Favorite Things I Need to Tell You about Right Now

Favorite Things {in 2017} I Need to Tell You About Right Now

A few weeks ago I saw a lot of bloggers with posts centering around their “favorite things of 2017.” Most of these posts focused specifically on categories of products like beauty, fashion, home decor, etc. I thought it would be fun to do my own list for the year, but with a little bit of a twist 🙂 These lists also started to make me think of two things: the MTV show that was called “Best of (insert year)” or something along those lines where each episode focused on all of the trends, news, phenomenon’s that were big in pop culture that given year.  The second is a similar series “3 Things You Need to Know About” from a blogger I regularly follow (and you should too!)

So this is my “Best of 2017,” covering what trends I was into, random finds and the things I became obsessed with. I should also add that this post in not sponsored in any way. I just genuinely enjoy it all. I actually I think I might make this a quarterly piece moving forward.

Trader Joe’s

I have become a part of the cult and am volunteering myself to be their poster child. Practically anytime someone refers to Trader Joe’s I have to reign in my excited response of how in love I am with that place. I think it’s important for people to understand that I loathe grocery shopping. In college I would always try to convince my roommates to come with me and to this day I’ll call my mom up to chat while I’m shopping which is always a clear mistake because I can’t actually multi-task. Its also taken me a good portion of my almost-3-years living in the DC area to adapt to smaller weekly shopping trips and balancing my grocery budget out with the fact that you inevitably eat out more while living in the city. But Trader Joe’s has changed all of that. I like the environment of the store, its quality vs. price ratio always shocks me and I just really love so many of the products.  Specifically, for someone who cooks for one and doesn’t like to cook, I really do think that doing the bulk of my shopping there has helped me make healthier decisions, explore a bit more with cooking and has cut down on my food waste. Plus, I love that there are so many random finds that end up being new favorites. I could really do an entire blog post this. But until that time some of my favorites are:

Fresh flowers, candles, Black Cold Brew Coffee (in the can), Citterio Genoa and Provolone snack packs, deli fruit and nut spinach salad, beef tamales (the “handcrafted” ones with 2 in a bag), tubs of soup in the deli section, good AND affordable wine, the fresh asparagus/mushroom/onion mix, fresh pre-made vegetable kabobs, almond butter, steel cut oatmeal, frozen asparagus risotto, frozen vegetable stir fry, olive oil popcorn, scone and muffin mixes, whole wheat toaster waffles, chili lime seasoning

Nickel & Suede Earrings

I honestly can’t remember where I discovered these but I am obsessed! These leather earrings are essentially weight-less, come in a few different sizes and shapes, and I think the quality is great. In their original teardrop style I prefer the medium size. The rose gold pair were my first and their leather is a bit lighter than the others which does tend to make them curl a tiny bit but I’ve just stuck them in a book overnight a few times and they were fine. I have always been into big and flashy earrings, but as I get older I really don’t like when they are too heavy and I like how versatile these are with my clothes. Plus, the couple who own the company started it in their basement in Kansas City, and I am always a big fan of a good small business story. I love them so much I gifted three pairs at Christmas this year.

Game of Thrones

I finally jumped on the bandwagon, and spent about three months binge watching the series. I always knew that it was probably something I would like, but for many years none of my friends were watching it and I typically like to have people to discuss shows with. But two of my best friends finally got in to it and practically drug me along with them. I probably would have finished it a lot more quickly but I took about a three week break after watching the “Hold the Door” episode because I just couldn’t deal…

Harry Styles

Half of you are rolling your eyes at me and the other half is nodding in agreement. I shamelessly admit to jamming to One Direction in the car with my roommates in college, but regardless of your sentiment toward the group, don’t condemn Harry as a solo artist just yet. His debut album is SO SO GOOD! Its soulful with more intricate lyrics, in more of a Lumineers and Mumford and Sons type of way, and you’ll realize that being part of a boy band really didn’t do him justice. My favorites off the album are “Two Ghosts”, “Sweet Creature” and “Ever Since New York.” He also recorded a cover of Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” that makes me think it should have been his song from the start (and I love LBT’s version).

Filly Flair

This spring one of my best friends turned me on to this online fashion retailer out of South Dakota, and now it is one of my favorites. They have a lot of fun dresses, but they also have a great selection of what I consider staples for mixing and matching. I usually find that online retailers aren’t consistent at being true to size, but this one has been the exception so far. Plus, once again, it started as a small business by a woman entrepreneur, which I love and actually follow on Instagram because she engages with her customers there.

All of the items I have from there are not in stock so I can’t show any pictures from the site and this picture is the only one I have on hand of me wearing something from the boutique… which is odd because I practically lived in a basic black tank top dress from there this past summer. So much so that I regret not buying it in other colors too.

The Home Edit

This duo and their company make their living by organizing (mainly famous) people’s lives… you know the magazine worthy Instagram pictures you see of perfectly curated pantries? Yah, they do that, and then offer tips, tricks and products you can buy on their website. But the real reason I am obsessed with The Home Edit is because of two ladies behind it are HILARIOUS and share my affinity for good grammar. They chronicle their real-life sarcasm and adventures via InstaStories, and last year they finally started to sell shirts with their funny, often-used phrases. For Christmas I received the “Surviving Not Thriving” sweatshirt from my friend Brandi, who is equally obsessed.

InstaStories

Personally, I’d venture to say that in regards to social media platforms, InstaStories owned 2017 across the board. I know it became my go-to for following people on social media over scrolling through Facebook and even regular Instagram posts, which seems to be more of a time suck.

FabFitFun

I LOVE THIS BOX. PERIOD.
Maybe a year ago or so, I decided that I wanted to try out some sort of box service and started looking around at what would be the best bang for my buck and would fit me best. I settled on FabFitFun, which sends you four boxes a year – one for each season. I chose it because: it was the most well-rounded, meaning it covers beauty, fitness, decor, fashion and hobbies; it sends you full-size products instead of samples; and the retail value of one box is typically more then you pay for the entire year subscription.

So after a year of four boxes, I am sold! Out of the four boxes there is only one thing I can remember that I flat out didn’t like at all. Past that, there were maybe maximum 5 or 6 things that just either weren’t my personal style or preference, and so I just re-gifted those items, which was kind of fun to do anyway. Everything else, I have LOVED and there are a few things that I do plan on buying again for myself or as gifts from the original retailers. Boxes like these aren’t for everyone, but as someone who likes to try new things, but doesn’t particularly like to aimlessly shop, this is a fun surprise to gift yourself with a few times a year. Below is what came in the most recent Winter box and were all thing that I loved.

If you are interested in these, let me know because I have 3 starter boxes that I can give away (you would just pay the shipping). I also have this referral link – http://xo.fff.me/hy0DY – which gives both of us a discount off a box if you use it to sign up.

And of course… Miss Sawyer June

Because more than any trend or material thing I’ve been loving recently, Sawyer June and her baby talk have been my favorite thing of all 🙂

Should I make posts like these a semi-regular thing? Let me know!

Cheers!

Linking up with both the Friday Favorites crew (here, here and here) and The Blended Blog.

Capture

DIY and Organization

My Favorite Phone Apps

Todays post ventures out a bit past what I usually blog about, but the blogs that are easily some of my favorite to read are ones that give me new ideas and things to try. So today I want to chat about apps for our phones!

In a lot of ways I do miss the simplicity of a good old flip phone, and don’t get me started about how longed I sulked when I was told that my beloved Blackberry was a goner. But overtime I finally embraced all that smartphones have to offer, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit I’d be lost without it.

I am always looking around and asking others about what new apps I should try. Honestly, from time to time I’ll just open up the app store and search some key words to see what is out there. Often I’ll download a bunch at once and keep them on a unorganized third screen first while I’m trying them out, and then if I decide I like it I’ll move it over to my organized screens.

Yes, I am Type-A… and yes, my sanity does depend on living the “zero notification life.”

Here are quite a few of my tried and true favorites. I tried my best to categorize them, but that proved a bit harder than I originally thought. And no, none of this is sponsored, just my honest opinions.

Work/Productivity

  • Scannable: This will probably sound strange, but seriously, if you download only ONE app from this blog post, this is the one you never knew you NEEDED in your life. It allows you to scan documents into your phone as a PDF and then directly email it back to yourself or others. I use it all the time and can skip fighting with the office monster machine.
  • Bitly: I use this for shortening links for both work and my blog.  I primarily use it on my desktop but having the app is also pretty handy.
  • Notes: I know there are a ton of different list making and to-do list apps, but honestly for me nothing really beats the default Notes app. It would be a sad day if I lost what I have saved there. With that said, someone did recently recommend Google Keep to me, which is basically the same thing as Notes except it is saved in your Google Drive, so I might switch over to that.
  • Google Drive: This is my lifeline, and it is so convenient to be able to both retrieve and save things straight from my phone.
  • Others: Dictionary, Meltwater Buzz (a service we use for media tracking at work), Voice Memos, Dropbox.

Social Media and Communications Support

Obviously I use apps for all the social media I am on, but I didn’t think they necessarily needed mentioning.

  • WordPress: I run my blog on WordPress, so yes, this one is pretty standard for me.
  • Facebook Page: I am an admin on 5 different Facebook pages, so this app is much more functional then trying to manage the pages from the regular Facebook app.
  • Canva:  If your career is in ANYTHING communications related and you aren’t using www.canva.com, then you aren’t doing your job right. It’s what I use to create all the graphics for my blog and work social media channels, and really, I am nowhere near using it to its full capacity. The day they FINALLY came out with a phone app was like Christmas Day.
  • ABM and Typorama: There are quite a few different social media creative apps for adding words, making collages, etc. These two are the ones I prefer.
  • FILMiC Pro: This is one of the few apps I paid for. When I was traveling for work in Guam last year and needed to shoot some video on my phone, this is what my videographer cousin recommended. It was DEFINITELY worth the $10.99.
  • Others: I haven’t used these much but have dabbled in Boomerang, Watermark and Flipagram.

