best of 2021

The Tuesdays of 2021 (List-cember #8)

At the beginning of this year, one of my goals was to take a picture on every Tuesday of 2021.

Now, I will admit right off the bat that I didn’t remember to take a photo every Tuesday, but of the 52, I only missed six. So I’d say that’s pretty good.

Looking back at them now, they give a funny documentation of the year. Tuesdays are consistently a work day for me, and as such, I often treat them as merely the day after Monday. So it was interesting to see how all of my “day after Monday’s” treated me.

I’m not going to include all 52 here, but I did pick a favorite (or two) from each month.

Here were my Tuesdays of 2021.

Note: Just so you don’t think that I’ve gone mad, each number corresponds to the number Tuesday of the year (i.e. 1-52) not the chronological order of the list.


1) January 5, 2021

I have to start with the first Tuesday of the year!

I bought this journal as part of my ~new year~ spending—the kind you do while you are determined to make this year the best. The funny thing is, after I took this picture, I opened the journal and found I was in the completely wrong headspace to start it. I audibly huffed when I found the introduction to be too long, thus making me wait TOO LONG to write out all the wonderful, inspiring things that were supposed to put me at ease. Needless to say, I did not start using this journal on this Tuesday.

2) January 12, 2021

One of my best friends and I took up pickleball last year and we made it a priority to keep meeting once a week (or so) in order to get better. Coincidentally, my mom’s best friend has a pickleball court in her backyard, so the four of us became a pickleball club and our meetings became one of the highlights of my week.

3) January 19, 2021

The third Tuesday of the year was my sister’s birthday, and what better way to start the celebrations than to stand in line and get a COVID test?! The rest of the day involved carne asada tacos and donuts, and we both received negative results from our tests, so it was a win, win, win.

6) February 9, 2021

This photo was taken on the side of the road as I figured out what to do. The morning started innocent enough. I made my lunch, buttered and (blueberry) jammed a toasted English muffin, and then set off to work. But on the way there, I took a sharp turn with my English muffin in hand and a blueberry rolled off the muffin, down my hand, under my sleeve, and up my forearm, leaving a trail of jelly in its wake. Having zero napkins, I then had to dunk my jelly-stained paper towel into my hydro flask full of water, so I could wipe down my arm and continue my drive. It was a hilarious story to share after the fact, but a disastrous thing to experience 7:30 a.m.

12) March 23, 2021

We can go out to dinner again! My sister and I met our old roommate and good friend Rachel at Granville.  We sat in their open-roofed back room, which was extra magical because it hid us from the wind and let us look up at the (albeit minimal) Southern California stars. We also ordered the “banana brulee’d brownie” which was bougie and delicious.

16) April 20, 2021

This was taken at our (now old) condo and would prove to be the last picture I took there. I drove by one day after work to take the barrels out and check the mail for a final time. Then I did a little walk around to say thank you for the five years we got to live there, and wish it well for the next tenants who were going to move in.

19) May 11, 2021

This Tuesday was unfortunately a smoggy day for me. It was one of those when I just felt sad and lonely and down. I was so desperate for it to be over, especially because we had tickets to the Dodger game the next day—the first time since October 2019—and I was borderline emotional about it.

Spoiler alert: it was worth the wait.

26) June 29, 2021 (no picture)

It’s never not going to be wonderful to hang out on my best friend’s couch, eat food and vent, so I’m glad this day fell on a Tuesday so I could write it down and remember it. On today’s menu, we had Trader Joe’s butternut squash ravioli & air fried cauliflower. Plus, we watched Tell Me Who I Am on Netflix which is an incredible (and heavy) documentary that should definitely be watched with a friend.

29) July 20, 2021

“I feel vacation hungover”

This message from my sister was the most accurate description of this Tuesday, as we’d just spent five days in beautiful Utah, and then used our Monday to make the 11 hour drive home. So my big plans after work this Tuesday was to sit down, pout about being home, and then go to bed early. With that being said, please enjoy this photo I took two days earlier, as I looked at it fondly, trying to rewind myself back into that moment rather than do work.

