Monday, November 22, 2010

Win-win teacher gifts!

This year, as in past years, I am begging my family to go easy on the gifts for the kids.  They don't need anything and are hard-pressed to come up with things they even want.  We have put an end to birthday party gifts for my kids and when we give out loot bags at their parties, it's usually one item, like a book or drawing kit.

For Bart’s birthday party, we wrote on the invitation: “In lieu of a gift for the birthday boy, please bring a contribution to the ABC School outdoor play bin.” Kids brought balls, Frisbees, skipping ropes, bubbles, sidewalk chalk and all kinds of great items that they then had the opportunity to play with at school.

For Maggie’s birthday, instead of sending in cupcakes for the class (which is now frowned upon due to a healthy schools initiative), Maggie picked out 5 books to donate to the classroom.

Lisa’s birthday is coming up and she’s trying to decide what kinds of donations she will ask from her friends.  Because it's near Christmas, we may adopt a local family in need and ask for gifts for the family.

These are all win-win-win initiatives. The kids feel really special making these donations. We don’t continue to fill up our house with toys that are rarely touched. The recipients of the donations are always grateful and appreciative.

Have you read Swistle’s latest teacher gifts posts? I get miffed every time I read one of these and a few (certainly not all) teachers chime in that a gift card and cash are more appreciated than the #1 Teacher Mugs, the baked goods (which are often tossed) and the little (useless) trinkets.

In Swistles’ post, someone was asking a question about whether or not she should contribute $35 so the class could present a ‘better’ class gift for Christmas, Teacher Appreciation Week and end of year. If I were a teacher I. WOULD. DIE a thousand deaths if I knew the families in my class were being asked to spend $35 on personal gifts for me. DIE!

I wrote this in my comment on Swistle’s post, but I’m going to repeat it here. I think teachers should take the lead and reject the notion of personal gifts in favour of classroom gifts. Teachers won’t get anymore crap they neither want nor need; parents and kids get to pick out something they know will be used and appreciated.

Here’s what the teacher should say:

As we approach the holiday season (/Teacher Appreciation Week/the end of the school year), I would like to thank you for the support you have given me and ABC School so far this year. Your participation in fundraisers, Scholastic orders and in providing classroom supplies is very much appreciated. I know many of you will feel obliged to purchase a “teacher gift” and I want to free you of this obligation. I know budgets are tight and I certainly don’t need anything personally. If you are still inclined to purchase a gift, may I suggest something that can be enjoyed by everyone in the class? Perhaps a copy of your child’s favourite book, some glitter glue for the creative centre or skipping ropes for the playground? It is truly a pleasure teaching your children and that is more than enough reward for me.

The best teacher ever :-)

Seriously, teachers, it’s win-win and you can make it happen.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A very long post in which I whine about being too busy.

I’m just generally finding life so busy lately and I’m getting very frustrated by the lack of time for myself. Last week was particularly rough and went something like this:

Monday: I got a call at work that Bart had a mishap in gym class and was acting a little dopey and confused. I blew off a meeting I was about to go into and took him to the doctor. He was okay; a little bruised and a loose tooth, but otherwise fine. We had to wake him a couple of times in the night, but all was well. I had planned to work on the kids’ Halloween costumes, but had to put it off.

Tuesday: A few minutes after we arrived home from Bart’s karate and Lisa’s guitar lessons (it was 7:15 and I hadn’t even been home from work, nor had anyone eaten dinner), the phone rang. It was my dad saying my mother had collapsed and could I come (they are about 30 minutes away). I implored my dad to call 9-1-1 and he promised to do so if she became any worse. By the time I got to my parents’ house, there was a note on the door that he had called 9-1-1 and was en route to the hospital. Long story short, my mom is okay now – they don’t really know what happened, but she got a lot of tests at the hospital and is scheduled for a bunch more.

Wednesday: I got a call that Lisa was sick. My backup babysitters (my parents) were obviously not available and I had two meetings that I could not blow off. Homer was unavailable as he was at a banquet receiving an award. I picked up Lisa, waited impatiently for Homer to get home and practically flew back to work and went straight into a meeting. After spending about an hour on the phone that evening with my sister, father and aunt discussing my mom, I got to work on the costumes. At 11:30 I called it quits because I was exhausted.

