I can’t tell you how many year-end Top 10/Favorites/Best-of lists I have read over the years on various blogs. It makes me strangely joyful to read a summary of someone’s year – a curated list of things that defined life in a positive way.
And now I have a blog of my own! I can’t resist adding two of my own summaries. Today is my “Favorite Finds” – items I purchased this year that have made my life better in some way. And I did 11! Because I couldn’t decide!
(Something that always makes life better? Good books. That list will get its own post on Thursday.)
For the record, none of this is sponsored in any way. I used all my very own nickels to purchase each of these items. Although I would never be opposed to accepting free stuff from these great companies. (Lug people: Call me. Your little compartments are my kryptonite.)
So, in no particular order…
1. Throat Coat Tea: I am always trying to be a hot tea person. The truth is I am a coffee-with-fake-flavored-creamer person, but one can always aspire to greater things. This year I finally found a hot tea I can get excited about – one I actually choose on occasion instead of my vice-laded creamy joy. I have been slowly working on a recording project this year, and this delightful tea is a staple in the studio. I had never tried it before and was brilliantly surprised at how delicious it is — even without adding sugar.
2. Almond Oil (for my face): I know putting oil on your face has been a thing for a while, but I came of age in the 80s, when it was all the rage to cotton-ball your face with “astringent toner.” It was a painful process requiring Lamaze breathing for the first ten seconds, but boy did your face feel clean when you were done! It horrifies me to think of all the natural moisture I was stripping from my face in the name of “good skin care.”
I gave up toner a long time ago, but this year I finally tried the whole oil phenomenon and oh. my. goodness. I started with this expensive version that I adored. After I got used to the idea of putting oil all over my face, I cycled down to cheaper options. There are lots of ways to go here (coconut, grapeseed, avocado, etc.), but I have landed on Almond Oil as my favorite. It’s inexpensive and melts eye make-up like crazy. Love, love, love.
3. Lug Bag: Do you have a happy store? You know, the kind of store you go to when you want to wander around and dream of a better life? For me, those dreams come to life at The Container Store. Dreams that include creating and maintaining a perfectly organized home where everything has a thoughtful place. Dreams that have no chance of ever coming true due to the fact that I have children and also, I like to lay on the sofa and read books. But I do love thinking about organizing stuff.
Imagine if the hopes and dreams of The Container Store could be reduced to a simple bag you can throw over your shoulder. More doable, right? Enter my favorite purchase of 2016: my Lug Bag.
I came across this wonder bag through random channel flipping resulting in a serendipitous landing on QVC. A delightful woman was showing a bag with compartment after compartment after compartment. Everything had its place. So many compartments. I found the same bag on Amazon for less and started dreaming of all those little compartments. The bag isn’t super expensive, but it isn’t super cheap either. I had to think about it. I finally pulled the trigger and had it in my organizational-loving hands two days later.
I love this bag so much. There are at least 10 separate pockets accessible just from the outside. Everything has its place – from your lip gloss to your favorite pen (and I do have a favorite: see #8). You can carry it cross-body or attach it to a carry-on suitcase with a velcro strap. I took this bag and a purse when I traveled to Canada in October – that’s it. (I used packing cubes for my clothes – another favorite find in 2016 — how have I not known about packing cubes before now?) And moms! This would make a fantastic diaper bag. I wish it had been around when I had littles.
4. Peppermint Bark Coffee: I am a flavored coffee junkie. Yes, flavored coffee plus flavored creamer. My black-coffee-drinking husband thinks I am a lunatic, but the morning wants what it wants. All things chocolate/mocha/peppermint are my favorite favorite, and I have tried them all. I love this one a bunch. I keep one of these in my Lug Bag (because, duh, there’s a compartment!) and take it to work for afternoon coffee goodness. Swooooon.
5. Orgain Protein Powder: Because I am nothing if not inconsistent, I also drink healthy drinks to counter my sugar-laden coffee habit. I’m sure many of you are smoothie aficionados and won’t be impressed with my meager commitment – but it was a significant development for me this year. A friend recommended this protein powder and I liked that it was vegan, affordable (for organic) and tastes pretty good. Let’s be real: it’s not this. But if you don’t expect it to be, it’s pretty good.
