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Present Now, the Los Angeles non-profit organization that provides gifts of necessities and specialty items for babies, children and teens living in domestic violence shelters, announced a new partnership this week with Alexandria House, a transitional residence for woman  and children, located in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles.


Present Now will give the children living at Alexandria House care-packages of gifts throughout the year to bring them relief, comfort and happiness to ease their hardship.


“Children living in transitional housing such as Alexandria House usually have very few possessions because they have fled for safety with their mothers, leaving behind all of their toys and belongings.  Present Now’s Presents Program is designed to alleviate some of the initial stress of entering a shelter while also bringing some measure of joy during this time of acute crisis,” said Erica Fisher, co-founder of Present Now.


Children at Alexandria House will receive a birthday cake or cake-making kit along with a surprise birthday present and a restaurant gift card on their birthdays. On Valentine’s Day they will receive an age-appropriate digital device for learning and play.  In September, as children return to school, they will receive a backpack full of school supplies.


“Our goal with these gifts is to create hope and some measure of comfort all year long for the child.  It is also our intention that when these families transition out of shelter living into their new homes, they are able to bring all of these presents with them to begin their new lives,” said Present Now co-founder Melanie Neumann.

Connect with the tech geeks on your holiday shopping list with these 12 brainy games, devices, and smart toys that will rock their Christmas.


Kids of all ages will feel in the middle of the action with the NOON VR Headset ($89). Developed by South Korea-based tech company Nextcore, this lightweight headset can be paired with any smartphone with a 4.7-inch or larger screen. Wearers can watch IMAX-quality videos enjoy a fully immersive virtual reality experience, such as virtual roller coaster, a volcano erupting or even a flight through outer space. Available at Amazon.


u robot

Engineering enthusiasts (grades 4+) can literally make a new as they become better builders with the RiQ ($229) easy-to-build-and-program robot kit with building components, sensors, and a microcontroller.  The hands-on kit uses is a fun introduction to science concepts such as mechanical engineering, structural engineering, physics, gear ratios, and other STEM concepts. Available at edventures.com.


Fly kids

Everyone wants the “it” gift of the season, the Sky Viper Video Drone 950 ($89) from Skyrocket Toys. This lightweight, durable and high-performing drone spans 12.75” and features the ability to record video and pictures in full 720p high definition with one-touch custom camera moves in autopilot. Its long-range 2.4 GHZ transmitter can be adjusted for all levels of flying experience.  (Ages 12+) Available at skyrockettoys.com.


Creative remake

Move over Minecraft, ARCKIT is the new exciting, creative and addictive building activity but in real, tangible life.  Professionals, hobbyists, design fans and budding young builders age 12+ can use these ingenious kids to create realistic models to scale, from their own future home to classic architectural monuments, outside as well as the interior, in a true 3D model.  The pieces can be dissembled and reused, and the system is compatible with 3D computer modelling programs.  Available in various sizes, starting with the ARCKIT Go kit, or ARCKIT 60 with 220 pieces, and ARCKIT 620-pioece AR240 Kit, all which can be expanded with component packs.  $69 to $399. Available at Barnes and Noble.


See it all


For those who like to see it all, olloclip’s New Macro Pro Lens ($69) is the microscope for the digital age. Compact and portable enough to put in a backpack or on a keychain, it quickly affixes to an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus utilizing the front- or rear-facing camera to become a powerful high-clarity microscope for discovery and photography, featuring 7x, 14x, 21x macro magnification, for examining insects, flowers, and innumerable small objects, for learning and fun.  Available now at olloclip.com and major retailers including Apple and Best Buy.


Sounds good

Host your own family talent show with the pitch perfect Singtrix Personal Bundle, by the makers of Guitar Hero, and everyone is a start.  Even bad singers sound good and good singers sound great with this next-generation portable karaoke machine that works with any smartphone, tablet, PC or other audio device, for listening with headphones or a speaker system. The Personal Bundle features more than 300 quality vocal effects and controls to create instant four-part harmonies, so that anyone can sound like a rock star.  Available at TOYS “R” US and other national retailers, $229.00.