Thursday: Lisa is fine and back at school. Another late night working on the costumes. I also baked cupcakes and a cake for Maggie’s birthday, put together the loot bags for her party on Saturday and made Rice Krispie Squares for the kids to share with their classes at the Halloween party at school.

Friday: Maggie turns 5! I took the day off work and spent the morning with my little peanut. We had a donut and coffee/hot chocolate, went shopping for some birthday clothes, quickly changed her into her costume and then went out for lunch. I dropped Maggie off at school and then hung around so I could help the other two with their costumes. I watched the Halloween parade, then came home to frost her birthday cake. Went back for the kids and helped them out of their costumes. We carved three pumpkins, then changed into nice clothes for dinner at a restaurant. After dinner we went on a pumpkin hike (a hike through the woods in the dark with only jack-o-lanterns lighting the way). Back at home we sang Happy Birthday, ate cake and sent the kids off to bed. I tried to make Maggie her castle cake (I totally cheated by making is castle-ish, but the birthday girl was happy, so that's all that counts).
Castle(ish) Cupcakes

Meow Birthday Girl!

Saturday: The girls had their dance classes until 11:30 and Maggie’s party started at 12:00. At 2:00 the party was over and we rushed home to get in costume (again) for my niece’s birthday party (she’s 2!) We were home by 9:00 and the kids went straight to bed.
My adorable and adored niece

Sunday: I woke up and did 5 loads of wash. I made breakfast for the kids and then headed out to the grocery store. After putting the groceries away, I took the wet clothes to the Laundromat (our dryer is broken). I came home and drove Lisa to a birthday party. While she was at the party, the rest of us tried to put the house back together after a very busy week. I picked Lisa up, then prepared our traditional Halloween meal of Mummy Dogs, French fries and salad. We got the kids in costume for a final time and then went out in the freezing cold night to beg for candy from strangers.

Everyone in costume - looking a little more plump than usual, thanks to lots of warm layers

So, illness, birthdays and Halloween totally shaped my week last week. I’m more than a little tired and overwhelmed, but I’m so relieved that everyone is doing well and a good time was had by all.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My new edge

Our house is getting painted today (yay!) They’re doing the kitchen, the den, the hallways (upper and lower), the stair risers, Lisa’s room and all the ceilings, doors and trim in those areas. They actually started yesterday, so I’ve seen some of the progress. The beamed ceiling in the kitchen looks great – white beams with a light greyish-blue in between. They should be done tomorrow and it will be nice to have had it all done while I was at work. We have always done painting ourselves, but we had so much to get done, we decided to hire out this time. It would have taken us months of weekends to get everything done.

My house is in shambles. Furniture has been moved all around; there’s drywall dust on almost every surface from Homer fixing the 45 year old walls and ceilings; and my calendars, schedules and general systems that keep me organized are shoved here, there and everywhere.

My assistant at work gave her 2 weeks notice and I was pissed – way more pissed than I had the right to be. I knew she was going for a better opportunity; heck, I helped her prep for her second interview and gave her a glowing reference! I was pissed because she gave me exactly 2 weeks to fill her position. In September. At a university. Sheesh. I mistakenly thought that, because I’ve been a great boss (really, I have), I would be given the courtesy of not getting screwed at the busiest time of the year.

Home and work both seem frantic right now and it just doesn’t sit well with me. I’m usually calm, collected and easy-going, but this week I’ve been stomping around grumpily, snapping at my husband and kids and giving people crazy-lady looks at work. I definitely have more of an edge to me than usual.

Tonight I’ll go home and 2/3 of the painting will be done. The house will still be topsy-turvy until the weekend, but at least there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Tomorrow I will interview and hopefully select a new assistant, and he or she will screw someone else with their own two-weeks notice.

Most things will be okay by the weekend. I’m keeping some of the edge though. I'm getting some good results from the crazy-lady looks.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Can I build it?

When I was a teenager, I remember showing up to a babysitting gig and being greeted by two very excited little boys. “Mommy built us a sandbox!” This was not any ordinary sandbox. It was huge, with a roof, benches, a lid and storage areas for the sandbox toys. I was amazed. Inspired. I had never met a mom that used power tools.

That summer, my dad let me use some of his tools to try some simple projects. I made some planter boxes, a decorative wishing well planter and some small patio tables. After that, I received tools and DIY books for Christmas and birthday gifts. By the time I finished university and branched out on my own, I had a full set of hand tools, a jigsaw, a drill, a router and a palm sander.

