SLIDER

My Year in Goals {2020}

Dec 31, 2020


2020 has been a year. What is there to say about it that hasn't already been said? While I'm excited to move on to 2021, I want to look back on the past twelve months first. Since 2015, I've shared a series of posts that I call "My Year in ______" to highlight my favorite things from the year. It's one reason I always look forward to December! There were a lot of things I didn't love about 2020, but I am excited to spend the next week talking about some of the good things. Today, it's all about my goals – an entirely new post in this series!

Since goal planning was new for me in 2020, I wanted to spend some time reviewing my progress. I was worried that my PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner would be a frivolous purchase that I'd abandon, but the opposite happened. I've accomplished so much this year! The process and product wasn't magical, but it did help me identify what I wanted to get done and what steps I needed to take to make it happen. 

There's been so much uncertainty this year, and I recognize that I'm fortunate to have just been inconvenienced by COVID-19. We've primarily dealt with disrupted plans and changes in our lifestyle. For so many, that hasn't been the case. My baby was born in February, so I intentionally set goals for my season of life. Many of them focused on our home and the people in it. When COVID hit, I didn't have to pivot very much and getting things done was comforting when so much has felt out of control. If you feel like you didn't learn (or do) anything new this year, I loved what Kendra wrote in this post: "You learned to live day after super hard day, and that's enough." I want to commemorate my progress, but I don't want you to be discouraged if your year looked different!


My word of the year was Nurture – a perfect choice that aligned with all of my goals and was very fitting for 2020. I nourished a baby, cared for the growth and development of both my sons, and I nurtured my faith, my marriage, my passions, and my habits. I had six big-picture goals – more like themes/categories, if you will – that I broke down into various monthly/quarterly/weekly mini goals and action steps that I could check off my list. 


Image sources: PhotosIce CreamBrothersPlannerQuotePlantsClocksDoorBible

Some people might say that it isn't a goal if it can't really be measured or completed, but I disagree. The things that matter most deeply to me are often areas where I can make significant changes but will never truly be "finished." I've got the goals listed below, followed by some of the things I accomplished in each area. It isn't a comprehensive list, but I loved reviewing past tending lists and Goals blog posts for my progress:

1. Revitalize my faith through daily time with God. 
It had been a long time since I'd prioritized my faith. I always said I wanted to deepen my walk with God, but my actions didn't reflect that desire. I'm very proud of the changes that I made in this area of my life in 2020!

Progress I made:
 Finished reading the Bible in one year
• Read a devotional every morning
• Read several non-fiction books about faith

2. Nurture my relationship with Nick and our sons.
My relationship with Nick and our two boys is the next most important thing in my life. With so much time at home, I had the perfect opportunity to nurture those relationships and adapt to our new normal as a family of four.

Progress I made:
• Went on several family trips to the mountains
• Got our home ready for the baby
• Celebrated nine years of marriage
• Date nights at home with Nick
• One-on-one dates with my big boy
• Weekly library visits with my boys
• Read seven non-fiction parenting-related books
• Organized different areas of our home

3. Grow in my knowledge and stewardship of our finances.
This is the goal I made the least amount of progress on – at least compared to what I'd planned to do. But it's encouraging to see that I still made small steps towards my goal of being more attuned to our finances!

Progress I made:
• Tracking spending on Goodbudget
• Read Dave Ramsey's finance book
• Completed a three-month no-spend challenge
• Met our savings goal for 2020

4. Invest time in the hobbies that bring me joy. 
I wasn't sure what reading and blogging would look like with a new baby, and I'm so thrilled that both were still a big part of my life! Thank goodness for audiobooks, early bedtimes, and the right amount of motivation. 

Progress I made:
• Blogged 2x per week, on average
• Reviewed all books read in 2020 (except December)
• Read 170 books in 2020
• Completed my re-read and non-fiction goals
• Culled my bookshelves and Goodreads
• Made seasonal TBR lists
• Stayed up-to-date in my reading journal and bookish log
• Set up my 2021 reading journal and bookish log
• Wrote blog posts that were important to me, like this My Year In feature
• Went on a "reading weekend" getaway with my sister

5. Create purposeful monthly, weekly, and daily routines. 
One of the biggest thing that came up in my prep work in 2020 was my desire for more routine. Having established new rhythms this year, I feel like a different person! This was something I truly needed in my life.

