Must-Have Cooking Tools and Gadgets

MUST HAVE COOKING TOOLS

Great Kitchen Tools Under 50 Bucks

You might not realize that a successful cooking experience depends on a lot more than having a good recipe and high-quality ingredients. That’s why we’ve provided this list of tools, utensils, and other accessories that will help make your life just a little easier in the kitchen or on the grill. If you’re unsure whether any of these products would be worth it, give it a try. You might find that investing in a helpful kitchen tool pays for itself in the time and energy you’ll be saving!

Wifi Meat Thermometer

Wifi Meat ThermometerLong gone are the days of hovering near a smoker or grill to manually check the temperature. This handy grilling accessory will send an alert to your smartphone once the meat reaches a pre-set temperature. Its large digital display and wireless technology help take some of the hassle out of grilling so you can focus on the good stuff. For a complete review of other WiFi thermometers check the full review completed by the Meat Geeks.

Buy here for $50

Stainless Steel Herb Scissors

Stainless Steel Herb Scissors

If you’re clumsy with knives or not very comfortable handling sharp edges, investing in a pair of herb snippers designed just like scissors can be a helpful, safe alternative. A set of five blades and a portable safety cover that makes them safe for travel. Simply place a small handful of herbs between the blades and cut like a piece of paper. You’ll find that your cuts are straighter, evenly sized, quicker, and safer for the whole family.

Buy here for $8

Silicone Snap and Strain Colander Accessory

Strain StrainerAvailable in black, red, and green, this snap-on strainer comes with special clips that fit most standard size pots. You’d be surprised at the amount of space you’ll save in your cabinets when you trade in your old, bulky colanders for a snap-on. Despite its compact, lightweight size, the portable strainer is ideal for pasta, vegetables, even more dense foods like sliced potatoes. Not only that, but it’s dishwasher safe, completely reusable, and, of course, heat-resistant.

Buy here for $11

Bottle Opener Multi-Tool 2-Pack

 

This handy pack of two innovative multi-functional bottle openers will eliminate the need for different-sized bottle openers. With different compartments made for twist caps, pull-tabs, classic beer caps, even jar caps, you can open any bottle or jar with ease. Great for those suffering from joint stiffness in addition to those just looking to clear up space in a cluttered kitchen drawer. These bottle openers claim they can not only protect your hands but also save time and space by combining all the different types of can openers or cap removers you can think of.

Buy here for $15

How Clutter Affects Us

Clutter Affects Us

Clutter Can Be Bringing You Down, And You May Not Even Know It

Clutter is more than having a little too much “stuff” in your home. It is not about having too little space or not enough time to keep your belongings organized.

Being surrounded by clutter usually originates from an inability to throw things away. Over time, if left unchecked, what started as “a few too many things” can grow into compulsive hoarding.

Living surrounded by clutter is very different to being a collector of something. Scientific evidence shows that clutter or hoarding can be a symptom of a specific internal mental disorganization. It is a subtle form of procrastination and usually comes at the expense of a functional living space.

Home Clutter

You may think that the messy piles of papers gathering dust on your desk, and your kitchen filled with unused knick-knacks, are worlds apart from hoarders who cannot access rooms in their house due to stacks of newspapers going back to 1972. However, studies indicate that all of these traits derive from the same place.

Because de-cluttering is a cognitive process, hoarders are usually good at justifying why something should be kept. Perhaps it’s by putting additional nostalgic or emotional value upon items, making them harder to part with. Or maybe it’s due to the practical reasons why something may come in useful someday.  From mementos, to clothing, to gadgets, hoarders are very good at not throwing anything away.

Many times it’s unintentional. The classic example of this is when you use your garage for  a storage area. After a while, you can end up with a hoarders paradise: two old fridges, that old sectional, mattress and kitchen table you didn’t want to put on the curb. It’s time to let go!

What’s the Big Deal Anyways?

So, it may be messy, but is there really any harm? Well, yes. Clutter can be very bad for both your physical and mental health.

Clutter

Firstly, clutter can be a real safety concern. Excessive amounts of clutter can harbor mold, mildew, and accumulate dust, causing respiratory issues. A home filled with flammable stacks of magazines, or cardboard boxes of documents, or old electrical devices, is more of a fire hazard. Narrowing passageways become more difficult to traverse and can cause injury. All of this leads to an unhealthy living space.

