Present Now gives gifts to children at Alexandria House shelter


Present Now, the Los Angeles non-profit organization that provides gifts of necessities and specialty items for babies, children and teens living in domestic violence shelters, announced a new partnership this week with Alexandria House, a transitional residence for woman  and children, located in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles.

Present Now will give the children living at Alexandria House care-packages of gifts throughout the year to bring them relief, comfort and happiness to ease their hardship.

“Children living in transitional housing such as Alexandria House usually have very few possessions because they have fled for safety with their mothers, leaving behind all of their toys and belongings.  Present Now’s Presents Program is designed to alleviate some of the initial stress of entering a shelter while also bringing some measure of joy during this time of acute crisis,” said Erica Fisher, co-founder of Present Now.


Children at Alexandria House will receive a birthday cake or cake-making kit along with a surprise birthday present and a restaurant gift card on their birthdays. On Valentine’s Day they will receive an age-appropriate digital device for learning and play.  In September, as children return to school, they will receive a backpack full of school supplies.

“Our goal with these gifts is to create hope and some measure of comfort all year long for the child.  It is also our intention that when these families transition out of shelter living into their new homes, they are able to bring all of these presents with them to begin their new lives,” said Present Now co-founder Melanie Neumann.


12 top tech geek gifts

Connect with the tech geeks on your holiday shopping list with these 12 brainy games, devices, and smart toys that will rock their Christmas.


Kids of all ages will feel in the middle of the action with the NOON VR Headset ($89). Developed by South Korea-based tech company Nextcore, this lightweight headset can be paired with any smartphone with a 4.7-inch or larger screen. Wearers can watch IMAX-quality videos enjoy a fully immersive virtual reality experience, such as virtual roller coaster, a volcano erupting or even a flight through outer space. Available at Amazon.


u robot

Engineering enthusiasts (grades 4+) can literally make a new as they become better builders with the RiQ ($229) easy-to-build-and-program robot kit with building components, sensors, and a microcontroller.  The hands-on kit uses is a fun introduction to science concepts such as mechanical engineering, structural engineering, physics, gear ratios, and other STEM concepts. Available at


Fly kids

Everyone wants the “it” gift of the season, the Sky Viper Video Drone 950 ($89) from Skyrocket Toys. This lightweight, durable and high-performing drone spans 12.75” and features the ability to record video and pictures in full 720p high definition with one-touch custom camera moves in autopilot. Its long-range 2.4 GHZ transmitter can be adjusted for all levels of flying experience.  (Ages 12+) Available at


Creative remake

Move over Minecraft, ARCKIT is the new exciting, creative and addictive building activity but in real, tangible life.  Professionals, hobbyists, design fans and budding young builders age 12+ can use these ingenious kids to create realistic models to scale, from their own future home to classic architectural monuments, outside as well as the interior, in a true 3D model.  The pieces can be dissembled and reused, and the system is compatible with 3D computer modelling programs.  Available in various sizes, starting with the ARCKIT Go kit, or ARCKIT 60 with 220 pieces, and ARCKIT 620-pioece AR240 Kit, all which can be expanded with component packs.  $69 to $399. Available at Barnes and Noble.


See it all


For those who like to see it all, olloclip’s New Macro Pro Lens ($69) is the microscope for the digital age. Compact and portable enough to put in a backpack or on a keychain, it quickly affixes to an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus utilizing the front- or rear-facing camera to become a powerful high-clarity microscope for discovery and photography, featuring 7x, 14x, 21x macro magnification, for examining insects, flowers, and innumerable small objects, for learning and fun.  Available now at and major retailers including Apple and Best Buy.


Sounds good

Host your own family talent show with the pitch perfect Singtrix Personal Bundle, by the makers of Guitar Hero, and everyone is a start.  Even bad singers sound good and good singers sound great with this next-generation portable karaoke machine that works with any smartphone, tablet, PC or other audio device, for listening with headphones or a speaker system. The Personal Bundle features more than 300 quality vocal effects and controls to create instant four-part harmonies, so that anyone can sound like a rock star.  Available at TOYS “R” US and other national retailers, $229.00.

