My Favorite Things–Fall

Fall or Autumn?  I can never decide what to call it!  Either way, it’s my very favorite season, and I can’t wait!

Leaves Changing–Two years ago, when he was three and a half, Turkey told me that the leaves change during Fall because “God likes beautiful things.”  I agree with him 100%, and I’m so thankful that we have a God who loves little details.  I love the beautiful reds and yellows and oranges that decorate the trees.  Only God could make leaves that are really dying so pretty!

First Frost–There’s nothing like that first morning there’s frost on the grass, and it crunches underfoot.

Color–The leaves changing are not the only colors I admire in Fall.  The colors that show up on clothes, decorations and displays are so rich and beautiful, and such a pleasing contrast to the eye after looking at the light and bright colors of spring and summer.  All the beautiful eggplants, wines, rusts, and oranges–I can’t wear a lot of these colors (would hate to clash with my skin tone!), but I love seeing them everywhere!

Boots–After a long summer of wearing sandals, which are admittedly more conveinent, I can’t wait to wear a pair of tall boots with a knee length skirt!

Sweaters–Soft and cuddly, it’s as close to wearing a cozy blanket out as you can get.

Leaves Crunching–Like the first frost, there’s something magical about hearing dried leaves crunching under your feet when you go for a leisurely fall stroll.  And don’t even get me started on leaf piles…

Candles–Specifically, my very favorite candle, “Autumn Wreath” by Yankee Candle.  I only allow myself to buy one a year (too darn expensive–I remember when the big candle used to be $19.99, which I thought was a lot, and now they’re $24.99!), and won’t start burning it until October 1st.  And even then, I ration it, so it lasts as close to Christmas as possible.  But it smells heavenly–just like fall, full of spices, and a hint of leaves–and there’s something so homey and comforting about the flicker of candlelight.

Fashion–I love new fall fashions.  Granted, they come out in July or August, when you don’t even want to think about sweaters and long pants, but at least you can comfort yourself with the reminder that cool weather will appear eventually!  Maybe it goes back to my childhood fondness for back to school shopping. I just love seeing the new styles, criticizing the ridiculous ones, dreaming about what I’d like to have, drooling over the popular colors and cuts.  And the crowning glory of it all is the Glamour fall fashion issue.

Pumpkins–So round and cheerful (just like Ladybug!), such a quick and easy way to decorate, and a fun field trip if you are lucky enough to live near a pumpkin patch.  What’s not to love?

The Great Pumpkin–we don’t “do” Halloween.  Not our thing, and we don’t see the need for it.  But I love the tradition of watching The Great Pumpkin every year.  I love Charlie Brown and his friends, I love the music, and I really love the obvious poking of fun at the whole “Santa” thing (which we also don’t “do”) that is present in the story.  It’s cute and fun, and it’s a show I don’t have to worry about my children watching, which is something you can’t say about a lot of the current stuff out there!

Baking–I do my best baking during Fall (well, Fall, and of course, Christmas!).  There are several recipes that I will only make during this season–butterscotch haystacks, pumpkin and apple bread, caramel apple pie–and one thing that *I* don’t make, but will only allow myself to buy during Fall–the very delicious pumpkin butter!  I love all the spices–cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg–and the smells associated with them.  I also love the cozy feeling in the house when something delicious is baking.  Oh yeah–I love eating it all, too!

The Air–I love the air in fall.  A crisp fall breeze coming in the window and billowing the curtains.  The refreshing coolness after a hot summer.  The small of dry leaves.  The smell of burning leaves.  The smell of a chill in the air.  And, if you’re really lucky, the smell of the first snow.

Heavy Blankets–It’s so fun to put the good comforter back on the bed, after a summer of only a light blanket.  It makes me so happy to need the comforter to keep warm (because that means that I am finally, actually, cold!), and I love the weight of a heavy blanket.

Long Sleeves–particularly seeing my children in long sleeves.  After seeing them in shorts and t-shirts for so many months, the long pants and long sleeve shirts somehow emphasize how they’re grown, and make them seem smaller, at the same time.  I have no idea how that’s possible, but it is.  I’m always struck by how much older they look in long sleeves, but they seem littler, too.  Maybe because the bigger sizes and new styles make them look more grown-up, but they’re dwarfed by the length?  I don’t know.  Weird.

