Dorm Life/Bachelor Pad 101 (Fall Shopping Guide)

Going out on your own is never easy, whether it be as a freshman in your first dorm, or leaving your folks’ home for your first apartment. There are a number of consumer goods out there to make your life a bit easier.

We are supposed to spend eight hours a day getting sleep in order to be at our healthiest. IKEA and Crate & Barrel specialize in beds that are designed for close quarters. Some of their models have drawers under the mattress so that you can store clothing and other items.

Vera Bradley, the Indiana company best known for its handbags has quietly been increasing its product line over the past few years. The company has just started manufacturing comforter sets. Lands End also makes high quality and reasonably priced bedding.

It is hard to be at your best if you continually toss and turn. Pillo1 makes high-end foam pillows that relax your head, neck and shoulder muscles while helping you maintain your posture as you catch forty winks.

The hardest adjustment for a lot of us is finding ways of keeping your habitat clean. Bissell makes inexpensive durable vacuum cleaner that don’t require you to be an MIT grad in order to be able to remove debris.  Bissell’s Spotbot gets out the toughest carpet stains while its Lift Off Floors is a lightweight upright that effortlessly picks up dust. Unger’s neatHOME line of dusters, scrubbers, and yes, squeegees are good for the cleaning jobs where you don’t have to plug in an appliance.

Both Ecos and Ecover make chemical-free cleaners for the kitchen and bathroom as well as “green” laundry detergents. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Surface Wipes will also help keep your abode germ-free.

Even the least handy of us has to occasionally drive a nail into the wall. Black & Decker’s well-named “Fat Max” oversized hammer makes it easier to hang a picture on a dense wall.

Black & Decker also manufactures the George Foreman Indoor Grill that claims to eliminate at least forty per cent of the fat in hamburgers. Hamilton Beach, a company best known for its blenders and popcorn makers, also makes a low price point indoor grill as well.

Opening cardboard boxes can be time-consuming and risky. Irwin Tools’ Folding Utility Knives are as safe a blade as you will find.

Just as Kleenex is synonymous with tissues themselves, and Jell-o is used my most people when they want gelatin, so is Thermos identified with any beverage bottle that can keep hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold for long periods of time. The company is expanding from liquids into solid foods as it’s now offering food jars that will keep lunch items at their desired temperatures even if you are away from an oven or refrigerator for a number of hours.

The Home Shopping Network will be selling Wolfgang Puck ovens starting in October. They will be just a bit larger than most microwaves. They are superior to them because (1) foods such as chicken and turkey tend to dry out in a microwave whereas they maintain their juices in an oven, and (2) the entire piece of meat tends to be at the same temperature which is not always the case with microwave ovens.

Ramen noodles have always been popular with college students because it is an inexpensive dish to relieve hunger. The Rapid Ramen Cooker is a small microwave tray that allows you to quickly have tasty ramen and other pasta dishes without boiling water.

Coffee drinkers can rejoice as Starbucks has created its own single cup brewing machine, Verismo, to compete with industry leader Keurig.

Breakfast has long ben considered to be the most important meal of the day. Oatmeal is chock full of cholesterol-fighting benefits and you can’t go wrong with Quaker Oats or Better Oats Raw Organic. If you are looking for a change from Cheerios or Kellogg’s Corn Flakes try Enjoy Life’s Crunchy Flax Silver Palate’s Berry Grain, Kashi Go Lean or Bear Naked Fit. Muller Yogurt is a healthy cold snack to grab from your fridge anytime.

Vitamins are important at any age. Quality of Life (QOL), Nature’s Bounty, New Chapter and Nature Made all produce a wide array of vitamins from a daily multi to Vitamin C to CoQ10. Monavie produces a number of healthy anti-oxidant juices that you can take with your vitamins and other health supplements in the morning.

Getting around campus or off of it is not easy without a car but having a Schwinn or Cannondale bicycle generally gets the job done as long as the weather is not too wet or cold and you get some exercise in the process.