Progress I made:
 Monthly review and prep sessions
• Implemented weekly cleaning schedule 
 Weekly meal planning and grocery pickup
• Began daily school routine for my big boy
• Reviewed planner in bed every night
• Checked in on my Tending List every week
• Prepped my planner for the new year
• 2021 prep work and goal setting

6. Record and preserve our family memories. 
The goal I found most daunting was 1) culling and organizing digital photos and developing habits to maintain it moving forward, and 2) filling out childhood journals for my baby and big boy. I can't believe they're done!

Progress I made:
• Culled and organized all photos from 2016-2019
• Backed up all photos to an external hard drive and the cloud
• Culled 10,000+ photos from my phone 
• Designed and ordered annual photo calendar
• Completed Trimesters, Birth, 1st Weeks - 11 Months in my big boy's and baby's childhood journals
• Sent baby announcements

For me, PowerSheets were worth the investment. I did the work, but they provided the structure I needed to begin to make changes in my life. In the past, I've tried to make SMART goals. But those were often discouraging for me because I'd get hung up on what I didn't accomplish rather than what I did. I loved that this gave me the freedom and encouragement I needed to set goals in whatever format/wording worked for me.

I had a mix of goals that were hard to truly measure (like revitalizing my faith and nurturing my family relationships) with more easily "completed" goals (such as creating routines and preserving our photos and recording memories through journaling), and that worked well for me. I'm currently finalizing my next set of goals, which I'll blog about next week. You'll notice a few 2020 goals reappear alongside new areas of focus for 2021!

Did you set any goals for 2020?
What progress did you make?

My Year in Adventures {2020}

Dec 30, 2020


2020 has been a year. What is there to say about it that hasn't already been said? While I'm excited to move on to 2021, I want to look back on the past twelve months first. Since 2015, I've shared a series of posts that I call "My Year in ______" to highlight my favorite things from the year. It's one reason I always look forward to December! There were a lot of things I didn't love about 2020, but I am excited to spend the next week talking about some of the good things. Today, it's all about adventures! • Adventures in 20172018, and 2019

This is typically my final post of the series, but I've added something new to the schedule this year. We'll see how I like it tomorrow! Regardless, this is my favorite post because I love to look back on my memories of the past year. As I've said previously, this isn't a comprehensive list of adventures – just 18 favorite moments captured on camera. When I think about 2020, I immediately picture all the time we spent at home. I might be tempted to say we didn't have many adventures, but that's wrong. We created our own celebrations!


CELINE DION CONCERT • In April 2019, Celine Dion announced that was coming to Atlanta. My dad bought tickets for me, my mom, and my sister to see her this January, and we had so much fun! My only real 2020 event.

LAST TRIP AS FAMILY OF THREE • Before the baby was born, we took one last trip to the mountains as a family of three. It was the perfect way to soak up extra time with our big boy before life changed so much!

WELCOMING OUR NEW BABY • On February 7, our baby entered the world and changed our lives forever. He's been the biggest blessing of 2020, and I've loved watching the relationship between my boys blossom this year.


GOING BOWLING • Nick is a Leap Day baby, and he was excited to have a birthday this year. We went bowling – an adventure that was close to home, a treat for our big boy, and something to check off our 20 in 2020 list.

BACKYARD CAMPING • This was another item on our family bucket list, and it was easy to do – even with all the changes COVID-19 brought. Nick and our big boy made s'mores and slept in the tent one night. It was adorable!

BFF LONG-DISTANCE MOVIE NIGHT • Kelly and I did this early in quarantine when we both wanted to re-watch Little Women on the same day, and then we made it a monthly tradition. It's been so much fun!


DRIVE-THRU FARM • We'd planned to take our big boy to the zoo, but that got postponed due to the pandemic. A local farm had a small "feed the animals from your car" experience, so we went + got homemade ice cream!

OUR BIG BOY IS FOUR • I still can't believe our big boy is four years old. We didn't have a party, but I decorate with rain forest decor (per his request) and loved celebrating him all day long. It's a joy to be his mama.

CELEBRATING JULY 4TH • Since we were home for July 4th, we got to experience our neighborhood's amazing golf cart parade, wave to our neighbors, and enjoy the snow cone truck that drove by at the end. 


DRIVE-THRU DINOSAUR EXHIBIT • This drive-thru exhibit sounded perfect for our big boy who loves all things animals and dinosaurs. My parents kept the baby, so we enjoyed one-on-one time with him out of the house.

SISTER BOOKSTORE DATES • My sister is officially a book nerd now, and it's the best thing ever. We have had many bookstore dates, and she totally derailed all the progress I'd been making on my TBR. No greats thought!

OUR BIG BOY LEARNS TO SWIM • Our big boy took ISR self-rescue lessons, which teaches kids to swim and float. Lessons last ten minutes a day, five days a week, for 4-6 weeks. It was a commitment but so worth it!


OUR BIG BOY STARTS SCHOOL • We signed our big boy up for an amazing virtual program that a local preschool was offering. His teacher has done so much work to make it special, and it's added a bit more structure to our day.

ALL THE OUTDOOR DAYS • So many of our 2020 adventures occurred outside – going on a walk as a family, enjoying the neighborhood playground, splashing in our cheap blowup pool from Target, and sitting on our porch.

CORN MAZE & PUMPKIN PATCH • In October, we enjoyed a local corn maze and pumpkin patch that also had a petting zoo, slides, hay rides, and other fun fall activities. This has become a yearly tradition I look forward to!


ANIMAL SANCTUARY • Many of the adventures we'd planned for 2020 had to change due to the pandemic, but I was so excited to find an animal sanctuary we could visit. We loved it so much we walked through twice!

HALLOWEEN FUN • Our big boy declared he was going to be Batman this year and little brother would be Robin, and it was the cutest thing ever. Trick-or-treating looked a little different, but it was still so much fun.

READING WEEKEND WITH MY SISTER • My sister and I went to the mountains together for a weekend in November and had the best time reading, eating, online shopping, and sitting around. I loved our little getaway.


I've already mentioned our family's 20 in 2020 bucket list, and I wanted to recap how we did since those certainly count as adventures! About halfway through the year, when it was clear that COVID-19 wasn't going anywhere, I had to re-work our list. So, you'll see what we had planned ahead of time – and how we pivoted! 

1. GO: strawberry or apple picking. to the pumpkin patch. ✓
2. TRY: bowling. ✓
3. READ: this Bible and this book about prayer. chapter books. ✓
4. PLAY: board games once a month. ✓
5. EAT: a picnic in our backyard. ✓
6. EXPLORE: the hiking trails near our house. ✓
7. MAKE: a bird house. ✓
8. RIDE: on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. through the dinosaur exhibit. ✓ 
9. SEND: mail to our three great-grandmothers. ✓
10. COOK: for someone else. ✓
11. SEE: marine life at the Georgia Aquarium. our big boy learn to swim. ✓
12. CREATE: a new family tradition. ✓
13. DO: a nature scavenger hunt. ✓
14. GIVE BACK: by volunteering at our church's community celebration. through tithing. ✓
15. GROW: our savings by 20%. ✓
16. TRAVEL: somewhere we've never been. to the mountains. ✓
17. ENJOY: camping in the backyard. ✓
18. VISIT: Noah Ark's Animal Sanctuary. Yellow River Animal Sanctuary. ✓
19. WATCH: a movie at the drive-in theater. in our pretend "movie theater" at home. ✓
20. BE: thankful. Start a family gratitude jar. Make a Thankful Turkey. ✓

Did you have any adventures in 2020?
Here's to new beginnings in 2021.

My Year in Obsessions {2020}

Dec 29, 2020


2020 has been a year. What is there to say about it that hasn't already been said? While I'm excited to move on to 2021, I want to look back on the past twelve months first. Since 2015, I've shared a series of posts that I call "My Year in ______" to highlight my favorite things from the year. It's one reason I always look forward to December! There were a lot of things I didn't love about 2020, but I am excited to spend the next week talking about some of the good things. Today, it's all my obsessions! • Obsessions in 2017, 2018, and 2019

Once again, I went overboard with today's post. All year long, I wrote down the things I was loving – from the small (like dish spray) to the splurge (a fancy robe) – and now I've gathered them in one place! If you read my blog regularly, you'll recognize some of these from mini editions of my So Obsessed With posts. But there are some new things in here, too! I used to write a separate Beauty post every year (201620172018, and 2019) but felt it made more sense added in here. I hope you enjoy and will share your own obsessions in the comments!


