Recently, I’ve been thinking about when we purchased our farmhouse (13 years ago last month!)
At the time, I really wanted a farmhouse “out in the country” but Dave insisted on finding a farmhouse IN A NEIGHBORHOOD (and Dave doesn’t “insist” on a whole lot).
He wanted to be close to things — people, school, church, activities, restaurants, grocery stores, etc.
Of course, we found the perfect house (it literally met every one of our ridiculously long list of requirements) and now I’m SO glad Dave was smart enough to insist on being in a neighborhood.
The kids always have neighbors to play with, we have nice sidewalks to walk the dog or go for bike rides, I can borrow an egg or a cup of sugar if I run out, our road gets plowed right away, and we’re minutes away from almost every place we go.
If the kids get sick at school (which has happened a few times recently) I can be there in 2-3 minutes, we can zip back and forth to church in a matter of minutes, AND I have 3 Aldi and 3 Meijer stores within 10 minutes of our house!
Our 135-year-old farmhouse smack in the middle of a neighborhood that’s close to everything is one of my favorite things!
Thanks Dave 🥰
I’m sharing lots more favorites below!
FAVORITE MOMENT = Snow Days
I realize most parents don’t look forward to snow days, but (for the most part) I love them — especially when they get called the night before so you know you get to sleep in.
Of course, Dave is also home on all our snow days, so that makes things extra fun.
Dave and the kids had 5 snow days recently, and we thoroughly enjoyed our extra time at home, playing in the snow (and shoveling LOTS of snow), doing puzzles, playing games, working on craft projects, drinking hot chocolate, rearranging furniture, redecorating various spaces in our home… 😁
Now all the snow is melted and we might not get much more this winter. At least I got a few cute pictures and Buster got his first snow experience!
FAVORITE ROUTINE = At-Home Piano Lessons
Our older children have taken piano lessons for a few years already and Clara started this year.
It’s something we want to continue for many years as music is a skill they can use throughout their entire lives… but it’s time-consuming and expensive!
Up until this year, we’ve paid a local teacher and carted the kids to her house once a week.
We loved the teacher, but the whole process was a huge pain in the butt and didn’t seem to work well for our family.
So we quit last spring… and now I’m teaching them at home!
I was initially nervous as to how it would go — if I would be patient enough to explain things, if they would be cooperative enough to listen and practice well.
We had a long conversation with the kids at the beginning of the year, explaining that IF they cooperated for their lessons and each practiced at least 5 times every week without complaining or arguing, we would have a special family reward at the end of the week.
This system has worked WONDERFULLY — better than I ever hoped or imagined!
Dave and I love not being tied down to another person’s schedule and driving them to and from lessons each week. The kids love staying home and not sitting at the piano teacher’s house waiting for their siblings to finish their lessons, and we save SO much money (literally thousands of dollars!)
Our routine is currently lessons on Sunday afternoons. They also each practice nearly every day for around 15 minutes.
I sit with them the first few practice times to make sure they are getting the correct notes, fingering, and rhythms, but by Wednesday, they can usually practice on their own. (We have a piano and a nice keyboard, so 2 kids can practice at once if needed).
So far, we’ve only missed one weekly reward… not too shabby!
Some of our rewards are:
- Going out to eat
- Having family friends over for an afternoon or for dinner
- Letting the kids pick out a favorite drink + treat at the gas station
- Getting Slurpees or donuts
- Having a bonfire and doing S’mores or hobo pies
- Staying up late to watch a special sporting event (like the Super Bowl)
Nothing super fancy or expensive — but they get so excited about their rewards and have had really great attitudes about practicing this year (much better than any year before).
At-home piano lessons have been a huge “win” for our family. I’m so glad I forced myself to teach them — I don’t know why I underestimated myself in the first place!
RELATED READING: Thoughts on Extra Curricular Activities
PAST FAVORITE = Braided Rugs
I’ve LONG been a fan of braided rugs as I love the country charm they bring to our farmhouse.
In the past, I’ve always gone with round or oval braided rugs — but this time I went with rectangle.
So far, I really like the change as rectangle rugs offer more coverage. I also like the darker color of my new rugs.
Here’s a picture of my previous rugs (before they got super dirty and frayed).
I also got new GIANT rugs for the mudroom as I was so tired of stepping in little puddles of wetness from people’s boots and shoes.
I’m thrilled with my new braided rugs — definitely a good use of some Christmas money, especially if they last me 12+ years like my previous rugs did!
FAVORITE CLOTHING = Puffer Vests
I’ve been a fan of “vests” for quite some time already, but thanks to a ThredUp sale, I acquired 2 more puffer vests this winter — and I wear them ALLLLLL the time. (My vests are all Old Navy brand).
I’m always cold, so I love the warmth they offer without the bulkiness of a coat. And I feel more “put together” in a vest, compared to wearing my coat around.
I also really like vests for running errands as I don’t get too hot in the store, or feel too cold as I’m walking back to my car. Plus, they have pockets!
Who knew vests could solve so many of life’s problems?
FAVORITE BOOK = The Sensible Shoes Series
I first met the author of these books (Sharon Garlough Brown) almost a decade ago, when she spoke for a women’s Bible study at our church.
I tried to dive into her books back then, but my season of life (pregnant with 2 very young children) just didn’t allow for me to spend lots of time reading for my own enjoyment.
Thankfully, our church library has the full set, so I decided my “2024 winter project” would be to revisit The Sensible Shoes Series (among other readings).
I knew I would enjoy the books, especially since they are written in that ‘back-and-forth’ style I love so much (going back in time, switching between characters, etc.) so I’m glad I have a little more time for reading these days (crazy how life changes in a decade!)
If you’re looking for a short series of inspirational and uplifting books to dive into yet this winter (or whenever), I highly recommend The Sensible Shoes!
READ THE BOOKS: The Sensible Shoes Series
FAVORITE MEDIA = Free Audiobooks
I’ve enjoyed dozens of free audiobooks over the years, especially after investing in wireless earbuds (which really are SOOOO much nicer than having cords!)
It’s rare for me not to have an audiobook open on my phone — and I love that I can get so many completely free via the Libby App, The Hoopla App, and free trials of Audible throughout the year.
I just finished listening to TheMama Bear Apologetics’ Guide to Sexuality. It’s SO good. I actually listened to it twice in a row!
I love listening to an audiobook (or podcast) while cleaning, folding laundry, taking the dog for a walk, cooking, baking, working in the yard, or driving to and from activities.
It’s definitely my favorite way to “multi-task” these days!
FAVORITE SNACK = Australian Licorice
A recent Costco trip resulted in a few “extra purchases” — one of which was a bag of Darrell Lea Australian Licorice.
RELATED READING: What I buy at Costco
I got curious about what made Australian licorice different, and I came across a great answer/explanation.
Australian licorice has a distinctive licorice flavor derived from licorice extract and aniseed oil. The pieces also have a hint of a smoky, earthy flavor that comes from the combination of wheat flour and molasses that are used to make Australian licorice. (source)
It has become a favorite “movie night” treat for everyone in our family.
FAVORITE RECIPE = Fruit Pizza
This might seem like more of a summery dessert (and it can be), but I love making Fruit Pizza during winter months as well.
Fruit pizza works well with canned fruit (just make sure you drain it well and dry it on paper towels before adding it to the pizza) so it’s easy to make when fresh fruit is hard to come by.
Doesn’t it LOOK amazing? Well, it tastes even better!
TRY THE RECIPE: Fruit Pizza
FAVORITE TOOL = Heatless Curling Headbands
I’ve had my eye on these heatless curling headbands for a long time now, and I finally decided to purchase them during a Christmas sale.
They are AMAZING!!!
It only takes 2-3 minutes to quickly wind the girls’ hair around the headband before they go to bed… and in the morning, they have perfect curls that last all day!
For reference, Nora’s hair is EXTREMELY thick, coarse, “frizzy”, wavy, and very snarly/difficult to manage.
Clara’s hair, on the other hand, is super fine, silky, and bone straight — so the fact that this heatless curling headband works for both of them is practically miraculous (I do spray a little hairspray in Clara’s hair before putting the headband in at night).
That’s all for this month. 😆
Scroll through all my Favorite Things posts HERE!