Things took a sharp turn in our house from the last time I checked in. We went from being all excited to return to school and get back into a routine after winter break to 102-degree fevers for two of our three boys and lots of rest time on the couch. Ryder caught a bug a couple of weeks ago and thankfully was immune this time around but Rhett and Chase were down for the count. Fortunately their sickness symptoms were limited to fevers and lethargy (no tummy issues, thank goodness) and all fevers are gone now. Maybe next week will be our week to return to normalcy?

As for the weekend, clearly our plans are fluid because we were not about to schedule anything when we had two sick kids on our hands. Assuming all boys are healthy, I’m sure we’ll get out of the house and fill our time with something fun. Chase is dying to go ice skating again so maybe that will find its way into our plans.

As for today, let’s dive into the first edition of Friday favorites in 2024! I began sharing this weekly series on the blog years ago as a way to focus on the little things in daily life that bring me joy and always love hearing a little bit about what you’re loving each week whenever you guys choose to share. I hope you all have a wonderful (healthy!) weekend!

Things I’m Loving Friday

As I sit at my desk and type up today’s blog post, I’m sipping out of my new Ember mug, so I suppose it’s only fitting it would make today’s list! I received an Ember mug from Ryan for Christmas because he knows I’m crazy about loving my coffee H-O-T. (I truly order my lattes from coffee shops “extra hot” because the milk in my whole milk lattes always seems to cool them down too much for my liking.) I’m also notoriously picky about mugs (I cannot handle stainless steel mug or tumbler interiors because they make coffee taste metallic to me) so I wasn’t sure how the Ember mug would go over (it’s ceramic coated) but I gave it a go and I’m happy to say I am loving it!

It’s especially nice when I’m sipping my coffee and trying to accomplish all the things in the morning and inevitably my coffee goes untouched. Coming back to my coffee cup to find the coffee still perfectly warm feels like magic! It’s amazing! (Random side note: I think this would be such a wonderful gift for a coffee or tea-loving new mom. I cannot tell you how many times I reheated my coffee or dumped it out because it got too cold during the baby days.) My one major gripe: I wish it was bigger. The biggest size available in the mug style with a handle (something else I’m crazy about) is 14 ounces and I wish they made an 18 or 20-ounce version for those of us who like loads of hot, foamy milk in our coffee. Despite it’s slightly-too-small size, it’s still quickly become the mug I find myself reaching for every morning.

Over the holiday season, I had a few standout Etsy orders I wanted to highlight here, as the talent level of these small businesses is next-level and made for some of my favorite gifts to give! I love Etsy so, so much for finding quality personalized gifts for loved ones. A few favorites from our 2023 Christmas:

Our whole family was so sad when Kona passed away last fall, as we’ve all known and loved her since her puppy days when she was Ross’ dog when he was in law school. She then became became a beloved family pet to my sister and her children and captured all of our hearts with her happy-go-lucky personality, amazing tolerance toward our little ones and her silly antics with Sadie. Dogs are simply the best and leave behind such a void when they pass and I knew I wanted to do something small to honor Kona’s memory for Leslie and Ross for Christmas this year. The artist I found through the Dearest Delilah Etsy shop did an incredible job capturing Kona’s likeness and even included an additional portrait in my order which blew me away. It was a huge hit and I cannot recommend Rachael, the artist behind this stunning work, enough.

This was another gift I gave to my sister! (Can you tell she’s one of my favorite people to shop for every year?) I made the design using a beginner embroidery kit I ordered through ShopRomRom on Etsy. I did my first ever embroidery hoop project a year ago using a beginner kit and when my sister admired my previous creation during her Thanksgiving visit this year, I filed the idea to make something similar for her for Christmas away in the back of my mind. When I browsed Etsy for a beginner kit to make for Leslie in early December, the Christ in the Manger kit immediately stuck out at me. It was stunning and perfectly captured the reason behind the holiday season in a design that still felt manageable to a super-beginner embroiderer like me. It was a fun project to work on leading up to Christmas and Leslie loved it!

This personalized leather bookmark was a stocking stuffer I ordered for Ryan and one he seemed to really love as it’s already found a place in the book we are currently reading aloud with Chase. I thought it had a simple, masculine look and had it personalized with the first initials of each member of our family.

Ryan has used a carabiner as his keychain for decades (he’s has the same beat-up blue one since we started dating) and I thought he might like an updated one for Christmas. I ordered this one through Etsy, again personalized with the first initial of each member of our family, and it quickly claimed the top-spot as his new keychain. I’ll consider that a small Christmas win!

I’ve already mentioned these ornaments on the blog but figured they deserved a shout out again! The Pepper ornament we had painted for Ryder and the husky ornament we had made for Rhett (to resemble his favorite stuffed animal) both came from Etsy shops. (Chase’s turtle ornament was not an Etsy find this year.) Both of our younger boys’ ornaments turned out better than I could’ve hoped and are such a wonderful addition to our Christmas tree!

My rating: B 

Karin Slaughter… phewyyy. Her books are not for the faint of heart and apparently I forgot this fact as I dove into Girl, Forgotten. There’s a reason her mystery novels are so popular — they’re immediately engrossing and definitely keep you guessing — but I admittedly struggle with the detail and intensity of some of her words and the language used… and that comes from someone very used to reading lots of mystery and suspense novels. That being said, if you can get through graphic descriptions and extremely cringe-worthy language, her books are intriguing. I had no idea who was responsible for the death of one of the main characters in Girl, Forgotten for the vast majority of the book and my suspicions were only confirmed close to the very end of the novel. It’s a novel packed with a lot of characters and a plot that goes in a million different directions, making it a page turner that held my interest the entire time.

The book centers around the 1982 murder of good girl Emily Vaughn, the daughter of a prominent judge who, 40 years later, finds herself on the receiving end of some very personal death threats. Prior to her murder, Emily was pregnant and vehemently denied knowing the identity of her baby’s father. An arrest was never made following Emily’s murder and four decades later, US Marshal Andrea Oliver is assigned to protect Judge Vaughn. As Andrea learns more about Emily’s murder, her own motivations for solving this 40-year mystery come into play. Will the truth ever come to light? Will Andrea be able to protect Judge Vaughn? Will the the father of Emily’s baby ever be identified and the person who murdered her brought to justice?

A year or so ago I began sharing a top 10 list at the end of every month as a way to give you guys a glimpse back into some of the blog posts you may have missed or some of my favorite finds you may have had on your radar that got lost in blogging and social media mayhem. See below for December’s top 10!

Blog Posts

Your Top 10 Favorites

 

Book Recommendations by Category (Some of my favorites, organized by genre)

My Skincare Routine (The morning + evening skincare routine easy enough I actually stick to it)

Question of the Day

How is your 2024 so far? Anything special you’d like to highlight that is making you smile? 

End

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