Lifestyle/Daily Use

One thing that you’ll notice missing, specifically for me, is any news apps. Trust me, I read a LOT of news, and I do have and occasionally look at Medium, AP Mobile, NBC News and CNN, but I rely on my TweetDeck on my desktop and my phone Twitter app for the majority of my news.

  • Spotify:  I pay for a premium account so that I don’t need Wi-Fi to access my music, which also means that this app takes up the most room on my phone. But I listen to music ALL DAY LONG so it’s worth it to me, especially since moving to the city and spend much more time as a pedestrian, running outside and riding the Metro. I realized quickly that it was probably unsafe to be without my phone and I didn’t want to carry both that and an iPOD. And yes, I am definitely #TeamSpotify over Pandora…
  • WomanLog: Ladies, basically you need this app for all the things.
  • HumorCast: My weather app of choice is actually WeatherBug, but I also have HumorCast because for each day it gives you a funny and usually sarcastic message based on the what the weather is doing.
  • Airline-specific apps and Wallet to carry your ticket: Going to play the “millennial” card here… People, it’s 2017, learn to use these. I shudder thinking of my early days of flying a lot in college and not having these as an easy go-to for checking in and receiving flight updates. And I literally pout when, on occasion, they still have to print my ticket out instead of letting me use the digital one. (Yes, I’m a travel snob.)
  • Shazam: Ever watch a TV show and wander what song they are playing? This app “listens” and reports back. Problem solved! (And you can connect it straight to your Spotify app!)
  • Peet’s: My chain-coffee shop of choice (since it’s right near work). It has a virtual punch card and they are pretty great about sending you other specials.
  • Ibotta: Recently I started using this for getting cash back on purchases (mainly food). All you do is scan in your receipt and then match it up with things on special that you bought. Use my referral code (RCTYHWL) if you’re interested so we’ll both earn more 🙂
  • MyFitnessPal: I don’t always remember to use it, but I’ve found it handy for tracking eating, water intake and working out, because it helps give you a scope of what you are actually accomplishing (or not accomplishing.)
  • Bible Gateway: There are so many choices out there but I think this one is the most mobile friendly and interactive.
  • Venmo: This is another MUST HAVE. It’s a money exchange/”I owe you” app that makes paying people back or trying to figure out how to split a bill so much more simple, and more importantly, not awkward. My old roommate actually used to pay me for all of our bills this way.
  • Capital One Wallet: Pretty straight forward, and I also use the WellsFargo app for banking, but I was sold on this app for my credit card, because when I thought I lost it recently, I was able to click one button and “freeze” it from being used. Plus it sends you updates on your account and can log digital receipts.
  • CBS Sports: My sports news app of choice. I like that it allows me to flag “my teams” and sends me news notifications and score updates.
  • iBooks: I am still a fan of a real book over digital, but I finally gave in when I went to Asia for 3 weeks this year and forbade myself to pack 4 clunky books in my suitcase. Now it has been kind of nice when I have a few extra minutes here and there.
  • Others: Maps (with a love/hate relationship of course), Beats Pill+, Nelnet (for my student loans), Etsy, LIKEtoKNOW.it, Groupon, Nike+RunClub, Netflix, Kansas State Alumni Association, SheReadsTruth.

City Living

  • Uber: Living in the city, this a must and I definitely prefer it over taking a taxi. I do use Lyft every once in a while, but its drivers always seem to have a heck of a time finding my apartment building so I kind of gave up on them.
  • Parkmobile: Say goodbye to feeding coins to the meter and having it run out on you before you can get back.
  • Smithsonian: It’s helpful when you are looking for what events are going on, but mainly I really like it for its map features. This app was essential for helping me learn my way around DC.
  • OpenTable: Allows you to check on and make restaurant reservations.
  • Grubhub: Food delivery for optimal laziness.
  • DCRider: My DC metro app of choice.

Just for Fun

  • IMDb: I’ve always been a bit of a nerd about entertainment behind the scenes, so this app definitely enables that.
  • ZUI Days: This is a fun countdown app that that allows you to track things that you are counting down to (like my grandparents visit in 15 days) or milestones in the past (like my work anniversary, which is 2 years, 6 months and 11 days.)
  • Timehop: Connects to your social media accounts and gives you a daily trip down memory lane with posts and pictures from years past on that particular day.
  • Coloring Book for Me: It’s a COLORING BOOK APP (!!) with fun designs and a variety of color palettes. If I am doing something where I have a few minutes to kill, this is a nice, creative change from scrolling through social media
  • Others: Overall I’m not really into phone games but occasionally I’ll play Word Crack, Sudoku and good old Solitaire. Sorry, no Candy Crush addiction over here.

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Alright, now that I’ve shared my phone, what am I missing? What other apps should I try?