best of 2020

best of 2020

As the year comes to an end, this magical week between Christmas and New Year’s always feels like a deep breath. It’s a chance to rest, to think and reflect, and prepare for the change of the calendar.

One way I love to mark the end of the year is by noticing and naming the good things. It helps me look back on the last 365 days and find the things that brought joy, growth, entertainment, convenience, surprising delight.

Here is my list:


When I look back at my kindle library for 2020, I notice a theme: feel-good fiction. This was the year of easy reads, nothing that made me feel too much emotion, and, oddly enough, few books that were all that remarkable 🙂 There were a couple of standouts worth mentioning, though far fewer novels than in year’s past.

Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos

Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl (this is a memoir that I enjoyed thoroughly)

Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey

As for non-fiction, there are a handful of important books I read in 2020.

The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Tim Keller (a must-read that is absolutely transformational)

Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen

Your Blue Flame by Jennifer Fulwiler

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho (I received this on Christmas morning and it was finished by Christmas night)

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (we read and discussed this in our women’s bible study group and it was so good)

New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp (the devotional I used all year)



Here are the shows and movies that brought entertainment, thoughtfulness, mindlessness and creative inspiration.

The Chosen. This series is available to watch on the app and is absolutely beautiful. Season One covers the beginning of the ministry of Jesus (if I were not sitting with my family I could have let myself hyperventilate cry during episode one. It is beautiful).

The Chosen Christmas Special.

Cheer (I loved this one)

Into the Unknown: the making of Frozen II (I know, such a weird pick, but it is fascinating to see how the film comes together. Such brilliant artists!).

Hamilton. Of course.

Hart of Dixie (watched season one while packaging orders and found it so charming)

Survivor season 40 (can’t stop, won’t stop)

The Crown



Annie and Eddie Keep Talking was a happy listen all year long.

Bridgetown Church HOPE episode (a must-listen)

The Jennifer Allwood Show

The Lazy Genius Way

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey interviewing Alli Worthington and Annie F. Downs interviewing Alli Worthington

Never Believe Anything Bad About God (Next Right Thing Podcast)



The Blessing by Kari Jobe

Protector by Kim Walker Smith

The Hymns 1 album by Shane & Shane

It’s Quiet Uptown from Hamilton (this one makes me cry hard)

Lover by Taylor Swift ft. Shawn Mendes

Cinderella Soundtrack (this is what I listened to while I wrote and edited my book. I will always love it)

Most listened to Spotify playlist: Chill Hits.



Lots of time was spent at home this year. Like, pretty much all the time. These are the things that made it homier:

Ferpie & Fray Reed Diffuser in Grapefruit Pine.

Stripe Organic Sheet Set

Lilia Rug (we bought this for our family room and I could not love it more)

Kitchen Backsplash Tile in white (did I mention we remodeled our kitchen this year?!)

New Floors (did I mention we redid all the downstairs floors?!)

Weighted Blanket



What an odd year it has been for the kids and school. The spring was spent doing online school through our school district and the fall brought a new experience for all of us: Homeschool. It’s been good, challenging, tiring, freeing. We are grateful for adaptable kids and a mother-in-law who stepped in to help when overwhelm kicked in hard for me.

Abeka Online Academy (this is what we’re using. We mostly like it, but it is more intense than any of us expected).

Noise Canceling Wireless Ear Buds (a must)

Cute Binder (to hold all the grades)

Plastic Magazine Holder (for all the workbooks)

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Polymer Clay (so many hours of clay creating)

Duct Tape (the perfect source of endless creation)



2020 was the year of finishing up Freely and Lightly and starting on Twirl, two books that I am so proud of and so grateful to be part of. It was also a year of jumping back in the product creation world with Truth for Today cards and Watercolor Workbooks. What an incredible year it’s been for my business and finally feeling like I’m moving in the right direction. These are the art and work things that I reached for most this year:

Watercolor Paints (I use tubes of paint in assorted colors)


Watercolor Paper

Size 6 Round Brush (this is my favorite)

Size 1 Round Brush (also my go-to)

Scanner (I scan all watercolor art and bring it into Photoshop to remove background and make slight edits)

Mechanical Pencil

Day Planner (such a cute cover)



Slippers (all day every day)

Skinny Jeans (Sometimes you find a pair of jeans that are just right. This is my pair.)

