January 29, 2010

Functional Beautiful Good

Great Things for Kitchen, Home and Heart

Functional. Beautiful. Good.

Last summer my beloved and I combined households, resulting in Way Too Much Stuff. Between us, we arrived at 17 bottles of various vinegars, 12 types of rice (did you even know there were that many kinds???), and enough pasta varieties to stock a market. Cheese graters? Six. Knives? Umpteen. This may say a little something about the two of us and why were initially drawn to one another. It also says that not one more material object enters without at least one making an exit.

My criteria for such editing is simple. Round One: Is it functional? Is it beautiful? Yes to either of these questions and it's a pass on to Round Two: Is it redundant? No to this question then gives a new object a fighting chance of finding its way in to our nest. Here are some really beautiful, functional, good things that have added to my comfort and well-being this year:

Microfiber rags. Who knew that a dish rag could make my heart dance, but these do. Never before has a 9" x 9" piece of fabric had such a effect. Micro rags are like amazingly tough little scrub brushes, but very soft and non-abrasive. They behave like they have built-in cleaning solution in them, and, jeepers, when you do add a cleanser, these cloths bust the worst sticky gooey gunk in a flash. They even leave windows and mirrors streak and lint free. Mine were sourced from Ross Dress For Less and Target. Here's how they work. I love these downy little babies so much, everyone I love got them in their Christmas stockings, and was delighted to find a larger version for general housecleaning.

Magnetic spice rack. If we had 17 different vinegars, can you imagine the number of herbs and spices among us? Black cardamom pods, green cardamom pods; whole and ground this-and-that; coppery spices, mossy spices, amber, brown and gold spices. Leafy, seedy and powdery herbs; you get the picture. Too darn many for any conventional storage method to result in a sane cooking experience in our space-challenged kitchen. One recent leisurely Sunday breakfast-in-bed surf-the-net morning we discovered this beauty. We ordered up two. Merry Christmas to us!

The Flavor Bible. Genius. This is the coolest non-cookbook of flavor matchmaking ever. Have a bumper crop of, say, figs? Flip to figs in this tome, find all the flavors/ingredients that marry well with figs and create away. Discover some exotic new ingredient at the farmers market or butcher? Go ahead and buy it! Look it up in its alphabetic listing in this reference book and craft with confidence. The Flavor Bible also has an intensive on flavor; what it is, how it is perceived, and how it influences even our minds, hearts and spirits. See the "I'm Currently Reading" sidebar for photo and link.

Kuhn Ricon vegetable peeler. This very inexpensive peeler is incredible. Our friend Michael sold me on these, and he is right. Good tools rock. A $3.50 good tool rocks even more. Again, Santa delivered one to everyone's stocking this year.

Arbequina olive oil. How did I live without this delicious stuff? The bold, green, citrusy, peppery Arbequina olive oil is a wonderful drizzling/dipping oil for salad, fish or hummus, but I especially love it drizzled on a toasted French slice lightly schmeared with cream cheese, layered with thinly sliced avocado and sprinkled with cracked black pepper. What a delicious breakfast or appetizer.

The History of Love. OK, this isn't really a household item, but I love this book. See sidebar for photo. It came recommended by two of the most intricately-minded and well-read women I know, and they were right. This is a literary masterpiece.

Daily Drop Cap. If a gal is going to blog, the blog should be pretty, right? See the filigree pink "F" at the top of this post? It comes from Jessica Hische, seriously talented typographer and illustrator extraordinaire. Jessica gives us all (you too!) this generous gift of her hand-crafted decorative initial caps that she posts for our "enjoyment and for the beautification of blog posts everywhere". Those are her words. Can't wait to use the K. And the H. And especially the G.

What functional, beautiful, good objects are making your life easier, more attractive and more joyful? Leave a comment, or drop me an email!

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