Late last week, something tragic happened: Our coffeepot broke. Someone who shall remain nameless had the temerity (or, more accurately, maladroitness) to drop the pot, shattering it into a million tiny little pieces. I arose up that morning to the devastating news that, for the first time in as long as I can remember, there would be no coffee greeting my awakening.
This problem was not easily remedied. In the days immediately following the fiasco, one of the members of my household had to make a Starbucks run each morning. This solution may have stuck a Band-Aid on the issue, but it was clearly not economical in the long run. No, we needed a new coffeepot. But which one?
I’m not exactly sure who came up with the idea to eschew the traditional 12-cup Mr. Coffee machine you can buy at the Giant for $25. Still, someone did, and as a result, a 45-cup Hamilton Beach “coffee urn” arrived at our doorstep via Amazon Prime two days later. The thing was HUGE:
We’ve only been using the “coffee urn” for a few days now, but its advantages and disadvantages are quickly becoming clear. For one, the “formula” on how to make the coffee (i.e., the grounds to water ratio) is completely different from the typical drip coffee machine we were used to. Our first attempt at morning coffee was borderline undrinkable it was so weak. But we get a little bit closer to brewing the perfect cup on each attempt, and I’m optimistic that we can get there soon.
The coffee urn’s biggest selling point is that it stays hot all day, as long as you keep it plugged in. The quality of the coffee will not diminish as the day goes on, as in the case with joe made in your traditional coffeepot. This has proved quite the boon during quarantine, when you want just one cup for an after-lunch pick-me-up, but do not want to go through the hassle of brewing a whole new pot. The jury may still be out on if this is actually a better buy than what it replaced. But for just $49.99 there is no question it offers great value.
Looking For An Alternative To The Always Pan?
If you’ve been on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube or any of the other social media sites that propel products to viral stardom, you know all about the Always Pan. Like the Instant Pot of holidays past, the Always Pan is designed to roll the functions of several pieces of cookware into one. This singular kitchen item can perform the tasks of a fry pan, a sauté pan, a steamer, a skillet, a saucier, a saucepan, a non-stick pan, a spatula, and a spoon rest.
The good news is that since it is Black Friday, the normally $145 Always Pan is on sale for just $95 with the code SUPERSALE. The bad news is that even though the deal is still available, the Always Pan has been so popular that they won’t be able to ship you one until February.
In other words, the Black Friday deal isn’t particularly useful if you are trying to do your Christmas shopping. If you want a pan that will arrive in time for the holidays, and also don’t mind spending your cash on a product without that Insta cred, then you might consider this “all-in-one” pan from Ozeri. It may not be able to do quite everything of the Always Pan, but it is non-stick and comes with a tempered glass lid with a steam release vent. The best part? Usually $90, the Ozeri pan is on sale for just $40.
Can SAD Lamps Make You Happy?
I am not a licensed psychiatrist, so I am not going to weigh in on whether Seasonal Affective Disorder is a legitimate mood disorder, as opposed to a normal human response to a change in seasons. But I will say that whoever named it obviously thought it was a joke – there is no way you can tall someone you are “SAD” and expect the sympathy that traditionally accompanies revelations of mental illness.
Whether you actually suffer from clinical depression or just would prefer more sunlit hours in a day, now is the time of year the winter blues are starting to kick in. And one would expect it to be worse than ever in 2020, with the amount of fresh air and sunlight you can get proscribed by COVID-19 regulations.
In theory, SAD lamps can help. Contrary to their name, SAD lamps are not designed to bring you further down into the dumps but instead to make you happy. Maybe they should call them HAPPY lamps. I’ll let the professionals to come up with some appropriate backronym for that like they obviously did with Season Affective Disorder all those years ago.
SAD lamps are useful for so-called “light therapy.” Again, I’m not a doctor, so I do not know exactly how they work, besides the crucial fact that they are meant to mimic daylight while filtering out UV rays. Putting one in your home can help you combat the effects of earlier and earlier sunsets, and maybe even trick your brain into thinking you live in Florida. SAD lamps aren’t very expensive, so if your mood ever starts to sag (especially going into the holidays without being surrounded by family), you might as well give it a go.
When choosing a SAD lamp, you’d do well to consider this one from TaoTronics, whose SoundLiberty 53 earbuds we reviewed on this website (back when they were called the TT-53) along with their TT-060 over-ear headphones. Although we tend to think of TaoTronics as an audio company, the Sunvalley group’s flagship brand sells a host of other home electronics as well, including space heaters and HEPA air purifiers.
Top Holiday Toys This Year Are Quite The Throwback
What’s old is new again. Each year, parents and forecasters alike try to figure out in advance what the hot holiday toy is going to be. Early contenders this year included Baby Yoda and Squeakee The Balloon Dog. There’s no doubt those will still be popular (especially since Baby Yoda was not even available when the character became an internet sensation last Christmas), but it looks like the real way to win the holidays this year will be to go retro.
According to the Washington Post, “instead of perusing the toy aisle or trading notes during playdates, parents are drawing on their own childhoods for inspiration.” Some of the most popular products so far this shopping season are Legos, Barbies, Tonka trucks, and Hot Wheels. It turns out that when children aren’t together to socialize, and when there is a dearth of new content on kid-friendly stations like Nickelodeon, it’s hard for trends to truly develop. The surefire way for parents to know what all the kids are asking for this year is to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Absent that, it’s pretty much guesswork as to whether the Present Pets or the Vango goggles will be better received. Moreover, without playdates or in some cases even elementary school, your child wouldn’t be able to show off her new toy anyway. You might as well get her something that you yourself enjoyed at that age, knowing that it had the ability to spark joy all those years ago.
In addition to keeping the toy industry during uncertain economic times, hopefully the reemergence of old favorites will encourage parents to get down on the ground and play with their children. In the hectic pre-COVID world, it was all too easy to let the TV or the iPad do most of the work of entertaining the little ones. Perhaps quality time spent together will be the real Christmas winner in 2020.
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