These Are A Few of My Favorite Things (2015)

Um…I’m  not sure how a summer song about favorite things turned into a Christmas song, but thankfully it’s one song (Christmas or not) that doesn’t get old for me. And, because I love sharing favorite things, I thought it’d be fun if we shared a list of our favorite things. 🙂 (But don’t expect me to rhyme them or turn them into a song because I can’t. do. poetry. to. save. my. life.)

My Favorite Books From 2015

I’ve read 49 books this year (and am hoping to reach 50 by the end of the year) — a new record for me! But of those, here are the books that blew my mind and I adored. (Tweet this)

Favs of 2015

  • The Selection — it’s like a chick-flick wrapped up in a dystopian princess book. I picked this series up when I was in the exact right mood to read it. And…I read all of them in two days. O.o (Read my review on Goodreads.)
  • Illuminae — I’m still having withdrawals over this book. Disclaimer: it’s kind of creepy. I totally didn’t expect that going in to it. But it’s so unique I just couldn’t. put. it. down. (Read my review on Goodreads.)
  • Winter the perfect conclusion to a series as close to perfect as is out there in the YA genre. If you haven’t started the Lunar Chronicles (book 1 is Cinder), you should do it NOW! Especially since the series is complete. (I was lazy and didn’t review it on Goodreads…because all I would have done was gushed..)
  • Darkness Reigns — Jill Williamson’s newest release. She’s such an incredible author and one of those who lands on my “I’ll-read-anything-this-person-writes-EVER” list. *whisper* Also free on Amazon right now! (Read my review on Goodreads.)

Favorite Foods from 2015

You’d think, being an author, I don’t get time to cook.

Well…you’d be right!

But I love to cook, so I neglect my little paper babies every now and then and create edible masterpieces! (At least, I like to pretend they are, even when the meals resemble weird creatures from fantasy novels.) I also traveled a ton this year, so I got to try new foods everywhere. These were my favorites.

  • Homecooked — I love making artisan bread. I make a parmesan cheese loaf that is to die for (not to toot my own horn…because all I do is follow a recipe, so really it’s the recipe-maker’s horn I’m tooting.) But this one takes serious commitment since it takes 24-hours to make, shape, let rise, bake, cool, etc.

  • From Russia — I loved their Pelmeni. It’s kind of their version of ravioli but way better. I’ve cooked it at  home before, but when I went to Russia they cooked the pelmeni in chicken broth and you eat it with sour cream. I know you’re wrinkling your face right now, but I DON’T CARE BECAUSE IT’S AMAZING! Come to my house. I will make it for you.
  • From My State — Hubby and I discovered a sushi restaurant about an hour and a half away from us. We love sushi and our best friend — Daniel Russo — makes the best sushi EVER. For realz. He’s a sushi chef and we’ve been spoiled. So when he’s gone (and we’re weeping for hours on end), we’re left to scrounge among other little weak sushi restaurants trying to satisfy our cravings. We found one that’s at least better than the grocery store sushi, and that’s become a  new regular for us (when Daniel’s not here. *more weeping*)

Favorite TV Shows/Movies from 2015

This year, hubby and I started replacing movie nights with TV shows. We don’t have television, so we watch what’s available on our computers at night together. We ran out of good movies and stepped foot into TV show world. We like it, but we’ve thus far managed to never binge-watch (and hopefully never will) anything. These TV shows and movies were my favorites that I discovered (or that released) in 2015:

  • Merlin — Oh Merlin. That’s all I can say. I fell. in. love. with this show — or better said: with Merlin’s character. He became a friend to hubby and me and we loved every single episode in all five seasons…until the last one. It ended so wrong. That’s all I’m saying. I won’t give spoilers, but it was seriously the worst decision a director could have made. Okay. Done. Aside from that horribleness, Merlin climbed right up next to Harry Potter in my book. (And if you know me, you know that’s saying a lot.)


  • Robin Hood — It’s so cheesy and ridiculous and the third season is just dumb with an even dumber ending but…we loved it. 😀
  • Cinderella — I don’t care that people say her waist was too small. I don’t care that it’s the most over-done fairytale ever. I LOVED CINDERELLA SO MUCH. *goes to watch it right now*
  • Inside Out — This movie just reminds me of why I adore Pixar. (We shall not speak of The Good Dinosaur.) I loved the realness of Riley’s inner journey. Stuff I thought would be weird or boring wasn’t. Oh, and I cried.

Favorite Music I Discovered in 2015

  • Explosions in the Sky — I knew about them, but didn’t really listen to them like a rabid psycho until 2015. 😛

Favorite Moments from 2015

Me with my fantastic publisher, Steve Laube of Enclave Publishing. He's the best. We both decided the award looked like fire worms.

