If you’ve read through my posts, you know I LOVE office supplies! Every time I go to Staples or even walk by the office supply section at Kroger, I get a bit excited. I’m always hoping to find some little thing that I don’t have, but positively need! I’m drawn to anything colorful, like Post-its, paper clips, binders, and something simple, like a pen. Good pens are hard to find.
For Christmas, the little man got some new pens and he has been kind enough to put them in our shared stash. You may think, “Pens are pens.” There really are differences and I’m talking merely about inexpensive ones, not Mont Blancs. Usually, I use a standard Bic, which I’ve been using since they started making them, but I often buy new brands and styles, just to try them out, like Paper Mate. My better half got a package of Paper Mate Profiles and let me tell you, it writes like buttah! It’s soooo smooth! It glides across the paper like Dorothy Hamill on skates.
I bought new pens for work, since we only get horrible standard issue varieties, and they basically scratch the paper as I write. Never a good thing. My penmanship is bad as it is and an inferior pen makes it worse. So, what did I do? I bought more of the Profile pens for me to use on the job! Signing my name has never been easier! Way better than the old felt tips, that I used to think were boss and certainly better than the old Bic sticks.
Do I have a slight obsession with writing materials? Perhaps. Actually, I use a pencil more than I use pens and believe me, some pencils are way better than others, just like pens!
My roll top desk has three small drawers, perfect for my hordes of pens, pencils, and markers. Can you really have too many?
Have you seen PW’s line? Sad to say it’s not at Target, because I do shop there. It’s at Walmart. It’s homey and cheerful and will certainly make being in the kitchen more pleasant. And I really like that it’s so colorful and has the mixed and matched look that reminds me of my family’s cottage from my youth.
Back in the day, people didn’t outfit a cottage with new anything. The beds had mattresses that were no longer worthy of home use (I am talking sooooo saggy that it was like sleeping in a boat), furniture that no doubt from an earlier era, bedding and dishes were mismatched leftovers people were no longer using at home, and even reading materials were things that had been read already and at least 20 years old. But, from the old flannel robes that hung on hooks for all to use to the enamelware bucket and dipper, that cottage still brings back cozy, wistful memories. This housewares line evokes those heavenly days.
What’s in PW’s line? Everything from dishes and cutlery to bakeware and rugs. You can find cute serving pieces, a cookie jar that looks like her Basset House Charlie (a friend who has a basset hound filled it with dog-shaped cookies for her daughter as a gift), kitchen towels, placemats, and a super cute measuring cup set. Her line is perfect spruce up a dull kitchen. I can imagine it as perfect picnic ware on a summer table. Looks like you’ll have to head to Walmart to see it in person or order it online.
Yes, it’s a very simple thing, but I do love it! I wasn’t feeling well this morning and it’s the only thing I wanted, besides a cup of plain, black tea. Toast with butter. Plain white. It helped get over that not so great feeling. It’s what Mom used to make for me and one of the best comfort foods. Mmmm, crispy toast spread with soft butter.
Which bread makes the best toast? There are soooo many options. Raisin bread, whole grain bread, cinnamon bread, and good old white bread. All you need is a toaster and some butter. And heck no to margarine. Butter is the way to go. No chemical or artificial substitutes need apply. I grew up in Dairyland and I likes me butter! Oh, and my butter sits in the cabinet in a butter dish. I know, I know, “Shouldn’t it be refrigerated?” Well, I haven’t died yet and I’ve been eating it this way since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. My house is generally cool enough to keep it in stick form.
Want to dress it up a bit? Momma would add a small amount of cinnamon and sugar and then cut the toast into “fingers.” It made it seem like a decadent treat, when all it was just buttered toast with a sweet sprinkling, cut into four pieces. You can also butter it and add your favorite jam. What’s the best jam? Homemade freezer jam. Haven’t had freezer jam? Read my previous post. You will NEVER want any other kind. Summer is coming and it’s the perfect time to make it, because ripe fruit works best. And you don’t need anything more than fruit, sugar, a box of Sure Jell Low-Sugar Fruit Pectin, and eight 8-oz. containers. It’s a no-brainer.
Get a little protein with your toast by adding a thin layer of softened cream cheese with your jam or fresh fruit, thinly sliced. You can also butter a slice on both side, cut a hole in the middle with a biscuit cutter, drop it in a fry pan, crack an egg in the hole, dust with salt and pepper, top with the buttered cut out, flip and when the egg is cooked, enjoy. You will not see me do this, because I do not like eggs.
I could eat toast anytime of day. If you use whole grain bread, you’re not just getting a bit of comfort, you’re getting fiber, something we all need.
I was never much of a salad eater, perhaps because it was the only part of the meal I was ever allowed to make…and back in the day, it consisted of iceberg lettuce, rock hard tomatoes, and waxy cucumbers. Occasionally, a bit of shredded carrot made its way into the mix and maybe a radish or two in the summer, but in my world that was basically a salad. I know you’re supposed to eat your greens and I’ve learned that I actually enjoy salads, as long as they’re interesting. What makes a salad better? Arugula, mixed greens, ripe tomatoes or grape cherry tomatoes, English cucumber, peppers, red onion, nuts, cheeses, like Feta, blue or my favorite BellaVitano from Satori, dried fruit like cherries or cranberries, and of course an amazing dressing. I often make my own, but I LOVE Beekman 1802 Happy Goat Chevre Dressing, available at Target. It’s creamy and with a hint of goat cheese flavor. Makes my mouth water, just to think of it. Really, for me, it’s the dressing that makes a salad zing!
There are so many yummy salads you can make that don’t even include lettuce, like one of Rachael Ray’s chopped salads or Trisha Yearwood’s Ty’s Thai Salad (adjust the dressing…way too much oil and sugar for me. I cut the recipe in half, but would cut the oil to about 1/3 cup and use less sugar. You can always add more.).
For homemade dressings, try:
Standard Red Wine Vinegar Dressing (the little man really likes this):
1 1/2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar (0ptional).
Combine all ingredients and whisk together or shake in a sealable jar. The touch of sugar really makes it yummy. Pour it over your favorite salad fixings.
The Beekman Boys have a great salad dressing recipe list, too.
Summer is coming and it’s time for me to ramp up the greens and veggies! They always make me feel healthier.
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. 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.