An uncluttered environment is not only very important for your physical wellbeing, it can have a drastic impact on your mental state too. Living with clutter has been found to raise levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, leading to heightened anxiety, fatigue, and depression.

Living in a home filled with clutter with inevitably lead to disorganization. Time will be wasted looking for lost things. Frantic searches for keys can become a daily occurrence. In addition, costs can mount up as lost items need to be replaced. If bills are mislaid, late fees on overdue payments can arise. All of this causes more stress unnecessarily.

Clutter can also be distracting

Clutter can also be distracting. You may not realize it, but constantly being surrounded by excessive clutter can get in the way of your ability to focus. Piles of laundry, stacks of papers, junk drawers crammed to excess, all of this may be over-stimulating your visual cortex causing you to be more distracted.

Donate to a charity shop. Throw out old newspapers. Go through those storage boxes. Call up a hauling company who can haul away all your stuff. Buy a Bagster from your local Home Depot. Or contact a company like AZ Junk who will do both: haul away unwanted items, or pickup your Bagster. Not only will your home be a more pleasant place to spend time, your physical and mental health with greatly benefit from removing the clutter from your life.

DIY Chalkboard

A couple weekends ago, I was able to get my craft on…and it felt amazing! I have a bride this summer that was wanting to have a chalkboard for her ceremony. I knew this was something I could make!

I asked my dad if he was interested in a father son daughter project and of course he was up for it. I went out and purchased all of the materials and was super excited to get started.

The last father daughter project we did together was probably back in school making some school project. I remember doing a cotton gin for school which was pretty much awesome. Then we had to make a car in junior high that ran off of batteries (I had an unfair advantage because my dad is a mechanic:)) It was always a good time.

I asked my dad if he remembered making my mom a dishwasher…..not that kind of dishwasher. My mom would always tell us what she wanted for Christmas and then we would tell Dad and he would help us get it. This one particular year, she wanted a dishwasher. Well, that was pretty much not happening considering the cost was crazy. So, being the smart ass  good humored person that he is, he made a doll out of wood that would hold scrub brush and a sponge. Mom laughed so it was totally worth it.

For the chalkboard, I definitely needed help. I have used a drill before, but never for anything other than just putting in a screw. I never had to drill the hole first. It was quite a learning experience. Apparently, I drilled in the hole a bit crooked so my dad had to fix it…whatever. You live and you learn;)

 

Miss M was able to help with the painting which she was super excited about! We put two coats on of the chalkboard paint and waited for it to dry. While that was drying, we hung out with the family and enjoyed some time together.

 

Finally, when the paint was dry, we put it all together. It was my first time using a air staple gun…PS AMAZING! I am not sure why I would ever need to OWN one per se, but I want one. So easy and so fun!

The hinges were spray painted with some paint Dad had around for car parts, so that dried really quick:) Then it was time to put it all together…hinges, chain…ta da!

 

I had to touch up some spots on the stained part of the wood, but it was super easy and I am absolutely in love with it. Miss M even got to test it out to make sure it really was a chalkboard:)

All pictures were taken with my phone so I realize they are not the best quality:) I cannot wait to use this in a wedding and take some good pictures of it!! Thanks for stopping by!

Slight setback in the training

I think I may have done too much. Running on a broken toe may not have been such a grand idea, but I was too stubborn to stop right after I started. I am still running, but doing the AdvoCare Can You 24 Level 2 videos was killing my toe because of the pushups and lunges.

When running, you can easily manipulate your stride and the placement of your foot when it hits the ground…when doing a pushup, the only way to not “hit the ground” is to have your toes just right…and it wasn’t working.

So, back to the drawing board. I am still running…in fact, doing the C25k program with the ladies in town has made me realize just how ready I am to start running again. I even had a wedding to set up for on Saturday morning and still went and ran beforehand which definitely proved to me that I was serious. If I can squeeze it in, I am going to. It feels so good.

I will register this week for the half in Vegas. So excited to see my long lost friends out there that I have missed so much since we moved. It is going to be amazing to see them all again as well as achieve this goal.

I will say, I am super blessed that my daughter is active and enjoys being active. Each time we go to run, she goes with. She doesn’t always last the whole time, but it is just nice that she is out there with me and keeping me motivated.

This coming holiday weekend is a busy one. A ton of graduation parties to go to, one to decorate for, and then a cake to bake for another. Cant wait to show those off. Meanwhile, I have a few hats to make for newborn twin girls, and of course, a few shirts.

