Keep Houseplants Happy With This Plant Store's Virtual Consultations

Margarita Khamidulina/iStock via Getty Images
Margarita Khamidulina/iStock via Getty Images

There is no shortage of ways that plants enrich our lives, from reducing anxiety to (possibly) improving indoor air quality to brightening our work desks. But when they start to look a little overwhelmed from doing so much good, you might need to bring in the experts. The Sill, a modern plant store with online and brick-and-mortar locations, now offers video-based consultations to keep your herbaceous children in tip-top condition.

The plant store's virtual appointments came in handy for me a few weeks ago. My two adorable marimo moss balls—colonies of algae that are, in nature, shaped into spheres by wave action—normally appear fuzzy and bright green in their fishbowl of water. Over several months, though, I noticed that they had developed an unappetizing brownish coating. Was it another type of algae? Or some moss disease? A deadly moss disease?

I staved off panic and got in touch with the Sill, whose mission is to make caring for plants fun. On the plant store's website, I scheduled a $29 15-minute, one-on-one consultation with one of the shop’s plant care experts and then made a list of questions to ask when the time came. According to the store, the 15-minute consultation can cover care issues for three to five plants, and a 30-minute option ($39) can handle up to 10 plants. Afterwards, the store emailed me a Google Calendar invite to confirm and link to the Zoom video platform.

When my appointment time arrived, I spoke with Paris Lalicata, a customer experience coordinator. I described my concerns about the brownish crud and even held up the marimos in their bowl so she could take a close look. She quickly diagnosed the problem—excess algal growth soaking into the porous moss balls—and recommended some easy fixes. I was advised to squeeze the li’l guys several times under cold running water to wring out the crud, and then change the water in the bowl once weekly. I was amazed to learn I could manhandle the marimos this way, but Paris said they can withstand the pressure—she even uses them as stress balls when needed. After our meeting, the Sill emailed a summary of the plant care tips we discussed.

Now, several weeks later, my marimos are looking perkier and greener, and the frequent water changes have minimized algal scum collecting on the bowl. The virtual plant consultation gave me an opportunity to ask a lot of questions, and Paris delivered simple solutions with a reassuring attitude—key for any plant parent still developing their green thumb.

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11 Masks That Will Keep You Safe and Stylish

Design Safe/Designer Face Covers/Its All Goods
Design Safe/Designer Face Covers/Its All Goods

Face masks are going to be the norm for the foreseeable future, and with that in mind, designers and manufacturers have answered the call by providing options that are tailored for different lifestyles and fashion tastes. Almost every mask below is on sale, so you can find one that fits your needs without overspending.

1. Multicolor 5-pack of Polyester Face Masks; $22 (56 percent off)

Home Essentials

This set of five polyester masks offers the protection you need in a range of colors, so you can coordinate with whatever outfit you're wearing.

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2. 3D Comfort Masks 5-Pack; $20 (25 percent off)

Brio

The breathable, stretchy fabric in these 3D masks makes them a comfortable option for daily use.

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3. Reusable Face Masks 2-pack; $15 (50 percent off)

Triple Grade

This cotton mask pack is washable and comfortable. Use the two as a matching set with your best friend or significant other, or keep the spare for laundry day.

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4. Active Masks 3-pack; $23 (14 percent off)

RipleyRader

Don’t let masks get in the way of staying active. These double-layer cotton masks are breathable but still protect against those airborne particles.

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5. Washable Protective Cotton Face Masks 2-pack; $13 (35 percent off)

Its All Good

Avoid the accidental nose-out look with this cotton mask that stays snug to your face.

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6. Washable 3D Masks 12-pack; $24 (44 percent off)

Elicto

With this 12-pack of protective masks, you can keep a few back-ups in your car and hand the rest out to friends and family who need them.

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7. Reusable Dust-Proof Mask with 5 Filters; $22 (45 percent off)

Triple Grade

This dust-proof mask can filter out 95 percent of germs and other particles, making it a great option for anyone working around smoke and debris all day, or even if you're just outside mowing the lawn.

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8. Reusable Fun Face Cover / Neck Gaiter (Flamingo); $20

Designer Face Covers

Channel some tropical energy with this flamingo fabric neck gaiter. The style of this covering resembles a bandana, which could save your ears and head from soreness from elastic loops. Other designs include a Bauhaus-inspired mask and this retro look.

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9. Seamless Bandana Mask; $8 (52 percent off)

Eargasm Earplugs

This seamless gaiter-style mask can be worn properly for protection and fashioned up into a headband once you're in the car or a safe space. Plus, having your hair out of your face will help you avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth before washing your hands.

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10. Two-Ply "Love" Face Masks 2-Pack; $18 (40 percent off)

Design Safe

These statement masks allow you to have a voice, even if your mouth is covered.

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11. Neoprene/Fleece Neck and Face Mask (Purple); $10 (66 percent off)

Its All Good

This mask will definitely come in handy once winter rolls around. It features a fleece neck, face, and ear covering to keep your mask secure and your face warm.

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Prices subject to change.

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Kodak’s New Cameras Don't Just Take Photos—They Also Print Them

Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Kodak

Snapping a photo and immediately sharing it on social media is definitely convenient, but there’s still something so satisfying about having the printed photo—like you’re actually holding the memory in your hands. Kodak’s new STEP cameras now offer the best of both worlds.

As its name implies, the Kodak STEP Instant Print Digital Camera, available for $70 on Amazon, lets you take a picture and print it out on that very same device. Not only do you get to skip the irksome process of uploading photos to your computer and printing them on your bulky, non-portable printer (or worse yet, having to wait for your local pharmacy to print them for you), but you never need to bother with ink cartridges or toner, either. The Kodak STEP comes with special 2-inch-by-3-inch printing paper inlaid with color crystals that bring your image to life. There’s also an adhesive layer on the back, so you can easily stick your photos to laptop covers, scrapbooks, or whatever else could use a little adornment.

There's a 10-second self-timer, so you don't have to ask strangers to take your group photos.Kodak

For those of you who want to give your photos some added flair, you might like the Kodak STEP Touch, available for $130 from Amazon. It’s similar to the regular Kodak STEP, but the LCD touch screen allows you to edit your photos before you print them; you can also shoot short videos and even share your content straight to social media.

If you want to print photos from your smartphone gallery, there's the Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer. This portable $80 printer connects to any iOS or Android device with Bluetooth capabilities and can print whatever photos you send to it.

The Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer connects to an app that allows you to add filters and other effects to your photos. Kodak

All three Kodak STEP devices come with some of that magical printer paper, but you can order additional refills, too—a 20-sheet set costs $8 on Amazon.

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