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Hot box

Lots of subscriptions boxes promise surprises inside, but the Cooper and Kid box delivers, with curated products full of wonder and excitement for kids, with a focus on activities designed to enrich parents’ quality time with children. These kits are full of activities, games, tools, and crafts, like rocket-propelled experiments, that make for great for quality time with kids. Even the shipping box converts into a toy.  Subscriptions start at $59 per month for a box per quarter. Available at ccoperandkid.com.


Smart girls

Smart is the new cool with Project Mc²  line of toys and activities aimed at teaching girls about science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) through play. The collection includes smart stylish dolls ($24.99) that each include a real-working experiment, such as a kit to create a lava light or an erupting volcano or a glow stick. Other products include the Rock Sugar Jewelry ($9.99) kit for making fashionable accessories through chemistry in the kitchen, and Mckeyla’s Ultimate Lab Kit ($49.99) full of science experiments, and a Soda Can Robot ($14.99) construction kit. Available at Target, Amazon and Toys R Us.


Message in a teddy

Kids stuffed animals really can talk to them, in the voices of their loved ones, with CloudPets ($29.99 + $6.99 shipping and handling). These connected plush toys pair with Bluetooth devices and use BTLE technology that allows children, family and friends to record and send messages by pressing the toy’s right or left paw to send or receive. Designed as a cute and cuddly way for long-distance family and friends to keep in touch, the toy can also be used as a sleep machine with downloaded lullabies to help baby doze off.  Available at cloudpets.com.


Super charged fun

Some video games are mindless fun, but top-selling video game franchise Skylanders offers fantastical exploration of a fictional world that expands the imagination.  With an array of characters that players place into the game using physical action figures, players can engage in exciting racing and battle interaction in Skylands. In Skylanders SuperChargers (starter kit $74.99), Skylands is in peril. A special team called the SuperChargers equipped with an unstoppable fleet of incredible vehicles must embark on epic adventure to stop the villainous Kaos and save Skylands.  Available at Toys R Us and wherever video games are sold.


Lock on

Super strength goes with super design and hi-tech with the keyless Master Lock No. 1500eXD. School kids will be the envy of classmates with this hi-tech combination padlock hanging on their locker, and they never need worry about forgetting the combination thanks to a vault enabled  permanent Backup Master Code.  Made of boron carbide for maximum resistance to cutting and sawing, the lock comes installed with a replaceable CR2032 five-year-life battery. $39.68. Available at Amazon, Home Depot, Target and other national retailers.


Change up

For anyone with a serious case of FOMO who can’t stop changing channels when TV watching, Pronto ($49.99) makes it easy.  This palm-sized hub pairs with the free Peel Smart Remote App to turn an iPhone or iPod Touch into a universal remote that controls more than 3,000 home entertainment devices, even streaming video players. This remote is so smart it makes viewing recommendations based on the user’s interests and viewing habits. Available at Newegg.com and BestBuy.com.



No wonder I feel so grumpy when I go camping, all because of that horrible air mattress.  According to the November 1 journal of Sleep which published a study by scientists at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, sleep interruptions are worse for mood than overall reduced amount of sleep, so it only makes sense that if a mattress is worn out, lumpy, too-bouncy, too-soft, too-hard, or too-hot mattress, it can cause sleeplessness, and that leads to a crappy mood.

According to Terry Cralle, RN, MS, a certified clinical sleep educator, indeed an uncomfortable mattress can be the culprit in sleep interruptions that cause bad moods.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the sleep surface plays a critical role in the quality of our waking hours,” she says.


Cralle recommends these tips for assessing the suitability of a mattress.

