Friday Five: Kitchen Must-Haves

I am just getting started with this gloriously long weekend, but I did want round out the week with another edition of Friday Five. On Wednesday of this week, Michelle of Brown Eyed Baker gave her list of 62 Pieces of Essential Kitchen Equipment, and I lovvved it. I really adore seeing how other people I admire stock their home, and it gives me something to aspire to. Plus, it makes filling out a wedding registry that much easier, if you’re into cooking but don’t know what to register for.

On the flip side of that topic, though, I’m sort of a young professional, recently engaged in a full time job. I know that it can be hard to pick through lists like this when you’re on a limited budget, and you don’t know what the bare essentials are. So my Friday Five are the five items I absolutely require in my kitchen, and use constantly. Some of these (knives and dutch ovens) will probably be updated to better versions one day, but most of them are killing it for right now.

Kitchen Must HAves

  1. Wusthof 8 inch Chef’s Knife. We registered for a block of knives for our wedding, and I would guess that we use every single one throughout the course of a week, plus the four santoku knives that I bought in college.  This knife, though, is my go-to knife for most tasks. It came insanely sharp, and I keep it that way by sharpening a few times a month. Beyond kitchen tasks, I would also choose it for home defense situations, if the need ever arose. So, clearly, a pretty valuable player in my kitchen.
  2. Lodge Cast Iron Skillets. Interestingly, this would also be one of my top kitchen picks in a self-defense situation :). All kidding aside, though, I can cook nearly anything in a cast iron skillet. Once it’s seasoned, it gets so non-stick that I can easily make eggs, I love it for baking corn bread and skillet cookies, and it’s the best tool for grilling veggies indoors. Though we have three sizes of cast iron in my kitchen, the 10 inch skillet is the one that lives on my stove and gets the most use, because it does everything.

  3. Enamel Coated Cast-Iron Dutch Oven. I know, I know- we are all supposed to aspire to the Le Creuset products, and maybe I do. But I’ve owned the Food Network version for 5 years in two sizes, and they have never done me wrong. Similar to my cask iron skillets, these dutch ovens to everything- they make soup and simmer red sauce, they roast chicken in the oven, the hold cobblers, they keep cheesey potatoes warm on a two hour drive to Thanksgiving dinner- pretty much kitchen rockstars. If I had only cast iron and dutch ovens in my kitchen, I could probably continue to cook 80% of things I make, easily.

  4. Pyrex Mixing Bowls. This set of bowls is insanely helpful in the kitchen. They’re mixing bowls in graduated sizes, which is nice, but they’re also clean and classic enough to serve from- this was a lifesaver for me when I held my first dinner party and didn’t have any white serving bowls, or casserole dishes. They also have lids, though, so dealing with leftovers can be super convenient. I love my vintage pyrex from my grandma, but this modern set is so handy, and inexpensive.
  5. Bamboo Utensil Set. I cook with pans in a variety of compositions, and I hate grabbing and metal spoon and not being able to use it, and plastic utensils that melt are terrifying (seriously, where does the plastic go as it melts? You know where…). So rather than deal with that, I have a mason jar beside my stove that holds a dozen bamboo utensils and I never have to worry about what material I’m working with. The spoons that I currently have are about two years old and still going strong. Even if I did need to replace them, though, the set linked above is $6…totally within the budget. I’m also thinking of joining the twitter bandwagon and painting the handles a fun color- we’ll see how that goes. In any case, these spoons are absolutely indispensable in my kitchen.

So, what did I miss? What’s in your kitchen that you can’t live without??

August Subscription Box Reviews: Birchbox, Ipsy and Sample Society

It’s that time again- we’re reviewing some beauty subscription boxes that I received in August. I’m still getting Birchbox, Ipsy and Allure Sample Society. I didn’t love ipsy again this month, and Sample Society didn’t wow me either. Check out my reviews, then let me know if you agree or disagree!