Being Cold–After the aforementioned long, hot summer, I love being a little cold.  Like when you forget to close the window before you go to bed, and you’re a little reluctant to get out from under the covers in the morning.  When your nose is just a little too cold.  When you think you may actually want to put on gloves and/or a scarf.  Or needing to wear a sweater or a great jacket for the first time.  What can I say?  My ancestors are from northern-ish Europe–being cold is in my blood, and I’m far more comfortable in chilly weather than I am in hot!

Crock-pot Meals and Soup–I do make these kind of meals all year long.  But I make them a lot more when it gets cooler out.  For one thing, the weather is more conducive to it–when it’s chilly, you want to eat something warm and comforting, something that will stick to your ribs and keep you warm, especially if you’re going to be outside.  I love the wonderful smell in the house when something is cooking in the crock-pot all day.  Or the smell of soup simmering for several hours.  And the delicious flavors in those dishes…yum!  Which brings me to…

Spices–Not just the baking kind, although I do love baking spices.  The smell and taste of delicious flavors like cloves and cinnamon–and they seem more prevalent in recipes I make at this time of year.  But savory flavors, too, like curry and cumin, mean Fall to me.  Probably because there are a lot of big flavors in crock-pot dishes and soups.  Maybe because you’re more likely to eat heavier flavors and richer foods in Fall and Winter than other times of the year.  But Fall mean using lots of different spices to me, and since I like both cooking and baking, this is good news!

Apple Cider–I hate apple juice.  Just can’t stand it, and I have to be pretty desperate to drink it.  But apple cider is another story altogether.  It’s a good thing it’s so expensive (I guess), or I would drink entirely too much of it.  It’s just so good and full of flavor.  And if you’re feeling really ambitious, and want to heat it with mulling spices, Oh. My. Goodness!  It’s just the perfect fall beverage!

Running the Heat for the First Time–There’s a special smell in the house when you run the heat for the first time.  I have very strong memories of this from my childhood, and I was afraid when I moved to my own home that maybe it was something particular about my parents’ house.  Nope–it seems to be universal, and I look forward to it every year.

The First Snow–Usually, at least in the places I’ve lived, the first snowfall of the year technically occurs in Fall (even if it’s usually the very tail end).  The world is just magical when it snows, and even though I’ll be sick of it by mid-January, there’s something so special about that first dusting…

Christmas–I know, Christmas is in Winter (but only by a few days!), but I love the anticipation of the Advent/Christmas season.  Starting about mid-October, I start getting really excited, and by the time we put the tree up after Thanksgiving, I’m ready to go.  Fall is my specials pre-Christmas time, which I know sounds silly, but is really important to me.  I’ve never met anybody who likes Christmas as much as I do, and I like having that time to myself where I’m excited about the upcoming Holiday, when other people aren’t really thinking about it yet.  It’s my favorite!

I love Fall–can you tell?

My Favorite Things–My House

Thought I’d take a departure from my usual lists of things to write about what I like best about my house.

Upstairs Laundry Room–First of all, after living in three different apartments, I’m still just grateful to have my own washer and dryer!  And, ever since my vicarage-induced fear of basements, the idea of having to go down into one almost daily has terrified me.  I love that the machines are upstairs, where most of the stuff I wash is located.  I also love that it’s right next to the playroom, so I don’t have to wonder what my children are up to when I’m doing one of the at least ten loads of laundry that need to be washed every week.

Upstairs Playroom–I suppose if we had a finished playroom in the basement, that could be on the list as well (basement phobia aside).  The point is, I like having a place for our toys that’s not in the main living area of the house.  It helps at least contain the clutter when the bulk of the toys are upstairs.

Open Kitchen/Living Room–It’s so nice to be able to be a part of what’s going on in the main area of the house when I’m cooking, cleaning, or doing something at the table like clipping coupons.

Kitchen Faucet–Silly thing to like, I know, but it pulls out from the fixture to become the dish sprayer. Genius!

Pantry–Big enough to hold everything I want it to, and also keep the trash can and the craft bin out of the way.  I applaud the person who decided that kitchens deserved closets, too!

Kitchen Island–(Can you tell I love my kitchen?!?)  I love the extra work space and cabinet space.  But what I really love about the island is that it allows me to work at the counter without turning my back on the rest of the kitchen/my children/the TV/the door (I’m weird about having my back to the door).  I can see what’s going on, and still prepare my meals–the best of both worlds!

