Can you believe it? We’re in the last month of 2021.
I’m still processing 2019 and 2020, let alone 2021. Whew. Isn’t it so strange how the last two years have felt like ages long, but in reality, they went by in an instant? It’s crazy.
Anywho. As always, despite time feeling like it’s evaporating, I am trying to soak up every minute and keep the glass half full in most aspects of life. Not always easy, but that’s the goal!
This past month actually felt like things slowed down a bit for us, which was so nice. Kieran’s fall baseball season wrapped in October, which freed up a lot of family time during the week and on the weekends. His basketball season starts up next week, hah, so this little reprieve was short lived.
Finn is thriving. He was slow to talk, which of course had me all sorts of concerned. He’s just so different from his brother at this age. Kieran talked nonstop from 18 months on. He still hasn’t stopped chattering away. Finn is quieter and more observant – a touch shy like me – and I think that definitely influenced his talking timeline. Over the past month, he has blossomed so much and is talking nonstop about all the things. It’s a relief and also SO adorable. Two-year-old minds are the best!
Otherwise, things have been pretty steady. I’ve been busy with work, exploring some new photography techniques with artificial light (up to this point, I’ve exclusively done all my photography with natural light). It’s something to help me get through the winter months. I’m planning to use it more as supplement than a replacement. I still love shooting with natural light and likely will continue to do so whenever the weather is cooperative! The artificial light gives me more flexibility, which I love, but it is an adjustment. I still have some figuring out to do.
We had a lovely Thanksgiving with family. It was smaller than usual this year, but I still cooked my heart out. And it was totally worth it. I love that darn day so much.
And now we move into the Christmas season! So crazy. I love this time of year so much, but it IS always hectic and can be overwhelming. We have ALL of our family (literally ALL) coming into town to spend Christmas with us this year, so I have so much to do and stay on top of. My never-ending to-do lists are proving to be my lifeline right now.
In other news, I discovered SO many new things this past month that I am just obsessed over. Some would make for great gifts or stocking stuffers! Here’s the highlights.
- On a trip to Costco last month, I discovered two new amazing snacks. First are these Roasted Garlic & Herb Almonds. OMG. The flavor on these is crazy. Dan and I nosh on nuts all the time as a snack (better for us than potato chips), but we’ve also used these as a cheeseboard accompaniment and people lose it over them. If you’ve had the Trader Joe’s herbed marcona almonds, you’ll love these. We like these BETTER than the TJ’s version. Gasp!
- The other snack we’ve been L-O-V-I-N-G is this Parm Crisp ranch mix. Holy cow. It’s addicting. I raved about it nonstop to my sister, and when she and my brother-in-law were visiting for Thanksgiving, they both got to try it. My BIL was obsessed. It’s so good! Not only do you have ranch seasoning and parmesan cheese crisps (yum), but the nut selection is awesome. How often do you see both cashews and pistachios in a mix?! My two fave nuts. YUM. They sell this in giant bags at Costco.
- When Dan and I were in California back in October, we stopped in a lululemon store, and I snagged these align leggings. I’m always wearing leggings, and align are by far my favorite. These were a little different than your typical align leggings, though. Slightly more compression and structure (not a lot, though – I HATE high compression leggings) and pockets on the sides. They are my FAVORITE leggings now. They stay up all the time, give me a touch more support, and still have that buttery, soft fabric we all know and love. I ordered a couple more pairs online (sadly, most sizes/colors are sold out at the moment).
- The biggest development lately has been my rediscovery of yoga. Now, I practiced regularly for YEARS. Basically all of my 20s and early 30s. When I got pregnant with Finn, I stopped. It just didn’t feel right for me (despite the fact that many pregnant women practice all the way until birth – my pregnant body didn’t like it). Then, I had a newborn and felt like I couldn’t make it work with my schedule. When Finn turned one in March of 2020, the whole world shut down. So! I have been out of my yoga practice for over two years. When visiting my sister back in early November, she insisted we go to her hot yoga studio. I really didn’t want to go because I hadn’t been to a yoga class in so long. Well, we went and my mind was blown. I fell back in love immediately. As fate would have it, a BRAND NEW hot yoga studio opened that same week right around the corner from my house. Literally 5 minutes away. So, I’ve been going twice a week now for the past month and I’m obsessed. ALL THAT TO SAY, my newest obsession is my new lululemon yoga mat. I’d heard all the rage for years and never made the investment. It’s a lot of money to spend on a darn mat. Well, let me tell ya. It’s worth every darn penny. It’s so cushy, and I NEVER slip around on it. Even when I’m dripping with sweat in a 100-degree yoga studio. NO slipping! It’s seriously the best purchase I’ve made in months. Highly recommend!
