Tomorrow I turn 31 and well the first chapter of my 30s was not all that I had imagined. I didn’t accomplish as much as I hoped. Most of the positive, healthy habits I set out to establish eventually fell through. And I ultimately spent a lot of the year lost, frustrated, and sad. But this is a new year, the start of another trip around the sun and an opportunity to try to do things better, again.
However, before I set off on 30s Part II, I thought it would be fun to look back on the positive things that made this year. No, you read that right there was no word missing there. I didn’t mean to say “made this year great” or “good” or “tolerable.” This is just a list of things that made this year, this year. Some of the things are things that made this year good, some are accomplishments, some are experiences, some are milestones, and some are just ways I filled a lot of time.
So before I turn 31 I present to you a list of 30 things that made my 30th year in no particular order, sorted to the best of my ability.
1. The Amazing Race
I’m not sure when this past year the husband and I started watching The Amazing Race, I believe it was somewhere around the time we canceled Netflix, but as I write this we just finished watching Season 23. What started as just something to have on as background noise, has become a show we look forward to watching and even get so caught up in that sometimes we have to limit ourselves. We have become full-blown fans, with favorite teams (I personally love The Cowboys and the Globetrotters) and we will spend time debating game strategy and arguing over who we think will win. In every leg one episode, we carefully watch and analyze team introductions to make guesses on who will be eliminated first, who will do well, and who will win.
2. The Big Bang Theory
Kind of like The Amazing Race, The Big Bang Theory was not supposed to become a big part of our lives. I started watching The Big Bang Theory for two reasons. One, because I’ve seen almost all the episodes in one way or another on flights or with my mom, but never in order, and two it seemed like a good show to put on to unwind or while I cleaned house. But, somewhere about midway through season one, it started to grab my husband’s attention and slowly became our go-to show to watch every night while we ate dinner. I’ve always thought the show was cute and entertaining, but prior to this my husband hated the show, but clearly, he quickly changed his mind and jumped on board. Today he even quotes different things from the show.
3. Just Eat It
Since COVID started, I’ve been on a big documentary kick and I probably enjoy watching documentaries more than anything else right now. Clearly, I especially enjoy watching documentaries related to the environment, sustainability, and health, so I was pretty curious when I saw this documentary pop up on Hulu for me, but I didn’t think it would impact me as much as it did. Just Eat It, was probably my Kiss the Ground of 2021, in the way, it impacted me, stayed with me, and motivated me to make changes.
4. Devin But Better
I mentioned Devin But Better last year. This Youtuber and her channel are what inspired my “20 Things That Made 2020 Tolerable,” but continuing after that, Devin’s channel played a big part in my year this year. Not only did I look forward to her videos coming out and regularly washed dishes to them, this year on her channel she did what she called a “Year of the Body” Challenge and every month focused on one way to improve herself. She did a month of abs, of masturbation, of face yoga (more on that later) and so much more! And although I only tried a few (face yoga), watching her videos inspired me to improve upon myself and more importantly love myself through the process. She also inspired me to share the things I try, even when I fail. And overall Devin just has an amazing, inspiring personality that I’d probably watch do anything.
5. Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
I listen to podcasts all the time! I’ve been listening to the Titus Podcast since he launched back when Obama was still president, that was probably my first podcast and I’ve picked up other regulars over the years, but this year my podcast library exploded. Some were ok, some I ditched after an episode and some were amazing.
Now that’s kind of a strange introduction to talk about this podcast because I actually started listening to Armchair Expert right before leaving Hawaii. A co-worker at my hotel recommended it and I was hooked on it immediately. So why is Dax on my list for this year? Well, basically because I spent a lot of time with this in my ears this year. Although I listen to many different podcasts regularly, I found myself coming back more frequently to Dax Shepard and his Armchair Expert episodes. There are two big reasons for this. Armchair Expert puts out the most episodes a week than my other podcasts, most are weekly at best, and they are long. Every episode of Armchair Expert is over an hour, usually well over an hour. The second reason I kept coming back to Armchair Expert was the content itself. Dax and Monica (Monica is the co-host with Dax Shepard) interview all different kinds of people from actors to musicians, politicians to doctors, phycologists and authors and athletes, and everything in between. The guests on this show are so diverse and the interviews are so good that even if I have no idea who the guest is or any interest in the topic I’m always drawn in, I’m always forced to think, and I always walk away having learned something new.
