Simple planner essentials

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In high school and college paper planners were my life. It’s how I kept everything organized. There was no Gmail or Google Calendar. My cell phone flipped opened. I’m old. After college though, things changed. Maybe it’s because I had less to keep track of, but the planner didn’t seem so important anymore. Then so much stuff went digital.

Fast forward a few years though, throw a kid and a dog and cats into the mix and I was really starting to miss those planners for keeping track of important stuff and appointment. I tried going all digital with Google Calendar (which I do love for keeping track of some things) but it wasn’t quite enough. I needed something I could physically flip through. I came to this realization at around 10pm one night last year, and decided I needed a planner like yesterday. So, impulse control lost that round, and I found myself checking out the planner section at Walmart that same night. Given it was the middle of the year, the selection was slim, but I found one I liked and took it home. I mean, I paid for it first. I’m not a thief.

I don’t get super elaborate with my planner like some people. Not that I’m not totally impressed by some of these planner layouts they cook up (seriously, look up planner decoration on YouTube, it’s crazy), but it’s just not for me. I like to keep it simple with a few essentials.

6-simple-planner-essentials

Paper Planner – This one from Blue Sky is what I use and I am really happy with it. I wanted something that was very basic, but had lots of room to write if I wanted to make notes about the day. And at only $10, it’s a bargain compared to some other planners out there. I’ve also noticed some fun planners at Dollar Tree the last few times I’ve gone in that were super tempting.

Fun Pens – I’m so in love with my Sharpie pens. They write smoothly and don’t smudge. I haven’t had them bleed through paper, but if your planner paper is thin you might get some shadowing with these.

Binder Clips – I use small binder clips to keep my place in the calendar so I can close it up and open it right back to the current week. It’s a small thing, but it’s so nice to not have to flip through the whole planner to find the right week.

Stickers – Full disclosure: I don’t have any awesome planner stickers like this yet. But I have been eyeing them and I think I’m going to need some for next year’s planner. It would be cool to make my planner a little more festive.

Highlighters – I like to go through and highlight important dates or appointments. My planner has certain holidays already penciled in, so I like to highlight those too to make them standout more.

Post-it Notes – I will pretty much use any excuse to utilize a Post-it, and I use difference sizes on my planner but the small page-marker ones get used the most. If there are things I need to do but haven’t set a definite day and time, I usually put it on the post-it and assign it tentatively to a certain day, then if it doesn’t work out I can just move it to a new day. It works really well.

Do you have a planner? I’d love to hear how you keep it fun and organized.

Trish Signature

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22 tools every baker needs in their kitchen

This post contains affiliate links. When you shop through my affiliate links it doesn’t cost you anything, but I might make a small commission. I use this money to fund the blog and my cake addiction. 

I was going through some old posts and deleting ones that were just terrible and not really relevant anymore, and I came across one I did for a blog hop years ago where I had to talk about my favorite Christmas gift. The gift I chose? My beloved KitchenAid Mixer. And I still love that thing! I’ve come a long way in my baking endeavors since then though, and I’ve got a lot more kitchen favorites. So I thought I’d share them!

Some of these will seem a little obvious for those that work in the kitchen a lot, but I decided to include them to make the list inclusive, and therefore perfect for someone who is new to baking and needs to start building their arsenal of kitchen tools without missing anything important. Most of the items listed are the ones I actually use and love.

Here’s my list of essentials:

22 tools every baker needs in their kitchen

 

Cake Pan with a Lid – Having a cake pan with its own lid is super helpful, and I highly recommend having one. It’s so convenient to just throw the lid on batch of brownies to keep them fresh and not have to fumble with foil or cling wrap.

Cookie Scoop – Scooping cookies is so easy with one of these babies. They come out the perfect size and shape, so your cookies bake up nice and even. Keeps your hands from getting super messy too, which I appreciate!

Cookie Spatula – This cookie spatula is amazing. It’s nice and big so you don’t have to worry about larger cookies not making it over to the cooling rack. It’s also good for flipping grilled cheese sandwiches. And Quesadillas. Basically anything with cheese in it.

Cooling Rack – You gotta have a place to cool your baked goods! I prefer the stacking racks, especially if you’re making a lot of cookies at once. But a single baking rack works too.

Cupcake Liners – Pretty cupcake liners aren’t a must, I guess, but you won’t catch me without them. I am a big fan of these from Wilton that don’t fade when you bake. I mean, cupcakes still taste good even when the papers are greasy and faded, but it sure is nice when they look pretty.

Food scale – I was really resistant to the food scale at first, but the thing sure is handy. Some things you just need to weigh ingredients for. It’s also good for weighing other small things, like packages and gerbils and things. I recommend washing it off after weighing gerbils. DISCLAIMER: I do not weigh small rodents on my food scale.

