Today is a little mini celebration for me.

Because I finally have my act together enough to do a “favorite things” post.
My “friend” Melissa (“friend” is in quotes because I haven’t met her in person yet, but I feel like she’s my friend through blogging), has been doing a “favorite things” blog hop kind of a deal for years and I’ve just never been on-the-ball enough to accept an invitation to be part of it before this year.
But here I am, on Novenber 14th, ready to share some of the things that I love, love, love.
Woo Hoo!
I’m hoping all this thinking about favorite things will help me get my act in gear for Christmas a little early (at least early for me).  We are switching up Christmas again in our family this year so we are doing more sentimental gifts (some ideas included below), but I’ll be so happy to get other gifts ready early this year (I hope!).
Just as a side-note, none of these things are sponsored.  They’re just things I love.  But I will link to affiliates (if available) so that they are easy to find.  I’m trying to put them in sort of a semblance of order in different sections.  
So here we go on some of my favorite things.

Overall good gifts…
My kids think these blankets are the best things on the entire planet.  They “wear” them around the house and snuggle up with them constantly, even here in the desert just like this girl on the website:

And with good reason, because they are so dang soft I tell you!
But I personally am mesmerized by the baby/toddler stuff they have that’s new.  

It’s so darling that it makes me have a bad case of IWAN just to look at these pictures.
I mean, wouldn’t you just snuggle up those babies with all your might if you could?
And dress little toddlers in those adorably soft pj’s on Christmas Eve?  Or any time of the year for that matter.
I seriously can hardly stand to even look at that picture right up there…(don’t you just wish you could rewind time a little?) so let’s move along quickly.  (I have problems.) Their website is HERE so go check out those darling little baby things they carry (and the blankets too).
This is a sentimental one that takes so little time and is such a deal cost-wise.  I gave my kids each a book with pictures of their year for Christmas last year and they loved them.  Sent one to Max in Taiwan too.  They were SO EASY to make and I’d like to make that a tradition each year.

It also helps you hold on to your babies for longer because you can make books and books of pictures of them.  But then maybe that will make you miss them more…
The Chatbooks website is HERE.  

Each of my older kids have these and love them.  They are stretchy so they can expand or get smaller as needed and they’re so easy to attach to a key chain or wear with a lanyard.
Their website is HERE.
I looked for the perfect purse for years.  
And I’m not exaggerating on that.  
I finally found one I love and I still love it two years later.  It is a little pricey but it’s great leather, is such a perfect size, and has two little pockets on the inside perfect for keys and cell phone.  Plus it goes with everything.  I’m not a purse-changing kind of a gal, I just use the same thing every single day so to me it’s 100% worth the investment.  
You can buy that online HERE.  I think this one HERE looks so beautiful too if you need something a little bigger…but I personally love having a small purse so I’m not tempted to haul my kitchen sink around with me.
We love these things around here.  Mostly because you can put ice in that thing and leave it in the car here in the desert in the middle of the day in the middle of the summer and it will still have ice when you get back.  I know they are great to keep things warm as well. 

I adore good smells.  And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone on that.  I mean, there is a dairy miles away in the desert country and boy howdy, there are sometimes some smells that somehow waft their way through the air from there that I do NOT want to smell.  I sure try to make the most of those occasional dairy smells by trying to picture my mom growing up on a farm and smelling that every day.  And my mom’s pretty awesome so I do want to be reminded of her any chance I get.  But I bet her smells weren’t quite that putrid.  So then I’m back to just having a bad smell. 
Ok, but I digress and that is totally not the point.  What I’m trying to say here is that there are some pretty awesome smells out there that make me happy.
There is nothing like being greeted by a beautiful smell when you walk into a house.  
Our favorite is this one:

You can buy them on the Anthropologie website HERE, or you can buy them on Amazon HERE.
That smell is so strong and so beautiful and fills up the whole house and I LOVE it.  
There are also some pretty great candles at Bath & Body Works over HERE.

Our favorite is the Caramel Pumpkin Swirl right now…
And it also looks like they are on that great sale right now too….
“RING” doorbell
Dave is in love with this thing.  It has a little camera and speaker so you can talk to people at your front door from your phone anywhere.  Like, anywhere.  He can see us getting packages or replanting flowers by the front door from his phone when he’s in China for crying out loud.
It really is pretty awesome.  (Another plus for technology 🙂

And it’s HERE.
Family Stuff…
This is one of our very favorite games…second only to card games.  Everyone knows and loves it.  It’s for four players but we do teams if we have more that that who want to play.  I love that it makes you use your mind to shift things up…and I love when Lucy gets into it with a little trash talk to the rest of us.


As I’ve been thinking about how to curb the use of technology around here (back HERE) my thoughts have led me to this book (among many other things).

I adore it in and of itself.

But I love it even more thinking about how when you take away something (excessive technology), you need to ADD BACK something to take it’s place.

This book gets kids actively engaged in something different.

Something wonderful.

Something that will make them look at life through a new lens and appreciate the world around them more.

I have given this book away as a gift countless times…and I think I need to pull ours out again because it’s a gem I tell you.
Find it HERE.
I have so many “favorite” books!  Find a list with links to my favorite children’s books back HERE, a list for young readers HERE.  And some of my all-time favorites for me back HERE. (although the ones for children are some of my favorites too).
Oh boy, and we’d better not forget favorite CHRISTMAS BOOKS

Which we read under the Christmas tree each year…a list of some of our favorites is back HERE.
There is one more thing I want to add to the “Family” category because we just got it recently and it has made a world of difference in our family so far:

It is an app that creates a pretty awesome way to be able to set up times when everyone in your family can use all their apps.
I love it as the mom, but surprisingly my kids love it too.  Both Grace and Claire have given me wide-eyed unsolicited “thank you’s” that is has saved them with getting a few assignments done for school they would have been too distracted to get finished on time without the app temptation going on.

You can just download for free..unless you want to deluxe version, which we haven’t tried.

I’m putting this on my “favorite things” list even though I haven’t tried it.  Because I’m pretty confident it’s good since it’s a knock-off of some whiz-bang fancy mascara my friend gave me for my birthday last year.  I am not a make-up girl, but I have to admit it’s pretty great.  And apparently this is a knock-off that’s just as good but less than half the price:

Grace is a mascara expert so I think this might be a good little gift to give her for Christmas…
You can find it HERE.
Although I have pretty fine hair (that should be easy to wash all the time), I feel like it’s a waste of time to wash it too much, dang it, so I like having dry shampoo around to give me a little help here and there 😉
There are a bazillion different kinds out there, but my friend gave me this kind and I really like it:

You can find it HERE.
I also have to put this in here because it smells so dang good.  And Grace and I are in love with it.

You can find that stuff HERE, but they also sell it at Target and beauty salons too.
I also love this stuff HERE to spray on my hair before I use the straightening iron which is also from the “It’s a 10” company.  (Also smells pretty fabulous.)
Personal Inspiration…
ON BEING podcasts
Seriously these are the best.  So thought-provoking and well-done.  Click HERE for much more about them.
And as long as we’re talking about listening to stuff, let’s go ahead and include Dave’s very favorite thing right now:  APPLE EARBUDS

He ADORES those things and wears them everywhere…for phone calls and for listening to everything under the moon.

You can find them HERE.
And I can’t leave this “personal inspiration” section without mentioning THIS BOOK🙂 I’m listening to it right now trying to get done in a 60-day challenge with Dave and Elle and I love listening to bigger chunks at a time so it all comes together in a more meaningful way.  You can listen on this app HERE…it will change your life as you apply it to everything

Love it.
Let’s start with the most important first: cookies
First of all, I LOVE this recipe during the holidays:
Especially if you can wrap them up like this and give them to neighbors you love:

The recipe for those delicious things is back HERE.
I bought these from Pampered Chef years ago and I use them ALL THE TIME.  (We are a cookie family through and through.)

