For better or worse, 2020 had us spending more time at home than ever before. While we all got antsy, some upsides were putting a bit more effort into making our house a home and spending more time cooking. Dare I say finding new recipes and making dinner every night was even fun?! For a while…
What 2020 really drove home for me though is that it’s not always the fanciest things that have the biggest impact. Sometimes it’s simply displaying a piece your child made at daycare, solving a problem after running into a roadblock, or elevating your everyday basics that make your house really feel like “home” and put a smile on your face when you walk through the door.
Below are my best purchases and discoveries of 2020 from home to food and recipes. The things that proved to make all the time spent indoors more enjoyable, beautiful, or tasty.
Honey + Hank Napkins
The best! I’ve mentioned my love for Honey + Hank products so many times it’s not even funny, but they truly are the best and the napkins are next level. I stocked up on some more this year. I got the Fifty States Leopard napkins in “powder blue smoke” and I love that the color coordinates with the California Coral ones I already have in “navy” while being a totally different print.
How it started: the multi-surface cleaner. How it’s going: the hand soap, body wash, stain remover, laundry detergent, dishwasher pods, organic body lotion. Safe to say I’m obsessed with Puracy products! The ingredients are all clean and non-toxic, the scents are all light and delightful, and the products WORK. I’ve honestly never used a better stain spray.
It’s remarkable what some paint can do to transform a space. And for cheap! Just know that painting is really 95% prep work. The actual painting doesn’t take long at all, it’s the prep that sucks your time and energy. But it’s worth it!
Our house was a bit of a mess when we moved in (think lots of yellow and wallpaper in the bathroom that extended across the ceiling) so we painted the living room, the front room (twice, actually), the kitchen, the hallway, both of the kids’ rooms, and the kids’ bathroom.
Would you be interested in a blog post of what colors we used throughout the house? If so, I can put that together.
You know you’re an adult when you get excited about new towels… but these are ones worth getting excited for! I’m uber picky when it comes to bath towels. I mean, returned all the ones we registered for at the recommendation of many. To me, it is extremely difficult to strike a balance between plush and absorbent. Either they are so fluffy it feels like you’re simply moving water around your body or they’re kind of rough but they do the job of getting you dry.
By some form of sorcery, Weezie towels have solved this age-old issue. Fluffy, absorbent, cloud-like towels that are honestly a little luxury for my everyday.
We went with the Starter Pack (plus I threw in some of the washcloths because they are my FAVE) in white with white piping and no embroidery. A “boring” choice since they have so many beautiful options but we aren’t necessarily sure what our next bathroom might look like and our current bathroom is just a strange style so it was best to go simple. By going with the Starter Pack bundle, it was slightly discounted compared to if we had bought everything separately.
Joe’s DIY Artwork
These hands down get the most compliments of anything when people come into our home and people are always SHOCKED when I tell them Joe did them. Yep, on the eve of his 2nd birthday I had this idea for art to fill a large wall in our living room that had been bare for months (actually what’s even worse is I had the frames hanging empty – embarassing). It was so easy, he did it with minimal help from me and it makes me so happy to see his handiwork hanging every day!
Threshold Warwick TV Stand
I’m letting you in on a secret, most TV stands are 54″ and if you have a wide TV or need to fill a wider wall, that just isn’t long enough. So here’s the trick: two cabinets placed right next to each other! I initially had my heart set on this one, but in order to get the extra inches I did two of these side by side and get compliments all the time!
I wish I had a better picture, but honestly there’s constantly toys littered in front of it so this at least gives you an idea.
Threshold French Country Wall Mirror
This mirror was a very pleasant surprise Target find! It feels substantial, doesn’t warp you, and is large – I am still shocked it is under $75! I have it sitting atop my dresser but my friend Sarah has it on her fireplace mantle and it looks equally amazing.
Etsy Candle Sconces
Funny story: One day I went antique shopping with my sister-in-law and before we went in we discussed what we were looking for so we could keep an eye out for one another. I mentioned a few things and then noted that I had seen these sconces on Etsy and thought they would look really nice on either side of my mirror, so maybe something similar to them. Within minutes she calls me over, “Aren’t these like the ones you had found on Etsy?” Literally the exact same!
But then I checked the price and it said “$98/pair” which honestly for an antique didn’t sound absolutely crazy but I was like, I could swear the one on Etsy was like $15 each. So I pulled them up again, only to find they had sold. It dawned on me to search for something similar in the search bar and to my surprise, TONS of these are available and sure enough, they’re around $20 each. So I ordered two on the spot, in the antique store!
They really complement the mirror and help fill some of the space as the wall is quite large and wide. My little Etsy score!
IKEA Droemsk Vase
This vase was an impulse purchase when we were there shopping for a storage cabinet, and it ended up being a great $8 spent! I don’t have fresh flowers in the house often, but when I do I was always discouraged with the vases I owned. My dream vase is this one but it’s well out of my price range. What I love most about it is how it cuts in at the top, which makes it so the flowers don’t splay all over and look sparse (do you know what I’m saying?) Well, this one has that quality at under $10 and I’ve been so pleased with it!