30) July 27, 2021

As you may or may not know, my family LOVES the Olympics. And every Olympic year (both summer and winter) I make a spreadsheet to track the events and the medal count. Yes, this is nerdy, and yes, it is wonderful. I will hear no other opinions at this time. Quickly after the start of the Tokyo Olympics, I realized the time difference would provide an extra degree of difficulty. Thus, while I watched events that took place on Tuesday in Tokyo they were already competing in events on Wednesday in Tokyo. It was tough, it was confusing, but it was worth absolutely every second.

31) August 3, 2021

The mask mandate is back in California. After spending most of 2020 avoiding the gym (even after it reopened, because doing cardio in a mask seemed impossible) I arrived to find those familiar signs posted back in the window. I tried to power through and did 20 minutes on the Stairmaster in a mask. It was awful.

37) September 14, 2021

The first week of September marked the first week of the Proverbs 31 bible study I signed up for. I was very hopeful that I would stay on task and complete it, as I have a tendency to go full boar into things and then fall behind. However, I was very excited to find myself here on week 2, caught up with the reading, and genuinely excited about the live group study that happens on Zoom at 5:00pm.

43) October 26, 2021

Tennessee was the third stop on our trip and we were staying at the DreamMore Dollywood Resort. Needless to say, it was a dream. On this Tuesday, we had massages in the morning, then went on a jeep tour of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the afternoon. It was easily one of, if not the, best Tuesday of the year.

48) November 30, 2021

Every year, my mom, sister and I (and sometimes my dad and brother) watch The Family Stone. It is our favorite Christmas movie and easily one of our favorite movies of all time. We can quote the entire thing, and often talk through most of it, laughing and crying at the same parts every year. It is one of our most cherished Christmas traditions, which is why we made a family calendar event to ensure we stuck to it. We also ordered California Chicken Café for dinner and it was amazing.

51) December 21, 2021

I donated blood today! After a pretty average day at work, I drove to the Red Cross donation center in Woodland Hills and donated blood with no problem. I even got a free t-shirt! Also, a nice man thanked me for donating, saying, “thank you for doing this. It is a very special thing to do.” Then I came home and Natalee and I watched Love Actually.

52) December 28, 2021

And now here we are! The final Tuesday of 2021. I am currently sitting on the couch, cozied up under a blanket, with the week off of work and no plans for the day. Our Christmas decorations are still up, our counter is stocked with delicious desserts, and I am feeling so incredibly blessed by the gracious gifts I received from friends and family, and the wonderful time I got to spend with those I love over the weekend. I have an optimistic spirit about the year to come and I hope it brings many more memorable Tuesdays both to me and you!


Only one list-cember post to go! See you on Thursday!

Check out more List-cember posts here.

2021 Goals Wrap Up (List-cember #6)

As always, the goals I set for this year took me a on a ride.

I am forever learning to go with the flow when things don’t quite go as I plan, and to tweak goals when appropriate.

I am also still learning and growing every year, which I love!

This is how my goals went this year:

1) Volunteer 5 timescompleted!

I mentioned in my Things I Tried this Year post that I took on a new role at Food Forward this year, which opened me up to volunteer more than I usually could. I also started actively volunteering at my church each month, and the combination of the two not only helped me reach this goal, but double it!

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2) Watch the sunrise completed-ish!

Early in the year my sister and I went to our first big wedding since COVID. (I wrote about it here.) We were both bridesmaids and so the weekend consisted of a handful of bridesmaid duties, including getting up super early the day of the wedding to get our hair and makeup done. My goals were fresh on my mind and my sister knew them too, so as we got in our car on the morning of the wedding, looking disheveled and tired, we noticed that the sun had only recently poked its head above the horizon.

“I think this counts as watching the sunrise,” my sister said, drinking her coffee.

“I think so too.”

In the moment, I assumed I’d plan another day where I would intentionally and officially watch the sunrise, but sleep won that argument for 40 straight weeks. Oops.

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3) Raise my VO2 Max score to 40completed!

