Thursday, April 30, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Flameless Candles for Mother's Day

We at The Daily Kool love candles...they create a welcoming, relaxing environment and are a beautiful edition to any home decor. What could be a more perfect Mother's Day gift? Whoa...wait a minute. Candles? With kids in the house? Are we crazy?

Perhaps, but not in this case. Now, every mom can have it all with flameless candles for Mother's Day. We came across the most amazing selection of fashionable candles from CandleImpressions on QVC (gotta love them!) and ordered a set of three paisley flameless ones for our mother last year. We liked this particular set because of the color selections (the blue one went perfectly in our mother's home) and dual timer modes (5 or 10 hour automatic shut off options). Imagine enjoying the sight and scent (depending on your preference) of real candles without the hazardous flame or messy wax. No open flame, no safety. We were particularly amazed at how the flameless candles recreated the flicker and glow of real ones. Seriously, folks...each candle is made from wax and is so realistic, you can hardly tell the difference. There is a patented embedded LED light that flickers randomly and the batteries are hidden for a lifelike look.

Imagine the decorating possibilities that flameless candles can help you create. You can display them near curtains, next to the bed and around the pool...all without worry. Place one in the center of a floral arrangement for a stunning centerpiece. Line an outdoor stairway with flameless votive candles in glass holders. Best of all, they're safe enough to keep around kids and pets. And with each candle lasting for at least 350 hours, flameless candles last much longer than traditional ones. Beauty, safety and value...what more could mom want for Mother's Day?

Though the set of three paisley flameless candles were our choice, we want to let you know that these particular candles are on a wait list, unless you choose the white ones (shown above). But there are so many gorgeous options, you are bound to find several that will absolutely thrill mom on Mother's Day. The set of two dried flower flameless candles (vanilla scented) are particularly pretty. There is also an 8" tubular flameless mosaic candle that looks spectacular. We can't say enough about flameless candles...what a great alternative to traditional candles. Definitely one of the "koolest" Mother's Day gifts of the year!

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Gift of the Month Club for Mother's Day

Gift of the month clubs are always a successful, albeit expensive choice for a loved one. For the mother who seems to have everything (like ours), it's a unique and thoughtful gift that keeps giving. The Daily Kool has given several monthly club memberships as gifts over the years. Our favorites so far are Harry and David's Fruit-of-the-Month Club and Wolferman's Muffin Club. The quality and customer service of both companies has always been outstanding. Our only complaint is the lack of variety available. Oh, don't get us wrong...there are different delectable monthly features from each company. It's just that the choice is always going to be fruit from Harry and David and muffins from Wolferman's. What if we want both? Or something else added?

ClubsGalore seems to have come up with the perfect solution with their variety gift of the month club membership options. Not only do they have over 20 individual monthly clubs available, but you have the option of mixing and matching them, resulting a personalized combination that suits your mother's tastes. In other words, you can select the gourmet club for one month, the wine club for another and even the chocolate club for a third. You can even repeat any favorite club in a given month. We love ClubsGalore's unconditional guarantee...if your mother is not thrilled, she (or you) can cancel the gift of the month club membership at any time for a refund of the remaining deliveries.

Although we absolutely love the variety and options of the gift of the month club memberships from ClubsGalore, we do have one complaint. The website does not show anywhere what specific item is shipped in a given month for a particular club. We would much rather know, for example what each club is featuring in May, June and July so we can ensure the most personalized gift collection. ClubsGalore seems to be lacking in that flexibility. In due fairness, however, The Flying Noodle, a notable other gift club company (though they do not offer a variety option) does not give this kind of detail either. But seriously, folks...The Daily Kool wants details...lots of details.

