Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Favorite Things (#3): Pomegranate, Navigation App, Ebates, etc.

1. Pomegranate trick - FREE

Love pomegranates (and their superfood properties), but hate picking all the seeds out? Most people know the water in a bowl trick, but do you know how to make the seeds just fall out with little effort--no picking involved? It's a four-minute YouTube investment, but once you successfully execute this move, you will never ever go back. My only other nugget of wisdom is if you're paranoid like me, wear an apron in case the pomegranate is extra juicy and squirts you.

2. Waze - FREE 

Have you heard of this navigation app? It integrates live user data to give you real-time traffic updates and navigates you accordingly. I feel like I used to dream of a GPS that was this sophisticated (plus, this one is free!). It's most useful for people who drive during commuter traffic in metropolitan areas with lots of users. But dang, this thing has gotten me out of jams (literally--traffic jams). More than once, it's set me off on random paths, and I'm thinking, "Waze, you've lost your touch." Sure enough, I usually end up finding out the way I was planning to take was jam-packed because of an accident, traffic, car fire, or whatever. It's not perfect, but it's pretty sweet. It's a battery sucker, but I only use it in my car where I have a charger, so that's not really a problem.

3. Wordle.net  - FREE

I think I'd heard of this site before, but I got another kick out of it the other day. It generates a piece of word art (customizable, or you can use the random generator) from your blog, based on the words you use most. Brings me back to the glory days of refrigerator poetry. Make your own here: http://www.wordle.net/create

4. Ebates - FREE

This is a site that pays money for shopping online. It seems like it's too good to be true, which is why I'm telling you about it--because you probably would never dare to do it otherwise. This is something my husband found (his college ISys program has ongoing nerd e-mail conversations about the best technology stuff out there, so I wouldn't be surprised if that's where he found out about it). Basically, retailers pays Ebates sales commissions for referring people to their sites. And they pass money from that commission onto you in the form of quarterly checks (the percentage depends on the retailer and current deals). So if you're planning on buying something online anyway, chances are, EBates will give you cash back for going through their site first. All you have to do is go to eBates, login, select the retailer, then use the window they open for you to make your purchase so proper credit is given. So for example, when I recently bought clothes from Old Navy, I spent $50. The cash back offer from Ebates at the time was 10%, so when I made the purchase by logging on to Ebates first, they subsequently put $5 into my account. Every three months, they send you a check for what you've earned that quarter (as long as you've earned at least $5). So far, we've received checks for a total of $124.87 and we're due for $25.04 next month. We've been members since 2010 and haven't had any problems. Honestly, the hardest part about the whole process is just remembering to log on to Ebates before making a purchase. I was thinking of writing EBATES!! on my credit card until they finally introduced a browser app that works reasonable well at reminding you to go through Ebates before finalizing a purchases. Getting the checks themselves takes no thought whatsoever--you don't have to apply like you do for credit card cash back, they just come on their own every quarter.
Here's the link that gives us referral credit. It gives you a window where you select your gift card bonus and then enter your e-mail address to join.


5. ZoLi straw cup - $11 from Amazon (available elsewhere, but cheapest on Amazon, especially if you have Amazon Prime or Amazon Mom free Prime shipping)

I heard about this cup from my sister. From my experience, it's been the best cup for teaching babies how to drink from a straw (and as my sister said, the best part about wee ones being able to drink from a straw is that whether you're at a restaurant or Grandma's house, everyone has a straw, so you're not SOL when you forget their sippy cup). So I started my little guy on this as soon as he started drinking water. It's designed to be easy to drink from because:
#1: The bottom of the straw is weighted--brilliant!!! So no matter which was they hold this--down, upside-down, sideways--they still get water.
#2: The straw is thin, so it's easy to get suction.  And not too much comes out at a time, so they're not choking on too much water. You'll want a little straw cleaner, but it's not too hard to clean.
#3: It's the perfect amount of difficulty to open/close. Not so easy that a little baby can open it (when they might just cause trouble), but easy enough that by the time you want them to, they can open and close it themselves. Little Man has some straw cups from other brands that *I* can barely open.
#4: Relatively leak-free. I say relatively because it used to be totally leak-free, but we've had ours for so long (like...1 cup for a year and half) that eventually the mouth side of the straw has broken and leaks just what is in the straw itself, so I just have to let it empty out when I first fill it and we're golden. A less frugal mom would just buy a new one. And I will be buying another one eventually. Because this is the bomb.

