Holiday Gift Roundup!

It’s that time of the year, so let’s get started!

Fpour-over-pressirst up is the versatile “Pour Over Press” coffee maker from W and P Design. This allows you to make traditional pour-over coffee using a filter cup; French press coffee with the plunger attachment; or cold brew coffee. This products retails for $75. A great gift for any coffee lover!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Also from W and P is a nice stocking-stuffer: The Carry-On Cocktail Kit. This kit has the ingredients needed to add to booze to make two complete cocktails. Varieties available include: Old Fashioned, Gin and Tonic, Moscow Mule, Champagne Cocktail, Bloody Mary, and a Hot Toddy. Each set retails for $24 and is available at their website, or at stores like Restoration Hardware, where, as of this writing, it is on sale online for $14.

 

 

 

While we’re on the subject of cocktails, acclaimed bartender Charles Joly has come up with a line of crfths-shakerst_webproducts to make your mixing more stylish. The collection is called Crafthouse by Fortessa, and I’d suggest a couple of options. First is the Shaker Set, which comes with a two piece Boston shaker, a 2 oz. Jigger, a muddler, and a Hawthorne strainer. It retails on Amazon for $100 plus shipping.

The other set from this line is the Bar Tool set. This set comes with a peeler, a knife, a channel knife for making twists, and a black walnut bar board. It’s available at Dillards online for $90. crfths-brtoolst_web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sport-bundle-product1_2Now, how about a stocking stuffer for your teenage son or daughter. It’s not glamorous, but boy is it useful–the remodeez odor and moisture remover. It provides a non-toxic solution to remove everyday odors. It uses activated charcoal derived from coconut husks to absorb odor at the source. You can place them in your shoes, around the house, or in your gym bag. Check out the available styles and place your order at remodeez.

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, some websites with cool, funky products, too many items to list individually:

http://www.fredandfriends.com/

https://kikkerland.com/

https://www.frenchbull.com/

Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

Bamboo and other Compostable Products

I visited a friend recently and she went on a tirade against plastic. Well, do i have some great news for her!

EcoSouLife

This Australian company produces a line of products that consists of biodegradable tableware, some of which can be reused,  and some of which are disposable. They are made from a variety of natural materials, such as: Palm Leaf (picked from the ground, not from live plants); Corn Starch; Bamboo; and Rice Husks.

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When processed, the bamboo plates look just like melamine plastic, but will decompose  when buried in the ground (unlike melamine).  Corn starch products also have a plastic look to them, but can be disposed of and will biodegrade within 6-12 months. Rice husk fibers are processed and made into sturdy plates, bowls, and more. The rice husk dinnerware is even dishwasher safe, as are the pieces in the bamboo and the corn starch lines. While some of the dinnerware looks like plastic, some has a more “natural” look, particularly the pieces made from palm leaf.

plam_leaf_square_plate

 

 

There is now a distributor in Florida, so you can contact jr.munoz@ecosoulife.com for more information.

October is American Cheese Month!

If you know one thing about me, it’s that I love cheese! Well, October is American Cheese Month, so let’s celebrate with some fabulous cheeses and some really cool ways of presenting them.

First I’d like to put a plug in for an event at the Villa Park Public Library, in Villa Park, IL. In honor of American Cheese Month they will be offering a program on American Cheeses, facilitated by Meredith Meder, an ACS (American Cheese Society) Certified Cheese Professional. I have attended her programs in the past, and they’re informational and tasty! Call 630-834-1164 to register. There’s a $7.00 tasting fee associated with the class.

 

boska-toasta-bags

Now, next up is the cheese-centric line of products from Boska. One product I’ve read about recently is their Toastabags used to make grilled cheese sandwiches in the toaster. I need to try this one out. There are no crumbs and no mess. I’ve seen pictures of the finished products, and the result looks absolutely yummy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

master group

If you need to grate your cheese you can go to the Microplane line of products, which I’ve discussed here previously. I’d like to give another shout out to the Master Series Graters with the Walnut wood handle. The Ribbon Grater is perfect for grating ribbons of cheddar cheese for sauces, cheese puffs, and other recipes.

 

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And what will you cut your cheese on? You need a cutting board, and where better to go than Duluth-based Epicurean. Their cutting boards are beautiful and functional. They are: dishwasher safe, heat resistant to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, knife friendly, made of non-porous wood fiber, and have a limited lifetime warranty. Take a look at some of their designs.

 

 

 

 

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Finally, to store your artisan cheeses, we have The Cheese Vault, by Capabunga. It’s a one of a kind, reusable way to store cheese. It is made of food-grade silicone, which allows the cheese to remain fresh and delay mold.

 

Happy American Cheese Month, everybody!

