Happy New Year!
Our family enjoyed a couple of weeks at home over the break.
We ate lots of food, shoveled lots of snow, opened lots of gifts, read lots of books, and slept a lot — I’m not complaining!
The break was wonderful… but I’m ready for a New Year (and to get back into a routine again!)
Here are a few of my favorite things…
FAVORITE MOMENT = Low-Key Christmas Day
In 37 years of life, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a Christmas Day with ZERO parties or festivities… until this year.
It was wonderful!
We went to church (I played my French Horn in the brass group) and then enjoyed a low-key day at home.
We ate delicious leftovers for lunch (no cooking!), played with new games and toys, watched the 1966 version of The Grinch Stole Christmas (I’ve never seen it before), and went for a hike in our local Nature Preserve (after getting 22 inches of snow the previous 48 hours!)
It was lovely not to cook or host or travel or end the day feeling exhausted from all the festivities.
I wouldn’t be sad if this became a new tradition for our family! 😊
FAVORITE ROUTINE = Winter Canning
As I’ve mentioned before, I do the almost of all my canning over Christmas break.
I started this tradition about 10 years ago, after realizing it was MUCH easier to can while Dave was home over Christmas break to help with the kids… but I’ve kept up the tradition because it’s SO much more enjoyable to sit in my toasty warm kitchen during the cold winter months than in the heat of summer and fall.
Now, I freeze all my fruit in the summer and then defrost and cook it for jam over Christmas break.
I also buy apples from the local orchard every December and do all my applesauce between Christmas and New Years.
This year, I canned 40-ish quarts of applesauce one morning and several batches of jam another morning.
Now I’m done for another year!
RELATED READING: Why I Do My Canning In the Winter
PAST FAVORITE = Bend Soap
I ran out of my beloved Bend Soap in November and I didn’t want to buy more until their Black Friday sales. Plus, I wanted to hold out until all their seasonal scents were released.
Oh my word I missed that stuff — my skin was much dryer without it too.
My order arrived a couple of weeks before Christmas and the Mint Mocha is now my most favorite seasonal scent (yup, even more than peppermint!)
The Chia Tea and Winter Woods are fantastic as well — both new scents for me.
Most of the seasonal scents are still “in stock” so if you hurry, you can give them a try too!
RELATED READING: Why I switched to Bend Soap in 2019
FAVORITE KITCHEN ITEM = Electric Kettle
Over the last 3 years, I’ve tried to teach myself to like tea… I’m still not there yet.
But, my tea experiment did entice me to buy an electric kettle a couple of years ago, and it has quickly become one of my favorite things (especially during cold winter months).
I found this black one (still in the box) for $5 on Facebook Marketplace… but if I were going to buy one brand new, I’d go for this “honeycomb” white one.
We use the kettle regularly for hot chocolate, finger Jell-O, and to sterilize the lids when I’m canning.
I love how quickly it boils water.
Also, the outside of the kettle stays cool to the touch, so you don’t need to worry about someone burning their hands.
RELATED READING: My delicious homemade hot chocolate mix.
FAVORITE BOOK = The Office BFFs
Our library recently got The Office BFFs, and I was the first one to check it out!
After faithfully watching almost all 9 seasons of The Office back when it originally aired, then enjoying a few favorites with Dave when it came to Netflix, and laughing along to The Office Ladie’s podcast for the past few years, it was basically a given that I’d love the book.
And I did!
I read 5 books last month (all of which were fantastic) but The Office BFFs was my top pick for this month’s Favorite Things post.
READ THE BOOK: The Office BFFs
FAVORITE GAME = Kanoodle
Kanoodle is one of the games we gave our kids for Christmas, and it’s a hit with everyone (to the point that they fight over who gets to play with it).
I have to admit… it is REALLY fun and sort of addicting!
Kanoodle is a pocket-size container filled with 14 different shaped pieces that fit together in hundreds of ways.
There are 200 puzzles (both 2D and 3D) with various levels of difficulty, so it works for almost any age level.
James did all 200 puzzles within 48 hours of opening the gift (we technically gave it to him because I knew he’d love it). Clara can easily do the easier puzzles, and Dave and I have had lots of fun with the harder ones.
I currently have a few other Kanoodle products in my Amazon cart because it’s in such high demand around our house.
FAVORITE HOBBY = Renovation Dreaming
Dave and I are constantly dreaming and talking about cool things we COULD do to renovate more of our house — dig out the basement, put an addition on, bump out the back side, connect it to our garage, etc. etc.
And although we most likely won’t do any of them, it’s extremely fun and enjoyable to mentally weigh the pros and cons of each idea and plan how I’d arrange furniture and decorate IF we followed through with the renovations.
In the meantime, we very-much enjoy living in our already-renovated home, without walking through constructions zones or constantly cleaning up renovation messes…
But it’s still fun to dream!
RELATED READING: How we control our construction mess.
FAVORITE RECIPE = Chicken and Wild Rice Stew
One of our family’s favorite winter “comfort foods” is chicken and wild rice stew.
This stew is very filling, it’s nutritious, it’s quite easy to put together, and you can easily make it ahead of time and just pop it in the oven roughly 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat.
It also freezes well if you want to make a double batch. 😉
RELATED READING: Chicken and Wild Rice Stew.
FAVORITE QUOTE =
I almost laughed out loud when I read the following in my weekly email from The Nester… so true!
FAVORITE ARCHIVED POST = The Power of One
In all honesty, this post might be one of my favorite posts I’ve ever written over the past 13 years.
After more than 10 years of making small simple changes (one at a time), I was finally able to look back and see the massive changes that had come as a result.
It was exciting, satisfying, and humbling all at the same time… and I hope it’s encouraging for you too!
If you feel overwhelmed by all the changes you want to make, or if you just don’t know where to start, read my archived post and choose ONE small thing to focus on this year.
Read the full posts here.
That’s all for me this month. 😆
If you’re interested, you can scroll through ALL my Favorite Things posts HERE!
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