Favorite Things

Below is a summary of some of my favorite items that I use regularly in the kitchen, with my kids, and for myself. Many of these have been mentioned in various places in this blog.

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use or purchase myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase an item. In addition, as the author of The Adventures of Bubby and Didi, I also receive compensation for each copy of the book that is purchased.

In The Kitchen

  • Our Place Always Pan: This was one of those ads that followed me around the internet for months. After a rough day, I gave in and bought myself one in the Heat color (red is a color I can’t resist). AND, I love it! It really is worth all the fuss and is super versatile and non-stick. I’m seriously debating putting the red one in our camper and getting a Terracotta color pan for our kitchen… Update: I stopped debating this and ordered the Terracotta as well. Definitely get the bamboo steamer that sits between the pan and the lid. This addition makes the pan a nice double-decker cooking vessel for when you need a meal quick!
  • Le Creuset cookware: I love Le Creuset products and have been slowly building up my collection in Flame (one of the two original colors) over the last few years. Everything cleans up nicely and will last until my kids are fighting over them one day. Personally, I think every home chef should have one of their 5 1/2 qt Dutch Ovens in your favorite color for making everything from pasta sauces to soups in. Pro Tip: See if you have an outlet store near you. These stores have a more limited selection of products but great deals if they happen to have the color and product you need.
  • Crowfoot Valley Farm (local farm): This is a local farm in Parker, Colorado where we gets our eggs delivered from each week. We also buy their meat products and have loved everything we have purchased from Jason, Alli and their sweet family.
  • Butcher Box: We try to eat good quality meat that is raised in a way that respects the animals as well as the environment. This typically means buying from local farmers when possible but I have also enjoyed having Butcher Box to supplement my local purchases and to make sure my freezer is stocked. We get a box every couple of months with ground beef, steaks, and and a roast but also have the option to add unique options like lobster or other items for special occasions. Link provided gives you access to $30 off your first box.
  • Wild Alaskan Company: We are a fish-loving family but I find it hard to get good fish sometimes. If I’m using a grocery delivery service, I’m not 100% confident they will get exactly what I want and I feel like the wild caught options are lacking at the stores near us. (We’re trying to avoid farmed fish with color added.) Wild Alaskan makes getting great fish easy since they are delivered straight to your door every 4, 6, or 8 weeks. We get a box every 6-8 weeks and always know we’ll have good fish in the freezer. I enjoy getting halibut and other varieties that normally wouldn’t be available in our grocery store. Link provided gives you access to $25 off your first box.
  • Shipt grocery delivery: This service is a such a time saver for me. I meal plan usually on Sundays and as I do, I add groceries to my Shipt list. I then select a time for them to be delivered and thanks to the lovely shoppers at Shipt, groceries are on my porch when I need them (usually Monday evening). I also wonder if it winds up paying for itself by the money I save NOT having impulse buys and instead just getting what is on my list.
  • kencko shakes: I love having these on hand for a quick breakfast or snack on the go. They are packed with fruits and veggies while being shelf stable so they last a long time. Mochas, Jades, Scarlets, Greens, and Aquamarines are my favorite blends but I get every single flavor in my box so I have a wide variety on hand all the time. Link provided gives you access to $10 off your first box.
  • Prefare Denver meal kits: Have a crazy busy week? Having a baby or surgery? This meal kit service is based in Denver and puts fantastic meal kits together in a wide variety of different options. Unlike some meal kits where you feel like there are a bazillion steps and ingredients that take way too long to get together, Prefare’s meals are guaranteed to be easy enough to have a meal on the table in in 15 minutes. The hardest part is picking which meals you want out of their chef-prepared options.

