Photo: Claire Lower
There is only time to cook one meal on Thanksgiving morning, and that meal is not breakfast. Cereal or store-bought danish is always an option, but if you want to serve something warm and seasonally appropriate, you can make these three-ingredient toaster pastries now, and keep them in the freezer until feeding time.
To make them, you just need pie dough (store-bought is fine), cranberry sauce (the whole berry, not jellied), and an egg. Roll out a single pie’s-worth of dough on a floured surface, then cut it into six equal-sized rectangles. (If you are very good at rolling out pie dough, you may be able to get eight.)
Scoop two teaspoons of sauce into the center of three (or four) of the rectangles, spread it around a little (leaving half an inch of space from the edge, and place the remaining dough on top of the sauced rectangles.
Crimp the edges with a fork to seal, poke three rows of holes with the tines of the same fork into the tops, and brush any excess flour off the tops of the pastries with a pastry brush. Beat a whole egg, then give the pastries a nice little wash. Repeat until you have as many pastries as you desire.
Bake the pastries in a 375-degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until they are a nice golden brown. Let them cool to room temperature, then stick the whole baking sheet in the freezer until they are completely frozen, ideally overnight. Transfer them to a freezer bag. When you are ready to feed them to the masses, place them in a toaster oven for a few minutes, until the edges and tops start to darken slightly. Serve with lots of coffee, then return your attention to the turkey.
Oral B Pro 5000 Bluetooth Toothbrush | $55 | Amazon | Promo code 20ORALBNOV1 + $15 clippable coupon.Graphic: Shep McAllister
If the price doesn’t convince you, our readers love this toothbrush because of its superior oscillating, pulsing, and rotating brush head. It also connects via Bluetooth to an app on your phone and can show you were need to brush more, and store data for your dentist to review. This deal will probably not last long, so get while you can.
Screenshot: Meghan Moravcik Walbert
My husband and I both played instruments growing up, so we sort of assumed that musical ability and interest was deeply embedded in our genes. It wasn’t a matter of whether our son played in a band; it was a matter of which instrument—or instrumentS!—he would choose.
Imagine my surprise when, by age 2, he would scream “MAMAAAAA!” to get me to stop singing kid-song-classics like “The Wheels on the Bus.” Dude did not seem to like music (or my singing).
We were so excited for his first preschool holiday concert where he and all his little 3-year-old buddies would sing and dance in unison(ish). Except that all his buddies sang and dance while my son stood looking half-bored and half-miserable. He once fidgeted so much during a school concert that he nearly fell off the top riser.
By first grade, he was excited to go to school four out of the five days a week. On the fifth day—music class day—he’d walk into school slowly, shoulders slumped, knowing that “boooooring music” loomed in his future.
I’d all but given up that he would ever really love to create music until I stumbled upon the Chrome Music Lab. Kids can experiment with music in all sorts of different ways, playing around with chords, arpeggios, sound waves, harmonies and melodies. My son immediately got down to business “writing” his own song, which looks like this and sounds surprisingly catchy:Screenshot: Meghan Moravcik Walbert
Then he moved on to the rhythm section, where he spent some time directing cute animals to bang on drums, bongos and cowbells.Screenshot: Meghan Moravcik Walbert
And finally, he ended with the voice spinner, in which you can record your own voice and then speed it up, slow it down or play it backwards in a way that is endlessly hilarious to an 8-year-old.
My personal favorite—which I’ve been playing around with for, ahem, the past half hour—is the Kandinsky experiment where you can make original drawings that are turned into sound. (I drew a circle and it even added eyes for me!) You hit “play” and the lines turn into notes that sound like a mini song.Screenshot: Meghan Moravcik Walbert
When I finally told my son that enough was enough and I needed my laptop back to do actual work, he groaned and said, “But I’m having so much fun!”
Maybe he likes music after all.
Photo: Claire Lower
I love a little squash. They have the visual appeal of decorative gourds, but you can eat them, which is an improvement. But their small size can make them slightly challenging to de-seed, and a regular spoon’s smooth edge doesn’t have the scraping power needed to remove the goopy strings and seeds in an efficient manner. This is why I turn to the grapefruit spoon.
