January 12, 2014

My Favorite Things from 2013

Happy New Year!! Welcome 2014! 

Okay, so I'm almost three weeks late on this, but cut me a little slack. (Please.) I intended to take two weeks off from the blog for the holidays, but two weeks turned into three weeks and then started knocking on the door of four, and here we are: twelve days into January and I'm just now getting to it. That doesn't mean I haven't thought about blogging. Oh, I have. It means I haven't had much alone time to write. Which means that I haven't worked on the novel since November, and I haven't written a blog post since before Christmas. Sigh.

But that's what the new year is for…new beginnings, just when you need it!! However, before I get into the new things for 2014 (I'll be talking new year's resolutions later this week), I want to go back a bit...

2013 has come to an end and 2014 blossoms before us, all shiny and new. I'm feeling pretty good about moving on from 2013. It was a big year for my family. A definite roller coaster ride. My husband took a new job with a new company and we moved from the area we'd lived in for 13 years to a new city, in a new state. Sold a house. Bought a house. (Moving. Ugh.) We went from having a 4 year old and a 1 1/2 year old to having a 5 year old and a 2 1/2 year old (and, as any parent knows, when kids are little, a year makes a big difference in day-to-day life). And that 2 year old had his first day of one-day-a-week preschool last fall. (Sigh. Not a baby anymore.) My weight has gone up and down in inverse proportion to my ability to find time for exercise, and in direct correlation with my ability or inability to keep my pie-hole shut. Our dog, Cooper, has gotten loose and lost (then found) twice…in two different states. (Damn dog's gonna give me a heart attack.) But we've survived it all. And I've survived another year of the awesome ride that is motherhood.

Still, not actually what I'm here to talk about. Crikey, I am tangential today. No, I thought I'd close out last year (twelve days late) by sharing with you some of my favorite things from 2013. So, before we get into what's new in 2014, let's look back at some of the wonderful things I discovered in 2013. And maybe they can become some of your favorite things for 2014. So, here you go…

My Favorite Things of 2013

My favorite things
  • On Etsy…
Re-usable Paper Towels
I love these things! I love that they reduce waste. I love that they clean things up better than paper towels. I love that they look pretty on my kitchen counter. And I love that you can use them for anything you'd use paper towels for, including covering things up in the microwave (the snaps used to hold the towels together in a roll are plastic). There are lots of different reusable paper towel makers on etsy, and I would imagine most of them make a great product, but I can only attest to the ones I purchased (shown here) from TheTailoredHome. And I love mine! They are well made and just lovely.

Custom Return Address Stamps
Another love. No more reordering return address labels each time you run out. No more paper waste. And they last and last and last. Plus they come in super cute, custom options. Pretty much any style you want, any font you want, self-inking or regular, any color ink you want…truly, the options are endless. And there are tons of sellers. I have three stamps…one winter/holiday, one just for me, and one everyday family stamp. Two are self-inking and one is a regular stamp. All are lovely. I have this self-inking snowflake stamp from MJsArtStamps.

As well as this self-inking typewriter stamp from savethedate. And a traditional one from RubberStampPress. Again, there are tons of return address stamp sellers on etsy. These are the three I've used, but search until you find just what you're looking for.

Prints on Old Book Pages
I love the whole trend right now with artwork and printing on old book pages. I have many of these pinned on my Pinterest art pages. My husband got this print from LePapierGallery (printed on an old dictionary page) for me for Christmas and put it in a beautiful, old-world looking frame for my writing desk. I absolutely adore it. It made me swoon a bit when I opened it Christmas morning. Not only is it lovely, but the thought behind gift was wonderful. He did a writer's theme for his gifts for me this year which I so loved and appreciated.

  • In Beauty…
L'oreal Age Rewind Glow Renewal
This is a recent addition to my moisturizing routine. Since winter dryness hit, my skin kinda went cuckoo. In December I got a sample of L'oreal Glow Renewal in a magazine and, on a whim, decided to give it a try. I am a little shocked to say that I loved it from the get-go (I've never used a L'oreal skincare product before). I have since bought a bottle of it at the drug store and use it everyday after I wash my face. Not only do I not have anymore dryness, I also think my skin looks younger and more…glow-y. I even got a compliment from my hairstylist this week on the look and feel of my skin (which is uber, baby-bottom soft). I normally use primarily all-natural skincare products, but this one is chocked-full of natural seed and flower oils, so I gave it a try. Love. It. (The only thing I don't love is the perfume-y smell. I wish the scent was more organic, especially given the many lovely smelling options, like lavender and rosemary leaf oils, on the ingredient list.) Still, great for my dry, winter skin.

