I joined HelloFresh about 6 months ago, and the meal kit delivery service made my life so much easier in 2018. Every Monday, we received all the ingredients for 3 fresh meals, each with detailed recipe cards featuring helpful step-by-step photos and instructions. It made me excited about cooking again, curbed our takeout addiction, and became a meditative part of my evening routine: I turned on a podcast, poured a glass of wine, and made a home-cooked meal while learning new techniques, like how to make easy sauces and about a dozen ways to prepare a chicken breast. I ordered their holiday box for Christmas dinner that contained everything we needed to cook a complete meal for 8-10 people (we had lots of leftovers) and successfully roasted my first turkey! We’ll definitely carry HelloFresh into the new year.
Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert was the first podcast I listened to this year and I never missed an episode. Each week, Dax interviews actors, celebrities, writers, musicians, and experts in various fields, and dives deep into the ‘messiness of being human.’ New episodes go up on Mondays, and it’s a great way to kick off the week.
Bravo snark podcasts kept me belly-laughing in 2018. Watch What Crappens is my absolute favorite: Ben and Ronnie do detailed recaps of every episode of Housewives and Vanderpump Rules (plus other Bravo shows, but those are the only ones I’m into) with hilarious impressions of each cast member. Other must-listens: Bitch Sesh, a weekly Bravo roundup, and Everything Iconic with Danny Pellegrino.
Leslie’s Lists on Cupcakes and Cashmere were a great way to stay in-the-know about what to do, read, watch and cook in 2018. It’s how I discovered Armchair Expert, as well as some fun recipes and good books. I look forward to her roundups every week!
I couldn’t get enough page-turning thriller novels this year. I’m always chasing the high of Gone Girl (still my #1 in the genre) and I read a handful of thrillers that kept me guessing until the end: The Wife Between Us, Emma In The Night, Then She Was Gone, The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Other Woman.
I listened to 43 books on Audible in 2018! From biographies to self-help to fiction, I loved popping in my earbuds (until I upgraded to AirPods in August) and getting lost in a book while I worked around the shop, did chores at home, walked the dog, made dinner, etc. I forget the majority of the books I binged through my Audible library, but, ‘I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.’ (I re-watched Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life over the holidays.)
Inspired by Joanna Gaines (always and forever) I found my inner #crazyplantlady this year and added a handful of low-maintenance houseplants to our home. Keeping my monstera alive and thriving for the entire year is one of my best accomplishments of 2018.
Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in a post featuring my favorite lazy-girl plants!
Bon Appétit earned the top spot as my favorite YouTube channel of the year. The first video I watched was ‘Pastry Chef Attempts To Make a Gourmet Twinkie,’ and I was hooked from there. The BA team makes gourmet cooking fun and approachable with series like ‘It’s Alive With Brad,’ all about fermentation and food science, ‘Gourmet Makes‘ with Claire that expands the original Twinkie video and tackles more American snack foods, ‘Back-to-Back Chef‘ where a professional chef partners up with a celebrity to teach them how to make a dish in an amusing blind challenge setup, and lots and lots of recipe tutorials.
I’m genuinely obsessed with the local, natural skin care and bath + body brand, Rafa Natural. From the moment I walked into their beautiful boutique in downtown Bartow, I knew it was something special; now their body wash and lotion, scrub, coconut oil bar soap and body butter are all staples in my shower. If you’re not local you can shop online, but if you’re in the area, I highly recommend popping into their Bartow or Lakeland location to #treatyoself.
I’m not as committed to daily meditation as I’d like to be, but I find it helpful when I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed. The Calm app has a variety of tools for mindfulness, relaxation and sleep — from guided meditation to restorative breathing techniques — and it’s been an invaluable resource and must-have app for me this year. The app is free, but if it’s in your budget, it’s worth purchasing a year of premium access for $59.99/year to unlock the full library of meditations, bedtime stories, music and other features. (2019 resolution: more meditation!)
I’ve loved high-waist denim for a while now, but I decluttered my denim hoard at the beginning of the year and tossed/donated every pair of low-rise jeans in my wardrobe. If they don’t snap at my bellybutton and hug my waist, I’m just no longer interested. I find a 9-10″ rise and 26″ inseam are perfect for me (I’m 5’4″). Adiós forever muffin tops, exposed underwear and unflattering fits.
P.S. I’m currently living in the Everlane authentic stretch ankle skinny in washed black.
P.P.S. What No One Tells You About Jeans. (You’ll never shop for denim the same way again.)