 

 

 

Wedding Season is Here!

It’s time to come up with some snazzy gifts for your friends and family when they tie the knot. I’ve got a few ideas for you:

by-the-pool

 

From Le Creuset comes a new color assortment known as “Oasis.” With colors like Soleil, Palm, Caribbean, and the new Hibiscus, you’re sure to add a mid-century modern aesthetic to your wedding day gift-giving. See more about this enchanting collection at the Le Creuset website.

 

 

 

pyrex dotspyrex vintage charm
Another choice if you’re into retro housewares is the “Vinage Charm inspired by Pyrex” collection of mixing bowls. They’re available at Target, Macy’s and other retailers.

 

 

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Ok, I know I talked about this in my last post, but I’d like to recommend, once again, the Üllo Wine Purifier. I don’t know any wine drinker that wouldn’t appreciate this gift. You can read more about Üllo , and purchase it here.

 

 

 

 

852030 PRO_cheese barbeclette_2

Literally, Grilled Cheese!!!

340031 Life Candle Light Fondue Twinkle
Know what my favorite food is? Besides potatoes, I mean…. It’s CHEESE! And Boska is a company with many beautiful and functional serving pieces to make any cheese lover happy. Whether it’s a fondue pot, or cheese boards with knives, or a barbeclette (a paddle to grill cheese over a barbecue grill!)–you’re sure to find something you like from Boska.

 

 

french bull ziggy pattern
For something that looks good on the kitchen counter, here’s an offering from French Bull: a dry pantry storage line in their iconic Ziggy pattern. These containers have an airtight lid, have an easy pour spout for dispensing cereal, nuts, and the like, and come in an attractive gift box.

 

 

 

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And finally, The Microplane(R) Master Series. The classic hand-held Microplane graters are styled up a notch with with a beautiful oiled walnut handle, the wood sourced from the U.S. The graters come in fine, ribbon, coarse, and extra coarse, as well as a version of the popular rasp zester. These graters will be available in August at Williams-Sonoma, and in October at other national retailers. For more information, consumers are welcome to visit the Microplane website, or call toll-free at 800-555-2767.

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Quick, Act Fast to Order your Üllo Wine Purification System!

Üllo Lifestyle 3
I saw this really cool wine purification system at the Housewares Show in March and had to tell you about it before the special Pre-Order price on Indiegogo  ends. (It ends tonight, May 19th. On Friday, May 20th, all products revert to standard pricing.)

If you don’t know about Üllo, let me tell you…it’s so simple, yet makes so much sense. It was created by James Kornacki, PhD., who got his Doctorate in Chemistry from Northwestern University. Üllo purifies wine by removing sulfites that are added to preserve wine. Once you open a bottle, the sulfites are no longer necessary. To use Üllo, you just put the filter pack into it, put it in a carafe, and pour your wine through, like so:

Ullo Pour Shot2

You can put it over a glass, or in a carafe…it’s your choice. A single filter works for one bottle of wine. Check out the Üllo website for more detailed information on how it works. I had a taste-test at the Housewares Show, comparing wine poured through Üllo, with wine on its own, and the Üllo wine was indeed smoother, so that’s my testimonial.

As I said, Pre-Order pricing ends TODAY! So check out the indiegogo page and order Üllo before the prices go up. Cheers!

Trendwatch Part 2: Cold Brew Coffee

As I told you in a previous post, Cold Brew Coffee is a trend on the rise, and I saw more in this vein at the Housewares Show a few weeks ago.

TAKEYA® COLD BREW COFFEE MAKER Making Coffee

First up is the Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker. This one-quart airtight brewing pitcher is made of BPA-free Tritan™. As is the general process, you fill the removable coffee infuser with coarse ground coffee, add cold filtered water, shake, and then put in the fridge overnight. In the morning you’ll have a carafe of concentrated, smooth coffee to mix with either hot water, or cold water and ice, that can even be stored on its side in the refrigerator, thanks to the airtight cover. The Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker is available in black, and can be found at retail outlets nationwide, or on the Takeya website for a MSRP of $24.99. (For you tea drinkers out there, Takeya also has an Iced Tea Maker that can brew and flash chill the tea in 30 seconds. Check it out here.)

 

bru-product

 

COOL GEAR BRU™

The Cool Gear Bru is a single serve system for making cold brewed coffee. You control the strength and the brew time with each cup you make. All you do is add coffee to the Bru cone and add cold water. Twist the Bru dial to adjust the coffee drip rate, from 1.5 to 10 hours. The system comes with a bru cone with water reservoir and ground coffee filter, a cone stand, water diffusors and a 22oz double wall insulated tumbler with pressure fit lid and reusable straw. MSRP’s range $29.99 – $34.99. For more information on BRU™, and to keep up with when it becomes available, visit their website.

Trendwatch at the Housewares Show

As I walked the trade show floor last weekend, I noticed a couple of trends. First one that caught my attention was the prevalence of copper. I love me some copper, whether it be jewelry, housewares, or Sharpies(tm). I know it’s been popular for a while now, but it was all over the Housewares Show this year. Take a look at a couple of examples below:

Water Pitcher by Sertodo Copper

Water Pitcher by Sertodo Copper

Copper color insulated tumbler by Aladdin

Copper color insulated tumbler by Aladdin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another trend I spotted was accessories for “Glamping,” or Glamour Camping. In other words, camping for rich people. I’d certainly go for it if I had the money. On second thought, just give me a nice hotel room. (The Kikkerland products can be found here, the Gentlemen’s Hardware products can be found here, and the AfterGlow products can be found here, )

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Glamping products from Kikkerland

 

 

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Glamping products from Gentlemen’s Hardware, by Wild & Wolf.

AfterGlow Solar Bottle Lantern Kit, from Echo Valley

AfterGlow Solar Bottle Lantern Kit, from Echo Valley

2016 International Home + Housewares Show–KitchenAid

Well, I survived 3 days of walking the floors at the show this year. According to my phone, on the first day I walked over 6 miles! I guess that’ll help make up for the snacks and drinks I had over the weekend!

Artisan Mini Hot Sauce
I’m going to start posting with last night’s product launch party hosted by KitchenAid. They’re introducing the KitchenAid Artisan Mini stand mixer, which is smaller than their larger model, yet offers the same power and performance. This is the first time since 1962 that the standard mixer has been “downsized.” It’s set to hit the U.S. market this summer, with a Manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $399.99.

 

 

It’s a beautiful product that will fit easily in smaller living spaces, perfect for Millennials, urban dwellers, and empty-nesters.

The three sizes of Artisan Mixers

i particularly like the matte black color in the middle (above). Below is a picture showing the colors for the Mini.


Artisan Mini Colors
Thanks very much KitchenAid for the fabulous party and for the parting gifts. They gifted us with these cookies (iced in a few of the mixer colors), plus a couple of other nice items:

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International Home + Housewares Show, Countdown!

In less than a week I’ll be at the Housewares show, getting you, my dear readers, the latest scoop on all sorts of new products. Here are a few things I’m looking forward to seeing:

Alpha Ironing Mat from Bonita

Alpha Ironing Mat from Bonita

Igloo 2.5 Gallon Cooler

Igloo 2.5 Gallon Cooler

French Bull New Products

French Bull New Products

Hydaway_ColorLine

Hydaway Collapsible Hydration Bottles

Mmmm…Coffee!

Primula-3Imagine, if you will, that it is not the end of January. You are not surrounded by snow, sub-freezing temperatures, or harsh winds. Imagine instead that it is a warm, sunny day in July. Wouldn’t a cold-brewed iced coffee taste good right about now?

I know what you’re thinking: I can just run over to the chain coffee store and get one of those. Well, you could, but they may be out of them, they only brew so much of that stuff each day. Why not make your own? I found out that I could do this using the Primula Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker.

This system consists of a 50 oz. capacity glass carafe (I LOVE glass!), a stainless steel filter, and a plastic mixer for stirring in flavors if you so desire. To make 16 cups of prepared coffee, you screw the filter into the carafe, measure the ground coffee into the filter, and then s-l-o-w-l-y pour cold water over the grounds. You then put it in the refrigerator for 16-20 hours to steep. This brings me to my first problem with this endeavor: you have to plan ahead. I’m not a planner…I’m more impulsive, and when I want my coffee, I WANT MY COFFEE!

But let’s say I did plan ahead. What happens after 20 hours? Well, You pull out the filter and unscrew thePrimula-coffee bottom to easily dispose of the grounds. There in the carafe you have 16 cups of cold brewed coffee. (I’m imagining that these are 6 oz. cups, as it doesn’t seem numerically possible that a 50 oz. carafe could hold I-don’t-know-how-many cups of coffee. Quick–what’s 50 divided by 16?)

Anyway, the documentation says that cold brewed coffee is 65% less acidic than hot drip coffee. This is another problem for me–I like that bite you get with a strong cup of coffee. My cold brew tasted sort of anemic to me. My third issue is that you tend to use more coffee per “pot” than with traditional brewing methods. All in all, it was a lot of work for not much payoff.

So, maybe cold brewed coffee isn’t for me. But it has more to do with personal taste than the usefulness of this product. If you want to buy a cold brew coffee system, you can’t go wrong with this one from Primula.