Pictured above: My Instagram “Top 9,” which is always fun to see!
Happy last day of the decade! Hope you’ve all had a wonderful few days with loved ones and are ending the year (decade!) on a high note.
Every year I consider doing a favorite things post like this and somehow don’t end up pulling anything together, but it’s finally happening! Carly always does a great job with hers and it reminded me that there were so many things I want to formally document from 2019. This year wasn’t without some challenges but I’m feeling grateful for so many things including health, family, friends who make long distance friendships work, Mille + J, and new professional opportunities. 2020 is already shaping up to be kind of insane but I’m going into it with a positive attitude and know that while things are going to be challenging at times, this also has the potential to be one of the best years in awhile. (There’s some stuff in the works that I can’t totally share yet but will as soon as I can!) Sending you good vibes and the best for the new year :)
ONE // Needlepointing
In an effort to find a hobby not requiring some kind of screen, I fell into needlepointing early this fall and feel like this is something that’s here to stay! If you’re in the DC area, I seriously recommend heading to The Point of It All and getting a lesson with Laurie–everyone at the shop is so great and Laurie is a great teacher!
TWO // Southwest Companion Pass
The Southwest Companion Pass has allowed one of us to fly for free (when we fly Southwest together) and has saved us thousands of dollars this year. We utilized it to travel to Maine, twice to Rhode Island, three times to Dallas, twice to Florida, and for our flight to Hartford for Christmas–so saved the cost of nine round trip tickets! Travel is going to look a little lighter in 2020 but we already have a trip to New Orleans booked in February!
THREE // Rothy’s + Dudley Stephens
Two big sartorial favorites! I first discovered Rothy’s three or so years ago when a coworker at my last job wore them almost daily. She raved about them and I thought the concept was cool but didn’t want to spend nearly $150 on a pair of flats at the time. Since then, my shopping habits have shifted fully into the fewer-better camp and I’ve made it a point to invest in some high-quality pieces that cost more upfront but are built to last. While Rothy’s aren’t particularly supportive on your feet, they are still extraordinarily comfortable and the machine washable component was a major selling point for me. It’s amazing how you can literally throw them in the washing machine and they come out like-new! I currently only have this pair but these are next on my list. (Sizing note: I go up a half size in both of those styles!)
I’ll keep my love for Dudley Stephens short and sweet since most of you probably think I sound like a broken record by now–while I’ve shopped so much less this year than I have in years past, I’ve added several Dudley items to my closet and find them to be among the best investments I’ve ever made. They’re so easy to dress up or down, come in so many different colors, are a women-owned business, and are made with recycled water bottles. You can read more about them here and my interview with the founders here!
FOUR // A job change
More to come on this front, but I’m in the process of making a career-related switch that, quite frankly, isn’t something I couldn’t even have dreamed up if I tried. There have been several pinch me moments in the past two months and I wish I could go back and reassure 23 year-old Monica that it’s true, things really will work out and professionally, your late 20s are way better than your early 20s.
FIVE // More decluttering, less shopping
My big regret here is not tracking how many things I bought because I can safely say I shopped less this year than I have in countless years past! It’s true that living in a small space makes you accumulate less, but I’ve also increasingly felt the need to be surrounded by fewer things–to the point where clutter can adversely affect my mood. I’m not proud of that hangup per se, but am happy to have further prioritized getting rid of things that don’t “spark joy” and losing nearly all desire to arbitrarily shop + buy things for myself as a hobby.
SIX // More reading
I’ve been prioritizing reading for fun more in the past few years and continued to do so in 2019. I need to go back and count but I think I read about 30 books–not amazing, but certainly more than in years past! A related goal in the new year is going to be to abandon books that don’t capture my interest within the first quarter or so…I’ve tried to chug through a few that I ultimately gave up on and find that books like this just end up putting me in a reading rut. (P.S. You can see my recent reads here!)
SEVEN // Walking > everything else
I’ve always loved to walk but took extra care to pass up rideshares/taxis/public transportation in 2019. Hitting 10k steps a day has been a regular thing! It’s definitely helped to have a four mile round trip walking commute for the past nearly year and a half and having a dog and living in a city with no yard guarantees you’ll be clocking at least a couple thousand per day. J and I make it a priority to walk vs. take public transportation or a ride share when it comes to errands, meals out, and meeting up with friends–sometimes it takes extra coordination but knowing the steps we take and money we save makes it well worth any hassle.
EIGHT // Taking care of my back
I’ve had pretty consistent back pain for years and was at a loss of what to do on my own without getting professional care. I briefly saw a physical therapist two years ago but stopped after five sessions (it’s expensive, even with insurance!) and was generally at a loss on how to fix things. I finally committed to change this year after a neighbor referred me to her good friend who is a physical therapist near us in DC. We totally clicked and I’ve seen some great improvement in the past few months. In addition to budgeting for a massage every eight or so weeks, I’m also about to try a few personal training sessions at our gym and am cautiously optimistic that things with my back are finally on the mend!
NINE // More comfort in the kitchen
I grew up in a mostly vegetarian household and until this past year, never committed to getting a handle on some of the basics like roasted chicken, fish, grilling, etc. I’m happy to report that J and I now regularly bake fish for dinner, roasted our first chicken thanks to Claire’s go-to recipe + guidance, and used our building’s grill several times last summer. We also sometimes make our own salad dressings and sauces, and have cooked two Thanksgiving dinners ourselves. Here’s to many more culinary adventures in the coming year!
TEN // Our engagement!
Saving the best for last–our engagement! I wrote about it here and can’t believe that we finally get to go from talking about our future wedding to actually planning it. We’ve been together for almost nine years and it still feels surreal that things are even more “official,” ya know? The big day isn’t till 2021 and I’m really glad we have some extra time to savor this special chapter! My first wedding post is here–much more to come :)