My December Favorites, Favorite Updates In Real Time & A Very Special Gift

Thanks for all the great suggestions and tips for saving and removing the wax that’s left over when a candle is finished. I love the suggestion a couple of you mentioned about putting it in the freezer for a few minutes. I had read about that online, but then forgot to mention it in the post, so thanks for that reminder! I will try that in the future, for sure.

I have such a variety of favorites to share with you from December. They range from practical to sentimental to just plain lovely. By the way, if you ever want to know about my favorite finds in real time, check out the “Storefront” I finally got around to creating recently after several BNOTP readers suggested it. I should have done it ages ago, but at least it’s there now! You’ll find the “Storefront” I created here: BNOTP Storefront/Recommended Finds. If you’re reading via laptop or tablet, you can access it via the “Shop” category at the top of the blog.

One unexpected benefit I’ve discovered from creating the Storefront is whenever I come across something I really love or think is an awesome find, I can add it to the storefront in real time. So it’s a great way for you to know about favorites long before the month is up and I get around to creating a monthly favorites post. Often, by the time the month has ended and I get a chance to create a favorites post, the things I wanted to share are no longer on sale or available in the most popular sizes/colors. Sometimes they are no longer available at all.

Okay, on to some monthly favorites from December!  Recently, I started following the Instagram account of Brian Branton. He lives in the Alexandria, VA area and I’m crazy about his traditional Williamsburg style of decorating. He goes all out for Christmas and his historical home is truly beautiful. He has an amazing eye for combing colors and patterns!

During one of his recent IG reels, he shared the book, A Cottage for Every Season. His home is included in the book and I’m so glad he shared it because I have really enjoyed it! If you’re looking for a book to curl up with this winter, check out the reviews of A Cottage for Every Season here: A Cottage for Every Season.

A Cottage for Every Season


If you’ve been reading BNOTP for a while, you know I love these cozy, soft merino wool socks. (Socks are available here: Merino Wool Socks.)


I purchased a pair of Barbour Chelsea rain boots a while back from Arthur Knight which is located in Northhampton, UK. I sized up one size as I always do with boots since I always wear thick socks with rain boots. I probably shouldn’t have done that because when they arrived, they were quite big. My daughter-in-law had the same issue with hers. I finally got around to looking for a thicker Merino wool sock and I found some that I really like. These are nice and hefty and super cozy and warm! I liked them so much, I ordered some for my daughter-in-law since she has the same Barbour rain boots and also found her boots a bit too big, as well. If you could use some thicker, non-scratchy, super warm socks, you’ll find these available here: Merino Wool Socks.



I own quite a few pairs of Sperry Duck boots, so many that I haven’t purchased any new pairs in several years–but Sperry has done it to me again! They came out with a boot this autumn that I absolutely could not get out of my head. I tried to resist but it was futile! I’m so glad I gave in because these adorable boots are even cuter in person than the photos I saw online. They have a ribbon lace/tie but I consider that more decorative than functional since they zip up on the inside of the boot, so you never have to mess around with the ribbon tie. They are available in the colors blue and pink, too.

Sperry Duck Boots, Floral Design with Ribbon Detail


They remind me so much of my favorite floral Hunter boots purchased many years back when Hunter partnered with the Royal Horticultural Society to create this boot that was part of the “Field” collection.

Hunter Floral Boots


On a rainy day, duck boots are my favorite for errand running. Sperry lines their boots with some type of flannel material and that, coupled with my wool socks, keeps my feet incredibly warm. They are super comfortable, too–so comfortable that occasionally I will forget to change out of them after returning home. I’ve even worn them all day long when traveling and found them very comfortable, even with tons of walking. Just love them! I just got these a few days ago so technically they aren’t a December purchase, but since they are on sale and the sizes are going fast or sold out in a lot of places, I figured I’d better share them now since they will soon all be gone. I purchased mine on sale here: Sperry Floral Duck Boot. There appear to be a few sizes still available here, too: Sperry Floral Duck Boot.

Sperry Duck Boots, Floral Design with Ribbon Detail


Can never say enough good things about Cutemol, definitely a survival tool for winter! I’ve talked about it so much, I won’t go on about it again, but I very much recommend it if you get split fingertips in the winter. It’s also a miracle worker on heels! You’ll find it available here: Cutemol.

