright, compact illumination is paramount." See also Black Diamond Spot Headlamp, among other strengths in lumens.
Camelbak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier
Carebag medical-grade emesis bag (leak-resistant, for morning and motion sickness)
CarRentals (Expedia, good deals)
Car Rental Express (more good deals in car rentals)
CDC Travelers' Health advice (provides travel advice and information about vaccinations needed, diseases such as malaria, other health risks for particular countries)
Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression Sac and Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Sac plus compression cubes, etc.
Female urinating devices (FUDs) FUDs are funnels that allow women to pee sitting or standing up without undressing, for occasions when you wear bulky clothing, can't find a restroom, are exposed to face freezing temperatures, and other tricky situations. For peeing like a man on special occasions).
---The Complete Guide to Female Urination Devices (Maggie Wallace, Backpacker). Definitely worth a read, even if you don't plan to use one: concepts I never knew about until LT, an elegant friend, at a retreat of women writers explained how they work -- to our open-mouthed surprise. "There’s a better way. Female urination devices (FUDs) mean that answering the call of nature does not require you to sacrifice your dignity. FUDs are straw- or funnel-shaped plastic extenders that allow women to pee like men: while standing and wearing pants, a climbing harness, or a backpacker’s hip belt" so that during outdoor activities you aren't exposed "with your hiking shorts around your ankles." She reports the pros and cons of each model (illustrated, both disposable and disposable) and provides tips on how to use them. She rates: Pibella (her #1 pick, for "long distance backpacking or peeing discreetly"), SheWee (for hiking trips, public bathrooms), PStyle, Pee Pocket, Whiz Freedom (for Porta potties), Lady P, Hopkins MultiPurpose Funnel (keep in car for emergencies), Lady J (for "people confined to bed rest"), Go Girl ("for wetting your pants"--"too wobbly too trust"). Highly rated section at end: Our Testers Best Tips, which include "Do not pee into the wind" and "Practice in the shower first." You may want to order both the device and the "extender" (for keeping your shoes dry) and carrying case. "The SheWee is a compromise between the wider funnel design of Whiz Freedom (see below) and the smaller, more ergonomic design of Pibella."
--- Pibella Travel
--- SheWee original (Amazon link), a urinating device that allows women to urinate without removing clothes whilst standing or sitting--comes in several colors.
--- SheWee Extreme (Amazon link), the SheWee original plus extension pipe and case--comes in several colors
--- pStyle (good for rock climbing)
--- Pee Pocket (cardboard, disposable--a single-use urinary device that is perfect for athletes, travelers, the elderly, disabled, pregnancy, parents of young girls, post-surgery patients - anyone who might have to go while on the go!). Also available on Amazon
--- Lady J (Amazon link), for use during medical bedrest, at home or in hospital, with a nonflexible cupping base)
--- Whiz Freedom (sold in UK, good for porta potties)
--- Hopkins FloTool QuickFill Funnel (Amazon link, a multipurpose automotive funnel)
--- Go Girl ("don't take life sitting down" -- for porta potties, fishing boats, camping on a cliff, etc.) Dryness less secure than with other products, it is reported, but comes in small cases.
Good To-Go Thai Curry , one of several dishes The Wirecutter recommends as The Best Backpacking Food (Liz Thomas, 8-24-17)
Hearos Ultimate Softness Series Foam Earplugs (there are various styles and sizes)
HomeAway (rent vacation homes). See HomeAway CEO Defends Turf as Airbnb Makes Inroads ( Rachel Emma Silverman, WSJ, 12-23-14). Brian Sharples helps drive big changes in vacation-rental industry. A story about Airb&b (Death in Airbnb Rental Raises Liability Questions (Ron Lieber, NY Times, 11-13-15), speculates about why Homeaway doesn't offer homeowners the same liability insurance Airb&B has adopted: Homeaway "matches homeowners and travelers and likens itself to a classified advertising service." And: "One possibility may be that Airbnb, which has many single travelers staying in single rooms for short periods, simply won’t need to make as many claims as HomeAway travelers do. After all, people who use HomeAway often travel with their families to large rental homes with slippery pool decks and leg-eating trampolines."
Hotels.com (books domestic and international accommodations in B&Bs, hostels, resorts--and group bookings for weddings, meetings)
Icon undies (women's incontinence underwear)
Leatherman-Squirt PS4 multi-tool (pliers, scissors, pliers with wire cutters, wood/metal file, flat medium screwdriver, flat Philips screwdriver, knife, keyring, bottle opener, on a keychain. Does not have toothpick, tweezers, tiny screwdriver for eyeglasses.) Read the reviews on Amazon. See also the small Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier, recommended as best multi tool by RV Lifestyle, which also recommends the Fallkniven A1 fine-edge fixed blade knife (as "best survival knife").