To the distinguished court of “pics or it didn’t happen”, I’d like to call to the stand, my sister, Natalee, who can testify on my behalf that I did in fact raise my score to 40 in the summer of 2021. No, I did not take a picture, and yes, I did stop running about the time of my birthday and so my cardiovascular level, and thus my VO2 max score, has gone down to a 38 in the meantime BUT IT DID HAPPEN. I was a 40 for like, two whole months. Thank you, your honors, I rest.

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4) Get published

I think if I didn’t get so much writing done this year, I’d be more bummed about not being published, but I really did make great progress on so many projects. I wrote pieces that I’ve wanted to write for a long time, both for UCLA Extension classes and for myself, and I completed a big writing project that I can hopefully tell you about soon! Overall, I’m just really proud of how much time and effort I put into my writing this year, so I think that’s good enough.

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5) Donate blood or plasmacompleted!

The process of figuring out when and how it is best for me to give blood has been a journey (one that suggests I stick to donating only blood for now) but I did give blood twice this year and I’m going again tomorrow! So I’m very excited about that and I hope to keep giving in 2022!

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6) Reduce screen time to four hours (or less) day(barely) completed!

I initially set this goal to be three hours or less, but I changed it to four about halfway through the year. While I set this goal both to bring awareness to how much I’m on my phone, and to break the habit of reaching for my phone whenever I’m bored, mad, sad, etc., I started to become a little too obsessed with how much time I was on my phone rather than what I was using my phone for. After doing a little research into my screentime, I found that on a good week, when I don’t lean on social media or stare mindlessly at my phone rather than go to sleep, my screentime is about 3 ½ hours per day. It was hard for me to get it below that because I’m busy and like to check in with friends, take pictures, scribble out notes, scroll through new music, etc.  So for me, staying below four hours is both an attainable and maintainable goal both for now and the future.

Fun fact: My average screen time for 2021 was about 3.99 hours a day. So I made it by the actual skin of my teeth.

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7) Finish writing prompt book

I simply did not do this. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I remember being in a pretty good routine for the first few months and then I completely fell off. I just didn’t want to. But the point of this goal was to get me writing, which I did plenty of otherwise, so I’m not particularly bummed about this one.

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8) See one WLRAcompleted!

In case you missed our Epic October Trip, while in North Carolina visiting some family we did in fact check off one of the World’s Largest Roadside Attractions: The World’s Largest Chest of Drawers. It was gigantic, it was ridiculous, it was fantastic. I loved it.

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9) Read 5 books on this list

If you didn’t see the initial link for this list (which was in a post that is unfortunately gone now) I typed up the list and you can find it here. It is a list of 75 inspirational books, and I’m going to keep working my way through it in the years to come. This year, I read: The Noticer by Andy Andrews, The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, and Story of My Life by Helen Keller, which were all fantastic. My favorite of the bunch was probably The Noticer and I would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for some fresh inspiration. Obviously, I didn’t reach the goal of five, but what can you do?

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10) Try 1 new recipe every month

I’m not really sure what happened with this one but come September I just kind of…stopped. I think it’s just because I got busy (and have remained busy, and will remain busy until roughly 2025) so when I was at home to make dinner, I just stuck with some of my reliable favorites rather than risking something new. I’m hoping to do more cooking next year though!

These are the recipes I tried this year:

January: Honey Garlic Pork Chops

February: Crispy Sheet Pan Gnocchi

March: Naan Pizza

April: Apple Spinach Salad

May: Seared Ahi Tuna Steaks

June: Honey Garlic Chicken Skillet

July: One Pan Italian Sausage & Veggies

August: Cheesy Cauliflower Pizza

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11) See all the movies nominated for best picture

Again, I started out so strong. When the nominees were released I watched half of them in a month. But then, I just…stopped. The ones I missed are still on my long list to watch, but the nominees for next year are right around the corner so I can’t make any promises. Of the nominees, I watched: Nomadland (which won!), Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal (which was by far my favorite), and The Trial of the Chicago 7.

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12) Finish my Dodger stadium cross stitchcompleted!