It doesn’t get much better than that:) A busy week yet again. A small setback, but not the end. Having to slow down only makes me want it more. I am definitely going to fulfill this dream and going to tackle it one mile at a time.

Where have I been?

Where have I been? I feel super guilty that I have been so busy and not been able to blog much at all lately. I know that the reasons are good, but I also miss it. Like….a lot! I miss the relationships that I was building. I miss the excitement of finding out something I created was featured. I miss getting excited about all the new people I was interacting with. I miss it all. But… I have been so busy.

Let me back up a bit. Last September, (yeah, that long ago), I was back in Illinois for a friend’s wedding. While helping her with all the planning, I had to go to this little place called Kreative Rentals to meet with her decorators. I walked into the showroom and literally said “Oh my…this is my heaven!” There are vases, floral, linens, and more…it’s a crafty girls’ dream! Well, the owners at the time were apparently looking to sell and mentioned it to me. So of course, I told the hubs! I was giddy, I was pumped, and I was freaking out! If I bought this business, that would mean that the hubs would go back to Germany, and I would stay here in my little hometown in Illinois with Miss M….alone. Lots of decisions to think about. I already wanted to stay here because Germany and I didn’t get along very well. It was either rainy or thinking about being rainy the entire time I was living there…and well…that wears on a person. I was going to miss my hubs like crazy. I already knew that. But it is temporary.

So the planning (and panicking) began. I was getting things ready to own the business, already meeting with new clients, and getting very excited about this new adventure. All the while, I was still crocheting for friends, family and others, making wedding gifts with and for friends, and of course, spending time with the little one as she ventured into her new school.

I ended up buying the business on December 14, 2012 and it has been great. Doing Bridal Fairs in the local area, and meeting with some amazing clients has been a dream!

There are times where I get really scared that I messed up and made the wrong decision and that maybe it will hurt our marriage…but then I remember that the majority of our relationship has been apart. Either him working crazy stupid hours, or deployed…so it’s not much different…except now I have my family around to help out when needed. Which thankfully they are here because I have needed them a lot.

Back to the blogging. I continued doing the Fantabulous Friday’s so that I could still see what everyone was doing. But, then I ran out of time. I didn’t want my blog to ever just be a linky party blog and so I stopped because that was all I had time for. I currently have 33 brides/events that I am decorating for 2013 and a few for 2014 already lined up. It is very exciting, but also very time-consuming. No two weddings are the same so it’s not like you can just pick a package and walk away from it. You have to plan and re-plan and organize each individual one. I FREAKING LOVE IT THOUGH!

I just got done making hair pieces for a bride and her bridal party and I love the way they turned out. I am hoping to share them with you soon after I get them to her.

The hubs is going to be looking soon (I hope) for a job back here and then we can all be together again…including the cat. I can’t believe I actually miss that little cat.:) But I definitely do.

I hope you all will still check back in from time to time and see what I have been up to and hopefully there will be lots to share with you once wedding season starts! I miss you all and thank you for the continued support.

Knock Off Striped Hat

I have been in hiding lately…not for any other reason other than the fact that I have been super busy! I made this about a month ago but still wanted to share it with you all! I am kind of in love with it!

A friend showed me this picture from the Kate Spade website and asked me if I could make it. I hadn’t ever done a striped hat before to this level, but was definitely up for the challenge. I headed out to the store, picture in hand, and picked out the yarn colors. I told her that I wasn’t going to knit it because I don’t have the patience for that right now, but I would crochet it.

The first time I was doing it, I was cutting off some of the tails and I clipped right through the hat….MAJOR FAIL! I was so upset! But, back at it I went! The final product is exactly what she wanted and she loved it so I was super happy.

The one major thing I learned after many tries (and I mean MANY) was how to fix the bottom rim of the hat so that when it is folded up it doesn’t look like a different stitch. Instead of crocheting in the round (meaning switching the colors and continuing working counter-clockwise), I would switch colors and turn. This made it so that the stitches looked the same both on the outside and inside of the hat. It worked perfectly!!

Let me know what you think!:) I would love to hear your thoughts.

Winter-Themed Wedding Reserved Cards

This past weekend, I needed to make some reserved cards for a bride we are working with. Her theme is a Winter Wedding and the decorations are gorge!! She just needed a little something for her reserved cards for the family tables, so I went ahead and got out my trust Silhouette Cameo and went to work.

