I just bought myself a birthday present…a PL8 Professional Mandoline. Why? Because I didn’t have one. And, there are times when I want to thinly slice something and I am not a chef and am too afraid of cutting off a finger with a sharp knife. Am I not worried about slicing off a finger with the mandoline? Yes. But it does have a guide to help prevent that and I have a pair of gloves that will add additional protection! A co-worker bought them for me when I did slice part of my index finger off with a rotary cutter. Big oops, but lesson learned.
Many years ago, I used to pine over items in the Williams-Sonoma catalog. I’d think to myself, ‘Someday, I will buy that. And that. And that.’ Well, now I have just about every gadget I need. It’s taken a long time, but I can’t really think of another item I would actually need to buy. So, what are my favorites? I’ve talked about my Kuhn-Rikon garlic press, the Excalibur Dehydrator, silicone pot holders, and Wusthof knives. But I also love my:
- Cuisinart (mine is from the 90s)
- Pyrex glass measuring cups for liquid
- old fashioned aluminum one for dry
- old fashioned aluminum and stainless measuring spoons
- wooden spoons
- silicone slotted spatula spoon (my favorite is slotted – great for stirring beverages, like Minute Maid frozen lemonade or OJ. No need to wait for it to thaw. Don’t know that they make this anymore.)
- Tovolo silicone spoon with the metal handle
- Williams-Sonoma bread machine (mine is from the 90s)
- Williams-Sonoma lemon zester
- Williams-Sonoma wooden lemon reamer (the plastic ones get slippery)
- Williams-Sonoma Swissmar potato peeler
- Microplane zester
- Joseph-Joseph utensils (just don’t get them too close to a heat source!)
- Whirly popcorn maker (this is actually the little man’s favorite kitchen item)
- Swing-a-way can opener (sometimes, old school just works the best)
- Kuhn-Rikon pot lid (prevents boil overs!)
This has been my busiest year that I can recall. It just seems like the time has flown by and I know that’s said for those of us reaching old age, but it was sooooo true for me this year. When I got home from our Christmas visits to our children and grandchildren, I put my traveling suitcase inside the larger one and happily zipped it closed. This surprised me, because I do like to travel, but right now, I’m kinda over it. Plus, I’m out of travel size products.
Thinking back over the years that I’ve been doing this blog, so many products, stores, etc. are still my all-time favorites, like Oregon Chai and Target. Oregon Chai is the reason I’m still a few pounds heavier than I should be (I did get a new treadmill!), but I still find a cup of hot chai comforting, especially when I’m at work. And if you’ve never been to a Target store, it’s hard to know the difference in big box stores, but there is a big difference! Target does it all so incredibly well and right. The brightly lit stores, wide aisles, interesting items along with everyday necessities, and now they even carry Beekman 1802 products, which I also love. Plus, the stores don’t smell bad. And you can’t go wrong with a Target Red credit card. I save 5% on every purchase, it comes right off the bill, plus I always get free shipping. Believe me, when I bought my patio furniture online, it was a great savings. I even buy clothing there. Their Merona brand is a nice line. What’s not to love?
This is, I hope the countdown to my last year of employment outside the home. I’m always thinking about my next stage of life, what I really want to do, and how I should proceed. I’m currently reading, Uncover Your Calling: Work Reimagined by Richard Leider and David Shapiro. I do think I should know what I want to be, but I’m not there yet. It’s one reason why I think it’s pretty odd to expect an 18-year-old to know what he/she wants to be when they leave high school, when I know plenty of adults who have no clue. Maybe the book will help me figure it out. We’ll see. But that said, I really want to spend more time with my family and my four grandsons. They’re growing up fast and I feel like I’m missing out.
I will continue to post more of my favorite things in the coming year. There is always something new to love!
I hope, dear readers, that your new year brings you good health, stable finances, joy, and the quest for engaging with people, new cultures, and art of discovery!
I never would have guessed I’d be writing this post. As someone who never liked beer and I now like interesting beer, I feel the same way about cider. Back in the olden days, the only one I ever tasted was Woodchuck, and I was not a fan. Too sweet and I just didn’t care for the flavor. Well, folks, that’s allllll changed now. I am actually a fan of cider!
About six or so years ago, my son talked to me about getting into the cider business. At the time, there were only a handful available, Woodchuck, Angry Orchard, and Crispin. Having been in England, where there were tons of options, I thought it was a good idea. And it was, but for him, that business plan didn’t pan out as planned and in the meantime, the business stateside exploded. Now, there’s a plethora of options. You can get dry champagne style cider (Crispin original and Brut are good choices) and fruity combination ciders. Some, I admit, are not that great and though this is a bit TMI, give me ‘soapy tasting burbs.’ Am I the only one who has that issue? I hope not.
