No more ice packs!

Just saw this today so I have to share. I haven’t purchased one yet, but I definitely will!

This product is ingenious. If you’re a parent or caretaker of a small child you are familiar with ice packs, blue ice, reusable gel packs, and all means of keeping milk or food cold while out of the house.

The freezable lunchbag!

During our vacations has been especially difficult because I don’t want to have a bulky cooler on the plane, and I want to pack as much food as I can into the cooler bag so I only bring one ice pack. With this product it looks like I can pack as much food & drink as possible without having to make room for the big ice pack that lasts the longest.

More positives?
* Freeze a little drink container of tea in the bag, it’ll be nice and slushy for you by lunch time.
* You won’t forget the ice pack since the whole bag is the ice pack.
* Earth friendly solutions are having items that you can re-use, and help you remember to pack your own lunch, for a long period of time.
PackIt website

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What a tool.

I have to say that I didn’t believe in having Christmas lists until I became an adult. How great is it that you get to give your family a list of things you would like, then you happen to get most of it for Christmas? Of course, giving gifts that are unexpected is wonderful too, but sometimes it’s nice to check a few things off of your personal wish list!

Interesting thing…all of the things on my list this last Christmas were kitchen items! Here is one of the great little tools that has been a valuable addition to my kitchen:


The Chef’n Mixer Spatula from Williams Sonoma.

Can you believe it? It’s a bowl scraper, spatula, and scooper, all in one! Fabulous.

It is even heat resistant up to 650ºF so you can cook with it too.

I love that it scrapes around the electric mixer attachments so nicely, and uses little effort to get the bowl emptied.

I also got a set of WS mini spatulas. They came on a little ring… Red, yellow, green and orange. So cute! They were a welcome addition to the tool drawer since my only remaining baking spatula is gigantic. Now muffin cups and cupcakes will be a breeze!

Mixed Bowling

There is something so appealing about a set of mixing bowls. Or, maybe it’s just the appeal of bowls nesting within each other…filling that nurturing hole in a woman’s being. Comfortable, sweet, proportioned – whatever best describes YOUR prerequisite for a set of bowls – here are a few of my favorites that I’ve seen lately.

Lost & Found: le souk olive wood nesting bowls

I love the olive wood set above from Lost & Found. I can imagine using this sweet family for ingredients while cooking.

My mixing vessels? Well, I own a set of 5 shallow metal bowls that have the same height but different circumferences. Suits me fine, but when I get more kitchen space, I’m getting a set of deeper nesting beauties. You see, there are plenty of artsy nesting bowls out there, but the perfect set is where form meets function.

Tropical Nesting Bowls at Patina

Of course, there is my favorite Cinderella vintage bowls (as seen on the “What I’d Love” tab above). I have the second blue bowl. 
Cinderella bowls (vintage pyrex) at Modern Findings

A Positively Crafty Fair Find

There are times when I want so badly to be positive. I try to look at the situation from many angles in order to come out with something good to say, even if a day turns out to be only 10% of what I hope for.

Well… I must say, Saturday was a tough one. My husband and I have been wanting to take a trek down to quaint little Bell Buckle (and I mean, “downtown” is all of one cute block) that touts an annual art show, sponsored by the local prep Webb School that has been there since 1870. In years past I have seen indications of a juried exhibition, but this year the town was proud to host “over 500 other booths…with something for everyone.”

Silly me, I looked at the web site for the wrong year. Apparently, the Webb School Art & Craft Show used to be a bona fide show, even as recently as 2006, accepting juried applications for “high quality, hand crafted work in the traditional fine craft media.” What happened in the 34th annual show? It turned into a giant festival, flea market, bizarre bazaar of knock-offs, cheap goods and manufactured holiday notions. The art show? It was hidden in the park, and didn’t seem to attract a host of magnificent artisans.

Sorry, Webb School.
Sorry, Bell Buckle.
You need to rename the event, the “Bell Buckle 10% Art and 90% Craftlike Almost-Goods Fair.”

My ounce of positive? We found a very friendly craftsman that made wooden spoons, just around the corner from the doggy hair bows. My lovely spoon and oven rack tool are handmade from South American hardwood.

my new oven rack tool & spoon

Score! A lovely gentleman (whose name I failed to acquire) also gave us directions to the few artisan booths that were really a part of the Webb School Art Show (you know, hidden in the park). We found a few interesting booths, some good pottery, but not anything we wanted to come home with.

Oh yes, and it was a positively GORGEOUS day spent with my family.

Livin’ La Vida Verde

Green! Honestly, I never realized how much I loved GREEN until I started to see things pop that match my new stuff. I chose these items as my favorites in Anthropologie as I was browsing on the last day of a visit from my friends. I didn’t know my pals were fishing for my preference for a reason!

ceramic measuring cups and magnetic timer

Maybe you can relate to, or just imagine, having friends that are so close they are family.

