kinda genius: universal wrapping paper

Confession time: I’m terrible at wrapping presents. I always have the best intentions. I walk by Paper Source’s windows and think, “Ohhh, that’s what I want to be!” I want to be one of those people with a gift wrapping station complete with a dozen different colors of washi tape and tinsel bows. I want to present my wedding shower gift and have everyone coo over the homemade tissue paper violets perched beside the bow. But, let’s cut the crap, I never am. I don’t have the time, money, or energy to make paper turkeys to decorate Thanksgiving cards. I always end up wrapping birthday presents in leftover Christmas paper. My cringe-worthy, rock bottom moment came when I presented a baby shower gift in a slightly used Halloween trick-or-treat bag.

There is hope for me yet! A light on the end of the horizon has appeared in Wordless Design’s universal wrapping paper. The paper allows you to choose your own celebration by circling the appropriate sentiment. Not only is the paper universally usable (cutting down on having to stock rolls and rolls of specific birthday, mother’s day, Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day, Festivus, etc. paper), but it’s also sharp, clean, and minimalistically appealing. Five sheets of this rad wrapping is about 15€.

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catalog inspiration: serena & lily grows up

We first fell with Serena & Lily when we were in our early nesting years, drooling over their serene nurseries filled with stunning textiles and a touch global whimsy. They were light and bright and there was always cute a little elephant in the scene. Now it includes decidedly grown up bedrooms, dreamy table settings and rooms styled so creatively, you could get lost in them. Their new catalog has tons for steal-worthy ideas — like the tiled stairs on the cover and artfully arranged photo collections on the wall. The newest addition is the company’s Bazaar collection, hand chosen pieces the founders Lily Kantor and Serena Dugan discovered in travels to Africa. You can read about their travels and learn a little along the way. Our favorite little elephant of the moment? This limited edition carved wall piece from Swaziland.

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from the 2112 shelterrific files: the bio-robot refrigerator

Is it an alien incubator? A suspended animation pod? An evil goo that will surely overtake the world and kill us all if it gets out of it’s streamlined prison?! Nope. Meet the refrigerator of the future.

Russian designer Yuriy Dmitriev recently unveiled the Electrolux Bio-Robot Refrigerator. The invention promises to revolutionize the appliance world since it does not require energy for cooling products. Instead, the odorless, non-sticky biopolymer gel cools food through luminescence. Objects are placed into the strong gel, creating a separate pod for each item. The objects are kept cool thanks to the transformation of invisible infrared radiation into visible light. The gel absorbs heat energy and radiates it in a different range of wavelengths (SCIENCE!). The Bio-Robot refrigerator is four times smaller than the average conventional refrigerator and can be hung horizontally, vertically, or (most impressively) on the ceiling. The fridge is completely silent, has no moving parts, and, even if it never comes to market, is an impressive stab at innovating a product that hasn’t changed in decades. Not to mention that pressing your hands into that goo looks supremely satisfying.

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tested and approved: carol’s cookies

I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that hoped someone at Carol’s Cookies would read this review and send me a Free Cookies for Life Card (sort of like a Black AmEx, only much, much, much better). I recently had, no exaggeration, the best cookie I’ve ever had in my life.
Let me try to paint you a word picture: first off, Carol’s Cookies are a generous portion. Each one weighs in at, famously, a half pound making each little mountain of a cookie the size of a small calzone. Secondly, they remain ever-so-slightly doughy and soft in the middle (especially after a quick microwave). I believe the true test of a cookie comes far later then it’s first emergence from the oven. The truly fantastic cookie will not turn brittle in crispy in the cool, cruel hours after baking, but stay soft and delicious. Carol’s Cookies are a testament to that comforting, soft-in-the-middle sweet spot that I judge all other cookies by. All-natural and handmade, Carol’s Cookies come in thirteen amazing flavors ranging from the classic chocolate chip to the decadent white chocolate macadamia nut and oatmeal chocolate cherry. Forget flowers and fruit bouquets, if you really want to show someone you love them, send them Carol’s Cookies.
Carol’s Cookies can be ordered online but if you’re lucky enough to be nearby their bakeries, you can often find them at upscale grocery stores (I’m able to feed my cravings at Chicago Whole Foods).
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did the crazy warm winter hurt our maple syrup supply?

Reports out of Wisconsin, Massachusetts and other northern states are saying that next year’s maple syrup crop has been been hurt by the abnormally warm winter. As this Washington Post story reveals, the big farms with machine vacuum systems are fine, but the smaller shops that depend on the traditional tap and bucket-drip method are hurting. You see, maple trees generate sweet sap when cool days the flow begins. Once tree buds start sprouting, the hormones produced in the trees spoil the sap’s taste, so collection has to stop.

We live in a town called Maplewood, and while we don’t make maple syrup here, we sure do eat a lot of it! Last week the temperatures here were close to 80, and all of our trees have buds. It’ll be a sad winter if the price of maple syrups breaks our waffle breakfast routine. Not to mention our new obsession with Brooklyn Brewery’s Mary’s Maple Porter. Needless to say, we’re stocking up on the sweet stuff. Will you?

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