Kitchen Gadgets

Kitchen gadgets can be so boring, look beyond the traditional kitchen gadgets and pick up some of these quirky, functional and unique gadgets!

The Corkcicle- Keeps your wine at the perfect temperature, won’t water down your wine and it’s reusable! The Corkcicle available here

Silicone stretch heat resistant bands- Use these silicone heat resistant bands in place of twine. They can be frozen, fried and heated up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Silicone Stretch Heat Resistant Bands available here

The Stirsby is made locally of scrap wood from a furniture shop.Each Stirsby is handmade so no two are exactly alike. What a beautiful piece of art! The Stirsby available here

This silicone pig lid may look a little silly but it fits pots of various sizes and has ventilation holes. The  Universal pig lid available here

The Peanut Butter/Jelly Spreader goodbye jelly in the peanut butter jar, how genius and great for young kids! The Peanut Butter/ Jelly spreader available here

What is your favorite gadget?

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Trends in Counter Tops

We spoke two local stone distributors regarding which trends they are seeing in countertop selections and specifications lately. 

Paul Hilborn of Minnesota Tile and Stone here is his input on trends of countertops: 

The most recent trends in stone counter tops are quite varied.    
Leather Finish- Granite

Textures are hot. We are seeing more leather or brushed surfaces than in the past. The use of polished and honed surfaces are quite common but the strongest growth is in textured material 

  •  A honed finish offers a matte look, that has more of a dull appearance and is non-reflective in nature. It is also fairly popular, but the honing process does make the material more susceptible to staining and scratching.    
  • A satin finish is somewhat similar to a honed finish, but offers a smooth, softer look with a vibrant, non-reflective finish.
  • leather finish offers a smooth, yet soft look and appears slightly more polished than a honed finish, but with a slight texture. This finish has the same care recommendations as say a honed finish but is much more forgiving (i.e hiding crumbs and fingerprints)
Vermont Danby White Marble.The sales of white marble in kitchens is also quite strong but the problem has been White Carrara is not a great performer in the U.S. Sales are quite strong for White Carrara but the new trend is the Vermont Danby Marbles. These stones are much better performers and have soft veins of tan and black similar to Calcutta Gold but at a very reasonable price. With softer and warmer looks it has become the next “Thing” in white kitchen counter tops. 
Vermont Danby White Marble
 If Marble scares you in a kitchen the look to “Super White” a granite with soft blends of gray and white with varied layers which produces a “dreamy” effect to the looks but performs as most granite’s have done, very well.
Super White Granite

Barb of Paramount Granite shared the following tips regarding trends she is seeing in  countertop sales: 

Exotic Colors—While most people have heard the phrase, “Keeping up with the Jone’s,” when it comes to countertops, consumers may want granite, but they may not want the same color, as their neighbor, or someone else they know. Many consumers are willing to pay a little more for a stone that is unique and speaks to them.

*Amazonia Bamboo Granite                        *Typhoon Bordeaux Granite- Leather Finish

Multiple Color Combinations—Some consumers, these days, are mixing and matching colors for their countertops. With the multitude of colors available, some people like variety and are choosing one color for an island, and another color for their perimeter tops. We have seen others that mix it up even more, choosing 3 or more colors, depending on the kitchen layout.

Backsplash Variety—3-1/2″ high backsplash runs are still quite popular, but many consumers are also adding tile. With hundreds of tile options and varieties, this combination makes it easy to tie a variety of colors together with their countertops and other decor.

Images: 1 / 2

Trends in Kitchen Lighting

Current trends in kitchen lighting include: bold, black and glass finishes.

More and more we are seeing large industrial style pendants and stream lined chandeliers.
These are great options of timeless pendants in a bold color to add a fun pop of color to the kitchen.

Images: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 /

Featured Designer- Tasha Tyler

The Up and Coming Designer

Share your background

  • I went to school  for interior design, and landed an internship at Gunkelmans in Minneapolis. I have been working along the great designers at Gunkelmans for two and a half years.

If you could live anywhere  in the world, where would it be and why

  • If I could  leave everyone that means anything to me, I would move to Paris. I was fortunate enough to travel there and it was a life changing experience, I cant wait to go back!  However I would never do that, so realistically… I would say Los Angeles. I love being surrounded by creative and inspiring people, places and I enjoy the weather.  I would miss Minnesota summers, they are the best!

