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My Best Discoveries in 2020.

*Image above via Sarah Bartholomew design. The vignette is major #goalz and has little to do with what follows, but it was too good not to repost.

This year was a year of learning and discovery on every imaginable front. I tried and routinely failed to be a Pinterest mom (and shared the most successful indoor activities here, most of them thanks to the genius of one Myriam Sandler); realized that my children can be happy and fulfilled even without venturing much outside of our apartment for the better part of a year; discovered what it would be like to live without my sense of taste and smell while coping with COVID-19 (not great — I’m so sorry, Claire!); became proficient in making my own fancy cocktails for happy hours at home; figured out how to stick with an exercise routine (main learning: commit to a schedule, block off the time on my calendar, and then pretend like there is simply no option to not go — it’s just part of the architecture of my day and cannot be moved); and published my first installment of fiction. I also made countless personal gaffes and missteps along the way–but here I am, having survived one hundred percent of my bad days and angling for better in 2021.

While it was not news to me, I also remembered why I fell in love with my man in the first place while watching him tend to me when I was unwell, take care of two small children, bring home the bacon, and prop me up in every imaginable way.

Closing out 2020, I have to say I feel tougher — more sisu-bearing — than ever, even in spite of the fluctuations in emotion that come with prolonged separation from my loved ones, and even when I occasionally find myself swallowing, hard, as I observe the unimaginable plight and isolation of others:

I cried, publicly, at the sight of the elderly woman I observed balancing a small cheese pizza on her walker as she slowly made her way into her building on Thanksgiving night.

And shed a tear when I noticed the small parcel outside a neighbor’s door: “Painting Party Kit for One! — Everything you need for a fun night to yourself” emblazoned on the front.

And, of course, the unbearable loss of jobs, livelihoods, and loved ones our neighbors (including several dear friends) have endured this year.

Here’s to a brighter 2021…!

And on a more frivolous circuit — some of my favorite purchasable discoveries this year:

WEMO SMART PLUG — UM, THE BEST THING EVER FOR THE CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTS…”HEY SIRI, TURN ON THE CHRISTMAS TREE” INSTEAD OF SPITTING OUT PINE NEEDLES WHILE CONTORTING INTO A WEIRD FORM BEHIND THE TREE, DODGING MR. MAGPIE’S FANCY SPEAKERS

FANTASTIC RUNNING SHOES

TRAYS AND POUCHES FOR KEEPING LIFE WITH TWO CHILDREN A BIT MORE SANE

MY FAVORITE SHEETS I’VE EVER SLEPT IN

AUDIOBOOKS IN GENERAL (THEY’VE CHANGED MY DAILY LIFE)

MAGICAL RUNNING JACKET — MORE SIZES + COLORS HERE

SUPER SOFT GRANNY PANTY UNDERWEAR

EVERY BEAUTY PRODUCT I LISTED IN MY ROUNDUP OF FAVORITE 2020 BEAUTY BUYS, BUT IF I HAD TO PICK ONE, IT WOULD BE A TIE (HA) BETWEEN THE REVLON ONE STEP AND ARTIS OVAL 7 BRUSH

THIS NOVENA BOOK

OOLY PAINT STICKS — SO EASY AND FUN FOR EVEN SMALL CHILDREN (HILL IS 18 MONTHS) TO USE

COLORFUL KOALA LEGGINGS AS A CLOSE SECOND TO LULULEMON ALIGNS (AND ONE FOURTH THE PRICE)

GORILLA GLUE — I’VE SPENT A STRANGELY IMPRESSIVE AMOUNT OF TIME REPAIRING THINGS BROKEN BY OUR CHILDREN THIS YEAR

BEST RUNNING SOCKS EVER

A SUBSCRIPTION TO BILLIE RAZORS — JUST THE MOST LOVELY INNOVATION…NEVER HAVE TO THINK ABOUT BUYING RAZORS AGAIN

TODDLER UGG BOOTS FOR MINI — NEVER THOUGHT I’D BOOMERANG BACK INTO THE PRO-UGG CATEGORY, BUT THESE ARE WARM, GOOD IN ALL KINDS OF WEATHER, AND EASY FOR HER TO PULL ON

DOVER STICKER BOOKS, WHICH HAVE PAVED THE WAY FOR US TO GET TO SCHOOL ON TIME ABOUT 1/3 OF THE MORNINGS THIS FALL/WINTER

What were your best discoveries this year, whether of the soul-growing or aesthetically-pleasing varieties?

P.S. Great bath gear for little ones.

P.P.S. One of my favorite posts ever: golden moments / golden hours.

P.P.P.S. My favorite affordable beauty products.

4 Comments

  1. Hip hip hooray for audiobooks! And for sticker books – they have gotten us through many a doctor appointment. In 2020 I discovered that I could in fact survive without going to the gym. But as months dragged on with no group fitness on the horizon, we finally caved and got the peloton. It was soooo good to be back on the bike! Yoga and walking were perfectly fine, but for my mental health I really need to get my heart rate up!

    2020 was actually a much better year than 2019 for our family! We welcomed baby #2 and our 3yo was declared in remission from cancer! She finished treatment and got her chest port and feeding tube removed a month ago. 2019 was spent doing 6 rounds of chemo and having major surgery and being at the hospital several times a week. We still have years of scans and tests in our future but it still feels like an ending of sorts.

    1. This is just THE BEST news, Stephanie! I’m so glad and cannot imagine what 2019 must have been like. Big celebration time in the Allen house!

      xx

  2. Jen,

    In early 2020, I found myself availing St. Rita of Cascia and St. Jude on a semi-regular basis. There was something so comforting about turning to those both familiar and at ease with loneliness, desperation, and ‘impossible causes’ at a time when I felt all of those things so deeply. I’ll say a little prayer today in honor of that elderly woman and everyone else who might be lonely this holiday season.

    Also: please let there be more fiction in the new year!

    xx,
    Veronica

    1. I love this, Veronica — I’ll say a prayer for her, too, and right now.

      And thanks for the reminders of St. Jude and St. Rita. I find I always call for Mary when praying but thanks for the reminder that there is an entire canon of saints to call upon.

      More fiction coming — next installment scheduled for next week, unless I chicken out. Haha đŸ™‚

      xx

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