graduation goodie

When I graduated from college, I sent my high school girlfriends all graduation gifts:  my favorite cheap pens wrapped beautifully, as if they cost a fortune. This was after all, a momentous occasion to be celebrated — even if only by a token gift. I recently came across these pens and was reminded how something so simple can be spiffed up and made special . . .

pensKate Spade Pens:  box of 6 gold pens, cheap and cheerful $25/set  |  boxed ballpoint pens with gold foil imprinted box interior from top to bottom:  she wears her thoughts on her sleeve; she writes to do lists for her to do lists; she personalizes her business cards with hand written notes  $36/each.

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chocxo tour

By ChocxoI’m a good researcher but I didn’t realize that when I found a local chocolate factory tour for a work outing, that I had stumbled upon a world class bean to bar chocolate company right here in my own backyard. Not only is their award winning chocolate beautiful to look at but their packaging is as well — a double bonus for a team of designers.

Choxco Tour 1_ Mrs Ropers MusingsIf you don’t know anything about the chocolate making process the educational tour ($7/person) is interesting. And it comes complete with small tastings of cocoa nibs, warm chocolate mini-shots and a goodie bag of chocolate tasting squares to sample their various finished chocolate bar offerings.

Choxco Tour 2_Mrs Ropers MusingsThe behind the scenes tour ($17/person) adds on a quick loop through the factory floor (not yet so active as they are still short on enough demand to keep them producing regularly) and 3 truffles of your choice from the chocolate case. Honestly, you are going to want to buy some chocolates anyway, so put your money towards that vs. paying more for the expensive tour.

Here are the spoils:Choxco_MrsRopersMusingsNice, huh? It’s good stuff!! And if you feel like splurging even more, they have a $20  2.8 oz chocolate bar made from a private crop of cocoa beans that no other manufacturer had access to. Just 500 bars were made, each signed & numbered with 2 different awards to their credit.

Opened by a team of 3 earlier this year, in addition to the factory location in Irvine they have also opened 2 coffee & chocolate shops also in Orange County, CA with more to come I’m sure. The team is very knowledgeable and super friendly. I even stepped behind the counter to show them some tips on tying ribbons more efficiently for their gift boxes — always happy to help I am.

Check them out. Take a tour, visit a shop or order online. It will be nice to see this little business make it big.

Choxco — Irvine Chocolate Factory
9461 Irvine Center Drive
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 825-5781

Hours:  Tues to Sat  10 am – 6 pm

image one, courtesy Choxco.com

just 3 to go

crate & barrel teapotsoctober-teapot-jenny-bowers-1Every month this year, Crate & Barrel has been featuring an artist designed version of their Arzberg Teapot in celebration of their 50th Anniversary. Each design is produced in a limited edition series of 200 and available only online starting the first day of each month until sold out. Just 3 designs to go before the teapots disappear forever. I think it’s worth it just for the packaging alone. $200 each.

pure design

almondmilk

I start nearly every day with an almond milk based smoothie. And I have to admit, design junkie that I am, I’m actually paying about $1 more per container for my almond milk these days just so I can have one of these beautiful Califia Farms bottles in my fridge at all times. I don’t know if the product is superior or not but it sure tastes good and looks even better. I prefer unsweetened almond milk but the blue vanilla bottle is my favorite of the bunch. In person it has a soft velvety matte finish with a much quieter blue tone than in the image above. Listen to me going on about a beautiful bottle. But it really is sexy sitting there on the shelf all curvy and minimal next to a plethora of loud boxy cartons. Extra dollar well spent to bring a little design joy and deliciousness into my mornings.

mrs roper’s basic b-fast smoothie

  • 8 oz unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 cup frozen berries

Blend all ingredients together at high speed until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy. Sip through a straw for added fun!

the new awesome

Somebody in Grand Rapids, Michigan has a great vision and quite a sense of humor. This funny little promotional video is for a new subscription coffee service by Regular Coffee. 

RegularCoffee1.5 pounds of fresh-roasted, high quality coffee beans delivered monthly for just $20 (including S&H) in a smartly designed tube — yes a tube! I don’t drink coffee myself, but I’m a sucker for great packaging and a fresh idea. Besides, how could you resist supporting a start up company that lives on Wealthy Street? Order here.

limited edition goodness

I always have a bottle of Method soap on my kitchen counter. Now, I also have a stash of back ups under my counter because I couldn’t resist stocking up on these limited edition Orla Kiely designs and exclusive scents — vanilla chai, primrose, pear ginger and bay leaf. Find out more about the collaboration here and order yours at Soap.com.

art & commerce

These limited edition Campbell’s Tomato Soup cans, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s famous 1962 paintings, hit Target stores this Labor Day weekend. At 75 cents each and only 1.2 million units they’ll last about as long as 15 minutes of fame.

good design for cheap

Polka Dot Zipper Bag $2.99; Navy & White Triangle Bag $1.99

Without a doubt, my favorite items at Ikea are those under $5. Where else can you get something well designed, fun and practical for just a few dollars? These graphic bags will make great grocery bags here in a city where a paper bag is going to cost you 5 cents. While In the market place, I found many newly packaged food items that put a smile on my face. Good stuff!

Mustard $2.29; Katchup $1.99; Ikea Biscuits $1.99; Lingon Drink Box $.99; Rye Crisp Bread $2.99; Crab & Salmon Pate $2.59 ea.

this just in

Recipease by Jaime Oliver, easily my favorite shop in London, opened a new location in Knotting Hill last week. I understand the new store is a huge two story affair — far different from the tiny shop I have frequented in Clapham Junction. But that’s just more room to stock fabulous Jme goods, offer more seats in the cafe, have more space dedicated to cooking classes, display more prepared foods and take & bake meals in the food cooler, and even more need to stroll around with a coffee or hot chocolate in hand — BTW, best hot chocolate I have ever tasted!

As images of the new store seem not to exist out there yet, here’s a peek at the Jme food items I brought home with me on my last visit. Isn’t the packaging wonderfully flirty?

  

I can’t wait to get back to London and check out the new digs and offerings!