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TV Favorites This Winter

I don’t normally watch too much TV, instead deciding to crack open a book. With the shorter days and colder weather, I’ve been watching more of it though. Here are my recent favorites from this winter.

Bridgerton (Netflix) – This is a Shonda Rhimes production and a costume drama set in London in 1813. It follows the lives of eight children in the Bridgerton family. This is no Jane Austin novel. Sure, there are balls and promenades plus social rules and courtships, but there is a lot more romance and sex than is permissible on U.S. network television. Highly recommend!

Ted Lasso (Apple TV+) – I got this recommendation from a new-to-me podcast call Movie Therapy with Rafer and Kristen. Ted Lasso was recommended it for those who loved Schitt’s Creek. Ted Lasso is about a man (Jason Sudeikis) who was a U.S. football coach who moves to the UK to coach a soccer team. He is not well received by pretty much everyone, yet he maintains a positive attitude. You see how his coaching style and personality impact him and others throughout the season. There’s only a Season 1 right now, but it’s already been renewed through at least Season 3. Great show!

Antiques Roadshow (Pluto TV) – The show is about people in the UK who bring their antiques to the show to be appraised. I love the look of shock of people’s faces when they realize their grandmother’s knick knack could fetch a significant amount of money at auction. This show is great background noise if I want something on that the kids can overhear while they are running around. I can watch it while folding laundry or cooking. These certainly aren’t new episodes, but that’s the best part because it doesn’t matter! I can jump into an episode at any time.

(Side note: Pluto TV is channel we added to our Roku. There are likely other ways to access it too. However, it’s a free service where you can stream 100s of channels. They are often channels streaming a particular show or genre on repeat 24/7. Antiques Roadshow is one of the channels. They also have Star Trek, 90210, game shows, movies, etc. etc. seemingly forever.)

WandaVision (Disney+) – My husband and I just caught up on this new show (miniseries?) and streamed all available episodes just this weekend. It was a bit of a slow burn through the first couple of episodes, but I’m hooked now! It’s a continuation of Marvel’s Avengers storyline following End Game, so I don’t recommend it if you aren’t up-to-date on the Marvel movies.

Photo by Pinho . on Unsplash

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Friday Fav: Wow in the World Podcast

Perhaps I should have titled this post as my sons’ Friday Fav because this is actually one of their favorites.

Wow in the World is a podcast provided by NPR. It is pitched as “The #1 podcast for kids and their grown-ups. Hosts Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz share stories about the latest news in science, technology, and innovation. Stories that give kids hope, agency and make us all say ‘WOW’!”

Mindy and Guy Raz are wacky characters who keep the show interesting and end up teaching our kids a bunch of interesting facts. From what I’ve heard, Mindy is the comic relief and constant goofball, while Guy Raz is more practical.

We’ve started using the podcast as an incentive to get to bed. If the boys are ready for bed on time, they can listen to a podcast while tucked in their beds. If they go to bed early, they can have two podcasts. They decide who gets to pick the podcast for the evening based on whether it’s an odd or even day.

The next morning, we get a rundown of all of the new information they’ve learned. I got a full debrief on bees the other day after they listened to The Buzz on Bee Barf! Over the holidays, there was even some contest where the children were asked to submit a design for a gingerbread mansion in hopes of win a prize. Mr. 7-Year-Old is never into these activities, but he jumped at the chance to participate in this one.

I’ve found that kid centric podcasts are not only a great option at bedtime. They are helpful during long car rides (when we actually went places) or when you want the kids to stay engaged in a boring task like cleaning. It’s a win for them because they are entertained and a win for me because it’s educational. Love it!

Happy Friday!

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January 2021 Book Recs

Whelp, 2021 is officially underway. I’ve had a good reading month, ending January having read 5 books. If I can continue at this pace, I should be all set to meet my goal of 50 books for the year.

Here’s what I completed in my to-be-read list this month, along with brief notes or review comments.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith’s classic tale is actually one I hadn’t read previously. I appreciated the peek into Francie Nolan’s young life. I learned about her life and the life of the other Nolans as they navigated their poverty-stricken lives in Brooklyn during the early 1900s. It’s a long read, but well worth it.

Christmas Jars – This short book by Jason Wright was based on an interesting concept. On Christmas Eve, those in need find glass jars full of money on their doorsteps. The novel follows newspaper reporter Hope Jensen as she investigates the origin of the jars. Along her journey of discovery, she learns more than she anticipated about herself and others close to her. The main issue I have with the plot is that money is often found to be the solution to complicated troubles faced by jar recipients. This part of the story didn’t ring true to me.

