2020 Goals, Where Are We?

As 2020 comes to end, it dawned on me that I had better start thinking up some new goals for 2021…and oh yeah, reflect on my 2020 ones. This year was definitely not what I was expecting, in fact, most of the things I was planning for were completely thrown out the window to sit inside and wash my hands every three seconds. I still stand by the fact that we should have wrote off all goals and the such for 2020, but after doing some reflecting, I did have some achievements this year, while maybe smaller or more personal. I did get a cat, which is kind of like a life goal achieved, so let’s say I excelled at my goals for the year. Overall, here are my 2020 goals and my reflections on them:

  1. Save money by becoming a more mindful consumer. I did make more of an effort to pay attention to materials and brand missions as well as purchase secondhand on Poshmark. Did I cut back on spending overall? Next question.
  2. Read more. I read somewhere north of 25 books in 2019, I am currently at 57 for 2020. CHECK.
  3. Make Friends. So due to COVID, this didn’t really happen. I also got very lazy and well, not much going on here. I feel like this was a broad one, I don’t know just making excuses at this point.
  4. Make 5 difficult recipes. I roasted a chicken and made Ina’s Spaghetti and Meatballs. I also made croissants and cinnamon rolls. So close to 5, but happy with what I did make. In general, I cooked meals 4-5 times a week (usually easy Mom-blog recipes), but still made an effort here. Happy with that!
  5. Be Present. I gave up my social media for about 1.5 months, which was great. I also tried to spend less time on my phone while with others. This all went downhill about October-mid November, but who can blame me?
Aurora 😊

While I didn’t achieve everything, I am proud of the things I did accomplish this year from my goals. I am also really proud of myself for hitting goals I didn’t even set. Other things I did in 2020 that I didn’t plan on:

  1. Worked out 4-5 times a week. When quarantine started, I was so nervous about getting lazy and not being active, so I signed up for obe and honestly, changed my whole fitness routine. Most of my need for working out was more of a mental need, but I do feel stronger overall and see more toning on my limbs. Here’s to a healthy body! I’m trying to hit 200 classes by the end of the year!
  2. Watched less Netflix/Hulu/HBO/etc. See: 57 books read.
  3. Started therapy. I was really feeling it about mid way through the year and I knew my mood and general demeanor were not normal, so I asked for help. And it did really help. I would highly recommend for anyone who’s afraid to step out there and talk to someone, it’s scary but it’ll be worth it (for anyone curious, I used Talkspace due to COVID; would recommend, makes it easy to fit into your schedule or as needed).
  4. Wore less makeup/cared less about looks. Okay, so I feel like this is only because of quarantine, but in general I’m not as focused on how I look (i.e. going out in public with/without makeup) and go most days without makeup on/hair done. I have focused more on skincare these last few months, which is way more important. Also, haven’t had my hair color done in like 6+ months and I don’t really care anymore about how bad my roots look?
  5. Less hung up on mistakes. I am a perfectionist, and I get very easily hung up on mistakes. While I’m still working on this, I do see where I care less about not being perfect and giving myself slack for little things I might mess up or not do perfectly. See: started therapy.

Overall, I’m happy with how my year went (other than the obvious downfalls of 2020); I didn’t hit all the goals I set for myself, but I did accomplish other things I wasn’t expecting when I wrote my list in January.

What did you achieve in 2020, whether you set goals or not?

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 50

Another week gone by, and nothing overly exciting other than I tested negative for COVID. It’s the small things at this point tbh. I also got a chess set (I told you I was obsessed with The Queen’s Gambit), but I’m basically a grandmaster now. Here are the other things that got me through the week.

The only exciting thing this week, watching TV with Aurora
  1. UHM Shifty Swifty released ANOTHER surprise album this week and like, I don’t know, is she trying to kill us? Evermore is kind of dark and sad, like a goth folk album, IMO? But I love ‘Willow’ and ‘No Body, No Crime’ and ‘Ivy.’
  2. In other important news, we are getting a vaccine for COVID which is really exciting and gives us something to look forward to. But let’s not forget, until you get the vaccine personally, continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and avoid large gatherings. ALSO, because of this, I’m wearing a mask for the rest of my life.
  3. I don’t know about you guys, but I love three things… butter, cheese and potatoes. Half Baked Harvest put them altogether for what I’m only assuming is a delicious and tasty dish, Crispy Cheesy Potato Stacks. I haven’t made them, but they’re on my ‘to be made’ list. I mean the name alone is making me drool.
  4. Anyone remember Olivia Jade? You know, Aunt Becky’s daughter, for whom Aunt Becky bribed college admissions for and is now serving a term in federal prison for? Well, she was on Red Table Talk this week and it was so satisfying to watch a privileged white woman get knocked down a few pegs? I do think it was a fruitful conversation and I truly do hope she’s sorry. I also think it was an important conversation and I would recommend watching!
  5. I loved this article about non-traditional holiday celebrations where women have created their own customs. I love the self-affirming travel and pet sitting abroad. Uhm, I will gladly travel to another country for a week or two to watch someone’s dog, though I think my family would have some choice words to say…
  6. Assuming most people are having low-key Decembers. If that is the case, here are all the new things to stream this month, on ALL the platforms. I’m personally looking forward to “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle“, “Wonder Woman” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. “
  7. Your daily reminder there are still good people out there….a Florida man paid of the utility bills of 114 families who were at risk of being turned off which is just so heartwarming and lovely. I would also encourage folks to donate time or money to those less fortunate during this month. I personally buy presents for children through my church’s Angel tree, or through USPS Operation Santa. I’ve also donated to this GoFundMe for snacks and flower donations to hospitals in State College, PA for doctors and nurses. I also like to donate in someone’s name as their gift, because that’s what this season is about!!

