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July, 2012 |

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Panini become sandwiches of choice

It is hard to tell just when panini became a household name, but over the last several years these beloved sandwiches have been growing in popularity. Today panini are on the menus of a variety of eateries and restaurants.

The term “panini” can be traced back to a 16th century Italian cookbook. However, the first instance of it being used in North America was in 1956.

Depending on what you read or to whom you speak, panini started out as a bread sandwich with only one filling. It was unlikely the sandwich was grilled and it was typically made on the go. The word “panino” is Italian for small bread roll. “Panini” is the plural form of the word. This is the diminutive form of the word “pane,” which means “bread.”

Panini are commonly made from ciabatta or rosetta rolls, although different restaurants put their own spins on the sandwich. Though Brits, Americans and Canadians think of panini as a pressed and toasted sandwich, panini actually may be any sandwiches on a roll.

Popular Italian fillings in a panino are salami, mortadella, porchetta, prosciutto and various cheeses. However, less ethnic forms of the sandwich have showcased just about every type of filling. Restaurants may offer roast beef, breaded cutlets, cheese blends or even vegetarian options, dubbed “vegini.”

Individuals no longer have to venture to restaurants or Italian sandwich bars, known as “paninotecas,” to fulfill their panini fix. Cookware manufacturers have recognized the increased

interest in grilled, flat sandwiches and have developed panini makers at many different price points. Electric models are all-in-one contraptions that look similar to a rectangular waffle iron. There are also cast-iron pans that enable home chefs to create a pressed sandwich right on the stovetop. Those who do not have specific panini-making equipment have been known to weigh down a pan on top of another with a brick to create the flattened sandwich effect.

Whichever method of cooking is used, the enjoyment of panini lies in coming up with ingredients to use in the sandwich. For those ready to put their panini makers to good use, try this easy, light, healthy and delicious take on a panino below.

Caprese salad-style panino

Serves one to two

2 vine-ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly

20 leaves fresh basil

1 loaf of ciabatta bread, or desired crusty bread

Extra-virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Coarse salt and pepper

Heat up a panini maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Grease the insides by brushing on some olive oil.

Cut open the loaf of bread and baste the top and bottom with a little of the extra-virgin olive oil. Layer slices of tomato, mozzarella and basil on the bottom half of the bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Brush the outside of the sandwich with more olive oil and place on the panini maker to cook, until the crust is golden brown and crispy, and the cheese inside is melted.

Whisk together equal parts of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a small amount of salt and pepper to create an easy balsamic vinaigrette. Use as a dipping sauce for pieces of the panini.

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Metro Creative Graphics

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Some Thoughts On the Registering Process From a Groom Who Survived It

Some Thoughts On the Registering Process From a Groom Who Survived It

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Lenox chargers. Martha Stewart Dutch ovens. KitchenAid stand mixers. There was a time, not that long ago, when I didn’t have a clue as to what these things were, or did, or looked like. Then I got engaged.

Suddenly, I found myself arguing (1) with my beautiful future wife in the King of Prussia Mall over the necessity of each, their colors, and how many we might need. And I stumbled on a wedding truth that nobody seems to talk about: The registry, um, conversations start almost immediately after the proposal, and continue right up until the honeymoon. (2)

I had initially resisted the whole idea of registering (3): We’re not really stuff people, and we don’t have any storage space. But like most grooms, I nevertheless found myself at Crate Barrel with that little stun gun, zapping the water goblets of my future. And also like most grooms, I learned some things I wish I’d known sooner about this ongoing process. (4) Here, some of our hard-earned wisdom, which will hopefully make your registry conversations go a little more smoothly.

There’s a whole bunch of stuff that you think you’ll need, but you don’t actually need. These things include:

• Ice-cream makers, bread makers, pasta makers, etc., all of which you will have and hold, from this day forward, most likely in your basement.

• Twelve of every piece of dinnerware—unless you plan on hosting your family and the in-laws every Thanksgiving and Christmas. (5) At $70 a saucer (cup not included), less is better.

• That brightly colored, extremely expensive KitchenAid stand mixer. Though I’m sure it works phenomenally the one time a year you use it.

• More than three registry stores. Simple is good.

