A Few of My Favorite Things {November 2013}

posted by Andrea | 11/5/2013

favorite things november

I’m back with a few more of my favorite things for November… and I definitely think some or all of these ideas would make fabulous holiday gifts for those of you planning ahead! And as always, be sure to check out some of  my favorite things from past months.

DISCLOSURE: None of these products are sponsored in any way; however, some of the links below are affiliate links — which means I may get a VERY small percentage of the sale if you make a purchase through my links. However, I hope you know that I’m only promoting the products below because I use them EVERY SINGLE DAY in my own home and life! Read my full disclosure policy for more information.

Over-the-Door Shoe Organizers

I’ve shared my love of clear over-the-door shoe organizers many, MANY times before  – but that’s because over the past 7+ years, we’ve used them in pretty much every room of our house.

If you think about it, these organizers are such a versatile organizing tool because every home I’ve ever been in has a door :)

However, even if you don’t have a door, you can still use one of these shoe organizers on a wall. Simply put a couple screws in your wall and hang the organizer from the screws instead of with the “over-the-door hooks” that come with the organizer.

Here are just a FEW of the ways we use (or have used) our over-the-door shoe organizers in our every-day lives.

Screwed to the inside of our master closet doors for belts, scarves, and other accessories.

shoe organizer in closet

In our office closet to hold extra cords, chargers, misc. office items, and (more recently) some of Nora’s smaller toys on the bottom.

On the back of our entryway closet door (in our old house and our current house) for gloves, mittens, hats, scarves, umbrellas, etc.

Winter-Gear

I can often find these organizers on sale for between $5 and $10, so it’s definitely worth it for the organizational possibilities… and would you believe that I don’t actually use any of our shoe organizers for shoes!

Immersion Blender

kitchenaid hand blender

I originally got our KitchenAid Immersion Blender (as a gift) shortly after Nora was born with the intention of making my own baby food. Little did I know at the time that Nora would NEVER ever eat baby food :)

So, while I didn’t use it for her, we’ll hopefully use it for future children — and in the mean time, I’ve come up with a ton of other uses for our immersion blender.

Of course, our all-time favorite use is smoothie making! I’ve also used it for small batches of applesauce, pear sauce, chocolate mousse, deviled eggs, bread crumbs, chopping nuts, etc. etc.

immersion blender

However, this blender is not JUST an immersion blender. It has so many different accessories (including a whisk, a mini food processor, and various “heads” that work well for so many different foods.

Plus, it all comes in this nicely organized caddy — which you know I love!

storage caddy

Reusable Microfiber Swiffer Pads

reusable swiffer pad

Since the majority of our house is solid hardwood flooring (our choice as we don’t love carpeting) we use the Swiffer on a very regular basis — so much so that “Swiffer” was actually one of Nora’s first words (‘sweeper’ is how she says it) :)

To this day, she absolutely goes crazy whenever I take the Swiffer out and always wants to “help” me sweep the floor. So I sweep first, then I break down the handle so it’s small enough for her and give her a turn sweeping. It’s pretty cute.

nora and the swiffer

I’ve already shared my simple tip to stretching Swiffer pads a little further — but about a year ago, I came across these reusable Swiffer pads from Unger Home, and I’ve been using them almost exclusively ever since.

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They really do pick up a TON of dust, dirt, and debris — even better than the disposable Swiffer pads if you ask me. When I’m finished, I simply shake them outside to get the majority of the junk off, and then either reuse them for another room/floor or toss them in the laundry (depending on how dirty they are). I have 4 pads, and that’s plenty for my most intense sweeping needs. I’ve never run out before laundry day :)

Oh, and Unger also sells reusable pads for the Swiffer Wet Jet — although I just mop our floors by hand with water and vinegar.

Nora’s Painted Wooden Blocks

Although I’ve been pretty good about limiting the number of toys we’ve accumulated these past 2 years, I will admit that I’m a huge sucker for wooden toys.

There’s just something nostalgic about solid wood toys — no plastic, no chemical dyes, no stickers, no glitter… just wood. And when it comes to wooden toys, some of my favorites are good, old-fashioned, wooden blocks!

We actually have THREE different (small) sets of wooden blocks — different colors, sizes, etc. One has letters, one has animals and numbers, and the other set has fun paper decoupage on each side. We got our blocks from a friend’s Etsy shop — but unfortunately, she’s too busy with her own kids now that her shop has closed. However, I’m sure you can find fun blocks like this somewhere on Etsy or at local craft shows (or you might even be able to make your own).

