#27 Find Clever Designs (that Really Work)

I’m a sucker for clever designs, and finding an item based on a brilliant idea that also functions perfectly is very satisfying.

Many’s the time I’ve acquired some gadget that looked terribly clever in the shop but let me down badly at home. (I’m looking at you, glorious, streamlined, minimalist garlic press that’s hard to use and gives me much-too-big chunks of garlic)


…looks will only get you so far in life

So despite the occasional disappointment, finding perfect designs is worth the search and deserves an entry in the ‘101 Fun and Frivolous Activities in Retirement’ hall of fame:

#27 Find Clever Designs (that Really Work)

But while the garlic ‘press’ (garlic ‘thump’ more like) may have been a little disappointing, my Le Creuset® Butter Crock for keeping butter cool yet spreadable in summer has been a great hit:


Just pack the cup-shaped container with softened butter and invert it into the corresponding jar which stores a small amount of cool salted water in its base. Insect-proof, attractive enough for the table and the butter stays perfectly spreadable when stored on the bench. I give it five stars for design and function.

In an earlier blog – #3 Cook a New Recipe Weekly – I mentioned finding a cushion that unzipped to become a quilt (known as a quillow). Three years have passed since this discovery and my quillows are just as clever and useful as ever, so they deserve another plug:


Cushion as a cushion...Cushion as a rug...            

           <—- from this, to this —->



In a similar vein, I have a small, flat very lightweight bag that I carry tucked away in my handbag IMG_1152

that unfurls into a generous-sized silk carry-bag when needed:


…and for the nerds among us, folding these two designs back into their original state is as good as doing a jigsaw puzzle

Ever had the frustration of finding that a necklace you want to wear is not quite the right length for the outfit? Well, take a look at this:

IMG_1150Necklace hangs low, or…


with a slight adjustment, necklace hangs high…

necklace 3

and all because of this devious little ball with firmly fitting cords that lets you adjust to any length. Very clever!

Wandering through the Reject Shop® recently I came across a set of 6 small wire squares that could be quickly linked together with vertical wire posts.  It looked too clever to be left in the store, although I wondered if this impulse buy would ultimately be a disappointment. Not a bit of it. I went back for two more sets.

Here’s what can be done with light, simple fencing around the garden:

Frame 2…or…

Frame 3…or…

Frame 4And that’s just the beginning. With the eighteen panels I now have, it’s like my very own Meccano set!

Larger items that fold away discreetly are another design delight. I’m thinking of the fold up Robinhood Deluxe Ironing Board® a friend has just bought that disappears so effortlessly onto a wall:

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 5.15.10 pm                 Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 5.19.43 pm

 Or the Ulisse Fold Away bed I’m working on my sister to choose when she eventually does her renovations:

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 5.28.20 pm

So much more subtle than a fold out-couch  

But the ultimate in a Clever Design that Really Works has to be my Moha Crack-it Egg Cracker, which, with a lift and sharp drop of its vertical bar gives the cleanest beheading of the shell of a soft-boiled egg you could imagine.

Let the pictures tell the story:

Egg topper

Egg topper 2

Egg Topper 3


Possibly, but you’ve got to marvel at the design!

5 thoughts on “#27 Find Clever Designs (that Really Work)

  1. Judy Wilkinson

    I love this! I could use the fence; I used to have the fold away ironing board …….Brilliant!…. and I need to find the egg-topper.

  2. Katherine

    Absolutely marvellous designs. I now have great ideas for christmas presents for all the animals here – including the husband – AND enough time to save up for them.

  3. D

    BRILLIANT as usual – I was wondering what the metal squares were and shrieked when I saw that Mr Z had been placed in the middle of them… A also thinks that the butter dish is the best thing ever, and spreadable butter is apparently his dream…!

    I always find the best thing to do with garlic is a broad and flat (not nice or expensive) knife, ‘bop’ it with your fist on the garlic (flat) so that the bulb is squashed, and then just finely chop it once it is squashed. Is just as good as crushing but without all the wastage of the bits in the garlic crusher (or having to pick them out – my nightmare).

  4. outsidethesquare101 Post author

    I thought the gorgeous little silver garlic press was going to be the answer to picking out bits of garlic from those complicated crushers, D, but alas, no. You’re spot on. Bashing a garlic clove with a flattened knife definitely works best!
    Do tell A that Le Creuset also makes a lovely winter butter dish that can be left out of the fridge so the butter stays spreadable. Perhaps a weekend jaunt to France to pick one up may be in order?


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