Beach Read – There’s nothing like a summer beach read in the middle of Winter. Ha! Emily Henry’s book was a fun romance about a writer who is learning about her father’s secrets as she struggles to meet her writing deadline for her next book. She spends her time at her father’s beach house where she meets another writer with his own troubles.

Crazy Stupid Bromance – This is Lyssa Kay Adams’ third book in the Bromance Book Club series. (And #4 is due out this Summer!) I love her stories! They are completely ridiculous, and the author knows it. They are about a group of men who read romance novels to learn how to be better men and find romance for themselves. I am always cracking up reading her novels.

The Vanishing Half – This is Brit Bennett’s novel that is just as good as her first: The Mothers. It is about identical twin sisters who grew up in a small, Southern black community. You follow the lives of the twins over decades as one embraces a white identity and the other a black identity. It was thoughtfully written and thought provoking.

I’m well into a number of other books already as we lead into February, so I’m excited to keep reading. I think Mr. 7-Year-Old and I will finally finish Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire this month, which we started last August!

Happy reading!

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Friday Fav: Costco Bookcase

It’s January, which means it’s that time of year again that Costco removes the Christmas trees and replaces the floor space with furniture. I spotted my Friday Fav there again this year: the Bayside Furnishings room divider/bookcase. And, it’s been on sale (in store only) for $99.99 rather than its older price of $129.99!!

I know, it’s a piece of furniture. I shouldn’t be so excited, but I just love it! It is hefty, versatile, and provides larger storage bins than those I see often at Ikea or Target.

We originally bought it for our townhouse to store baby toys in the living room. When we were staging the house to move, I took out the storage bins and turned it into a nifty dining room buffet table.

It moved to the playroom when we moved to our house, and I picked up an extra one that year to use as a credenza in my office. Now, both of them are flanking the TV in the kids’ playroom.

If you are in the market for additional storage, then check it out at Costco warehouses. It will likely be unavailable and out of stock by the end of the month.

Happy Friday!

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Friday Fav: 3D Christmas Glasses

Our family loves to drive around the neighborhoods this time of year to look at Christmas lights. I feel like there are more decorations up this year than ever before! One thing we always make sure to bring with us when we’re out looking at lights are these cool 3D Christmas glasses my in-laws picked up for the boys a few years ago.

These glasses transform the look of Christmas lights into a variety of holiday shapes like Santa Clause, candy canes, snowmen, or reindeer (like the picture included in this post). Bob your head around, and you can see the shapes move!

Besides Amazon, I’ve seen classes like these at Walmart and Lowe’s. They are typically a couple of dollars for a pair. Although the frames are only made of paper, we’ve largely kept them in one piece for many years. I highly recommend trying them out, if you can find them.

Happy Friday!

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Friday Fav: Amazon Wish Lists

Have you been in the situation as the holidays approach that grandparents, aunts, and uncles start reaching out and asking what the kids want or need as presents? In the past, I’ve given different ideas to different people, which I then need to keep mental track of so that I don’t tell multiple people the same item.

Today’s Friday Fav is my solution: Amazon wish lists. If you have an Amazon account, you can create a list. To start, log in, select Accounts and Lists from the top right-hand corner, then find the Create a List option.

We do so much shopping on Amazon that it’s easy to add something to the list at any time. When you’re shopping and on an item’s page, there’s a hyperlink under the Add to Cart button that will instead allow you to add the item to a list.

You can even add ideas to your list, so it’s easy to add items to your list you can’t buy on Amazon. For instance, I’ve added various gift card ideas for local shops for the boys to their lists.

Additionally, you can add comments, like what size or color to purchase or what other stores carry the item (and may have a cheaper price).

You can even add multiple people as editors to the list, allowing multiple parents to contribute.

Once the list is put together, you can opt to share the list with whomever you’d like. If someone buys an item off the list, then it is automatically removed so there are no accidental double purchases. Gift givers can even elect to have the item shipped right to your home, which is a popular choice for us this year since we won’t be seeing a bunch of people in person this year.

If you use Amazon’s wish lists or something similar and have any tips or tricks, please share them in the comments.

Happy Friday!

Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

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Friday Fav: Libby App Connects to Your Local Library

It’s no secret that I love to read. Over the past few years, I’ve really jumped backed into this hobby. I started the year hoping to read 25 books, and I’m currently over 50! Thanks, Corona.