  • Consider a memory foam mattress that alleviates pressure points by conforming to the body and cushioning heavier body parts.
  • Chose an adjustable mattress if you sleep with a partner, so both partners can adjust the mattress to suit their preferences.
  • Buy a mattress with a trial period to see if it works for you.  Many companies offer 100 days, but some companies, like Luxi, even offer up to 1,000 days.
  • Look for a mattress company with excellent customer support.  The best mattress companies now have sleep hotlines to help their customers get optimal sleep using their product.
  • Since pregnancy, health conditions, weight loss or gain can all effect how you sleep, think ahead about your needs. Get a mattress that can be re-configured or adjusted as your body and needs change.
  • Research the materials your mattress is made with, and make sure the mattress has breathability.

Cralle says that the popular mattresses sold online can be a good choice, so long as they are not a one-size-fits-all model.  At her sleep clinic, Cralle recommends adjustable options, like the three-in-one Luxi, because the user can easily reconfigure the mattress to soft, medium or firm on one or both sides.

“By investing in a comfortable sleep surface, you are maximizing the likelihood of getting uninterrupted sleep – a major factor not only in our health, but in our moods and ultimately the quality of our lives,” said Cralle.LUXI-CutAway


Having sophisticated décor does not mean your furnishings should be untouchable.  Make your home welcoming with these textiles that look fabulous and feel great.

Go organic

Coyuchi uses only the purest natural fibers in their products, and great taste. Following the strictest in environmental standards in safe and humane conditions and guidelines set by USDA National Organic Program and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards), their fabrics are minimally processed so their look and feel is closely to their natural state.coyuchi bedding 800

When selecting products, Coyuchi gives an option for feel — cool, crisp, relaxed or silky — and fibers — undyed, GOTS certified, low-impact dyes, or zero waste water. The textures and styles are simple like natures, in homage to the planet.



Get down tonight


When you rest your head to sleep, nestle into a down pillow that you can feel good about, with contents from Allied Feather & Down is the trend setter in responsibly and sustainably sourced duck down.  Their supremely soft down filler is used in premium pillows by brands such as Pillow Bar, and also in high-end outdoor apparel. Their down used is luxuriously billowy, odor-free, long lasting, and anti-microbial and treated and cleaned with methods and technologies that produce ultra-dry, fluorocarbon-free hydrophobic down. The fact that Allied is the leader in their industry in animal welfare practices and environmental safeguards will help you sleep even more soundly.



Wrap yourself in luxury


the types of fiber, construction and feel are myriad when it comes to bath towels. MicroCotton bath towels feature a unique structure of the yarn giving towels a suede-like texture that becomes softer with washing.  Made from 100% plush long-staple cotton, MicroCotton towels get their soft touch from a patented spinning process so the towels feel fluffy and extra-soft. Their porous texture also lends itself to absorbent and drying easily. 520093215746c__1

The lighter-weight of the textiles make large MicroCotton towels lighter than others their size, and the cotton weave is also durable and long-lasting and so that it holds colors and does not fade after multiple washings.  MicroCotton towels are available from many retailers, such as Wamsutta Perfect Soft MicroCotton Bath Towels ($14.99 at Bed, Bath and Beyond), Noble Excellence MicroCotton Bath Towels ($34.00 at Dillard’s) and Hotel Collection Bath Towels MicroCotton Collection ($31.00 at Macy’s).


Good beans

New Zealand husband and wife team of Nicola and Alex Webster were inspired by yacht life by the sea to create Coast New Zealand, a luxury brand that encompasses outdoor bean bag furniture made with fabrics that can endure the harsh elements of the coastal weather but offer beauty and style for the seasons.????????????????????????????????????

Using handcrafting and marine-grade Sunbrella fabric that retains color, shape and functionality, Coast constructs their heavy-duty lounge bags, such as their popular New Zealand Marine Bean, to last, in fact they guarantee them for at least five years — whether they are used aboard the super yachts that they were originally made for or backyards anywhere.

