Friday, November 17, 2023

Five on Friday - Comfortable Affordable Black Boots, The Best Artificial Christmas Tree, New Luggage, and More

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Happy Friday, y’all!  We’re looking forward to a weekend full of family, friends, and football aaaand as of 3 PM today, our kiddos are officially out for Thanksgiving break!!  Could we need a break more right now?! 

Per usual, I’m sharing a few favorites from the week, and just know that at the top of the list is this upcoming break.  We all need it desperately.  ;o)

O N E – Comfy Black Boots from Target

I’ve been on the hunt for some comfy boots to wear on our trip to New York City, so I headed to Target last week to shop.  They had SO many awesome choices, and I ended up trying on six different pairs, three of which I loved as they were the most comfortable without sacrificing style.

This pair is very similar to the Ugg classic mini platform boots that are currently trending, but for a very small fraction of the price.  They’re ultra-warm, super comfortable, and the quality is fantastic, and I highly recommend them if you’re looking for something comparable to the Uggs and you don’t want to pay $170. 


This style is also very trendy right now, the quality is excellent, and these boots are so comfortable despite the fact that they look like they wouldn’t be.  The chunky heel is giving all the 90s vibes, and this is a great choice if you’re looking for something trendy that’s also comfortable.


The pair that I ended up keeping is this style.  These are the most comfortable of the three pairs, they’re warm, they repel water, and they’re less chunky, which I think is important since we’ll be doing a ton of walking.  While I would have liked to have kept one of the chunky pairs, they are both significantly heavier than this pair, and I wondered if eventually that extra weight would cause my legs to tire faster.


All three are excellent choices if you’re looking for something comfortable, warm, and trendy, and you absolutely cannot beat the prices considering these boots are all very well-made.


T W O – The Best Artificial Christmas Tree (If You’re OK With LED Lights)

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Brian and I were purchasing our first artificial tree for our main tree this year, and we decided to go with this one from Home Depot.  It is currently viral all over social media, and I expect it to sell out soon (the 9-foot version is already sold out), so I’m glad we grabbed ours early.  We had it delivered a couple of weeks ago and we got it all set up last Friday night, and y’all, this. tree. is. perfection… if you’re okay with LED lights. 

I kid you not when I say that it took us less than five minutes to pull it out of the box and set it up completely.  Literally less than five minutes from start to finish.  The stand is easy to set up, and then you just push the base of the tree into the stand, push the middle tier into the bottom tier, and then push the top tier into the middle tier, pull down the branches, and plug it in.  DONE.  There is zero fluffing required because this tree has special technology that allows the branches to hold their shape even after being squished in a box all year.  I repeat, there is zero fluffing required and the tree looks perfect.  I didn’t fluff a single branch… the picture below is how it looks straight out of the box.

The lights are evenly placed all over the tree, and the tree branches are so life-like in person that you can hardly tell it’s an artificial tree.  Also?  This tree has 6,052 branch tips, which is by far the most branch tips on a 7.5-foot artificial tree (even more than the expensive ones from Balsam Hill), so it’s full and lush and just absolutely stunning. 

I am obsessed with this tree and love every single thing about it… except…

The color of the lights.


I have always been incredibly picky about lighting… I have been picky about it as long as I can remember.  I have a vivid memory unpacking boxes in my room in 1989 in my new bedroom in our brand-new house by lamplight when I was just seven years old because I have always hated an overhead light in a bedroom.  (Unless, of course, I needed the extra light to work on a project or something similar.)  I have been super picky about lightbulbs since I was in my teens… I always had to have a particular wattage to get the perfect glow in my bedroom at my parents’ house.  And now as an adult with my own home, I am picky about every single lightbulb in our entire house.  Ask Brian… I’m sure it drives him CRAZY.

With the recent movement towards LED bulbs, and the recent laws that have passed outlawing incandescent bulbs, I have been in panic mode.  I HATE an LED bulb.  Yes, I know they’re much better for the environment, they’re more cost efficient, and they last way longer, but they’re also cold and sterile and icky, and they give aaaallll the hospital vibes.  They also hurt my eyes… even the ones that claim to be warm.

I need soft, truly warm lighting that gives all the cozy vibes.  LED bulbs do not give me that vibe.