So, which ciders do I like? My current fav is just about anything by Ace from California. Unfortunately, I can’t buy it in KY! That reminds me of Coors in the old days, when you had to go to Colorado to get it. It’s totally annoying. I have to cross state lines to get it. Which flavors do I like? Pineapple rocks my world. It is the most amazingly refreshing drink. It tastes just like pineapple! You may say, “Why drink cider that tastes like pineapple and not apple?” Because it’s really good! I like their pear, and the apple. Both are good and not overly sweet. My next favorite is CiderBoys (from my home state of Wisconsin) Raspberry Smash. Lots of fruit and bubble and soooo flavorful. Their Peach Country, Grand Mimosa and Cranberry Road are wonderfully flavored, too. I can’t wait to try more from both of these companies.
The worst cider I’ve ever had was some brand of Scrumpy in England. I thought it had gone off, because it tasted like rotten fruit, but I was told, “No, that’s the way it tastes.” O-kay.
Okay, so I’m sometimes easily sucked into watching marathons on TV. I got hooked on Alaska, the Last Frontier, Alaskan Bush People, and even Living Alaska. I draw the line at the trucker and fishing shows, though. I can’t spend all my time watching TV! Which show is my fav? Hard to say. I watch all of them. Every episode. I DVR them, just in case I’m not home, because I don’t want to miss an installment. What are these shows? Reality TV for the most part, though some doubt the validity. I’m taking them with a grain of salt, but I do enjoy them, even if there is some scripting.
Alaska, the Last Frontier has just started a new season and it ends on a rough note. The show is about two brothers, Atz and Otto, and their families. Their father, Yule Kilcher moved to Alaska to escape Hitler’s reign and to create a life as a homesteader. So now, the sons are carrying on the family tradition with their sons and families, Atz Lee and Jane and Eivin and Eve. I like the dynamics and relationships and seeing the somewhat day to day living. It’s entertaining to see the interaction among all the family members, even when times get strained. In the end, you know there’s a lot of love. There is also a lot of mud, snow, and hunting. I’m not a big fan of hunting/fishing, but at least they eat and use what they kill. Otto raises cattle, so he doesn’t have to hunt for deer or bears. The group also have chickens, goats, and raise gardens for produce, which does get canned. You do get to see panoramas of Alaskan scenery. It is beautiful, but the cold winters are not for me.
Otto cracks me up. He has a great sense of humor and it comes out…like the time he had to move the outhouse, because a ‘poopsicle’ touched his butt. Okay, a bit TMI, but it was funny. He’s a creative guy who can fix just about anything. Every now and then, he gets a little crankly, but overall, he adds a lot of levity. I’m guessing he and Charlotte have no indoor plumbing. I was so surprised to see that Eiven and Eve had none. Eve grew up without it. Eivin did install ‘running water’, but it was a pipe connected to a creek. I was wondering how Eve was going to wash diapers without a decent washing machine. Otto and Charlotte did their laundry outside with an old wringer washer. They made it sound like ‘spring is here. Time to do laundry.’ Ga-ross! I need clean, so that wouldn’t work for me.
Side note: these families live not far from Homer, AK, and they do go to town for supplies. I’ve seen bananas at Eivin and Eve’s house and they are not grown that far north. Also, I have heard the senior members are millionaires, due to their land ownership. They do have lots of large equipment like backhoes, a barge, etc. Also, Atz, Sr. is the father of singer Jewel and has been a musician himself. He and Jewel sing the show’s opener. This show has been nominated for an Emmy twice, for best reality series. I’m not the ONLY one who enjoys it.
Spoiler alert, if you aren’t aware of an significant member accident that takes place…skip to the next paragraph. I’m giving you a bit of space here, so you don’t see what I’m going to talk about, in case you really don’t want to know yet. What happened at the end of the season? Atz Lee was hiking and fell. He broke about 25 bones, including his shoulder, arm, ankle, hip, crushed ribs and punctured his lungs. He is on the mend, but isn’t leaving the cabin on two feet yet. We’ll find out more in the near future. We also see the announcement of a new sibling for Eivin and Eve’s son Findley!
Alaskan Bush People has drawn controversy, because they have basically been squatters trying to homestead property and it hasn’t worked out until last season, when they bought land on the most bear populated island in Alaska, Chichagof. Many think this is a fake show with actors, but I don’t buy that. This is a real family unit headed by Billy and Ami Brown. They have five sons and two daughters. I find all of them entertaining. Similar to Alaska, the Last Frontier, they try to live off the land. Again, I know they do buy items from town and for ‘living off the land,’ the fact that they have supposedly lost everything more than once, they do seem to have a lot of things.
This family seems a bit like a throw back, since the movies they reference are mostly from the past, due to limited viewing abilities. Gabe, the jokester does a mean Sean Connery. Like Otto Kilcher, Noah is the family tinkerer who can make something from nothing, like a generator, a dumb waiter, a dryer, and a shower. Matt the eldest is often goofy and acts more like the youngest boy, who is actually the rather staid and Medieval loving Noah. Throw the task master Bam and extreme tree climber Bear into the mix and it makes for entertaining show. The girls Snowbird and Rain (Merry Christmas Catherine Raindrop) often are background players, even though Snow can out-shoot her brothers when hunting. I really would like to know more about their daily diets. They do live away from civilization. From time to time they travel to town for pizza, supplies, and women. The last one is something I think will prove challenging. Billy and Ami want the boys to marry, but they aren’t exactly ready for civilized girls. There have to be some in Alaska, since these guys are close to the median age of the population. But finding someone who will want to live in Brown town might be elusive. A matchmaker did try. I was sad when tender soul Noah’s heart was broken by a failed friendship.
