Naptime Lifestyle: Everyday Favorites for Everyday Life
This December I’m publishing four gift guides I’ve been working on all fall. I have so much fun collecting ideas all year long. There are a lot of kitchen and garden related gifts in here (naturally), but also some other items I think are great. I hope these inspire you while you shop for your loved ones this season!
I recently returned from the Pillsbury Bake-Off in Las Vegas (more on that soon!) rarin’ to go for the holidays. Being away from home for a few days gave me time to gather my thoughts for the upcoming season. It was just what I needed to get myself in the mood for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Earlier this fall I started working with a great team at iVillage on their Get Organized for the Holidays Community Challenge. I know it is not easy to do, especially when you are working, dealing with kids, and the like. The to-do lists and requests can easily become overwhelming! To help take some of the stress out of the holidays, and make them a little more fun, our team has been working hard to assemble awesome tips to get you organized this year.
Right after we moved my friends at T-Fal sent me a new Wolfgang Puck Oven for our new kitchen. I was so excited to try it out because I needed a countertop oven to help me with recipe testing. Plus, I like using countertop ovens to reheat food. The interesting thing about this oven is that not only can you bake small trays of cookies and reheat chicken, you can also use it as a pressure oven. I did not have a lot of experience with a pressure oven when I go it, but I do now and it is great!
With the holidays coming up I am starting to think about feeding a crowd in our new house. I like to try to make our festive meals from scratch and it is always a bit of a juggling act with only one oven. When I think about my dream kitchen renovation one of the things I want to build in is a double wall oven. I’ve never had a double oven and it seems like it would make cooking for a crowd a million times easier. How great would it be to be able to roast a turkey in one oven while baking all the side dishes in the other?! Two ovens would also make recipe testing easier. I could make dinner while still working on a new cake recipe. Here is what I am thinking:
There are so many things to think about for the kitchen renovation it is hard to know where to begin. Right now we are targeting summer 2015, but we will see where the wind takes us. In the mean time, I have been obsessing over countertops lately. Our current ones are hunter green faux marble tile and they just aren’t my style. Plus, they are pretty worn. Right now I am tied to the idea of using dark wood counters in the new kitchen. I love how they look polished, yet still a little rustic. I also find wood comfortable for food preparation and cooking with kids.
Yesterday I shared our new kitchen and today I am unveiling our new yard. We loved this space from the moment we saw it because of the huge gardening potential. I come from a long line of gardeners, and my husband has three different hedge trimmers, so we are equipped and excited to take on this challenge of making a colorful lush flower garden. In fact, we can’t wait! I can so easily envision the end result and it is gorgeous. However, getting there is definitely going to take a lot work. Along with my new kitchen series I will be starting the “Garden Idea File.” I’ll be sharing different ideas I have and asking for feedback. If you see my making mistakes please speak up – I’ll need the guidance! Since fall is here we are just going to clean up the weeds and take down a half-dead tree for now. Next spring the real planting will begin.
Today I am taking you on a little tour of our new kitchen. As you will see, we have a lot of work ahead. The kitchen will be gutted and redone over time. We want to hook gas lines into the house for a gas stove top, we need more space for food preparation and eating, and we need new appliances that will enable us to wash more dishes and hold more food for our hungry family of four. So, in truth, I am looking at this room as blank slate to shape into exactly what we want for the long term.
I am taking a little break from the regularly scheduled food programming today to talk fitness. I am in the middle of a fairly intense fitness regime to lose the baby weight and get back in shape. It is going well, but I still have a little bit further to go. My goal is to be comfortably back in my skinny jeans by Thanksgiving. It takes a while for the bod to bounce back post-baby! The good news is that I have lots of reasons to stay motivated. I love it when my clothes fit a little better each week, plus I have a few killer workout outfits I feel good in. My most recent fave is from this cool company that focuses expressly on women’s fitness and swimwear called Albion Fit.
We have weather two mega heatwaves so far this summer and it is only the end of July. Eeps! To get me through I’ve been turning on the oven very little and only using the stovetop as needed. There has been a lot of gazpacho, sandwiches, and ice cream on our dinner table. Yes, the ice cream has been put right on the table alongside our dinner because it is practically part of the main course when it is so hot out. I am still trying to lose the very last of the baby weight, but that doesn’t mean I still can’t enjoy a small scoop at the end of the meal. I just tell myself it is in the name of staying cool.
Every so often I like to share one of my favorite kitchen appliances with you. Remember the milk frother from last winter? I swear, that baby got me through infant sleep-deprivation like it was nobody’s business. Needless to say, I’ve put that away for the summer and have become devoted to the Magimix Vision Toaster. Magimix by Robot-Coupe makes the highest quality kitchen appliances. Remember the food processor from last year? It is the gold standard in food processors and, like that appliance, the Vision Toaster is the highest quality toaster I have never used. In fact, I love it so much I’ll be giving one away in September.
I have a secret to share. I LOVED our cool, slightly rainy, June weather. I know I always moan about the cold, but a cool 70 degree summer day with no humidity, and the occasional sprinkle, is just fine with me. I am SO not looking forward to the crazy heat and humidity (and potential droughts!) of August. The survive that month I mostly submerge myself in Lake Otsego and do my best to keep the kids cool. This also means I turn on the oven as minimally as possible and employ all of my favorite “stay cool” strategies. The other day I broke out the first item on this list and whipped up a batch of ice cream. It was so refreshing to eat outside after dinner! Rest assured I’ll have plenty of stay cool recipes this summer. But, to get me started, I am tuning up all of my favorite kitchen equipment. I am thinking about giving away one of these items soon. Any requests? Let me know!
Father’s Day is right around the corner and it is time to drum up something really awesome for Dad. If the man in your life is anything like my husband he doesn’t want anything expensive or fancy, he just wants a really great family day with some good food thrown in. Here are some of my favorite foodie gifts for Dad this year. I hope you have a delicious one! (p.s. – here are some of my favorite ideas for Father’s Day food!)