Monday, June 24, 2013

New Product Alert!!

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Roach motels, flash drives, those wine bottle openers with the two side thingys. Flat irons, Arm & Hammer Baking Soda toothpaste and Yves St Laurent's Touch Eclat. Suitcases with four wheels...
What do these things all have in common? In their own small ways they've changed my life for the better.

When I had my first apartment in Brooklyn you couldn't pay me to get up in the middle of the night and walk into my kitchen. Heaven knows what I would have found. Enter Roach motels. OMG you could kill them without ever seeing them!
The toothpaste - my mother always bought Colgate..hated the, this new stuff tastes pretty good!
Every once in a while something comes along that isn't just more of the same. We're not talking about the telephone or computers (or fire!) But sometimes a new product REALLY makes things easier, more fun, mo' better!
Sometimes the feeling wears off (as I'm afraid it will with the Green Goodness drink I've been sucking down for the past month.) But then again...some things are here to stay for BB cream and Dannon's Lit and Fit Greek Yogurt.
What new products changed your lives??

RHYS BOWEN: The one that comes immediately to mind is the portable hair dryer. When I was a child hair washing meant walking around with wet hair for hours, which wasn't fun in the cold house I grew up in, OR sitting under my mother's hair dryer, which was a giant hood thing and took hours too.
I remember getting my first transistor radio when I was a kid. Magic. Portable magic. (I realize as I write that I am dating myself horribly. Next I'll be saying I remember the day they discarded corsets. Actually my very proper aunt sent me money for my fortieth birthday telling me to get myself fitted for a good corselet as after forty the figure starts to sag).

ROSEMARY: Rhys, they're back! Only they may be called merry widows or bustiers...your aunt was ahead of her time.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: SPANX. Best shapeware ever. I think it's Rhys' corselet for the 21st century. Hold everything in place, and it's relatively comfortable to boot. And - this isn't terribly new, but it's become widespread in the last twenty years - remote keyless entry for cars. Remember what it used to be like juggling a bag of groceries on one arm and a squirming kid in the other while you hunted for the right key on your chain? Or trying to jam the key into an ice-encrusted, frozen-over lock? Searching up one row and down another in a dark parking lot? Thos automatic key fobs are a great boon to womankind. 

LUCY BURDETTE: This isn't very creative, but all I can think of is how much I love my iphone. I love being able to take pictures and send them on the spot. And look at maps to see where I went wrong (although my phone has been acting weirdly on that score lately, turning the map sidewise, which is very confusing.) Keeping up with email and Facebook and Twitter while on the road (a mixed blessing though.)

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN : With ya, Ro, on touche eclat.  Hmm. Paying bills by internet. How about ATM's? And cabs that take credit cards? All good.   TIVO! And any DVR--and On Demand--it lets you watch any show on TV whenever you want.  The advent of time shifting has changed the world. GPS has obsoleted maps, (is that a word?), sadly, but whoa. Saved many a marriage, I bet. And gee, of course, what would I DO without my iphone. I will confess to a queasy feeling when it takes me a minute to find it--I think--oh, NO what if I don't have my PHONE? That is scary.

ROSEMARY: I would be very happy without my iPhone - but the GPS?? Game changer!!
So what new products have changed your lives? One thing that's changed the lives of a lot of writers is the ability to self-publish. Check back tomorrow as self-publishing guru Vincent O'Neill visits and gives us the lowdown on formatting your book before you self-pub!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: All those things! (Although I have to disagree with Julia on the Spanx. I think they're torture. But then, I haven't worn a corset...) And I'm with Rhys on the blow dryer, but my two cents, and I'm totally with Ro, is the FLAT IRON. From someone with hair that is too wavy to be straight, and not wavy enough to be curly, the flat iron is a godsend. Be glad that I'm not posting a pic of me without the use of my Chi. 

HALLIE EPHRON: Magic Eraser! I'm so not a neatnik, but when houseguests are coming and all the scrapes and smudges on my walls and floors seem like beacons of doom, it very nearly is magic. My immersion blender! No more having to dump hot soup into a blender where it invariably explodes scalding hot soup all over the room in order to make a potage.  What's Touche Eclat?


  1. My coffee maker that I can set to come on automatically so there’s hot coffee when I stagger out of bed --- it’s one of the greatest inventions of all time! I’m with Julia on the keyless remote for the car and with Hank on the GPS [not that I like to drive, but that’s another story] . . . . I’d never miss the phone, but I’d be really hard-pressed to do without my computer/tablet/eReader . . . .