1. Weezie Towels Women's Short Robe ($135) – After showering, I put on a robe and do my hair and makeup before getting dressed. Made of cotton terrycloth, this robe is like wearing a towel. The perfect size and length, too!

2. The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution ($7) – I haven't been able to justify the more expensive versions of this product, especially when this one is so cheap and works well. I love how my skin feels after using it.

3. Tartelette in Bloom Eyeshadow Palette ($39) – I think I treated myself to this when Ulta had it on sale, but it's quickly become a favorite. I like this one better than the first Tartlette palette because the shadows aren't all matte.

4. Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleaner ($8) – My sister recommended this cleanser to me because she knows it's one beauty product I hate to splurge on. This is gentle, has a subtle scent, and actually cleans my face.

5. Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Cream ($58) – This was another recommendation from my sister! It's thick and leaves my skin feeling so moisturized but never greasy and hasn't caused any breakouts.

6. Alligator Styling Clips ($5) – I always section my hair when I'm curling or straightening it, and I bought these to replace some older, broken clips. I've been really happy with the quality, especially for the price.

7. Aquis Drying Hair Turban ($20) – While I don't know if this actually dries my hair any faster, I do prefer using it over a regular towel. I feel like it causes less breakage and is easier to keep on while I'm getting ready.


8. How Novel T-Shirt from Bookshelf Tees ($28) – My sister is officially a book nerd, and she bought us both this adorable shirt. I've worn mine a ton because it's so soft and such a gorgeous color. I want more!

9. Cubic Zirconia Climber Earrings ($35) – I love the look of climber earrings, and I think it's because they give the impression of a second piercing without the commitment. I got these dainty and delicate ones for Christmas! 

10. ID Case ($45) and Key Ring ($55) in Mocha Ostrich – Though you can find cheaper versions, I'm willing to pay for Oventure's quality. I've loved my rose gold key ring & ID case for years, but it was time to switch it up.

11. Helen Ficalora Alphabet Charm ($165) – I've mentioned my beloved Helen Ficalora necklace before, which I never take off. After the birth of our baby, Nick bought me an initial charm for his name. I love it!

12. Madewell Taller 9" High-Rise Skinny Jeans in Ontario Wash ($30) – I managed to score these adorable jeans on major sale back in March, and they're so comfortable! I like the amount of distressing on them.

13. Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Robe ($99) – One thing I learned in 2020? I'm a robe person. This robe is so soft and cozy, and it softens the blow of getting out of my warm bed wayyyy earlier than I'd like every morning.

14. HRH Sweatshirt ($34) – Kelly gave me this sweatshirt for my birthday, and I love it so much! It's so comfortable. And whenever I wear it, I pretend I'm back in England with her. Maybe next year...

15. Universal Thread Face Masks ($4) – Who would have ever thought that masks would be on this list? Although Target's masks are inexpensive and relatively comfortable, I look forward to the day I no longer have to wear it.

16. Women's Memory Foam Fluffy Slippers ($30) – I just got these, but I can already tell they need to be on this list. I love them so much! I put on my robe and slippers in the morning and immediately feel so cozy.

17. GAP Breathe Wireless Bra ($43) – It was long past time to replace my old bras, so I decided to try GAP since I love their underwear. I'm really happy with this style! I got them 50% off, so that probably helps, too.


18. PowerSheets Goal Planner ($60) – Despite all the upheaval of 2020, my PowerSheets have helped me stay focused on the big picture and make consistent progress on my goals. I wrote all about it in this post.

19. Blank Notes Dry Erase Magnet ($12) – I bought this to solve a recurring problem in our house: forgetting that we'd run out of an item and needed to add it to our grocery order. This small size is perfect, and I love the design.

20. SMEG 2-Slice Toaster ($170) – My parents gave me this gorgeous toaster last year, after I'd mentioned that I coveted theirs. It's so pretty that I legit look forward to making my bagel every morning. A simple delight!

21. Madewell Leather Laptop Case ($88) – I got this for Christmas last year because I'd broken the zipper on my previous sleeve. I love that this is simple and stylish  – sturdy enough to protect my computer but not bulky.

22. Apple AirPods ($140) + Case ($6) – I'd been on the fence about getting AirPods and now I'm OBSESSED. I've gotten my husband, sister, mom, dad, and bestie hooked on them, too. I clip them on my keys with this case!

