This really is my favorite annual trade show, even surpassing the giant Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas held every January. Why? Affordable, simple time savers and other smart home innovations that never go out of style, have no operating system, are easy to use and understand, and are generally quite affordable. What’s not to like? Following are just a very few of the many things that caught my attention this year in no particular order, with more to come as time permits.
Skrub’a – The scrubbing glove for potatoes, veggies, fish. Put on the gripping glove and “skrub” under a little bit of water to remove just the top layer on potatoes, veggies and any root “fruit,” so to speak. Conventional peeling removes too much of what’s beneficial. The Fish Skrub’a also has an ingenious pad for removing tougher scales and is available in both water proof and standard, with the water proof design helping to eliminate fish odor from transferring to the hands. Info at www.skruba.com. About $10 from Amazon.com
Handstand Kids Cookbook Company – a local SoCal company creates international cookbook kits that introduce children to the culture, language, and cuisine of a new country. Each cookbook kit is uniquely packaged with a cooking accessory: The Handstand Kids Italian Cookbook is packaged in a pizza box with a chef’s hat; The Handstand Kids Mexican Cookbook comes in a tortilla bag with a child-sized oven mitt; and The Handstand Kids Chinese Cookbook is packaged in a take-out box with a set of chopsticks. Each cookbook is $28 and available at www.handstandkids.com, PLUS at retailers listed under the SHOPPING link on their site. Multipurpose, informative mats are about $8. The company also does cooking classes throughout the LA area, parties and private lessons. www.handstandkids.com.
EZStringer – Everyone will want one of these. When your drawstring pulls out, EZStringer restrings any drawstring. Period. Hoodies, sweatpants, bathing suits, cargo pants, and your kids’ football pants, sweaters, any drawstring-equipped garment. One EZStringer will connect to another for extra long requirements! Made in the USA, too! Only $10 for a pair. They can be used with ANY drawstring, round, flat, wide, delicate. Available in Original, Medium and Mini. 312-772-5270 (in Chicago). www.ezstringer.com. Available in April, 2010 through the Home Trends catalog at www.shophometrends.com.
Wine Diaper – Protects your belongings when transporting wine through a store, on a plane or in your car though its unique super-absorbent padding inside. Seal up the bag and don’t worry about a mess if the bottle breaks. Absorbs an entire 750ml bottle of liquid. Reusable if the bottle has not broken! Recyclable and biodegradable. A three-pack sells for $15 through their Website. You can also order them with a personalized message. www.winediaper.com.
The SKrAPr – Made of a proprietary resin, the SKrAPr is a home utensil to work on stubborn spills and burnt messes on all smooth surfaces – including glass-top stoves, windshields and windows, granite counters, even Le Creuset pots! Designed to be used so that the round end is in the palm of the hand and with two fingers pushing slightly downward. It is mildew resistant and does not promote bacteria growth. I saw it in action at the show. Scrape off oversprayed paint, stuck on gunk on cookware, barbecue grills, ice and snow from windshields, anything, without chemicals. It’s amazing! Online at www.TheSKrAPr.com. Two for $20 with the SKrAPr Junior included.
Tortilla Warmer and Grill Warmer – from the Foodwarmer Company, each is designed to keep foods warm. Put even large tortillas in the $10 Tortilla Warmer, then the whole thing in the microwave oven. Heat for up to one minute, depending upon how many tortillas are inside. They will stay hot for up to 45 minutes without drying out! Easy to clean – just turn it inside out and throw it in the washing machine, and let it air dry. The $20 Grill Warmer lets you take your food hot from the grill (up to 475 degrees) and keep it warm inside the FDA-approved silicone-lined grill warmer. Keeps foods hot twice as long. Also may be used to keep your home-baked hot pie hot while you drive to your friends’ for dinner. Much better than a platter with foil. Turn it inside out and wash with dish soap and let it air dry. Info and where-to-buy at www.TheFoodWarmer.com
Brand new from Takeya USA – Mix it, shake it, store it UPSIDE DOWN or on its side, because they’re LEAKPROOF and very durable, made from BPA-free AcraGlass. Twist top pitcher holds 66 ounces – 2L, $40 retail. The 24-oz. Tea Maker is $25 with jacket. Stain, cloud and odor proof, and dishwasher safe. I also like their airtight cereal and dry food containers of different sizes. The 66-oz. is $15. These are recommended for hand-washing only. Look for these and more from Takeya starting April, 2010 at retailers. www.takeyausa.com.
Brooklyn Bagel Slicer – made in the USA, only $30. Look for it online. It WORKS on Montreal Bagels, Heroes, Rolls, Buns, and much more! Dishwasher safe, ergonomic, stainless steel blade. EASY TO USE! Used as directed, it is impossible to cut the user, but it’ll cut through the bagels, rolls and buns with ease. Watch it in action. www.Brooklynbagelslicer.com.
The Cheese Knife – Invented in the 1940s to cut Velveeta cheese without sticking to the blade. This new iteration is just as functional, but now is made of Ultem resin that is FDA-approved, dishwasher safe and stain resistant. Great around children because it will not cut the skin but cuts through cheese like buttuh and won’t stick to the soft cheeses! Use it on brie and cream cheese, as well as brownies, fudge, hard boiled eggs. $16 for the regular size cheese knife. The large version, $21, works perfectly on cheesecake without sticking to the blade. Go to www.thecheeseknife.com for info.
The new Clarus line of drinkware from U.S. Acrylic represents the next generation of this kind of product. Made entirely in the USA from a revolutionary material called Tritan, it improves upon every aspect of unbreakable drinkware. It is unbreakable, like Polycarbonate, but it looks better, feels better, lasts longer even when put through the dishwasher, and it is completely safe and BPA-free. There is no other material on the market today that can offer all these benefits, and there is no other line of Tritan drinkware that is as wide and comprehensive as the Clarus collection. From a design standpoint, U.S. Acrylic has invested tremendous efforts to ensure the design of every Clarus product is as relevant today as it will be year from now (since it will last that long). This is the highest quality product of its type I’ve seen to date. With all these benefits, it is still expected to be priced very affordably and will be available soon at retailers across the country. In the meantime, to find out more about Clarus, or to contact U.S. Acrylic, please visit www.usacrylic.com.