  2. Please Rosemary, what is BB cream? It sounds like something to smooth out your rifle. We still use maps, but the one cup coffeemaker has been a boon - to each his own type of coffee. Computers we don't seem to be able to live without either. Dee

  3. Oh, transistor radios! My first one was translucent green plastic and I was in Heaven!! Today all my music, the majority of it rock 'n' roll, is on my iPhone and I can listen to it in my car via an iTrip (I drive a 2004 Forrester that doesn't have the snazzy iPhone connection.). And if I use my Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones, they fit nicely over my hearing aids, another life changing product. Yes, I donated my hearing to rock 'n' roll and don't regret one single moment of it!!

    And speaking of ears and hearing, ear plugs have changed my world. They're a must for plane travel. I swap out my hearing aids for these, and loud passengers of any age as well as jet engine noise become a tolerable hum. They also discourage chatty seat mates, which is much simpler than explaining that I cannot hear well enough to carry on a conversation in the atmosphere of a plane.

    My iPhone is a definite life-changer. Besides the aforementioned music, my husband and I share our calendars; I'd literally be lost without the maps app, since I have a TBI and resultant inability to remember directions; also due to the TBI the calculator and Tipulator app are indispensable; I follow my beloved San Francisco sports teams, the Giants and 49ers (if I'm not at a Niner game, that is); I can read my mail, check in on Facebook, follow blogs and so much more.

    Here's my full disclosure: My husband has worked for Apple for over 33 years, so I'm biased. Extremely so. But I freakin' LOVE my iPhone, and I'm not being compensated in any way for saying any of this. We watched the Keynote speech at the WWDC (World Wide Developer's Conference), which was held in San Francisco June 10 - 14, and iOS 7 will be released sometime this autumn. My husband's the engineer, not me, but I did understand some of the upcoming changes and improvements and I'm looking forward to them. Apple usually reserves the bigger, sexier announcements for the release of their new iPhones, iPads, etc., so more should be revealed with the rollout of the iPhone 6.

    Now for a few other products that've changed my life for the better. I adore my Krups coffee grinder, which I got for around $20 almost 30 years ago. We've used that sucker almost daily and it's still going strong. I've been flirting with a burr grinder, but feel guilty and think this is best left as a fantasy.

    Several years ago I splurged and bought myself a Bialetti Easy Caffe. It's a portable espresso maker, and as I travel quite a bit (mostly within California to weekend retreats and the occasional conference) this machine is a godsend. It works nicely at home, too.

    Sun block!! Growing up at the beach in the 50s and 60s before such things were thought of, my skin sustained damage that translated into skin cancers. That damage can't be reversed, but I've found some excellent products to prevent further damage to my delicate Irish barroom tan.

    Sigg water bottles. I love water, and drink at least a couple of liters of it daily. Here in the Santa Cruz Mountains in Northern California our community has its own water company and our water quality is excellent. The story of the bottled water industry is beyond horrifying, and besides, it just seems ridiculous to spend money on something like that. I've carried Siggs with me for years and love the convenience, savings, colors and thirst quenchiness.

  4. I spent the weekend at an old house (built in 1739) that was not really...clean. Hence my favorite product is Deep Woods Off. I practically bathed myself in it.

    I remember going to the drive-in as a kid and my mother would light these little circular bug killers. In the car, on a sheet of aluminum foil, which a carload of rowdy kids. I can't remember what it's called but spray bug repellant is so much better.

  5. No question--the microwave oven. You couldn't pay me to use GPS. Give me a paper map with clear choices showing. I do not want to go through the middle of a city at rush hour, thank you very much, even if the mileage IS less. I could (and do) do without a cell phone but I have become addicted to my iPad.


  6. Kathy - I'm a belt and suspenders kind of gal. Love my GPS but there'd better be a map in the car, too. Not just because I'm worried that the gizmo will lose the satellite connection (it has) - but I like to look at place that weird?

    Hallie - Don't know what Magic Eraser is but I have a feeling that YSL Touch Eclat is Magic Eraser for your face! TE is a concealer but so light and natural that just looks as if you've had more sleep than you actually had!

    So what's Magic Eraser?

  7. Omigod, Ramona. Mosquito coils IN THE CAR. With children. Anyone have a doll arm growing out of their forehead, a la Rachel Dratch in the SNL skit?

