Slow cookers are great timesavers--until you have to clean the pot. Reynolds Kitchens Slow Cooker Liners are plastic bags that fit into the pot like a trash bag fits into a trash can. The food cooks inside the bag, leaving the crock completely clean. You can even put two bags in one pot and cook two things at once.
Winter is coming, and with it, cold feet. Here's a solution: L.L. Bean's Wicked Good Moccasins. They're built to last with an incredibly warm fur lining, contoured memory foam footbed and durable outsole. Available in multiple colors, sizes and widths. Are they popular? L.L. Bean has sold more than 4 million pairs in the last five years.
Men's: $79 from L.L.Bean.
Women's: $79 from L.L.Bean.
It’s summer, and the season for cold canned drinks. But if you pop the top and don’t finish your drink, you’ve wasted money. Fizz Lids snap onto the top of a beverage can and keep the fizz inside, so you can enjoy the rest of your drink later.
They work with 12-ounce soda, beer, water, seltzer and much more. They’re dishwasher safe and come in a pack of six in various colors. $9.99 to $11.99, depending upon the color.
Reusable water bottles and hydration packs are great for the environment but when they get grungy they can be hard to clean. Here’s an easy way to get them back in shape: Bottle Bright bottle cleaning tablets.
Fill the bottle with hot water, drop in one of the effervescent Bottle Bright tables and watch it go to work. In 15 minutes (for lightly soiled bottles) or overnight (for really bad ones), you’ll have a clean bottle to use. No scrubbing needed.
Made in the USA.
Working from home? Want to look like a million bucks on your Zoom conferences? This rechargeable, battery-powered LED ring light will help. It clips on to your phone, tablet or laptop and will provide plenty of light to keep you out of the shadows. The open circle in the middle is where your camera lens should be to give you the best lighting possible. It’s great for selfies, too.
It runs for two hours on a single charge and has three levels of light
More people are working from home these days, and one of the best things you can do to prepare is to have a comfortable workspace. A desk that allows you to work sitting down or standing up can be very helpful. The least expensive way to do that is with a device that sits atop your current desk and lifts your workspace, keyboard, mouse and monitor to standing height.
This is a 36-inch-wide platform that rests on your current desk and lifts your laptop, or monitor and keyboard, to any of eight positions from 4.2 inches to 19.7 inches above desk height. It also comes with a cushioned floor mat to stand on and reduce fatigue.
Christmas isn’t too many weeks away, and these British-made jigsaw puzzles make a great gift. The laser-cut pieces fit perfectly and don’t bend like cardboard pieces often do. Each puzzle’s pieces are cut to match the theme of the puzzle’s subject. For instance, their Christmas puzzles have pieces that are shaped like reindeer, tree ornaments, gift packages and toy soldiers. Their themes range from reproductions of fine art to landscapes, animals and holidays. They’ll even create a custom puzzle from a photo you provide.
A Writeyboard is a plastic sheet with adhesive on the back that turns a wall into a whiteboard. It's perfect for students of any age: College students can keep their schedule on the the wall (hint: take a photo of it with your smartphone so you have it at all times!); younger students can use it for drawings or notes.
Writeyboards come in a variety of sizes starting at 2 feet by 3 feet for $25. Their largest size is 5 feet by 11 feet.
Doing any long-distance traveling this summer? There are lots of the standard U-shaped travel pillows out there and with every one, when you finally doze off, your head flops forward and you either wake up immediately or wake up later with a strained neck. BCOZZY's Chin-Supporting Travel Pillow prevents that.
It wraps under the chin to support your head while you sleep. It's also useful for people who have a hard time holding their head up or who must sleep in an upright position. The pillow comes with a strap to attach it to a carry-on bag.
It's a new year, and that's a great time to get rid of clutter. Often that involves shredding no-longer-needed sensitive documents. That's easy with the Royal ASF80 Micro-Cut Shredder with 80-Sheet Auto Feed.
The ability to automatically shred up to 80 pages at a time is what makes this shredder really stand apart from other shredders. Just turn on the ASF80, lift the auto-feed tray, load up to 80 sheets of standard 20 lb. bond paper into the tray and walk away. The ASF80 does the rest, grabbing each individual sheet and directing it into the shredding slot to be destroyed.
A photo sensor starts the shredding process and turns off the shredder once it has completed its task. You can also shred additional sheets or credit cards through the manual shredder slot while the ASF80 is in the auto-feed cycle. In either manual or auto feed, the powerful 0.84 HP AC motor easily dices documents into tiny 4mm x 12mm unreadable pieces.
$129.99 with free shipping at TimePilot's new "Cool Stuff Store." Click here to visit the store.
With its large, impossible-to-miss numbers, this is the perfect clock for anyone from children learning to tell time to people with less-than-perfect eyesight. It also makes a great conversation piece.
The 2-inch-high high-contrast numbers—black on a while background—are printed on plastic cards that flip as the minutes and hours change, just like the clocks and message boards in old-time train stations and airports.
