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Monthly Archives: April 2011

  • A walking tour of Kanazawa

    We were so taken with the footage that Evelyn Teploff-Mugii sent from Japan, that we created this short video to share as much of it as we could. In this clip, Evelyn takes us on a walking tour of her adopted home-town, the ancient cultural center of Kanazawa, complete with cherry blossoms in full bloom. She also explains in a bit more detail how she makes her beautiful kin maki-e accessories.

  • A Grommet with human-powered delivery

    Earth Day makes us think of planting trees and of pausing for a moment to think about how we can mitigate our impact on the planet. It also makes us reflect on our Grommets. We have an entire Green & Eco-Living section and today we’re excited to add dsolv to our collection. But did you know that there are other Grommets throughout our website that are thoroughly green and very earth-friendly?

    Taza Chocolate, one of only a handful of bean-to-bar chocolate producers in the United States, stands out as a delicious example. We feel good when we enjoy Taza’s chocolate because we know the company has built sustainability into its business model in a very thoughtful way. Taza’s commitment to minimizing its carbon footprint goes well beyond bio-dynamic growing methods and certified organic ingredients.

    Taza uses energy-efficient equipment in a smart way, and the company chooses to lease a printer to print only what’s truly needed. Employees use recycled packaging and recycle everything possible during the production process. We love the fact that the Mexicano discs used to make hot chocolate are all hand-wrapped, and we also love being able to compost the wrappers!

    Did you know that Taza’s employees load up their chocolate and bicycle to local farmers markets? The company also offers bicycle delivery to local retail customers, and it partners with a bicycle delivery company to deliver larger orders to wholesale customers. For orders beyond bicycle and pick-up range, Taza uses Carbon Neutral Shipping from UPS.

    You can read more about Taza’s remarkable sustainability strategy here.

    We’d love to hear how you’re celebrating Earth Day!

  • Little things make a big difference when it comes to discovery

    You know that saying "it's the little things that count"? Well, all day, every day, we've got new products flowing through the doors here at Daily Grommet -- some we've asked for, others you've told us about. But what really impresses me is how every single item is accompanied by a little piece of someone's heart.

    And so we give each hopeful Grommet our full attention: we test, wear, eat, play with, sleep with, ride on, pass it around. If the product, the idea, and the story are exceptional, inspiring and ready for the big time, it may become a Grommet right away. Others might just need more time to percolate. Either way, it's impossible not to appreciate the passion that goes into the creative process.

    Here are a few Grommet submissions whose heart caught my attention recently as they made their way around our homes ... and gardens:

    New Products - for gardenThese charming garden markers from CampPineNeedle are hand drawn by Maura Condrick, a freelance illustrator living on Cape Cod here in Massachusetts. The story behind her creation: She'd just moved from NYC, joined a community garden, and feared she'd lose track of what was planted where. Her designs are inspired by botanical prints and old seed packets - but she says she'll draw to order too. Creative and considerate.

    cups - new prodcutsAnd how thoughtful is this? Shelly Zimmerman personalized a set of her MyColourCups for us and sent them to us all the way from Australia. Shelly's grandmother was a Tupperware rockstar, so she says she grew up loving the stuff. She came up with the concept for MyColourCups -- a rotatable band with six customizable names -- after deciding to train her family to keep track of and reuse the cups they were already using.

    And this last one, the Showno poncho style towel,  is another problem solver designed by a mom. When Shelly Ehler's older child asked her to make him a "tent" so he could change out of his bathing suit in privacy, she had her "ah-ha" moment. Shelly says her towel is equal parts tent, poncho, and parent helper because it makes it easy for kids to carry it themselves, as well as wrap themselves up. But what touched me most was that Shelly personalized this particular towel with a Daily Grommet ribbon. And speaking of thoughtful, Shelly donates a portion of the proceeds from each towel sold to Hope University (a fine arts program for adults with developmental disabilities).

    So you can see how many innovative ideas and stories are out there, ready to be discovered -- and how much we appreciate learning about each and every one.

    If there's a product you think we should know about, come tell us about it in our Citizens' Gallery.

  • Eco Friendly Finds

    Going "green" it is for anyone who wants to take one step today towards doing better by the Earth. Here are several products that can help you get started.

    Pearls Premium

     If you love a green lawn but dread the maintenance, check out Pearl’s Premium grass seed. It was developed by environmentalist Jackson Madnick, who spent six years researching lawns that grow slowly, require less water and don’t need chemical fertilizers to thrive. Grow an easy organic lawn this spring.

    ChicoBag

    These reusable grocery and produce bags are designed to maintain optimal humidity and air flow which will keep fruits and vegetables fresher, longer. ChicoBags eliminate the need for single use plastic bags -- a much more earth friendly way to grocery shop!

     

    eGear

    Tap the sun with the eGear 5-in-1 solar travel kit. The base stores energy from the sun, and you can use it to power five different attachments: a small LED flashlight, radio, fan, reading light or USB charger. You just choose the component you want, then slide it onto the body until it clicks into place.

     

     

    Rickshaw

    The “Zero” nylon messenger bags from Rickshaw Bagworks is designed to eliminate wasted material. Scraps created during production are used in the bags and shipping materials, so nothing gets tossed. Read more about this here.

     

    BaLLS

    Why toss wool balls into your dryer? We’ve discovered lots of reasons. They’re a clean, natural alternative to conventional dryer sheets and fabric softeners. They can cut drying time by as much as 40%. Plus, these handmade wool dryer balls are great for reducing static electricity and fluffing out wrinkles.

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    Evan Healy

     Evan Healy takes a different approach to skincare. As a trained aesthetician, Evan believes in the skin’s ability to achieve optimal balance with just a minimum of help. All the products in her evanhealy line are made from organic, plant-based ingredients, and there are no perfumes added. These organic skincare products will have you looking great and feeling wonderful about the ingredients you are putting on your skin.

     

    Lunette

    Let’s start with the obvious question: What is this thing? Lunette is a sylicone menstrual cup, a reusable enviornmentally-friendly alternative to tampons and pads that collects the menstrual flow rather than absorbs it. 

     

    Better Life

    Sage, lavender, chamomile and coconut oil sound more like ingredients in a facial cream than a household cleaner,  but that’s the beauty of these incredible cleaners from Better Life. More than 99% of the ingredients used in Better Life’s non toxic cleaning products are natural or derived from natural, renewable resources.

     

    Zkano

    The name Zkano is derived from a Native American word that describes “a state of being good.” That sentiment perfectly captures describes these organic cotton socks -- good for the environment and good for the people who wear them.

    Looking for more eco-friendly products? You can see more by browsing our  Green Product gift guides.

  • Crack open the happy with Jokey Yokey!

    Crack open the happy with Jokey Yokey!

    Laurin Garcia, the founder of Jokey Yokey, has learned from her family that happiness is a choice. She believes that happiness is something you create, not something you are given. And that’s what motivated her to create something that would inspire people to celebrate, laugh, and be silly.

    Laurin grew up familiar with the Latin American tradition called cascarone which is said to have come to the Americas via China and Italy with a bit of help from Marco Polo. She decided to recreate the festive eggs she recalls from her childhood, and she has made us smile with her creations.

    As Great Britain celebrates its first ever National Happiness Day,  we thought we’d share with you something that makes us happy. In fact, these eggs filled with happiness are just in time for National Stress Awareness Month which is April! 

    Jokey Yokeys aren’t just for the kids, and they aren’t just for birthday parties. They’d certainly be fun for Easter, and they’re highly appropriate for Cinco de Mayo parties! But they’re also wonderful for weddings, baby showers, graduations, and even corporate events. Laurin offers a standard collection of Jokey Yokeys as well as a limited edition “merriment” that focuses on a different holiday or theme each month.

    Because Laurin makes these by hand, they are fully customizable. You can tell her exactly which message you want inside your Jokey Yokeys! Can you imagine a proposal inside one Jokey Yokey and messages of “I love you because…” inside all the others?

    Laurin empties real eggs to create Jokey Yokeys, but she doesn’t just throw all those eggs away. Instead, she donates them to her local homeless shelter in Baltimore, Maryland.

    The eggshells themselves and the confetti inside are all biodegradable, so if you crack open the happy outdoors, you won’t even need to clean up! If you prefer to party indoors, a few quick sweeps of the broom will take care of the confetti. The glue and the glitter used to make Jokey Yokeys are handmade with things like flour, water, and sugar to ensure that they’re non-toxic and biodegradable.

    So go ahead! Crack a Jokey Yokey above someone’s head and let the happiness rain down on them! The confetti shower is said to bring good luck and good fortune.

    We’d love to hear what makes you happy!

  • Introducing 1band 1brand

    It's no secret that here at Daily Grommet, we like discovering and sharing unique gift ideas, innovative people and creative ideas. So, when we heard about 138 Music & Entertainment and the 1band 1brand platform at SXSW, we knew we wanted to share it with you. We had the pleasure of speaking with Brady Sadler, a founding partner of 1band 1brand and asked him a few questions... enjoy:

    Hi Brady, can you tell us a little about  1band 1brand?

    Sure! 1band 1brand is a free, subscription-based digital platform that introduces one emerging band along side one independent fashion label on a weekly basis. Each band offers a collection of songs for a name-your-own-price download and each brand provides an exclusive discount for seven days only.

    1band 1brand

    Since we are all about the story behind the idea, we'd love to know what was the inspiration for this company?

    Our team is made up of sales, marketing and strategy resources from ad agencies, consumer brands and technology companies. We’re all interested in new music and shopping for cool clothes, but we don't always have the time to search for it online. These days there are more independent artists and fashion designers than ever before in history. Anyone can put out an album or set up a storefront on the Web and that makes for a cluttered environment.

    We figured there were a lot of people in the same boat, so we launched 1band 1brand to help cut through the clutter and make it easier to discover great music and fashion.

    The music industry has been changing ever since Napster came on the scene. How does this impact your site?

    Linda Perry at BUZZBANDS LA / 1band 1brand Showcase

    Music and fashion have always gone hand in hand, but now the two industries are collaborating much more closely. In the past, a brand would typically wait until a band had a hit on the radio, but that’s all changed.

    Now if a band has twenty thousand followers on Twitter or ‘Likes’ on Facebook, they have direct access to a loyal audience. That’s appealing to brands and they are eager to form strategic partnerships.

    How do you find these great new bands and brands?

    That’s a secret! Actually, we spend the time researching bands and brands so our subscribers don’t have to and we have months worth of cool features already lined up.

    Now that the site is live we’re also getting a number of emails from bands, brands and users with suggestions.

    Networking is important as well. Just like in any industry, once you make a few key connections, you’re never more than one or two degrees away from someone else you might want to work with. This year, SXSW introduced a fashion component for the first time ever, so we traveled to Austin for our official launch and had a chance to interact with a lot of interesting bands and brands.

    What’s next for 1band 1brand?

    First and foremost, we want to continue building the community by signing up as many new people as we can and delivering the best bands and brands that are out there.

    We’re also beginning to facilitate band and brand collaborations that will result in exclusive products, live events and more. A number of retailers and publishers have expressed interest partnering as well, so we’ll continue to explore new and different ways to deliver this content.

    It’s an exciting time to be working in these industries because everyone is being forced to think beyond the traditional sales channels. We’re excited about the role we can play given the diverse background of our team and our experience creating unique strategic partnerships.

    Please join us to hear, wear and share by signing up to receive our weekly features at 1band1brand.com on Twitter or on Facebook.

    A big thank you to Brady for sharing 1band 1brand with us ... now, go and check them out!

  • MYdrap from Spain to the US

    At Daily Grommet we love to tell the story behind the products that we feature. Today's story spans generations and continents. If it weren't for the act of courage taken almost a century ago around the world, this story wouldn't be able to be told today.

    Buy MYdrap napkins on a roll here.

    MyDrapThe founders, Antonio and Maria Guasch were workers of a textile company. They were fed up with the abuses of the owner and decided to open their own factory. After many difficulties the company was founded in 1925 in Barcelona. A few days after Antonio Guasch died. Maria did not give up and she went ahead with the business in a time when women were supposed to be at home with babies. Maria had to work extremely hard to start her fledgling business and educate her son and daughter at the same time.

    Her son, Jacinto Guasch took over the business and later, in 1980, the company opened a new factory in Monistrol de Montserrat, near Barcelona at the foot of the mountain. During the next 10 years the company had two factories, but in 1990 the factory in Barcelona was closed and all the production was moved to Monistrol. The old factory was sold when the old industrial area of Barcelona was converted for the Olympic games of Barcelona 1992.

    After a heavy textile crisis in 1991-1992 the company realized that the sector was extremely vulnerable to foreign competition coming from Asia. With the clear goal of innovating they developed their seamless technology.
    This technology allowed them to develop innovative and high quality product at a competitive cost.

    MYdrap fabric napkinsThey first created Rolldrap, cotton cloths in a roll, in 1996. Today they are leaders in the Spanish market of cotton cloths for the hospitality market and the product is expanding through Europe. In 2005 they explored the possibility of developing other products that would use the same seamless technology. The idea of manufacturing textile napkins on a roll was the first step. The success in the hospitality market was immediate. The concept of a disposable textile has captivated hotels, caterers and restaurants all over the world.

    Following the success of the MYdrap napkins for the hospitality market they developed the same concept for the retail. In 2008 they registered the MYdrap brand. The concept of cotton napkins in a roll available in a range of colors and sizes has been an immediate success. The product has expanded all over the best stores in Europe, Japan and Canada and we wish to do the same in the USA.

    MYdrap on the Today Show

    After being featured as one of 'Today's Style Fashion Emergency Fixes' a couple of weeks ago (see the video below) the MYdrap team has been invited back and will be featured this Thursday, April 14th. We can't wait to cheer them on and watch the US market embrace this product. Grandma Maria would be very proud.

    Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

  • Twig Terrarium: Take 2

    It's kind of funny that today's Grommet is all about making a special little world, enclosed in glass ... in a way, Twig Terrarium founders, Michelle and Katie seem to be living in their own little enchanted world. And we got a peek into that world when they sent us their home-made video to help us tell their story.

    Normally, we pick out just a few key bits and pieces from the video our founders send to us ... the parts that make the story come alive  (and trust me, our video producer, Jesse, is a master at picking out those gems). But sometimes, we just can't bear to leave some of those clips on the cutting room floor -- and today is one of those times.

    So, enjoy this quick outtake of "two BFF's hanging out, making terrariums all day" (my favorite part: watch Katie's facial expressions in the background as Michelle tells her boggy-moss-gathering-shoe-stuck-in-the-mud story -- classic!)

  • Grandparents.com is back with a great offer!

    “When all else fails, ask Grandpa” should be on a wall plaque in my house. My kids adore their grandparents and vice versa! And what’s not to love? We also love the site Grandparents.com dedicated just for, you guessed it, grandparents!

    We like Grandparents.com’s smiling vibe as a resource and haven for today’s grandparents who are more active, more involved and more connected to their grandchildren than any other generation of grandparents.  According to the NY Times, the downturn in our economy has caused the role of grandparents as both caregivers and financial supporters to increase dramatically. We’re glad to see sites like Grandparents.com be a place for grandparents to hang out and share laughs, ideas, gripes, passions and inspiration.

    Our friends at Grandparents.com are all about helping grandparents and fostering and nurturing the relationship between grandkids and their grandparents. They do this in a really fun, lighthearted way. Each day they dish up creative activities, crafts, travel and gift ideas, expert advice, and conversation. They host affinity forums where grandparents can exchange ideas and opinions on whatever’s on their minds. They have groups like “Mothers-in-law Anonymous” where you can dish or ask for advice about the mother/daughter-in-law relationship. “Grandparents Caring for Grandkids” and “Grandparenting from Afar” are super support groups, and there are groups around hobbies, health and wellness, education, money, you name it, they’ve got a group of people talking about it!

    Grandparents.comWe’ve checked out their newest resource, the Benefits Club that serves up great deals that grandparents and their families can use. Membership in the Benefits Club gives access to discounts and incentives on everyday products and services and on bigger items like travel and vacations. Jeffrey Mahl is the president of Grandparents.com and is here with us today for a Q & A and to give our Daily Grommet community a free gift!

    Jeffrey, Grandparents.com is the go-to site for grandparents these days. Can you tell us a little bit about today’s grandparents?

    Today’s grandparents are more dynamic and healthy than those of the past, and there are more of us alive now than at any other point in history. People over the age of 50 control 75% of the wealth in the United States. They tend to spend generously on their families and themselves, but they like to spend wisely, too. That was a primary motivation for us to create the Benefits Club. We think AARP has done a great job but they were created 50 years ago, for seniors of the past – not for the boomer generation. We provide a more modern alternative. We like to think of ourselves as AARP with a smile!

    The Benefits Club looks great, what kinds of deals are included?

    We have more than 160 partners in the Benefits Club and we’re adding new partners every day. Our members can save on travel, with great discounts on cruises, hotels and car rentals, on gifts – whether it’s toys and clothes for the grandkids or flowers and jewelry for a friend. They can enhance their health with vitamins, gym memberships, weight loss programs and spa services. They can buy books and theatre tickets. We also have great giveaways that are available exclusively to our members. And we offer discounts on insurance, too. We just added our first insurance partner – Foremost, which offers great ways for our members to insure RVs, motorcycles and boats, among other things. Basically, we’re focused on creating a place where our members can get discounts on things they need as well as things they want.

    Sounds like the Benefits Club is a pretty good deal for everyone, not just grandparents. Can anyone join and tell us how extended families can use it as well?

    I’m so glad you asked this question! You don’t have to be a grandparent or be any particular age to join the Benefits Club. Membership is open to anyone. Our mission, as you said earlier, is to nurture the relationships between generations. So when you join the Benefits Club, you’re automatically entitled to share that membership – for free – with four additional family members. How’s that for something to smile about?!

    Jeffrey, we’d love to hear about your generous offer to give ourDaily Grommet community a free one-year subscription to the Benefits Club.

    My pleasure. For the next 90 days, anyone in the Daily Grommet community is welcome to sign up for a free one-year membership to the Benefits Club. You don’t need a credit card; just log onto Grandparents.com, click on the Benefits Club and use the promo code GrandGrommet. And you’re welcome to share this offer with your friends and family, too. We’d love to have you as part of the Grandparents.com family.

    Jeffrey, thanks for talking with us about the Grandparents.com Benefits Club and for the free memberships.

    If you have any questions or comments about the Benefits Club, Jeffrey is around to talk with us today.  Just leave a question/comment below. Thanks!

  • Update: Naya Health

    Back in December, we featured the trailblazing work of a young non-profit organization called Nyaya Health that is focused on a remote part of northwestern Nepal where there was not even one physician just a few years ago. Achham is one of the poorest areas in South Asia with some of the world's highest mortality rates, particularly among women and children. Today Nyaya’s all-Nepali staff provides free healthcare to the community through its hospital and mobile health services. The organization’s open source approach  with complete transparency of expenditures, operations protocols, and clinical outcomes is one of the things that we really love about Nyaya.

    In honor of World Health Day  today, we thought we would check in with Nyaya for an update on their work.

    Naya Health

    Patients wait outside of Bayalpata’s outpatient department to be seen. On an average day Bayalpata Hospital sees between 100 and 150 outpatients

    Since we last caught up with them, the team at Nyaya has published its 2010 Annual Report. With a population of 250,000 to serve, the staff of Bayalpata Hospital are always busy. They recently had a challenging case in which a patient had been bitten by a bear. And, because children will be children, they have had to pull a few foreign objects out of ears.

    Thanks to hard work and donations,  like the ones made by members of the Daily Grommet community, Nyaya has made progress on two very important projects over the past three months: x-ray technology  at Bayalpata Hospital and further development of the Safe Motherhood Project  in collaboration with the Nepali Ministry of Health and Population.

    Members of Nyaya have published a report  in which they explain why diagnostic ultrasound and x-ray are ideal tools for effective healthcare delivery in resource-limited areas. Nyaya wants to work together with others to generate sufficient demand for the types of machines that would meet the needs of rural healthcare settings. For now, Bayalpata Hospital is home to one of only three x-ray machines in western Nepal which serve a combined population of over one million people.

    In a place where women used to give birth at home without access to emergency care, more and more women in Achham are giving birth in the hospital which should lead to a marked decrease in maternal and child morbidity and mortality rates. Nyaya is firmly committed to education and outreach that improve health outcomes for women and children, and the organization continues to develop its cadre of community health workers who travel to surrounding villages.

    Nyaya Health will be making significant investments in 2011 by building the first surgical theater in the region and powering Bayalpata Hospital with solar energy.

    Thank you to all of the members of the Daily Grommet community who are supporting the work of Nyaya Health. Your donations are making a difference, and you can continue to follow Nyaya’s updates on the organization’s blog. At the moment, thanks to a matching donor foundation, all donations to Nyaya are being doubled.

    To learn more about Naya Health or to donate, please visit our original feature here.

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