23. SCOUT 3-Way Cosmetic Bag ($30) – SCOUT is one of my favorite brands for reusable tote bags and other similar products. This cosmetic/toiletry bag with three compartments is a recent favorite in a cute gingham print.

24. Hamper with Divider ($10) – Our dog kept chewing smaller laundry items, so these hampers have been a lifesaver! I attach the zipper bag to one end and put socks/underwear in them, and it solved the problem.

25. Dawn Platinum Powerwash Dish Spray ($5) – My mom recommended this spray to me, so I had to try it. Now I know why she raved about it! The spray feature is my favorite and makes it easy to coat dishes that need to soak.

26. Artifact Uprising Calendar Refill Pack ($20) – I've been making this photo calendar since 2017 and save them all in a bowl in my coffee table. I'm not sure I've ever mentioned it before, and it brings me so much joy!

27. Simple Modern 32oz Summit Water Bottle ($20) – My sister gave me this water bottle, and it's my favorite. I use it throughout the day, and it's replaced the giant water jug I used to fill up before bed every night.

28. Lindsay Letters Vertical Monthly Calendar ($153+) – One of my top 5 purchases this year! I love how it looks, but the functionality is even better. I still use a planner, but this is a perfect monthly glance at our family's schedule.

29. From the Front Porch PodcastThis was a pre-2020 discovery, but I feel like my love for it grew this year. When I was in the mood for a podcast, this was always one of the first I'd turn on. Annie is a lovely host!

30. Read Scripture App One of my 2020 goals was read through the Bible. I completed it in November, and I've got this app to thank! It's beautifully designed, kept me on track, and had helpful videos throughout.

31. Book of the Month Subscription* ($15/month) – I signed up for BOTM in 2019 but canceled after a few months. Well, I rejoined in April and haven't regretted that decision! I love monthly book mail and all the good picks!

32. Kroger Grocery PickupI used to be a loyal Publix shopper, but Kroger has won me over with their Pickup option. It's well designed, convenient, and has eliminated a task I used to dread. There's no going back.

33. Daily Dapperdesk Planner ($60) – After using a weekly planner for the past several years, I switched to a Daily planner in August. And I've been loving all the extra space! Check out this post if you want to see how I'm using it.

34. Sonix Brown Tortoiseshell Phone Case ($35) – I got this for Christmas last year and have loved this case! It's starting to show some wear (mostly scratches), so I may replace it soon but will definitely look at Sonix cases again.

* Referral link


And finally, I recently read a "Best of 2020" post on Em for Marvelous that I really enjoyed and inspired me to add one more section to this post! Since I've shared all the "stuff" I was obsessed with this year, it seemed only fitting to include a few of the intangibles, too. Tomorrow's post will highlight some family adventures, but I wanted to mention a few other things here. The memories and moments matter more than anything on my list above: 

BEST FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM: The Lazy Genius podcast was one of my favorite finds of 2019, but I didn't follow Kendra on Instagram. Now I do, and all the wonderful tips and insight she shares @thelazygenius. And I just started following @Miss.Freddy for photo organization tips after receiving two of her courses for Christmas! 

BEST DATE: Nick and I had many date nights at home, but we didn't go out. That was mostly due to a new baby and COVID-19, of course. My favorite was the end-of-year celebration dinner we had this week, also inspired by Em for Marvelous. It was lovely to chat about this past year and our hopes for 2021. I highly recommend it.

BEST KIDDO MILESTONE: Our baby had lots of exciting milestones to celebrate – rolling, crawling, babbling, standing, and more – but I'm most excited about our big boy learning how to swim + starting preschool.

BEST FAITH GROWER: This pandemic, growing our family, and Nick's new job. It's been a year of change!

BEST TREND YOU TRIED: I don't know if this counts as a trend, but I am so glad I participated in The Contentment Challenge (three months of no spending). I learned so much in the process that I might do it again.

BEST FAMILY MEMORY: The birth of our second little boy! We did lots of special things as a family this year, many of which I'll write about in tomorrow's post, but our sweet baby has brought so much joy into our lives.

BEST HABIT YOU CREATED: The answers I thought of all come back to implementing new weekly and monthly routines, including the way I'm organizing my digital photos. I've also loved my daily devotional and Bible reading!

BEST NEW RECIPE: Our favorites are this sausage potato soup from Chelsea's Messy Apron and this slow cooker risotto with butternut squash and sausage from I Heart Naptime. I love making them and eating leftovers!

