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What's on my kitchen counter? — Camille Hartsell

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What's in my NOW?

January 26 · Issue #137 · View online

One interesting person shares the tangible and invisible things that are influencing the NOW — 3 physical, 2 digital, and 1 invisible.


Camille Hartsell is a parent, maker, and researcher. She is excited to share recent discoveries alongside Claudia, Mark, and Kevin on the experimental Cool Tools Lab channel. She loves a good rabbit hole, and always reads and leaves footnotes.

My kitchen is a small but very busy place. There’s basically no open-space, and every bit of it has to multi-task. Architectural Digest-worthy, it is not. But it does the job. These sink-adjacent items are worth the space they require. 
This caddy easily holds my pot-scrubber, water-bottle brush, a delicate scrubber, plastic scraper, and a sponge. The stainless steel upper part of the caddy consists of sorting rails affixed to a perforated base, which allows all the things to drain. The bottom tray is made of hard plastic, which you can separate from the stainless upper for emptying and cleaning as needed. Keeping all the washing accouterments on the counter (not in the sink) allows me to use the entire sink for washing big pots. It also extends the life of my wood-handled brushes.
Burn gel is not an item I need often, but when I do I’m really glad that it’s within easy reach, adjacent to the cold water. This one has 4% Lidocane in an aloe base. We use it only for the occasional minor burn (first and SMALL second-degree burns – like when a finger briefly grazes a hot pan). Does it really aid healing? Maybemaybe not, but I appreciate having quick and easy access to something I can try. It does feel cool, and it does provide immediate moisture. A potted aloe would probably work too, but this tolerates neglect better. 
School starts EARLY, and it’s a hard sprint to get everyone ready in the morning. The Zojirushi water boiler cuts the time to make tea roughly in half by heating water to exactly the right temperature shortly before we need it. Added benefit: it keeps water at the ready throughout the day. With two adults working from home, this is very handy. It has a 6-10 hour timer so you don’t have to run it all night. This model, the CD-LFC30, has four temperature settings, with the highest (208 F) good for brewing black teas, blanching vegetables, and making instant noodles, while the lower temps keep green teas from scalding (and getting bitter).
Having voice-controlled music and podcasts (and metric conversions, scaling calculations, infinite timers, etc etc) in the kitchen is essential. My workspace is also adjacent to the kitchen, as is an outdoor space, so this speaker gets used A LOT. We have a couple other Sonos speakers in the house, so I can also announce to the family when dinner is ready (or I need a GD hand with something already). 
Like I said, tiny kitchen. Four hungry humans. The bread is gonna be on the counter. It just is. This breadbox gives it a designated place, while also allowing stuff (eg the tea-brary) to be stacked on top. I love how easy it is to flip the roll-top lid up with one hand and pull out whatever I need. This box can hold a full loaf of bread plus some rolls or pastries or whatever. Available in many colors.
What's in your ...?
We want to hear about unusual and unusually useful items that you have in your desk, bag, closet, fridge or where ever you keep things. It can be anything really: work bag, pantry shelf, beauty drawer, toolbox, etc. Start by sending an email to claudia@cool-tools.org with a photo of the things in your chosen space (you can use your phone). If you get a reply from us, fill out the form. We’ll pay you $50 if we run your submission in our What’s in my …? newsletter and blog.
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