A light down jacket, for traveling in mostly very warm countries. (Uniglo, but similar jackets are sold by L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, and Lands' End.
Luggage: Wirecutter on the best in various categories (the best checked luggage, the best carry-on, the best toiletry bags and packing cubes)
MAPS.ME (download this offline map app for your phone--works on and offline, lets you search, pin locations, get offline directions. Maps updated every few weeks. Hat tip to Top 12 Things I'm Glad I Brought to Thailand (Steven Skoczen, Ink and Feet). Steven also recommends a nifty little Klipsch GiG Portable Speaker, a dictionary app, and an international driver's license (which you can get for $25 at AAA), among other things.
Military veterans’ travel guide – Ideas, discounts, & resources (Steven Walters, Million Mile Secrets, 8-10-2020)
101 Travel Tips for Women (download free, great advice from Overseas Travel)
Pacsafe Backpack and Bag Protector. Stainless steel bag protector wraps and locks 360-degrees around backpack, duffel bag, or luggage up to 140 liters. Available in three sizes. "A must for trains and buses."
Packing tips: Things to bring or not to bring (Overseas Adventure Travel)
---Best Pickpocket-Proof Clothing For The Serious Traveler (David Hochman, Forbes, 4-21-15)
---Pickpocket Proof Clothing (Corporate Travel Safety)
REAL ID Real ID is a form of identification that meets increased security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards. Travelers will be required to provide either a real ID or another TSA-approved form of identification (such as a passport) to fly after October 1, 2020 (under the Real ID Act of 2005). For compliant states (most states are now compliant: see map) you can typically get state-issued REAL ID driver's licenses. See Homeland Security's Frequently asked questions page.
Roadfood favorites(Splendid Table). All the places Jane and Michael Stern of Roadfood.com stop and eat as they drive around America looking for the hottest, quirkiest roadside gems. See Roadfood.com for maps, states, restaurant type, best of the best, driving tours, forums, latest reviews, etc.
• SCOTTeVEST Men’s RFID Travel Vest (26 pockets)
• SCOTTeVEST Women’s Travel Vest (17 pockets), listed as Best Travel Vest of 2017by Business Travel, which lists other "best" travel items also.
Silk sleep mask, for men or women (blacks out the light better than any such mask I've owned, and comfie)
13 Essential Items for India, and 5 We Wish We Had (thePlanetD)
Travel Alerts and Warnings (InsureMyTrip, 1-800-487-4722)
Travel Guard (AIG travel insurance for various levels of coverage--for trip cancellation and interruption, for medical expense & transportation coverage, for lost/stolen baggage, for 24/7 travel assistance services, etc.)
Travelon windshield cleaner and defogger
Trip Advisor (find hotels, flights, restaurants, etc. that other travelers trust)
TSA Approved Cable Luggage Locks with resettable combinations, alloy body
UpgradedPoints (tips to save money on air travel, find cheap airfare, maximize credit card rewards, even fly for free)
What is TSA Pre✓TSA Pre✓ allows low-risk travelers to experience expedited, more efficient security screening at participating U.S. airport checkpoints. In other words, you jump the line at the airport, at various levels of security clearance. Transportation Security Administration, Homeland Security (telephone: 855-DHS-UES1 (855-347-8371). See answers toFrequently asked questions.
Vacation Rentals (airbnb.com) ( a social website that connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay). Read also 5 Things You Should Know About Airbnb on the Let's Fly Cheaper blog .
Virtual private networks (VPNs)
• That One Privacy Site. H/T Lucas Hayes, who explained that most websites profit from their reviews, and base their reviews on which VPN will make them the most money. Here, he says, is "a website that isn't relying on money from the products they are reviewing, but rather donations from its readers." Green is good and red is bad. Hover over "VPN comparison," for example, and find the fairly full explanations of things I didn't even know to wonder about.
• This Massive VPN Comparison Spreadsheet Helps You Choose the Best for You (Alan Henry, Lifehacker)
• Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) On my Writers and Editors site I've posted more links on this topic.
• The Motherboard Guide to VPNs (Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard, 3-24-17) The easiest way to hide your internet browsing from your provider.is to use a commercial Virtual Private Network or VPN. VPNs add a layer between your computer and the internet, forcing your connection to go through another server before going out onto the internet, and hide your browsing habits to your ISP.
• Seven benefits and four potential downsides to VPNs (Julie Cole,VPNPro, 8-9-18) Select wisely as some VPN operators are not as good as others. "IP address leakage plagues low-quality VPNs, and can give away your identity in seconds." Choose a VPN that handles numerous devices, not separate VPNs for each device, etc. See their rankings.
• For Internet Privacy, VPNs Are an Imperfect Shield (Brian X. Chen, TechFix, NY Times, 4-5-17) When Trump repealed online privacy rules (allowing big firms to track you), many turned to VPNs to protect their browsing data. But they slow down Internet speeds, charge a monthly fee, and block some services (including Netflix movies). Chen also writes about pros and cons of VPNs.
