Working Wednesday, June 12, 2019

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only writer here who goes nuts in office supply stores, or who loves Target at the end of August because of the back to school stuff.  But my tool lust goes beyond the writing stuff; I’m currently obsessed with kitchen tools to the point where I have shelled out big bucks for Cutco and Mison knives and I almost (but sanity reigned) paid $75 for an Alessi pepper mill.  There’s something about having really good tools that make it possible to really good work or at least give the illusion that you’re going to do good work now that you have This Great Thing.  But my fave is not expensive: it’s grid paper and Sharpie fine point pens.  I can’t write books on paper, although two of my friends (Gaffney and Stuart) do, but when I’m brainstorming, I love forming neat letters in clear black shapes on blue lined grid paper.  It’s like having a safety net; those grids will catch me.  And if not, I just rip off the top sheet and start again.  I love my Mison bread knife, but if I had to choose between that and my cheap grid-and-Sharpie, it would be grid-and-Sharpie all the way (also good for recipes).

What’s your tool obsession?  Oh, and what did you work on this week?

102 thoughts on “Working Wednesday, June 12, 2019

  1. When it comes to the kitchen, I’m a big believer in – it needs to make me happy to use it, and do its job beautifully. I have everything I need for the kitchen, so if I get something it needs to be a forever thing now, like my pastel chasseur cast iron, or my Riess enamelware, or the kitchen knives I sold my soul for. And if it’s going to be forever, then I need it to make me happy every time I look at it or handle it, which also means I’m more likely to cook with it. I also love my pistachio green kitchenaid mixer, which I use constantly for everything from cakes to pizza dough to meatloaf, and it’s so pretty!

    In case it’s not obvious, kitchenware shops are my downfall. But I’m not into doohickeys and gadgets – I’m old-school.

    8+
    1. My oven died the other day (bottom heating element burned out) so I’m working on figuring out if I want to just replace it (it’s a built in) or get a real stove. There are drawbacks to both and advantages to both.

      We replaced a heating element about 12 years ago. I believe this oven to have been installed in the 1970s. I can’t afford to gut the kitchen like it needs to be so this is going to be interesting.

      7+
      1. I paid $200 for my oven (new) six years ago. It was supposed to be a placeholder until I found the Perfect Oven, but it’s still blipping right along and I haven’t the slightest idea what a perfect oven would be, so . . .

        Although I’ve been eyeing a Northstar Electric in Buttercup Yellow for a long time.

        11+
        1. My neighbors’ ENTIRE HOUSE was supposed to be temporary — their first house as a married couple, a starter home and investment — and they’ve been there a few years longer than I’ve been their neighbor, and I’ve been here since 1986. Yes, coming up on thirty-three years this August.

          5+
        2. Ooh, I know what my perfect oven is. I just don’t have the house to put it in (we’re renting). But one day… one day!… I will have the kitchen of my dreams with a Lacanche oven. It’s about the price of a small car, but hey, it’s my dream.

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      2. Sympathies! Last time our built-in oven died (crafted maple cabinets in a custom fit kitchen, there when we bought the house) we had to find one in the US because no one in Canada made one to fit the gap. I think next time we might have to give up and get a shelf oven and sit it in the space instead. And it’s a tiny oven anyway. Can barely bake two loaves of bread and I used to bake four at a time in my old place, with a slide in stove/oven. Can’t fit a regular cookie sheet — have to get small ones. But the rest of the kitchen makes excellent use of the limited space so I shouldn’t complain too loudly.

        4+
      3. We’re not the only ones with oven-troubles, it seems. We also have a built-in-thing, but we concluded it’d cost us more to rip everything out and get an oven-stove-combo that is not built-in than just replacing what we have no. I wasn’t going to take the fight at this point anyway, but I secretly don’t like it that the built-in ovens (at least here in NL) are so small. Smaller then all non-built-in-ovens I grew up with. (It’s very possible you have different sizes for built-in ovens too, but they wouldn’t fit in this kitchen anyhow… so let’s pretend they don’t exist.)

        Oh well… I’ll take my oven-revenge when I’m rich and famous one day (loool) and have a big kitchen and not a kitchen for small-sized people that hate to cook and therefore build small kitchens with no space.

        Hope you’ll find a good new oven that will make you and all cookies happy!

        7+
    2. My kitchen isn’t that big although I do have lots of counter space, so I don’t do the specific tools like apple corers or whatever. But the good stuff I’m all over now. And I like it pretty, too, so I have lots of pale blue. Love the kitchen section at Home Goods. It’s my happy place.

      9+
      1. As a former kitchen professional, I find 3/4 of the crap they sell in kitchenware shops is useless and breaks immediately. And my present kitchen has the worst drawers I’ve ever seen. So I really sympathize.

        4+
      2. I have a Miele moisture plus oven and I rarely use the moisture feature but it has a bunch of other options that I am learning to use and I love it. Previously I had a Dacor and a worse piece of garbage never existed.

