Friday Favorites #15

Good morning! I know it’s not Friday, but our internet was being very finicky yesterday, picking and choosing which websites it would load, and this was not one of them! (It was really fun going all day with four frustrated and anxious people who couldn’t get their wifi to work.) I really wanted to get my Friday Favorites out this week, though, so here they are!

Food and Drinks

Thai Mango Curry
This is a recipe I sought out many years ago after ordering mango curry from a restaurant and falling in love with the flavors. That restaurant is only in Madison, but I’ve never managed to go back to it. Instead I make myself this every September as a sort of celebration lunch for getting my life back. Unfortunately, this fall my life is not back. But I needed to make the curry as my unofficial ushering in of the fall season. Greg’s allergic to mango and I like to make it REALLY spicy – that’s why I normally make it as a special lunch just for me. My kids love spicy food, but I did take it back a notch this time to be safe. Greg risked the allergy attack and ate it too. I follow the recipe pretty closely, but always like to add potatoes to mine because that’s how it was served in the restaurant. I also usually add extra mango chunks, but I was trying to tone it down a bit for Greg’s sake. I like to serve it with rice, naan, and a lot of peanuts and cilantro. Delicious!


Pork Tacos
Tacos are so obviously my favorite food. We eat them more than anything else, but I do really try to switch up what kinds of meats, shells, and toppings we use. While I enjoy carnitas tacos, it’s always kind of a pain to work with such a large cut of meat with so much fat that needs to be trimmed off. When I found this recipe about a year ago I was really intrigued. Pork tenderloin tends to go on sale pretty often, but I’ve never particularly liked the way it tastes. But I gave this recipe a shot and I love it! Honestly, you can barely even tell it’s pork. With all the seasonings it’s just a delightfully flavored chunk of meat. I didn’t make the avocado cream sauce this time, but I do think pork and avocado are the perfect pairing, so I’d recommend giving it a shot. Or at least cutting up some avocado and flaky salt for topping!

Death Wish Pumpkin Coffee
Full disclosure, I’ve never been a fan of pumpkin spice lattes or any kind of fall coffee drinks. But I am fully embracing all the little perks of fall this year since I won’t be able to enjoy most of the bigger things I normally get so excited about at this time of the year. I wanted to find some good pumpkin coffee (I already had some pumpkin spice tea – also good!). A facebook group I follow highly recommended Death Wish because they roast their beans with real pumpkin for a very intense flavor. I immediately ordered some and then spent two weeks trying to find a pumpkin spice creamer to pair with it. They’re either not out yet, or everyone is thinking the same thing and it’s sold out everywhere. I finally found the Starbucks brand and it’s a great pairing. The coffee has a really good pumpkin flavor without any artificial tastes. It’s funny how quickly my coffee palette in the last two years (when I first started drinking coffee!) changed from only drinking flavored k-cups, to liking artificially flavored pre-ground coffees, to only liking the highest quality of small roasted beans that I can grind myself. I was apprehensive about buying a flavored coffee after graduating out of that coffee league awhile ago, but this really impressed me. 

Life Management

Bloom Daily Planner
I go back and forth on how I feel about planners. On one hand, I LOVE to be organized with a very visual representation of what I need to get done every day. On the other hand, sometimes those neverending lists start to stress me out and I feel like I can never take a break because there are always more things to do. I haven’t used one at all in the last six months, but then September rolled around and the calendar started really filling up. We have so many random appointments and school dates to remember that I wanted to be a little more organized. It’s also about time I just accept that this is my life now and I need to figure out how to make it work for me. So I ordered one of these Bloom planners, which I’ve used in the past, because they’re inexpensive, undated (so I can take days off if I start to feel overwhelmed by my lists), and just really useful! I always do best when I can prioritize only three things a day, but also doing a brain dump on everything else that needs to get done so I can stop thinking about it all. And it’s helpful for me to fill in what I ate, or what I plan on eating. I like recording my exercise too. Anyway, if you’re just looking for a decent organizing tool to get you through your day, this is a good one.

Beauty

Orly Turn it Up Nail Polish
My nail polish obsession continues! I started following a couple of instagram accounts of people that just model new nail polish. It’s really fun to see so many different colors on an actual hand. My favorite accounts always seem to be modeling glitter polishes. I never thought I’d like glitter polish, but it has the potential to look SO PRETTY with multiple coats and careful spreading of the glitter. When I was on my vacation earlier this week I stopped at a few stores that sold beauty products and picked up a few glitter polishes to try. This is my favorite because it’s just so FUN. A literal party on my nails. I’m wearing it now for Caden’s birthday party tonight. I used one of the Olive and June nail polishes that I didn’t like very much on its own as a base coat. It really shows off all the colors in the glitter mix. Fun!

Get Out of the House!

Airbnbs

I know I am really late to the game here, but airbnbs are AMAZING. I think the idea always turned me off because it felt so weird to go stay in someone’s space. I don’t even particularly like staying with people I know, so why would I want to subject myself to the awkwardness of living with a stranger? I think when airbnb first became a thing, most people were just renting out their actual houses and apartments (or maybe I’m making this up, but it was my perception) or a room in their house. It felt way too uncomfortable and weird. But now that the pandemic happened and we started getting desperate for a change of scenery but were very apprehensive about the higher risk factors of staying in a hotel, airbnb became the perfect solution. I’ve stayed at two in the last month and have another one booked in three weeks. I love that most of them are about the same price as a hotel room, but you have so much more space to live in. Plus you don’t have to worry about contaminated shared public spaces. The best part is that there are just SO many options. If your dates are flexible, you’re open to visiting anywhere within a few hours of your house – you can find almost anything, even at the last minute! I’m sure there must be plenty of bad airbnb experiences, but I’ve been really happy with the two I’ve stayed at so far. And there are just so many different spaces available right now, it’s easy to weed out the winners just by reading the reviews. Now that I’ve started down this airbnb road, I may never leave it. Hotels? What’s that?! Especially when we travel as a family, I see this as a much more viable option for the foreseeable future. It’s probably also going to be the thing that keeps me sane every few months when I desperately need a break from the responsibilities of life.

Harrington Beach State Park

If pandemic life is really getting you down, let me strongly, strongly recommend getting out into nature. Sometimes it’s hard to justify making a trip – especially if you have kids like mine who whine like crazy every time we suggest leaving the house. But I’m realizing it’s worth it. And for me personally, going outdoors by myself is about the most life giving thing I can do. It’s pretty amazing how many parks, trails, bodies of water, etc. are probably within an hour or two of your house and you’ve never made the time to explore them before. NOW IS THE TIME. When I was in Port Washington earlier this week I went to as many different parks and nature preserves as I could. My favorite, though, was Harrington Beach State Park. I went twice I loved it so much. It borders Lake Michigan, so you can have some beach time if that’s your thing. But the best part is that it contains an old quarry that has filled with water. The picture above really does not do it justice. It was absolutely gorgeous there. So serene and majestic. There is a 1.5 mile trail that goes around the entire perimeter of the lake with plenty of benches and picnic tables to stop and rest at. But the trail itself is flat and easy to walk. I just loved it. It maybe helped that I went on weekdays in September, but I practically had the place to myself. I also checked out a third area of the park, Puckett’s Pond and drove through all the campsite areas just to see how they looked. I’ve never even heard of this state park before and it’s only an hour and a half away. I definitely plan on going back again. And exploring as many other parks as I can before it gets too cold!

Friday Favorites #14

Welcome to Friday Favorites! And happy September! I have a couple of great things to share with you today! My newest self care obsession, an upgraded craft supply, shoes that actually fit me, and two of my favorite recipes. Check it out!