It helps to have the following tools in your arsenal:

• Patience. You’re choosing stuff you’re going to have for years, so don’t be hasty. Also, be ready to compromise. (You can always go online and secretly change the registry afterwards.) (6)

• Snacks. You’re going to need energy: trail mix to munch on in the sheet section; granola bars for the china-choosing. A burrito and a beer for lunch doesn’t hurt.

• An eco-friendly sensibility. Most places allow you a no- gift-wrapping option. Take it. The amount of packaging alone will astound you, even without ribbons and bows.

What we’d have done differently had we known better:

• REI registry. We could own a tandem kayak right now. (7)

• Buy stamps one time, in bulk. It was honestly a delight to write thank-you notes to our friends and loved ones. Going to the post office 45 times for postage? Not so much.

• There is no such thing as too many cloth napkins. (8)

• Remember: This is not stressful. This is fun. This is not about greed, like I originally thought—it’s not even really about stuff. It’s about the beginning of building a life together, which family and friends seem to enjoy helping you do. Registering is you having fun helping them help you. (9)

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(1.) Hi, I’m Jer’s wife. And I prefer to think of it as conversing, not arguing. (2.) And beyond. See numbers four through nine. (3.) Resistance is futile. (4.) Like how an herb-keeper really is a good idea. And how pretty KitchenAid stand mixers are. (5.) If anything, 12 is too few. Dinner parties! (6.) Ha! Right. And then your betrothed can change it back. (7.) Not if we only get to register at three places. (8.) Or too many trips to Crate Barrel. (9.) See? I was right.

{Ed Note: This piece was written for the current issue of Philadelphia Wedding by Jeremy Lejeune, husband of Christy Lejeune, Philly mag‘s deputy editor. Christy has written for Bridal Bulletin before on both her and Jer’s Nashville wedding and Mexican honeymoon, and shared her tips on how to change your name without making yourself nuts. She also wrote the footnotes here to Jer’s piece, in case you can’t tell.}

 

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PRODUCTION MACHINES BENEFIT FROM LATEST SERVO-DRIVES & MOTORS

Following an extensive review of their wide range of automated handling machines for the cookware, ceramic and tableware markets, production machine manufacturer CMC Srl has opted for servo-drives and brushless servo motors from Control Techniques.

Since its establishment in 1981, CMC, located in the heart of the Italian ceramic tile production area in and around Sassuolo in northern Italy, has specialised in the design and technical development of innovative production line machines that meet the individual operational requirements of their customers.

Recently, the company reviewed all of their designs, looking for ways to enhance handling, increase throughput and generally improve machine efficiency and performance. 

The first step was to reassess all motion controls using conventional induction motors, which formerly produced the movements for all axes under the control of variable-speed drives. The brief was to improve efficiency, dynamic performance and accuracy. Control Techniques recommended brushless servo-motors for the task to ensure high precision positioning and lower energy losses.

To give the best feedback, the drives were fitted with Sin/Cos absolute encoders that store the position of each axis in permanent memory, dispensing with homing set-up procedures which would otherwise be necessary at each start-up.

The ultra-compact Digitax ST servo-drives are used in conjunction with centralised motion controllers and can be connected using either digital or analogue networks, providing the movement control for each axis. Optional plug-in modules are used to interface the servo-drives with dedicated servo networks – typically EtherCAT, Sercos or CANopen. Dedicated I/Os include high-speed ‘freeze’ input, high resolution analogue input and simulated encoder output simplifying the connection of the drive to external controllers. 

The encoder input accepts feedback signals, Sin/Cos, Hiperface, Endat and SSI allowing selection of the most suitable feedback for each application.

The Digitax ST range encompasses four models, each with industry-leading features, extremely compact in size and having full compatibility with Control Techniques’ existing range of function and communication modules. It is optimised for servo applications requiring high peak torque, exceptional dynamic response, faster installation and start-up as well as ease of integration. Four product variants make up the range: Base, Indexer, EZ Motion and Digitax ST Plus.

In addition, Digitax ST has a ‘Safe Torque Off’ standard input that disables the power stage of the drive with a high degree of safety, for maintenance purposes. This reduces the cost of meeting compliance with machine safety standards EN 954 Cat.3.

A typical CMC machine is an auxiliary system for use with a press for the production of aluminium pans. The system comprises a series of elements.

A module for de-stacking and distribution of aluminium disc blanks is followed by transport, inspection and oiling of the blanks, which are then aligned and elevated to a take-up station that comprises a pair of straight bars with synchronised movements. A pan take-up and conveyor completes the unit.

