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DIY: The Coffee Cozy

Monday, June 21st, 2010 | Permalink

Coffee Cup Sleeve, image courtesy of The Small Object

I love coffee.  And I love coffee from coffee shops.  And I love coffee in to-go cups .  I know, you hate me because I am wasting precious resources (some in the office do recycle, so fear not!).  And sometimes I really do feel bad that I haven’t brought my own traveler’s mug to the coffee shop… but those bad feelings quickly fade as I happily sip my coffee and drive away in my gas-powered, exhaust-creating car.

One thing that I do think can help reduce waste, and more importantly look cool, is creating a coffee sleeve.   This is such an effortless DIY project that you will have made 5 by the end of the week.  They are cute, inexpensive, and can be personalized for your friends, family, or even co-workers.

Coffee Cup Sleeve In use, image courtesy of The Small Object

For the very small tutorial, head on over to The Small Object and check it out.

How to dress up your iPad

Friday, June 18th, 2010 | Permalink

The iPad instantly received some flack when it debuted earlier this year.  Many people said it was a depiction of what you see above: an enlarged iPhone or even iPod touch.

While now I think more and more people are ooohing and ahhing about it, what we’ve been most interested in seeing is what accessory products emerge for this giant iPhone.  That has been one of the most fast-paced emergent markets we’ve seen in the last decade—accessories for phones, smart phones, ladptops, tablets, iPods, and every electronic piece of hardware in between.

Over the past few months, I’ve seen a lot of these different products, and have been totally intrigued with the different materials being used, whether traditional fabrics or recycled ones that are being totally transformed into guardians of your precious electronics.  Some of these products enable you to look as professional as necessary, while others show off a unique style, and some are just designed beautifully, in both aesthetics and function.

Here we list a few of the ones that have emerged, both from large companies and small ones, to highlight what’s good for iPads this year.  (Count how many times we say “iPad” in this post!)

WATERWEAR iPad case, image courtesy of TUNEWEAR

TUNEWEAR

The first thought is that you can use the WATERWEAR product for keeping up to date poolside this year.  But the company actually makes a good point about using this product in the kitchen.  As the majority of recipes have gone digital, rather than print out a copy, you can use the WATERWEAR and cook in confidence!  It’s sealed with a zipper, Velcro, and snaps, to block out all water.

De Invasie

Het Product is a great product because of its soft wool quality.  But also because it is natural wool, with no chemicals, and it’s hand rolled and hand stitched.  De Invasie is set on trying to incorporate fair trade policies and eco-friendly production methods into their products, which is something we can definitely get behind.

Freitag F23 iPad case, image courtesy of Freitag

Freitag

The F23 iPad sleeve is probably my favorite product on this list.  It reuses old truck tarps and matches them in very modern patterns and color schemes.  And the inside of the bag is lined with velvet so that every time you remove your iPad, it’s cleaning the surface of any fingerprints or smudges.  Pretty and functional in one is what good design is made of.

Kenton Sorenson iPad Sleeve, image courtesy of Kenton Sorenson

Kenton Sorenson

This is handmade at its finest.  Kenton Sorenson makes all of his products in Wisconsin, piecing leather together by hand in his shop.  According to his website, “Each iPad Portfolio is oiled and conditioned with beeswax and finished with a heavy linen thread side stitch. Kenton’s 4oz leather strap closure combines form and function.  The strap can be wrapped around to keep the portfolio open while in use, or looped to a close.”  It’s a simple, yet bold design.  And as with all leather, extended use of this iPad case will break in the material and the case will wind up with a unique look from all your carrying.

Hard Graft Tilt iPad case, image courtesy of Hard Graft

Hard Graft

The Tilt iPad case is another great example of function and aesthetics at their premium.  It’s not difficult to see the need for a stand sometimes with the iPad, so Hard Graft created a case and stand in one.  Wool and felt create a flat protective sleeve while carrying your iPad, and then roll into a stand which is perfect for reading or elevated typing when you want.  It’s been a clear trend that wool and felt are making a comeback, and that grey is here to stay awhile.

Temple Bags All Leather iPad Case, image courtesy of Temple

Temple

The all leather iPad case from Temple is totally stunning.  While the other cases would probably be slipped into your backpack, purse, or messenger, this one gets carried all by itself—and I don’t know that you’d have it any other way.  The soft leather will totally acquire a distressed, unique look and truly, the manufacturing of this bag is superb.  Steve Opperman, Temple’s bag designer, has created an impressive product legacy thus far.  Whatever electronic wonder comes next, you will probably see one of his products with it.

Recycled iPad Case, image courtesy of My Green Monkey Designs

My Green Monkey Designs

While this product is not as stunning as the aforementioned ones, I had to post it.  I never would have looked at a pant leg and seen the possibility for an iPad case.  The designer has taken care to pad the pants and add a strap to keep the iPad secure during travel.  I have to give credit for the creativity and for the recycling of materials on this one.

Black Eyed Sheep's iPad case, image courtesy of Black Eyed Sheep

Black Eyed Sheep

This iPad sleeve just looks comfortable for your iPad!  I mean, your iPad could probably fall asleep and take a two hour nap in this thing.  I love the texture on this sleeve, and the overall simplicity of its design.  The label makes for such a nice contrast color and I can totally see this product being a hit.

Happy iPad-ing!

Friday Eats: BYOF

Friday, June 11th, 2010 | Permalink

Outdoor Parties, image courtesy of Martha Stewart

Well it’s no surprise that the weather has warmed up quite a bit.  It’s been luring people out to parks and club houses and porches.  Parties that were once held indoors are now held by swimming pools and sandy beaches and in backyards under thrown frisbees.

A lot of invites for these occasions go something like this: “Yay!  We’re having a party.  We can’t wait for you to show up.  By the way, bring your own covered dish/ entree/ snack/ side dish/ dessert/ drink, etc.”  In most instances, it’s perfectly all right (and even fun) to bring something to a party.  It helps foster a sharing attitude, and also relieves some of the pressure from the event organizer or host.

But, what do you bring?  Not everyone has a famous bacon and cheese dip recipe that they got from their Aunt Debbie.  Not everyone can make the melt-away bars of the century late on a Friday night for a Saturday get together.

Fear not!  Consider us the party brigade, and we’ve rounded up just a few recipes you might choose to put into action for a little party this coming weekend.

First off, Savory Baked Ricotta from one of my new favorite blogs, Seven Spoons.  Any recipe with cheese, especially if it’s a dip, gets bonus points with me.

Second, a quick and super easy Shrimp Dip.  Using pretty basic ingredients, you can create a savory, tasty dip that won’t require any heating up.  Add crackers and you’re good to go.

Buttermilk Bacon Pralines, image courtesy of Ezra Pound Cake

Third, something for a sweet tooth, Ezra Pound Cake (we love her, too!) delivers Buttermilk Bacon Pralines.  It doesn’t even seem right that such a thing should exist, but it does, and we are forever thankful.  Seriously, it seems that bacon has made its way around to every arena of food these days.  No longer just for breakfast, or BLT’s, or even a hearty potato soup, now we see bacon in ice cream, in mayonnaise, on donuts, and there is probably a bacon cocktail lying and waiting somewhere.  Maybe it’s just that we’re Southern folks down here, but pralines can’t be passed up at a party.  Sweet, crunchy, and small enough for handfuls so there’s no evidence of how many you’ve consumed (unlike cupcake wrappers), these are great to prepare ahead of time for your next party.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and begin enjoying the warm weather, friends, and good food that’s headed your way this summer.

Cheers!

Spotlight on Neighborhood Living

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 | Permalink

Neighborhood, image courtesy of Scorpions and Centaurs' flickr stream

Do you know who your neighbors are?  When I moved into my first house, I knew the old couple across the street because the woman gardened and her husband always looked a little cantankerous.  And I knew the single mother next door to us because, as our accounts manager David would say, she was an “unfortunate looking woman.”  But I never interacted with anyone on our street because their doors were always closed and none of them hung out on the front porch in groups like we did.

Regardless, as more people flock to the internet for Facebook farming and Skype sessions, maybe we should all make a little more effort to get to know each other.  I’m not saying you have to entertain thirty minute conversations with your neighbor about why his daughter is student of the week at the local middle school.  I’m just saying that maybe it’s time to say hi, or join the local tennis team like our CEO Linda Bryan did.  The warm weather is a perfect excuse to have neighborhood cookouts and softball games and pool parties.  Heck, you could even chat over the successes (and/ or failures) of your lawns and gardens for three minutes, and that would count!

You may end up finding out that your neighbors are caring, funny, or maybe even a little weird (you might like weird).  You may realize they enjoy the same TV shows you do, share your hobbies, or are even capable of babysitting your hyperactive eight year old on a Friday night so you can go somewhere for grownups.

Kyla Fullenwider actually did a great and simple list of ten things you could do to build some community in your, well… community.  And if some of her ideas do not seem apartment complex friendly (like, say, hide and seek), then just start knocking on doors anyway (may be less awkward if you bring baked goods with you).  Click here for the full list.

(For more from Scorpions and Centaurs’ flickr stream, click here.)

From Farm to Table

Monday, May 24th, 2010 | Permalink

Produce Travels Transparency, image courtesy of Good and Always With Honor

Did you know that broccoli travels for about 7 to 10 days before reaching your local grocery store?  That means that half of your broccoli’s life is already gone when you take it home.  If it sits in your refrigerator for a few more days, there’s a good possibility that by the time you want to make stir fry, you may need a new head of broccoli.

And if you live in Iowa, for example, chances are the tomatoes you’re buying in December are not coming from the surrounding area.  What does that mean?  Extra travel time, of course.

Beyond the mere problem of wasting food, buying produce takes on a whole new meaning when you really look at where your produce is grown.  This affects things like supporting local farmers, reducing energy spent in food transportation, and enjoying fresher foods.

What does this mean for you?  It means that maybe you should buy corn from the farm down the road this summer, guaranteeing that you are getting absolute freshness and supporting a local farmer.  My father would drive 45 minutes for corn from “the farm.”  I’m serious, I don’t even know the name of the place… we just call it the farm.  It always trumped store bought corn and thanks to local patrons, the farm continues today.

And it means that you may have to become more choosy about what you’re eating throughout the year in an attempt to eat the best produce available.  So if you live in Georgia you can enjoy lush, local blueberries in the summer, adding them to your favorite cereal, breads, and smoothies.  But know that enjoying them in November means they’ve done some traveling.

The folks at Good partnered with Always With Honor and created a neat infographic showing us “A season-by-season list of when 10 common fruits and vegetables are locally available around the United States.”  Check it out here and find another equally interesting infographic about food travel distances here.

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