Monthly Faves: October Edition! Here are a few things we’re loving this month, from travel picks to books to Thanksgiving prep and a few things in between!
October was a BIG month for our family. It was full of some really big highs (like an amazing Disneyland trip + celebrating paying off the last of our grad school student loans early!) to some really devastating lows (I lost my sweet grandma after a series of debilitating strokes).
In between the fun busyness of a family trip, a hectic work schedule, and the grief that came with losing my grandma and flying out to attend her funeral, I feel like my brain has hardly had any space in it for Halloween. (Milo and Sophie are going as Harry Potter and Hermione and are so excited about their costumes.)
This month’s faves are largely around travel–including some picks that make it easy to find what you’re looking for, keep your phone charged on the go, and keep your kids entertained. Plus, I’ve also included a few books getting me through, a fun small business I love supporting, and a (free!) challenge that promises to add more joy to your life.
Without any further ado, here are this month’s faves…
SHOP THIS MONTH’S PICKS:
1. A GOOD (INEXPENSIVE!) PORTABLE CHARGER
My last portable charger died right before I left for a trip this month, and I needed a replacement quickly. I picked up this $10 portable charger thinking “well, it’ll be good enough to get by till I can get a better one,” but it’s been AWESOME. I like it just as much as my previous (more expensive) portable charger. I got one of these super-short cords to go with it (so it’s compatible with my phone & iPad) and it’s worked REALLY well. I won’t be surprised if Santa brings the adults in our family one or two of these for our stockings this year.
2. PACKING CUBES.
We ordered a few colors of these packing cubes for our trip after hearing people rave about them and I’m COMPLETELY HOOKED. I’m a pretty good packer already, but I found we had even more room than usual in our suitcases after using the packing cubes. Plus, it was easy to say “all the pajamas are in the small blue one!” or “Sophie’s clothes are in the pink ones.” We could easily find, organize, and re-pack everything faster and more efficiently than ever before. (Which is extra great when you also need to pack a lot of gluten-free food/snacks to have on hand at the hotel!)
I’m not-so-secretly hoping to get myself these extra cute packing cubes for Christmas. (Hint, hint Michael!)
3. CLEAR BAGS FOR TRAVEL ESSENTIALS.
I also MAJORLY love these reusable clear bags for traveling. They’re TSA-approved for taking liquids through security (we’ve done it on about 6 trips now) and make it easy to see where things are. I use them for makeup, hair products, toiletries, medications, etc., but they’re also awesome for packing kids’ items, like card games, markers, small toys and more.
I. LOVE. THEM.
(They also clean well. I wash them with soap and water and dried them with a microfiber cloth to keep them looking fresh.)
4. PAINT BY STICKER BOOKS FOR KIDS
I’ve talked about these paint by sticker books for kids several times over the years, but they just ALWAYS come to bat for us on trips! I love that they’re small enough to pack in a kids’ backpack or my purse and keep my kids busy for a while on a plane, in a car, or at a restaurant with a long wait. No screens or batteries required! Milo took this Bugs sticker book and Sophie took this Unicorns & Magic one for our latest trip.
(See more of our favorite screen-free travel ideas for kids here)
5. DISNEYLAND PICKS!
Our favorite Happiest Threads tee shop sells some SUPER cute Disney-themed tees that are a fun change from what you typically see. We love this Oo-de-lally tee (also comes in adult sizes!) and the Snack Crawl tees best. My friend Jenny owns the shop and she’s the NICEST, funniest person.
PS – If you’re a Disneyland fan or are planning your first trip, you might appreciate this month’s Disneyland posts:
- Our Best Tips for Eating Gluten-Free at Disneyland
- Our Favorite (Gluten-Free!) Snacks and Treats at Disneyland
- Our Favorite Gluten-Free Restaurants at Disneyland
6 & 7. SOME GOOD BOOKS!
I’ve been flying through audiobooks this month with some travel and shooting a lot of extra videos. I’ve mostly been tackling re-reads of some of my favorite books, but it’s been fun to mix in some new faves as well. Here are two I’m loving.
- Strange the Dreamer. (A re-read. Love this series!) This book is a few steps outside my usual reading zone, but I absolutely love it. The main character Lazlo Strange is so beautifully depicted and earnest, and I think this book series could be made into a gorgeous TV mini-series or movie. I hope a network picks it up someday!
Also: GET THE AUDIOBOOK if you can! The reader of Strange the Dreamer (Steve West) is my all-time favorite narrator and does a phenomenal job with these books. (I can listen to it free from my library/the Libby/Overdrive apps)
- Modern Love. After Amazon Video launched its Modern Love series, and I bawled my eyes out through the first episode, I knew I wanted to read the book the series was based on. This book is compiled of essays published in a New York Times column with all sorts of different love stories depicted, from friends’ and familial love to romantic love, parental love, and so much more. Lots of beautiful stories. Some inspiring, some heartbreaking, some thought-provoking.
8. A PRETTY PIE PLATE
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and pie is my favorite part of the meal! We’re hosting this year, so I’ve been trying to make sure I have everything we need for the big day. Even though I have loads of pie recipes (like an amazing Pecan Pie, Triple Berry Crumble, Classic Pumpkin, and mile-high Apple Crumble, I haven’t had a pie dish I just LOVE. I finally went for this one after admiring it for a few years. It’s beautiful, classic, elegant, and makes everything look a little prettier. (This one is a little less expensive and looks great, too!)
Also on my Thanksgiving dishes list: I got this pretty gravy boat and a little ladle to go with it. I love them both and have some AMAZING mashed potatoes and gravy recipes coming next week that put them to use!
9. THE JOY MAKEOVER FROM INGRID FETELL LEE
I LOVED Ingrid Fetell Lee’s book Joyful about how the places, things, and experiences we surround ourselves with can impact the level of day-to-day joy we feel. Her examples from schools, cities, homes, and more inspired me and gave me fresh eyes to examine my life with.
She just launched a 2-Week Joy Makeover on her site with little mini-classes taught by experts in relationships, fashion, organization, design, business, finance, and more that are all about how to be a little more joyful. It’s free to join and you can sign up here. I loved the little daily happiness boost and it’s a great way to reflect as this year winds down and we start thinking about setting goals and intentions for next year.
MOST POPULAR RECIPES THIS MONTH:
Now that we’ve covered some of MY favorite things this month, here are some of YOUR favorite recipes this month! From the looks of things, I’m not the only one still riding the pumpkin train and craving cozy comfort food!
- The BEST EVER! Pumpkin Chili
- 6 Amazing Ways to Stuff a Baked Sweet Potato (Vegan + Paleo + Whole30 options included!)
- Slow Cooker Vegetable Bean Soup
- Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal
- Blender Pumpkin Oatmeal Pancakes
- Slow Cooker Butter Chicken (Paleo & Gluten-Free!)
- How to Make Healthy Homemade Jello