The cost of laptop computers has dropped dramatically over the last couple of years. Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo and Acer all make durable computers that come loaded with popular software for under $600. H-P also makes several lines of ergonomically correct keyboards for under $50. Apple’s iPad has quickly become the biggest-selling device in portable computing but both Samsung and Motorola have launched their own tablet devices which are less expensive than the Apple version.

Now more than ever, it is crucial to protect your computer from viruses and spyware. Norton and Kaspersky both make premium software to stop even the most sophisticated of viruses, while Malware Malbytes prevents malicious tracking “cookies” from slowing your computer down. Even if no one was trying to harm your computer, just visiting the Internet and downloading programs and documents, can reduce the efficiency of your PC. System Mechanic 11 will keep your machine running quickly by reducing the needless clutter that accumulates in all computers.

Sitting by your desktop, and particularly your laptop, can cause back strain. Staples has many comfortable and ergonomically designed desk chairs.

Not having proper lighting will often lead to headaches and possible vision problems. Reliable’s Uberlight 9000 C Task Light, does not take a lot of space on the desk, throws off a lot of light, and rarely requires a bulb change.

The iPad’s smaller sibling, the iPhone, has become one of the most popular cellular devices. The problem is that it is easy to drop and very costly to replace. Ribbz and Otter Box both make snug rubber cases that should protect most devices. Lifeproof may do them one better by guaranteeing that its case will protect your smart phone even if you toss it in the water.

Tablets have become quite popular because of their portability as well as being far less cumbersome than laptops. Amazon’s Kindle Fire is a small tablet that came out a couple of years ago and it has a list price of under $200 and its latest version has a high definition screen. The Kindle allows you to easily surf the web and check your e-mail. It does offer less apps than Apple’s iPad but that should change with time. If you are a bit of technophobe, the Kindle Fire is a great way to get you into the 21st century.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note II and S4 Android smartphones are quickly rivaling Apple’s iPhone in terms of market share and are preferred my many who use PCs instead of Macs.

Taking your devices outside of your home or office means that you are frequently away from   electric outlets. Battery packs from MyCharge significantly extend the time you can use your iPad, iPod, iPhone, tablet, and Android a lot longer without having to worry about plugging them into a socket. When you are in your abode, iHome has a number docking station devices that will charge your devices and some of them have alarm clocks and radios to boot. Duracell’s Powermat lets you charge a number of devices with one plug.

Getting to class and work on time is essential for success. The Bedol Water Clock should please all environmentalists who detest using batteries or electricity in that it works simply from the ionic charges present in water.

Armani Exchange, Eddie Bauer, American Eagle Outfitters, Stetson and Lands End all make great looking shirts, pants and jackets that are ideal for both socializing, business meetings and job interviews. Crocs, the Colorado company that is celebrating its tenth year in business, has long been renown for its beach and pool footwear. The company has just introduced a line of loafers and boat shoes that are perfect for casual occasions. Levi’s have always been considered the Rolls-Royce of jeans. Like a Rolls however they have been far more expensive than their competitors. In response to the tough economy Levi Strauss has recently created a pair of budget lines called Denizen and Signature which provide quality at affordable prices. T-shirts have become such a part of fashion that the better ones, such as those from Sportiqe and the Home T, can be worn with sports jackets.

Moving away from where you’ve grown up is the first time is often the first time that you need to buy luggage. Transpack’s Butterfly Cargo and Ful’s Double Time are lightweight compact rolling suitcases. Both companies also have backpacks for toting books and laptops. If you need heavy duty luggage, Briggs & Riley makes suitcases that will last several lifetimes. For weekend getaways, the Helly Hansen 50L Duffel Bag is highly recommended.

It’s no secret that many consumers do all of their purchasing at one-stop online shopping websites as Ideeli, Amazon, The Find,  QVC and HSN.

Go out and get “A’s” if you are a student or land that job or promotion if you are now in the “real world.”

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