There came a point where I thought that I might be stitching grass for the rest of my life, but I did eventually finish, and I am so happy with the way it turned out! I got it framed at Michael’s and it now hangs on my wall as a testament to both 2020—which is when I started the cross stitch as my quarantine project—and to my grandma, who taught me how to cross stitch when I was seven ❤

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13) Learn to curl my hair

I asked for a straightener for last Christmas because I heard you can use it to curl short hair. I had such high hopes for this hack and for me not having to bug my sister to curl my hair whenever I want to look fancy. But she is so close—she is literally across the hall—and she is so free and all I have to do is sit there, so I remained curl un-educated. I did use the straightener to straighten my hair though, so it’s not like I completely neglected the straightener—just this goal.

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14) Try acupuncture

I was feeling really good going into this post but now I kind of feel like I did nothing? I opted out of trying acupuncture because I started going to the chiropractor regularly. Again, I’m not bummed, I stand by my choice, but I keep throwing up goose eggs on these goals and I’ll admit, it stings.

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15) Read 12 books of the Bible

I actually did better on this one than I thought I would. I wanted to read the Bible more and so I thought I’d cheat by making it a goal to read 12 books (or one book per month) because a good chunk of me is logically minded and I love checking off a goal. I did struggle however, finding a time to read. In the mornings I am running on routine alone and in the evenings I’m too tired to really focus, so it took a concerted effort both to open my bible rather than look at my phone (or read a different book) and to do it consistently. So I made it a point to do specific studies or to participate in guided readings of certain books, that way I could stay on task and actually absorb the text rather than just read it. In the end, I read eight books: Genesis, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Ruth, Esther, and 1 John.

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16) Keep my plant alive(can barely be considered) completed!

This was perhaps the biggest roller coaster of all. My sister gifted me a plant last Christmas that I was SO excited to receive and determined to care for and keep alive. Unfortunately, by April, that plant was dead. In May, I went to Ojai and bought a new plant because it was too beautiful not to buy, and once again set out on a plant mom journey. But by July, that plant was also dead. Clearly I have “the touch” but in my case, the touch is death. Finally, in August, I was gifted another plant—a ZZ plant which, and I quote, “tolerates neglect.” Now, neglect has never been my problem, I am more of a helicopter plant mom, but it was nice to be given guidelines to leave this plant ALONE. So I do. And it is still thriving. I think it’s even grown! So, with a live plant closing out my year, I think I’m going to count this goal as a success. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

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17) Tuesday’s of 2021 projectcompleted!

This was a fun project and I kept up with it pretty well. The goal was to take a picture every single Tuesday of the year so that I could have a kind of Tuesday scrapbook. You will be able to hear more about this particular goal on Tuesday 12/28 a.k.a the final Tuesday of the year, but overall I say I both completed the goal and liked it!

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And that wraps up my goals for 2021!

I won some, I lost some. I completed some, I neglected some. But overall, they got me through the year and taught me a lot.

I’ve got 17 new goals for 2022 on the docket. Come back on Thursday to find out what they are!


Did you set any goals this year?

Check out more List-cember posts here.

17 Things that Inspired Me This Year (List-cember #5)

Inspiration is my drug of choice. You’re allowed to roll your eyes at that, but there is truly nothing that drives and excites me more than those feelings of “how did she do that?!” or “I never thought about it that way!” or “I want to try that!!” or “WOW!” So I make it a point to save, follow and emulate things that inspire me so that the effect is not a one-time thing, but a constant, ongoing experience.

This year, these are the things that inspired me:

1) This blog post about popcorn

2) Zion

Which we visited in April and I wrote this blog post about.

3) These Podcast Episodes

  • A Slight Change of Plans, Episode #1, A Black Musician Takes on the KKK
  • Heavyweight, Episode #36, Brandon
  • Proverbs 31 Podcast, Episode: 3 Questions to Ask when Faith Feels Impossible

4) Jay Lee Painting on Youtube

5) “Never underestimate the big importance of small things” – from The Midnight Library

And honestly the whole book, which inspired me to write this post.

6) Graves into Gardens by Elevation Worship

7) Paulie’s Push

I read this man’s story here and then started following his journey on Instagram (@pauliespush) and loved every step of it!

8) The Mile an Hour project

9) The Balanced Life Pilates

I came across this organization when they did their free 5-Day Refresh + Reset Pilates challenge (which I think is only available through their website now) and decided to give it a try. I had never done pilates before but I liked that these workouts were designed to be short and concise, so you can easily integrate them into your daily routine. They were great for beginners and I felt like I was able to keep up without wondering if I was going to die. Which is always nice. Going forward, I’m going to try out more of their content on YouTube and then decide whether I might give their subscription service a try too!

10) This:

11) This article written about the best life lessons people learned in 2020

12) Headspace by Riley Clemmons

13) @ememem.flacking on Instagram

Who adds some wonder to cracks in the sidewalk 🙂

14) CODA

This movie inspired me in the way that I was truly awestruck by how beautiful sign language is. It is a full body kind of communication and I am so drawn to that. It is one of my life goals to learn ASL and this movie added an exclamation point to that hope!

15) Be Like Benji

One of the best parts about Yoga with Adriene’s videos (besides the yoga, of course) is the cameo her dog Benji makes—which is usually him napping in the corner of the screen. This animated video put out by her team teaches the value of “box breath”, which can help with stress and anxiety, and is just about the most precious thing ever. The full video is available on her website fwfg.com, but even the trailer can bring you some calm.

16) This post:

17) The Olympics

I am never not inspired by the incredible stories that come out of the Olympics, and the 2020/2021 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo seemed particularly special, as it was a time for the world to join together and marvel at the incredibly resilient athletes. My family and I even had our own “Olympic” moment this year, and it’s one I’ll never forget.


Did anything particularly inspire you this year? Let me know!

Check out more List-cember posts here.

Tiny Perfect Moments of 2021 (List-cember #4)

In February of this year, the movie The Map of Tiny Perfect Things was released on Amazon Prime.

I mentioned it in my January & February favorites and I have watched it a handful of times since.

While the concept is similar to that of Groundhog Day, it takes special care to highlight the small, special moments that happen each day but often go unnoticed.

After watching the movie, I started to look for the tiny perfect moments happening around me, whether they involved me or not, and I wrote them down. Now they stick out in my memory, reminding me of those little bursts of happy rather than letting them fade into the background. And I think it’s a habit I’m going to continue.

To give you an idea of what I mean, here are some of the tiny, perfect moments I found in 2021 and here’s to many more in 2022!

1) Sitting at a red light, I saw a man standing on the corner waiting for the go ahead to cross the street. He was wearing headphones and bobbing his head to whatever he was listening to, not a care in the world. When his light turned green, he popped his hip to the left, on what I assume was a specific beat in the song, and then he started walking, continuing to bob his head and enjoy the music.

2) While on a run in my neighborhood, I saw a girl walking up ahead of me. We were on opposite sides of the street, but we were both heading in the same direction. As I moved out and around a parked car, grateful that my final turn towards home was approaching, she slowed to a stop next to a tree that had long drooping branches with yellow flowers on the ends. She took one flower gently in her hand and lifted her nose to smell it. Then she kept moving and the branch slowly bounced behind her, casting a shadow that looked like a waving arm onto the asphalt.

3) As I hurriedly got off the freeway in an attempt to get to a store before it closed, I drove past a park that has hugely tall trees. One of which has a long, thick branch that reaches across the grass, leaving a path of shade. It was a summer afternoon and the temperatures were barely out of the triple digits, but a woman had set up a folding chair in that lane of shade. Her legs were crossed, hair up in a bun, and she was reclining comfortably, reading. She looked as content as could be.

4) One morning, just after eight o’clock, I was en route to pick up an order for work. The freeways were congested, as always, so I was cutting down side streets, hoping to catch as many green lights as I could. At one red light, as I broke off a piece of my apple cinnamon breakfast bar, I saw a man walk out onto his balcony with a cup of coffee. The morning air was a little crisp, so I was wearing a jacket, but he was in a t-shirt and sweats. He put one hand on the banister and used the other to lift his coffee cup to his lips. He took a long sip and then just looked out at the day, thinking peacefully.