The machine set-up is controlled by a selection of menus from the screen and requires minimal manual intervention. The machine achieves a high production rate of 16 cycles per minute. Access to the press during die-change operations is both easy and safe. The machine is very flexible and easy to adapt to different products and has a very low maintenance requirement. Digitax ST servo-drives control each of the key axes within the machine.

CMC Srl manufactures a wide range of machines, particularly for the ceramic industries. The company is a key supplier/partner for the SACMI Group and has supplied machines for some of Europe’s most prestigious manufacturers of tableware including Villeroy and Boch, Pozzi-Ginori and Tognana.

For further information, please visit: www.controltechniques.com

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Where service remains a specialty

This story was originally published April 30, 2011.

MONTREAL – Once a neighbourhood fixture, the local hardware store has all but disappeared, driven out of business by the big-box store. But there’s a breed of independent, family-run hardware stores that is still going strong.

These are stores that have changed gears and made themselves over, refusing to give up their place.

In Quebec, we call them quincailleries. Traditionally, they stocked nuts and bolts, paint and stain, lumber and all manner of washers, wires and widgets. In earlier eras, when people did their own home repairs and walked a few blocks to the hardware store if the faucet started to leak or a light bulb burned out, the local quincaillerie was almost as ubiquitous as the dépanneur.

They were almost universally family-run, passed down from generation to generation. Their specialty was service, with knowledgeable staff who could tell you straight away which was the best primer for drywall and the fastest-drying grout for ceramics, whether you needed bolts, screws or rivets, plywood or Masonite. If they didn’t have it, they ordered it and delivered it straight to your door. If a barbecue needed assembly, they found somebody to do it right there on the spot.

But as Réno Dépôt, RONA Entrepôt and Home Depot arrived on the market with their sprawling square footage, reduced markups and mammoth marketing campaigns, the little guys started to feel the pinch.

Eventually, most of them closed.

The ones who remain, though, are enjoying something of a renaissance as specialty stores.

While maintaining their independence, many have joined buying groups such as RONA or Home Hardware, allowing them access to better prices. Others branched out into different offerings.

In Westmount, for example, Hogg Hardware has an exquisite selection of home decor accessories and garden tools.

In Beaconsfield, The Hub is the go-to place for paint and wallpaper.

And Dante, the corner store in Little Italy that has been in Elena Faita and Rudy Vendittelli’s family since the 1950s, is a magnet for Montreal cooks – and hunters.

How much these quincailleries cram into their compact locales is just short of miraculous. Even at the new, condensed Hogg Hardware location, for example, the shelves hold more than 30,000 kinds of items. At RONA Notre Dame, owner Marc Lanouette calculates he stocks more than 130,000 kinds of items compared with the average big box store’s 50,000.

“They might have large volumes – but their selection isn’t nearly what ours is,” he boasts.

“They might carry the 10 bestsellers a company puts out. But we will get the whole line in.”

And so, Montreal putterers, cooks and green thumbs – fed up with getting in the car only to run up and down 27 aisles in search of out-of-stock merchandise – are heading back to neighbourhood quincailleries.

Just in time for the big spring cleanup, we take you on a tour of several old-fashioned Montreal quincailleries – each with its own niche.

QUINCAILLERIE AZORES 4299 St. Laurent Blvd. (at Vallières St.), 514-845-3543

Owners: Paulo, Gabriel, Edward and Kevin Pereira

You know it’s spring in the Plateau when the Pereira brothers start hauling out their patio furniture. The multi-coloured Adirondack chairs that line the sidewalk outside Quincaillerie Azores are just a slice of the seasonal stock for sale at this old-fashioned hardware store on The Main, just north of Rachel St.

The store recently doubled in size, expanding its housewares and outdoor furniture offerings. The four Pereira brothers took over from their father, a Portuguese immigrant who worked as a carpenter at Expo 67 before venturing into the hardware business in the late 1960s in what was then a burgeoning Portuguese community.

The store has always boasted an interesting selection of Portuguese pottery and kitchen essentials, as well as hardware basics.

“Dad would always go with what people asked for. And that’s what we do, too,” said Gabriel Pereira. “If two or three customers ask for something and I don’t have it, I’ll make sure I bring it in.”

Their teak furniture is popular, as is the hand-painted clay kitchenware from Portugal. But so is the store’s well-priced and varied collection of glass mosaic tiles.

