Step2 Is Looking For Toy Testers

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Free toy alert!

Toy brand Step2 (makers of those ever-popular plastic roller coasters and push cars) is looking for families with kids between the ages of 1-5 to test one of eight different toys shown below.

 

step2-toy-tester
Step2

The application process is quite simple. Visit the Step2 Facebook page or go directly to the application form. You’ll be asked to enter your contact information, the age and gender of your kids. You will check the boxes next to the toys you’d be interested in testing and then will need to write out a brief statement about why you’d be a good fit to test them.

The one caveat you should know is that toy testers will be asked to submit a 30-second video in addition to an online review (on Step2.com) after testing the toy for a couple weeks. Accordingly, the application form has a required field that asks for the URL of a recent video you’ve completed. If you have a public YouTube, Instagram or Facebook account and have posted videos there, share a link to one of them. (Or here’s how to set up a YouTube account, just in case.)

Applications close August 17. Testers will be notified via email on August 19. Testing is open only to those within the contiguous 48 states (sorry, Hawaii and Alaska dwellers). Good luck!

 

 

A Second Olympic Pool Turns Green, Officials Say Algae Not The Culprit

Olympic athletes and fans were in for a surprise on Tuesday when the Olympic diving pool in Rio turned a very prominent shade of green.

The neighboring pool, used for water polo and synchronized swimming, remained mysteriously untouched at first:

But then that pool, too, appeared to be changing colors as of late Wednesday afternoon:

Olympic officials initially said the cause was a “proliferation of algae” due to “heat and a lack of wind,” however FINA, the international governing body of aquatics, released a statement Wednesday afternoon that blamed the pH level of the water for the discoloration. Via the Los Angeles Times:

FINA can confirm that the reason for the unusual water color observed during the Rio diving competitions is that the water tanks ran out of some of the chemicals used in the water treatment process.

As a result, the pH level of the water was outside the usual range, causing the discoloration. The FINA Sport Medicine Committee conducted tests on the water quality and concluded that there was no risk to the health and safety of the athletes, and no reason for the competition to be affected.

Olympics spokesperson Mario Andrada told reporters that the team in Rio was in the process of balancing the pH. Andrada blamed a lack of testing and preparedness for the number of athletes who’d be using the pool:

“We probably failed to note that with more athletes, the water could be affected,” Andrada told The New York Times. “The people in charge of the pool should have done more intensive tests.”

So is the pool really safe for swimming, as officials assert? Vox spoke to Nate Hernandez, a director of aquatics at a company that maintains pools at resorts and public facilities. He didn’t caution that the pools may be unfit for use, but he did say that “multiple things would have to break down” for such a result to happen. Hernandez confirmed that algae was likely not the cause given that it likely wouldn’t bloom that fast in such a large pool.

The Vox reporter asked if Hernandez if he’d be embarrassed if this happened at one of his pools. His reply? “I’d be fired.”

Meet The Cucamelon—AKA The Cutest Fruit On The Planet

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One of the perks of the internet is the access it provides to all things adorable. Like this super cuddly new dog breed. Or this cat who scaled a wall to be with its puppy friend.

But we’re not sure we’ve seen anything as cute as the cucamelon in quite awhile.

What is a cucamelon, you ask? So glad you did. Cucamelons are tiny, vine-growing fruits that are about the size of a grape and taste like cucumbers with a hint of citrusy sour. The cutest part, of course, is that they look like tiny watermelons. Or maybe it’s the fact that another nickname for them is mouse melon. That’s right. Cuteness overload.

Here’s a shot of the cucamelon adorably growing on the vine:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BhvOKUfj3gJ/?tagged=cucamelon

Of course, cucamelon makes a great ingredient in fresh spring and summer recipes. This cucamelon salsa is a perfect warm-weather appetizer. Get the recipe from Dine & Dash.

Dine & Dash

Cucamelons also pair well, when pickled, with dill and mint. Or dice them up for a tasty bruschetta topping using this recipe from She Eats.

Vegetarian-Appetizer-Recipes
She Eats

The fruit, also known as a Mexican sour gherkin, is native to Mexico and parts of Central America, where they are called sandiita (little watermelon). You can find them at farmers’ markets, in select grocery stores or try growing your own.

You can buy cucamelon seeds from several different sellers on Amazon for just a few dollars per packet.

Amazon

Definitely makes you want to try one, right? Please do, and prepare to taste the cuteness.

[h/t: Huffington Post]

Back-To-School Cheat Sheet: Where To Get The Best Deals On School Supplies

The products and services mentioned below were selected independent of sales and advertising. However, Simplemost may receive a small commission from the purchase of any products or services through an affiliate link to the retailer's website.