KitchenAid Hand Mixer – If you’re not into a stand mixer taking up counter space, this hand mixer is a great alternative. I have both actually, and I use this one for really quick jobs like preparing cake mixes.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer – How many times can I sing the praises of the KitchenAid Stand Mixer? It makes baking a breeze, and looks super sweet up on your counter. I don’t want to go as far to say that everyone needs one, but you probably do.

Lemon Squeezer – I really hate juicing fruit. I always seem to have a small cut on my finger that the juice gets into and then I’m cursing under my breath about it. This lemon squeezer is pretty great. Just cut the fruit in half, stick it in, and push down. No mess. No seeds. No problem.

Loaf Pan – These longer, skinnier loaf pans are amazing. The one I have is actually from IKEA, but these are very similar. I’ve had some mishaps with things not cooking well in regular loaf pans, but these haven’t failed me yet.

Measuring Cups and Spoons – These are obviously an absolute must-have. Unless you’re some kind of crazy genius (true story, i just spelled it “jenius” and had to correct it. me so smart.) I don’t think you can eyeball a cup of flour (i also spelled this “flower” and had to correct it. me learn real good.) or a teaspoon of vanilla.

Mixing Bowls – I like these mixing bowls in particular because they have lids, so they can do double duty as storage containers when you’re not mixing stuff up in them. Or sometimes you need to let things sit in the fridge before continuing on with the recipe, so these are perfect.

Muffin Tin – There’s really no substitute for a good muffin tin. There are alternatives, like silicone baking cups, but I am not a super big fan of those. If you want to go really crazy, you can get a mini muffin tin as well. Then you’ve got all your muffin/cupcake bases covered. And don’t even get me started on the mini cheesecakes you can make in them.

Pie Dish – Confession: I’m a fan of frozen pie crusts. They’re easy and they taste pretty good. But sometimes you just need to make your own crust, and that means you need a pie dish.

Piping Tips – You don’t have to go crazy here, just get a basic set to have on hand. You don’t have to be a decorating pro to use them for simple things, like frosting a cupcake. But using them gives your baked goods a much more professional look without a lot of extra effort. Oh, and don’t forget the piping bags.

Rolling Pin – I am a big fan of this french rolling pin. I find it much easier to use than a traditional rolling pin. It’s a lot easier to clean too.

Scraping Beater Blade – If you have a stand mixer but not one of these scraping beater blades, get yourself one pronto! It scrapes the bottom and the sides of the mixing bowl so you don’t have to bother with it. It completely replaced my regular beater blade.

Scraping Spatulas – You gotta have a couple of these bad boys in your arsenal too. I like this set because it comes with differences sizes. I use the little one all the time to get at the inside of jars or cans. I don’t like to leave any food behind.

Sheet Pans – Please get good, sturdy baking sheets for your kitchen. The cheaper ones warp in the oven, don’t distribute heat well, and are just overall not worth the headache. I prefer the style with the higher rim so they can do double duty for things like roasting vegetables.

Silpat Baking Mat – I really don’t even remember life before my silicone baking mat. How did I even bake things before they entered my life? I once made these caramel-stuffed cookies that basically exploded all over my cookie sheet. I can’t even imagine the cleanup if they hadn’t been on the baking mat. The caramel just wiped right off. This stuff is magic. You need at least one of these, but two is even better so when you’re making cookies you can alternate between baking sheets.

Square Baking Dish – This baking dish hasn’t let me down so far. It’s sturdy, has a lid, and words for baking, making layered desserts, or for food storage.

Whisk – This KitchenAid whisk is nice and sturdy, but the one I had inexplicably broke one day. It shouldn’t have, so I sent a message to the company just to let them know (not expecting anything from them) and they asked for my address and sent me a new one free of charge. The new one has been going strong for a while!

Whew! That was a long list, but really fun to put together. Did I miss anything though? Do you have any must-haves for your kitchen?

Trish Signature

Want to keep up with all my cake-fueled ramblings? You can subscribe to my newsletter or find me at one of these places:


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10 books that will haunt you long after you’re done reading them

This post contains affiliate links. When you shop through my affiliate links it doesn’t cost you anything, but I might make a small commission. I use this money to fund the blog and my cake addiction. 

I’m sure this has happened to you before. You get done with a book and you just, you know, can’t believe it’s really finished. You became so immersed in the story. It felt real. And now it’s over. And you have to figure out a way to go on without those characters and that fictitious world where they reside. It’s hard, right? The best books are the ones that won’t let us go, even when we’ve read every last word.

