If there was ever a year we need to consciously focus on the good, it is certainly 2020! Am I right?!
I started writing Debbie’s Favorite Things back in 2007. Over the years, Roy joined in on the fun. Then Ara came on board. And this year we have contributions from our whole office—as well as our kids (who are 16, almost 13, and 10 years old) and even our pup! 😉
Our Favorite Things is always the post I enjoy writing most each year—and many of you tell me that you eagerly await its arrival! This year’s post was not only fun for me to write, but it was so fun to read about everyone else’s favorites.
If you’d like to take a look back at our favorites from years past, you can do so below:
And while 2020 may not go down in history as anyone’s favorite year, maybe some of these things will become some of your favorites from 2020!
Make yourself a mug of tea, get cozy, and lets have some fun!
Debbie’s Favorite Things
1. Pimple Healing Patches. I don’t get pimples often, but when I do, they are deep painful cystic ones. If you’ve ever had one, you feel my pain—both emotionally and physically! These awesome, invisible patches adhere to your skin and help extract pus and impurities.
I love this trial two pack by Rael. The miracle patch works to calm, flatten and soothe. I use it right when I feel a pimple beginning to surface. For those awful deep pimples, I use the acne patch, which works on cystic acne by delivering tea tree oil and hyaluronic acid into the skin through microneedling.
2. The Ultimate Crepe Recipe. I’ve created a few recipes over the years that seem to rise above the rest. In the dessert realm, the recipes that “take the cake” are our Epically Epic Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (all three kids ask for these instead of cupcakes on their birthdays!) and our Mint Chip Popsicles (which shock me each time I make them; I can’t believe they taste as amazing as they do, given what I am putting in my blender!).
If I may pat myself on the back, these gluten & dairy-free crepes are that recipe of 2020. I am not gonna lie, there are weeks where we have made these three times! Recently I served them as the dessert for my mom’s 70th birthday and even those in attendance who eat gluten and dairy asked for seconds.
They are simple, versatile and so yummy. Only time will tell, but I believe that they will stand the test of time.
This is our favorite crepe pan and, in case you were wondering, we own two 😊
I came home and ordered one hammock and our 10-year old enjoyed it so much that we now own three. The only limiting factor for all five of us to have our own is the lack of trees on our property! We settled on the single hammock but they are also sold in double.
These Wise Owl Hammocks have provided countless hours of fun on the outdoor playdates that our daughter has had during COVID. We call her mixture of hammocking and acrobatics “hamacrobatics”—and it is often preformed with songs from Hamilton belted out at full volume!
4. Chewy Banana Dark Chocolate. If you have read any of my blogs over the past two decades (or know me at all), you already know that I am a huge fan of chocolate. I swear, it’s been passed down in my DNA 😉 .
These chewy chocolate covered bananas were an impulse purchase while waiting on a long grocery line, but I was instantly hooked. What’s not to like about a chewy dehydrated banana coated in dark chocolate? I have also tried the plain (chocolate coated is clearly better!) but have yet to sample the other varieties, such as peanut butter and coconut.
5. Pic Monkey. I started working for myself at 22-years old and have always appreciated that my work was a place that I could harness my creativity. This blog that you are reading has become a big part of that. Not a week goes by where I don’t use PicMonkey.
It’s a super-simple and affordable (costs less than $75 a year) design program. It is straight-forward and easy enough to make an amateur like me look like she knows a thing or two! I love watching the short tutorials and learning how to make and create various projects. Even our kids use it to design cards for friends & teachers, design their own D.I.Y pet tags, or just to play around and make a funny picture!
Dr. Roy’s Favorite Things
1. Queer Eye. Because 2020 has been such a strange year with so much challenge and hardship (for our family and the entire world) Debbie and I have consciously tried to take in as much goodness and love as we can—into our lives and our minds. At a friend’s recommendation, Debbie suggested we watch Queer Eye. I initially wrote it off saying, “I’m just not interested in fashion and makeover reality TV.” Fortunately, I gave it a shot, and it has been one of the things I look most forward to.
For me, Queer Eye demonstrates what amazing things can happen when an intense amount of love, personal attention, and joy is given to anyone—even in just five short days. It is a reminder that while people come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and have different life experiences, under it all we are simply human, and want to be loved and understood. Do yourself a favor and give it a watch.
2. Stow Wallet. Every year it seems that my brother-in-law turns me on to something so great it makes it on my favorite things list. This year it is the Stow wallet. It’s so light, compact, and clean. So simple yet effective for organizing your cards and money. Once you try the Stow, you will never go back.
3. Zero-Rise Running Shoes. Over that last few years, I have started really enjoying running. While I still enjoy mountain biking most, the simplicity of just throwing on my shoes, socks, and shorts is very freeing.
I’ve never liked the fit of most running shoes, so on a whim I tried on the Altra Timp trail running shoes and my toes fell in love. Altra shoes have a very wide toe box and what is called a zero-rise heel. This means that your foot is all on one level without an elevated heel like most shoes.
