Friday, June 13, 2008

favorite thing friday

If there is one thing I have learned from blogging, it's that I feel driven compelled to share with the world trivial things from my life. Including, but not limited to: long stories, short stories, photographs and tricks I've picked up along the way. And every so often, long winded narratives about my family.

As I've written before, blogging serves first and foremost as an awesome means of recording our parenting experience. It is also a great way of communicating with our friends and family that are on opposite ends of the country. Add to that, it's a whole lot more convenient (and inexpensive) than therapy, which I would ABSOLUTELY need if not for this little outlet of expressing myself.

Along the way, I've heard from so many people that offer me words of encouragement. "Don't abandon them in Mexico. Take them to the Y!" Or, they send heartfelt notes in which they tell me how much inspiration they get from reading this blog. "If you can do it with four, surely I can do it with two."

To which I usually ask ... do what?


The point of this introduction is to say that several months ago, I started writing down my favorite toys that we've discovered for our children. Then, I started writing down some of my favorite activities that we've discovered to keep them busy. Then I started writing down some of my favorite kitchen tools. Then I had so many lists of favorite things, I thought "How am I ever going to communicate this to the world?? How can I incorporate all these things in to a cohesive blog post??"

And I couldn't really think of a way to do it.

So today, and for every Friday for at least the rest of this year, I am going to blog about a favorite thing. Something that I've found or discovered that makes living easier or more enjoyable with children. Something that I feel compelled to share with the world.

Now, without further adieu.


Charlie and I have a ton of traditions. We love traditions. One of our favorite traditions is to have a big dinner on Christmas Eve. And during that dinner, we will open English Crackers and wear funny paper hats and be merry. And we will also open one present that is placed on the dinner plate (before dinner is served, of course) for each person to unwrap.

Thirteen and a half years ago ... during our very first Christmas as a married couple, my mother came to spend the holidays in California with us. Before she arrived, I had painstakingly picked out a few gifts that I thought that she would enjoy and use with a big emphasis on the word "USE" because my mother has an extremely practical mind, and is not the kind of person that would appreciate a porcelain figurine.

So I bought her what I thought was a hand held chopper and dicer. This seemed like a great gadget for the kitchen because you could dice various foods and then scoop them up with the wide blade. And since my mother is always cooking up something new, I thought that this was a sure fire hit of a gift for my mom.

Mom unwrapped the gift, smiled and said "Wow, this looks great! Thank you!!" and then she tucked it next to her plate while I rambled on and on about how cool this thing was. She could cut herbs, or fruit, or vegetables, or bread - or whatever her heart desired - and there would be a minimization of food handling while she transferred it to a plate.

On and on I went.

Which I'm sure you can't possibly imagine how I could go on and on (and on and on).

The next morning, Christmas Day, when we sat down to open our gifts, my mother handed me a small box. Once I removed the wrapping paper, I recognized that mom had given to me the same exact gift I had given to her, the night before. And I was shocked and amazed that we had the same line of thought regarding a gift that we thought each other would enjoy and I exclaimed "Wow, what a coincidence!! I bought you the same exact one!!"

And mom laughed and said "Yep. It's the SAME exact one."

Because my mother, in addition to being extremely practical is a RE-GIFTER and the gadget that I lovingly gave to her on Christmas Eve was something that she promptly deemed was not necessary in her small living space and her mind was reeling with who she was going to unload it on. And since I'd made such a big fuss about how GREAT it was, she thought she'd just give it right back to me.

Thirteen and a half years later, this little gadget is probably one of our FAVORITE tools in the kitchen. Now what's really funny - in addition to the fact that my mother re-gifted it back to me - is that I had NO idea what this thing was called, until today. Because when I went on line and Googled "Hand Chopper, Hand Dicer, Scooper" I got a whole bunch of stuff that didn't look anything like this thing which we've always called it the cutter-scooper-thing.

It turns out it's a Pastry Scraper and you can buy one at any store that stocks cooking supplies.

Apparently, people use it for lifting and turning soft breads and pastries. Which, although I've cooked my fair share of breads and pastries, I've never used it for that. So now that I know what this thing is designed for, I love it a little bit more.

We use it for cutting up all kinds of fruits and vegetables and sandwiches and pancakes and waffles and anything that we happen to be dicing and transferring to the children's plates. Since it's not sharp, there is no risk of cutting yourself or little fingers during transfer. And I like it better than transferring food with my hands or from a knife.

Wouldn't you know, now that my mother has seen our cutter-scooper-thing in action, she totally wants one.


  1. I have seen you use this "tool" in action, which prompted me in using mine for something other than pizza dough clean-up... I love my "pastry scraper" because Shayna loves tofu and it's the best thing for cutting it into cubes!

  2. I seriously think you should write a book... You could review useful/useless tricks and tips and give advice to expecting parents.

    I've picked up so much more useful info here than those "what to expect" books!

  3. The regift is hilarious! And I think I need to run out and get me one of these...

    Looking forward to lots of Favorite Thing Fridays. (I might even join in sometimes - would you mind?)

  4. P.S. I just got all twitterpated looking up English Crackers - I've never heard of them or that tradition. And I want to do it now! You need to post - or write a book - about your traditions, too. :) (We didn't have a lot of traditions growing up, but I CRAVE them, so I'm trying to establish some of our own...)

  5. Karen in Buffalo6/13/08, 7:14 PM

    Great idea for the Favorite Fridays! I'll be looking forward to reading them each week!
    This item is a must have for me. I can't tell you how many times I have used the knife I was using to cut up fruit, meat, veggies, etc to scrape the food onto my kids' plates~ with them within reaching distance. Everytime after I do it I cringe at the thought of "what could have happened". I'll be heading to the store first thing in the morning.

  6. While I have minimal space, I love all things practical, and all things kitchen related. And one that is both? Well, now I'm just in my own little slice of heaven!

    I can't wait to see what other favorite things that you have!

  7. We have that thing! I don't remember where we got it--some time in the first year of marriage I think. Looking forward to make everything interesting!

  8. OMG I need one of those! I keep using the knife to transfer food and that is a bad bad thing I know.

    Oh... and what Jen said! Write a book! I'd buy it! You could call it The carrabiner and the chopper scooper thingy.

  9. mamabunnytam6/14/08, 12:53 AM

    neat...I have a Bed, Bath and Beyond gift card... I think I'm going to have to go and pick one up.
    Tammy-mama of two bunnies

  10. I got a kick out of that story- and how smart your mama is to re-gift to someone she knew would enjoy it.
    And what a funny ending- that she wants one now!

  11. Karen in Buffalo6/14/08, 10:49 AM

    Just got back from Target! Their version is actually called "Chop & Scoop" (by Chefmate). You were right on! I'll be washing it and using it to prepare lunch.

  12. I bet Anne Boleyn would not have liked that kitchen tool.

    But I want one. Not because I'd use it or anything, but it looks very professional. ;-)

  13. I love your mom just knowing the little re-gift tidbit about her. I know you grew up in a large family -- having six kids myself and limited space, if there is something we do not need or use out it goes. It's kind of a survival skill so we don't get lost in the clutter. She sounds like a practical, yet fun and creative person.

  14. They also work great for scraping stuff/gunk off your counters. Every time I make cookies, pie crusts, or bread, or cinnamon rolls, I end up with cemented flour everywhere on my counters. That little gadget takes it right off!

    I'm one of those moms who reads your blogs and says, "If she can survive with four kids, and has for the last four years, and hasn't killed a one of them yet, then I can certainly do this with just one." Thanks!

  15. Oh goodness, I want some pancakes now. Too bad our entire kitchen is packed up right now. That's a great tool.

  16. Huh. A pastry scraper. That looks handy. Now I want one.

  17. Excellent tool - I wish I had one.Your mother sounds like my mother in law.

    You should write a parenting tip book - there would never be a parent who felt inadequate again and neither would it be short of a laugh. Goodness knows we all need a few laughs every day.

    Jen - in answer to your question on Flickr -

    I have found free flickr easy to use and because you can group in sub sets. I haven't tried many others to be honest.

    People can leave comments if you make your images public and you can share them. Photobucket I didn't like as much.Though I haven't checked all the features.

    I really enjoy most Flickr hosting of everyones images to browse and spent a lazy few hours admiring great photography.

    I am still an amateur in online photo storing and features.
    I was picasa is good too.