5) The apartment I live in has underground parking and a slow moving gate that you have to open with a remote. More often than not, as the gate opens, someone walks or runs by, usually with a dog in tow, so I always drive out in a slow roll, looking both ways multiple times. One morning, as I sat back waiting for the gate to peel open, a man walked by, a leash in one hand, his phone in the other. A small, happy dog, padded in front of him. He glanced over at me and then slowed almost to a stop once he’d cleared the gate. Looking down at his phone, his eyes concentrated, reading, and then a smile spread across his face like it was being unzipped. He closed his eyes, excited, and then put the phone in his pocket and kept walking.

6) One Saturday morning in October my best friend and I decided to get up and drive to Santa Barbara to have brunch and shop around. It was the perfect day and we were walking up and down State St. when we heard someone singing. We looked across the street and a girl was standing, all on her own, singing opera to a gathering crowd of people. She had a beautiful voice and we were taken aback by her courage to stand out there alone and sing. We stopped to watch for a little while, and then when we turned to leave, we saw a man walk out of a store in front of us. We saw him notice her. He turned toward her voice and then just stopped, right there in the middle of the sidewalk, completely in awe, and listened.

7) At gas station downtown, I leaned against my car, waiting for my tank to fill up. Two cars sat on the opposite side of the divider as me, both belonging to men who were pushing buttons on their respective machines. After a minute or two, they started talking. There had clearly been some kind of altercation that I’d missed, but in my book, I’d showed up just in time. Their conversation went like this:

“Hey, I’m sorry about before. I’m just going through some stuff, but that’s not your fault.”

“Don’t worry about it, we all have our moments.”

“Yeah, but I’m still very sorry.”

“Don’t give it another thought, truly.”

“Thank you.”

Keep your eye out for those tiny, perfect moments. They are everywhere! And they will only make your days brighter 🙂


Check out more List-cember posts here.

The Best Things I Bought This Year (List-cember #3)

Since we are in the spirit of recommendations this week, and because I never get tired of reading lists of random things people like/bought/just thought were cool, I thought I’d share a handful of things I’m glad I bought this year. It’s a little bit of everything, which I personally find to be the most dangerous kind of list, because you can’t immediately convince yourself you won’t be tempted to buy anything because you don’t know what’s coming next.

In other words, this list is my (wallet’s) worst nightmare. So I apologize in advance if you find yourself *adding to cart* but just know that I love everything on this list so actually that apology was fake and I think you should do it.

1) Third Love Bras

These were mentioned on an early favorites post and they hold up. They are the first bras that have ever really fit me and they are SO comfortable. I will recommend them until my dying day. (find them here)

2) Ray-Ban sunglasses (Erika Classic)

For years I bought $10 sunglasses that I would throw in my purse and wear until they were too scratched to see out of, thinking I was a bargain shopper. But then I bought these and realized I was just being cheap and more or less going blind because none of those glasses were polarized and how was I even driving while wearing them? Things are better now. (find them here)

3) Aerie no-show underwear

I don’t know how to recommend underwear other than by saying, BUY THIS UNDERWEAR, because that’s the kind of customer review that really drives home a sale for me. So just, like, buy them. (find them here)

4) Free to Grow Tote bag from The Tote Project

I love this company and the causes it supports, and so I was happy to purchase a tote. I did not plan on falling in love with this tote, but I did. I take it on every grocery shopping trip. We have bought so much ice cream together. (find it here)

5) Lounge shorts from Old Navy

In the dead of summer, we all need a pair of shorts we can put on after we get home from work and rip our professional pants off. These were my go-to shorts. They are comfortable and just the right amount of high waisted. (find them here)

6) Big bottle of First Aid Beauty moisturizer

I feel like I could go on and on about this moisturizer as a moisturizer, but I also feel like that’s been said and done on many a beauty review. So instead I’m just here to tell you to buy the big bottle. It has lasted me almost the entire year, which is magical for any skincare product. So if/when (and it should be when) you buy this, go BIG. It’s worth it. (find it here)

