A Few Of My Favorite Things {December 2019}

posted by Andrea | 12/2/2019

my favorite things

I feel like the weeks and months are going so fast these days (maybe that means I’m getting “old”!) It seems I just wrote last month’s Favorite Things post… and now I’m back again with another one!

All of the goodies on my list today would be excellent Christmas gifts — and I’ve included a variety of price-points and age levels, so there’s something for (almost) everyone on your list! 

DISCLOSURE: None of these products are sponsored; however, some of the links below are affiliate links โ€” if you click through and take action, I may get a small commission. Please know that I use these products daily in my own home and life. Read my full disclosure policy for more information.

Also, check out my Amazon Market for all my favorite things.

Castile Soap

castile soaps

I’ve been using Dr. Bronnerโ€™s 18-in-1 Pure-Castile Soaps for several years now — mostly to clean the house. However, a few months ago, I started using it in place of shampoo AND body wash… and now I love it even more!

I only need a little squeeze and I have a huge amount of lather for my hair or my loofa. It’s such a big money-saver — not to mention a toxin-free way to clean my home (and my family)!

If you’d like to start using more natural products in and around your home, I would highly recommend trying Castile Soaps. They are good for just about any cleaning task — face, body, hair, produce, dishes, laundry, mopping, pets, etc. etc.

They have no synthetic preservatives, detergents, or foaming agents and you can dilute it according to your needs or preferences.

NOTE: the unscented version has a strange smell (ironic, I know!) that my kids do not like. So if you’re planning to buy unscented, you may want to add in some essential oils! Our favorite scents are Lavender and Citrus.

Also, these soap bottle pumps are the perfect fit for the big 32-ounce bottles of soap, and really handy in the shower!

Castile Soap has MAJORLY simplified my cleaning (and showering) routine — it’s so great to only have ONE product to clean so many different things!

Since it’s a gift-giving time of year, I wanted to highlight 2 awesome Castile Soap gifts I would personally love to receive! 

dr. bronners gift sets

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Kid K’NEX

kid k'nex

If you have anyone age 2-10 on your Christmas list this year, I highly recommend Kid K’NEX

They are SO much fun!

I love that the Kid K’NEX are detailed enough to make more elaborate creations yet simple enough that even fairly young children can make small projects on their own. 

kid k'nex

These fun toys are played with DAILY around our house, and while we do have a set of instructions with lots of ideas, the kids are also really great at building their own creations! 

And yes, Dave and I have fun with Kid K’NEX — so they might just be a great gift idea for kids-at-heart too!!

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Turkish Towels 

turkish towels

I’m still laughing that Turkish Towels made my list of favorite things because years ago, Dave and I joked about our friends who had “fancy towels”…

Now, several years later, we’ve jumped on the Turkish Towel bandwagon too! 

Honestly, the only reason I tried them (just over a year ago now) was because I got a free one. However, I instantly fell in love with how soft and light-weight it was that I hopped on Amazon to find more

Now, I should mention that Turkish Towels will not feel all that soft or lovely right when you buy them. They need to be washed a time or two in order for their soft texture to shine through. 

After that, they will continue to get softer and softer with each wash! 

And since they are so thin (in a good way) and light-weight, they dry SUPER quickly, they hardly take up any storage space in your linen closet or bathroom, and they are ideal for packing and traveling. 

Have I “sold” you yet? haha ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s the link to the hand towels we have (in the Antrasit dark grey color)

Here’s the link to the bath towel we have

Try one out and see what you think! 

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Blurb Books

blurb book discount

It’s no secret that I’ve been a HUGE fan of Blurb digital photo books for many years (going on 13 years now!) 

I use Blurb to create all our digital photo books and am so impressed with the quality (and their amazing customer service). 

The one “downside” to using Blurb is that they are a little pricier than other companies — HOWEVER, they always have great coupons available, and I simply wait to order my books until I get a coupon (I’m on their email list). 

Over the past several years, the weekend after Thanksgiving has traditionally been when they offer their BEST discount of the year — a whopping 50% off ALL products

I usually wait to order Clara’s yearly book (September) and then hustle to finish Nora’s yearly book (November) so I can order them both with the 50% off code. 

If you’ve ever wanted to try Blurb, now is a great opportunity to give it a try. 

And if you’re not ready to capitalize on the 50% off discount, they will most like offer another 40% or 45% discount around the end of the year… so start making your books now and get ready to order then! 

NOTE: here’s more about how I use Blurb to create my digital photo books

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Nutrimill Artiste Mixer 

nutrimill mixer

I’ve been using my Nutrimill Artiste Mixer for just over a year now — and WOW, do I love it! 