The lines get blurred in my family’s culture. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the question, “are you all related?” If you spend enough time with someone you start to look like them. Not just hair, clothing, and make-up (all of which has happened over the years)… I’m talking about expressions, mannerisms and vocal intonation. Likes, dislikes, opinion, conviction. What I’m trying to say is that there are people in my life that fit the bill, and I was SO blessed to have them for 5 wonderful days.
I certainly can’t describe the feelings of that bipolar final day together. What I CAN tell you is that I walked away with a fabulous weekend stash! Ok, I really was quite emotional, but I didn’t want to let the violins eek on for too long. 
The goods…
The Game of Things
A new Game of Things! Thanks, Matt & Lani, for introducing us to this game…and for making me laugh so much, it literally hurt.
Thanks, Trish, for the invaluable advice on the garlic olive oil. Seriously, this has totally changed our lives. Those Vinni bags were amazing, thanks for bringing the wine! I’ll look for that yummy Frascati, but I’m not holding my breath. 
My lovely husband took a trip to the superT and got me the large Green Pan skillet. Oh, sweet man… Another thing to make my experience in the kitchen even better! (Glad you got the pans, Jen & Priss. Pretty sweet, right?)

See how perfect this timer looks on my fridge, Jannell? By the way, those cute little van Gogh deals are souvenirs from my sister’s latest jaunt to Amsterdam.

Thanks, Jen, for the cute denim dress. Thanks for driving so far by yourself with the kids – and you never complained about being in that tiny room with both of them all weekend. Dude, you’re a rock star mom.

The darling “California mission tile style” measuring cups (from Lani) sit just above my sink. I can be reminded every day of my home state…and my homies.

Thanks for an amazing weekend, girls! 

Yo, Vinni…Who you callin’ a wine bag?

This has to be one of the best travel buddies of the year. Imagine inflatable water wings for your wine… Thanks to Trish, we saw the Vinni bag in action this last weekend. She brought us some fabu Frascati, originally sampled by her trusted palate, in Italy. I swear it was one of the greatest white wines I’ve tasted, and not just because it came out of this rad bag.  

The Green Pan

A couple of years ago we rented out our house to do a short stint in my folks home. It helped us lighten our load (our junk piles) as well as our income to debt ratio. When our renters had to break their lease we were ready to move back in, not having found another dwelling in our dream house realm! We returned to a fairly unchanged house, and I found a few jewels in the kitchen that told a stereotypical story of bachelors:  camping cookware.

So, believe it or not, for the last couple of years we’ve been using the little cheap-o pan more than any other piece of cookware! Mind you, I own a fantastic set of heavy Calphalon pots and pans that we received as wedding gifts. We hadn’t purchased a tiny pan because I didn’t know we would need one, let alone use one EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Back to the camping pan… I started to get a little put off by little specks of metal showing through the nonstick surface of the pan. Yes, this means that the nonstick substance had been flaking off into our food, or perhaps burning off into the air for us to breathe in. Eeeeeeuwwww.

One day as I perused the cookware aisles of The Big Red T, I found ONE option for a small pan that didn’t have teflon on its surface.
Enter: Green Pan.

Wow! Talk about non-stick! This baby is so slick you could almost fry without any grease. The instructions actually tell you to use cooking oil in order to brown the food. Perfect made-to-order eggs, slip-n-slide fried rice, and boy howdy…NO teflon!

image: Target.com

Peep No More

Since I was a child I’ve had a “thing” about making sure that the curtains, blinds and/or shades are drawn COMPLETELY at night. I realize that during the day it is more difficult to see inside a window without being really close, so the only place I have allowed to be uncovered in our house are the three panes by the front door. Well, truth be told, I had a custom cut paper blind hanging over it for several years. I couldn’t stand it so I took it down but have waited 3 more years to solve the problem! I was not comfortable napping in the front room alone, doing yoga, and definitely NOT nursing… Until now.

Challenges/Requirements:
   * the window panes are nestled in a door frame with an inch of room on either side
   * the frame is metal so I was unable to install a traditional curtain rod or blinds
   * we need some diffused light to come through the window in the morning, but cover it in the late afternoon sun
   * we must be able to pull back the curtain or blind enough to see who is at the door
   * view from outside needs to be obstructed
   * the perfect scraps of fabric I wanted to repurpose (leftover panels cut from my sister’s place) weren’t long enough to cover all 3 panes



Solution:
   * I found a mini Levolor magnetic curtain rod that fit in the space around the panes
   * create a “roll blind” that wraps the rod to have both the white semi-transparent fabric and the solid linen beige color!

Here is what I came up with. You’ll see there are different positions that you can “set” the Roll Blind to, depending on your needs, or mood. Sorry, folks. I still have one window left before I can quit the elite group “PBLUFO5YC” (that’s Paper Blinds Left Up For Over 5 Years Club).