Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Can a Self-Watering Pepper Planter Be Trusted?

December 4, 2017

Data scientist Dr. Ken proudly displays his wee peppers. Spicy!


Self-Watering Pepper Planter


House plants that enter into my care rarely thrive. More often, they have the sort of existence Thomas Hobbes (no, not that Hobbes) might have written about—that is, “nasty, brutish, and short.” And while I’ve tried many different types of plants, the problem is always the same: water. Some occasions it’s too little too late, others it is a root rot-inducing flood. Frequently, it’s one followed by the other as I overcompensate. Whatever knack is required, I don’t have it, and I was ready to give up on the idea that anything could grow in the barren desert landscape of my living room.

Continue Reading…

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Is Homemade Butter
Really Better?

August 15, 2016

Ken Tests the Butter Churner from UncommonGoods


I was initially skeptical when I first saw the butter churner in our collection. I’ve baked bread, brewed beer, and made yogurt, so it’s not as if I’m against making things at home. I just didn’t see what was to be gained by churning butter myself instead of buying it. I’d almost forgotten it when the churner turned up in the top ten selling items for several days straight. And that was during the busy holiday season, when making it to the top means elbowing through serious competition. What did all of these people see in homemade butter? Did they know something I didn’t? Had all my favorite food writers failed to share the wonders of fresh butter straight from the churn?

Continue Reading…