It’s not immediately obvious, but they sell drywall, plywood and 2 x 4s, too – at prices they say are competitive with the chain stores. The brothers order straight from the supplier and deliver directly to their clients, thus saving overhead.

“Anything you need, we’ll get it. And deliver it,” Kevin says. “We go out of our way to serve people.”

QUINCAILLERIE DANTE

6851 St Dominique St. (at Dante St.), Little Italy, 514-271-2057

Owners: Elena Vendittelli Faita and Rudy Vendittelli

Everybody calls this buzzing Little Italy hybrid store Quincaillerie Dante, even in English. But nobody expects to find hardware here.

This is Montreal’s best-known mecca for cookware and kitchen supplies.

It’s where chefs and home cooks come for Le Creuset, All-Clad and Mauviel pots. For toasters and blenders, knives, cutting boards and parchment paper muffin liners, olive pitters and pepper grinders. Elena Faita, who presides over the kitchen section, is warm and welcoming, a fount of culinary knowledge.

At the back of the store there is a hunting section, where Faita’s brother, Rudy Vendittelli, has a devout following of his own among the city’s big-and small-game hunters. They stop in to buy their Beretta rifles and handmade bone and wood-handled knives. Elena and Rudy’s uncle opened a hardware store here in 1954 and their father bought it from him in 1956. Faita remembers the days when Quincaillerie Dante sold thousands and thousands of gallons of paint a year to the growing numbers of Italian immigrants who were moving to the neighbourhood, buying old properties and restoring them, or building new duplexes or triplexes.

But in the 1980s, with the advent of the big-box stores, Dante saw its paint and hardware sales decline.

So the family added housewares to the mix; then Faita’s daughter, Cristina, suggested they get into high-end Le Creuset and Emile Henri cookware.

“We are a family of cooks, so the shift came naturally,” explained Faita, whose son, Stefano, a cookbook author and television host, also helps out at the store. “Before long we opened a cooking school, too.

“We are all very passionate people. We love what we do and our customers feel that.”

HOGG HARDWARE

4855 Sherbrooke St. W. (at Victoria St.), Westmount, 514-934-4644

Owners: Al and George Hogg and brother-inlaw Russ Tisshaw

Hogg Hardware is more general store than hardware, with a focus on higher-end home decor and gardening. Opened in 1991, it feels like it has been here forever. It’s the place to come for basic hardware supplies, but especially for table linens, baking supplies, cookbooks, good-quality dish cloths and cleaning supplies. Even Buddha heads and tie-dyed scarves.

The merchandise changes with the seasons, Smartwool socks and fireplace gear making way for barbecues, push mowers, garden tools, serious Le Chameau rubber boots and work gloves come spring’s first thaw.

It also features the city’s best selection of British foods, such as Duchy shortbreads and Marmite yeast extract. There are also Bewley’s teas, from Ireland.

The store has consolidated recently, moving to a more compact, lower-rent location just west of the spot it previously occupied. But the basement paint section is still there, featuring Benjamin Moore paint and the no-fail expertise of the paint manager, Wilder Wall, who has influenced the colour schemes of more Westmount homes than any decorator in town.

THE HUB

441 Beaconsfield Blvd., Beaconsfield, 514-695-3389

Owner: Stan Rutkauskas

In sleepy Beaurepaire Village, Stan Rutkauskas has a loyal following among local home renovators. He has one of the West Island’s best selections of Robert Allen and other wallpaper and upholstery fabric, as well as Benjamin Moore paints and painting tools.

And there’s a small selection of hardware and gardening basics, too.

There’s a cappuccino machine on the counter and bowls of candies for the kids and biscuits for the dogs at the cash. Friendly service and a homey atmosphere are the big draws. Customers are welcome to have a coffee while browsing through the decor magazines and fabric samples. There’s even a decor consultant to help with colour choices and a list of painters, handymen and craftspeople to recommend.

“We have people here who know what they are talking about,” is how Rutkauskas, who has been in business 40 years, explains his success.

LE QUINCAILLIER RONA NOTRE DAME

2371 Notre Dame St. (near Charlevoix St.), 514-932-5616

Owners: Marc and Jean Lanouette

Welcome to the oldest hardware store in Montreal. It was founded in 1889 by the current owners’ great grandfather, supplying nearby stables with horse bridles and knives.

