April 2008 Archives
There are some exceptional beauty products emerging on the market now that take preserving our environment seriously. One eco-friendly line, Eco Tools caught my eye for their earth-friendly beauty tools and bathing products. The Eco Tools make-up brushes, for example, are made from all natural and recycled materials. Their BAMBOO brush collection is made from soft, synthetic taklon bristles, which are 100% cruelty free. The brushes' handles are made from bamboo - a low impact, natural resource, which is considered highly sustainable. Even the Ferrule is made from recycled aluminum cans. Eco Tools has a 5-piece brush set that is packaged in a cosmetic case made from natural cotton and hemp.
Eco Tools standard packaging is reusable and the insert cards are printed on recyclable paper printed with plant-based ink.
Web site | Where to Buy
A world-renowned asian art glass studio has opened its first gallery store in the United States, Liuligongfang in San Francisco, right off Union Square. Artist, Loretta Hui-Shan Yang is internationally recognized for perfecting and reviving the ancient Chinese art glass technique called Liuli (literally "beautiful glass"). She has devoted the last 20 years of her life to Liuli and seeks harmony between art and life with every art glass piece she creates. Yang compiles each Liuli collection to reflect the beauty of life and nature, "revealing both authentic and modern expressions of Chinese culture."
Yang has expressed her artistic talents in Liuli and in acting. Yang, was a critically acclaimed and award-winning Taiwanese film star in the 1970s, but left the movie industry in 1987, at the height of her career, to pursue "enlightenment." While studying the French glass-making process pate-de verre, which translates to paste of glass, Yang learned that the art form had actually originated in China and could be traced back 3,000 years to the Shang and Zhou Dynasties. Yang and former film director, and now husband, Yi Chang became determined to resurrect the ancient art of Liuli and return it to the forefront of the art world.
Art for Yang, is "an evocative manifestation of love, life and spirituality." Her work, for example, includes these beautiful glass bowls she created as a set called, Tranquility of Heaven and Earth. Her collections also include jewelry and other collectibles for the home.
Liuligongfang is a 3,100 square-foot gallery store that showcases the amazing beauty of their creations and invites you to sip tea at their glass bar. While at the bar, you can enjoy tea served from Liuli teapots in Liuli cups and learn about pate-de-verre casting techniques and the Liuli story.
Website | Where to Buy
If there is one "guilty pleausure" I give in to, and feel good about it, is dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate and make a point of having some in the house at all times. So when I learned of TCHO, I realized I found a chocolate manufacturer (not a "re-melter") who was really extraordinique. Sold in Beta batches, by design, TCHO's recipes continually evolve and adapt as a result of customer feedback.
Sold exclusively at the TCHO factory store on Pier 17 in San Franscisco or online at TCHO.com, the chocolate, sold in plain brown paper pouches, note the chocolate flavors in terms much like a fine wine - nutty, fruity, chocolately and "blend." Their latest release is C Ghana 0.7x with flavor notes from TCHO, which includes, "rich, smooth, and intensely chocolatey -- a perfect expression of the deep flavorful beans from Ghana. You may discern fudgy caramel notes dancing with malty, roasty and earthy undertones." Yum!
Learn more about TCHO's chocolate as the "last good drug" and read more about what drives TCHO in beta.
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With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner, I realize it is time to break out my recipe for "Guac'n de Casbah" mint-infused guacamole. It's definitely a stretch from its original fan-favorite "Rockin' Guac," but both are scooped up, nonetheless.
Because I like to make lots of guac, I am always keeping my eyes out for some good tools to help create these fan favorites, 10-12 avocados at a time.
Chef'n has some innovative and fun kitchen products and I just found their "Flexicado" Avocado Slicer. I used to have something similar to this and it disappeared somewhere between parties.
The Flexicado Avocado Slicer allows you to scoop out one avocado half at a time, slicing and creating strips for easy mashing.
So don't forget to get your Guac' On this Cinco de Mayo and give the Flexicado a try if you are planning on making as much guacamole as I plan to do.
When I was a kid, I loved to hang in my playhouse. It was made of cardboard and had stencils on the walls inviting me to draw and fill the "fort" with my own artwork. Apparently, playhouses have now become real pieces of art. Recently, in a luxury gift guide, I found the ultimate playhouses ranging from a two-story victorian home to Red Beard's Revenge Pirate Ship. They even seat adults to join in the fun and festivities. These extraordinary playhouses are custom built with endless interior and exterior possibilities. Whether it's cable, running water, electricity, central air or a wireless communication system, the architect/builder is said to accommodate your requirements. They can even build a miniature replica of your home. I'm thinking that would be great for a home office option "to play." Whatdya think?
We are pleased to announce that Extraordinique has been added to Alltop. Alltop is a site built on suggestions by active social web users. It's a great honor for us and we so appreciate that Extraordinique has been identified and accepted on Alltop.
