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Now that the dust has settled...
Old 01-19-2006, 11:33 AM   #1
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Now that the dust has settled...

What stuff did you get for the holidays that actually proved useful? Hopefully a guide for the rest of us with regards to making it easy to pick gifts for our friends and relatives this year? Not all of these were holiday gifts, nor were they necessarily from this past december, but they were all really, really good.

For babies:

We got gabe a Leapfrog "dreamscape soother". It screws onto the crib and has a big button on it to turn it on and off. It plays several threads of music, as determined by turning a large knob. Lights up and shows some pictures scrolling by. We turn the music on when we take him into the nursery to put him down and we've noted that he goes down in 1/4 the time when we start the music right away. 90% of the time if he wakes up in the middle of the night or early, he turns the music on himself and lays back down and falls back to sleep. It shuts itself off after 10-15 minutes. Eats C-cell batteries, which is the only weakness so far. Extremely highly recommended. It retails for $29, but I found it at Ross Dress For Less for about $12. They frequently have a handful.
http://www.leapfrog.com/do/findprodu...key=dreamscape

We also got him a "Buggy Bagg". This is a padded shopping cart thingy that you put into the place where the baby sits. You can lay an infant down in it or sit a baby up in it. The padding is at least a half inch all around and completely covers almost any of the area of the cart where you or he touches. He was too little for a shopping cart seat until he was about 3 months old and after he hit his head on the handlebar and I got a cart with what appeared to be some sort of raw meat juice all over the handles, which he immediately wanted to gnaw on, I wanted to get something for him to sit in. His regular stroller just wouldnt hold enough groceries even for a quick trip. I can put this in the cart with one hand while holding him, about 10 seconds. I tried several different products and nothing else was as easy to put on, or as well padded. My only concern is with the elastic around the handlebars, that in a year or two it might lose its stretch. I paid $50 including tax and shipping. It even fits the large warehouse store carts.
http://www.burdickbaby.com/seatcovcomch.html

Silicone oven mitts. These are almost completely worthless as regular oven mitts as they're too stiff to get a good grip on a pan, but they have one key use thats irreplaceable. If you've ever tried to get a large turkey or a big roast or ham from a pan onto a carving tray, or you want to turn something large on a grill, you've quickly discovered the aggravation of trying to maneuver a big greasy item with tongs or forks. Not so with silicone oven mitts which are water/grease proof. Just grab the sucker and do what you want with it. Throw them in the dishwasher when you're done for easy cleanup. I paid $9 for mine on sale. The other silicone bakeware stuff is nothing to write home about, however. Mitts are highly recommended for anyone who ever cooks large meals. Get the ones that are 'ribbed' for your cooking pleasure...they hold the big slippery things better than the smooth ones.

Small rechargeable FRS radio's. Working on the roof and need a tool? Want to split up at the mall? Taking more than one car on a long trip? Realllly handy. No actual privacy as anyone can listen in, so watch what you say. I bought a pair for $26 on clearance. Granted you can use cell phones for these purposes, if you have two of them, it doesnt cost an arm and a leg to use them, and you have actual cell signal coverage. Our local mall has crappy cell phone service, and when we go up to lake tahoe we're more often out of cell phone range than in it. I also get weak or no signal at my house, but full signal at the end of my driveway. Go figure. These work for about a mile or so of the claimed 2 mile range, no matter where we are.

The Kill-a-watt electric metering tool already widely discussed is a great gift for a gadgety person. ~$32 on amazon.
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...
Old 01-19-2006, 11:38 AM   #2
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ()
Get the ones that are 'ribbed' for your cooking pleasure...they hold the big slippery things better than the smooth ones.
Hmmm...
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...
Old 01-19-2006, 12:12 PM   #3
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...

I could continue by saying that I handled a 25lb turkey from the oven easily by placing one hand on the breast and the other in the cavity, but thats too cheesy even for me.
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...
Old 01-19-2006, 12:17 PM   #4
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...

Hw quickly we slide back into hard-coore porn site status...
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...
Old 01-19-2006, 03:08 PM   #5
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ()
What stuff did you get for the holidays that actually proved useful?* Hopefully a guide for the rest of us with regards to making it easy to pick gifts for our friends and relatives this year?...*
A fifth of Black Velvet.... hiccup...
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...
Old 01-19-2006, 06:05 PM   #6
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...

Of all the stuff that I got I must say that I've enjoyed the most this little hand powered "battery-less" flashlight. Just couldn't stop playing with it and driving everyone crazy. While I'd never have bought one myself I believe that my mind is changing on that

RoadPro Grip Power
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...
Old 01-19-2006, 07:01 PM   #7
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeBird
Of all the stuff that I got I must say that I've enjoyed the most this little hand powered "battery-less" flashlight. Just couldn't stop playing with it and driving everyone crazy. While I'd never have bought one myself I believe that my mind is changing on that*

RoadPro Grip Power
http://www.levineautoparts.com/rogrponobafl.html
I'm going to get a couple of these. When I was a little boy during WW2, we had a very similar flashlight (no battery, so you had to keep pumping). It lasted at least 10 years, was always fun, and it never let us down.

Ha
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...
Old 01-20-2006, 08:52 AM   #8
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeBird
Of all the stuff that I got I must say that I've enjoyed the most this little hand powered "battery-less" flashlight. Just couldn't stop playing with it and driving everyone crazy. While I'd never have bought one myself I believe that my mind is changing on that*
I also received one of those. I went out and bought another one so I have one in each car now. They don't put out as much light as my regular flashlight but I don't have to worry about leaking or dead batteries anymore either. Great invention. I have the one with a crank and like it better than the one you shake. I think the crank one is easier to charge and is smaller and lighter.

My other favorite toy is my U3 memory flash drive. 1GB of data on a gadget the size of a stick of gum. I love it! My home computers are not networked and instead of having to burn CDs to move data around I can use this baby. I also use it to move data from work to home. No need to haul around the laptop anymore.
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...
Old 01-20-2006, 09:02 AM   #9
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveR

My other favorite toy is my U3 memory flash drive.* 1GB of data on a gadget the size of a stick of gum.* I love it!* My home computers are not networked and instead of having to burn CDs to move data around I can use this baby.* I also use it to move data from work to home.* No need to haul around the laptop anymore.*
I've got one of these things too - I think they are the greatest thing since sliced wheat bread!
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...
Old 01-20-2006, 09:53 AM   #10
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ()
What stuff did you get for the holidays that actually proved useful?
The kid's Acoustic Research AW771 wireless headphones. She actually gets up and does chores (while listening to whatever's on in the next room) instead of negotiating for a commercial break. She still hasn't realized that "her" headphones are OUR parental gift to ourselves.

She doesn't miss the long corded headphones a bit. However we had to console up the bunny with an old patch cord.

I bought a power drill with a keyless chuck for myself. The old drill was passed down to me by my father so it dates from at least the 1950s. Imagine going from "groom or replace the motor's brushes every few years" to "reversible, variable speed, an amazing variety of bits, gel grips"-- and a Boomer light.
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...
Old 01-20-2006, 12:29 PM   #11
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...

The only problem with the cordless tools, which I have quite a few of, is that I'm now too lazy to get the corded ones out, get an extension cord...etc. So now everything that needs to get cut is done with the cordless reciprocating saw. With more or less good results...
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...
Old 01-20-2006, 01:46 PM   #12
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...

It was a gadget Christmas. Got a couple of those hand crank flashlights. Very suitable for VW camper. Also have a 1 GB USB drive from work. I no longer have to take a laptop back & forth just take the files on a chip. But the best gadget was a pannini maker my wife received. This is no George Forman grill but a great unit that makes sandwiches of the highest quality. We get special bread and add a range of indegredients and make up great little ( and not so little) sandwiches. Putting on weight but saving money by eating at home more.
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...
Old 01-20-2006, 05:22 PM   #13
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Re: Now that the dust has settled...

Two more:

Immersion blender aka "the boat motor". If you make soups or sauces and ever stand there thinking "I'd like to puree that a little" or run into a recipe with the delightful instruction "pour a little at a time into a blender and...". This is basically a whirling blender blade (in a bell housing) on the end of a stick with a small motor. For items like split pea soup, pasta sauces, or the parsnip and spinach potage I just made, its a real time and mess saver.

"Powerline" network adapters. I grabbed a handful of them last year on a deep discount. Basically plugs into the wall and anything with a network connection can be plugged into one. Voila, its on your network at 1-12Mb/s. Newer homes or old ones with newer wiring, and shorter AC wire runs between adapters makes for higher speeds. If you plug your cable or dsl modem into one, you can then add a station anywhere else in the house. I tried wireless bridges but they were expensive and frequently quirky, and gave me roughly the same speed. These are absolutely plug and play.
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