Each Christmas, I am bombarded with photos of my friends’ children. (Sometimes, their dogs and cats too.) So for the last few years — some years, more consistently than others — I’ve decided to bombard people with my own holiday missive. Inspired by my friend Amy, who recently kicked breast cancer’s ass, I give some thought to the websites and amusements and purchases I’ve spent more time with that year than others. Here is this year’s list. Enjoy!
HelloSign (website, Google Chrome plugin). I had to sign a lot of documents in 2014 (Finally sorting out my 2010 UK taxes (oops), moving, new job etc etc) and my home printer was on the fritz. I knew someone must have invented a solution to my problem and I was RIGHT. HelloSign is a very awesome website that lets you upload documents and then insert an image of your signature and create a PDF. It’s amazing. Use my link for a free try (because then I get more free documents): http://bit.ly/kristahellosign
Boden: Returning to London renewed my obsession with Boden, the mostly online clothing retailer. I love their dresses, even though their prints can be a little wacky sometimes. They have online sales so frequently that I barely ever pay list price. (Similar to my recommendation a few years back about Cole Haan online.) You shouldn’t pay list price for Boden either! WAIT FOR THE SALES. Also, check the clearance section. Oh yes, they have clothing for guys too.
Spotify Premium: I went totally digital this year and got rid of the 600+ CDs I’ve been carting around the world these last ten years. Before I did that, of course, I ripped all the CDs to an external hard drive and also uploaded everything to Google Play (which you should also consider). I then subscribed to Spotify Premium. Pretty much every song ever made, available for a small monthly fee. $9.99 a month in the US and £9.95 in the UK. And you can even stream music on your phone! If you need to get the young person in your life a gift this year, get them a Spotify Premium subscription. I particularly enjoy their canned radio stations. Something for every mood.
Hiring Personal Assistants Online: Also related to moving my life to another continent, I spent a decent chunk of change on personal assistants in 2014 and I wouldn’t change anything. My Chicago personal assistant, Shelley, took my cable boxes back to Comcast for me, picked up my dry cleaning, and brought me Chinese food for lunch. In London, my personal assistants unpacked my kitchen, got my bike fixed, and carted away all my old CDs. Services like Task Rabbit offer a plethora of assistants but if you live in a large metro area, try a Google or two to find specialized companies that focus on this sort of personal assisting/organization stuff.
Uniqlo: Another renewed obsession. Uniqlo is a Japanese brand that I love for its simplicity and high quality construction. I loved the cashmere cardigan I bought from Uniqlo so much that I went online and bought one in every color. (Hey, they’re a good value. And I’m trying to be like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs and dress in a uniform every day — black dress, black tights, cashmere cardigan — and simplify the decisions I have to make.) Uniqlo doesn’t have as many 20% sales as Boden so buy it when you want it.
GrubHub (US) and JustEat (UK): I’ve been getting a lot of dinner delivered. Healthy stuff mom, I swear. I love sushi! Well, in the US, I’d use GrubHub to get anything and everything I wanted to eat delivered. No more drawer full of old takeout menus! In the UK, I use JustEat, and while it’s not as good as GrubHub (no GrubTracker, which automagically tells you where your food is), it’s still pretty awesome.
DarkSky (app): A great weather app with a lovely design. Dark sky will tell you when it is about to rain! That’s amazing. The best is when it starts warning you that there will be heavy rain, as I experienced this summer when I was at my friends’ barbecue (Hi Andrew and Vanessa!) and we got the alert and then all had to hide in the garage, away from the rain.
My FitBit Aria Scale: Last year, I told you all about my love of my FitBit (basically, a fancy pedometer). Well this year, let me tell you about my Aria scale. I weigh myself and it logs my weight through the magic of wifi on their site and on my phone. And it also does something crazy with my feet with bioelectricalness to determine my percent body fat. It’s pretty cool. You should get one. Don’t be afraid.
Hotel Sites I Really Love: For many, many years, I’ve been a TripAdvisor user. But after a few years of heavy travel, I’ve decided that TripAdvisor is now a little too much lowest-common-denominator for me. (There are a lot of people on the site who have never stayed in a hotel before, so anything is wonderful to them. Also, I don’t trust anyone who eats breakfast in a hotel restaurant unless they are on a tropical island.) When I’m looking for a place to stay, here are the curated sites that I really use as the base of my decision:
- Jetsetter.com: Originally known for their flash sales, now I turn to Jetsetter.com when I want to know the best places to stay and where.
- Tabletotels.com: This is more than just hotels to book. It’s a lifestyle. I really like their newsletters. Particularly good when you don’t really care where you go…you just want to go somewhere and need inspiration. I like the user ratings they do too. If the hotel falls below 15 out of 20, they take it off the site.
- MrandMrsSmith.com: The original curated list of hotels.
Muji pens! I have loved Muji pens for years (thank you Renee and Julie for introducing me to them) and now I want to share the love with you. Find a Muji and buy all the gel pens. Love them!
Serial (podcast): Last one and then I’ll stop. I have my cousin Robert to thank for this one. A spin off of This American Life, Serial tells the story of a real-life 1999 murder, 15 years later and through a journalist’s perspective. Addictive! And harkens back to the old days of radio.
This is getting a little long so I shall bring this to its natural conclusion! Happy 2015 my friends! Hope to see you soon!