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The kitchen | Manolo for the Home - Part 10
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Armani Casa Leaves Me Cold

Interiors by Armani Casa tend to share a few characteristics… They can be described as utilitarian, they are innovative and stylish, and they leave me totally cold.

Armani Casa interior design

Perhaps it’s simply that I value the look of comfort as much as I value comfort itself, but the design of these interiors does not speak to me on an individual level. I feel like I’d be afraid to touch anything in a home containing the rooms pictured above.

Gifts For the Home: The Under $40 Edition

I’m proud to say that I actually have quite a bit of my holiday shopping done, though this is by no means usual. This year, I copped out and went with gifts for the home. I guess it’s fun trying to buy gifts for my elders who already have everything they need, but I just plain don’t have the time this year to dedicate my time and energy to shopping.

What do all the parents and grandparents in my life have? Homes, that’s what. And I’ve never heard anyone complain that they simply have too much cute in the kitchen.

Picasso napkin ringsholiday appetizer platesretro clock
cake standretro spice rackblue coffee press

What you see:

(Not So) Fleeting Elegance

At my wedding reception, the caterer brought along something they called “upscale disposable silverware.” Prior to the reception, we were all pretty interested to see what that would turn out to be. As it turns out, upscale disposable silverware is silver plastic cutlery designed to look more like an actual silverware set than the white plastic forks, spoons, and knives one can buy in the garbage bag aisle of the local Winn-Dixie. Okay, then.

Designers Donata Paruccini and Fabio Bortolani took the concept a step further with their deluxe plastic cutlery sets (manufactured by Pandora Design).


The set is decorated with a floral motif typical of 19th century Italian silverware and is dishwasher safe. Why would you re-use plastic cutlery for reasons other than ecological friendliness? Maybe because a sixteen piece set costs a whopping $120. The plastic glasses also come from Pandora Design, and a set of six costs $140.


Around the World in Eighty Gifts


Okay, maybe just five gifts. And we’re not exactly going around the world, as the areas of the globe represented in the above furniture and accent decor from Ten Thousand Villages are limited to the Caribbean, Central America, India, Vietnam, and Kenya. So I lied a little in the name of beautiful accessories for the home. Sue me… then buy me a hand-carved kisii soapstone hippo from Kenya and I’ll forgive you for being so easily upset.

Mikasa + Amy Butler = Lovely But Tame


I’m quite the fan of Amy Butler, so when I heard she’d teamed up with Mikasa to produce a line of dishware, my heart was all aflutter. But now that I’ve seen the results, my reaction is basically “meh.” All in all, the line is kind of tame — there are so many wonderfully bold Amy Butler patterns out there that would make smashing dishes. Like this, this, and this, for instance!

Do I Even Drink That Much Hot Chocolate?

Repeat after me: I do not need hot chocolate specific stoneware. I do not need hot chocolate specific stoneware. I do not need hot chocolate specific stoneware.

Hot chocolate stoneware

I do not need…OH GOD, YES I DO! Bring it on, Kristen Grace!

Gifts For the Home: The Under $50 Edition

An acquaintance of mine recently announced that she has completed all of her holiday shopping. When I picked my jaw up off the floor, all I could do was nod mutely. Suddenly I felt guilty…it’s never too early to start thinking about holiday gifts, after all. Then I felt livid! Why should I feel guilty when Thanksgiving is but a glimmer in my hungry husband’s eye?

Nonetheless, I simply cannot stop my Type A brain from contemplating gift ideas. Money’s tight this year, what with a baby on the way, so I’m trying to keep costs down or at the very least keep costs reasonable. Last year, we made gifts, and many hours and burned fingers later, I’ve come to realize that my time and my digits are too valuable. My preliminary gift search led me to Branch and the Gifts Under $50 section of their web site.

Inexpensive gifts

From reclaimed wood salt and pepper shakers or spice blocks and eggs that grow herbs to organic bamboo cutting boards or utensils and worker-friendly bamboo bowls, Branch has the kind of gifts appropriate for MILs and grandparents who already have everything but are happy to receive some pretty new thing.

Yes, everyone in my family loves to cook but me. How could you tell?

Vintage Cake Carriers, Yum!

I lust after vintage kitchen gadgets, as my family well knows. Occasionally, said gadgets even come in handy, like the other day when I finally got fed up with the hand mixer that has five speeds only if ultra fast, mega fast, insanely fast, speed of light, and spraying batter everywhere are actual speeds. My old hand-cranked egg beater saved the day, and the modern hand mixer was tossed into the box destined for the Goodwill.

Cake carriers

Speaking of batter, I am currently drooling over all of the vintage cake carriers on eBay. Luckily, they tend to be relatively inexpensive as vintage kitchen gadgets go. In case you’re thinking that they’re pretty, but useless, these babies are great for those of us who like to bake for parties and have suffered the humiliation of driving 20 miles under the speed limit with our hazards on because there was a cake on the passenger side floor. The best cake carriers are multi-tiered — carry a cake and a pie! — and spring-loaded for safety. The heavier the cake, the stronger the seal, so you don’t have to worry about nasty accidents.

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