• The Best VPN Service (Mark Smirniotis, The Wirecutter, 4-27-18) Wirecutter recommends IVPN, mentions other services, and provides useful explanations of other features and issues with VPNs.
• 5 best VPNs in 2018 (The Best VPN) 30 service providers rated by speed, logging policies, and encryption).
• Find the best VPN (Top10vpn.com). That firm provided some frightening news: Your identity is for sale on the dark web for less than $1,200 (Alyssa Newcomb, NBC, 3-12-18) Further evidence that you should not re-use passwords.
• Best VPN Services for 2018 (Comparitech.com). Torrenting anonymously, using Kodi, accessing US Netflix, Hulu or other geo-restricted services and protecting your privacy online are all common reasons for using a Virtual Private Network, more commonly known as a VPN. There’s no single outright best VPN service for everyone as each provider has pros and cons and which you choose should depend on your intended use. Tested for speed, privacy, security, usability and compatibility across multiple devices.
• The Biggest Data Breaches of 2017 (Privacy Central, Top 10 VPN, infographic to remind you of what to fear).
• A Cute Toy Just Brought a Hacker Into Your Home (Sheera Frenkel, NY Times, 12-21-17) Researchers recently found the Furby Connect’s Bluetooth connection could be hijacked by hackers, letting them turn on the doll’s microphone and speak to children. To dig deeper, read Assessment of the Privacy and Security of Smart Toys Marketed to Children (Top10VPN.com)
• Tunnel Bear VPN Tunnel (browse the Internet wherever you are, around the globe, privately--your data secure, your IP address hidden behind a bear)
• WAVE (web accessibility evaluation tool)
• More on VPNs on Writers and Editors.
Where I Find the Best Travel Deals (NomadicMatt, 8-18-16)
Wool poncho (attractive, larger than a scarf, good for covering up and can double as a picnic blanket)
Ziploc Slider Storage Bag (gallon) See also small and jumbo bags.
• Finally, a 10-tier shoe rack that holds and displays 40 to 50 pairs of shoes. I bought mine at the Container Store, where salespeople helped me figure out what I was doing wrong when assembling it, but assembly otherwise took less than an hour, and because I left off the wheels the shoe rack is quite stable. I bought and discarded at least 5 shoe racks before finding this one, which is sturdy enough and reasonably priced. I've been using mine for several years.
• Whitmore over-the-door shoe rack (another option, if your closet has a door--it sez it holds 36 pair)
• FeelGoodStore.com (a miscellany of products for making your feet feel better, including patches, pads, insoles, splints, toe straighteners, creams,etc.)
• No Tie Shoelaces Turn any pair of lace-up tennis shoes into slip-on sneakers. Read the comments and Q&A.
Compression hose and leg rests
• A friend with a clotting disorder recommends Oroblu support hose (particularly for long flights). They also carry some rather sexy stockings!
• Gold Violin (Support Like Crazy Compression Knee-Highs, beautiful designs! -- wonderful socks of various types, and more)
• Lounge Doctor leg rest with memory foam (for people who need to elevate their legs at the end of the day). There are lower-priced versions and various types and sizes. I found their "educational pitch" persuasive.
• Plantar Fasciitis Socks Foot Sleeve & Compression Sock (TMF)
• Plantar Fasciitis Socks with Arch Support (Physix Gear Sport) On the Amazon pages for these items you can see similar items, and you can learn quite a bit from reading the comments.
Foot softeners and callus removers
• Amopé Pedi Perfect Wet & Dry Rechargeable Foot File (shaves those calluses off your big toe and the rest of your foot). Check out the whole Amopé line, as there are variations on a theme.
• Gold Bond Rough & Bumpy Daily Skin Therapy (for when the edges of your feet feel like sandpaper)
• Gold Bond Ultimate Softening Foot Cream with Shea Butter
Better than average shoes
• Harry's Shoes, carry hard-to-find sizes
• Inkkas has unusual (playful) shoes from this slip-on to this hightop.
• Endless (shoes and handbags)
• Footwear etc.
• Naot Footwear (this style, the Matai, got a five-star rating for comfort etc., with 799 reviews on Zappos). Zappos didn't carry my size; I bought the shoe at Foot Solutions (in Bethesda, MD). Made in Israel.
• Comfy, elegant and extremely comfortable orthopedic shoes (IS Shopping)
• OrthoFeet (comfortable shoes, especially for people with foot problems)
• The Walking Company is another good place for well-fitting shoes for cranky feet. I particularly like the Kirei style, Naot shoe.
