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Benefits of Organic Cotton Sheets

We know that one of the most important jobs as parents is to keep our kids safe and healthy. We also know it isn’t always easy to do, which is why we’re here to lend a helping hand. We’re designing more and more organic products like bedding, clothing and towels, making it easier to find safer, healthier products for your precious little ones. By the end of the year, we aim to have the majority of our sheets 100% organic cotton, and we couldn’t be more excited. Learn the benefits of organic cotton and you’ll see why we’re so happy to be making the switch!

Organic sheets are healthier for your kids:

They are made without synthetic chemicals, which is really important because the sheets come into direct contact with your children’s skin for almost a third of every day. Sleeping on organic sheets reduces your kids chemical exposure.

Organic sheets are especially beneficial for kids with skin allergies because they are made without the harmful, irritating chemicals that traditionally cause reactions. Paired with an organic mattress and pillow, they can also help kids with asthma breathe easier at night.

Organic cotton has great breathability, which will help small bodies keep a more regulated temperature throughout the night. That means your kids can stay warm in winter and cool in summer. You can choose from twin, full or queen sheet sets to match your needs.

We’re confident that you’ll find our durable organic cotton bedding stands the test of time better than traditional cotton. That’s because we firmly believe it’s better quality. Our cotton isn’t treated with harsh chemicals, meaning the fiber remains stronger and more durable when made into fabric.

Organic Cotton is less damaging to the planet:

Producing cotton with conventional methods requires a disproportionately large amount of pesticides, insecticides and herbicides compared to other agricultural products. Some consider cotton the “dirtiest” crop out there.

The chemicals used to grow cotton can be damaging to the surrounding land as they sink into soil and contaminate water. Keep in mind that the US is one of the largest producers of cotton, so this impacts our country as well as many others across the globe.

These chemicals are also dangerous for the people working in the cotton fields, who come into close contact with the chemicals and can suffer health problems as a result.

Choosing organic cotton bedding means you’re choosing cotton that was grown without harsh, environmentally damaging chemicals. It also means that the cotton did not come from genetically modified plants. Your kid’s bed should be a cozy oasis, and we believe keeping it chemical free makes it all the better.

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How to Choose the Best Knives

How to Choose the Best Knives

The first set of knives from Crate and Barrel should be your last. What’s the “best” knife? It’s the one that immediately feels like it was made for your hand. Which is why we offer a range of only the “best,” and why we encourage you to come into your stores and try them out.

Hand-Forged Knives

Cutlery forged by hand is top-of-the-line in quality. Made from a solid piece of steel, these knives are heated, tempered, sharpened and finished almost entirely by hand. A forged knife typically has a bolster, which is a raised area between the handle and blade that enhances strength, stability and comfort in your hand.

Stamped Knives

A stamped knife is cut from a continuous piece of steel. Its blade is machine tempered, sharpened and finished, then fit into the handle and attached with rivets. Stamped cutlery is typically lighter than forged.

Key components of a quality knife

Blade

We offer only knives with high-carbon steel blades. These types of knives combine the advantages of a finer blade edge that’s easy to keep sharp and a rust-free, non-staining finish that won’t react to acidic foods.

Edge

The blade’s midsection is for cutting and slicing meat, vegetables and more. Look for a finely ground edge that will stay sharp even when cutting through thick food.

Full Tang

All of our knives have a full tang, meaning they are made of one continuous piece of steel extending from the tip of the blade to the end of the handle. You can actually see the steel sandwiched and riveted between the handle. This gives the knife superior balance and feel.

Bolster

Our hand-forged and metal injection molded knives feature a thick bolster with finger guard for added weight, balance and safety.

Handle

Ergonomic, riveted knife blade handles are made of extremely durable and hygienic synthetics.

Knife Care

Sharpen

A sharp knife is one of the best tools a cook can have on hand. To keep your knives cutting cleanly, try a honing rod or an electric sharpener. A rod will realign the knife’s edge to the center. An electric sharpener will sharpen the blade evenly, then polish the surface to a fine finish.

