Friday, February 7, 2014

Bistro Mode


Photo courtesy Flickr

The Pike Place Market harbors a store that sells every conceivable thing for the table, from cookware to ornament. I moseyed in last week looking for a heat proof mat to set under a portable oven. Fortune sent me in early in the day, when the clerk was fresh and customers few. I brought home two versions of the silicone mat sold for baking: one solid for cookies, the other an open mesh for bread-and pizza, I hope. 

When I unpack goods from this store, my life often gets richer and simpler. I bought the mats for heat safety, but they brought non-skid tray mat, Etruscan colors, and tabletop heat protection as well. A well-designed artifact, like these mats, fuses “for good” and “everyday”.

France puts the utility into utilitarian. Their ordinary kitchen ware functions well, satisfies the eye, and most importantly, recognizes and works with the hand.

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More after the jump.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

It Only Looks Traditional


The Original Import Chain stocked a collection of stainless steel flatware patterned like Tiffany’s World War Two design for the US Navy. I flipped when I first saw it before Thanksgiving, went home to meditate, and came back to buy the works for twelve including serving pieces and double dinner forks and soup spoons for $84, one heck of a bargain.

The stainless is offered as a buffet service and logically includes no knives. A few week’s use has revealed welcome subtleties in the form. The forks large and small are straight and wide compared to the high end model. That “shovel-ness” looks a little crude, but makes sense when eating out of one’s lap.

The dinner forks and spoons are large enough to be convenient for eating fork-worthy main dishes, stews, and soup. They accommodate both large and small adult hands. The set includes alternative forks and spoons slightly larger than cocktail forks and demitasse spoons but smaller than salad forks and tea spoons. These are convenient for eating small servings presented in sturdy glasses. No doubt kids will enjoy eating with them, too. 

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More after the jump.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

No Respect


Photo courtesy Flickr

It took an MIT faculty guy to comfort me with the knowledge that it’s not me, it’s the gadget. ‘Wish I could cite my source, but I recall a cover of his trade edition showing a coffee pot with the handle and spout on the same side of the vessel.

The other day I swapped power sources for the elegant Japanese tent lantern that I use for reading in bed. Working in full daylight in a warm room, I had trouble orienting the poles of the batteries: the charger and the lantern itself required different patterns of placement for the clutch of four AAs. A blinding flash of insight revealed a tent, foul weather, hypothermia, a dead nightlight, and no light to get the light right.

We’ve all been there. As crises go, placing working batteries is trivial. I used a bold permanent marker to enhance the oh so subtle molded +-  codes on the interiors of both the wall charger and lantern cases. A minor pip of glue on the + ends of the battery positions will braille a manual message.

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More after the jump.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Aesthetics


Photo courtesy Flickr

University Way has supported a Japanese import store for generations. I went in a while ago to look for noodle bowls, a generous format that the guys in my life have long preferred. I chose wedding china to harmonize with Imari, and over the decades it’s been simple to replace bowls from the import place.

On the recent visit, I trotted up to the counter with a couple of new versions of a  traditional bowl profile decorated with a very old brush-drawn pattern of cranes. The well-favored grandson (?) of the founder, whose head nearly brushes the original ceiling over the counter, said, “I just eat noodles out of a stainless steel bowl.” We had a good laugh about preciousness, and I bought my bowls anyway.

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More after the jump.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Cheap Stuff


Photo courtesy Flickr

Lately I’ve been using snail mail. The burn rate on my stash of Whooper informals was not sustainable. Back in the day, herself sent working messages on a utility letterpress letterhead, saving the hundred percent rag engraved stock for special occasions. Letterpress is rare now but gaining ground for formal occasions. It is the medium of choice for reproducing calligraphy. Any print medium is an expedient substitute for a written message, so respect your own hand. Just use black or blue-black ink for meaningful text.

An exploratory visit to the new biz on the block, an attenuated version of a big box office supply, turned up inexpensive small “baronial” proportioned envelopes on sale. These envelopes hold a sheet of 81/2 x 11 stock folded twice. I chose the white version, reasoning that it is pointless to ape the creamy goodness of all-rag ecru.

I did monkey around with the writing paper, though. The chain offers a flyweight variant of white “bristol” stock in 81/2 x 11 that echoes the current thin stock Whooper sells as a single fold card. It was a small matter to halve the sheets with the home paper cutter, give them a quick fold and burnish with the side of a plastic pen (or back of a fingernail), and call them good. Do a test unit to make sure the side of the pen is burnished clean. 

A quick print place can do the cutting and folding for a minor fee. Be prepared to sweet talk the clerk, since the project is probably unfamiliar. Ask if they mind working on stock you bring in yourself (unopened) or if they can provide equivalent material, offer to assume responsibility in writing, and remind them to charge enough. 

One of life’s minor pleasures is integrating stamp and envelope. The USPS has cool graphics on its machine printed stamps and priority stickers. The new cheapo writing kit will support a machine stamp very agreeably. Any scrawl written with any pen will look good on it.

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More after the jump.