Shopping for baking supplies

Sort of a joy, sort of a chore (for some, definitely NOT me)! I love, love, love shopping for baking supplies. I could look at cookie cutters, spatulas, baking sheets and measuring spoons all day long. Looking up reviews, what is the best cookie cutter? Metal or plastic? Baking pans? Measuring cups? The list literally goes on and on. As with most everyone, the first place I turn to is Amazon. Amazon is one of my happy places. Bored? Amazon, Happy? Amazon. Sad? Amazon. Stuck in traffic? Amazon. Waiting in a line? YUP….Amazon!

*Focus* Anyway, I am also part of lots of cake and cookie decorating groups and somebody always has some awesome piece of equipment or a technique that requires an awesome piece of equipment. I am always looking for ways to better my cookies and cakes and also to keep up with trends while still trying to make my own mark. My own brand. Baking supplies tend to be expensive if you go for the good stuff. But you spend and it lasts you. That is the philosophy I try to follow, but sometimes (most times) I am all about quantity and not necessarily quality. Sometimes you can get away with it, but sometimes you wish that you had listened to the voice in your head and splurged the extra $5 and gotten the better pans. Oh well, live and learn.

The world of baking is one lots and lots and LOTS of people find extreme peace and joy in. It is hard work, but oh is it rewarding! When you mix the ingredients and follow a recipe or experiment and see what comes out of the oven….almost nothing like that feeling of pride. You almost have to be a baker to understand what I am talking about. And by baker I don’t necessarily mean baking by profession. I mean if you bake anything, for money or love or both, you, in my opinion, are a baker. What are the best baking supplies though? Depending on what you are baking, there are tons of advice and information out there. There are sites I follow, one is Handle the Heat. Tessa Arias gives such great tips and advices on cookies, brownies, cakes, you name it. But also what I love is that she gives the science behind the baking. To me that is important to know to some degree. To know what more flour would do, or why to use butter and not oil.

On my ultimate wish list is a professional KitchenAid mixer. I think everyone should have one. I am pretty sure there are other amazing brands out there as well, but I grew up knowing about KitchenAid and that my goal. To have one of my very own one day. Oh, the treats that would come from that wonderful machine…….I would prefer in a baby pink colour, but any colour would do to be honest. As long as it is a professional 7 quart 🙂

Not the exact colour or model but still…..

There is such a wide wonderous world of baking and cooking supplies out there. So many mixer attachments, so little time 🙂 Have a great day everyone and bake good choices today.

xo, Lisa

Let’s talk cookies!

Yes! Finally, let’s talk about some baking 🙂 A good if not excellent choice always when it comes to baking is cookies! From sugar cookies to chocolate chip. Chocolate or peanut butter crunch. Complex or simple, cookies are simply always a good choice when it comes to baking. Whether you have them with milk, coffee, water or wine, a cookie always seems to hit the spot.

In some countries cookies tend to be known as biscuits, I use both terminologies, but I guess, a chocolate chip biscuit just does not have the same “ring” you know? But anyway, I tend to scour the internet for the recipe. The one, that will yield the magical OMG moment when you take the first bite. Depending on what you are looking for in a cookie could determine what type of recipe and method you would prefer. For example, when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, there is a plethora of opinions on that topic. Chewy, soft, crunchy, gooey? Loads of chips or just a hint? Large or mini? With a sprinkling of salt or none? Chocolate chunks or just chips? Personally, it depends on my mood I suppose. I generally like, crunchy on the outside with kind of soft, chewy, gooey goodness at the centre.

There are some very good recipes out there and I think I still stop scrolling whenever I see yet another recipe pop up on my feed, but there are some go-to ones that I depend on as they are tried and true and come from bakers I admire and trust. There is Tessa Arias from Handle the Heat. Her Bakery Style Chocolate Chip cookies are out of this world and I love that she pairs simply great recipes with the science of baking. So I know WHY I am adding baking powder and not baking soda. Why you should chill your dough overnight, even though I want cookies RIGHT NOW!

https://handletheheat.com/bakery-style-chocolate-chip-cookies/

My attempt at Tessa’s Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

Another type of cookie I love is the simple roll out cookie. These are what plays a major part of my life. I love to decorate cookies and for a while I made and sold decorated cookies (that’s another story for another day). But another well known cookier that do not spread is Georganne Bell or Lilaloa.com. To me, it is very important especially when doing cookie shapes that they remain the shape I cut them, so it is recognizable as well as gives an amazing decorated cookie. She has two recipes that are also keepers for me. The one linked below is a vanilla and there is another is chocolate….OBVS!

https://www.lilaloa.com/2013/02/vanilla-20-sugar-cookie-recipe.html

Vanilla 2.0 cookie – Lilaloa.com

Amber Spiegel from SweetAmbs.com has an amazing royal icing recipe as well as her vanilla cookie. There are sooo many recipes out there and obviously you can’t try all. I mean it would be a lovely experiment but not very practical I think 🙂 Let’s not even get started on cakes and pastries. The world of baking is just so infinitely large that even if you just sample a small bite, it will make your day that much sweeter. Find your recipe and bake good choices today and always!

xo, Lisa

Not so much about baking today

Funny that the title of this blog is called Baking Good Choices and looking at my posts, not very much so far is about actual baking. One very simple reason is that I am not doing any baking right now, but trust me, I am researching lots and loads of recipes and techniques for baking and cooking. Sooo looking forward to being in the kitchen again, making a mess and maybe what would turn out to be some good choices 🙂

Today I was chatting with someone and, while I am certainly not an expert in the field or on the topic, it seems to be me that mental health and well being is becoming a more and more prevalent topic in these times. Maybe it is due to the pandemic and the various effects that it is having on us. Some of us are handling it beautifully, like just another day and carrying on with our lives, while others are having a really hard time getting a handle on what is happening.

I like to think I am handling the changes and turmoil relatively well. I am worried about almost everything. My job, my bills, getting home, seeing my loved ones, travel. On and on the list goes, but it is not debilitating. I worry about these things to what I deem to be a normal degree. Like I would have worried back in the beginning of 2019. I am one of the “lucky” ones, I think. I count my multiple blessings daily, hourly, by the minute, because I know I am one of the exceptions.

There are people out there, close to me, that are having a real struggle just going about their daily lives and I am not sure quite how to help. I don’t want to be one those that think ” aww, just shake it off” is the solution. I am aware that this is real. The struggle is real and we can no longer just sweep it away and wish the person would just get up and shake it off. But how do we help? What is the correct thing to say? To advise? Every case is unique and all need different approaches I believe.

But when it is someone close to you, it gets that much more personal doesn’t it? You want to do something, anything to make things better, but when you don’t quite know how what do you do? I am trying to be as supportive as I can, but how do I even know that this is the type of support that is needed? I truly believe that now more than ever, if we need help we should definitely reach out and get that help. Don’t sit and hope that the issues will go away, we must all be in this together, we must be each other’s keeper and look out for one another. Mental health and well being is so important, especially now. Be there for one another. Bake some good choices 🙂

xo, Lisa

Love is in the air

Or at sea, or across lots and lots of miles of land and ocean. Happy Valentine’s day to you. Today is a day all about love, hearts, chocolates and flowers. I am not able to be with my loved ones except via social media at this time, and I am guessing some if not most of people are in the same boat. This has been a strange year, continuing from the last one, but it gives us all a chance to reflect on many things. And today I choose to reflect on one of the greatest loves of my life.

I miss my mother. It’s been almost a year since last I was at home and a lot has changed in that year. But the one constant has been my mummy. I do miss her so very much. It’s amazing how much our relationship has changed over the years. I remember being a rebellious teenager and I don’t know when the dynamic changed to her being my best friend. When I am at home, we do everything together. One of our favorite pastimes is going to the grocery. May sound very weird to most people, but we love it. We even have the groceries mapped out and what we get in each. She is the most amazing and genuine woman I have ever known and everyday I try to be just a little more like her. Her love and kindness. Her belief that there is good in everyone, even if you have to dig a little deeper to find it in some more than others. Her deepest wish for her family is that we all find peace with each other.

She possesses a kind of innocence that I love. It’s almost child-like. When I chat with her there is ALWAYS a smile on her face, it’s like just me talking to her makes her so happy. It makes my heart full. I truly, truly love that woman with a depth and breadth that I cannot describe. Although I will never have the joy of knowing what it is like to be a mother, I can only hope and pray that I may be as loving and as amazingly beautiful a person as my one and only. My mother.

Happy Valentine’s day Mummy, I love you more than you know.

xo, Lisa

Photo by Andreas Wohlfahrt on Pexels.com

Have a pinkaful day!

Back when I can remember and people would ask me what is your favorite color, it was never, EVER what it is today. Blue, black, purple, never any bright colors. Until one day, and I must add rather recently, it became PINK. I don’t know how and I don’t know when, it just…was.

It may have started off with rose gold and then morphed into a mix of lilac, lavender and baby pink. I shop for stuff now and some of it I must admit is purely based on the deliciousness of the pinkness of the item. I would actually put in “pink …..” in the search bar. I would have never taken myself for a pink person. AT ALL!

I like to collect. Which in and of itself is not strange, but one of the many items I collect are mugs, but specific types of mugs, they must have something about them that draws them to me. Big, cozy comfort mugs, that you can wrap your hands around and blow on the steam as it rises from the hot drink inside. Cute, quirky ones, ones with meaningful or not so meaningful sayings written on them.

There’s also glasses, reading glasses. I don’t need a strong prescription, so I can pick up glasses anywhere, and I do. Then there are the pen collection and the watches and the back-packs. Then factor in that most of these have some shade of pink. Going through the security check in the airport one day a lady behind me actually commented that I must “like” pink as everything that I was putting through the scanner had some type of pink hue. We are talking iPad, Kindle, laptop case, hand carry, back pack, hoodie and even my sneakers were pink. Imagine the color of my cheeks after she mentioned that:)

Thing is, I still don’t think of myself in terms of pink, more of a neutral girl really. But it kind of reflects my personality I think. I don’t really like to stand out or shine above others, I don’t like to shout out or announce my presence. I am not a fuchsia person, more of a hint of pink. I like quiet time and hiding away in quiet nooks reading my pink Kindle.

Will the color change in time? Will I learn to love green? Probably not. But I have noticed that as I move along in life a lot of things have changed since I was younger. I never like oatmeal, now I look up oatmeal recipes for hot and cold oats, cookies, overnight oats, granola. Love, love oatmeal. Coffee and hot drinks in general…could not stand them, now? Cannot seem to start my day without a cup of hot liquid. Hence, the fascination with mugs. And pink….who woulda thunk it? But pink seems to be my happy place for now.

Have a pinkaful day all,

xo, Lisa

Waffling is a verb

I love me some waffles. Sometimes onboard we do a show of appreciation for the crew members and we make waffles. There are different toppings of course. Ice creams, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, nuts, caramel.

I love mine plain. Hot, a little more brown than others like. Looks like it spent too much time on the beach under the noon sun. Juuust this side of crispy. Yummers!

I sometimes have a waffle and pancake morning when I am at home. Blueberries are the fave add in although, bananas come in a close second. And trust me, even cold pancakes and waffles make an excellent walking around snack.

Not a pro by any means, and I don’t really have a family held secret recipe (although I am working on one). I do love me some waffles. No waffling about on that one.

xo, Lisa

My blueberry waffles

You’ve got that baking feeling.

So, I am still not able to go home. Sounds strange? Well, due to the ongoing, everchanging nature of the pandemic my home country still has not opened the borders. Which mean I am still not able to go home.

In the beginning I didn’t look at this in a positive light as I was thinking of all the things that I could be doing if I was home. But now, I choose to look at it as all the things I am doing now that I would not do if I was home.

Gigabytes of pictures of sunsets. Trying to find an interesting angle on a coffee cup that will make an excellent picture. Reading books, learning to knit and bullet journaling.

But I have to say the one thing I do miss about being home, besides being home is baking. That, I can’t do where I am. So, instead I scour the internet for recipes and save videos and make promises to myself that that will be the first thing I create when I get home.

I am content to some degree as I have realised no amount of shaking my fists at the sky will change things. I continue to find recipes and cookie decorating techniques and videos and hopefully one day soon I will be home, baking good choices.

xo, Lisa

Sunset from the deck just outside of Barbados

Goodbye 2020

How many posts, memes, blogs, tweets have we seen? All with the same theme running through? The absolute horror of a year that we just lived through. All of us, eagerly looking forward to putting this year behind us and hoping that the new year 2021 is nothing like its predecessor. This year of 2020 has been a frightful nightmare for most, is not all of us in one way or another.

I, personally have had to deal with deaths of loved ones, job losses, uncertainty, separation from family and the list goes on. I totally know that I am so not the only one as there are loads of people out there that are dealing with the list above and so much more.

Yet, strangely enough I have to say that this year has taught me more than any other year. Albeit not the lessons I thought I would have learnt, but in other ways, lessons that needed to be learnt. I experienced the pain of not being able to visit a dying loved one or even attend her funeral. Worrying day by day, hour by hour if I will have a job in the next 5 minutes, never mind tomorrow. I learnt what anxiety was, experiencing moments when I literally felt I could not breathe.

Are these the lessons I learnt? Are these the lessons that make me have a new appreciation for being grateful? Yes. even though I missed being with my great aunt in her last moments, even before when she would have known me and I could have held her hand and told her how much I loved her, I learnt that I was grateful for all the years that I did have her. All the times that I was able to spend with her, learning how to bake, copying her recipes, laughing at her stories and I was grateful I got to tell her that I loved her, loved her so very much. I am grateful, more than ever, for my job. Something I took for granted before. I have learnt that I will NEVER take my employment for granted again as I know it is indeed a gift, especially in these times, to be able to make money and pay my bills.

I know what it is like to not be able to sleep with all the worries and fears swirling in your head and seeing each and every bill dance before your closed eyelids. But enough of that, we could all go on and on, listing our horror stories, each worse than the last. But as long as we have learnt something from this past year, then it wasn’t all for nothing. In a strange way I am glad for the past year, as I think I am coming out of it, a more mindful person, at least I am more mindful of the attributes that I must continue to work and improve upon.

Til next year, continue baking and making good choices, xo, Lisa

What makes you truly happy?

If you are reading this, your answer may very well be the same as mine. We could even shout it out together (if we were in the same room).. BAKING!

Yup, baking. It is amazing how many emotions that one simple word evokes. Pictures of warm, delicious goodness coming straight from the oven. You can picture the steam rising off a loaf of freshly baked bread. The joy of seeing your cinnamon rolls, hot and full of cinnamony gooey-ness. I know, I know the joy of waiting to see the finished cookies at 2 am. Seeing that perfect chocolate chip cookie and cannot believe that you, simple amateur baker, you made this work of art!

I have been writing and pinning so many recipes for when I eventually go home that I don’t even know where to start anymore. There are recipes for cookies, muffins, breads, pizzas. The list just goes on and on. But I am so excited. I ordered all these cookie cutters and sadly, I was not home for Christmas to use them, but hey there is always next year, and who says, you cannot have gingerbread people in April?

There are loads of things, hobbies, people that make me happy. But baking truly is an activity that creates this feeling of sublime peace. My Zen, my go to place when I am upset or just need to release stress. It is where I can create, combine and come up with something that may not be perfect but something that I am perfectly happy with. Baking is a science, we know that, but baking is also a passion. I realized that you cannot have one without the other in order to create truly great bakes. I follow awesome people like Tessa Arias from Handle The Heat, Gemma Stafford from Bigger, Bolder Baking and so many more. I learn different techniques, hack and so much more from all of them. I am pretty far off from being anything close to resembling a professional, but I have the passion and that, is a happy start.

xo, Lisa

Should I be annoyed?

I don’t know. Do I have the right to be annoyed? You know the times when it’s the little things that annoy you. And if you dare to act irritated you always get that one person who thinks that you are overreacting. Which in turn adds another layer to the annoyance sandwich. Why is it that I don’t have the right to be annoyed over the little things?

But I do. I absolutely do have the right to get mad. To want to, and even go right ahead and, curse and swear and pace over a bumped toe or even a t-shirt that simply won’t go over my head fast enough. A knock on the door while I am trying to nap. An incoming message alert on my phone. The real little things that should not even remotely matter have a way of getting under my skin. But I feel like I must hide this emotion as you don’t want to be seen as irritable, or petty or just weird.

I got my nap disturbed. I love my naps. I truly LOVE my naps. I am passionate about napping. I have theories on naps, including that a truly good nap should not be less than two full, uninterrupted hours. My husband does not understand this nor does he subscribe to my theory. But I have always been a two hour napper. And if I know I cannot get two full hours of blissful nap sleep, then I don’t even bother. So, when I get a knock on the door, announcing something trite and nothing short of an announcement that I have won a major lottery, I get mad. I get pissed, I get….annoyed.

So, I am up now and I am going to look at clouds and try another nap tomorrow.

xo, Lisa