20 clever items you didn’t even know you needed (but won’t be able to live without)


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Let’s face it, life is already complicated enough without little inconveniences like brown sugar that’s as hard as a rock, butter that’s impossible to spread, and long dresses that drag on the floor of your closet. I’ve found over 20 items that prevent or make quick work of those little bummers!

1. The Brown Sugar Bear ($5.99 at Bed, Bath & Beyond)

Brown sugar that’s hard as a rock? No more! Moisten this little bear and place it in your brown sugar to keep it moist for ages. The bear can also be used to keep cookies and dried fruits from hardening.

2. USB Lighter Company Rechargeable Lighter ($30 at Brightly.com)

How many times have you scrounged around for a disposable lighter, only to find it empty or inoperable? This butane-free lighter, which is perfect for lighting candles, fires, gas stoves, and more, generates its flame with a long-lasting, lithium-ion battery that can be easily recharged.

3. Butter Crayon ($24.95 at ButterCrayon.com)

You know what a pain it can be to butter bread and corn on the cob or to grease a pan with cold, refrigerated butter. To make buttering a breeze, insert a stick of butter into this clever silicone sleeve and spread away!

4. The Best Friend ($29.99 at BestFriendZip.com)

You don’t always have a partner or friend around to zip you up! Tackle that zipper on your own by attaching the clip of The Best Friend to the back zipper of any dress, blouse, or sweater and extend the cord. After you put the garment on, reach back and pull the little doll at the end of the cord upwards to zip your garment! Available in two colors.

5. The Smart Hanger by Cove ($22 or $80 for a 5-pack at CreateYourCove.com)

Maxi dresses are on-trend, but don’t you hate it when they drag on the floor of your closet? This patented clothing hanger resolves that issue with a 2-piece design that gently lifts the bottom of long items without creating unnecessary creases.

6. Disguise The Surprise ($14.95 and up at DisguisetheSurprise.com)

This woman-owned company makes clever gift box dividers to easily disguise obviously-shaped gifts, like jewelry boxes, books, and more. Disguise the Suprise is also great to have on hand for making themed gift boxes or giving multiple gifts at once. Made in the USA.

7. Ivy Alexander handbag hooks ($33.95 and up at Ivy-Alexander.com)

Did you know that bags that are placed on the floor are often dirtier than toilets? Some establishments offer hooks for your bags, but only some. These compact hooks, which are anti-slip and come in a variety of stylish colors, can be tucked into your purse so you’re ready to hang your bag on most flat surfaces.

​​8. LooLoo ($39.99 at GetLooLoo.com)

No one likes a smelly bathroom, but nature does call! This battery-operated gadget clips onto any toilet and automatically sprays the toilet with a mild, all-natural essential oil fragrance. The scent cartridges last 3+ months and are available in four scents: Lavender Fields, Citrus Fresh, Coconut Lime, or Peppermint Vanilla. The Loo Loo even has a nightlight!

9. Loop Experience Earbuds ($29.95 at Amazon)

If you’re like me, the second a concert starts you wish you had brought a pair of earplugs. Loop’s Experience earbuds are designed to block out excessive noise without dampening your auditory experience, and they come in a tiny case that can be clipped onto your keychain so you won’t forget them. Loops have adjustable sizing, are available in a variety of colors, and there are different versions for social gatherings, sleep, and more.

10. Maya J Bracelet Hair Ties ($18 for a set of 3 at MayaJNYC.com)

Never be without a hair tie again! Available in gold or silver color or enamel, these stylish, comfortable bracelets double as a hair tie whenever you need one. I wear a few all the time so I’m always prepared.

​​11. MOBI E.N.T. Smart Wi-Fi Otoscope H.D. Camera ($38 and up at MobiUSA.com)

It’s hard to get to the doctor’s office when you’re sick! This portable otoscope can send high-definition images or videos of your inner ear, nose, and throat to your healthcare provider to help with diagnoses if you are unable to visit in person. The images and videos are easily sent from your mobile device’s camera roll. This portable device has a 90-minute battery and is safe for kids and pets.

12. Nite Ize SlapLit Rechargeable LED Slap Wrap ($19.99 at NiteIze.com)

If you’re spending time outdoors when it’s dark, this rechargeable, reflective, LED slap bracelet is a must. Slap it on a wrist, ankle, or bag, and click the button for immediate visibility in “glow” or “flash” mode. The bracelet can be recharged using a micro USB cable.

13. Slice Mini Cutter ($11.12 on Amazon)

This tiny but mighty cutter can tackle chores like opening/breaking down boxes and slicking through clamshell packaging using a retractable, “finger-friendly” ceramic blade. There’s a built-in magnet so it can live on the fridge, or you can add it to a keychain.

14. Tooktake ($4.99 and up at TookTake.com)

If you’re like me, you might wonder, “did I/the kid/the pet rabbit take our meds today? Never ask yourself that question again! Tooktake is a label that you affix to any bottle, and when a dose is taken, you peel off the sticker for that day.

15. TopTote ($48 and up on TheFileist.com)

It’s fun to wear a big hat in the summer, but how do you carry said hat when it’s not on your head? This chic hat clip loops around your tote or luggage to hold your hat with a powerful magnet. The hat stays on the outside of the bag, so it doesn’t take up precious space inside. Woman-owned.