6. Buckle Board - DIY

This one is for all you DIY-ers with a sewing machine.

One day, I was babysitting my friend's little girl and found this in her diaper bag. Her mom is super crafty and made it herself. She said she's going to post a tutorial on her blog soon and I'll update this post with a link when she does, but how brilliant is this? My son is obsessed with buckles. Perfect for church, long car rides, shopping trips, pretty much anything. So smart.

---Wish I Would've Known Sooner---

7. Snuggie

I'll make this quick because everyone already knows what a Snuggie is. But seriously, no one made fun of these things more than I did. Which is why my mom bought my sister and me matchy pink snuggies a few Christmases ago. But seriously--I love this thing. I love it for watching movies, long car rides, etc. I'm still working up the guts to bring it to a sporting event so I can high-five with it on, but I'm sure it will happen. I always made fun of it for basically being a backwards robe so how ironic that half the time, I turn it around and use it as a robe. My sister and I were saying that all they need now is a nursing snuggie. One of you entrepreneurs out there--make it happen. :)

8. Chiropractor

Have to give a shout out to how much I love going to a chiropractor. My son was such a late walker and not so little, so it wasn't surprising that I developed back problems. I used to go to a chiro frequently while I was training for my annual 75 mile bike ride. But I had to give up the habit when I got married and got graduate student broke. But my husband had recently started going to one and pointed out that it was covered by our insurance so all we pay is a co-pay. Unfortunately I waited until I seriously tweaked my lower back by trying to lift a 25 lb. bag of flour. But in some ways, it was the best thing that could have happened because going to the chiropractor has made my life so much better. If you go to a chiropractor and don't like them, keep searching because they range from total quack-crazy to some of the best medical professionals you'll ever meet. Mine did a total health assessment and did everything from (1) give me diet tips to (2) give me stretches and exercises to strengthen my core to take the stress off my back to (3) suggest a leg pillow to stop my sleeping self from cranking the heck out of my lower back to (4) teaching me how to stand up straight (still working on that one). All things have worked like a dream and I tell you, I am a new person from where I was a year ago. The appointments themselves are like going to the spa. The waiting room has massage chairs, then you go in the back and lay down while they hook you up with electric muscle stimulation for your back or whatever is ailing. They put the heat pack on and let you chill for ten minutes while your muscles relax. My chiro who is a mother herself has a soft spot for mothers, so she'll sometimes throw the massage therapist my way for no extra charge. Then she usually does some adjustments (some people hate this part, but it feels a heck of a lot better than being misaligned). Anyway, just have to throw in my two cents for those of you who have sworn off chiropractors for one reason or another. I don't blame you, but you are missing out.

9. Headlamp booklight- Cheap. $10 or less

Product Image
This was one of those "duh" moments, so maybe every single one of you out there already knew this, in which case, why did no one tell me?! If you're a nighttime/middle-of-the-night reader like me, for the sake of your spouse, you might have a book light. But seriously, even the best ones have some element of annoying, especially once you compare it to the supreme fabulousness of using a headlight instead. Headlights are cheap and so much easier because they're hands-free, clip-free, and the light is always perfectly directed to where you're looking. Will never use a book light again--just make sure you buy one with a light that pivots downward (most do). Buy it at Home Depot, Amazon, Walmart, Target, wherever. And chalk one up for emergency preparedness for keeping one of these babies in your bedside table.

10- You Tell Me!

Products - What toys have you bought your little one that they still play with, months or years later?

Technology - Any phone apps you couldn't live without?

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