6. Footprint Coalition with Robert Downey Jr.
Another podcast! This one debuted this year and only had a few episodes, but I loved it. How could you not love Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) interviewing professionals and discussing issues revolving around climate change and sustainability?
7. Alan Watts
My entire life I heard the name Alan Watts. I knew my dad loved him and listened to his talks. I always heard my mom complain that he would make her listen to him and he would meditate while she would fall asleep. After my dad passed away I pretty much stopped hearing the name Alan Watts. Then, during an episode of Ear Biscuits (another podcast regular of mine) one of the co-hosts made a recommendation to check out Alan Watts (at the end of every Ear Biscuits episode they make a rec of something to read, watch, try, just check out in general). I’m not sure why, but this time I decided maybe I should check this guy out and I was immediately hooked. Listened to just a few of Watts’s talks I can see where my dad got a lot of his ideas from and why this man appealed to my father so much. I’ve only scratched the surface of Alan Watts, but I plan on continuing this exploration because I too am hooked.
8. Drama Queens
And one more podcast, Drama Queens. I am a crazy One Tree Hiller. I have watched One Tree Hill in its entirety three times, maybe four and I’ve recently started again. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when it was announced the girls of One Tree Hill – Payton (Hilarie Burton Morgan), Brooke (Sophia Bush), and Hailey (Bethany Joy Lenz) would be teaming up to do a re-watch podcast of the show. It premiered a few months ago and has not disappointed.
9. Billy Joel
To try and save on some unnecessary expenses this year the husband and I decided to cancel our Spotify membership and that forced me to explore Pandora because although I love Spotify if you have to use free versions Pandora is usually better. Well thanks to my Pandora use and my regular usage of a Guardians of the Galaxy Station, I discovered this year I’m a Billy Joel fan.
10. Walker Hayes
I listened to a lot of music this year, but one of the artists I probably listened to the most was Walker Hayes. This isn’t a new artist for me. I started listening to Hayes on my long bus rides home in Hawaii and I’ve listened to him continually since, but it feels like this year he’s been everywhere. He released a lot of really awesome singles, blew up on Tiktok and his upbeat lyrics just kept me going during this past crazy year.
11. Kiss The Ground – The Book
If you read my last post, you know I didn’t do a great job sticking to my resolution of reading one book a month, but I did manage to read a few and one of my favorites was Kiss the Ground. This book is connected to the documentary and actually came out first. So if you have seen Kiss the Ground, and enjoyed it you will love this book too. The book covers even more topics and goes further in-depth then the documentary did. I loved reading this book and it totally changed my shopping habits (just one way the book affected me).
Greenlights, the Matthew McConaughey memoir is another book I read this year and I loved it. I read it probably faster than I have read any book in recent years. I literally could not put it down. I like Matthew McConaughey, I enjoy his movies and thought it was super cool to see him at a military event I attended in Hawaii, but I wouldn’t say I’m a super fan. I really probably would have never even thought to pick up his book, until I heard him on an Armchair Expert episode. On the episode, he shared some of his stories and the motivation behind the book, and immediately I was like, “Ok, if this is what he’s sharing to get you to read, what the hell else is in this book?” And I was not disappointed. McConaughey shares some crazy stories! However, beyond being really entertaining the book is also inspiring and encouraging. The book makes you feel like you can find a way to do anything and encourages you to spin even the worse situations. Even if you aren’t a McConaughey fan, this book is worth checking out.