I purchased this little steam inhaler a few months ago and it sure did come in handy during the time I was fighting off the yucky cold I caught while away for Christmas. I saw a tremendous improvement in how well I could breathe through my nose each time I used it. Thankfully, my cold is now pretty much gone and this is one of the few times I’ve had a cold that didn’t turn into a sinus infection. Not sure if it’s due to using the steamer, but it sure made breathing a lot easier and better while I was sick. You’ll find this steam inhaler here: Sinus Steam Inhaler.

Sinus Steam Inhaler, Affordable and Works Great


Still love the adjustable tablet/iPad stand I purchased a while back. I gave my DIL one for Christmas and it was a big hit. It and the phone stand are awesome! You’ll find the tablet stand here: Adjustable Tablet or iPad Stand. The phone stand is available here: Adjustable Cell Phone Stand.

Favorite Phone and iPad, Tablet Holder Stand


I’ve had a few comments/emails asking which Air Fryer I ultimately decided to keep. I ordered two since I couldn’t decide which one to buy. I ended up keeping this one–the one with the built-in meat thermometer. I’ve cooked a steak in it twice and both times it came out perfect–just the way I programmed it. I love that the baskets are larger than my last Ninja air fryer–really, really enjoying it! This Air Fryer is available here: XL Ninja Air Fryer with 2 Baskets and Built-in Meat Thermometer.

Ninja Air Fryer, Double Basket, DualZone


This was the other one I ordered and honestly, I was super tempted to keep both! I didn’t actually operate this one, just checked it out in person to see how the controls looked/worked. I liked the controls a lot! If you never plan to cook a steak in your Air Fryer and/or don’t need a built-in meat thermometer, then you may want to go with this one. I think both are excellent choices! Both have the larger baskets, which I really like! This one is available here: XL Ninja Air Fryer with 2-Baskets.


A lovely BNOTP reader mentioned/recommended this mayo a few weeks back and I immediately purchased it. I love it! It adds so much flavor to sandwiches, tuna salad, and chicken salad which are the three things I’ve used it with so far. If you like mayonnaise but occasionally find it upsets your tummy, give this one a try. You’ll find it available here: Sir Kensington’s Mayonnaise Avocado Oil.


Just before Christmas, I treated myself to my first-ever bottle of Baccarat Rouge 540. It was crazy expensive and a splurge, but using a bunch of Amex points helped with the cost. I have been wearing it a lot and have so enjoyed it. For Christmas, my son gave me a bottle of another one of my favorites that I was starting to run low on: Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet. These have been my go-to fragrances lately, so they had to be included in December’s Favorites. You’ll find both fragrances available here: Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet and Baccarat Rouge 540.

Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet & Baccarat Rouge 540


One of the most special gifts I received for Christmas was this beautiful painting of my home that my daughter-in-law, Nancy, commissioned from a local artist that she knows. I was so surprised when I opened this gift–the artist did such a wonderful job! Nancy said that she emailed a bunch of photos from different seasons/times of the year to the artist, and this was the image they both agreed to use as an example for the painting. I’m looking forward to having it framed and if I ever move from this home where I’ve lived for over 32 years, this will always be such a beautiful way to remember it. If you would like to commission a painting of your own home or would like to see some of the artist’s other beautiful pieces, you’ll find her online shop here: Jea Noble Art.

Beautiful Home Portrait, Architectural Painting


I hope 2024 is treating you well! It’s been so rainy here the last few days but I see some sunny days in the forecast. I hope you have sunshine in your forecast, too! ♥

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  1. That painting was the best idea for a gift. I love that the magnolia tree is so prominent. And yes, cutemol every winter.

  2. Never mind all of the other goodies, I love the painting of your home. In fact, I was talking to my daughter about your basement today and all that room. We don’t have basements here.

    • Basements are really popular here. We have a lot of rolling land/hills in the north half of the state, so that makes it easy to have a daylight basement. We didn’t have a lot of storage in our first home so the basement was a huge draw for buying this one.

  3. Franceil Parde says

    O my!! I LOVE the painting!!! Hmmm…wonder…can a puzzle be made…after that photo…my kiddos are puzzle geeks….hmmm…sound familiar anyone… You DO find the best things!!! franki

  4. The painting is absolutely amazing. The artist was so detailed. Gorgeous. What a wonderful gift. At Christmas time I received the Baccarat 540 but in the purse atomizer size, I love it and the atomizer is a beautiful gold color. The scent is amazing!

