These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Oprah’s favorite things are fancy. Fortunately, mine are not.

My friends and I decided to do a “My Favorite Things” gift exchange this year. The guidelines are simple – gather some of your favorite things and put them together to create a gift, with the spend limit being about $20.

Now, $20 may not seem like a lot for a gift, but I promise you that it’s more than enough to put together a bunch of small items you love. I came up with many ideas for gifts like chamomile tea, Nutella, Method all purpose cleaner, Weber Grill spices, cashmere blend socks, Real Simple magazine, Uno card game, San Pellegrino Aranciata sparkling beverage, Essie nail polish, Bath & Body Works Linen Spray, and fleece lined tights, but cut that list down considerably.

Here are my favorite things:

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Yup, that’s a cow-shaped creamer. I’ve loved mine for years, and it always get a ton of complements when I bring it out for parties.

The pumpkin butter from Trader Joe’s may not seem like anything special, but it is delicious! Put it on toast. Put it on a bagel. Put it in your yogurt. Use it for pumpkin butter thumbprint cookies. So versatile.

Of course, I had to include some spirits in my favorite things. Though I don’t drink it in the winter, I think my all-time favorite liqueur has to be limoncello. Maybe because it’s from my homeland?

I’m seriously loving small, delicate, blingy jewelry these days. Believe it or not, Lauren Conrad’s earrings line at Kohl’s has some really cute stuff. These dainty and sparkly triangle earrings just make me happy.

Those little candles from Bath & Body Works are such a great little gift to give. People don’t usually buy themselves candles, so I love giving them as little splurges. I went with the Holiday scent, but it was a toss up between that one, Marshmallow Fireside, and Winter.

Big ice cubes are a must, so I included this handy little ice mold. I use them in everyday drinks like iced coffee, and Dan uses them for whiskey.

Finally, I included a mini panettone in the gift bag. If you haven’t had it, it’s a sort of sweet Italian bread with raisins and other fruit baked into it. I like to eat it for breakfast with my coffee during the holiday season. I had it every Christmas growing up, and I look forward to it every year.

I wrapped up my gifts in a fun chevron kraft Christmas bag and adding the cute printable tag that I found here.

The gift exchange happened over the weekend, during our annual friends’ holiday party, and I think this was the best one yet! I loved getting to see everyone’s favorite things.

I hope you get the chance to organize your own Favorite Things gift exchange this year. If not, the Favorite Things idea still makes for a great party in a big group of people. One of my friends from college hosts a Favorite Things get together every year in April. For that gathering, we all bring three of the same favorite things valued around $5 each, and everyone walks out with three cool new items. And if you don’t see yourself organizing any parties/gatherings related to Favorite Things, you can always use these ideas for stocking stuffers.


Mini Eggnog Cheesecakes with Orange Cranberry Topping

Earlier in the week, I posted about the wreath decorating party that I hosted last weekend. I was so excited about sharing how all the wreaths turned out that I didn’t even mention the yummy treats we snacked on while we worked.

I wanted to make food that was easy to eat – in a bite or two – so we wouldn’t have to either stop decorating or wait until we were finished to eat. I came up with two items – a gingerbread loaf and mini cheesecakes. Unfortunately, the gingerbread loaf was cut, served, and eaten before I thought to snap a photo. Darn.

So, I’m going to share my mini cheesecakes.

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So colorful and festive!

I used this recipe as my starting point. I followed the recipe to the T, and the cheesecakes came out delicious. Still, I would change a few things next time.

First of all, the ratio of graham cracker crust to cheesecake seemed a bit off to me. I would use a bit less graham crumbs – probably reducing the total by a quarter of a cup – and maybe a tablespoon or two more butter.

For topping, I skipped the whipped cream and decided to add some color to the dessert by making a quick and easy orange cranberry topping. Just take 4 oz of fresh cranberries and warm them up in a pan with 1/4 cup orange juice and 1/4 cup white sugar until the cranberries pop and the mixture is mushy. For extra orange flavor, go ahead and add in some orange zest.

The rich eggnog flavor combined with the sweetness of the cheesecake and the tartness of the cranberry topping makes this quite a treat. Try them out for your next holiday party.

Adorning our Wreaths

I hosted my annual (lost count what year it is) Wreath Decorating Party over the past weekend. I wrote about it three years ago, and every year we’ve kept the tradition alive. This year, I was so happy that seven of my friends were able to make it – quite an increase from the two of us who participated the first year. Since we buy our wreaths from Alive Rescue, that means even more money is going towards helping out stray animals. Win-win.

One of my friends brought over all the wreaths she had picked up for us, and we laid them out on the long tables I set up. After some chatting and catching up, we got to work. I actually forgot to take photos until most of the wreaths were just about completed. All I got were these two snaps:

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I know, the pictures aren’t great. But,  I did want to highlight a couple wreaths that I thought were pretty awesome.

This wreath was made using berry-looking trimming and my favorite – the big bow!


I really like the bell garland on this wreath. The smaller bells, the bigger bells, the pinecones, and the bow all match in red!


Here’s the wreath I decorated.


As you can see, the wreath I make still hasn’t changed from the one I made three years ago. I just keep saving those stars and re-using them! As much as I love them, I think next year will be time for a change. I’ve already been looking for new ideas on Pinterest!

Do you ever decorate your own wreaths? If so, I’d love to see them!

Cards of Christmas Past Mini Door Banner

I know it’s only December 3, but I already feel so behind in getting our Christmas card ready this year. We’re still tinkering with it (I’m trying not to panic that I haven’t even placed the order for it yet!), but in thinking of what to do this year, we looked at what we had done in the past. I always have a few extra cards leftover each Christmas, and I’ve been keeping them together with the Christmas decorations, to be pulled out each year.

I really like each Christmas card, and wanted to make a craft with them, or else display them somehow.

Last year, we made a Christmas card tree in our living room and I hung every card we received into the shape of a tree to enjoy the cards all season long. We’ll likely do this again this year, but I didn’t want our cards hanging in the tree.

I decided to keep the cards as they were, and hang them up as a sort of Christmas card banner. I cut some twine and attached the cards to it with mini clothespins. Then, I hung the banner up with some Christmas colored washi tape.

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Isn’t it cute?

Do you do anything with your old Christmas cards?

Not Your Kids’ Advent Calendar

It’s Christmas season, woohoo! Expect mostly, if not all, Christmas-themed posts from here on out through December 25. You’ve been warned.

To kick off my holiday posts, I thought I would share a new printable to make your own Advent calendar.

As I’ve done previously, instead of filling our advent calendar with candies and other treats, I put one Christmas-related activity for Dan and I to complete each day in the calendar. I used to look around Pinterest to find a printable for this, but I found most activity-based advent calendars were very kid-focused, and not really things Dan and I would want to do, like color Christmas cards or have a picnic by the Christmas tree. Not that there’s anything wrong if you want to do those.

As I’ve done a couple times before here and here, I came up with Christmas activities that adults would want to do.

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You can download the printable PDF here.

I did keep some kid activities in there, like watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas and taking silly Christmas photos, but I tried to balance those with the more adult-like activities of a candlelight dinner, a coffee date, and an electronic-free evening. I left one card blank, for you to include your favorite Christmas tradition.

One of my favorite activities is listening to the Cinnamon Bear radio show. A co-worker told me about it years ago, and we’ve usually listened to it in the car to and from our Christmas Eve family gathering while in the car. This year, we decided to break the story into smaller parts, and listen to it as it was originally played over the radio in 1937. Each night, we listen to one, less than fifteen minute program. It’s a great way to settle in after a long day. We’ve already listened to a couple of the shows, as it started on November 29. If you decide to do this, just listen to an extra show each night and you’ll catch up in a couple days. You can listen in (for free) each night here.

Let me know if I’ve missed any of you favorite activities. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season!