Holiday Gift Guide 2010: Stocking Stuffers From CSN.com

Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Stocking Stuffers

As a CSN Preferred Blogger, I often collaborate with CSNStores.com on review and giveaway features. I was recently sent a $75 gift certificate to pick out a few items for review, and since I’ve found that I can really stretch my dollars at CSN, I ended up buying shoes for our engagement photos (more on that later!) and still had some cash left over. I decided to use the remainder of my gift card to pick up a few fun stocking stuffers:

Solo Cups Bistro Design Hot Drink Cups

Solo Cups Bistro Design Hot Drink Cups, Paper, 8 oz., Maroon, 50/Pack – $5.46

One of the things I bought was a 50-pack of paper cups for Jai – he loves using disposable cups since it means less dishes to wash, so he will be glad to find these tucked in his stocking!

Jai's stocking

Ray-O-Vac Rechargeable AAA Batteries

Ray-O-Vac Rechargeable AAA Batteries – $12.23

These rechargeable batteries were a “Stocking stuffer” for me! I seem to use AAA batteries in everything, so I’ve been needing to pick up another package of them. There’s been times in the past when I had to raid the AAA batteries from my cordless phone to stick in my wireless keyboard – now that I have lots of spare AAA batteries, I won’t have to choose between answering the phone and answering my email when the batteries run low. :D

Tell me, readers: What are you stuffing in stockings this year?

Holiday Gift Guide 2010: Skin MD Natural Original Formula Review

Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Stocking Stuffers

Skin MD was a gift pick in our 2009 Holiday Gift Guide, and it’s back again this year! For the 2010 holiday season, Skin MD sent me a bottle of their original formula to try out and compare with the SPF version I tried last year.

Skin MD Natural Original Formula

Skin MD Natural Original Formula – $18.00

Skin MD Natural Original Formula has a different consistency from the Skin MD Natural + SPF 15, which I actually prefer, although I love the fact that the other lotion had SPF. Like the first formulation I tried, Skin MD absorbs quickly into the skin. My particular brand of dry skin requires a lotion that leaves a heavier layer on top of the skin, so while I’ve used this lotion a lot, I generally like to add another lotion on top of it once it dries so that I have that protective top coating which my thirsty skin seems to crave. I was slathering this stuff all over my hands before our engagement photos to get my hands picture-ready to show off the ring! :D

Skin MD is the perfect size to tuck into mom’s stocking this Christmas! Skin MD Natural Original Lotion is available at drugstores nationwide for $18 – click here to locate a retailer near you. You can also keep up with Skin MD on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Holiday Gift Guide 2010: 7 Port USB 2.0 Powered Hub Review

Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Nerdy or Novice: Christmas Edition!

Stocking Stuffers

Welcome to a special holiday edition of Nerdy or Novice?, our technology column! Here, you will not only read about the latest tech toys, you’ll also get a well-rounded perspective thanks to my co-columnist (and fiancé!), Jai! A seriously tech-savvy guy, Jai owns a computer repair business, and will dissect the technical prowess of these gadgets and games. Meanwhile, I will be providing the layman’s perspective on the user-friendly qualities of this geek gear.

Today’s gift pick is a 7 Port USB 2.0 Powered Hub with 3.5 Amp Power Supply by Newer Technology!

7 Port USB 2.0 Powered Hub with 3.5 Amp Power Supply

7 Port USB 2.0 Powered Hub with 3.5 Amp Power Supply – $27.95

Jai has been testing this unit out, and here’s what he has to say:

“This USB Hub was as good as I could have hoped. The hub basically splits one USB port into 7 – and this can be tricky sometimes with today’s high-powered devices, especially with external hard drives that are powered through the USB port. I didn’t run into any trouble with this unit from Newer Technology.

I have a fancy mouse which has the entire numeric keypad on the thumb position – 17 buttons total! – so I tried using the mouse with the USB Hub for my first test.

The computer recognized the USB Hub within 10 seconds without any intervention from me, and my mouse worked right away when I plugged it in; I didn’t have to reconfigure any of the buttons.

Then, for the heavier power test, I simultaneously plugged in two laptop drives in external USB enclosures – they fired up and ran just fine. These external drives were also powered by the USB hub.

Additionally, I transferred 17 gigs worth of information through the hub, and although I didn’t do any time tests, the transfer rates seemed equal to when I have it plugged in directly to the PC’s USB ports.

Just for good measure I attached a motorized webcam and USB game controller and tried them out. Everything worked together seamlessly on the first try.

One final test I did was to see if the Hub was dependant upon the power adapter or if it could be used for low powered devices running straight from the USB port. This would be handy if you wanted to use it with your laptop and you don’t have an outlet handy. I wouldn’t recommend anyone trying this at home, but here’s what I did…

With my webcam, game controller and mouse plugged into the Hub and working, I yanked the Hub’s power cord out of the wall. Sure enough, they all kept working without interruption.”