    All of the above, plus brewed decaf, and those amazing Starbuck Via packs. I can have delicious coffee in two minutes in my favorite kitchen appliance, the microwave. Of which I bought the first one in 1975 and never looked back.

    The iPod replaced three big racks of music cassettes and CDs; now there is one in my car, and one in the house, permanently installed in the Bose speaker system that takes up no room but provides clear sound. And I have playlists for different reasons: rocking around the house cleaning or cooking for a party; dinner party music; show tunes; Halloween playlists (two, because one for the mood, and then one to kick the party into a higher gear); Christmas music.

    The Nook, yes, which is relieving the stress on my pre-arthritic hands, helping me stay connected without lugging around a big computer, and keeping many, many books off my already bulging shelves. And I've tried loads of new authors via B&N's Free Friday picks.

    I am never without lipstick, so I have tried all the various lip-paints. Revlon had one that I liked, and they discontinued it, and then I tried one from Cover Girl, but they changed the formula. Now I use Revlon's Colorstay Ultimate Suede lipstick. Great colors, shea butter so it feels good on your lips, is just like any other lipstick with just one part, and it stays on all day long. Please buy some so they don't discontinue this amazing product!

  8. The Dustbuster, 15.6 volts model. I couldn't live without it. It sucks up flies, bees, wasps, hornets, and even small snakes. I could not live next to the woods, with creatures that like coming inside my home, without it. I can catch creatures in flight. No need to wait for them to land. And no more hitting them with a magazine, praying the bug is dead, and not just stunned and angry with me. Yes, I love my Dustbuster (I have three, one downstairs, one in the kitchen, one in my bedroom). Long may it suck.

  9. Magic Eraser is put out by Mr. Clean, and is an incredible product. You wet it a little and it will scrub out any oops. My grandson (age 8) just cleaned old Sharpie marker off a melanine desk last weekend.

    Back story on Magic Eraser: My son-in-law is a corporate attorney who works for BASF, which makes all kinds of foams, among other things. They make the stuff Magic Erasers are made of. I have no idea how they figured out it had magical cleaning properties.

  10. Can't believe with a blog full of wonderful writers NOBODY mentioned the computer you're all writing on. Maybe you ladies are too young, but I wrote my first ten novels on a typewriter, then pencil-edited, and retyped another draft. Each 300-page draft was a year or two of writing in the morning before work.

    Now I can write, edit, rewrite, move whole paragraphs or chapters, spell check, grammar check, change words (including every same word in the manuscript) shift anything anywhere. I can do three or four drafts in one year, hit a button and send it to the agent.

    I still write everyday in the morning, and I still haven't got a NYC publisher to bite yet, but my work is easier and the computer writing program gives me a better chance to fulfill my dream.

  11. Kathy/Kaitlyn was reading my mind this morning. The microwave gets used a LOT in this house. The microwave and the crockpot. I have an overly strong attachment to both.

    I'm still a fan of paper maps, and I don't have an iPhone. We have a 16 year old flip phone that stays in the car for emergencies, but I too am addicted to my iPad and would cry huge tears if something should ever happen to it.

    And, like Hallie, rely heavily on Magic Erasers for cleaning. Mr. Clean just rocks.

    I have always used Lancôme concealer, but I'm going to have to check out Touche Éclat, for sure!

    Spanx. ugh. Those that I tried (once) squeezed my tummy and butt harder than I care to be squeezed and I ended up with the worst case of Muffin Top I've ever seen.

  12. Indoor plumbing-- including faucets in the sink. I know it was a big improvement when my great-grandmother had Mr. Scribner bring the hand pump inside and install it in the sink. Faucets, even if you still have to heat water on the stove, are much better than a hand pump. The bathtub wasn't worth the trouble, because we still had to heat the water on the stove and carry it bucket by bucket. It was a lot easier draining though, because my mother cut a hole in the floor and set the drain pipe into it. Then all she had to do was pull the plug, and the water would run down the hill. All in all, I was happier in Salem and Marblehead where everyone had real toilets and tubs and running hot water.

    My other favorites are insulation and heat that blows out of the wall somehow. I won't count air conditioning, because if they'd never invented it, we'd still be in Massachusetts.

  13. Magic erasers. Never heard of 'em! Off to check it out..

    Lynda, sun block! Brilliant.

    COolorstay ultimate suede? (LOVE that name!) Off to try..that too..maybe they sell Magic readers in the same place. IN fact were do you get them, grocery store?

  14. Hank, yes, the grocery store for both. The lipstick has a mostly matte finish; I think you'd like it.

  15. Yes, let's hear it for INDOOR PLUMBING! Reine, you are priceless!

  16. I agree with a few of these and will try a couple of new-to -me ones: Touch Eclat and the Revlon lipstick.
    For me hot running water was the greatest when (long ago) I first experienced it and I still appreciate it. As Reine knows heating water on the stove and hauling it to the bathtub is a challenge.
    Now I am thoroughly modern and have a single cup coffee brewer (Sanfransisco brand K cups are 36 cents a cup) and a Kindle Fire packed with about 2,000 books. Use the microwave oven daily. I must say that I love my real books the best over digital books.
    My favorite invention is whatever allows me to play online (or on-Kindle) word games! Scrabble, Words With Friends, Scramble, etc. Also the Bookworm Deluxe game for computer and Nintendo DS.

  17. Everything everyone said, but most of all, I'm with Reine on indoor plumbing. I remember living on my aunt's Oklahoma farm and having to get up several times in the night to take little brothers or sister to the outhouse. Grim! And we won't talk about the hot days of summer.

    When all these folks start talking about "the good old days," I remind them of outhouses that wasps and hornets loved.

    Karen, going to try the Revlon lipstick. Hank, if I'm ever on TV again, I'll try to find Touch Eclat. Barb, I never thought of using the Dustbuster to take care of wasps and flies. Brilliant!

  18. Yes, Spanx and emmersion blenders! And, I love my crock pot. Adore it. And my rice cooker.

    Also, good old debit cards. Online flight check-in!

    Email! Mailing manuscript pages to my writing groups back in the dark ages was such a pain.

  19. Great list. Let me add: Post-It Notes.

    I've never gotten so lost as when using GPS!

    Tried Spanx once and I'd rather let it sag, thank you.

  20. After that last post...I suppose I should add SPELLCHECK!

  21. Sorry, but I would never sigh with ecstacy about a dust buster or a magic eraser. An invisible cleaning lady--well, I'm waiting for her.

    Nobody has mentioned computers and yet they obviousy changed all our lives. There is no way I could write two books a year without one. Or that we could communicate with people all over the world.

  22. Not a coffee drinker, nor much of a cleaning person, and don't wear makeup, and would never consider SPANX (ugh, the memories of girdles).

    My day would not be complete without my laptop and my electric tea kettle.
    I know the tea kettle is not "new" but I only got one a few years ago. Since I did, I have given one to every person I know!

  23. Just because "we never used to do it that way" does not mean that the old way was better!

    I love my Kindle, which allows me to hold books painlessly. Since getting it, I have purchased the electronic version of quite a few non-fiction books that I would not otherwise have purchased because they were way too thick for me to hold. And with the Kindle I "try out" authors of fiction who are new to me. If I really like someone I may purchase the print version of future books by that author, as long as there is no danger of me suffering an injury requiring medical attention (believe me, it has happened!) from trying to hold the book open or from trying not to drop an overly heavy book.

    I love my Dustbuster. I love battery operated items like flashlights and transistor radios. SO helpful in a power outage. Magic Eraser...I like (NOT love!) it. I must be too hard on them because I never get a second use out of one.

    I love computers! It takes me two minutes to run a report that would otherwise take half a day.

    I adore my Black and Decker Hot Shot, which can heat up to two cups of water for tea, hot chocolate, coffee, etc. Instead of using my electric coffee pot for just one cup of coffee, I heat the water in the Hot Shot, and then pour it through a Melitta style coffee cone and filter. Quick,and I do not need that disgusting instant stuff. Black and Decker stopped making them for a while but it is available again in a slightly different style. I've used it at a sibling's house.

    Most people I know who have GPS have a love/hate relationship with it. I have been a passenger with several different people whose systems gave them totally incorrect information. When all the manufacturers have worked out all the problems maybe I'll consider getting one.

    Antibiotics, modern surgical techniques, MRIs...YES! More children live to adulthood, more adults do not die prematurely, and all because of modern medicine.

  24. I use my Nook as a third computer. It's lightweight, fast, and connects to the Internet instantly. The only negative is if you need to type; those virtual keyboards are so annoying for a touch typist.

