Browsing Tag

Kitchen

Gift Guides

10 Gadgets That Every Kitchen Needs

May 20, 2013

I am a newlywed (1 month on the 27th) and when going to register I thought that I wouldn’t really need much. I mean I have lived in NYC for 13 years so I have acquired lots of stuff. I’m not much of a cook… I guess I was spoiled by my mother who had an amazing dinner almost every night for us, and a new hubby that seems to have more energy than me at the end of the day. I know, a little ironic since I’m the tabletop buyer. And I live in NYC which means space is limited.

But… THERE IS SO MUCH GREAT STUFF OUT THERE! Get rid of the clutter and ask for new kitchen tools that are well designed, efficient, not difficult to use and functional. Here are some items from the UncommonGoods that every kitchen needs and even make me want to help out more.

This apron is perfect for people like me that don’t cook enough to remember how long I should steam those carrots and too tired at the end of the day to remember how many pints are in a cup. Apron is much better to put your dirty hands on rather than an expensive smart phone!

Again, I live in NYC which equals NO SPACE. This is the perfect! It folds up neatly into your utensil drawer. I mean what kitchen doesn’t need scale… weighing food or other things like a toy fox terrier (mine is only 5 lbs).

I am so appreciative of my lovely new husband. He helps so much. That being said, it completely grosses me out to use the gross older counter sponge when washing the dishes. That is why we have two sponges… Spongester keeps things straight.

Modern and lovely! We have started composting since we have started juicing. So much great compost material! This is a sleek way for any home to compost, concealing unsightly mess and odors.

Flavors of America Salt Collection takes my taste buds around the US. It is attractive display and the test tubes are reusable. Sold!

Once again, NYC space constraints… 10 bar tools in one… ’nuff said. (I like my cocktails fancy so the channel/zester tool is my favorite.)

I adore the Horseshoe Heart Trivet. It brings me back to my Texas roots a little, and you never really realize how much you need a trivet until you don’t have one. This one is perfect. The design is cool and has well thought function, the craftsmanship is outstanding, it is handmade in the USA, and it is good luck (horseshoe) and reminds you of love (heart) and/or your childhood in ‘fill in the blank’. You can leave it out as a functional décor piece, or it can even moonlight as a spoon rest. So great!

I have a sweet tooth but I try to stay as healthy as possible. I use honey in my tea, on toast, on cereal, with brie… the list goes on. This is a really beautiful container to keep honey out and at arms’ reach at all times. It fits perfectly with our décor as well; modern minimalist meets artsy and slightly shabby chic.

First, polar bears are cute. Second, I just hate when my ice smells like everything else in the freezer, problem solved with the Polar Bear Ice Tray by Black & Blum. Third, it is inevitable that I will not be able to get all the ice out of the tray then I turn it upside down to shake out and it falls on the floor. Ice tray fail! BUT problem solved with the Polar Bear Ice Tray.

The Wine and Beverage Tote holds an ENTIRE BOTTLE of wine. In the summer I love to sit in the park, on the beach, camp, etc. and the Wine and Beverage Tote HOLDS AN ENTIRE BOTTLE OF WINE… ’nuff said.

Get your registry started at UncommonGoods!

Design

Square Bottle’s Refreshingly Clean Design

May 15, 2013

That stinky muck that likes to lurk in the deepest, darkest parts of your drink bottle finally met its match–but only after inspiring Clean Bottle founder Dave Mayer to invent a better bottle.

Square Water Bottle

The moldy mess lead to the creation of an innovative product–a sports bottle that opens on the top and bottom to allow for complete cleaning, but Dave, a triathlete himself, and his team of designers and engineers weren’t done there. Realizing that the design could still be improved, the team set to work to create the Square Water Bottle.

Dave running in the Ironman Triathlon

“I saw that everyone was carrying water bottles but they all had the same dull ‘fuel canister’ look and had some real design flaws,” said Dave. “We wanted to create a bottle that was as aesthetically pleasing as the clothes, handbags, shoes and phones that people also carried with them.”

The shape wasn’t hard to come up with. A square bottle makes sense, because it won’t roll away if knocked over or accidentally dropped. The challenge was making the product they envisioned a reality. It took time, but after around 40 mock ups and prototypes the Square Bottle was born. “Our final product stayed mostly true to the original design,” said Dave. “It took longer to not make compromises but it was worth it.”

Dave as “Bottle Boy” posing with actor Patrick Dempsey and Bottle Boy running alongside cyclists at the Tour De France

The Square Bottle, like it’s predecessor, the original Clean Bottle, is easy to clean, because it screws open at both ends. It’s also durable, because the body is made of durable stainless steel, while the BPA-free plastic Vibrant Fresh Taste Lid ™ keeps your drink from taking on a metallic taste. The bottle is also slim enough to fit in a cup or bottle holder and is complete with an ergonomic handle, so it’s comfortable to take on the go.

Square Bottle on the go with Freda

Creating something that had never existed was no easy task, but time, collaboration, and hard work made it possible. “It was extremely difficult to do a Square bottle – there is a reason no one has done it, but we wanted something totally unique,” Dave,who uses the product himself every day, explained.

“People either want the cheapest or they want the best,” he said. “Aim to be one of these two and create a truly unique product and you will succeed.”

Design

Slate Cheese Board Styled 3 Ways

March 19, 2013

Any apartment dweller knows the plight of a lack of storage. I cringe at the though of single-use items that will take up space on a shelf or counter (oh, how I’m dying for a waffle iron!). Since moving to New York City a couple moons ago, I have started to give a lot more thought to my purchases and make sure everything that enters my tiny apartment will be used. Simply, I don’t buy things that won’t get used frequently!

I spied the Slate Cheese Board with Soapstone Chalk since it was launched on our site months ago but wasn’t sure how often it would get used. Yes, I love cheese – many, many kinds of cheese – but it’s rare that any lasts long enough in my posession to leave out for guests. But the board was too gorgeous in all it’s rustic glory to pass up. So I took it home and gave myself a weekend to see how many times it could get used, finding that there were more uses for this board than meets the eye.

Build your own omelet party After work on Friday I met some friends at the gym to get the weekend started. Afterwards we all came to my place for dinner and I had two main objectives: a) eat some protein to rebuild muscle tissue and b) clean out my fridge. So I threw a “build your own omelet” party and set out the ingredients. It was a self-serve experience so everyone could make their omelet to their liking. I’m glad I got to label their choices so no one picked up an ingredient they didn’t want. The idea was a success and I can’t wait to throw another “build your own” party (sundaes, cocktails, pizza, grilled cheese…).

Movies in Bed Nothing is more fun that lounging in bed on a cold Saturday with your laptop and Netflix, but I always struggle with keeping crumbs from falling out of a lopsided bowl of popcorn. Wondering how the cheese board would fare as a bed-tray, I stocked it with gummy candies, a Mexican Coke and a heaping bowl of lime coconut popcorn while getting under the covers to tackle my growing queue. It did the trick and kept my soda and popcorn level when I readjusted in bed. That night’s sleep was not a story of the Princess and the Popcorn Kernel, thankfully.

Sunday Brunch One of my favorite New York past times is hunkering down after a morning of yoga with the NY Times and a cup of tea. Just sitting all day, leafing through the massive pages that cover my dining table. Since my Sunday brunch is never quite a complete meal – some fruit, nuts, a bagel, maybe a pastry – it was nice to spread out an afternoon’s worth of things to munch on as I caught up on current affairs. I was so comfortable, I didn’t get up until the sun went down and it was time to make supper.

Maker Stories

Donna Rollins’ Handmade Mugs with a Healing Touch

March 15, 2013

“I’ve had an attraction to collecting stones for what seems like eternity,” says Donna Rollins, the artist behind Healing Stone Mugs and Birth Stone Mugs. Her creative cups incorporate layers of minerals, non-toxic glazes, and, of course, the signature stones that make them truly uncommon.

Healing Touch Pottery, Photo by Stephanie Minion Photography

Donna started creating pottery about 5 years ago, but says that she’s always been attracted to the medium. The self-taught potter credits her youngest daughter with inspiring her to give clay a try. She purchased her first wheel and kiln so they could create pottery together. Now all three of her daughters work for the company she and her husband, Randall, run in New Hampshire–Healing Touch Pottery.

When she got the notion of marrying natural stones with handmade ceramics Donna knew she was ready to start her business. “The idea of placing the stone on the thumb rest of a mug came to me in a dear friend’s home. I was admiring her stone collection and thought, How can I incorporate the healing benefits of crystals and minerals with my love for pottery?

Donna and Randall Rollins, photo by Stephanie Minion Photography

Today Healing Touch Pottery has 9 staff members who create 700 to 1000 mugs each week. “Each artist has their own style and that style comes through in the creation, but collectively we create what becomes an individual’s new favorite mug,” says Donna.

Healing Touch Potter Liz Johnson

Healing Touch Staff: Mandi Ouellette, Samantha Mistich, and Liz Johnson

“Each of our signature mugs begin with a pound of clay in our hands,” Donna explains. “We shape the square clay into a ball, we then throw it into the center of a potter’s wheel, hence the term throwing pottery. From there, we pull, push and gently caress the clay forming the various shapes of the cylinder of a mug.”

But the potter’s wheel is just the beginning. “The potter’s assistant takes the cylinder off the potter’s wheel and places it on a board. Depending on the day of the week, there could be anywhere from 120 to 220 cylinders thrown that day,” says Donna.”After a day of sitting and drying to leather-hard, the cylinders are handled by our other talented artists. Once the mugs have dried enough to be wiped and signed, they are then placed in the kilns for their first firing to bisque. After the bisque firing, the mugs are transported to the glazing room where another group of artists dip each mug in our handcrafted glazes. From this point, the mugs are loaded into the glazing kilns for their final firing at 2200 degrees. Once the mugs are cool enough to unload they are transported to another room where the stones are attached and Reiki-charged.”

Reviewer submitted image by By SouthernMama from Sweet Home Alabama

While a great deal of time and work go into each mug, Donna and her team don’t mind putting in the hours, care, and attention to detail it takes to create each piece. “There is a common thought and goal for each of us who work here at Healing Touch Pottery and we believe that is why our pottery is enjoyed by so many,” she tells us. “Quartz is a conductor of energy and it is in our clay and glazes and most of the stones we use are quartz-based. We believe our energy permeates our products, so it’s crucial we be in positive space and thoughts so our wares are enjoyed not just for their beauty, but also for their energy.”

The alluring stones also provide comfort, giving the person who holds the mug a gently-raised place to rest their thumb, and since skin slides easily against the smooth surface of the rocks, these creations are the perfect “worry stones” to help your troubles melt away as you enjoy a calming cup of tea or morning coffee as you start a new day.

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: A Pocketful of Convenience

January 30, 2013

Background Research
The Pocket Utensil Set is an exciting new addition to UncommonGoods’ collection. In the world of utensils, I had only experienced traditional silverware, plasticware, and chopsticks until now. This new option could open up an entirely new realm of utensils for me.

Hypothesis
Since I dislike the feel and overall experience of plasticware, and I often find myself in situations where plastic is the only option, I predict that always having stainless steel flatware on hand will improve the way I enjoy meals every single day. I predict that I will be much happier always having this option available to me.

Experiment
I began by examining the packaging. It’s quite simple, and leaves minimal waste. (Good for the environment, which is always a plus for me.) The back of the packaging has simple directions for separating the device in two.

My friend’s dog Max watched as I learned how to split it in half. This was really easy to do. (It’s also very easy to re-assemble).

When I first set out, I wanted to use the pocket utensil is every possible scenario until my experiment was done. I took it everywhere I went. In some situations, such as when having dinner at a friend’s home, where a table is set and so forth, it really made no sense to pull out my own silverware, so I figured I would refrain. However, I found it most useful when my roommates have left all the silverware dirty in the sink, and I didn’t want to dig for a dirty fork to wash, and then subsequently, use. I now ALWAYS have a clean fork, knife, and spoon available to me!

The feeling of using the pocket utensil is much nicer than the plastic variety; however, there are a few things I’d like to point out. The fork, spoon, and knife are scaled down a bit. Which makes them still useful, and, of course, portable–but it is harder to grab a bunch of spaghetti on this smaller fork than with a larger, traditional one.

The spoon is most certainly not for soup, but it is fine for cereal or any food where it makes sense to have a smaller amount in each spoonful. It’s great how easily you can separate the fork/bottle opener end from the spoon/knife side. If you had a meal that requires a spoon, fork, and knife all at the same time, you may find yourself rushing to the kitchen to wash off the knife and spoon alternately, as needed. This could be a bit annoying, but luckily most meals do not require that many utensils.

The Pocket Utensil is cool-looking, portable, and useful. It definitely improved those meals where I would have had to wash my silverware right before eating, or where I would have had to use wasteful, flimsy plasticware.

Conclusion
My hypothesis was proven to be true. I enjoyed meals with the Pocket Utensil far more than without. The only real ideal situation is to always have traditional silverware ready, clean, and available to you, no matter what. When you can’t have that, the Pocket Utensil is a brilliant alternative.