Wideleg Jeans (also worn on rotation)


Nail Polish



I cooked my way through so many recipes from my two favorite cookbooks: Half Baked Harvest Cookbook (the Thai coconut curry with chickpeas is delish!) and Half Baked Harvest Super Simple (especially the Everything Bagel Salad!).

How many batches of Chocolate Chip Cookies did I make? Countless …

Sea Salt Caramels were a hit again this Christmas

Cinnamon Rolls are always good.


What a year. Strange, yes, but also full of God’s goodness found in so many places. I hope you can take a few minutes to reflect on all that was good, true and beautiful about your year.

with much love,


for the non-fiction types

for the non-fiction types

I listened to a podcast conversation where the host and guest mentioned listening to audio books. One woman said she doesn’t often listen to books because she can’t stay focused. The other suggested listening to novels as they are more entertaining and capture attention with story. Both agreed that they much preferred listening to fiction and reading an actual copy of non-fiction. I get their point, but I’m the complete opposite! Rarely can I make it all the way through a non-fiction book. BUT if I’m listening to it – and especially if the author is reading it to me – I am hooked. Plus, I like that I can multi-task. Listen to a book + vacuum the kids’ rooms. Pop in my headphones + sauté the vegetables. Pick up where I left off + weed the yard. Or, just listen and do nothing else. I think because I enjoy listening to podcasts so much, my brain does well taking in the information of non-fiction. In fact, listening seems to hold my attention better than if I were to read the same book. The only downfall is that it is nice to have a physical copy of a book to highlight or take notes in if something, in particular, jumps out at me. To combat this, I will often pause the book, open the notes app on my phone and write down whatever it is that I want to remember. It’s not a perfect method, but it works.

Lately, I’ve listened to/read a handful of really excellent non-fiction writing. Here they are, in no particular order:

Tailor Made by Alex Seely

With her soothing Australian accent and vulnerability, Alex Seely instantly feels like a wise mentor. She guides us gently through recognizing lies that have burrowed themselves deeply into our hearts and helps us find the truth in the midst of it. I paused this one many times to write down wisdom, like this: “The world is waiting to see the glory of God revealed through his children. But if we stay bound to our insecurities then we will never step into the fullness of who he created us to be.”

Remember God by Annie F. Downs

Annie has long been a favorite voice in my earbuds with her podcast and I equally (or maybe even more so!) enjoyed listening to her tell us her story of learning to remember God, even when life isn’t going as you hoped. So good.

God Has A Name by John Mark Comer

Another favorite podcast voice – his smart teachings through Bridgetown Church are always profound and practical (a perfect combination in my book). I listened to this book and the following one in the matter of a few days and must relisten to both. This one reminds us of what God says about Himself – apart from our own perceptions (perhaps misperceptions?) of who He is.

Garden City: Work, Rest and the Art Of Being Human by John Mark Comer

Here’s the process I’ve been going through: first, figure out who God actually is (that’s answered in God Has A Name). Second, figure out how that redefines my identity. Third, understand what that means for how I live in the world. This book helps with the third part. It’s convicting (he teaching on Sabbath is one of the very best) and he helps us realign our expectations about work and rest and life. I loved this book.

The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice For Making Life Decisions by Emily P. Freeman

I have only just started this one – it just released one week ago! – and just know I will come back to it again and again. I have a hardcopy because it felt like a book that I would want to underline, but I also adore Emily’s voice so much that I wanted to hear her read it to me and so I have the audio version as well. Do you listen to her podcast? If not, definitely do. This book was born from the insights she shares with us weekly and I’m just so very excited about her guidance to help us be mindful about decision-making.

You Who?: Why You Matter And How To Deal With It by Rachel Jankovic

She grew up thinking she wanted to either be a cheerleader or a missionary and you know what? She’s both. THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. I read it all the way through in a day and a half because I couldn’t stop. It spoke to all of the little weird catches in my heart I feel when I read the modern-day motivational quotes (You’re enough! You weren’t made to be small! Go after your dreams! You deserve it!). Rachel is unashamed, unapologetic and truly makes her readers think. Her Instagram is pretty great, too.