So, all that said, this artificial tree from Home Depot is STUNNING in every way… except for the lights.  We have had it turned on every night for the last week, in hopes that I could “get used to it” and “make my peace with it,” and I just cannot get past the coldness of the light… especially since my beloved incandescent string lights sit on the mantle right next to the tree.  The difference in the color is drastic. 

After realizing that I couldn’t live with these lights, I hoped to find something comparable with incandescent bulbs or even an unlit version, but after scouring the internet and checking out five different stores in town, we have found that it doesn’t exist… unless, of course, you drop $1,000.  (And even if you drop that much money, the trees still don’t have that many branch tips.)

So, my point of this post is two-fold – one, if you don’t mind the look of LED bulbs, and you are looking for an artificial tree, YOU NEED THIS ONE.  It is literal perfection – it sets up from start to finish in less than five minutes, it’s full and lush, the branch tips are the most realistic, and you honestly cannot tell that this is an artificial tree unless you look closely.  It also comes with a foot pedal off/on and a remote control that toggles back-and-forth from white lights to colored lights, and you can also change the settings, so the lights twinkle and fade along with many other options.  The lights also come with a dimmer switch so you can choose between low light, medium light, and full light.  I cannot stress just how excellent this artificial tree is in every way.

And for my second point, y’all are going to think I’m absolutely crazy, but I love this tree so much that I want to keep it, so I’ve decided to remove all of the factory LED lights and put up my own beloved incandescent lights.  Yes, I will no longer be able to use the foot pedal or the remote control, and yes, I’ll have to change out the lights more frequently, but at least I’ll have the most stunning artificial tree with my favorite warm, cozy lights.

Yes, that is crazy.  Yes, I am very OCD about certain things.  Yes, it is going to be a lot of work.  But will it be worth it?  Also, yes.  To me, it will.  ;o)

(And in case you didn’t know, there was a law passed back in July of this year outlawing everyday use incandescent bulbs, and therefore, stores are no longer allowed to sell them, so we now have no choice but to use LED bulbs in lamps and overhead lighting.  However, this law is not applicable to Christmas lights and outdoor string lights (yet) as they’re not considered “everyday use” bulbs, so I will be going straight to Walmart and loading up on every box of incandescent Christmas lights and hoarding them in case they do decide to eventually pass the law for Christmas lights, too.)


T H R E E – New Suitcase

Fun fact, I’ve never owned a quality piece of luggage.  Brian and I used to fly and take road trips multiple times per year before we had kids (and we still do travel multiple times per year with kids, just with less flying), and at 41 years old, I’m still using the same set of cheapie (hot pink – LOL) soft-side luggage that I bought from TJ Maxx when I was just 21 years old. 

The luggage is obviously very old and very outdated, and I’ve been wanting a good piece of quality luggage for years now, so last week, Brian gave me an early anniversary gift that I can use for my trip to New York City with my momma, my aunt, and my cousin in a couple of weeks!

I purchased an Away suitcase for B several years ago and it is fantastic… it’s highly rated, it’s everything you could want in a suitcase, and he loves it.  So, I’d always assumed I’d grab one for myself eventually.  However, Brian brought to my attention a new-ish brand called Monos and after comparing them to the Away brand and reading all of the reviews, I decided to go with the Monos suitcase.  Another HUGE factor that played into my choice was the fact that Away didn’t have a pink option at the time that we ordered.  They did have one because I’ve had it on my wish list, so it must be out of stock or discontinued.  Monos had their pink one in stock, so that was a no-brainer.  Y’all know me and pink.  ;o)

It arrived last week, and it’s so pretty.  I opted for the carry-on in rose quartz (such a beautiful color in person!), and I love it!  Brian and I compared his Away carry-on with my Monos carry-on, and they’re very similar, but the Monos is slightly less expensive.  I was also pleasantly surprised to see that the Monos carry-on came with a laundry bag, two shoe bags, and a luggage tag.  I didn’t see that listed on the website when we purchased it, so it was unexpected.

The Monos has a polycarbonate shell, it’s dent-resistant, and they claim that it’s virtually unbreakable.  It also has an “ultra-sturdy” telescopic handle, TSA-approved lock, whisper quiet 360-degree spinner wheels, vegan leather details, and all-premium materials.  The interior is thoughtfully designed to maximize space, and it includes a couple of extra pockets inside, as well as a removeable panel.

