At the end of every year (or in this case, a month into the new year) I like to make a list of the things I liked that year–some big, some small, some total game changers, some things that just make life a touch more pleasant. Here’s what made the cut in 2015.
Trader Joe’s | This is probably the biggest one on the list. We got a TJ’s in Birmingham earlier this year and oh, it’s made me so happy. Easy (decently healthy) frozen meals, cheap staples, pretty and affordable flowers… it makes grocery shopping a lot more tolerable.
Ebates | I cannot sing the praises of Ebates highly enough. It’s a website that gives you cash back on online purchases… I have no idea how this is a profitable venture for them, but I know they actually send you a check (or deposit into your PayPal) and it’s in no way a scam. As someone who likes to both shop online and save money, this was a game changer for me. If you install the tool bar button it works without you even having to think about it–ideal. Sign up here and get $10 cash back automatically… this is not a commercial, I promise. I just really like Ebates.
Dansko shoes | I had a crisis of shoes earlier this year. My black Merrells that I’d been teaching in since day one bit the dust. It might have had something to do with four years of almost daily wear. I promptly ordered nine pairs of shoes off the Internet, stacked them behind our couch, wore a different pair each time I cleaned the kitchen, and sent 8/9 pairs back. These Danskos got the rose. Cute enough that I don’t feel awkward if I have to go somewhere straight from work, comfortable enough that I can stand for ten hours with zero problems. Thanks, Dankso!
Walks on the urban farm by our house | We live about three blocks from the prettiest urban farm. Whenever the weather was nice this fall we’d go on walks there… a little piece of green in the city. I love it there.
Kind sea salt caramel almond bars | I took a two year hiatus from granola bars, but got back into them this fall. These were the ones that brought me back. Shout out to David for picking them out for me at the store.
Parks and Rec | We finished Parks and Rec last spring (it made last year’s honorable mention list) and the last couple of seasons of the show were my favorite. There were themes of moving and starting new adventures that probably made it a lot more meaningful for us… but I think it’s a sweet & funny show for anyone. We still sing the Lil Sebastian song often.
Brush tip pens | I’ve had fun playing with writing and it’s amazed me what you can do with different kinds of pens. This one is great for anyone starting out.
Shellac at home | I had my first ever shellac manicure for my birthday this year. I absolutely loved it… but $45 every two weeks for nails was not in our budget. Turns out you can get a UV light for less than the cost of one shellac manicure and do your own at home. I like the CND polish best. It definitely takes longer to do at home than in a salon, but it’s relaxing to me so I don’t mind.
Pepper Place Market | The best mix of running errands and going on a date. This was the first place we went as Birmingham residents and really helped us fall in love with the city. When it was still warm outside we went pretty much weekly to buy breakfast, stock up on produce, and people watch. It’s also where we bought the best bacon we’ve had in our lives.
Sateen colored jeans | I discovered sateen colored jeans this year–they’re nicer than regular colored jeans, but casual enough to wear outside of work. These from Gap and these from Madewell are both divine.
Eucalyptus bouquets | These pretty bunches of green last for like threes weeks and look (& smell) so pretty. There’s currently one on both our table and my dresser.
The Birmingham Public Library System | The first time I went to the Birmingham Public Library they wouldn’t let me have a library card. They reassured me that I could get a temporary card to use the computer, not seeming to understand that I actually just wanted to read the books. Needless to say, we got off to a rocky start. But thanks to their impressive selection, kind librarians (who process an average of 30 holds a week for me with nothing but smiles), and user friendly inter-library loan system, they have more than made it up to me.
Everlane tshirts | I got tired of buying tshirts for $8 from Old Navy that pilled after I wore them twice. I finally ordered a black tshirt last winter from Everlane… at $15 (the cotton v neck) it was still affordable and it’s washed, dried, and worn like a champ. As a mostly grown up I’m trying to get better at buying things that last even if they cost a little more. This was a worthwhile investment.
Breakfast parties | Thanks to our opposite schedules, the only steady chunks of time we’ve found for having people over for a meal is Saturday morning. Thankfully that makes the menu easy (bacon, eggs, fruit, goat cheese biscuits, coffee)… and thankfully people love breakfast food. Or maybe it’s just us. Either way.
Engineer prints of iPhone photo | I followed this tutorial to print a huge copy of my favorite iPhone photo at Staples (as seen above). It was affordable, easy, and makes me smile every time I see it on the wall.
Honorable mentions: this big water bottle, the Wal Mart foam topper that got me through six weeks on a dorm bed (#toooldforthat), Taylor Swift’s 1989, Ryan Adams’ 1989, Olly vitamins, an electric toothbrush (#oldenoughforthat), FINALLY OWNING A PRINTER, and living in a small place (it forces you to get rid of stuff).