For years, I mostly used the tools for home improvement projects like hanging things, fixing things and refinishing cabinets, etc. I did build islands for the kitchens in both my first home and our current home, but those were fairly simple in terms of carpentry and were more about the tile work.

Then one day in February, someone posted a link on their blog to Knock Off Wood. I spent hours on the site looking at Ana’s designs and seeing that regular non-builder people were building furniture that looked like furniture. I remembered Mrs. V. and the sandbox. I dusted off my tools and decided to tackle a bed for Lisa.

It’s not finished yet. I want to do one more coat of paint on the headboard and footboard and I’m thinking about doing upholstered side rails. In total, this solid wood bed frame cost about $180, including paint. I finished it over 2 weekends.  Here are the plans from Ana's site.

This is just a sneak peak/progress shot.  It's in her room now, but still not finished (I had to assemble it in the room and I still haven't painted/upholstered the side rails!)  This sucker is big and heavy!

Homer was impressed. Inspired. When we were offered a pile of used 2x4’s for FREE, we accepted and built ourselves a workshop. I designed it and put it all together. Homer helped cut the wood to size with a circular saw.

Homer uses the back area to tinker around with small electronics

I mostly use this bench in the middle to build new things and refinish old things

My little Star Wars fanatic needed something to store his stash of lightsabers.

Behold the Lightsaber Rack. I whipped this up in less than an hour, including the paint! The hooks set me back about $5, but the rest was all from scraps I had laying around.

Maggie has such a tiny room that I’m always looking for different storage items. I found this PB Kids replica at Knock Off Wood.

Maggie added the little butterflies and has filled it with her favourite books and DS games. This was also made from scrap wood.

For the ten years we have lived in this house, we have never had a TV in the living room (much to Homer’s chagrin). I finally broke down and allowed it, and now it’s mounted on the wall. We needed something to store all the stuff that couldn’t be mounted on the wall. Homer didn’t even think twice about asking me to design/build something. Here’s what I came up with.

I love it. It’s solid wood, custom built for our needs and cost about $80 to build, including all the wood, screws and stain.

I have many more projects in mind; I’m just waiting for some spare time to get them going.

So, can I build it? Yes I can! (Uh, I think so).

Just for fun, I'm linking up to the Funky Junk Interiors Saturday Night Special.  I get lots of ideas from this feature.


Monday, July 19, 2010

A familiar topic here

Those of you who have been reading here for awhile know that one of my biggest safety fears is water. We have a large, in-ground pool in our backyard and this is honestly the first year since before we had kids that I haven’t looked at it as a big, giant hazard just waiting to swallow up one of my kids. We’re really enjoying it this year, especially since July has been so hot.

At 9, Lisa is really enjoying jumping in, swimming around and diving for objects at the bottom of the shallow end. She’s allowed to have friends over, but no more than 2 at a time.

At 7, Bart swims around the shallow end and will dive down for objects, but puts on his lifejacket for swimming and jumps into the deep end. He’s allowed to have 1 friend over. I tell the parents about the depth of our pool and let them decide about the need for lifejackets, floaties, etc. They all come with one or the other.

At 4, Maggie does not enter the pool fence without her lifejacket. She’s still too short to stand in the shallow end and she’s not a confident enough swimmer to not panic if she accidentally fell in. Her friends don’t come over yet without a parent.

Maggie likes to test the limits, and was insisting that she could sit at the pool edge with just her feet in without a lifejacket. She was adamant and it was becoming a battle every time we went out to the pool. I finally sat her down and told her the story about Bart falling in the pool when he was 4. She listened intently and kept asking, with wide eyes, “and then what happened?” The part that really convinced her was when I said, “and then I cried and cried because I was so scared for Bart.” Her will melted and she has not questioned the lifejacket rule since.

When we take them to a lake, we go in with them. If there’s any chance for an undertow, they are not allowed to go in past their waists and all three wear lifejackets. Our favourite beaches have lifeguards and roped-off swimming areas.

Over-protective? Probably. Am I teaching them to fear the water? Yep. That’s the thing: I think they SHOULD have a healthy fear of the water. Hopefully it will make them more alert, more aware when they’re out of my sight and too old for my rules, but not too old to break my heart if the unthinkable happened.