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  2. My dad’s motto was “you’ve got to have the right tool!” He used this to purchase woodworking equipment and such. But I still believe that you’re better off investing in the correct tool than you are attempting to make do with what you have.

    My downfall in the stationery store are pens. I’ve got loads of them, but I have a hard time walking by a display without picking up a pack or two. In the kitchen area, I’ve got a lot that I don’t use, but I do not regret buying the extra large saute pan with a lid. I use that thing almost every time I cook!

    Last week I was on a business trip, so I didn’t get a whole lot done. When I got back, I spent a day trimming up a bunch of half-square triangles for the next quilt. I hope to put the top together next weekend. I also finished up a smallish baby blanket. I liked how it came together, and how it looks now that it is done. (I played a little bit of yarn chicken, adding rows to the border and hoping to be complete. I won.)
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BygqQ-Mhy9l/

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  3. I have favourite pens – Uni-ball Eye micro point in blue or black (blue has the edge; they seem a hair finer). So I bulk-buy those; but I’m always on the look-out for paper in pads or notebooks that’s thick enough to write on both sides, and if it’s in a bound book, is plain rather than ruled. Wish it were possible to buy cream paper with turquoise lines still: it was quite common forty years ago, and I used a couple of old hardback notebooks I’d saved from then, rather shorter and wider than A4 – some old imperial size – to write my garden book. They were perfect – I sat in the garden writing with a notebook propped on my knees. The best I can find nowadays is some kind of sketchbook.

    I finished my edit, and then my planting and sowing in both gardens. I spent a day scraping the remnants of Virginia creeper and ivy off the house walls, until I was rained off. There’s another half day’s work to do. But it’s been monsooning down, so I’ve been chasing more freelance work and catching up on admin and house-cleaning.

    10+
    1. I’m with you on the pens and paper thing, Jane. I have fave’s, too.

      My new fave pen is one I got on a whim in a tiny store. Loved it so much, went back and bought another, each a different colour & distinct in pattern (one with birds & flowers, other with butterflies and other flowers) but same feel. And came across a pad at a craft sale made by a couple who have a line of paper products that they hand design. The paper is the perfect weight and size. Funny how happy simple things can make you and add some fun to the day:)

      8+
          1. Actually, I got curious and looked into it too. Turns out, (demy) quarto appears to be right in between A4 and US letter size: smidge narrower than A4 but smidge wider than letter, a tad shorter than A4, but a tad longer than letter.

            What an excellent trivia topic! 😁

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    1. When I was just out if college and on my own my mother for me a knife sharpener that claims to contain diamonds. 😦 I finally understood why they’d be a girl’s best friend!

      8+
  4. My tools are hooks and needles (and pens).
    Still working on the Captain Marvel sweater, it’s finished on the main body and now on to the arms.

    6+
  5. My husband has a notes to self list in the kitchen and one thing on it was a ‘spider’ to get at BB&B. A ‘spider’ is a bowl like strainer with a handle. Of course I bought him one. We’ve gone through three bread makers not because they broke down but because we end up losing the paddle. Our 45 year old harvest gold Kitchen Aid mixer can still knead dough. There are only a few kitchen tools that we still use consistently like the George Forman grill, we use it to make paninis. Adequate storage is a necessity now with all the new gadgets and I have to think do we really need them and what can I use for other things.

    4+
    1. My Mom’s Kitchen Aid was still going strong after almost 50 years when we closed up her kitchen. And mine , circa 1988, is still the workhorse of my kitchen.

      3+
  6. Oh, let me count the ways. The cast iron skillet that was my grandma’s. The size, shape and heft of the three saucepans that I’ve had for mph years. The set of Sabatier knives that were such a big splurge–and the no-name bread knife that is perfect in all respects.

    But I really lose it when it comes to office supplies. Pens. Paper. Folders. Notebooks! More notebooks. Little notebooks. Big notebooks. Tiny, purse-sized notebooks. Yes! And, unfortunately, notebooks that are too beautiful for my mundane words.

    What I’m working on: The Book From Hell (Western Heroes: Grey, and no, it’s not patterned after Fifty Shades) is in final revisions before going to beta readers, and I’ve just found a big plot hole. Aargh. Also trying to shovel out the room that is nominally my office but is too cold in winter and too hot in summer because it looks like an episode of Hoarders. All those office supplies, you know.

    7+
  7. My best tool is my sewing machine, and hoo boy do I have opinions on sewing machines. I have too many (three) and am looking for another on ebay almost all the time (because the ones I like best are no longer made new) and have managed (to my credit) to give away three to, respectively, the high school, a dear friend, and the older child. Sewing machines, all the way down.

    The tools I most take for granted are scissors. I always have scissors because I spent a whole year looking for a particular pair in my own house, and decided what I needed to do was saturate the environment with scissors so I could always find A) one good pair for fabric/detail and 2) one disposable pair for plastic, wire, paper, children’s use, etc. We much have about 20 pairs of scissors all over the house. More to the point, whenever I need to cut something, I can see a pair of scissors. Voila!