For many families, getting ready to go back to school is not only a time-consuming process—it’s an expensive one.

The National Retail Federation’s 2015 Back-to-School Spending Survey found that families were planning to spend an average of $630.36 on clothing, electronics and school supplies for students grades K-12, with an average $103.92 spent solely on supplies like notebooks, folders, pencils, backpacks and lunchboxes.

Thanks to Passionate Penny Pincher, families looking to cut down their back-to-school costs now have a handy guide for where to get the best deals on school supplies. Overall? WalMart seems to be leading with the lowest prices. Take an 8-count box of Crayola crayons, for example. At WalMart, you’ll pay 87 cents compared to $3.49 at Target, $1.00 at Staples and $3.29 at Office Depot/Max.

WalMart’s pricing does lose out to the other retailers on some items. Mechanical pencils, for example. You can get a 12-count pack at Staples for 75 cents versus $1.46 at WalMart or $1.17 at Target for a 10-count box.

btscheatsheet4stores2016
PassionatePennyPincher

You can print out this chart to take along with you on your school supply shopping trip at PassionatePennyPincher.com. They feature other great money-saving tips and deals on back-to-school supplies.

If you’re wondering how Amazon stacks up, I did a little digging and that 8-count box of Crayola crayons is currently $2.60, and the cheapest pack of 10-count mechanical pencils I could find currently cost $2.94—so in both cases, the offline retailers still win.

That said, Amazon does have some great deals on specific back-to-school items. They are selling a 3-pack of Scotch tape for $3.00 as an add-on item. That price is currently $.50 cheaper than WalMart.  You can also pick up a box of 144 No. 2 pencils for $9.98.

Some readers also suggested checking out dollar stores, as you can get a lot of these items at discount stores for an even cheaper price. Additionally, this list does not factor coupons into the price, and that could change where you’ll get the best deals.   Another great suggestion is to take advantage of the Staples price matching policy.  You can save an additional 10% after their discount.

PassionatePennyPincher does point out, too, that Target, Staples and Office Depot/Office Max have lower prices on their store brands that are not all included on this list. As with anything buying “name brand” is usually at a higher premium.

How do you cut back-to-school costs for your family? Tell us on Facebook and happy shopping!

 

This Little Boy’s Laugh Attack Is The Best Thing Ever Caught On Video

OK, there are a lot of great videos circulating on the internet, each of them begging you to stop what you’re doing and watchrightnow!

But, believe me when I tell you, you MUST stop what you’re doing right now and watch this video of a little boy’s thorough and infectious amusement during music class. He can’t stop laughing, and after watching, I can’t either.

The video was filmed at an early childhood center in New York, and it shows one very happy little boy having the best time ever during a musician-led sing-a-long with his class. We’re talking a red-faced, knee-slapping laugh attack here.

I think my favorite part is seeing how his unbridled joy spreads to his fellow classmates. Knowing what we do about the power of laughter, do yourself a favor and have a good laugh with this little cutie.

These Two Relatives Have Exchanged The SAME Birthday Card For 47 Years

Despite the number of digital aids out there aimed at helping us remember birthdays, it’s still easy to miss one. Facebook makes it simple to shoot off a quick “Happy Bday!” message on someone’s wall, but actually sending a card is another thing.

These two relatives have taken sending birthday wishes to the next level. As Reddit user LincolnsLostSpeach shared, her fiance’s uncle and cousin have exchanged the SAME EXACT birthday card with each other for 47 years. That’s 94 exchanges of one card.

View post on imgur.com

Not only is it amazing that the paper card, a Hallmark creation purchased in 1970 for 25 cents, hasn’t ripped, disintegrated or been lost in the mail after being sent 96 times—it’s amazing that the two men, Bill and Steve, have each been on top of their card-sending game for nearly half a century.

Here’s the front of the card:

View post on imgur.com

Thanks for inspiring us, Bill and Steve!

Mom Experiences A Time Travel Moment While Shopping With Her Son At Costco

One mom thought she was having a fairly usual day, shopping at Costco with her toddler son when she noticed a crazy coincidence and—thankfully, for all of us—decided to take a picture.

If you look closely at the picture, you’ll notice that her son isn’t the only one sporting a lime green polo shirt and multi-colored plaid shorts—the older man sitting on a bench in the background is wearing the same exact outfit (save the shoes)!

The mom posted the picture on reddit with the comment “I guess I know what my son will look like in 70 years…”, much to everyone’s delight.