Blankets–We have a stack of blankets in the corner (when the children haven’t draped them all over) of our living room.  They don’t match each other or anything else–we have fleece and chenille, character blankets and quilts, animal and sports themed blankets.  But I love knowing that if someone is chilly when watching a movie, or just wants to snuggle in a blanky because it’s soft, they can just grab a blanket off the pile.

Game Cabinet–I love this for two reasons.  One, I love the armoire itself.  It’s pretty, I like the color of the wood, and it matches the rest of the furniture.  Two, I love that it’s filled with all kinds of games.  Games for kids and games for adults, family games, group games, and, of course, my favorite, our collection of Ticket to Ride games.  The place to go if you’re looking for some fun!

TV–Just in case the fun we’re looking for is a little more passive than games, I’m happy that we have a nice TV (and a nice collections of DVDs to go with it!) where we can veg out together, watch movies, the news, the Olympics (can you tell I can’t wait?)–whatever strikes our fancy.

Living Room Picture–We bought this picture of Jesus as a toddler helping Joseph in his carpentry shop as a wedding gift to each other.  It is one of the few things that has been with us on all our moves, and displayed proudly in all our homes.  My favorite thing about it is the shadow cast behind toddler Jesus, not in the shape of a child, but the shape of a cross.  Very cool.

Mission Theme–I didn’t even realize at first that our house had a theme, decor-wise.  Then, one day it hit me–we have a lot of mission furniture, and the other decorations, especially in the living room, also kind of fit the theme.  Maybe I have decorating talent I wasn’t even aware of!

Master Bathroom–Maybe it’s because my parent’s house didn’t have a master bedroom/bathroom, but it’s still a novelty to me that we have a bathroom connected our bedroom.  I also love the garden style tub and separate shower–it’s as close to a spa as I’ll ever get.

Walk-in Closets–The three bedrooms we use as such all have walk-in closets.  It’s so nice to have the extra space for all our stuff–we’ve even put our dressers for two of the bedrooms in the closets!  It’s almost decadent!

Bookshelves–I love our bookshelves, not for themselves, because they’re the cheap, put-it-together-yourself from Target kind, but for the massive number of books we have on them.  I still use the library a lot, but I love knowing that I can find a book from pretty much any genre right here in my own home if I so desire.

Bedding–I love the bedding we have.  I’m specifically referring to our fall/winter bedding, because we just have a light blanket for the summer.  But our heavy comforter is the prettiest shade of indigo, and has matching shams and Euro shams, which I am a total sucker for–just love them.  Makes it seem like a hotel. And the high thread count sheets–I’ll never go back to cheap-o sheets again.  For that matter, I also love the bedding in our guest room–also has high thread count sheets, and I think the plaid comforter is very nice.

Back Door–I like having an actual door in kitchen.  Not a sliding door, but a regular old six panel door.  I am grateful not to have to worry about having blinds or curtains across a sliding door.

Photo Groupings–I spent a lot of time figuring out how I wanted to arrange the special photos I had framed.  I moved them around a bit, but for now, I think I have them way I want them.  Two black and white and three color groupings in the den (including one of our wedding photos, and one of the children’s first birthday portraits), as well as a Christmas-themed grouping in the living room.  I love having pictures of family and happy times to look at!

Christmas Decorations–They’re only out for four to six weeks of the year, but I love the decorations we’ve put together–our house definitely looks prettiest in December!

Americana Wall–My theme wall in the kitchen.  If we ever finish painting (it’s looking doubtful), all the kitchen walls will be red, and the valance and one curtain we have are navy blue.  Right next to the window with the blue curtain is my wall grouping of Americana “stuff.”  Rustic looking flags, stars, Uncle Sam, a “liberty” sign–you get the idea.  I’ve been collecting the stuff in that grouping (and it’s not that huge–less than ten things) since before we got married.  I really like what I’ve accumulated and the way I’ve arranged it, although I am looking for one last piece to balance it out.  I’ll know it if I ever see it–I’m waiting for something of a very specific size and shape!