 Describe your dream home in five words

  • Warm, Unique, Historic, Eclectic and Bold

What are your hobbies

  • Thrifting, Bike Rides, BBQs, and DIY projects

Five things you can’t live without

  • My family and friends
  • My morning Coffee
  • Vacation
  • Music
  • Internet/ Blogs- so many great sources of inspiration

What are your favorite local shops and restaurants

  • Currently my favorite restaurants are: Barrio- They have great small plates and blackberry mojitos, and my other is Salut.
  • My Favorite shops are: Hunt and gather, Find Furnish and my top secret thrift stores

Describe one of your favorite projects

  •  My Home, I live in a renovated shoe factory and I love the history of the building. Its modern and eclectic. 

Who is your favorite furniture designer

  • I love everything created by Eero Saarinen as well as The Eames

 Fill in the blank, No room would be complete without…

  •  Art

Do you have “go to” paint colors, if so which ones

  • No I dont

Ultimate Outdoor BBQ

Is there anything better then a great outdoor BBQ with friends and family? Here are the latest and greatest gadgets in outdoor cooking and pro tips on how to get the very best ribs.

  • The Flexible Grilling Skewer, a simple adaption from the traditional kabob. These give you more options while marinating and grilling, available here
  • The Himalayan Salt Plate, thick hand-cut slabs of pink Himalayan salt add a wonderful flavor to food. Available here, what a great hostess gift idea! 

  • The Stuffed Hamburger Press, creates the perfect Juicy Lucy and ensures a perfectly proportioned patty. Available Here
  • The Flame Pizza Stone, creates a perfect oven grilled pizza with a crisply crust. Available at Cooks of Crocus Hill . This is a great option when you feel like having something different, Cooks of Crocus Hill also offer cooking classes. 

Damon, founder and grill master of Croix Valley Sauce gives us tips to ensure the very best ribs.

My preferred method to cook ribs on the backyard barbecue is to use lump hardwood charcoal, banked to one side of your grill so that you are cooking over indirect heat (adding additional chunks of hardwood for smoke every half hour).  Maintaining yourgrill’s heat at about 250° to 270°F is the target goal.  If you’re using a gas grill, the same results can be achieved by turning off a burner or two and cooking on the side without the flames.  Adding soaked wood chips in a smoker box for gas grills is essential for imparting the smokiness to the ribs that you’re looking for (you can pick this up inexpensively at any home improvement store).  If you’re fortunate enough to own a smoker, you’ve got a leg up on the neighbors, but you can get great low and slow barbecue results on any backyard grill by following these simple steps.

You can certainly use any type of ribs, but I’d suggest pork spare or baby back ribs.  As with most true barbecue, you want the smoke, rubs and sauces you use to flavor your meat.  Only one hurdle to overcome on ribs that will prevent this from happening is on the bone side of the rack.  There is a silvery membrane, called the pleura, which should be removed to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat from both sides as you cook.  Begin by removing the membrane on the backside of the ribs (TIP: use a butter knife to begin peeling the membrane from the bone, then grab the membrane with a paper towel and gently peel it off).  Removing the membrane will also expose additional fat.   Most of the fat will melt away during cooking, but you may want to trim excess areas of thicker fat from the rib rack to provide for a more even, leaner cook.

With the membrane removed, it’s time to rub your ribs.  There are numerous recipes on the web for rib rubs and you can certainly purchase commercial blends as well.  I suggest finding a good recipe that has the flavors you like or simply be creative with the herbs and spices in your kitchen – you can’t go wrong with this one! A great all-purpose rub can be made from granulated garlic, paprika,onion powder, cayenne and pepper.  With the rub in hand, generously coat all sides of your ribs, massaging it into the meat as you go.

Place your ribs on the grill or smoker, bone side down for about 2 hours over indirect heat.  At the2 hour mark, this is where the real secrets of the pros come into play!  You’ll know the ribs are ready for this next step when the meat begins to pull back from the bone, exposing what is known as“pirate’s teeth”.  Remove your ribs and place on large a large aluminum foil sheet. Sprinkle both sides of your ribs with brown sugar, drizzle with honey or agave nectar and wrap the ribs completely in the foil.  This will lock in the flavor, create a nice glaze, prevent the ribs from drying out and create a nice mahogany color.  Place the ribs, meat side down in the foil,back on the grill to finish cooking. After about another hour on the grill (the meat should be extremely tender and juicy at this point), remove your ribs from the foil, brush with your favorite sauce and place back on the grill for about 10 minutes for the sauce to set.

Ribs that are drenched in sauce, falling off the bone these are not (you may as well make pulled pork). This method for barbecued ribs will have an explosion of flavor at each bite with a perfect texture that will allow you to taste the meat, enhanced by the sauces and rubs.  Once you truly barbecue ribs, you’ll never consider par-boiled, crock-potted or oven-baked ribs again!

Keep on grillin’!

Sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

In Celebrating our Independence…

We have compiled a list of traditional home styles that can be found in various parts of the world, but are also found in the Minneapolis- St. Paul area. What else speaks traditions like a cozy front porch and an American Flag?

The American Craftsman

  • Origins date back the the late 19th century in Boston, MA
  • Features include: Low pitched roof lines, deep overhanging eaves, exposed rafters, front porch beneath extension of main roof, tapered or square columns, and handcrafted stone or wood-work
  • Notable architects include:  David Owen Dryden, Frank Llyod Wright, Greene and Greene, and Herberg Hapgood  
The Queen Anne 
  • Origins date back to the United Kingdom while  the American Queen Anne dates to the mid 19th century.
  • Features include: sash windows, local brick and stone, large wrap around porches, decorative trim, elaborate architectural elements, and  patterned shingles
  • Notable Architects: Sidney Stratton
The Tudor Revival
  • Features include: half timbering, herringbone brickwork, mullioned windows, high chimneys, dormer windows

The Dutch Colonial 
  • American Origins date back to early 17th century in Pennsylvania
  • Features include: gambrel roofs, flaring eaves, double hung windows, shutters, and a central double dutch door
The Georgian
  • American origins date back to the late 18th century
  • Features include: Symmetrical facade, double hung windows, paneled door with pilaster, and a pediment crown
The Second Empire
  • American origins date back to mid 19th century
  • Features include: Mansard rood with dormers set into it, patterned shingles and deep eaves with decorative brackets.

Sources: 1234/ 5 / 6

Uncovering History

We recently completed this gardening cottage and garage addition :

Front Before                                            After

Rear Before                                             After

We are delighted the client has chose to move along with more renovations!  While tearing off the original  siding, circa 1922 we found bits and pieces of the original cedar shingles. Interested to know a background we did a little research and here is what we found.

The original siding  was manufactured by Puget Sound Mill and Timber Company in Port Angeles, WA.

Puget Sound Mill and Timber Company Locomotive No. 7

Puget Sound Mill and Timber company was founded in 1914. In 1926, Puget Sound Mill and Timber company purchased a locomotive on the Pacific Railway which linked Port Angeles to St. Paul and other thriving mid-western cities. The company, just like any other had highs and lows:

  • The timber mill was located at Twin, just outside of Port Angeles, WA
  • During World War I, the government assigned 27,000 men to the “spruce” division of Puget Sound Mill and Timber. 
  • ” The Big Wind of 21″ destroyed 8 million board feet of sellable lumber growing in the North Olympic Peninsula
  • With the stock market crash in 1929, Twin’s fate was sealed and the timber industry was hit hard. 
  • In the early 1930’s Twin’s railway connecting it to the outside world was tore up, this was the end of Puget Sound Mill and Timber Company.

Puget Sound Mill and Timber Company Lumber Mill
The mill was later a pulp mill, purchased by Georgia- Pacific in 1963 and remained open until 2001.

We are replacing the current 90 year old shingles with a high quality siding which will last the owners many more years while keeping the home looking true to its 1922 style. Replacing it with premium grade, sawed and sanded all four sides, and pre-primed all four sides to prevent moisture from penetrating through the back side, over time, moisture from the back side will lead to the surface paint failure.  We will share more photos when the project is complete. 

Sources & Images: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Getting to Know Tim Purcell Jr.

My background…

  • I have always had a passion for entrepreneurship, I started my first business around eleven or twelve, lawn mowing. Shortly there after I started a magic show business with a friend. We traveled around to daycare centers, retirement homes, private parties even high school halftime shows. Yes, we have a video but it’s locked away and I have no idea where the key is! 🙂 
  • During junior and senior high, I had a very strong interest in wood shop class, I enjoyed building furniture. 
  • After I graduated, I jumped into the business with both feet and the rest is history. 

If I could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why…

  • My answer would be different when asked at a younger age but now I would say Minnesota. Being around family is very important to me, I  think its important for my three boys to discover where their parents where raised and who their family is.  I don’t really enjoy winter, I think eventually I would like to be somewhere warmer, but my boys would have to come along!
  • With that being said my brother lives in London with his wife and newborn daughter and my sister lives with her boyfriend in San Francisco. I wish my boys could spend more time with them but it sure does give us great places to visit!

My dream home…

  •  Would have lots of land and history

My hobbies include…

  • Coaching youth hockey
  • Golfing
  • Working around our yard
The Chicken coop, I recently completed in our backyard

 5 things I can’t live without…

  • Sun
  • Lunch and dinner
  • My wife and kids
  • Great friendships
  • Being busy

Not in that order!

Fill in the blank, No home would be complete without a ________________.

  • A conversational piece