Archive | Quirky RSS feed for this section

Off the registry: My fave presents for foodies

3 Jul

I had a baby, so I went away for a while.  But I’m back … and so is wedding season!

Stephanie and monroe cancun wedding 5408 290

As invitations take over our fridge, I cannot bear to order another boring appliance off the registry. So I started to compile my favorite non-traditional gift ideas–and realized they are all related to food. I guess I like to eat!

Here are my non-traditional gift ideas for foodies (who probably own plenty of  kitchen stuff):

MOUTH: Treat them to high-quality artisan foods, from charcuterie to chocolate, coffee to cookies, jerky to jams. Overwhelmed by the choices? Go for a themed gift bundle (Meat Market, Brunch in a Bag, etc.); one’s even called The Happy Couple. Or get the bride and groom a recurring gift subscription so they can be reminded of your good taste month after month.

GOLDBELY: This still-in-beta site sells regional gourmet specialties from around the country—treats for which the region is known, like Lou Malnati’s deep-dish pizza from Chicago, Salt Lick BBQ from Texas, Pioneer Pecan Pies from Oklahoma City and 7-layer caramel cake from Caroline’s in South Carolina. Kind of kitschy, kind of cool.

WINE CLUBS. Your best bet is to pick a local winery you know and love, or else a small retailer near you (over a national club like Zagat or NYT). If you’re buying for beer snobs, try the craft brews of a monthly beer club. Spirit-of-the-month clubs are fun for mixologist couples.

I am also a big fan of experiential gifts:

CULINARY CLASSES. It’s convenient if the couple lives near an ICE or Le Cordon Bleu but you can also check out national chains like Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma. Local restaurants may also offer cuisine-themed classes on slower nights.

DINNER AT A BRAND-NEW RESTAURANT. Research the latest hotspot and treat them to a night out. They’ll need it when newlywed life becomes… just life.

Success for the little guy

4 Sep

I like it when everyday people get to do things once reserved for the super well-connected/resourced/wealthy. Quirky is an open-source invention site that allows regular folks with great ideas to produce and sell their products. Each week, two brand-new innovations are brought to the market—which means you and I can buy some brilliant invention made by a college student that would have never seen the light of day.

Here’s how it works: Anyone with an idea can submit it for $10. Quirky users vote on their faves, then paid Quirky staffers further develop the concept, design and manufacturing process. In four to six months, the products appear on shelves at retailers like Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond—and the inventors get up to 35% of the profits.

Check out some of the awesome things made by regular people. Some of my faves are a lemon spritzer, a collapsible, space-saving laundry basket and the ever-popular Pivot Power (actually utilize every outlet in a power strip)!

Have an idea of your own or just want to get involved? Participate.

Because you want your mum and dad to be happy

17 Aug

My Lovely Parent is a still-in-beta website where adult kids can help their single moms and dads meet new people. For dates. Or friendship. Or frolicking. (Ew—that’s my mom you’re talking about!)

While I know of sites where friends can vouch for their pals (and even write their profiles), this is the first I’ve heard of sons and daughters playing an active role in romantic connections. It’s terribly sweet, but also brilliant—especially when you consider that people in their 50s and 60s are probably not used to creating online profiles, boasting about their hobbies or, you know, assuring strangers that they are as comfortable dressing up for a night out as they are hanging out on the couch (zzzz).

Grown-up kids can sign up, browse the profiles of older singles and send recommendations to their parents. Then either “ask to be more involved” (maybe help mom/dad write a profile or compose an initial email?), or just sit back and watch sparks fly.

This is a UK company, so unless you’re a Brit, your folks probably have a few more months (of peace and quiet) before you get in there and start making things happen. But remember: You can’t play matchmaker and then throw a tantrum when a new “friend” comes to Thanksgiving.