Olive & June Nail Polish

I have never been a nail person. I’ve gotten a manicure one time in my life – before my wedding – and I found it to be so painful and I messed up my polish before I even walked out the door. I have rarely worn nail polish since because my nails are so tiny and raggedy looking that it seemed like a waste of time. BUT pandemic life has left me desperate for some new little joys in my life and I started paying attention to how many instagram people I follow kept posting about how much they love their Olive & June nail polish. So I jumped in head first, the way I usually do, and ordered the big Everything Box which includes all their tools, a remover bottle, cuticle serum, a top coat, and six nail polishes of your choice. After using everything I’m not quite sold on the tools – I’m not sure you specifically need theirs, though the polish remover works super well (just not if you want to remove paint from your toes – then you’re screwed). But I really love how the polish turns out and how long it lasts. I’ve been nail obsessed ever since that first coat! It was especially exciting when they released their new fall colors a week or so later. I ordered the pink (LD) and green (WKF) right away. While I don’t exactly love all the original six colors I chose, I ADORE the two fall shades I picked.

My nails obviously aren’t magically perfected, but I’ve also been using a couple other tools that have REALLY helped. Tools that I didn’t even know existed until I started this new journey!

  • Cuticle Pusher – I must have bought one of these many years ago, but immediately gave up on using it. I’m not sure why because it works so well! Especially if you’ve done literally nothing to take care of your cuticles before.
  • Cuticle Trimmer – Maybe I am extremely naive for getting to age 35 before I realized such a tool existed. But now that I found it I understand just how magical it is! Obviously it made the biggest difference the first day I pushed all my giant cuticles back and then didn’t know what to do with them. I ordered one of these and wow! You do have to be careful not to overdo it and cut yourself, but it’s an effective cheap little tool!
  • Sally Hansen Dries Instantly Top Coat – I actually did not particularly like the Olive & June top coat. It was very gloopy. I ordered one of these to see if I liked it any better and it was so much easier to work with. I can’t attest to the longevity of it yet, since I just used it for the first time last night. But I think I’m going to like it at lot more.
  • Cuticle Oil – There seem to be a million different kinds of cuticle oil out there, but this is the one I’m currently using because I love the milk and honey scent. I’m not sure if it’s actually making any difference, but I definitely like the cute bottle and the way it smells!

DMC Pearl Cotton Size 8 Embroidery Floss

I’ve liked embroidery for quite awhile now, but I haven’t made time for it in the last year or two. I happened to see one of my dollmaker friends post a few months ago that she uses DMC thread for her doll faces. I haven’t had any issues using the size 10 crochet thread I always use, so I didn’t look into it, but was mildly intrigued. Then an instagram lady I follow (my life choices are obviously ruled by instagram influencers) who does embroidery projects for fun started talking about how much she loves DMC floss. That was enough to finally get me on the site and order a few to try out. And I LOVE them. Unlike the usual embroidery floss you can buy at a craft store that instantly splits into a bunch of tiny messy threads – this stuff stays together and is a dream to work with. I originally just bought colors that I thought I could use for doll noses since I’ve really been changing things up this year. But then I went back again to order every color that struck me so I could start some embroidery projects in my spare time. They are amazing!

If you’re interested, this is where I purchased the pattern for the rainbows. You could definitely just draw your own rainbows and patterns, but I wanted my first set to be as perfect as I could make them. Annoyingly, the pattern is all in German, so if you actually need to know how to stitch things, you’re going to have a tough time learning from this! The rainbows were also centered on separate pages, so I had to print them on three separate dissolvable paper sheets – which wasted a lot of space. And to fit on the 4 inch hoops I used (because that’s all I had), I had to print them at 80%.

Skechers Arch Fit Shoes

I have a never ending struggle trying to find shoes that will work for me. My feet are very wide, which is first obstacle. It’s unbelievable how few shoe companies make attractive shoes in a wide width. I’m also a half size, which eliminates even more options. Then my right ankle is permanently swollen from my internal hardware, so many shoes don’t end up fitting in that area. Then add the plantar fasciitis and finding shoes that properly support and don’t aggravate my heels is suddenly an impossible feat. I can’t wear any type of shoes without a back. I can’t really wear sandals at all anymore, not if I want to walk more than a block or two. I did discover that Crocs work pretty well for me this summer, but I’m too embarrassed to wear them in public. I just wear them around the yard. Anyway, my mom told me about these Skechers shoes and I ordered the Rainbow View gray slip on sneakers because at the time they actually had my 9.5 wide size in stock. I hesitate to recommend that style because there are only two obscure sizes left. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re so popular or because they’re already phasing them out. But there are a lot of other styles to choose from as well. They fit me PERFECTLY. They’re comfortable, I love that they slip on and can be used without socks, and they’re also kind of a little cute! I’ve been using some other slip on shoes for biking this summer, but they slid around on me feet and supported me in weird ways that I couldn’t actually walk very well in them (I’m so lame!). These are perfect for biking AND walking.

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

I came across this recipe on pinterest and was intrigued by the raving description of it on the website. I’m actually not a fan of enchiladas because I’ve never liked the sauce. When I do make them I always make the green variety (which I love!). But I gave this a shot and I’m SO glad I did. I LOVED it. It wasn’t actually red for me because my chili powder was a really deep brown to begin with, so it wasn’t that appetizing (lol). But it was super tasty. I made the chicken earlier in the day in the crockpot with salsa, then mixed in some of the straight enchilada sauce. I added a little bit of cream (less than the suggested addition amount) to the rest of the sauce that I poured over the top. I used my favorite La Tortilla Factory tortillas so they wouldn’t split, filled with chicken and a little chihuahua cheese, baked, then topped with my garden tomatoes, hot peppers, avocado, and cilantro. Delicious!

Korean Fried Chicken Tacos

This is one of my tried and true all time favorite recipes from my all time favorite food blogger. When I first started making it a few years ago I followed all the directions to a tee and while it was wonderfully delicious, it was SO much work. I’ve started taking many shortcuts over the years so I can get these tacos in my mouth more frequently, but the finished product is still fantastic. I do always fry flour tortillas into a shell shape. It’s the only time I ever eat flour tortillas, but they really taste best with this. The most convenient shortcut is to use popcorn chicken or lightly breaded chicken chunks that you just need to cook in the oven rather than frying your own. I didn’t end up having either this week, so I used chicken nuggets (I don’t really suggest that alternative!). The sauce, though. THAT is what you can’t miss out on. Gochujang, I love you. It’s really intense and spicy, but super good. The crumbled queso fresco, thin crispy rice noodles, and fresh cilantro are also HIGHLY recommended. The slaw part of the recipe is good, I just rarely have cabbage on hand. But stick with the sauce and a few toppings, it will blow your mind with amazing flavor.

Happy Spaces JUST FOR YOU

This has honestly been one of the most stressful weeks of my life. Like I’m legitimately concerned I might just fall over dead one day because my stress levels have been so high. (I strongly recommend not taking away all of your son’s screens for three weeks the same day that you’re all starting a new virtual learning school year.) The highlight of my week (besides biking!) has been working on my drink station and giving it a fall theme. I’m SO happy with how it turned out! It’s nice that my mini pumpkin plant happened to give me one perfect early pumpkin to add to my decor! I also picked up some pretty mums at Trader Joe’s the other day. I got out all my favorite fall mugs (including a new one from Anthropologie) and took all my fall flavored teas and added them to the display for easy grabbing. And I added a new Harvest candle from Target – I love the tiny crock! The mustard colored placemat is new from Target too. You can’t see it, but the bottom basket of the mug holder is filled with fall colored wrapped chocolates and caramels. Anyway, the whole thing is like 1.5 square feet of space in my entire house, but it brings me so much joy! I am highly advocating that you do something similar for yourself. Especially if you’re still living in the same boat that I am – with the rest of your family home with you 24/7 and the house basically falling apart because there is no ideal time or system to keep it clean. I have a couple of little areas (like my reading corner!) that I ALWAYS keep neat and tidy and happy just for myself. It always makes me smile!