That’s what all these books are to me. The list is a little eclectic (like me!) because I’m equal opportunity book devour-er.

I definitely think they’re worth a read.

10 books that will haunt you long after you're done reading them

11/22/63 – Prepare yourself, this book is long. But it’s worth it. The story follows Jake, an English teacher who is enlisted to go back in time to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It’s frustrating, suspenseful, triumphant, and heartbreaking all rolled into one fascinating novel. I neglected every part of life I could for 3 days so I could finish it.

Bag of Bones – I was totally gripped by this novel. It was scary and suspenseful, which kept me reading. But it was the characters and their twisted fate that still has me loving the book all these years after I first read it. If you ever happen to come across the movie adaptation though, steer clear. It’s awful. I’m still waiting for the day when a Stephen King book translates well into a movie.

The Fault in Our Stars – This is not normally the kind of book I gravitate toward, but I heard it was good so thought I’d take a chance on it. I found the book funny, snarky, and full of hope despite the fact the main character is, you know, kind of dying. I recommend reading with a box of tissues nearby.

Gone Girl – I found this one laying around the house one day. A book unceremoniously discarded by mom after having only read a few pages. Her reason? It was too “wordy.” I love my mom so much. In her defense, she has since read the book, and loved it too. I was captivated by the writing, and the format of going back and forth between the present where we’re searching for a missing woman, and excerpts from her diary that don’t seem to match her husband’s account of their marriage. It was a fun, mysterious read with an ending that was just twisted enough to be totally satisfying.

The Host – So listen, I liked Twilight. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I thought they were fun reads, but I wasn’t obsessed with them. I didn’t feel particularly moved by them. This one though, by the same author, it stuck with me. It was almost addictive. Alien creatures invade earth and take human “hosts.” Except one human isn’t giving in quite that easily, so human and alien are forced to share one body. It sounds weird. It is. But it works. And word is there will be two more books making it a trilogy. Sign me up.

Insomnia – If my memory is right, this is the first Stephen King novel I ever read. While it’s definitely a suspenseful, fascinating read, the characters are what will make you want to keep reading. They are written with so much heart and compassion, you can’t help but start to love them. And their eventual fate is what will keep you from being able to forget the book.

Odd Thomas – This is a series of books that really the entire world just needs to hurry up and read. Odd (yep, that’s his name) can see dead people, but they can’t talk to him. It makes the dynamic interesting, especially when they’re looking for help. He gets himself into some interesting/dangerous/scary predicaments, which will keep you enthralled, but you’ll always be wondering how things are going to end up for Odd and that’ll keep you picking up book after book.

Room – I picked this one up on a whim at a used bookstore that was going out of business. I really didn’t know much about it, aside from the fact they made a movie based on it. The description sounded interesting enough, and I gave it a shot. Oh.My.Gosh. You guys. This book. I won’t go into too much detail, so as not to give too much away, but there is one chapter that was so suspenseful I practically stroked out reading it. I’ve never read so fast in my whole life, because I just had to freaking know what was going to happen.

The Stand – Get ready, it’s another long one. It’s about deadly strain of the flu that is unintentionally released and wipes out about 2/3 of the population, leaving survivors to carry on without loved ones while trying to navigate this new, dangerous post-apocalyptic world. Groups of these survivors start coming together, and soon you discover this is about more than just a plague, it’s a fight between good and evil. Bonus points if you read it while you have a cold like I did.

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Out of all the books I’ve ever read, this one got me in the feels like none of the others. Years later, I swear to you, there are some nights when I’m trying to sleep and my brain is like “Yeah but, don’t you want to ponder the end of The Time Traveler’s Wife again?” And I’m like, might as well brain. Haven’t cried in a few days. If you can only pick one book out of the list, I’d say go with this one.

Do you have any books that left a huge impression on you? I love book recommendations!

Trish Signature

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How to treat a dry, itchy scalp

This post contains affiliate links. When you shop through my affiliate links it doesn’t cost you anything, but I might make a small commission. I use this money to fund the blog and my cake addiction. 

You guys, I have been battling horrible dry, itchy scalp for as long as I can remember. It used to be embarrassingly bad. Like bad enough I didn’t want to leave the house. Lots of tears were shed over my stupid scalp. But over the years, through a lot of trial and error, I’ve found a few products that work really well at keeping the dry scalp at bay. I don’t use all three of these everyday, but I generally do at least one of them 2-3 times a week because that’s about how often I wash my hair. Which, now that I’m thinking about it, is another good tip. Don’t wash your hair too much! Sometimes I don’t wash mine with shampoo at all, I just condition the ends and leave the scalp alone. That allows more of your natural scalp oil to build up. It’ll seem weird when you first start doing it, but I promise your hair is still getting clean.