It’s so powerful and has a huge mixing capacity… but it’s much more compact and lighter-weight than KitchenAid Mixers so it’s easy to store and lift and carry around my kitchen. 

making cookies with mom

This mixer is an investment, for sure — which is one reason I haven’t promoted it all that often on my blog. 

The normal price on this appliance is $249 — with an extra $59 investment to buy the Baker’s Pack (cookie paddles, cake paddles, and bowl scrapper). I have the Baker’s Pack and in my opinion, it’s a necessary addition to the dough hook and wire whisk that come with the mixer. 

TODAY, CYBER MONDAY, Nutrimill is offering the most amazing deal I’ve ever seen on the Artiste Mixer + Baker’s set. 

ONLY $129 for the whole thing!!!! 

That’s less than half price!

12/11/19 UPDATE: The Cyber Monday deal is officially down, but there are still some really great deals on this mixer for the entire month!

 

While I’m normally against purchasing “limited-time deals”, I can confidently say that I’ve never ever seen this deep of a discount on the Artiste Mixer (and I searched high and low for months before I actually made my own purchase). 

If you’ve ever thought you might like to try the Nutrimill Artiste Mixer, THIS IS THE TIME TO TRY IT!!!! 

They have a fantastic return policy, so you don’t have much to lose! 

nutrimill mixer

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Thatโ€™s all for me this month.

Check out my previous monthsโ€™ favorite things โ€” and feel free to share some of YOUR favorite things in the comments below!

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28 comments

  1. Laura

    12/09/2019

    I would highly recommend the K’Nex line. They were my son’s obsession from age 6-12. He started with kid K’Nex and quickly moved to the regular K’Nex because his other obsession was roller coasters and they have amazing coaster models. Luckily he had a big bedroom because for years he had at least 10 full size models set up ALL THE TIME. A great company and an AMERICAN MADE TOY!!!! How amazing is that? They have annual building contests and my son was lucky enough to win two times a few years back. He got to tour the factory and the staff held a luncheon for him during our visit and interviewed him about things he would like to see added to their line. Afterword, on our first visit, he was taken into the warehouse and told he could pick out whatever parts he wanted and they gave him a giant ziplock bag. It was a “willie Wonka” moment for sure. And when his bag was full they gave him another bag. The second time he wasn’t turned loose in the warehouse but he did win a $500 prize. SO FUN! Cant say enough good things about these toys. BTW he grew up to be an Eagle Scout, International Baccalaureate Graduate and is currently in engineer school.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    This is so cool — thanks for sharing! I’ll have to look into these building competitions once our kids are a bit older!

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  2. Janelle

    12/06/2019

    Thank you for letting us know about this deal and your reviews on the mixer! My husband bought this for me for Christmas. Iโ€™m excited !

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh yay — tell your hubby he has good taste in gifts! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  3. Amanda

    12/03/2019

    I just want to say a big thank you for this post! I was so excited to see the deal on the mixer and my husband said go for it! I can’t wait until it gets here. ๐Ÿ™‚ If I hadn’t read your post I would have never known about the deal, and an affordable Bread mixer has been on my bucket list a long time! Yay!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yay — this makes me SO happy!
    I had been on the lookout for a good mixer for YEARS and finally took the plunge and bought the Nutrimill about 15 months ago. I’m thrilled to be able to share this great deal with others too!

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  4. Sharon

    12/03/2019

    Oh you just reminded me that we have kids k’nex in our attic from when our girls were younger (now 25 and 19) This would be perfect for my 2 Grandsons. Do you think the youngest one at 18 months would enjoy it? The older one is 3 so I know he would love it. Thanks.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh man — bring those goodies out of the attic! Yes, they would be awesome for the 3-year-old — probably too “old” for the 18-month-old little guy though. You need a bit of coordination to connect the pieces — that siad, I’m sure he would love playing with things you or the older brother build.

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    Jen Reply:

    Are there little pieces that younger kids could choke on?

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    Andrea Reply:

    some of the sets have smaller pieces, but most pieces are too big for their mouth

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  5. Margaret

    12/03/2019

    Just bought the mixer as a Christmas present for me based on you saying it can both make bread dough and whipped cream. My current mixer is so tall, not as heavy as a Kitchenaid (but close) and just kind of irritating so I’m really looking forward to seeing if this is what I need.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh goodie! So glad you got this deal!
    And yes, I regularly make bread dough AND whipped cream in this mixer — both with fantastic results!

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  6. Calliope

    12/02/2019

    Oh!!! Thanks for reminding me about dr bronners! Now that I have a pixie cut as well (yeah! Finally!) this could actually work! My favorite scent is the almond.
    I also have turkish towels that I use as beach towels because they are so easy and light to carry around. A life changer for us that go to the beach almost everyday for at least 7 months!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh yay for short hair! glad I’m not the only one loving Dr. Bronners and the Turkish towels! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. Natalia

    12/02/2019

    I’m so grateful for your posts and recommendations and also glad you don’t do this type of posts every week!
    I just ordered:
    the K’nex – it was on my list already and I’m glad I could use your link :)),
    the soap – just because you made it sound really, really good)
    AND
    the mixer!

    You won’t believe it, but I actually bought a KitchenAid from Costco 2 weeks ago (because I needed one for years and it was finally on sale), but it was still sitting in the box because it’s so heavy and it will take so much space in my small kitchen… I still kneaded bread by hand and used the handheld mixer a few times AFTER I bought the KitchenAid).
    Well, I loved what you said about the Nutrimill (it’s probably the 1st time I’ve heard about it or paid attention…). I ordered it and placed the KitchenAid (still intact, in the box), back in the trunk of my car to return. (grateful Costco has a wonderful return policy! :))
    Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh my — you’re the best!

    And honestly, I’m pretty sure you will like the Nutrimil better than the KitchenAid. I actually got a KitchenAid for our wedding and sold it on Craigslist because I HATED how heavy it was. It is pretty, though!

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  8. Jen

    12/02/2019

    Wanted to add that I see Dr Bronner’s soaps all the time at TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Marshalls, etc. I’ve never paid any attention to them (LOL!), but I assume they may be a great price at those places. I’m not quite ready to jump on that wagon for my hair and body! I’ll stick with my Bath and Body Works yummy scents bought on sale or clearance for now. Now..the mixer…THAT is tempting! ๐Ÿ™‚

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, thanks for sharing!
    I almost never shop at those stores — but I’m sure the price point is better than Amazon!

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  9. Casey

    12/02/2019

    I use Dr. Bronners for pretty much everything too–my favorite is the almond scent. However I didn’t love it as a shampoo. I found that it left a weird film no matter how much I rinsed it. I have pretty fine hair though, so that could be the reason. A good friend of mine uses it as shampoo and loves that it give her hair a textured feel, but she has a pixie cut as well.

    Also a fan of Turkish towels–we replaced all our beach towels with them and it gave us so much more space in our linen closet. They are so easy to pack for vacations, and I’ve even used them as a blanket on the plane, or scarf. I recommend them to everyone!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    hmmm… I have not noticed a film — but yes, my hair is super short ๐Ÿ™‚
    You could rinse with Vinegar. I bet that would remove any film (or you could just use whatever shampoo you feel works really well for your hair!)

    And yes, the Turkish towels are SO great for traveling and storing at home!

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  10. Melissa

    12/02/2019

    Hi Andrea,

    I am curious if the Nutrimill Artiste Mixer attachments and bowl are dishwasher save? Hand-washing will likely preserve them better, but I do love throwing things in the dishwasher.

    Also, the Turkish towels, do you use them for the kitchen only or do you also use them as your bathing towels?

    Thank you!
    Melissa

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, they are dishwasher safe — but the bowl is HUGE so it would take up a ton of space in your dishwasher. I almost always wash my stuff by hand — just fill up the bowl with soapy water, let the attachments soak for a few minutes, and then rinse everything clean again.

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  11. christine

    12/02/2019

    Do you use the mixer mostly for your breads and rolls? Would it be handy for cookies, and cakes and banana loafs?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I originally purchased the mixer for my whole grain bread dough because it’s nearly impossible to do by hand. However, I use it for EVERYTHING. You get ALL the accessories with this set, so you’ll have the cookie dough paddles, the cake paddles, wire whisks for whipping things, bowl scraper (which is the most amazing tool ever!) and also the dough hooks if you want to do bread dough.

    So yes, to both of your questions!
    Yes, I use it for bread dough.
    and Yes, it is SO handy for cookies, cakes, and banana bread!

    [Reply]

  12. Lisa

    12/02/2019

    Have you whipped heavy cream with the Artiste mixer? My KitchenAid is on its last legs so I’ve been looking for a replacement but have never really been satisfied with how it whipped cream (even with the whisk attachment, chilled bowl, etc. especially with smaller amounts.)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yup — all the time. This baby can make some SERIOUS whipped cream! Use the wire whisks and you’ll be good to go in minutes! I don’t even chill the bowl or anything!

    [Reply]

  13. Ann

    12/02/2019

    Are you now using Castille soap instead of your homemade shampoo/soap? Is it worth the switch to not have to make it? Does it work better?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I have switched!
    I wanted something I could use for my hair AND body, and this was really all I could come up with (I don’t want to use baking soda on my body). Dave also didn’t like the baking soda/vinegar, so it was worth the switch for us.

    Personally, I LOVE how clean my hair feels with the vinegar rinse, but I also love how great it smells with the castile soap (I get the lavender or citrus scents)

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