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airelive4As a parent do you ever wish you could be a fly on the wall and see what your kids, and your babysitter, are doing while you are away?  Would you like to keep tabs on the handyman or plumber who is working in your home while you are at work?  You don’t need a security camera to do this, just a mobile device with the app AireLive, a new live streaming platform, set up on a PC or iOS device, to surveil certain areas of your home that can be viewed from anywhere, anytime.

Besides keeping an eye on the home front, the AireLive app can be used for many other live streaming activities, such as conferencing with one to four other participants using the app’s FaceChat or GroupChat feature.

The FaceChat feature converges all the data streams from the four users and uses a fourth of the data creating a quicker, higher quality live stream.

Live streaming is so cool you might even get teens excited about checking in with mom or dad. It’s also a great way to stay connected with grandparents and other family and friends from other locations, all at once.   aire

The idea of owning a boat can be an exciting prospect. While at first you can envision yourself heading out onto the high seas for afternoons and evenings of fishing, swimming, and just relaxing, you may eventually come to realize how much gear you must have on board to ensure your safety and that of your passengers. Rather than make a last minute scramble to get everything you need, you can shop todayPIC011 online and find packages that will contain all of your necessities. These packages can be ordered online and delivered to your home or office.

Some of the gear in these packages offers you convenience to keep your communication devices powered. You cannot afford for your radio or telephone to wear out and not work while you are away from shore. The cables will allow you to keep these devices charged so that you can reach the Coast Guard if necessary. The cables are designed for use out on the water and will not wear out or break down if they are exposed to the elements.

You also can find nylon cord that can be used to secure gear on board. Nylon is highly resistant to water and humidity, both of which are plentiful while you are away from shore. You can use the nylon cord to anchor valuables that you do not want to slide off the deck. It also comes in a long enough length that it can be used for a wide variety of purposes. Along with the cord, you also will find an anchor in your package. The anchor, of course, comes in handy when you want to stabilize your boat and remain stationary. The anchor is matched to the size of the boat that you plan on purchasing.

Other gear found in these commissioning packages include first aid items. You never know when an accident on board will happen. When someone aboard gets cut or injured, you need bandages and antiseptic to stop the bleeding. The first aid kit will allow you to stabilize an injured patient until you reach shore or the Coast Guard can get to you. You also will find a fire extinguisher. Fires happen on boats with alarming frequency. Seawater may not be enough to put out a fire. The extinguisher is a necessity for your and your passengers’ protection.

Schools’ out, the kids are bored already and it’s hotter than a firecracker.  It’s time to hang with the fam, invite friends over and while away the summer time.  Here are some seasonal essentials for staying cool and having fun in the sun.

Inflated We-go

Lounging around the pool is more fun with friends.  The AIRHEAD Designer Series Floating Couch, ($139) featuring a tall back and headrest, is a comfy ride for up to four sun bums at the pool or lake, or even on land.  For those who prefer a solo ride, the Designer Series Chaise Lounge,($89)  with a flexible mesh bottom to keep you cool, and a drink holder so you can sip and float, is designed for the ultimate R-n-R.  Both available in three designer colors: Aqua, Lime or Tangerine.  Pump up your floaties with ease with AIRHEAD AIR PIG, ($54) a 12v high-volume pump, shaped like a piggy bank, equipped with an assortment of air value adapters and a 10’ power cord with alligator clips that fit onto a car battery, that gets the job done in minutes.

floating couch

Toys of Summer

Pry the kids from video games and get them playing outdoors with clever toys that keep them active and engaged, like Batapult ($19.99), a hinged plastic baseball bat that pivots during the swing, sending the ball flying up 200 feet; or AeroZipp Disk ($19.99), a disk launcher that sends flying whistling disks gliding over 175 feet through the air.  Available at Wal-Mart, Amazon, www.ogosport.com.

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Shot and Sticky

For a true summer blast kids can take aim with the BOOMco Farshot Blaster ($5.99) featuring BOOMco.’s Smart Stick darts that stick to Smart Stick targets and shields. Farshot’s single-fire action fires up to 70 feet.  BOOMCo’s newest blaster, Spin Sanity ($34.99), ups the fire power with three rotating barrels with 10-dart battery powered chambers for steady, rapid-fire blasting. Available at toy retailers nationwide.


Hot Dog Days of Summer

Spread something new on your hot dogs and burgers this summer with the fancy name in mustard that has the syruped-up competition seeing red.  French’s Tomato Ketchup (20 oz. bottle, $3.49) is au naturel, make from U.S. farm-grown tomatoes and no high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, or gluten. At grocery stores nationwide.


Just Relax

Get laid back like it’s the 1970s with the modern Coast New Zealand Marine Bean bag chair (approximately $408 USD) designed for the modern age, and outdoors. Made with marine-grade Sunbrella fabric that can withstand harsh sun (with a five-year guarantee), this extra-large and super comfy bean bag can take a tossing around and look great on any deck or patio. Available at coastnewzealand.com.  Beans not included.



It’s Greek for Me

I scream, you scream, we all scream for a tasty alternative to ice cream., and Oikos has answered with Dannon Oikos Greek Frozen Yogurt ($5.49/pint)   This half-the-fat frozen treat is rich and creamy-thick, and it’s a good source of protein.  Flavors include Strawberry, Chocolate, Black Cherry, Vanilla, Café Latte,  Salted Carmel, Mint Chocolate Chip and Cookies & Cream.  Available at grocery stories nationwide.


Super Smoothie

You may know it by the name Dragonfruit, but the bright pink/magenta superfruit exported from Nicaragua and otherwise known as pitaya is making a name for itself as the new it ingredient for summer smoothies, available in smoothie packs and frozen fruit cubes — all organic, raw and free of artificial sweeteners or preservatives. Besides its health benefits and delicious exotic flavor, pitaya in the US is supplied mainly by San Diego-based Pitaya Plus, a truly socially conscious company that not only operates a solar-powered facility but also nearly exclusively hires single mothers to process their fruit, enabling poverty-stricken Nicaraguan mothers to provide educations and food for their children.  Served at juice shops nationwide and sold at Whole Foods, Sprouts and Safeway stores. Order a kit of 16 smoothie packs for $39.99 direct from www.pitayaplus.com.


 Break out the Bubbly

Everyone’s vegging by the pool and nobody wants to make a soda run, so make it yourself, with the Bonne O ($149.95), a gadget that lets you create your own sparkling concoctions.  Add syrups or fresh fruit and a carbonation tablet, and in four minutes the machine infuses your cold water with flavor and bubbles Sold online at Williams-Sonoma and in stores at Bed Bath & Beyond.


Good Cookies

Rarely do the words cookie and healthy go together, but Lenny & Larry’s has reinvented the crumbly treat that  kids of all ages crave with their vegan delights that are free of GMOs, cholesterol, eggs, dairy or artificial ingredients, and each cookie delivers a wholloping 16 grams of protein and six grams of fiber. Perfect for a summer picnic, the Seven Complete Cookies Sample Pack ($14.99) includes Chocolate Chip, Double Chocolate, White Chocolate Macadamia, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Raisin, Lemon Poppy and Pumpkin Spice. So good for you that gyms carry them, along with Kroger and Vitamin Shoppe stores.


Color-free is the New Black

Quench your summer thirst without artificial colors, with Zevia 17 color-free soda flavors, sweetened with plant-based stevia and monk fruit.  The leading Non-GMO zero calorie, naturally sweetened soda brand tested the waters and found consumers did not want caramel coloring in their drinks, so they took it out.  Available at Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Markets, Safeway, Kroger, Super Target and many other natural and grocery stores nationwide.

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