JOANNE'S DECEMBER TRAVEL & HOME PICKS, FROM TRAVEL SUITS TO HOLIDAY SMART LIGHTS

All suited up

It’s not easy to be a travel journalist when your goal is to travel light. My husband Tony and I share the pain. He carries our heavy camera equipment in a backpack and packs his wallet, cell phone, and our passports, etc. in his beloved ScotteVest.

My backpack carries my 15” laptop, wallet, printed itineraries I may need (you can’t always ensure that you will have internet connection) and my cosmetics. That leaves two small carry-on bags in which we need to stuff a variety of clothing options. This includes some “dress up” items for cruises, special events, and those press trip itineraries that require somewhat more than jeans and T-shirts.

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For any man on the road needing a suit, we can highly recommend the affordable Haggar “Active Series” line. This suit is super light-weight (so important if you are carry-on only travelers) and features an amazing stretch fabric designed to move with you all day, no matter what your activity. This includes a waistband that flexes 2 inches, perfect after a multi-course meal.

The fabric is wrinkle-free, so important for us folk who live out of suitcases, and boasts a state-of-the-art ventilation and moisture-wicking system. Bottom line is, this amazing suit will stretch with you from the airline seat to the board room and to activities beyond.

For a suit that moves with you all day, is lightweight, and looks sharp, this is definitely our recommendation.

Better safe than sorry

As frequent travelers, we know the importance of protecting our home while we are touring the world. As such, we are always on the lookout for innovative products to enhance our home security system.

If you have a notion you should improve your home security, the NOTION is for you!

Notion is a small, Oreo-sized sensor that you can stick around your home to monitor various activity. Notion can tell you when someone enters the door, opens the garage, tries to access a liquor cabinet or opens a window while you are away. But most importantly, Notion sensors can also recognize water leaks almost immediately, temperature changes and smoke alarms going off, sending alerts to users via a mobile app, helping to prevent severe water and fire damage before it’s too late. 

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Set up was simple. The instructions lead you through a simple calibration mode, using your smart phone, for each component as it is installed. The first application was on our garage door, a prime spot since we often forget to lower the door especially when we’re in a hurry. If we aren’t sure if we closed it, all we need to do is refer to the app to check the status.

We also placed one on the floor next to the water heater. In the event of a leak (this happened to us a few years back and we came home to a flooded kitchen), we would be immediately notified via our phone.

Check it out. Better safe than sorry, as the old adage goes.

 

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Home for the holidays

Since cooking is my passion and the holidays are coming up, I couldn’t resist telling you my latest and greatest find, the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven.  For years, we’ve used a deep-fat fryer to make a few favorites such as fried calamari (a favorite in our Italian American family over the holidays), shrimp, and French fries. We were, however, careful not to use it too often because of the fat content that inevitably comes with the process.

When I discovered this Cuisinart product, I knew I hit the culinary jackpot. Not only does this attractive stainless steel appliance bake, broil and toast, it also lets you air fry right inside the oven! This means I could toss my aging toaster oven and greasy fat fryer (which needed constant cleanup and a new gallon of oil after just a few uses) and place this kitchen workhorse on my counter to satisfy a wide variety of culinary applications.

 Our delicious coconut shrimp, right out of our Cuisinart air frying oven!

Our delicious coconut shrimp, right out of our Cuisinart air frying oven!

The true test came when my husband made his favorite recipe—coconut shrimp. I must admit, he was skeptical that he could get delicious results just by spraying a light layer of olive oil over his breaded shrimp and popping it in the air fryer for ten minutes. But he was sold when he saw, and tasted, the outcome.

Air fying is the way to go for a healthier diet, and this oven does it all in one attractive stainless steel unit. Bon appetit!



Twinkly Lights for the Smart Home

You know you are in a brave new digital world when holiday lights go high tech!  Gone are the days of buying those cheap strings of lights that are so frustrating to unravel and inevitably crash after one season of use-- if you get even that.

 We decorated our outdoor tree with two boxes of Twinkly 56 LED lights in less than 20 minutes! I can change the colors at a whim with my smart phone. Too cool!

We decorated our outdoor tree with two boxes of Twinkly 56 LED lights in less than 20 minutes! I can change the colors at a whim with my smart phone. Too cool!

In comes the Twinkly series of products, a new generation of LED string lights that work with your smart phone to display an infinite and customizable number of effects on your tree, wall, or window. You can even create your very own animations in the app. They are designed for use indoors or out. Each light is designed to produce an intense light effect, resulting in super-vivid colors.

It took us all of 20-minutes to string the lights on our outdoor tree and program them in all sorts of cool effects we can change with a tap on our smart phones.

Thanks to Twinkly lights, we are the talk of the neighborhood this holiday season!


A Place for Everything

I came across a new product that just might be a solution for those of you who don’t want to wear a travel vest, but still want an efficient, and hands-free, way to carry all your essentials while on the road. The iBand Sling is worn across your chest and has several pockets that hold your ID, smart phone, business cards, sunglasses, passport and cash. There’s also a spot for your water bottle and a secret passport pocket, as well as a carabiner for keys.

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It’s great for a wide variety of activities, from hiking to theme park adventures to dog walking, to name a few. But it’s really useful if you are a frequent flyer, as it makes going through security so much easier. Just toss it on the conveyer and avoid the hassle of removing everything from your pockets before you pass through screening. Just make sure your water bottle is empty!

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