Friday Favorites by Mandy

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What are my favorite things? As I pondered this, I realized a recurring theme: escaping reality. Sounds about right after more than a year of “unprecedented times.” (NOTE: I now officially hate the word “unprecedented.”) Never before has it been so important to find the things that make us happy and hold tightly to them. My favorites may have been discovered during what my kids have dubbed “sick time,” but I think I’ll keep them long after we return to some sense of normalcy.

Podcasts

I never in my life listened to a podcast until recently. My husband has listened to them for a long time, but I never had any interest. Until now. I started with some motivational-type podcasts – Jen Hatmaker and Brene Brown – then moved to some lighter things like The Holderness Family and The Popcast with Knox and Jamie. Morphed into some political podcasts for a bit, and my current favorite is Imagined Life, where the narrator tells the life story of a celebrity, but you don’t find out who it is until the very end. It’s fascinating and fun to see if I can figure it out before they tell me. A fantastic escape from reality for a short time, and don’t we all need that? I’m always interested in new podcast recommendations, so please share your favorites in the comments! (But please, not the murder ones. I just can’t.)

For some family-friendly podcasts, check out this post from Anna Claire. Thinking about starting your own podcast? Kela has some great pointers here.

Lands End leggings

favorite leggings

For a long time, I didn’t understand why so many women thought leggings were comfortable. I am not willing to spend the money on the crazy expensive ones, so maybe that was part of the reason I couldn’t get on board the legging train. Then I found these from Lands End, and now I get it. They are super comfortable, with a wide, flat waistband. Lands End tends to have generous sizing, so these are the first leggings where I didn’t have to size up — and come on, nobody likes having to size up. (Swimsuit makers should take note of this.)

These leggings are available in petite and tall lengths, a variety of colors, and there’s almost always a sale. Seriously, don’t buy from Lands End without a sale. 

Also, returns are easy! Lands End will take anything back, including personalized items. I once bought canvas school bags with my kids’ names on them, not realizing the bags were big enough for my toddlers to take a nap in them. Returning those enormous bags was a breeze.

The Great British Baking Show/Bake Off

*These are the same show, but they changed names after a few seasons.

memphis moms blog cupcakes

My sister has been telling me to watch this for a while, and I’m not sure why I waited so long, but now I’m hooked. I’ve always been a big Top Chef fan (forever my favorite reality show), but I never really watched any other cooking shows. This one is just delightful in every way. The contestants are kind and supportive of one another, and I like that they are not professionals, just people who love to bake. It’s amazing to see what they can create without having formal training. Most of these bakes look scrumptious (aside from the meat pies, which look and sound revolting to me), and I just love hearing those British accents as they discuss how to make the proper sponge. Bonus of being late to this baking party: now I can binge watch all the seasons!

Nature and Animal Shows

I have two little guys who adore Wild Kratts, so this was a natural transition — and we’ve watched a LOT of these shows. As we are among the families who are homeschooling due to Covid-19, this has been a really nice science tool. These aren’t just shows for little ones; I find them equally fascinating. Paul Rudd narrates Tiny World on Apple TV+ (tip: if you got a new iPhone in the last year, you have this channel and might not even know you do! And if you do have it, watch Ted Lasso while you’ve got it. You won’t regret it.) The BBC shows all the Planet Earth series, and Nat Geo Wild’s Great Barrier Reef is a hit with my boys. Secrets of the Zoo is also a favorite. North America on Discovery is narrated by Tom Selleck, and it’s great too.

Wireless headphones

favorite headphones

Sometimes I wear my headphones to have a little peace while I’m making dinner or cleaning up. Mundane tasks are less of a chore when I’m listening to something fun rather than just the sounds of my loud children. Music, podcasts, or audio books are always preferable to whining and shouting!

Headphones don’t have to break the bank either. This pair has 99K+ reviews and is currently on sale for $39.99. (To be clear, I do not own these and cannot personally vouch for them.) I DO own two pairs of these for my kids, and they are one of my favorite purchases ever. I have worn them myself, and they are very comfortable. Whether you want over-the-ear options or ear buds, there’s definitely a wireless pair in every price point.

So there you have it. What are your favorite ways to escape?