Cookbooks

  • How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman: This is a great reference book to have on your shelf. With classic recipes and then fun variations, this book is often what I turn to when I want to try something new, see how long to cook a specific piece of meat, or are trying to finding something to make with an eggplant or anything else that I randomly have on hand.
  • The Defined Dish by Alex Snodgrass: A friend bought this cookbook for me and I spent much of 2020 cooking through the recipes. They are organized into types of cuisine (Italian, Asian, etc) and there is even a section on cleaned up kid food. Favorites in our family are Bun Cha (Vietnamese Pork Meatballs with Fresh Noodle Salad), Grain-Free Pizza Bites, Hibachi-Style Chicken with Magic Mustard Sauce, Turkey Taco Skillet Bake, and Sheet-Pan Chicken Shawarma.
  • Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa: This was another great gift from a friend! I started making sourdough in 2020. A LOT of sourdough! I didn’t know how to make anything other than a classic loaf so this book was great way to expand what I was creating. Using the same basic sourdough starter, this book shows you how to make many variations. I had no idea that the starter I was using could be used to create everything from focaccia, rolls, bagels all in sweet and savory options.
My favorite cookbooks.

For The Garden

  • Seeds Trust seeds: Gardening in Colorado can be tough. Many varieties of fruits and vegetable do not grow well here because of our short growing season and cooler nights. Thankfully, I stumbled on to Seeds Trust years ago and discovered their High Altitude Seed Bucket. The seeds in their bucket are meant for our exact climate and have been very successful in my garden. I seal up the packets and bucket after every use and the seeds stay cool and dry to be used year after year.
  • Tagawa Gardens (local garden center): When moms have a free hour, many go to Target to shop by themselves. I go to Tagawa. I love to wander the aisles for garden ideas and the employees are incredibly knowledgeable whenever you have a question or need help getting something to work in your own space.

Kids Stuff

  • The Adventures of Bubby and Didi by Melissa Gilstrap: Yes, this has to make my favorite things list because I do truly believe in the message of this book. It is meant for kids age 3-8 years old and inspires siblings to find fun things to do together around the house and outside. If your kids say they are bored, read this book to them and say “I can’t wait to see what types of adventures you decide to go on!” and let them take it from there.
  • OK To Wake! clock: I wrote about this clock here in 2018. You can train your kids to not come out of their rooms until this clock turns green. The rule in our house is that if they wake up early, they stay in their room and read or play quietly until the clock says they can come out.
  • Primary.com clothes: If my kids aren’t in hand-me-downs, they are probably wearing Primary. The clothes are soft and tagless and come in fun colors and styles that all mix and match easily. The shirts seem to be just a smidge longer than other brands so they last several months longer. I like to buy my son’s items in red because I can pass them down to my daughter.
  • Young Wild and Friedman play kits: A friend had these for her kids and when my kids sat at her counter playing for almost an hour with them I knew we had to get our own! These are now a go to birthday party gift from our family and every time I peek at the website, I am tempted to get one of the new themes.
  • Compact Play kits: A local option that is similar to the kits above but also has some other options. We have two of the Dough-On-The-Go kits in our camping gear and they are the perfect size for travel.

Camping Gear

  • Colorado Teardrops trailer: Friends of ours bought a Colorado Teardrop a couple of years ago and we have been eyeing them ever since. We finally pulled the trigger and ordered our own in 2020 and received ours in April of 2021. Our Mount Massive model has a queen size mattress inside for Beast and me and then two bunks for the kids. The back opens to a galley kitchen which is my absolute favorite part! I have long said that I love camping and I love cooking but that I hate cooking while camping. The many years we camped out of a tent, I was having to unpack a large box every time I wanted to make a meal. Now, I open up the kitchen and everything is right where I need it.
  • Rumpl blankets: These blankets are perfect for camping. They are incredibly warm and come in gorgeous prints. The kids each have a National Park print that they picked out and Andrew and I have a 2-person blanket that is the absolute perfect size. Link is good for $15 off your first order.

