Bethie Go Shoppy

Target is my Tiffany’s.

Which is a weird thing to read, I’m sure, if you’re not familiar with the inner workings of the cinematic classic I have referred to on the blog regularly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. At some point in the film, Holly GoLightly lets us know she heads to Tiffany’s when she’s anxious. It calms her down right away. And “nothing very bad could happen to you there.”

And this is what Target does for me. It’s silly, I know. But I’ve come to view my inexplicably frequent trips there as therapy. Self care.

You could even get yourself coffee in a paper cup, and a pastry of some kind in a paper bag, and eat it while you look at the goods.

bfastattiffs

You could sport her getup too, you might get a few side eyes, but oh well. I might just do that one of these days. Maybe skip the gloves though, because, desert.

It’s not a shopping addiction, though I know it must seem that way. Sometimes I go there just to look. (Granted I do end up getting something, but it’s often small and not even for me.) I will take pictures of things I want to remember later. Or I will find them on Amazon and add them to my cart to buy later. Or I will just admire them.

I live five minutes from a Target now. But even in San Francisco, where I had to drive 20 minutes to the suburbs to go (or go to City Target which is adorable and all, but not a replacement), I was still there a few times a week.

How can I explain it? It just makes the world seem right. It feels like I’m in a box of happiness and nothing bad can penetrate. Even though this is America, and this is 2018 after all, and of course bad things could happen there. But it feels like they won’t. And that’s the key. When I am walking around in this world thinking something bad will happen at any moment, take me by surprise and change my life forever, it’s nice to have a place to go where it feels like all of that gets checked at the door. Time moves a little slower, ergo so does my brain.

And because I cashiered for so many years (even a stint as a Target cashier no less) I feel confident using the self-checkout. I don’t even have to deal with people if I don’t want to.

I know the employees know me now. And I see some of them smirk when they don’t think I notice. But that’s ok. I am making myself feel better which is a huge accomplishment most days, so they can think I’m a nut. At least I’m not the lady who has loud, violent fights about “that girl you was with last night” with who she claims is Invisible Jesus (true story). (See, if you hang out there enough you get some good stories.)

Do you find yourself retreating somewhere when you’re in a funk? Somewhere outside your house I mean?

Friday Digest

These quickie lists have become sort of my thang for Fridays. I have to come up with some clever title/category for them. Ideas?

1. I’m excited to get caught up in fashion when I’m out of maternity wear. For one thing, I’m very optimistic about my post-baby weight loss. Being on the diabetic diet has helped me stay at a nice, healthy pregnancy weight, and while baby continues to grow, my weight dropped a little, and is now hovering in the area of 160, just 10 measly pounds over where I was before I got pregnant. The OB wasn’t all too happy about my weight at my checkup, but as long as the little man’s doing fine, I’m not going to change my routine. I can’t really do anything differently anyway, I’m not eating any less, just less of the stuff they TOLD me to eat less of! Ok, and also, I spent the year before I got pregnant either thinking I’d be pregnant or feeling pretty depressed, and deciding what to wear everyday was such an afterthought. One of the three pairs of jeans that fit me, a plain t-shirt, a plain sweatshirt, and my Sauconys. Every day. So, I’m excited to break that mold. Experiment with color. Get exciting. And since nothing I owned before will fit me anyway: SHOPPING! I won’t be able to go crazy or anything but, SHOPPING!

2. Yesterday was our 9th wedding anniversary (holla!). Since both of our babysitters recently relocated, and because we’re not super on the ball about making plans ahead of time, we pretty well resigned ourselves to the fact that Bowie would be accompanying us if we decided to go out to dinner. We made reservations at a semi-fancy place, and prepared Bowie for it in the morning. “We’re going to have dinner at a fancy restaurant because today is the day mommy and daddy got married. It’s our ann-i-ver-sary.” He was very excited and chatty about it all the way to school that morning. And, our usual routine at school is to grab a book and get cozy and read it until it’s time to sign in and sing welcome songs. When we got to school he made a mad dash for a “special book”, searching the many bookshelves that dot the whole building, finally finding the book he wanted. It was Froggy Eats Out, which is not only about a little froggy who goes out to eat at a fancy restaurant, but it’s also this froggy’s parents’ anniversary. What?! My kid is so smart and cute, you guys. And he was a (mostly) perfect little angel, and we all had a great dinner. He “dressed up” in his favorite shirt from Hawaii and he even got his own glass tumbler of juice, which was just a little bit too cute. Exhibit A:

3. I’m starting to have those “what was I thinking?!” moments of pregnancy, thinking about the near future. Not in any way like I wish I weren’t pregnant or anything like that, but just, you know, what was I thinking?! I remember having those thoughts with Bowie too. What have I done to our marriage? What have I done to the pets? Will life ever be as simple and carefree as before? (Hints: Improved it. Nothing. No, but you won’t care.) I know it’s just regular old cold feet, but I need those thoughts to just skee-daddle already, I don’t need any extra anxiety right now. No, I really don’t.

4. Today was Bowie’s final therapy session. We might do what the therapist called a “refresher” right after school starts, but he’s pretty well done. It seems like it went so fast, but then I remember we started this whole process back in April. Well, late February if you want to count the first time we met with the teachers about it. Of course he still has his moments, but there have been improvements by leaps and bounds. Today at school, I got to witness him enter into a sensitive situation (another kid got too close for Bowie’s comfort) and raise his hand to act out violently, and then change his mind and not follow through. One of the biggest exhales of my life. His newest challenge is allowing the adults to deal with a peer who is not following the rules. He’s been extremely sensitive to it lately, and the therapist says it’s just because he’s aware now that he’s trying so hard to stay in line, and he doesn’t get why everyone else can’t do that too. Makes sense. But still, another hurdle to overcome.

5. Today was the last day of summer school. Regular school starts back up again August 22. I am 33 weeks pregnant and will be alone with a 4 year old for the next 3 1/2 weeks. Deep breaths, deep breaths.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Beth’s Picks: Handy Kitchen Tools

A while back I started writing a post that was a list of all the kitchen tools I consider to be really important for the 5 star home chef, but that list got a bit lengthy and I didn’t know what to keep and what to cut. I like my kitchen tools. A lot. Just ask my friends, who have had to listen to me drone on about my amazing potato masher or my beloved juicer. I’ve also given short lectures on the importance of having a good steamer.

Anyway, I switched gears a bit, and I give you: a very abbreviated list of some awesome products that I tracked down on OpenSky. If you’re without these, you’re not alone, and will probably get along fine. But they sure are fun and nice to have around.

Slow Cooker

This just happens to be the one that I have (though I don’t have that “Little Dipper” deal, and I’m curious what it’s all about). I LOVE MY CROCK-POT. It is such a versatile kitchen tool, and you can make the most amazing meals and barely lift a finger. It does all the work for you, while you are going about your day. Probably my number one recommendation.

Crock-Pot 5 Quart Chrome Slow Cooker, $53

A Good Set of Whisks

They might not seem all that fancy or important, but I love my whisks. I use them for a multitude of things, including whipping up my famous lime vinaigrette. This set is particularly nice because of the silicone coating. Everything will just slide right off–so easy to clean–and they can stand up to pretty high temperatures, and won’t damage your metal cookware. Also, it’s great that they come in a variety of sizes, because sometimes you just need a tiny little whisk.

Three Piece Whisk Set, $18

A Good Set of Rubber Spatulas

Like the whisks, a set of rubber spatulas come in handy for a variety of kitchen tasks. Personally, I like to use them in place of wooden spoons when I’m frying or sauteeing, because they don’t soak up the oil. They are also the best tool there is for getting every last drop of something out of a pan or bowl. I only have two, but I should get more, I use them often and sometimes it feels like they are always in the dishwasher.

Rachel Ray 3 Piece “Spoonula” Set, $18

Prep Bowls

I have already spoken at length in a previous post about the importance of the prep bowl, so I will spare you. But they are super handy to have around, especially if you’re making something that calls for a large number of ingredients to be chopped, sliced, minced or cubed. You can have it all organized and ready to go as you cook the dish. This is a technique that I credit for completely changing how my food turns out. Really.

CaliBowl Cali Stack Nesting Bowls, $30

Handheld Citrus Juicer

This isn’t exactly the juicer that I own, but it’s very similar. And, like I said before, I’m in love. We squeeze a lot of lemons and limes in this house for a lot of stuff, from vinaigrettes to margaritas, and this tool is indispensable for us. If you came into our kitchen on any random day, chances are you’ll see it on the counter, recently used. I like it because it extracts the juice quickly and easily. You’re not grinding it on a point like the juicers that catch the juice in a dish. And you don’t need to by some fancy automatic juicer. Just slice in half, squeeze, enjoy.

Amco 8-inch Two in One Citrus Juicer/Squeezer, $27

10 tips for smarter holiday shopping and gifting

This time of year, it’s very easy to get sucked into the drama and the stress of holiday shopping. I’ve been there! Here are my ten tips on making things a little easier.

1. Shop year-round. You heard me. Have those feelers out 364 days a year. Watch for sales, clearance racks and other deals, and just keep an eye out for gifts that you knew a certain someone would love, or just gifts you know just about anyone would love and store them away in your closet. I’m not talking Hoarders-style here, just a few things you see that are perfect. You can always fill in the gaps come November and December.

2. If you get gift cards, be absolutely certain that the recipient enjoys regularly shopping or eating at the establishment that you choose. There are some striking statistics out there on how many gift cards go completely unused (i.e. wasted). If you’re at all unsure, skip it. A small gift you know they will enjoy goes a lot further.

3. Clothing isn’t a great gift option, so just skip it if you can. Unless you are privy to someone’s sizes (and most of us are not, not even our spouses) it can be awkward for them if it doesn’t fit, and difficult to exchange or return. Save yourself the stress of “what size? WHAT SIZE?!” and opt for a handbag or a nice scarf instead.

4. If you’re a big giver, set aside a little money each month in a special account that you can use toward holiday purchases. It certainly helps to have that money in place when the time comes, and it’s SO much better than maxing out all your credit cards and trying to deal with it in January.

5. Handmade gifts are often the best gifts. Make some homemade cookies or jams, decorate a wooden picture frame, have children color pictures, make a simple sewing project or put together a scrapbook of a favorite memory. Not only are handmade gifts completely unique, but they come straight from the heart, and that’s what a recipient really wants.

6. With some people, I find it fun to have a gift-giving tradition. Each year, buy each other the same thing: an ornament, funky earrings, garden seeds, coffee mugs, whatever it is that you share an interest in. It takes the thinking out of a gift, and in the end you each will have a fun collection.

7. For children, if you find yourself in the toy aisle, head swirling, head to the games and puzzles. They are much more enjoyable and educational. Just find something age-appropriate.

8. Save yourself some money and only send holiday cards to close friends and family. Cut out friends you haven’t spoken to in forever, old bosses, obscure 5th cousins, anyone you wouldn’t mind not getting a card from yourself. You can save a bundle on cards and postage.

9. If you really don’t know what to get someone, just ask. Better you feel like a fool for a few minutes, not knowing what to get, than feel unsure forever that you’re getting the right gift. The recipient usually appreciates being asked rather than you doing some quick guess work.

10. Consider spending money to “adopt a family” instead of exchanging gifts. My mom’s family has been doing this recently, and it’s so great. For one, it completely eliminates the stress of buying gifts, and you’re also helping a family in need, which feels so great. Another great gift is making a charitable donation in your recipient’s name. They will feel honored, and you will have put your money to good use.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Office Depot blogging program, making me eligible to get a $40 Office Depot gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Beth’s Picks: Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again! And there’s nothing I love more than browsing lists of gift ideas online and in magazines, to get great ideas for the people in my life. Here’s a tiny little OpenSky gift guide from me to you and yours. Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!

Intemperantia Chocolates Mini Assorted Truffles: A delicious 9 piece sampler set of these great bit sized truffles. They come in a variety of flavors (dark, milk, white, etc.) Best of all, they are gluten free and all natural–perfect for any chocolate lover! ($15)

Custom Initial Onsies: About as personalized as it can get! You choose your color and your initial and a custom onsie is sent right to you and your baby! Great gift for new little ones in the family. They also come in long sleeved (for $1.50 extra), because it is winter after all! ($11)

Blue Sandtimer Cufflinks: For the gentleman who has everything, some cool cufflinks! A conversation starter, a classy addition to any suit and a unique gift he’ll remember forever. Chrome plated. ($25)

Marx Foods Truffle Salt: A special treat for the foodie in your life! Truffle salt can be added to foods like regular salt, but adds the earthy flavor of black truffles. A delightful treat and a special addition to your cooking. 3.5 ounces. ($26)

Groovy Peace Bronze Necklace: For the hippie in your life. Funky, fun, eclectic and sends a positive message. My high school self would be drooling over this fantastic necklace. ($75)

Three Bar Bacon Soap Set: Know someone who REALLY likes bacon? This soap would be the perfect stocking stuffer! Just be sure to tell them it’s soap before they take a bite, haha. ($18)

Picnic Time Tool Kit: A handy, compact (12.5″ x 3.5″ x 17″) and durable tool kit for anyone you think could use it, from the kid going off to college to that neighbor who is constantly borrowing your tools. ($36)

Love and Kindness 8oz Soy Candle: An all-natural, clean-burning soy candle in a reusable glass jar with 50 to 70 hours of burn time. Comes in a wide variety of scents, and supports American farmers. You really can’t go wrong with these great candles! ($12)

Food Groups: For the kiddos, a great wooden food toy set to teach them all about their food groups. Durable and non-toxic.  ($18)

Stickr Black Frame Kit: Genius idea! Frames that stick to the wall, but won’t damage it when removed! And they can be moved around over and over. Set includes Doiley 5×7”; Queen Elizabeth 8×10”; Broadway 4×6”; Gumdrops 4×6”; Gumdrops 4×4”; Grandma’s Tiara 5×7”; Grandma’s Tiara 4×6”; Doiley 4×6”. ($20)

Ultra Moisturizing Cream Gift Set: A fantastic moisturizer that I have sung the praises of previously on Very Bloggy. This gift set comes with four 2 oz. jars, in the Fresh Lemongrass, Coconut Lime, Almond Vanilla, and Vanilla Fig scents. Great gift for a friend, or stocking stuffers for lots of friends! ($40)

Cookie Treat Cuatro Gift Set: For the doggie lovers. A gift pack of four different yummy organic and all-natural dog treats, with no wheat, corn or soy. A yummy holiday treat for any pooch! ($33)

Beth’s Picks: The CaliBowl Cali Stack Nesting Bowls

In my quest to teach myself how to cook, I noticed something about a lot of the chefs and cooks that I watched work their magic: they were prepared. Many chefs refer to it as “mise en place”, a French phrase basically meaning “everything in place”. It just means that you should have all of your necessary ingredients ready at hand, measured and prepared (peeled, chopped, sliced, minced, etc.).

When I began doing this, my cooking was taken to the next level. Having everything at the ready like that makes it nearly impossible for you to screw up a dish. No more burning something because the next ingredient wasn’t ready. No more realizing halfway through cooking that you are out of a key ingredient.

So, with the holidays coming up, and all the cooking that goes along with that, I want to propose that you get your hands on a good set of prep bowls, which are fantasically handy when it comes to getting your mise en place on. A great set that I have found on OpenSky is the Cali Stack set from CaliBowl. They’re cute, they’re affordable and they’re made well.

These bowls are made of durable plastic, partially recycled materials, and are BPA free. They are also conveniently microwave and dishwasher safe, and they are nesting bowls (fitting inside one another) for easy storage in anyone’s kitchen. The bowls hold 1 cup, 1 1/2 cups, 3 cups and 5 cups.

I’ve got the Retro Aqua Blue pictured here (my personal favorite), but there are a few colors to choose from in my shop (including the Lime Green which is currently available for an amazing sale price).


Buy Now

And the super news is, OpenSky has generously offered me another coupon code for the next ten people to make a purchase from my OpenSky shop! Save 25% off your purchase of anything from my OpenSky shop with the code VERYBLOG30PCT (enter at checkout). Expires October 31.

Happy cooking, and happy shopping!