The entire clock is 6 ½ inches high, 8 inches wide and 3 inches deep and runs for six months on a single “D” cell battery.
The clock makes a faint “click” sound when the minutes change. The housing is made of mirror-finish stainless steel and the clock tells time in AM/PM format.
$64.99 with free shipping at TimePilot's new "Cool Stuff Store." Click here to visit the store.
With shipping costs rising almost daily, it’s important to get an accurate weight on the items you’re sending. The Royal DG110 Shipping/Postal Scale does just that.
This compact, heavy-duty scale is perfect for homes and offices and handles packages as well as letters. Another popular use: Weigh bags before airline travel to avoid extra fees! Among its features:
$52.99 with free shipping at TimePilot's new "Cool Stuff Store." Click here to visit the store.
Car won't start? Phone out of power? It can take hours for someone to come along and give you a jump-start, even if you have the cables. Royal's PowerBurst jump starter has a powerful battery in its flashlight that can provide the power for up to 20 jump starts. It can also charge your cell phone or tablet for up to 10 hours.
Cool Store Exclusive: We're including a free zippered pouch to carry the entire system and keep your trunk neat.And we're adding free shipping!
$72.99 with free shipping at TimePilot's new "Cool Stuff Store." Click here to visit the store.
Most of us are using Windows 10 by now, and for those who aren't, here's a good reason to give it a shot. The calculator that comes with Windows 10 can do a lot more than just addition and subtraction, multiplication and division. It can also:
To try these, just click on the menu icon at the top left corner of the calculator window. (Side note: Web designers call that menu style "the hamburger" because it resembles three stacked patties.)
Christmas gift for the family traveler? This is a map of the world with a coating over every country and U.S. state. Trace your travels by scratching off the coating when you visit a particular country or state. The coating scratches off with the edge of a coin.
Its $26 for the standard size (23.4" H x 32.5" W) and $40 for the large version (33" H x 46.8" W).
You may have seen the walls of yellow lockers appearing outside gas stations, shopping centers, grocery stores and even at colleges and universities. They're a new Amazon service: Amazon Locker.
Let's say you've ordered something from Amazon, but you're afraid it might get stolen from your front porch or apartment house vestibule after delivery. Just have the package delivered to a nearby Amazon Locker. Amazon will send you a code so you can open the locker and retrieve your package.
Or let's say you want to return an Amazon purchase. You can go through the hassle of returning it by mail or delivery service, but often an easier option is to drop it off at a nearby locker. When you get to the facility, just enter the code Amazon gives you when you set up your return online and a locker will pop open. Put the package in the locker, close the door and you're done. They're open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, and there's no additional charge to use them.
It never hurts to have a little extra power.
The pocket-sized Weego Jump Starter Battery+ is a powerful battery that can jump-start your car, boat or motorcycle as well as recharge your smartphone, laptop or tablet. It's also got a built-in LED flashlight with strobe and SOS capabilities.
It's perfect for the car: the set comes with jumper cables, USB and phone connectors and eight popular PC-based laptop/device connectors.
Just throw it in the glove compartment and you'll be ready for emergencies—when stored it loses only 5% of its power per month.
The complete set is on sale for $99.
Let’s say you find a beautiful piece of furniture at an estate sale 15 miles from home. The furniture is too big to fit in your car, and you’d have a hard time lifting it by yourself anyway. What do you do?
Call Dolly. It’s the “Uber” of hauling. Dolly contractors—truck owners—will go get the furniture, haul it to your house and bring it inside for a low price. You set up the appointment and pay for it in Dolly’s smartphone app. They’ll also remove junk or bring items to a donation center, and even just provide two strong people to move furniture or appliances in your house.
Here’s how it worked for some friends of TimePilot: This couple lives in Chicago and ordered a chair from a furniture store across the city. Being city dwellers, they don’t own a car or truck, and they were reluctant to pay the store the $100 delivery fee it charges. They pulled up the Dolly app on their smartphone, and in minutes had reserved two men and a truck. The Dolly men picked up the chair at the furniture store and delivered it. The whole process took less than an hour and cost $50.
Dolly is available now in four cities—Chicago, Denver, San Diego and Seattle—and their surrounding suburbs, and has more coming soon.
When you go grocery shopping, do you ever have trouble carrying all of those plastic bags? Grocery Gripps make it easy. It's a heavy-duty nylon strap with two loops that lets you carry four, six or even eight bags easily with one hand.
Just run the strap through the bag handles and lift. You can even carry them over your shoulder, Santa Claus-style. They'll carry other awkward things like dry cleaning or even beach chairs, too.
Grocery Gripps come in five colors and are $19.99 each. (If you're a veteran you get a 30% discount!)
Adult coloring books have become very popular in the last few years, and here's one of the most creative and fun ones.