It’s National Drowning Prevention Week here in Canada. Have you seen this article? It’s definitely worth a read.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Five

You: So how’s that pledge going, LoriD?

Me: Excellent, thanks.

How about a post of random items?

1.  I like almost any fruit, except Mango. Mango makes me gag. Yesterday I packed a yogurt in my lunch thinking it was pineapple, but it was actually mango. Blech. One bite and it was in the garbage.

2.  I have been building lots of things around the house. I told you about the bed for Lisa and since then I have built a basic shelf for Lisa, a small wall shelf for Maggie, a Lightsaber rack for Bart, a garbage/recycling unit for the garage, an entire workshop of workbenches and a… unit?... shelf thingy to hold all the components for our TV. I love to build, but I hate to paint/finish the things I build – I don’t really have the patience for it. Still to build: some planter boxes, storage crates for under the girls’ beds, a storage bench for our front hall, and a vanity for the washroom.

3.  I have to say that June is my least favourite month. Although I enjoy the weather and the relative downtime at work, the lack of free time in the evenings and on the weekends is really making me cranky. It’s making the kids cranky too. Thankfully, most of the academic year activities are done, so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

4.  The kids’ soccer seasons are off to a great start. We have a deal that if any one of them gets a goal in their games, we all go out for ice cream. We have had ice cream every week.

5. Today I’m leaving work early and going home so Homer and I can pack up his car for a trip to… the dump! I could not be more excited by this trip. We have a lot of stuff in our garage that just has to go… so much stuff that to get out the kids’ bikes, we have to move the lawnmower, push aside the baby strollers and step over stacks of old textbooks. And no, there is no room for an actual car in the garage.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 31, 2010

My Pledge

I WILL update this poor neglected blog (sometime) this week.

I WILL share pictures from the goings-on the past couple of months.

I WILL start leaving comments on your blogs, which I have also neglected.

In the meantime, here’s our evening/weekend schedule for the week (shamelessly seeking sympathy):

Monday: Soccer – 6:00 for both Lisa and Maggie (different fields); 7:15 for Bart

Tuesday: 6:00 Karate for Bart

Wednesday: Soccer – 6:00 for Lisa; 7:15 for Bart

Thursday: 6:00 - Orchestra practice for Lisa

Friday: 4:30 - Karate for Bart; 5:00 - Dance recital dress rehearsal for Lisa and Maggie

Saturday: Soccer kick-off day (games and BBQ) for all three

Sunday: Dance recital for Lisa and Maggie

Did I mention that Homer will be unavailable in the evenings between now and the end of June? Thank goodness for my parents, who will help me out with the two soccer fields thing on Monday nights.

On the plus side, my grocery bill was very small this week – we’re having sandwiches and raw veggies for dinner every night! Dinner will most likely be eaten in the backseat of the car, as I don’t usually get home from work until 5:30.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Where is LoriD? Here I am...

Oh my.

It seems when things get busy, the first thing to be pushed aside is my blog. Well, the blog and exercise, although I do feel like my 50 trips up and down the stairs each morning, my multiple laps around the campus going to meetings and my stomach crunches while holding back my sarcasm at some of those meetings must count for something. Regardless, I think I’ll start the C25K next week (probably somewhere around the week 3 or 4 mark of the program).

Tonight we’re going to Lisa’s first Orchestra performance. She started violin lessons back in September and tonight there’s a big concert at a huge concert hall downtown. She’s excited and nervous. I think this will be her first and last year playing violin. She has caught onto the reading of the music very quickly, easily playing the songs on the piano once she was shown the location of Middle C. However, I don’t like her teacher (she’s one of those people who smiles while saying mean, snippy things) and Lisa isn’t that keen on the instrument itself. Next year, we’ll try either piano or guitar. My vote is for guitar, even though I play the piano.

Bart started Karate about a month ago. It’s adorable. I really like the program he’s in and I think it’s hilarious how seriously he takes the “character building” lessons. At school he’s practicing his dance for the part his class has in the Opera (for which Lisa has a lead role). He’s playing a bat. In two years all three of my kids will be in the same production (they start performing in grade 1; in kindergarten they participate by being a good audience).

