Thursday, January 1, 2015

the best stuff of 2014

Happy New Year! Mine is off to a low-key but productive start. We took down our Christmas decorations, did some semi-deep cleaning, and enjoyed taking a walk in the mild weather. Now we're settling in with our favorite stew (seriously, we've made this probably 5 times this fall/winter and IT IS THE GREATEST THING EVER) and watching some football...which is more like "watching," if you're me. It's on in the same room as me. That's about it.

Anyway, one of my favorite versions of the year-in-review posts I've come across is the 'best purchases of 2014' list. I love lists like this because I a) am just nosy and like to know what people buy/use/love, and b) want to make educated purchases and not waste my own money on stuff that isn't great. So I decided to make my own list because maybe you're the same way! And also...I just like to talk about stuff that I like, and I haven't done that nearly as much since Millie rolled into town. Too many baby pictures, not enough product reviews, right? Ha. Not really.

So! My favorite 'stuff' of 2014...in no particular order.

Shea Moisture Products
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You may recall me waxing poetic about these products back in October. I was initially introduced to the line because it's the shampoo/body wash* that we got for Camilla...but that single purchase quickly turned into...well...this.



I mean, it wouldn't all even fit in one picture. It's a problem.

So that one baby purchase has now turned into nine items (six adult, three baby) and counting...because some of these are already re-purchases because we've used up the original product. I can't help it. If I could offer you one tip for 2015, it would be to buy stock in Shea Moisture because I am single-handedly sending this company to the next level. Or else you could just buy some of their lotion or body wash (my favorite*) and live happily ever after. Your call.

Minnetonka Fringe Booties

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So technically I think I bought these around December 29, 2013...but for all intents and purposes, they're a 2014 Favorite Thing. I barely even knew them in 2013. But this year? Oh, I know them well. Probably too well. If you see me in real life (or even in pictures), you probably wish I knew them less well. But like with the Shea Moisture stuff- I can't help it. When something is this amazing, I simply must wear them all the time. They are COMFORTABLE. They are CUTE (in my opinion). They go with EVERYTHING (also my opinion, but it's all I've got!). 

Exhibit A: wear your booties with a long dress on a bench in a field!
And as an added and unexpected bonus- they are quiet. As in, you can sneak into a room with a sleeping baby and loud floors and NOT WAKE THE BABY. Most shoes (besides slippers...and sock or bare feet, I guess, but those aren't shoes...) can't boast this. Most shoes click (which I normally like, if I'm at work...makes me feel authoritative!). But clicking shoes disturb sleeping babies, so if you want your baby to stay asleep-- get these booties and never look back. (Another added bonus: they miraculously do not get stinky. This is a big deal because I have major funky shoe odor issues (remember this story?) with most of my shoes...but for some reason, these don't. Swoon.) (Also, now that I'm looking at the Amazon page I got that picture from...look at all those colors!! I probably need a pair in gray*, right? Maybe?)

Paul Mitchell Curls Shampoo and Conditioner

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For whatever reason, my hair decided to start transitioning from stick-straight to somewhat-wavy this year. After I got over my complete confusion, I decided to try to embrace the new look- this shampoo (and conditioner) helped enormously. It's a few steps backward from the more natural/less chemicals direction I'm heading in general with my body and beauty products, but...well...worth it, I guess. In the short-term, ha. (It's sulfate-free, so that counts for something, right? Maybe?) Compared to the other shampoos I've used in the last year, my hair is definitely wavier when I use this. It's pricier than I'd normally like, but I caught it at Ulta when they had some ridiculous sale + coupon and it was that huge liter bottle, so it really ended up being comparable to what I'd typically spend. I ran out recently, so this is at the top of my list to re-purchase using gift cards I got for Christmas! My hair is already looking sadder with just a few weeks away from it!

Fitbit One
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I just got my Fitbit for my birthday, so I haven't had it long, but it's definitely one of my favorite 2014 purchases (or gifts, as the case may be). I'd suspected that my job plus new baby minus gym was equaling a pretty sedentary lifestyle that could explain my rapidly growing derriere. The Fitbit informed me that my suspicions were correct. Super correct. I was kinda appalled at how sedentary I've become. But knowledge is power, and now I spend all day taking super long routes to get from my office to the bathroom (up an unnecessary three flights of stairs, down the longest hallway, back down to the bottom floor, then up to the second floor, then across the building to the bathroom way in the back? Sure!) and being more intentional about going on a walk (or three) each day. I opted to get the One instead of the Flex because I am vain and didn't want to be stuck wearing a rubber bracelet that didn't necessarily match all of my outfits every day. I love how small the One is- I usually wear it clipped onto my waistband, but I've also worn it on my sock inside my boot and clipped to my bra. I like how I can get all of the info I want (mainly steps/miles walked, calories burned, and flights of stairs climbed) right on the display, without having to go to the app. Overall, I know that simply walking more isn't going to replace the working out I used to do...but it will certainly help, and the Fitbit plays a big role in keeping me accountable so far!