Though we may not be privy to all the details we would like from ClubsGalore online, the variety gift of the month club membership option might still make it worthwhile. If you want to give your mother three months of total relaxation (for example), one month of tea, another of candles and yet another of bath and body might be the perfect gift of the month club variety for you. Of course, there are enough individual club memberships that are sure to please. For example, the menus and music (recipes and CDs) club is perfect for the mom who loves to create her own fine dining experience at home. There is also a pie club, cake club and even a cookie club for moms with an undeniable sweet tooth. Regardless of which options you prefer, ClubsGalore and even The Flying Noodle are definitely worth checking out for an unusual Mother's Day gift. If not...well, we still love Wolferman's and Harry and David!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Purse Hangers and Hooks for Mother's Day

Our mother definitely has her own sense of style. She always looks meticulous and fashionable, matching her outfit, shoes and handbag to perfection. Somehow, we didn't inherit that gene, but we admire it nonetheless. Mommy (yes, we still call her that...don't make fun) particularly loves purses, and has one to suit almost every occasion. It's just a shame that her purse is always slipping off of a chair onto the dirty floor whenever she goes to a restaurant.

The Daily Kool has a solution that is stylish, practical and will make a fabulous Mother's Day gift. We first came across a purse hanger at our local hair salon. Our stylist had her handbag hanging on a pretty floral hook attached to her workstation table. We knew then that this was a "must have" for our mother. We love the simplicity of the purse hanger. Just slide the beautiful caddy over a table's edge and hang your purse over the sturdy hook. That's it...just hook it and forget it! The design utilizes gravity to safely hold up your purse, leaving it protected and off the floor.

After doing our research, The Daily Kool was most impressed with a company called Hot Hang-Ups...we loved the variety and quality of their purse hangers. We particularly like their compact style collection, especially the photo frame. Hot Hang-Ups has also innovated and patented the designer watch collection...very "kool." For Mother's Day, the company specifically features a simple, but pretty "Mom" design. Just to give you an idea of the selection, we've provided you with some of this company's designs below.

However, they were indeed one of the higher priced companies we investigated. features a selection of purse hangers from several companies, and another notable website from our research was Between the three sources, you should be able to find one (or several) purse hangers to fit your mother's unique personality, as well as your budget. Here's a little advice, though...make sure that the purse hanger you select can hold a considerable amount of weight...some only claim up to 5lbs, while others claim up to 20lbs. Our mother's handbags often feel as if they weigh more than our four-year old son, so we needed the sturdiest purse hanger we could find. We would assume that the more weight a purse hanger can handle, the higher the quality.

Sleek, sophisticated and perfect for any woman, these stylish purse hangers make an ideal and affordable gift for Mother's Day. A fabulous purse accessory that your mother will love. Definitely a "kool" idea!

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Photo Collage for Mother's Day

Pictures of the kids or grandchildren seems to be a popular gift choice for Mother's Day. But, who says you have to give Mom just an ordinary photograph?

Picture if you will (ha, ha...sorry), a professionally printed image of your pride and joy, meticulously composed of all your favorite shots. The Daily Kool came across this "kool" idea for a photo collage from a company called Picture Evolution. Picture Evolution will take a primary photograph of your choice, and create a composite by cutting and joining a number of other photographs (also provided by you).

We at The Daily Kool love this gift idea. If you are at all like us, you probably have hundreds of digital pictures of your kids. With Picture Evolution, all you have to do is upload and submit at least 50 of your favorites and they'll take care of the rest. Don't be skimpy on the pictures though...Picture Evolution needs enough variation in color and contrast to accurately recreate the main photo, so the more you give them, the better (there is no limit). As you can see from our example, the photo collage results are astounding.

We like the convenience that comes with uploading our selected images to Picture Evolution to create the photo collage. Don't worry, though. The company assures us that all photographs are handled with complete care, respect and confidentiality. Imagine the look on Mom's face when you present her with this beautiful piece of art. A photo collage is the ultimate expression of your special memories and a truly unique Mother's Day gift idea that will undoubtedly surprise and delight the special woman in your life.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

This Week: Happy Mother's Day, Gift Ideas

Yes, folks...Mother's Day is coming up on May 10th, and The Daily Kool wants to help you prepare with unusual gift ideas for the first special woman in your life. As we get older, it's becoming harder and harder to find that perfect gift for know the one we mean. It's got to be personal, unusual, and so terrific she won't even think about returning it. No gift receipts here, please!

