Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Top 18 For The Last 18

My new favorite place to grab drinks with friends, cousins, family, or date night: Vino 209 in Valley Junction. The food is simple and excellent (the white truffle popcorn is unlike anything I've ever had).

Our 18 favorite things from the last 18 days. We've had plenty of new things come into our lives thanks to the holidays. We love nothing more than to pass on the things we love just in case anyone is looking for something too:

1.) We looked like an Old Navy ad at one of our family Christmases, but I really do love Old Navy's puffer vests. Especially because we can get them for the whole family (my husband is thrilled about this too....).

2.) Marriage Story on Netflix is a must watch. I'm told my multiple people You is also a must watch for me, so that's next up.

3.) Speaking of things to watch, I love spending my Sunday mornings with a cup of coffee and CBS Sunday Morning followed by Face The Nation. Sure watching Face The Nation can cause some tension as I (sometimes) scream at the television, but overall I look forward to both of these every week....and I also feel incredibly old for admitting this.

4.) We're big Trader Joe's fans. Sure we like the usual frozen foods that everyone loves and those mini cheese crackers are the bomb, but my absolute favorite thing from TJ's are mini zucchinis and mozzarella. Cube the cheese, put it on top of the zucchinis, pepper on top, bake in the oven at 375 for 15 minutes (or 12 if you get too impatient like the oldest mini). I can eat these as a meal it's so good!

5.) Amazon Music has some great playlists, especially now that it's the end of the year and you can find Top 100 ____ Songs of the 2010's. There's a playlist for every genre. The day after Christmas I blared the Top 100 Country Songs of 2010's while I cleaned. As a result, the seven year old heard Red High Heels for the first time and has now added "fancy red high heels" to her wish list.

6.) Season passes to things are best Christmas presents! We have quite a few passes to places around Des Moines: Blank Park Zoo, Living History Farms, Adventureland. We also get quite a good use out of our annual National Park Pass.

7.) Valley Junction has suddenly become my new go-to area. We did quite a bit of our Christmas shopping at all of the local shops and have the thoroughly been enjoying all of the restaurants and bars in the Junction too. Our faves are Vino 209, Winchester Pub, G Migs, Billy Vees, and Cooper's. All solid choices if you're looking for a night out!

8.) We've had A LOT of car rentals this year thanks to some epic road trip adventures. Our favorites included the Ford Expedition (surprisingly great on gas), Toyota Rav 4 (the gas mileage is unbelievable), and the Chrysler Pacifica (also amazing gas mileage, comfort, and smooth drive). If you plan on renting a vehicle, you can call ahead and request these vehicles as we have done. Enterprise is our choice rental place.

9.) We've played a lot of board games this Christmas break. Our favorites have been Pig Pile, Rubik's Race, and Des Moines Opoly (all gifts for the minis).

10.) Hubs grabbed some of these mini Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys on Amazon. Then we spotted some at Target and added a mini Lite Brite.

11.) Starbucks Irish cream cold brew is my new weakness. I've loved it on these crazy warm (for Iowa) December days.

12.) We've got enough wintery trips coming up that I decided to buy some adult snowpants. I havne't worn them much because we don't have snow yet, but I liked the price, looks, and they weren't uncomfortable. I also tried them on and prompty spilled coffee on them, which just wiped right off of the pants. I'm fairly confident they'll be great.

13.) The hit daycare toy of the season is the Little People Frozen Castle and Toy Story 4 Figurines. I love that even the older kids got excited about the new toy additions.

14.) Hubs surprised me with a new Roku TV for our upstairs. I'm a big fan of our Roku and I really do love the TV (even though I insisted, and still insist, it wasn't needed).

15.) I'm gearing up for another Gala season and Rent The Runway comes to my rescue again with dress choices. I used them for my Gala dress last year and had a great experience. Hoping for the same this year, but at the very least, I'm extremely pleased with their selection and prices.

16.) Frontier Airlines has my back lately with decent prices for flights. It's largely known (here in the heart of Iowa) that the Des Moines Airport does not have cheap airline tickets. It can be an incredibly expensive airport to fly in and out of. However, I've scored some pretty decent tickets to fun places. I usually plan out our vacays well in advance, but my undetermined travel plans have made way for unexpected travels that I can't wait for.

17.) My heating pad comes with me everywhere nowadays. I'm old, I never had to use one once until I hit 35. But whatever. During the winter I like warming it up and holding it in my hands to keep me warm. That's not being old, that's just being weird. Anyways, I love this heating pad and highly recommend whether it's for backaches, muscle aches, neck pains, or just keeping your hands warm.

18.) Santa scored an unbelievable deal on the Friends Lego set and gave it to the middle mini for Christmas. It took a few days for the set to be complete (Santa gave the 1,000+ Lego set to the kid who can't sit still for more than ten minutes at a time) and it was so worth it! Worth the money, worth watching the middle build it, and worth seeing it done. It's really cool!