December 21, 2019

My Very Favorite Things! (and last-minute gift ideas)

My Very Favorite Things

I used to do posts once in a while of my current favorite things, but I haven't written one in a long time. And of course, last month would have been a much better time to post some gift ideas. As the ever-procrastinator, better late than never, right? Since Christmas is in just four days, I thought it'd be a fun time to share some of my current (or long-time) favorite things!

(Links to Amazon are affiliate links, meaning that I may get a small commission for the referral; but none of these are sponsored. I bought them all with my own money and love them enough to want to share.)

Ice Maker

This is something that would either mean everything to you or nothing to you. I am completely addicted to chewing ice. I know it's horrible for my teeth and not exactly a good habit, but I simply cannot help it. When I discovered the ice at Sonic (and learned you can buy 10 lb. bags of it for $2!) I became obsessed. I was going through a bag every two days!

(Whenever I mention my ice chewing, someone always suggests getting my iron levels checked. I get it checked every year at my annual physical appointment, and my iron is fine. The ice is really just a habit.)

For my birthday this year, back in January, Jerry and the kids bought me an ice maker. (The one that I have is discontinued, but this one is nearly identical and is actually the best selling ice maker on Amazon--it has fantastic reviews).

ice maker

I have gotten so much use out of it! I've already gotten my money's worth out of it 10 times over, because I'm not buying Sonic ice. And the best part about this ice maker is that the ice it produces is soft on my teeth. Eating hard pretzels is actually tougher on my teeth than eating this ice.

The ice is produced quickly enough to keep up with my habit (most of the time, haha) and the way it's made gives it an odd shape (I guess they are called bullet shaped)--but perfect for chewing. If you're an ice chewer, you'll love this!

bullet shaped ice cube

You can find it here on Amazon:

Ice Maker

Kindle Paperwhite

I have read more books since getting the Kindle Paperwhite (10th generation) than I have in the past five years combined. I have to stress that I was VERY against using an e-reader because I liked the feel of an actual book in my hands. And I didn't like looking at computer screens much as it was, so why would I want to use one to read? Computer screens are hard on my eyes (good grief, between my teeth and my eyes, I sound 100 years old).

Since it's so easy to get library books in e-book format, I downloaded a couple to my iPad Mini 2. The iPad screen is just like a computer screen or phone screen, so I always assumed the Kindle Paperwhite would be the same... the backlight, the glare, the impossibility of seeing it while outside.

My sister has raved about her Paperwhite for years, and I finally decided to look into it some more. What was so different or great about it? It wasn't until I actually ordered one and tried it myself that I was a true convert.

The Paperwhite is LIGHTER THAN my paperback books and when I set the screen to have no backlight, the screen looks identical to a paperback page. There is no glare at all, and it's super easy to read outside. (There is a backlight you can turn on if you want to read in the dark, but I prefer to just turn on a lamp and keep the backlight off.) I love the size of it--it's small enough to tuck in my purse and pull out for few minutes in waiting rooms or while waiting in the car for the kids to come out of school.

kindle paperwhite outdoors

It's super convenient to download books from my library (so, you don't have to buy books for it--you can use your library card to "borrow" e-books digitally, and then it downloads right to the Kindle). Also, with Amazon Prime First Reads (available for free to any Prime member), you can choose a book to keep for FREE every month (Amazon gives you a selection of about 6-8 books of various genres to choose from each month).

Jerry bought me a cute cat cover for mine, and I love it! (You can find the cover here on Amazon)

kindle paperwhite cat cover

I love love love my Kindle Paperwhite, and I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys reading! (Or, if you're like me, and you want to read more... the Paperwhite makes it so convenient.) Even if you think you could never enjoy using an e-reader, I am betting that you will convert to the digital dark side after trying it ;)

They can be found here on:

Kindle Paperwhite (10th generation)
Cat cover for the Kindle Paperwhite

Electric Heating Pad

When I thought of what items I can't live without, this is the first thing that popped into my head.

sunbeam heating pad

I am always freezing. Unless I'm outside in the humid summer weather, I'm cold. It didn't used to bother me so much until after I'd lost the weight. Even though I'm not "skinny", it's like taking off the extra weight was taking off a winter coat... in Antarctica.

Anyway, I adore this heating pad. It's easy to move around because it's small and it helps warm me up quickly. I also have bad back pain, and heat is one of the only things that helps.

I will warn you that this gets REALLY warm. There are six settings, and I usually start on the lowest. Once my body adjusts to that, I bump it up to the second. On a normal day, I set it on 3-4 when I'm chewing ice and typing a blog post. (I know, if I'm cold, why do I want ice? I'll write more about this below.) On the days where I am chilled to the bone, I eventually work up to level six.

They can be found on Amazon here:

My Favorite Heating Pad

A (SIMPLE) Planner & Habit Tracker

I went through a short phase where I loved bullet journaling. People create such amazing layouts and use them for such fun ideas! I have one that I still use (to keep track of my 40 Goals by 40 Years Old list) but a bullet journal was just too much work to keep up with on a daily basis. And I was a perfectionist about it, so I spent way too much time planning out pages and making it nice and neat. As a hobby, it's a great! But for a convenient tracking journal or planner, it was just too much work.

I found a great alternative, though, where I can still use a physical planner/journal (as opposed to an app) but it's super fast and I don't have to create layouts. It's perfect for what I use it for (a health goal-based planner and tracker).


The beginning has pages for you to set goals, and then there are monthly spreads and weekly spreads. Nothing complicated at all. On Sunday night, I fill out the weekly spread for the following week, and just before the end of the month, I fill out the monthly one for the next month.

planner weekly spread

planner monthly spread

planner goals

This planner is my favorite for goal setting and tracking. I also don't feel bad for making a mistake, because it's not one of those "needs to look perfect" journals.

You can find the journal (with lots of different colors) here on Amazon:

Clever Fox Planner

One-Line-A-Day Journal (Five Year Journal)

As I mentioned, I'm terrible at keeping up with a journal. A couple of years ago, however, I bought a five-year journal that only has a few lines per day. Each page has a date at the top (Jan 1, for example) and then there are five spots where you can fill in the year and write a sentence or two about that day. So, in the end, the Jan 1 page will have five years worth of short journal entries.

5 year journal one line a day

I love mine! There are several days where I forgot to write last year, but I've found that by setting it next to my bed and making it part of my routine just before I go to sleep, I was able to make it a habit. It's fun being able to read what I wrote last year on that same date.

Clearly, I just write with chicken scratch when this is (usually) for my eyes only, haha. I don't always write such "tame" entries ;)

five year journal one line a day

If you have a hard time keeping up with a journal, or you don't have much to say and just want to write the basics (i.e. "Got pictures with Santa and set up the Christmas tree with the family tonight"), it's super simple and takes just two minutes max. And for less than $12, it'll only cost you about $2 per year!

You can find it here on Amazon:

One-Line-A-Day Five Year Journal

Black & Decker Vacuum (a.k.a. The Best $50 I've Ever Spent)

I recently wrote about this vacuum on a post called, "The Best $50 I've Ever Spent". I am still in complete AWE of how well this vacuum works! You can read more about it on that post, but basically, this thing SUCKS--like, it will suck the color right out of your carpet. It'll suck the basement right through your living room floor. In terms of a sucker, this would be one lick to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop. This vacuum is SERIOUS about suction!

I vacuumed my living room rug with my old vacuum cleaner, which worked really well (or so I thought). And then I tried this one, and LOOK HOW MUCH CAME UP. It's disgusting and fascinating and SO satisfying at the same time.

black and decker vacuum

Jerry always teases me about getting me a vacuum as a Christmas gift, because it's literally what he bought me for our first Christmas after we got married. He was super excited to give it to me, and when I opened it, was confused and, well, disappointed. He had made such a big deal about a special gift, and I wasn't sure what to imagine, but it definitely wasn't a vacuum. When I explained why a vacuum isn't exactly the most romantic gift to give your bride, we laughed about it. And it became a running joke every Christmas.

I have to say, now that I'm 100 years old, I would be thrilled to receive this vacuum for Christmas. Romance is overrated. This vacuum is a life-changer!

black and decker vacuum

You can find this vacuum here on Amazon:

Black & Decker Vacuum

YnM Weighted Blanket

This is pretty new to me (I bought it on Amazon when I saw an awesome deal) but I already love it. I chose this brand because of a flash sale Amazon was having, but I was super impressed with the quality and I even bought another for Eli for Christmas.)

ynm weighted blanket

I'd tried a weighted blanket in the past and I didn't think the quality was very good. I wasn't thrilled with it, so I sent it back. But I still liked the idea of a weighted blanket--whenever I get x-rays done at the dentist and they put the lead apron on me, I actually ask them to leave it on because it feels comforting. That's the feel of a weighted blanket.

I really like this one because it's not hot. (I realize the irony of this, because I just said that I'm always cold; however, when I am at a warm temp from my heating pad, or just because I have the heat turned up too high in the house, this blanket--while heavy--isn't hot.)

I think the fabric feels nice. I bought a cover of the same brand, and it's made of a great quality. There are ties that you can tie into the loops that are on each side and each corner of the blanket. They have over 20 colors of blankets to chose from (in various sizes), and lots of duvet covers for them as well.

I originally bought a queen sized blanket, but I found that I was always folding it in half before placing it on my legs. (I didn't buy it for bed, but for sitting on the couch.) I like to sit with my heating pad behind my back and my feet propped up. So, the queen-sized blanket felt too big for my use. I ended up returning it and buying a twin-sized blanket instead (same model, just smaller).

If you're not sure what weight to buy, I would choose on the heavier side (if they had a 50-pound one, I would buy it! Hahaha, I love the weight.). If you like the feeling of the lead apron at the dentist, then definitely pick a heavier weight than suggested.

You can find them here on Amazon:

Weighted Blankets
Duvet covers for the blankets here on Amazon

Brooklinen Sheets

This is another item I've written about a couple of times before, but I love them so much that I just have to include them. I bought a set of Brooklinen sheets a few years ago as a reward for myself when I was losing weight (again). I had reached a milestone (I think when I got back to the 140's) and I bought a complete set--flat sheet, fitted sheet, duvet cover, and two pillow cases. I had read about these sheets but had a hard time justifying the expense, so I told myself that when I reached the 140's, I'd buy some. It gave me something to look forward to and to work toward.

They are completely worth it! The colors available are pretty basic, for the most part, but they are likely to match with just about any color scheme. I have two fitted sheets and two duvet covers now (to alternate when washing), six pillow cases, and one flat sheet. I read somewhere that people will use a comforter with a duvet and no flat sheet in between, and it sounded odd to me at first, but we started doing that and I love it!

happy with Brooklinen sheets

I bought this super cheap white comforter on Amazon and it ended up being my most favorite comforter I've ever owned (I like it even more than a down comforter, which I had used in the past). It's super fluffy and cozy, it fits perfectly into the duvet cover, and it even has little loops on the corners to tie the duvet on. It has held up so well over time! With the comforter and duvet cover, I don't need any other blankets or a flat sheet (of course we still use a fitted sheet). Making my bed is super simple in the mornings!

(Speaking of which, I FINALLY made a headboard for my bed--just yesterday. I'll share photos once I get it hung up.)

brooklinen bedding

But anyway, the main reason I love these sheets is because of their softness and amazing quality. I bought the Luxe Sateen sheets, which are very soft, but I did buy a couple of pillow cases in the Classic Percale to see if I liked it. (I would REALLY love to try the linen set, but they are just way too much money for me. Maybe someday!).

The regular cotton feels crisp and clean, and kind of reminds me of when you hang sheets outside to dry. They're a little stiffer than the sateen ones, and Jerry doesn't like them as much. The regular cotton is cooler, where the sateen is a little warmer; but it's really just personal preference. I like both, but if I had to choose, I'd pick the sateen.

Brooklinen has a referral program, so if you use this link to make a purchase on their site, then you will receive a $25 gift code and I will receive a $25 gift code as well! (So if you do this, I will have no choice but to buy another duvet cover in a different color or pattern.)

Of course, I have to include my favorite running things. I already wrote an enormous post about all things running, including my favorite gift ideas. You can find that post here: My Favorite Running Gear.

I'm sure there are other things I'm missing on this list, but I have been working on this list for days, and it's time I post it already! So here you go... some of the things that make me the happiest :)


  1. I see a few things I might order later for myself. I'm finally done Christmas shopping. It was hard coming up with ideas for a few people this year.

  2. Loved this post Katie, thanks for sharing. Such great gift ideas! I'm going to have to pin this for future reference

  3. I may have just ordered the ice machine -- I'm a cruncher!!
    Got a gently dented one coming and with my Amazon credit only paid around 50.00 -- Merry Christmas to me!!!

  4. I love my Brooklinen sheets as well!


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

Featured Posts

Blog Archive