Me with my fantastic publisher, Steve Laube of Enclave Publishing. He’s the best. We both decided the award looked like fire worms. (Photo credits: Emilie Hendryx)

  • Hubby-ness — Learning to love Hubby even better. Seriously…I have the best hubby in the world and he’ll always be a favorite moment.
  • Crossing the Panama Canal — My Dad took me through the canal in his sailboat. I was the sea cook again (but no seasickness!) and I did endless book research for A Time to Speak.
  • Winning the ACFW Carol Award  (I seriously tear up every time I think about it.)
  • Realm Makers! — The Realm Makers Conference was amazing and I finally finally got to go! That will forever be one of my best memories. Already missing everyone.
  • Traveling to Russia. — I mean, I wrote three blog posts about it. (One, Two, Three) This was probably the most incredible moment of 2015…and hubby and I went together. 😀
  • New Friendships. I made so many new friends this year, and it fills me with complete joy. I connected with a word warring buddy (Katie!) and an Instagram friend who keeps me smiling (@taylorreads), and finally met up with the lovely Mary Weber at ACFW and can’t get enough of her sweet soul. (That kind of sounds like a freaky paranormal-book statement, but I mean it in the best possible way. 😛 )


I really just want to keep going — favorite snacks, favorite surprises, favorite adventures, even the moments that were awful during 2015 but God dragged me through them and I came out even more firmly wrapped in His arms.

But I’ll stop for now, because I’m liable to explode from all the nostalgia. What were some of your favorite reads/foods/movies/moments from 2015? (Tweet this)


About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. This is all so perfect. That bread looks DELICIOUS. And YES AGE OF ULTRON AND INSIDE OUT. *turns into a mushy puddle*
    And your dress in that picture is gorgeous!!!!

  2. 50 books in a year??? You reading machine! I’m hoping I’ll make 12. *weeping*
    We got Age of Ultron and Jurassic World for Christmas! Whoot! Already watched JW. Can’t wait to see AoU. We got to see Inside Out in the theaters with my sister and her kiddos who came to visit this summer. Loved it. Might have cried. AND for our Christmas tradition (two years in the making, ha!) the kids chose to rent that movie and eat popcorn, gummy bears, m&ms and drink hot cocoa for our “Christmas Party”. ha!

    Favorites this year??? Realm Makers and our trip to St. Louis is pretty high up there!

    food… I made pumpkin pasties! YUM! Especially when served with Chai. 🙂

    favorite book…Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Wraithblade by KM Carroll

    music…Enya’s new album…

    But I can hardly remember the beginning of 2015. I can’t believe it was only this year that you sailed across Panama Canal, I had thought it had been a few years back…or had you sailed twice now? My brain is a bit fuzzy. :-/

    • 50 books is a new record for me. Last year I barely broke 30, but this year I decided to designate every Saturday as a reading day. It helped a lot! 🙂

      And yes! REALM MAKERS! I want to try your Pumpkin pasties someday. 😉

      As for Panama, it feels like several years ago that I went, but looking back at my passport, it WAS this year. O.o My…time is an odd thing.

  3. I love Merlin! Though they did end it completely wrong! And I LOVE Marvel, and AoU was definitely a favorite!!

    I like to make homemade bread, but YOURS LOOKS SO GOOD!! Ooh, you’re making me hungry!

    • Yay! A fellow Merlin fan! Despite the horrible ending, I’m already itching to watch them all again (and imagine my own ending.)

      And thanks for the bread compliment! Winter always makes me want to bake. 😀

  4. Sounds wonderful. Like your books!!! Read both this year… And passed them onto my mom too *grin*. We’re both aching for book 3. Another thing to add to my looking forward to 2016 list! Grace and peace be with you this year!

    • Awwww. 🙂 🙂 Thank you so much for reading my books! Totally squealing. And I’m working on the final edits for A Time to Rise next month! Yay! 😀

      If you haven’t already, I’d be forever grateful (like…FOREVER) if you and your mom considered writing an honest Amazon review to help other readers find my book. 🙂 (If I’ve already asked you and I just can’t recognize who you are under your majestic Queen title…then please forgive me your most excellent Majesty. 😉 )

  5. I’ve read nearly 80 this year, which is a jump down from the 100+ I used to finish in high school. I stopped in at Lifeway yesterday to get Time to Speak so I could add it to this years read count, but they didn’t have it at that store and had to order it for me. 🙁 Now it will just have to be one of the first in next year’s read list.

    I completely agree about the ending of Merlin, though I had started to suspect it was going to end that way toward the beginning of the last season, because I didn’t think they had time to do true justice to the story.

    I also wanted to mention that I clicked the link for Bloodheart and amazon shows it is only free with Unlimited right now so I’m sads.

    • Awwww! 🙁 I’m sorry that Lifeway didn’t have A Time to Speak! Ugh! But hopefully it’ll arrive quickly.
      WOW! 80 books? I’d LOVE to get to that many in a year. 😀

      And, oh no! 🙁 Bloodhearrrrrrrt! Why are you not free anymore? I guess it was a small window. *sigh*

  6. Love this post!! And I completely agree about Cinderella. Who cares about everything – it was amazing! 😀 <3

  7. Yay for this post! I love reading favorites lists! And Yay for Cinderella. I just watched it for the first time on the plane last week and adored it! Thanks so much for sharing your favorites!

  8. One of my highlights was definitely talking to you and receiving ATTD!

  9. 🙂 just watched Inside Out with my parents last night. I laughed so much (and had a hard time not tearing up at some parts)!
    So, did you like the Good Dinosaur? The trailer looked adorable, but I heard someone say it was boring.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  10. Twenty One Pilots!!! I just got into them today. 🙂 I had so many awesome moments in 2015! I finished the first draft of my book. I sent it to beta readers. I visited Katie Grace. So many epic adventures! It looks like you had an awesome year too!

I love hearing from you!