It grew as a general store and cookware shop before developing a loyal following among the city’s builders, general contractors and maintenance managers. The Lanouettes joined the Rona buying group, but also source their material elsewhere.

No fewer than six employees, moving effortlessly between French and English, offer to help in your first five minutes inside the store; no one ever wanders these aisles lost or helpless.

It boast three floors jammed to the rafters with power tools and nuts and bolts, hoses and valves.

There are whole aisles devoted to rope and twine, a back store that stocks what plumbers call the most extensive selection of plumbing parts and fittings in the city.

The inventory is a most comprehensive and eclectic mix: camping gear, cast iron pans, bike locks, patio furniture and chain link in 50 gauges.

“You have to work hard to provide service in a hardware store. People don’t want to walk up and down the aisles looking for what they need. They want knowledgeable help and they want to be out of here in warp speed,” says Marc Lanouette, whose store is always well-staffed. “And you have to be able to change with the times.”

ssemenak@montrealgazette.com

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What appliances or items are essential for your kitchen?

Q: What kitchen appliances do I really need to help me be the best cook I can be?

A: Cooking has evolved over the past 50 years into a desirable hobby, a vacation destination and an enviable profession. Just look at all the food channels on television, the magazines, the novels and memoirs, the thousands of blogs and the stores devoted to this once arduous task.

To answer your question honestly, you only really need a good palate, some imagination, a few sharp knives, a clean area, an oven, a sink, a stove, some bowls, some spoons and refrigeration. That is all the mothers of some of the best chefs in the world had, and they taught their children the basic skills with these simple tools. (What is the difference between a chef and a great cook? One is getting paid.) Many of the greatest chefs of all time did not go to culinary school, but learned at home, then trained in kitchen after kitchen, always starting at the lowest jobs, and working long hours year after year.

But it is fun to have gadgets in your kitchen and many of them do great things to help you save time. Some of them help you prepare things you could not make without them. The list is endless: toaster ovens, blenders, Vitamixes, sous vides, crockpots, pressure cookers, ebbleskivers, blue steel crepe pans, electric crepe pans, electric skillets, woks, electric grills, warming drawers, hundreds of coffee makers, roasters, espresso makers, blenders, ice cream makers, gelato makers, popsicle makers, soda makers, cotton candy makers, margarita makers, cake pop makers, toasters, food processors, stand mixers, hand held mixers, immersion blenders — are you having a nervous breakdown yet? And this is just the stuff I am thinking of as I go around the perimeter of a store in my mind, I’m not even going through the middle yet with all the different wine gizmos, ways to chop garlic, and zest your lemons. Remember that cooking is big business now. Be smart with your money. You do not want a lot of clutter and drawers full of silly things that you do not use, so save for the big items you will use over and over again. Here is what I think a well laid-out kitchen would have. Anything else is personal choice.

1.

A food processor. Buy the best brand and the biggest you can afford. Why? You want the most powerful motor. What you will do with it today may be doubled tomorrow once you get the hang of it, so you do not want to have to buy a new one. You also want a reliable name brand. This is not the place to try to save money.

2. A stand mixer. I say go with the biggest, at least a 6 quart. This is because the 5-quart motor is not powerful enough to knead bread, even though it comes with a dough hook and says it can do bread (maybe bread for Barbie) and it will burn up. You may want to start baking your own baguettes as you are developing your culinary ID You want to be prepared for that momentous day! Now Kitchenaid has gotten the memo and also makes a 7 quart like Cuisinart, so you have a choice if you want to go to the 7 quart. I like the rounded shaped of the Kitchenaid’s bowl vs. the V shape of the Cuisinart.

3. A blender. Do you want a blender or a Vitamix? The Vitamix is really expensive, and I don’t have one, so I cannot give great advice here. I kind of wish I had one, but had just bought my blender when they came Indiana’s way. It does an awful lot of things, including warm stuff. It has a very powerful motor. It is kind of a cross between a blender and a food processor. I would love to hear from anyone who has one about how you feel about yours! If you get a blender, make sure it is powerful enough to do smoothies and crush ice.