Friday Favorites #13

Welcome to Friday Favorites! I’m starting this post at 4:30 in the morning in hopes that I’ll actually get it written this week! And because I don’t know how to sleep. For awhile there these early mornings were really working for me because I’d get in an hour of biking before anybody else woke up and feel really great about my myself. But now it’s just too dark for comfort, so I keep having these very awkward super early mornings where I can’t fall back to sleep but I also can’t convince myself to do anything productive because I don’t WANT to keep getting up this early. I used to work in the early mornings, but that’s a great recipe for major burnout when I am also typically still working until the boys go to bed at night. I think my life would be a whole lot better if I actually got a solid night of sleep. But I don’t know how to DO that, despite years and years of trying. So frustrating!

Anyway! I’ve been working on this list since my last Friday Favorites, but still don’t have a ton of new things to add. It’s hard to find new and exciting products when you only leave your house once a week. (You also have SO MUCH MORE TIME when you stay home!) But I want to share a couple of my tried and true favorite recipes, a few new recipes, my favorite summer pajamas, one of the most enlightening books I’ve ever read, and a few other fun things. Read on!

Food Stuff

Fool Proof and FAST Pizza Dough – We’ve been making homemade pizzas once a week for at least the last six or seven years. I’ve tried so many crust recipes it’s ridiculous. But I finally landed on this one about a year ago and I keep going back to it because it just works so much better than any other I’ve tried. It comes together in a stand mixer very quickly and unlike most doughs that need closer to two hours to rise, this one is about ready to use in 30 minutes, in a pinch. I try to wait an hour as directed, but sometimes I’m just in a rush (or more likely – SHEPARD is). I love that, though, because it’s so easy to mix up at the last minute. My favorite part, however, is how easily it rolls out. Most doughs I’ve tried continue to pull back into itself no matter how many times you try to roll it bigger. It drives me crazy! This one will roll out easy peasy. The recipe suggests that this is only enough for a single pizza, but I always split it in half and freeze the second half for later. I wanted to give the single pizza size a shot this week, though, and made an ENORMOUS pepperoni grilled pizza. It worked, but the crust was also so thick that it detracted from the flavor of all the toppings. If you have a huge pizza stone then have at it. But I think you’ll like this a lot more if you split it up and make a much thinner crust.

Dry Rub Air Fryer Wings – I’ve tried making chicken wings at home a handful of times over the years and it was never a success. I’m pretty turned off by certain aspects of food and my own chicken wings always struck me as being too gross to actually eat. But then one day Butcher Box offered some sort of deal where you pay $35 once and then you get three pounds of chicken wings in every box forever. So I needed to learn how to make chicken wings! I had just gotten the air fryer at Christmas and decided to try this recipe out. They were PERFECT. Honestly just spicy, crispy, delicious perfection. I’m never even going to try another wing recipe because this one works out so great. The only frustrating thing is that you definitely need to make it in two batches (if you’re making 3 lbs), so you have to deal with either half your wings being cooled off or sitting around at the table waiting for the second half to finish cooking. But they’re SO worth it. I’ve even used this dry rub recipe a few times on grilled chicken breasts. So delicious!

Doner KebabsI made this recipe a few weeks ago and it was so tasty! Caden said it was the best meal I’ve ever made. It did require a bit of work to marinade ahead of time, plus make the garlic yogurt sauce, but it was worth it. I would have loved to have eaten it on a pita or flatbread, but we had it with rice and fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. Yum!

Vegan Maple Almond Butter Granola – I’m always on a mission to find more breakfast recipes that aren’t too sweet. Major bonus points if it actually has a lot of nutritional value. This one was perfect! I used the lesser amount of maple syrup and stuck with the slivered almonds, culling the temptation to add more nuts (though that would have been delicious!). I also added my favorite secret granola ingredient – puffed quinoa! It adds an extra fun texture and crunch with a bit more protein and fiber as well!

Tony’s Chocolonely’s Milk Caramel Sea Salt Bar – This is the new weekly grocery store treat I pick up for myself. It costs about $5, but it’s really substantial and I’m usually very satisfied only breaking off a small chunk here and there. I’m not exactly thrilled with the name of the bar because I expected salty gooey caramel, but it’s really bits of toffee. Then every once in awhile you get a good bite of extra salt and it’s just perfection!

Luxardo Maraschino Cherries – Okay, this one is most definitely a splurge. I first heard about them from Erin Moon on a Popcast live AUA show a few months ago. They’re meant to be used very sparingly in cocktails, only one or two needed to get a great maraschino flavor. I tried to make a cocktail, but…I still don’t like alcohol. So I ended up eating these on chocolate ice cream. And OH MY GOODNESS. You’ll fall over when you try this combo. It’s magical. Definitely something to hide away from the rest of the family and treat yourself with when you need a special snack!

Drink Stuff

Tiesta Nutty Almond Cream Tea – I’ve been simmering down on my coffee drinking lately, trying to add a lot more tea back into my days. I picked this one up at the grocery store and was surprised by how much I liked it! Though be warned, it doesn’t really taste nutty, almondy, or creamy. It’s more of a really delightful apple flavor. I expect to be drinking a lot of this in fall!

Apparel Stuff

Ekouaer Women’s Nightgown – The pandemic life is all about being comfortable, right? I’ve made a couple of different pajama purchases in the last few months since I tend to put them on earlier and earlier in the evenings, desperate for extra comfort. I’ve never been a nightgown person, but I decided to give this a try since it has so many great reviews. And I love it! The fabric is so soft and feels wonderful against the skin. It’s flattering, it’s long enough that it usually stays down even when you’re moving around in sleep. I just love it. I own it in wine red and purple (so far!).

Health Stuff

Fiber Choice – I take a lot of different vitamins and supplements to help with all my various ailments. I’m never really looking to add to my pile because it already takes me a whole day to swallow them all. But one day I was looking for something to add to my cart to hit the free shipping mark from Target and decided to try out some fiber gummies. Everyone needs more fiber, right? And they were fine. I went through the whole bottle and figured it was a worthy experiment and nothing much changed, so I could live without them. But then I went a week without taking extra fiber and realized how much hungrier I suddenly was. NOT GOOD. I wasn’t really thrilled with how the other gummies tasted, so I sought out a different brand and these are SO much better. They have more of a fruit snack chew to them than a gummy bear, if that makes sense. I’m disappointed every single day when I realize I already took them earlier in the morning and can’t take them again. I’m not sure if they’re really giving me any extra energy or helping my metabolism, but they are definitely helping curb my appetite and that alone is worth continuing to take them! (Also, I just looked at my bottle and you can actually take up to 6 gummies a day. So…that might start happening!)

FabCBD Oil – I’m pretty sure this was one of my Friday Favorites a couple of months ago. But I’m adding it again because I’m genuinely finding a lot of value in taking this every day. My original reason for taking the oil was to help with my foot pain. But it’s had the added benefit of also helping ease my anxiety and depression. I was hoping it would also help with my sleep, but so far my nights are still just as short, but I think the actual quality of my sleep has improved (at least according to my fitbit!). It definitely takes some trial and error to figure out your correct dosage. I’ve finally landed on the 1200mg bottle, taking .5mL in the mornings and .25mL at night. I tried to cut the morning dosage in half (to make the bottle last longer), but I really did notice a difference in my pain levels that week, so I bumped it back up. CBD oil is definitely expensive, but this particular company comes very highly rated and they almost always have some sort of discount code available. I think it’s completely worthwhile for what I need it for – natural pain management and a calmer disposition. I’ve tried the mint, vanilla, and berry flavors and mint is definitely my favorite. I’m just starting the berry bottle now and I kind of hate the taste, but I’ll suffer through until I can get the mint one again!