Yes, Querkles is a coloring book, but New Zealand artist Thomas Pavitte has taken 20 of the world's great masterpieces and turned them into color-by-numbers artworks. Pavitte's genius idea is that he has disguised each piece of artwork with a mass of circles, so that you won't know what picture you're working on until you're well into it.
Pictures have numbers between 1 and 5, along with blank circles. You are not given the colors to use, but choose your own five colors, with 1 being the darkest and 5 the lightest.
Not big on coloring? How about dot-to-dot? Pavitte has a series of beautiful, creative dot-to-dot books, too.
When you plug a USB cable into your computer, how often do you get it right side up the first time? If you're like us, the answer is a lot less than 50%. The MicFlip solves that problem. It's a six-foot USB cable with a standard USB plug on one end and a microUSB plug on the other. The genius is that they've engineered the plugs so that whichever way you plug it in, it works. No more reaching blindly behind your computer trying to flip the plug to get it into the USB port—it just works every time.
One of our tech support specialists found it and recommends it highly.
MicFlip USB Cable on Amazon: $19.99
If you've ever been to beach, you know one of the worst things is getting sand in your drink or on your food. Or you have an ice-cold can of whatever, and a minute after setting it down in the hot sand, it's warm.
Here's the solution—just in time for beach season: Sandstand.
It's a wooden tabletop platform attached to a post that keeps your drinks, food, sunglasses, etc., out of the sand.
Sandstand comes in walnut, hard maple or cherry. The top includes sunglass loops, beverage holders and a handle; on the underside are bottle openers, a threaded base for the post, and storage clips for the post when it's not being used.
It's easy to carry, simple to set up and does what it's supposed to do. Starts at $75.
So what's all this talk about virtual reality, anyway? If you have a smartphone—iPhone or Android—and $20, you can find out. Google has designed a cardboard virtual reality viewer that folds together. (For those of us of a certain age, it's a bit like a View-Master.)
You assemble the cardboard viewer, download a VR app to your smartphone and place the phone inside the viewer.
Looking through the lenses in the viewer, it's like you're really there. You can look left, right, up and down, and see things. There are games, documentaries (the New York Times has made a bunch of them) and music apps. You can stand on the stage while the White Stripes are playing, fly over New York City, ride a roller coaster, test drive a Volvo or play a great Star Wars game. Make sure you use your headphones—sound makes it seem even more real.
Filling freezer bags is a three-handed operation. For those of us without three hands, Jokari has a solution: the Hands-Free Baggy Rack Storage Bag Holder.
You clip the top of the bag to the holder, fill the bag, then unclip and seal. Simple.
A four-pack of holders is $18.20 at Amazon.com.
If you've got a smartphone, you probably have a map app. One of the coolest uses for the app is to check traffic when you're traveling. If you use Google Maps (the iPhone or Android app or the PC version) you can turn on traffic reports by tapping (or clicking) the menu icon in the top left corner of the screen and choosing "Traffic."
Now on your maps you'll see live reports: red where there's stopped traffic, yellow where it's slowed and icons indicating the cause: construction, accident, etc. We've found it to be amazingly accurate: Recently one of our employees was able to avoid a 5-mile highway backup in the middle of nowhere simply by looking at his phone. To turn off the traffic report, tap the menu icon again and tap "Traffic."
If you use Apple Maps, follow the instructions above to turn on traffic reports; the maps will appear a little different, but they're equally effective.
Did you ever drive off with your garage door open? Or after a half-hour wonder if you had closed the door? Chamberlain, a major garage door manufacturer, offers a kit that will allow you to see on your smartphone whether your garage door is open or closed. And you can close it or open it with a tap on your phone.
Many of their newer openers have this built in, but if yours doesn't, you'll need the kit. It's $93.74 at Amazon.
Microsoft blogger Eric Ligman is giving away millions of free eBooks on Microsoft programs. Among them are quick start guides for Microsoft Word 2013, Excel 2013, Outlook 2013 and Access 2013. There are tons of other free books, too: everything from Office programs shortcuts to an intro to Windows 10 to networking to programming for Windows and Windows Phones.
Just want the quick start guides? Here you go:
How about a quick intro to Windows 10? It's right here.
Your organization's web site is pretty important, right? Is it up and running right now? Or has it been down for the last half-hour without your knowledge?
DownNotifier.com is a simple, free tool that alerts you when your web site goes down. Here's how it works: Every 5 minutes, DownNotifier.com tries to access your site. If it can access the site, all's well; if not, it send you an email or text message notifying you. If your site is down, it keeps trying every 5 minutes; when it comes back up, it emails or texts you again. That's it: simple and unobtrusive. Signup is a breeze, and DownNotifier doesn't show up in your web site's hit totals.
There's also a premium version. For $14.95 per year, your site will be monitored every minute (instead of every 5) and you get more detail in your reports.
We've used it for years and like it very much.
To see "Cool Stuff" from our first 20 newsletters, click here.