My sweetie and I have been married sixteen years now! I don’t know about you and your family, but in ours, so many good memories are made in the kitchen! We love to bake and cook and froth up new concoctions together. My children are generous, offering each other beaters, bowls, and spoons to lick when they’re in charge. If they’ve ever considered not sharing, they haven’t let on!
I attended a bridal shower for a lovely young friend last weekend with the girls. The appetizers and punch were lovely and the table set with candles and silver, though this is not, by any stretch, a “fancy” family. The are hospitable, though, and they love each other with intense devotion. I enjoyed the food and friends, and I especially enjoyed watching as she opened each gift. I thought my blue Pillsbury cookbook would be a hit, since, of course, all new brides should have a good basic cookbook! Four other women also thought a good basic cookbook would be a great idea! LOL! But I’m pleased to say they were all different from each other, and I really do think she’ll benefit from each of them if she chooses to keep them all.
But in the course of watching her open her gifts, I was seized with an inspiration. Don’t mistake it for a pang of jealousy, as it was no such thing. Another gal (older than me) was commenting that, really, brides should be allowed to register for their shower gifts after they’ve been married thirty years. I laughed, as we both ogled the cool new pans and bowls and things we knew she’d thrill to using for the first times in her new kitchen, with her new husband.
It occurred to me that, certainly, there was no reason a “bride” of sixteen years (in my case) or thirty (in Bonnie’s case) shouldn’t be able to receive new “shower gifts” to update her kitchen to make it just suitable for herself. Are there things in your kitchen that drive you nuts when you’re working? Teflon pans that are badly scratched so everything sticks to them? Dull vegetable peelers? You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Only, since it’s not appropriate to really have another “shower” when you’ve been married this long, the only way the veteran bride is going to accomplish this is to either ask for these things for birthdays and Christmas, or get them for herself.
I remember the first year I got the email from Flylady about not being a martyr on Christmas morning, and how, since we ladies are the ones who fill the stockings, that instead of throwing a pity party because we have to fill our own stockings, we should either arrange with a girlfriend that we each fill the others’ stocking, or that we fill our own with things we love. This, to me, was no different. I’ve gotten some really great gifts some years! My gelding, Saxton, was probably the coolest ever! And the surprise electric blanket for my birthday this year has elicited a constant stream of thank-yous even to this day when it warms my borderline-anemic frosty toes. And then there have been the “Oh boy” gifts – don’t tell me you’ve never gotten an “Oh boy” gift. I know, I know … it’s the thought that counts, and I give that a lot of weight, but that kind of gift doesn’t send a tingle through my toes, ya know what I mean?
Knowing the hit or miss luck that prevails in the gift category, and realizing I am unlikely to get anything I ask for this late in the game, I decided to take part of my “violin stash” (that’s a whole ‘nother story) and upgrade my kitchen a little. There are a few inadequacies that drive me a little bonkers, but nothing so distracting that I haven’t been willing to put up with it for years.
It started with my vegetable peelers. I have one really great, kelly green plastic vegetable peeler, and one white “speed-peeler” type that came in a gift utensil set when I got my first apartment. It’s terrible and I hate it, but you know, one veggie peeler won’t cut it. So the kids and I fight each other for who gets the “good” green peeler. And since there are only two peelers, if I need a gang of peelers to make short work of some potatoes in a hurry, we’re outta luck! No prob. A veggie peeler can be had for a couple bucks. Unless you get seduced by the stainless steel, ergonomically weighted deluxe model at the kitchen specialty shop. That bad boy is fully worth the $6.99 price tag!
I won’t bore you with excruciating details, but in all, I managed to replace my lightweight stainless stock pot that couldn’t cook a batch of spaghetti sauce without burning it if someone’s life depended on it. It’s gone baby, and in its place, a triple-ply heavy duty Kitchenaid stockpot that I’ve tried to burn stuff onto unsuccessfully three times now! (LOL!) Love it! I also threw the old 12.5-inch “teflon” skillet into the Goodwill box. Let some college kid struggle with the scrapey spot in the middle and let them figure out how to get the hard, crusty gunk off there. Again, triple-ply, copper core 12.5-inch, stainless steel replacement by T-fal. No teflon on that baby! I’m in love! Nope, couldn’t burn any cheesy egg-potato concoction onto it, though, again, I tried. (Hey! I’m easily distracted. SQUIRREL!)
