by Debra

We spent most of 2012 either traveling, shooting video and photography, or hanging out in the kitchen. Here is a quick list of just a few of our favorite discoveries along the way:

1.  PELICAN CASE – Matt Armendariz introduced us to these cases a couple months back and it’s been one of the best investments we’ve made. For the price, you can’t find a more sturdy, practical and well constructed travel case for your all your sensitive photographic equipment. A couple added benefits is that the case is sturdy enough to use as a seat when stuck in an airport and you don’t want to sit on the floor . . . or throw a piece of fabric over it and you have an instant tabletop for shooting photos!

2.  DROID XYBOARD 10.1 BY MOTOROLA – Through Verizon’s Savvy Gourmet program, we have used the XYBoard for the last 5 months and have really come to depend on this tablet. With a durable screen for perusing recipes in the kitchen, listening to music, handling all our social media, or reading a Kindle book (see the Flavor Bible below), we find ourselves reaching for the XYBoard again and again.  The 4G LTE speed is significantly faster than what we get through our cable provider, and the seamless mobile hotspot feature makes for a fast and reliable WiFi connection for all our gadgets at home, in the car, in an airport or hotel.

3.  SIMPLE HUMAN SOAP DISPENSER – Although skeptical at first, I don’t know how I lived without this little gem in my kitchen. Seriously, – when you’re up to your elbows in flour or have just mixed a meatloaf, ‘hands-free’ cannot be beat. One super nice feature is the ‘no-drip’ valve which means no irritating ‘puddle’ of extra soap on the counter.

4. OXO FOOD SCALE – I went gluten-free last April and now blend my own gluten-free flour mixes (thank you, Shauna!). An absolute must-have when working with flours, this scale allows you to ‘zero out’ each addition of a new ingredient; an added plus on this model is a weight limit of up to 11 pounds – particularly nice when working with large bowls and the display detaches so you can move it around and easily read measurements.  We’ve been baking a lot, and this scale is the ‘weigh’ to go.

5. LG INTUITION – Part Smartphone. Part Tablet. Hmmm….I was skeptical about this little guy, too. Verizon Wireless also sent this to us to try out as part of the Midwest Savvy Gourmet program. Yes, it’s a phone and it looks huge next to other smartphones. But for readability, I’ve loved using this. Plus, you get the added bonus of not needing to carry a separate phone around. Add in 4G LTE and mobile hotspot capability, and the Intuition really is a jack of all trades. It comes with a stylus for those times when you’d like to jot down a note, comes fully equipped with a camera (and you can shoot video) as well as other familiar bells and whistles we’ve come to rely on these days. Plus a bazillion apps are available (ok so ‘bazillion’ might be a wee bit of a stretch . . .)

6. THE FLAVOR BIBLE FOR KINDLE – Dan “The Chef” Ahern, of Gluten-free Girl and the Chef, introduced us to the Flavor Bible while we were working with them this summer.  Dan is an amazing chef, and for those like him who love to change recipes up a bit, this book is a must-have. An added bonus is that we use the Kindle app, so perusing is even easier and searchable on our XYBoard or Intuition (see above). Even better? Because we’ve downloaded the entire book electronically, we have this terrific resource with us wherever we travel.

7. EXPODISC –  We’ve done a lot of ‘run and gun’ shoots this year: chasing 2-year-olds, wedding parties and chefs on the move.  When we have to quickly adjust our camera to changing light temperatures, this was a real life saver; the lanyard allows the disc to hang around your neck for easy and quick access.

8. ELFA – this organizational storage system is an investment . . . but it gets a big O.M.G. from me.  We remodeled our pantry (and a closet and wash room . . .) with Elfa from The Container Store and it has certainly paid for itself: less food wasted, long-forgotten clothes worn and laundry and cleaning supplies stored up high and in plain sight.  Case in point – our old kitchen ‘pantry’ was spread out between two floors and 5 different cabinets – we could never find anything and would buy stuff we didn’t need . . . including 26 cans of pumpkin we didn’t know we had (I really want to do a post on this soon)!    And I’m happy to report – we’re down to one can of pumpkin now.

9. THE BAG BUNGEE – The Prof and I purchased these before a trip on a whim and now we can’t travel without them.  Honestly, it’s the best $15 you can spend for strapping your purse or laptop case onto your rollerboard suitcase.  Racing through the concourses just became a lot easier. If you travel, ask Santa to tuck one of these in your stocking.

10. VITAMIX – Bottom line:  we use the Vitamix almost every. single. day. Whether blending our morning green drink, emulsifying a soup, or grinding our own flour, this baby is truly a workhorse. We’ve never owned another mixer that compares – a must-have in our kitchen.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Gourmets program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }


Pelican cases rock! I always feel like I’m in a scene from Iron Man when I open it and there’s my camera all nicely nestled inside, which is probably one of the reasons M grabbed me one when I finally got my dSLR this year. I know you do a lot of photography/video for work–do you use something else when you’re sight-seeing but don’t want to have your hands full carrying a case?



hi Elizabeth!

i usually have a Rapid Release For Women cross-body strap (Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rapid-DSLR-Camera-Strap-Women/dp/B0042AE046/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1354579400&sr=8-8&keywords=rapid+release+camera+strap); i have another travel case to get in and out of the airport, etc., but when we’re in the field or sight-seeing, i prefer this strap for several reasons: no neck fatigue, cross-body and adjustable strap so works for just about anyone in terms of height/weight.


Angie @ Just Like The Number

Either you have to do a post on your Elfa pantry or I’m just going to have to come see it myself! I have the Simple Human soap dispenser, too. I was skeptical as well, and wondered “Who would buy this? (mine was a gift). But now I’m head-over-heels for it, especially when I have raw chicken hands.


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