Self to Lose – Self to Find: A Biblical Approach to the 9 Enneagram Types by Marilyn Vancil

The Enneagram continues to rise in popularity. When asked what my favorite resources are for understanding the personality typing system, discovering what type you are and viewing it in light of who God says you are, this book is at the top of my recommendations. I was under the spiritual direction of Marilyn Vancil and her mentorship to me has been one of the single most transformational things in my life. I am so grateful to her and this book. It is now available in audio form if that is more your thing. Although I would still suggest getting a hard copy so you can refer back to it again and again.

So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore

I picked this one back up after having read it years ago and, what do you know, insecurity is still right there biting at my heels. This book is easy to relate to and practical in its healing prayers and guided practices.

Mirror For The Soul: A Christian Guide to the Enneagram by Alice Fryling

This resource feels like a next-level choice for further enneagram understanding. It approaches the personality typing system from a Christian perspective (which I always prefer) and dives deeper into the triads: heart, head and gut.

The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim Keller

This book comes highly recommended and is a perspective shift from the general marriage messages. Tim Keller “uses the scriptures as his guide to show readers what God’s call to marriage is, and why this is such a powerful call”.   A few books that are on my list to listen to/read next:

The Wondering Years: How Pop Culture Helped Me Answer Life’s Biggest Questions by Knox McCoy

I find Knox McCoy to be super hilarious and love the way he mixes pop culture and faith. I need to read/listen to this one next. Also, don’t miss his podcast, The Popcast. It is my go-to when I just need to laugh.

What Did You Expect? Redeeming The Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp

Honestly, I don’t love a marriage or parenting book. I don’t know why. It especially makes no sense since my degree is in child and family psychology. You would think I would eat these up! But, no. However, as I have been undergoing great spiritual transformation, so has our marriage and this book feels like it would be a helpful tool to enhance the growth.

You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis Chan

This marriage book looks really good, too. As the description says, “Setting aside typical topics on marriage, Francis and Lisa dive into Scripture to understand what it means to have a relationship that satisfies the deepest parts of our souls.”

Point of View: A Fresh Look at Work, Faith and Freedom by Elisabeth Hasselbeck

I have always loved Elisabeth Hasselbeck – from her days on Survivor: Australia (best season ever!), to her time on The View. She has been making her podcast rounds promoting her new book and I ADORED her conversation with Annie F. Downs (listen here). It made me feel like we would be friends and so, of course, I want to read her book.

Taste and See: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers, and Fresh Food Makers by Margaret Feinberg

The Bible is full of stories using food as an illustration for deeper truth – and much of it is lost on us since we are neither farmers nor live in a primarily agrarian culture. If you’re a foodie, this will be especially fun for you.

The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships by Suzanne Stabile

My love of the enneagram continues and I’ve been meaning to get this book for a while. It helps us look at relationships through the lens of enneagram to help understand, offer grace and improve communication.   Whew! That’s quite a list. Have you read or listened to any non-fiction that you’re loving right now? I’d love to hear!

pop those headphones in

pop those headphones in

I listen to a lot of podcasts.

It dawned on me when I was sharing my five things Friday on Instagram and all I wanted to talk about were the podcast episodes I listened to. I listed a few and held back from the others because I didn’t want you to think that I do nothing else with my time other than listen to podcasts 🙂

The truth is, I do listen to several episodes each week. But I’m usually doing it while doing other things, so that makes me feel better about this habit.

I pop in my headphones and turn on a new episode when I’m making dinner, washing dishes, folding laundry, vacuuming, picking up around the house and deep cleaning. It feels like a reward to me – I have to do all of these daily chores but at least I get to fill my ears with laughter, conversation, deep thoughts, insights, information and entertainment. I just can’t get enough.

(p.s. that picture was taken before I had a pair of wireless headphones and my goodness, what a difference it makes! No more getting caught up in a cord!)

