It’s time for a November favorites post! I haven’t done one of these in a while, so this one is a comprehensive list of things I’ve been loving over the past few months. It’s a little long, but I hope you enjoy it!
I’m teaching myself German! Or trying to, at least. It’s a slow process for me, but I’ve really been loving the DuoLingo app. It’s simple, intuitive, user-friendly, and you can pick up your phone and do a lesson whenever you have free time. You can also tailor your goals and intensity of lessons. It’s not going to teach you as much as a professional class would, but it’s a free app (you can pay for a premium version if you want), and you can learn at your own pace. There is also a flash card app (Tinycards) that you can download that corresponds with the DuoLingo lessons for quick and easy vocab review. I will say that DuoLingo is a little heavy on the memorization and vocab side; you don’t really learn how to conjugate verbs or put together grammatically correct sentences right away. I’m hoping that comes later because I still haven’t gotten there. I’m basically teaching myself verb conjugation as I go along, so there is definitely a little bit of independent study that is required if you are really looking to learn the language. Otherwise, it’s a super easy way to introduce yourself to a new language.
Hallmark Channel Christmas movies
This is absolutely my guilty pleasure. Every year I actually look forward to the bombardment of ridiculously unrealistic, over-the-top, cheesy Christmas movies that Hallmark airs during the two months leading up to Christmas. (I even just discovered a Hallmark Christmas drinking game that I’m definitely going to be doing in the next month.) This year, however, other TV and movie companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Most notably, Netflix. They recently released an original movie called A Christmas Prince that is peak Hallmark Channel Christmas. (In case you were wondering…yes I did watch it and yes I did love it.) What’s crazy is that today, I saw an ad for Lifetime channel’s new Christmas movie called…My Christmas Prince. I’m not even kidding about this. LITERALLY THE EXACT SAME STORY. Simply amazing. And yes I will be watching that as well.
Everyone is going to make fun of me for posting this on my favorites list, but I don’t care. I want the world to know! Scrub Daddy really is the best sponge ever. I saw it on Shark Tank a few years ago and I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes at this dude when he was trying to sell a sponge, but now I’m totally a believer. It’s like magic. Run it under warm water and it become really soft. Run it under cold water and it stays firm. But the best part…IT. DOES. NOT. SMELL. Do you know how much I hate the smell of dirty, old sponges??? More than I hate skim milk, the smell of oranges, and people who wear their sunglasses on inside…combined. You can even put this sponge in the dishwasher to clean it if you need to. It also doesn’t leave scratch marks which is nice for me since I have cheap nonstick pans and a glass stove cooktop. I even bought the multicolored pack so I can have a sponge for each specific cleaning job (bathroom, microwave, dishes, etc.). If you are getting a present from me this Christmas, don’t be surprised if you get a Scrub Daddy to go with your gift.
I have been drinking a lot of tea lately. Mostly because one day I went to a yoga + brunch extravaganza and for some reason thought it would be a good idea to go to HomeGoods right after drinking a bunch of wine and prosecco. Spoiler alert: It’s not. I ended up buying a freaking tea set. In no way do I drink enough tea to justify buying an entire tea set. The cashier asked me if I was a tea drinker and I think I ended up telling her I was throwing a tea party for some friends. Which I was not. Unless you count me drinking tea with my Pillow Pet, Olga, looking on from the windowsill as a tea party. Anyway, while at HomeGoods I also ended up buying a few packages of tea that looked British and if anyone knows tea, it’s the Brits. And it turned out to be really good tea! I was a little hesitant about buying food from HomeGoods, but even the cookies (aka biscuits) I got to go with the tea were pretty good. HomeGoods for the win!
So after almost 6 months of not owning a television, I went out and bought one during all the Labor Day sales. Except I realized that I can only watch DVDs because I don’t have cable and I didn’t have any kind of streaming platform. I really wanted to get Apple TV, but it’s seriously expensive and I didn’t think it was justified at the time. So I ended up buying a Roku streaming stick and I actually really like it. For the price ($29.99), it really can’t be beat. You can get all the main streaming apps (Netlfix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, etc.) plus the premium video services like HBO Now, HBO Go, Starz, and Showtime (if you have accounts with them). I also use the free ABC, CBS, and PBS apps to watch on demand shows. I am hoping in the future to get Sling TV so I can pay à la carte for different channels, but for now I’m pretty happy with the free stuff I can get on Roku. If you aren’t wanting to fork out the money for Apple TV and want an alternative to the Amazon Fire Stick, then Roku is probably your best bet. Plus, it could make a pretty great Christmas gift.
Victoria TV Show
I am a huge fan of the Netflix original series, The Crown. (Season 2 premieres on December 8!!) I love a good docu-drama, especially when it involves the British royal family. A couple of months ago, I discovered a new show called Victoria. (I believe it airs on iTV in Britain, but it is shown in the U.S. on PBS Masterpiece.) It follows the life of Queen Victoria in her early years…the moment she becomes Queen, her and Prince Albert’s courtship and early marriage, and the birth of their first child, as well as the trials and tribulations of her early reign. The whole Victorian Era has always fascinated me, but you don’t really hear a lot about Victoria when she was younger. You always see her pictured as an older woman dressed in black who lived out her later years in solitude and sadness. Her life before Albert’s death, however, is depicted in the show much differently. It’s one of my favorite new shows and I have to say that I have learned a lot about the young Victoria and Albert (even though much of their relationship is exaggerated in the series.) Also…I have a pretty big crush on this Prince Albert guy. So there’s that. Series 2 premieres in the U.S. on January 14, but you can watch season 1 on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
I finally bought myself a Nano Puff jacket. I’ve been wanting one for years, and my trip to Colorado was the perfect excuse for me to finally pull the trigger. I really didn’t need another jacket, but I have to say that I use this one more than any of my other jackets now. It’s lightweight, warm, and super packable, which is perfect for traveling. You can even stuff the whole jacket into its own internal pocket to throw in your bag, pack, or suitcase. Plus, I love that it’s made with and insulated with mostly recyclable materials. Sustainable clothing…YAY! It’s insulated with synthetic materials (aka: not down), so it’s not going to be the warmest jacket out there, but for the winters here where it usually stays in the 40s most of the cold season, it’s perfect for me. It’s also lightweight enough to wear comfortably under a rain jacket or other outer layer making it a perfect mid-layer piece for outdoor excursions.
Another TV show that I’ve really been into lately is also a Netflix original series: Mindhunter. It’s the story of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit when they first started delving into the whole idea of serial killers and using research to better understand and predict violent crimes and “deviant behavior.” Other than catching a few Bones reruns on television during the day, I was never really into the crime drama genre. For some reason, however, I’ve really been into this show. It’s just really interesting to see how the idea of serial killers came to be and how they used interviews of people convicted of violent crimes to develop the concept of profiling. It’s just a really good show…but not for the younger kids. Lots of language, adult content, and some pretty messed up – and very graphic – descriptions of crimes. So put the kids to bed before you watch it.
That’s what I got for this favorites post!