This week, The Daily Kool will be featuring five unique Mother's Day gift ideas. Here's a sneak peak:

Monday: Photo Finish
Tuesday: A Stylish Solution
Wednesday: Monthly Rewards
Thursday: You Light Up My Life, Mom
Friday: Spaaaaaaaah

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Dixon Ticonderoga Renew Green Pencil

When our eldest son started in his new school, we were given a list of required supplies to purchase. On the list were four boxes of pencils...not just any pencils, mind you. The school specifically requested Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencils. Well, la dee da. In our ignorance, we assumed that for a second-grader, any (okay, we mean cheap) yellow #2 pencil would do...after all, who really thinks about which brand of pencil they use?

Apparently, many people do. Dixon Ticonderoga is considered the world's best pencil, and is certainly the best selling one. We have to admit that after switching to these pencils in our home, we have officially become avid members of the Dixon Ticonderoga fan club. These cedar pencils are sturdy and comfortable to use, and they produce bold, rich marks that are easy see and even easier to erase. Wow...who knew?

What's even more amazing is how the company is improving upon the perfection of their product. Pencil it in, folks (okay, that was lame)...Dixon is going green in May with their new innovation, the Ticonderoga Renew. Instead of cedar, the casing is made up of a compound that is 30% recycled, pulverized tires. The all black Ticonderoga Renew pencil may feel a bit rubbery, but Dixon assures its customers that it will sharpen as beautifully as cedar. The pencil is enhanced with recycled paper packaging, a latex-free eraser and a black graphite core of the same exceptional quality we have come to expect from Dixon. The only unfortunate aspect (especially in today's economy) of the Dixon Ticonderoga Renew is the cost, which at about $4 for a package of 10, is even more expensive than the company's already premium-priced pencils.

The Dixon Ticonderoga Renew green (well, black) pencil may be just the product to end the wood pencil, and is a big step towards preserving Earth's shrinking supply of suitable lumber. With a production of nearly a half a billion pencils a year, imagine the impact if Dixon made the shift to exclusively manufacturing the Ticonderoga Renew. We know, we know...we're discussing a pencil for goodness sake...but still, it's pretty exciting stuff. Hopefully, the Dixon Ticonderoga Renew green pencil will live up to the company's strict standards, and take its predecessor's place as the most recognized and revered pencil throughout the world. Now that would be "kool."

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook

Picture the perfect dessert in your taste, creamy texture and oh so decadent. For us at The Daily Kool, nothing finishes a meal quite like a delicious slice of cheesecake. And nobody does cheesecake better than Junior's. Don't get us wrong...we like The Cheesecake Factory just as much as the next person. But if you've ever tasted a cheesecake from Junior's in Brooklyn, New York, you undoubtedly agree with us that there's just no comparison. Junior's Cheesecake is almost worth moving back to the city for, but alas New York is another time, another life for The Daily Kool family.

So what do we do when we need our Junior's cheesecake fix? Well, up until about a year ago, we merely settled for meritocracy at best. And although Junior's ships all over the U.S., the cost for delivery was just too extravagant, even for us cheesecake addicts. So, imagine our excitement when we came across this fabulous Junior's Cheesecake cookbook. It seemed like the perfect solution, especially since we love fooling around in the kitchen...wait, that didn't come out right, did it? Ahem...well, you know what we meant!

This Junior's Cheesecake cookbook lives up to it's name...50 to-die-for recipes for New York style cheesecake. These are no ordinary recipes, folks! Imagine tantalizing your tastebuds with enticing cheesecake flavors such as Heathbar, Black Forest, Banana Fudge and White Chocolate Cranberry, just to name a few. We love the old-fashioned red and white striped cover, glossy pages and quality photography. We know, we know...baking cheesecakes can be very intimidating, especially with their propensity for cracking. But, the Junior's Cheesecake cookbook is filled with sidebars of hints and suggestions to ensure perfectly smooth and incredibly delicious results.

