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Tell a friend Batter Blaster pancakes

Batter Blaster

This is a story about pancakes. It begins in one of my favorite places. Let me explain.

San Francisco is not the densest city by any means, but space is at a premium nonetheless. So when a single store occupies an entire city block — a large city block — that is a big store in San Francisco. The experience of shopping at the only Costco in San Francisco feels like half-privilege, half-pandemonium. Wheeling a ginormous cart around the street-width aisles of Costco, for me, is a guilty pleasure. There’s only so much paper towel and laundry detergent I really need, but I find any excuse to go. I would imagine that anyone who’d grown up behind the Iron Curtain might bask in the consumer abundance of Costco as a sort of earthly paradise.

In one of the refrigerated aisles, an entire case contained shelf upon shelf of bright golden-yellow spray cans. I thought nothing of the spray cans at first, assuming that the cans were just a brand of whipped cream I hadn’t seen before. But I did a double-take as I noticed something horrifying on the cans: the word batter. Costco, you’ve got to be kidding me, right? Batter — (pancake and waffle, that is, not cake) — in a spray can? Look, spray cheese is bad enough, but spray batter heralds the end of civilization.

Perhaps even more amazing was that the word organic also appeared on the can. I’ve been brainwashed by Whole Foods, I admit, but when I see the word organic, I automatically think healthy. (Or at least healthy-wannbe.) Was it possible for something healthy to be stored in spray can — which, by defnition, indicates processed food? Who could have predicted that I would stumble onto such a paradox in the refrigerated section of Costco? Organic and spray can seem like matter and antimatter: how can they simultaneously occupy the same space?

Posted September 9, 2008 by Mariva in business, edibles, health, innovations, kitchen

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Tell a friend feel-good commercials

feel-good commercials

I realize that advertising represents (and sometimes causes) many of the ills of our society, but I can’t help it — as something of a pop culture aesthete, I love me a good commercial. I think this is because I appreciate good design, clever concepts and creativity in any form. For better or worse — whether subsidizing theater companies and museums or hiring the best illustrators, writers and cinematographers — corporations have become the new patrons of the arts. I’m often astonished at how compelling the commercials for Volkswagon, Apple and Coca-Cola are.

Posted March 22, 2006 by Mariva in arts, business, entertainment, health, innovations, movies

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Tell a friend gravity-defying boots

gravity-defying boots

Whoo-hoo! Happy spring.

Posted March 20, 2006 by Mariva in fashion, fun, gadgets, gifts, health, holidays, innovations

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Tell a friend Minimus travel-size products


When you’re away from home — whether spending a lot of time at the office or going on a picnic or a trip — you’ll appreciate Minimus. Here you can stock up on a plethora of individual- and travel-size products, including food and beverages, laundry supplies, personal care and over-the-counter medicines. You can also purchase preassembled kits and care packages of snacks, mini-meals, personal supplies and medical kits — some specifically for men, women, college students, air travelers, campers and even cold and flu sufferers. Many kits make ideal care packages for military personnel. And speaking of the military, the preassembled package called the "military field kit" — comprising an emergency blanket, a small flashlight and a rain poncho — is something you may want to keep in your car or home storage area.

Posted January 24, 2006 by Mariva in edibles, gifts, health, home, resources, travel

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Tell a friend the perfect water bottle

Nalgene water bottles

Even if you don’t believe that the average person is chronically dehydrated, it’s generally a good idea to drink fresh, clean water as often as you’d like. I seem to be thirsty all the time, so I never go anywhere without a water bottle. Because of its durable and unbreakable nature, my container of choice is the Nalgene bottle, which never compromises the taste of water. It’s the perfect companion to the Thermos food jar.

There’s no question that Nalgene makes bottles extremely well. The company’s founder was an innovative chemist who developed unbreakable laboratory instruments and containers. Today, Nalgene is known in the scientific world for its wide assortment of Nalgene Labware, in addition to its consumer products for outdoors enthusiasts and travelers.

Posted January 17, 2006 by Mariva in health, innovations, kitchen, resources, travel

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Tell a friend Thermos Food Jar with Folding Spoon

Thermos Food Jar with Folding Spoon

Archie Bunker once mused, “You got your Thermos here, see? You can put coffee in it and it stays hot, or you can put beer in it and it stays cold, right? So my question is, how does it know?" Clearly, Archie never grasped the concept of insulation; nonetheless, Thermos products — three decades ago — worked so well that they seemed like magic.

Thermos has been updating its line of products, including its signature beverage bottles. The container featured here ain’t your parents’ Thermos. This lightweight, double-wall vacuum-insulated Food Jar with Folding Spoon comes with a stainless steel folding spoon that fits neatly into a storage compartment, which, by the way, has enough room to hold condiments and other small items. The Food Jar keeps your meal hot or cold, just the way you (and Archie) like it — and it looks cool to boot.

Posted January 13, 2006 by Mariva in gadgets, gifts, health, home, innovations, kitchen, travel

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Tell a friend Farai Chideya

Farai Chideya, photo by David Banks

Congratulations to my acquaintance and email buddy Farai Chideya for completing the AIDS Marathon in Dublin, Ireland. I love her renditions of ’80s pop tunes, sung exhaustedly at around mile twenty. I’ve always thought she was beautiful, and I’m sure she looks fantastic now after all that training.


Posted January 4, 2006 by Mariva in community, health, news

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Tell a friend online weight loss plans & support

weight loss scale

I belong to a small, privately owned gym in my neighborhood. Although I like the atmosphere (I’ve made friends there and the current owner is genuinely interested in his customers’ fitness), I’ve been thinking about switching to a larger gym with more equipment. I tried out the local 24 Hour Fitness for a day and was impressed with the facilities, which seemed immense by comparison. But I’ve delayed joining because of the fee structure; unlike my current gym, which charges a monthly fee in a no-nonsense manner (a small discount applies when paying for six months or a year in advance), 24 Hour Fitness piles on seemingly arbitrary fees (an "enrollment" fee, a "processing" fee) in addition to the regular subscription fee. The company runs various promotions throughout the year — and options for one-gym or all-gym membership, etc. — but it’s impossible to get the price for what you want over the phone.

Posted January 3, 2006 by Mariva in health, resources

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Tell a friend smell and scents

smell and scents When I was conducting research for my post on scented paper, I came across some interesting smell-related sites:
  • Better Living with Essential Oils: information about and uses for essential oils for body and home care. #24 is instructions on infusing scents into paper, although I would suggest adding the drops of essential oils to a cotton pad rather than directly onto the paper.

Posted December 29, 2005 by Mariva in bath & spa, beauty, education, health, home, resources

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Tell a friend foot spa bath

HoMedics JetSpa Ultra Jet Action Pedicure Footbath

A cup of tea, the big newspaper (or a good book) and feet soaking in warm bubbling water — can you imagine a better way to spend Sunday mornings in winter? The only challenge to this cozy scenario is how to keep the water warm in the foot bath. I grew frustrated with having to get up to refill the foot bath in the middle of a relaxing soak because the water had become tepid. Unlike other foot spa baths, the HoMedics JetSpa Ultra Jet Action Pedicure Footbath not only actually keeps the water warm (even hot!), it can heat up cold water via its own safe heating mechanism. The bubbles and jet action are nice, too. It comes with a brush and pumice stone pedicure attachments, but I never use them. The system is great for softening toenails for a spa-quality pedicure. So no more annoying refill interruptions — you can keep your feet in this thing until your soles wrinkle and you’ve gotten through the entire paper.

Available for under $60 here and here.

Posted December 26, 2005 by Mariva in bath & spa, beauty, gifts, health, home

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