Take a peek behind the scenes of Hello Little Home in my January 2021 Diary!
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January 2021 Diary
Welcome to my Diary. This monthly series gives you a peek behind the scenes of Hello Little Home. I’m sharing all the things I’ve been up to that don’t make it on the blog. Hopefully, we’ll get to know one another better in the process.
Wow, it has been a while since I've shared one of these posts with you ... May to be specific! When I started this series last January, I never could have guessed that a (seemingly never ending) pandemic was right around the corner. But here we are.
Looking back on my first Diary from January 2020 is actually kind of funny at this point. That month, I traveled to Texas Hill Country, Portland, Oregon, and Puerto Rico. I was also looking forward to a 10 day trip to Mexico City (which never happened), among other things I had optimistically planned for the year.
This past month on the other hand, I barely left my apartment. ... which is partly why these posts have tapered off for a few months. Day to day life was just not that exciting last year, and with everything else going on, sometimes just making it through the day was an achievement ... I'm sure you can relate 🙂
But I wanted to bring this series back. If nothing else, it will be interesting to look back on this time in a few years when we're (hopefully) back to normal. So without further ado, here's what I've been up to January 2021!
Ringing in the New Year from our balcony ... unfortunately, the building on the right blocks our view of the fireworks that you can hear!
Since I'm sticking close to home lately, my favorite activity has been taking really long walks on the weekend. Nothing puts a smile on my face faster than a little fresh air and time spent with my husband! Plus, pretty much no one walks in Dallas, so it's easy to social distance (ha).
The photos in this post are from a couple of recent walks around Dallas' Cedars / Oak Cliff neighborhoods and along the Trinity River, which is my fave nature spot right in the heart of the city!
My husband and I are planning to move out of our apartment this summer, so we've been trying to figure out where else in the city we might want to live. Last week we rented a car and spent a day driving around eyeing neighborhoods, which was pretty fun.
We even checked out a few suburbs. I've always thought of myself as a city girl, so I never thought I would say that!! I've been reexamining my housing priorities lately though, and I'd love a little more space and easier access to the outdoors right now.
Best Purchase of 2021
For years now, I've been saying that I want to read more, but I just haven't done it. Most evenings you can find me watching TV.
I'd been toying with the idea of getting a Kindle for a while now, and on Prime Day in October, I finally got one. Since I wasn't sure if I'd use it, I got the most basic Kindle, and it's ended up being one of the best purchases I've ever made!
While I still watch plenty of TV, I've read more in the past three months than I've read in the past three years! I just love the convenience / instant satisfaction factor of having any book I want at my fingertips, and for someone with wrist / shoulder issues, it's much more comfortable than holding a heavy book.
My favorite thing is that you can pair the Kindle with the free Libby app, then check out books from your library ... my list of Holds is maxed out! If you're looking for a good book, check out my recent faves near the bottom of this post.
My second favorite purchase was a One Line a Day Journal. I've always wanted to be "someone who journals", but I've never stuck with it. I keep this journal right on my bedside table so I don't forget about it, and it just takes a few minutes to jot down the highlights of my day each night. I LOVE it!
Favorite Gift of 2021
I was housesitting for friends a couple years ago, and they had a robot vacuum. While I love having a cute, cozy home, I'm an extremely lazy housekeeper who can think of a million things I'd rather do than clean. So of course, I immediately wanted one!
I've been trying to convince my husband to get one ever since, and this year for Christmas, he surprised me with a Roomba. I'm not sure what it says about me that I'm excited to receive a vacuum for Xmas (#old), but it is pretty much the best thing ever!
Now I just need a robot to empty the dishwasher and put away my laundry, too!
When I started this blog (almost eight years ago at this point), I never realized how technical things were going to get. Web standards are always changing though, and it's a never ending challenge to keep up.
Honestly, I'd rather give up than deal with this stuff sometimes, but instead of throwing in the towel, I've been making lots of changes behind the scenes. Some are cosmetic and fun (new logo) and others that threaten to make my head explode (anything related to Google, ha).
This biggest change lately is that I've completely revamped the homepage. In addition to my most recent posts, the homepage now showcases all sorts of popular / seasonal content (which I'm updating monthly). There are over 900 blog posts in the archives Hello Little Home, so now you'll be more likely to discover something fun and new the next time you're on the homepage!
Another really cool feature you may have noticed is a little heart floating around the lower right corner of most pages. You can use this heart to save and share your favorite posts. Here's how to do it:
- Click the heart to bookmark anything that catches your eye. Once you do, you'll be prompted to create a FREE account so you can easily find everything you've saved later.
- If you click the little plus sign next to the heart, you'll see even more options! Once you've created an account, you'll can access posts you've bookmarked here. You're also be able search the site here or share the post on social media.
- Best of all, there are thousands of other websites using this same system! So once you create an account, you can access all your faves from any website that has this same "heart system".
Let me know if there's anything else you'd like to see here in the future. I love hearing your ideas!
