Don’t get your hopes up! This is not a play on Oprah’s famous ‘favorite things’ giveaway episodes… I ain’t got nothin’ for ya’ll! But as I have been doing some winter hiking and snowshoeing in temps far below freezing, it has made me think about the importance of having the right gear for the right job — no matter what the activity.
So I thought I would compile a simple list of some of my favorite items for some of my favorite hobbies. Perhaps you will find something that you like, too, and please comment back with any of your favorite things that I might want to explore!
Ahnu is a new brand for me that I found this summer when researching trail shoes. I found this Sugarpine Mesh shoe, bought a pair for Idaho, and fell in love! They are so much lighter than my old hiking boots, they fit true to size, and needed no breaking in at all. I logged over 250 hiking miles in my new, blue pair without a single blister or foot issue, so got a purple pair, too! The color makes me smile.
So when looking for a winter boot, I went right back to Ahnu again, and their Montara model has not failed me! My feet are always dry and toasty warm as I explore the North Idaho snow. I cannot recommend this brand highly enough!
I have made numerous rag quilts over the years, but took my first REAL quilting class this past November. I have to give a huge shout out to Jan and Diane of the Quilter’s Cottage in Fallbrook for being amazing teachers and mentors in this new hobby of mine. And once again, I learned that the right equipment makes a world of difference in the accuracy, efficiency and pure enjoyment of the activity. As does quilting by the fire while watching the deer play in the snow outside!
Precision in fabric cutting is vital to not having ‘wonky’ quilt squares — yup, I learned that very technical quilting term in class! This Martelli Rotary Cutter is a gem and so comfortable to use. Wicked sharp, too, so be careful.
Next up is pinning. The lining up of all the edges, corners and points plays nicely into the exacting part of my personality! I love the challenge, and these super fine pins by Clover slide through fabric so easily.
Finally, I splurged a new sewing machine that is AMAZING!! I have loved using my mom’s machine from the 70s, however, the tension is always off, and the thread breaks every five minutes, so sewing on it has become anything but relaxing! Jan and Diane let me try a Bernina Sewing Machine (B350), and I knew immediately I needed to invest in one. It is definitely a want, not a need, but if you are a sewer or crafter, it is worth every penny! It’s so easy to use and offers enough bells and whistles to fit my needs for a long time.
One of the very first questions I am asked as a photographer is, “Are you a Nikon or Canon girl?” Canon all the way for me! It’s what I grew up on, so to speak — it’s what I know. If looking for an entry level DSLR, you cannot go wrong with the Rebel line. My Rebel served me well for many, many years, however, I upgraded to a Canon 7D two years ago, and it has all the creative features I need, plus video!
And my go to, favorite lens is the Canon 17-55mm, f2.8-22. It produces clear, crisp images every time and is excellent in low light.
It’s only been in the last five years or so that I have fallen in love with cooking. I was always decent at it, but with a busy life, it was just not something I devoted time to until recent years. And I have found that the equipment you use sure does matter!! Especially with the prep work! I could not live without my Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor. This appliance is a work horse for chopping, shredding, mixing, and more, and with all the entertaining we do, it has been so incredibly helpful.
Speaking of meal prep, any home cook should learn the art of mise en place. It’s a fancy, French term meaning ‘putting in place,’ which simply translates to prepping ALL your ingredients before starting to cook. Brilliant idea and sure makes creating delicious dishes all the more relaxing and joyful! I love these little bowls by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman (all her recipes are a hit as well!). They are happy and beautiful, and work just perfectly for the smaller ingredients such as spices, butter, chopped herbs, etc.
Beyond the prep, for actual cooking, nothing beats a cast iron skillet. I have a few different sizes by Lodge and do not know what I ever did without one. Ribeye steaks seared in this skillet and finished in the oven are to die for! I doctor up this Alton Brown technique/recipe with different herbs or spices, but it’s a great starting point.
Anyone who knows me, knows I am a soup lover through and through. Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall… year round, soup is a go to meal for us and an enamel cast iron dutch oven, regardless of the brand, is key! Saute, sear, deglaze, simmer… it does it all and more! Plus it is fabulous for braising and making dishes like chicken cacciatore and osso bucco. I remember being turned off by the price of one, but the investment will last a lifetime. And all the color choices are oh so fun!
So there you have it! Just a few of the things that make our lives a little bit easier. Now I’m off to grab that camera of mine and go exploring as the sun rises. Enjoy your day!