Editor’s Note: We are scrambling to list and test and review everything for our 2023 Pasadena Now Holiday Gift Guide. From now through the Big Day, we’ll be listing a host of really cool items for your gifting pleasure.
Don’t worry. Amazon ships everywhere like, right now, and so do others. But get on it, just to be on the safe side
We’re beginning with the biggest item in our collection today, and we’ll post new stuff every couple of days. Happy Everything!
Let it Float
When summer (or spring) comes, you’ll thank us. You know the dilemma: where to safely prop your drink so it’s nearby and available when you’re in the pool or hot tub?
Cue the Benzeni. It’s an adjustable, highly-stable, flotation device for use with beverages, water plants, games, candles & flower arrangements, whatever you need to float.
Seem silly? Wait till you wrap your drink cup in one of these stretchable life-preserver-donut-wrap things. Your drink will calmly sit in the pool floating along with you, and it will even survive the turbulence of your hot tub. (Your ice will probably melt quickly there, but that’s on you.)
Your drink won’t sit safely? Float it. www.thebenzini.com.
And How About a Cleaner Cat Box?
Leo’s Loo Too is basically a state-of-the-art cat box. It works with Google and Alexa voice controls (for you, not the cat), a mobile smart home-connected app, triple-layer safety protection, a programmable UV light, and it’s a big step forward for cat families looking for a better alternative to traditional litter boxes.
Leo’s Loo Too utilizes UV rays to kill bacteria. After Mr. Whiskers is done with his business, the machine projects UV rays into the waste drawer to thoroughly sterilize the whole affair. The UV rays are up to 99.9% effective at eliminating bacteria, parasites and viruses.
Then the automatic sifter goes to work, automatically cleaning and disposing of everything into a collection bin, providing a neat and clean environment for the next meow.
You know those things you don’t know you need until you see them? Well,…
Leo’s Loo Too is available right here right now.
It’s a Clean Machine
Think what you will, but the second dirtiest thing in your home is your cell phone. (The dirtiest? Your cash, of course. )
Someone you know needs the PhoneSoap 3 UVC Phone Sanitizer & Charger device. It’s the only one that can provide 360° disinfection to your entire phone, say the makers. PhoneSoap 3 kills 99.9% of the bacteria and viruses that glom onto your phone. And with USB and USBC charging ports, it also acts as a universal charger.
And no, alcohol is not the best cleaner. You need the UV rays, man.
Alcohol can damage the oil-repelling oleophobic coating on your phone and lacks the ability to kill hydrophilic viruses.We use ours every night. We just drop into the box for a very quick, very clean and very charged session.
We can’t launder your cash, though. Thanks for asking.
Throwing Shade in a Good Way
Full disclosure: we have some favorite products and companies that we’ve come to love over the years of doing this Holiday Gift Guide. One of them is Warby Parker.
The company, which has a store in Old Pasadena, designs and produces a wide range of very cool glasses and sunglasses that we love both wearing and sharing.
This year’s holiday selection is the Durand model, their version of a classic design. It’s just one of oodles of their designs for both men and women.
These glasses feature impact-resistant Polycarbonate lenses with a scratch-resistant lens coating. And Warby Parker says their lenses block 100% of UV rays, so there’s that. Plus, there’s free scratched lens replacement guaranteed for prescription lenses within six months of purchase.
If you’re going to order them right this second for the perfect Christmas Week gift, Warby Parker also features free shipping on all their orders. And they also offer free returns or exchanges within 30 days of purchase (Hang on those receipts, boys and girls, just in case.)
Cool designs, good customer service. The rest is up to you.
Good Things in a Box
Everyone loves a surprise, especially when they know it’s going to be a good one. And for us, if it’s filled with gadgetry and gizmotics, all the better.
Enter Gadget Discovery Club. As co-founder “Zak” explained, “After constantly running out of phone battery and building up a collection of power banks that never had charge when I needed them, I realized I needed a better solution.
A techie friend Mark, recommended a solar power bank which charged itself using sunlight, which I had absolutely no idea existed. This innovative gadget changed my life.”
Thus was born Gadget Discovery Club, a tech and gadget subscription service which seeks out and delivers new gadgets in wearables, Internet of Things things, and some smart home swag.
Our first box brought us a Momo Stick, an all-in-one smartphone grip and wallet for deft one-handed maneuvering of your iPhone; a Rise MiniBoom2 bluetooth speaker for when you’re traveling around the world or around the pool; and a Native HQ Wireless Charger because dont you always need one.
Cool gadgetry in your mail every month. And there’s a trial box, in case the only deep end you want to jump into is the pool in your backyard, listening to your Rise MiniBoom 2 bluetooth speaker. See what we did there?
You Can See Clearly Now
Perhaps after a world culture-shifting pandemic which completely re-thought the idea of going to meetings of any kind, or even going to the office at all, your webcam meetings still show just your colleague’s forehead, or casts their visage in a gloomy monochromatic yellow fluorescent jaundice mode.
And maybe you’ve had enough.
Be a smart Secret Santa this year. Check out the Brio 305 Full HD 1080p webcam. It’s practical and affordable, and allows you and everyone to see everyone else in the very best light.
And lighting, folks, is really what it’s all about.
Brio 305 is a simple-to-use 1080p webcam built from one of the world’s leading webcam makers. It’s certified for all the basic meeting platforms (Zoom, blah blah,blah), and you can deploy Brio 305 with confidence to all the workstations and all the work at home peeps.
It’s also made with a minimum of 48% recycled plastic, so you don’t need to worry as much about adding to the mountain range of plastics filling up landfills and oceans all over the world.
