December 29, 2018

A Few Favorites of 2018 - Podcasts, Phones and Projects

Hello friends! With only a few days left in 2018, today I thought I would share a few of my favorite things I learned and found this year. Some are free, and some cost quite a lot, but they have all had an impact on my life lately, including what camera I used to take this picture of the morning light at our kitchen windows one morning just before Christmas.


Have you become a fan of podcasts? I listen to them whenever I have a few free moments, especially when I get ready in the morning and clean the house. I tend to be an over thinker and podcasts have literally changed my life. They provide food for thought and get me out of my own head and thinking about something else for a time. Billy listens to them many of the same podcasts that I do on his long commute to work and then they give us topics for conversation when we're together. I listen to the New York Times Daily so I can be somewhat informed about the day's events and politics at the dinner table with my kids. I listen through Spotify but you can also listen through the Apple app or online.

My favorite, hands down, is Armchair Expert by Dax Shepard. Specifically, his expert on expert series. I remember Dax from his character, Crosby, on the tv series Parenthood, but I think his official claim to fame will be what he is doing with this podcast. He is transparent and interesting and not afraid to explore uncomfortable topics and he does it all in such an approachable way.
The best one I've listened to so far was Jonathan Haidt, a social pyschologist.  As a parent of young adults, I agree so much with what he says about kids today and I want to read his books to learn even more. Other memorable episodes: Ethan Hawke, Brene Brown, Dax's mom-Laura Labo.


The iPhone XS Max has been a total game changer for me. My middle son is our tech guru and he upgraded to this phone as soon as it came out and kept telling me how I needed it for the camera alone. I had no desire to shell out over a $1K for new phone when my iPhone 7 worked perfectly well and I was of the belief that a phone camera wouldn't come close to my beloved Canon DSLR for a very long time in the future. Well, that time is now. I borrowed his phone to take a couple of pictures and ordered a new phone that night. It's seriously that good. I used it for many of my Christmas pictures, including this one. It captures light in quite a beautiful way. I still use Lightroom to edit my pictures, including from the phone camera.
And to go along with the phone, I have been using a pop socket on my old phone for over a year and I have gotten quite used to it, but they do fall off pretty regularly and with the even bigger size/weight (cost!) of the new phone, I searched for an alternative and came up with the Loopy Case. It has a sturdy loop that is attached to the back of the case. And you can change the loop to customize your case. I have a Christmas loop on now and I have one with snowflakes to use during the winter. Fun!

DIY Project

My favorite project of this year was painting the kitchen island. It has seemingly updated our entire home! Our kitchen is now 10 years old and I'm still pretty happy with the timelessness of most of the items we chose, but I think the darker cherry stained island was dating the whole room. I'm relieved that the paint color, Oval Room Blue by Farrow and Ball, works well for all seasons. Also, we added some moldings and trim to make it look more like a piece of furniture and those changes made a big difference too.
 Fall (my favorite!)
And the runner-up project would be trading out the cabinet doors under our farm sink for a sink skirt. It's only a temporary change (we hung the cafe rod with thick double stick tape) but it adds so much charm to our kitchen.


A Million Little Things, on NBC, was my favorite show this year. I only discovered it about a month ago but I caught up on HULU and now I am hooked and looking forward to its return after their winter break. It's been a while since I watched a series that I had to wait each week for! I have gotten so spoiled by binge-watching things.

In thinking back on what my most recent favorite books are, I realize I haven't been reading much. I hope to change that in 2019. 

So, now it's your turn to tell me what your favorites were from this year! I'm soooo looking forward to the "hibernation" season that comes after the Christmas rush. This time of year is so hectic and I am craving a quieter season tremendously.


  1. Your pictures really are so pretty and I love your kitchen

  2. Agree with Marty. Beautiful pictures. I really do need tj look into podcasts. I have a stack of books to get through I’m the new year. But, a 13 week old puppy is taking up most of my time 😉

  3. Your idea with the Christmas sled is fabulous! Love your kitchen

  4. I will check out the podcasts, I have become a big fan of them also. When I was still working I listened on my way to work, but now that I am retired I sneak them in while I do chores. I definitely think the kitchen island is my favorite project that you did last year!! I just love it, and know that you must smile every morning when you walk into the kitchen. What I am in love with is the black rack with the hooks that you got at IKEA. I am going to have to order that!!
    My father was a professional photographer, he would be so amazed if he were still alive at today’s technology! Wow!
    Happy New Year, Courtney!
    Chris from W Tx

  5. LOL Courtney we are so much alike. I am a big fan of podcasts too. Terry and I listen to a lot of the same ones. I have to say when they said the new I phone X camera's had better camera built in then most of the very expensive professional camera's they were so right. You found that to be true with you pics too. I am loving my new phone too for the pics for my blog too. I have not changed to light room because it seemed complicated for me to learn so right now I am sticking with Pic Monkey and still get pretty nice pictures. I have seen a difference on my posts with then camera on my x phone too. Happy New Year. I am wishing a great new year for you and Billy and the boys. New adventures await!!!

  6. New years Greetings Courtney~ Would you please show a pic of the front of your painted island? I would like to do same with mine, and yet would like to see any trim you've added to the front and how this was done. Thanks so much and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you/family.

    1. Hi Julie. We left the toe kick area on the front of our island (the side by the sink) because I work at this island everyday and the toe kick makes it more functional. You can see more pictures in the post about our Newly Painted Kitchen Island. I will be sure to capture more pictures of than angle in future kitchen posts. Happy New Year!

  7. Hello! !
    Today 31st is New Year's Eve in Japan.
    New Year’s Eve is called “Oomisoka” in Japanese.
    We eat soba noodles called “toshikoshi soba” (year-crossing soba) to wish for a long lasting life. On New Year’s Eve, soba noodle shops are crowded with many people from morning till night.
    Also, a major house cleaning is done by the whole family. This major house cleaning is thought as a ritual to give a pleasant welcome to God on New Year’s Day.
    At night time, many people get together at countdown events.Others stay at home and watch television programs. The most well known one is the “Kouhaku Utagassen”, an annual singing contest.
    At Buddhist temples, huge bells are hit 108 times during midnight to get rid of all evil desires.

  8. Oh, how to I love your kitchen, let me count the ways.... 1 million. Done! Happy New Year!

  9. My 'new' favorite thing this year has been audiobooks - I finally got around to getting a library card for my mountain top library and have been listening to free audiobooks through the app Overdrive and Libby - I'm completely addicted! I listen to them when I'm getting ready in the mornings, making the bed, on the way to work (short commute, yayy!), and even when I'm vacuuming/mopping (using earbuds.) I've listened to such a ton of books this year, and it really makes chores go that much quicker and be far more enjoyable!! I tried the podcast thing (my older daughter is a huge fan) but they just didn't do it for me....too much like the talk radio my mom always had blaring when we were kids, ha ha!! Happy New Year, Courtney!

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