For years, my daily jewelry was limited to my wedding rings and a watch, but I’m really into delicate layered jewelry these days. C bought me a pair of diamond stud earrings last Christmas that I never take off, and throughout the year, I added several brass and gold pieces to my everyday collection. I bought stacked rings with colorful raw gemstones, thin bangles, pretty little layering necklaces, and assorted bracelets; I love how the little extra detail adds some interest to my otherwise minimal style.
I look for pieces that are made of gold-plated brass or sterling so they’ll hold up through lots of wear; brands like Gorjana and Dani Barbe are great quality, and Shopbop is one of my favorite jewelry destinations with lots of pieces for every style and budget. When I have time, I’d like to scour local antique stores for some unique pieces to add to my collection.
Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I have a crush on fanny packs. I bought the Hobo ‘Twig’ belt bag in whisky leather and it’s the ideal hands-free bag for running around on weekends. It fits my iPhone, a lip product, cards/ID and cash; everything I need on the go. Convertible belt bags that work as both fanny packs and wallet clutches are even better.
I can’t remember a trend in recent years that I’ve embraced as fully as 90s-inspired mules: 75% of my shoe purchases in 2018 involved some kind of backless situation, from classic leather styles to fun embroidered details and slip-on booties. Whether or not this trend continues in spring of 2019, I’m carrying all my beloved mules into the new year.
Drunk Elephant Skin Care
I tried a LOT of skin care products throughout the year with many hits and a few misses — I always do my research before I drop any cash on a product — but Drunk Elephant is the standout brand of the year that never let me down. The products are expensive, but in my opinion, the results are worth the price tag if it’s in your budget and you’re concerned about anti-aging. My #1 pick from the brand that I always repurchase: the C-Firma Day Serum; an antioxidant powerhouse that brightens, evens texture, and protects against pollution and free radicals.
The Protini Polypeptide Cream, C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream and Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil have all earned top shelf status in my daily routine as well. And they just released a retinol cream that I want to get my hands on, too!
Sephora has an introductory kit of ‘littles’ that includes trial sizes of the best-of-the-best of the Drunk Elephant lineup, if you want to give the brand a try before you go all-in on the investment.
Instagram Makeup Inspiration
I loved following professional makeup artists on Instagram and watching the evolution of makeup trends in 2018. To name a few: I learned so much about technique and application for glossy skin and lived-in eye makeup from Katie Jane Hughes; reveled in all the bronzed goddess gorgeousness and beachy hair from Emma Chen; marveled at the way @killercolours played with bold color and smokey eyes; and admired Sam Chapman’s effortless, unfussy makeup style. I stalked their stories for tutorials and product recommendations, and they really helped me perfect my daily routine and nail down some great tricks for events and special occasions.
Likely a result of my Instagram MUA admiration, I spent the majority of my ‘fun money’ on luxury makeup this year. For the first time ever, I dipped my toe into the world of designer cosmetics, and now I’m all the way in. In my 20s, I could slap anything from the drugstore on my face and look great, but my skin is changing in my mid-30s, and premium products seem to perform better and last longer (Team No Mid-Day Touchups). Maybe it’s just a placebo effect and clever marketing tactics, but I say whatever makes you feel and look your best and works for your lifestyle, go for it. There’s something about treating yourself to a fancy lipstick that goes a long way in lifting your mood every time you pull it out of your handbag.
I never want to live without Giorgio Armani ‘Luminous Silk’ foundation (I’m in shade 4.0), Hourglass ‘Ambient Lighting’ pressed powders, Marc Jacobs O!Mega bronzer (a super-fine matte powder bronzer that’s the closest I’ve found to a natural tan on my light skin tone), and Charlotte Tilbury ‘Pillow Talk’ matte lipstick and Lip Cheat liner. I try to save big splurge purchases for Sephora VIB sales so I can snag them at a discount.
Canon G7x Mark II Camera
My best tech purchase of the year. While I love my iPhone for shooting photos on-the-go for the blog and the ‘gram, I wanted to invest in a camera to take higher quality photos for our flower shop marketing and website. I did some research and landed on the Canon PowerShot G7x Mark II, and it totally changed my photography game: it’s easy to use, shoots as well as our big and bulky DSLR (plus HD video!) and fits in my bag so I can always have it with me. The best part is the Wifi compatibility that makes it super easy to transfer photos from the camera to my iPhone so I can edit them with my favorite photography apps and upload them straight to Instagram, my Facebook pages, or WordPress. It’s a great tool for our small business, and a bonus for the blog!