5 Shortcut Items That Will Make Your New Year So Much Easier
Start the year off with these sanity savers.
Photo: Courtesy of Skura Style
1. Kitchen Sponges That Replace Themselves
You've no doubt heard that these scrubbers can be a breeding ground for bacteria—and a study by NSF International, a nonprofit organization that develops public-health standards, confirms that it's not only possible but likely that the sponge near your sink contains unwanted contaminants. You can microwave sponges to kill most viruses, parasites and spores, but eventually you'll need to replace them. Skura Style is a new kitchen sponge with patented foam technology that Keeps foods like egg and cheese from getting stuck in them and an antimicrobial coating—but the best part is: You can sign up for subscription-based deliveries, so a new box of sponges automatically shows up at your door every month.
Photo: Courtesy of Omiebox
2. A One-and-Done Box for the Perfect Lunch
Whether for you or for your kids, Japanese bento boxes are the key to making enticing portable lunches. They're compact and organized, but have one downside: most don't keep food particularly hot or cold; if you want, say, a hot soup, you need to use a thermos, and then you need to pack cold items separately. Enter Omiebox, an insulated hot/cold lunch box with separate temperature zones, so you can prepare a lunch of lentil soup and kale salad—and both will stay at the temp you intended until lunchtime.
3. An App That Tells You Exactly What to Put in Your Suitcase
If you love travel but hate packing, there's an app (actually, a handful of them) for that. One that works across platforms is PackPoint. Enter information such as where you're going, how long you'll be there and what you plan to do (hike, go out for a fancy dinner, etc.); it then builds a customized list of what to pack, including everything from clothing to electronics to toiletries.
Photo: Courtesy of Echoview
4. Fabric Softeners You Don't Need to Keep Buying
Dryer balls are an eco-conscious laundry doer's secret weapon: You can use them for more than 1,000 loads, and they work just as well as disposable dryer sheets, giving you fluffy, static-free clothes, towels and sheets. And while you can use tennis balls or balls made from plastic, wool dryer balls have something else going for them: They're absorbent, so using them shortens the drying process. These new ones from Echoview are handmade from American wool, and you can either use them just as they are or add a few drops of essential oil—relaxing lavender is great for sheets; orange or grapefruit can invigorate workout clothes—before tossing the balls in.
Photo: Courtesy of Ember
5. A Mug That Keeps Your Tea However Hot You Like It
Temperature greatly affects taste, and even a few degrees can make a big difference between the perfect cup of coffee, tea, cocoa or bone broth—and a mediocre one. If it feels like you're always sipping your drink just a few minutes too late, you may want to consider getting an Ember mug. It's a modern ceramic mug that keeps your beverage the perfect temperature from the first to the last sip. Using the Ember app, you set your ideal temp (it's probably around 135), and then via Bluetooth, the mug maintains it—so, even if it takes you an hour to finish that coffee, it'll still be as hot at the end as it was when you started drinking it.