© 2019 Jennifer Lian Anderson 

THINGS THAT MAKE ME GO "HMMMM"

I collect favorite things of mine and then get on a soapbox and preach their amazingness to anyone who will listen. The reason remains unclear. I believe it started ten years ago when I was diagnosed with Celiac and was getting really tired of spending countless dollars on different flavored cardboard. When I found a product that worked (or tasted good) I spread the word. My favorite things go beyond the kitchen pantry. These favorites are mine, my kids, my friends, and the dry cleaning lady down the street. 

Hey family budget, you're welcome.

$8.15

When we first look at refining the household budget we look at cutting back coffee shop dependence. But really it comes down to the expensive attention I pay my nails. My poor nails. I jumped on the gel bandwagon and even though I could hear my nails weeping as they were being tortured by the terrible chemicals, I tuned them out. Cause damn, my nails looked good. Until that day when I realized that I should let my nails breathe and take a break from the gel. My nails (if you could call them that) looked like the withered merpeople in Ursula's jail. And then I found the twisty bottle of Essie. Some salons have it. Otherwise I buy my favorite colors and bring them. The paint lasts 2 weeks. No joke. Your nails will thank you. Your wallet will thank you. 

Essie Gel Couture

Screw you, Keto diet!

$29

Rice ranks right up there with hard boiled eggs as supposedly the most basic and easiest things to cook. Go tell that to someone else because I still can't get shells to peel off my eggs and I still get runny or crispy rice when I cook it on the stove. Cue magic transformation music. I can now make consistently delicious rice thanks to this lovely contraption. It also helps since my oldest only will eat one thing at the moment. I bet you can guess what that is. 

Rice Grain Cooker and Food Steamer, Stainless, 8 Cup, Silver

Musty smell, I banish you.

$229

We have a creek that runs through our backyard. Charming, right? Sure, sometimes. What is not so fantastic is how damp the air can get even in our house. A friend of ours tipped us off to this beast and our house has had the perfect ratio of humidity to creek charm ratio. No longer are my books smelling like they're straight out of my great grandparents basement. And, I can even use the water that is pulled out of the air to water the plants. What?! I know. 

Forget being a YouTube Star. Start a Podcast

$130

Are you solving the next unsolved murder? Holding fascinating interviews with your neighbor's basset hound? Does it matter? You probably know somebody who has something to say that they believe the world should know. Set them up for success with this microphone. One of my podcast clients uses this and creates amazing sounding, quality audio. And plus, this comes in a zillion fun colors that can really show off some flare.

Blu Yeti Blackout Microphone

Campground envy. 

$12.99

When I go camping I am constantly on the lookout for the best gear. And no, I'm not talking about the best thermal, solar, electrolyte-enhancing gadget. I'm looking for the coolest awe-invoking accessory. A few years ago we went camping in a secret spot that I will not disclose for fear of you ruining it. While there, another campsite was lit up like it was the beacon of all things fabulous in the world. Of course I had to copy them and now I am the envy of a campground near you.

Outdoor Battery Fairy Lights

My trick to keeping my niece off of Snapchat

$149

Even if polaroids are a thing of the past, instant-gratification is not. And I'm not talking social media. This little pocket-sized wonder was a great gift to give my tweening niece. She and her friends could take photos of themselves and then print out the photos on sticky backed paper. Instant locker decoration! So put a sprocket in your niece's pocket. Wait, that doesn't sound all that awesome. Don't do that. But DO get them something that reminds them they can look up from their screen.

Portable Printer

William Wants a Doll

$17

My son doesn't like dolls. He doesn't dislike them, but they are so gender-specific that he didn't know what to do with them. He secretly coveted my daughter's dolls when she wasn't looking. That broke my heart. He should be able to have the most frilly, sassy, comb-able doll if he so chooses. But with toy aisles being divided by gender and not interests, this will always be a struggle. A few holidays ago I searched for a doll whom my son could openly love. We found Marco. Marco has many other friends to choose from. Our family welcomed him with open arms.

Wonder Crew Superhero Buddy

Sometimes all we can do is laugh.

$12.79

Jenny doesn't know this yet, but I think she and I could be really good friends. The whole time I read and re-read and then read this book again, I'd say out loud "You preachin' Jenny. I feel ya." Jenny's books bring a sense of humor to the importance of feeling all the feels. She knows how to laugh at a situation that might otherwise feel daunting or at the very least, cringe-worthy. And, if you don't find yourself admiring the art of taxidermy after you read this...it's time to read it again.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

Best Grandparent gift. 

Between $100 and $250

We have the 1st generation of the Echo Show and it has been one of the greatest ways to have frequent face-to-face conversations with my parents (my kids grandparents). We can "drop in" on them thanks to a mutual setting on the device. Both my mom and I have ours set up in our kitchens so we enjoy catching up on each other's day while prepping the evening's meal. And since it's hands-free, my parents don't have to suffer a Facetime call with my phone where my kids only interest is seeing what the back of their throats look like.

Echo Show (times 2. One for you. One for them.)

This towel saved my life. Actually, just my hair

$25

I received this towel for high school graduation many years ago. I brought it with me to college. I put it on Christmas wish lists. I bought replacements when parents who will remain nameless refused to look at said wish list. (Ungrateful much, Jennifer?) I have been loyal to this brand of hair towel longer than I've been loyal to any other product. I swear it cuts down the drying time on my hair which translates into less damage to my hair. And of course it also means that I get ready faster then anyone else so get to be the winner of the "Fastest Getter-Readier" award.

Aquis Original Microfiber Hair Towel

I may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Amazon or any other retailers.

Truth be told, this is a social experiment for me to see how many people love favorites lists and heart the same things as me. And with holidays coming up - who couldn't use a little gift-giving help. Am I right?

Jennifer