• Zappos.com (shoes and more, huge selection, good prices--but often doesn't carry very large sizes). See its shoe size conversion chart (UK, US, Euro)
• Footsmart.com. WARNING: Footsmart charged me $13.89 shipping for an $85 pair of shoes, although the website said "free shipping on orders of $60 or more." When I complained, they said nothing could be done about it because I paid on Paypal. Maybe Paypal is part of the problem, but it took ten days for the shoes to get here! I later found the same shoes available at Zappo's for the same price, free shipping. Losing $13.89 and getting not even an apology from Footsmart, much less a refund, means I'll shop at FootSmart only if I can't find the same shoes elsewhere.
Shoe repair and refurbishing
• NuShoe.com (get your comfortable old shoes resoled, refurbished, rebuilt, etc. -- these are the people who re-soled my expensive but worth-every-penny Mephisto shoes)
• SteriShoe Ultraviolet Shoe Sanitizer. Using ultraviolet light (UVC), the SteriShoe shoe sanitizer kills the organisms that cause toenail fungus, athlete's foot, offensive shoe odor. Read the directions: put the shoes in the bags, and don't look at the light. Works well on most shoes, not so well on slingbacks and backless sandals, for which you must apply ingenuity.
and stuff to put therein
• Mountain Buggy Bagrider (this heavier-than-usual carryon bag is fitted to hold a baby on top--see illustration, check customer comments, and read Pushchair Expert review).
• Ultra Dry bag and smartphone case with adjustable shoulder strap -- for kayaking, camping and other outdoor activities exposing you to wetness.
• Derek Alexander EW Top Zip Crossbody w/ Flap (lightweight, roomy shoulder bag or crossbody bag, with abundant pockets (including one on side in which to carry a water bottle). I use mine as a purse but it's particularly useful for travel and several people have asked me where to buy it! Read the comments.
• Travelon RFID Blocking Purse Organizer Organize your purse, moving from purse to purse more easily, and prevent identity theft--chip prevents broadcasting your personal data.
• Packing cubes:
---Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Starter Set
---eBags Packing Cubes (3-piece set)
• Feminist tote bag Slogan: Carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man.
• Zojirushi stainless steel travel mug (voted best by Sweethome)
• Downy Wrinkle Releaser, travel size Hang dry: Relaxes fibers to smooth out wrinkles in seconds. Also works on dry-clean-only fabrics. See also Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus. A quick solution to wrinkles.
• Tide to Go instant stain remover (a mini-pen) helps eliminate many fresh food and drink stains on the spot (probably not grease stains). You press the pen nib into the stain and some liquid will squirt out and moisten the nib; then work the product into the stain. It should disappear.
• Benkii compact windproof travel umbrella (automatically open and close, 10 ribs)
• Big windproof outdoor golf umbrella (62-inch, dual layer
Straight Umbrella 62inch Dual Layer Windproof Big Outdoor Golf Umbrella
in alphabetical order
• American Giant hooded sweatshirts (made to last). See Farhad Manjoo's story, This Is the Greatest Hoodie Ever Made (Slate, 12-4-12). They also make sweatpants and tee shirts.
• Aritzia (Canadian, but buy online)
• Barely There croptop bra. This comfie microfiber bra (pullover--no fastener at back) has no underwire and is probably not supportive enough for big breasted women (though one large-breasted woman said in "comments' that she wears it to BED for comfort--like a pajama top, I guess). It's kind of like a training bra for women, in terms of comfort--not designed to seduce. The Bali Women's Comfort Revolution Wirefree Bra with Smart Sizes looks like it's good for both small- and large-breasted women, but it has a wire-and-hook fastener at back.
• Bluffworks. I stepped on a jacket my friend Ron wore to see Hamilton (he'd placed it on the floor), and he said, "No problem. You can throw these jackets in the washing machine. They're great for travel." And they are! "They're a little pricey," he said, "but worth it." Hidden zippered security pockets keep your valuables safe and secure. Breathable, wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying. Read Snarky Nomad's review.
• Boy shorts for large women (Woman Within). A friend with eczema recommends these if tight leg bands on traditional panties cause rashes and discomfort.
• Buykud. These clothes look like they'd be fabulous on a madly dressed thin woman who doesn't want to look ordinary. The ensembles are "big" and wild, yet look comfortable.
• "Chapter I. I am born" onesie (great gift for newborn, from The Readers' Catalog. Other items include Banned Books socks and "When in doubt, library" tee shirt.
• Citron Clothing (I own two of these beautiful pieces of clothing and I reach for them whenever I know I need to look good--and people always ask me where I bought them. I am delighted to see they are available online.)
• Cloud Coli (have you purchased from this vendor? What was your experience? Delightful styles, low prices, but ... is the quality okay?
• Despairwear (tee shirts, mugs, posters, glassware, etc. that make you smile, particularly the Demotivators)
• Deva Lifewear (loose and flowing cotton garments with a homemade feel) out of business but you can buy "Deva by Cammy" items).