That said, both suitcases are fabulous, and very similar, and I would highly recommend either of them if you’re in the market for new luggage.  And just so y’all know, this portion of the post is not sponsored by Away or Monos.  ;o)  I just wanted to share them both since we love them.  You can’t go wrong with either!


F O U R – Generosity of Jacob’s Class

I’ve mentioned several times on here that one of Jacob’s teachers just found out that she has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer that has spread to her liver.  She will obviously be taking a leave of absence from school as she faces a huge battle ahead of her, so we wanted to do something for her from the seventh-grade class to show our love and support. 

I’m the room parent for seventh grade, so I sent an email a couple of weeks ago asking the parents for contributions so we could put together a care package for her, and y’all, I was completely BLOWN AWAY by the generosity of these families.  We had one single family contribute $200 and another family contribute $100, and between those two contributions and all of the others that came in, we ended up raising so. much. money. for this care package. 

We were able to put together the most beautiful basket for her that included:


-       A cozy sherpa/fur blanket covered in words of encouragement that she can use to keep warm during her treatment

-       Two pairs of Barefoot Dreams cozy socks

-       A daily devotional for strength (I’ve been reading this one this year and it’s just fabulous.)

-       Two gardening magazines that she can flip through during her treatments (gardening is one of her hobbies)

-       An assortment of hard candies (when I asked for suggestions from everyone on Instagram who has had cancer or cared for someone with cancer, many people told me that hard candies are good during chemo to help with nausea and dry mouth)

-       A card signed from the class, and a basket (similar) to put it all in


In addition to this, we were able to provide her with a generous amount of cash and gift cards that she can use however she needs on this journey.

It’s times like these that remind me that even though there is so much badness and sadness in the world, there is also SO MUCH GOODNESS, and this is where we all need to put our focus.  The outpouring of love and generosity from the seventh-grade families at our school was definitely a favorite from this past week.


F I V E – Outpouring of Love for Matthew Perry from His Friends

This week, all of the cast members from Friends each posted tributes to Matthew Perry after his death a couple of weeks ago, and even though I cried reading and watching each one, it was definitely a favorite from the week to see just how loved he was. 

To say that I’m torn up over this loss is an understatement and seeing each of these tributes hit me really hard.  Friends has been my favorite show since I started watching it at age 12, and Chandler Bing has always been my favorite TV character, along with Chandler and Monica being my favorite TV couple.  Friends has always been my happy place, my comfort zone, the show that I turn to when I’m feeling sad or lonely or when I just need to laugh.

Matty will be missed dearly, and the words below sum things up well. 


Friday Funnies


On the Blog This Week

Holiday Gift Guide for Kids Ages 4 – 12

 What I Wore – October 2023

Our Week – The One with Maui's Diagnosis, Visitor Nights at Dance, and the Longest To-Do List

 Holiday Gift Guide for Teenagers

Even though the kids will be out next week, I still have a lot to share here on the blog, so be sure to pop in each day to see what we have going on!

Happy Friday, y’all!

*Linking up with A Little Bit of Everything for Friday Favorites.


  1. Those Matthew Perry tributes are precious. So glad we both got our trees. I love it. Those boots are cute too!

  2. Wow, LED lights never bothered me but it's impressive that you are going to redo yours! The boots are cute - I stumble if I wear platformed shoes but I like the first ones you showed! Great job to Jacob's class, I'm sure the gifts will be appreciated.

  3. We haven't seen incandescent lightbulbs here in CT for years; like since before my boys were born! We honestly thought they had stopped making them. I prefer the LED to the compact fluorescent lights we had for years. Those darn things blew out all the time since almost all of our switches are dimmers and fluorescent bulbs were not really compatible with them (and a total pain to dispose of with the traces of mercury in them)

    1. Oh wow! I had no idea that they had already discontinued selling them elsewhere before this! But yes, fluorescent lights are the worst! I could not agree more!

  4. Oh that is so disappointing about the tree! What a hassle! LED doesn't bother me, but I understand your frustration. We had a prelit tree in England, and we took off the lights since they would have required a plug adaptor here. Now we just string it with our own lights. It's an "extra" tree...this year we put it on the back patio. Hope you have a good weekend.

  5. I really love that tree, but I had no idea the lights were LED. I really do prefer warm lights for Christmas because it really sets the mood and makes everything feel so cozy! We are out of school too for the week!!! Yay!


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