While we appreciated the thorough instructions in the Junior's Cheesecake cookbook, we have to admit to being a bit overwhelmed with the detail at first. That said, their techniques for successful preparation, baking, cooling and cutting ensure top-notch results...albeit with a little practice and experimentation. However, any imperfections (mostly cosmetic) were anticipated by the Junior's team and addressed in the handy trouble-shooting section in the cookbook...and none of our issues affected the incredible taste of our creations. Mmmmm...scrumptious! We did make sure to thoroughly read through the entire book before attempting our first cheesecake, just to make sure we understood the basics. We also took all of Junior's pan and ingredient recommendations to heart...highest quality products yield the best results.

Our Junior's Cheesecake cookbook has become a staple in The Daily Kool household and is a great gift for anyone who likes baking, or just loves cheesecake. These are definitely time consuming recipes, but the results are oh so worth it! Good thing our closets are stocked with elastic waist-band pants, huh?

Here's the recipe from the book for original New York style cheesecake for your baking pleasure...enjoy!

  • 1 recipe crust of your choice*
  • four 8oz. packages full-fat (this is important) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs (this is important)
  • 3/4 cups heavy cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the outside with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides. Make and/or bake your crust and leave it in the pan.
  2. Beat one package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch together on low until creamy (about 3 minutes), scraping down the bowl several times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, continuing to scrape as needed.
  3. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 1/3 cups of sugar and vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in the cream until just completely blended....DO NOT OVERMIX. Gently spoon batter over the crust.
  4. Place the cake in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan...this water bath will help prevent cracking and ensure a creamy texture.
  5. Bake until the slightly golden tan (about 1 1/4 hours). Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack and let cool for two hours.
  6. Leaving the cake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  7. Make sure to keep cake refrigerated until ready to serve and slice with a sharp straight-edge knife (not serrated).
*The Junior's Cheesecake cookbook includes a fabulous recipe for their sponge cake crust. In the meantime, feel free to make your own graham cracker or oreo crust.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Celebrate Earth Day with Earth Promise

Today, schools all over the country are celebrating Earth Day. Teachers everywhere are educating children in an effort to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. Though we at The Daily Kool are fairly confident in our overall parenting skills, we are ashamed to admit that we have been failing our children in a very important way. We have not focused nearly enough on teaching them to respect nature and the environment. This goes beyond our responsibility to lecture our kids about the importance of Earth Day. It is our obligation (especially as parents) to encourage future generations to do their part to help preserve our wonderful planet...something that can only be achieved if we practice what we are preaching every day.

Sound a bit overwhelming? We thought so, too. Then, we connected with our friends at Earth Promise and discovered how little changes can make a big difference. Earth Promise is an online community that helps people just like us make changes (called earth promises) in our everyday lives to improve the earth's condition and help preserve our precious resources. These changes can be as simple as keeping the window closed during highway driving (increases fuel efficiency) or using your local library more (instead of purchasing new books). We were surprised at how many earth promises there were like these that can also save us money in today's economy.

Here's how we got started. We set up a free Earth Promise account, establishing our user name and password. Unsure where to start, we browsed some earth promises that other members have made to get some ideas. We like that the website offers a wizard to help us figure out which earth promises might be right for us, but we actually found the starter plan to be a more helpful tool for our purposes. There is also a growing community of other Earth Promise members with established groups, forums, blog topics and other resources.

After touring the site, familiarizing ourselves with its functionality and making a few earth promises to get us started, we decided to hold off on adding any others without our children with us. After all, we want to show our children how just person making one small change can have a tremendous impact on the environment. We can't wait for the kids to come home from school. We are going to spend the afternoon on the Earth Promise website together.

Earth Promise is such a great teaching tool, we can picture its appeal to educators and parents world-wide. It not only shows how easily we can incorporate small, earth-friendly changes to everyday activities, but it inspires children to learn the importance of keeping their promises. Earth Promise is definitely worth checking out. It's a great idea for us, and an even better idea for our children. Together, we can really make a difference...on Earth Day, and everyday. Now, that's a "kool" idea.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Touch N Brush Toothpaste Dispenser

Our children are active members of the toothpaste clump club. If you have kids, you probably know what we're talking about. Every morning, the bathroom sink is literally covered with globs of toothpaste. At night, parents control the tooth-brushing routine in The Daily Kool household, but in the mornings, the kids run the show. Don't get us wrong...we want our children to learn to brush independently. But, honestly, if it wasn't for our Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (see previous post), our formica-style bathroom counters would stay forever stained. Since our kids have a preference for the strawberry flavored stuff...well, let's just say that every morning we see red...lots and lots of red.

