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On August 11, 2012 I am cozied up in my parents’ guest bedroom. I am holding a wrapped package and Skyping with my husband. He is deployed in Afghanistan and it’s my birthday.

“Ok, I’m ready. Open it now.” His eyes all gleaming filled with wishes that he were here with me.

I open the gift and…act quickly. Maintain composure. Smile and try to trick the one person who I’ve never been able to emotionally trick.

“Diamond earrings!! Oh my gosh. Wow. I mean WOW! Thank you so much, baby. They are so pretty.” Smile. Keep smiling. Pick them up. More “oohs and aaahs”…

Inside I am thinking, something has gone horribly wrong. Do I wear diamond anything? Ever? In fact, when I first went ring shopping with my roomie I did not even want to look at diamond rings. I wanted a pearl.

I am Zales’ worst nightmare. Every kiss does not begin with “K” (well, I mean it does, but not with a diamond from Kay Jewelers) and diamonds are not this girls’ best friend.

J DID propose with a diamond ring! This was taken shortly after the proposal. I LOVE my ring and as this photo captures, I was in immense shock. The man did good!

I am not trying to be ungrateful. I was just shocked at the gift but overwhelmed with gratitude for the gesture. I smiled and gushed and put them on. After we hung up I went to bed. Grateful for a husband who makes my birthday special.

As I closed my eyes, I talked to the only One who really knew how much I missed my husband. Just like the previous four months, sleep consisted of a prayer for his safety and desires for peaceful rest.

A few days later we’re Skyping again and J says what we both know, “You don’t like them, do you?”

“No! I love them. I just have to get used to wearing them. I’m not a diamond kind of gal, you know?”

“I can return them.”

“No! I mean, it’s not like they’re real. I like them and I will end up loving them I am sure. ”

“What? They are real and not inexpensive and if you do not like them I should really return them. Really. I could get you quite a few things you like in exchange.”

“THEY’RE REAL?!! Oh my gosh. WHAT? Ok, maybe we should return them. I did not know they are real…What?!”

So, he returned them. When he got home several weeks later he took me out shopping for something I would really like. And I came home with….pots and pans.

You heard me. Actually, a dutch oven and stainless steel pans 🙂 Take that diamond earrings.

As a newlywed who was convinced she did not like cooking, kitchen tools were pretty low on my priority list. Really low. In fact, if I had it my way, my registry for all things kitchen would have been summed up as: one personal chef. Apparently, people don’t ask for those as wedding gifts.

Fast forward one year later and cooking has become a release, a passion, and a getaway for me. And J loves being in the kitchen with me which makes it all the more fun! Except when we don’t communicate.

And all of a sudden our muffins are sprinkled with salt instead of sugar.

And then we have to talk about the importance of communication.

It’s like marriage counseling for us. But the counselor is usually a vegetable or burnt pecan pie.

But, it’s all good because we end up kissing and making up and slicing off the muffin tops and calling them food nouveau. It’s so french 🙂

Anyway, I had been noticing that proper kitchen tools could make my cooking experience more enjoyable and better.

And so begins my journey with my new pots and pans! In fact, I encountered quite the resistance when I went to purchase Tri-Ply stainless steel pans vs. non-stick pans. And not from J, from the sales lady.

She was quite convinced that I could not master stainless steel pans. “These non-stick pans are very easy to cook with. No sticking. No mess.”

After that sentence I knew what I had to do….I just had to rebel. And hope to keep cursing limited in the kitchen while I learned how to use these shiny vessels.

After much research and a little bit of practice, I have mastered my stainless steel pan. And I’m revealing what I found tomorrow in the high-kick tip of the week. You won’t want to miss it. Unless you already know the trick. If that’s the case I have nothing to say to you. But you should still read the post for the jokes…(Note to self, put jokes in post.)

What amazing gift has someone gotten you that you exchanged for something unexpected?

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Note: Welcome to your High Kick Tip of the Week. If there is a tip I found, and I tested it, and it worked, I will share it. I am going to call these tips the High Kick Tip of the Week. Because I like to high kick. And so should you. ALSO, if you are just stopping by for the tip and not the story, scroll to the graphic at the end of the post. And please refrain from laughing out loud at my graphic. You can laugh silently. To yourself. That’s it.

Yesterday, Jer and I were making some Gingerbread Blondies* for some troops overseas. I was convinced I had all the ingredients for this holiday treat.

Deep into the recipe I saw an ingredient I had misread, baking soda…not baking powder.

Jer knew something was wrong because as my eyes fell upon the “add baking soda” part, I screamed. I do that a lot in the kitchen. The first hundred times I did it, Jer thought I had cut off my fingers. Nope! When I scream in the kitchen it’s usually because I accidentally used sugar instead of salt or I am missing an ingredient or something is expired 🙂

Kind of like this. Super attractive, right? Really turns J on...or not.

Kind of like this. Super attractive, right? Really turns J on…or not.

Jer says I feel the need to be heard every 15 min. and that is why I randomly scream. I reject that. REJECTED. But, it’s probably something that needs to be revisited. In a therapy session. He should really look into that, poor guy. 🙂

I had to explain to him that, OBVIOUSLY, I am actually very cool and collected when under duress. Anytime something has really gone wrong, like a sliced finger (ask Brandy), a fire (not contained in a fireplace), a pecan pie falling in slow motion hot from the oven onto the floor…I am actually very quite silent. I assess. And then act.

Anyway, I screamed, showed Jer all my appendages to calm him down and then exclaimed, “I have no baking soda.”

After talking to my mom (a master in the kitchen who now answers “Kitchen Hotline!” when I call her phone) I had the solution. You can use baking powder in place of baking soda, you just need to triple the amount. You can do this because there is actually baking soda in baking powder, but just a little bit.

Get Argo! It is aluminum free! Bad aluminum. stay out of my baking powder.

Get Argo! It is aluminum free! Bad aluminum. Stay out of my baking powder.

My recipe called for 1 teaspoon of baking soda so I substituted with 3 teaspoons baking powder. (That math was for free. Any additional math requests and there will be a fee.)

BUT WAIT…another gem of a fact. There is salt in baking powder so it is usually a good rule of thumb to omit any salt the recipe calls for. My recipe called for a tsp of salt and since I like testing things…I added the salt. 🙂 I know, Out. Of. Control.  I live on the edge.

When the gingerbread squares were baked and cooled, I tasted one. And screamed. And then I showed Jer all my appendages for added relief. And then noted that the baked treat was a little on the salty side.

Even though I thought they were a little salty, they were still delicious and we ate like four...each...We're all about quality control in this kitchen.

Even though I thought they were a little salty, they were still delicious and we ate like four…each…We’re all about quality control in this kitchen.

It was slight. Not overpowering, but still there.

Other than that, they were seriously delicious. We will make these again and again for holidays to come. And they were pretty effortless (if you have a mixer). Get the recipe.

So, let’s recap. You can keep your birthday suit on (that’s what you cook in, right?) when you realize you have no baking soda. Just reach for the baking powder, triple the amount called for and omit the salt.

Done and done.

*We wanted to make a Christmas treat for the troops we know that will be gone for the holidays. I needed a treat that travels well. These blondies are both festive and travel very well. If you need to make a treat that will travel, try them out.

And now for the cliff notes. This is my artistic side coming out 🙂 Enjoy:

Cliff Notes!

Cliff Notes!