Friday Favorites: Snow, Snow Boots, Lilly, Little Blue Truck & Beef Stew

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Happy Friday!  I hope everyone's week has been going well.  Mine was one of those that both flew by and dragged on a bit...which is pretty odd how that seems to happen.

1.  Snow.  My VERY favorite thing this week was the snow we had on Wednesday.  I have been eagerly awaiting snow this winter.  I always like a good snow, but with it usually comes anxiousness about having to drive in it.  Well, with no place to be but home, I welcomed it with open arms!  It snowed for most of the day, and my area ended up getting just a bit over 2 inches.  Enough to blanket everything in a layer of snow for a winter wonderland!

2.  Sorel Boots (Amazon | Zappos).  With the snow, I was able to break out one of my favorite winter weather accessories - my Sorel boots.  A friend recommended them a few years ago, and at the perfect time, too, because the boots I had were literally crumbling from age.

3.  Lilly Pulitzer Dress.  Earlier in January, Lilly Pulitzer had their After Party Sale.  I grabbed this Billie Ruffle Swing dress.  I love print, and the dress fit is super flattering.  It's no longer on the Lilly site, but both Nordstrom and Zappos have it.  Of course, I am in no hurry to see winter go by, but I am looking forward to being able to wear this when the warmer weather does hit!

4.  Little Blue Truck's Valentine.  My nephews love the Little Blue Truck books, and when I saw they had a Valentine's Day one, I immediately ordered it for them.  A little Valentine's Day gift from Auntie Em!  My brother and sister in law both sent me the cutest picture and video of my youngest nephew reading it, and my heart just melted.

5. Persian Inspired Herb and Beef Stew from Half Baked Harvest.  I have shared this recipe before, but I made it again last night and was reminded by how good it is!  I make it in the slow cooker, but there are directions for the instant pot or stove top.  The flavors are just so darn good, and it is comfort food at its finest, but not heavy in the least bit.  So, so good.  One tip - if you aren't one that messes with a lot of fresh herbs, consider looking for the herbs in the squeezy tubes at the grocery store.  They make dishes like this easy peasy!

On the blog this week:

Weekend Adventures in the Kitchen 

Coffee Chat 

Linking up with Erika and Andrea.

Coffee Chat

Today I thought I would do a little coffee chat, which basically just means some rambling about random topics.  But let's pretend we are having a cup, or two, together!

If we were having coffee...I would talk about coffee.  It truly has become one of my favorite times of the day.  I usually have a cup around 9ish, depending on my meeting schedule for that day.  I always laugh when I see that meme 'I don't drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee', because I have become that person...which I never thought I would, haha.  But it's so very true.

If we were having coffee...I'd ask you your thoughts on keeping up your Christmas tree, long after Christmas has gone.  I still have my tree up.  And we are almost at the end of January (which that itself is blowing my mind).  I turned it on yesterday morning, though, and a strand of lights is out.  I think that's a sign it's time to go.  I know what I will be working on this weekend.

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you how bummed I am I missed out on the heart mugs from target.  Silly, yes, but they are just so darn cute.  I went to order them this past weekend, but found that they no longer ship and all of my local stores are out of stock.  On the topic of mugs, I almost bought one of the 'Inauguration Bernie' mugs.  That picture is just the gift that keeps on giving!

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you how it feels like I have all new bedding since switching from my Christmas sheets/quilts to my everyday sheets and comforter.  I have been so used to using a quilt that now my comforter feels soooo fluffy and luxurious.  Perfect for this chilly weather, although it makes it that much harder getting out of bed in the mornings!

If we were having coffee...I'd see if you followed the Jay/Kristin/Madison drama that took place on instagram over the weekend, because I sure did.  If you aren't familiar, Jay Culter (NFL/Kristin Cavallari's ex) had some kind of relationship with Madison LeCroy (Southern Charm).  Madison got on social media and made a comment that insinuated Kristin was a bad mom, and she mentioned Jay's name.  The following day, Jay and Kristin both post a picture of them together, with an interesting caption about users.  Then Madison started commenting, and Kristin's BFF got involved, and Madison posted 'receipts' aka text messages between her and was a lot going on, that is for sure.  And I was definitely along for the ride.  Personally, I think Madison really messed up with her live, and continued to do so with her comments, and her 'receipts'.

We'd probably be long done with our coffee by now, so I will end on this note.  Hope you all have a great Wednesday!

Weekend Adventures In The Kitchen

I spent Saturday making my very first loaf of (yeast) bread - houska, which is a Czech/Bohemian bread with raisins and almonds.  