We saw an infomercial last week for the Touch N Brush toothpaste dispenser. Granted, it was one of the more obnoxious ads we've seen...but nevertheless, could this be the answer to our toothpaste troubles? The Touch N Brush claims that it can hold any size toothpaste tube, and that it will dispense just the right amount easily and mess-free. It looks like a breeze to the suction cup base onto the surface, insert a tube of toothpaste and place on the cover...that's it! Pretty "kool", huh? To dispense the toothpaste, simply press your toothbrush against the lever and it drops right out.

We like that the Touch N Brush doesn't require any batteries (pretty novel, huh?), but we do question just how durable the plastic lever is. Hey, we admit it...our kids are tough on household items. For $20, we hope this toothpaste dispenser can take a little beating. Since we are perpetual middle squeezers, the vacuum force of the Touch N Brush should definitely stretch our dollar by getting every last bit of toothpaste from the tube. We can also see this product being ideal for someone with arthritis, carpal tunnel or other hand ailments. There could be a question of how sanitary the whole process is...after all, unless you plan on getting more than one, everyone in the house will be using the same Touch N Brush. It's not any different than sharing a toothpaste tube, though (which our kids do).

The Touch N Brush toothpaste dispenser just might be worth taking a closer look at for us at The Daily Kool. A convenient product that saves space and keeps an area cleaner is always a welcome addition in our household. Plus, it makes a great gift for anyone with a smaller bathroom or sloppy kids...or both, as in our case. Our children would definitely like using the Touch N Brush for their independent brushing...ah, their dentist would be so proud.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Hercules Hook Wall Hooks

Our children, like most others, are extremely proud when they create beautiful pieces of art. If you have been reading our blog, you are probably aware of our parental obsession with technology-free activities that foster socialization and creative expression. Our kids love them all...sand art, mosaics, string along, latch hook projects, etc. Of course, our children demand that their creations be displayed. Rightfully so, of course, but there's only one problem...where on earth are we going to find room for all of them?

Shelves...we need more shelves (yes, and probably a bigger home). We are constantly taking out the hammer and nails to install shelves and hang artwork in various least we were until a friend told us we had to check out the Hercules Hook wall hooks. So, we picked them up at our local Bed Bath and Beyond (gotta love the 20% coupon) and brought them home.

There are a lot of things that we really like about the Hercules Hooks. They can hold a lot of weight (up to 150 lbs), and were relatively easy to use, once we got the hang (yep, pun intended) of it. Installing the Hercules Hooks took a little more muscle than we expected, but once we got them in, they really worked like a charm. We admittedly went a little hanging happy, but these hooks are a lot of fun to use....and they really hold everything beautifully.

This is a much sturdier product than we expected. We really love how small the holes in our wall are. Of course, we must admit that the heavier the item, the larger the hole gets, but it's still much smaller than most nails...just a little touch up paint makes them completely spackle necessary! Our biggest problem? Hercules Hooks are completely useless wherever there are studs in the wall. They are so long, there is no way to maneuver them around or in front of the studs. Unfortunately, the studs tend to be placed in the most centered areas on the walls, so we often have to go back to traditional picture hooks in certain spots.

Overall, Hercules Hook wall hooks are really great to have around the house. More convenient than picture hooks for framed art? Perhaps not, but again, only because of the wall studs. They are absolutely worth using for shelving installation or for heavier pieces that require an anchor and screw. Now we have plenty of places to store our kids' masterpieces and no excuse to shop around for a bigger house...darn it!

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Wikki Stix

About once a week, The Daily Kool indulges in a family night out, which includes a restaurant dinner, usually followed by dessert at Dairy Queen or Carvel. Restaurant night is a special treat and an extra opportunity for us parents to bond with our kids at the dinner table...if only we could pry those darned Nintendo DS systems from their grubby little hands. We can't tell you how many times we've been tempted to toss the little buggers (the games, not the kids) out the window. So, we at The Daily Kool have established a strict rule of no technology at the dinner table, including cell phones and BlackBerrys (much to our husbands' dismay). There's only one do we entertain our techno-obsessed kids while waiting for dinner to arrive?