Truth be told, I use this spoon for squash far more than I use it for grapefruit. Its serrated edges remove the slippery inside of the squash in a manner most expedient, and the pointed tip is great at reaching into ridges and edges to get every little string, leaving you with nothing but squash, perfect for stuffing with stuffing. (For larger squashes, use a cheap metal measuring cup—the kind with real thin edges.)
Photo: Katichka Khromova
There’s a lot of pricey sleep tech out there, not to mention supplements and products aimed at giving you more “energy” during the day. But most of us, if we’re feeling tired all the time, just need to get our butts to bed.
If you’re ready for some real talk from a cartoon sheep, Shleep (free on iOS and Android) can help you figure out which sleep habits you’re terrible at, and give you little digestible lessons to help you get better. The company’s bread and butter seems to be slightly dystopian corporate solutions (sleep is “foundational to peak performance” so you should monitor your employees’ sleep, ick) but the app itself is free and not too intrusive.
When you install it, you’ll fill out a little quiz asking how long you sleep on weekdays and weekends, whether you snooze, whether you feel tired during the day, and whether you use your phone in bed. (The questions get more detailed, but these are the major areas.) Then you get a grade, and you’re assigned a set of little video lessons to explain why and how you should fix one of your bad habits.
You’ll get an assignment no matter how good your score is, by the way. I answered the questions to get a perfect score, and was told I should work on “relaxation.” But I also have the option of viewing other sets of lessons: weaning myself off of the snooze button, avoiding “sleep debt,” getting electronic devices out of the bedroom.
The app wants to bug you every day, multiple times a day, to ask how your sleep has been and to remind you about those bedtime routines you may have promised you’d do. But the notifications are easy to turn off or tweak, so I won’t fault it too much. If the app helps you actually get to bed on time, you’ll feel better in the long term.
Auto-enrollment has proven to be an effective way for employees to save for retirement, with 91 percent of those who are auto-enrolled in a defined contribution plan (like a 401(k)) remaining opted in to the program, according to a 2018 report from Fidelity.
But that has implications beyond more people saving for retirement—it also affects what funds and investments employees enroll in. Auto-enrollment plans work on inertia. Because 98 percent of employers offer target date funds in defined contribution plans and 89 percent use them as the default investment option, that means more and more everyday investors are putting ever more of their investments into target date funds.
In fact, “68 percent of millennials are 100 percent invested in a target date fund, due in part to being auto-enrolled in their 401(k) and defaulted into the option,” reports Fidelity. Overall, more than 30 percent of 401(k) assets are in target date funds, a dramatic increase from around 10 percent in 2008. And 403(b) plan participants have an even greater portion of assets invested in TDFs.
So, is that a bad thing? Not necessarily—but it depends on who you are and what your goals are.Target Date Funds Are Easy to Use
Essentially, TDFs take an investor’s age and projected retirement year into account when picking investments. For beginning investors, they are an easy and manageable way to ensure exposure to an array of investments and spend less time researching and picking out individual funds. They have low minimum initial investments, automatic rebalancing and adjust asset allocation for you over time. They’re simple and don’t require a lot of investing savvy.“Target date funds are a ‘turn off my brain’ kind of thing, but when we turn off our brains bad things happen”
But beyond that, TDFs lose some of their luster. Once you’ve started building your assets, you should look into switching out of them. For one, because “when you’re in a TDF, you are not in control of how that fund is invested,” says D. Keith Lockyer, investment market manager at PNC Wealth Management. Your individual risk tolerance is not taken into account, meaning, especially for older investors, that your portfolio is likely too conservative (you could also argue this is the case for young investors who don’t need as much exposure to bonds as they’re likely getting). Outside of a TDF, you or a professional can tweak things how you’d like, in “better” funds.