Hoping you have a beautiful week ahead, loves !

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 49

Apologies for missing last week, Sunday got away from me and I didn’t get to post my seven links of the week. These last two weeks have been busy at work, hoping things start to calm down with the upcoming holiday. Speaking of which, is everyone ready for Christmas?! My shopping is basically done, I’ve been dancing to Christmas tunes and watching Christmas movies. Trying to stay somewhat normal during this weird year. Here are the things that got me through the week…

  1. I spent this week binging The Undoing. Have you watched? Did you correctly guess who committed the crime? I think I blamed literally every character at one point or another. A must watch! You can also stay at the beach house from the show on airbnb!
  2. It’s officially time for Christmas baking! If you want a quick, easy and fan favorite recipe, try these soft chocolate chip cookies (make sure to cream the butter and sugars for ~5 minutes). They are my go to and I whipped up a batch yesterday..
  3. Also in the theme of the season, here are some delicious sounding cocktails that are from TikTok. Uhm I’ll take the Cranberry Sake Cocktail pls.
  4. If you still need to shop for gifts, I encourage everyone to shop small! Here are some awesome small businesses to shop at this season. Might get that tea soap bar for myself…
  5. Lady boss of the week is Gitanjali Rao, the 15-year-old who was named Time’s Kid of the Year. We love seeing a young female scientist taking on problems like the Flint Michigan water crisis (@ US Government).
  6. I also spent this week, re-watching Ted Lasso. Seriously everyone needs to watch this show, these are 15 reasons why Ted will help you through the rest of 2020.
  7. Like I said, this year, the holidays are going to be a bit different, with less gatherings and travel. It’s naturally a stressful time of year, but dealing with COVID stress might leave some even more out of sorts than normal. Mental health and self care are still important to remember during this time. Remember to take care of yourself and your family.

Have a very happy and healthy week ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Christmas Gift Guide Pt. 2

I’m very close to done with my holiday shopping, just pending a few more presents. We all have that co-worker, neighbor or friend whom we love, but gets left at the bottom of our lists every year and inevitably, we need to scramble to find a gift for them (is this just me, this can’t just be me). I assume some of you have also been there, so I wanted to share some bundle gifts I usually keep in mind for those very special people or hey, maybe you can use these for the people who aren’t at the bottom of the list. All of these items also make really great stocking stuffers or last minute secret Santa gifts.

Help the Earth

Put a bow on 1 or 2 of the below items that are eco-friendly and silently send a message to your co-worker to use reusable things versus single use plastics.

Stojo Cup, $15.00 // Stasher Sandwich Bag, $11.99 // Travel Flatware, $14.00

In the same vain, you could send a message to your roommate who continually fills the bathroom trash can with make up rounds and cotton swabs, to shift into a more reusable beauty routine.

MakeUp Eraser, $20.00 // Boie Body Scrubber, $10.00 // Reusable Swab, $12.00

Self Care Sunday

2020 has been…woof. Everyone deserves some self care necessities to help them recover and relax from this wild ride.

Candle, $25.00 // Journal, $26.99 // The Little Book of Self Care, $8.99

All about Pop Culture

We all have that friend or co-worker who’s always up to date on the hottest show, movie or meme. I’m too much of a grandma to be this person, but I love these cute things to give as gifts.

Rosebud Motel Mug, $11.00 // Pencils with Sayings, $20.00 // Lightsaber Chopsticks, $13.00

On a Budget

Who says you have to buy anything? For co-workers, my go-to gift is baking a load of seasonal cookies, boxing them up and tying them with a bow. Here are my favorite recipes for the holidays, you can bet I’ll be making these a plenty.

Thumbprint Cobbler Cookies // Gingerbread Chai Cookies // Chai Sugar Cookies with Eggnog Icing // Maple Pumpkin Cookies // Cut Out Sugar Cookies (my favorite recipe)

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: November 2020

One more month left of 2020 and 5 more books to read. I feel like the books of this month were all about discovering your inner voice and following your own path? I liked most of these books this month, I don’t think you could go wrong with reading any of them!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was such a great story. It was a unique tale about Addie selling her soul to live forever, the only consequence being that no one can remember her. I loved it so much; however, I am a big historical fiction fan and I feel like the author could have delved more into the story of Addie doing exciting things, like being a spy in WWII, versus just mentioning it in passing? Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the author probably didn’t want to spend time researching history? Regardless, still would recommend the book!

