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While the beginning of a new year is the perfect opportunity to look forward to coming events and make plans for the future, it is also a time to reflect on the past year. Did I accomplish my goals? What did I learn? What happened that I did not expect? What would I do differently? These are great questions to consider, and if you have not done so already, I would encourage you to before you hasten on into this new year.
However, this post will not outline my answers to those significant questions or give any kind of meaningful summary of the past year. Instead, on a more trivial note, I want to highlight some tangible things that made my 2017 better. Some favorite finds, if you will. In no particular order, the following products, apps, and services helped improve my life in some way this year, and I want to share them with all of you:
1) HOTPOP Microwave Popcorn Popper: We love popcorn at our house! A friend of mine has one of these and, after seeing how simple it was to use, I decided to get one for myself. I can make a big bowl of popcorn and melt real butter to pour over the top in less than 3 minutes! No added chemicals or waste involved, and it’s easy enough for my kids to use. The collapsible, space-saving design is a great feature as well!
2) EveryDollar: I love the ease of use of this Dave Ramsey budgeting tool! I have always been a paper budgeter, for many years utilizing a system that I created and loved. This app is so intuitive and simple that I finally ditched my trusted pencil and budget binder. You can use this tool to easily manage your budget from your computer, iPhone or Android device. And best of all, it’s FREE! (for more features, you can pay an annual fee for EveryDollar Plus)
3) Rimmel BB Cream: I am not much of a foundation wearer, but as I get older, I am definitely needing something beyond a tinted moisturizer to even out my skin tone. This “beauty balm” is lightweight and goes on very smoothly. As an added bonus, it contains SPF 15 sunscreen. I give no advice on how to apply it or what shade is right for your skin, but I think I can confidently recommend it to the makeup minimalist and the glamorous alike.
4) Express VPN: The month I spent in China would have been a lot more frustrating without this fast, secure VPN service. I was able to protect my privacy and also use blocked sites and apps such as Google, Instagram, and Facebook to communicate with my family and friends at home. If you are planning to travel to another part of the world that has internet boundaries or you just want to protect your online data from prying eyes here in the U.S., I recommend getting a VPN. I liked this particular service because it offers a 30-day money back guarantee and is easy to use, even for a novice like me.
5) New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional: I received this devotional book written by Paul Tripp for Christmas in 2016 and have been greatly encouraged and challenged this past year by its rich content. It is a solid daily devotional that continually points to the Gospel and digs deeper than a lot of books of the same classification.
6) HP Instant Ink service: While I signed up for this service at the end of 2016, I really only experienced the benefits this past year. I pay a monthly fee of $4.99 per month and get to print up to 100 pages per month. Any pages I don’t use are rolled over to the next month for a max of 100 rollover pages per month. The best part is, when my ink is starting to get a little low, they automatically send me a new cartridge in the mail! I never have to go out and spend ridiculous amounts of money on ink that seems to last only a couple of months. I can upgrade or downgrade my plan at any time to best meet my printing needs, which I have done with ease. Obviously, you must have an HP printer that is compatible with the service, but if you already have one or are planning to buy a new printer anyway, I would highly recommend this service! And if you sign up through my link, you and I BOTH get one free month of service!
7) Stainless steel coffee mug: As a busy stay-at-home mom, I would often find myself with a cold cup of coffee because I had walked away to tend to a child or housework and forgotten about it. I sometimes reheated my coffee 5 or 6 times in a morning! After I started drinking my coffee black, I no longer had the taste of the creamer to cover up the foul taste of the re-heated coffee and would inevitably pour out at least half my cup. What a waste! But, now that I use a stainless steel insulated tumbler, I can drink hot or very warm coffee for the whole morning. I love it!
8) Chatbooks: I post a lot on Instagram, and this service is a way to have those memories printed and bound with very little effort and for a surprisingly small cost. I have a subscription, so every time I post another 60 photos on Instagram, I get an email that my book will print in 3 days. If I want to make any changes or edits, I can use the app to do that before those 3 days are up. Then, because I am cheap and choose the free shipping option, the softbound book arrives a couple of weeks later to add to our collection. I love that the date range and volume number are printed on the spine, and I adore that my kids enjoy flipping through the books as much as I do!
9) Grill & Griddle Combo: We love this 4-in-1 electric grill/griddle from Farberware! The nonstick grill plates are removable to enable different cooking options and for easy cleaning. Before putting our things in storage, we used it all the time to grill meat indoors, to make pancakes and eggs, and to make quesadillas and grilled sandwiches. I love that the plates are dishwasher safe and that it made many nights of cooking that much easier. I can’t wait to unpack it and use it on our travels! It is the only small cooking appliance I kept because it is so versatile. Anything making the cut in 200 square feet must have more than one use!
10) Canva: I started using Canva to create logos and images for my blog. It is easy to use, and the free version offers a lot of great features. You can upgrade to the Pro version for as little as $9.95 per month if you want a better selection of photos and templates as well as more storage space. They offer a 30-day free trial if you want to check it out. Or just sign up for the free version to start designing today!
I hope I helped you discover some products and services that will be useful and valuable to your life. All of the opinions stated above are entirely my own. While this post does contain some affiliate links that may benefit me at no additional cost to you, no company or person has asked me to promote their product or service. This year was made a little brighter by using and knowing about all of these things, and I want you to hear about them too!
What product or service or app did you learn about this year that made a difference in your everyday life? Let me know in the comments!
Have a blessed day!