Rock 'n Play Sleeper
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Number one baby 'thing,' hands down. This unassuming little guy just may be the thing I'd run back into a burning house to save (you know, assuming all humans and pets are safe). I can't sing its praises enough. Millie has slept in this every single night since we came home from the hospital. Five months. Right next to me. She will stay in it until she either grows out of it or can talk and tell me she wants to go sleep in her own room...whichever comes first. It's small. It's easy to fold up and move around. It keeps her inclined and cuddled and it can rock and vibrate and it's cheap and easy to wash and I WISH I HAD INVENTED THIS BECAUSE I'D PROBABLY BE A ZILLIONAIRE. But oh well. The best I can do is recommend it to everyone I know that is expecting a baby. Like even if you think you don't need one, get it anyway. Or maybe two. I kinda wish I had two. Fun fact: for some reason, Amazon doesn't carry nearly as many of the good colors/patterns. Also, the pricing on Amazon can be super wonky and variable (some for $47...others that are exactly the same except the pattern is different are $119!). We got ours from Target, the only place that carried this (way superior) pattern. So just a heads up in case you never venture past Amazon for your shopping...it's worth looking around for this one!

Chew Tuff Dog Toys
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Yeah, a dog toy. Random, but it seriously made our lives better...

Gotta thank my mom for this one. She noticed how neglected Lola had become after Millie came on the scene, so she bought one of these Chew Tuff toys at Target. It was a turquoise and orange alligator that matched Millie's nursery- our thinking was that all of Lola's toys end up in there anyway (it's her preferred place to play/sleep/be), so it may as well coordinate! Now, Lola has no shortage of toys, but they're all disgusting and ripped to shreds. She has a gift for immediately dismembering, unstuffing, and thoroughly murdering any new toy. Then she plays with the scrap of fabric for the next five years. But these? She hasn't (can't?) destroyed. And what's even cooler is that they (we have two now, the alligator and this penguin) have some 'silent squeak' technology. So they squeak, but mere humans can't hear it- but dogs sure can. I have done some highly scientific research on this, so I can confirm- I hear nothing. Lola hears SOMETHING. It's awesome because we can play with her without the obnoxious squeaking disturbing a sleeping baby. Also if you happen to trip over the toy in the bedroom of said sleeping baby...again, won't bother the baby. But may bring the dog running. At any rate, these are the best toys we've happened upon in a long time. Lola gives them four paws up!

Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation

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I know I've been singing the praises of this stuff all year, but that's only because its excellence cannot be overstated. This foundation is basically life-changing for those of us not blessed with gorgeous, flawless skin. I will cut corners a lot of places before I ever get desperate enough to write this one out of the budget. It is perfection. That said, I've heard it's not so fabulous if you have dry skin, so...if that's you, beware. But otherwise, I think everyone should give it a try. And go ahead and buy the foundation brush they sell with it. It's overpriced but it seriously makes a difference.

I'm going to have to stop myself here. "Best"  and "favorite" start to lose meaning if there're too many of them, right? 

On an unrelated note (because it's not something that has to be purchased), my best webpage discovery of the year was absolutely Budget Bytes. On any given day, there's an 85% chance that whatever I'm eating is a recipe from that webpage. If you're in a cooking rut and/or need budget-friendly-yet-still-healthy-and-tasty-and-easy recipes...this will be like Disneyland for you. I can't emphasize how much I love whoever it is that runs that page. Genius. I would list out my favorites, but there are too many. (That stew recipe I talked about at the beginning of this post is from there, though!) (But seriously, try her crock pot chicken and dumplings.) (And the kale sausage skillet.) (And the taco rice bowls.)

I'd be a terrible person if I put you through this whole long post with no baby pictures as a reward, so here ya go.


I can't remember if I've shared this picture already, but even if I have...it probably merits a second look.

Hope your January is off to a great start...and that you have tomorrow off like me!! Wooo!

*Amazon affiliate link

27 comments:

  1. LOOOOOVE Budget Bytes! I made her black eyed peas today and they were delish!

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  2. I tried Shea Moisture because of your praises and I adore it! Smells heavenly.
    I got a Fitbit for Christmas. My exercise has taken a backseat lately. Like you it's motivating me to think about how far I'm going to walk. I really love seeing how many steps I take at work. Last night was 10,000! That's crazy!!!
    Happy New Year! Welcome to 2015 Millie!