We came across Wikki Stix at our local educational supply store and thought they would be great for restaurant entertainment. Wikki Stix are craft sticks made from acrylic hand-knitting yarn covered in a food-grade, microcrystalline wax...completely non-toxic and non-allergenic. Wikki Stix are flexible, bendable and reusable, and can be maneuvered into an infinite number of imaginative creations. They will stick to any surface with finger pressure (we now have a "giant" on our wall, courtesy of our four-year old), and can even be fashioned into a three-dimensional piece of artwork. Bugs were the theme of choice at tonight's restaurant trip...we made butterflies, beetles, flies and even ladybugs. Everyone participated, had fun and most importantly, we all enjoyed each other's company.

We love that the Wikki Stix website gives so many creative ideas for their product. Check them out for craft ideas, as well as educational uses for this multi-purpose toy. Wikki Stix has won several parenting awards for their innovative invention...all well-deserved, in our opinion. Our kids absolutely love playing with do we. We have used them for simple connect-the-dot projects, and have created characters that bring our kids' favorite storybooks to life. Our older son has already told us that he wants to make a map of the United States at next week's restaurant night, and our younger son wants to make a puppy dog named Lava (we have no idea). A little birdie told us that the men are secretly designing Wikki Stix PSPs and iPhones just to mess with us.

Please note...we have seen countless commercials for Bendaroos for the last several months. We are not sure what the difference is between Wikki Stix and Bendaroos, but Wikki Stix has definitely earned The Daily Kool's trust with their "made in the U.S." label. In our research, we have read several conflicting reports on the ethical behavior of the Bendaroos group, but keep in mind that we are not talking from personal experience. Bendaroos do seem to be a little less expensive than Wikki Stix, so do your research to decide which company is more suited to you and your family.

Wikki Stix are a terrific way to play with your children at restaurants, on the road or at home. While we don't expect them to replace the techno toys in our kids' hearts, they are still wonderful and fun way to inspire creativity and learning for all ages. Definitely a "kool" idea!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Hell's Kitchen

Okay, we have a confession to make...we at The Daily Kool are absolutely addicted to Hell's Kitchen. No, no...please try not to think less of us. There is just something about watching Gordon Ramsay torturing a group of professional chefs that keeps us glued to our television every Thursday night. Talk about blood, sweat and tears...yes, we have literally seen them all on Hell's Kitchen. Even when we anticipate the disaster that is about to strike, we just can't look away when Chef Ramsay makes verbal mincemeat of a contestant. Who knew we had such a sadistic side?

Apparently, FOX did. Hell's Kitchen is one of their more popular series, now in its 5th season...Season 6 is scheduled to debut on July 21st. The unscripted show follows a group of relatively inexperienced contestants vying for a chance to earn a prestigious $250,000 position as Head Chef in one of Gordon Ramsay's new restaurants. The series starts out with two teams (blue and red), in a men vs. women split. Each episode begins with a challenge that tests the contestants' culinary knowledge or ability. The winning team gets a fabulous reward, such as a trip to the spa, dining out at an exclusive restaurant or a day at the horse races. The losing team suffers a bout of quick torture...from eating a tray of disgusting cow parts (yes, you read that right), to scrubbing the dorms (bathroom toilets included) to prepping both kitchens for dinner service. It's amusing to see grown men and women lower themselves to adolescent levels as they win and lose each challenge.

The most important challenge in Hell's Kitchen is, of course dinner service. To ensure victory at this challenge, each team must complete dinner service with little to no mishaps in the kitchen...easier said than done. Something always goes wrong...either a lapse in teamwork, organization, skill, or in some cases...all of the above. Whatever the problem, Chef Ramsay raises the heat in the kitchen (sorry about the pun) by screaming obscenities at the contestants' ineptness and humiliating them in front of their colleagues and customers. He calls them out on every mistake, pushing and poking at them mercilessly to test whether they will rise to the challenge or fall flat on their faces. The team who emerges victorious gets to live another day, while the best of the losers has to nominate two teammates to be voted out of Hell's Kitchen. Chef Ramsay makes the final decision...many times an unexpected and controversial one.

It's hard to deny the entertainment value that comes from a man constantly testing how far he can go before a contestant breaks...and boy, does Chef Gordon Ramsay stretch those limits! His reputation as a brilliant, but definite hard-nosed professional proceeds him though, so don't be so quick to feel sorry for the contestants. They all know what they're in for. But, the grand prize is so amazing, the opportunity so tempting...they agree to appear on the show anyway. Go ahead...give in to your sadistic side and check out Hell's Kitchen tonight on FOX.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: No Throw Baby Bottle Tether

Yesterday, we met the newest baby girl in our extended family. Our one-year old cousin was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise male-dominated group. And the way she has all five of her brothers wrapped around her little finger...well, let's just say it was love at first sight between us! The difference between girls and boys even as infants is astounding, especially to those of us who always favored nurture over nature. Who knew? Of course, there is at least one thing that seems to be consistent across undeniable obsession with throwing things on the floor.

We remember when our second child went through this stage...he logged in hours of entertainment with the bottle-tossing game. Our older son, sweet in his innocence, was always eager to help his baby brother at the first hint of upset. Poor took him a while before he stopped falling for those baby blues...ahem...grays. Yep, definitely early manipulation at its finest! Where was the No Throw baby bottle tether when we needed it?

Turns out we just didn't know about it at the time...such a shame, too! This product is truly simplicity at its finest. Our new friends at No Throw have developed this tether to secure any bottle or sippy cup to a car seat, stroller or high chair. The company has several adorable designs...choose from princess, dinosaurs, even animal print. We love that it is so reasonably priced...inexpensive enough to have several designs. Washable, durable, adorable and practical...what more could a parent want? Apparently not much, especially for the celebrity parent. No Throw has also been touted by several, including Jenna Elfman (Dharma and Greg) and Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives).

Yes, the No Throw baby bottle tether is definitely a convenience we think no parent with little ones should be without. Just think of the convenience...think of the safety. Though the No Throw website does not point this out (and they should), the tether not only protects bottles and sippy cups from germs, but it can also help prevent parenting-related car accidents. We can't tell you how many times we've carelessly turned around and/or reached for a sippy cup that has fallen on the floor while driving (shush...don't tell anyone!). With the No Throw, toddlers can now retrieve their own cups. We wonder if this product would work on toys also...think about those mall trips. One thing to keep in mind though...since toddlers are undeniably curious, it may be sooner rather than later that they are able to dislodge the velcro. Our advice...try to distract your child so he/she doesn't notice how you are attaching the No Throw. This may buy you more time.

Peace of mind for parents and independence for children...definitely a winning combination. Granted, our baby's bottle-throwing game was a great excuse to get some squats in...but really, who are we kidding? This product would have been a godsend to us with our little ones. Well, you never know...the No Throw baby bottle tether still might come in handy someday. Until then, we're just passing this "kool" idea along to you.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Corelle Dinnerware

Every year, The Daily Kool family invites a crowd to join us in our spring celebration. We love cooking for these events. In fact, we spend so much time in the kitchen, we traditionally give very little thought to decor...especially of the dinnerware variety. Perhaps it's our aversion to cleaning, but every year we serve our food on festive paper plates that we simply toss away after the meal. Paper plates and plastic cups also ensure nothing breaks, especially since children are plentiful for our gatherings. Even if we are inspired by the idea of less accidents and easy cleanup, we have to admit that paper plates cause our food to lose a little of the love that we have put into, the cost sure does add up after a few parties!

Last year, we decided to forgo all of the paper goods and switch to more traditional dinnerware. We did have some stipulations, though. We wanted a set that was reasonably priced, lightweight enough for our children to handle, and durable so they can set the table and clean up afterwards (yep, we love putting them to work!). It also had to look attractive enough for us to feel proud serving our food on. Bottom line...we wanted a dinner set that would hold its own in a busy, and notoriously accident-prone home. Corelle Dinnerware was the perfect solution to our problem.