As if the two pans weren’t enough, I gave in and bought a cookie/meatball scoop. I know… a totally frivolous purchase that will take up space in my utensil drawer. But man! The meatball relief will be awesome! You know … those weirdely shaped meatballs you end up with, and the gunk all stuck in between your fingers so you have to take your wedding rings off? Well, maybe I’m alone in this, but I consider it a luxury!
My two other luxury purchases are some cool replacement bowls from Crate and Barrel and a Rachael Ray insulated potlucker with a 9×13 baker. I’m really particular about my bowls. Seriously. I had to have one set of stainless steel, but I needed another set as well. We do cooking marathon things around here, and in spite of my lovely (albeit weirdly sized) collection of white ceramic bowls, I usually find the “perfect” size for our salad or whatever, among the mixing bowls. So these are actually pretty cool. They’re deep, rich colors, and melamine, so they should last. I fell in love with the set of rubber-bottomed Kitchen-Aid mixing bowls I bought about a year ago that have spouts for pouring, but they betrayed me by starting to chip and crack a couple months ago. Rrrgh. So they’re so outta here when the new set arrives.
Check out this cool Rachael Ray insulated potlucker! I guess I just got tired of putting my lidless 9×13 glass baker, covered precariously in tinfoil and swaddled in a variety of “rag towels” to keep the contents warm, into a box on the floor between my feet whenever we take potluck or a new mom’s meal somewhere. All the while, I’m hoping desperately that it won’t spill goopy, greasy, or heaven forbid, red contents all over the carpets in my too cool, all wheel drive CR-V. After all, permanent scrapes on the dashboard from the bottom of kids’ shoes and dog claw scratches on the driver’s door are quite enough destruction for one Mama to have to put up with.
The whip cream and cherry on this sundae is something anyone can do, even if they don’t have a violin fund to snitch cash from. I took an afternoon and went through my drawers, finally ready to give up the nostalgic set of placemats my good friend and neighbor from our house in Ohio years ago gave me. We never use them, but they remind me of her. I pulled out all sorts of linens, a pie rolling mat I’ve had to force myself to use the five times I’ve used it since I got married, a variety of lidless tupperwares and so forth that I have to fight to find the things I need. I’ve never felt at liberty to get rid of those things (except maybe the tupperwares, but that’s an ongoing maintenence thing) any other times I’ve gone through my drawers culling. But I finally just got fed up with these space stealers suffocating me in the kitchen. So out they went. A whole carton of odds and ends. Rearranging my cupboards and drawers, and culling “extras” and unnecessaries is really, really liberating! It makes things seem clean and fresh in the kitchen and makes me want to spend time in there!
So, this Christmas, it’s going to feel like Christmas morning every day while I’m whipping up an astounding array of cookies, candies, casseroles, and appetizers (yay for meatballs!), while I break in my new gifts to myself.
I want to know… what are the things in your kitchen that drive you bonkers that you’d take care of or replace if you could just snap your fingers and do it? I’ll be selecting one winner at random from all entries posted and sending an insulated potlucker (baker not included) as seen in the photo above. To enter, just answer my question in the “comments” section. The contest ends at 9 pm Saturday and the randomly chosen winner will be posted Saturday night. To find out if you’re the winner, check the website, and we’ll be in touch so I can get your mailing address! Good luck!
Just a heads up… so far it looks like folks are having issues trying to post a comment. Please try to post a comment first. If you are unable to, send an email to bayberry at laheyfamily dot us with your name, address, and email, along with your comment to enter. Thanks!
…And yeah, I know. The original giveaway was supposed to be the cool melamine mixing bowl set. But as things aren’t going my way in the world of internet today, within about an hour of posting the contest, Crate and Barrel posted that their mixing bowls were no longer available for online ordering, and I don’t live within 100 miles of a Crate and Barrel as far as I know!