Kitchen Essentials (Last Minute Gift Ideas)

This is for you procrastinators out there who still haven’t finished up your Christmas shopping. If you’re buying for someone who likes to cook, or just so happens to be lacking in the kitchen department, here’s a list of my top 5 kitchen essentials. These are items I use on a daily basis or very often and I’m pretty sure anyone would be happy to receive them. Well, they may be a little thrown off by receiving a Dutch oven but once that puppy is in their kitchen and in use, they’ll be glad you gifted it to them!

To make your shopping easier, I’ve added links to each item of the exact brand/model that I own.

dutch oven1. Dutch oven– I didn’t receive one of these until a few years ago. And my dad gave it to me as a gift. But, I absolutely love it! I wish I’d had this many years ago. This is probably my most used cooking vessel. I only make soups in this thing and it’s also great for any type of pulled meat, pork, beef, chicken. What’s convenient about this is that you can cook on the stovetop and then transfer it to the oven.

cast iron2. Cast iron skillet– This is a kitchen staple. Everyone needs a cast iron skillet. They are so versatile. Frying, cooking, baking. They pretty much do it all. We took ours all the way to Colorado when we went tent camping on a river and it was the ONLY pan I took. These things are heavy duty, incredibly resilient and a must in every kitchen.

kitchen 23. A good blender– After our old glass blender fell out of the top cabinet and onto my head, I was really in need of a new one. Not a new head, but a new blender. Impact with my hard head caused a crack on the base of the blender but surprisingly didn’t shatter or break the glass at all. Anyhow, my dad once again gifted me with an amazing blender. Yes, my dad gives me a lot of kitchen supplies. One, he encourages my cooking. Two, I think he had a kitchen shopping addiction there for awhile. Well, a good blender is also a must. Most people keep theirs in the cabinet (like I used to) but this newer one sits on my counter because I use it so often. Smoothies, shakes, salsa, dressings, etc.

knife4. Kitchen knives– These are so important! Adam got me a great set of knives a couple of years ago and I love them. They are lightweight, but sharp and also comfortable to hold. Mine don’t have a block which I was hesitant about because who doesn’t have a block of knives sitting on their counter? Well, I don’t. At least not anymore. These stay in their velvest-esque holders in a drawer and it actually is pretty convenient. If you’re looking for a less expensive and more introductory set, click here. Same brand that I use, but just a smaller set.

kitchen5. Flat whisk– I finally got this last year. Where has it been all my life?!?! I use it daily! It’s not cumbersome like a round whisk can be, and I like the smaller size. If you’re looking for something small and inexpensive, you’ve found it.

Happy shopping and Merry Christmas!

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Traditions

cookie time 3We have a tradition in our house. Close to Christmas, I bake a batch of sugar cookies and my girls decorate them. We’ve been doing this for the past few years and it’s just me and the three of them. They asked this year if daddy was going to help and I told them “It’s a girl thing”. And I’ll admit, it can be trying at times during the process because I happen to be a bit neurotic when it comes to my kitchen, i.e. I don’t like messes. But luckily, they’re pretty good about keeping it fairly clean. Plus, they like being able to do it on their own and it’s something they look forward to. And, they get to eat the fruits of their labor. So it’s a win/win for them.

I always let each kid pick out what cookie cutter they want and this year they chose a Christmas tree, a snowman and a gingerbread man. And although they really like decorating the cookies, I think their favorite part is actually when I roll out the dough, and they get to cut out the cookies.

cookie timecookie time 2cookie time 4I think they turned out pretty cute. And they taste really good too!

If you’re still on the hunt for the perfect sugar cookie recipe, click here. I’ve tried a few different ones and this one is a definite keeper. I haven’t altered or changed a thing about it. I follow it to a T and they turn out perfect every time!

DIY Christmas Decor

As far as Christmas decorating goes, that pretty much falls on the man of the house. At least, the outside of the house. He’s very into the lights being just so and all that. Tight and straight, no sagging lights. For a couple years, he even decorated the street light in front of our house. The whole entire thing! Yes, the enormous concrete pole. It took a huge ladder propped against the pole and laying halfway into the street, with our neighbor watching and making sure a car wouldn’t run right into it. Last year I insisted he NOT do that again, since I’m pretty sure I lost a few years of my life watching him do that.

This year, I decided to change things up a little bit from the standard indoor decorations we usually have. But decorations are expensive (unless you get them AFTER Christmas) so I went the semi-homemade route. And I’m very simple about holiday decorating. Kudos to you people out there that switch out everything! The bathroom, the kitchen, EVERY ENTIRE THING IN YOUR HOUSE! I’m not up for that kind of work, nor do I have room to store everything. So simple it is! Here’s some mason jars that I filled with sand (from my very own backyard) and holly that I got on sale at Michaels. The ribbon was leftover from Christmas last year.

decor 3I also saw this Christmas card holder on a boutique website that they were originally selling for $12.99 but was marked down to $5.99, not including shipping. And all you got was twine and clothespins. Well, that stuff was sitting in my garage for $0.00, so it got strung up across the mantle. Now I need some more Christmas cards to hang up there!

decorI got these pinecones at the park on my street a few years ago. I brought them home and Adam spray painted them for me.

decor 2So there you go! Simple, rustic, inexpensive Christmas décor made mostly out of things laying around my house. And I love it all!! But if you don’t happen to have this type of stuff laying around, any kind of dollar store will most likely have some things to get you started. P.S. Dollar Tree is my favorite!

And this Christmas tree is planted in my front yard. We bought it three years ago because we wanted a live, uncut tree that we could plant and watch grow over the years. When we got it, it was only about a foot and a half tall. Now, it stands about 7 feet tall!!! If I had a bigger yard, I’d buy a live tree and plant it every year.

tree