Birchbox

Birchbox

Monthly delivery for $10/month

Includes 4-5 beauty and lifestyle samples

This month my box included The Balm: Stainiac Lip and Cheek Stain, Dr JArt Pore Minish Primer, Not Soap Radio Body Wash, Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub, and Hello Breath Spray. Birchbox recently started allowing subscribers to choose one of the their products each month, and this month my pick was the stain- I’ve never used a cheek stain before and this seemed like a great way to try it out! I’ll admit, I was a little skepical, but this product seems great for adding a little color on breezy, no makeup days- it’s pretty sheer, which is great since I’m so fair, and it stayed on a while. The primer was okay for me (though I use Monistat chaffing cream as primer, thanks to a Weddingbee tip!), and I always like sample face and body washes. I actually was completely grossed out by the breath spray, but overall this box was a winner for me! I’m back to being satisfied with my Birchbox 🙂

Ipsy Box

Ipsy

Monthly delivery for $10/month

Includes 4-5 full sized or deluxe sample products, plus a makeup bag

This month my box included Dr Brandt Pores No More Pore Minimizer, Urban Decay Perversion Mascara, J Cat Beauty Eye Shadow, Jersey Shore Sun Lip Conditioner, Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk, and the orange polka dotted cosmetics bag pictured here. I wasn’t thrilled to see another pore minimizer, because I think it acts as a primer, which I’m already all set with. The eyeshadow is kind of a specific color (not my favorite) and I don’t really use any lip balms other than my Burts Bees. I am happy to have another mascara though, and lovvvve the dry shampoo. I’m not in love with this bag, but here’s something I’ve noticed about my ipsy samples- I never love everything when I open it. A few weeks later, though, there’s always a few that I adore. Last month it was the Bare Minerals Eye Shadow, which I’ll definitely be purchasing full size (perfect color, perfect texture, long lasting-such a winner!) and the month before it was a sample of Benefit They’re Real Mascara– it’s amazing, and I’ve already bought the full size. So, while I’m not thrilled now, I still feel compelled to keep my ipsy going…we’ll see what happens next month.

Beauty Box

Allure Sample Society

Monthly Delivery for $15/month

Includes 4-5 Full sized and deluxe beauty and makeup samples

This month I received a Too Faced Melted Longwear Lipstick, Ciate Mini Nail Polish, KAte Somerville Face Oil, Jane Iredale Mascara, and Oribe Surfcomber Tousle Texture Mousse. So, to start with, none of these samples are full sized- okay. Also, I actually feel like the mini booklet that comes with this box is kind of awesome- the editors of Allure talk about the products and why they chose them, and give tips. So, the lipstick- it’s not something that I would have picked out myself, but I kind of love it! The color is cute, and (as the booklet points out) it’s a full coverage matte lipstick in a playful color, so it feels fun and a little unexpected! I’ve never used face oil before, but I’m not at all opposed to trying it, especially with the dry atmosphere of winter come. I love the nail polish sample, and it will be the perfect color and size for my upcoming beach vacation. The mascara sample wasn’t really notable for me, but I never mind more purse mascara. The only item in the box that I actively disliked was the mousse- the editors recommend using it on dry hair, so I applied it one morning before work, and it was a total disaster! My hair got sticky and awful and I had to improvise a weird twist situation with tons of bobby pins…not awesome. I will try it with wet hair sometime, though, and see how that goes. Overall, there wasn’t anything in this box that wow-ed me, but I still thought it was pretty good over all. I’ll definitely be subscribing for the upcoming month, because the spoilers are advertising a full sized Restorsea Eye Cream, at a value of $85…not bad!

So, tell me about your subscription boxes- anything new, fun, or awesome out there I should be trying??

 

Cinnamon Dessert Nachos

Taco Tuesday, amirite?

So, a lot of the time (especially on TT’s) I make food that has a ton of fresh ingredients in it, and homemade components, and is nice and hearty and hands on. Dessert Nachos don’t fall into that category (and aren’t particularly similar tacos, but who’s counting?). Dessert Nachos can be as homemade as you like, but this dish is really just designed to be a delicious, ice creamy, not chocolately, sugar fix of a dessert.

Cinnamon Dessert Nachos 2

Mission: accomplished.

Cinnamon Dessert NachosThese nachos have three main components: cinnamon pita chips, caramel sauce, and cinnamon ice cream. (I also added some chopped apples and toasted walnuts, for texture.) Strictly speaking, you could purchase each of these three items and layer them up and call it a day; or, you could make each part from scratch. I opted for an in-between, where I purchased pitas and added cinnamon, made caramel sauce, and used store bought ice cream. Choose your own adventure, and enjoy 🙂

Cinnamon Dessert Nachos

–          4 pitas
–          2 tbsp butter, melted
–          ¼ cup brown sugar
–          1 tsp cinnamon
–          1 Tbsp butter
–          ¼ cup brown sugar
–          Pinch of salt
–          2 Tbsp bourbon
–          1 Tbsp cream (heavy, or half and half, or milk…no rules)
–          ½ apple, diced
–          Walnuts or other toppings
–          Cinnamon ice cream

Make the pitas: Lay pitas on a baking sheet. Spray lightly with baking spray and bake at 400 for 7-8 minutes, until lightly browned (turn after 3 or 4 minutes). Brush each side with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Cut into triangles and set aside.