    • Thanks, Brenda! It really is a special gift–I love it! Oh, that’s wonderful! It is a beautiful scent! The atomizer sounds really pretty!

  5. Claudia Engle says

    Wow! That painting is incredible. What a thoughtful gift – you have an amazing DIL!

    • Thanks, Claudia! I do, it was such a thoughtful, beautiful gift! The dates on the back show that she painted it between January 13-January 29th, 2023, so my DIL was planning that gift a long time. ♥ She’s much better at keeping gifts secret than I am.

  6. The painting is an incredibly thoughtful and appropriate gift. You DIL knows the love and care that you put into your home. What a wonderful surprise. I’ll be anxious to see where it ends up in your home. I have a guess. I’ll see later if I’m right.

    • Thanks so much, Iris! It was a wonderful surprise! I’ll share once I get it framed and find the perfect spot for it. I can think of a few places that it would work nicely.

  7. So many wonderful things!! Thank you for sharing – and I adore the painting – AND the boots!

  8. Happy New Year Susan! Love the painting of your house. I think it will always make your heart sing. I want you to know how much I have enjoyed your posts over the years. You are a breath of fresh air. Thank you.

  9. In your perfume post you included Flower Bomb, and I ordered samples. LOVE. I haven’t gotten a real bottle yet (I have two in college), but I did buy Flower Bomb hand cream to help me get started. I’m not sure what I was reading, but a writer asked Taylor Swift to name her favorite scent, and she said Flower Bomb! I think your perfume post is my all time favorite.


    • I do love Flower Bomb so much, it’s a fragrance that I want to always have available. It is wonderful! I’m so glad you like it Wendy and I didn’t steer you wrong. I had no idea Taylor Swift liked it. It’s so feminine and such a unique scent.

    • Wendy, I looked to see if it was on sale anywhere. I don’t see a specific sale but I did find this travel/handbag set that’s super affordable.
      I love the little mini bottle. I have a tray in my guest bath that I have filled with little teeny bottles of various perfume like that for guests.

  10. What a great gift that painting is !!! So very thoughtful! Years ago dear friends gave us one of those Cats Meow wooden rendition of our home at the time. We have since moved and downsized, but I keep it on our bookshelf and it is a great reminder of a home we loved.

  11. Bobbi Duncan says

    Glad to hear your cold is much better. The painting of your home is beautiful and such a thoughtful gift. I just love Brian Branton!!!! He has such an uplifting personality and such a great decorator. I can’t believe how quickly he can do all that decorating for Christmas! And, having lived in the DC area for many years, I adore Alexandria and all it’s unique shops. Thanks for the mayo information. I will be traveling on the 13th., so I wish you a fabulous birthday and year to follow. Hugs!

    • Thanks, Bobbi! You are so sweet to remember! I know, he’s a whirlwind that weekend after Thanksgiving when he does all the decorating in three days! He really has it down to a science. I love his bedroom. He’s talking about paneling either it or the dining room, so that should be really interesting if he goes through with it. I know Christmas is over but just in case you missed it, here’s an interview he did with HomeWorthy:
      Have a safe trip, I hope you’re going somewhere sunny! 🙂

  12. The painting is beautiful and such a great gift idea. I recently contacted a couple of local artists to create a watercolor of my northern home. I expect someday I will sell that house and live full-time in Florida. I wanted the watercolor as a remembrance. Based on your recommendation, I gifted a friend a tube of Cutemol when she told me her fingers were splitting in the Pennsylvania cold weather. How do you store your digital photos? I seem to spend lots of time looking for a specific photo. I need to establish a good system. I think maybe birthday wishes are in order for you. I hope it is really special.

    • That’s such a great idea…wish I had done that with my first and second homes. I do at least have photos of them.
      I hope it helps your friend. Split fingers hurt so much! If she puts it several times a day, especially right after she’s had her hands in water, she should see a big improvement.
      I store my photos on my computer, I don’t want the expense and don’t trust the cloud-based systems. When I want to update, I have my computer built by a local company that specializes in business computers, so they are professional grade, not the kind you buy in Best Buy and places like that. They build entire systems for companies so they use the best components. So far, they’ve been rock solid, so I’m fine storing my pictures on my computer. When I take photos, they automatically go into Dropbox where I drag and drop them to my computer right away. Dropbox is cloud-based, but I don’t leave anything there, I move it out right away so I never exceed my storage.

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