Women’s Clothes and Accessories

  • JJ Winks nightgown: The Room Service Nightgown is super soft, the perfect length, and has the perfect coverage while also looking very pretty.
  • Stitch Fix: As a working mom, I need to look professional during the week but one of the last things I want to do is to spend my free time shopping for clothes. Stitch Fix has been a great solution for me. I get 2-3 boxes each year with 5 items that are a mix of professional and casual items. I basically don’t shop for clothes unless it is a basic need or something incredibly specific. Stitch Fix takes care of everything else and listens to my requests for specific items as well as my style preferences. Link provided gives you $25 off your first box.
  • Figs scrubs: I don’t wear scrubs often but they are nice occasionally when I know I’ll be collecting a bunch of saliva samples at work. (As a genetic counselor, I collect saliva for genetic testing regularly.) I’ve tried many scrubs but they are often stiff and boxy, not fitting or feeling how I would like them too. Figs are absolutely the softest and best fitting scrubs. I love their jogger scrub pants and V-neck scrub tops. Link provided gives you $20 off your first order of $100 or more.
  • Zenni glasses and sunglasses: I wear glasses at work and prescription sunglasses while driving. I’m bad about occasionally losing them and with kids, you never know when they are going to be stepped on or accidentally brushed off my face. Zenni glasses have been a great option for me in this stage of life. The glasses are very reasonably priced and available online. Some frames are so cheap that I get an extra pair or two in fun colors or patterns to use as a fun accessory. (I’m known for wearing my bright red glasses and red shoes around the hospital regularly.) Link provided gives you $5 off your first pair.

Beauty Products

  • Thrive Causemetics: The majority of my makeup comes from this company. I love that they give a portion of their proceeds towards organization that help women (“with every product purchased we give back to help women thrive”) and their products are fantastic. I love the Brilliant Eye Brightener (I have these in multiple colors and they have replaced eye shadow for me), Triple Threat Color Stick (blush, lip color, or even eye shadow stick in one), and Liquid Lash Extensions mascara (this is what I wear when I want bold eyelashes).
  • Honest Beauty: I’ve been using Honest Beauty cleansers and face lotions for awhile now. I was struggling to find something that was anti-acne with all the things my 30+ year old skin needs for anti-aging. The Clearing Cleanser, Soothing Daily Moisturizer, and Clearing Night Serum with Honestly Pure Retinol have been the perfect products for my skin type. I also like the Deep Hydration Face Cream when I need a little extra moisture in the winter. I use the Lip Balm, Lip Crayon, and Tinted Moisturizer as well. The Extreme Length Mascara and Primer is what I wear when I’m going for a more low key or natural look.
  • Olive & June nail polish and manicure/pedicure sets: Ladybug has gotten very into painting nails and doing mani/pedis each week has become a fun little tradition for us. I love Olive & June’s polish and their tutorial videos are really helpful for not-so-talents manicurists like me.
  • Lume deodorant: I have tried MANY natural deodorants without any luck at all. Lume’s ads kept following me around the internet so I finally decided to give them a try and have been very pleasantly surprised. Link provided gives you access to $5 off your first order.
  • Prose haircare: This haircare system was recommended on a podcast I listen to. While it is a bit of a splurge, I really do love how my hair looks and feels. The pre-shampoo mask is a relaxing treat once a week that I try to make time for. Link provided gives you access to $10 off your first order.
  • Drunk Elephant Babyfacial: This is a one a week mini-peel/facial that exfoliates and softens your skin. I love how fresh my skin looks after I use it each week.
  • First Aid Beauty Bump Eraser: With Colorado being so dry, exfoliation is key. This Bump Eraser is great for the bumps on back of your arms and any dry areas on your body.
  • St. Ives Apricot Scrub: Again with the exfoliation, but this time for your face! St. Ives Apricot Scrub comes in many different varieties (anti-acne, blackhead remover, etc) so you can pick your biggest need and get great exfoliation for your face at the same time. AND, most varieties are available at local grocery stores and drug stores.