Den Table–My in-laws gave us this neat table for our first Christmas in this house.  It’s a skinny table (What do you call that?  A cocktail table maybe? A console table?) in our mission style.  What makes it special, though, is that they mod-podged pictures of our house at the various stages of the building process (and a cool picture of the first snow after we moved in!) on to the top.  Such a thoughtful gift, and such special memories.

Rocking Chair–Also a gift from my in-laws, this is something of a family heirloom.  They wrote on the underside of the chair who it belonged to and when they gave it to us.  I enjoyed rocking Ladybug in this chair when she was tiny, and now it’s going to be the “teacher chair” in our schoolroom.

Schoolroom–I have to brag on myself a bit, here.  I love the way our schoolroom (also known as the guest room) has come together.  I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on it, but I really think it looks quite school-y, and is quickly becoming a favorite room in the house for everyone!

My Family–I would be remiss if I left out my family, since they are in the house most of the time.  It wouldn’t be my home without my family in it, and they are the best thing I’ve got going!

My Favorite Things–Movies


Gone With the Wind–Love the movie almost as much as the book–Scarlett gets to wear so many beautiful dresses, and I’m a sucker for anything Civil War related.

Apollo 13–It doesn’t matter how many documentaries I see, or how many times I studied it in history, or how many times I see the movie itself, I always wonder if they’re going to make it home.

The American President–The line at the end about the rose garden gets me every time!

Little Women–Can I say that I still hate Amy, and that Jo and Laurie should have gotten married?

Dirty Dancing–OK, not the most wholesome movie, but I love the dancing.

Jerry Maguire–I liked this movie a lot more before Tom Cruise got so weird, but it still makes me smile.

Save the Last Dance–Cool movie, takes place in Chicago, love the dancing.

Ever After–Such a neat twist on the Cinderella story!


Hoosiers–This movie still sends chills up my spine, and I’m guessing I’ve probably seen it at least 50 times, if not more. The music is so well written, and when Norman Dale is driving down those country roads at the beginning of the movie, I feel an inexplicable longing to live in that time and that place.

A League of Their Own–I love the time period of this movie, and love the concept. Can’t imagine playing baseball in a dress, though!

The Cutting Edge–It’s just cute–plus, I love figure skating!

Major League–I know, I know–it’s horribly offensive, but it’s also hilarious, and having grown up a Milwaukee Brewers fan, I have to love Bob Uecker’s performance.


My Big Fat Greek Wedding–Break out the Windex and the uzzo (did I even spell that right?)! This movie reminds me of all of my favorite things about Chicago.

The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2–Royal Engagement–Every little girl dreams about being a princess, and apparently, that dream didn’t die as I got older. When I watch these movies, I can still imagine that someday, the royal family will call and offer me my crown…

Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride 2–There is just nothing not to like about these movies. Hilarity at it’s finest!

13 Going on 30–This movie takes such an innocent approach to everything. There’s very little offensive in it, it’s funny and sweet and cute. I’m going to have to watch it again soon!

Clueless–I’m kind of embarrassed to admit how much I like this movie. Everybody has a guilty pleasure of some kind, right? I am reminded of all the best things and all of the worst things about high school whenever I watch it.

What Women Want–Seriously, does it get much funnier than this? Who knew Mel Gibson could be so hilarious! I just about die every time he tries to put the pantyhose on!

Cheaper by the Dozen (original and remake)–This is a great movie, although the original sure does make me cry. Then again, I sobbed during the remake, too–I was pregnant, it’s a long story that makes me sound crazy…never mind.

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation–I think this is the only movie on my list that I don’t actually own. I didn’t even know it was available on DVD until I looked it up today. Like On Moonlight Bay, this is another one that I would watch whenever it would come on cable, because it’s just so darn funny!

The Parent Trap (original only!)–It’s corny, but it’s also sweet.


White Christmas–This may be my favorite movie, ever. Which is unfortunate, given there’s only about a month a half out of the year where it’s acceptable to watch it. I love the music, I really love the dancing (come on, didn’t we all dance along to “Sisters” when we were little girls?), I love the time period. And the costumes…I’d give an arm to wear some of those, especially the red and white dresses at the end. And that final set…ahhh, Christmas decorating at it’s finest.

Elf–This is a fairly recent addition to my list, but there is something so hilarious and yet charming about this film. Bob Newhart as the old elf? Genius! And don’t even get me started about Ed Asner playing Santa!

