Editor’s Choice: Local Greeting Cards, Affordable Cheater Glasses, A Novelty Toy

From fashion to technology to entertainment, every few weeks Minnesota Monthly editor Amy Nelson reviews a roundup of new products, events and odds and ends she finds interesting. I have an idea? Contact her at anelson@greenspring.com.

Quill & Cue Cards and Envelopes

Amy Nelson

Quill & Cue Greeting Card Subscription

There’s something delightful and nostalgic about receiving a handwritten note in the mail, especially if you weren’t expecting it. And that’s why Quill & Cue appeals to me so much with its monthly subscription service that provides a colorful greeting card, envelope, postage stamp, and writing prompt called Cue Card. Founder Alyssa Malecek Toft launched the Minnesota company a year ago as the pandemic kept many of us at home and separated from family and friends, with the simple mission of “changing the world a handwritten note at a time”. Greeting cards are beautiful designs on card stock ready for your words.

Quill and Cue Kids Cards
A sample of the children’s subscription.

Amy Nelson

Some are simple illustrations, others have words of encouragement such as “You are a star” and “You make everything better”. Cue Cards change every month, so if you already have something in mind to say to a certain person one month, stick to the prompts for the other times you don’t know what to write. Examples of cues include acknowledging the “hardest working person you know” or someone “who kept showing up, time and time again, to let you know they were there for you” .

For $8 a month, there are subscription options for adults with sleek designs and themes, and for kids with more playful designs and age-appropriate prompts. I’ve already sent two of my sample cards to friends I wanted to reconnect with and brighten their day. Now I just have to focus on improving my illegible handwriting. quilandcue.com

Cheeterz Club Cheating Glasses
Cheeterz Club Savannah Blonde Ambition Frames

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Cheeterz Club Glasses

While I’m writing these Quill & Cue cards (see above), I’ll be wearing my cheeky Cheeterz Club new fat readers. This company embraces the idea that people of a certain age may need a little help with their eyesight, stating on their website that “modern aging is less about being afraid of what’s next, and more about being fierce about how we approach it. And above all, it’s about being interesting to watch. Under $30 each, these handcrafted glasses for men and women are customizable to suit frame style, magnification power and fashion tints.

The frames also claim to be made from “hypoallergenic plant-based plastic”, but made in China. For an additional $25 you can also add a blue light filter to your frames. My review frames, the Savannah Blonde Ambition, came with an elegant rich red magnetic eyeglass case with the words “Because it happens overnight” on the inside flap along with a leopard print pouch. This particular oversized style doesn’t suit my face very well, but there are plenty of other styles to choose from and at this price point, I plan to try a few different looks. Cheeterzclub.com

Banana Phone
Banana Phone

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Banana Phone

“Speak more. Smile more. Save the gorillas. Say what now?” in your life, the Banana Phone may be original enough to appeal to some people.

Charge the life-size piece of plastic via the micro USB port and connect to your iPhone or Android phone via Bluetooth to make phone calls or listen to music. The Banana Phone has a Bluetooth range of 60 feet and 20 hours of talk time per charge. Still, the number of caveats for this $40 toy made me wonder if the novelty was worth it: don’t use near water, don’t expose to extreme temperatures, unplug during thunderstorms, and , my favorite, do not eat. The company claims to contribute 2% of its annual sales to gorilla conservation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. bananaphone.io

Product Pull Start Fire
shoot start fire

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shoot start fire

I’m a big fan of year-round fires in our outdoor fire pit, especially in the winter snow. The Pull Start Fire product makes it easy to start those flames even with wet wood and requires no matches, lighters, fuel or ignition. I’ve had many fires after the newspaper I added burns down, so this windproof and rainproof product seems like a nifty hack.

Stack wood as desired, place the Pull Start firebrick on or touching the wood and wrap the string around at least one log, pull the string and the brick will start to fire. For $17 for a 3-pack, Pull Start Fire burns for 30 minutes and is safe to cook. I asked a friend to try this product in his fancy Solo stove (which I’ve been considering buying for a while now) and he said it was quick and effective, but added that the smell gunpowder persisted for some time. For more adventurous campers, the Pull Start Fire can easily replace any other items (lighters, etc.) you might forget to pack. pullstartfire.com

Mika R. Pyle