Hamilton Beach Custom Grinder hands free helper

Hamilton Beach Custom Grinder I never need more than a few cups of coffee ground, but if I do, the new Hamilton Beach Custom Grinder will do the trick.

Fifteen cups with hands free! I've hit the mother lode.

My father has an old-fashioned crank grinder, one that was used in the 20s and 30s. I'm not sure of the provenance, but maybe it was my grandfather's or more likely my stepmom's.

I like the look of the old-time grinder, the simplicity of it too. I may have to hunt one down for my use. It seems like the perfect tool for my single cup household.

But in the meantime, I like the efficiency of this little electric workhorse. I have two other grinders and I love them, but I have to stay put when they're in use. You have to hold the cap to activate the grinder action.

In this age of unceasing motion and multitasking, the coffee grinder requiring constant attention is a drawback. We need those extra minutes to increase productivity - or so we're lead to believe.

I like the fact that I can adjust the grind to my coffee maker - drip, espresso, perk. And the retractable cord keeps counters clutter-free. Too bad there isn't a nifty electronic mechanism to order everything else on the kitchen counter.

The Hamilton Beach Custom Grinder retails for $19.99.


Chic and seamless L'Atelier du Vin accessories

Chic Lady Pink opens your favorite bottle

Featuring a vibrant pink color and unique curvaceous design, this innovative series of wine openers from L'Atelier du Vin features a patent Swing System handle to make uncorking bottles chic and seamless.

Also available in black,dark blue and pale pink for $53 each.

L'Atelier du Vin, European innovator of wine accessories, now offers its unique collection of wine tools and educational resources in the United States.

Specially created by an in-house design team, each product showcases a unique artistry and an elevated craftsmanship, enhancing enjoyment and experience through ambience. L'Atelier du Vin celebrates the ceremony of wine tasting  from vine to cellar to glass,

Based in Paris, L’Atelier du Vin is currently distributed in 23 countries and 57 retailers throughout Europe and Asia.  Products are now available in the U.S. in select stores in New York, San Francisco and Miami; including the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), the Conran Shop (NYC), Neimann Marcus (NYC), Gump’s (San Francisco), Red Envelope (San Francisco), and Luminaire (Miami) to name a few.

Nintendo Walk With Me is fitness fun

I am anti-organized sports. Not that you can't love team sports.  Please do.

I'm super happy when my significant other du jour loves sports. While he's playing and watching, he's occupied by something he adores other than me.  And that means quality time together is just that - quality - since everyone is happy.

But that still leaves me faced with how to keep the zaftig from going deep South. Curvaceous is good. Roly-poly is not.

Since I am always, always, always cooking and eating and going out to dinner, I need to stay busy to keep from turning into a little dumpling.

I enjoy my food and I want to keep enjoying it.  I am a walker.  I walk to work. I walk to school. I take stairs whenever possible.  But I noticed lately I need to step up the game.

Enter Nintendo Walk With Me

It tracks your activity or life rhythms, recording and charting it in detail and describes it in terms of animals. The more active you are the quicker you unlock the mini-games too.

Yes, there are days when I am a Daytime Koala, but more often I am a Daytime Lion - on the go. I'd long believed I walked between 45 minutes and an hour each day (and Nintendo Walk With Me confirms it).

The Nintendo Walk With Me comes with the game and two activity meters. Nintendo Walk With Me works with both DS and DSi. Suggested retail is $44.99

It's fun and its funny and it incorporates Miis - for the first time on the DS and DSi. My Mii looks remarkably like me too (although the fantasy version is a bit slimmer). 

Hey, it's a game!

Pretty and functional; Soirée in-bottle wine decanter

Can a decent, full-bodied young red wine be a better bottle with oxygenation?

Absolutely, since aeration is essential to bringing out the best in nose and flavor. Contact with air allows wine to ripen or open and the makers of Soirée's innovative bottle-top decanter get it.

Using a cool climate Pinot Noir, William Cole Alto Vuelo 2007 (Chile), I put the little decanter that could to the test.