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation–Another movie I’m embarrassed to admit I like, but when that squirrel comes flying out of the Christmas tree…

The Muppet Christmas Carol–I have seen a lot of versions of A Christmas Carol, but this one is my favorite, because it’s not that dark, and it’s really funny. How can anything with Rizzo the rat be anything but?


Cars–One of the few children’s movies we have that I can watch over and over and not get sick of it. And I think it has such a good message on top of it.

Fantasia–I confess, I can’t watch this movie without falling asleep at some point during it, but I still think it’s one of the neatest ideas ever for an animated film.

Cinderella–I liked this movie OK before, but Bunny has made me watch it so many times, it’s really grown on me.


Seven Brides for Seven Brothers–This is another movie I’ve watched a ridiculous number of times. But again, I’m a sucker for singing and dancing, and there is plenty of both in this one.

Sound of Music–A nod to my Austrian roots–I always wonder what my Grandfather’s life was like when I watch this movie, although he left Austria a good 15-20 years before they did in the film.

On Moonlight Bay–I waited for what seemed like a lifetime (which, at the time I suppose was technically true!) for this movie to come out on DVD. I saw it for the first time in college, and watched it every time it was on cable after that, and kept patiently waiting for my own copy, which I now have. I have yet to see the sequel, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, but I’m hoping it’s as good.

State Fair–“It’s the best state fair in our state!” This line didn’t used to make any sense to me, but I suppose in Illinois, there could be some argument over who has the best state fair in the state!

All Aboard!

Ryan shared some very exciting news with me this morning! Days of Wonder is going to be releasing Ticket to Ride: Christmas Edition (more commonly known as Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries) on a limited basis worldwide this September. If you were following my blog last week, you know that I was lamenting the fact that I did not own a copy of this game (the only Ticket to Ride board game we don’t have, in fact), and was scheming as to how I might import a copy without giving away an arm and a leg or one of children to get it here. This news has obviously made my day!

We had already decided that we’re going to have a low key Christmas this year, gift-wise, what with gas prices and the unexpected property tax bill, and the equally unexpected decision to homeschool. Ryan mentioned this a.m. that perhaps we will pick this up as our gift to each other this year. That doesn’t entirely seem fair, as, even though he beats me almost every time, I like the game way more than he does. On the other hand, who am I to turn down a gift? All I know is, it is going to be mighty hard to buy it in September (which I know we will–I’m not willing to push the envelope on just how “limited” this release is!) and then wait until Christmas to play. It will be very seasonal, though, which will make it even more fun. Maybe we should even make a rule that we only play this one in the winter-time, to preserve it’s specialness!

The funny thing is, I just told Ryan this weekend that I was thinking of e-mailing Days of Wonder and begging them to either release the game here, or smuggle me a copy. I didn’t follow through with it because *someone* told me there was no point–now I wish I had! I could have had a very happy e-mail from them announcing the game, and a little fodder for an “I told you so!”

My Favorite Things–Games

Board Games

Ticket to Ride–Any and all varieties of this game rock! This family of games is my all time favorite of anything I’ve ever played. The board games, (Europe, Switzerland, Märklin, USA 1910) the card game–I’m even assuming the Xbox version is good. Each game has unique characteristics, so while the basis of the game remains the same, there are differences from version to version that make them all fun. Whether it’s the addition of stations, passengers, or ferries and tunnels, there’s a lot going on in this series. And the new card game has a whole other type of play that is confusing, intriguing and fun. It’s weird, because I don’t win too often, but I can’t help but love it. Now if I could just import a copy of the Nordic Countries board…it’s like Ticket to Ride, Christmas edition!

Mystery of the Abbey–Like Clue, but harder, and much more liturgical. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not very good at this one, but the game itself is so enjoyable, I don’t even mind losing! You even get to ring the bell when it’s time for Mass.

Yahtzee–Poker with dice. How can you go wrong?

Trivial Pursuit–I admit that my husband is the one in the family who is really good at this game, but as a child, I looked forward to the day when I would be allowed to participate (the adults always paired up men vs. women when the family got together), so it still feels special to me to get to play.

Card Games

Uno–I grew up on this one, and it will always be my favorite card game.

Phase 10–It can take a long time to play, but it’s a fun family game, good for having a conversation over.

