8 favorite things & last minute gifts of 2016

My middle son says I’d make a great “commercialer”. It’s just that when I love something, I can’t help but tell people. I want them to experience the same excitement, blessing, or shortcut that I’ve discovered. Zachary will walk into a conversation when I’m sharing with a friend and immediately blush, shake his head, and whisper, “Here she goes in commercial mode.”

I have a few favorite things this year that I must share with you. And some of these favorites might just be what you need to fill a last minute gift.

Instant Pot


The Instant Pot has changed my kitchen life. It has made me dread cooking less. It’s made dinner planning, prep, and execution less stressful, faster, more organized, and cleaner.

Many dinners I can throw the ingredients in the pot and the meal is ready in minutes. If I forget to thaw out meat, it’s ok. If I planned a crock pot meal and didn’t start on time, I can use the instant pot and have the same meal in a fraction of the time. I can do all things in one pot. Saute the veggies, brown the meat, cook the meal, and have one pot for an easy clean up.

For some reason food simply tastes better in the instant pot.

I do love kitchen gadgets that make life simpler. This pot replaces many of my kitchen tools.  I gave away 2 rice cookers, 2 crock pots, and a roaster because the Instant Pot gives me everything I need in one package.

On my Pinterest board, I’ve pinned lots of recipes you can check out. I’ve also learned to convert just about all of my recipes to the Instant Pot.


I love to read. My boys love to read. We all enjoy being read to. And we spend a good deal of time in the car. I tried a free trial membership with Audible thinking I would get the free books and cancel my membership eventually because I was sure I wouldn’t use it near enough. I was so very wrong.

I’m funny about audiobooks. If the narrator is good, I can pay attention, but if the narrator is bad, my mind wanders. Audible uses wonderful narrators. Through many of them I am able to connect with the characters of the story they are reading. They bring them to life and really tell the story rather than simply read it. Audible is not just a reading of a book.

I’m also enjoy developing my auditory skills through more listening. I’m a very visual learner, so listening to books is helping me develop my weaker learning style.

For me personally, I have less time now to sit and read, so this allows me to put in my headphones and listen to a good book while the kids are playing and I’m folding laundry, cooking dinner, or going about my daily chores.

For the kids it’s so fun for us to listen to good books together on both long and short car rides. I’m able to broaden their interests by selecting books they’d likely not select on their own based on a bad cover. This way we just jump into books together.

Reading together sparks amazing conversations and really provides a great platform for bonding.

I strongly encourage you to try out an Audible membership. You get a 30 day free trial and 2 free books. If you keep your membership after the trial, you get 1 credit a month and 30% off Audible books. You download the free Audible app to listen to the books you download. It works seamlessly with Kindle so you can actually switch back and forth between Audible and Kindle (though I don’t enjoy electronic reading because I’m old fashioned).

You can gift Audible books even if someone doesn’t have an Audible membership. The Audible app is free. You can purchase an Audible book and send the egift. All they need to do is download the app. You can purchase Audible books without a membership. I like the membership because I will use what I pay for.  Also Audible members get a discount.

And reading more is simply a good idea and worth the investment.

Great, great gift to the reader on your list you are still waiting to find the right gift for.

Dollar Shave Club

Ok- this I simply love for so many reasons. It’s really nice to have fresh razors show up in my mailbox for a fraction of what I normally paid at the store. And the razors are my favorite. Much better than any brand I’ve found. While it originally marketed men, they now see that women don’t need a pink razor to enjoy a good shave.

Looking for a great gift- this is it. It can even be a great his/her gift. You choose the razor and the amount of months you want to gift to the recipient. Or gift an e-card and let them choose.


I can’t think of anything that has turned my world upside down like homeschooling. Well, outside of becoming a parent to begin with. And certainly doesn’t compare to tragedies that alter life. But on a day-to-day basis and a look at seasons of life, homeschooling has been the most beautifully hard thing I’ve ever attempted.

I’ll be writing more about this soon, but in looking back over this year, homeschooling was an unexpected gift from God. And it looks nothing like I imagined it looking. It makes the favorites list.



Another surprising discovery of this year. My sister has been trying to get me to make my own for years, telling me of the health benefits. But I haven’t taken the leap into making my own just yet. For now I buy and ration out (because it’s expensive) GTS Kombucha.

While there is a lot of unconfirmed research about Kombucha, after the boys and I started drinking it, my stomach pains went away that I’d been treating by eliminating food groups. I’m now eating all food groups just fine. One of my boys who was very fatigued and low energy found increased energy and alertness. Strong immune systems and a good dosing of probiotics has benefited all of us.

Every afternoon, we grab our Kombucha and read together.

The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos


Don’t let the cover turn you away because it doesn’t match up to the super cute, new story Bibles on the market. This Bible is wonderful for kids (and adults) of all ages. Each morning during Bible, I read a section of this to the boys. It’s amazing how much I learn from a children’s Bible. It’s a step up from the simplified children’s Bibles of today that tell only the big picture idea. This story Bible gives more detail and digs deeper.

Wal-Mart Online Grocery Shopping

You would think with homeschooling I have more time. Not so. I have drastically less time, which is why I LOVE this service. It’s free. It’s convenient. It saves me so much money from impulse buying.

I hop online when the kids are in bed. I sit with my grocery list and I plug it in. I select my Wal-Mart store and pick up time. I arrive in my time slot and use the free app to check in (or call the number listed at the parking spot to let them know you arrived) and they bring out your groceries with a smile on their face.

I don’t buy a whole lot of groceries at Wal-Mart because I buy the bulk at Trader Joe’s. But I get our fill in items at Wal-Mart plus household and personal items. How awesome to dump all these in the online cart and swing by and pick up.

Seriously has changed my life. This and the Instant Pot win the award of the year for simplifying the Robinson household.

The Chronicles of Narnia Radio Theater

This remains on the favorites list. We’ve had this collection for years. Jacob received it for Christmas when he was 5 or 6 and it remains well loved. It’s not your typical audio book. It’s a complete theatrical performance.

A great family gift!

I’d love to hear some of your favorites from 2016 as well!


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