It does take some time to get used to, so start slowly to avoid unnecessary pain or injury. The first season running and hiking in them my calves were constantly sore, but now I don’t notice the difference at all. I wish all shoes fit like this.
4. Dandelatte (Dandelion Root Tea Latte). I have always loved the earthy, savory taste and feel of coffee—but at times it has been hard on my digestion. Debbie turned me on to Dandelion Root Tea and I really love it. While it’s not the same as coffee, it gives me a similar feeling, so naturally I tried to fix it up just like my favorite cup of Joe. I call it a Dandelatte.
I like it strong, so I use 2 tea bags for a 16 oz mug. I add almond or macadamia milk and honey—and man does it taste good! In addition to being naturally caffeine free, dandelion root has lots of health benefits for your digestive system including your liver and gallbladder.
5. Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. This book combines two of my favorite things: The Tao Te Ching and Wayne Dyer. The Tao is the first Eastern spiritual book I ever picked up and purchased while I was on my junior year abroad in Israel. I have read it about a dozen times and it just speaks to me. I love its simplicity and I have always found it a mystery.
Wayne Dyer has been called the father of modern-day spirituality and I have loved his books and way of teaching. Change Your Thoughts is his take on the Tao and I absolutely love it. It is amazing how teachings from over 2000 years ago can be so relevant today.
Ara’s Favorite Things
1. The Short Years. An app, that takes about 20 minutes each month in the first year of a child’s life, which allows you to write down specific details about that month and upload pictures from your smart phone. When each month is complete, the company prints sheets to showcase in the baby book binder they provide. The company also provides the binder. Hopefully, this makes it possible to successfully complete another baby book for baby number 2.
2. The Art of Gathering. This book challenged me to think about the next dinner party or gathering I host and ask: What is the purpose of this get together and how do I follow through with that intent from the first invitation to the last goodbye? How can we get the most out of our get togethers each time?
3. The Time-In Toolkit. As my daughter nears the corner towards two, I realized that I need help. I tell my patient families about toddler discipline often but when I practically execute this advice at my own house it is far more challenging (imagine that)! This toolkit provides strategies for mindful, positive parenting techniques. It also includes materials to create a Time-In space complete with a stuffed animal and an emotions chart!
4. The Plan to Eat App. Throughout the pandemic I have made it my goal to limit grocery store runs. Not only does this app streamline grocery shopping by pulling in all of the ingredients from each recipe you plan to make in a given time frame but it also allows you to upload or record all of your recipes electronically in one place. Goodbye recipe cards and hunting for that online recipe you once made but cannot seem to find again!
5. Bodylove Pilates. Through my first pregnancy I went to a fabulous prenatal Pilates class and did regular prenatal private sessions. Throughout the pandemic the idea of wearing a mask while working out pregnant, when already short of breath, sounds like torture. This fabulous online Pilates platform, with hundreds of pre and postnatal videos, has allowed me to workout mask free! Many classes are short and sweet but still leave me feeling like I worked hard, even if squeezed into the 20 minutes before my toddler wakes up.
Casey’s Favorite Things
1. Vegan Tomato Cayenne “Cheese” Slices. I haven’t been dairy-free for very long and I can’t lie, sometimes I miss cheese. The comfort of a tasty cheese is hard to replicate, but this “cheese” is unbelievable. If you’re dairy-free and looking for a step up (in my opinion) from Daiya, I strongly recommend Field Roast’s Vegan Chao Tomato Cayenne slices. They are made with coconut oil, starches, chao, and spices.
Chao is a Vietnamese word for fermented bean curd which isn’t the entirety of this “cheese”, but it does contain chao as an ingredient. I put it on my breakfast sandwiches almost every morning and it is absolutely fantastic on a grilled cheese with tomato soup. You can find it at Safeway, King Soopers, and any health food store.
2. Pangea Coffee Roasters. Pangea Coffee Roasters is a hand roastery in Golden. They have the most unique coffee beans and the freshest coffee I’ve tasted in Colorado. When you walk into their homey building, you are instantly met with the nutty and herbal scent of the beans being roasted in the back.
Pangea started in 2013 as a travelling coffee shop making their debut at local farmers markets. They quickly put down roots in 2015 at their current location at the corner of 12th and Cheyenne. One of my favorites is the Ethiopian blend. It’s sweet, light, and floral with a smooth flavor that warms your core. If you’re ever down in Golden, check them out. Their amazing coffee will certainly make your day!
3. Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier. Debbie’s blog post convinced me: I finally purchased a humidifier for my bedroom, and it has done wonders for my sinuses. I’ve lived in Colorado my whole life having never owned a humidifier and I can’t believe I’ve survived the dry climate without it. The Crane humidifier holds enough water to last about 24 hours of cool mist, but I’ve found that I only need to run it during the night to notice the benefits. There are white noise settings for restless sleepers, but it’s quiet enough that it doesn’t disrupt my sleep. If you are in the market for a new humidifier, I strongly recommend this one!
4. Divvy Up Socks. I stumbled upon this company while searching for birthday gift ideas for my partner. Divvy Up is a custom sock company where you send in a picture, pick your sock color and size, and they do the rest for you! Naturally, I chose a picture of our pup Aya to decorate the socks with. They turned out perfect. They’re soft, great quality, and incredibly adorable. The best part of this sock company is that for every pair of socks sold, they donate a pair to homeless shelters across the country. I admire this type of community work and if I get a cute pair of socks out of it, that’s an added bonus.
5. Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay. The collection of essays by Roxane Gay is quirky, thoughtful, and intellectual. I have read many books and essays on feminism, but none quite as accessible and fun to read as this one. Gay uses pop culture and personal experiences to delve into feminism from an imperfect perspective. She argues that loving diamonds, over-the-top weddings, and rap music does not make a woman less of a feminist. This is a delightfully refreshing take on feminism and I absolutely could not put this book down. I recommend it for an easy and thought-provoking read!
Layla’s Favorite Things
1. Curl Cream. Because I have really long curly hair, which can also get very frizzy, I need a product that can help me contain the curl! I love this cream because it doesn’t make your curls crunchy but makes them soft, shiny and takes the frizz away.
2. Anime. Simply put, Anime is Japanese animation. The shows have an insane amount of range—from silly kids shows to heartfelt, deep and beautiful. To me, watching anime is like watching moving art. You can stream Anime on crunchyroll. I really like The Promise Neverland, Erased, and Hunter x Hunter. Although it’s not true Anime, I also loved Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is on Netflix.
3. Boba Tea. Boba teas (also call bubble tea) are tea with large tapioca pearls that you sip with a thick straw. The experience of drinking the round tapioca makes drinking tea more stimulating and fun for me! I like vanilla rooibos and matcha green tea boba’s the best.
Leo’s Favorite Things
1. Baseball Bat. I have wanted this Easton baseball bat for a while because my old bat was getting too small and too light for me. My mom got me this bat this summer and because it is a heavier bat, I can hit the ball farther. It helped me improve this baseball season—until I broke my collar bone and had to sit the rest of the season out!
2. Virtual Reality Headset. My uncle has this Oculus and I thought it was really cool. This type of Virtual Reality is just starting and I think it is going to get even better. My grandparents surprised me with my own for my 12th birthday and Chanukah. Unlike other consoles, you can take this anywhere. I like to play it with my friends.
3. White Mountain Puzzles. I have loved puzzle since I was really little. We do a lot of puzzles as a family. I like these White Mountain puzzles right now because they are good quality and come in cool designs. So far, we’ve done the candy puzzle, movie puzzle, and cereal puzzle. This is the one I want to do next!
Mia’s Favorite Things
1. Gizmo Watch. My parents got me my Gizmo watch as an early 10th birthday present. I love it because it gives me the freedom to go to my neighborhood park and to friends who live close by because I can always call my mom and dad and they can call me. I can set alarms to help me remember important things so I am not late to school meetings or to come home at the time my parents ask me to.
2. Hamilton. When I first heard what Hamilton was about, I thought it sounded boring. Who wants to watch a play about historical politics? My parents had bought tickets for August (which got cancelled, of course) and I originally gave mine to my brother.
But then the play came on Disney + and I watched it and realized that I was wrong—it is awesome!! I love the songs and I have learned so much about history in fun ways. I know the lyrics to 70% of the songs and have watched it 5 x in the last 3 months—that’s how much I love it! My friends and I get together at the park and sing Hamilton songs and laugh.
3. KiwiCo. I have been getting kits from KiwiCo for four or five years now and I love them. My grandma gets a subscription for me for my birthday every year. A craft box comes once a month and you can pick what age level and if you want science or art. I used to get Kiwi Crates and now I get Doodle Crates. All the KiwiCo Crates are really fun and the materials and instructions are simple but they make amazing things. I’ve gotten a bunch of crates that I’ve loved but my favorites have been a felt cactus garden, spin art, and the cute walking robot that I made a few weeks ago.
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Goji’s Favorite Things
1. Salmon Sticks. Salmon is my favorite food, but I don’t get to eat it as much as I want. Luckily my family gives me these salmon treats that I love. They come in lots of other flavors like chicken, beef, pork, and peanut butter, but the salmon is my favorite.
2. Burrow Toys. My family spoils me with lots of toys (and I have been caught stealing some stuffed animals from Mia’s room too!) but these burrow toys are my absolute favorites! I like having to dig to find each animal and they are small enough that I carry them all around with me.
3. My Bed. I have a few beds at home, but this bed is almost as soft as I am! I get so cozy in it that my family makes fun of how loudly I snore.
If you made it to the end, we’d love to hear from you! Do you have a favorite thing from 2020? If so, can you share it with us below?