A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true. All reviews on this site are written by readers who have actually used the tool and others like it. Items can be either old or new as long as they are wonderful. We post things we like and ignore the rest. Suggestions for tools much better than what is recommended here are always wanted.
My Octopus Teacher/Pocket synth/Dreamy wallpapersSign up here to get Recomendo a week early in your inbox.Best documentary
This is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. Yet nothing about its subject would suggest greatness. My Octopus Teacher is about a tired middle-age man who befriends a small octopus in a South African kelp reef. He visits the octopus every day for a year (while filming it), and what he learns from the octopus is oceanic. This tiny creature is otherworldly, a superhero alien from another galaxy, and her life connected to the particular reef expands until it fills the universe. Everything is divinely photographed. Must see. — KK
Cheap pocket synthesizer
My wife got me one of these tiny Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator PO-14 Sub Synthesizers for Christmas last year. It’s made by Teenage Engineering, creators of the amazing (and expensive!) OP-1 Synthesizer. This pocket model is only $50 but is a lot of fun to play and very versatile. Watch this video a feature rundown. — MF
Right now the prettiest thing on my screen is an image I found on Visuals of Earth, which has a trove of dreamy and magical wallpapers that are free to download for your phone. The @visualsofearth Instagram also reposts and shares lovely images by digital artists. — CD
Green trash bags
In our region we have a large green bin as part of our weekly trash pickup. All compostable kitchen and yard waste goes in it. But in the kitchen, the trash liner gets messy with wet food and scraps. Recycled paper bags are soggy, and you can’t toss in plastic bags. The solution is green compostable liners, like large doggy poo bags, so we can transfer the entire bag right into the compost bin. These compostable bags made from plant starch are so convenient, we use them for all trash now, to cut down plastic waste. There are a number of brands; we use Unni Tall Kitchen Trash, 50 bags. — KK
I am a big advocate for talk therapy. Paying someone to listen me vent/ramble, who in return offers sound advice and clarity has improved every aspect of my life. Having shared that, Catherine Andrews, who I consider a self-care expert, has written a very thoughtful post on her favorite healing resources to help you move past talk therapy. I was excited to discover some tools I had never heard of before, like Embodiment, Future-Self Journaling, and Sound Baths. — CD
33 of favorite pieces of wisdom
Author and marketer Ryan Holiday recently posted a list of advice he called “33 Things I Stole From People Smarter Than Me.” They’re all worth reading, but here are a couple of my favorites — MF
17. Steve Kamb, the founder of NerdFitness.com, told me that the best and most polite excuse is just to say you have a rule. “I have a rule that I don’t decide on the phone.” “I have a rule that I don’t accept gifts.” “I have a rule that I don’t speak for free anymore.” “I have a rule that I am home for bath time with the kids every night.” People respect rules, and they accept that it’s not you rejecting the offer, request, demand, or opportunity, but the rule allows you no choice.
32. The personal finance advisor Ramit Sethi talks about how you can just… not reply to things. It felt rude at first, but then I realized it was ruder to ignore the people I care about to respond to things I didn’t ask for in the first place. Selective ignoring is the key to productivity, I’m afraid.
Want more? Every couple of weeks the three of us record a very brief video of something new we recommend. No more than a few minutes in total. We call it Recomendo Shorts. Enjoy!