For the past few years now, I’ve compiled a post I like to call my 10 Favorite Things. At the end of the year, I simply recall 10 things I purchased or used that I would recommend. I started this back in 2014 and you can also see my picks for 2015 and 2016.
What you should know: I do tend to think through my purchases carefully, particularly the ones that cost more in money. I don’t like clutter, so I try to be thoughtful about what I bring in the house. (The house has enough clutter to begin with!) In no particular order, here’s what tops my list for 2017:
Item #1: Instant Pot (Amazon)
I joined the Instant Pot ranks in late November thanks to a terrific Amazon sale. I was curious if I’d actually come up to speed with how to use it quickly, and I can tell you – it was much easier than I was anticipating. I’ve successfully made a couple meals in it already, and have plans to make many more recipes. You can read more of my first thoughts and impressions on my Adventures with my Instant Pot post from last week.
Item #2: Folding Picnic Blanket (Costco)
This was one of those items I saw at Costco and actually did buy on a whim! It’s a picnic-style blanket that folds up with a carrying strap. I love that the material isn’t cloth so you can easily wipe it down. It also lays sooo much nicer on sand and grass than a regular beach towel. Our blanket ended up getting a ton of use this past year, most notably at soccer games and beach days. I believe I paid around $20 for it. While I’ve not seen it in stock at Costco since last summer, I would definitely keep my eyes peeled out for it again next year!
Item #3: Nathan Running Belt (Amazon Link)
I’ve had a couple running belts over the years, but they were very thin and I’d really have to sqqquuuueeeezzzee items in. As I moved into longer distances for my marathon training this past year, it was clear I needed something a bit more substantial. A friend recommended the Nathan running belt (Amazon link). I picked one up, and it’s been fantastic! There are zip pouches in the front and back along with flip pouches on the sides. I usually put my phone in the front and fuel in the back. If you are a runner, I totally recommend it.
Item #4: Packable Down Throws (Costco)
I had seen these throws a few times at Costco, but wasn’t sure if they’d be any good. After several of you assured me they were, I went back and picked a couple up! I now wish I’d picked a couple more! These have been wonderful for chilly soccer games and cross country meets. They aren’t the most warm blanket you’ve ever had, but are certainly a nice added layer when you’re standing or sitting out in the cold. I paid $20 for mine, but they have been on sale for about $15. (Not sure if this is still the case.)
Item #5: Lilac Girls (Amazon Link)
Full disclosure: I won this book at a party my book club had earlier this fall. Double disclosure: I’ve read a fair amount of WWII era novels and quite frankly, I’ve grown a bit weary of the genre and tend to gravitate to other historical novels or non-fiction. At any rate, I decided I might as well read the book, since I’d won it. I was surprisingly caught up in the narrative of the three women the book centers on. They offered perspectives and stories about WWII that were quite factual and that I’d not known about prior to the novel. I tend to be fairly critical about works of fiction (could be my creative writing background), but I found myself so caught up in the book and characters that a lot of my critiquing ways got left to the side! Simply put, it was one of the most beautiful and poignant books I’ve read in recent years. I would absolutely recommend it!
Item #6: Ear Planes (Amazon Link)
I sometimes struggle with ear pain and pressure when landing in airplanes – to the point it makes me anxious about flying! On a whim, I poked around Amazon one day for a solution and stumbled on Ear Planes. They seem like such a gimmick – plugs you put in your ears. But the overwhelmingly positive reviews and low cost made me give them a try. Man oh man guys, these things totally work! I had to fly again just a few days ago and was not even concerned about getting on the plane, thanks to having these handy. For more information, you might wish to read my post about Ear Planes.
Item #7: Nuun (Amazon Link)
Truth be told, I’ve been using Nuun for a few years now, but it turns out I’ve never taken the time to write about it in one of these “favorite things” posts. DOH! Nuun is a sports electrolyte drink and my go-to fuel for runs of 8 miles or longer. I definitely prefer it over Gatorade as it is a lot less sugary and doesn’t upset your stomach. Nuun comes in a variety of flavors and some of my favorites include Triple Berry, Grape, Watermelon, and Lemon Lime. They come in little tablets that dissolve in water. My kids also enjoy drinking it after soccer or cross country practices. On chilly days, I’ve also been known to drink it hot. The best deals I’ve found on Nuun have been through Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. (In stores, you’ll find the tubes for about $6-7 versus Amazon, $4.50 – 6, depending on the variety.)
Item #8: Hand Soaps (Costco)
Some things you buy on a whim and you later regret, knowing it was a splurge. Others you buy on a whim and you later wish you’d bought more of, because it turned out to be a deal. These soaps that I found at Costco were in the latter group. They were only $9.99 and I purchased them in April. I got such compliments on them and decided to go back and buy more as gifts only to find they were gone! And, I’ve never seen them since! But if you see them – buy them. They are beautiful, large, and smell great. I hope Costco brings them back in 2018.
Item #9: Boggle App
I am not a huge fan of games of any sort – video, board, or otherwise. But I positively love playing Boggle on my phone! The app is free to download (I have it for my Apple phone) and I usually play it when I have a few minutes to kill waiting to pick my son up from soccer or just to unwind at the end of the day. There are in-app purchases, but I avoid those. If you enjoy the regular version of Boggle, give this one a shot!
Item #10: Plush-Knit Joggers from Old Navy (Old Navy)
I love wearing a cozy pair of sweats in the evening or around the house on the weekends, but mine were all threadbare! Not gonna work. After searching for an alternative, I stumbled on this pair from Old Navy. As soon as they arrived in the mail, I knew I was going to love them. They are comfortably cut and the material is sooo soft. I got them in gray, but am seriously thinking of buying a couple more pairs! If you’re looking for something to cozy up in this winter season, do yourself a favor ladies and buy a pair of these!
So there you have it – my 2017 Favorite Things list! I’d love to know about the products, foods, and items that you discovered this year. Please leave a comment below!