Book Stuff

The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron – I both read and listened to this book last week. And it is LIFE CHANGING. If you’re not familiar with the enneagram, this is a wonderful place to start. If you have a vague knowledge of it and mostly pay attention to your own number like I did, this is also wonderful because it will provide a lot of enlightenment. I found this book to be most mind blowing because it helped me FINALLY understand why my kids act the way that they do, once I made a pretty good guess on which numbers they were. (Disclaimer that you’re not supposed to typecast your kids, but Caden is WITHOUT A DOUBT an 8 and I’d guess 90% that Shepard is a 7. I’m a 4. I’m undecided on Greg, waiting for him to finish reading and tell me what he believes he is.) Anyway, I’ve found enneagram discussions very interesting the last few years (on podcasts, nobody in real life is ever into the same things as me!), but it REALLY helped to read this book and gain a deeper knowledge into how each personality type ticks. It was absolutely fascinating. I highly, highly recommend it.

Well, here we are almost twelve hours later, finally finishing this up. In my defense, I was gone half the day and then took a much needed nap! But here you go, some new favorites to try out and hopefully love as well!

Friday Favorites #12

Happy Friday! I have a fun list of new favorite things this week that I think you’ll enjoy. It’s trickier to try out new products when I’m not going into stores that often, but I still have my ways! I see in editing this that I really should have made a whole separate post just about migas considering how passionate I am about them (lol). I hope you guys can find something new to try from this list!

Food Stuff

MIGAS – So this is one of my favorite breakfasts and something I’ve been eating quite often lately. Oddly, I’ve never been a fan of eggs, but if you make them spicy and salty they’re pretty darn delicious. I’ve even gotten the boys to eat them and they NEVER eat eggs! It’s a pretty fast and easy breakfast because all you need to do is scramble an egg (or two), mix in some Mexican cheese, and throw in some crunched up tortilla chips at the end. Then top it with your hot sauce of choice, flaky sea salt, and cracked pepper. I also really enjoy popping all that on a good tortilla to make a migas taco! That’s how the boys eat them. You can obviously do any combination of cheese/sauce/chip/etc. But this is what I use for the PERFECT plate of migas:

  • 1 scrambled egg (it multiples quickly with the cheese and chips)
  • VV Supremo Chihuahua Cheese – I am OBSESSED with this cheese. It’s the only cheese we use for any Mexican style foods. I usually buy the giant bag at Costco. I was feeling pretty depraved those first few months of quarantine when I couldn’t get my hands on it!
  • Pasqual’s Cantina Original Southwest Tortilla Chips – These used to be pretty hard to find, but now they seem to be readily available in pretty much any Madison area grocery store or Target. They’re not my favorite salsa chip (though they are Greg’s), but they taste AMAZING with eggs.
  • Mezzetta Habanero Hot Sauce – I don’t think there is any other food product in my life as beloved as this. I first found it at a Festival Foods in Bloomington, MN that I just happened to stop at after work one day. And that was it for me – true love. It’s the perfect hot sauce. Definitely spicy, but such an incredible flavor. There were some sparse years there where it was pretty hard to find, but now I’m able to buy it by the case from Amazon. I probably have at least twenty different open bottles of hot sauce in my fridge on any given day, but this is my go to for eggs because I can really slather it on without it being too hot to handle.
  • Maldon Sea Salt Flakes – Okay, so I’m also obsessed with this. I put flaky sea salt on just about everything. It makes everything you eat just sing with perfection. Try it if you’re not already. Try it on ice cream! And definitely on eggs. And tomatoes. And roasted vegetables.
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper – I’ve never liked black pepper. But Greg adores it, so for his birthday this year I gave him a set of pepper mills and a couple different varieties of peppercorns. Now I’m a true convert. It adds such a wonderful depth of flavor.
  • La Tortilla Factory Yellow Corn and Wheat Tortillas – I’m also a corn tortilla convert as of whenever I started going to fun taco restaurants a year or two ago. I can’t do flour tortillas, I just hate them. But corn? So good. I’ve tried a bunch of different grocery store varieties, but this is what I keep coming back to. Though I didn’t realize until recently that they’re corn AND wheat, so that was a bit of a disappointment when I was trying so hard to be mostly gluten free for awhile there. But the addition of wheat means these tortillas are basically indestructible. They will not be falling apart on you! I used to buy them at Woodman’s, but when quarnatine started and I couldn’t get any pick up slots I ended up buying them directly online. I ran out just around the time I went back into Woodman’s for the first time a few weeks ago, but they didn’t have them anymore, so I just ordered another box.

Gluten Free Turtle BarsThis is a really simple and super delicious gluten free dessert. I made them last week (minus the nuts because nobody would have eaten them except me) as directed in a 9×13 pan and they were good, but also kind of dried out. I noticed on the pinterest page I found this on there was one of those speedy videos and the lady made it in a square 9×9 pan instead, so I tried the recipe again yesterday like that and it was SO much better. Same cooking time and everything. They’re really tasty! Oh, and – surprise – I added flaky salt to the caramel layer. Don’t skip that.

Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough Chunks – I’m not a huge ice cream eater, but when I do eat it I want it to be totally overloaded with extra yummy things. I have a lot of nostalgia around cookie dough in particular because we went to Dairy Queen so often when I was a kid and I always, always, always got a cookie dough blizzard. I saw these cookie dough chunks at Target last time I was there and they didn’t disappoint! I realize that yes, I could very easily make my own cookie dough chunks for ice cream, I’ve done it plenty of times in the past. But sometimes you just want EASY. I got the peanut butter chocolate chip ones at Target, and I got the regular chocolate chip variety in my Woodman’s pick up order today.

Apparel Stuff

Ililily Face Mask – A few months ago I figured out how to make my own face masks like most of the country and they worked out okay. When it became apparent that masks are just going to be a regular part of life for awhile I started ordering different styles and brands. This one was a bit of a splurge, but it turned out to be the one I like the most. It’s PRETTY, it has adjustable ear straps so you can fit it perfectly to your face, and it stays in place so you don’t need to keep messing with it. I bought a second one and those are the only masks I use in my once a week errand runs. I pair them with a filter just to be extra safe, but I’m not sure it’s necessary.

Modcloth Simplicity on a Saturday Tunic – This is my all time favorite shirt. I now have it in six different colors. They just released it in green (I’m wearing it in a photo further down) and I think it’s my favorite! They have a very flattering fit, seem well made, hold up well, and are a great canvas for a long necklace or fun earrings.

Coffee Stuff

Honey Bee Mug – What’s a favorites list without more coffee things?! I’ve had my eye on this mug for awhile, but it always sells out almost instantly. But they seem to restock every few weeks and you can sign up for notifications on when it’s available. I was finally able to snag one and I absolutely love it. It’s probably one of the most gorgeous handmade mugs I’ve ever seen.

Brew Bike Cold Brew Kits – I normally make my own cold brew (almost exclusively using this Grounds and Hounds Sunny Day Blend), but this summer I can’t seem to get my ratios right so I stopped making it. I happened upon this Brew Bike brand and decided to give it a shot, buying the chocolate and the brown sugar cinnamon blends. I really, really like the chocolate one! I’m not a fan of cinnamon in coffee (but love it in tea!), so that one doesn’t appeal to me as much, but it’s good enough to drink. These pouches are quite a splurge since each package only makes five servings. But it’s a fun treat for a super hot day.

Stainless Steel Straw Set – I originally found the Strawesome straw set on an independent bookstore’s website a few months ago and picked it up for myself. Then I checked out the website to see how many different sets they have. I just think they’re super cute and fun! I always use them with my cold coffee and tea drinks.

