1. Cast Iron Skillets. My collection is now at 3 and I love them dearly. I feel pretty confident in my seasoning routine now, too.
2. Blueland. This woman-founded, low-waste company is bringing an end to one-use cleaning supplies. We purchased the Clean Essentials kit when we first moved out to Alabama and have been ordering refills (which come in backyard compostable packaging) since. I’m a big fan of the multi-surface, bathroom, and glass/mirror sprays; I haven’t had a mess they can’t beat and that includes next-day kitchen mess after hosting Friendsgiving. I’m pretty neutral to the foaming hand soap, but it gets the job done. We just recently ordered the Dish Soap Starter kit to try. I’m still getting the hang of how much powder to use, but my biggest problem is accidentally inhaling it. You should’ve seen Tom and I when we poured it from the packet into the container. Hilarious in hindsight.
*update: we weren’t fans of the dish soap.*
3. Cookbooks. I started my cookbook collection via Christmas gifts and I am stoked. Reading them front to back was a true joy, and I gained so much inspiration from their pages. I have three so far: The First Mess by Laura Wright, Half Baked Harvest: Super Simple by Teighan Gerard, and More Plants Less Waste by Max La Manna. I recommend all of them.
4. Bite. I’ve used Bite tablets before, and after trying an eco-friendly paste option, I’m back to my love of tablets. I also love the mouthwash ones too! Speaking of which, I need to re-order those…
5. cocokind. I came for the SPF and stayed for everything else. My current cocokind lineup includes their: rosewater toner, glow essence, texture smoothing cream, daily spf, sea moss exfoliator, and, last but not least, sea kale clay mask. As you can tell, I’m a fan. It’s also a woman-founded company focused on clean ingredients and inclusivity. Also a fan of that. You can get $5 off here, and help me save toward me next purchase too. Win win.
6. Klur. Speaking of skincare: I’ve been using Klur’s Gentle Matter Cleanser since July and I adore it. Cleans my face off without irritation or unnecessary scent. It’s a bit of a splurge, but I’m still on that first bottle 6 months later since I only cleanse at night. Another perk? Supporting a Black-woman-owned company. Plus Leslie’s personal shares via Instagram are always so informative and lovely to read.
7. Re-growing scallions. All you need is a little water and some sunlight and you can really get your bang for your buck with scallions. I haven’t ventured into other re-grow projects because my cat, Gnocchi, would most likely destroy them while I sleep. I’ve lost a good many scallions to his antics.
8. Making stock from veggie scraps. One person’s trash is another’s stock. You can read more about it here.
9. Minimal Caffeine. I was straight up addicted to coffee in my early years of college – required multi-cups, withdrawal headaches, shakes, anxiety spikes – mostly because of my desire to sit in a café and sip on coffee. There was a local spot near campus called the Bourgeois Pig that had an ~Almond Rocca latte~ that I still think about quite often. But caffeine and I have a very rocky relationship. I now stick to 1 cup of caffeine a day, if any at all, and I only drink decaf coffee. You can find me sipping on matcha or tea for my caffeine intake. My fav matcha of 2020 was definitely from Golde, a Black woman-owned small business. I also like a good black tea – Irish Breakfast, Earl Grey, Constant Comment – or a bright green. Since I like to drink whole pots of tea, I like having full-caf and de-caf options of each so I can have my one cuppa to wake up and then sip on the decaf pot for the rest of the morning. High maintenance? Maybe. But I don’t really care.
10. Weighted blankets. I actually bought this for Tom as an anniversary present, but let’s be honest I’m the one that uses it the most. Sometimes its the only thing that can calm me down during a panic attack. I highly, highly recommend one for anyone struggling with anxiety and/or panic.
11. Plants. We ventured into plant parenthood this year and there’s no going back. Plants simply make the space so much better – brighter, fresher, homier. We have Isaac the Fiddle Leaf Fig, Bernie the Boston Fern, Nagini the Snake Plant, and Fiona the Fittonia. I think the key to healthy plants starts at the beginning: purchase from a local nursey if you can! Ours quite obviously takes wonderful care of their plants, so you know you’re not buying a dud.
12. Quick Curry. Seriously, making curry always ends with happy tummies and happy taste buds. Plus, the way I do it, it’s ready in just about 30 minutes. My recipe seems to change each time I make it, but this year I will definitely type it up and share it with you all.
13. What I learned from the low-FODMAP elimination diet. My digestion issues have always been a mystery until I tried eating low-FODMAP over the summer. You can read more about why I chose to do so here. While I’m not eating strictly low-FOD anymore, knowing which foods trigger a reaction and eating those in moderation has been a literal life changer. I feel so much more in control and comfortable. I love you garlic, but only in small doses!
14. Driving around with my Gnocchi. From California to Alabama, and from Alabama to Tennessee to North Carolina and back, Gnocchi is quite the car companion now. I plan to keep him by my side for any future road trips.
15. Parade underwear. Probably the only brand I’ll buy from now on to be honest. They’re soft, they don’t leave obvious lines, they’re made from recycled fabric, they’re inclusively sized, woman-founded, AND they donate 1% of revenue to Planned Parenthood. I mean, COME ON! You can get a free pair of undies on me here
16. Hot dogs. Tom and I crave them weekly for some reason. It all started in Yosemite. I made it down the mountain (barely) and once I sat down, all the adrenaline and lifeblood rushed out of me. I was only restored by ~hot dogs~… and whiskey.
17. Crystal deodorant. I seriously can’t even tell if I’ve made a dent in mine, so you definitely get your money’s worth; I bought mine here. The biggest lesson I’ve learned about crystal deodorants (personally) is that you have to be pretty consistent with your application. Morning and night, maybe noon if it’s summer. The more regularly you use it, the less you stink.
*sad update: unfortunately not as awesome as it was when I first got it. I have a really sensitive nose and I feel like the stick itself smells now, so rubbing it all over my pits doesn’t help things. I’m hanging on to mine to use in the winter months, but I need something a bit more heavy duty in the spring/summer.*
18. Mask chain. I got this pearl mask chain from Purre Boutique, a favorite woman-owned small business of mine back home.
19. My Ginger Snap Pumpkin Pie. I wanted to make it again after Friendsgiving to finalize the recipe but pumpkin season ended. Can I use canned pumpkins? Yes, of course. I probably will. But I don’t want to publish the recipe until I can bake it the way it deserves to be baked: with fresh pumpkin puree. So. 2021 Thanksgiving, I’m coming for you.
20. Dried citrus ornaments. These took the internet by storm in 2020 and I am excited to put them on our tree in 2021 too. Mine are pretty rustic, to be kind, so I might even re-do some for this coming Christmas with different types of citrus for variety.