  25. Congratulations to Hank: “The Other Woman” nominated for the Shamus Award for Best Hardcover P. I. Novel . . . .

    Even though I love my Nook, I have to agree about how annoying the virtual keyboard can be . . . but I have almost as much aggravation trying to type a text on my phone, so . . . . [I remember the days of needing a tape player attached to the computer, long before laptops came on the scene and, like Jack, can recall using both manual and electric typewriters . . . After reading several comments here, I had to go back and check to see if I forgot to list my computer when I posted my thoughts earlier . . . relieved to see I didn’t . . . I’d be so lost without my computer . . . .]

  26. Lisa Alber reminds me of the days when we had to PRINT and MAIL our manuscripts in. And the postcards I used to have to print labels for and send with news about every new book.

    I also nominate sea salt and caramel, which I'm sure existed but which I only became aware of a few years ago.

  27. Progressive lenses for eyeglass wearers; no more bi- or tri-focal lines to irritate my eyes!

    Karen's post reminded me that I use my Kindle for getting on line, non-work email, AND reading books.

    And how could I have forgotten seatbelts, or child safety seats for the little ones?

  28. Here are a few no one else has mentioned: I started wearing contact lenses when your choices were hard (and boy, were they) or soft (which cost over $300 a pair in 1970-something dollars). Now there are disposables, gas permeables, toric, etc. All pretty affordable; plus glasses made of lightweight, durable plastic; plus lasik for many.

    Clothing used to be made of cotton (difficult to keep looking good) or polyester. (difficult to look good in; and didn't breathe) Now we have all kinds of airy microfibers that breathe and move and wash up like a dream.

    Finally, on the GPS versus paper maps question: I prefer paper maps, usually printing out directions from Google Maps before I venture very far, but I love having the GPS option available on my phone as a backup. I just got out of a sticky wicket that way last week!

  29. Well yes to the computer. I am certainly old enough to remember when cut -and -paste meant , you know -scissors and Elmers. Plus I am a terrible typist so spellcheck is a blessing.

    No one has mentioned food processor. I remember childhood grating potatoes on a nasty box grater and shredding some of my knuckles along the way.Never doing that again.

    Finally, GPS discussion. Myself, I don't like using it and still prefer maps, but my husband loves it and it has spared those many loud (to say the least!)discussions on vacations, when what we see does not match either map or directions. I don't miss those at all.

  30. Karen
    You've sold me on the Revlon Ultimate Suede Lipstick, although I also like those marker sticks they make - I use them as a lip liner. They work great.

    BB Cream - I've seen it advertised .. what is so good abot it Ro?

    And will definitely try Touche Eclat, going to google...

  31. BB Cream - Dr. Jart's. Get it on Amazon or at Sephora. Who knows?? It just smooths everything out and seems to make freckles (sunspots..)disappear. And it's very sheer so you don't feel like you're wearing makeup. Plus it has sunscreen - so you can feel as if you're doing something good for your skin instead of just being vain.

    Thumbs up for disposable contacts!

  32. On the GPS -- which I love... but:

    Two years ago, a mother and son were on a camping trip in Death Valley. The woman's GPS led her to an abandoned mining road. She could not find her way out. She was rescued barely alive five days later, but her little boy died.

    Last July a woman named Donna Cooper was on a family road trip through Death Valley. They became lost when her GPS told her to drive 550 feet, then turn right. She said the road was like a little path where there was nothing but desert. The GPS kept repeating the same instructions that kept them in an infinite loop for hours. Finally the search and rescue helicopter found the Coopers after they'd been lost in the July heat for three days in Death Valley (usually about 120°F as I recall from my patrol officer days at nearby China Lake). Everyone survived. Amazing.

    We use our GPS but with great caution. It usually works very well. We never use the shortest route option in wilderness areas.

  33. Definitely e-books. There used to actually be times before when I would RUN OUT OF BOOKS and have to wait for a store to open to get another... it was AWFUL. Now, 24/7, I can always get another book. Plus the e-reader is so light it is ALWAYS with me. Me without a book is like a smoker without cigarettes... no fun at best and homicidal at worst. So me with an e-reader is basically a public service!

    The internet! Stalking people used to take forever! And you had to keep buying encyclopedias! And you could only buy stuff from stores you could physically walk into! It was horrible, I tell you.

    Also a shout-out to weather radar, especially after a day like today.

  34. LOVE a good corset!! NO thanks to the here on my iPhone if I had to choose between my iPhone and my DH--DIVORCE!!