What I'm Eating
I mentioned way back in my April 2020 Diary that I was I've been testing meal kits. It was a life saver at the start of all this craziness! So far, I've tried Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Martha & Marley Spoon, Purple Carrot, and Dinnerly. The last couple weeks I've been trying out Green Chef, too.
And the verdict is ... I like them all, ha ha! I've actually kept up with getting a box most weeks. With everything going on, it has made life so much easier, basically taking one (big) thing off my plate. I also love variety of different meals each week, which makes dinner much more fun!
I'm planning to write up reviews for all of these meal kit services. Hopefully, this month sometime.
On the weekends, we tend to get takeout / delivery so we can continue supporting our local restaurants. We finally discovered a good Chinese restaurant here in Dallas (why is decent Chinese food so hard to find?), and we've been hitting up our fave Mediterranean, pizza, and Mexican spots, too.
My recipe is in a cookbook!
Ninja reached out to me about including my Veggie Pot Pie recipe in one of their cookbooks way back in summer 2019. I said yes, but then totally forgot about it.
Last spring, I was going through old emails, and I found the cookbook one. I realized that the cookbook must be out by now, so I reached out to my contact at Ninja.
She sent me a copy of the The Big Cookbook for the Ninja Foodi, and there's my recipe is on page 173! I love my Foodi—which is kind of a cross between a pressure cooker and an air fryer—so it was so fun to see my recipe in one of their cookbooks. There are so many other recipes I can't wait to try, too.
What I'm Watching / Listening To / Reading
I have become a total couch potato lately (need to change that!), so my list of recently watched show is loong. There are a few that have stood out though:
- Midnight Diner (Netflix)- This show is total comfort food, equal parts humorous and heart warming, and I was so sad when it was over. It's about a small diner in Shinjuku, Tokyo that's only open from midnight to 7:00 AM, and it tells the stories of the restaurant's customers through the food they eat. There are two separate series on Netflix: Midnight Diner and Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories ... if you watch it, Midnight Diner comes first.
- Lupin (Netflix)- If you haven't watched Lupin yet, turn it on tonight. It tells the story of Assane Diop who (inspired by a book about gentleman thief Arsène Lupin) exacts revenge on the man who framed his father. So so good and all the Paris scenery is a major bonus.
- The Wilds (Amazon) - I burned through this series quickly. It's about a group of girls who are stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash (definitely some Lord of the Flies vibes). But everything is not as it seems, and the girls are part of some sort of social experiment which slowly gets revealed. Looking forward to season two!
- This Way Up (Hulu) - This is another series I flew through quickly and just really loved. It tells the story of Aine, who is resuming her life after having a “teeny little nervous breakdown”. It's very touching (especially the relationship with her sister ... so relatable), sometimes dark, but also funny, and you really root for her.
I've gotten sooo far behind on listening to podcasts. I used to burn through them back when I used to travel and spend time on airplanes and in cars (a distant memory at this point). Lately though, I've been trying to catch up on old faves like Stuff You Should Know and By the Book while cooking or otherwise wasting time on my computer. I also listened to American Coyote recently, which I have very mixed feelings about (not so much what the guy was doing, but the guy himself).
Speaking of stuff I'm listening to ... I deep dived into 90's music on Spotify last month, and it's bringing back all sorts of fun memories from my youth (ha). So many good songs I haven't thought of in a while. Weak by SWV has been living rent free in my head these past couple weeks, and I'm not sure it plans on leaving!
As I mentioned above, I've also been reading a lot. I enjoyed all the books I read this month, though some more than others:
- My favorite book that I finished this month was The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia, which is set during the Mexican Revolution and 1918 flu pandemic. Such a beautiful, unique story ... I've already preordered her next book that's coming out in May!
- Next, I accidentally read two young adult books, but I really enjoyed and would recommend both. The first was Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera, a retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice set in NYC. And the second was The Paper Girl of Paris by Jordyn Taylor, about a girl who discovers her aunt (who she never knew existed) was part of the resistance during WWII in Paris.
- I also read Afterlife by Julia Alvarez, one of my fave authors. While I did enjoy this book, I didn't love it as much as I did her others. If you haven't read any of her books, I'd start with one of her earlier books first.
- Finally, I read The Runaways by Fatima Bhutto, which I also have mixed feelings about. I did read it quickly (which was surprising, because it felt long), but it kind of fell apart about halfway through for me.
What have you been reading? I'd love some recommendations for what to read next!
What's Coming Up Next Month
Um, who knows? After last year, I'm trying not to make too many grand plans and just take things day by day instead. That said, I do have some fun things planned for the blog, and I'm hoping to resurrect some old, dusty, forgotten stuff, too. Now I just need a burst of productivity to actually accomplish that!
What are you up to recently? Leave me a note in the comments and let me know!
I hope you enjoyed reading my January 2021 Diary. If you like this post, you can read more of my Diaries here. The last one is from May 2020 (ha) ... hopefully, I will be a little better about keeping up with this series in 2021!