Clean

Rinse knives immediately after use. Hand wash with warm, soapy water with the blade pointed away. Dry with a soft cloth. For stubborn, dried-on food, let the knife sit in shallow water before hand washing.

Store

Keep your knives in a dry place where their blades won’t scuff other kitchen tools (which could also dull the blades over time). Choose a block, magnetic wall bar, dock or blade guard. Store knives together and arranged in a way that allows you to easily access the knife you need.

Sets and Open Stock Care

Block Sets

Freestanding knife block sets offer sleek design and convenient countertop access. Blades stay protected and sharp, and because each knife has a designated spot, you’ll always know where to reach. Choose a starter set, which offers the “building blocks” of a cutlery collection, or opt for a more complete range of knives, from a 12-piece set to 17-piece and more.

Steak Knife Set

Steak knives are most commonly used by guests at dinner, so store them away from other knives and kitchen tools to keep the blades sharp and scratch-free. We suggest a storage box for a set of four knives. It also makes a beautiful presentation right on the table.

Open Stock

Looking for just one knife? Completing your starter set? We sell most of our knives as open stock, so you can customize your collection or double up on knives you use most often.

For Every Task, There is a Knife

The basic types of knives most cooks need include Chef’s, Paring, Slicer, Bread and Utility. Many of these are available in different sizes for different jobs. For example, there are five sizes of Chef’s knives ranging from 4.5″ to 9″.

Chef's knife Chef’s Knife

Classic wide blade efficient at repetitive slicing, dicing, mincing and chopping fruits, vegetables and meats.

Japanese chef's knife Santoku Knife

The Santoku, or Japanese Chef’s Knife, translates to “three great things,” which are slicing, dicing and mincing.

Paring knife  Utility/Paring Knife

Small knife blade provides close control for peeling or dicing fruits and vegetables.

Bread knife  Bread Knife

Long serrated blade neatly slices through crusts and pastries without compressing the softer interi

Vegetable knife  Tomato/ Vegetable Knife

Small serrated knife blade slices through the outer skin without crushing the tomato’s delicate interior.

Carving knife  Slicing/Carving Knife

Long, thin steel blade slices roasts, turkey or ham in one clean stroke, allowing meat to fall away from the blade.

Boning knife  Boning Knife

Narrow blade and sharp point allow for easier access to remove bones from raw or cooked meat, poultry and fish.

Meat cleaver  Cleaver

Broad, strong butcher’s blade is used primarily to cut through meat and poultry bones. This knife type is also an efficient utensil to cut through frozen foods.

Steak knife  Steak Knife

Contoured blade with a serrated edge is designed especially for control when slicing meat. Curved handle rests comfortably in the hand.

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Guide to Juicing

Juicing is a quick and delicious way to get the recommended daily dose of fruits and vegetables—and it’s not just a health-food trend. Juicing has caught on in the culinary world, with juice bars popping up in cities across the country, and pre-packaged options available at many major food retailers.

But it can be easy, fun and more economical to make your own juice at home. Plus, you can get creative and experiment with different ingredient pairings and combinations. From set up to clean up, here are a few tips on how to juice that will help keep the process simple and stress-free.

The appliance:

When choosing a juicer to purchase, consider the type of juice you’ll be making most often as well as the amount of space in your kitchen.

If orange juice, lemonade and other citrus-based beverages are your preference, invest in a citrus press instead. They’re smaller — taking up less counter space — and many have citrus-specific fruits such as pulp control.

For a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, opt for a centrifugal juicer, which uses metal teeth, a centrifugal motion and a filter to separate pulp, skin and other elements from the liquid to create smooth, super-fresh juice. Many centrifugal juicers can handle whole produce, meaning there’s no cutting board required.

Whole-fruit juicing reaps health benefits from every part of the produce in a thicker, more filling, smoothie-like beverage. For a fully mixed smoothie that’s super-smooth, look for a powerful blender. This multi-purpose appliance is ideal for the home chef, as it goes beyond juice and can be used for a wide range of recipes, such as soups, butters, sauces and more.