The 1080p resolution means you see everything clearly, and the Logitech RightLight 2 auto light correction compensates for poor lighting conditions to create a much less ghoulish look for you or your work mates.
The Mono noise-reducing microphone captures voices clearly by suppressing background noises, like dogs and neighbors. It can’t suppress your groans when your former cubicle mate wants to review the expenditures for the second quarter of 2021 for the 17th time this year, however, but he’ll at least look and sound better doing it.
And so will you.
The Logitech Brio 305 Full HD 1080. Available at www.logitech.com.
Getting Away for the Holidays
The Beach or the Mountains for the holidays? It’s quite the dilemma and we might have two solutions, depending on your preferences. We recently stayed in one of each, and both were magnificent in their own ways.
So let’s begin with Santa Barbara, that way-too-popular-90-minutes-from-here getaway that may be the first place you think of when you think “weekend getaway.”
And that’s not a bad thing.
We discovered the Riviera Beach House Hotel there on our latest jaunt north just a few weeks ago, and we are ready to return right now.
Not more than a ¼ mile walk from Stearns Wharf at the ocean end of State Street, this charming boutique hotel was cozy, chic and casual all at once. Our afternoon and evening there felt like so much longer, and we immediately felt at home.
The rooms are what they call “stylish micro-sized,” small but very comfortable, and you’ll make sure you’re traveling with someone close and special since the space is limited. Let’s leave that right there.
Let’s also assume you’re traveling with someone special because the immediate neighborhood offers much to peruse and enjoy from restaurants, to museums to the Wharf, of course, where we had some of the best ice cream, in, like, ever, and strolled for a couple of hours, as we waited for a spectacular sunset which arrived right on cue.
There is also the next door Santo Mezcal Mexican Restaurant, which offers traditional Mexican cuisine, as well as room service dining, cocktails and a daily happy hour. A free coffee bar is also percolating all day and evening long with a small assortment of accouterments, as well.
We slept like children in the hotel’s blissfully comfortable beds, after finding a perfect State Street taqueria and just strolling the streets and the late night wharf, just because we could.
This is a gift you’re going to want to give yourself and someone special. Don’t put it under the tree.
The Riviera Beach House Hotel. 121 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. (805) 966-6586. www.rivierabeachhouse.com.
Transform Your Holiday
The Transformer Table 4.0 is a functional piece of furniture magic.
This may literally be the biggest hit in your house on Christmas Day.
Every year we find something extra cool for the gift-giving season, and this year it’s the Transformer Table 4.0, a small wooden console that, with extensions, emerges to become a full-size, ten-foot long dining table.
Imagine sitting around with relatives and family on Christmas Eve dinner with a folding table and a nearby couch. Then imagine the next night, gathering everyone around a full-size sturdy wooden table that can accommodate up to 12 people for Christmas Day dinner.
The Transformer Table 4.0 actually converted our cozy office into a major league conference room, with just some of the five included extension panels. But even cooler than that, both the Transformer Table™ and its Transformer Bench™ arrive fully pre-assembled and can be used right out of the box. When ours arrived, we found that it only took minutes to set up.
The solid wood comes in a variety of finishes, and is heavily lacquered to prevent scratches, marks or stains.
And if your Christmas dinner is really overwhelming, the Transformer Bench will support about 1500 pounds, should anyone suddenly grow during the meal.
The Transformer Table, while beautiful and functional, is also legacy furniture. Its solid wood construction and machinery means that your grandchildren could be hosting their grandchildren at this table someday, beginning with the smallest configuration and adding an extension every few years. You get the picture.
Transformer Table also ships worldwide to more than 35 countries. It’s available at TransformerTable.com. They’ll ship in time for the Big Day, but you better get on it. www.transformertable.com.
Making a Case for It
Okay, you’ve had your iPad since forever, it seems, and even though you remember vividly when you got it, you’re kinda still hoping to get a new one for Christmas.
And when you get it, you’re going to need a case for it. Having owned iPads since they were first invented by Benjamin Franklin in the 1920s (That’s a joke. Don’t write to us.), we spend a lot of time searching and researching for the best case to hold that previous device.
We need one that will protect it, and one that will hold our stylus, or in this case, our Logitech Crayon. We also need one with a responsive keyboard that feels like a Macbook keyboard.
The Logitech Folio Touch handles that job well, even though our iPad is on the older side. (Got a newer one? You want the Combo Touch.) The keyboard has 16 levels of adjustable backlighting, along with a full row of iPadOS® shortcut keys.
The case fits snugly, and the keys are quick and smooth to the touch. The track pad is also very responsive, and the lighted keyboard is a huge help. If you opt for the Combo Touch, it works just as well, except that the keyboard is actually detachable by magnets, which is helpful.
And once the case is closed, the keyboard and screen are both fully protected.
And don’t worry about the hassle of pairing your case with your device. The Logitech cases instantly pairs with your iPad once you fit it into the case. This essentially covers all the bases for a quality iPad case, at an affordable price. Let Santa know.
Logitech Folio Touch. Logitech Crayon. Available at Logitech.com
Hear All About It
The other eternal search that we seem to be all on, is the one for the perfect earbuds. Again the parameters are clear—they need to fit well, sound good, and fit well, and sound good, and be easy to operate. They should also fit well.
Panasonic’s Technics EAH-AZ80E-S Bluetooth Earbuds fall right into place. With a slant design that allows a snug fit with just a turn of the earbuds, the buds offer clear noise-canceling sound, in plenty of environments.
Packed in a safe and stylish brushed aluminum carrying charging case, the Technics EAH-AZ80E-S Bluetooth Earbuds would look perfect under that tree over there at your place.
The EAH-AZ80 (SRP: $299.99) is available in silver and black color options on Technics.com.