BEST LIFE OR MOM HACK: Grocery pickup, hands down. A dry erase board on the fridge eliminates all the "Why didn't you tell me we were out of _____?!" conversations. Sitting down with my planner every night before bed. 

BEST MAMA MOMENT: The one that came to mind first is watching my firstborn become a big brother. He adores the baby – and he's definitely the baby's favorite person! Seeing their love for one another is the best thing ever. 

BEST HOME IMPROVEMENT: Decorating our screened-in porch! We spent a lot of time outside this year, and it was so nice to sit on the porch with the baby while our big boy played in our fenced-in backyard. And I loved taking a cup of coffee and a book (or my computer) out there in the evenings after my boys were in bed.

BEST LITTLE LUXURY: Can I say grocery pickup again? Haha! 

What have you been so obsessed with this year?
Anything on my list that you love or want to try, too?

My Year in Books {2020}

Dec 28, 2020


2020 has been a year. What is there to say about it that hasn't already been said? While I'm excited to move on to 2021, I want to look back on the past twelve months first. Since 2015, I've shared a series of posts that I call "My Year in ______" to highlight my favorite things from the year. It's one reason I always look forward to December! There were a lot of things I didn't love about 2020, but I am excited to spend the next week talking about some of the good things. Today, it's all about books! • Books in 2016, 20172018, and 2019

In 2020, I've finished 168 books. Although it's less than last year, I'm pleased with that number. I had a baby in February and wondered if it would disrupt my reading as much as my firstborn did back in 2016. But I think being better prepared + my changing reading habits contributed to a steadier pace throughout the year. Thank goodness for audiobooks because my year in books would have looked very different without that format.

I'd love to squeeze in two more books to end the year 170, but we'll see what happens! Every year I break up my list of favorites a little differently. I decided to go by genre this year, even though they aren't evenly divided. I settled on 20 favorites – 15 fiction and 5 non-fiction – which represents 12% of what I read this year. If you'd like to know what would make my Top 10 for Top Ten Tuesday, you'll see a red heart () following those titles.

HISTORICAL


1. Betty by Tiffany McDaniel   A heartbreaking, gorgeous story with vivid storytelling, a strong  voice, and an unforgettable heroine. This was an emotional gut punch, and I loved everything about it (including the audio). 

Honorable Mentions: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes and Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

FANTASY


2. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – This felt like a modern fairy tale, and I loved how it went back and forth in time. The tenacious heroine anchoring the story cemented this as a favorite and future re-read.

3. House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas – I had mixed feelings about this book until I got to the last 25%, which packed a punch. But it still earned a spot because I keep thinking about the story and characters! 

Honorable Mention: Igniting Darkness by Robin LaFevers

MYSTERY


4. Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith  I loved this mystery, and the journey to get to the final reveal was amazing. Plus, the dynamic between Cormoran and Robin that had me clutching this book like a giddy schoolgirl. 

5. The Trespasser by Tana French  This take-no-shit female detective was a force to be reckoned with, and I loved how French used a sense of paranoia to to keep my on my toes. I highly recommend this on audio!

6. A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson – An addicting, thrilling story that kept me hooked! The heroine's inquisitive personalty, sense of humor, and pursuit of justice made this a standout mystery.

7. How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny My favorite Gamache! Penny delivered on a storyline that she'd been building from the very first book with a high-stakes search for answers that had me racing to finish. 

CONTEMPORARY


8. If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane  Heartwarming, emotional perfection. The romance was adorable, but I love how it focuses on the heroine's personal growth first and foremost. A favorite from McFarlane!

9. The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez  The only book on my list that I read twice this year! It was the comfort read I needed in the midst of 2020's craziness. It had me grinning, swooning, and tearing up, too.

10. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig  A charming surprise! The premise was clever, and Haig structured the story in a way that kept the pace moving. I loved how it explored choices, regrets, and how to fully live.

11. Beach Read by Emily Henry It had so many elements I love: great backstories, quippy banter, a fabulous female friendship, a fun premise, and a surprising amount of emotion. I love romances with depth! 

12. Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis  A charming book blew me away! I swooned, cried, and wanted to reach into the book to hug this heroine. I finished this with a huge grin on my face and immediately bought the audio.