“Target date funds are a ‘turn off my brain’ kind of thing, but when we turn off our brains bad things happen,” says Scott Tucker, President of Scott Tucker Solutions in Chicago, Ill. “People are using target date funds for growth, and the problem is those target date funds have a lot of bonds in them and bonds lose value when interest rates rise.” Meaning people looking to retire soon (say by 2025 or even 2030) are potentially losing out on a lot of growth by staying invested in them.When to Opt Out of Target Date Funds
They’re also actively managed—which LH advises against—which means they can come saddled with more fees than your typical index fund. One big fee difference: The expense ratio. The Motley Fool reports that the difference between a target-date fund’s annual expense ratio and an index fund’s is “0.51 percent vs 0.09 percent on average, according to the Investment Company Institute.” That might not sound like a lot to get worked up over, but take this simple example:
You put away $5,500 a year for the next 30 years. Your funds earn 7% annually above inflation before fees (around the stock market’s historical average). In the index fund scenario (that is, a 0.09% expense ratio), you end with just over $511,000. If you pay that higher 0.51% expense ratio then, all other things being equal, you’ll have a little over $474,000 in savings instead — a loss of about $37,000 because of those extra fees.
That said, fees for these funds can easily reach one percent or higher, which will eat away even more of your money. You always need to check the fees before investing in any product.
One solution for older investors (59 1/2-plus) and those who have left a job is to roll their 401(k)s into IRAs, says Tucker. You have better investment options that way. And young investors should choose the highest retirement year on the target date funds that they can, he suggests, even if that’s not necessarily the year they want to retire, so that they’re more heavily invested in equities and have less in bonds.
“We’re trying to make investing simple for people with target date funds, but investors are going to want to look under the hood,” says Tucker. “The easy button isn’t always the best option.”
Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier | $20 | AmazonGraphic: Shep McAllister
Gerber’s suspension multi-plier features 12 tools in one package, meaning you’re spending less than $2 per function today. If you don’t already own one, you should take this opportunity to rectify that. If you do, buy some more to give away as holiday gifts.
Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)
As good as the Pixel 3 is, when Google released the phone last month, it sort of felt incomplete. Part of that feeling is due to Google’s software-first approach to smartphone design which means there’s always code being tinkered with, but the other part was simply because Google still hadn’t delivered two major Pixel 3 features the company teased prior to launch.
But starting today, one of those missing additions, Night Sight, is finally rolling out to Pixel 3 owners, and after having the chance to test it out for a few days, I can safely say Google’s sophisticated camera feature was worth the wait.
Previously, when faced with certain low-light situations, the Pixel 3 sometimes struggled to best phones with larger aperture lenses like the Galaxy Note 9, or top sophisticated low-light techniques like Huawei’s impressive Night Mode, which really pushed the use of HDR photo processing when it debuted earlier this year on the P20 Pro.
However, Night Sight changes all that, and thanks to Google flexing its computational photography skills, the Pixel 3 is now capable of capturing some incredible low-light pics. And to prove it, I took all the best smartphone cameras out for a side-by-side nighttime shootout.
One quick note before we get to the pictures. Accessing Night Sight is as easy as scrolling over to the More tab in Google’s camera app and then tapping the icon for Night Sight. But when you actually shoot a picture, it’s not a simple click and you’re done. Similar to Huawei’s Night Mode, Night Sight shoots multiple images during a three to four-second window, and then combines those images together to create a final pic that looks better than each original frame on its own. That means to get the best results, you really need to try to hold your phone as steady as possible.Click to enlarge. All images are unedited, though they have been resized slightly to 10-MP to match the Mate 20 Pro’s resolution. Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)
OK, now onto the photos. To set a baseline, I started by taking two shots with the Pixel 3, one with Night Sight off and one with Night Sight on. And while in some respects, I like the pic taken without Night Sight more because its richer colors and darker exposure make for a moodier final image, when it comes to details and sharpness, the photo taken with Night Sight is clearly superior. Text on signs is clearer, the overall image is much less grainy, and you can even make out each individual brick in the building no matter where you’re looking.Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)
Next, I moved on to a face-off between the Pixel 3 and the Galaxy Note 9; a battle of computer smarts versus a wider f/1.5 lens aided by a touch of AI tuning. This time at a local bar, while both photos look pretty good zoomed out, you can still see things like the overly yellow color cast often produced by Samsung cameras in low light.Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)