16. Under Armour UA SlipSpeed ($150 at Underarmour.com)

These new SlipSpeed sneakers are loaded with features, including adjustable, no-tie laces, easy on & off with a collapsible/convertible heel design, a cooling interior with breathable perforated uppers, and they are machine washable with their own laundry bag. This new style quickly sold out when they launched at the end of October, but are available for pre-order for shipping in mid-February.

17. Vejo ($99 on Vejo.com)

This rechargeable blender comes with your choice of two 4-pack drink blends. The powdered, plant-based blends are doctor-formulated, 100% natural, vegan, and sugar-free. Just add water and mix with a touch of a button for a smoothie on the go. Blends include Matcha Latte, Sleep, Cold Brew Coffee, and Tropical, and the stylish, portable blender is available in a variety of colors (mine is hot pink!).

18. Wad-Free for Bed Sheets ($19.99 for 2 at WadFree.com)

My fitted sheets always get tangled in the laundry so I was very excited to try this Shark Tank success, and it did not disappoint! This simple little doo-hickey attaches to your sheets, tablecloths, or other large fabric items to prevent tangling in the washer & dryer, while significantly decreasing dry times. It takes less than a minute to attach and it’s so worth it. No more tangled laundry!

19. WanderFull HydroBag ($49 at WanderfullBrand.com)

These fashionable water bottle bags are perfect for running to the gym, taking long walks, or for travel. They hold a water bottle as large as 32oz (or a wine bottle, which I was happy to discover) and have water-resistant pockets for your phone, keys, wallet, etc. They are available in a variety of colors, including black patent, which conveniently matches my winter coat. The straps are interchangeable and adjustable.

20. WhitePaws Double Velour Fleece RunMitts ($35 at RunMitts.com)

Recently featured on GoDaddy’s Made in America docuseries, these cozy fleece mitts are for those fitness warriors who run in cold weather (or walk quickly, in my case). They are thumbless, keeping all digits together and warm, and the top flips back when you need to use your hands. Because they flip open, you can also slide them down to your wrist once your hands warm up enough (handy for this weird cold/hot weather we’re having).

This article originally appeared on TrueTrae.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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5 best places to shop for smart devices


If you’ve never bought a smart home device — or if you just don’t know where to look — the search can get pretty frustrating. You don’t know which stores will give you the best deals, or if it’s better just to buy online.

On top of that, there are so many deals out there that comparing ten or so sites can be a chore that takes up an entire day. Who has that sort of time?

Here are five of the best places to get IoT or smart devices — start your search here and move broader once you’re more comfortable.




Amazon is one of the biggest e-commerce websites to date. Its inventory seems almost unlimited so it makes sense that this would be one of the best places to start your search. Also, not only does Amazon have a huge selection of wireless and connected devices, it makes its own — you can get an Amazon Echo, or one of its other Alexa-enabled devices, right on the website.

This site also has some of the best deals out there — cyber holidays like Deals Week, Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Prime Day will drop the prices of smart devices so low you’ll be in a hurry to catch them.




Beating out Circuit City and Radio Shack, Best Buy is now one of the main retailers for electronics and electronic accessories. On top of that, they have their deals and savings right on the front page of its website. And with an entire category just for smart home items, you know you’re getting the full selection.


Best Buy


Target is a bit like Amazon if it looked like if they were a retail store. The place has everything from clothes and food to electronics and beauty supplies. During the holiday season, they have loads of deals — free shipping and common place.

Some of Target’s main IoT categories includes drones, VR and smart home automation devices — but be sure to search for a deal, easy to do right from main search on the web site.




Would you rather shop online and have even better deals? Online superstore Smart Home only sells smart devices — this way, you can spend less time shifting through useless categories and get right to the specificities.





Walmart isn’t just for your late night Cheetos run anymore. The superstore now has a bunch of smart home and wearable devices. With “Rollbacks” happening right now, you’ll also definitely get a good deal on a holiday present.

If you’re an organization buying smart devices, you can also see if you’re available for the Walmart Tax Exemption Program — this way you won’t be charged extra for your products.

This list is, of course, not all-encompassing and different stores have better prices at different times of the year. If you see a deal at another retailer that you know can’t go any lower, chances are it won’t. So don’t test your luck — and don’t waste any good opportunities. And if you need any additional information, check out GearBrain’s guide to what you need to know before building a smart home.

This article originally appeared on GearBrain and was syndicated by Mediafeed.org.


Featured Image Credit: fizkes/iStock.


Trae Bodge

Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who specializes in smart shopping, personal finance, parenting, and retail. Trae has been named a Top Voice in Retail by LinkedIn and a top personal finance expert by GoBankingRates and Flexjobs. She is a contributor at Millie Magazine and CNN Underscored, and her writing and expert commentary have appeared in Newsweek, Woman's Day, Forbes, USNews.com, Kiplinger, Marketwatch, MSN.com, Yahoo Finance and numerous others. She has also appeared on TV hundreds of times; including Good Morning America's GMA3: What You Need to Know, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, Inside Edition, CNBC and local network affiliates nationwide.