This year my husband and I perfected our chicken taco and taquito recipe. With that, we are also really damn close to perfecting our guacamole (the key is fresh organic avocados). I was going to share the recipe, but as I write this I realize it might be a good blog post all on its own, so I’ll just share that we season our chicken with a wing rub recipe we found online. We use five or six different seasonings and season the crap out of the chicken. We then pan fry it, shredded it, and throw it back in the pan to suck up the juices. We use the same meat for both our tacos and our taquitos and it has become one of our favorite go-to meals this year.
14. Hot Chickz
Prior to COVID, my husband and I loved trying new places to eat, non-chain mom-and-pop type places were our go-to. I even had a whole blog dedicated to that. But, when COVID hit, besides our desire to support local and eat local, we also were too cheap to pay a delivery fee on top of the money we were already spending and didn’t like the idea of getting out of the car. Sadly because of that, we started eating more fast food and less local small shops (I hate myself for this). But as things have slowly started to open up we have tried to get back into trying new places. Hot Chickz was one of our favorite discoveries and I could write all about them, but I’ve already done that, so instead, I’ll just recommend you click here to read all about it!
This past year I discovered kombucha and I am obsessed. Depending on what you search, and what study you look at, you will find all the different pros and cons to drinking kombucha. Some people say it does nothing, others say it may even be bad for you, and then on the other side, you can find what feels like an almost endless list of benefits, from weight loss to depression, clearing up your skin and even cancer prevention. One thing that is true is kombucha is a good source of probiotics and probiotics are good for gut health and gut health is important for overall health. That is what inspired me to try kombucha. I wanted the probiotics and the help with my gut health, because, although never major, I’m always having stomach problems.
Kombucha seems to have done what I wanted it to do. Since I started drinking kombucha regularly, my stomach and things gut related have gotten better, but besides that I just feel better overall. It may be real, it may be a placebo, but I’m hooked on kombucha and actually don’t feel as good on the days I don’t have any. Besides gut improvement (and being less bloated which is probably related) I feel like I have more energy, on days I’m feeling sluggish or under the weather it can turn that around. It’s hard to explain exactly what feels better, but I just feel better.
16. Cal Poly Farm Store
Gardening really became important this year and this year we discovered the Cal Poly Farm Store and nursery. Cal Poly, this past year, became one of our favorite places to shop for produce and to buy new seedlings. We bought new pitaya plants and almost all our tomatoes and peppers this season from Cal Poly. This winter all of our greens came from Cal Poly as well.
This is another one I don’t need to go into too much detail with because I have a whole other post all about this. I will just say, besides being a failed experiment, we went a little tomato crazy this year.
Something I did write about, but really go into this year, related to gardening, pickling. This summer we did so much pickling. We only pickled two things, but we pickled a lot. We started pickling our jalapenos to make them have a longer life and we grew little cucumbers just to make homemade pickles. One of the biggest things I’m looking forward to this summer? Fresh pickles.
19. Menstrual Cup
Best switch I’ve ever made. Click here to read all about it!
20. Weighted Blanket
Although not properly diagnosed, I have pretty bad anxiety and on top of that I usually have a pretty hard time getting a good night’s sleep. That is how weighted blankets came onto my radar. Although there is a long list of benefits to using a weighted blanket, one of the biggest claims to fame is helping to soothe anxiety and better sleep. They can be a little pricey if you are on a budget so it took me a while to pull the trigger, but once I did I was so happy and never looked back. My weighted blanket does really help my anxiety, any time I start to feel myself spiraling I crawl under it and after a bit of time I find myself calmer and able to re-focus. When it comes to sleep, I can’t use it every night because my husband is a very particular sleeper, but as soon as he leaves for work, if I have time for another 30 minutes or so in bed I threw it on and have the best nap of my life.
If you struggle with anxiety or sleep and have been curious about weighted blankets, it has helped me and I recommend giving it a try.
This is another item that I’ve already listed in a previous post that you can check out here, but this year we decided to try out a bidet. One of the best decisions we have made and I can’t imagine living without one ever again.