• Everland cashmere sweaters
• Ewe Hoo (handmade wool hats from Montana, which you can see in action on my cowgirl cousin Renee Daniels-Mantle, on this Facebook page, where she posts "during the freezing downpour and snowstorm one hour and fifteen miles prior to this photo, I was the envy of every cow (and cowboy)."
• Fresh Produce (comfortable mostly cotton clothes)
• The Hunger Site Store (GreaterGood.com).
• J. Peterman. The whimsical, back-in-another-era or from-another-culture catalog tempts me to buy things I'm not sure I'll ever wear, but they are definitely stylish and they are packed BEAUTIFULLY. Curious about Peterman? Read J. Peterman is back (Susan Fornoff, S.F. Chronicle 6-12-04)
• Islamic Clothing
---Muslim Veil and Hijab Types: A Complete Guide (IstiZada)
---What's the difference between a hijab, niqab and burka? (BBC, 6-18-15)
---Shukr Islamic clothing (tunics, abayas, jilbabs, hijabs, and so on).
• Japanese clothing
---Japanese clothing (Wikipedia, illustrated)
---What is a kimono and what types of kimono are there? (SewGuide)
• Kilted Nation, where men can buy everything from formal kilts to utilikilts, with wrap-around “Neo-Traditional” closure with 6-snaps, two deep, free-hanging side saddle cargo pockets (so that when you sit down the pockets fall to the side, instead of the whole kilt). For when you're tired of sweltering in pants and want the air-conditioning of skirts, without looking like a sissy. Washington Post article Pants are for wimps (Kris Coronado, 3-13-11) explains that Scottish tartans are based on family or clan, and Irish tartans are tied to home county.
• LeSportsac 3-Zipper Wallet/Cosmetic Case. I bought one of these years ago thinking it was a wallet, and was heartbroken when it wore out and I couldn't find another one in the local department store. Then my friend Kelley Garcia found it on the Internet, by typing in "three-zipper." It makes a great lightweight wallet but Sportsac thinks it's a cosmetic case.
• Long Tall Sally (tall women's clothing and large shoes, with an interesting size guide).
• Monterey Bay Clothing Company
• Moon Tide Dyers Handmade Shibori Tie Dye clothing for women (from tunics to face masks)
•Moresca, medieval and historical costumes (dresses, bodices, jerkins, jackets, capes, etc.)
• Petal tops ("pasties"--disposable nipple covers, 5 per pkg) "A primitive solution to visible nipples, but extremely effective." For when you want to go braless.
• PERIOD CLOTHING (historical costumes):
Some of these also have Steampunk. And some people buy costumes on Etsy and eBay.
---Knightly Endeavors (custom made Renaissance festival wear; specializes in Renaissance wedding dresses)
---Pearson's Renaissance Shoppe (men's, women's, and children's medieval and Renaissance festival clothing and fantasy-styled outfits)
---Historica clothiers (various periods, age levels, fencing and martial arts clothing)
---Dark Knight Renaissance and Medieval Clothing
---Revival Clothing (great variety in various centuries, styles -- clothing, footwear, men, women, children, etc.)
---Maryland Renaissance Festival (costume rentals)
---Medieval costume patterns and Renaissance costume patterns (LoveToKnow)
• Plus-size women's clothing that won't break the bank (Kate Harding's blog, Shapely Prose)
• Poetry (women's fashions)
• The Reader's Catalog (linking here specifically to the infant tee that reads "Chapter 1. I Am Born")
• Serene Comfort (moisture-wicking sleepwear that relieves nightsweats)
• Shop Vida (Lynne Lamberg recommends their scarves)
• Soft Surroundings (friend Jane says clothing is "soft and squishy, but quality not always top-notch, probably Indian and Chinese"; friend Phyllis loves it)
• Stylewe (haven't purchased from this site but the designs are DEFINITELY not ordinary women's wear -- good for those who can carry off high style or weirdly interesting)
• Svaha USA ("your one-stop shop for STEM-inspired accessories and clothing for adults, kids, babies, and family set," so you can buy a science-oriented editor a skirt with proofreading marks on it or a glow-in-the-dark tee shirt featuring the solar system)
• The Territory Ahead (beautiful, really well-made clothing mostly for men--I bought a cotton shirt from them that I can wear repeatedly without ironing, the material is so good)
• Threadless (customized tee shirts and other novelty items)
• TravelSmith (travel clothing, gear)
• Uniglo HeatTech (very lightweight clothing that keeps you warm in cold weather -- brought to my attention when my friend Kristie brought a small bag out of her small purse and unfolded a down vest, which she put on as we left a theater in midwinter). Does Uniqlo Heattech Really Work? (review on Does It Really Work?) Friend Judy, tiny as a bird, thanked me greatly for it keeping her warm all winter without weighing much.
• Village Hat Shop
• Woman Within (Colorful, comfortable basics at low prices for plus size women, in sizes 12w-44w.
solid catalogs, more standard fare
Who else is good?
With a focus on Bad English, editing, photography, etc.
• Sweeney's Store (tee shirts to puzzle and amuse your friends)
• Snorg Tees (funny tee shirts)
• I'm silently correcting your grammar (Cafe Press, Bad English Gifts, various colors, travel mugs, sweatshirts and hoodies, too)
• George Clooney wearing clever t shirt (Laguna Beach Democratic Club, #GeorgeClooney, Facebook) White on black: "You can't buy HAPPINESS but you can CONVICT TRUMP and that's kind of the same thing."
• Emily's List tees (Elect Women, Run Like a Girl [Capitol in background], Resist Run Win, Women Can Stop Trump, and for children: Future President, Tiny Feminist, Born to Run)
•Funny Times T-shirts (for example, "Well-behaved women seldom make history" (on dusty rose), "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it" and "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one" and "I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motivations questioned." (Not all of them were on the website last time I looked.)
• Give Me That Old-Time Religion T-shirt (Northern Sun, with an image of Stonehenge).
• You are the result of a billion years of evolutionary success. Act like it. (ViralStyle). Check out this website: Turn your great ideas into profit. Examples: Life begins after coffee. Legalize marinara.
• ViralStyle tee shirts (in this case, with "Science is not a liberal conspiracy" against a dark background) Many clever (and left and right) slogans.
• Mixed metaphors T-shirt (Cafe Press)
• If Your Not Literally Dying Inside As You Read This Then Its Time Too Tell You're Parents Their Tax Dollars We're Waisted (Cafe Press, Bad Grammar Women's T-Shirt)
Bad English T-shirts (along left column) -- on a page for editors. Do a search on "evolution of photographers" T shirts and you'll see varying interpretations, some squatting and some standing in the final pose.
• Bad Spellers Untie men's T-shirt (Cybertela) and one for women, too
• Bad Spellers Untie! (Cafe Press) Also available as a golf shirt.
• Managing Editor We do PRECISION GUESS WORK based on unreliable data PROVIDED BY THOSE OF QUESTIONABLE KNOWLEDGE (Sun Frog).
• Of course I'm awesome--I'm a managing editor unisex t-shirt'
• A Woman's Place is in the House and The Senate (Three Peaks Clothing tee shirt shop)
• A Woman's Place Is In the Revolution (Brave New Look, tee or tank top)
• I'm a managing editor because BADASS isn't an official job title t-shirt
• EDITOR because freakin' miracle worker isn't an official job title (Sun Frog, which makes products for various job categories)
• Retro old-school editor t-shirt
• Eat Sleep Edit T-Shirt Film Editor Tee
• Evolution of the Photographer unisex T-shirt
• Evolution to Photographer men's T-shirt, give this along with a generic Thermo Lens Mug
• Adjustable Lightweight Shower Bench (Ez2care's shower bench, for those who want showers but can't easily stand for them). Here's a Q&A about it.
• Anti-Slip Anti-Bacterial Bath Mat (Epica)
• Door knob cover/gripper Great for the elderly who struggle to turn around door knobs and kids who struggle with hard to turn slippery door knobs. Soft Green glows in the dark.
• Duro-Med Waterproof Leg Cast Protector (a waterproof vinyl protector to keep your cast or bandage from getting wet).
• Everlasting Comfort seat cushion (memory foam ergonomic comfort) Suffer from sore tailbone, sciatica, office sitting? Your back end and bottom will thank you for this.
• Flaghouse (rehabilitation tools, aids to daily living, therapeutic aids, etc.)
• Garden Kneeler and Seat (Yard Butler GKS-2). You can also buy a Garden Tool Pouch For Kneeler
• Gold Violin (lighting and magnification devices, adaptive furniture, cooking and gardening items-- does cataog sales for Lighthouse International)
• HDIS (products for those who experience loss of bladder control, aka incontinence)
• Icon undies (women's incontinence underwear). See also "female urinating devices" under Travel Planning and Bargains.
• Large non-slip, easy-grip eating utensils for people with arthritis, Parkinson's, or just grips weakened by aging.
• Life with Ease (products to help you live life to the max in spite of impairments or injuries)
• MaxiAids (products for people with impaired hearing, vision, or mobility)
• Mobility Store (mobility devices, scooters and wheelchairs, bathroom aids, personal care and patient care items, and other aids for daily living)
• Orthotics and Prosthetics (Infinitec.org directory of catalogs and other resources)
• Patterson Medical (rehabilitation and independent living aids, including devices for eating, drinking, and cooking) Worth looking at for openers alone.
• Plantar fasciitis foot stretcher
• Right shears Bent shears allow you to keep your hand out of the way of what you are cutting!
• Rainfall Shower Head (LumoSpa SH01)
• Squatty Potty, The Original Bathroom Toilet Stool. Haven't heard of this? Read Bowel movement: the push to change the way you poo (Alex Blasdel, The Guardian, 11-20-18) "For their 27th wedding anniversary, the 'Breaking Bad' star Bryan Cranston gave his wife, Robin, a gift that promises “to give you the best poop of your life, guaranteed.” Read about it.
• uCan Health (home healthcare products: safety and mobility aid, patient room equipment, items such as a bathtub transfer bench, to make it easier to get over edge of tub)
• Upcart (the all terrain stair-climbing folding cart)
• WestCanProducts.com (Wheelchair accessories and aids for the elderly, including wheelchair trays)
(with a bow to the late, great Sarah Wernick)
Sarah Wernick left this world in 2007. The following comments on bargains are reprinted from Sarah's old site by permission of her husband, Willie Lockeretz; they may be a little out of date now, but some of them are still good!
Consumer World is the place to go before you shop for anything: www.consumerworld.org. Sign up for the free weekly newsletter to get tips on outstanding deals and links to useful articles.
For nearly anything you can buy, eBay (www.ebay.com), the leading Internet auction site, is worth a look. It's more than the world's largest yard sale; many conventional stores have outlets on eBay. And some items are available at fixed prices, without bidding. When you bid, you offer a price that's a fixed amount above the current price (e.g. if the current high bid is $24.00, your bid must be $24.50). You can also enter a maximum; if you do, eBay will automatically submit a bid for you if anyone outbids you, until your limit is reached.
If you're planning to bid on eBay, a service called Auction Sniper (www.auctionsniper.com) can help by entering your bid, including your maximum, in the last seconds of an auction. You won't beat anyone whose maximum is higher than yours. But many people bid emotionally in auctions. They get caught up in the competition and raise their offering price accordingly, rather than deciding ahead of time how much they're willing to spend. You can avoid this kind of bidding war – and avoid getting carried away yourself – by planning a last-second bid (called a snipe) via Auction Sniper. You get three free snipes when you join; thereafter, each successful snipe costs 1% of the purchase price, with a minimum of 25 cents and a maximum of $5. [That's old copy. CNET has a page on Auction software , showing starred ratings for various programs, and Auction Sniper rates well with users but has a couple competitors now.
Telephone calls can be made for 2.5 cents per minute within the US and at low rates to other countries if you use a prepaid service called One Suite: www.onesuite.com. The service has no monthly charges and it's easy to use: When you're traveling, you can use access numbers within the US (there's an extensive list) or an 800 number (which costs 2.9 cents per minute). Your PIN is your home phone number plus four digits, so it's easy to remember. You can also set up your account so that when you dial from home you don't have to enter the PIN.
www.efax.com. Efax allows you to receive up to 20 fax pages per month free via email – very useful when you're traveling and have access to your email but not to a fax machine. Note that you will be given a fax number that is not in your own area code; if you want a number in your area code, you must sign up for their for-pay service, which has a 300/month page limit for receiving faxes and which also lets you send faxes via email for 10 cents/page (more outside the US).
Send faxes by email via Faxaway: www.faxaway.com. You simply address the message to email@example.com (where 222-333-444 is the recipient's fax number), attaching a file if you like. You'll get an email message from Faxaway when the fax is received; if the line is busy, they'll try again and if they can't get through they'll let you know. This is very convenient when the to-be-faxed document is generated by your computer (less so if you need to scan it first). Because the fax is generated digitally, the quality is excellent – usually better than with a regular fax machine. Faxaway is considerably less expensive than Efax for occasional users: $1 per month plus about 11 cents per page within the US, and more to numbers in other countries. With an account, you also get a free incoming fax/voicemail number; this number has a 206 area code no matter where you live. I sometimes use Faxaway to print short documents when I'm staying at a hotel: I simply fax the document to myself at the hotel's fax number. (Caution: If you do this, be sure to ask about any charges for incoming faxes; they're usually free, but some hotels charge as much as a dollar a page.)
• Stop Junk Mail: 7 Ways to Reduce It and Opt Out for Good (Tree Hugger, 2008). Some free, some cost
• How to Stop Junk Mail Forever (Ryan Guina, CashMoneyLife) This site lists things such as free meals for Veterans on Veterans Day.
• Affordable Holiday Gifts (Frugal Living, About Money)
• Car buying: Driving a hard bargain (Phil Raby, MoneySense, 3-18-13)
• Remove Car Dents Quickly and Cheaply (Wisebread.com, 2007)
• EYEGLASSES. How to get an unbelievable, amazing, fantastic, thrilling deal on new glasses: Buy them online. (Farhad Manjoo, Slate, 8-27-08) Old, but the principle is still the same. And some unbelievably cheap glasses I bought online fell apart within days. If you need reading glasses, check out Costco's rack, where I was able to find Foster Grant glasses big enough that they don't look silly on my big face at extremely reasonable prices, and they don't fall apart. They also have a section for prescription glasses at my local Costco, but you must have a doctor's prescription, even if you just want 2.50 or 1.75 (for reading or computer).