The back story on Billy is that he grew up in a well-to-do Texas family and was the sole member when his mother, father, and sister were killed in a plane crash on March 3, 1969 near Lake Travis, TX. Billy Joe Brown’s co-workers took over the company and 16-year-old Billy Bryan Brown was homeless for a while. I’m not sure how all of that happened. Billy has written a book about it, One Wave at a Time, but I haven’t read it.
I like this show, once again, because of the family dynamics and their bush lifestyle. Do they make it look easy? No. Living in a log trapper’s shack with moss for chinking or a tent or in Matt’s case, a plastic wrap hut doesn’t look look appealing. They are often wet from the seemingly constant drizzle and red-faced from the cool temps. They barter a lot of make ends meet and have plenty of mishaps, like the only source of transportation sinking or floating away. I do love the love this family shares. More. It’s what they say to each other when parting, short for “I love you more.” They are a tender-hearted family and it’s touching.
Living Alaska is an HGTV show that features families who want to live in the last frontier. Would I want to live there? Not really. I do get a kick out of people who move from North Carolina to frigid temps and think it’s funny…at first. I bet they don’t after the first long winter with very dark or sunny nights and 60-below wind chills. The people who are shocked to hear a moose or bear might go through their backyard and eat their dog or worse…keep the kiddies in sight, shock me the most. They obviously don’t research places prior to moving. Hello, people, this is Alaska and you are in the animal’s territory. Those people need to stay in the lower 48. Oh, and if you build a house in Alaska, please add a door for the bathroom, a closet for each bedroom, and don’t forget the heated garage! Even I am shocked by the lack of bathrooms with doors or lofts that count as a bedroom. In the end for me, no worries. I plan to visit the last frontier, not live there. In the meantime, I certainly enjoy all these shows that show me what life can be when you’re trying to live off the land or seeing a setting with spectacular scenery and wildlife. Unlike most, I’d be photographing the fauna, not shooting.
My only complaint about these shows? I want more episodes!
I have a heightened sense of smell. Sometimes, it’s a good thing, but other times, I’m almost sorry, like when there’s a rotten potato in my bin or someone (who shall not be named) leaves a rather unpleasant fragrance in the bathroom. That being said, I LOVE pleasant fragrances! There are plenty out there, like Method’s Fresh Air laundry soap, Issey Miyake L’eau D’issey Pour Homme Sport (calming sandalwood), flowers like daffodils and lily of the valley, and so many more.
I was surprised to find that I actually like a lot of the Bath and Body Works fragrances. (When my other half walks by that store, he waves his hand in front of his face and refuses to go in. When he walks by the perfume counters at department stores, he holds his breath. It doesn’t bother me, but then, I like potpourri and even some of the scented candles.) What are my favorites at Bath and Body? Unfortunately, they no longer carry my all-time fav, Dark Kiss in my store. I loved it and so did my mom. It is available online. I do like Pink Chiffon, Midnight Amethyst, White Citrus, Be Enchanted, and a bunch of others. I like that you can get the soap and the lotion and at Christmas, I’m addicted to the Twisted Peppermint, which smells so tasty I was to eat it! I still have some left from this past holiday and I’m going to bring it to work. I’m sure my co-workers will want to know, “Who smells like candy?” It will be me!
The best part is that they are reasonably inexpensive, especially when they are having a sale…which seems like a lot of the time. You can buy soaps, lotions, body butters (great for winter!), candles, and they have a men’s line, too. My son always uses the Whitewater Rush body wash. If you don’t mind fragrances, it’s a great place to sample some scented products and find something that appeals to you.
There’s a new yogurt in town. Well, at least for me, since I never heard of it prior to April. It’s Australian-style yog(h)urt that’s made in Bellvue, Colorado. No artificial preservatives, sweetened with honey (and cane sugar), and the fruit is picked seasonally at peak ripeness. It is yummy!
I eat yogurt at least a few times a week and my previous choice was Chobani, and prior to that I was eating Fage. Like Erlich Bachman pointed out on Silicon Valley, it is hard to get all the fruit sauce out of the tiny Fage container. I often resorted to using the end of the spoon handle, but still couldn’t manage to get out as much as I wanted. That frustration, and the tart taste of the yogurt, led me back to Chobani and from my visiting British houseguests, giving Noosa a try.
Unfortunately, Noosa is more fattening than I’d like (140 calories), but it is soooo creamy! I love the tart cherry flavor and even the blueberry is great. At first, I was buying the hummus size containers and having to scoop the appropriate amount into yet another container to take to work, but then, I found four-packs next to the larger size at the store. The little 4-oz. container is pretty, pretty small, but I am managing not to eat my hand off at the end of the day, as long as I eat a handful of almonds and a few Halos along with a bottle of water. It’s really only about 1.3 ounces smaller than the Chobani. They need to branch out and give me the strawberry rhubarb, passion fruit, and coconut flavors in the four-pack!