My Favorite Things: A Blog Linkup

Sam Smith – Writing’s On The Wall (from Spectre)

Joshua and I saw Spectre on our anniversary, and I’ve been loving the intro song by Sam Smith. I’ve been listening to it on repeat all month long!

Panera Bread’s Autumn Squash Soup

Panera Bread's Autumn Squash Soup
Back when I was working downtown one of favorites to go was Wolfgang Puck’s to get a bowl of their butternut squash soup. Sadly they closed last year, so I was without my beloved soup. I decided to give Panera Bread’s Autumn Squash Soup whirl, and I’m so glad I did because it tastes just like the butternut squash. It’s yummy and gluten-free!

Yogi Detox Tea

I’ve been trying different flavors of the Yogi brand tea this past year, but this month my new favorite is the Detox flavor. I’ve been trying to get a cup or two in after dinner and it helps settle my tummy. It has a really nice warm flavor to it, and overall it’s very tasty!

– – –

My Favourite Things is a monthly linkup hosted by Raisa and Eirene. Head over there to participate!


Even though I am not hosting, I still have a couple traditions I partake in as well as some cooking to do.

Watch the Parade

2015 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
I always start the day with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s also my signal to begin prepping and cooking. I try to get my first cup of coffee in before then so by the time the parade starts I am ready to go.

Dinner with My Family

Whether it’s at my house or theirs, I always have Thanksgiving dinner with my family. It includes my parents, my grandpa, my uncle, and a cousin or two.

Watch Home Alone

Home Alone
I end the night watching Home Alone. Back when I was a kid the movie Home Alone always seemed to be on TV on Thanksgiving night, so it became a tradition to watch it. Now it signals the start of the Christmas season and kicks it off as the very first of many Christmas movies I will be watching between now and Christmas.

For a little fun reading, check out Chicago Magazine’s Oral History of Home Alone. If you’re a fan of the movie it goes behind the scenes with some of the key people involved in making the movie.

Tonight, however, I am super tired (long day of cooking), so I’m saving Home Alone for tomorrow. Hope you all had a very Happy Thanksgiving!


With tomorrow being Thanksgiving that means the holiday shopping season officially commences the day after. This year I’m attempting to plan ahead and be ready for the big day.

I’ve found that the easiest way for me to keep track of things is to put it all in a spreadsheet. I use Google Sheets, and I set up a spreadsheet with six columns: Recipient, Gift Idea/Details, Where to Buy, Budget, Actual, and ✔ (to mark it done).

My Holiday Gift Planning Spreadsheet

It’s nothing fancy, and I prefer it that way as the simplicity of it all helps me easily keep track of everything. Then I just duplicate the sheet each year, and I have the ability to look back on who I got gifts for in previous years and how much I spent on them.

Before committing to the spreadsheet method I used paper and pen. These are a couple of my favorite free printables if you prefer that option.

Holiday Gift Tracking from iHeart Organizing

Holiday Gift Tracking from iHeart Organizing

Christmas Gift Record from A Pair of Pears

Christmas Gift Record from A Pair of Pears

How do you keep track of everything for your Christmas shopping?


I’m a little behind for this year’s linkup over at 320 Sycamore, but better late than never, right? This is what happens when I don’t keep up with my Feedly during the week… Anyhoo here are my top 10 favorites of 2015!

2015 Favorite Things
  1. Tory Burch fragrance – I love LOVE this fragrance! It’s my absolute favorite. I carry the rollerball in my purse, and I’m already on my second bottle of the Eau de Parfum.
  2. Diptyque candles – These candles smell amazing, look elegant, and really hold their scent. Got to visit the boutique in San Francisco earlier in the year and bought one of their candles and just loved it. I recently found out the Nordstrom by my work sells them, so I’ll be making a trip over there real soon.
  3. Dashing Dish – Between going gluten-free and trying to be healthier overall, Dashing Dish has become my favorite food resource this year. Her dishes are super yummy and easy to make as well as clean eating.
  4. Kombucha Cola – My sister got me hooked on Kombucha this year, and this is one of the brands/flavors that I love. Because I was attempting to kick my soda habit this is a great healthy alternative.
  5. Early Toast Mimosa House – I guess you don’t realize how much you love a place until you go there enough where most of the staff recognizes you. This place is right around the corner from where we live and has become one of our favorite places for breakfast. Haven’t had a bad thing on their menu, and their mimosa selection is on point.
  6. Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette – I got this for Christmas last year, and it’s one of my favorite cosmetics. Seriously this palette not only has great colors with superb pigmentation, but it lasts a long time. When I travel I can use this entire palette to do my whole eye makeup, no additional items needed. One of my favorite things to do is wet the brush with eyedrops and use the darker colors as eyeliner.
  7. EveryDollar – Our favorite way to do our budget, EveryDollar is a fantastic tool that helps us do our budget and keep track of where we are in the Baby Steps.
  8. Whole Foods – I’ve grown to love Whole Foods this year. For awhile I had no desire to shop there, mainly having to do with very snobbish experiences (see Surviving Whole Foods) when I lived in the Bay Area. Since my diet and health have taken a different turn this year I’ve been shopping at Whole Foods a lot more than ever. Plus they are the only place I can get my Kombucha Cola.
  9.  WATCH – Got this as “yay for getting a new job” present, and so far I’m loving it. It’s nice to have an extension of my phone in the form of the watch that also looks sharp and functions as a great watch. Worth every penny, IMHO.
  10. LUSH Cosmetics – With two LUSH’s in my area opening up this past year I’ve become hooked on their products. Because their stuff is made from all natural ingredients, I would go try products from them first before trying a different brand. Almost everything I have tried by them I have loved so far: eye cream, lip balm, shaving cream, masks, bath bombs, I love it all. Plus I love that you can bring five empty pots in and get a free mask.

– – –

I did this in 2014 and 2013 too!


When I’m out and about doing my shopping, here are a couple of things I do to save some money.

1. Use cash to buy everything.
Groceries is one of several categories we use cash for. Using cash instead of a card helps us spend less because we actually feel the money versus swiping a card you don’t necessarily think about it therefore making it easier to overspend. Hello, Target! 😉 And because we budget a particular amount for groceries it helps me stick to the plan.

2. Have a smartphone? Use an app!
Since I regularly shop at Target, I take advantage of their Cartwheel app. It lets you search or scan in your items to see if there are any additional savings; then when you go to the register the cashier scans the barcode and the discounts are applied!

Safeway also has an app where you can scan club card items already on sale and see if there are any additional discounts. I’m sure other major retailers have apps as well, so if you have preferred grocery stores you like shopping at, see if they have an app for any deals.

3. Buy store brand.
Since I do the bulk of my shopping at Target, you’ll see a lot of Market Pantry, Archer Farms, and Simply Balanced in my kitchen. These are all Target brands, which are a lot cheaper than buying name brand items. Now there are certain items that I like buying brand name, or a store brand version isn’t available. But for the most part I buy store brand because it’s cheaper, and to tie back to tip #2, a lot of Target’s store brand items have additional discounts on Cartwheel.

This Week’s Meals

Monday: Pizza

Tuesday: Dinner with family

Wednesday: 20 Minute Chicken in Lemon Cream Sauce

Thursday: Thanksgiving! ICYMI, I posted what I will be contributing.

Friday: Leftovers. If I get sent home with enough turkey, I might try making leftover turkey soup.

Saturday: Dinner with family

Sunday: It’s the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead so we’re eating pizza and watching it live! Yes we’re having pizza twice in a week, but I don’t care! 😉