13. The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan   The much-anticipated sequel to The Royal We didn't disappoint! It was the perfect blend of thought-provoking scenarios and dramatic, dishy fun.

14. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman – I love sensing that every single character has a story, no matter how long they spend on the page. A book about what it means to be human with some fun surprises along the way.

15. Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan   This is a little long and slow, but it totally worked for me. I love how it explored motherhood, marriage, class, and privilege. The characters were so well developed!

Honorable Mentions: The Comeback by Ella Berman, Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin, You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle, Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan, and Headliners by Lucy Parker 

NON-FICTION


16. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb – An insightful book about therapy, what it means to be human, and how we cope with pain, our pasts, and try to change our future. It read like fiction, in the best way.

17. Know My Name by Chanel Miller Miller's infuriating and heartbreaking memoir about her sexual assault and subsequent trial and sentencing is written with so much honesty, insight, and emotion. I think of it often.

18. I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott  I felt like I read this book at the exact right time in my life and loved how Philpott discussed memory, time, and identity in such a wise, relatable and funny way.

19. Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl – The more I read, the more I found myself immersed in Renkl's beautiful storytelling and keen view of the world. A moving book about loss and grief that made me cry.

20. The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi – The genius of Adachi's methodology is that it's practical, applicable to any situation, and helps you identify what matters to YOU. I look forward to re-reading it!

Honorable Mentions: Busy Toddler's Guide to Actual Parenting by Susie Allison, Don't Overthink It by Anne Bogel, The Real Jane Austen by Paula Byrne, and Stir by Jessica Fechtor

What was your favorite book of 2020?
Are any of these on your list? Or on your TBR pile?

My Year in Movies & TV {2020}

Dec 27, 2020


2020 has been a year. What is there to say about it that hasn't already been said? While I'm excited to move on to 2021, I want to look back on the past twelve months first. Since 2015, I've shared a series of posts that I call "My Year in ______" to highlight my favorite things from the year. It's one reason I always look forward to December! There were a lot of things I didn't love about 2020, but I am excited to spend the next week talking about some of the good things. Today, it's all about movies and TV! • Movies & TV in 2016, 20172018 and 2019


I don't feel like I watched a ton of movies this year, but I did find five new favorites:

P.S. I Still Love YouI was counting down the days until this sequel came out and loved it! I don't think it's as adorable as the first (or likely to become a frequent rewatch), but I still enjoyed it so much.

Hamilton I'm not a musical person, but I fell in love with the Hamilton soundtrack in 2016. I was thrilled to see the original cast perform it from the comfort of my home. Thank you, Disney+! It was everything I hoped.

Palm SpringsSocial media brought this movie to my attention, and it was just what Nick and I were in the mood for on the night we watched it. It's so ridiculous but fun! And I'm a sucker for a good romantic comedy.

Emma ♥ OMG, I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS MOVIE. Y'all, I think I watched it at least six times this year. I laughed so much, swooned, and adored the costumes and interior design. I get why it got mixed reviews, but I adored it.

Molly's GameMy second favorite movie I watched in 2020, and the perfect choice for a long-distance BFF movie night. Kelly and I raved about it to each other over text. I've got my mom to thank for this recommendation! 

Honorable Mentions: Just Mercy was a moving adaptation of the book. Enola Holmes was so fun – and perfectly cast! 1917 was a beautiful, heartbreaking war movie. Holidate was hilarious and the handsome lead didn't hurt.


I didn't watch as much TV this year, and most was old favorites rather than new finds. But these five stood out:

Unbelievable – My mom and sister both recommended this series, and I'm so glad it did. I don't know if I would have watched it otherwise. This was a really moving mini-series, and I adored Merritt Wever and Toni Collette together.

Next in Fashion – I don't typically watch a lot of reality TV, but I do love a good fashion competition. This was a fun show to binge once after the birth of my second baby. I was really pleased with the top two and winner! 

Timeless – Nick and I didn't watch this when it aired, but I kept meaning to give it a try. The time travel element was so fun because it made each episode a visual surprise. Not something I'd likely rewatch, but I loved how it ended.

Making ItI'm surprised there are two reality shows on my list, but that's also proof I didn't watch a lot of new stuff this year. I did find it delightful to watch these talented people do such creative things – a comfort in crazy times.

Never Have I Ever ♥  Attach Mindy Kaling's name to a project, and I have to try it. Make it a teen comedy, and I'm sold! I loved everything about this show and am so hoping there will be another season. I need more!