Household Stuff

Easy Dose Laundry Detergent – Okay, so here’s something that is actually super useful and not just a splurge item. I’m not sure how long this kind of laundry detergent has existed, but it’s definitely new to me. And it’s AWESOME. The bottle is so much smaller than a big jug of normal detergent (which is important since our laundry room is also Greg’s office right now) and you only need to squeeze the bottle one time for the perfect dose! No mess! I don’t think I’ll ever go back to another kind of detergent after this!

Friday Favorites #11

Welcome back to Friday Favorites! It’s been about three months since my last Friday post and I’m ready to jump back in. It felt a bit inappropriate to write about my new favorite things when all the pandemic stuff started up and then it was hard to FIND any new favorites when I was never leaving the house. But I finally sat down and looked through all the new things I’ve ordered and tried since then and compiled a nice little list for you guys. Maybe you’ll find a new treat to try out too!

Coffee:

  • Bri McCoy’s Homemade Starbucks Double Shot Recipe
    Bri is one of my favorite instagram follows. She’s always got so much energy and spunk! She also has a ton of great ideas for recipes and new drinks to try out. Early on in quarantine she posted a video about her homemade Starbucks double shot and I immediately had to find a way to make it for myself. Iced coffee drinks are my favorite to order when I’m out and I’m thrilled to finally have a great way to make them at home for just a fraction of the cost.
  • Bialetti Moka Espresso Maker
    Until I saw Bri’s video I didn’t even realize stovetop espresso makers existed! I just assumed I’d never be able to make a cool latte at home because I’d never invest in a true espresso maker just for the rare indulgence. Well, you don’t NEED a huge espresso maker, you just need one of these little guys! I originally bought a cheaper 6 cup version and it leaked, but I really enjoyed the taste so I decided to upgrade to a true Bialetti moka pot – but the 3 cup version which is the perfect size for a single pint sized iced drink. Technically I bought a teal one (no longer available on amazon) because I want everything possible to be in COLOR. I’m in love with it!
  • LavAzza Decaf Espresso
    When I first started making myself iced double shots I was drinking them every day. And then something crazy happened – I stopped being able to sleep at night (lol). It actually took me quite awhile to realize it was the intense amount of caffeine I was drinking every day. I’ve never in my life felt that caffeine had any affect on me until I started drinking these. So I decided to try out a pre-ground decaf espresso mix, expecting something I didn’t grind myself to be rather subpar to the “real” stuff. But this coffee is fantastic! It’s the only thing I use in my moka pot now. It’s delicious and turns out perfectly every time.
  • Black Lives Matter Coffee Blend
    Brandywine Coffee Roasters is my all time favorite place to order coffee beans. It tastes miles above anything I’ve ever gotten anywhere else. (Though Grounds & Hounds is also really delicious!) My most recent favorites have been this new Black Lives Matter variety and the Social Distancing blend they released a few months ago.

Eat:

  • Dorothy’s Comeback Cow Brie
    In the first month or so of the stay at home order I was pretty desperate to find ways to get good food to the house. I started ordering from all different kinds of cheese companies. Some were good, most were not. Then one night when I couldn’t sleep I got a random facebook ad for Dorothy’s Cheese. Brie is pretty much my favorite – if it’s a good one – so I HAD to try it out. I originally bought one of each of their two flavors, but this Comeback Cow was the true winner. The key is leaving it out until it gets really soft and spreadable before you eat it. And then it’s amazing. Definitely the best brie I’ve ever had. I’ve bought it a couple more times since then and gifted it to a lot of my friends. If you like brie, this is definitely worth trying out!
  • Crunchy PB&J Trail Mix
    I’m not sure I can call something a favorite if I just tried it for the first time an hour ago. But…this is really good. I bought it last week to give to my father-in-law for his birthday, but was intrigued enough to buy it again this week for myself. I’ve never been a fan of any trail mix – peanuts are definitely not one of my favorite nuts to eat by themselves. But I’m trying to slowly get back in the habit of eating more nuts (I’ve lost MANY of my good habits these last three months!) so I gave it a shot. And…it’s so good. If you LOVE sweet and salty things (I live for them!) you need to try this mix.
  • Perdue Chicken Breast Chunks
    I picked these up at Costco back in February for the first time. I like to always have some sort of chicken nuggets on hand for quick meals, but usually don’t really enjoy eating them myself because they’re…fake-ish. But these are not. They are so good! Especially made in the air fryer. Definitely my favorite nugget. Perdue also makes a really good gluten free nugget, which is the one we’ve been eating the last few months because it’s actually available at our little Pick n Save.

Outdoor Fun:

  • Inflatable Pool
    We’ve been very committed to staying at home as much as possible the last three months and plan to continue in the same way for the rest of summer. Which meant we really needed to find more things to keep the boys active and happy at home. We debated for a long time over whether we could get them a pool or a trampoline – the two things they seemed most excited about. We actually landed on the trampoline because we felt like getting a real pool would be too much of a risk factor when we can’t fence in our yard and neighbor kids sometimes get a bit too curious about our stuff. But at the time the trampoline was just a preorder for some unknown future date, so I was still on the lookout for some sort of inflatable pool to splash around in that wasn’t too tiny and lame for their sizes. I had in stock alerts set on a couple of different brands and this is the one I ended up being able to snag. I think it’s perfect! I actually think they like the pool more than the trampoline…

Cook With:

  • Calphalon 7 Quart Pan
    How do people with large families cook meals in a single pan? I struggle so much with just cooking for the four of us! Granted I usually aim to make enough of a meal that it’ll last for at least the next day’s lunch as well, but still. Pans are never big enough! Until this one! Not counting my new grill and recent air fryer purchases, I almost exclusively cook meals on the stovetop. I was using another large pan most of the time, but the bottom nonstick surface was so scraped up that I finally decided to ditch it and get something else. I was assuming I was buying something the same size, but I got it in the mail this week and it’s significantly bigger – and PERFECT. I made two pounds of tikka masala in it the other night and it looked like I was cooking a small meal for just two of us, the pan was so big. Also, I bought this from Target for a lot cheaper, but it says it’s sold out now.

Skincare:

  • DRMTLGY Acne Spot Treatment
    I’ve tried a lot of spot treatment gels over the years. And this is the one that actually seems to work. I definitely recommend trying it out if you struggle as well!
  • No Pore Blem Primer
    I’m always trying to find a better primer. I tried this one on a whim a few months ago and I really like it! My only issue is that I’m to the bottom 1/4 of the bottle and it’s really hard to get it out. But other than that it works great!

Read:

  • Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire by Jen Hatmaker
    My reading life has been really up and down the past few months, but I have these three solid nonfiction recommendations that I thought were fantastic. Jen Hatmaker’s is the most recent one I read and I loved it so much. It’s a great motivational book to just BE YOU. It gives you permission to live whatever kind of life you want to live because you are made to be you and that is enough. I loved this book.
  • The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan
    This was the most wonderful book to read during a stay at home order and in May when you’re starting to think about getting your garden in order. It was such a beautiful look at two celebrities and how hard they fought to live the life they wanted to live – out of the spotlight and on a large plot of land where they could grow their own food, fix up their own house, get close with the locals and their businesses. It was really great.
  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle
    Short and interesting essays that pact a huge emotional punch? This is the book! I loved it!

Watch:

  • Robbie
    We’ve watched a lot of tv lately. Most of the shows were just okay, but I really enjoyed this one. I’m maybe a bit biased because I really love Rory Scovel, but I thought this show was so funny! Give it a couple episodes and I think you’ll really enjoy it too. And it’s on youtube, so anybody can watch it if they have internet!

Pain Relief:

  • FabCBD Oil
    I’ve been on a never ending quest these last eight months to find some sort of way to heal or at least manage my plantar fasciitis pain. There are so many days that I can barely even walk. Which REALLY SUCKS. I feel like I’ve tried pretty much every option there is and nothing really helps. But then I decided to give CBD oil a try. I did research into a bunch of different top companies, and Fab is finally what I picked. I’ve only been using it about a week and a half, but I’ve already noticed a change in my foot pain. I’m not sure I can ENTIRELY attribute it to the CBD oil, but I believe it’s at least part of the reason why I’ve finally been getting some pain relief.