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Hot box

Lots of subscriptions boxes promise surprises inside, but the Cooper and Kid box delivers, with curated products full of wonder and excitement for kids, with a focus on activities designed to enrich parents’ quality time with children. These kits are full of activities, games, tools, and crafts, like rocket-propelled experiments, that make for great for quality time with kids. Even the shipping box converts into a toy.  Subscriptions start at $59 per month for a box per quarter. Available at


Smart girls

Smart is the new cool with Project Mc²  line of toys and activities aimed at teaching girls about science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) through play. The collection includes smart stylish dolls ($24.99) that each include a real-working experiment, such as a kit to create a lava light or an erupting volcano or a glow stick. Other products include the Rock Sugar Jewelry ($9.99) kit for making fashionable accessories through chemistry in the kitchen, and Mckeyla’s Ultimate Lab Kit ($49.99) full of science experiments, and a Soda Can Robot ($14.99) construction kit. Available at Target, Amazon and Toys R Us.


Message in a teddy

Kids stuffed animals really can talk to them, in the voices of their loved ones, with CloudPets ($29.99 + $6.99 shipping and handling). These connected plush toys pair with Bluetooth devices and use BTLE technology that allows children, family and friends to record and send messages by pressing the toy’s right or left paw to send or receive. Designed as a cute and cuddly way for long-distance family and friends to keep in touch, the toy can also be used as a sleep machine with downloaded lullabies to help baby doze off.  Available at


Super charged fun

Some video games are mindless fun, but top-selling video game franchise Skylanders offers fantastical exploration of a fictional world that expands the imagination.  With an array of characters that players place into the game using physical action figures, players can engage in exciting racing and battle interaction in Skylands. In Skylanders SuperChargers (starter kit $74.99), Skylands is in peril. A special team called the SuperChargers equipped with an unstoppable fleet of incredible vehicles must embark on epic adventure to stop the villainous Kaos and save Skylands.  Available at Toys R Us and wherever video games are sold.


Lock on

Super strength goes with super design and hi-tech with the keyless Master Lock No. 1500eXD. School kids will be the envy of classmates with this hi-tech combination padlock hanging on their locker, and they never need worry about forgetting the combination thanks to a vault enabled  permanent Backup Master Code.  Made of boron carbide for maximum resistance to cutting and sawing, the lock comes installed with a replaceable CR2032 five-year-life battery. $39.68. Available at Amazon, Home Depot, Target and other national retailers.


Change up

For anyone with a serious case of FOMO who can’t stop changing channels when TV watching, Pronto ($49.99) makes it easy.  This palm-sized hub pairs with the free Peel Smart Remote App to turn an iPhone or iPod Touch into a universal remote that controls more than 3,000 home entertainment devices, even streaming video players. This remote is so smart it makes viewing recommendations based on the user’s interests and viewing habits. Available at and


A better mattress for a better mood


No wonder I feel so grumpy when I go camping, all because of that horrible air mattress.  According to the November 1 journal of Sleep which published a study by scientists at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, sleep interruptions are worse for mood than overall reduced amount of sleep, so it only makes sense that if a mattress is worn out, lumpy, too-bouncy, too-soft, too-hard, or too-hot mattress, it can cause sleeplessness, and that leads to a crappy mood.

According to Terry Cralle, RN, MS, a certified clinical sleep educator, indeed an uncomfortable mattress can be the culprit in sleep interruptions that cause bad moods.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the sleep surface plays a critical role in the quality of our waking hours,” she says.


Cralle recommends these tips for assessing the suitability of a mattress.

