Archive for November, 2012

pilgrimOn the eve of Thanksgiving, there is a lot of talk of the Pilgrims who celebrated the first feast in Plymouth.  For today’s Read, I feature a book about a different kind of pilgrimage.

I am a huge fan of master photographer Annie Leibovitz and have loved her work as long as I can remember. Like many, I came to know her work from her iconic photos of the superstars of popular culture over the past 30 odd years (notably featured in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, et al). However, I have also admired her pure talent of composition and artistic interpretation whether it be in a photo of a rock star or an automobile.

In her book Pilgrimage, Ms. Leibovitz leaves behind the conceits of celebrity culture to document subjects that are much more meaningful to her and shares her journey with us through her amazing lens.

About Pilgrimage by Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage took Annie Leibovitz to places that she could explore with no agenda. She wasn’t on assignment. She chose the subjects simply because they meant something to her. The first place was Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst, Massachusetts, which Leibovitz visited with a small digital camera. A few months later, she went with her three young children to Niagara Falls. ‘That’s when I started making lists,’ she says. She added the houses of Virginia Woolf and Charles Darwin in the English countryside and Sigmund Freud’s final home, in London, but most of the places on the lists were American. The work became more ambitious as Leibovitz discovered that she wanted to photograph objects as well as rooms and landscapes. She began to use more sophisticated cameras and a tripod and to travel with an assistant, but the project remained personal.”

Pilgrimage is a wonderfully personal book despite the great production values. Ms. Leibovitz’s photos are amazing and though the subjects she picks may not be as well-known as her past celebrity models, she manages to make most every image compelling.

Having experienced this book my admiration of Ms. Leibovitz has been further cemented and I am happy to have taken this journey with her.

Pilgrimage by Annie Leibovitz is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.


I love large scale artwork.  I love the idea of taking an entire wall in a room and covering it with a giant photograph or giving it over to a real artist to paint a mural.  Epic wall art is what attracted me to today’s find, the UK-based Surface View.

About Surface View: “Surface View is quite simple. It’s where our images and your imagination come together to create stunning interiors. We curate and remaster incredible imagery, working with famous collections and uncovering hidden gems. We’re constantly on the lookout for the beautiful, the unusual, the wonderful and the unique. We present the image to you, and with a little imagination you transform it into an extraordinary interior product which is uniquely yours.”

Surface View has an extensive collection which is just fun to look at and imagine an application in your own home.  They also have a shop where you can purchase their collection of images as prints, canvases, wall art, and more.  I am a particular fan of Surface View’s line of epic posters.

Browse Surface View amazing collection of images here.

Visit the Surface View online shop here.


enamelEvery now and then I come across an old enamel cup and think they are pretty cool. Inevitably there is a chip of some sort on the cup that instead of making it look bad – adds to the coolness factor.

I had thought that this type of enamel cup was a thing of the past. However, I was thrilled to come across the Seamless & Steadfast Enamel Steel Cups from Best Made.

About the Seamless & Steadfast Enamel Steel Cups from Best Made: “Whether you’re sipping Lapsang Souchong or Laphroiag: let the chimes of clinking enamel steel resound. Huzzah! These are the best enamel steel cups available, and they come to us from a 100 year old factory in Poland: a land with a long and celebrated enamelware tradition. Using World War Two era machinery our renowned AXE logo was baked directly into the cup insuring a smooth, long-lasting, and seamless finish. But what truly distinguishes our cups is that the rim and the handle — the two spots that get the most abuse — are reinforced with a double dipping of enamel, making this the most steadfast cup in the land.”

Why do I have a feeling that bourbon would taste particularly good coming out of one of these cups while sitting by the fire this winter.

See the Seamless & Steadfast Enamel Steel Cups and everything else Best made offers here.


Last summer, on one her visits to see me up here in the woods of New Hampshire, my friend Lynda left behind a trail of good intentions.  You see, Lynda always brings all sorts of things for the weekend, mostly food, and leaves things behind that I end up finding for days after.  Inevitably there is way too much food and I am left with her well-intended bounty long after she leaves.