Smell:

  • 7th Street Salvage Candles
    I am a candle addict. They bring me so much joy. I love seeing the warm flickering light, but when you find a scent that just fills the room with a delightful smell – it’s magical. I very carefully curate which scents I put in which areas of my house and only light them when I’m going to be in that spot for a significant amount of time and can enjoy the full experience. And because of that, I’m willing to pay more for something that delights my senses and will last a long time. These candles fit the bill. In my first order I chose a large Picket Fence and a variety pack of smaller ones. I LOVE the Picket Fence scent. It’s so wonderful! I also really like the Library Ladder scent, which I’ll eventually buy in a large size for my reading area. I also recently bought the new summer scents, Rolling Pin and Button Jar. I use Button Jar when I’m sewing. I’ve really liked all the ones I tried so far, so I don’t think you can go wrong!

Friday Favorites #10

Happy Friday! I am so frazzled today. I had so many things I wanted to get done today and all I’ve managed is hanging out with a friend, booking Annie a boarding claim in a few months, and taking a nap. The weekdays just go by WAY too quickly. But I’m determined to get this post written this week!

Eat

  • On one of the many days the boys didn’t have school this month, I decided to try out this Crispy Chipotle Chicken Taco recipe. Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever made (or eaten) a taco with ground chicken. And they were really good! Shepard actually said it was the best taco recipe I’ve ever made. I normally have issues with the texture of ground meat, but even though this didn’t look the most appealing, it was still really tasty. I didn’t add the onion to the meat or the cilantro at the end, but added a bit of a cornstarch mixture to thicken it up a little bit more – it was still super juicy and messy, though. (The leftovers were much thicker.) The cilantro lime ranch was a great addition. I didn’t even need any extra hot sauce (which is kind of sad lol) because the meat itself was so spicy.
  • I’ve always wondered how restaurants or specialty places make such pretty looking granola, when my oats always seem to come out of the bag in a pile of dust. At Target last week I happened to see this tucked away bag of Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Oats and admired how beautifully perfect each oat was (lol). I used it to make granola the other day and it turned out so great! I’m not sure I’d use these thick ones in oatmeal, since I’m pretty picky about oatmeal to begin with. But I’ll definitely be using this style for granola from now on.

Cook With

  • Okay, so I’ve never been an onion eater – unless it’s in the form of a thin and crispy onion ring or straw. But lately I’m kind of obsessed with a good oniony flavor in a lot of my foods. I’ve been using this Spice House Toasted Onion and it is AMAZING. The smell alone is practically intoxicating. In the last few years I’ve really focused on buying higher quality of the spices I use most often and it really pays off. This is a million times better than a generic cheap regular onion powder.

Drink

  • I bought this Milk Thistle Tea last fall when I was trying to change my liver values quickly and was just getting into drinking tea (now I drink it all the time!). I’ve since purchased MANY different flavors of tea, but this is one of my all time favorites. The flavor is sweet and delicate and I genuinely really like it.
  • My tea drinking adventure really started with trying to incorporate GREEN tea into my daily routine. But I was quickly sidetracked by so many other delicious flavors. One of my friends highly recommended this Tazo Zen Tea, though, so I picked it up last week and I actually love it! I’m not a fan of spearmint, so I had my doubts, but it’s really quite delicious. And comes with all the great green tea health benefits. I’m glad to have this in my daily arsenal of great tea choices.

Candle

  • So I had plans this month to reread The Hating Game on Valentine’s Day as an act of self care. I decided to go ahead and buy myself this accompanying Joshua Templeman candle to light while I read as kind of a joke. I’ve had it on my wish list for ages, but was a bit unsure of the scent combination. I’m so glad I bought it, though, because it smells delicious! Coffee is the strongest note coming through, but the others really round it out to a beautiful and non offensive scent.

Read

  • So I haven’t technically finished this one yet – I’m about 1/3 of the way through. But I love it SO MUCH that I feel confident calling it a favorite. I’ve been trying to be super intentional about the nonfiction books I start my day out with this year, prioritizing a good chunk of time every morning to this bit of personal development. This particular book jumped out at me at the perfect time since I’m basically going through the same thing – trying to change my life for the better with as many tools as I can find. I would highly, highly recommend picking up your own copy of Buy Yourself the Fucking Lilies by Tara Schuster. I don’t think you’ll regret it!

Friday Favorites #9: Valentine’s Edition

Happy Friday and Happy Valentine’s Day!

I love to live my life by the seasons in as many ways as possible. And whereas February is technically supposed to be the month of love, I always find myself really focusing on self love and care at this time of the year. This year, like most, I’m trying to get over the dreary gloom of January while also trying to remember spring is probably still three months away, so I need to start looking inward and finding ways to love myself to make the days a little brighter. So most of the items on my favorites list this week are featuring the ways I’ve found to love or treat myself right now.

True Self Care

  • Two weeks ago I signed up for online therapy services through BetterHelp. (I believe this is an affiliate link for one week of free therapy if you’re interested in testing it out.) It’s not something I plan on talking much about, but it’s also not something I want to keep a secret, so now you know! I’ve felt many, many times in the last year or so that I wish I had a counselor or somebody to talk to, but because we’ve had such rotten luck with finding a good fit for Caden over the years I didn’t have much hope of finding someone I could trust and like, while also being conveniently located (very hard in a small town!) for myself. But these last three months have been particularly hard and I knew I needed to do something to help myself. Lo and behold, ONLINE THERAPY. I didn’t even know this existed until recently. And honestly, it’s so perfect for me. I write so much more openly than I speak. I’m a thousand times more comfortable talking about hard things through a screen than face to face. The best part, for me, about BetterHelp specifically is that I can write to my therapist as often as I want and she responds every single day. I can also schedule actual sessions via chat, phone, or video once a week – if I want. I’ve had two live chat sessions so far, on top of the daily correspondence, and it really is an extra bonus. Anyway, it does feel expensive – $65 a week. But I think it’s completely worth it if you communicate the ways that I do. You couldn’t have daily in office therapy sessions for $65/week! Or even once a week! Plus I’ve finally come to the conclusion that nourishing my mental health is a worthwhile expense no matter what. I’m sure everyone’s experience with BetterHelp is mostly dependant on still actually having a good fit with their paired therapist, but I really like who they assigned me (you can change if you don’t like who you got) and it’s going well.
  • In addition to therapy, I’ve also started using the Calm app to meditate and start to teach myself mindfulness. Meditation doesn’t come easy to me, but I’ve been hearing so much about mindfulness all over the place lately that I really want to learn how to use it to help in all areas of my life. The app itself seems pretty amazing. You do have to pay for it, but I think if you’re serious about meditation it is worth the price. (I probably shouldn’t say this, but I didn’t go through with the purchase the first time I opened the app and they soon sent me a 40% off email code. I also have five 30 day free guest passes if anyone is interested in trying it. They also offer a 7 day free trial.) For the last week I’ve been doing a seven day series on mindfulness for anxiety, but I’m really excited to try out some of the many other features.
  • I go back and forth on how I feel about essential oils, but at the moment I’m back on the train, guys. I just found out about a brand called Saje Natural Wellness. I’ve been most interested in their oil blend roll-ons and recently ordered a couple to try out (if you buy 3 they’ll let you pick out a soft sided carrying case!). The whole point of essential oils is breathing them in and letting the oils soak into your skin/blood/brain is how they can treat a variety of symptoms or help you feel a certain way. But one of the main things I don’t like about essential oils is that none of them smell all that great to me and I don’t want other people to find me offensive. But I guess the good news is that I rarely have to interact with other people, so it doesn’t matter all that much (lol)! But of the two I’ve used so far (Peppermint Halo and Stress Release), I really have liked the scents. I truly believe that they do help – especially oils meant for easing colds and sleeping better. So I’m excited to start building these oils into my daily self care routine again.