A local KC find. Verdant is the most beautiful plant shop with extremely reasonable prices (one of the florists told me they hope to bring you expert florals at Trader Joe’s prices) but they also make the most i.n.c.r.e.d.i.b.l.e. smelling candles.
What makes them extra unique is that they have a “refill program” which I think is genius. Basically, you buy the first candle for $28 (very reasonable I must say) and from then on, you can either bring it back to the store when empty or mail it back for a small fee, and you can pick a new one for just $15! The vessels are then re-used, cutting down on excess waste and saving you money along the way!
So far I have tried the Anjou Pear and the Amber Santal and I really want to get the White Magnolia one for Spring. If the scent you want shows as “in-store only”, DM them on Instagram and see if you can order through the store. I did that for a Christmas gift when the one I wanted wasn’t available online!
HealthMate Enrich 3 Infrared Sauna
I am well aware that this one is over the top, but truly truly it is one of the best purchases we have EVER made. I suffer from depression and in the colder months, it can get pretty severe. Matt had been hearing the benefits of infrared saunas and thought this could really help me. It was clearly meant to be because after he did the research, he went on Craigslist and there was one just 20 minutes away from us at a substantial discount.
To make it even better, they listed it as the 2 person model but it turned out to be the 3 person! This thing is AMAZING. I cannot even tell you how much this has helped. There is nothing better than running an errand in the bitter cold and knowing you can go home and bake at 130°.
If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or SAD, I highly recommend looking to see if you can find an infrared sauna second-hand!
And no, I don’t normally go in fully clothed in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, but this one from when we first got it set up is the only appropriate photo lol.
Is it dramatic to say a pickle changed my life? Because I think these pickles changed my life.
This one actually DID change my life. If you are pregnant and experiencing nausea or dehydration, pause now and order these. These electrolyte drinks kick Gatorade to the curb with just 4 grams of organic sugar, no wacky artificial colors, and over 1,000 mg of electrolytes (compared to 275 mg in your standard electrolyte drink).
They come in powder packets for on the go now which is brilliant; throw some in your bag so you are never without them. The original bottled version is still my personal favorite, but they have discontinued them in an effort to cut down on single-use plastic. You might still be able to find some at your local Whole Foods though until they sell through!
Oh, and you definitely don’t need to be pregnant to love these. I find that on days I have been running around and not fueling properly and my blood sugar feels crazy, if I drink of of these I feel SO much better. I always keep them on hand.
My personal favorite is the Blackberry Lemon!
I’d tried these years ago and didn’t like them, but decided to give them another shot after listening to the episode with the founder on How I Built This. Not sure what changed, but I have been OBSESSED ever since.
The problem may have been that I initially thought they would be like La Croix but they’re more like a watered down, less sweet version of the San Pellegrino flavored drinks, if that makes sense.
I try to wait to find them on sale at our local grocery. My favorites are lime, grapefruit, half tea/half lemon, and raspberry lime.
High Noon and Press Selzters
Step aside, White Claw. Go home, Truly. These two seltzers are the only ones that matter!
Both High Noon and Press are way less carbonated so they almost have more of a cocktail-like drinking quality. High Noon is made with real fruit making them really juicy and delicious – I say they are like the Spindrift of spiked seltzers. Press seltzers come in really sophisticated combinations like Grapefruit Cardamom and Blackberry Hibiscus. They’re creative flavors you won’t see in any other seltzers. Neither of these has any “fake” taste.
High Fiber Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
These became a staple in our household early in 2020. In fact, I love them so much I wrote a blog post with the recipe! I adapted a recipe to make it higher in fiber and protein so I could feel good about eating them for breakfast, but they are honestly just as good for a snack or even dessert.
Defined Dish Chicken Street Tacos
A recipe I discovered in quarantine that has now become a staple in our house. I’ve even got my family hooked on these chicken street tacos now!
These truly rival authentic street tacos. It’s partly the seasonings but mostly the method of cooking the meat. You sear both sides, cooking it through, let it rest, cut it up and re-sear it. That way all the sides get charred and crispy!
This is a quick recipe you can easily do after work (that means a lot coming from me who hates to spend more than 5 minutes on dinner).
I usually do at least a double (honestly usually a triple batch) when I cook these. I know that might sound excessive but if I’m going to do the work I want to have leftovers and I find that the recipe doesn’t leave much leftover. We will then munch on it throughout the week as tacos, atop salad, or in bowls. Super versatile and so nice to have on hand for a 30 second lunch since it reheats so nicely!
My only note/complaint is that it does take longer for me to cook than what the recipe says, but that tends to be the case with every recipe I ever follow haha so it could easily be user error. Still reasonable as I noted above, but do want that to be known!
Defined Dish Sour Cream and Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
Another quarantine discovery we still love and another one I got my family obsessed with. In fact, my dad liked these chicken enchiladas so much that he ate so many he made himself sick lollll.
Personally I think it necessary to use Mrs. Renfro’s green salsa to give it a good kick, but Matt thinks any green salsa would be delicious and I’m sure that’s true.
This is another recipe you can easily whip together after work and reheats well for lunch the next day!
If you missed it, I previously shared my top fashion, fitness and clean beauty purchases of 2020 and I still stand by all of my top purchases of 2019! Still to come, the best purchases of the year for the kids!