A Few of My Favorite Things {November 2016}

posted by Andrea | 11/1/2016
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favorite things November

November is here, and that means one thing in the Dekker house… Nora’s birthday 🙂

Yes, we’re all excited for cooler weather, Thanksgiving, and the official start of the holiday season, but we are also really excited for our soon-to-be 5 year old!

Nora is planning a Frozen-themed party and we recently got an amazing Elsa costume that fits just perfectly (thanks to a generous reader whose daughter gifted her too-small costume to Nora!)

elsa costume

Right now, Nora’s “favorite thing” is her new costume… but I also have a few more favorite things to share with you all this month. As always, be sure to check out some of my favorite things from past months and share your favorite things in the comments!

DISCLOSURE: None of these products are sponsored; however, some of the links below are affiliate links — which means that at no cost to you, 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.

Corningware

corning wear

One of the things I added to our wedding registry was a massive set of Corningware in classic “French White”… and it immediately became my most favorite cookware.

I love that it can go in the oven, in the microwave, in the dishwasher, and in the freezer; I love that our set comes with glass baking lids and plastic storage lids so I can pop any leftovers straight into the refrigerator; and I LOVE that it matches our white kitchen dishes.

I honestly use our Corningware almost every day for something — either making a casserole for dinner, serving up pudding or individual desserts in the ramekins, storing large amounts of leftovers to reheat later, or making a meal for the freezer.

Since I’m not a big fan of “sets”, I’ve gotten rid of the smaller pieces I didn’t use and picked up a few more pieces from thrift stores over the years. One of my dishes has a chip out of it, but it still functions just fine (at least for now).

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Mechanical Pencils with Twist-Up Erasers

pencil

I’ve always been a “pen user” until about a year ago when I switched over to mechanical pencils.

I’m loving the flexibility of writing with pencil over pen… and right now, my favorite mechanical pencils are the Paper Mate 0.5mm with the jumbo twist-up eraser.

pencils

I can twist the eraser down when I’m not using the pencil (so my kids can’t bite it off!) and twist it up again when I need it. I haven’t tried every brand of mechanical pencils yet, but this feature basically sold me on the Paper Mate brand for a long time — at least until my kids are past the biting-off-erasers-phase!

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Truper Shrub Rake

rake

For the last 10 years of my life, I’ve used a full-size rake to try and get the millions of leaves that fall between our thousands of plants within our many planting beds. It was so frustrating because a full-size rake doesn’t fit between most of our plants (especially as they continue to to grow closer together) so I would often end up on my knees, grabbing the leaves out with my hands.

Then, about 2 months ago, I found a Truper Shrub Rake from our local thrift store for ONE DOLLAR… and my life is forever changed!

Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but I never realized there were tiny rakes (as I call them) perfectly designed to fit between shrubs and other perennials to easily rake out all those leaves.

That dollar is potentially the best dollar I’ve spent in a long time, and I would highly recommend these rakes for anyone with lots of plants and lots of leaves!

It’s also fun for kids 🙂

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Silikids Sippy Tops and Straw Lids

We’re trying to get away from sippy cups for Simon as his speech therapist says he needs to strengthen his tongue muscles. Instead, we’ve been told to use cups with straws.

So far, we really like the Silikids Straw Lids. We’ve used them for several months now and I love how easy they are to put on, take off, clean, etc. We can use them with any cup we already have in the house and they are really convenient for taking on the go.

Surprisingly enough, the straw lids really don’t spill unless you tip them completely upside down; and even then, it’s just a few drops that come out of the straw!

Screen Shot 2016-10-26 at 8.30.34 PM

We also have (and like) the Silikids Sippy Tops. They are completely spill-proof.

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Oxo Scrub Brushes

oxo brushes

Several years ago, I got a pack of these Oxo tiny scrub brushes (about the size of large toothbrushes) for free after rebate from Menard’s, and since then, I have used them to clean SO many areas of my house — everything from sink drains to shower grout to the seal around our dishwasher, and so much more.

They always seem to be the “perfect size” to scrub little areas, and their bristles are really strong so they don’t bend or break down.

They are frugal, they work well, and they have handled several years of regular use — definitely winners in my book!

scrub brushes

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That’s all for me this month.

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

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26 comments

  1. Megan S.

    01/19/2017

    I was just wondering if you had seen any improvement in Simon’s speech since using the straw cups as opposed to sippy cups. We too are in speech therapy through the state (I’m in Ohio however) and my son will be 3 in April. The straw cups are a new idea I haven’t tried and believe me, I feel like I have tried just about everything!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    We’ve seen a ton of improvement in Simon’s speech since this summer — but there’s really nothing to say it’s because of the straws. I’m sure the straws don’t hurt anything, but the fact that he’s 6 months older now and has been in speech therapy for 6 months longer play a huge role in this too.

    [Reply]

  2. Jennifer

    11/07/2016

    I did not know you can purchase mechanical pencils with screw up erasers!! You just made my year!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yup, it was a new concept for me too! They are amazing!

    [Reply]

  3. Amy

    11/03/2016

    Oh….I love those straw tops and I’m glad you included that about Simon’s speech therapy. My little boy is 3 and I’ve been thinking for a few months that he probably needs speech therapy as well. That is a great tip, Andrea!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good — hopefully they work for you too!

    [Reply]

  4. Beatriz

    11/02/2016

    I love Corning products and Pyrex products! I used to work in a research lab and that is the only type of glassware most investigators use. There are a few other brands but the longest lasting are one of the 2 mentioned. Personally, I have a lot of Pyrex items in the kitchen but Corning is amazing too.

    Happy Birthday to Nora 🙂

    [Reply]

  5. Jennifer

    11/02/2016

    Can’t wait to see Nora’s birthday party. My daughter has decided to have a frozen party for her b’day in March. Looking forward to finding great ideas!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — don’t get too excited Jennifer! I don’t have a lot planned 🙂
    Probably just an Elsa cake, lots of blue and/or silver paper products, maybe some snowflakes, and a huge cardboard cutout of Elsa and Anna (that I’m borrowing from a friend).
    Nora will love it, but it probably won’t be very “pinterest worthy”!

    [Reply]

  6. Laura

    11/01/2016

    Those are my favorite pencils too! I tried them on a coupon, and it was worth it for Paper Mate. I use pencil exclusively in my planner: easier to move things around. Now if I could keep track of them and not break them, I would never have to buy another one… it never seems to work out that well.

    I’ll have to try the scrub brushes! I admit to having been regular toothbrush user. It works for things that aren’t too dirty. I love the very idea of the little pointy tool on the end of the Oxo one!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh good — glad your pencils have lasted a while!
    As for the scrub brushes, I REALLY love them. they work so much better than toothbrushes 🙂

    [Reply]

  7. Bonnie'sMama

    11/01/2016

    I think I’ll take one of each, except maybe the Elsa costume.

    I like to write with pencils, and my handwriting is usually prettier than with pen. But pencil lead smudges, so I stick with pens.

    My kids would love those straw toppers, and I would, too! They are so cool!

    And the Oxo brushes are a great idea. To me, one of the grossest things ever is people using their old, tired, disgusting toothbrushes to CLEAN with!! If you’re really on a tight budget and want one for cleaning things other than teeth, a brand new clean toothbrush only costs fifty cents or a dollar at the dollar store.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — good we want to keep our Elsa costume!
    As for the toothbrushes as cleaning tools — they really don’t work well anyway. They aren’t “strong” or sturdy enough to do a good job scrubbing!

    [Reply]

  8. Denise Z

    11/01/2016

    I got that same French white Corningwear when we got married…35 years ago. Still going strong!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    glad to hear it. Hopefully mine will last as long — the marriage and the CorningWare 🙂

    [Reply]

  9. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    11/01/2016

    Those straw lids are awesome! I have some nieces and nephews who could use those for sure. It’s so handy that they go with cups you already have instead.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    They are really nice! And so easy to pack along — much better than huge sippy cups!

    [Reply]

  10. Brenda

    11/01/2016

    OMG…I feel stupid. I always thought those shrub rakes were for getting the leaves off the tops and sides of the shrubs, not from between them! I always thought it was a pain to get the fallen leaves from other trees off the tops of the evergreen shrubs. That’s what I thought the little rakes were for.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Well, I’m sure you COULD use the rakes to get the leaves off the tops of the bushes — but regular rakes will do that too 🙂

    [Reply]

  11. Barb

    11/01/2016

    Just curious, Andrea….why did you switch from pens to mechanical pencils?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Because I wanted more flexibility to change things around without crossing them out. My planner was getting too full of crossed out things and not enough room to write new information 🙂

    [Reply]

  12. Lorrie

    11/01/2016

    I also LOVE my oval Corning Ware baking dish — the same one you have pictured above (what’s that first casserole by the way?). It seems like mine did not come with a plastic lid, but that I found one at an outlet years later. Anyway, it’s perfect for all the reasons you list, and is great for taking to church dinners too. Plus it cleans easily and almost looks new even after 30 years of use!

    Happy birthday to Nora. What a big girl!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    well good, then I have at least another 20 years of use out of my CorningWare — assuming none of it breaks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Just realizing I didn’t send you the link to the recipe you requested 🙂

    The first casserole pictures is a delicious chicken and wild rice stew. Here’s the link: https://andreadekker.com/chicken-and-wild-rice-stew/

    [Reply]

  13. Kim

    11/01/2016

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Andrea for the link to those little OXO scrub brushes! Just the other day while cleaning my kitchen sink drain I said surely somebody makes something to get into all the crevices in this drain. Ordering now!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh good — glad to help!!

    [Reply]