Save Money

  • Have you guys heard of Honey? I’m not sure how I ever learned about it in the first place, but it’s just a browser extension that will search through the internet and find coupon codes for any shopping site you’re on. It also can tell you the stats on when the best time to buy things on amazon might be. It’s really pretty awesome. It’s free, so you might as well get it! It’s saved me tons of money (I do a lot of online shopping lol) through discount codes that I never had to do a thing to find. I love it. Shepard noticed I was using it last night and he knew exactly what it was. Apparently they talk about it in his favorite youtube videos…

Eat

  • For some reason Walmart is the store that always carries the new and unique flavors of candy bars. And I very rarely shop at Walmart. But the last time I was there I grabbed one of these Mint Kit Kat Bars and I fell in love. Kit Kat Bars are my favorite candy bar and I also love mint, so they’re a perfect combination. I may have bought myself a 24 pack on amazon to have in case of chocolate emergencies, even though I’m really not supposed to be eating candy.

Listen

  • Speaking of chocolate, I recently checked out the podcast Inside Trader Joe’s because someone on facebook mentioned loving their chocolate episode. And this is such a fun podcast! I’ve listened to the three most recent episodes on chocolate, cheese, and holiday foods. I’m obsessed with Trader Joe’s, maybe because I get there so rarely. But grocery shopping is like my favorite thing to do, so I go at least once every season to check out the new items. The podcast itself is informative, light, funny, and so very interesting.

Treat Yourself

  • If you DO go to Trader Joe’s, buy yourselves some flowers. Seriously. They’re crazy cheap and so beautiful.

Jewelry

  • This Kendra Scott Jack Bright Mix bracelet was my Valentine gift from Greg. Technically, I bought it for myself. But technically, he really wanted to get it for me for Christmas, but it was sold out for months, and he told me if it ever came back in stock he still wanted me to have it. So, I checked every single day when I woke up and finally it was there, so to my cart it went! I love it. 🙂 And actually, at this exact moment, it is once again available online. I had this bracelet on the Rainbow Christmas gift guide I did way back in November and was kicking myself for not just buying it because I wanted it so badly. I’m glad I was able to snag one before they’re gone for good.
  • In terms of bracelets in general, though, Kendra Scott has some really great ones. They’re such good quality too. I’m not as impressed by the necklaces – mostly because they’re super short and look stupid on me. But I love the bracelets. My favorite style is the Elaina. I have it in a couple of different colors and they’re so understated but beautiful. My favorite is a Kyocera opal that matches everything.

Read

  • The Hating Game by Sally Thorne is one of my all time favorite romantic comedies of a book. It’s just so FUN. I’ve been dying to reread it, but I’ve been saving it up for today – a special Valentine’s Day treat to myself. You should read it too if you haven’t. Such a great read.

Write

  • I have a slight addiction to personalized journals from Minted.com. It’s possible I’ve written about these before, but I’m too lazy to go back and look. I love a good notebook, though, and Minted seems to always be adding new styles. This is what I did for teacher Valentine gifts this year. And Shepard was so fascinated by them that I let him pick out and customize two last night as a birthday present for himself. He’s super excited about them. I of course also added on another rainbow notebook for myself since I was already placing an order!

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Even if you don’t have a significant other (or if yours is sick and totally out of it like mine), do something to make the day a little more special for yourself. You deserve it.

Friday Favorites #8

Happy Friday!

You’d think after taking a few weeks off from this post I’d have a ton of things to share. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. But I didn’t want to put it off another week, so here’s what I’m recommending to you this week!

Winter Uplifter:

  • CITRUS CANDLES. I’m obsessed with them right now. I’ve always tried to only light candles that are seasonally appropriate throughout the year because that brings me the greatest joy. Apple in September, pumpkin in October, cinnamon in November, a little bit of pine in December, lilac in spring, and ocean and fresh scents in summer (though most of my candle usage is September – December). Winter used to be all bakery scents, but this year I’m switching it up with citrus. I think it makes a huge difference in making this dreary time of year feel a lot brighter. My favorite place to find candles is HomeGoods/Marshall’s/TJMaxx. I think my all time favorite is the DW Home Grapefruit one pictured above, though they haven’t been as readily available as they’ve been in years past. I just picked up a Limoncello one the other day that also smells incredible. Here are some other favorites I’ve discovered:
    Chesapeake Bay Love & Passion (Grapefruit and Mango)
    Opalhouse Rio de Janeiro (Pink Pineapple and Sugar Cane)|
    DW Home Grapefruit
    Root Candles Sugared Grapefruit
    Wisconsin Candle Company Lemongrass and Sage

Eat:

  • I never thought I’d be a person who made VEGETARIAN TACO MEAT. But I saw this recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers a few weeks ago, happened to have all the ingredients, and decided to give it a shot. And I LOVED it. It was honestly SO delicious. I think I MAYBE even like it better than regular beef tacos – because beef tacos are the only form of beef I eat and as delicious as they are, they also kind of gross me out. Nothing gross about eating this. I originally made it just for myself, but Greg helped me eat the leftovers and really liked it too. I’m planning on making it again tonight and we’ll see how the boys react. I bet if I don’t say anything they won’t even notice that it’s not meat.

Craft Project:

  • A few weeks ago I started seeing these yarn rainbows all over the internet. I have A LOT of yarn and you know I’m obsessed with rainbows, so I had to figure out how to make one for myself. It did require a little hunting around to find the nylon rope and floral wire (I ended up using jewelry wire because I couldn’t find floral) before I could start. But this tutorial made learning how to make the rainbow very clear! The most annoying part was just getting the rope and wire prepped. I did the whole thing start to finish in about two hours and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. If I ever make more (I hope to!) I think I’d like to find a more natural linen type rope to use instead of the bright white nylon, but this definitely worked pretty well.

Pamper:

  • So my friend gave me this Exfoliating Foot Mask for Christmas. I’ve done a foot mask one time in the past and it was just for moisturizing – and I don’t think it helped even the tiniest bit. I assumed this was the same idea and didn’t even really read the package, just wrapped up my feet and tried not to think about how tingly and cold they were for the next hour! I also skipped the direction about rinsing your feet off after you take them off and a few hours later my feet felt like they were on fire. But all that aside – I was in SHOCK a couple days later when my feet started peeling like crazy. It was both fascinating and horrifying. This thing REALLY WORKS, you guys. But I definitely would not use it if anyone else is going to be seeing your feet within two weeks of doing the mask. It probably took a good week to finish all the peeling, but it took off even the toughest layers of skin on my heels and toes. It’s worth a try!

Friday Favorites #7

Okay, I know it’s not Friday. In the future I’ll probably just skip to the next week if for some reason I couldn’t or forgot to write this weekly post – or if I didn’t have much to share. But I DID have a lot to share and I won’t be around next Friday, so I wanted to get this up!

