I can’t believe another year has passed! (I know, cliche, but it’s true!). I hope you had a wonderful year and I hope you enjoy taking a look at all our favorites from this most recent rotation around the sun.
I typically send a Year in Review email, but I thought it would be more fun to let this live on the website so we can add to it each year and refer back to it easily. I’m going to try to quickly hit my highlights and favorites of this past year!
Year in Review
New foods you loved
Well, first and foremost, this is a food site, so I guess I should start with recapping everyone’s favorite dishes! Reader favorites for brand new recipes was:
- Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls
- Quick Puttanesca
- Super Fluffy Pancakes
- Easy Pineapple Margaritas
- Homemade Chili Sauce
Top overall recipes
These are the top five recipes readers visited this year!
- Loaded Baked Potato Soup
- How to Make Au Jus (without drippings!)
- Sherbet Punch Recipe
- Buffalo Chicken Dip
- Copycat Wendy’s Chili
My personal favorites
These are the recipes I made for my family the most this year!
Favorite kitchen gadgets this year
These gadgets aren’t necessarily new to this year, but they are my most used gadgets this year! I could go on for days about kitchen gadgets, but I’ll just name my top 5 for now.
- Instant pot – After three years, I still use it multiple times a week!
- Knife sharpener – I couldn’t even tell you how long I’ve had this, but I love it so much.
- Electric griddle – I’m putting this here on my husband’s behalf. He’s the breakfast guy and he uses this almost every day.
- Metal trays – We switched to these instead of plastic plates a few months ago and I am super over the moon for them.
- Kitchen mat – My feet are so much happier since I bought this soft mat for our kitchen floor recently!
- Skoy Scrub – I was gifted one of these scrubbers at a work conference and after using it, immediately bought three more. They are fantastic! And environmentally friendly. And that one I got in May? Still going strong!
This was an intense travel year! I jetted off somewhere every single month and some months more than once! It was exhausting but also incredible and wonderful.
Where we went
- My favorite far away and exotic place we traveled was definitely St. Petersburg, Russia. It was so beautiful, and the food was delicious, and it was just so much more than I was expecting.
- My favorite place we family road-tripped to was The Grand Tetons. Talk about spectacular hikes! (Post about it coming soon!)
- My favorite sweetheart trip with Wesley was to my cousin’s wedding in Hartford, Connecticut. Although our cruise to Belize was a close second.
- And my favorite solo adventure was Vegas! (Post coming soon… clearly I am behind on writing about my travel!)
What we brought
These are a few of my travel favorites this year! We definitely discovered some cool new things.
For road trips
- Instacrates – These are fantastic because they fold flat and take up very little room. We typically fill one with car snacks and keep a couple collapsed for use at our destinations as laundry baskets or shoe bins.
- Folding step stool – This was a GAME CHANGER this year. If you have a kid in a forward facing booster seat or car seat, put this at their feet to reduce leg strain and back pain on long trips. I wish we had known about it sooner!
- Looped hanging strap – Another game changer this year! We ran this along the back seat and the kids were able to hang their backpacks and toys from it for super easy access.
- Trtl neck pillow – I never fly without this. It’s super compact and super comfortable. Major upgrade from traditional travel neck pillows.
- Mini rolling suitcase – My sister got this suitcase for me for my birthday and I love it so much that I bought one for each of the kids. It’s the perfect size for a long weekend trip and fits easily on a plane.
- Skullcandy earbuds – Listen, we’d all prefer to have Apple Airpod Pros (I know I would), but if you’re looking for some comfortable noise blocking earbuds that are super reasonably priced, I love love love my Skullcandies.
- Magnetic hooks – Surprise, cruise ship wall are metal! And understandably, storage is lacking so being able to put hooks on the wall for hanging jewelry, swimsuits, or jackets is super awesome. I even had a friend put them on the ceiling and hang a shower curtain as a room separator so she and her husband would have privacy from the kids in the evening!
- Waterproof cell case – I have yet to go on a cruise where we didn’t get wet at some point. These inexpensive waterproof cell phone cases work perfectly to protect your money and gear.
- Extension cord – This might seem silly, but cruise ships are notoriously lacking on plugs and they almost never have them near the bedside. An extension cord is a must-have cruise item.