Rage–I haven’t played this one too many times yet, but it’s easy to understand, moves quickly, and is quite fun, and that’s high praise from me as far as card games go!

Computer Games

Adventure–Remember the old text adventure game? My dad introduced me to it when I was quite young, and his work had finally given him a computer to use at home. I inevitably ended up in a “maze of twisty little passages, all different,” or, for kicks, a “maze of twisty little passages, all alike.” Good times, good times.

Tetris–I don’t care if it’s played on an old computer, a Gameboy or a more advanced game system. It can have extra features (cubes, anyone?) or be the plain old game. No matter what format it comes in, I love it, and it will make me crazy!

SolitaireFreecell, Spider, 40 Thieves–I love ’em all.

Age of Empires–Given my love of history, this was always an intriguing game to play. I especially liked building cathedrals.

Zoo Tycoon–If you ever wondered what it would be like to manage a zoo, this game fulfills the fantasy. Be careful–if you don’t have proper upkeep on your exhibits, the animals will escape!

Roller Coaster Tycoon–I haven’t really played since college, but man, was that a fun game!

Video Games

Bejeweled–You can play this game in so many formats–on your phone, the Xbox, the computer. I can’t believe I couldn’t get any achievements on the Xbox version!

Zuma–For a while last year, my children referred to the Xbox as the “Zuma machine” because that’s all I played on it.

Mario Kart–I have loved every incarnation of this game I have played, but my favorite is still the Nintendo 64 version (but the Wii version is a close second!). I love driving around with Yoshi.

Zelda: Ocarina of Time–I think this is the best Zelda ever, and maybe the best video game I’ve ever played. The story was good, the setting was pretty, I liked the characters. Of course, Ryan had to beat a lot of the bosses for me, but I still had a good time!

Mario 64–True to form, (the first version of any game I play tends to be my favorite–see Mario Kart and Zelda above), this is my favorite of the Mario games. I was introduced to video games late in life (thank you Ryan!), so while I had some peripheral experiences with Mario at friends’ houses, I never really played until college. I still love sitting down with this game, if only to run around the castle. At this point, I could do most levels in my sleep, but it’s entertaining and cute.

My Favorite Things–CDs

A Relaxing Soak in the Tub–I picked this one up at Hallmark at least 10 years ago, and I still love it. A nice collection of classical music, perfect for falling asleep to.

Boys Night Out–The Rat Pack–I feel like I’m in a swanky nightclub whenever I listen to this (or at least what my imagination has created a swanky nightclub to be!)

This One’s From the Heart–James Darren (aka Vic Fontaine)–All I have to do is listen to this CD, and I’m instantly transported to my happy place.

A Splash of Pops–Boston Pops–Every year around the end of June, I have an uncontrollable urge to listen to this. It wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without the Boston Pops!

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Soundtrack–I love the songs (even the corny test copies) that never made it to the movie. So much fun!

O Lord Open My Lips, And My Mouth Will Declare Your Praise, and With High Delight–St. Paul Lutheran Church Children’s Choir–Rumor has it that there is a fourth CD, Sing With All the Saints, but someone (*cough* Ryan *cough*) hasn’t gone down to the bookstore to check out the price for me!

Hymns for All Saints series–CPH–I love the groupings of music on these CDs, and I also love that I got at least one of them free from good ol’ Thrivent.

Road Trip–Not a music CD, but a compilation of old time radio shows dealing with travel. So, my secret is out–I love old time radio. I’m weird, I know it, and I’ve come to accept it. I blame my father, I really do. My favorites are Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack Benny, and the Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show. Oh, and My Favorite Husband, the precursor to television’s I Love Lucy. So mostly comedy. But I love all the selections on this set, and I got to listen to some shows I normally wouldn’t have otherwise.

The 60 Greatest Old Time Radio Christmas Shows: Selected by Andy Williams–I don’t technically own this on CD–I got the audio tapes (does anybody still listen to those?) on clearance. I love this set because: 1.) it’s Christmas; B.) it has a lot of my favorite shows; and, 3.) it has some shows I wouldn’t have normally listened to, and discovered that I actually enjoy (Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, anyone? “On you huskies!”)

The Best of Fibber McGee and Molly–More old time radio–the McGee’s are the first show I fell in love with, and still my number one favorite–there are days I wish I could live in Wistful Vista!