    12+
    1. I saw a listing on facebook marketplace for a Brother, still in the box – $10. I think it was still available because it was listed as a sowing machine.

      13+
    2. Krissie is the same way, I don’t know how many machines she has, but she’s very picky about the brand.
      When I was in the hospital thirty years ago, my mother felt so helpless she said, “Is there anything you’ve ever wanted that you don’t have?” I said, “A Bernina sewing machine,” and she got me one. It was ridiculously expensive back then but that sucker is going to go forever. Best thing she ever gave me.

      12+
      1. I love Berninas. I have two – one I inherited from my mother, and one that I just purchased. It is still ridiculously expensive, but I’m worth it.

        5+
    3. @Lee — do you have any interest in vintage/antique sewing machines? I have a couple I should find a home for, since I never use them. DM me on Instagram, and I’ll take some pix to post there. Maybe I should do that anyway. You’re probably more looking for machines to do a specific job, not ones that are primarily collectible.

      6+
    4. Oh, sewing machines. They are SO important, and so many aren’t strong enough to sew through denim.

      I once threw my mother’s 1960s singer in a dumpster (tip for the British). I was moving, and tired and it was heavy. I have regretted it ever since. That was forty some odd yead ago.

      0
    1. Ordnance Survey maps for the whole of Great Britain on my iPad and phone. I absolutely love their large-scale walking maps (the Explorer series). They’re brilliant when I’m exploring up in the hills – as long as I download the relevant area before I set off, it’ll pinpoint me on the map even if there’s no phone signal. When you’re up on the moors, there’s often no sign of the path on the ground, and acres of bog and rocks to get lost in.

      6+
  8. When we moved, we really got rid of a lot of things we didn’t need (we even gave the microwave away). Now we have a lot of room in our cabinets which is a luxury in itself – and we don’t really miss the stuff we didn’t bring with us. Although I wouldn’t mind a kitchenaid mixer (in fire-engine red, please) just because they look so cool.

    Indispensable tools are the coffeemaker, a wooden block of really sharp knives (the ones that may not go into the dishwasher), a toaster and an electric kettle. The rest of the stuff just makes a guest appearance now and then.

    9+
  9. I love my rigger watercolor brush for the tiny images I make on cards. I’m a fanatic about what kind of pen I use, I love roller balls, and I won’t write or do the crossword without the right damn pen. I’m lucky to have a red Kitchen Aid (dough hook!), and some good sharp knives. Also, just the right gardening hat, wide straw brim all around, and a string to keep in on my head. I also decided that scissors don’t have to be one per home, so I’ve got a bunch around, but not the super sharp sewing scissors kind. I’ve never learned to sew, because, bobbins.

    7+
  10. For decades I’ve done what Julia Cameron calls morning pages, so I’ve taken to cheap Composition notebooks. Nothing spiral bound, b/c I’m a lefty. So that means Pilot V5 extra fine rolling ball pens, preferably black. In the kitchen, an electric kettle and a supply of darjeeling tea are my must-haves.
    Working on the interminable, shapeless mess we call a memoir and just got a project editing a colleague’s mystery novel, which is much more interesting.

    5+
    1. Oh, me too for MP! Almost exactly, for decades and on comp books, except Univision pens. But cheap composition books, because I hate spiral-bound (even though I’m not a lefty).

      2+
  11. My kitchen knives are THE BEST!! They are handmade by a local knife maker, and were my Christmas present from hubby last year. They are BEAUTIFUL, and so SHARP! I almost don’t want anyone else to touch them. Lol!

    11+
  12. I’m a sucker for stationery, though I really really don’t need more.

    Meanwhile, yesterday I burnt out the motor of my reliable old hand held blender (arrrggghh!)

    Guess what. A new one is going to cost more than $20 this time. But no blender, no smoothies, so I gotta go shopping today.

    5+
  13. My kitchenaid mixer, which my then-boyfriend-now-husband gave me…15 years ago? while we were dating after seeing me yearning, and is still going strong. The Juki sewing machine I got for Christmas, which enabled a newfound obsession with free-motion quilting. And my GTT Bobcat glassblowing torch, which I wish I had more time to use. I haven’t made beads in more than a year. Too many kids, to much day-job.

    7+
  14. Beads beads beads. I love shiny rocks of many varieties. I buy more than I should and am not currently making jewelry to sell, so should stop. But gosh, I love them.

    I also then to have a handful of favorite paint brushes and a lovely set of pliers.

    9+
    1. I’m with you there. I’ve been a professional jewelry maker for over 30 years and I have enough beads to last for the rest of my life. Plus I gave up doing shows a few years back when the writing took over my non-day-job time more or less completely, and only sell jewelry out of the store I run. But I still give in to the bead addiction periodically anyway. Just bought a few strands of lapis when I realized I was down to one pair of earrings and needed to make more. (Do I own lapis beads already? Of course I do.)