Origins Body Souffles
I have used Origins' Body Souffles before, but my lovely husband got me a three pack of Ginger Souffle, Gloomaway (Grapefruit) Souffle, and the spearminty Smoothing Souffle for Christmas and I am once again reminded how much I love these body creams. They are great moisturizers and they smell divine. When I use the Gloomaway Souffle, my daughter says I smell like sparkly water. How happy is that?!

  • In Books…
I read many wonderful books in 2013 and am grateful to all of the authors for their storytelling gifts. But here are three of my favorites from the year…

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I already wrote a blog post about this book. You can check that one out here: Eleanor & Park Book Recommendation on MamaManagement. Sufficed to say, I loved this book. So sweet. A lovely read.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
I had heard this book was good somewhere. I don't remember where. But I fell hard for it this autumn. I loved everything about this book. I loved the characters. I loved the prose. I loved the story. And I loved learning about this language of flowers. It made me want to give great thought to what flowers I plant in my yard and what I flowers I choose as gifts. I have since loaned my copy of this book out to my mom and sister-in-law. But once it's back on my bookshelf, I plan to read it again.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
This book was on my tween reading list from our favorite children's librarian back in Hudson, Ohio last Spring. And it will be included in one of my pending tween reading review posts in the coming months. But it was so good, I've pulled it onto my 2013 favorites list as well. I loved this book and consider it a must read for everyone from twelve-ish years old on up. It was fascinating…and fantastic. If you haven't read it, please do.

  • In Blogs…
Ashley Hackshaw's lilblueboo blog (www.lilblueboo.com) is one of my all-time favorite blogs. She covers a wide range of topics from parenting to art to cancer to religion to her current focus: joy. She's an excellent writer and an inspiring artist and person. Reading her blog is like talking to a wise, older sister (though she's not actually older than me). She makes me think and feel deeply and she inspires me to be a better person. What more can you ask for?

One of the many things I love about Kate Pickle's picklebums blog (www.picklebums.com) is that she makes me feel a parenting kinship with someone in far-off Australia. She manages to be both inspiring (she is constantly making homemade bread and maintains a big garden in her yard) and commiserating (she is also sometimes overwhelmed and imperfect)--and she shares it all. So she gives me some great ideas but she never makes me feel less-than. Plus it's just funny to read about someone who celebrates Christmas while her kids are on summer break from school. (What? So backwards.) And it's neat to feel connected to someone so far away. (That darn Internet is just amazing.)

Kara Fleck from the simplekids blog (www.simplekids.net) seems to have it all together when it comes to parenting her four kids. I am forever impressed by her. It's a bit like having a parenting mentor on my computer. She's among a group of bloggers that make me want to homeschool my kids. I won't. But they make me want to. She's got lots of great, fun ideas for things to do with your kids, as well as some great parenting advice. And I just like her. I kind of wish I could live next door to her…and to Ashley and Kate too. Blogging makes the world smaller and I think that's such an amazing thing.
  • In Recipes…
If you follow my blog at all, you know that I have been on a soup kick of late, so I'm going to share with you my favorite, and most popular blog posted, soup recipes from 2013.

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup
This is not only a favorite in our house, it's such a classic, crowd-pleasing soup that it's a great one to share.  Who doesn't like chicken and rice soup, right? You can find the recipe for this soup here: Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup Recipe on MamaManagement. If you haven't tried it yet, give it a try one of these cold winter nights. I really don't think you'll be disappointed.

Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes
This recipe is super delicious and super nutritious. And it was my most visited recipe on the blog last year.  You can find the recipe for this chili here: Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes Recipe on MamaManagement. Give it a try. It's delish.

Harvest Corn Chowder
This is one of my favorites. I think it has wonderful flavor and I love a soup chocked full of veggies. Try this one out. You can find the recipe here: Harvest Corn Chowder Recipe on MamaManagement. I think you'll like it.

There you have it. A few of my favorite things from 2013. I hope you found something in here that peaked your interest and might bring you a little joy this year. But now it's time to let go of 2013 and move on to the shiny new penny of 2014. Since the holiday craziness seemed to carry over into the first week of January this year, I haven't even sat down to really flesh out my 2014 resolutions yet. (I mean, seriously, I just completed and ordered our 2014 family calendar from Shutterfly last week, that's how behind I am!) So, later this week we'll talk resolutions.

Until then, be happy and enjoy some favorite things.

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