Happy New Year! Welcome to our first post of 2019! Kind of exciting. I believe this is the longest the blog has ever been silent, and while I’ve remained active on Instagram, I missed this space over the last two weeks. I’m sharing a whole lot in this post – maybe to make up for lost time, maybe because I have a lot to say – and I appreciate you taking the time to read it.
2018 was one of those years of extremes, where beauty and tragedy dotted the ordinary enough to make a profound impact. For the most part, it actually felt a lot better than 2016 and 2017, which were both incredibly difficult for my family due to my son’s epilepsy diagnosis and the loss of my stepfather. But it wasn’t without sorrow either. There were some major highs and lows.
A lot of really wonderful things did happen in 2018. We bought our first home during the first week of the year (and remodeled the laundry room, downstairs bathroom, and backyard ourselves, redecorated/painted the family room and both kids’ rooms, and redesigned our master closet throughout the year), I traveled quite a bit (California twice, Colorado, Indiana, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Mexico), we dropped both kids off at school for the first time ever (it was a rough beginning for Emmett but he loves it now), and we enjoyed some really wonderful experiences together as a family. I also ended the year with a 100 day fitness challenge that reminded me how much better I feel physically and mentally when I incorporate 30 minutes a day of some sort of activity. (I’m starting another challenge right now about which I’ll share more later.)
On the other end of things, 2018 brought the loss of my best friend to ALS. He left behind a two year old daughter and wife, and while I’m eternally grateful for the chances I had to visit him over the year before he passed away, it was heartbreaking not be able to say goodbye in person. Losing a friend similar in age to that kind of illness was also a huge reminder of my own mortality, which is a gift in a way, but also quite sobering.
In general, the ups and downs of 2018 taught me a lot about finding balance and also appreciating every single day that I wake up healthy. I also learned that while I appreciate the opportunities I have these days for work so, so much, that I need to make sure I’m not constantly overwhelming myself with work projects (and parent projects too!). In fact, while I don’t make New Year’s resolutions for many reasons, I decided that I’m going to be less hard on myself in general this year. (And this started on New Year’s Day – my birthday – when I allowed myself to lounge around and enjoy the evening after we arrived back home from Atlanta instead of rushing to unpack and plan. To be honest, two days later, my bags remain unpacked. And I’m totally cool with it.)
And now onto the real topic of this post: my 2018 Bubby and Bean favorites! These annual roundups are really fun for me put together, because they allow me to take the time to go back and read through the blog for the entire previous year. Selecting my favorite posts to share with all of you, month by month, feels like a treat, and reminds me of how grateful I am that after many years (Bubby and Bean turned 8 in November!), I really do feel at a great place with my job. Yes, the vast majority of it is emails and forms and contracts and applications and negotiations and bookkeeping and a whole lot of social media work (in other worlds, things that aren’t my forte), but being able to be creative on some level for a living every single day through writing and photography and other projects is a dream come true. And getting to share pieces of my life and learn about yours while I do it is a major cherry on top. A huge thank you to all of you for supporting Bubby and Bean, by the way. I wouldn’t be able to do this without my readers and followers, and I appreciate all of you more than I can say.
So here, my friends, are my favorites posts from 2018…
The creamy parmesan mashed potatoes recipe I shared in early January (photo above) was on regular rotation in our house throughout the year.
February brought this post on 5 low sugar ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with little ones.
In contrast to the previous post, this sunbutter and jelly heart print cookie recipe did contain its fair share or sugar, but the health benefits of the sunbutter kinds of canceled that out, right? (Plus, they’re sooo good)
In March, I shared why Emmett’s toddler firsts/milestones have been such a big deal for us.
March also brought one of our most popular recipe posts of the year for avocado and pan roasted chickpea pitas.
For April of 2018, I updated one of my highest traffic posts ever from 2017: my 15 favorite foods from Trader Joe’s.
I also shared this post with my tips for eco-friendly travel with kids in April (which I absolutely loved writing and shooting because it’s a topic about which I’m incredibly passionate).
May was full of fun projects. I loved redoing our master closet and taking it from a majorly hot mess to super organized. (And it still looks organized many months later which is a sweet, sweet miracle.)