I’ll also put on a podcast in the car, but only when I’m by myself. The kids DO NOT share my love of podcast listening. I drove down to Oregon last month by myself and there was something completely delightful about having 4 hours to myself to listen to whatever I wanted the whole way there and back.

A few more tips about my professional podcast listening skills:

  • For all but two podcasts, I listen on 1.5 speed. This is a big reason my kids do not like listening to my podcasts. It admittedly feels a little off, but as long as I can keep up, I like being able to move through them quickly so I can get to the next one 🙂 The two podcasts that I listen to on regular speed feel like they shouldn’t be rushed so I honor them and their impact on my soul by listening slowly.
  • Headphones make concentrating much easier. If I’m at home by myself, I could listen through our house speakers, but putting the noise directly into my ears with headphones makes it way easier to stay focused.
  • Choose the right tasks to do while listening. There are some things that just don’t work for me to multi-task on – I can’t type and listen to words, drive unknown roads, make a complex recipe. Sometimes I need to just turn off the noise to get things done.
  • Curate a podcast list that makes you happy, challenges your thinking and keeps your brain engaged. If you listen to something a friend recommends and you’re not into it, no worries! There are so many different options and just because one show is super popular or someone loves a particular genre, it doesn’t mean you have to. My friend listens to all the crime/unsolved mystery podcasts and raves about them, but I’m just not interested (and that’s okay).
  • Be a podcast supporter. We can support our favorite podcasters by leaving reviews, encouraging them through comments, not getting annoyed at the commercial breaks, purchasing their books and products and using their affiliate codes. I am so appreciative of the hours and hours of work it takes to put these podcasts together and especially grateful that everything is FREE!

Okay, now for the list of my favorite shows (listed alphabetically):

Bridgetown Church

This is a church in Portland, OR with such good teaching on following the way of Jesus. John Mark Comer is the head pastor and I adore his style of teaching. The sermon series called “Fighting the World, The Flesh and The Devil” (starting 9/13/18) was transformational.

Exploring My Strange Bible

Tim Mackie is the theologian behind The Bible Project (see below) and this podcast is a collection of 10 years of his best teachings. I started at the beginning and am working my way through. If you like lots of historical contexts, language understanding, and biblical teaching, this is SO GREAT. The series on “Heaven + Hell” (9/18/17) changes my non-biblical view (why was it that way to begin with?!) and I cried listening to the first Psalm episode (10/23/17).

Glorious In The Mundane

Christy Nockles is wise and gentle and a great story-teller who loves Jesus.

Go And Tell GalS

The premise of this is so good – here’s the description: Join host Jess Connolly as she interviews women who are using what they’ve got to run on mission today. It is the mission of Go + Tell Gals to equip women to take their place in the Kingdom, using what they’ve been given, for His glory and the good of others. I have only listened to a few, but I enjoyed them very much.

How I Built This

I love hearing the stories behind the successful entrepreneurs that Guy Raz interviews. It’s always fun to hear the behind-the-scenes for big brands like Crate + Barrel, LaraBar, Stitch Fix.

That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs

I’m such a fan of this show and Annie and all of her guests. This is my must-listen-to-every-new-episode show.

Annie and Eddie Keep Talking

The combo of Eddie and Annie and the random conversations they have is delightful and interesting and enjoyable.

The Alli Worthington Show

Listen in as Alli interviews a guest each week, and then answers three listener questions – one about faith, one about life and one about business. I like her.

The Bible Binge

Knox + Jamie (the popcast, see below) are the best hosts. They are funny, witty, so incredibly pop-culture-knowledgeable and also Bible-believers. This podcast takes stories from the Bible and talks about them in relatable, entertaining ways to help us understand them better. I happen to love a theological podcast, but this one is also super fun.

The Bible Project

I LOVE THIS PODCAST. I love the Bible Project, in general, for their videos that breakdown books and themes of the Bible (go watch those here). The podcast is a collection of conversations had before the making of the videos.

The Enneagram Journey with Suzanne Stabile

I have a thing for the Enneagram and enjoy hearing Suzanne’s gentle insight with her guests.

