cool gifts for coffee-loving dads!


It’s no secret we’re coffee lovers here at Shelterrific. So why would the fathers in our lives be any different? (Actually, my dad never touched the stuff, preferring Diet Coke.) So I’ve gathered up a handful of groovy gadgets and gift ideas for those java enthusiasts on your shopping list — most under $50 (with the exception of #1).
Click for my picks, after the jump! (more…)

From our partners

real life test kitchen: chocolate banana bread


A dear friend of mine used to live in Maui, and when ever I visited (which was never often enough) he would have just-baked chocolate banana bread to greet me upon arrival. Bananas are omnipresent wherever you go in Hawaii, and they get overly ripe fast in the humidity. Baking banana bread is a great use for the super sweet fruits. Fast forward to my own kitchen, where there now always seems to be about three bananas on the verge of turning brown. I hunted down an easy recipe for chocolate banana bread (on and modified it slightly. It’s pretty simple pantry fare: mix butter with sugar and vanilla, add in eggs, mashed bananas and milk, flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt. My secret twist? Replace the 1/2 cup of walnuts with chocolate chips. Bake at 350F for 50 minutes. The results are just as moist and lovely as the ones I remember from Maui. This recipe makes two small loaves. One for eating, one for sharing. Here’s the recipe — Chocolate Banana Bread — definitely one for the files! — Angela M.

P.S. Here’s another banana bread recipe from our archives that’s not chocolate, but also very yummy!

From our partners

steal this idea: diy reed scent diffusers


Looking for a fabulous-yet-frugal gift for the moms in your world? Something easily thrown together in minutes with things you probably have around the house? Well, then let me suggest these DIY reed scent diffusers — they are way cooler than the ones you see for $15 each. I’d been thinking I should make my own ever since I saw the first crazy-expensive air fresheners in a specialty shop years ago. They just looked TOO SIMPLE. So this year, when wracking my brain for mom’s day gifts, I remembered my stash of used SanBitter bottles, and decided to give it a shot.

I did a bit of Googling to see how it was done, and I found this post from Young House Love in 2009, but I was disappointed to see that they had just used Mrs. Meyer’s Household Cleaner as their scent (nothing against Mrs Meyer’s — I SWEAR by the lavender products). I wanted to custom-blend my own scents. Thankfully I found this helpful post at TipNut to help me make my own uniquely scented gifts. I used a mix of grapeseed and sweet almond oils as my “carrier oil”, added a splash of vodka to help it diffuse, and my favorite essential oils, gave it a shake — and BOOM. That’s it.

What you will need:
Bamboo skewers
small bottles or narrow necked vases
essential oils
grapeseed or sweet almond oil

Trim the pointed ends off the skewers with wire cutters or sturdy kitchen shears. To mix the scented oil, measure out 1/4 c grapeseed/almond oil, add a splash of Vodka and 12-20 drops of essential oil. Shake. Pour in your vessel (no more than 3/4 full), add the skewers, and flip them a few times to start the diffusion more quickly. Favorite scent combinations are grapefruit & sandalwood, lavender & clary sage, and black pepper & palmarosa. Have you ever made them? Share your results in the comments! — Megan B.

From our partners

mother’s day gift ideas: toothpick holders


When my mother-in-law started collecting toothpick holders several years ago, I have to admit, I didn’t really get it. Then I bought her a collector’s guide and my jaw about hit the floor when I saw all the different holders. Literally thousands — and that’s just pressed glass. There’s also toothpick holders made of metal (silver, pewter) and porcelain.

Although toothpick holders are no longer considered part of a well-set table, they come in handy for other uses. Filling out the front of a bookshelf, holding a miniature bouquet or keeping your rings safe, to name a few.

Toothpick holders have sold for as much as $10,000 at auction (that’s not a typo). I usually find good ones to gift for well under $20 but have occasionally paid more. With a lot of collectibles, however, there are recent reproductions so if you’re spending a lot, check out some of the collector’s guides first. They’ll help you identify the difference between old and new. You can also find information and links on The National Toothpick Society website. — Sarah L.

From our partners

registry favorite: beverage dispensers

anthro bev dispenser

As I’ve been preparing for this year’s run of the summer wedding gauntlet, I’ve noticed a pattern: Crate & Barrel’s cold beverage jar with stand, $49.95, has been on every single registry I’ve looked at. I love everything beverage dispensers stand for: summer parties, cocktails, refreshing drinks! But never have I actually attended an event where I’ve seen one in action. Yes, considering the trend the reason could lie in the fact that the friends that would have the type of soiree that calls for one haven’t received them yet, but still, this item seems to be a popular one for these summer registries. It also calls to mind Anthropologie’s designer version, $298, but with its equally Anthropologie price tag, my summer drink serving needs are best left to the registry specialists at Crate & Barrel. What do you think, readers? Any other hot registry items to keep on the radar? Did you ask for a beverage dispenser, and if so, do you use it? — Sarah C.

planning a wedding: fun with the registry
post off: what item just didn’t work for you?
wedding registry idea: something old instead of new

From our partners