My mom's side of the family is Czech/Bohemian, and we have always eaten certain Czech/Bohemian foods, houska being one of them.  It's always a treat, because it's something my grandma gets from a local bakery, then shares with my mom.  I either eat it when I am back home, or if my mom shares with me - it never lasts long!

I asked my grandma for a recipe awhile back, and she sent me 3 different ones.  Both of my great-grandmas made it, so my grandma never did herself (she always had a regular supply!), and unfortunately didn't have either of their recipes.  I got it in my head that I would eventually try making it myself, but was pretty intimidated.  While I consider myself competent in the kitchen, something about baking with yeast and allowing time for things to rise seemed way above my level of comfort.  Plus one of the first steps in the recipe was scalding milk, which I had no idea what that was.  Thank goodness for google!

Anyways, I told myself this was the year I would make it, so a few weeks ago I found the recipes my grandma sent, got the ingredients, and spent time reading and rereading them.  And then this past Saturday, I made my first loaf!

I was a little weary at the start, but it turned out pretty darn good for my first time.  The top of the loaf got a bit brown and the braiding wasn't the best, but the taste was there and that is what is important!

The best part, though, was calling my grandma to tell her I finally gave it a go - she was tickled!  I can't wait until I can share a loaf with her...after a little more practice, of course.

Hi There! Soooo...

Hi there! real post today.  I was once again mixed up with my days (seems to be a trend...) and could not believe that yesterday was Thursday.  As I was thinking about that I realized, one, I had zero favorites saved for this post, and two, I my full meal deal hair appointment - both a cut and color.  

Not sure I have shared this picture.  It was from when I first cut my hair last year - I took 7 inches off!  And got some fresh highlights.  I absolutely love my stylist.  If you are local and looking for a hair stylist, I am happy to share her information!

Instead of trying to force a full post, I thought I would just give you my excuses, and highlight the posts from this week.  Can you tell I am really trying not to break my new year's resolution of posting 3 times a week?

On the blog this week:

1 Year with One Peloton: My Peloton Review 

Top 10 Amazon Purchases of 2020 

Linking up with Andrea and Erika.


Top 10 Amazon Purchases of 2020

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

For the last few years, I have rounded up my favorite Amazon purchases of the prior year.  This year is no different, and I am sharing my top 10 purchases from 2020.  If there was a year for online shopping, 2020 was it!  And I definitely utilized Amazon more than ever.  

In no particular order...

1.  PILOT Erasable Marker Pens.  These marker pens are awesome.  They come in a good variety of colors, write so nicely, and erase so well!  

2.  True Comfort by Kristin Cavallari.  I have sung praises for this cookbook over and over again.  You can read my full review here, but it's a favorite for a reason!

3.  Microfiber Bow Headbands.  These are so handy to use when washing up, or wearing a face mask.  They keep my hair out of my face, and are super easy to just toss in the wash.

4.  Apple AirPods Pro.  These were one of those things I didn't know how much I needed, until I had them.  I absolutely love to wear them when out for walks or runs, and they are so handy for when I am doing things around the house, too.  No need to carry my phone around with me when I want to listen to music, or talk on the phone.

5.  Thermometer.  This was definitely a 2020 purchase.  I mainly got this because it gave me a little more piece of mind with the pandemic, but I know I will be glad to have it even post-pandemic.

6.  Levi 721 High Rise Jeans.  I first purchased these from Nordstrom, and fell in love with them.  Then I saw them on sale on Amazon, so I grabbed another pair to rotate.  They fit so well, and the waist hits at just the perfect spot.  

7.  Portable Mini Fan.  During the summer, my office area would get really warm in the afternoon.  I don't have a ton of extra desk space to put on, so I grabbed this one to wrap around the railing.  It has a few different speeds, and the charge holds up really well.  I could see using it outside, too, at the pool, or if you are having a picnic.  So handy!

8.  Sunglasses.  I absolutely LOVE these sunglasses.  They give you the look of the much more expensive Ray Bans, at a much more reasonable price.  They are super light, which makes them really comfortable.  And they have held up great over the last year, which says a lot because I am not one that is super easy on sunglasses.    

9.  Paper & Credit Card Shredder.  Earlier this year I finally got all my papers under control.  I had a ton of things that needed to be shredded, so I invested in this little shredder from Amazon.  It's not very big, which is good, because I can just keep it by my desk, but it does the job very well.  Plus, it's very reasonably priced.  Definitely one of those handy things to have.

10.  Exercise Equipment Mat.  I purchased this mat to go under my Peloton bike.  You can buy a Peloton mat, but this option is much more reasonable.  I've had it for just over a year, and it's held up really well.  

If you had to pick a favorite Amazon buy of the year, what would it be?

1 Year with One Peloton: My Peloton Review

I have had my Peloton bike (and app) for one year!  I have done both a 1 month (post here) and a 6 month (post here) review, and I thought I would round things out with a 1 year review.

The Cliffs Notes version?  I love it.  I would (and do) recommend it to anyone and everyone.

The convenience is the best.  Having a piece of equipment at home gives me no excuse not to workout.  Plus, the size is smaller side, which allows it to work in almost any space.

What keeps me coming back, and actually enjoying the workouts are the instructors.  Peloton has a wide range of instructors, and I truly think that everyone can find a few who speak to them.  My favorites on the bike are Leanne, Robin, Cody, and Hannah F.  I pretty much stick to those four, but have mixed in others (Ben, Tunde, Alex, Olivia, Kendall...I am sure I am forgetting a few), and enjoy them, too.  I just haven't taken them enough to be 'favorites'.  Peloton has found truly special people, and it makes all the difference.

Another thing I truly enjoy is the music.  The possibilities are endless.  You can find all different genres, as well as rides that have music from just one specific artist.  You can even find holiday music on there, too!  I took full advantage of their Holiday Collection during the Christmas season.  So fun!

The Peloton community is something special, too.  I have a group of ladies I ride with regularly, and getting those high fives throughout the rides really helps make the time fly.  And I absolutely love talking rides with others.  With the massive amount of rides offered, it's a great way to find some good ones.

Along with the rides, I still am enjoying quick arm workouts after a ride.  They have 5 and 10 minute options you can do right on the bike, which is great.  Plus, Peloton just released a stacking option, which allows you to 'stack' your workouts so that you can go from one to the other seamlessly.  I haven't tried that yet myself, but I do plan on it, soon.  Gives me even less of an excuse not to get in those arms after a ride.

As I mentioned in the 6 month review, I really started utilizing the app after having the bike for a bit.  My favorites still have to be the outdoor workouts - walks, walk + run, and the runs.  I try to follow those with a quick 5 minute core session, and love Robin's classes for those.  The app has strength workouts, cardio, barre, yoga, tread, meditation...the list goes on.  Right now, they have a 2 month free trial available, if you want to check it out for yourself.

Looking back at my reviews, a few of the 'cons' have changed.  The bike is actually cheaper than it was when I bought it.  They have a bike, and a bike+ option.  The bike option is the more reasonable of the two, and I believe it's more comparable to others on the market.

I have gotten the hang of the unclipping from the bike - practice definitely helped with that!  But as I mentioned, it was just user error, and not really anything bad about the bike.

I did mention that I wish I had the ability to pause, but honestly I haven't noticed it outside that one time.

All in all, I couldn't recommend the Peloton bike more.  It's been such a life saver this past year, and it's something I truly enjoy that gives me an awesome workout each time.

If you are in the market, you can use my code 6X3PSW to get $100 off accessories.  Everyone gets a code with purchasing that can be shared with others for money off.  Then, if someone does use the code, you get $100 to use towards the Peloton boutique.  They are always releasing new collections, and I have to say, their basic tank is probably my favorite workout top of all time.

If you have Peloton, I'd love to hear who your favorite instructor is!  And if you don't, but have questions, please feel free to ask! 

Friday Favorites: Phone Calls with Grandma, TV Shows, A Favorite Candle & My Christmas Tree

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

We made it to Friday!  For some reason I was stuck in the first part of this week in my mind.  Wednesday didn't feel like Wednesday, and then all Thursday I thought it was Wednesday, so needless to say it was off, and I am happy to be back on track!

Here are some favorites for this Friday...

1.  Phone calls with my Grandma.  Gosh, I just love my grandma.  Even just hearing her voice brightens my day.  And after last week, that was much needed.  We had a long talk one evening and it was just the best thing.  From politics, to books, to recipes, to antique finds...we covered it all.

When we were talking recipes, she told me how she would write down what she and my grandpa thought about it.  I think that's such a neat idea - I often share my thoughts on the blog, but never make notes in my cookbooks.  I really need to start doing that.  Anyways, she read me some of the things she wrote, and it was hilarious to hear her 'recaps' of what my grandpa thought.

That conversation was just exactly what I needed, and I hope it brightened her day, too.

2.  And Just Like That - the Sex & the City revival.  I know I am not the only person who is excited about the Sex & the City revival!  I was first introduced to Sex & the City in college.  I believe it was a sorority recruitment event.  I rushed during spring recruitment, which was way, way, way more low key than fall recruitment, and I think this was one of the get togethers.  That, or it was one of the first girls nights post-recruitment.  At that time I still wasn't sure if it was Sex AND the City, or Sex IN the City, haha.  Needless to say, I learned real quick and it's become one of those shows I can turn on and enjoy at any time.  I can't wait to see what they have in store for this next chapter!

3.  One Chicago.  Keeping on the topic of TV shows, I was super excited that the Chicago shows were back this week.  It felt a little bit like a tease, because they don't come back for another two weeks, but this week's episodes sure were a nice way to unwind after a long day at work.

4.  Yankee Candle - Sparkling Cinnamon This candle is soooo good.  I received one as a birthday present from a coworker a few years ago, and it's been a favorite since.  If you are looking for a warm and cozy scent this winter, I highly suggest giving this one a try.

5. The Christmas Tree.  I think I am in the minority on this one, but my Christmas tree is still up and twinkling!  I put away all my Christmas decorations (except for the tree) last weekend, and goodness, was that a chore.  I kept it up both because I wasn't ready to say good bye, and also because I kind of petered out after taking everything down, and putting winter up!  My plan was to take it down this weekend, but I may just keep it up one more.  Or I may take down the ornaments and just have the lighted tree up for another week or two.  But for now, I am going to enjoy this view for just a bit longer!

On the blog this week:

Linking up with Andrea and Erika.

Coffee Corner

When I saw coffee bar was the prompt for the Let's Look link up, I immediately added it to my blog calendar.  While I don't have a coffee bar, I do have a little coffee corner.  And it's probably the most used corner of the kitchen, especially since working from home.  I so look forward to having a cup of coffee each morning.

My favorite thing about this area of my kitchen, other than the fact that it is where I make my coffee, is the glass coffee jar.  It was my grandma's on my dad's side of the family.  My grandma had given it to my mom, and then my mom to me.  It's always an extra little reminder of my Grandma Fran.

My Keurig is one that my mom found on QVC years ago.  How it came to be mine is kind of a funny story.  My brother and sister in law's broke, so when my mom saw QVC had a good deal on them, she purchased one to replace it (she's a big coffee fan, too).  Well, my sister in law's dad had the same idea, and ended up buying them a new one, too!  So, because my parents didn't need a new coffee maker, I got the extra.  I'd say it worked out pretty well for me, haha!

As far as my coffee making goes, I have finally figured out what my favorite combination is - vanilla creamer, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a light roast coffee.  The Chobani Vanilla coffee creamer is my current favorite.  The ingredient list is just a handful of things, all of which you would expect to be in a creamer, and I can pronounce them all, too!  Right now, my favorite light roast is the Veranda Blend from Starbucks.  My mom had some at home that I drank over Thanksgiving, and I have been on a kick since.

What's really been a game changer is the milk frother I received as a Christmas gift.  It has been put to good use since I got it!  I always feel so dang fancy when I make my coffee now, haha.  I froth my creamer and cinnamon together, brew the coffee, and then froth some more to combine the coffee and creamer.  It's soooo good!

Since I finally figured out what type of roast I like, if you have any light roast coffee brand/flavors you would recommend, please send them my way!

Linking up with Shay and Erika.

Book Review: January 2021

 This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

It's been a good while since I did a proper book review!  Let's get into it, shall we?

I am still working my way through the 'in Death' series by J.D. Robb.  These have been my go-to books here of late.  I may have trouble getting into other books, but these never disappoint.  The more books I read, the more I enjoy the series and can't wait for the next book to be available.

Purity in Death by J.D. Robb.

Portrait in Death by J.D. Robb.

Imitation in Death by J.D. Robb.

Divided in Death by J.D. Robb.

Visions in Death by J.D. Robb.

Origin in Death by J.D. Robb.

Memory in Death by J.D. Robb.

Born in Death by J.D. Robb.

Innocent in Death by J.D. Robb.

Creation in Death by J.D. Robb.

The Friendship List by Susan Mallery.  The premise of this book sounded so interesting, and it did not disappoint.  Two women create bucket lists for themselves, and through that, find themselves.  It was a little more 'real' than I thought it would be, but in a good way.  Everything didn't magically work out right away, which is sometimes the case in books, and I liked that this didn't.  Although, there were points where the main characters just irritated me with their choices, but I don't always think that's a bad thing.  It had me crying at some points, and smiling at others.      

Whistlin' Dixie In A Nor'easter by Lisa Patton.  A husband decides that he wants to become a Vermont innkeeper, and moves his deeply southern rooted wife and family to do just that.  This book is heavy on stereotypes of Northerners and Southerners, as well as the roles of husband/wife, and at times was just a little too much for me.  But there is something endearing about the main character and the way she makes it through.  That said, because of the heaviness of the stereotypes, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. 

Thick As Thieves by Sandra Brown.  Like Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown is one of those authors I go to when no other books are interesting me.  I always enjoy trying to figure out the twists in her books, and of course, the love story.  This one had me for a loop (although I am pretty sure this was my second time reading this book, haha), and is quite interesting how it all comes together at the end!

Exclusive by Sandra Brown.  This was another really interesting Sandra Brown book.  The First Lady contacts a reporter to discuss the loss of her infant son.  From there is it just twists and curves to find out what really happened.  Once you think you know what happened, she throws in another curveball.  If you want to keep guessing, this is a book to read!

Linking up with Steph

Recent Amazon Purchases

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

The last few months included quite a few Amazon purchases for me.  Some Christmas, and some for me!

Christmas Classics & Merry Christmas.  These two records helped start my Christmas album collection.  The prices have skyrocketed since I bought them, but it's something to keep an eye on as we get through this year if you are looking to purchase vinyl.

Smartypants Daily Multivitamin for WomenLindsay mentioned these vitamins and I grabbed them back in November to give a try.  I haven't always had the best experience with vitamins - sometimes they make me feel sick, but I haven't had an issue with these at all, even on an empty stomach.  I mentioned these in my goals and habits post, and goodness, their price has changed too since even just posting that!  I definitely plan on repurchasing on a regular basis, though, once the pricing gets a bit more reasonable.  

AirPods Pro Case Cover.  I am a bit of a klutz, and I was worried about dropping my AirPods Pro case and messing it up.  Since that is what charges them, I really didn't want to do that.  I grabbed this case to give it a little protection.  It fits well, comes in a bunch of colors, and is under $10!

One Day You'll Thank Me by Cameran Eubanks Wimberly.  I always enjoyed Cameran on Southern Charm (and back in the days of The Real World), so when I heard she was writing a book, I quickly preordered.  I think it'll be a fun read, plus I like preordering on Amazon, because if the price changes between now and when it is out/delivered, Amazon adjusts your purchase price.

Microfiber Headbands.  My hair is too short to all fit into a ponytail, so I grabbed these use when washing my face, or doing a face mask to keep all my hair out of my face.  

True Comfort by Kristin Cavallari.  This is one of my very favorite cookbooks right now (see my review here), and I purchased second one for a Christmas present.  

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics.  This was a 'Merry Christmas to me' present.  Dolly Parton is SUCH an interesting lady, and it's been so neat reading about her, and some of her songs.  Aside from the content, it's a gorgeous book, and makes for a great coffee table book, too.

Ultimate Gator Car Wash Play Set.  This was a Christmas present for one of my nephews and he LOVED it.  It does use water (hence the car wash part), but it's actually not as messy as I thought it would be.  There is a cup to catch the water and you basically just recycle it back into the 'car wash' part.  It's really neat!

BRIO Expansion Pack Wooden Train Tracks.  This was for my other nephew who is big into Thomas the Train.  Can't have enough train tracks!

To go with his train tracks, I grabbed some of the Thomas & Friends characters.

Weber iGrill Pro Meat Probe.  This was a Christmas present for my brother.  My sister in law recommended it, as they already had one and liked it, but needed a new one.

Erasable Marker Pens.  I wanted some new pens to go with my planner for 2021.  The ones that I had and loved previously were a little more than I remember, so I went for these.  They were a bit cheaper, and had more color options.  I wasn't sure about the 'marker' part, but I really, really like the way they write.  And they erase super well.

Daily PlannerCaitlin from Southern Curls & Pearls originally shared this planner, and I really liked the set up.  There is a place for appointments, water tracking, must to do's, a separate to do list, and a section for notes.  It also has a spot for exercise, and meals...pretty much all you could want!

Growing Boldly by Emily Ley.  This is another preorder, and will be released in February.  I don't always enjoy these types of books, but I have read the previous ones Emily has done and feel like I always find at least one good takeaway.