Maggie is still 4-going-on-18. She’ll tell me stories about kids at school who fail to follow the rules and act like “lunatics”. She rats out her siblings for “leaving their crap all over the floor”. We still have daily battles about what she will wear (still no pants and now no skorts), how she will wear her hair (two braids, straight with a SOFT hairband or one ponytail – not too high or too low – are our current options). She’d be quite entertaining if it weren’t so exhausting!

What else? Oh, I made a bed. Like, I constructed a bed out of wood and nails and screws and paint and it looks like a bed and will soon be part of Lisa’s new tween bedroom. I’ll take pictures at some point and show you.

I feel like there should be more to update, but I guess I purged most of it to make room for… I don’t know… something.

Monday, February 1, 2010

In Search of Snow

It’s February and I have not yet pulled out a shovel, tobogganed down a hill, nor built a lopsided snow family.

It’s February and I have yet to watch the Storm Watch ticker on the morning news to see if the schools are closed, wear my pyjamas inside out , or enjoy an unscheduled day off.

It’s February, and although the air is bitterly cold, the ground is brown and dry.

It’s February and I want to hunker down under a blanket, bake cookies for my awesome neighbour with the snow blower, and put my snow tires to the test.

It’s February and I WANT SNOW!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Have you ever…

… cut off your nylons just above your hemline and just below the top of your tall boots to get rid of the exposed section on your knee, which (of course) has a run?

… wished that you didn’t pursue your current career because your (decent) salary and (high-ish) rung on "the ladder" limits your options to change jobs, work part-time or just quit and stay home with the kids?

… put your kids to bed late and let them run amok because you were trying to break your high score on Wii Fit Plus Ski Jumping?

… seen all those beautiful Haitian children and felt the urgent need to put one in your pocket and bring him home with you?

… bought your kid’s teacher a pink Snuggie to congratulate her on her retirement?

… put all the ingredients in the crock pot, then left it on the counter, unplugged, all day?

Yeah, me neither.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I’m feeling a little 8:25 AM-ish at 5:45 PM

So, have you heard about this study from Uniroyal Tyre in the UK? Apparently they did a survey of working moms and found that 8:25 AM is the most stressful time of the day. At 8:25, they have been wrangling kids out of beds and into clothes, making lunches and packing backpacks and trying to get them off to school on time.

I heard about the study at 8:25 this morning, in my car, as I was sipping the coffee my 9-year-old handed to me in a travel mug as I walked out the door (love that kid).

Mornings are not too bad for me, actually. I do most of the lunches the night before and just pop any thermos items in each morning. Backpacks are organized and ready the night before. The kids lay out their clothes before they go to bed. My kids are all wake up fairly easily, usually between 6:30 and 7:00. I’m an early riser myself, hopping out of bed at 6:00 to cycle the wash, unload the dishwasher, start breakfast and get myself ready for work.

I aim to leave the house between 8:00 and 8:15 each morning, at which point Homer takes over. By the time I leave, the kids have eaten, brushed their teeth and washed their faces, are dressed, have their hair done and have their snowpants and boots on. Lisa sets the timer to go off at 8:25 to signal that it’s time to put on the rest of their outdoor gear.

Evenings? Not so smooth.

I pick the kids up from the sitter anywhere between 5:00 and 6:00, usually about 5:30. At the sitters they are usually “in the middle of something”, like playing Wii, doing a craft or just playing, leaving me at the small entranceway begging them to please come and get their coats on. On average, it takes at least 10 minutes to get out of the sitter’s house.

In the 5-minute car ride home, they All! Want to tell me! About their day! Which is fine, but there is much fussing and pouting about who is getting more airtime.

When we get in the door, everyone knows what they’re supposed to do (hang coats, put away hats, etc., remove lunch bags and homework from backpacks), but it’s often only with nagging that it actually gets done (except for Lisa, who is very orderly).

I plan my weekday dinners, so I know exactly what we’re having, but I usually need to do a few minutes of prep to get the meal going so that it’s on the table at a decent time. I always ask the kids to give me these few minutes, uninterrupted, and then I’ll help them with homework while the dinner is cooking. They use this time that they’re not bugging me to harass each other. There is a lot of fussing, whining and shouting in these few minutes that leads to time outs, removal of privileges and frayed nerves.

Once dinner is served, the rest of the evening is fairly calm. Homework is done and we usually have time for a board game, some reading or maybe a quick Wii game.

When the kids were babies, the hour right around dinnertime was called “The Witching Hour” where all babies seemed to fuss and complain. Isn’t it nice to know that not much changes when they’re no longer babies?

Monday, January 4, 2010

LoriD Recommends – Kitchen stuff

If I’m not working or sleeping, I’m probably in my kitchen. I really love my kitchen. It’s a nice size and has useful amenities like food, drink, a computer and TV, good lighting and nice views. Over the holidays, I was in major purge mode. My drawers and cupboards were too packed and disorganized, I had too many cookbooks and I just felt the need for more space. I thought I’d share with you a few things that really work for me in my kitchen.


The one on the left is my favourite - it was my grandmother's and has a blue, wooden handle

Oh, how I love my scoops. I have small, medium and large and use them to apportion cookie dough, fill muffin tins and tart shells, stuff pasta shells, scoop out melons and plop biscuit batter onto a cookie sheet. Scoops make doing any of these things faster and cleaner. Baked goods are also a more uniform size, if that kind of thing matters to you.

Wilton Professional Bakeware

This is really fantastic stuff. The cookies, muffins, cakes, roasts, brownies, squares and casseroles just fall out – no need for tin foil, muffin cups or parchment paper. There’s no stuck-on residue (not even cheese or egg sticks to it), making clean-up super easy. I donated all my bakeware that was not this brand (2 bags full!) to Goodwill. The price is right on these too. Anything I purchased was 50% off, so the 9x13 pan, for example, was $6.50. It would still be a bargain at full price. Those are actually my pans in the picture. I have used that mini muffin tin in the front at least 3 times a week since I got it last Christmas (including this morning) and it still looks brand new.


When I first told Homer I was going to paint our door that leads to the garage with chalkboard paint, he thought it was weird. He thought it was an awkward spot for a chalkboard and questioned why I would paint the whole door when the children could only conceivably reach the lower half. Five years later, this large chalkboard is now an integral part of our command centre. The grown-ups use the top half for messages to each other and the lower half is used by the kids to draw, do math problems and practice spelling words.

Wilton universal scraper

This is a really handy little tool. It’s got the strength of a spoon and the scraping capabilities of a spatula. Use the large side to mix muffin batter and the small side to scrape out the peanut butter jar.

Measure once, bake twice

No matter how hard I try, I cannot bring out the flour/sugar/salt for a recipe without getting it all over the counter or me. I’ve started making an extra batch of dry ingredients whenever I’m making muffins, biscuits, etc. I’m doubling the recipe, but putting one amount in the bowl and the other in a Ziploc. The next time I make the recipe, I just pull out the dry ingredients and add the wet. It’s a real time-saver, both in the making of the recipe and the clean-up.

Recipe Cheat Sheet

There are some things that I tend to make over and over again. For those items, I have a cheat sheet on the inside of one of my cabinet doors. It’s basically the list of ingredients for the recipe with the baking temperature/time. Again, a real time-saver.

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

I’ve had my mixer for two years now and I love it. Before I bought it, I had no idea how much I would use it, but now I can report that I use it several times a week. It makes everything so much easier. From cookie dough to mashed potatoes, meringue to bread dough, it has really changed how my kitchen works. With the mixer, the scoops and my Wilton pans, I can make a batch of 3-dozen cookies, start to finish, in less than 30 minutes.

Glass bowl with lid

Tomorrow's muffins, just waiting in the fridge

Her Royal Highness (aka Maggie) prefers to have freshly-baked muffins in the morning. I’ll mix up the muffins in the glass bowl, bake up 12 mini-muffins or 6 regular muffins and put the batter in the fridge for up to 3 days. The bowl is also good for marinating meats or just storing leftover soup or chilli.

Tassimo Beverage Machine

Homer asked for this for Christmas. Since he asks for mostly weird things (e.g. a wall safe), I went right out and got one for him (when it was on sale, of course). This makes a really nice cup of coffee (it’s really HOT, which isn’t always the case with coffee makers), but it also makes hot chocolate, tea, cappuccino and lattes. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do. Homer has added it to the “Things that Must be Immediately Replaced if it Breaks” list (along with the stand mixer and his PSP).

What about you? What’s in your kitchen that you wouldn’t want to be without?