I guess I know what my son will look like in 70 years… from pics

Some commenters (who may or may not be watching too much “Back To The Future”) are calling the picture proof of time travel:

Other commenters shared downright amusing observations about the coincidence:

Are These Zero-Calorie, Gluten-Free Noodles The Perfect Pasta?

The products and services mentioned below were selected independent of sales and advertising. However, Simplemost may receive a small commission from the purchase of any products or services through an affiliate link to the retailer's website.

Things that sound too good to be true often are, particularly when it comes to any kind of diet-related food (remember Olean chips?).

So what about these zero-calorie, gluten-free, vegan Japanese shirataki noodles? Let’s find out a bit more about them, for those not yet in the know.

They Really Are Calorie-Free

These Japanese noodles are made from water and glucomannan, a dietary fiber found in konjac yams. This type of fiber is edible but indigestible (therein lies their ability to be zero calories). Shirataki noodles are sometimes known as “ito konnyaku,” yam noodles, and devil’s tongue noodles. Since they are made from yams, they are vegan and also gluten-free, unlike traditional pasta, which is made from wheat.

shirataki-noodles
Dukan Diet

Sometimes the noodles are made with tofu, which adds a boost of protein (1 gram) and a minimal amount of calories (20 per serving).

tofu-shirataki-noodles
House Foods/Amazon

How To Eat Them

You can use them in soups, warm or cold noodle salads (pictured below), and traditional Asian or Italian pasta dishes. The noodles are sold dried or, more often, soft (cooked and packed in liquid). Since the noodles themselves don’t have much flavor, using them in flavorful dishes seems to be key.

The pro tip for the soft-packed noodles is to rinse them before eating, as the scent of the liquid they’re packed in can be off-putting to some.

20150217-shirataki-noodle-sichuan-sesame-vegan-recipe-5-thumb-1500xauto-419551
Serious Eats

The Consensus

While some have described the texture as gelatinous with more “snap and rubber” to them than traditional wheat or rice noodles, the key to improving it seems to be to rinse and pan-fry them to remove as much of the liquid content as possible. And while it would be hard to beat a steaming hot bowl of traditional spaghetti bolognese or fettuccine alfredo, for those who are gluten-free or looking to limit their calories, these noodles—when prepared correctly—can be a great pasta alternative.

 

 

This Camper Converts To A Yacht So You Never Have To Choose Between Land And Sea

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Investing in a recreational vehicle is a big decision. Do you go with a camper that will help you explore the reaches of our beautiful country?

Or do you go with a boat to enjoy all that the open water has to offer?

In the case of the Sealander, a camper than transforms into a yacht, you don’t have to decide — you get both.

This ingenious contraption hits the road connected to a trailer hitch, like a regular camper, and then operates like a flat-bottomed boat with an outboard motor on water.

While the Sealander is not the most spacious yacht or camper on the market, the company says that it fits up to six adults.

sealander
Sealander/Facebook

You can configure the space as benches for hosting or as a bed for sleeping.

You can upgrade the basic design to include such amenities as cooking and washing stations, and audio setup.

There’s also the option to add a toilet to the cockpit storage locker to convert it to a bathroom.

Each Sealander is custom-built at the factory in Germany, and you can choose your own interior finishes as well as exterior colors.

RELATED: Mercedes-Benz Is Now Selling Luxury Yachts And They Are Spectacular

So how much will the Sealander set you back? The basic model starts at around $17,000 and takes about eight weeks to build.

See it in action here:

Pool Floats For Summer Fun

Take your summer fun up a notch with some of these quirky and downright adorable pool floats.

Dachshund Pool Float

Kool Pool’s Pool Pup Giant Premium Inflatable Dachshund Pool Float Mattress is for sale at Amazon and Walmart online for about $60 a pup. At nearly 7-feet long, this inflatable doxie can hold up to 300 pounds.

I mean, how great this this?

Amazon

“This ever-smiling dachshund will bring you years of joy and companionship,” the product description reads on Walmart.com. “Need someone to hold your drink at the pool? He’s got ya. Need someone to keep you afloat? Got ya there too! Best of all he doesn’t need to be walked or fed. People will want to pet him but that’s up to you.”

Amazon UK

This wiener dog even has a name: Link. And while you could get a pool float that is shaped like an inflatable hunk, we all know Link is the real good boy!

But, if you’re looking for some more fun for your summer swimming days, here’s a few other pool float options to consider.

Pool Bar Float

If food or animal floats aren’t your thing, and you’re looking to satisfy your thirst, then you might want to pick up this amazing pool bar float. You and three of your best buddies can lounge around in the AhhQua Bar, which has four chairs, a built-in cooler, and, of course, cup holders!

