A monthly list of good things to do, buy, read, watch, and more.
Some links in this article are affiliate links and if you click on them I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Well hello December!
Yep, it's here - and we've just made it past the blitz that is Black Friday (which should really be called Black week and a half - or even Black month - now, shouldn't it?) - and I feel like I can take a deep breath and hopefully just enjoy the month in front of us.
Hearing the rumors of things being hard to get delivered on time, I did start our gift shopping in late October and I'm happy to say that except for Brian's family's Christmas gift exchange game, I've got all the gifts bought! Whew - it feels goooood.
The farmhouse porch is decorated (sneak peek here on Instagram), and things are coming together inside. It's taking a bit longer since this is our first Christmas in the farmhouse and figuring out where things should go is all new.
But we're getting our live tree this week and so I should have some farmhouse Christmas decor photos up for you soon.
I hope all is going well for you, too, and you are looking forward to doing what you enjoy this season!
Good Things List
Enjoying the Warm Sun of Arizona
We spent the first half of November in Arizona enjoying both the sun and my parents - our first time there in more than two years.
I LOVE the sun and warmth so it's just what I needed to help me get through the winter!
My parents live just south of Tucson which is an area surrounded by mountain ranges. We drove to the top of Mt. Lemmon and hiked around a bit which gives you an idea of the depth of mountains in an area we normally think of as just desert (which it is, too).
I mean, that view, right?
We also stopped at the ski area where we had lunch at a fun lodge-like restaurant called The Iron Door. The food was great and service was good, considering they were short staffed like many other places.
The other new place we visited was The Arizona Inn, a historic hotel in the heart of Tucson. It was built around the 1930s and added to over the years to encompass a whole secluded area with pathways, activity areas, and rooms that include separate casitas as well as small two-story buildings.
It was completely charming and you felt thrown back in time, like old Hollywood movies. We lunched on the patio which was delicious and so relaxing. Highly recommend if you're ever in the Tucson area.
Each year we like to do a puzzle on Christmas day - or at least get one started, lol. It's a fun thing that we don't normally do, so we look forward to it.
This year I found this super fun puzzle from Cavellini of vintage national park posters. It's more than we normally pay, but I can't wait to put it together and I'm already planning on keeping it and making it a holiday tradition!
I also found this 12 Days of Christmas Advent puzzle, which I just LOVE the idea of! There are 12 small-ish puzzles to put together in the 12 days leading up to Christmas - one for each day.
Isn't that so much better than just a piece of chocolate - though now that I think about it, let's do a puzzle with a piece of chocolate, ha!
Live-In (Truly!) Gold Hoop Earrings
I could not believe it when I read about these from another blogger (Julia from Chris Loves Julia for anyone curious) - gold hoop earrings you didn't have to take out?
I have been really wanting hoops instead of the studs I normally wear. For one thing, the studs are sometimes uncomfortable when sleeping. For another, they can get pretty crusty when worn for weeks at a time.
I'm so past the days of changing my earrings daily - I've got no time for that! You know it's a special occasion around here if I'm wearing fancy earrings, lol.
I bought a pair of the 16mm live-in gold hoops at Made by Mary to try and I'm here to corroborate with Julia - they truly are LIVE-IN!
I've been wearing mine for three weeks already and I hardly know I'm wearing anything - day or night. Needless to say, I LOVE them.
So much so that they are one of the things I bought to gift someone with - good things like this have to be shared, don't they?
Inexpensive Turkish Towels
I've loved the look and feel of Turkish towels ever since I first saw them years ago. At the time, though, it was close to $50 per towel. Um, yeah - we didn't have Turkish towels, lol.
But I was shopping on Etsy and saw there are LOTS of listings for these towels now and the prices have come WAY down. Most are under $20 and over the sales weekend we just had, I saw some for around $13.
Anyway, I ordered a couple from this Etsy store and I can tell you that I am impressed with the thickness and size of the towels! I know they will shrink a bit on first washing, but they are so big, it shouldn't make that much of a difference.
And they are thicker than other towels I've seen for more money.
If you are in the market for these great, absorbent towels, head to this Etsy seller - they have a TON of colors to choose from!
White 3-Quart Baking Pan
I don't know why it took me so long to realize I could have a pretty white 3-quart baking pan and not just the clear glass versions.
Especially as someone who takes photos of food (major eye roll here).
I think I saw this white baking pan on a kitchen gift guide somewhere and it was a major lightbulb moment - I ordered it right away and love how it looks and how sturdy it is.
It goes from freezer to fridge to oven and is microwave safe, so similar to the glass pans in performance.
I do have to say, though, that the description reads "13x9 pan" and it's definitely not - it measures 12x8.5" only.
But, it's still close enough to hold almost all the 3-quart recipes I have AND it sits perfectly inside my other 13x9 pans!
The Sweetness At the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley. This is a fun "cozy mystery" type of book set in England after WWII and told from the perspective of an 11 year old girl. She's quite precocious and spends most of her time in a chemistry lab, concocting various things including a lipstick that she hopes will mar her older sister's face. Yep, she seems a little without conscious in some areas.
When she finds a dead body in her family's garden, she decides to work on solving the murder herself - mainly because she thinks her father might be a suspect and she wants to clear his name.
I have to confess that I started out really enjoying the story and the heroine's snarky take on everything. And then it just started to wear on me. She's just too much and about halfway through became completely unbelievable for me. I rushed through to the end just to find out who did it (though I had guessed earlier...).
Gaining Ground, Forrest Pritchard. Brian and I listened to this memoir of a son and grandson of farmers who was determined to revive the family farm and find a way to make a living from it starting in the 1990s. Many parts of this book were so eye-opening to both of us, starting with the first unbelievable story of how much they were paid for a truckload of corn. Hearing all the things he tried and how his determination paid off were so rewarding. It's definitely a lesson in thinking outside of the norm and to keep trying. You don't have to be a farmer or gardener to enjoy this book - just anyone who eats food.
Simply Jesus, N.T. Wright. I continue to find N.T. Wright both accessible and scholarly at the same time - quite an achievement, right? In this book, he gets to the heart of Jesus' message - basically that our primary role should look like His primary role when on earth: to help the poor, feed the needy, and heal as we can. God uses people to work out His plan on earth and it's more than just our believing - we are called to "do" as well. Good stuff.
Lady Clementine, Marie Benedict. While I've enjoyed the two other books I've read by this author, this one about the wife of Winston Churchill was just ho-hum for me. It's got all the things I normally like - history and facts intertwined with feelings and dialog made up that flesh out the story for us. Plus two world wars, an enduring love, and England.
In trying to think why it fell flat for me, I can only say that I think it became too much moving from one thing to another so quickly without ever reaching any depth to the characters. I never really liked Clementine or understood her actions. When she had a nervous breakdown I felt there wasn't much leading up to it - I was surprised and confused as to why it would happen based on the story we were being told. Another one I rushed to the end!
Red Notice, Netflix. This is just a super fun, comedy-action-thriller movie. Don't listen to the reviews - when you want a light movie that will make you laugh this is a good one. Plus, I didn't see the twist coming at all!
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, Amazon. Even after watching it, I don't really get the title of this movie. It's based on a real person, Louis Wain, and the cat paintings and drawings he created at the turn of the century that are seen as the first time people thought of having cats indoors as pets. So maybe it should've been the Cat Life of Louis Wain? It's a very sad movie all the way around and there's nothing really redeeming in the end, either.
Godzilla vs. Kong, Amazon. Oh, gosh, what to say about this? Brian chose it (ha!) and he will be forever apologizing for it! 😀
That's it for another addition of the Good Things List!
If you'd like to see more of what I'm enjoying, you can check out all the Good Things Lists here. I'd love to know what you think - if you've tried any of these or what you'd recommend. Leave a comment below with your thoughts!
Disclosure: affiliate links in this article will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price. Click here to read my full disclaimer and advertising disclosure.