  • Consider a memory foam mattress that alleviates pressure points by conforming to the body and cushioning heavier body parts.
  • Chose an adjustable mattress if you sleep with a partner, so both partners can adjust the mattress to suit their preferences.
  • Buy a mattress with a trial period to see if it works for you.  Many companies offer 100 days, but some companies, like Luxi, even offer up to 1,000 days.
  • Look for a mattress company with excellent customer support.  The best mattress companies now have sleep hotlines to help their customers get optimal sleep using their product.
  • Since pregnancy, health conditions, weight loss or gain can all effect how you sleep, think ahead about your needs. Get a mattress that can be re-configured or adjusted as your body and needs change.
  • Research the materials your mattress is made with, and make sure the mattress has breathability.

Cralle says that the popular mattresses sold online can be a good choice, so long as they are not a one-size-fits-all model.  At her sleep clinic, Cralle recommends adjustable options, like the three-in-one Luxi, because the user can easily reconfigure the mattress to soft, medium or firm on one or both sides.

“By investing in a comfortable sleep surface, you are maximizing the likelihood of getting uninterrupted sleep – a major factor not only in our health, but in our moods and ultimately the quality of our lives,” said Cralle.LUXI-CutAway

Textiles that say ‘welcome” in the home

Having sophisticated décor does not mean your furnishings should be untouchable.  Make your home welcoming with these textiles that look fabulous and feel great.

Go organic

Coyuchi uses only the purest natural fibers in their products, and great taste. Following the strictest in environmental standards in safe and humane conditions and guidelines set by USDA National Organic Program and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards), their fabrics are minimally processed so their look and feel is closely to their natural state.coyuchi bedding 800

When selecting products, Coyuchi gives an option for feel — cool, crisp, relaxed or silky — and fibers — undyed, GOTS certified, low-impact dyes, or zero waste water. The textures and styles are simple like natures, in homage to the planet.

Get down tonight


When you rest your head to sleep, nestle into a down pillow that you can feel good about, with contents from Allied Feather & Down is the trend setter in responsibly and sustainably sourced duck down.  Their supremely soft down filler is used in premium pillows by brands such as Pillow Bar, and also in high-end outdoor apparel. Their down used is luxuriously billowy, odor-free, long lasting, and anti-microbial and treated and cleaned with methods and technologies that produce ultra-dry, fluorocarbon-free hydrophobic down. The fact that Allied is the leader in their industry in animal welfare practices and environmental safeguards will help you sleep even more soundly.


Wrap yourself in luxury

the types of fiber, construction and feel are myriad when it comes to bath towels. MicroCotton bath towels feature a unique structure of the yarn giving towels a suede-like texture that becomes softer with washing.  Made from 100% plush long-staple cotton, MicroCotton towels get their soft touch from a patented spinning process so the towels feel fluffy and extra-soft. Their porous texture also lends itself to absorbent and drying easily. 520093215746c__1

The lighter-weight of the textiles make large MicroCotton towels lighter than others their size, and the cotton weave is also durable and long-lasting and so that it holds colors and does not fade after multiple washings.  MicroCotton towels are available from many retailers, such as Wamsutta Perfect Soft MicroCotton Bath Towels ($14.99 at Bed, Bath and Beyond), Noble Excellence MicroCotton Bath Towels ($34.00 at Dillard’s) and Hotel Collection Bath Towels MicroCotton Collection ($31.00 at Macy’s).


Good beans

New Zealand husband and wife team of Nicola and Alex Webster were inspired by yacht life by the sea to create Coast New Zealand, a luxury brand that encompasses outdoor bean bag furniture made with fabrics that can endure the harsh elements of the coastal weather but offer beauty and style for the seasons.????????????????????????????????????

Using handcrafting and marine-grade Sunbrella fabric that retains color, shape and functionality, Coast constructs their heavy-duty lounge bags, such as their popular New Zealand Marine Bean, to last, in fact they guarantee them for at least five years — whether they are used aboard the super yachts that they were originally made for or backyards anywhere.

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