This is mostly a good thing, as the stuff she brings is always great.  I bring this up because one of the items she left behind that time was a chunk of Dubliner Cheese from Kerrygold.  Dude, it was heaven and it lead to a little binge where I would buy the cheese every time I saw it at the market for months afterward.

However, I am trying to cut down on overdoing it on cheese and such which led to buying less of this great product.  The problem I have is that I can’t keep it in the house without eating it – so portion control is not an option for me.  Recently, I was thrilled to find that Kerrygold has come out with a reduced-fat version of their signature Dubliner Cheese, and it is as good – if not better than – the real thing and it is a third less fattening!

About Kerrygold’s reduced-fat Dubliner Cheese“If we couldn’t make our Reduced Fat Dubliner Cheese meet the same high standards as original Dubliner, we wouldn’t make it at all. A base similar to Cheddar with notes of Swiss and Parmesan make it a delightfully complex cheese – made even more delightful because it has a third less fat than the original and thirty fewer calories per serving. For all its worldliness, Reduced Fat Dubliner still comes from the milk of grass-fed Irish cows, and nobody told them that reduced-fat cheese was supposed to taste different. So whether it’s shredded over your favorite pasta, bubbling out from between toasted bread slices or enjoyed on its own as a healthy yet indulgent snack, this cheese is unmistakably Dubliner. It may have a third less fat, but it’s no less Irish.”

By the way, were we not a fan of the cheese itself, we would post about the great graphics on the Dubliner Cheese packaging which features the silhouette of a bicycle complete with a giant market basket in the front – looks like a ride as good as the cheese.

See all the great products of Kerrygold and find a retailer selling their cheeses near you here.


surlaThe other day I saw an ad in my local newspaper for a grocery store selling frozen turkeys for 39 cents a pound.  Wow.  Well, as tempting as that sounds, I am sure the quality of those birds is not nearly what the D’Artagnan Organic Free-Range Turkeys from Sur La Table promises. 

About the D’Artagnan Organic Free-Range Turkeys from Sur La Table:  “We love this for how easy it makes serving and enjoying a naturally delicious and healthy organic free-range turkey for your holiday meal. D’Artagnan-certified farm-raised birds are fed an all-vegetarian diet consisting of 100% organic whole grains and pure spring water, with no protein supplements, added poultry or fish by-products, pesticides or herbicides.”

Find The D’Artagnan Organic Free-Range Turkeys from Sur La Table here.

keepcI have a strange addiction to travel cups.  I like cool metal water bottles, and I can go on and on about the cap that goes on a mason jar to make it a travel mug.

Today, I am sharing another great series of reusable travel cups – Keep Cups – which are designed to fit the standard sizes of major national coffee retailers.

About Keep Cups: “Keep Cups are ‘barista standard’ because a trained barista can make awesome to go coffee in them. They come in the four standard takeaway sizes and fit under the group handles of most espresso coffee machines. When your coffee is made in a Keep Cup the crema on the shot is not broken and the portioning of milk to coffee will be correct. Keep Cups have thermal properties similar to paper so they are not a thermos. Replicating the functionality of disposable cups Keep Cups are splash-proof, not a sealed container.”

In additional to having a reusable cup that lets you bring your home brew with you wherever you go, you are helping spare the landfill from excess disposable cups.  Best of all, you can design your own in the Keep Cup store.

Learn more about Keep Cup here.

Design you own Keep Cup in the Keep Cups store here.

doltreeOur friends at Dollar Tree, where you can always find inexpensive items for craft projects, have put together some great craft projects ideas for Thanksgiving, like this Pilgrim Hat Treat Cup.

About the Pilgrim Hat Treat Cup Thanksgiving Craft project from Dollar Tree: “This fun project is simple and easy to make… plus it’s a great addition to lessons about the first Thanksgiving. Have each student make a cup and fill it with popcorn, trail mix, or other treats to be added to your classroom party. It also makes a great place setting at the Thanksgiving table, just add a label with each guest’s name. Here’s the items you’ll need (shop for items below or visit one of our stores).”

Visit Dollar Tree online for this and other crafts projects.

infturkJust in time for Thanksgiving next week, I have found the incredibly fun Inflatable Turkey from Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store.  Add this to the list of things I always wanted but didn’t know they had.

