A Few of My Favorite Things

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I have a lot of thoughts jumbling around my head. We just got back from celebrating our 23rd anniversary in San Antonio (such a fun city!), my middle daughter turned 18 AND got engaged last week, and I got some great news from a friend. However, none of it is coalescing to make a profound post, so I’m going with something light and giving you a list of some of my favorite things – things I enjoy in general, stuff that makes my mom life easier and items that I find it hard to live without.

Once a Month Meals

I don’t always meal plan, but when I do, this is the service I prefer. (I tried the emeals app, and it drove me crazy.) Once a Month Meals allows you to use either premade menus in a dozen categories or build your own (that’s how I use it.) You get a shopping list that you can link to delivery services, all the recipes that you can customize to your family size and a prep and cooking list so you can prepare them as freezer meals. You can pay $18/month or a discounted price if you pay for a year. I usually subscribe for a few months, print off a variety of menus and then unsub until I’m ready for more variety.

Cutco Knives

I went on a girl’s trip earlier this year and our hostess had her kitchen stocked with these. I’m a total knife snob, and I was pretty impressed. So much so that I came home and bought some at a discounted rate on Ebay because, you know, budgeting. The company sharpens/refurbishes/replaces their knives for free, so don’t be afraid to buy an older set or single pieces that are deeply discounted. Just send them in, and they’ll come back sharp and pretty.

So Sew English

I sew as one of my primary hobbies, and I like quality fabric without going broke. My most consistent and favorite supplier is So Sew English. They have a ton of super soft “legging” fabric (aka double brushed poly) as well as a wide variety of other knits. If I’m sewing a lot, I get multiple boxes from these guys a week, and I almost always have at least a few a month. Wait until the end of the month, and Bundle Chicken codes let you buy bundles up to 40% off. (Bundles are the best!) They also have an active Facebook page to show your makes and talk sewing.

PDF Patterns

I haven’t sewn with a commercial pattern for years because PDF patterns are so much more accessible and reliable for me. While small designers can be hit and miss, some of my favorites that work really well for me are Patterns for Pirates, New Horizons Designs and Halla Patterns. I print my patterns at home and transfer them onto tracing cloth, but I know a lot of people like to use PDF Plotting. If you want to see what I’m up to with my sewing, follow me on Instagram.

Diva Cup

I pretty much think that any woman not using cups for their monthly visitor is missing out on comfort and convenience. I mean, not all my readers are females, but my Diva cup legit makes my life easier. Get one. If you’re a guy, tell your wife about them. She’ll thank you. (I also have a generic brand that was 2/$10, and they’re just as good. Just look for the medical grade silicone.)

French Press

I have coffee every morning, and I love my French press. This manual coffee maker is quick and easy to use, and makes a great brew. You get a full-bodied cup with a great depth of flavor and less bitterness. I went through several coffee makers before getting this which my hard water handily clogged and killed despite careful maintenance.

Meal Delivery Services

This isn’t something I use as part of my regular meal planning or grocery budgeting, but I have tried several meal delivery services for just the reduced price trial weeks, and they’re great. It’s super convenient to have all the ingredients premeasured and packaged for your meal and delivered to your door. When I get these, I can stretch a 2-person meal to feed me and my 3 youngest kids for a lunch. We’ve tried Home Fresh, Every Plate and Hello Fresh and enjoyed them all.

Instant Pot

I’ve had a crockpot since I was married and pretty much never used it, so I was a tad skeptical about the Instant Pot. That turned out to be unfounded. I use it several times a week. It’s fast and super easy to clean. I have both the 6- and 8-quart sizes, though I use my 6 quart the most. You can throw frozen ingredients in the pot and have a hot meal within the hour – best thing ever. It’s fabulous for soup, roast and potato salad/boiled eggs.

I have a lot more I could list, I’m sure, but this is my list for this week. I’ll have to do this again in the future.

P.S. Um, I like food. Clearly.

P.P.S. None of these are affiliate links. I would have to, I don’t know, have my life organized to have that all in place. Ha!

 

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Bring on the Fat-Free Holiday Binge!

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Today’s post is going to be complete inane fluff because it’s Thanksgiving week, and I need to get out of bed and prep the rolls that I need to bring with me. I’ll be traveling tomorrow, and I’d like to sew up a pair of pants somewhere in the mix, so we’re just going to talk about really, really good TV shows. Consider my top binge-worthy show recommendations my holiday gift. As a disclaimer, I’m not a prude, really, when it comes to what I watch. I can handle adult content, though I’m not a huge fan of gratuitous crap. But, if it’s in context and adds to the story, I enjoy it. (My kids are pretty used to being ushered out with “This is a grownup show. You can’t watch it.”) These are in no particular order. It would take way too long to try to nitpick which are my favorites.

This Is Us

I didn’t say my list was particularly original. I mean, who doesn’t love this show?? I tend to prefer British TV, but this has been such a well developed and uniquely presented series. If you haven’t watched (gasp!), it’s about a set of triplets (well, kind of? They are but they aren’t.) It jumps back and forth between their (and their parents’) past and the present. So heartwarming and human and amazing. Kate, Kevin and Randall are the best, and Jack and Rebecca have such a great love story. I get all the feels watching this show.

The Good Doctor

An autistic surgical resident practicing mad skills while trying to navigate all the social faux pas that he constantly collides with. Shaun’s initial awkwardness morphs into these deep and meaningful relationships as he touches the lives of everyone around him. Lots of complex and well developed characters. I love this feel-good show. I also am kind of a sucker for watching medical procedures on TV. Brain surgery? Check. Piggy back heart transplant? Yea, baby!

Outlander

I have a mad love for this show, but I can never tell anyone about it without the disclaimer that is is A.D.U.L.T. (but in the best way!) I started watching this when it first came out and fell so hard for Jamie and Claire and their Scottish, time-traveling adventures. Outlander has an opinionated fan base and is based on a book series. The show is always trying to balance the epic nature of the books with what they an actually fit on a screen. Author Diana Gabaldon is legitimately one of the best writers I’ve ever read, and the screenwriters don’t always hit it out of the park. People who are only show watchers, however, will only see the sweeping beauty and love story that this show is. Jamie and Claire have what could be seen as a modern relationship of mutual respect and esteem that is unusual for their time. Both the history, the strong characters and the deep love and loyalty portrayed make this series so outstanding. (Please bring Murtagh back!! That’s one change from the books that I am all for.)

Poldark

A sullen,impulsive, dark-haired, man’s man paired with a scrappy, strong-willed fiery heroine as they face the world together? What’s not to love? The Poldarks have social status but rather tumultuous fortunes, and a host of supporting characters that just draw you in and bring this series to life. Was there ever more loveable comic relief than Prudie or a more loyal sidekick than Dr. Enys? Can you even help but root for the heart-wrenching plight of Drake and Morwenna, and did anyone EVER deserve to die more than the Reverend Ossie? (Just typing that makes me throw up in my mouth a little.) The Warleggans?! Gah! This show also is based on a series of books, some of which I’ve read, but the show is where it’s at for me. (Aiden Turner? Yes, please!)

Downton Abbey

This is not a current show, but it was one of my first loves in British television. It is still so incredibly binge-worthy and worth revisiting. (Plus, they’re making a movie!!) I watched this show with my daughters who are also huge fans. There are decades of stories in this script and so, so many fantastic characters and subplots. I know a lot of people got so mad when they killed a much-loved main character that they stopped watching, but it was worth pushing through. This show does such a great job of showing people as human and flawed and complex, and you just come to love every single person for these traits. Also, the Dowager Countess, played by Maggie Smith, has some of the best witty one-liners in television history. She is one of the highlights of this show.

Foyle’s War

This is my husband’s favorite series of all time. It follows DCS Christoper Foyle as he solves crimes and mysteries in his small sea-side town during World War II. He is so clever, so likeable and so downright good. You can’t help but fall in love with¬† supporting characters like Foyle’s son Andrew, the ever reliable Detective Milner and the lovable and scrappy Sam Stewart. There were 8 seasons of this show and while the whole series is so, so well done,¬† it really kicks it up a notch when Foyle starts working with MI5. The last 3 seasons have some of my very favorite episodes. (Sunflower, anyone?) There are a few earlier episodes of this show that were pretty dark – as in, I make my husband skip them if I’m watching again with him, but most were okay for my kids to sit in on.

I’m sure there are more that I could include, but these are probably my very favorite and most-anticipated shows that I could watch over and over. If you have time this week, any one of them would be a great way to decompress. Happy fat-free bingeing!!