Here are the three products I use regularly to combat my dry, itchy scalp:

medies for a dry itchy scalp

Tea Tree Oil Shampoo – I stumbled upon this Nature’s Gate Tea Tree Oil Shampoo one day when I was desperately searching for relief from my itchy scalp. I made a special trip to a health food store just to get it, and shampooed as soon as I got home. It made a world of difference. It didn’t completely cure me, but gave me so much relief. I usually put it directly onto my scalp where the problem areas are and let it sit for a while, then rinse out and condition like normal. Doing this a couple of times a week has made a big difference. Alternatively, you can mix straight tea tree oil into your own shampoo. Just don’t put the oil alone directly onto your scalp as it may irritate it more.

Scalpicin – I’ve been using Scalpicin for years now and don’t see myself giving it up anytime soon. It’s a liquid that you apply directly to your scalp and helps ease that pesky itch. I generally use it right after a shower. It makes makes my scalp feel nice and refreshed.

Vitamin E Oil – I’ve been using vitamin e oil on my dry face for a long time, and one day I thought, I wonder what it would do for my scalp? I apply it directly to my problem areas and massage it in, then put a shower cap on and go about my business for a while to let it have time to work. Then I shampoo it out and condition like normal. It always leaves my scalp feeling so moisturized.

Do you have any tried-and-true dry scalp remedies you use? I’m always willing to give a new treatment a try!

 

Trish Signature

Want to keep up with all my cake-fueled ramblings? You can subscribe to my newsletter or find me at one of these places:


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Vacation essentials

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A few weeks ago I went on an adventure to the Upper Peninsula with my family. Four adults, a toddler, and all our crap stuffed inside a Ford Explorer. It’s a good thing we like each other. We had a few hiccups along the way. Like having to drive 4 hours round trip to get a rental car because the local place we reserved from was closed when we got there. Maybe they shouldn’t have 12pm as a pick-up time if that’s when they close? Just a thought. Or how about the power going off at our rental house. No, not just the house. The entire town was without power. Or my personal favorite, when we were driving down the road and a deer literally ran into the side of the car.

Despite the hiccups, we had a lot of fun. Probably my favorite part was the log slide overlook. How is this a lake? I was mesmerized.

Log Slide Overlook

Here are a few of the things that made this road trip a little easier:

Six Vacation Essentials For Your Next Road Trip

Stainless Steel Water Bottle – I have been using an insulated plastic tumbler at home, but I wanted something more spill proof for the road. Plus I wanted it to keep my water ice cold for a long time. Warm water and I don’t get along. I ended up getting this Contigo stainless steel water bottle, and I love it. I’d fill it with ice in the morning and add water throughout the day and it was still cold by evening. I even use it around the house now. Sorry old water bottle. I met somebody new.

A Good Book – I read two this time. I chose Dark Places because I loved Gone Girl so much, and I was not disappointed. I totally did not see the end coming. And my second choice was The Girl on the Train. I kept thinking I had it figured out, and then not so much. Some of my hunches were right, but I was still guessing until the very end. They were both perfect vacation reads for anyone who likes suspenseful mystery novels.

Travel Wallet – I took a small backpack that sort of served as my purse, since I knew we were going to be doing a lot of walking, but I didn’t want to have to take it everywhere. So after some hunting, I settled on this travel wallet. It’s small enough that it fit nicely into the backpack, but big enough to hold all my important stuff. For walks into town I’d just slip it onto my wrist and was good to go.

Packing Cubes – Seriously, where have these been all my life? I’ve never been so organized on a trip before, and it’s all because of these sweet packing cubes. It made packing a breeze, and it was so nice to not have to dig through my bag to find something. I just pulled out one cube and the rest of my stuff stayed organized.

A Quality Compact Camera – While I sure do love my DSLR, I don’t really want to haul it everywhere. I got this Sony digital camera for Christmas last year, and I can’t say enough good things about it. It takes lovely pictures without a lot of effort, but has a pretty robust set of options for people who want to use it on manual.

Comfortable Walking Shoes – I don’t know if it’s because my feet are so wide or what, but I have a heck of a time finding comfortable shoes. I finally broke down and spent a day searching around for a pair that would work for me, and after trying on 927 pairs, I settled on these Nike Flex Supreme running shoes. I really don’t like wearing shoes, so I love that these are light weight and don’t make my feet feel quite so constricted. And bonus points, they come in a wide width.

If you have any travel essentials I’d love to hear about them. Never too early to start prepping for the next vacation, right?

 

Trish Signature

Want to keep up with all my cake-fueled ramblings? You can subscribe to my newsletter or find me at one of these places:


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