4. A coffee maker. I have had everything from a Mr. Coffee all the way to a Jura. I love my fancy Jura, but I had to wait to get it on super sale because it costs more than 5,000 Mr. Coffees. Here is a groovy tip: I got a second Jura, because I loved it so much, as I previously said, for my shop on eBay! The company takes returns or factory rejects, repairs them and sells them for about a quarter of the price. Maybe it has a tiny scratch or a dent on its fabulous stainless steel body. Whatever the problem, it will be well-documented and photographed. Mine had an infinitesimal scratch on the side so was not up to Jura standards. (I pity the poor guy who hit it with his watch.) However, it performs perfectly and does everything my other one does. It is probably the same for all the fancy coffee maker manufacturers. No I did not get a cool box and a warranty and, yes, I took a chance. But I am eBay’s biggest cheerleader; it is the best thing that ever happened to people building a house. I even bought my Le Cornue for the shop on it!

5. A slow cooker. The busy mom’s kitchen ally and also a wonderful asset during a winter party.

6. A microwave.

7. Belgium waffle makers are fun for breakfast but you can do more in it than just waffles!

8. Places to save money and shop at the less expensive stores: A toaster, a hand-held mixer, an immersion blender (you do not need a fancy brand, but owning an immersion blender comes in handy), an electric can opener and any other small motor appliances.

This is all I need for a kitchen.

Think carefully before parting with your hard-earned money on gizmos. Save it for your knives or quality cookware! Do you really need an indoor grill? You could just use the broiler in your oven, which is probably healthier anyway because the fat falls under the broiler pan.

A toaster oven? Counter clogger. A rice cooker? Do it on the stove in a pot because making rice is easy. A bread maker? Use your fancy stand mixer to knead (or use your own strength), let it rise on your counter and perfume your home.

Think clean, spacious counters to prep your food, and you won’t over-buy. In two weeks, I’ll address the fun, but wallet-seducing, world of kitchen gadgets, so try not to get lured by anything until then.

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Designer Kitchen Appliances

Louis-Vuitton-Waffle-Maker

The Coolest Kitchen Accessories and Appliances that the Fashion World Had a Hand In

When shopping for your kitchen, most people think of the standard brands that are tried tested and true and typically I would agree with you for appliances like a fridge, stove, dishwasher etc. but when it comes to kitchen gadgets and small appliances I think an injection of some of your favorite fashion labels can make a fun addition to your cooking experience. Take for example this Louis Vuitton waffle maker that was made by Andrew Lewicki. Unfortunately the piece will not be sold in stores as it is not officially produced by the fashion house but it’s a cool concept none-the-less.

Next up is a company that is known for reinventing itself and taking advantage of it’s own hotel, Versace. The Versace hotel has opened the fashion houses dors to new avenues including bedding, towels, and kitchen ware such as plates, cups, and other accessories like wine decanters, wine stops, vases, and ash trays. Here are some of the pieces the Versace line produces for sale right now on their website.

I have to admit I am not sure exactly what the Versace obelisk (below) is for but it sure looks neat. I suppose you could try to muddle someting with it but at the going price I wouldn’t recommend it. Speaking of price the chairs at the bottom are a whopping €4160 each! But what did you expect when dealing with Versace?

Let’s face it, you can’t cook or really function in the kitchen without wine so Louis Vuitton and Goyard have just the things to lug around all that life giving vino. Both companies started because of their affinity for luggage and trunk making so this should come as no surprise to you. The trunks are probably over $10,000 but are sure to make your friends jealous. Also the trunks are specially made to protect the contents. And when carting around a few bottles of the Dom. Romane Conti 1997, it is important not to break the $1500 dollar reds.

Another thing that you can cart around fro the kitchen to your roof top patio is a refined cup of tea. But how does one cart such a formal and large set of china around without some help? Another trunk of course! The crafty buggers over at Louis Vuitton are always in the business of helping and work effortlessly to make sure every piece of your tea set is accounted for.

When I think of enjoying a delicate cup of Gyokuro green tea, I quiet the mind, sip… sip… then am quickly back to blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking so without technology I can’t really be complete (yes I am kidding and yes I can be without technology for over 1 minute… it’s more like 1 and a half). So I turn to Prada for my designer technological wonders to keep me hands free with their hands free LG bluetooth device and to enjoy my connectivity anywhere in the world with their universal adaptor. How does this translate into the kitchen? Ever try squishing peanut butter cookies with a fork while chatting with your besty on the phone without using speaker phone? Nearly impossible.