I just love that wooden blocks are so simple… but also something that kids of many ages love playing with. Our basket of blocks is usually one of the first things pulled out when friends come over — and I know that even Dave and I have had fun building towers or trying to stack as many as we can without them tipping over!

Nora can learn colors, animals, numbers, letters, spelling (eventually), and matching — all with some of her favorite toys.

I think that out of all the toys we will eventually amass over the coming years, our blocks are one of the things I will most definitely hang onto for many, many years (maybe until the grandkids start arriving in 25 years!)

Soft Heat Heating Blanket

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Here in Michigan, we use our heating blankets for about 6 months out of the year — usually from October through April — so it’s pretty important that we have nice ones.

Dave and I usually turn our blankets on about an hour before we head to bed so the sheets are nice and toasty warm when we actually go to bed (and then we turn them off for the night).

However, Dave doesn’t like his side as warm as I like mine — so I was thrilled when I found the Soft Heat Heating Blanket a few years ago. This blanket has TWO controls so we can both set our side how we like it — so it’s absolutely perfect for our needs.

Plus, it’s really soft! 

You can’t feel the bulky wires unless you really press hard and although I don’t have a ton of experience with heating blankets, this one seems to work really well.

our bedroom

That’s all for me this month.

Make sure you check out my previous months’ favorite things — and feel free to share some of YOUR favorite things in the comments below!

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24 comments

  1. Leanne

    11/05/2013

    I’ve been looking for those kind of Swiffer pads! thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

  2. Jen

    11/05/2013

    I use those reusable, microfiber pads, too. I got mine in Amazon. I’ve had a Clorox Ready-Mop for ten years and I just refill the solution bottle with vinegar, water, and a blend of essential oils. Saves me money and limits chemicals!

    [Reply]

  3. Shelly

    11/05/2013

    Love the reusable pad. I knew they existed but I haven’t bought any. I think I will now. Thanks for yet another tip I can use. :)

    [Reply]

  4. Luba

    11/05/2013

    Since the weather has been cooling down, one of my favorite things is heat lotion! It’s also good for back massages and sore muscles, but it’s wonderful to rub on to get rid of a cold quite fast. :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Never heard of “heat lotion” but sounds interesting!

    [Reply]

    Luba Reply:

    Yes, it’s great stuff. Here is some more info, if you would like: https://www.foreverliving.com/retail/entry/Shop.do?store=USA&language=en&itemCode=064&distribID=001002480579

    [Reply]

  5. Cathy

    11/05/2013

    I’m still enjoying one of your ‘older’ favourites – Go Walk shoes. Love them!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Cathy — I know MANY people have purchased those shoes after my post (even my sister and mother-in-law). So glad others are liking them too!

    [Reply]

  6. Gen

    11/05/2013

    Am I getting it right from your last sentence (you need to press hard to feel the wires) about the heated blanket that you put it under your sheets over the mattress? I haven’t figured out how best to use ours. The times I’ve used it I woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat and had to undo the whole bed to remove it (cuz I sandwhich it between the bedsheet and the bedspread- can’t just put it on top or else most of the heat gets lost) even though I turned it off before falling asleep. Love the idea of having 2 controls!!
    And thanks for the reminder to try reusable swiffer pads, maybe that will help me sweep on a more regular basis!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Gen, We use our heating blanket OVER our sheet but under our comforter — like it sounds like you do. We just turn it on for about an hour before we head to bed and then turn it off when we are in bed. The bed is just a little warm — but not super hot by any means.

    I’m guessing that your comforter might be too “thick” for you if you wake up sweating. The heating blanket should serve as any other thin blanket if it’s turned off — so it sounds like your comforter is trapping extra body heat as you sleep. I’d look into getting a thinner comforter and maybe that will solve the issue.

    [Reply]

  7. Stephanie

    11/05/2013

    Have you ever had a problem with the over-the-door organizers pulling the door from the hinges? I apparently put too much stuff in mine and it caused the hinges to strip— hubby wasn’t too happy about that one!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    No never! We do have solid wood doors — so the hinges are sturdier. But we did NOT have solid wood doors in our last house and I had one of these in almost every room with out any issues.

    I’m guessing that your hinges were probably a little loose to begin with — but maybe you did have it really loaded down! At least you were making good use of your vertical space :)

    [Reply]

  8. Abi

    11/05/2013

    I am honored that you included my blocks with your favorite things this month! So glad Nora is enjoying them!! And I totally agree about the versatility of them. The blocks are still a favorite at our house with our six year old and almost two year old! :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Abi — and yes, we LOVE LOVE LOVE your blocks! If you have any links you’d like me to include for readers to buy the blocks, I’m more than happy to do so. I just saw that your Etsy shop was closed and figured it didn’t make sense to link to a closed Etsy shop :)

    [Reply]

  9. Melinda

    11/05/2013

    Thanks for your post. I’m always looking for practical gifts for people and your post has given me a few more items to add to my list.

    We also like going to bed in a toasty warm bed. We have a dual heat mattress pad and absolutely love it during the cold months.

    One of my favorite things to hang items on the walls with, such as your door organizers, are my Monkey Hooks. They leave a very tiny hole in the wall compared to nails or screws, especially when you go to hang something that needs a little more strength to it. I’ve hung anything from a calendar to a massive picture with the same hook! The best part is that we take them with us when we move, so they can be used over & over. I believe you can get them at stores like Home Depot or anywhere online. Depending on where you shop, they will cost you about a quarter each. These make the perfect stocking stuffer too!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for the tip Melinda. I’ve actually never heard of Monkey Hooks before — I’ll have to check them out!

    [Reply]

  10. Sheri

    11/05/2013

    We used to have heated blankets with duel controls until we discovered heated mattress pads with duel controls. We LOVE them! We too turn them on for a short time before bed and then flip them off for the night.

    [Reply]

  11. Kris

    11/05/2013

    I love the over the door organizers used everywhere. Sadly my closets and coat closet all have accordion doors. :(

    [Reply]

  12. Jackie

    11/05/2013

    Thanks for the gift ideas! Since your hubby is a teacher, I’d appreciate ideas for teacher/other school staff gifts. I know a great deal of teacher gifts are re gifted or donated and I’d like my little girl to show her teacher that she’s appreciated.

    [Reply]

  13. Olga

    11/06/2013

    I really like reading these posts about some of your favorite things. I trust your opinion, since you hate clutter and all kinds of extra gadgets that don’t have a purpose.
    I’ve always had a fondness for old fashioned toys and we can finally start to buy toys for babies:). I’ll have to hunt up some similar wooden blocks that you have, they are so cute. Too bad your friend doesn’t sell them anymore.
    There’s one thing one your list that is also one of my favorite things – the heating blanket. We live in Florida and I still get good use out of mine. Even though I’m only 27, I’m like a little old lady who is always cold. I’m one of those people who always has a spare sweater in the back of my car, just because I get cold so often:). My sister gave me my blanket for Christmas one year, and I love it. I also use it to wrap around a mixing bowl of rising bread dough, it really speeds up the process of rising bread.

    [Reply]

  14. Brenda

    11/06/2013

    FYI–

    The food processor attachment for the immersion blender is really nice for “shredding” cheese. I usually buy it in the 8oz (or larger) chunk, then just cube it up in 1-2 inch chunks, throw a few in the blender and whirr it once or twice. Saves all that “anti-caking” powder in the pre-shredded cheese from your gut and your knuckles from being shredded. Plus, the kids love doing it!

    Also, if you are making pizza and have it out, it also chops up all the other topping nice too. I have used it for pepperoni that my husband bought in stick form, not sliced and peppers & onions.

    [Reply]

  15. Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    11/06/2013

    I love shoe organizers, too. We only have one currently, though, and it holds my husband’s exercise shorts and a few socks. It was a perfect solution! I used to have one in my closet for my shoes but I don’t have that one anymore. We’re getting ready to move and I’m hoping to have a few more in the new house.

    I’ve never had an electric blanket. For sure wouldn’t want one now since I’m gearing up for menopause and dealing with night sweats! I’d cook under an electric blanket. But several members of my family love them.

    [Reply]

  16. Lisa K.

    11/11/2013

    Hi Andrea, I’ve seen a prior post on using your Hamilton Beach Power Elite blender for making smoothies…which would you say is better specifically for smoothies, the Kitchen Aid immersion blender or the Hamilton Beach full size blender? It seems like the immersion blender would be less of a hassle and easier to clean, but does it blend ice or frozen fruit just as well as the Hamilton Beach?

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Great question lisa — they both work perfectly fine for smoothies, but the full-size blender is a must if you’re making more than 2 smoothies :)

    Since Dave and I usually just make 2 smoothies (some times I just make 1 for myself during the day) I like to whip out the immersion blender instead of the entire full-size blender. However, I’m definitely keeping both as the immersion blender can’t handle nearly as much “volume” as a full-size blender.

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