I have a few quick minutes while I’m waiting to get the final food set up for my Favorite Things Party, so I wanted to get my list out for the week!
If you’re looking for some great Spotify playlists this holiday season, check out Kendra Adachi’s (The Lazy Genius) curated Christmas lists! I haven’t had a chance to listen to all of them yet, but I really love the Happy Christmas list. It feels festive and fun, yet really fresh and different. A perfect playlist to have on in the background during a party. Kendra is always making new playlists – something I really enjoy!
You know how I said the other day that I’m still consuming a little bit of chocolate every day? One of the things I’ve been eating are Skinny Dipped Almonds. I’ve seen them at Target for months, but never bought any because if I’m going to eat a chocolate covered almond, I want it to be a good thick chocolate. But, that’s not really allowed anymore, so I gave these a shot with all their whole and limited ingredients. And they’re really good! My favorite is the peanut butter flavor. It seems really weird to coat an almond in peanut butter powder, but I love it. I also really like the raspberry and peppermint. I haven’t tried the rest.
So this is hardly an original idea, but I thought maybe I should throw it out there if you’re looking for a fun lunch or dinner idea with your kids. I do it almost every single weekend. I grab every kind of cheese, fruit, vegetable, meat, cracker, etc. that I can find and put it together on a single tray. Then everyone gathers around the tray and digs in. The boys think it’s so much fun to pick and choose what they’re going to eat. And it’s SO EASY.
I wear pajamas A LOT in winter. There’s a lot less chance of someone showing up at my house unannounced when it’s cold outside, so I tend to wear at least pajama pants basically any time I’m going to be home for more than a few hours at a time. So every year I’m also looking for new pairs because I get sick of wearing the same ones again and again. This year I tried these Lauren Conrad pajamas from Kohls and I LOVE THEM. They are so incredibly soft and warm, with the cinched fabric at the ankle so I’m not always tripping on them the way I do with regular pajama pants. They also have them in plus and petite sizes.
ORGANIZE and TRACK
I’m obsessed with tracking my reading. I’ve kept a regular spreadsheet with the book name, author, and my rating for about the last ten years. It’s such a valuable resource when I want to look back and remember which books were awesome and I could recommend or purchase for someone as a gift. Plus it’s nice to know if I’ve actually read something or not and can’t remember! I’ve been tracking on Goodreads religiously for the last couple of years as well. But last year I found out about an AWESOME tool – Book Riot’s reading log. If you’re curious about your reading statistics, this is such a cool way to keep track of everything. Plus it gathers all the data on the second page and you can see your results. I’ll be sharing all my stats with you for the year in a few weeks. I’m really excited the 2020 log has been released!
We went to see Knives Out the other night and really liked it! I hadn’t heard anything about it, but Greg kept saying he wanted to see it, so we made it happen. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but I liked it even more.
I caught up on all my regular tv shows, so I started watching some Netflix movies this week. I really enjoyed Let it Snow and haven’t heard anyone else talking about it. It was sweet and festive without being overly cheesy.
And that’s it for today! Time to set up my giant cheese plate and make sure everything is ready for my party!
A whole week has flown by since my last Friday post without a single update. Life has been TOO CRAZY this fall. Right when I think I have a handle on my life, something comes up again and I’m flailing around once more. I’m hoping to claim a little bit of down time this weekend to catch up on my end of the month posts, as well as actually RELAX. But I’m not very good at that, so we’ll see.
Anyway! It’s been such a busy week that I haven’t discovered many NEW favorite things, but I’ll share with you what I’ve got!
For my dessert contribution, I made this Pecan Pie Cheesecake for Thanksgiving. I made it a few years ago and remember calling it the best cheesecake I’ve ever had. And at one point in my life I wanted to open a cheesecake restaurant, so I’ve eaten a lot of cheesecake! But cheesecake is usually something you only make for bigger fancy gatherings, so I haven’t made it since then. I looked back at my notes and saw that the first time I halved the entire recipe and baked it into a pie pan instead of a springform pan. This year I did the whole shebang and it was still delicious! I even forgot to add the heavy cream and I don’t think it made a difference. The only thing I wish I had done differently was actually follow the stovetop instructions for the pie layer. I think I cooked it a tad too long, making that layer extra gooey and very hard to cut and bite. But the combination of salty/sweet/creamy/crunchy is really great!
This summer I ordered a bunch of new hot sauces to try and 708 7 Pot Citrus by BigFat’s has definitely been my favorite. It took me awhile to come around to the citrus spicy flavor combination in so many hot sauces (I’m not a fan of citrus in any form), but now I can’t get enough of it. I think that kind of hot sauce is perfect for something loaded with cheese. My favorite form of comfort food I use it in is a bowl of (brown) rice with chihuahua cheese and chips. I’ve been eating this for months (especially once I ran out of one of my favorites – Dirty Dick’s Hot Sauce), but I seem to be eating it at almost every non-Thanksgivingy meal this week because it’s so dang tasty. I also really like it with beef tacos. For chicken tacos I prefer a more straight heat.