• PaperBack Swap book club
• Bargain Babe (daily tips for bargain hunters)
• The Dollar Stretcher
• Frugal Living (About Money blog)
• Frugal Living
• Frugal Village (e.g., new uses for tea)
• FreeShipping.org (free shipping coupons for various stores, catalogs)
• Money Saving Madness (coupons for freebies and discounts)
• Top 50 Frugality Bloggers (The Frugal Panda)
• Wise Bread (living large on a small budget)
• 13+ Secrets Personal Organizers Would Never Tell You for Free (Readers Digest, March 2014). Comes with annoying ads.
• The Ultimate Guide to Teacher and Educator Discounts (Dave Grant and David Cahill, CouponChief.com)
• Best Deal Websites (evaluated: Amazon, Overstock.com, Groupon, BuyDig.com, UnbeatableSale.com, Newegg.com, LightInTheBox.com, Jet.com, RetailMeNot, Coupons.com
• 15 Web Sites for Finding Shopping Deals Online (Kiplinger)
• RetailMeNot (for coupon clippers)
• The 20 Best Coupon Sites (MoneyPantry)
• The 12 Coupon Sites Out There
• Money Saving Madness (for coupon clippers)
• DealSpotr (freebies, promo codes, etc.)
• Second Chance, Inc. (warehouse in Baltimore, with seven buildings full of items salvaged from demolition: architectural elements, tin ceilings and iron work, lighting, antiques, fireplace mantels, doors and door hardware, windows, shutters, tiles, etc.)
• The Most Unusual Restaurants in the World
• Top ten houseplants and how to care for them (Susan Harris, Garden Rant)
• I am a big fan of Trader Joe's, but as a journalist I have to tell you about Inside the secret world of Trader Joe's "Few customers realize the chain is owned by Germany's ultra-private Albrecht family, the people behind the Aldi Nord supermarket empire....The genius of Trader Joe's is staying a step ahead of Americans' increasingly adventurous palates with interesting new items that shoppers will collectively buy in big volumes. The retailer's foodie roots and quirky in-store culture date to the original Joe. Joe Coulombe (pronounced COO-lomb), now 80, opened the first Trader Joe's 43 years ago in Pasadena to serve a sophisticated -- but strapped -- consumer."
"Former executives say that Trader Joe's wants neither its shoppers nor its competitors to know who's making its products. And many suppliers aren't that keen on consumers knowing that they produce a lower-cost version for Trader Joe's either."
• Trader Joe's recipes Okay, you can't shop at Trader Joe's online, and why would you, when great customer service is part of what makes going there a pleasure, but here you can find online recipes using their ingredients, and you can read comments. See, for example, the coconut water smoothie.
SHOPPING IN PERSON
A rant about FootSmart and Paypal
--to be specific, a rant about poor customer service at FootSmart, and at least one reason not to use Paypal for online shopping.
Footsmart charged me $13.89 shipping for an $85 pair of shoes, although the website said "free shipping on orders of $60 or more." When I complained, they said nothing could be done about it because I paid on Paypal. I know that Paypal accepts refunds. Very bad business practices and then very bad customer service. The same shoes are available at Zappo's for the same price, free shipping. And after disputing the claim at Paypal I got this totally illogical response: "Our investigation into your claim is complete. As stated in our User Agreement, the claims process only applies to the shipment of goods. It does not apply to complaints about the attributes or quality of goods received. Therefore, we are unable to reverse this transaction or issue a refund." So is the problem with Paypal or with FootSmart? It's hard to tell! What would you do?
On top of that, it took ten days for my shoes to arrive. For $13.98 I would not have expected such slow service, and I am certain I get faster service from Zappo's. Morever, the shoes when they did arrive did not fit. I bought another pair of the same shoes from someone else, at a larger size, and those do fit. So now I am going to return the shoes to FootSmart, but I put off doing so, because I am so angry about their service already. I have looked at their refund policy and it says: "SmartLabels are not provided for cash/check orders or orders placed through Amazon, Skymall, PayPal, Bill Me Later, or Google Checkout." In this brave new world of online shopping, we have to read the fine print to know that the only safe purchase is with a credit card. What is wrong here? I compare this kind of service with service at, say, Trader Joe's, where if something is wrong with a product they simply take it back and give you a refund, no questions asked. I feel loyalty to Trader Joe's because of it. I did love FootSmart, but no more. Such dumb business practices.... Okay, I'm sorry. I am not a nut, but this made me mad!