I enjoyed putting together last year's list SO much that I had to do it again! I love it when I come across wonderful new products that make my and my family's lives easier, promote healthier, cleaner living, and come at a steal of a price. And I also love it when the simplest things in life can put a huge grin on my face and fill my heart with joy.
So, without further ado, here goes!
* I know this one is a little cheesy, but I can't resist listing it because it's true: being pregnant. :) I know some women will vehemently disagree with me on this, but I truly do enjoy being pregnant. I'm sure part of it is because we tried so arduously and waited so long for this that my sheer gratitude to be in my shoes right now makes me happy -- but I loved being pregnant with Super Boy, too. Other than the "morning" sickness of the early weeks with both pregnancies and my less-than-ideal long-ass labor with Super Boy, the rest is all good with me. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to experience pregnancy this one last time, and it truly is my most favorite thing on the list this year.
* Super Boy! He is the light of my life. I enjoy being his mom more than I can ever possibly put into words, and I get such joy and delight from watching him grow up and sharing each day with him. He is an exceptional kid, a beautiful human being, and I love him with all my heart & soul.
* Walgreen's Sinus Wash Squeeze Bottle Kit. This handy-dandy little kit is sort of miraculous, I have to say. Between me and Super Boy and our chronic congestion/sinus issues of the past several months, this is just about the ONLY thing that has given us any real relief. Which is a major godsend, both because I hate giving Super Boy medicine if he doesn't absolutely NEED it and because I am loathe to take medicines myself while pregnant unless absolutely necessary. And - bonus! - it's on sale right now for $6.99, down from it's regular low price of $9.99.
* Refinished wood floors (and having a super-handy husband!). We've lived in our circa 1895 house since June of 2001, and while Super Man refinished all the wood floors upstairs, the staircase and the office on the first floor several years ago, he never did the living and dining rooms, as those were in much worse shape and constitute a MAJOR part of our daily living space. Well, Super Man had the week off between Christmas and New Years and decided it was time to finish the floor refinishing. It took him a good 2-1/2 days of hard work, but the floors look spectacular. Way to go, baby - you're awesome!
* Friends. The true ones: those who are with you no matter what, through the good & the bad, the happy & the sad, the funny and the not-so-funny. Those who don't judge you, who have your back even when you do something incredibly stupid, whose loyalty is unwavering, whose caring support is there whether you ask for it or not. Friends that you can share your deepest, darkest secrets with and know they're safe. Friends that you can truly be yourself around and know you're still loved. While 2010 ended on a really sweet note for me, the first half of the year was pretty tumultuous, and I don't know how I'd have gotten through it without the good friends who stood by me through all of it.
* These fabulous, super-comfy and well-priced Emma Short Boots from Bearpaw. Seriously, they are so incredibly comfy that it's like wearing slippers while out and about. And they keep my feet toasty warm, even in really cold temps. (Note: You should treat them with waterproofing spray to help keep them looking great and performing well.) Although they look and feel like their higher-priced peers (i.e. Ugg boots), I bought them a few days after Christmas for $64 at The Shoe Box in Black Earth, Wisconsin, and I'm so glad I did. Go and treat your tootsies to these!
* Knitting. Oh, knitting, how I love thee! Great stress-reliever. Something that can be done while watching your favorite show in the evening, or listening to your favorite music, or sitting in a waiting room, or sitting in your car waiting for the kids to get out of school. And the added bonus is that you get a great sense of accomplishment and a handmade object when you're done with each project. In the past year, I expanded my repertoire to include felted bags, and I've really enjoyed tackling that challenge. I'm going to try some new bag patterns this year - can't wait!
* The Infiniti by Conair You Curl. This little styling tool is THE BOMB, baby. I wanted it all year long, and thankfully Santa brought it for me on Christmas morning (after picking it up on sale at ULTA). It seems to retail between $35 and $45 depending on the store and special sales, but it's worth every penny. I have very fine hair and used to have to resort to hot rollers to get a decent curl that would even sort of hold, and even then it was a long, arduous process to get them to produce decent curls. With this fabulous styling tool, I can get gorgeous curl in a fraction of the time thanks to the ceramic clamp-less wand and high-heat settings. I love, love, love this. Santa done me good!
* The nook eReader by Barnes & Noble. This was another post-holiday purchase I made with money I received from my wonderful mom and stepdad for Christmas, but better late than never! I purchased the basic WiFi-only model ($149), because it has all the features I wanted without any of the bells & whistles I DON'T need, and I am absolutely happy with it. With baby on the way in May, I will have one fewer hand available at any given time, not to mention all the middle-of-the-night feedings in my future, so this little lovely will be sure to come in extremely handy (pun intended).
* Summer, sweet summer! My entire life, summer has been my favorite season, hands-down. I had lost some of my enthusiasm for it all the years I worked full-time and missed out on so much of it, but the past few years of being a stay-at-home mom have renewed my love for summer all the more. I have my boy home with me from early June to the beginning of September, and our days are wide open, ready and waiting for new experiences & adventures. And this summer we'll have a tiny new adventurer with us, which will be even more wonderful!
* Groupon.com! If you haven't checked this site out yet, do it. Done. (Note that the link is for the Milwaukee area Groupon deals; you'll need to see if your location is Groupon-ready. I hope it is!)
* The Natural La Campagne Bakery's delicious granolas. I discovered this at my local Outpost Natural Foods store and fell in love instantly. My favorites are the Chocolate Cherry and White Chocolate Peppermint granolas. If you can't find them in your local stores, you can order online. Mmmm, mmmm. Get yourself some.
* Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds, a perfect - and healthy - snack to ring in the new year! I discovered these in the past year and it was love at first taste. I often have one to-go canister in my van and one in the pantry, and it's one snack I don't mind giving Super Boy close to mealtimes. Almonds contain good fats, fiber and loads of Vitamin E - things we can all benefit from.
* An absolutely adorable 2011 desktop calendar by Delightfully Noted on etsy.com. Unfortunately, the calendar is sold out, so I can't share a link to it, but trust me when I say it is fun, colorful, whimsical and just right. This shop also carries sweet stationary, invitations, gift tags and more. Check it out!
* Honeycrisp apples. So juicy. So big. So delicious. If you haven't tried them before, try them now. You won't regret it.
* The Pioneer Woman's website. This woman is a dynamo: She is a ranch wife with four busy children (whom she homeschools) who cooks like an angel, has a knack for decorating and gift-buying, is a fantastic photographer, and still found time to build this spectacular blog from nothing. This is one blog I check religiously, every single day so long as I have internet access. I have tried countless of her recipes, all of which are easy to follow and turn out wonderfully, much to my family's delight. She's got a sparkling sense of humor, a huge heart, and a wonderful self-deprecating personality. Read and enjoy.
* Attending church. I'm not a hyper-religious freak or anything like that (trust me), but for as tough a time as we have getting our family up and out of bed and ready for church in a reasonable timeframe, when we finally get to church, I find myself really enjoying the service and feeling a great sense of peace and calm when it's over. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but for some reason, it just makes me feel better to go and commune with God for that hour each week. I only hope that - unlike our huge lapse in church attendance after Super Boy was born - we will stick with going most weeks once our new baby girl joins us.
My very best wishes to all my AESW readers for a blessed, wonderful, safe, healthy and Happy New Year!
**Disclaimer: I received none of the items above from their respective manufacturers; all were purchased by me over the past twelve months for my own personal use. In other words, this is not a paid advertisement for anything -- it is literally just a list of some of my favorite things. **