CONTINUED TO LOVE • Great British Bake Off, Grey's AnatomyQueer Eye, and This is Us

NEED TO CATCH UPKilling Eve and Outlander

IN MY QUEUE • Belgravia, The GreatHarlots, Howard's End, and Sanditon

What was your favorite movie of 2020?
Did you binge any new (or old!) TV shows? 

My Year in Music {2020}

Dec 26, 2020


2020 has been a year. What is there to say about it that hasn't already been said? While I'm excited to move on to 2021, I want to look back on the past twelve months first. Since 2015, I've shared a series of posts that I call "My Year in ______" to highlight my favorite things from the year. It's one reason I always look forward to December! There were a lot of things I didn't love about 2020, but I am excited to spend the next week talking about some of the good things I found or experienced. Today, it's all about music! • Music in 20152016, 20172018, and 2019

While I used to love Spotify's wrap up statistics at the end of the year, my kids have wreaked havoc on my account. Almost all of my most-played albums and songs this year were for my big boy and/or baby. UGH. However, I did have at least one top album and artist that didn't come from them, so I've used that one for my stats below. 


And despite the fact that my personal listening didn't beat the amount of time I spent playing music for my boys, I did still find some favorites! Most months, I obsessively listen to an album before moving on to something else. It's one of my weird listening quirks. So, here are the twelve I loved most in 2020 ( ♥ = top three):


Manic by Halsey – I loved Halsey's debut album, barely listened to her second, and then had this one on repeat at the beginning of the year. There are a few songs I skip every time, but I really enjoyed it overall. 

Nightfall by Little Big Town – A song from this album randomly appeared on my New Release Radar playlist, and I'd forgotten how much I'd enjoyed this band in the past. This release was the perfect reminder! 

Little Women Soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat – After seeing this movie in December, I immediately looked up the soundtrack. I adore listening to instrumental music while blogging, and this was perfect background noise.

Heartbreak Weather by Niall Horan – I never really listened to One Direction, but I have loved a lot of their solo work. How did that happen? I thought this was so catchy and had it playing all of March.


Lady Like by Ingrid Andress – Someone I follow on Instagram had posted about Ingrid's singles prior to this album, and I had one on my 2019 My Year in Music playlist. The album's release was on my radar, and it didn't disappoint.

SOUTHSIDE by Sam Hunt – I listened to this album a lot when it came out, and it took a long time to grow on me. I think my expectations were just so high based on my love for his earlier music. Still a solid album though!

Carly Pearce by Carly Pearce – My country mood comes and goes, but I'd loved Pearce's debut album so this was on my radar. It was a enjoyable listen! The first is still my favorite, but I look forward to more from Pearce.

Three. Two. One. by Lennon Stella ♥ This was my most-played album in 2020, according to my Spotify stats. And that doesn't surprise me! This is in my top three albums of 2020 and one I'll definitely keep in rotation.


Gaslighter by The Chicks – I listened to a lot more country music in middle and high school than I do now, so listening to new music by this old favorite was so nostalgic. They didn't hold back, and I couldn't get enough!

folklore by Taylor Swift ♥  A surprise album from Taylor Swift? Pinch me! The whole mood and sound is right up my alley, and I can't get enough. Listening to this, evermore, and Swift's older albums made her my most-played artist.

Rescue Story by Zach Williams – A 2019 release that I didn't hear until the end of this year, but it quickly became a favorite. I need to listen to worship music more often because this was so comforting to me.

evermore by Taylor Swift  – A SECOND ALBUM FROM TAYLOR SWIFT? What a time to be alive! I am absolutely obsessed with this and folklore and am loving the new sound and more imaginative storytelling. 

And, just for fun, here's the playlist + three albums that took over my Spotify stats: 


Y'all, I can't even. The baby was often an impatient nurser, so I got in the habit of turning on the Lullaby Baby playlist for some soothing music anytime he needed to feed... which was a lot. And you can blame my big boy and his movie/TV obsessions for the soundtracks for The Lion Guard, Lilo & Stitch, and Winnie the Pooh. Did you know I'm in the top 0.5% of listeners for the artist behind The Lion Guard soundtrack? What a coveted spot... Haha! 



What was your favorite album in 2020? 
Were there any songs that defined your year?
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