Like an "online magazine rack" Alltop displays the news from top publications and blogs. The site gathers up the best suggestions from the most active social web users and compiles links into a simple, clean discovery space. You'll find Extraordinique in the Life section (life.alltop.com), which opened on March 28, 2008.
Alltop Life has an amazing collection of people who are passionate and share things about day-to-day life and interests. We are thrilled to be included in the Life category as our primary mission is for Extraordinique to highlight artists, designers and innovators who are pushing the envelope, creating new things and influencing our day-to-day life in extraordinary ways. That's our Extraordinique mantra (wink to @guykawasaki for that one).
We encourage you to check out all the Alltop Life stories, including some of our personal favorites: Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, Sarcomicial, To Think Is To Create, Skimbaco and Divine Caroline.
The great thing about Alltop is that when you visit, browse and navigate throughout the many categories -- you'll find "all the top" stories, eh hem, including ours.
Thanks to everyone who visits, subscribes, follows @Extraordinique and has become a fan. As a result, you put us on top (pronounced Alltop). ;)
Here's a unique decanter that is the perfect blend of form and function. French artist Etienne Meneau has beautifully designed two extraordinary wine carafes, La Carafe N°2 and La Carafe N°4, which holds exactly one bottle of your finest wine. Designed for decanting fine wine, these uniquely styled carafes optimize your favorite Cabernet and create a visual connection between red wine and a healthy heart. Like blood pumping through veins, the decanter oxygenates the wine and separates it from any sediment for an extraordinary wine tasting experience.
"A votre sante!"
Website | Where to Buy
We've been having some beautiful nights that are clear and full of bright twinkling stars. Recently, at a family gathering, I was surrounded by nieces and nephews who were energetic about what they learned in school. They amazed me with their knowledge about nature by day and astronomy by night. I recall wishing we had a telescope to see everything they were excited to share with me about what they had just learned in school.
As Summer nears, I was thinking it would be fun to spend warm evenings revisiting what I had once learned in school as a kid. Doing a little research, I found Edmund Scientific to have a very cool family telescope that is fun for all ages. What I loved about the Astroscan® Telescope is that you can sit easily anywhere and hold the rounded base in your lap to view your favorite planet or map out the constellations with ease.
I see a perfect summer night coming up -- a little barbecue, some blankets, KT Tunstall's album Eye to the Telescope playing in the background and the Astroscan under the stars. Sounds fun, huh? I think so.
Website | Where to Buy
2008 has been the "year of the baby" within our circle of friends. So many of our friends are expecting or have just recently delivered a bouncing baby boy or girl. We are surprised to see so many boys and when they come in sets of two, that means even more fun and extraordinique things for me to find for our "Mommy" friends. We welcomed lots of wonderful babies last month with great strong names like Haaken, Lincoln, and Trevor. Needing to buy quite a bit of baby gifts, I always like to find something that is super functional and fun for mom to enjoy and use for her baby (or babies for the moms-with-muliples).
Skimbaco, an upscale children's boutique, recently turned me on to Baby Star, which among other totally modern and stylish baby products, have a great line of boys, girls and unisex bibs. The printed patterns are great -- colorful and stylish for high-chair chic! As Baby Star puts it, "they catch drool and mac + cheese in a very hip way." For all the mom's and "SavvyAunties" with hungry mouths to feed, these are on the top of my list to give as gifts.
All Baby Star products are formaldehyde-free, making them safe for baby and the environment.
I've always loved granola, but I have to admit I haven't had it for years. Then, we recently received samples of a new line of Kashi Whole Grain granola cereals and I have to say, my love for granola has returned in a big way. I tried Kashi's Cocoa Beach (7 Whole Grain Granola) and devoured it. I had it every day for breakfast even found myself grabbing for it to get me through the 4 o'clock "grumblies." It's so tasty and best of all, it kept my energy high and hunger level low. Typically, when I eat cereal, I find myself looking for something to eat an hour later. Because this cereal was so tasty and satisfying, I then tried the Summer Berry too. My husband loved the Cocoa Beach, but said he thought maybe the Summer Berry was his overall favorite. Either way, I now want both these cereals in the house at all times. It's a quick breakfast or snack option that packs a punch for my daily grind!
Reading up more on Kashi and these cereals, I was happy to know that these granola cereals are packed with powerful whole grains and at least 300-400 mgs of ALA Omega 3 fatty acids, which is essential nowadays for good healthful living. While these two granola cereals are not organic, I was happy to see that there are no unnecessary preservatives or artificial additives -- just natural ingredients, like dried fruits, nuts and Kashi's blend of whole grains. If you are looking for an organic alternative, I found Kashi has a line called the "Organic Promise" cereals as well.
I've always enjoyed Kashi waffles for breakfast, but now I found another alternative that I really love. If you are looking for a tasty breakfast option, I'd suggest giving this granola a try. I'm craving some Cocoa Beach right now!
Website | Where to Buy