I found them for much cheaper than Pampered Chef HERE…and they look great, but not sure if they’ll hold up as well?  
With Thanksgiving coming up, I have to share my FAVORITE ROLL RECIPE too.

 Oh boy, makes my mouth water to look at those puppies.

The recipe is HERE.

And as long as we’re talking about cookies, rolls, and bread in general, we may as well talk about this sucker:


Another pricey one, sorry, but it really is worth it’s weight in gold with the amounts of time used.  I got it for Christmas years ago and it has whipped out so much deliciousness over the years.

Find more info and reviews about that thing over HERE.

I love this thing for baking bread as well:


You can find a ton of different brands and styles of these.  I’m not a connoisseur of all things dutch oven, but the Cuisinart one I found at Marshall’s does the trick so well.

It’s great because it cooks evenly for soups or meats (Sunday pot roast) or my favorite crusty bread (back HERE).

Click HERE to find that pot on Amazon.

This thing is so teeny and inexpensive but I adore it because it makes using fresh garlic easy peasy.  And ever since we lived in China and I had a lady who helped with some of my meal prep, I’ve been in love with using fresh garlic in my cooking.

You just roll the little pieces of garlic in that little tube and it peels them for you.

I got it HERE.

This thing makes cooking so much easier too.

Because let’s face it, onions are a pain to chop.

It washes super easy in the dishwasher but beware, it makes that dishwasher stink to high heaven if you don’t start it right away!

You can find it HERE.

As long as we’re talking about cooking, let’s check out my “pride and joy” RECIPE FILE FOLDER I made a few years ago:

I talked all about it back HERE, and it’s super simple.  But it has all my most special recipes I’ve gathered through the years and I love it because I can add or take away from it any time.  And I don’t have to look up stuff on the Internet in the middle of the kitchen which gets on my nerves sometimes.

Seriously, what a great “home-made” gift that would be to put together for someone you love?

All this stuff aside, the absolute favorite of my FAVORITE THINGS is this little crowd right here:
…and the fact that we get to talk to that boy on the screen one last time from Taiwan this Christmas.
And then he will be HOME.  And we will be all together after two years.
If that’s not a favorite thing, I don’t know what is 🙂
Phew, that was a lot of things!
Thanks for sticking with me through all that!
If you want to see the other favorite things posted by other bloggers click HERE to Melissa’s blog for the line-up.  (Thanks Melissa for setting this up!)
Next up to post favorite things is Jamie from Jamie Cooks it Up blog tomorrow so be sure to check in HERE to see what she shares.  It looks like she has some awesome recipes on there.


  1. What an awesome list, Shawni! The wallets would be a perfect stocking stuffer and I just ordered Life and Adventures of Santa — I love finding new (to us) Christmas books. Ring looks great, I never really knew how it worked. And thank you for the link to the purse, I'm on the lookout for the perfect one ♥ Loved reading through all of these!

  2. So proud of you Shawni!!! This list is so awesome!!! I love your new house but seeing some picks of your former home is bittersweet!!

    You better do a quick addendum to your list and add Bo ASAP!!!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing! I've never commented before but wanted to share my experience with the mascara. I too bought it because I love the pricier one it's compared to. It is HORRIBLE! Seriously, the MOST clumpy mascara I have ever tried.

  4. love this!
    awesome ideas!
    please do another one ASAP with what your teenagers are loving right now. i know you mentioned a few of their favorites (which were great btw), but if they have more – please share!
    i have 2 teens and it's so hard to find anything that doesn't cost an arm and a leg!

    thank you!!!

  5. Can I just ask what is so great about the goosebumps blanket? I'm so tempted to buy one but wanted to get your feedback why everyone loves it! Thank you!

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