- Along those same lines, I also have been loving these little hand towels for hot yoga. I tried out a couple yoga towels, and these are my favorite. Super absorbent and soft! They also wash really well.
- I also needed to invest in a larger water bottle for the hot yoga classes. I always, always drink out of my 30-oz Yeti tumbler, but I actually needed something bigger for class. It’s crazy how much water I drink during those sessions. So, I bought this huge bottle, and it’s been great. I have these same bottles for my kids in much smaller sizes. I love that the tops come apart completely (no mold growth possible) and their simple design. They’re great for kids and adults.
- One last yoga-related buy: these electrolytes. I bought the sampler pack first to figure out which flavors I liked, and then I bought the bigger tub. I love Liquid IV but don’t always want to be chugging down that much sugar at once. I have tried out other sugar-free electrolytes and enjoyed them, but these new ones are BY FAR the best I’ve tasted. There is ZERO Stevia aftertaste. I like that it’s all natural. The one issue is that it doesn’t dissolve quite as easily as the other brands (because it’s more natural!). I swirl it around in the bottom of my water bottle with a little hot water first to help it dissolve and then fill with cold water. These have been a lifesaver after hot yoga sessions where I feel like I’ve sweat out half my bodyweight.
- We haven’t had too much going on socially this past month (it’s been a quieter-than-normal month), so I haven’t done a ton of clothes shopping. I mean, that’s kind of true for the past two years, right? Sigh. I wear leggings and sweaters/sweatshirts 90% of the time! But I did buy these heeled combat boots, and I love them so much more than I was expecting to. They’re really comfortable, fun and funky, and have the trendy combat boot look without being TOO intense. They’re still feminine! I wore them in our family photos (above), and I am so impressed with the quality and look (especially for boots under $100).
- I bought and have been loving this book by Charlotte Martin. I follow her on Instagram and love her no-nonsense approach to debunking so much about diet culture and nutrition in general. My father is nutritionist, and it’s so refreshing to see someone cutting through the bullsh!t and talking about things like how dairy isn’t bad for everyone, and low-carb is not sustainable (carbs are good! they just need to be the right kind of carbs), and how apple cider vinegar is not the cure to everything. She just keeps it real and backs it up with science – which is something my dad always did (still does!). Her book is an awesome approach to incorporating more plants into your diet – she’s not saying cut out meat entirely, but just swap it for plants a little more often than you might be. It’s not an all-or-nothing approach. It’s REAL. I’ve been enjoying reading it so much. I love stuff like this – probably because I was raised by a nutritionist who preached these same values.
- With the Christmas spirit in full swing, I have been obsessed with these peppermint pinwheel Nespresso pods lately. OMG. They are so good. I love peppermint in my coffee, but I don’t LOVE peppermint mochas. They have a chalkiness to them that I do not enjoy (this is true of most mochas). So I’ve been loving these peppermint coffee pods topped with the most delicious peppermint whipped cream from Whole Foods (buy it – it’s AMAZING). Makes me feel festive first thing in the morning! If you buy the Nespresso pods, stock up! They sell out each year and don’t bring it back until the following holiday season.
- Last but not least, my kids have been loving this advent calendar. We needed a new one this year, and I bought this on a whim. Turned out to be a great purchase. It’s adorable. It lights up, too, which the kids love. Each evening after dinner, we gather around the calendar. They open up the little drawers for a fun treat. I’ve been filling it with small chocolates (Hershey kisses and Rolos fit great) and coins/folded up one-dollar bills. The kids LOVE it and look forward to it every night.
And that about sums up our monthly discoveries! I hope you all have a lovely holiday season! Xoxo!
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