My go-to combo: small banana + handful of spinach + unsweetened vanilla almond milk + bit of peanut butter + 1 ½ scoops protein powder + 5 ice cubes. I’ve been trying to drink this every day through the holidays, just to mix in some nutrition between the all the Chex mix and sausage balls.
6. Bluetooth Speakers: Is it becoming clear that I am not exactly an early adopter of modern culture? (Smoothies! Wow! I’m on the cutting edge of health and wellness!)
I know Bluetooth speakers have been around for a hot forever, but I never had any until this year. I love, love, love these speakers. Small and so compact, but with great sound quality. I take them between my schools (in my Lug Bag!) and never have to worry about plugging in speakers. (Feel free to laugh. I fully comprehend how behind the curve I am. Sometimes I am so far behind the curve, the curve circles back around. Exhibit A: I also bought Birkenstocks this year – and regretted ever getting rid of the ones I wore in college).
7. Ninja Blender: A key component to my new 2016 smoothie habit was investing in a real blender. Before I bought my Ninja, I was using a $20 model we received as a wedding gift. 18 years ago. It left every blended item slightly lumpy. Plus it leaked. Because I am a grown-up now, I decided I needed a real appliance. The Ninja is the perfect balance for the person who wants serious blending power without the mortgage payment of a Vitamix.
8. Pilot Pens: I am freakishly picky about my pens. They must be the perfect combination of inky, but not too inky. That makes sense to no one but the people who know what I am talking about — and you know who you are.
Pilot G2s are the most popular, but they don’t do it for me. They are not fine enough and don’t grip the paper well. After trying several varieties this year (is it actually a pastime to shop for the perfect pen? #guilty), I found my dream pens: The Precise V5 RT. (Also, they name pens like cars these days.) This pen has a delightfully scratchy quality that makes me feel one with my paper. These are the things that make me happy. It can’t be explained logically.
9. Facing a Task Unfinished by Keith and Kristyn Getty: Are you ready for a strange fact about me? I am a music teacher, songwriter, and vocalist – which means I rarely listen to music for pleasure. I listen to music of all kinds, all day, most days, for my jobs. The reality is, I mostly enjoy silence in my off hours. (And podcasts.) I just don’t have mental margin for a lot of music. #sadbuttrue #cobblerhasnoshoes
My one music recommendation for this year is Keith and Kristyn Getty’s new CD, Facing a Task Unfinished. I love the great melodies combined with thoughtful lyrics and creative instrumentation. Many of the tracks are stellar, but The Lord is My Salvation has to be my favorite. It is my favorite song of 2016. (Winner for favorite song of 2016, Christmas Category, goes to Jennifer Nettles and Idina Menzel singing Little Drummer Boy. That last note!)
10. Eden’s Garden Essential Oils: I’ve been using oils for a few years now, and this find is more about a company than a specific oil. I started purchasing from Eden’s Garden this year, and have been super pleased with the quality and customer service (you can read about the company here.) They have very high quality oils at affordable prices. A few of my favorite blends: Exhale, Breathe Easier, Stay Alert, and Relaxation. I need to place an order soon — all these are running low for me right now!
11. Drop Stop: This purchase was intended to be somewhat of a gag gift for my husband, who constantly drops things in the car. My son and I saw this on Shark Tank and decided it was the perfect surprise gift. Well, let me tell you: no gag here. It’s a game-changer! How many times have you dropped your phone (or, grosser: a french fry) into that tiny space between your car seat and the console? Then you reach down in there, attempting to retrieve the dropped item, and get scratches all over your hand trying to get it out? And then when you can’t, you beg your smaller-handed child to try? (Oh — that’s just me?) This product is a problem-solver. No more dropped phones, pens, and fries. Insert hands-up emoji!
And there you have it. 11 favorite favorites of 2016. Do you have favorites? Share in the comments and link me to all your favorite lists!
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