7) Bralettes from Forever 21

I love doing yoga, but it is hard to find good shirts to do yoga in. Sometimes tank tops are too tight, other times t-shirts are too baggy and you wind up borderline suffocating while trying to hold downward dog. So, I started wearing these bralettes that are both cheap, comfortable, and not in danger of having a boob pop out. They check all of my boxes. (find them here)

8) Plain white Vans

For a long time I’ve wanted a pair of plain white sneakers because they go with everything and, if you can keep them relatively clean, I feel like they make you look like you’re put together. These were the perfect pair for me. (find them here)

9) Amazon Smart Plug

I never foresaw myself being one of the those people who has a “smart house.” I thought I might get a clap-on light—maybe. But I didn’t think I’d dip my toe into the world of Alexa being my appliance secretary. However, when my sister and I moved into our new apartment at the beginning of this year and the plug for my lamp was in seemingly the most inconvenient place, I decided to try an Amazon Smart Plug so that Alexa could do the footwork for me. Now I ask her to turn on my light every night and I say thank you as if she is a real person. (find it here)

10) Candles

In the last place my sister and I lived, it was part of our lease that we weren’t allowed to have candles in the house. This was devastating to me because I love candles and there are few things I enjoy more than standing in the candle aisle at the store sniffing. In our new place however, candles are fair game and I have been taking FULL advantage. Life is better and our apartment smells like heaven. (I like this one from Trader Joe’s and this one from Target)

11) Kate Spade purse

This is easily the most expensive thing on this list but not nearly expensive as it could have been because I bought it on super sale and felt like I was getting away with murder. For anyone out there wondering if they should get a new purse, this is your sign. Check out surprise.katespade.com. I won’t tell anyone. (find it here)

12) Small crossbody purse

Speaking of purses, shortly after I bought my Kate Spade bag, I realized that there are probably going to be a lot of occasions when I don’t need my Mary Poppins purse. Say, when I’m traveling, or going to the beach. So I grabbed this guy at Target that gives me just enough room to carry my phone, a small wallet and some chapstick and it has been perfect. (find it here)

13) Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Cream

I’ve had some troubles with eye allergies for the last couple years and at times it’s felt like I was Ryan Gosling, standing in front of Rachel McAdams in The Notebook, asking my eyes, “WHAT DO YOU WANT?!” Because it felt like everything I tried made things worse. But, with the help of these eye drops that I mentioned in a past favorites post, and this eye cream, I feel like me and my eyes are finally friends again. (find them at Target)

14) Pill case

This is the cutest little guy that I like to fill with varying assortments of (non prescription) pills in order to be the person that says, “yes! I have that” whenever someone should need an Advil, Benadryl, iron supplement, lactaid, etc. (find it here)

15) Floral Laptop case

I started a big writing project this summer and decided I wanted to buy a new laptop case to celebrate. It was kind of like buying a new outfit for the first day of school and I loved it. (find it here)

16) Amazon Utility hooks

I bought these when we moved into our new apartment on the off chance I might use them to hang things. And let me tell you, I hung EVERYTHING. These are so easy to install and can hold a good amount of weight. At this point they are like hidden Mickeys in our apartment. (find them here)

17) Foam Roller

I started going to the chiropractor this year and she recommended I buy one of these to do back stretches at home in between sessions. For me, it is a night and day difference. Plus, I learned to roll out my legs and my IT band has never been so happy with me.  (find it here)

18) Chick-fil-a Sauce

One day I was at the grocery store and I saw a two-for-one deal on full size Chick-fil-a sauces, so naturally I partook. I assumed I’d use it every once in a while, but I ended up putting it on practically everything. I was completely devastated when I ran out and I bought more the minute I went back to the store—it wasn’t on sale anymore but I didn’t even hesitate. That’s true love. (I found it at Ralph’s but check your local grocery store sauce aisle or probably Chick-fil-a…)

