I’m not Oprah. I don’t have the money to buy everything I could possibly want. This Christmas, I can barely afford the Christmas cards I just ordered. I do, however, have a few favorite possessions to share with you. By sharing these items with you, I hope to expose what is most important in my life. I’m also hoping to give you a few ideas for your own Christmas list. We all know that presents aren’t what Christmas is about, but it would be great if the gifts that we shared brought us closer to Christ, in one way or another.
20. Handmade Mugs
I have an absurd collection of mugs. Ask my parents about my collection if you are interested in seeing the hardest eye-roll of all time. I don’t pay enough rent for the space my precious pieces of art occupy. Yes, it’s an addiction. Really though, you haven’t had the full coffee (or sub-par hot beverage of your choice) experience if you haven’t enjoyed said beverage in a handmade mug.
19. Double Wall Stainless French Press
Why rush the morning experience?! Make quality coffee and take as much time as you want to enjoy it. I hate when my coffee gets cold and I hate bad coffee. This beauty is the answer to both. Don’t let the french press intimidate you! If you can work a plunger and patiently wait 4 to 5 minutes, you can handle this complicated mechanism.
18. Fine No Bleed Sharpies
Secretly, I’m a nerd. I like to read and write stuff. Sometimes I use technology for these hobbies, but I often prefer the sensory experience of real paper. I also like to combine these hobbies. After years of suffering pencils and weak pens, I found these bad boys! This incredible tool is fantastic for writing in Bibles, books, and nice notebooks.
17. Classic Moleskine Notebook
Neither masculine, nor feminine, this notebook is perfect for all! As I get older, I find that I forget just about everything. Google and my iPhone are the tools I turn to most often as a solution. I reserve my important thoughts, however, for a worthy writing space. These notebooks are sturdy and last forever. They don’t fall apart. Do yourself a favor and get a few!
16. Dry Sacks
The great Texas Pete fiasco of 2012 has led me to invest in dry packing sacks like these. There I was, in the handicapped bathroom of the Heathrow Airport, trying to decide which possessions could be salvaged. A bus driver, who obviously hated his job and/or my heavy luggage, had carelessly thrown my duffel bag to the curb. My large bottle of hot sauce broke and poured all over the contents of my luggage. Thankfully I had intentionally chosen to pack the bottle in a waterproof duffle. Bags like these have made packing simple and mess free since then. I only have one set now, but I plan to buy a couple more sets and a few sets of packing cubes before I move to Dresden.
15. Passport Wallet
This item may not interest very many of you. I’ve found that it’s hard to juggle multiple forms of currency, important IDs, and my passport. I opted for a large, stylish wallet from Target a few years ago. I haven’t been disappointed. If you don’t have a passport, start with that! It’s important. You may not have the finance to travel luxuriously, but you never know when you might need it.
Don’t get hung up on the fringe. Any scarf will do. This is an essential for all females and most males. Unless you live in a hot place, like Florida, you should have at least 2 really great scarves. I own about 35, but whatever. Scarves are the best way to stay warm and dress up a simple t-shirt. They also help provide variety when you’re stuck in the same coat all winter. I live in Florida for now and only have about 2 days of the year in which I can get away with wearing one. The scarf becomes a sweat rag otherwise.
13. Gap Utility Jacket
Everyone’s style is different. Don’t worry, there are lots of different utility jacket styles. They are all, however, available in muted tones. These jackets are light, easy to pack, and perfect for travel. Maybe they aren’t your style. That’s what the scarves are for silly!
12. Shoes: Sperrys, Airwalks, Crocs
Remember when breaking shoes in was a thing? If this isn’t a familiar concept, you should buy a new pair of shoes and then wear them to a theme park for a day. You’ll learn. Anyway, these are the kind of shoes that really need to be broken in. They are, however, the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever owned. If you can get over the idea of having visually fresh shoes, you need a pair. These shoes go the distance!
Like a pair of Chucks, these shoes are classic. I love them because they are inexpensive and come in a variety of colors. I own 4 pairs myself. I wait for a good sale and buy a new color.
Don’t hate! I know America has cast these aside as the ugly duckling of footwear. Crocs make excellent house shoes though. You don’t wear house shoes? Point at my ugly footwear all you want. At least my feet are clean!
11. TOMS Bag
A friend gave me this bag for my birthday. It has quickly become one of my favorite possessions. It’s a great day bag. I’m transient. Always on the go. Whether going to the gym or a short trip, this bag fits it all. It’s easy to sling over the shoulder, like Jason Bourne’s fancy bank bag. If only I had the currency to go with it.
10. Leather Messenger Bag
This was a Christmas present from my brother. He gave me the cash and let me have the pleasure of doing the research. That’s not sarcasm. I love researching a good deal! After weeks, I settled on this bag. I didn’t expect this bag to be the highest quality, but I have been pleasantly surprised. I would recommend this dealer to anyone. I LOVE this piece. I carry my favorite Bible, journal, sharpies, wallet, and iPad mini in it daily.
9. City Maps 2 Go App
If you plan to travel ANYWHERE outside of the US, you MUST purchase this app. Sure, download the free version to try it out. Get the real deal before you travel though. I believe that I paid 2.99 when I purchased the app in 2012. I’m not surprised that the price has gone up. It’s totally worth it! The app is essential because it allows you to download maps that are searchable offline. Internet is not easy to find abroad. You may have internet where you stay, but it’s not common to find open wi-fi on the street. This app has guided me through Paris, Vienna, Split (Croatia), Amsterdam, Prague, and many German cities. Within the app, you can save locations, take notes, read Wikipedia information, and even see lists of locations by category (hotels, restaurants, public transit, etc).
