My (10) Christmas Present(s) To You
It feels like we’ve had an extra week between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, though the calendar tells me it’s only a few days. That’s great for tackling the to-do list, but it makes me feel like a little kid painstakingly checking off the days until it’s here. Not to mention the walk to the mailbox each day — send me all the Christmas cards!
I thought I’d put a bow on the year by sharing 10 things I’ve loved this year or that have made my life easier. Most of them skew toward the kitchen and a few toward the business side of life. And, at the end, there’s one that will make (our) life way better (if a bit harder at times) than all the rest…
On the 10th day ’til Christmas, Think About Eat gave to me… OneTsp.com!
I’ve been using this online recipe storage site for more than a year now to flag and store recipes I want to be able to find again. I know other folks like Pinterest, but seeing all those Internet overachievers gives me a small panic attack. And the last thing I need when I’m trying to make dinner is to fall into the black hole of the Internet (Look! Craft projects you’ll never actually make but you’re reading about them!). No, this website is all practical. Find a recipe on a blog or news site that you want to save? Just “Add Recipe” and copy and paste the URL into the site. For many sites, it populates the information automatically, complete with photo. You can also type or paste in family or personal recipes you want to find quickly in the future, which is great for the years I misplace my grandmother’s handwritten lemon tart recipe.
On the 9th day ’til Christmas, Think About Eat gave to me… an Instant Pot!
I’m not really going to give you one, but I’m giving you the advice that you should treat yo-self to one. I’ve officially been using this appliance since Black Friday 2015, and there are weeks it literally stays on the counter because I use it so much. It is great for this season of life with a toddler underfoot during dinner prep (just chop and add) and a limited amount of time to get something on the table. Also, for Sunday suppers when we host folks right after church and I need something that won’t burn the bottom while it’s on low (I’m talking about you, crusty crockpot). Not to mention: Chicken broth in an hour. Basmati rice in 12 minutes. Breakfast five-grain porridge in the same. And a couple of my favorite recipes I’ll share in the next few bullets here…
On the 8th day ’til Christmas, Think About Eat gave to me… a recipe for chicken chili! (Your next snow day will thank you.)
On the 7th day ’til Christmas, Think About Eat gave to me… 50 reasons to buy things Made in Virginia!
I got to contribute several pieces to Northern Virginia Magazine‘s Made in Virginia issue for this December, and it made my Christmas wish list nearly explode. Here you can find a few of my favorites in the category of Virginia-made food paraphernalia, including some topnotch (and affordable) handmade knives and bearded men-forged skillets. There are so many creative people hustling to make goods worth your dollars this season. If you don’t live in Virginia, find the folks in your neck of the woods doing this great work, whether on Etsy or at a neighborhood craft expo. (Or buy something scribbled from my college roommate’s lettering biz in Dallas.)
On the 6th day ’til Christmas, Think About Eat gave to me, a recipe for fast short ribs!
Spoiler: the fast part relies on an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker (which you already gave yourself on Day 9), but the Korean-braised goodness of this simple recipe from DadCooksDinner.com is applicable to any preparation. My additional Instant Pot trick: I cook my basmati rice in the extra braising liquid after making the ribs. I can’t describe how good of an idea that is.
On the 5th day ’til Christmas, Think About Eat gave to me, an easy gift idea of Chatbooks!
Perhaps you saw their witty advertorial circulating on Facebook (a must-watch for moms here), but I can say firsthand this product is really great. Sure, I was super mom that first year of my kid’s life and, by the end of it, made one solid scrapbook. A whole year. One book. You know how long it took me to do the equivalent by turning Instagram photos of the tike into an entire, 60-page Chatbook? Like 20 minutes. So then I did it again for a bunch of gifts (no peeking, family!). I especially like that it prints my Instagram captions onto the page, so I don’t have to do that, but I can also add in photos from my phone or other platforms. It’s just as easy and satisfying as advertised. If only my Christmas cards mailed themselves, too!
On the 4th day ’til Christmas, Think About Eat gave to me, a recipe for curried chicken soup!
Can you tell I’ve been in comforting soup mode for a while now? This winter, I can think of few things I’d rather put in my mouth than this soup from KitchenKonfidence. I made this soup three weeks in a row, I loved it so much, and the aforementioned appliance made doing so that much easier. That said, my dog has apparently developed an affinity specifically for curried chicken soup. A large container of this stuff that I has set out for my husband’s dinner one night (knowing that if he looked for it in the fridge he would say he didn’t see it and then order pizza) mysteriously disappeared. The next morning we heard her crunching the tupperware in her kennel… though it remains a mystery how she made absolutely no mess removing and consuming a giant bin of soup from the counter! Dog owners, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
On the 3rd day ’til Christmas, Think About Eat gave to me, a new portfolio page!
OK, this one is total self-promotion, but we all need to share our baby-step successes, particularly the ones we’ve been meaning to accomplish all year. I finally made a new portfolio page to gather some of my latest and best work in one place for easy online perusing. No more wading through the never-ending story of stories that is my older one, unless, of course, you’re into that sort of thing. I hope you, too, take the time to tackle your end-of-year projects with gusto, knowing they’ll inspire you for the year ahead.
On the 2nd day ’til Christmas, Think About Eat gave to me, an app to make tax day easier!
If you drive any miles whatsoever for your job (including your side gig on Etsy!), this app is a lifesaver. It automatically logs your trips by using your phone and then allows you to swipe (like those kids on Tinder, I’m told) the drive into the proper tax write-off bin. I use it to organize my freelancing life into all its little tax buckets, and it makes end-of-year computing a breeze. Put this in your own stocking and then give yourself a hug, because April 15 is coming. Speaking of…
On the Day of Christmas, Think About Eat gave to me, Big Baby News!
That’s right, the Pipkin family is adding another wee one — a little boy due to arrive mid-April. Our 2-year-old is starting to accept that she will not be getting a “baby puppy” but a baby brother, though she might tell you otherwise on any given day. After a long, hard year, we couldn’t be happier to end it on this high note of anticipation for what’s to come.
Here’s to a wonderful holiday season for you and yours, and a Happy New Year!