cultivate your life

Very Best of 2017

Very Best of 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! I hope your holiday has been filled with family, friends, delicious food, and happy times. My Christmas was so nice, even though we stayed home. I kind of like our in-between Christmases when we stay home with just our little family. Memories of a happy and relaxed baby and dog are what it’s all about!

I was going to do a December Favorites post, but figured a year-end one might be better. I have had such a big, exciting year this year and love to share that joy with everyone else.

I know 2017 wasn’t the happiest year for everyone. Our country and the world had so much turmoil and suffering. Despite all the dire reports in the media, there is still hope and joy to be found. It’s crazy, did you know that in the last 10 years humans are living longer on average, literacy rates are higher than they’ve ever been, infant mortality is down worldwide, armed conflicts are on a steep decline, the measles vaccine saved 20.4 million lives, global tuberculosis rates have dropped by 37%, and women in Saudi Arabia can now legally drive? Wow. I call all of that huge progress. I have to be honest, it’s hard to find that kind of news and it’s much needed.

To spread a little joy on this tiny part of the internet, I want to share some positive, fun things that I discovered or experienced this year! It’s not earth-shattering, but it’s a collection of things that my life better.


:: 2017 Favorites ::


Just me and Kari Jobe, you know, hanging at Outcry Tour in 2015.


+ Music

Ashleigh Ball Gold in You – This album kind of came out of left field for me this year. I love Hey Ocean! and when their singer, Ashleigh Ball’s, debut came out, it just popped up on my iTunes as a suggestion. I’m so glad! It’s such a fun album to listen to and super appealing to almost everyone. In case you’re not familiar with Hey Ocean!, Ashleigh is also the voice of Apple Jack from My Little Pony. You can get to know her much better in the documentary A Brony Tale on Netflix. So good.

Kari Jobe The Garden – Ok, I already mentioned this and the tour a few times on my blog, but this is that good! I’m a big, big Kari Jobe fan so of course I was excited when she released this album early this year. It’s lit. In that Holy Spirit kind of way.

The Bright Expression Bone by Bone – How has The Bright Expression gone under my very tuned-in worship radar until now? They only have 179 subscribers on youtube, so maybe it’s no surprise. Leigh Patching, the lead vocalist, has the prettiest, most haunting voice. A very favorite track is “Doing a New Thing” is particularly moving.

Cody Carnes The Darker The Night The Brighter The Morning – I have to say, when I heard that Cody Carnes, Kari Jobe’s husband, was going on tour with her as her opening act, I was kind of excited. I had heard the track “The Cross Has the Final Word” from his Wells project, but wasn’t a huge fan. After the worship night, I was really wow-ed by how he ushers in the Presence of God in a really unique way. The Darker the Night the Brighter the Morning was a surprise hit for me this year.

John Mark McMillan Mercury & Lightning – This is JMM’s latest offering and not to be missed. He has veered so far from worship music, it almost makes me trust him more. I love how he winds together so many complicated feelings and observations into listenable music. I think he is the finest artists in worship music right now, and his albums are always worth buying.

Taylor Swift Reputation – I mentioned this in November favorites already, but I’m still listening to this album pretty regularly. I’m even learning New Year’s Day on the piano. It’s pretty simple, but I’m also very rusty with my piano skills. Lots of catchy, singable songs that continue to show that Taylor Swift is (obviously) the best pop songwriter on the planet.



+ Events

John Mark McMillan x2 – I was so incredibly lucky to see John Mark McMillan in Philly twice this year! Once in February and once again in September. In September, we were able to take our little guy to his first concert! The opener in September was The Brilliance, who I’ve wanted to see for some time now. They were unmissable to be honest! Just such excellent music. We made it halfway through JMM’s set and then the little guy had enough. I would say a few hours at a venue was pretty impressive for a five month old! I’m such a huge fan of JMM and will definitely see him the next time he’s in town.

Kari Jobe The Garden Tour – I mentioned this in previous posts, but this worship night was amazing! Mostly because of the great company. I went with my friend Molly and made a night of it. Recently, I ordered “The Garden Coloring Book” and it’s absolutely adorable. The visuals for this album and tour were so gorgeous and lush. Kari Jobe really knows how to appeal to so many hearts during a worship night. She’s my #1 favorite worship artist to see on tour. This was my fourth time seeing her live, and I will keep going until she stops touring!

World’s Cutest Baby Shower – My mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and niece threw me the most amazing baby shower in the world! It had a woodland animal theme and could not have been more Pinterest-worthy! I’ll be posting all about it in the future. I was so happy and blessed to have family and friends celebrating my growing family in such an adorable environment.