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  3. I am going to be on the lookout for the Shea Moisture products. I have been using the same boring products for years and these look new and exciting and fun! So that is a good enough reason for a new purchase, correct?

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  4. I'm ALWAYS looking for shampoo that I like. I seriously can never find anything that works with my hair. Maybe Paul Mitchell it is? Love those boots, but girl, no way I could pull them off!!!! My coworkers all L-O-V-E their fitbits!!!!!!!!!! Happy 2015!

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  5. I must admit I'm pretty intrigued by the dog toy,. Sterling LOVED squeaky plush toys when he was a puppy, but I bought him the last one when I spent 15 bucks on a giraffe that he literally ripped the head off of in one bite... that was about four years ago. Bless his heart.

    I got Tarte gel eye liner for Christmas... just thought you should know. Game. Changer.

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  6. Totly making that stew this week. Yum!

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  7. Great product recs! I need to get one of those rock and play sleepers. Love Millie's giant smile. Happy New Year my friend.

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    1. Yes Jessah those rock and play sleepers are amazing! They make one that self rocks for 30 minutes or 6 hours. Just FYI. Seems to be a well kept secret.

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  8. Seeing "Intents and purposes" instead of "intensive purposes" made me smile. Not that I would've ever pegged you to be an "intensive purposes" kinda gal.

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  9. Totally shared this post with my preggo bestie! Another friend has that rocking bed thingie and I was telling her how fabulous it was! She also has a dog, so basically this post was written for her :)

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  10. I have that foundation!!! Love it but only use it on the weekends. Hahaha! Have to make it last.

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  11. I loooh the Shea moisturizer and gave it out as gifts this Christmas! I am intrigued by the smell resistant moccs, as the same sadly cannot be said for the ones I bought at Old Navy last month and may have to be retired already. Also a dog toy that won't shred and has a squeak inaudible to human ears? If it could also deter Yuna from shredding dryer sheets, I will proclaim it a miracle product!

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    1. Looh = loooove. Score another one for auto correct.

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  12. Rock and play is God. My 2 month old has slept in 75,999 different "things" and Rock and play saved our lives. I paid $90 for mine because it self rocks for 30 minutes or 6 hours. My little guy is addicted to the rocking motion. We'll break that bad habit later. Right now I'll take not bring sleep deprived.

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  13. So I read your post in October about the Baby Shea Moistures when I was secretly pregnant via surrogate and I'm happy to tell you I bathe my boys in this glory. I didn't realize there were so many more products. Uh oh.

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  14. Do you find the baby lotion too thick to come out of the pump or did I get a bad bottle?

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    1. I haven't noticed that being a problem- I just tested it to be sure, but it seemed to come out just fine! To be honest, I haven't used the baby lotion a whole lot yet- either Millie doesn't have dry skin, or I'm just not sure when to put lotion on a baby...ha. So I haven't used it much, but mine seems to work fine in the pump! :)

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    2. I bought this also based on Erika's recommendation (and I never splurge on this type of thing). I have a hard time getting it out of the pump bc it's so thick!

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    3. Awww boo!!! I'm sorry, guys!! They need to step up their packaging game!

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    4. I posted as anonymous before and let me just say I squeezed every last drop I could out of that lotion. I need a new one because I love it.

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    5. Oh, good! That makes me feel a little better! I'd feel horrible if you hated it!! But still- fix the packaging, Shea Moisture!!

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    6. Oh I dont hate it at all! Sorry that sounded negative. I love how thick it is, would be easier in a tube. Smells and feels great!

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  15. My niece (and her parents) used the rock -n-play too!! She slept great in it and it was so portable. Good rec on the mocs...I may require some as I too suffer from the stank foot. :\ Happy 2015!

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  16. I remember you mentioning the Shea Moisture line before, but now I'm super interested...my sister and I are changing out all of our skin care products to all-natural/organic/etc stuff. She made some pretty awesome lotion/body butter, but I'm a little lazier and would prefer to just order my stuff! haha!

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  17. Shea Moisture products are definitely on my list of things to buy when we go to The States in March since they don't seem to be available in Canada. Boo.

    And that stew looks similar to a Rockin' Morrocan Stew we make here that we LOVE! Yum.

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  18. Ok, I must admit. I went out and bought the fringe booties after your glowing recommendation. And I MAY have bought my baby girl a matching pair!!! So freaking cute. I love them. And as a first grade teacher, I get to wear them to work! (Side note- didn't realize these used to be so popular. I had several co-workers in their mid-40s say they had a pair in middle school!) Comfy and I've had a ton of compliments. Thanks for the rec!

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