19) Olive & June Dry Drops

Let me start by saying, I have no idea how these work. All I know is: they do. If you do (or at least attempt) home manicures, you have to try these. I am the queen of smudging my thumb the minute after I paint it, and then proceeding to hate-remove the polish on every single nail as a result. But these babies dry your nails almost instantly, leaving little room for even me to mess them up. They are magic! (find them here)

20) Target blankets

At the start of fall, my sister and I decided to clean out our blanket stash. Some, of course, are sacred and irreplaceable, even when they’re shredded and old and barely alive. But others simply sit at the bottom of the pile, unused and unpicked, still in great shape but very much not the favorite. So, we separated out the ones we never use and donated them, and then bought two new ones from Target. Cozy doesn’t even begin to describe them.  (find them here and here)


Did you buy anything especially great this year? My wallet is both scared and curious to know.

Check out more List-cember posts here.

My 2021 Rec Roundup (List-cember #2)

“Best of” lists at the end of the year are some of my favorite things to read. So I always like to include my Rec Roundup in List-cember as my way of contributing to those.

If I were tougher, I’d rank the items in each category from 1 to 10, but honestly, narrowing myself down to 10 choices is hard enough.

So, these are my favorite favorites from this year. I hope you enjoy!

Note: these aren’t necessarily things that came out in 2021, but they are things that I found this year and loved.

Books

  • Survive the Night by Riley Sager
  • The Noticer by Andy Andrews
  • The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
  • Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Guest List by Lucy Foley
  • Educated by Tara Westover
  • Live in Love by Lauren Akins
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

Podcasts

  • CounterClock (especially season three!)
  • My Unsung Hero
  • Live in Love Podcast
  • A Slight Change of Plans
  • The Happiness Lab
  • The Basement Yard
  • Anatomy of Murder
  • The Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast
  • Bouncing Forward with Amy Purdy
  • Other People’s Lives

Movies

  • Coda
  • The Last Letter from Your Lover
  • Tell Me Who I Am
  • The Broken Hearts Gallery
  • INSIDE
  • The Year Earth Changed
  • Promising Young Woman
  • Sound of Metal
  • The Dig
  • The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

TV Shows

  • Panic (Amazon Prime)
  • Love Life (HBO Max)
  • Bridgerton (Netflix)
  • The White Lotus (HBO Max)
  • Mare of Easttown (HBO Max)
  • Starstruck (HBO Max)
  • Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
  • Barry (HBO Max)
  • The Wilds (Prime Video)
  • The Morning Show (Apple TV+)

Music

  • Obviously by Lake Street Dive
  • All In by John Splithoff
  • Songs to Break Up To by Wild Rivers
  • Godsend by Riley Clemmons
  • One Foot in Front of the Other by Griff
  • SOUR by Olivia Rodrigo
  • star-crossed by Kacey Musgraves
  • Into the Mystery by Needtobreathe
  • Red (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift
  • 30 by Adele

Misc

Modern Different Newsletter: I’ll admit, I went in hard on newsletters this year. I subscribed to many—some might say too many—and as a result, I often fell behind on reading them. Never this one though. I always liked seeing a new issue in my inbox and I loved the unique product recommendations that were always inside. (find it here.)

Crispy Sheet Pan Gnocchi: This was easily my most made recipe of the year. It’s easy, it’s delicious and it makes a lot. Highly recommend if you’re looking for a quick weeknight dinner! (find the recipe here)

KIND Bar Subscription: I never would have imagined I’d be a loyal subscriber to KIND bar content, but here we are. After trying and loving their Breakfast Protein Bars at the beginning of the year, I subscribed to their delivery service, that gives you x number of bars (you choose) per month/every other month/etc. I love having a variety of different choices to grab on the go for breakfast, and in doing the math, I’m saving money in the long run by ordering them in bulk straight from the source! I’d love to say this is sponsored, but it is isn’t—though it could be, Mrs. KIND. (find it here.)

Do you have any favorites from this year?

Let me know!


Check out more List-cember posts here.

And you can check out last year’s Rec Roundup here.