Baby – So, yeah, I kinda had a baby in the midst of all these activities. Ha! And yes, he was the most eventful event of 2017. How do you sum it all up in the middle of a blog post? He’s such a fun and happy addition to my little family. I feel like he’s always been around. We are having a blast showing him the world, taking him to all kinds of fun activities, and introducing him to all the wonderful people and animals in our life. I look forward to more adventures in the future!



+ Places

Reykjavik – I posted about my Iceland trip recently, so I won’t totally rehash it here. It was a dream trip, and I will treasure those memories for a nice long time.

Ohiopyle – I spent time with some of my in-laws at a cabin in Ohiopyle, PA this summer. We had a great time! We visited Fort Necessity National Battlefield, a natural water slide in a ravine, ate ice cream and food truck pizza in the tiny town of Ohiopyle, roasted marshmallows, cooked together, went to the pool, laughed, played games, you name it. If I smell like bug spray, campfires, and sunblock at the end of a few days, I know I’ve spent time in my kind of paradise! The town had so many fun activities that we didn’t even get to. If you live in the area, it’s a great place to visit with your family!

Backyard Beans – A local roastery near us opened up a coffee shop in our little town this year. Our town is experiencing a little bit of a rebirth with new restaurants and small businesses. This coffee shop is just one part of that, and maybe my favorite addition. Any coffee shop with oat milk as an option for lattes earns an A+ in my book!


+ Things

How to Murder Your Life, The Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up, & Witches of America – I’ve already covered all of these books pretty thoroughly in past posts. I would say they were the three most impactful books I read this year.

Thelma Madine Tales of the Gypsy Dressmaker – This book was such a joy to read after stumbling upon Thelma’s Gypsy Girls on Amazon. Thelma Madine makes wedding dresses for traveler brides in the UK. Her kind heart, folksy writing, and truly fascinating life story are engaging and introduce the reader to a culture many of us are completely unfamiliar with. The show is so heartwarming for the teacher in me and the book added a lot of background information on Thelma and traveler life.

Kim Brooking-Payne & Lisa M. Ross Simplicity Parenting – This book is hands-down my favorite parenting book. I started reading it right before we had our little guy. Since then, I’ve taken so many of the techniques and philosophies to heart. It’s a strongly recommended book among Waldorf School parents. Despite it’s niche appeal, it’s such an approachable take on having a happier, simpler life in your home. Booking-Payne really emphasizes routines, rhythms, fewer possessions, fewer invasions on family time, and gives concrete advice on how to have a peaceful, happy home. I’m probably going to read it a few more times before I archive it on my kindle.

Love Meg – Love Meg is hands-down my favorite youtube channel. Meg has the most adorable, ordinary family, which I love! So many vloggers are aspirational and lead a life I can’t really relate to. Meg’s channel has great cleaning, home keeping, parenting, and haul videos. I don’t know if you’ve ever watching “clean with me” videos on youtube, you know the appeal. If you haven’t, pop one on and just try to resist tidying up your space! I look forward to watching her videos every morning as I get ready for my day.

Lavendaire – Lavendaire is my other favorite youtuber. Aileen is so inspiring, has great personal development vlogs, and even has her own Artist of Life planner and podcast. I love seeing Millennials embracing the whole breadth of personal development like meditation, productivity hacks, visualizations, mood boards, etc. She is also a fantastic photographer who really curates her social media accounts in such a beautiful way.

Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City – This Japanese reality series on Netflix (with subtitles) is kind of like The Hills and Big Brother but, you know, Japanese. There are only two seasons on Netflix now with an additional season in Hawaii called Terrace House: Aloha State. The original show follows six young men and women in Tokyo living together, chasing their dreams, and dating. If it sounds kind of dull to you, you should just try it out. By far, the best part of the show is the handful of commentators talking about the show in between scenes. There are a few Japanese talk show hosts and comedians who add their commentary, and it is seriously one of the funniest shows I watch.

Alias: Grace & Stories We Tell – I’m the biggest Sarah Polley fan, the Canadian actress, writer and director, who is behind Alias: Grace on Netflix and the film Stories We Tell. She has such a subtle storytelling style with great depth on characters and the web of stories that surround each one of us. Alias: Grace is a miniseries based not the novel by Margaret Atwood. It’s a Victorian murder mystery that turns into a classic Victorian valentine of a ghost story. Stories We Tell is a documentary about Sarah Polley’s life and the buried family secret she learns as an adult. Where Alias: Grace is mysterious, Stories We Tell is tender. Where Alisa: Grace is opaque, Stories We Tell’s transparency is what makes it such a fine film.


+ Most Used Emojis

💯 🙌🏻 😂 ❄️ 💕 👍🏻




That’s just a very small selection of my very favorite things from 2017. I’m leaving right now for a New Year’s Eve night with close friends, so I should probably leave it right here. I hope you have a blessed and happy New Year and I’ll see you in 2018!



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