First, I tasted my Pinot Noir the old-fashioned way.  After pouring a generous glass, I gave it a good swirl and a long whiff - bright berry aromas, hints of vanilla and cinnamon.  The mouthfeel was softly tannic. A nice value at $9.99.

Would Soirée make a drinkable wine tastier?  Yes, without a doubt.

I poured my next glass using the delicate-looking but sturdy ornament-shaped decanter.  The nose was a jammier strawberry and the finish longer with the more subtle spice flavors prolonged.

During another tasting, I sampled a 2007 Altos de Cuco from Yecla in the region of Murcia, little known for its quality, better known for its quantity.  Intense and full-bodied, the ruby red wine blossomed with deep blackberry aromas.  The experience was a bit like nostalgia for an old lover, decidedly better for having the space to consider it.

Soirée comes equipped with two rubber gaskets, to accommodate any bottle, and a nifty stand. Retailing for $24.99, it makes a fun gift paired with a bottle of wine, and a must-have for your home accessories collection.  

Travel Smarter with Nintendo DSi

You know you want it.

When I'm packing for a trip, I have to do it twice.  The first time, I pack everything I think I need and the second time, I take out all the crap that will languish unused. 

Editing is essential in these days of fees for checked baggage.

Most of the time I travel with two bags -- both carry-on.  One for clothes and toiletries, the other for camera, mini-notebook, and electronic accoutrements.  I will not bore you with hand sanitizer and lip balm stories.

With the cell phone, the iPod, the camera, the chargers, extra batteries, etc, not to mention my kid's essentials, my handbag bulges and my back groans from the effort. Though I keep working to streamline, there is only so much you can do when you need your gadgets.

This is where Nintendo comes in - those purveyors of magic and wit and whimsy. 

For short trips where my Nikon is not a must, the DSi would be ideal for me.  Lately so much of my time is spent micro-blogging that I want one just for the Twit Pics potential. And since its entertainment value was upped exponentially, I could keep the boy happy - and myself too - if I ever manage to get my mitts on the thing once the boy is sucked in.

Not surprisingly, the new Nintendo DSi steps up the game for entertainment platforms -  touch screen, SD slot interactive camera that points and shoots your world and yourself, music player, voice recorder, and gaming system.

The only thing this sleeker, slimmer version of the 100 million-selling system doesn't do is dishes or phone calls.

I don't have to tell the smart people at Nintendo about my innovative ideas. I'm pretty sure if it's a concept I've considered, then they've been thinking about it for at least a year now.

Um - I don't need Magic Eight Ball to tell me what to do. When the DSi launches April 5 in North America, I'll be queued to pick it up like the rest of the gadget and game lovers.

Personal Trainer: Cooking

Personal-trainer-cookingI know my way around a kitchen, so forgive me my skepticism when I heard Nintendo was releasing a "video game" for cooking enthusiasts that wasn't all fun and comic mischief. 

However, after watching the NIntendo team demonstrate Personal Trainer: Cooking for the DS, I am sold.  Not that I'm tossing my collection of fabulous and well-loved cook books, but Personal Trainer -- with 245 international recipes ranging from simple to complex -- is a pretty nifty item to have. 

The training title makes everyone a chef by providing a data base detailing not only recipes, but equipment, ingredients, calorie counts, cooking times and level of difficulty.  Even if you don't know the difference between a whisk and a potato ricer, DS Chef, your private cooking instructor, will walk you through the process from beginning to end. Too bad he doesn't do dishes.

Initially, I was convinced this was a tool for the beginning cook until I saw the video how-to for cleaning squid.  Calamari anyone? 

Neat and handy are the voice command controls that keep your hands free while working.  Need to repeat a step, speak and it's done.  The shopping list feature is super handy for making sure you come home from the store with everything you need (and not a ton of budget-busting impulse buys).

I only see one problem with Personal Trainer: Cooking.  Who gets to use the DS? Me or the boy?

Order, up!