Amazon

Pizza Float

A six-foot floating piece of pizza? That sounds like a slice of heaven! And, you can put a bunch of them together to make an entire floating pie!

Simplemost

Donut Float

As you can see, this floating donut is looks almost good enough to take a bite out of before tossing it in the water.

Amazon

This ‘Pin’ Trick Could Help You Keep Your Cool Around Irritating People

As much as we all may agree with the concept that “an eye for an eye makes the world go blind,” being in the presence of someone who’s acting like a jerk and not acting like a jerk ourselves is a huge challenge.

As it turns out, an early 20th century French philosopher was keen to this human condition, and he developed a concept for staying cool that still holds up today. When faced with an angry person, don’t get angry—instead look for his or her “pin.”

The “pin,” as this video explains, is the condition or situation in this person’s life that is causing him/her to act rudely. Maybe he’s just lost his mother. Maybe the bank is foreclosing on her home. Maybe she grew up never having been taught kindness or compassion. You get the idea.

If we think about the source of the other person’s suffering, we are much less likely to respond in anger—so the theory goes. It reminds me of the quote “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”

The philosopher behind this idea, Emile-Auguste Chartier, used the example of a baby being poked by a pin (cloth diapers and corresponding diaper pins being the only diapering option back in the early 1900’s). Until an adult figures out that the pin is the source of the baby’s crying, he or she will try everything—to no avail—to quiet him, and may even come to deem the baby as inherently “fussy” or “difficult.”

As Lifehacker points out, you don’t want to take this approach to the point of being a doormat, but allowing yourself to feel pity for the person who just knowingly skipped you in line instead of anger will probably serve you better in the long run.

What do you think? Share your thoughts on Facebook.

Here Are Some Of The Over-The-Top Features On The World’s Largest Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas cruise ship is officially the largest cruise ship ever built.

Given that designation, expectations are pretty high that the ship, which Thrillist aptly referred to as “more floating resort city than marine vessel,” will surprise and delight. Whether you consider yourself a cruise person or prefer to stay on dry land, you’ll probably want to book a trip on the Harmony after reading about some of its over-the-top features.

1. It’s massive.

At 1,188 feet long, the Harmony is equivalent to the size of four football fields. The ship holds 6,780 guests and has a crew of 2,100.

harmony-seas-cruise-ship
Royal Caribbean

2. “Central Park” features 12,000 trees and plants.

The boat offers seven different “neighborhoods,” from a kids zone to a spa section. “Central Park” runs down the center of the ship, is flanked by restaurants offering outdoor cafe-style seating, and boasts 12,000 trees and plants.

central-park-harmony-seas-cruise
Royal Caribbean

3. The “Boardwalk” feels like the real thing.

From a merry-go-round to an arcade to grilled hotdogs, chances are this “neighborhood” will make you forget that you’re on a boat.

boardwalk-harmony-seas
Royal Caribbean

4. Four big slides.

You may have been on ships that have a water slide. The Harmony of the Seas offers three big waterslides, plus the 10-story “Ultimate Abyss” slide, which will keep your stomach flipping for a solid 17 seconds.

[youtube id=”cvajQkIUNzI”]

5. Interior staterooms have “virtual balconies.”

Royal Caribbean added screens to interior staterooms that project a live feed of the outside view from the ship. The result is, I imagine, so much less claustrophobia. Typical interior staterooms can be downright depressing.

virtual-balcony-3
Royal Caribbean

6. There’s a robotic bar.

Order your drink from an iPad in the Bionic Bar, and a robot will get to work mixing it for you.

bionic_bar
Royal Caribbean

Read more about the ship and share your thoughts about it on Facebook.

New Seat Design Could Make Airplane Boarding So Much Easier

The days of epically long boarding times and bumping our way down narrow airplane aisles to find our seats may be behind us.

A Colorado-based company called Molon Labe Seating has created an ingenious “side-slip” airplane seat design that would not only improve the boarding process, it would also make flying a bit more comfortable thanks to the addition of a slightly wider middle seat.

As shown in the video, in a typical three-seat arrangement, the side-slip design would allow the aisle seat to slide toward the window seat to create a wider aisle. I’m guessing this would mean everyone with window seats would board first. In order to make room for the aisle seat to slide over, the middle seat is slightly recessed behind the aisle and window seats. And—bonus!—the middle seat is designed to be two inches wider than traditional airplane seating.

While there are not immediate plans to bring this design into reality, I certainly hope that changes soon. Not only would a faster boarding time save airlines money (it costs airlines about $100 for each wasted minute on a runway), this new design could transform the much-disdained middle seat into the most desirable one on the plane.

 

You Can Now Control Your TV With An Official Harry Potter Wand Remote

The products and services mentioned below were selected independent of sales and advertising. However, Simplemost may receive a small commission from the purchase of any products or services through an affiliate link to the retailer's website.

Harry Potter fans, rejoice! If you’ve always wanted to make like Harry, Hermione and Ron and use a wand to control items around you, you’re in luck. The Harry Potter Remote Control Wand exists, and it can be all yours.

Amazon

Amazon is selling this incredible little device, which allows “Harry Potter” fans to bring the joys of the wizarding world to their very own living room. The officially licensed Harry Potter Remote Control Wand offers nine separate commands  — including “the Flick Up,” “the Flick Down” and “the Big Swish” — to control your television or other electronic devices.

harry-potter-tv-remote
The Noble Collection

With a couple of triple-A batteries and one of nine simple gestures, you can use the wand to change channels or tracks, turn the volume up or down, and more. It can be used to operate any electronic device that uses an infrared remote control, such as a television, Blu-ray player or stereo. The device is also compatible with PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

You can program and use multiple devices at the same time as well.

This is a perfect gift for anyone who loves the “Harry Potter” franchise. Not only does it pay homage to the beloved story,  but it’s also practical.

As Amazon describes, “The finely detailed wand is modeled directly from the prop used in the ‘Harry Potter’ films and comes complete with a collector box and comprehensive illustrated instructions.”

Amazon

You can currently buy the wand for $49.00. The item is available for Prime shipping, which means members will be able to order and receive it within two days.

RELATED: A Real ‘Harry Potter’ Wizarding School Is Opening Next Year

What better way to add some wizardry to your viewing experience or bring the world of Hogwarts to your own living room? As one reviewer wrote: “I am a Muggle NO MORE!!!”

These Inmates Broke Out Of Their Jail Cell To Save A Guard’s Life

In a show of courage and compassion, several inmates in Texas broke out of their holding cell to help a guard who had suffered a heart attack.

The feat, which was captured by security cameras, was a risky move for the inmates.

“We were worried they’re going to come with guns drawn on us,” inmate Nick Kelton told WFAA, a local TV station.

Kelton and other inmates who were being held temporarily in the basement of a court building in Weatherford, Texas, on June 23 saw the jailer on duty—who hasn’t been named—fall slack in his chair. The inmates sprang into action, breaking down the door to their cell in order to help the guard. Since they were shackled, the men started banging on doors and walls until other guards upstairs heard the noise and rushed down to help.

Medics were able to revive the guard, and he is expected to return to work next week.

 

Here’s What The Perfect Bedroom For A Good Night’s Sleep Looks Like

If you struggle with falling or staying asleep, it’s likely you’ll try just about anything in order to get a good night’s sleep.

It’s possible that your bedroom could be working against your efforts to get some shut-eye. Check out the helpful visual from Prevention below and keep reading to see if your sleeping environment is setting you up for a successful night of sleep.

 

For a great night of sleep, try incorporating the following into your bedroom:

1. Blue Walls

Despite the fact that blue light from screens can disrupt our sleep, the color blue, in general, is known to be calming. A 2013 study conducted by a hotel chain in Britain found that people whose bedrooms were blue slept more hours each night than those with rooms painted other color. And when asked if they woke up feeling happy, 58 percent of those sleeping in blue rooms said yes whereas just 22 percent of those whose bedroom walls were green said the same.

2. White Noise

A tactic that many parents swear by to help keep babies asleep can prove useful for adults. White noise can help to block out sounds that may keep you from falling or staying asleep. White noise may also help protect the quality of your sleep, as research has shown your body reacts to noise while you sleep even if you aren’t aware of it the next day.

3. Lavender

Research has shown that the scent of lavender can help provide better quality sleep, and a recent study found that those who sniffed lavender essential oil before bed reported feeling more energetic the next morning.

4. Keep It Cool

If you’ve ever tried to fall asleep in a hot room, you know firsthand how much temperature can affect sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends setting the temperature in your bedroom between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit for an optimal night’s sleep.

5. Clean Sheets

Of the 1500 people surveyed in a National Sleep Foundation poll, around three-quarters responded that they sleep better when their sheets have a fresh, clean scent.

6. Make Your Bed

It’s not just a good habit to get into, it turns out making your bed can help you sleep better at night. The National Sleep Foundation poll found that around 70 percent of people said they make their bed every day (or almost every day), and that the consistent bed-makers were 19% more likely to report getting a good night’s sleep most night compared to those who didn’t consistently make their beds.