12.29.20

Top 10 Moments of 2020

YOU GUYS—what. a. year! I keep a running list of inspirational quotes on my phone (lol, it should not surprise you that is the type of person I am!) and this is the last quote I saved in 2019:

This year will not end like last year at all.
You have learned to be free.
You have learned to be strong.
You have held onto light when the night was too long.
You have braved many fears.
You have learned a new song.
Through the deepest valley you have learned to carry on.
No, this year will not end like last year at all.

This quote really resonated with me last year—2019 was the first full year at a new job, which always presents many challenges and growth opportunities. I ended last year really tired, but excited about what was to come. But this year, this quote is a perfect summary of how I’m feeling as we’re just hours away from 2021.

A few weeks before the pandemic really forced the lockdowns, I just remember being so tired. It was late February, it was freezing cold, and my 45-minute commute in the elements was really starting to wear on me. Even though we were less than two months into the new year, I’d already spent eight nights in a hotel for work and when I was home, I had something going on every night of the week. I remember reading about the cruise that was plagued with coronavirus and texting my mom and sister that it would be my worst nightmare to quarantine on a boat, while also thinking the virus would stay on the other side of the world.

Then on March 12, I was riding the elevator at work and had a true Lizzie McGuire moment: I chipped my front tooth on my laptop. I called my dentist, booked an emergency appointment, and haphazardly packed up. I left behind no less than five pairs of shoes, a bottle of cholula, my favorite Tervis tumbler, my notebook, and a desk calendar turned to March. On my way out the door, I told my coworkers I would see them in April. (LOL—yeah, maybe April of 2021 if we’re lucky.) We got the email we were working from home through the end of March while I was sitting in the dentist’s chair, having my front tooth repaired. Those first few days and couple weeks of working from home were a wild ride—on one hand, having the freedom to pop laundry in between work calls or not having a commute once my day ended were great. On the other, I spent my time being consumed by the news, which spiked my fear and anxiety, especially since there was a lot less known about the virus back then.

The day the DC mayor issued a stay-at-home order through April 27, I cried myself to sleep. One thing I said often during those early months of the pandemic was that a big part of the mental challenge, for me, was not knowing what the end date would be. In hindsight, I am really glad I didn’t know—if you had told me in March that we’d still be living through the pandemic at Christmas, I’m not sure I would have had the mental fortitude to take in that news.

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Of course, as the days and months marched on from March, I built a new routine for myself that made the days go by more easily than those early ones. The weather got warmer. The days got longer. I loved checking restaurants off my DC takeout to-do list. I spent more time on FaceTime and Zoom than ever before. In May, we got the gift of outdoor dining, which truly gave me a whole new lease on life.

And while this year has been extremely isolating living and working alone, I am so grateful for the lessons it taught me and the gifts it gave me–especially about what’s important to prioritize in life.

I needed to slow down; I was going at an unsustainable pace back in February—and while I wish it didn’t take a pandemic to pump the brakes, I hope when this is over, I don’t go back to over-scheduling myself.

This year also gave me more time with family—it was probably the most time I’ve spent with them since high school. We created some memories this year I’ll take with me forever.

And I would have never survived this year without my friends. They were there to help pick me up on some really dark days, and I hope they would say the same about me.

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While this year was certainly not without struggle, I still consider myself to be very lucky—I have my health, the health of my family and friends, a job, a roof over my head, and food on the table. As we close out 2020, I know so many people are grieving what seems like insurmountable loss. I pray they find comfort and healing on the road ahead, and will continue to try to make a difference in lightening the load for others when I can.

This blog post is my favorite one to write every year. (You can read the ones from year’s past here—2019, 2018, 2017, 2016!) While this year had a lot of lows, there were also some pretty great highs and like any other year’s highlights, they are worth remembering and celebrating. So I hope you enjoy reading this blog post as much as I enjoyed writing it. Also, on a housekeeping note, in past posts, I used to just do one image per moment, but this year I couldn’t edit things down—so I picked out a few photos for each one. It’s 2020 and we have to find our joy where we can take it!

So without further ado, here are my top 10 moments of 2020:

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12.8.20

Katie’s Favorite Things: My 2020 Gift Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Even though this holiday season looks different than most, I am really embracing the Christmas spirit—my halls are decked, my Netflix watch history is full of cheesy Christmas movies, and I listen to Christmas music—I’m partial to the classics like Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como—pretty much nonstop. I miss all the big celebrations with friends, coworkers, and family—but much like there was no room for Mary and Jesus at the Inn, I am making the best of the circumstances at hand.

ICYMI, I am really behind on my holiday content this year because I was without a computer for a few weeks. Given all the shipping delays that Covid-19 has caused, I know many people started shopping early this year and that many people may already have most of their shopping done already. But I’ve been making gift guides since 2014—you can view all my past gift guides HERE!—and it’s become a little holiday tradition in its own right for me. So even though I’m probably belated, I wanted to share a few of my favorite things in case they spark a gift idea for someone you’re shopping for this season.

I know a lot of people have found themselves in very perilous economic situations this year, and my intention with these gift guides is never to make you feel like you have to buy something. None of the items on this list are life changing and I’ve learned over time that buying stuff rarely makes me happier or fills any sort of void in my life. I’m just sharing in case my recommendations can be helpful—but also because, when pulling this gift guide together, I took extra care to share a lot of my favorites from small businesses, as I know they are especially struggling this year. If I can send even one sale their way, it would be a tiny way I can help.

Before we dive in, one gift idea I think you could consider for anyone in your life this holiday season is a gift card to a local restaurants. With outdoor dining becoming less viable, compounded with months of lost revenue, this winter is going to be so challenging for our restaurants. If you’re in the DC area, I’ve got tons of restaurant reviews HERE and on my Instagram, I recently rounded up ten of my favorite restaurants HERE. And finally, I’ll make a plug that my favorite restaurant, screwtop wine bar offers wine club memberships; this would be such a great gift to receive and a great way to help the restaurant since it’s income they can predict each month. (I’m a member myself and have discovered so many great, new-to-me wines this way!) You can also email me at katie@atouchofteal.com if you’re still in need of a DC restaurant rec—I am always happy to help!

So, without further ado—here’s a roundup of my favorite things! I’ll keep adding stuff to this list as I find it over the next few weeks. Merry Christmas! x

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12.7.20

On My Nightstand: November 2020

November was a great reading month for me—I hit my 2020 reading goal of 72 books! As such, I am now trying to get to 80 by the end of the year; we’ll see if we can do it. I was able to finish seven books this month, including two I read by the fire over the Thanksgiving holiday—I am looking forward to doing the same when I’m at my parents’ house again for Christmas. I’ll report back in December’s roundup, and I’ll also share my top books of the year.

While we are on the topic of reading, I really enjoyed this Wall Street Journal article on how Barnes & Noble is pivoting to a more localized approach in an effort to stave off competition from Amazon. I thought the behind-the-scenes look into their strategy was really interesting and a very sensical way to differentiate.

As is custom on these posts, I wanted to call out that I’m part of a program where Random House will send me some of their new titles each month. I’m under no obligation to post about any titles I receive, so I really can tell you my own opinion (good or bad!) about them. I’ve starred the books Random House sent me for free below. I’m so lucky to be sent books and that’s not lost on me!

You can always follow along with what I am reading in real-time over on Goodreads—feel free to friend me there!

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