For traveling with kids
- Inflatable camping mattress – Not just for camping! And also not just for kids! (Although, I do prefer the wider version for myself). These are ahhhhmazing. When deflated they are about the size of a water bottle (seriously!), they blow up in just a few breaths, and the way the air runs through them, you never feel the floor (even my 200 pound butt can side sleep comfortably on one!). They’re perfect for packing extra kids in a room or for kids who don’t like to share beds.
For work travel
- Portable laptop charger – This charger has saved my butt in so many airports and on so many flights! It can fully charge my laptop and it’s 100% an absolute must must must pack when I travel for work.
Beauty and Fashion
I have become a bit of a beauty junkie this year! I think it probably has a lot to do with turning forty and realizing that I don’t have any kind of skin care routine. I started watching Youtube makeup and skincare tutorials and doing lots of experimenting. Here are my favorite discoveries!
- Vasanti Brighten Up – I use this exfoliating wash about twice a week in the shower. It’s fantastic.
- Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair – This is my daily moisturizer that I put on every morning. It’s light, doesn’t cause me to break out, works well under makeup, and I especially love that it has SPF.
- Tree of Life Retinol Serum – Every night before bed! Possibly it’s just in my head, but I swear this has helped reduce the dark spots on my face significantly!
- Tree of Life Vitamin C Moisturizer – Every night before bed! (And after the retinol). Also light and doesn’t cause me to break out. And the Tree of Life products are super reasonably priced.
- Zero Sweat – This is only going to appeal to a fraction of folks, but it was an honest to goodness life changer for me. I have hyperhydrosis and have sweat through every shirt I’ve ever owned. Until this year. A friend introduced me to this antiperspirant and I sweat so little now that I can wear any color tight fitting shirt and not worry at all about making sweat stains. This is a big one for me. And unlike prescription antiperspirants that I’ve tried in the past, this one does not irritate my skin at all.
Hair and Nails
- Aussie Three Minute Miracle – I am thoroughly, completely, and unabashedly obsessed with this conditioner. It makes my hair incredibly soft and manageable and smells fantastic. Love.
- Impress Press-on Nails – I have been wearing these nails for years. They are wonderful, and I love them. You can find them at CVS, Target, Walmart, and pretty much any store with a nail care section.
- Maybelline Foundation Stick – I am not an all-over foundation person, and I find this foundation stick perfect for under my eyes and gently blurring on the forehead and chin. It is super light and doesn’t look cakey or accentuate crinkling.
- Maybelline Super Stay Lipstick – The most common question I get from the live shows is “What lipstick do you wear?” It’s this one, I love it. Color: Eternal Cherry. (I don’t use the balm side with the lipstick as I prefer a matte look, but I love that it has the balm side, because sometimes you just need lip balm!).
- ELF Eye Palette – This has become one of my favorite eye palettes because it has literally every color you could need for basic eye looks. I also super love my Collab pallette, but have only been able to find it at Sally Beauty Supply stores.
- Elf Blush Palette – It’s cheap and does a great job. What more can I say about it.
- Essence Lash Princess – This is a recent discovery, but it’s so good! And inexpensive! Everyone needs a great affordable mascara!
- Makeup Eraser – You might have wondered why I didn’t have a daily face wash in my list. It’s because I’ve been using this Makeup Eraser the last few months and it only requires water! It’s like magic! I am obsessed!
- Revlon One Step Hair Dryer and Straightener – I don’t know how to tell you how much I love this tool. My insanely thick hair goes from out of the shower wet to dry and straight in 15 minutes. I even timed myself because I couldn’t believe how fast it worked!
- Beauty Blender Dupe – Okay, I love love love my brand name Beauty Blender sponge, but the price is just stupid. So when someone said they found a great dupe on Amazon, you know I got it! And it’s absolutely become my go-to blending sponge.
As it turns out, I am a 13 year old boy when it comes to the movies I love. So, I apologize for my list of uncultured favorites this year. (This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I am surrounded by middle school boys, hopefully I’ll grow up one day.) (Or not).
- Avengers Endgame
- Captain Marvel
- Spiderman Far From Home
- Star Wars the Rise of Skywalker
- Jumanji: The Next Level
- Lost in Space (Netflix)
- The Expanse (Amazon Prime)
- Fleabag (Amazon Prime)
- The Good Place (NBC / Netflix)
- Schitt’s Creek (POP / Netflix)
- The Mandalorian (Disney+)
- Dead to Me (Netflix)