New York Mouth

31 Jul

I can’t get enough of local artisanal foods. I dig the idea of trying something new, something independent, something made by my fellow subway riders. That’s why I am loving New York Mouth. They offer more than 200 original products ready to be tasted and enjoyed. Landmarc Caramels. Brooklyn Brine Whiskey Sour Pickles. Roni-Sue Chocolates Chili-Lime Lollipops. Buy individually, or opt for pre-selected theme packages, which make THE BEST gifts (especially for out-of-towners). Themes range from Brunch in a Bag to Just Add Cheese. Subscription-based services include Jerky Every Month and Cookies Every Night (nothing wrong with that)!

As the site says:


So do I, New York Mouth. So do I.

WineSkin is seriously an awesome product

19 Jul

No, this isn’t for a magnum—it just looks big.

Not that I ever check luggage anymore, but if I did, and if I happened to be visiting wine country, and if I discovered an amazing bottle of wine, and if I purchased one or two extras to bring home so I could relive the deliciousness, I would totally invest in a few WineSkins. These plastic, bottle-shaped envelopes protect your wine (and everything else in your bag), first with cushiony bubble wrap and then with two separate seals. (You can also stuff them with glass bottles of olive oil, vinegar or anything else.) Although not reusable, they’re super cheap: just $10 for three. Find where to buy near you—and get packing!

Ha ha Pinterest not just for food/decor porn and puppy pix

23 Feb

I stumbled across this Pinterest board today and had to laugh:

The Most Annoying New Yorkers


Because you sometimes suck at presents

16 Feb

What if you opened your mail and found a Mini Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie?

Samplrs delivers locally sourced artisan foods to your doorstep. Indie merchants get a way to promote their products; foodies get new and exciting delicious bits. And bites. Bits of bites. It’s a monthly subscription service; $30/month for 4 to 5 full-sized products. Or just browse the Market to handpick treats for yourself (or for friends).

And trust me—these are not your everyday cupcakes/pretzels/whatever blah blah they are selling all over the place. Items include Danny Macaroons in Salted Caramel, Cheshire Canning HoneyHeat Sauce and Kings County Korean BBQ Beef Jerky.

In other words, YUM.

Let me know if you need my address.

I wish I was this clever

9 Feb

Today I am loving Etsy seller PeriodicallyInspired.

This shirt is $16. Plus, free shipping though V-Day. Buy here.

More smartypants gear from PeriodicallyInspired.

Photo: PeriodicallyInspired

Two worthwhile movies you never saw

31 Jan

I streamed two very good films on Netflix last weekend.

1. Welcome. This fictional French film depicts the very real crisis of undocumented migrant workers in Calais (a port city on the north coast of France), where refugees congregate after escaping oppression in their home countries. Only 30 miles from the United Kingdom (where it is supposedly easier to obtain refugee status and receive aid), Calais is a magnet for people trying to sneak across the border. There is a Nazi-like atmosphere in the town, where anyone who is even suspected of helping “clandestines” can be prosecuted. Under these disturbing politics, even humanitarian workers come under attack. The main tale is told through the unlikely friendship between a French swim coach and an Iraqi boy who wants to swim across the English Channel. I felt real empathy for him—and others like him—who will stop at nothing to better their lives. Trailer

2. Lymelife. Set in the ’70s during a lyme disease scare, this indie dark comedy features a powerhouse cast: Alec Baldwin, Cynthia Nixon, Jill Hennessy, Timothy Hutton, Emma Roberts and Kieran/Rory Culkin. The plot is your basic coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of suburban angst, with unraveling dysfunctional families tearing each other apart. But I found it witty, thoughtful and full of black humour. Apparently, first-time director Derick Martini based it on his real-life experiences. Trailer

Eat a home-cooked meal with cool strangers

30 Jan

What if a professional chef invited you (and a handful of other strangers) to her house and cooked for you at a very affordable price? Enter Soup Next Door, a newly formed eating community. “Independently minded” chefs create their own menus, people sign up and meet up (sometimes at venues, but more often at homes), and everyone eats. Most of the meals are BYOB and some are as inexpensive as $15 (max price is $40). The groups tend to be small—between 8 and 15 people; upcoming events include “Singles Mingle, Italian Style” and “A Valentine’s Dinner with Jack.”

Totally awesome way to meet new people in a low-key and comfortable environment.

Schedule of Upcoming Events