Keep Your Herbs Worth Eating With The Prepara Herb Savor

Think back to a time you bought a bunch of fresh, green herbs to cook into your favorite dish. You chopped or snipped a quarter of the bunch into your food, and we all know what happens next. The rest of the herb bunch go back into the refrigerator where they are doomed to go bad in two or three days. It’s a waste of delicious herbs, and a waste of money.

Before you give up and succumb to lifeless dried herbs, know this. There is hope. Effective, well-designed, convenient hope: the Herb Savor by Prepara.

This herb saver comes with three primary components: the water well base, the plastic shell, and the stainless steel herb basket. To use, simply rinse the herbs in the basket, fit the basket with the herb tips facing down between the two piece plastic shell, and fit the shell into the water well base. Fill the base with water and refrigerate. Come back two days later – your herbs will still be fresh. Come back two weeks later and – yep! – your herbs are still fresh.

Still need convincing? Oprah called the Prepara herb savor the most exciting thing to happen to her in 2010. I don’t know about you, but if it’s good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for me.

Make Great Coffee Under Pressure With The Aeropress

Useful Things is based in Portland, OR – a city known for keepin’ it weird, microbreweries, and dark delicious coffee. Our obsession (don’t call it an addiction!) with the stuff led us to the AeroPress coffee press, the only tool you need to brew cafe perfect cups of coffee & espresso in under 30 seconds.

The Aero Press was created by inventor Alan Adler who, until releasing the coffee press in 2005, was famous for inventing toys such as the Aerobie Flying Disc and Rocket Football. His choice to expand into coffee was motivated – as most great inventions – by his discontent with the existing options of coffee making. Thus, Aeropress coffee came into creation.

As he states in this New York Times blog post: “I was aware that lower temperature reduced acidity and bitterness and made a sweeter cup. I had an espresso machine, and I went looking for a way to adjust the temperature. So I began brewing coffee in a Melitta cone at a lower temperature, but I was troubled by the long wet time, typically four to five minutes. I was troubled that a lot of rich liquid was trapped in the cone.”

The Aeropress is traditionally used by placing ground coffee (fine ground works best!) into the bottom of the larger cylinder on top of one of the 365 microfilters provided with the coffee press. After pouring hot water over the coffee and allowing it to sit for ~ 10 seconds, the mixture is forced through the microfilter by pushing down slowly second smaller cylinder.

The following video by renowned Norwegian coffee-maker Tim Wendelboe demonstrates the process very… sexily. Is it NSFW? Maybe not. But any coffee illiterate co-workers may think you’re a little crazy.

What’s cool about the Aero Press coffee maker is that it leaves a lot of wiggle room for those who love to experiment with different grinds, temperatures, timing, and even techniques. Some baristas began using the ‘inverted method’, which allows the water to sit in the Aeropress and not immediately trickle through the filter, to extract more of the flavorful coffee oils.

But don’t take our word for it. Check out Russia’s very own Alexey Kurbatov as he makes Aeropress coffee using the inverted method in this beautifully shot video.

Do you have any techniques for making the perfect cup of Aeropress coffee? Let us know in the comments!

Our 3 Favorite Google Chrome Apps

When Google released the Google Chrome web browser in 2008, there was already a lot going on to be impressed by. It was fast and stable, with  a solid user interface and neat themes. Then in 2010, Google wow’d users again when the company released a Chrome web store where users could download web applications as extensions to the browser.

Here is a list of 5 great Google Chrome apps. Some are ones that showed up repeatedly in ‘Best Of’ lists around the net, others are personal favorites. Take a look.

Springpad – This app may be a little intense for lesser productivity geeks, but for those who crave the high of optimally organized content it’s a godsend. Organize content into notebooks, then add tasks and notes (including content you pluck from the web) to your hearts content.

Good Noows – Clean out your ‘News’ bookmarks folder and save time with Good Noows. Good Noows  allows you to select sources specific to Headlines, Politics, Business, Sports, Culture, Science, Travel, Health, Lifestyle, Environment, Satire, and Opinions. This gives you, the user, a highly personalized news feed specific to your personal preferences.

Graphicly – This app will have comic nerds Tweeting in all caps for days. It’s been coined ‘the YouTube of Comics’ by comic book news blogs and with good reason.  The social component of the application allows fans to connect with other fans and even with the artists themselves, creating a community that liberates the confined conversations of enthusiasts from local underground shops.

What are your top 3, can’t live without ‘em Google Chrome apps? Let us know in the comments!