A Woman is No Man might have been my favorite book of this month? It was a story about 3 generations of women within an Palestinian- American family and how their desires are quelled by their culture. I’ve seen some backlash on this book as it portrays a commonality of domestic abuse within Arab culture; this is a culture I am unfamiliar with personally, so I’m not sure, but as someone unfamiliar with Arab culture, it did give me the impression of domestic abuse being common? Just something to keep in mind . The central theme of the story is about women finding their voices, and finding the courage to follow that voice which I love!

The Star Crossed Sisters of Tuscany was a cute story about a family whose second born daughters have been cursed from finding love. A woman, her cousin and aunt set off for Italy to break the curse, uncovering family secrets along the way. It’s very much a story about learning to listen to your own heart and following your heart for your own path. Would be a cute Hallmark movie!

This Time Next Year was another cute, would be Hallmark movie. Minnie and Quinn were both born on New Year’s Day in the same hospital. They meet as adults and through flashbacks discover their paths have been intertwined their whole lives. Another story about learning to listen to your own heart and following your heart for your own path. Very cute, very fluff, quick read!

Anxious People was another knock out by Fredrik Backman, who also wrote, A Man Called Ove. This was another heartwarming story, this time about idiots. And a bank robbery turned hostage situation. Backman has this really unique ability to write about honesty of the human condition? It makes his books highly relatable and enjoyable, at least in my opinion.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

A Woman Is No Man: A Novel by Etaf Rum

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Overall, I would recommend Anxious People or A Woman is No Man from this month’s pile!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Christmas Gift Guide, Pt. 1

The Christmas season is upon us, can you believe it? I personally love Christmas; I’ve already started watching Hallmark Channel movies and have listened to one or two songs…okay fine, maybe many more than that. To be honest, though, my biggest pain every year is usually what to buy for everyone. I know gifts aren’t important, but I feel like I need to get something for everyone. I do most of my shopping online (even pre-COVID), but this year with longer than average shipping times and avoiding crowds in stores, it’ll be best to shop online early so you can make sure you get everything on time!

I made a list below of some things to check out for people on your list and I can personally confirm these are great gifts and worth every penny.

For Mom or Grandma– Nixplay Smart Photo Frame, $179.99

I bought this for my mom last year and she loves it so much. My brother and I are both connected to the frame via the Nixplay app so all we have to do is send the frame photos and viola! My mom has pictures of us (specifically my nephew, her grandbaby), and they play on an endless loop for her to update and enjoy. It’s definitely more of a splurge item, but it’s a gift that’s definitely worth it!

For Dad, Father-in- Law– Anker Wireless Charger (2 pk), $39.99

Why are dads so hard to shop for? I really never know what to get him, but I feel like both he and my mom could benefit from this gift. I’m entirely sure if either of them even know their phones can charge wirelessly? But I feel like he could keep one at home and one at his desk. I also wanted to say, I couldn’t find this product anywhere other than Amazon, so apologies there.

For Sister, Cousin, Friend–FabFitFun Box, $49.99 per box, or $179.99 per year (4 boxes)

This is the ultimate great gift; it’s like Christmas all over again every time a new box comes. I’ve gotten so many great products from mine across beauty, fashion and home. I also love it because if I get something in my box I don’t use or need, I can gift those items to other people as gifts. My friend and her daughter share the box, so it’s something they can bond over together. Really, the opportunities are endless!

For Brother or Boyfriend, NERF Guns, $34.99

Because, do men ever mentally age past 12? I’m 99% sure if I gave one of these to my boyfriend right now, he’d have a field day hitting people with soft nerf darts all day long. Don’t overthink it, men are simple, end of story.

For Grandparents–Unhide Lil Marsh Blanket, $65

Again, might seem like a lot to spend, and I technically got one for free for my grandmother, but it’s so cozy and she loves it so much. It actually might be one of the coziest blankets ever made. I would also recommend Unhide’s Marshmallow blanket, which is actually the fluffiest blanket ever made (I swear, I own a lot of blankets, and it’s the best one out there); however, if you’re on a budget, the Lil Marsh will do wonders as well. If you sign up for FabFitFun like I mentioned above, there’s a Lil Marsh in the current box, so you could kill two birds with one stone!

Aunt, Mother-in-Law– Advent Wine Tree, $55.00 (+ cost of wine bottles)

Love this idea for your wine loving family and friends. This also comes in an option for K-Cups and beer bottles, so could be bought for multiple folks to enjoy all season long and re-use in the future. This is also from a small business, so really, just an all around fun gift that keeps on giving.

For Yourself– The Always Pan, $145

This pan is actually a miracle, it’s so easy to use and clean, honestly, would recommend buying it for the ease of cleaning alone. Seriously, don’t forget yourself when you’re shopping this season, you deserve to treat yourself too! It’s also $50 off right now, so get one while you can!

Any good gift recommendations? Would love to get some ideas for this year!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann