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Why You Need to Give the Furball a Hug Today

Posted by Caroline Fong June 4, 2014 05:00 PM

Today is Hug Your Cat Day. Have you heard of it? Me neither. But a friend had told me about it, and I proceeded to google it. Sure enough, itís one of those cute, funny holidays.

If youíre the lucky momma or papa of a furry feline, go ahead and give him some extra love today. And if youíre feeling extra generous, gift that furball one of these delightful toys.

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Gifts for Pops: Be His Favorite Child

Posted by Caroline Fong June 2, 2014 05:00 PM

I know parents arenít supposed to pick favorites, but I donít think itíd hurt to earn some brownie points. Besides, as the oldest of my siblings, Iíve had the fortune and misfortune of having received the bulk of my parentsí attention. Itís only fitting that I get pops a thoughtful gift.

If youíre going to get dad a tie or shirt, close your wallet. There are ways to get him a ďtraditionalĒ gift while still making it unique. Iíve rounded up a few of my favorite things from The Grommet as well as a few common items you could gift your dad that heíd probably love your help with.

If your dad is a manís man:

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For the dad who likes well-trimmed facial hair, get him a shaving gift set from Napa Soap Company. Handmade in the Napa Valley, this gift is economical and eco-friendly. It comes with approximately one year's supply of shaving soap even with daily use, and itís made with natural ingredients that sound good enough to eat!

If your dad prefers to landscape the garden instead, get him this handsome set of hand-forged garden tools from Fisher Blacksmithing. Functional and made from time tested designs, each piece is solid, comfortable, and a beautiful work of craftsmanship.


Raise Your Feet for Lost Sock Memorial Day

Posted by Caroline Fong May 9, 2014 02:00 PM

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I am convinced there is a sock monster that lives in my washing machine. On good days, I manage to find the same number of my beloved socks in the clean laundry. On grumpy days, I find lone socks, adding to my growing collection of odd socks.

Today is Lost Sock Memorial Day, the day we commemorate the lost halves of our socks. Let's raise our feet in memory of these lost feet mittens and replenish our collection. And let's go over a couple of ways to avoid losing more socks, shall we?


Mother of Invention: 6 Original Gifts for Mom

Posted by Caroline Fong April 28, 2014 02:00 PM

Necessity is the mother of invention.

The English proverb points to how we create or invent things during difficult or trying times to reduce difficulty. The origin of the proverb is sometimes attributed to Plato, but I like to think of my mom.

If I need help thinking through the answer to a problem, I know just who to turn to -- my mom. To this day, if I am sick, she will prepare different soups and broth from scratch to help me get better. (I mean, props to my pops too for being able to hand-build a bunk bed for my siblings when we were little and needed an extra bed!)

Well, Mother's Day is now only two weeks away. What are you getting your mom? She deserves more than just flowers and a card. Why not get her something unique and made by a Maker who puts just as much care into his or her product as your own Mother does when it comes to you?

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1) Fiat Luxe Felted Soap, $14 -- Available in wonderful scents such as verbena and lavender mint, these all-natural, handcrafted soaps are all scented with botanically derived essentials oils. They're enveloped in soft felt, which creates an exfoliating and fragrant lather. This soap is the perfect aromatic escape at the end of a busy mother's day.


Boston: City That I Love

Posted by Caroline Fong April 18, 2014 05:00 PM

boston strong.jpgIt will be Marathon Monday in three days, and I am reminded of how much I love this city. We went through an awful event last year, but we held strong and were in it together.

Iíve been seeing my fellow Bostonians rocking Boston Strong memorabilia, and I love it. Back at Disney World, all cast members had their names and hometowns on their pin badges. People find meaning in identifying with a place of origin, and we all certainly identify with Boston here.

With the Boston Marathon coming up, if youíre looking for more ways to celebrate your city in addition to rocking a sweet Boston Strong t-shirt, here are four items that will turn heads at home and out.

Holding a Boston Strong party?


Tin Parade Patriotic Table Banner ($39) -- Made of fabric, not paper, this table banner is a distinct alternative to traditional tablecloths and runners. Since itís reusable, you can decorate for the 4th of July or the Boston Marathon and beckon a good time year after year.


5 Spring Steals to Send Winter Off

Posted by Caroline Fong April 7, 2014 10:30 AM

This recent winter felt especially long. It seemed like a snow storm greeted us every other week. But with springís official arrival, I am more than happy to take the sunnier mornings and afternoons even though the past few days have seen some dark clouds and chilly winds come nightfall.

And for me, there are certain mini milestones that come with the sought-after seasonal change. Iíve been wearing my spring leather boots more than my thick winter boots. I feel happier (and other folks seem so, too). There are more outdoor activities. In fact, just this past weekend, I participated in a fun public pillow fight in the Cambridge Common. What a way to welcome spring!

If youíve been looking for a way to shake up the Ďole routine a bit and welcome spring, here are five steals under $30 to start you off for some spring times.

1. Rice Cube ($19.95)


Friends love friends who can cook. With the nicer weather and the upcoming warm weather vegetables that will be available, nowís a great time to try your hand at sushi-making. If youíre intimidated, use this sushi tool to easily make cubes of this healthy and delicious food.