We bought a humidifier while we were battling COVID at the start of the New Year, mainly as a way to help us breathe better, but our humidifier has become a staple in our lives ever since. I love sleeping with the humidifier at night. I’ll add some lavender drops to help me relax and some eucalyptus or rosemary to help with my sinuses and it is amazing. The humidifier has also come in handy as our number of indoor plants have grown. Many of the indoor plants we have enjoy a bit of humidity, but our bathroom space is limited. Thanks to the humidifier, any indoor plant we bring home that needs a bit of extra humidity finds a home in our bedroom.
COVID is still raging and for most of the year the country has been shut down almost fully so we haven’t gotten to travel much. However, early this past year we managed to escape California and travel to Iowa/Illinois for my husband’s best friend’s wedding. The wedding was taking place in a small town on the border of Illinois and Iowa, so we flew into Chicago, which I’ve never been to, and then rented a car drove, I think about 2/3 hours down to Burlington, Iowa where we were staying. It was so awesome to get to see Chicago, even if we only got to see it from the airport and then drive through a brand new state. The Airbnb we stayed in was one of the most adorable places I have ever seen, in fact, all of Burlington was adorable. On top of that, it was so amazing to get to see all of my husband’s military buddies again and celebrate the start of his best friend’s new life chapter.
Oh and I know I said it was the beginning of the year, but I didn’t point out it was the first week of February and we got hit with a huge snowstorm, so that was fun (no sarcasm I like that kind of chaos).
24. Women’s March
This past weekend marked the 49th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade and the 5-year anniversary of the Women’s March. This year I attended my first Women’s March and it was one of the greatest experiences of not just this year, but my adult life. Click here to read about it!
Not much to say here except the COVID vaccine came out and I got vaccinated. Yay!
This year I went back to school. It’s been a challenge and I’m not sure what I’m doing yet, but at least I’m doing something. Initially, I went back thinking it would be to get my real estate license, but that turned out to not be for me. I then dabbled in some interior design, another no. Now, I’m just taking classes that appeal to me and can add some skills to my resume. Also, throughout this, I’ve been taking agricultural classes to help with the garden and my future farm.
You can read more about me going back to school, here.
27. Face Yoga
I had never heard of face yoga until I watched this Devin But Better video.
After this video, I got curious and did a little of my own research and then found some YouTube videos to try. I still have not found my person or my routine, but things do feel better when I start my morning with face yoga. As crazy as it may sound, I didn’t think it would do anything, but my face feels more awake and more perky. I feel more awake. It does really invigorate the skin, I notice it especially around my eyes and in my cheeks. Since I haven’t been consistent with this yet, I’m not sure it visibly makes a difference, but this is definitely something I plan to continue exploring.
This past year I became a 4Ocean Ambassador. Now I could try to explain to you what 4Ocean is and does, but this video does a better job than I ever could.
As I’ve mentioned many many times in this blog, I’ve always been environmentally aware, but living in Hawaii really opened my eyes, especially to ocean health and plastic pollution. Walking the beaches, every morning I could see the microplastics that washed up on shore. It was disgusting and heartbreaking. That’s around the time I discovered 4Ocean and that is why I was so excited to become an ambassador for a company trying to make a change.
If you would like to purchase one of their products and help with the ocean clean-up efforts, as well as help me out a little (I’ll receive 10% commission from every purchase made using my link) you can click here.
29. Second-Hand Selling
This year, in an attempt to be more environmentally conscious we stopped donating our old clothes and items and started selling them online. I talk about this in one of my past sustainability changes posts.
While I didn’t expect much from it, we now donate almost nothing and attempt to sell anything we no longer need. I’ll post it up on Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and Poshmark and then stick it in storage until it sells.
30. No AC
This year we learned that we are better with no AC, at least where we currently live. The home we live in now has no AC and well we’re in SoCal and it can get hot! After sweating our asses off last summer, we decided to take my father-in-law’s gift of an old window AC. After installing it lasted less than a week before we ripped it out. Yeah, the cool air was nice, but at night when the sun went down we missed the fresh air and the breeze from our window. We decided we’d rather sweat for a few hours during the day than lose the freedom of fresh air at night.