Secret Uses For Everyday Household Items

In the Home

  • Vinegar as cleaning agentOne way to rid refrigerator drawers and food containers of unpleasant smells is to line them with newspaper.
  • One of the many uses for vinegar is removing the sticker gunk from things you buy. Let the vinegar sit for a second after applying it before wiping it (and the price tag residue) cleanly off.
  • It’s spring and ants are back: in your bathroom, on your windowsills, in your kitchen. Ants won’t walk through baby powder, so find out where the little guys are marching in from and sprinkle mercilessly.
  • Freshly cut flowers stay beautiful longer if the water they’re placed in is mixed with bleach (20 drops of Clorox to 1 quart of water used).

In the Office

  • Velcro strips can be used in the office to cheaply keep computer cords organized.
  • You’ve been promoted to the corner office, but before you can officially move in, your cubicle needs a makeover. As you’re taking down your motivational posters, fill holes caused by push-pins with white toothpaste. No one will be the wiser.
  • Is there a squeaky door at work that keeps you from concentrating? Applying a few drops of olive oil to the hinges should shut it up so you can work in peace.
  • Oops – you had a bit too much fun at a networking event and laughed so heartily at a co-workers joke that you splashed red wine down the front of your shirt. Stretch the stained portion of the shirt over a bowl or class, apply salt onto the stained area so that it’s fully covered, and then pour boiling water over it. (Just wait until you get home to take your shirt off.)

On the Go

  • Keeping clothes smelling fresh on the go doesn’t have to be a hassle. Simply stick a few drier sheets in your luggage to keep clean clothes smelling clean, even when they’re stored with dirty ones.
  • Airport security confiscated your toothpaste? In a pinch you can use a mixture of baking soda and water. Did they confiscate your deodorant, too? You can use baking soda for that, as well.
  • To package fragile items for a bumpy ride home, line your luggage with inflated Ziploc bags.
  • Ripped toilet paper pieces stuck onto the face isn’t a good look for anyone. When you cut yourself shaving, instead of just bleeding on yourself (gross) or applying toilet tissue to your face (lame), rub cuts with Chapstick.
  • Oh no! While swimming off the coast of Portugal with your super model girlfriend you were stung by a man o’ war! I hope you have your Vodka with you, James Bond, because applying it to the affected area will help neutralize the sting (though drinking it would probably help, too).

Additional lists of new uses for everyday things:

Joey Green’s Wacky Uses

Real Simple’s 101 New Uses for Everyday Things

Anything we missed? Share your secret uses for everyday objects in the comments.

Multi-Bit Screwdrivers Save You Time and Reduce Hassles

A must-have for tool belts, toolboxes, glove boxes, motorcycle pouches, the home “junk” drawer, and even the office, multi-bit screwdrivers save you loads of time and reduce hassles. From simple tasks such as tightening screws on table legs or desk chairs, to emergency roadside repairs such as headlight replacement, a multi-bit screwdriver will allow you to fix anything calling for standard sized Phillips bits, common sized slotted bits, and often square drives, torx heads, and more, depending on how multi a tool you opt for.

Common sized multi-bit screwdriver sets include the 6-in-1, the 8-in-1, and the 10-in-1, though more options are available.

The 6-in-1:
This Craftsman model from Sears, for example, is a good option for those wanting a 6-in-1 screwdriver. The autoloader allows you to exchange bits in a few seconds, and Craftsman tools come with a lifetime warranty. The bits include: Phillips #1, Phillips #2, slotted 1/8 inch, slotted ¼ inch, slotted 3/16 inch, and a number 6 torx bit.

Purchase at Sears for around $19.99. See more details here.

The 8-in-1:

This 370 Bit Boy from Bondhus holds all of the bits inside the handle, so you’re not lugging around an extra bit carrier, which tend to lose themselves. The bits are magnetically held in the driver for extra ease and versatility, and with three different options to choose from, you can get the bits you’re looking for. Each option comes with Pozidrive bits, which aren’t found in most multi-bit screwdrivers.

For more on bit options and to purchase, visit Bondhus. Prices range from $16.40 to $27.45.

The 10-in-1:
Stanley makes a 10-in-1 screwdriver which comes with #1 and #2 Phillips bits, a 3/16″ slotted, a ¼ ” slotted, and torx bits numbers 15 and 20. It is also backed by a limited lifetime warranty, and includes a magnetic bit storage system, though the storage system is not built into the screwdriver itself.

Purchase from Amazon for $8.18.

Additional Information:

In an article written last year, Fine Homebuilding tested 30 multi-bit screwdrivers and picked 6 as their favorites. The 6-in-1 Craftsman and the 8-in-1 Bit Boy were both included in their top picks. Read Fine Homebuilding’s article here, and select the multi-bit screwdriver that will best suit your needs. For the cost and convenience, they are one of the top tools to keep on hand.