Around The House

  • Peloton: I had been using the Peloton app for over a year when Andrew surprised me and got us a bike for Christmas 2019. At first, I was thinking that we really didn’t need such a fancy bike (my $50 Facebook Marketplace find was working fine, thank you very much) but I really have fallen in love with it. The bike and cycling classes are fantastic and then there are also the yoga, stretching, strength, barre, pilates, and other classes that are great ways to mix up your workout routine. I also love the outdoor running audio. When I ran a half marathon in 2018, I used two one hour run audio tracks with music and the instructor Becs Gentry encouraging me along the way. It felt like she was my running buddy for the race. Use referral code RDFFHT for $100 off accessories when you order a bike.
  • Lindsay Letters art: The art is my house is a mix of my own paintings and things from Lindsay Letters. We have the Welcome Here Manifesto in our entryway and one of her abstracts comes out for fall and another for winter/Christmas. I also love the Creatives Calendar we have that helps us keep organized and the kids to know what is going on each day.
I love having this in the entry of our home.

Books

Podcasts (Adults)

I’m sharing the Apple podcast links here. You can also search for these in your favorite podcast player.

  • Pantsuit Politics: Two Christian women talking politics in a grace-filled way.
  • NPR Shortwave: 10 minute daily podcast with the latest science headlines and background information to understand the issue more fully.
  • Skimm This: From The Skimm, this podcast series does a short but deep dive in the headlines with just the facts.
  • She Reads Truth: Weekly discussion about a portion of the Bible.
  • Pandemic: Corona Virus Edition: A host and then set of brothers who discuss the current issues with the coronavirus. One of the brothers is a Harvard epidemiologist, the other is a physician at the University of Colorado Hospital. (The brothers were in the leadership class I was in at CU.) I have enjoyed listening to them discuss the various issues from their two different but “boots on the ground” perspectives.

Podcasts (Kids)

Again, sharing the Apple podcast links here. You can also search for these in your favorite podcast player.

  • Wow In The World: Fun stories that incorporate the latest in science and technology for kids.
  • Big Life Kids: Sweet stories that have a message about developing resiliency and confidence for kids.

Instagram Follows

  • Bubby and Didi: Yes, this one is mine. I share fun things to do with kids, updates about the book, as well as information about book giveaways and readings.
  • Danae Mercer: Every woman should follow Danae. She shares how influencers and magazines contort and edit pictures. She encourages self-love of your own body. After following her for a month, I bought a red bikini and can’t wait to wear it!
  • mini BFF bookclub/Annie F Downs: Annie is an author and podcaster who also does a Mini BFF Book Club every Monday night. She reads a children’s book aloud and talks about the book afterwards. My kids love listening to her read and then sending her pictures they draw of their favorite page in the book. Annie often sends them postcards back thanking them for the pictures, which they think is just so cool.
  • All Sides Now: This group takes headlines and articles from various sources and compares the writing, which shows the slant the source is using. I enjoy seeing their side-by-side headline comparisons which helps me recognize the bias in most sources. They also provide a regularly updated infographic that rates the leaning of various sources (Left, Lean Left, Center, Lean Right, and Right). This helps me to try to read from a variety of different sources in order to better understand various perspectives and make sure I’m not in a biased echo chamber.
  • The Makerista: I know Gwen from high school and it has been fun to watch her rise in the blogging and creative world. She has a traditional style, thrifts a lot of different pieces for her home and clothes, and has a beautiful garden and outside space. She has turned me on to lots of different products and resources (a few on this list even!).
  • Sharon Says So: Sharon McMahon is known as America’s Government Teacher. She answers questions people have about the headlines and different workings in government and offers webinars on various topics that are just the facts, no propaganda. And she mixes in some fun humor as well.
  • Zillow Gone Wild: This is just fun. I love seeing the gigantic mansions and crazy things people do to their homes.
  • National Park Service: Following the NPS gets me excited for camping every summer and helps inspire our trips.

Gifts

  • Diaper Cake from Honest: This is a great gift for a baby shower. The “cake” makes a great gift table centerpiece and is made up of diapers with adorable patterns and filled with Honest bath products and wipes. This is a staple if I’m hosting or co-hosting a baby shower and the moms-to-be I have bought them for have always loved them.