Lastly I need to touch on the entire Hermes brand. So great and fits in perfectly with the kitchen topic as they also produce fine china as well as other home essentials ike blankets. Yes, the blankets were derived from back in the day when Hermes was primarily in the business of creating fine saddles but what is the huge difference between a horse blanket and a human blanket? That is more of an actual question because I honestly couldn’t tell you. But either way they look really fresh with their orange coloring and large “H” in white on the orange half.

What type of home ware are you looking for? A Chanel blender? A Dolce Gabbana leopard print fridge? Let me know in the comments below and see what kind of crazy ideas we can come up with.

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About Mark St. James – Marquis of Fashion

Sass Class and Fashion! there you have it; three words that describe what this site is all about! Hope you LOVE it, comment on it, rub it all over yourself! I am The Marquis of Fashion, your guide into the fabulous and ridiculous world of fashion.

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12 simple eco-friendly tips for the home

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If you are looking for easy ways to save energy and help the environment then this is the list for you. Not only are these tips easy to do, they’re not contingent on you purchasing something.

Check out these simple tasks to lessen your impact:

1. Old school– Keep used school notebooks for messages and shopping lists. It is neater than keeping piles of loose scrap paper and better than buying a note pad.

 Don’t have students at home? Stack 5-10 sheets of once used printer paper, cut it into 4 rectangles, combine the 4 piles, and staple the top to hold it together.

2. Return to sender
– If you receive mail for someone that no longer lives at your address, look for Address, Change, or Return Service Requested on the envelope. This endorsement means you can send the letter back and the company should remove the address from their mailing list.

In the kitchen 



3. Put a lid on it– Water boils faster when in a covered pot, this saves you time and electricity (or gas).

4. Turn off the heat
– For those with an electric stove, when boiling pasta for dinner start with salted water and a covered pot (salting the water increases the boiling point). Once the water boils add your pasta, cover, and return to a boil. After a rolling boil has returned for 2-3 minutes turn off the burner, the residual heat will continue to cook the pasta.

 This goes the same for basic baking needs, once you are in the last 10 minutes of your baking time turn off the oven.

5. Combine it
– When making a dinner of vegetables and pasta, add frozen veggies to your boiling water in the last few minutes of the pasta cooking. After you drain the pasta and veggies combine them on the warm burner with pasta sauce for a few moments to heat everything evenly.

6. Save your water
– After boiling something for dinner let the water cool and use it for your houseplants. Pots with boil baskets are great for this, after removing your food just set the hot pot in the sink until cool and water away.

7. Soak First– Stop running the water while you scrub the pots and pans. Instead, let them soak first, then quickly clean them and rinse.

8. Let it air dry
– If your dishwasher has the option, turn of the heated dry cycle and allow the dishes to air dry. Also, be mindful of what cycle you run your dishes through. Some cycles, like ‘pots pans,’ require the dishwasher to heat the hot water further.

9. Freeze it
– Keep water bottles or ice packs in your freezer. It takes less energy to keep ice cold than empty space. This tip also helps keep your freezer cold during a power outage, and you can use the ice packs and bottles when traveling instead of buying ice.

In the bathroom 



10. Use the hot water– In the winter when brushing your teeth turn on the hot water (especially if you’re on the second floor). Doing so runs the cold water out of the pipes without wasting it- leaving a shorter wait time for the water to be ready to wash your face or shave with.

11. Use the cold water– In the summer when washing your hands use cold water. NYTimes.com shared a study which found no benefit to washing your hands with hot water.

12. Don’t turn up the heat
– Once you get settled in the shower and find yourself reaching to turn up the hot water turn down the cold water instead!

13. Don’t flush it away
– If it’s yellow let it… just kidding! I am all for flushing it all down. If you want to save water without having to ‘let it mellow,’ fill up a plastic bottle for the water tank. It helps the tank fill with less water and therefore reduces the amount of water used for each flush.

If you have heard these tips before then consider this a friendly reminder. They only work if you use them. These tasks have a small impact, but it’s all the little things that start to add up!

Stephanie Pania | Facebook | Blog | Pinterest
Philadelphia, PA Stephanie is an eco-conscious vegan from Philadelphia, PA. She has a degree in Communications and Technical Theater, and is currently the communications specialist at an area nonprofit. She recently finished a year serving with AmeriCorps, and spends her free time playing with her adopted dogs and her rescued cats.
Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/bargainbriana

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