I found this perfect Snowflake Place card and went to work. I had to resize the images a bit on the cutting mat so that they weren’t so small to be able to be viewed as a reserved card. Then, I simply changed around the grouping of the shapes so that I could cut them on different colored paper and it worked perfectly!

I met with her last night and she absolutley loved them!!!  I cannot wait to see them on the tables with her winter themed wedding decorations!!

Wedding Purses

Hi there!! You may remember that I made some purses for the bridesmaids of my friends upcoming wedding. Well… since those turned out so well, the mothers decided that they would like to have some as well. When I got back to the states, we went and picked out the fabric for each of the mothers/step-mothers. I am so happy with the way they look. Each one goes with the ladies’ dresses so well and it is perfect!

This first one is just brown fabric with a sheer brown/gold overlay with two peacock feathers under the sheer fabric. Love it!!

 

Loving this one!! Silver fabric to go with the mother’s dress and a simple brooch on a fabric yo-yo flower:) Super easy!

 

This one is the same concept as the first but with different feathers and different fabric. It matches the dress perfectly and I love it!!

 

This last one is adorable! I love the ribbon lace on it that makes it look old fashioned!

I would love to hear what you think! The mother’s were very happy so that makes it all worth it!

Crochet Hook Organizer

As part of the Hookin’…the legal way series!! that I had in June (which you can find on the sidebar over there ——->) I got the opportunity to work with Living in Amethyst on Etsy. Her shop has such amazing patterns! I love them all. I purchased this Lily Crochet Hook Organizer from her and I am so happy! I have made two so far! One for myself, and one as part of the Hookin’…the legal way!! Part 5, a giveaway and link party!!** Now closed**

The first one I made was in grey and mustard colored yarn and I love it!! I made this one with the 18 slots for the crochet hooks. I am always losing my crochet hooks, but now they are all in one place and I don’t have to worry about it. Plus, what’s better than having something made using crochet, to hold all your crochet hooks! I am so happy I got this pattern!

The pattern was really easy to follow. Just basic stitches and each pattern I have purchased from her has been amazing. Very detailed and thorough. I like that. It’s hard when you find a pattern that is hard to follow after you spent money on it;). This one was well worth the money!

This is the second one I made. It holds 12 crochet hooks. I love these colors because they are very summer-y. Yes, that’s totally a word! This one is made from Lion Brand yarns in Lullaby Pink and Peachy. They are super soft and very easy to work with!

You also have a chance to win this one that I made if you stop by the giveaway here!

Let me know what you think? How do you keep your crochet hooks organized?

Pretty Pink Pettiskirt

Miss M’s birthday is just around the corner and she will be turning 6. This year, we are having a princess themed party as you may already know if you saw the invitations. I have already looked on Pinterest for some inspiration for her party and I almost have everything done that can be done;). It is taking up a lot of time!! But, that’s okay…because she’s a princess:) Or so she seems to think.

I knew that I wanted her to have a full skirt like a pettiskirt, but I really didn’t want to have to make one:). I went online and ordered a dress for her to wear at her party that had a pettiskirt like bottom to it. I was so excited about it, but then when it got here, it was too small. Story of my life. Luckily, the same day I ordered the dress, I ordered some fabric to make a  pettiskirt as a backup incase it didn’t work out. I am so glad I did!!

I have been wanting to make a pettiskirt ever since I saw the tutorial at Make It Love It. Her tutorial is absolutely amazing and so easy to follow. I do not have a ruffling foot on my sewing machine, so I did the tension/stitch length technique and it worked perfectly! While there is a lot of fabric that has to be ruffled, it really did go fast for that part. Keeping the ruffles untwisted was where I wanted to pull my hair out, so if anyone has any tips that would be AMAZING! I am not going to lie and say it was a quick project because it literally took forever and was a mess with all the fabric that was used, but the end result is totally worth it. I also love that the waistband is adjustable with the tie ribbon so that as long as her duddies are not showing, she will be wearing this for a while:) It took all I had not to try it on because it is so soft and cute! Maybe another day;)

I could not be happier. She got to see it yesterday and was so pumped that it was so full and pretty! I will still have to make a shirt for her to wear, and probably a headband, but that’s easy stuff.

I cannot wait to see it all together with the headband and shirt on the day of her party! She is so excited to be dressed for the part of the princess!!

Do you have any tips for making a pettiskirt or things that worked for you while making one

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