Pro tip: Keep clean-up in mind when selecting a juicer. Washing requirements can vary, though most modern juicers are designed for quick and easy cleaning. Some are dishwasher-safe, provided it’s placed on the top rack, while others require washing by hand.

Easy does it:

To help incorporate juicing seamlessly into your daily routine, prepare as much as possible beforehand. Cut up fruits and vegetables in advance, and place pre-measured combinations into bags or containers and store in the freezer so they’ll be ready to put right in to the machine. (If you’re whole-fruit juicing, storing produce in the freezer also means you won’t have to add any ice to the mixture.) Also measure out yogurt, juices and other mix-ins. While learning how to juice, remember that a little prep equals a lot of time saved—which can make all the difference on a busy morning.

On-the-go:

A well-made juice requires a worthy vessel, as it will likely be consumed on the way to work, school, sports practice or other event. Find one that fits your needs, whether it’s keeping the drink cold, fitting in the car cup holder, showcasing your personal style, or all of the above. Because knowing how to juice means you can fill your to-go cup with a healthy concoction, instead of that third cup of coffee.

Ready to Juice?

Maximum extraction

Feed leaves and herbs into the juicer with more solid/juicy ingredients—such as celery, apple and cucumber. This helps to extract the most juice possible from the leaves and herbs.

Varietal show

Play with different varietals of apples. They really change the tone of the juice. A Granny Smith is going to be very low gylcemic and tart, bringing a brightness to your juice, while a red delicious is going to be sweet and earthy.

Anything Goes

Go to your local farmers’ markets and have fun shopping. You can juice just about anything—even potatoes. Everything has a unique flavor and medicinal quality.

Organic is best

It’s so beneficial to use 100% organic ingredients when juicing and to stay with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Not only is this better for your body, it’s also better for our world.

Don’t get rid of the rind

Lemon and lime rind bring more of the fruit’s essential flavor to juice as well as additional health benefits.

Think outside the juice glass

Get inspired by favorite dishes, salads and desserts and see if you can capture those flavors in a juice.

The greener the better

Greens are so good for the body and mind. If you don’t do straight-up green juice yet, try tempering a green juice by adding apples, lemon and ginger.

Let the party begin

Juice is great for you health, and it can also be great for entertaining. Consider fresh juice cocktails on the spot for your next party. Just prep your ingredients and have the juicer set up and ready to go.

Ripe is right

Make sure your fruits and veggies are ripe. If it doesn’t taste good to bite, it won’t taste good to juice.

Ta-ta latte

Replace a morning or afternoon coffee with a juice. It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but watch the miracles unfold—glowing skin, a clear mood, better digestion, alkalinity and weight loss.

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Entertaining – Cocktail Glass 101

Cocktail Glass 101

Now that mixology has taken the bar scene by storm, craft cocktail bars are as ubiquitous as coffee shops. But you don’t have to pay a barkeep — or even leave your home — to enjoy a high-level drink. Instead, mix one at home. With a fully stocked bar, all you need is a solid cocktail glass collection. Then you’re on your way.

Types of cocktail glasses abound, and with good reason: Red wine needs space for its flavors to fully emerge. Martini glasses’ long stems keep you from warming the ice-cold drink with your palms. Narrow champagne flutes allow higher levels of CO2 to rise to the top of the glass, giving you that effervescent tingle. And fear not: There are plenty multipurpose glasses as well. To help you create the perfect collection, we built you an easy-to-decipher cocktail glass guide so you can toast with the most.

Lay the Foundation

Before you inject your personality and style, it’s important to lay a solid foundation — quantity, entertaining style, care and storage. Our rule of thumb: You should have the same number of red and white wine, beer and cocktail glasses as you do dinner plates (roughly six to eight of each). Accidents happen, so we suggest procuring a few extra of each style to have on hand as well.

Next, consider your entertaining style. Do you throw casual get-togethers or more formal affairs? Stemless barware generally reads as more relaxed (most is dishwasher-safe); formal settings call for stemmed glassware, most of which requires hand washing. A selection of acrylic drinkware is ideal if you entertain outdoors, while heavier styles are best reserved for the dining room.

Assess your storage capacity to determine how much surface area you’ve got. Stackable styles are more durable and work best in smaller spaces. If you have room to display cocktail glasses side by side in a sideboard or on a bar cart, you can look to stemmed designs such as martini glasses and champagne flutes. And though these days most drinks seem to have a designated glass, those short on space can get away with a more multipurpose design.

Last but not least, think about your aesthetic sensibility, color and personal taste. The possibilities are endless: Your collection can be mismatched or more streamlined and refined; you can choose all clear glass, or more colorful options. Perhaps you throw annual events that call for specific glasses (margarita and/or shot glasses for Cinco de Mayo). The most important lesson of all: Your collection should work for you.

Beer

Every beer drinker knows that glassware matters: Snifters’ downward curl intensifies aroma; wheat beer’s ubiquitous foam needs space to roam — hence the requisite wide top of its namesake glass. IPAs, Porters, and Pilsners each have their own classic shape, designed expressly to maintain body and taste.

If you’re short on space or enjoy serving a variety of beer when you entertain, try something multipurposes: A tulip-shaped glass’s pinched middle helps maintain aroma while its wide top stands up to foam. Designs that start wide and taper gradually toward the bottom work just as well. If you’ve got room or are a beer aficionado, stock a tasting set with multiple shapes to give guests options.

Wine

Wine snob or not, you want your wine glasses to show you know your stuff. For those with a bit of wiggle room, stock bar carts, cupboards, shelves and sideboards with an assortment of shapes and sizes — even a set or two. Go unconventional and try etched glasses on for size, or incorporate a square base or stemless shape into your collection. And rest assured that no one will turn her nose down at a classic, versatile style.

If you’re tight on space, stackable wine glasses are a fantastic choice — plus, they’re dishwasher-safe for quick clean-ups. Order a streamlined set, or mix styles and juxtapose contemporary with vintage, feeling free to play with details (think raised dots and cut glass).

Cocktail/Barware

The same rules apply for cocktail glasses as do for beer and wine: Whatever mixed drink you prefer — from martinis to negronis, Manhattans to margaritas — there is a glass for each. But if you’re short on space, you can stock a set of smart-looking multipurpose glasses and no one will know the wiser. Swill martinis from classic V-shape stemware, or go contemporary and sip from something sturdy and stemless. Margaritas belong in their namesake glass, as do pours of whiskey. But every cocktail looks good in a coupe glass or tumbler — especially if they have an extra bit of visual detail in terms of color and/or craftsmanship.

Now that you’ve got the tools to tackle your cocktail glass collection, you deserve to sit down with a glass yourself. Cheers!

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How to Stock a Home Bar

In an age when every bar and restaurant in town seems to flaunt a mixologist, most people we know continue to steer clear of slinging drinks at home. But why wait for a night out to enjoy your favorite cocktail? Empower yourself by stocking a home bar; then throw a party to celebrate. Our handy guide breaks down bar ideas, tools, serving pieces and more. Read on and be inspired by our home bar essentials—that’s the spirit.

The Drinks

Word to the wise: Start small. You can always add to your collection later. Start with a set of foundation spirits for creating cocktails:

  • • Gin (think: G&T, Martini, Gimlet, Negroni)
  • • Whiskey / Bourbon (think: Old Fashioned, Manhattan)
  • • Tequila (think: Margarita, Paloma) Tip: Look for brands made with 100% agave
  • • Vodka (think: V&T, Martini)
  • • Dark Rum (think: Dark & Stormy, Cuba Libre)
  • • Light Rum (think: Daiquiri, Mojito)
  • • Bitters (think: Manhattan, Old Fashioned)
  • • Campari (think: Negroni)
  • • Ginger beer (think: Dark & Stormy)
  • • Simple syrup (1:1 sugar boiled in water; use for sweetening your spirits)