      And don’t even get me started on crystals and tumbled gemstones and other hunks of beautiful rock. My house is filled with them, to the point where I had to have some special display shelves made to hold them. I *mostly* don’t buy too many these days. So of course, last year a store that sells them move in next door to mine. It’s like the gods are laughing at me.

      12+
    2. When I started doing beading work, it was great because 1) they require far less real estate than yarn and 2) they’re easier to sneak past hubby because they fit in my purse (mostly).

      Of course, now I have an entire cabinet full, so I am trying not to binge here either.

      I try to rationalize by saying that I won’t need to buy more supplies when I retire in a couple of years, I have a stash to bust.

      Yeah, right. I’ll bet that rationale lasts a couple of months tops. 😏

      1+
  15. I have way too many sewing tools, but I love them all. Quilting rulers, eight or nine kinds of pins, every sewing machine foot I could think of to want. I used to have a very organized system for it all, but then we moved and I lost most of my dedicated space so now it is harder to find what I want. I feel bad sometimes for staring at my older son and calculating yet again how long until he goes off to college and adulthood and I can turn his bedroom into a sewing room. I will miss him terribly, but I will be able to find all my sewing things in one place!

    7+
  16. Who doesn’t love office supplies! I fell in love the the Rhodes square grid notebooks years ago, and now I swear I can’t organize any complex thoughts on any other format. The problem these days, is that they do make so many customized tools, it becomes a strange mania to find the perfect one. I make jewelry, and they make pliers for all sorts of specialized tasks. I feel quite virtuous limiting myself to twenty-three. OY.

    6+
  17. I too love kitchen stuff — not so much gadgets but I drool over good knives and quality mixing bowls and stuff.

    There’s no sense in my getting good knives ‘cause hubby would just stick them in the dishwasher. Also, would cut with them on the Corning glass trivets that I have put next to the stove and sink to help protect our butcher block countertops from burns and stains.

    I have a decent pair of knives that I have hidden and use only when he’s not there so he can’t wreck them. I have learned telling him to not do the things that are not good for knives is useless—he’s one of the “but I’ve always done it that way” crowd, so it’s a waste of breath.

    (He has a few other redeeming features, haha.)

    Oh,yeah, and I sooooooo want a KitchenAid mixer but little counter space and little storage space. Sigh.

    6+
    1. (shudder!) Yes, I’d hide my good knives, too. I have a bread knife that no one touches because I scream if it’s used on anything but bread (or sometimes cake).

      5+
      1. It’s ridiculous how much I love this new Mison bread knife. It’s so lovely and heavy and sharp and it has a blue handle! The Cutco knives have pearly white handles. I just want to coo when I pick them up.

        8+
        1. My kid went through a brief period of selling Cutco many years ago and I bought a pair of steak knives that turned out to be the best thing ever. I’ve looked everywhere for others that are the right weight and size and sharpness (these are serrated) to no avail. Still kicking myself for only buying two.

          4+
          1. My mother was given a set of six when she married in 1946, with the comment, “If you have more than six people, you won’t be serving steak.” Their handles were ivory — possibly the real thing — and only began to darken about ten years ago.

            3+
          2. They sell online. Just google.
            I splurged and got the chef’s knife and the paring knife, the only two knives I really need, and then went cheaper with the Mison bread knife. They’re all gorgeous. And the Cutco are guaranteed forever. Mollie inherited her stepmother’s mother’s knives and they were a mess, so she sent them back to the company, and about a week later got most of the knives back in great condition and two new ones to replace the ones that were too far gone to sharpen and clean. I think there’s a nine dollar fee or something, but the company will keep the knives going forever.

            4+
        2. We’ve got a German bread knife that’s lovely and solid and just feels right. It’s amazing how much better I feel using it than the cheap flimsy one. There’s a reason why we say cheap and nasty.

          3+
    2. I’ve put the Fear of Wife into my husband over the knives, after the time he used my previous cook’s knife to hack through a meatbone and left a permanent ding in it (it was one of a handful of moments where I’ve been rendered speechless by something he did). I’ve upgraded my kitchen knives since then, and he knows that misuse of them is not going to be taken lightly.

      5+
  18. My best tool might be my smartphone: communicaton, baby photography and dissemination, and commenting on blogs, all in the palm of my hand!

    The glass is cracked to smithereens and I’d love to blame the kiddos but it was me, all me, who dropped it face first into concrete. Luckily I got used to the spiderweb look….

    This week I’m on summer break, so addition to baby photography and blog comments, I also updated my blog for the first time since November 2017 and worked on my novel (last progress made in April, not too bad).

    Like most teachers, I have a summer job, so I do that twice a week. It’s great: exactly enough to feel productive and not get exhausted. Can we transition to a two-day work week at some point??