Eat:

  • I discovered amaranth porridge quite a few years ago, but kind of forgot about it until a random pinterest picture reminded me this week. I’ve been eating a lot of oatmeal lately, mostly for the health benefits, not because I actually like it that much. Amaranth, though? I LOVE it. It has such a different taste and doesn’t gross me out in the ways that oatmeal does (I have food issues). This particular recipe made a very hearty two servings, and it doesn’t reheat that well, so I’d probably cut it in half next time. It’s a great winter breakfast if you have the time to spare.
  • I wanted some sort of baked treat for my coffee on Wednesday (when I expected more people to show up!). I had a lot of blueberries on hand, so I made regular lemon blueberry muffins. But at the last minute I decided I wanted to also make something I felt good about eating, so I tried this Gluten Free Dairy Free Banana Nut Muffin recipe. And oh my goodness, they are SO GOOD. I’ve realized in the last few months that I tend to like gluten free baked goods a lot more than I ever liked the regular ones. I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing!! These feel hearty and delicious, they’re not very sweet (I always get headaches with sweet breakfasts and try really hard to avoid them), and they’re definitely on the healthier end of things, with very little maple syrup as a sweetener.
  • So this isn’t really a new idea, but I’ve still been craving chocolate pretty often and have been trying to find “healthier” ways to eat it. Earlier this week I made a bunch of chocolate covered walnuts, since walnuts are the best nuts for your liver, but also not my favorite to eat on their own. They were fantastic, but I was eating way too many. Yesterday I decided to make peanut butter cups with homemade peanut butter. Homemade nut butter is shockingly easy if you have a food processor – just put the nuts in and let them go until they’re nut butter! I just melted dark chocolate with a tiny bit of coconut oil, filled the bottom of muffin papers with it, scoop in a dollop of fresh peanut butter, and cover with more chocolate and sea salt. They’re more substantial than chocolate covered walnuts, but I’m also MUCH better at only eating one a day.

Kitchen Helper:

  • Greg gave me a Cosori Air Fryer for Christmas. I was determined to not let it sit around unused for two years the way I did my Instant Pot, so I made almost every meal with it this week. And it seems like a pretty foolproof method of making food! So fast too. The downside is that even though I got one of the larger ones, you still need to make most food in multiple batches if you’re cooking for a whole family. It’s kind of annoying. But it works!
  • I wasn’t sure where to start with using it, so I ordered The Skinnytaste Air Fryer Cookbook and it is a really great cookbook! Almost every recipe appealed to me. My favorite so far has been the everything bagels – they only take four ingredients (not including the egg and seasoning on top), about five minutes to put together, and fifteen minutes to cook.

Drink/Gift:

  • My parents gave me a subscription to Sipsby for Christmas since I’ve been drinking a lot more tea lately. I got my first box yesterday and it’s so much fun! I believe it’s only $15/month and they send you four different kinds of tea, based off of a survey you fill out with what kinds of teas you like. I’m ALWAYS a fan of subscription boxes and getting that fun gift in the mail every month. This seems like a great option if you – or a gift recipient – loves tea.

Book Finder:

Read:

  • Last Saturday I spent almost the entire day (minus when we went on a date) reading The Grace Year. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time and I highly recommend it.

Word of the Year Jewelry

  • And finally! This is the first year I picked a word for the year and wanted a very physical reminder of it that I’d see all the time. I’ve always been obsessed with meaningful jewelry, so I searched around online for a few days and finally went back to my old favorite – Lisa Leonard. This is the Very Fine Line Ring, though she has smaller/thinner bands – or necklaces or bracelets as well, all of which can be customized. I really, really love how this turned out. I’m glad I added the hearts!

Friday Favorites #6

Welcome back to Friday Favorites! I took a week off because it was too chaotic around Christmas to think about new recommendations. But I have a few fun things to share today!

Organize:

  • Yesterday I mentioned that I’ve been working through a goal tracking planner called PowerSheets. I purchased this after watching a Hope Writers live video with the creator and deciding it sounded like exactly the thing I needed to get my year off on the right track. And it was surprisingly helpful! Though you should probably know going in (I didn’t do a ton of research before purchasing) that this isn’t a daily planner in the sense that you’re used to. It really is a workbook that guides you through the goals you’d like to make for the year and then helps you to break them up into tiny doable pieces, which you spread out and keep track of over the entire year. So this isn’t really a planner to organize your life, JUST your goals. I did just announce in my post yesterday that I’m not really focusing on goals so much this year, but the planner actually helped me come to that conclusion and did help me align my priorities in a very clear and concise manner.

Personal Care:

  • I am a lip balm ADDICT. I am obsessed with finding the hot new brand and have probably 30 different kinds and flavors all over the house. I stumbled across a new to me brand called Crazy Rumors right before Christmas and purchased 12 different flavors that I split up between all our stockings. And I LOVE them. My favorite flavor is amaretto, but I’m really enjoying the pistachio as well.

Watch:

  • Our New Year’s Eve plans year after year are to watch movies and eat snacks. The second movie we watched with the boys the other night, Abominable, was HILARIOUS and so heartfelt. I’ve never been much of a fan of animated movies, and my kids mostly went from toddler shows to Marvel movies, so we’ve missed out on a lot. But I was trying to find something we could all enjoy and this definitely fit the bill. I really, really liked it.

Eat:

  • I don’t think I mentioned this last month, but I came across a new item that is PERFECT for a big cheese platter: Buzz and Bloom’s Spreadable Honey. I don’t know what they do to it to make it spreadable, but it is so incredibly delicious and pairs perfectly with any type of cheese. I’m not sure where to buy it online, but locally I first found it at Woodman’s and then purchased additional flavors at HyVee. My favorite is the plain honey spread.
  • You guys are really going to think I have a gouda obsession since I think this is my third time sharing a brand of gouda in just the first six installments of this weekly post. But – gouda is so good! Well, SOME gouda is so good. I’m not a fan of the kinds that feel more soft and processed, but adore the harder aged and smoked varieties. Anyway, I picked up this Stone Ridge Cave Aged Gouda at Woodman’s for our New Year’s platter and I think it’s my new favorite. If you want a REAL treat, layer a chunk of gouda with the spreadable honey on a dried apricot. It’s delightful.

Drink:

  • You know I’ve been really into drinking tea lately. But most flavors are really a hit or miss. I don’t use any sweeteners since it kind of defeats the purpose of using tea to avoid snacking, so most of the tea I’m drinking is palatable, but not GREAT. Because Greg has been drinking so much Harney and Sons cinnamon tea this year, the boys have really gotten into it as well. So on a whim I picked up this Tazo Glazed Lemon Loaf Tea yesterday because all three of them really love citrus. I, however, can’t stand citrus, but I still wanted to try the tea. And guys. It is AMAZING. I’m not even joking, this is the best tea I have ever had. I mean, I love the cinnamon tea, but I really need to be in the right mood for such an intense cinnamon experience. This, however, I could drink any time and I don’t think I’d ever tire of it. GET IT. I bought it at Target, but you can also find it on amazon.

Luxury:

  • Okay, I never would have purchased this for myself, but my brother gave me an Ember mug for Christmas. I’ve heard of them before, but always dismissed the idea because it was so expensive and only comes in straight black or white – and I love my unique and colorful $4 mugs too much to give them up. But I decided to give it a shot and was immediately really impressed. When fully charged I believe it will keep your drink the perfect temperature – that you set – for an hour and a half. I’ve been using the mug for tea at night and it’s absolutely perfect because I’m such a slow tea drinker. Then I use my regular mugs for my afternoon coffee, which I drink much faster. Anyway, it’s a splurge, but I’m really excited about owning one.
  • This winter break made me realize real quick that I needed a good pair of wireless headphones. I kind of lose my mind when everyone is home because I’m so used to listening to music and podcasts and watching my own tv shows all day long, and I can’t do any of that when I’m not home alone. And because it’s winter, I’m almost always wearing leggings or pajama pants without pockets, so I can’t carry my phone connected to regular earbuds around with me without it being super obnoxious. I’ve tried other wireless earbuds in the past, but it drives me crazy how often they need to be charged and it was just too much of a hassle. But I was determined to find a way to solve this problem, so I ordered a Christmas present for myself – these Cowin E7 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones. They are super comfortable, they hold a THIRTY hour charge, and most importantly – they come in super fun colors! I got the green ones and I am IN LOVE.

That’s it for today! Happy Friday!