 Make the caramel: in a skillet, ideally one with a heavy bottom, melt the butter and stir in the sugar, salt and bourbon. Let it bubble up and, once it gets nice and foamy, allow to cook for about a minute- it should be a slightly thick, syrup-y consistency. Remove from the heat, and stir in the cream, and gently fold in the diced apple Set aside, and allow to cool a bit.

 Assemble your nachos: Lay the pita triangles on a plate, baking sheet or skillet. Drizzle with caramel and top with apples, nuts, or other toppings. Add a scoop of softened ice cream. I like to let the ice cream melt a little bit, then use the pita chips to scoop it up. Delicious!

 

Italian Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Happy Monday, my friends! Things are starting to get a little hectic for us, although I’m always surprised how much back-to-school affects me as an adult with no children…anyone else with me? In any case, what I absolutely need to start the week right is a delicious, from scratch dinner- making it gives me a sense of purpose and familiarity, and I get so much comfort from eating food I prepare for myself…especially if it involves red sauce and cheese!

Italian Stuffed Poblano Peppers 3

Although our regular Taco Tuesdays really highlight my love for Tex-Mex, I always prefer to make stuffed peppers with an Italian influence. This recipe is insanely delicious, and actually surprisingly fast and easy. If you wanted an even faster version, you are more than welcome to sub in some jarred sauce for the tomatoes- still delicious, but probably ten minutes faster. In either case, I recommend serving these stuffed peppers with a tossed side salad and some crusty bread for mopping up the sauce- a sign of comfort food at its finest 🙂

Italian Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Italian Stuffed Poblano Peppers

–          4 poblano peppers
–          8 oz sausage or ground pork (you can use two or three links of Italian sausage, if you’re so inclined, or part of some prepackaged sausage)
–          2 carrots
–          2 stalks celery
–          ¼ fennel bulb (totally optional, but definitely recommended- It won’t taste like licorice, I promise!)
–          ½ onion
–          2 cloves garlic
–          28 oz whole tomatoes
–          ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
–          ½ cup mozzarella cheese

 Prepare the peppers: I like to broil my peppers, but you could also roast over a gas flame (I’ve definitely done this) or grill…on the grill. To broil, preheat your broiler and spritz the peppers with cooking spray. Place under the broiler until lightly browned on one side, and then turn and broil until lightly browned and blistered on the other side. Remove from the broiler and set to the side to cool while you make your sauce.

 Prepare the sauce: Brown the sausage or pork on medium heat. While that’s cooking, peel the carrots, and dice the carrots, celery, fennel and onion, and mince the garlic. Once the sausage is browned, add the chopped vegetables to the pan and saute until the carrots are slightly softened, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the can of tomatoes. At this point, cover the pan and allow to simmer for about five minutes. Once they’ve softened a bit, mash the tomatoes with a fork (or a potato masher) and stir into the sauce. Cover again, and allow to cook for about ten more minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. Taste, and add some kosher salt if needed.

 Stuff the peppers: Slice the tops of the peppers off, and use a spoon to remove the seeds and membranes (everything should be pretty soft, so this should only require a spoon or your hands- but be gentle!). Using a spoon or your hands, gently stuff the peppers with the meat, veggie and cheese mixture, and set on a baking sheet. Top each pepper with a generous amount of shredded parmesan, and bake at 400 for 7-10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve with any extra sauce on the side!Italian Stuffed Poblano Peppers 2

