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Ice, ice, baby

A tabletop ice maker means you can keep your cool no matter where the party is.

The Fourth of July is just around the corner, so you'd better dust off the barbecue and hose down the plastic chairs. And if your weather is anything like the extreme heat we're enjoying in Houston, you'll want to figure out how to keep things cool while you're standing over an open flame.

A few weeks back, my colleague Jennifer mentioned the Scotsman Brilliance residential ice maker, which is one option, but my priorities are a little bit different: I don't want the 47 children who invariably follow the scent of hot dogs and descend upon my back yard to track their sweet little footprints into my kitchen as they search for ice and cold drinks. Call me cold-hearted (my kids certainly do), but I'm not backing down.

This countertop ice maker makes 12 cubes in each 10-minute cycle. NewAir

So I started looking for a more portable solution to the ice conundrum--one that didn't end with a giant cooler full of melted ice attracting drunken mosquitoes or with my husband running out for "just a minute" to get more ice every half hour.

NewAir to the rescue. The company has two countertop ice makers that look good and function extremely well. One model starts producing ice in as little as 10 minutes, the other takes about 5 minutes more than that. Both offer a choice of cubes in three sizes. The larger model comes in stainless steel and makes up to 35 pounds of ice a day. The smaller model comes in silver and tops out at 28 pounds of ice per day--enough to keep most of us cool and quenched.

The machines run on regular household outlets and retail for about $175 to $200. Cheers!