Ingenious Gifts That Just Make Life Easier
This gift guide is a list of gifts that make life easier. If you are looking for the perfect gift for someone or yourself, please see our recommendations below. This is a listing of products our staff has purchased, owns, and uses on a regular basis. What would we do without them?
GE 4 in 1 Grill/Griddle This is an awesome indoor electric grill. Originally we bought this grill as a panini press. A panini is prepared by pressing and toasting a sandwich in a two-sided grill. Going beyond the simple (but yummy) grilled cheese sandwich, the panini is a stuffed sandwich using a variety of breads, meats, cheeses, veggies, and sauces. The bread is brushed with butter or oil, and then the whole sandwich is grilled. The contents warm on the inside as the buttery bread gets crispy on the outside (mouth watering yummy).
We also found many other uses for this grill – hotdogs, hamburgers, sausage, and bacon. The best part about this grill is that is opens and lays flat – becoming a griddle for pancakes, french toast, eggs, and more. There are several different brands of panini grills, ranging in price from about $35 to over $100. Each have their own features, not all open to lay flat. The GE brand also comes with two grease cups to catch grease. It has adjustable settings for temperature and a ready light when desired temperature on the plates is ready. AND here is another ingenious feature – not only are there two sets of trays, one flat and one grill), but also the plates/trays come out and are dishwasher safe! We have had so much fun with this grill. We have had it for several years and use it at least once a week.
Nostalgia Hotdog Toaster This is a fairly new product we purchased just recently. So far it is awesome. Hot and juicy hotdogs in just a couple minutes. It cooks one or two hotdogs at a time, no more dirty skillet for one hotdog, and no waiting for the pan to heat up. It has adjustable heat controls, a removable hotdog basket, two buns warming slots,removable drip tray for easy clean up, and includes mini tongs to remove hotdog and buns from the toaster. The hotdogs really do taste better in this toaster than in a skillet or boiled! There are many different brands with most having the same features. Prices range from $17.99 to $39.95. Great for a quick lunch. Add some chips on the side and done!
Keurig Home Brewing System The Keurig is a system which brews single cups of coffee, tea, cocoa, or lemonade. This system uses K-cups for no mess and no cleanup. Simply select your flavor and cup sizes. Brews in one minute at the touch of a button. We have had our Keurig for about a year and love it. Some systems come with a reusable coffee filter to use your own coffee. K-cups are available by popular names such as Starbucks, Swiss-miss, Green Mountain, Donut Shop, Gloria Jean’s, Folgers, Snapple, Lipton, and more. Prices for the Keurig systems vary from about $68 to $300. K-cups come in a packs and range from about $11.99-$14.99. Reusable coffee filter is $9.95 for those that do not come with one. Great for when you don’t need a whole pot of coffee, when you love a variety of flavors, and want it at the touch of a button.
Roomba by iRobot The iRobot Roomba is a compact and high efficiency vacuum cleaning robot with an advanced system of software and sensors to clean your floors with the touch of a button. It cleans carpet, hardwood floors, tile, and laminate flooring. Some models of Roomba can dock and recharge on its own – it returns to its docking station when it needs charged. Some models can clean on schedule. Program it to clean while you are at work – up to seven times a week. The only maintenance needed (on the current models) is to empty the bin when it is full, and Roomba will let you know! We originally purchased the Roomba Red, which was about 10 years ago. The only reason we replaced it is because the newer model will go to its docking station itself and charge – ready to go for your next use. The software and sensors allow Roomba to move around the room, remembering the size and shape of the room and obstacles in the room. It covers every area of the floor with multiple passes for complete clean. Great for dirt, sand, pet hair and dander, as well as small spills. Prices $350-$700.
Flameless Candle Although the electric candles have been around for some time (i.e. the old style plastic candle stick electric candles placed on window sills), in recent years, the technology has made the new flameless candles so realistic, that it is very hard to tell the difference. Since the new LED lights do not get hot, flameless candles can now be made of wax. Some come lightly scented and have a flickering light – they look and feel like real candles. Some come with a remote and some have a built in timer. The set that I own has a simple timer mode – I set it to this mode and the candle comes on, stays on for 6 hours, turns off by itself, AND comes on the next day at the same time. The candles run by batteries (3 AAA), but I have only changed the batteries once in probably five years. We use our flameless candle during the Christmas season, so if you use it year round, batteries would have to be replaced more often. The best thing I love about the flameless candle is that it is safe with children and pets running around! And no worries if I forget to turn it off.
Portable Phone Charger Our phones have become our lifeline. What happens when that lifeline is running low on charge or is completely out of charge? Most people feel lost without their phone or the ability to use it. My portable phone charger goes with me everywhere because it is small enough to fit in my purse or pocket. Just the other day I was just about to run into the store for a few things, when I checked my phone I realized it had a very low battery – forgot to charge it the night before. I was expecting a message or call from my daughter, I knew my battery wouldn’t last until I got back out to the vehicle, but didn’t want to leave it and miss the call. How many times has this happened to you? Luckily I had my portable charger, plugged it in, and finished my shopping. Portable battery chargers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The Anker Astro Mini is a lipstick-sized tube, small enough to take anywhere. Comes with a USB Lightning cable (to charge it), travel pouch, welcome guide, and 18 month warranty. Prices $19.99 – Anker 2nd Gen Astro Mini 3200 Ah. (Please check with manufacturer details to see if it is compatible with your phone.)
Wireless Speaker As music downloads on our phones and tablets allow us to listen to our favorite tunes from anywhere and anytime, a great wireless speaker allows us to listen with high quality sound or share our tunes. The 808 CANZ is a bluetooth wireless speaker with a powerful base and compact enough to take with you. I love my Red CANZ. It is sleek and stylish, and the sound is amazing from such a small device. The CANZ is only 3 1/4 ” tall and 2 1/4 ” wide. Up to six hours of wireless play on built-in lithium battery before needing charged. Wireless range up to 30 feet. Includes USB charging cable and Aux-in cable. This wireless speaker is great for the home, office, or take with you anywhere. Use it to listen to your tunes or as a hands-free speaker for your phone. The CANZ Wireless Speaker is about $33.
The Electric Heated Warming Throw Blanket Electric blankets have been around for decades, but in the last decade the heated throws have been introduced. No longer is the heated blanket for the bed and only used at night when you are in the bed. The heated throw is a smaller blanket, perfect for the sofa. I love my heated throw (and my cats and dog love it too). The throw, like the bed blankets, have a setting control and automatic turn off. The electric throw comes in microplush or fleece fabrics, with a wide variety of colors and designs. They are soft, warm, and cozy. Price is about $45.
We would love to hear from you! Please share with our readers any products that you have tried and make your life easier!