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

Jamie just knows how to do an interview. She is personable and engages in interesting conversations with a variety of (mostly) women. If you want to listen to a blast from the past, I was on her show a few years ago (episodes 42 + 43).

The Next Right Thing with Emily P. Freeman

This is one of the shows that I listen to on regular speed. There is just something about Emily’s voice and her words that make you exhale, think and reflect and leave the 15ish minutes more grounded than when you started. I especially adored her episode “If You’re Afraid of Making the Wrong Decision” (1/29/19).

Made for This with Jennie Allen

The episodes are usually short and to the point and I appreciate Jennie’s wisdom so much.

Rhythms for Life with Gabe and Rebekah Lyons

This podcast is so helpful for all of us making efforts to add healthy rhythms into our lives.

The Pivot 

The Pivot is a podcast about transition. The guests are mainly from the music industry but the stories are universal. It is so encouraging to hear how others are navigating change and pivots in their lives.

The Popcast with Knox & Jamie

The whole thing is just one big party. I laugh out loud in almost every episode and am amazed at how much these two know about pop culture. They were made for their jobs.

This Cultural Moment with Bridgetown Church & Red Church

Two things about this: one, much of what these two pastors talk about is just slightly over my head and two: I feel privileged to listen in on their fascinating discussion of what it means to follow Jesus in a post-Christian culture. Also, Mark Sayers has an Australian accent and I don’t know why, but an Australian or British accent just makes me want to listen all the more.

Typology with Ian Morgan Cron

This enneagram podcast is another one of my go-to’s. The guests are so varied and conversations never predictable. My favorite episode of all is the one on 1/23/19 with Ryan Stevenson. It was so powerful to hear the freedom starting to shine through as they talked about changing the narrative. So good.

Unedited with Cameron Strang

The founder of Relevant Magazine interviews well-known Christians in such a conversational, deep way.


Okay! There’s my list. I’d love to hear your favorites!

favorite children’s books

favorite children’s books

For as long as I can remember I have loved picture books. As a child I would study the illustrations of my favorites – Blueberries for SalThe Bremen-town MusiciansCaps for SaleGo, Dog. Go! – I can still remember pictures and hear my mom’s voice saying, “kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!” and “Caps for Sale! Caps! Fifty cents a cap!“.

Picture books are pure magic.

My sophomore year of college my best friend and I shared an apartment. She brought a couch, coffee table, tv; I brought a small stack of favorite picture books. Now looking back, this seems like a strange thing for a 19 year old to travel with from Washington to Southern California, but I guess I felt they were important at the time. I don’t know if I ever opened the books that year, but they sat next to the couch and I saw them everyday. Fun fact: those same books from way back then are up on Audrey’s shelves today.

We have so many favorite books. I thought it might be fun and helpful to have a big list of favorites, all of which are included in our little library.

So, in no particular order, here are 48 must-haves for your picture book collection:

The Jolly Postman

You’re All My Favorites

Guess How Much I Love You

King Hugo’s Huge Ego (get this one!)

Toot + Puddle 

Elephant and Piggie


Sam and Dave Dig A Hole (get this one, too!)

Kiki + Coco In Paris (so adorable)

Lulu + Pip

Learning To Ski With Mr. Magee


Baby Wren and The Great Gift

Triangle (we love everything by this author/illustrator combo)

Extra Yarn

I Want My Hat Back

We Found A Hat

The Day The Crayons Quit (clever, clever, clever)

The Day The Crayons Came Home

Paul Meets Bernadette

Angelina Ballerina

Penguin Problems


The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, And The Big, Hungry Bear

I Had A Favorite Dress (best illustrations)

Birdie’s Big Girl Shoes

Birdie’s Big Girl Dress

Just Being Audrey


Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

The Book With No Pictures

The Circus Ship (love this one)

Bear Snores On

Llama Llama Red Pajama

We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

Sleepy Bears

Bats At The Ballgame

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

Today I feel Silly

Blueberries For Sal

Imogene’s Antlers

Where The Wild Things Are

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

The Napping House

Julius, The Baby Of The World

The Princess And The Pig

Henry’s Bright Idea

Press Here

Well, that was fun! I hope this list is a helpful resource for adding books to your collection!