Posted by & filed under Product Reviews.

I love cooking AND trying out new products so I jumped at the chance to do both and review the new Planetary Stand Mixer from Oster. I was given one of the new mixers to keep or share with someone else in exchange for my honest review.

Oster Planetary Stand MixerThe mixer comes out of the box ready to use (after washing, of course) with no complicated assembly. The mixing accessories include a steel whisk non-stick beater/paddle and dough hook. First, I made pizza dough using the dough hook with this recipe because dough-kneading is my #1 concern when it comes to a stand mixer. The recipe turned out quite well. I wasn’t crazy impressed with the mixer’s handling of the dough but it got the job done just fine. While the pizza baked, I mixed up a batch of chocolate chip cookies using the paddle attachment. It was easy to swap between attachments, which are nice and light. The “Planetary Action” made sure I didn’t need to scrape the edges of the bowl as everything mixed. I loved the big handles on the bowl. It made for very easy transport in and out of the fridge when I chilled the cookie dough.

Mixer

Pros:

  • Sleek, modern design. It looks so fancy!
  • Light-weight. It’s easy to lift if you need to move it.
  • It’s low profile enough to fit under the cabinets. Some stand mixers won’t fit if you don’t have much space.
  • The top of the mixer locks in the up position. I can’t tell you how many times my current mixer’s top has come crashing down loudly scaring me and whatever animal happens to be in the kitchen waiting for me to drop some food. It DOES take two hands to unlock it to lift the top because you have to push the button and lift at the same time. I found that awkward, especially if my hands were messy but I think I would get used to it.
  • The “Planetary Action” mixes all of the ingredients with little to no scraping needed on the sides of the bowl.

Cons:

  • The highest speeds shake the whole unit because it isn’t heavy enough to keep it steady past speed 7 or 8.
  • It encountered some resistance on speed 1 with the pizza dough; slowing down one spot of each rotation of the dough hook. It was able to handle it fine on higher settings and this won’t be a problem if you don’t do bread dough anyway. I personally do a lot of dough so this would probably annoy me.
  • It may not be a con in the long-run, but there are plastic pieces on the mixing accessories and I wondered it these pieces might be prone to break with lots of use. Only time and lots of use will tell. That might not be an issue at all.

The mixer sells on Walmart.com (and in stores) for $159. It has a stronger motor than the entry-level Kitchen Aid mixer ($199) so I would say this is a competitive price. I think this would be a good mixer for someone who wants to transition from a hand mixer to a stand mixer but doesn’t want or need to get a big heavy duty version. If you want your mixer for making a lot of breads this one might not be your final resting point but it could be a good start. If you don’t plan on doing any dough at all or making it rarely, I think the Oster Planetary Stand Mixer will be plenty of strength for your standard mixing needs. It’s also a good fit for someone looking for a modern look in a counter-top appliance or a nice stand mixer that doesn’t weigh a zillion pounds. I gave mine to my sister since I already have a mixer plus a lot of extra attachments and the Oster Planetary Stand Mixer coordinates perfectly with her modern black appliances. She has been wanting a stand mixer for a while so I was really excited to be able to give her one that will work hard for her and her family of 6 and make her life in the kitchen a little easier.

 

Posted by & filed under Family Life, Parenthood.

This is totally late, but I can’t believe my boy is a month old! He’s growing so fast. I’m loving each new step he takes but it makes me kind of sad to see him start to grow out of his sweet little newborn outfits. One of the new goals I have set for myself is to learn to use our Canon Powershot to its fullest capabilities. That way I’ll either learn that I am not cut out for taking and editing good pictures or I’ll have validation to buy a nice SLR. So when Samuel hit the 4 week mark, I took a bunch of photos of him trying different angles and settings and edited them with Adobe Photoshop Express online.  I figured out some good natural lighting in the nursery and I was able to get  few shots that I’m actually pretty proud of. What a sweet boy.

Samuel 1 month 3 Samuel 1 month 4 Samuel 1 month 5 Samuel 1 month 1

Posted by & filed under Gardening.

When Daniel and I were dating I was in a play and, instead of a bouquet, he bought me a potted orchid. Now, my mom had a bunch of orchids growing in coconuts and pots on our front porch in Thailand and they were crazy easy to keep alive. You know. In a tropical paradise. In Arkansas? Not so much. I have slowly been killing that beautiful orchid for the past several years. I’m a champion houseplant killer. That exotic beauty never had a chance.

I’m cleared by the Dr. to start going back to normal activities now but when I was still on lockdown I was excited to find anything productive to do that didn’t require me to lift anything or be more active that I was supposed to be. Re-potting the deathbed orchid was a perfect opportunity to feel like I could accomplish something more than being a milk machine (which is a very important job, indeed, but still!). Getting out in the sun was a wonderful mood-lifter as well.

Here is how I re-potted my orchid!

Orchid Potting Tools

First I gathered all of my tools.

  • My nearly dead orchid
  • Orchid Book with re-potting directions
  • New Pot
  • Scissors
  • Potting material (orchids don’t live in regular soil)
  • Big bowl or bucket for soaking the potting material with water the night before
  • Hand shovel and gloves
  • The new tiny orchid we bought when we picked up the potting mix. It was 50% off. We couldn’t resist.
Orchid 1

 

If your orchid looks like this, you need to re-pot it. And maybe give up houseplants altogether  I personally don’t know when to quit. Mine used to have two big stalks and lots of leaves on it. Poor orchid. I should be ashamed.

First I soaked the potting mix with equal parts water the night before. I drained off the excess water before I started re-potting. I also gave the orchids a good soaking so it would be easier to clean the potting medium off the roots. Once I carefully freed the roots from the old potting medium I snipped off all the brown and/or mushy bits of root.Orchid Roots

There was a lot to cut off. I ended up with only one long and two short stalks of healthy, bright green root. Oh, poor, poor, abused Orchid.

Orchid New Pot

 

 

I planted the orchid in the potting mix up to the the leaf just like you would any other plant. The good news? There IS a new leaf growing next to the big one. YAY! Hopefully it will survive the shock of the re-potting. The book says that’s a possibility. The potting medium isn’t very pretty so I added a decorative covering. Daniel had some leftover green mossy stuff from the egg-laying box for the geckos. Isn’t he sweet to share with me? I can’t remember what that stuff is called but it’s pretty 🙂
New OrchidI also re-potted the tiny new orchid into a bigger pot. After doing a little more research I realized I should have waited on this one until it was finished blooming. Whoops. It’s been two weeks though and it seems to be doing OK and not trying to die on me so maybe I didn’t kill it. See? I should probably not try to grow Orchids. Seriously. Who makes one last attempt to save a plant they’ve almost killed and buys another one in the process? Cause the first one worked out so well. But see how pretty?

New Orchid 2I just happened to have this purple pot and the black river stones out in the shed. SCORE. Finding ways to NOT spend more money makes me so happy. Plus, see how pretty?

Posted by & filed under Product Reviews.

What? Doesn’t everyone follow up their baby announcement blog post with a product review?

Right before the Big Day came for Samuel’s arrival I had an Old Navy Style Council shopping trip to make so I gave my friend Natalie a call and we met up at Old Navy to scope out some of their Women’s Best Tees. We wandered around a bit, unsure of which KIND of t-shirt was a “Best Tee.” Old Navy has a lot of different kinds of t-shirts! I was pretty excited because I used to wear a lot of Old Navy T-shirts so I looked forward to getting a few new ones. I went through a stage in Grad School where I wore khaki shorts and a solid colored t-shirt all the time. Those t-shirts from Old Navy were so sturdy and lasted forever.

After a few minutes we asked an associate to direct us to the Women’s Best Tees and we went to town grabbing several different sizes and styles to try on. I wanted to get two that would transition from my “I’m about to give birth” belly to my impending “I just had a baby” belly and that would be cozy but cute for my recovery period. We modeled for each other a few times and made our choices. However, once we made it to the register, our Style Council coupons wouldn’t ring up for the shirts. After some deliberation, we decided that maybe it was really the Vintage Tees that we were supposed to get. That was fine by Natalie especially since the Vintage Tee is her favorite style. We swapped out our chosen styles for V-neck Vintage Tees (I got a pretty bright blue and a dark green) and headed back to the register. I went ahead and got larges thinking that, while the deep V-neck would be too revealing in a bigger size, it would probably work well as a nursing top and then I could probably pair it with a tank later. The register STILL wouldn’t ring up the shirts correctly but a manager came and worked some magic for us and we were good to go.

The biggest thing I noticed about all of the t-shirts was that the fabric is really thin. I guess that’s just the style right now, and I like that for layering and for some looks since it gives it an extra cozy, well-worn feel, but I also like to have a nice thick cotton for a t-shirt sometimes. There were a ton of color options so I think anyone would find something that was right for them. I don’t remember how much they were full price (hey, I just had a baby. I have an excuse for a memory lapse), but I remember thinking that it wasn’t too bad and that the sale price they were having at the time was a pretty decent sale. All in all I would recommend this year’s women’s tees at Old Navy if you are in the market to update the t-shirts in your wardrobe.

Big Belly 1 Big Belly 2The striped black pattern was my first choice, but I ended up getting the blue one I was wearing in the pregnancy photos that my friend Mitsi took. I just love this blue!

Barefoot and Pregnant

Natalie Shopping

Thanks for coming shopping with me, Natalie!

* I didn’t get paid for this post and review, but I DID get two free t-shirts. My opinions are my own and it would cost a lot more than that to sway me 🙂