So I literally just came home from seeing A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhoodwith my in-laws. It was so good! There are so many theater movies I’d love to see right now, but this is the one I was invited to, so I went! It did feel kind of slow…quiet, I suppose. Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate movies like that when we’re so used to action and comedy and nonstop drama. But I really enjoyed it. Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys were both excellent in it!
I’ve been watching A Million Little Things from the beginning and I definitely liked the first and second seasons. But this third season? Now that we’re finally past all the John’s death related plot points, it’s SO good. It’s moved up to one of my most anticipated weekly watches. This week the mid-season finale aired and it was absolute perfection.
I can’t think of anything else that struck me as being extra special this week – and we’re about to go watch the local Christmas parade, so I’ll end this now. Enjoy!
I’ve been learning a lot about the importance of an email list. I’ve started paying attention to the weekly and monthly newsletters that I most enjoy reading and they all have one thing in common – they’re lists of recommendations and favorite things. So with no real originality, I’ve decided to do my own version of the same thing because it makes me so happy to share the things I’m most excited about, especially when they’re new and unique. The exception – for now – is that this will appear as a new weekly blog post installment that’ll pop up on Fridays. I don’t have an email list yet, and quite honestly I don’t have the time at the moment to figure out how to make one. So in the meantime, I can’t let all these awesome favorite things be wasted, so I’m starting today with where I’m at! These might be short, they might be long, but I’ll try to stick to things that have really brought me a lot of joy in just the past seven days.
I am obsessed with THIS GRANOLA RECIPE. I’ve tried many granola recipes in the past few years, most of which had a peanut butter base and some chocolate thrown in to make it all a lot more dessert-like. But I needed something simpler for Caden’s birthday party a few months ago to top granola and fruit and gave this a shot. I LOVE it. Brown butter maple granola by Two Peas & Their Pod. It’s delish.
Trader Joe’s Uncured Black Forest Bacon. About six months ago Costco sold a three pack of thick sliced brown sugar bacon that was AMAZING. And like basically everything I fall in love with at Costco, I never found it there again. I’ve been on the hunt for something of similar taste and I finally found it at Trader Joe’s this week. I picked it up because the coloring was unique – it’s very brown. It must have some sort of sugar rubbed into it or something. But seriously, it is legit good. The only downside is that I believe it was around $6 and there are only 7 slices in the package. I’m not sharing it.
This week at Costco I picked up a giant wedge of Beemster Classic Aged Gouda. Gouda is one of my favorite types of cheese and I love nutty aged ones the most. My previous favorite has been Trader Joe’s 1000 Day Gouda, but this one is also REALLY tasty. The cashier confirmed it was a new item she’d never seen before, so chances are it won’t be around for long.
If you need any kind of encouragement that you are OKAY and you are ON THE RIGHT PATH, listen to this incredible spoken word album by Arielle Estoria. She was at the Hope*Writers conference I attended and blew me away. I listened to Symphony of a Lioness while I was at my sewing machine and it was truly so powerful. I highly, highly recommend it.
Is anyone else watching Succession?! Greg and I ran out of things to watch together, so we started this up after I kept hearing Knox and Jamie rave about it on The Popcast. And they were right – it is SO GOOD. I can’t believe how intense the show can be when barely anything is actually happening. It’s great acting.
TJMaxx, Marshall’s, and HomeGoods. I feel like I shouldn’t even let people in on this secret of mine because it’s where I find allll my greatest gift ideas and treasures. These stores are AMAZING if you’re willing to go to them often and visit different locations. I’ve always loved them, but my obsession has really gone up a level or two in the last few months. I finally had to make some gift sets for Heartstring Annie to justify buying some more great things. My absolute favorite thing to hunt around for is mugs. I’ve been finding so many great Christmas ones lately that I finally gave in and switched out my fall mugs this morning. They bring me so much joy!
Counter Culture Coffee. I recently spent DAYS going through Food and Wine’s extensively researched list of best coffee in every state. I created an amazon list of every single coffee I’d like to try from all of those roasters. (The LIST stops me from wanting to immediately buy them all for fear that I’ll forget and miss out on something amazing. Mind games, guys. Always.) Counter Culture Coffee was on the list and low and behold, they were the featured local coffee at all the grocery stores I stopped at on my trip to North Carolina. I purchased and brought back the Hologram and Big Trouble blends and have been drinking them this week. They’re creamy and delightful!
Speaking of green tea, I also just found out that Harney and Sons makes their famous hot cinnamon tea in a GREEN variety! Their black hot cinnamon tea used to be the only kind of tea I’d ever drink. And recently, Greg has become obsessed with it, drinking it all the time. The boys love it too. When he ran out a few weeks ago I was THRILLED to see that it also comes in a green variety for me! And honestly, I can’t even taste the difference between the two. It tastes just as good as the black – and it’s better for you. (It ALSO comes in herbal!)
I think that’s it for my first installment of Friday Favorites! See you back next Friday for more great finds!