For an end of school year gift for Essley, I turned some of her favorite pieces of artwork she made at preschool into mugs, a notebook, and a pillow. She was thrilled.
I came up with this grilled corn with orange hosin sauce and chili glaze for Memorial Day and ate it constantly throughout the summer.
Tied with our laundry room reno, our backyard redesign was my favorite home project of the entire year. In terms of blog content, it was my favorite project of all. I am so grateful to have been able to team up with the incredibly talented Tyler Wisler to this. (And the video we got to do for TIKI as part of it was SO MUCH FUN.)
In June, I shared a very personal post on mental illness and why I so strongly believe it’s time to end the stigma.
Okay, so this post was admittedly about a (very hip and earth conscious, mind you) brand of toilet paper, it was also about 12 easy ways to be more eco-friendly at home. It was fun to write and I hope it proved useful for those who read it too.
I got personal again in July and talked about the passing of my best friend, as well as some of my own struggles about how to balance difficult life experiences with a job that often relies on oversharing. (I also shared some of what I read at his memorial right here.)
In July, I shared my favorite home project of 2018, our laundry room renovation (as also seen in the top photo of this post). It was a huge change – if you haven’t yet seen the before pictures, I think you’ll be surprised! Later in July I posted more about the renovation, specially how we created storage in a small space.
At the end of the month, I shared some moments of our almost two week trip to Colorado.
In August, we celebrated our son Emmett’s two year anniversary of being seizure free!
Also in August, Essley and I bonded over back to school shopping.
I shared a fun back to school interview to do with your kids in September (along with my little ones’ first day of school pictures – Emmett’s first ever!).
Later that month, I talked about how my kids and I practice daily gratitude together.
In October, I talked about one of my favorite kinds of self care: getting ready for a mama’s night out.
Also in October, I talked about the concept of free, unstructured play, and why it’s so important.
These plant-based Halloween mini pizzas were definitely our most fun recipe project of 2018.
One of my favorite holiday gifts to give in 2018 was the gift of trees. I talked all about this right here.
Later in November I shared this peppermint hot chocolate recipe which I may or may not be drinking as I type this…
This DIY melted crayon wax ornaments post was our most read post in December.
In December, I shared 10 holiday traditions my kids love.
Also last month, I showed you guys how I style my naturally frizzy hair.
And finally, I shared some photos and thoughts from our trip to Mexico.
As for 2019 on a personal level, as I mentioned earlier, my biggest goal is to be easier on myself. This might not sound like much of a goal, but for someone like me who is intrinsically unable to relax (no really; I feel extreme guilt if I’m not being productive and tend to emotionally punish myself as a result), it’s actually work to do this. I was very much satisfied with the results of my goal to be more physically motivated (in terms of exercise, etc.) in 2018, and now I think it’s time to work more on the mind/spirit side of things – in terms of both active efforts like meditation/mindfulness, and in terms of the opposite of active, like being okay with saying no or just cutting myself a freaking break if I screw up or can’t “do it all.”
When it comes to business goals for 2019 and the blog/Bubby and Bean brand, I honestly just hope to continue more of what is already happening. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to grow, but the older I get, the more I feel like BIGGER BETTER MORE isn’t always a good thing when it comes to business and career. Sometimes it’s even more wonderful to just say “I like where I am and would be grateful to continue to make it happen on the same level.” So I want to continue to produce fun, creative content that will benefit all of you (and am always open to suggestions!), and would like to continue to focus on the topics that most interest me like I did in 2018 (home projects, parenting, and food with a side of fashion/beauty and travel). I feel at a great place with Bubby and Bean right now, and the only real change I’d like to see happen is a move to WordPress for our platform. I am one of those old schoolers still using Blogger, and while the thought of such a huge, time consuming change terrifies me, I know it would allow me to do many more cool things with the blog than I’m able to here. (I won’t do it myself however, so if you can recommend a great service to switch things over, get us up and running on WP, and provide continued support sometime in the next couple of months, please email me at bubbyandbean @gmail or send me a DM on IG!)
If you made it this far, thank you thank you thank you! I love and appreciate my readers so deeply. For real. I know many less people read blogs these days than they did when I first started, and social media seems to be where it’s at and stuff (you rule the freaking world, Instagram, and it drives me crazy), but that just makes me even more grateful for all of you. I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings!