It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? I have on my to-do list a post that digs into what it has been like to blog the book world for 15 years…and I think it might end up being a reflection on 16 years by the time I get to it. As anyone who is a caretaker can attest, the job is long and hard and carving out space to sit down and write can be tough. But with the new year in sight, and with the potential downfall of social media outlets, I want to get back into the swing of book blogging here at my first and forever home, Stacked.
To ease on in, something a little bit not bookish. I was opening up a package this week from a Black Friday weekend purchase and thought it would be fun to highlight a few of my favorite things from 2022. There’s no real rhyme or reason other than these things improved my life (and that might mean just a tiny bit) or I enjoyed them. I will put together a favorite books of 2022 before the year concludes, too–imagine that after almost a year of not being here, getting the promise of more than one piece to enjoy.
As always, thanks for being here. I hope you stay, and I hope we can reignite this incredible community of bloggers, librarians, publishing folks, and more at STACKED.
I am not a Disney person at all. I know plenty of folks who are, but it’s just not my jam. I suspect as my kid grows up, that might change. But when a friend raved about Crowned Athletics, which creates workout clothes inspired by Disney characters, I checked them out with skepticism. I’m glad I let my guard down, though, because I absolutely love my tank tops from here. They’re fun, whether or not you care about the character who inspired them. I’ve got three of the tanks, all in the “flow” style, and you can absolutely size down in them (they go up to an XXXL). I’m used to buying inexpensive wares for yoga, so the price point on these made me pause, but they’re worth it. I have not tried anything outside the flow tops, but if they’re any indication, I suspect the other pieces are quality as well.
Yes, the front and back are different! The back on these is mesh, so there’s a lot of great air flow for those sweatier workouts.
I love tea and usually drink 2-4 cups a day. For the last year or so, my hands down favorite is this Okinawa Sugar that my boss turned me onto. It’s sweet without being cloying, as it has a little bit of a bite to it, too. I drink it as is, but I can see that this could make a nice option with milk. I tend to buy a few full size packages at once and try out other smaller size flavors from PARU. Nothing from them has been disappointing, but this is, hands down, my favorite.
I went back to graduate school this year for clinical mental health counseling–a decision that is one of the best I’ve made in a long time–and I needed to stock up on some school supplies. These highlighters, which have a chisel-tip, have been fabulous. When I get to use a real print textbook and not an overpriced digital rental (the bane of my existence), these highlights do the double duty of allowing a neat underline and highlight, so I don’t have to toggle between a pen and a highlighter.. The colors are nice, they don’t bleed, and they’re just fun.
I don’t have a fancy skincare routine, though I have really gotten into my jade roller in the last month or so because it feels so nice, but I do apply a lip mask nightly. I got this Three Ship duo in a subscription box a couple of years ago and I continue to buy it. I don’t really use the exfoliator because I’m lazy, but when I have used it, I really like it. For me, the lip mask, which tastes like buttercream, is worth it. You can usually buy this set new and unopened at a lower price on Poshmark (hot tip: most beauty products you want to try but don’t want to go full price on are worth looking for on Poshmark).
We’ve done more to make the outside of our home cozy in the last year or so than we ever have before. After losing the lattice fence between my house and my neighbor’s to a storm, the neighbor had it replaced since it was technically hers. Unfortunately, she did not realize after chasing down the contractors that it would be Fort Knox between our homes, rather than the friendly fence from before. As a result, we’ve tried to make it much less a fort and more an opportunity. We’ve strung up lights and made the garden in that area really pop.
One of the fun finds this year I included in our outside decor were these adorable mushroom lights. They’re solar powered, and they have a couple of settings, so you can do a solid light or a little bit of a pattern of lights. I’m excited to pull them back out after the winter.
I’ve never spent more than, like, $30 on a sheet set. This year, I realized it’s probably worth investing in really nice linens, especially the ones that are used every single day. Linen gets softer and cozier the more you wash it, and while it killed me to spend $100-some dollars between the sheets and pillow cases, these have been worth every single penny. I expect we’ll get many years out of these sheets, even if they aren’t name brand. I’ll reiterate that it is worth spending the money on nice things you use every single day if you’re in the position to do so. I’m hoping after the holidays to get a linen duvet to use on the comforter we have on top of these sheets which is riddled with tears from the animals.
After the second of my Wal-Mart ceramic electric tea kettles bit the dust last year–and both lasted me a solid year or so, which I’m not mad about–I decided to upgrade. I asked around for my friends’ favorite electric kettles and ended up choosing this one. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Even more than looking nice on my very small and very ugly countertops, it can be set to whatever temperature you need your water to be and it can hold water at 200 degrees. That is perfect for someone like me who, as noted above, is a 2-4 cups of tea person. I don’t have to reheat multiple times in the morning.
In addition to those “things,” there were other things that are less object-based and more learning/experiential based that fall into my 2022 favorites, too, including:
- Buying my kid’s plastic toys at thrift stores–I stopped buying those big Little People farms, houses, tractors, etc., at the store and pick them up for $3 at the thrift, wash them in the sink, and viola!
- Carving out time every weekend, sometimes both days of the weekend, to get up early and go work at a local cafe. I’ve been able to go during the weekday mornings as well, but those weekends are how I get true ME time away from my responsibilities as a mom, wife, etc. I love the place I go to and enjoy trying out all of the fancy lattes and their excellent avocado toast. Worth every single penny every single time. Whether it’s an hour I use to catch up on emails or three hours I use to do work for school, it’s time that belongs entirely to me. Yes, it means getting up super early on the weekends, but that’s how I fit the puzzle of my life together.
- Finding a Zoom yoga teacher who has fit nicely into my life. I love my local studio where I teach but it is so hard to get to in-person classes. I decided this year to try a new teacher who has some ties to my studio, and her classes have been so phenomenal for my practice and teaching. I always tell my students that you’ll find several teachers in your yoga life you love and sometimes it takes work. I’ve been lucky to find so many good ones, and I always appreciate having a wealth of talent from which to choose for my needs.
- Prioritizing ten minutes of reading a day. It is hard, especially when I have school, to read for me anymore. I won’t lie: doing the work I do on censorship has really taken a toll as well, and so, too, is the reality of being a mom. But I’ve tried hard to be conscious of taking 10 minutes a day to read, be it when I get into bed or on drives to/from school drop off for my kid via audiobook. I think I’ve read about as much on audio this year as in print, and even though my reading life looks and feels worlds different than a few years ago, it’s still there, it’s still important, and I still find so much value in it.
- Choosing one thing for lunches and automating that part of my life as much as possible. I don’t like eating the same things all the time. Or at least, that’s what I THOUGHT. This year, I discovered how much a routine has helped me feel less frustrated about feeding myself and a family three times a day. I pick whatever the lunch is for the week and let that be what it is. If I choose something else during the course of the week, that’s fine, but knowing there is a plan helps take that mental load off. Lately, it’s been a lunch of a peanut butter English muffin with some kind of side (pretzels, etc.). It’s not glamorous nor photoworthy, but it is one less thing on the mental load. (And I hear folks who meal prep talk about the benefits of it, but I don’t like meal prepping because to me, it feels like eating leftovers for days–someone else in my family does this, though, and it works well for him!).
I’d love to hear what things helped you this year. What did you love? What do you talk about all of the time? What made your days just a touch brighter?