Mom’s Spicy Fried Rice

My mom is a woman who knows how to cook. She grew up on a farm in the Midwest, so it’s no surprise that many of her signature ‘Mom dishes’ are versions of meat and potatoes- and they are always the recipes that I default to when I’m having a comfort food craving. Sometimes, though, Val would surprise us with these delicious dishes that were completely unexpected- and this was in the nineties, well before she was looking for creative ideas on Pinterest. Her version of fried rice is one such example.
Fried Rice
Now, I know that when I was growing up, we very rarely had Chinese, so I don’t feel like my mom was really trying to replicate a ‘favorite version’ or anything like that. And, I’m nearly certain that this dish was probably just her answer to needing to clean out the fridge and not wanting to be wasteful. Regardless of how it came to be, Mom’s Fried Rice is definitely a favorite dish from my childhood, and it makes a regular appearance in my menu plans, and those of my sisters.
Fried Rice 2
If you make this dish expecting it to taste like your favorite takeout, you will likely be disappointed- just a warning! The sauce is deliciously spicy and salty, though,and the veggies are whatever you have on hand. Our fried rice is endlessly customizable, so use whatever veggies and meat you have in the fridge- it’s perfect for an easy meal at the end of the week!
Mom’s Spicy Fried Rice
– 3 cups leftover rice
– 2 carrots
– 2 stalks celery
– 1/2 onion
– 1/2 bell pepper
– 1/2 edamame
– 1/2 to 1 cup cooked meat (I like chicken, pork, or kielbasa)
– 1-2 cloves garlic
– 2 eggs
– 1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
– 2 tbsp. soy sauce
Prep your ingredients: I think the most important part of this recipe is making sure that everything is ready to go before you start cooking, so really make sure that everything is in place before you turn the stove on! Peel and dice the carrots, dice the celery, onion and bell pepper, all to similar sizes. I usually use leftover meat, so it’s already cooked- chop it to a size similar to the veggies. Mince the garlic, and scramble the eggs. Finally, mix the soy sauce and the worcestershire.
Make the rice: Heat a pretty large flat bottom skillet to medium high heat (I like to use non-stick for this, or plenty of oil). Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and, after a minute, add the carrots and celery. Cook for about two minutes and add the onion. Move the veggies in the pan frequently. Once the onion starts to get a little translucent, add the peppers and edamame, and saute for a minute, then add the meat and garlic. Make sure the pan is very hot, then add another swirl of oil, and the rice (note: it’s important to use cooked and cooled rice, here so it doesn’t stick- we usually use day old leftover rice). Once the rice is in the pan, move it around rapidly with two wooden spoons; the goal is to coat evenly with oil, and to prevent burning. Turn the pan down to medium and push the rice and veggies to the sides, so there’s a well in the middle. Add the eggs and scramble in the center of the pan. Once the eggs are mostly cooked through, stir in the rice on the sides. When everything is mixed together, pour in the soy/Worcestershire mixture, and rapidly toss. Taste test, and add more soy or some pepper as needed. Enjoy!

Bourbon Peach Pie Ice Cream

Friends! I’m here, after the most glorious and jam packed two and a half weeks ever! Working at a University (or, let’s be honest, anywhere in academics) during August is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure!

Bourbon Peach Pie Ice Cream 2

Anyway, I’m back to the blog, and restarting things with a completely ridiculous Bourbon Peach Pie Ice Cream. I’m a little peach obsessed- when I lived in Egypt, there was a street vendor right outside my apartment that sold the most perfectly ripe, sweet, juicy peaches for something like a dollar a pound. I was pretty wary of a lot of local food at first, and this fruit was so amazing, that I ate several a day…for several months. Instead of getting sick of peaches, I grew increasingly obsessed. So, here we are six years later, and I’m using peaches every way possible, any time I can get my hands of a batch of ripe fruit 🙂

Bourbon Peach Pie Ice CreamRecently, my peach obsession coincided with my nearly constant craving for ice cream, and this Bourbon Peach Pie was the delicious result. Like any ice cream, there were a few steps involved, so it’s not really a quick and easy dessert. But it was out-of-this-world amazing, so I highly recommend giving it a try- there’s no way you could be disappointed.

Bourbon Peach Pie Ice Cream 4

Bourbon Peach Pie Ice Cream

–          2 cups milk
–          4 tsp cornstarch
–          1 ¼ cup whipping cream
–          2/3 cup sugar
–          2 tbsp corn syrup
–          ¼ tsp kosher salt
–          1 ½ oz cream cheese
–          1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
–          Single pie crust
–          2 peaches
–          2 tbsp butter
–          ¼ cup brown sugar
–          1 tsp cinnamon
–          ½ tsp nutmeg
–          2 tbsp bourbon
–          Kosher salt

Make the ice cream base: In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and 2-3 tbsp of the milk, and set aside. In a saucepan, bring the rest of the milk, the cream, 2/3 cup sugar, and the salt to a boil, and boil for 4 minutes exactly. Stir in the slurry, and boil for about a minute. In a small bowl (I used the same one I had the starch mixture in) mix the cream cheese with about ½ cup of the milk mixture, until it’s completely lump free. Mix the cheese and milk mixtures together, stir in the almond extract, and cool completely. Note: some people use an ice bath to cool the base immediately, but I like to make the base the day before, and let it sit in the fridge. This is also helpful because it reminds me to put my ice cream maker into the freezer to sit overnight, as well.

 Make the crust: prepare a recipe for a single crust pie, roll it out, and bake until lightly golden brown. (To be completely transparent- when I was blind baking my crust of the Peanut Butter Banana Pie, the entire thing folded in because I did a poor job of crimping the edges. I let it keep baking, because I knew I would use it elsewhere.) Let the crust cool, then break up into small pieces and set aside (you can definitely freeze the baked crust for a while, so if you every ruin a crust aesthetically…here’s your alternate use!).

Make the peach pie filling: first, peel your peaches and dice them into small pieces. Add those to a saute pan with the butter, brown sugar and salt. After the butter is melted, stir to combine and let the butter and sugar mixture get nice and foamy and bubbly over medium heat. After it bubbles for a minute or so, remove from the heat and give it a stir- it should be thickened and a little syrup-y. If it hasn’t reached that stage yet, return to the heat and check every thirty seconds or so. Once it hits the syrup-y stage, add the cinnamon, nutmeg, a sprinkle of salt and bourbon, and cook for another 60 seconds. Remove from the heat and let cool…you definitely don’t want to add this mixture, hot, to the ice cream base.

Make the ice cream: This is the easy part! Add your base to the ice cream machine, following the manufacturer’s instructions. About five minutes before the end of freezing, stir in your peach pie filling. Let that keep freezing for three or four minutes, then add the pie crust pieces. Transfer the ice cream to freezer containers and freeze until a bit more solid, at least two hours. Or consume immediately. Either way, so good!

Taco Tuesday: Pico de Gallo and Guacamole

Friends, as I looking inspiration for future Taco Tuesdays it occurred to me that, although I make them constantly, I’ve never shared recipes for Pico de Gallo or Guacamole. I guess that since they are so familiar to me, I assume that everyone knows how to make them. When I started to add ‘pico’ as one of my ingredients in a recipe, though, I realized that not everyone is as obsessed with eating Mexican-ish food, and perhaps is not familiar with how to make them.

Guac and pico  So, here I am today, using Taco Tuesday to share my two favorite accompaniments to tacos and things- pico de gallo and guacamole. My versions are very basic, and you’ll find that the only real difference between the two is that one uses chopped tomatoes while the other uses smashed avocados. For full disclosure- when Evan is on duty, I just make these recipes and consume them on chips and call it dinner. Other times, when I’m being a member of polite society, I serve them before dinner at parties to stave off the starving masses. So- perfect for all situations!

Guac and pico2

Pico de Gallo and Guacamole

–          2 jalapeno peppers
–          1 small red onion
–          1 bunch of cilantro
–          2 limes
–          1 avocado
–          2 good sized tomatoes
–          Kosher salt

Prepare your ingredients: Slice the jalapenos in half, lengthwise. If you’re like me and a bit heat sensitive, remove the seeds and the membrane. Mince incredibly finely. Similarly, mince the onion very finely (also, as an aside: it’s really hard to describe onion quantities, since they vary so much in size. For reference, I prefer to use roughly the same amount of onion as I have peppers). Take a bunch of cilantro and chop an inch or so, so that you have around quarter cup of chopped leaves. Slice each lime in half. For the avocado, Slice through the skin, around the pit, and twist to open. Use a large knife and whack the pit, so that the blade sticks in the pit; twist to remove from the fruit, and disgard by flinging forcefully, ideally towards the trash can. Dice the tomatoes into small cubes.

Pico de GalloPrepare the pico: in a mixing bowl, add half of the peppers, onions and cilantro, and all of the diced tomato. Juice a lime over top, sprinkle with salt, and stir to combine. Set aside for a bit to meld flavors.

GuacPrepare the guac: In a mixing bowl, remove the flesh of the avocado with a spoon, and mash with a fork. Add the juice of one lime, and mix until it reached your desired consistency (I like mine a bit chunky, many people prefer smooth- choose what suits you best!). Add the other half of the peppers, onion and cilantro, sprinkle generously with salt, and stir to combine. Enjoy!

***some notes on guacamole: I use an incredibly basic recipe, but always add things to it- grilled corn, pineapple, red peppers, etc. So play around, and let your imagination and taste buds guide you! One thing I never add, though, is garlic- it’s so pungent when it’s raw, and I think it takes over the flavor of everything. I love garlic, and I know it’s a controversial stance, but I cannot abide by garlicky guacamole.

What are your thoughts on garlic, or other favorite flavor additions? Anything inspired?

Friday Five: 2014 Planner Reviews

August 1…that means fall is coming, my friends! I adore fall, because it kicks off the seasons when I don’t have to worry about the struggle between covering all of my skin to avoid sunburn and making sure I don’t overheat and die. This struggle has never been more real.

Planner ReviewsAnyway, with fall comes an obsessive need for many people, myself included, to check out school and office supplies and select the all important PLANNER. I keep a few digital calendars (outlook for work, g-calendar for personal) but, like a lot of people, I really like keeping a paper agenda where I can write things in like birthdays, assignment due dates, dinner plans, grocery lists, etc. This leads to struggle numero dos for this post: which agenda to choose? Luckily, I’m here with your Friday Five, prepared to check out my five front runners for an agenda for the upcoming year.

Emily Ley Planner

via Emily Ley

  1. My first option is an Emily Ley Simplified Planner. EL’s planners are as adorable as they are functional: there is a calendar for each month, and then a page for each day. Each day has room for to-do items, as well as an hour-by-hour planner, room for notes and a dinner planner, and a quote of the day. The entire thing is about two inches thick, and sandwiched between heavy duty covers, and is held together with an elastic band. I used an EL planner this year and, while I love it, I don’t think that I have enough going on to warrant a page for each day, and it’s mostly blank; it was also a bit bulky to actually carry around. She’s offering a weekly version this year, but it won’t start until January (it’s 12 months rather than 17) so…I’m considering it, but am not sure it’s my best option.

  2. Then there are the Erin Condren planners. These planners have a customizable cover, so you can add your name for easy reference. There are a few special sections in the front (perpetual calendar, notes page, etc) and then each week is laid on in a spread, with sections for morning, afternoon and evening for each day; there’s also a column for weekly goals and notes. Also included are some stickers, a ruler and a zip top pocket. I’ve read that the pages can bleed with some pens, and I don’t know how I feel about a laminated cover (doesn’t it get bent/destroyed in other people’s bags?) but I do love the smaller size of this binder,the fact that it covers 17 months, and the monthly view in the corner of each page, so you don’t constantly have to flip around. At $50, this isn’t cheap, but might meet my needs.

  3. Next is Kate Spade’s planner. Mainly, I love gold polka dots, and this planneris covered in them. Sold. Seriously,though- there are two side options for this planner, 7.75” x 5.5”, or 9” x7”. Both sizes feature hard covers, gold spiral binding, and an elastic band closure. There are a few pages for notes and tabs for each of 17 months with clever sayings. The weekly spread shows Monday-Wednesday on the left, and Thursday-Sunday on the right. This isn’t really my favoritelayout- I don’t think I would be happy making notes like that. On theotherhand, it’s really gorgeous and, at $30, less expensive than the previous two options.

  4. Oh, Lilly Pulitzer. I don’t think I understand the obsession with this brand, yet, but the LP agenda seems to come up every time I ask for recommendations, so I thought it was worth a look. This planner comes in four sizes, so everyone should be able to find something that works for them in that perspective. This planner features a thick cardstock cover, with heavy duty spiral binding and an elastic band closure. It’s crazy colorful and fun, with monthly tabs, stickers, notes pages, a horoscope section, and a few other interesting parts. This might be my winner, but it has the same weekly layout as the Kate, neither of which are really useful to me for planning. Still super cute, but probably won’t meet my major needs.

  5. Plum Paper Planners. Is this a case of saving the best for last? Maybe. First, the basics: this is a 7.5” by 9” planner with a clear frost plastic cover, with a personalized front page. Included is a contacts page, 2 notes pages for each month, and 2 sided pocket folder. While it’s only a 12 month calendar, it can begin on any month you choose, and you can also choose to add extra months for a small charge. Yep, that’s just the first awesome thing. Beyond that, there are four weekly spread options (morning, afternoon, evening spots; 30 minute increments; days with just lines; or lines notes pages instead of a weekly breakdown) and then different options for style: regular planner, wedding planner, meal planner, fitness planner, teacher planner, or student planner. Pretty much, something that’s perfect for everyone for $31 (and $10 in shipping…). There’s a bit of research left to do, but I’m pretty sure I’ve found a winner.

So, what say you all? Have you found a planner you love? Or are you a normal person that goes to Target and picks out a reasonably priced planner, without worry about all the bells and whistles? I’d love to hear what you do to keep yourself organized!