About the Inflatable Turkey from Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store:  “This Inflatable Turkey looks so delicious you can almost smell the stuffing. But keep the carving knives away, because this bird is strictly for show! Each 16″ long, vinyl turkey is perfect for staging your Holiday table while the real turkey is roasting, or a replacement beach ball to bat around on a sunny day. The Inflatable Turkey Gag comes deflated in a cool illustrated SPAM-like tin.”

I love the idea of using this inflatable bird “for staging your Holiday table” – I have always wanted something like this because the whole turkey never ended up on the table – it is given to rest before carving. But the iconic Thanksgiving table pictures always have the whole turkey with those little white hats on the end of the drumsticks.

Anyway, the Inflatable Turkey is the perfect companion for my inflatable Christmas tree.

Find the Inflatable Turkey from Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store here.

See all the cool products of Blue Ribbon General Store here.

EVOI have written about my love of fine olive oils here in the past.  I love how a high quality olive oil can elevate just about anything you can add it to.  Like most fine food products, the quality of olive oils vary greatly.  When you had a high quality vintage, perhaps poured over your fresh mozzarella and tomato salad, you truly know you are on to something special.

I remember reading a piece in the New Yorker a while back about the industry behind olive oil, and was shocked to find out how sordid it all is.  I had forgotten about the article until I came across a review for the book Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil  by Tom Mueller.  Mr. Mueller, it turns out, wrote that New Yorker story and expanded it into this amazing book that covers the long history of olive oil and the industry it has spawned today.  As crazy as it may seem, a book about olive oil is as riveting as it is informative.

About Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil  by Tom Mueller: “The sacred history and profane present of a substance long seen as the essence of health and civilization. For millennia, fresh olive oil has been one of life’s necessities-not just as food but also as medicine, a beauty aid, and a vital element of religious ritual. Today’s researchers are continuing to confirm the remarkable, life-giving properties of true extra-virgin, and ‘extra-virgin Italian’ has become the highest standard of quality. But what if this symbol of purity has become deeply corrupt? Starting with an explosive article in The New Yorker, Tom Mueller has become the world’s expert on olive oil and olive oil fraud-a story of globalization, deception, and crime in the food industry from ancient times to the present, and a powerful indictment of today’s lax protections against fake and even toxic food products in the United States. A rich and deliciously readable narrative, Extra Virginity is also an inspiring account of the artisanal producers, chemical analysts, chefs, and food activists who are defending the extraordinary oils that truly deserve the name ‘extra-virgin.’”

Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil  by Tom Mueller is one of those books that makes you feel fully satisfied when you have read it.  At once you feel that the time you have spent reading it was well worth the investment as you now have a breath of knowledge about a subject that goes well beyond your expectations. 

In addition, after reading Mr. Mueller’s well-researched and written book, I now have a greater appreciation for the best of olive oils and will never take them for granted again.

Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil  by Tom Mueller is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.

chick_5You know me, I like functional things with cool designs. I have often looked at the many smoke and carbon dioxide detectors in my home (and there are many) and wondered why they are not more artfully designed.

I have seen many a lovely décor spoiled by these essential devices. I myself have wanted to paint the devices to blend in better but was deterred by the bold warning “DO NOT PAINT” that appears on them.

Well, I was recently browsing the Neo-Utility website and found the Chick-a-Dee smoke detector. Um, it’s about time people! Seriously, a smoke detector disguised as a bird? Perfect!

About the Chick-a-Dee smoke detector from Neo-Utility: “The Chick-a-Dee takes its name and appearance from the American Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapilla). This name is attributed to its warning call, the phonetic Chickadee sound. At the smallest threat, the bird calls chick-a-dee-dee, and in more serious circumstances, the call becomes a loud dee-dee-dee sound. Under normal conditions, a control light flashes once a minute, however as soon as smoke is detected, an 85 decibel alarm signal is activated.”

Ok, so I don’t really like birds. But I have to admire this thing for at least embracing the idea that just because something is an essential safety device it can’t be fun. Now that I think of it, there is nothing more likely to get me out of bed in an emergency than an annoying bird noise.

Browse all the great products available from Neo-Utility here.