Back Home–Caedmon’s Call–This CD will always remind me of my first pregnancy, so how could it not be one of my favorites?

Sinatra Reprise: The Very Good Years–Frank Sinatra

Anything by Andrew Peterson (but Carried Along will always be my favorite!)–He’s my favorite Christian singer.

WOW 2006–I think this was the first in the WOW series, and in my estimation, it will always be the best.

Christmas with the Rat Pack–The Rat Pack–This is my most-listened to CD every year at Christmastime.

The Nutcracker/Symphony #4–Tchaikovsky–Ryan got me the complete recordings for Christmas one year, and I love them! If I’m really lucky, I can convince him they’re not technically Christmas music, and get my Christmas fix in July.

A Charlie Brown Christmas–Traditionally, this is the first Christmas CD we listen to every year. Possibly because I cheat with it sometime after we watch the Great Pumpkin in October–hey, it’s Charlie Brown music, not Christmas music! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

The Christmas Song–Nat King Cole–This CD has no less than three different recordings of The Christmas Song, aka Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, and also a really cool Toys for Tots promo recording.

White Christmas–Bing Crosby–Classic. What more do I need to say?

Any Mannheim Steamroller Christmas CDs (especially Christmas–love the version of Stille Nacht at the end!)–I know they’re considered “New Age” or whatever, but I can’t find anything objectionable about their Christmas recordings.

The Christmas Trilogy–Trans-Siberian Orchestra–I admit, there are some things on this set I don’t really care for. But there are also some really awesome recordings–especially Christmas Canon.

Holiday Pops–Boston Pops–It wouldn’t seem like Christmas without hearing the Pops perform Sleigh Ride.

Huh, I have an awful lot of Christmas CDs on here. What can I say? I love Christmas music, and listen to it almost exclusively through November and December, and on into Epiphany. And the worst part is, I know there must be a least a CD or two that I’m leaving off this list!

Hoosiers Soundtrack–OK, I never actually actually owned this on CD, because it doesn’t exist, but I wore out the tape in high school, because it was my favorite thing to listen to when falling asleep.

Anything Veggie Tales–I know they’re children’s CDs, but I can’t help but love the dialogue in between tracks, and some of the songs are really funny! And the Junior’s Bedtimes Songs CD is really sweet. I can’t help but tear up at a few of the tracks (One in a Million gets me every time!).

Mad About You Soundtrack–I like this one so much, I’ve owned two copies of it, because my first one mysteriously disappeared!

The Very Best of Sheryl Crow–Can’t stand her politically, but this CD always makes me feel happy.

My Favorite Things–Scrapbooking

I don’t use nearly as many supplies in my scrapbooking endeavors as a lot of people do, but I do have my favorite items. I have to admit, once I find something (item, company, store, etc.) that I really like, I tend to stick with it, so I haven’t tried out as many different things as I probably should, but I still have a nice set of items that I like to use when the urge to be creative sets in!

Die Cuts with a View Paper Stacks and Scrapbook Kits in a Stack–I especially love the different premium stacks that are out there right now (All Dressed Up, anyone?), and I really love how things are already coordinated. I’m terrible at matching papers, and this makes it so much easier for me! I’m particularly hooked on the different seasonal stacks that are available.

Jolee’s Boutique Sticker Collages–There’s a collage for every possible situation you can think of. I don’t even want to begin to calculate how much I’ve spent or how many different ones I’ve purchased over the years.

Therm O Web Mounting Squares–I can go through hundreds of these when I’m on a roll with scrapbooking!

Colorbok The Perfect Album and Refills–I like the wide variety of colors the albums come in, as well as some of the finishes (like the pink glittery one I have for my daughter).

Deja Views Fresh Print Papers–The colors and patterns on these are so pretty. I have several 8×8 stacks, as well as some 12×12 open stock. The blue raspberry is my favorite.

Martha Stewart Crafts Glitter–Love the jewel themed colors–so pretty!

Paper Trimmer–I have a Fiskars, but I don’t think the brand even matters. All I know is, I can’t believe I used to scrapbook without one, especially since I can hardly cut a straight line with scissors!

Whale of a Punch Retro Flower–I tend to overuse this punch, because it’s the only large punch I have, but I think the shape of the flower is just so fun.

Making Memories Brads–Good variety of colors, shapes, patterns, styles and sizes.

Zig Writers–My go to pen, whether the primary colors or the metallic, because I love the double-ended tip.

Sakura Souffle Pens–These can be kind of a pain to work with, because you have to write so slowly, but the finished product looks really cool.

Scotch 3M Quick Dry Adhesive–I don’t use glue too often (see mounting squares above!), but when I do need it, this is the kind I pick up.

Sticko (formerly Stickopotamus) Adhesive Letters–I like the script writing and the fact that you can (or at least used to be able to) pick these up at Target.

Basic Grey Two Scoops Collection Pack–OK, I’ll admit, I haven’t bought this yet, but I’ve had my eye on it for awhile, (such pretty colors and patterns!) and it’s only a matter of time–one of these days, I’ll get it at Hobby Lobby for 40-50% off, and that will make the regular price of $18.99 a lot easier to handle!

Cutter Bee Scissors–The small size makes them perfect for detail work.

Shutterfly–I’ve decided this is my favorite place to use for photos. The prices are decent, they offer good sales, and my favorite part–instead of printing the date the pictures were printed on the back, they print the date the picture was taken. Very helpful in getting journaling done in scrapbooking, especially if you can’t remember when something was.

Michaels–I buy a good portion of my supplies here. Good selection of basic supplies (pens, adhesives, etc.) and a decent selection of Die Cuts with a View and Deja Views. Not to mention, they have excellent coupons (40-50% the regular price of one item) and also a lot of sales.

Archiver’s–Gotta love a chain store dedicated to scrapbooking (nothing against my local scrapbook store, otherwise known as LSS, but it’s way too expensive for me to shop there regularly!), and their class selection is pretty good.

JoAnn online–the in store selection (at least where I live) is pretty abysmal, but they have an awesome selection of all my favorite things online, and you can usually find free shipping.

Hobby Lobby–not my favorite store, but like Michaels, they have good coupons, and even better sales, and the good prices alone earn it a spot on my list. Depending on what I’m looking for, if they actually have it in stock, it can be a steal! Finding what I what can be a challenge though–I honestly don’t think they keep track of inventory at all.

My Favorite Things–Books

I own a lot of books. A whole lot. And my taste in books is pretty varied. I will admit that most of what I read is Christian fiction (primarily Biblical), but I also have a lot of other genres on the shelf. I thought I’d share a list of my very favorite titles from my bookshelves, in case anyone is looking for some new summer reading.

Anything by Francine Rivers, but my favorite two are And the Shofar Blew and The Atonement Child

The Lowlands of Scotland series by Liz Curtis Higgs (the second book, Fair is the Rose, is one of the most heart-wrenching tales I’ve ever read!)

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

And, the authorized sequel, Scarlett, by Alexandra Ripley

A Skeleton in God’s Closet by Paul Maier

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (a favorite from my childhood that I still pick up from time to time!)

The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls (I’m enjoying sharing these with my children.)

Me, Myself, and Bob by Phil Vischer

Katharina Von Bora by Rudolf Markwald and Marilynn Morris Markwald

The Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella (embarrassing to admit, yes, but I do enjoy some chick lit from time to time.)

Sisters, Ink by Rebecca Seitz (combining my two favorite hobbies, reading and scrapbooking, and actually doing a good with both!)

Dress Your Best by Stacy London and Clinton Kelly (what can I say? I loved What Not to Wear back when we had cable)

Magdalene by Angela Elwell Hunt

The Grandma’s Attic series by Arleta Richardson (more books from my childhood that I can’t put down)

Captivating by John Eldredge (I think all daddies of daughters should be required to read this!)

Right from the Start by Shirley K. Morenthaler

Antiques by Sharon Gillenwater (her other Texas books are also good, but this one is my favorite)

Women of the Bible by Ann Spangler (this is supposed to be a daily devotional, but when I first got it, I sat down and read the whole thing straight through. Not sure the theology is always 100%, but it’s really interesting.)

The Millennium trilogy by Judith Reeves-Stevens and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (When I was reading these books, I felt like I was watching a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine movie. Extremely well done, keeping the characters true to themselves.)

Haddasah: One Night with the King by Tommy Tenney

The Potluck Club series by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson