Small States: Cord Shoes churns out handmade boots with a story behind every pair, $250 giveaway

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Update: (2/21 12:05pm): @jayrodesign is our winner – thank you to everyone that entered our contest.

As advances in machinery and technology continue to progress in there modern world, there have been many “deaths” along the way in how our goods are manufactured. Many of the big brands that strive to create identical products over and over again, losing the unique aspect that comes with human interaction during the manufacturing process. Every single stitch must be perfect or the shirt gets tossed. Each cut is exactly the same for every pair of jeans on the rack.

While the precise nature of our evolving technology world is nice, many of the goods that we encounter lack that personal feel. Cord Shoes of Atlanta, Georgia does just the opposite of that. Proprietor Sarah Green, is creating beautiful handmade boots and accessories with skills that she has learned on her own. It’s a story that involves hard work, late hours and a lucky batch of Hurricane Katrina flooded machinery.

Today, we are going to tell you about Cord Shoes.

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Kitchen Tech: Catch up on 10 great food and drink tool columns!

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This week, 9to5Toys is celebrating the tenth edition of my Kitchen Tech column, which is designed to help you create professional-caliber food and drinks at home. Every week, Kitchen Tech spotlights at least one cool modern tool that’s worth knowing about, ranging from delicious premium coffee makers to state-of-the-art sous vide machines, ultra-durable blenders, and high-quality bar tools.

9to5Toys readers have told us that they’ve “thoroughly enjoyed” Kitchen Tech, praising it as “very well written” with “great” book recommendations. Here’s what I’ve covered so far:

Column 1: Learn how to up your drinking game with magical ice ball makers, which transform everyday drinks into classics – recently updated with a great affordable pick!

Column 2: Radically improve meats, poultry, and fish with Sous Vide water baths, which turn plain pieces of meat into succulent, restaurant-caliber steaks, ribs, and more.

Column 3: Learn about avant garde cooking with incredible modernist cookbooks, which bring professional, modern recipes and techniques home.

Column 4: Explore part one of the world of bar tools, starting with fundamental items needed for preparing cocktails, then continuing with “good idea” tools that will make your drinks even cooler.

Column 5: Part two of the world of bar tools, including the “fancy stuff” that makes restaurant-caliber cocktails possible.

Column 6: Chemex’s new Ottomatic pour-over coffee machine, Wilfa’s Precision Coffee Maker, and the world of premium coffee makers.

Column 7: Explore home- and restaurant-caliber wine and champagne tools, including the Coravin wine preservation system and much more.

Column 8: Create restaurant-caliber rotisserie beef, pork, and poultry with the Showtime Rotisserie Oven, one of my favorite easy-to-use home cooking tools.

Column 9: Use a pressure cooker to create incredible fried chicken, sandwiches, crisped meats, soft beans, and rice in record time.

Column 10: Puree fruits, vegetables, and nuts into silky smooth smoothies and soups with a Vitamix blender, and create foamy cocktails with a hand immersion blender.

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Gaming For Couples: Last-minute Valentine’s Day gifts for gamers

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Most of my earlier Gaming For Couples articles have focused mostly on specific game recommendations to bring gamers and non-gamers closer together. Since Valentine’s Day is only two days away, I’m changing it up and focusing on some fun (and safe) gaming-related gifts for your significant other.

I’ve kept all of the options super-affordable, but if you like several of them, you can bundle them together as a big treat for the gamer (or soon-to-be-gamer) in your life. There are individual selections for people with Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft consoles, as well as some picks that overlap all of the platforms (and others). Read on for some great gifts!

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Get a free Fire TV/Roku streaming stick or 50% off Fire TV/Roku 3 when you sign up for Sling TV

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Sling TV is barreling down on cable TV like a freight train. Not only is this innovative service currently the best way for cord cutters to get select TV stations for free, but now Sling TV has landed on Fire TV and will offer free streaming devices.

When you prepay three months of Sling TV service ($60), you’ll be able to grab an Amazon Fire TV Stick ($39 value) or Roku Streaming Stick ($50 value) for free. If you’d rather get a full streaming box, then you can also opt to save 50% on an Amazon Fire TV ($99 value) or Roku 3 ($100 value).

Here’s how Amazon is handling the promo:

  1. Sign up for your subscription on the Sling TV website and prepay three months of Sling TV service.
  2. After signing up, you will receive a promotion code that can be used for $50 off Amazon Fire TV or a free Fire TV Stick.
  3. Copy the promotional code, go to www.amazon.com/redeemslingtvoffer, and add one Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick to your shopping cart.
  4. Proceed to check out. Paste or enter the promotional code in the “Enter a gift card or promotion code” field, click the ‘Apply’ button and complete your order.
  5. When your device arrives, simply plug it in, connect to the internet, and start enjoying instantly.

We haven’t heard any specific instructions from Roku as to how you can redeem its offer, but you should be able to simply sign up via Sling.

Looking to learn more about Sling TV? Head over to our complete coverage of this cord cutters dream. Or maybe your hesitant to commit to three months of service? Sling TV is currently offering a free seven-day trial of its service for those interested in taking a look first.

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Kitchen Tech: Vitamix and hand immersion blenders make silky soups, foamy drinks

If a luxury product isn’t already mainstream, the surest way to create national awareness is appearing in a Saturday Night Live skit — buckle your seatbelt before clicking if you haven’t seen this famously NSFW Moët & Chandon infomercial. Last year, SNL gave the 94-year-old deluxe blender company Vitamix its moment in the spotlight: an infomercial spoof where two friends discussed Vitamix-made smoothies, only to devolve into an argument over their comparative financial status and priorities.

The spoof was funny, but it also raised a serious question I’m tackling in this week’s Kitchen Tech: is a fancy countertop blender worth ten times as much as a basic model? Professional chefs have repeatedly told me “yes,” praising the power and long-term durability of Vitamix’s entry-level $350 blenders compared with essentially disposable consumer models: a Vitamix can chop pretty much anything to your preferred texture, notably producing silky-smooth soups and drinks, and operate continuously in commercial-grade settings without the need for repairs. I’ve used and loved a Vitamix for years, but there are also some inexpensive blenders that can produce impressive results using lesser-known magic tricks. Let’s dive right in…

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Nikon introduces its first dedicated astrophotography DSLR camera alongside a slew of point-and-shoots

This week, Nikon has announced a bevy of new DSLR and point-and-shoot cameras to its well established line of digital cameras. We are seeing everything from a high-end DSLR designed for stargazers to a rugged Coolpix model that claims to handle just about everything that you can throw at it. All-in-all they’ve released the details on two DSLRs and nine COOLPIX cameras. Head below for full details on the DSLRs and our standouts amongst the point-and-shoot models.

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Anki announces its latest generation of iPhone connected racing with OVERDRIVE

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Toy Fair 2015 has already had a big product announcement and it hasn’t even began yet. Anki, makers of smartphone connected toy racing cars, has announced its latest model with the OVERDRIVE. Built upon the success of the previous generation DRIVE, this newest model has fresh features and a large selection of expansion track options.

Head below for a video trailer, release date and pricing.

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Lexar 256GB S73 USB 3 Jumpdrive Flash Drive (100mb/s read): $80 shipped

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Amazon offers the Lexar Jumpdrive S73 256GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive for $79.99 shipped. That’s the lowest price we’ve ever seen this 4.1/5 star rated Flash drive and one of the lowest price 256GB Flash drives we’ve seen. Features:

  • Reliably stores and transfers photos, videos, files, and more
  • Retractable connector with convenient thumb slide
  • 256GB in white: Speeds up to 3 times faster than USB 2.0 Drives (up to 100MB/s read, 55MB/s write)
  • Compatible with PC and Mac systems
  • Stores and transfers content faster with SuperSpeed USB 3.0 technology
  • Store and transfer content faster with SuperSpeed USB 3.0 technology

Note: 128GB in Black is $39.99, also a low.

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Small States: Woodchuck USA complements Apple products w/ USA-sourced wood, 15% off & giveaways

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Throughout Small States you’ll hear stories of people that are making a conscious effort to bring manufacturing back to the United States. Companies that strive to create products in a way that has escaped our country and fled overseas. We are finding that these manufacturers have a great pride in what they do — this week we’re taking a look at Woodchuck USA, a company who’s pride is evident across all aspects of its business.

“Nature back to people. Jobs back to America. Quality back to products.”

With its locally grown hardwood accessories, Woodchuck has managed to create beautiful additions for your Apple devices. All the while doing it with a focus on integrity and creating jobs here in the United States.

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Kitchen Tech: Pressure Cookers make the perfect chicken sandwich, and much more

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In prior Kitchen Tech columns, I’ve shown you succulence-creating sous vide water baths, and discussed the joys of rotisserie roasting. This week’s column discusses another restaurant-quality cooking tool that home chefs can easily use: pressure cookers. Similar in appearance to regular lidded pots, pressure cookers rely on a bit of science — specifically, the higher the pressure, the quicker things cook — to create finished dishes up to 70% faster than normal.

This is the key secret behind Chick Fil A’s renowned original chicken sandwich, as well as some of the country’s best fried chicken — pressure cookers can rapidly make food that’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, or entirely soft, depending on your needs. They’re also the #3-ranked “invaluable modernist tool” in the next-generation cookbook Modernist Cuisine at Home, notably placed one spot ahead of sous vide water baths. But they’re not (yet) ubiquitous in the United States. Below, I’ll explain why a pressure cooker should have a place in your kitchen.

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Gaming For Couples: Tomb Raider Definitive Edition and NES Remix Pack

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Over the last few weeks, Gaming For Couples has spotlighted the best PlayStation 4 bundles, best Wii U bundles, and best Xbox One bundles — now we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming, looking at great games for couples (including gamers and non-gamers) to play together. This week, we’re featuring two very different titles: a retro game that even casual players will enjoy actively exploring, and the other a modern game more impressively cinematic than the movies that share its name. Each can be had for under $30.

Our Gaming For Couples selections are Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition by Square Enix for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and NES Remix Pack / Ultimate NES Remix for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. Here’s why we think they’re worth your time…

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Motorola $100 off $500 or $35 off $250: two-pack Moto 360 $450, Moto X (2nd gen) off-contract $400, more

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Yesterday Motorola was offering up codes to make this an even sweeter deal, but the Lenovo-owned company is today giving some nice cash back to those who spend more than $249.99 on their website. Spending between $249.99 and $499.99 will score you $35 off your entire purchase, while spending more than $499.99 will get you a whopping $100 off. Read more