How to Spruce Up Your Spring Garden

Posted by Caroline Fong March 24, 2014 05:00 PM

As cliche as it sounds, spring is my favorite season. Yes, it may have something to do with the beautiful flowers and nice weather, but what I love is what those things signify: the blossoming of life.

And maybe New York City is a poor example of spring, but if you were in the Big Apple this past weekend, it was teeming with tourists. The warm weather and sunny days seemed to have pulled them right from the ground (or airport, rather) and planted them onto the pavements of the city of lights.

We are now four days into this fantastic season, and most of us probably prefer to be outside in our gardens than being in the big, big concrete city. If thatís you, hereís a roundup of five items that will help you spruce up the greenery around your lovely house.

Letís start from the ground up.

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Hudson Valley Seed Library ($22.50, Set of 6) -- Want to grow Lemon Cucumbers and Good Bug Blooms? Mix and match a selection of regionally-adapted seeds in gift-quality packs featuring original works designed by artists. Take part in the preservation of these heirloom seeds from Hudson Valley of upstate New York in time for spring.


The What-to-Buy-When-Santa-Brings-You-Cash Gift Guide

Posted by Caroline Fong December 27, 2013 07:15 PM

Yesterday, I went into work and asked my favorite post-Christmas question: ďWhat did Santa bring you?Ē

My adjacent seat-mate told me Santa had brought her brandy to which everyone nodded in agreement that Santa was a smart man. Bobby (star of The Grommet trip to the R. Murphy Knife factory) told us that Santa had brought him clothes and money to which everyone exclaimed the latter was an awesome gift as an adult.

Santa had brought me money, too. With the extra cash, I had wondered about the different ways I should spend it. Wasting it on a few big meals seemed too gluttonous. Buying more shoes would make the shoe racks a walking hazard. And I have more books on my book list than I can keep up with.

If youíre in the same boat as me, hereís a quick gift guide for things that you can buy with the new year in mind:

Youíve been overworked and sleeping poorly this past year. And Santa just gave you $200.

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Holiday Checklist: Donate One Toy

Posted by Caroline Fong December 11, 2013 03:00 PM

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I have a secret fondness for toys. Actually, I think everyone does. My greatest possession in life (when I was eight years old) was a small sack of stuffed toys that I had personally picked out at the store. And I actually still have key pieces of that collection, such as my three Garfields.

With Christmas just around the corner, the topic of toys is on every parent's mind. I remember the look of delight on my dad's face as I was happily admiring each stuffed animal. I am sure any parent would rather this scenario than the distress of the alternative.

This holiday season, you can donate a toy to a nonprofit to help a family whose letter to Santa may have been lost in the snow. Here are some great places to start:


How to Buy Christmas Gifts for Anyone and Everyone

Posted by Caroline Fong December 2, 2013 01:30 PM

I have a close friend who already has all her Christmas presents picked out, purchased, wrapped, and sitting in neat stacks on her bedroom floor. Her chipper updates on Facebook include pictures of said presents, which make me guiltily remind myself to finalize my own list.

The problem, however, isn't deciding who to buy presents for or where to buy presents. It's what to buy. This past weekend, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning combing the web, looking for the perfect (or even just near-perfect) gift for everyone on my list.

With so many options, it's easy to suffer from decision paralysis -- especially when you're trying to balance the ďperfectĒ gift factor, price, convenience of shopping in an online or brick and mortar store, navigating mall crowds, free shipping deadlines, and more.

I've put together a cheat sheet for almost everyone in your circle of friends and family. So go ahead, relax and have another cup of hot chocolate.



Sempli Cupa Rocks Gift Set, $50 -- These handblown crystal wine glasses are designed to spin and decant at the same time. Buy a set for the old man and include a nice bottle of Port so that he can sit back in style.



Anywhere Fireplace, $169.99 -- You are the apple of her eye. This holiday season, get her the fireplace that she's always wanted. Smokeless, no ash, non-toxic, it burns eco-friendly bio-ethanol liquid fuel and is made of contemporary high gloss painted steel and tempered glass. It'll be a great conversation piece and a warm addition to any entertaining room.



Spooner Board, $54.95 -- Have a little rascal that just won't stay still? Get him this balance board; it'll challenge him to stand, sit, rock, spin, slide, tilt, flip, or wobble on any surface, anywhere.



Lille Huset, $35 -- Legos are great, but painful for the unassuming foot. If your little sis loves arts and crafts, get her this collapsible DIY dollhouse instead so that she can let her imagination run free.

Before we continue, you may say wait! All your sibling gifts were for children. What about older siblings? Well, I am counting on them being just as cool as your friends, so keep reading for other gift options.


About The Grommet

We launch undiscovered products and help them succeed; we call them Grommets. Grommets aren't just things. Grommets are products with a purpose invented by people with stories. More »
Buy Differently is a sponsored blog powered by The Grommet, and part of Finds, a site you can count on to bring you the best discoveries around Boston and beyond. This blog is not written or edited by or Finds. The author is solely responsible for the content.
Caroline Fong
Caroline hails from a tiny tropical island originally, but calls Boston home. A curious bird, she spent a spring trekking all over Ireland, has been an Air Force Junior ROTC cadet, and worked at Disney World as a merchandising intern. With a love for all things interesting, she found herself at The Grommet, where she gets to eat, sleep, and breathe innovative undiscovered products. Say hello to her on Twitter.