What’s really made this possible is my phone’s Libby app. It allows me to access electronic resources from my local library. I can borrow ebooks and magazines with the touch of a finger and access them on my phone or e-reader.

One of my favorite features of the app is the ability to put holds on popular titles. I believe each library may have its own queue length. Mine recently increased to allow me up to 15 holds at a time. The amount of time it takes to get each hold has decreased over the year, I think in large part to people staying home more and spending time getting through their to-be-read list. I typically can get new releases delivered in a manner of weeks.

However, Libby also has this new feature that I absolutely love that is also contributing to shorter hold times. When a hold becomes available, Libby gives you the option to deliver the hold now or delay it until a future date that you set. This way, you don’t have to start your 2-3 week loan before you’re ready nor lose your place in the hold line.

If you haven’t check out Libby yet, I highly recommend it. I’m all about inexpensive entertainment, and you – in my opinion – can’t get better than free library books that can transport you to any place or time that’s desired.

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Friday Fav: Apple Recipes!

Sure, I love me a PSL on occasion. (It’s actually one of the few Starbucks drinks I enjoy.) But, I much prefer apple treats in Fall, rather than pumpkin spice. This works out well because we recently took a trip to a local orchard to go apple picking, which left me with 1/2 a bushel of fruit. I’ve been spending the past week cooking up a storm to get through them all.

In today’s Friday Fav post, I want to share my favorite apple recipes. I leaned into recipes that required loads of fruit so I could tackle my huge bag.

  1. Instant Pot Applesauce – Both of the boys liked this applesauce, especially with added cinnamon. I liked that the apples cooked so quickly in the instant pot and that I was able to use up a bunch of apples at once. Bonus, no added sugar!
  2. Dutch Apple Pie – I cheated and bought store-made crusts, which meant that my pie crust was not as deep as it should have been. I ended up with two pies instead of one, but was missing depth in the pie. No complaints from the family though as they gobbled it up! I now have one pie in the freezer for Thanksgiving.
  3. Homemade Apple Cider – I never would have thought of making this until a friend recommended it. We love apple cider in this house and always pick up some in the Fall. This year I got to make it at home. It was SUPER easy. My favorite part was, for once, I didn’t have to peel and core the apples. Just cut them into quarters and throw them into the stock pot to cook for several hours. The aroma throughout the house while it cooked for three hours was almost as good as the drink itself.
  4. Air Fryer Apple Chips – This was another recommendation from a friend. I tried using the air fryer, and it works. I think mine is too small though because even with just one apple’s worth of fruit, the slices would overlap each other. It made it difficult for them to get crispy. I’ll have to try baking them in the oven instead.
  5. Chucky Apple Pumpkin Bread – I always like a bit of banana bread in the morning with my coffee. This time I subbed in an apple bread instead. It turned out well! Next time I may try it as muffins instead of bread so they bake faster.

And I still have 20 or so apples left. Of course, we’ve been snacking on them at lunch. I may need to make more applesauce or cider too, since those were so good. I was given some tips for using the apples for games and crafts with the kids too, so I may tackle some of those ideas as well.

Happy Friday!

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Friday Fav: CozyPhones

Like most students these days engaged in virtual learning this Fall, my kids are getting sick of wearing headphones for hours a day. Thankfully, I remembered these CozyPhones stored away for long car rides! They are comfy headbands with headphones built into the band. They help keep the volume level down for the kids’ ears and allow them to keep wearing headphones. Plus, the band is machine washable!

At this point, my boys rotate between the CozyPhones and more regular headphones throughout the day. No earbuds though. Their little ears can’t keep them in place for very long.

Of course, the price of CozyPhones has gone up with the move to virtual school for many, but I’d still say they are worth the $10-$15 per pair price tag. They earn the Friday Fav title because they help to keep my boys engaged in class and less disruptive, which means momma has more time to get things done on her own. Win, win!

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Friday Fav: Christmas PJs!

Even though it feels like March 285th, Christmas PJs are already out and available for purchase! When the kids were young we started the family tradition of receiving new Christmas PJs every Christmas Eve. In the beginning, I didn’t know where to find what I wanted or I’d forget and wait so late that I couldn’t get the sizes I needed.

Not this year!

Arriving today are these plaid hooded moose onesies. I don’t know what it is about the onesie PJs, but the boys love them.

I’ve found The Children’s Place to have nice quality PJs that are cute and comfy, which earns them the title of my Friday Fav this week. I’m extra excited to have one Christmas present purchase crossed off the list.

Happy Friday!