8. Spotify Premium
I love checking out new bands and making playlists. The short preview clips on iTunes don’t always give me enough to know if I want to purchase a song or album. Through Spotify, I’ve been able to check out new music more easily. They also have an incredibly extensive catalog. I’ve been able to find everything I’ve searched for. You can even share playlists, which is a fun bonus. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you pay $120 a year for music. Get on a family plan. You can put 5 people on a $15 a month plan. Yes, it’s totally worth $36 a year.
7. Amazon Prime
I pick the cheapest shipping on all websites EVERY time. This does not exclude Amazon. Technically, I would only have to have 25 items shipped to me, within a year, to add up to the $100 annual fee of Prime. I’ve had 35 items shipped to me, through Amazon, since July. I got lazy and stopped counting. Let’s just double that number and say that I’ve had 60 items shipped to me this year. That would have cost me $240. Would I have shopped that much if I had to pay for shipping every time? No, certainly not. This isn’t the classic coupon addiction though. Amazon almost always has the cheapest price on just about everything I would be buying anyway. Not only that, but having Prime also gives you access to Prime Video and Prime Music.
I was smart enough to dive into this concept when I was still in school. So, I have a Student Prime account, which is only $50 a year. Students, I know $50 is like $5,000 to you. Make sure you do this while you can though. If you get locked in at this rate, you can always renew the membership at that rate. I haven’t been a student for a couple of years now, but I still only pay $50. As a bonus, I get $10 for anyone who signs up using my link.
6. Sony Camera
I’m a Canon camera person. Why? Trey Love and All American Imaging. That’s all. That’s really the only reason. I used Nikon cameras at BFA though. I like them too. This camera is very special though. First of all, it’s small. It has all of the features of a DSLR, but it’s the size of a typical point-and-shoot camera. Second, lens attachment options allow the user to pick between lenses for both Canon AND Nikon. Third, it has a wide ISO range. I love this camera because I can travel easily with it and take high quality photos. The price isn’t bad either. I purchased mine through a Black Friday sale last year. For me, it was a tax write off.
5. iPad Mini
I never thought I would own one of these. Ipads used to be very expensive and non-essential. They were merely a luxury for people who had money. That’s how I saw them anyway. THEN a generous person gave BFA enough money to buy iPads for all of the staff. That was the beginning of my addiction. I used the iPad like a mini computer and a small television. Unfortunately, that iPad fell on concrete and broke. I saved my money, like a responsible person, and purchased a smaller version with a much higher storage space. I wanted something that was easy to travel with. I also needed something that I could store a lot on. Since I travel, I mostly buy digital books. I also wanted to use my ipad for photo and video editing on the go. My Sony camera sends photos to my ipad through bluetooth and I have an SD card adapter. Ipads have been around long enough now that used and refurbished models can be purchased for a really great price.
4. ESV Journaling Bible
This would be #1 if it were smaller and easily searchable. The next three items have one thing in common: they are digital. Therefore, I have them with me everywhere I go and they are easily searchable. However, THIS. This is worth every penny. Why would I spend money on anything else on this list, but not invest in a great Bible? I wouldn’t do that, so I wouldn’t recommend that you do that.
The leather binding is aesthetically pleasing as well as useful. I am particular about keeping my Bible pages crisp. This does the job without being ugly, like the Bible cases of yore. I’m only building to the best part though… the journaling space!! I LOVE writing in my Bible. I’m a journaler, as you have seen earlier, but I go through journals pretty quickly. When I discover something amazing in Scripture, I want to write the note where I will see it the next time I read the same passage.
Don’t be cheap. If you’re going to invest in anything, invest in a good Bible. Yes, anyone can download a free Bible app. Wouldn’t you like to say that your most prized possession is the Word of God though?
3. Systematic Theology (ebook)
I won’t try to convince you of a particular theology. I like this book because I think Wayne Grudem does a pretty good job of outlining multiple viewpoints of most theological topics. Having the iBooks version of this book is VERY useful. I do searches in this book all of the time. I don’t use it as much as my journaling Bible, but the digital version of any book will inevitably outlast any physical copy. That doesn’t mean that I like Systematic Theology more, but I do enjoy the utility of it.
2. NIV Archaeological Bible (ebook)
Again, I love owning the digital version of this Bible because I will always have it, I can take it with me everywhere I go, and I can search it easily. More importantly, I love that I can count on this resource for cultural context. As I grow older, I feel like I am filling in the blanks of history. When I fill in the blanks, I get a better understanding of what I knew previously. This Bible shouldn’t substitute commentaries completely, but it’s easy to use and it doesn’t require a Bible College degree. Having one probably entices me to buy resources like this though.
1. NASB concordance app
This is hands down my favorite thing. I use it every single day. It’s worth FAR more than 6.99. This app enables me to see the Hebrew and Greek for most words. Not only does it show me the word, but it gives me extra definitions and lists every other verse where the word is used. This app allows me to do word studies every time I read Scripture. I still enjoy a physical concordance, but they are large and quite heavy. They also provide limited information: Scripture addresses and brief definitions. Please, this resource is often eye-opening and it’s cheap.
If you’ve read this far, you know that coffee, travel, photography, and Bible study are the most important hobbies in my life. If you really know me, you didn’t have to read this blog to know that. Anyway, I hope that this blog was more than an insight into my life. I hope that I recommended something that you will find useful. Everyone has their own style. Much of this is my style. I’m hoping that studying Scripture is everyone’s style though. Take advantage of the resources I’ve presented and share some of yours with me! I would love to open a conversation with each of you about our favorite things.