The Mixers

Again, start small. The list below will give you an arsenal broad enough to stir up a bevy of beverages for your group:

  • • Seltzer
  • • Tonic (Don’t skimp on an inexpensive brand)
  • • Fresh-squeezed juice (lemon, lime, orange)
  • • Cointreau (think: Margarita)
  • • Sweet Vermouth (think: Manhattan, Negroni)
  • • Dry Vermouth (think: Martini)

The Garnishes

You can take or leave garnishes, but if you’re up for it, they look fancy (and add to the fun):

  • • Maraschino Cherries (artisan as opposed to artificial)
  • • Mint leaves (and other herbs)
  • • Citrus peel
  • • Olives

Serve with Verve:

  • Glasses: 6-8 each highball, Old Fashioned, and stem
  • Bar cart: If you’ve got room, a bar cart doubles as eye candy. Simply roll it over for the party. (Keep it in a darker place when not in use; sunlight spoils spirits.)
  • Tray: Whether on a bar cart or in place of one, trays take your setup to the next level (and keep them neat).

Accessories

Unless you develop a taste for more complicated liquid creations, there’s no need to get fancy:

  • • Shaker (shaken cocktails)
  • • Cocktail-mixing glasses (stirred cocktails)
  • • Bar spoon
  • • Springed strainer
  • • Jigger (a.k.a. a shot glass, for measuring)
  • • Muddler (for crushing herbs and citrus)
  • • Ice bucket
  • • Ice cube trays, smasher, Lewis bag
  • • Tongs
  • • Spirit decanter

Party Essentials:

  • • Napkins (enough for few per guest)
  • • Ice (for a crowd)
  • • Recipe cards printed with your favorite cocktails (Call your favorite bar and ask for that recipe you love. Chances are they’ll be flattered and spill their secrets.)
  • • Snacks (Fill bowls and dishes with spiced nuts, crackers and cheese, and pretzels.)

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Bath Towels 101: How to Choose Towels

Bath Towels 101: How to Choose Towels

Shopping for towels is a touchy process. Sure, you want to buy towels that feel soft and luxurious, but what does ‘gram count’ really mean? And how do you tell the difference between Turkish cotton and Egyptian cotton or pick from a rainbow of colors and patterns? Before you throw in the towel too soon, take some time to read our handy guide below. We’ve gathered and grouped everything you need to know about how to choose towels into five key categories, from size and weight to construction, so that your search will go as smooth as possible.

  • SIZE

Towels come in a variety of sizes that you’ll want to consider before your purchase. A standard bath towel for drying off after a shower or bath is 27” x 52”, while a bath sheet is slightly larger at 35” x 60”. A bath sheet offers more coverage, allowing you to fully wrap yourself. If you’re on the hunt for smaller options, hand towels are 16” x 30”, while square washcloths are 13” x 13”.

  • WEIGHT

Bath towel density is measured in grams per square meter (GSM), and this number varies between 300-900. A 300-400-gram towel is thinner and lighter, making it ideal for the gym or the kitchen. These dry quicker than heavier towels. A 400-600 GSM is a medium weight towel that’s great for the beach, and can be used as everyday bath towels. And finally, a 600-900 GSM is dense and absorbent, which makes it feel extra luxurious but requires a bit more drying time. With our towels, we like to strike the perfect balance of thick, fluffy and absorbent, yet light enough to be quick-drying.

  • COTTON TYPE

Everyday towels are often made of standard cotton. Egyptian cotton, on the other hand, is the more luxurious option because it’s made with longer, denser loops of thread that absorb moisture and trap warmth. Another highly absorbent and durable option? Turkish cotton.

  • CONSTRUCTION

Towels made with combed cotton means that their fibers are combed to remove shorter threads and debris, leaving the strongest and longest threads to be woven into the bath towel. This process ensures durability and prevents pilling. Ringspun cotton is made with long and short fibers twisted to create a smoother, finer yarn while terry cloth is made with larger thread loops and woven with extra yarn. Also, look for towels made with banded edges to reduce fraying.

