Friday, November 26, 2010
Delightful little ornaments made with clever materials - these flakes look delicate but they're made of shatterproof rubber. I love making products. Happy Holidays everyone!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
When it comes to a drill, don't waste your time with a lightweight. This is a tool to invest in, with a model like the DeWalt pictured, as a good one will last years and a cheap one most likely won't have the muscle you need. To accompany the drill - skip the infinite socket sets and extend your reach with a chuck extender like this one from Lee Valley:A handy Husky hex wrench set is the best stocking stuffer - never worry about keeping or better yet finding the many allen wrenches that enter our lives, and treat yourself to a nice round handle to hold onto at the same time. Measure twice, cut once - a speed square is still one of the most useful tools to have around - and it does double duty for arts and crafts.Any all-in-one tool kit will come with a basic wrench. That's a guaranteed way to loose some skin when you try to pry out an offending piece of hardware. Invest in a Vise Grip (this one's under $10)- you'll never use your old pliers again.
Downsize old worn-out screwdrivers (yes they do wear out!) with a multi-bit ratcheting screwdriver like this one from Stanley, and get yourself a good old-fashioned level. Laser levels are pretty, but they often don't fit your application. A standard level is an excellent straightedge as well for cuts and routing. Chisels may also seem like an antiquated suggestion, but you'd be amazed how often you just need to knock a little bit off something to make it fit. Without a power sander, jigsaw, or sawzaw that may take an eternity - simple handheld chisels can take out most of the obstacles you'll encounter.Spare your fingers from a bashing with simple quick-release clamps. Any surface can become a worktop, but it's hard to hold what you're working on in place without a clamp or two. Clamps make your dining table roughly equivalent to a full-fledged workbench.Finally, for the handy person who has it all - give them a great way to store it. Tools are only helpful if you can find them! I prefer a mobile wheeled cart with plenty of shallow drawers for easy sighting of the tool you seek. Happy building!
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Read more here!
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Read the full article here, and consider that if the mainstream media is talking about the end of cheap China, the time was yesterday to look for newly affordable options Stateside.
Where once low-tech factories and scant wages were welcomed in a China eager to escape isolation and poverty, workers are now demanding a bigger share of the profits. The government, meanwhile, is pushing foreign companies to make investments in areas it believes will create greater wealth for China, like high technology.
Many companies are striving to stay profitable by shifting factories to cheaper areas farther inland or to other developing countries, and a few are even resuming production in the West.
"China is going to go through a very dramatic period. The big companies are starting to exit. We all see the writing on the wall," said Rick Goodwin, a China trade veteran of 22 years, whose company links foreign buyers with Chinese suppliers.
"I have 15 major clients. My job is to give the best advice I can give. I tell it like it is. I tell them, put your helmet on, it's going to get ugly," said Goodwin, who says dissatisfied workers and hard-to-predict exchange rates are his top worries.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Studio David Grass produces some affordable and attractive furniture like this sweet stoolCardboard Design makes all manner of products, but my favorite are their kid's playhouses. My own little rocketeer has enjoyed his for years :)
You can also find lots of affordable kids items, like these adorable chairs & table on Orange Onions.
And then again, you can quite easily make your own stuff! Sites like TreeHugger and Instructables give you great links and step by step directions to put your pile of cardboard to good use - give it a second life as toys and furniture good for guilt-free wear and tear.
[Pictured above, Foldaway Bookshop featured on Fubiz]
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Cookie scoops, like these classic stainless steel beauties from Norpro, will change your feelings about baking cookies. We all love cookies, but making 24-48 little balls is not the most gratifying task. The scoops keep your hands free, fill the sheet pan in 2 minutes, and perfectly portion the dough for even, round cookies.
Keeping with the stainless theme, shallow metal prep bowls like these by WINCO have more uses than you can imagine. They aren't deep like mixing bowls, but generously sized and shallow to make mixing pasta, salad, meatloaf, and everything else a breeze. Plus, they're a bargain from restaurant supply stores.If you've never tried keeping your spices in a drawer, it'll change your world. You can read all the labels at once and quickly find and replace what you're looking for. I'm still waiting for more stylish options to emerge, but for now these by Dial provide the best fit for existing drawers and bottles.
This is the best can opener I've ever used. And I've tested, cut up, and redesigned dozens of them over the years. This one locks in place for secure use and compact storage and it NEVER slips. Yet again, OXO transforms a frustrating task into a pleasurable one.Treat your self to an attractive oil cruet like this one from Mario Batali's line. Too often our counters are crowded with bulky oil bottles for cooking. Grab a couple of cruets, color coded or labeled, and transform your countertop into a sleek cook's station.
Catch up on Part One here!
Monday, June 21, 2010
The Good: I love anything that reuses the things we discard. Plus, you're eliminating stuffing from hitting the trash bin. Cuteness, economically priced under $10.
The Bad: These aren't as durable as they should be. Westminster Pet Products makes the sleeves you see below, which are extremely durable but could stand an infusion of cuteness.
The Verdict: Can someone please marry the two? Nylon sleeves should be able to achieve both cuteness and durability. Then this product would be truly excellent.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Viking, the makers of those gigantic shiny ranges, has been hard-hit by the economic slowdown and the slow migration away from domestic products. They're diversifying their business to try to survive - offering matching cabinets and cooking classes to try to stay in your lives. The one thing they can't do is explain to consumers that there really is a difference between imported and domestic products. You can't see it, but I can, and here are some things you should question before you buy a cheaper model:
- Is that really metal? Cheaper models use plastic coated with metal, much less durable
- How thick is that metal? If you don't like dents, you might want to ask how thick the sheet metal is - in other words, what gauge is this metal? Thicker is better for safety and durability. Similarly, you want thicker gauge wire for the racks inside a range.
- Are those buttons for real? Thin shiny plastic panels won't look so hot in a few years, physical switches are always a plus.
- How serious is the hardware? Look at the door hinge. Big thick metal parts are better than thin or even plastic parts. The oven door is a common failure point for ranges.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Also, for those of you wondering, the CO2 cartridges are exchanged at any store carrying the products - for $14.99 you get a recycled cylinder and yours is sent back to the company. That's $14.99 for ~65 bottles of whatever carbonated treat tickles your fancy. Again, highly recommended.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Remember when Chevy said they'd launch 10 new cars in 20 months and everyone was amazed when they did it? They reaped the rewards too with double the web traffic, 98% dealer participation and a huge jump in sales. Kenmore is hoping to achieve the same thing - only they're launching 450 new products in 2010.
Granted, most corporations of their size can and do launch hundreds of new products each year, but Kenmore isn't just branching into new markets. They seem to be launching a top-to-bottom rebrand, with every product tweaked at least a little. Some products even seem to be new thinking - I'm super excited to start seeing some reviews on the Dishwashers, Clothes Washers and Dryers. They seem to offer some new features that required some new tools and assembly lines - a huge commitment on Kenmore's production scale.
Marketwatch covers the story in lots of detail, and though it does mentions "clean modern style" about a hundred times, there seems to be some good thinking here. Hopefully there are a bunch of American designers who finally got their hands on these products that have such a huge impact on day to day life - maybe they'll snatch the ball out everyone else's hands, much like Chevy did with the American Revolution, the 7th most recalled car campaign ever.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
-- Post From My iPhone
Monday, March 22, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
Check out the full article here, but this quote pretty much sums it all up:
"The old days of trying to spin things simply doesn't work anymore," President Patrick Doyle, who will become CEO in March, told The Associated Press in an interview. "Great brands going forward are going to have a level of honesty and transparency that hasn't been seen before."Please, let this succeed and educate the other American companies who are still looking to squeeze margins and pull fast ones on customers in order to save their bottom lines.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Well, the sad truth is that place does exist, here and there hidden in areas people don't visit on purpose. There are some people who have to live with the refuse the rest of us create, often in poorer parts of the world. That's such a depressing thought that it really motivates me on a daily basis to do the right thing. After a decade in product development, privileged to the dirty secrets behind making, selling and trashing the things we use, this is the bottom line:
Don't bring it into your home: buy less, avoid packaging and bags, use refillable systems and concentrates, make your own when possible (cleaning products for example), provide restaurants with your own containers for leftovers or takeout (recycling is imperfect, do it but don't rely on it - reducing is the best policy!)
Don't let it leave your home: reuse anything durable (get creative, list things you need and things you have and see what matches!), compost, garbage disposal, use as many glass, metal, ceramic, and wood products as you can (especially food storage containers like my favorite Pyrex shown below)
Saturday, January 2, 2010
The answer for many of us involves bringing something new into the world, rather than answering to someone else's beck and call. Putting something new into the world takes guts, determination, some financial risk and a lot of faith. But don't let that discourage you, because lots of people are doing it right now and finding tremendous success. Remember, if you have a need chances are many other people share it with you....and they're just waiting for you to solve their problems for them.
A great example, from a self-described "momtrepreneur" is the Bath Luve line of baby bath products - specifically the original Luve washcloths designed to cover and warm a baby while in the bath. A simple, intuitive and easy to produce item that connects with parents in an instant at retail - a great strategy for a startup. This mom took advantage of her experience as a consumer and it will most likely translate into success, unlike companies who enter markets with which they have no real connection. A lesson for the future of business = be true to your passions, for only then will you offer consumers a product that connects with theirs!