We were frankly amazed at how many truly unique and beautiful designs that Corelle offers. Our choice was the Pewter set in the picture above...feel free to ooh and ahh over our great taste! Though you can find Corelle Dinnerware just about everywhere from Walmart to Target to Amazon, we found this particular pattern at Bed Bath & Beyond online. We were so excited when the delivery came. The dishes were pretty, though it was a little annoying that there were so many imperfections in the pattern from dish to dish. Good thing we ordered one set more than we needed...this way, we were able to return the worst of each dish. Once we realized that we would drive ourselves crazy if we looked too closely, we were able to appreciate the overall beauty of the set. We love that Corelle Dinnerware is lightweight and takes up very little space in our kitchen cabinet. Forever the bargain hunters, we were lucky enough to find some shimmering tablecloths with matching napkins on clearance that gave our party the elegant look that we were searching for.

Using Corelle Dinnerware at our family functions has been such a success, we are looking to purchase an additional set for everyday use to replace our heavier stoneware dishes. This amazing company has been manufacturing reliable, beautiful and durable dinnerware for almost 40 years. Break, chip, scratch and stain resistant, our dinner set has truly exceeded our expectations. All this and less waste for the environment...what more could we ask for? Corelle Dinnerware is definitely of the "koolest" products we have in our home.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Wire Loom and Cord Protectors by Electriduct

Spring cleaning at The Daily Kool includes our somewhat feeble attempts at organizing our office. With the holidays over, what better time is there to focus on our workspace? We have to tell you, folks...our office is a mess! Wires are hanging all over the place...electrical cords, phone wires and USB cables by the dozen. Every time we blink, another one seems to sprout up out of nowhere. Yes, there is a small, sane part of us that knows they are not alive and therefore cannot multiply. But, honestly...if you've seen our office, you would have some doubts also.

Let's face it...not only are wires ugly, but they are also dangerous, especially when they take over a room. We cannot tell you how many times we have tripped over a wire in our office. The rest of our home is no better, especially with young children around. Okay, perhaps they have just inherited our clumsy gene, but every time we take a good look at our setup, we feel as if we are taking chances with our kids' safety.

A friend of ours turned us on to to this great company called Electriduct. We were amazed at how many wire management and cord protector solutions Electriduct provides for the home and office. The management was nice enough to send The Daily Kool some samples of their best sellers...the split wire loom and the drop over cord protector. Ah ha...those blasted wires have no chance. Battle on!

To reclaim control of our office, we started out with the split wire loom. Electriduct sent us two samples, one black and one white. However, we found out that they are available in an assortment of colors to match every decor. Off the bat, we really liked the flexibility and sturdiness of this split wire loom. We did have some difficulty getting the wires in, perhaps because of the durability of the polyethylene material. This problem is easily solved with the wire loom tool that Electriduct offers, but since we didn't have the tool, we were forced to do it by hand. Once the struggle ended though, we were very impressed with how much more organized and presentable our office looked with just this one change.

Next, we took out the drop over cord protector. This particular sample was a little too big for The Daily Kool, but we knew just the executive who could use it. One of our fans is the CIO for a small manufacturing firm and he is in the process of redoing the entire facility. He liked that the drop over cord protector had T-connectors so he could add them in 5 foot increments to fit the needs of the factory floor. He also saw an immediate use for the cord cover in the company's conference room, at least until he completes the switch to an all-wireless system. Then, he plans on using the drop over cord protector to manage his electrical feeds at trade shows.

After checking out the Electriduct website himself, our CIO fan was impressed with many of the other solutions this company offers. Since he is also redoing the firm's computer room, he particularly saw a need for the cable raceways, computer cabinets and cable ties/wire clips. Though he did say that the Electriduct website was a little slow, he agreed that the vast array of products offered is more than worth the patience needed to navigate through the site.

As for us at The Daily Kool...we are well on our way to having a safer, more presentable and organized office with our wire loom. Now, the only thing we trip constantly over is the dog. Well...we'll just leave that problem for another blog.

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