    Next week I need to move six years’ worth of stuff to a new classroom that’s bigger and better, including eight (EIGHT!!!) windows and literally twice the square footage of my previous domain, but I’m fretting about how to set it up (all I know is, NOT the way the previous occupant did!). I plan to bring houseplants and bookshelves and maybe try to scrounge up an area rug, but beyond that I’m stumped!

    5+
  19. (Not counting my iPhone which is as essential as chocolate to me. It’s always amusing when I can’t find it … because I’m using it as an eReader which is a different category than Notes or Contacts or Phone and my brain glitches.)

    My fountain pens and inks. I am lately writing longhand and have a small (fewer than 20!) collection of very nice pens with various nibs, and a box of inks.

    And whisks. I have a largish collection of hand whisks, because you different shapes/springiness for gravy than for cake batter than for eggs than …

    6+
  20. You’re all familiar with the expression, “Boys and their toys?” I admit to having way too many toys.

    First, there are the flashlights. At one point, I had over a hundred 9-LED flashlights, mostly the plastic Ozark Mountain ones. They all contain three AAA batteries. I also had four of the big Maglites with three or four D-cells. My favorites are either the ultraviolet flashlights or the three-way with regular flashlight, strip light, or red flasher. There are others.

    Next there is the rechargeable batteries. Goes hand-in-hand with the flashlight collection, right? There was a kit with a dozen AAs and eight AAAs and a charger, and so the other sizes wouldn’t feel left out, adapters to convert AAs to Cs or Ds. The adapter is just a plastic sleeve for Cs to make the AAs the right width, or a sleeve and plug to turn AAs to Ds. Then I added around forty AAs and 20 AAAs and a spare charger, because there need to be enough. Oh, let’s not forget the 9V batteries and chargers. Several of my flashlights clip right on to a 9V battery – very handy.

    Is there any guy who doesn’t own some kind of a set of screwdriver bits? I own a bunch of them. Short ones, long ones, Phillips and straight slot and star slot and square and others I can’t describe, plus American and metric sockets. I also have three drills (two cordless) to drive all those drivers, plus a few ratchets.

    Scissors. I have six, because scissors. No, I have more than six, and one I leave at work, and the ones in the first aid kits.

    Pens? Thirty or so Bic pens (the most stolen pen, goes the tale), others, a pack of yellow highlighters. When I want to practice my cursive, there has to be a writing stick that works, is all I’m sayin’.

    Waterfall desk tchotchkes – I have four, on my bookcases. I don’t plan to add any to this small accumulation They are wonderful, and soothing, and pretty – but if you’re an old diabetic who goes to the potty fifteen times a day, you don’t need the constant sound of water tinkling to help you do the same.

    Clocks. Not counting the built-in clocks on computers and Kindles and microwaves – no, count those, too, but leave out the two dead computers. Laptops, two. Kindles, two. Alarm clock. Microwave. Battery operated wall clocks, two. Desk clock/calculator, one. Cordless telephone, one.

    First aid stuff. I’ve given four kits to the dotter for home and car, the smallest to put in her purse. But, hmmm, how to explain? Besides the medicine cabinet over the sink in the bathroom, I have eight others. Those are mounted side by side, four rows high, in what would otherwise be a blank space between the door from garage into house and the bathroom door. The doors serve as a big mirror (but since they’re on different cabinets, it’s like a funhouse mirror.) Two of the cabinets (top left, top right) contain mostly flashlights. The four middle cabinets are dedicated to bandages, wraps, diabetic test kit supplies, electronic thermometers, ear wax removal kits and general first aid supplies. All those grandchildren, you see… The bottom two are nearly empty.

    The last item I’ll mention is shopping bags, the re-usable cloth kind. I’d drag them out and count them, but my dotter has some of them and the bulk of them are in the trunk of my officially totaled wreck of a car, at the tow-guy’s auto graveyard. All the insulated bags are hanging over my head on a ceiling hook.

    That’s all, I think. But no obsessions, right? That’s a perfume. I don’t do perfume.

    6+
    1. When my uncle passed away, my dad was helping clear out the garage. After making an inventory, he came back to my aunt and said “There’s good news and bad news. The bad news – any time Joe couldn’t find a tool, he went out and bought another. He has about 87 wrenches in there. The good news – he didn’t waste a lot of the estate on this habit. All of those wrenches were the cheapest ones he could buy.”

      10+
      1. My maternal grandfather also bought a new hammer every time he couldn’t find one within 30 secs. But he apparently bought good ones when he did buy one. My dad inherited the stash when my grandfather died quite young (mid 50s) as my mom was an only child.

        My dad is now 85 and I think he’s still using some of Grandpa’s tools…

        3+
    2. When I read about your poor car being in the auto graveyard I thought about Tell Me Lies by some gal named Jenny Crusie… 😆

      1+

      1. Oops, did the slash the wrong way for italics tag so it spilled over too far.

        Dang, we need an edit function here 😏

        1+
  21. In the kitchen, it’s an electric kettle and a Calphalon non-stick small, heavy saucepan that’s just the right for making one serving of oatmeal. I managed to forget it on the stove once while boiling chunks of sweet potato, which went beyond caramelizing to charring and fusing with the pan. I refused to toss it, though, and managed to scrape all the potato away, along with some of the coating, but it works perfectly well for making oatmeal. And boiling other things when I want to put the whole pan in the oven (there’s no plastic on it, so I can make rice by boiling the water on the stove and then adding the rice, covering it and putting it in the oven with whatever else is cooking there).

    In my office, the only two tools I care about are Univision pens for morning pages and my washable keyboard.

    Like others, the bulk of my tools are in the craft arena. Most particularly, my Juki TL98E (earlier model of what Tory probably got recently), with a wider than standard bed for easier free-motion quilting, and a speed that’s something like ten times what a standard home machine does. Zoom, zoom! Brilliant for strip-piecing, attaching long borders, and free-motion quilting. I’ve had it for close to 30 years now, I think. At least 25. Love it, love it, love it.

    4+
  22. I think of my mom who always said “you only wince once” when she was trying to persuade me to buy good quality the first time. I’ve learned that she was right. My favorite tools are:
    1.stand mixer. Went through several bread machines before I broke down and bought this.
    2. Vitamix. I remember waffling over this a long time. In addition to the cost, it’s tall (mine won’t fit under a cabinet) and it’s seriously loud. That said, it’s worlds better than any other blender I’ve had.
    3. Sewing machine. Mine is a Husqvarna Viking; it’s 20 years old; it does everything I ask it to and it’s a pleasure to use. Another of those purchases where I debated…and debated and…

    10+
  23. Oh, my cast iron pan, my red le Creuset 6 quart Dutch oven, my Cuisinart food processor, alot of wooden spoons (love wooden spoons), a French press, and a red le Creuset salt pig. It’s time to cook a batch of farro and make some cauliflower rice (and perhaps some cold brew).

    4+
  24. I spent 16 years working for an office supply (and furniture, but who cared) company. It was so fun to go help with physical inventory twice a year and touch stuff. I still have my Faber Castell stapler from ….mid 90’s, I’m guessing? They don’t make it any more. It was the only stapler I ever owned that just WORKED. The FC rep used to take one in to show customers, and toss it to them – purposely badly so the customer couldn’t catch it and it would slam to the floor – and then he’d pick it up and have them staple something with it. He personally sold thousands of them. And then there are pens, and highlighters and markers and colorful post-it notes and……. I do miss that job….

    6+
  25. Electric kettle, a beehouse teapot, interchangeable circular knitting needles, grid paper, hobonichi planner, fountain pens (they gave me back my handwriting after the squishing and so I cannot do without), some zojirushi mugs and some truly gorgeous handmade santoku knives. Almost all of those are things that help me do more by myself in ways that also please and satisfy me. I didn’t realize that until I wrote them down here. Thank you for that. I had to give up/make decorative all the cast iron and le creuset because heavy, it was so pretty and I just don’t miss it.

    I do want a sewing machine, but I can’t use a foot pedal reliably, and so I need to find/track down an older not-fancy one and then a very clever friend will convert me a foot pedal into something I can do with my arm.

    5+
    1. My fancy new one has an option for a pushbutton operation. Press that button and it will start sewing. Press it again when you want it to stop. Works great for embroidery. I haven’t tried it for doing regular sewing, but I see it lit up and waiting for me to try it.

      3+
  26. It sounds like we’re into Kitchen Porn….

    And yes, knives! I asked my sweetie for a good chef’s knife for Christmas, and I love love love it. And for my birthday last month, he made a wooden sheath for it, with a carved Celtic knot on the front.

    It was after watching Julia Child’s episode about onion soup and the care of your knife that I knew what was missing from my life.

    (but he still doesn’t get it about NOT using sewing scissors for anything else)

    8+
  27. I love new stationary and untouched paper pads. But they tend to remain unused, because my horrible handwriting (think a doctor, but worse) ruins their looks, so I stopped buying them.

    My favourite tool is my laptop. I’m not picky about brands, but I honestly don’t think I would have finished any book, let alone 7, without a laptop (see note above about handwriting).

    In the kitchen, though, you can’t spend enough to get a good can opener. I HATE fighting with can openers. My favourite so far has been the Starfrit Little Beaver can opener.

    5+
  28. My cast iron skillets, good knives, my ChiaGoo interchangeable knitting needles, and Ravelry, which is a knitting website where I store everything – patterns, notes, favorites, tools, projects, stash, etc. Oh, and my Kindle.

    5+
  29. I vacuumcleaned the kitchen for about an hour today….after having bangcrashbroken 6 glass bowls…whooops. Glass all over the place. Not. Fun. And I still find pieces here and there, even though I was very thorough. Oh well… Let’s pretend it was good for something: extra vacuumcleaning!

    Tomorrow we’ll go with MIL to the linen-draper’s and look for a new built-in stove&oven (apparently you can’t just replace one of them…) and a fridge, because the other one was trouble enough last year so we’d better replace it b before it starts messing with us again. A lad from that store was here today to measure things, and took a look at the oven, but of course it turned on just fine when he was here. No short-circuits or anything. DF let it heat up to full power after lad was gone to see what’d happen, and BAM, short-circuit again. So we really have to get another one. This doesn’t feel safe.

    So all in all, I’ve been working on and in the kitchen, one could say…

    6+
  30. My favorite tools are my Flexrake (gardening hoe/claw thingy) and this six-year-old laptop. I live in fear of this thing dying. I have spent an average of 8 hours a day on it since disemployment. If I ever get profitably re-employed I think I need to buy a new computer in expectation of this one croaking because if it croaks first I am going to have a meltdown. (Yes, I have backups, but you know … )

    As to working: have been seriously working on the job hunt again. Also on what will be Novel #9. #8 is finished and basically ready to publish as soon as my downtrodden and overworked cover designer (sister) can assemble.

    Aside from that, it’s too hot to work. At least I watered plants on Monday so they wouldn’t all shrivel up.

    5+
  31. I definitely have issues in office supply stores, buying pens and fancy paper I don’t need. But my biggest downfall is organizers. I have what I like to refer to as an organizational neurosis, and cool organizers that actually fit the function I am looking for make me absurdly happy. (On the bright side, I run an artists’ cooperative shop with 50 artists, where it turns out that having an organizational neurosis is a good thing.)

    I’ve mostly been playing catch-up at work and home after my short vacation, and trying to recover from the cold I came down with on day one. But I’ve also been reorganizing my mudroom (which is also my laundry room and where you come into the house) because my wonderful house-and-cat sitter for some reason decided to clean it while I was gone. Which is fine (and in her defense, it was a mess and on my list to deal with when I got home), but her idea of cleaning was to take everything off the shelves and other spaces and put them back in random places, mostly piled on top of each other. ARGH. So I’ve spent part of each day for the last week going in and moving things around. Now it is neat and beautiful and I got nothing else done.

    5+
  32. I’m a sucker for retractable pencils. I’m at work and just counted 4 on my desk. I’ve no idea where they came from; I think I go to someone else’s desk, pick up their pencil to write a note and walk off with it. Oops. It’s a good thing there’s a limitless supply on our stationery shelf.

    I spent the weekend at an Open Floor dance workshop, which is about using dance to express ourselves. There’s no pressure to dance well, it’s just using movement however we want. It was great.

    5+
  33. When I was a kid the bottom floor of the local Marshall Field’s had a curved wall with books on one side and kitchen goods on the other. This was my Mother’s idea of heaven and still is akin to mine. My current faves are my Kitchen Aid, cast-iron fry pan, heavy duty tongs and a really handy THIN wooden spatula.

    But what I’m really bingeing on now are picture books. My pal Dave was unpacking them last time I visited him and I bought 6 of Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books. I will have to weed out and rearrange several shelves to make room for the new books, but they make me very happy. And perhaps this will inspire some long overdue work on my pigsty of a bedroom.

    What I’ve been working on this week has been going through all my financial and medical records for requalification for the social services I need. While I was doing the second application, I told my social worker about the problems I have been having accessing my file on the State’s website. She, who is a lot more comfortable online than I am, had the exact same problem than I have had. I still can’t see what is going on in my account, but at least I don’t feel as stupid. But now I’m out of options for where to get help.

    4+
  34. My set of Graham Kerr spurtles, now about 45 years old, and the wire cage popcorn popper — I never warmed up to any of the electric or hot-air or microwave models.

    What I can’t resist are dishes — I could probably redo the dining room every week. I discovered years ago that I’m partial to glass, and now have plates and bowls in clear, cobalt, emerald, ruby, amber, and some black (for Hallowe’en). Also cookbooks.

    5+
    1. I love bowls. I have dozens. Dish sets, not so much, but bowls . . . oh, my.
      I actually do have a gorgeous set of dishes, the Susie Cooper white dinnerware with the scalloped edge, which I bought back when I was writing Fast Women. Lovely, lovely stuff. In boxes out in the garage.

      9+
      1. I am right now re-reading Fast Women for the umpteenth time. It was my first intro to Jenny Crusie, care of my mother.

        1+
      2. Last year I was a co-hostess for a ladies’ group meeting, and was asked to provide ten cups/saucers and small plates. My wonderful brother had to get out the stepladder to fish them out from the top cupboard — probably hadn’t been touched in decades.

        0
  35. Love my Phaff sewing machines. I have two. And, Mama’s old Singer sewing machine I learned to sew on. And fabric. Lots of fabric love running my hand over the texture or silkiness. And scissors. I hide mine. I have my MIL’s shears. Haven’t used them yet.

    My Italian non stick pan for making omelettes. Bought it when Eatons was going out of business.

    Good spiral notebooks with lovely covers. I went overboard last year, bought enough for 2 years of morning pages. And good pens.

    My special garden trowel, a smallish shovel and a weed remover tool.

    And a good iron, it has to have a strong shot of steam. German brand is the best so far. But, think I just found the steam iron of all steam irons two weeks ago. And a good ironing board.

    3+
    1. I’m reading this first thing in the morning and my eyes aren’t fully functioning yet. I read: “And a good man, it has to have a strong shot of steam.”

      7+
  36. I was reading all of these and thinking “I’m not really much of a tool person,” and then I thought of my Irish dance shoes. I used to have stress dreams as a kid about the house burning down, but I’d always save my dance shoes.

    And then this weekend I bought a brand new pair of soft shoes! Dance shoe technology has definitely advanced in the last few years. These stay on your feet better, and the increased padding under the ball of your foot is so lovely. There’s something about brand new leather shoes made solely for dancing.

    7+
  37. The electric tea kettle that heats to different temperature for different teas.
    My laptop and IPhone.
    Our programmable thermostat for the temperature wars.
    An extendable limb lopper that is perfect for cutting the vines killing the trees on either side of our creek.

    We recently got a sieve with feet so I can drain things in the kitchen—simple but useful.
    The pasta pot with a separate part with holes for the pasta so you can drain the pasta just by picking up that part and not burn yourself.
    The steamer we have that is a pot with a separate section with a lid.
    The mini food processor that lets me make pistachio scape pesto.

    3+
  38. I have a refrigerator that I absolutely HATE. I’ve hated it since 2004 when we moved into this house. I figured it would eventually die, but no. It keeps kicking along. I think it takes a perverse delight in thwarting me.

    I also have enough sewing kit to kill a cow. It’s in the attic, in the living room, in the room off the porch. I sometimes buy things I know I have because I don’t want to go into the attic to find it.

    Today I bought a paintbrush comb. Good paintbrushes get ruined her regularly. I now know how to reclaim them. (I also bought a new cutting-in brush, a little roller… I should never go in the paint section.) I left a photo on Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/BynPrhzgrQz/

    2+
  39. Moleskine notebooks are my Kryptonite, which is actually worse than it sounds, because there’s a Moleskine store in the shopping mall 1/2 block from my office, so if I wander over to the mall for ANYTHING, I walk by the Moleskine store because it’s on my path into the mall, and really, I’m just going to pop my head in and see if there’s anything new and Ooh, that’s a new color! and Ooh, sale table! and Ooh, I need that. All when I have a lovely stack of notebooks at home. To my credit, I do use them, but still….

    3+
  40. I am not a tool person. I only have 4, no 5, wire whisks:2 sizes of the French, 1 tephlon coated and two sizes of roux whisks. The roux whisks are indispensable. I am still using my grandma’s 8 cup soup pot @ 1930’s. Well I also have my mom’s 2 gallon soup pot, plus mine, plus the all clad one my husband gave me. And for some insane reason I have copper jello molds, about 40 the last count. I never make molded anything. I even have a Victorian steamed pudding mold which I did use once.

    I think some of us have a collector gene. I have almost every color of DMC embroidery thread ever sold, and there are hundreds. But I am going straight. I now have a small collection of art nouveau cigar jars with silver plate lids which are indispensable for storing sugar, sliced almonds, raisins and brown sugar for my breakfast cereal. The other 15 jars are necessary for backup if any are broken.

    3+
    1. Oh, whisks. I love the flat ones, and I have one that’s designed so well it’s a cinch to clean, and one annoying one that has a whisk ball in the center of it so it’s beautiful, and one I just got with two mini disks that spins when you press down on it. I love whisks

      2+
  41. We’re getting new English-as-a-foreign-language textbooks next year, and they’ll have a new tool for the kids: QR codes that will provide a link to sound files. Kids with internet and QR readers (basically every smart phone in Japan) will be able to listen to the pronunciation of a native speaker over and over again.

    They had QR codes in the teacher’s manual of the books we have now, but I don’t know that anyone actually used them.

    Still, I worry. There’s a gap and some kids don’t have access to internet and QR readers. There’s talk that libraries and schools will have them available to borrow. The real barrier, of course, is deciding to grab the tool and actually use it without the teacher assigning it. I remember HATING language lab and having to listen to the tapes.

    The QR codes are a tool with a lot of potential, but I just don’t know how effectively they’ll be used.

    The whole “new textbook” mess has been taking up a lot of mindspace lately.

    1+
      1. Do you still have my address? It’s the same as it was in class. If not, I’m on Twitter. DM me, and I’ll send you my email. I do recommend the JET program(me). It was a wonderful opportunity for me many years ago, and it’s still the gold standard for teaching English in Japan as an assistant. Also, even if it means finishing in five years, a year abroad can make a huge difference, especially if she can stay with a homestay.

        This is me: https://twitter.com/MsDuskova

        1+
  42. Fountain pens and ink. So many shades of brown! And just lately hopping on the Traveler’s Notebooks train and having a lovely time. Definitely my Bernina, too.

    2+

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