But when you start pixel peeping at 100 percent, you can really appreciate little details from the general sharpness on every sign and sticker to the Pixel 3's ability to clearly capture the wood grain on the framed chalkboard and the texture on various beer taps.Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)
For the Pixel 3's third challenge, I shot a nighttime cityscape with it and Huawei’s new Mate 20 Pro. And once again, while the Pixel 3's pic does show some signs of over-sharpening like the hard pink outline on the lights at the top of the building in the middle, Night Sight still bested Huawei’s Night Mode, which up till now, was the best way to capture challenging low-light scenes.While the Mate 20 Pro’s image does offer more zoom, the sacrifice in quality while using night mode isn’t worth it Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)
Also, while I was up there, I decided to see if Night Sight could work in combination with Google’s Super Res Zoom feature, and it seems it does. But the bigger shock is that for a camera with a supposed 3x zoom, the Mate 20 Pro’s Night Mode pic was a blurry mess compared to the Pixel 3's image. Now part of this may have been due to having to hand hold both phones, which is far from ideal, but both pics were shot one after another under the exact same circumstances, and I’m still struggling to work out why things turned out so poorly for the Mate 20 Pro.Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)
Finally, in what may have been the most difficult challenge, I took a shot using the Pixel 3 and an iPhone XS of a pizza lit almost solely by a single candle. And the difference couldn’t be more apparent. The colors in the Pixel 3's pic are brighter, it features better contrast, and despite a fair amount of noise in the dark background, everything else is just so much clearer. Suffice to say, if you take a lot of pics in dimly lit restaurants, the Pixel 3 and Night Sight is probably your ticket to way better food photography.Here are a handful of additional Night Sight comparisons. 1 / 4
Night Sight is exactly what the Pixel 3 needed to really round out its photo toolkit. But in strange way, the biggest winners of all this may be Pixel 1 and Pixel 2 owners, who will also be getting Night Sight over the next few days. Night Sight is available as an update the Pixel 3's camera app via a Play Store update starting today.
Cats aren’t dogs. And if you want to make friends with a new cat, you don’t treat it like a dog. You patiently figure out what works for this particular cat, and you don’t expect it to work every time. But the slow process of befriending a cat makes it deeply rewarding when you finally win one over.
Earlier this year, I talked to three experts on cat behavior for the post “How to Get a Cat to Like You.” The post was so popular that we decided to try out the techniques on Cosmo, a cat owned by Lifehacker video producer Adam Powers. In the video above, I butter up Cosmo not just with snacks and toys, but by giving him space and being patient. As you’ll see, even with a friendly cat like Cosmo, it’s not always easy. For one, he’s a chomper.
Now Cosmo and I are friends forever—friends who sometimes ignore each other and sit on opposite ends of the couch, but also friends who nuzzle close and beg for shrimp snacks. And sometimes Cosmo begs for shrimps, too.
Photo: Paul Sullivan (Flickr)
Cooking a perfect Thanksgiving turkey is a pretty tall order, and every cook has their own tricks for crispy skin and juicy meat. However you wrangle your bird this year, there’s one universal turkey truth that’ll save you time and effort: Trussing is a scam.
Turkeys are both huge and relatively low in fat, which makes them difficult to roast perfectly. Breaking your bird down into its component parts all but guarantees an evenly cooked result, but most people prefer the simple prep and Norman Rockwell-worthy aesthetics of a neatly trussed, whole roasted turkey. That’s fine, but you should know that trussing is a purely aesthetic choice that makes an already difficult task even tougher.
Tying your turkey’s legs blocks the cavity and prevents air from circulating freely around the densest parts of the bird. This has at least three major-bummer implications for your Thanksgiving spread. First, if you’re a stuffing-in-the-bird family, blocking the cavity just makes it harder for the stuffing to cook through. Second, the legs already take longer to cook than any other part of the turkey; pinning them up next to the breasts means they’ll take even longer, at which point those breasts will probably be dry. Third, trussing folds a treasure trove of skin and fat in on itself rather than exposing it to the heat it needs to crispy up. Turkeys are already low on skin and fat; you should never leave crispy skin on the table.
Old habits die hard, so if less oven time and extra crunchy skin aren’t enough to convince you, maybe this will: skipping the truss makes for the easiest turkey ever, especially if you’ve dry-brined it. You can take it from the fridge to the counter to the oven with zero extra work. Of course, you can still tie up those legs for pictures—and if you’ve nicked a few bites of skin, it’s a great way to hide the evidence.