Our final verdict:

Jai says: “A simple device that works exactly as advertised.”

Beeb says: “This would be a great stocking stuffer for any techie on your holiday list!”

Our rating: 5 out of 5 Santa hats! Santa hatSanta hatSanta hatSanta hatSanta hat

Jai & Beeb

7 Port USB 2.0 Powered Hub with 3.5 Amp Power Supply is available for $27.95 on Newer Technology’s website.

Holiday Gift Guide 2010: Gentle Rose Liplicious Gloss Review

Holiday Gift Guide 2010
Gifts For Tweens & Teens

Stocking Stuffers

Leslie Tyler Cosmetics

Teens can be a tough group to shop for. You want a gift that’s fun, but not too “Childish”. For many teenage girls, makeup is the perfect stocking stuffer – a cute lip gloss makes for a sophisticated, yet age-appropriate gift for budding fashionistas. So today’s gift guide pick for teens is Gentle Rose Liplicious Gloss by Leslie Tyler Cosmetics!

Gentle Rose Liplicious Gloss

Gentle Rose Liplicious Gloss – $12.00

This is the second lip gloss that Leslie Tyler Cosmetics has sent for me to try – I previously reviewed their Mint Kiss Lip Gloss back in August. Gentle Rose is a darker color, but looks natural and subtle on your lips. This lip gloss wears well and is smooth and shiny – a perfect seasonal choice because of its deeper tones. The color is versatile and will go with many different looks, which is why I think this would make a perfect gift for the fashion-forward teen on your list!

Here I am wearing Gentle Rose Liplicious Gloss
Here I am wearing Gentle Rose Liplicious Gloss

Gentle Rose Liplicious Gloss can be purchased online at LeslieTylerStyle.com for $12.00.

Holiday Gift Guide 2010: Armpocket Review

Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Stocking Stuffers

Armpocket

Do you have a fitness buff on your Christmas list? Then why not get them a fun stocking stuffer that they can use every time they work out – an Armpocket!

Armpocket

Armpocket SPORT i-20 – $29.95

One of the most important parts of my workout routine is music. I have a special playlist of uptempo workout songs, and I never exercise without it! Recently, it’s become apparent that I needed a better way of carrying my MP3 player while working out.

My MP3 player of choice used to be a Creative Zen. They’re an unusual size, so I had ordered a special arm holder for it, which worked pretty well. But my Zen stopped working earlier in the year, so I switched over to using my iPhone for music. Since I’m so cheap frugal, I used the same MP3 holder with my iPhone – except it was way too big, so I rigged up a way to keep my iPhone in place:

My old MP3 player

Do you like the Invader Zim button that I was using to hold the MP3 holster together? This had to be the clunkiest, least attractive method of holding an MP3 player that I’ve ever seen. So when I had a chance to try out an Armpocket SPORT i-20, I thought this would be a great upgrade!

My new MP3 holder

The Armpocket is a generous size, providing a space for not only your MP3 player, but another small item, such as keys. There is a strap that holds your iPhone in place, as well as two additional small pockets to help you hold different items. The headphones connect through a rubber opening at the top of the Armpocket – it was a little difficult to get my headphone jack in, but I was able to push it through.

Although I have a giant keychain that doesn’t fit in the small pocket that is sewn on the side, the Armpocket SPORT i-20 expands far enough that I actually have room to stick it behind the iPhone. To give you an idea of the size, my key fob includes four keys, three decorative keychains, a remote for my car’s power door locks, and my LifeShield keychain remote.

The Armpocket’s ability to carry additional items is a fantastic feature – when I went jogging in the past, I would put my house key on a chain around my neck. This is so much more convenient! The Armpocket zips shut, so everything is held securely in place – much more effective than holding the contents in with an Invader Zim badge. ;) It fits very snugly around your arm; my other MP3 holder had the tendency to slide down my arm as I was working out. With the Arm Pocket, I have to be careful that it’s not too tight!

You can control the iPhone touchscreen through the plastic window, which is convenient for switching songs during your workout. I did notice that this became trickier when I tried it out with my giant keychain inside, so if you cram it to capacity with lumpy items it may make it harder to use the touchscreen through the plastic. However, I just tried my keychain as a test for how much it could hold – it’s too big and heavy for me to want to carry the whole thing, so I would just slide off my house key and take that in day to day situations.

I think the Armpocket is an excellent way to carry your music with you during workouts, and I love the fact that you can also use it to securely carry another small item or two, such as your keys, driver’s license or cash; that’s so handy for those times when you want to run to the gym without lugging along your purse. I think this would be well appreciated by the fitness enthusiast on your shopping list!

Armpocket comes in a variety of sizes and styles, and can fit almost any MP3 player, iPod, or smartphone; prices start at $22.95. Click here to view the entire product line and order online. Armpocket can also be found at select brick and mortar locations – click here to see if there is a retailer near you.