  • STYLE

Towels can add the warm, finishing touch to a bathroom, so consider selecting a stack in a fun accent color or pattern. Another option is to stock your cabinets with colors based on the season (i.e., bright beachy colors in spring/summer, cooler colors in fall/winter). The most classic choice is fluffy white towels, which look timeless and work with any style or setting.

Notes on Care:

The best way to make your towels last longer is to take proper care of them. Before using your towels, wash them once to help set their color, improve absorbency and reduce any lint. Also, avoid using fabric softeners since they can leave residue and create stiff texture.

By putting a little time and energy into the selection process, you’ll find towels that add both style and comfort to your bathroom.

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Personalize Your New Apartment

Though moving into a bland rental apartment with lots of decor limitations can be a bummer, it doesn’t mean you’ve got to stay stuck with a home you don’t love — or that doesn’t express your personality. Use one or more of these proven tricks for renters for a big impact on the look of your space — without spending a lot of money, either.

  1. Paint or personalize an existing furniture piece

You might not be able to paint your walls thanks to a strict lease, but one of the easiest ways to inject a lot of personality into a room is by painting on a lot personality (in the form of color, texture or pattern) to an existing piece of furniture. Remember though, that you don’t have to do a lot to bring about a big personality change — even just a well-placed design detail can be attention grabbing and put your mark on a space.

  1. Dabble in removable wallpaper

Wallpaper is one of the easiest ways to make a room scream “you,” but of course, if you can’t paint, you probably think you can’t have wallpaper, either. Well, you’d be wrong. Today’s selection of removable wallpaper is more impressive and personality-filled as ever, and worth delving into if you’re looking for something to really make your rental stand out. With a bold or colorful enough pattern you wouldn’t have to even use a lot; just one wall or one part of a wall could do the trick. And of course, you could use non-removable wallpaper in non-permanent ways (like framing) to add personality, too.

  1. Layer rugs

Unless you’re quite lucky, you might not have the best floors in your rental. In fact you might even have old carpet. The thing you’re going to want to try is layering rugs. Though it’s true it might come off a bit bohemian (and if that’s not your style, this might not work for you), but layering small to medium rugs over floors you don’t love gives you control over disguising those floors, and creating your own hip look under your feet. And since buying smaller rugs to layer can be more affordable than buying big versions, you can save some money. Or you can try and keep to budget by DIYing patterns on more affordable rugs, too.

  1. Nail the lamp game

You’re going to want to really ace the lamp lighting situation in your rental for several reasons. One — great lighting creates an undeniably awesome atmosphere that can make even the most blandest of blank rentals look warm and inviting. And two, dynamic lighting in a space is always a great addition to someone’s style. And since you might not be able to do any drilling in the walls or ceiling to hang pendants or install wall-mounted lights, upping your lamp game is a natural and easy way to add personality to a rental. Don’t neglect upping each individual lamp, either, by tackling old lampshades. It can be a fun DIY way to add a spot of color or pattern.

  1. DIY big art

Hey if you can afford to buy a giant art piece, all the more to you. For the rest of us, we’ve got to get a little crafty to add personality to our rental spaces. A big DIY piece of art is an awesome way to do that (and depending on the project idea, could be easy too). If you can’t drill into your rental walls, consider leaning your art.

  1. Incorporate big mirrors

Mirrors are one of the easiest ways to shake up the kind of wall decor you’ve got in your home, reflect a lot of light and, if you play your cards right, show off your personality, too. Look to thrift stores, Craigslist or garage sales to score really giant mirrors that you can DIY the frames of to add bold color or pattern.

  1. Add temporary pattern in the kitchen or bathroom

The kitchens and bathroom of boring rentals can be some of the blandest rooms of the whole home. Often small and sometimes even windowless, when you’re stuck with plain white or beige cabinets and walls, you might feel a little confused about how to add personality into these spaces. So go straight for the backsplash. There are lots of ways you can use temporary products to mimic the look of boldly tiled backsplashes in the kitchen or bathroom that will make the place look like it got a remodel.