This week, we are talking about our favorite purchases from 2022—everything from books, to skincare, splurges, and more.
We are also sharing your favorite A Beautiful Mess blog posts of the year.
You can find the podcast posts archive here.
A big thank you to our sponsors! Check out the offers from Modern Fertility, Ritual, BetterHelp, and Everlywell. And, if you’re looking for a specific code you heard on the podcast, you can see a full list on this page!
Favorite book of the year:
Elsie – If We Were Villians by ML Rio.
Emma – A Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
Favorite beauty item you tried this year:
Elsie – Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush
Emma – Glossier Futuredew Serum
Best budget finds under $20:
Elsie – Trusted Tarot and Libby app
Emma – A thifted lavender sweater
Favorite splurge that was so worth it:
Elsie – Going to France for an art trip
Emma – A panel ready dishwasher
Your personal favorite podcast episode or this past year:
Elsie – Episode 138: Palm Springs Moms
Emma – Episode 155: Step Inside Our Old Lady Creative Retreat
Favorite movie and TV show:
Elsie – Glass Onion, The White Lotus, and Fixer Upper: The Castle
Emma – See How They Run, The Bob’s Burgers Movie, and Stranger Things
Something you tried for the first time:
Elsie – Reading fiction books
Emma – Going on a writing retreat
Something you are proud of:
Elsie – Childhood Magic (launching very soon!)
Emma – Finished the first draft of her murder book and updating the ABM website.
10 most popular A Beautiful Mess posts:
1. Favorite Things to Make in My Air Fryer
2. 15 Easy No-Bake Desserts
3. When an Open Floor Plan is Too Open
4. Biscuits and Gravy Casserole
5. Gooey Butter Cake – With a Cake Mix
6. Kid’s Art Frame DIY
7. Butter Cookies – 6 Ingredients
8. Pink and White Kitchen Makeover
9. Chicken and Rice Casserole
10. Easy Hack to Build an IKEA Pax Wardrobe
Listener Question: How do you battle stress and anxiety while getting so much accomplished in your personal and professional lives?
- Focus on small wins when you are feeling really down.
- Focus on caring for yourself and making that a part of your to-do list.
- Zoom out.
- Raising kids valuable work even if no monetary value is attached to it.
- Having fun, relaxing, and caring for yourself is essential.
- Therapy is awesome.
Miss an Episode? Get Caught Up!
Episode 164 Transcript:
Elsie: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess Podcast, your cozy comfort lesson. This week we’re talking about our favorite purchases of 2022, everything from books to skin care, to splurges, and more, and we’re also sharing your favorite, A Beautiful Mess blog post of the year. All right, I love the favorite things episode. Okay, so there’s something broken in my brain because I really feel like we just recorded this favorite things of 2021, like two weeks ago, I really feel like it was just yesterday. I feel like 2022 was a strange year for me. I have things I’m proud of. I have things that I accomplished. I have some things I tried. I had some things I failed at. A little bit of everything like any regular year, but for some reason, it just feels like it was a two month long year. Maybe that’s just the result of getting older, but I don’t think it is, I think it was just a weird year.
Emma: I think it was a weird year. I feel like someday when we’re more past it and can have more perspective on it, I think we’ll have more to say about this year because there’s honestly been a lot that we have not really shared anywhere online. Yeah, it’s been a real sh!$ show this year, it really has. But yeah, to your point, I think there have also been a lot of high highs and special things and also things I’m proud of. The year has been both really short and also dragged on in weird ways. It’s a strange year. But here we are, let’s talk about favorite things.
Elsie: Yes. I love talking about favorite things. I like recommending things. I like the camaraderie. So this week a podcast listener sent, this was in our email. Did you see the giant list of Christmas horror movies?
Emma: Yes, I did.
Elsie: It was my favorite podcast email I’ve ever gotten.
Emma: It was thorough. I was like wow this is good.
Elsie: I was like, “Jeremy, we’re gonna watch all of these,” and he knew a lot of them. I don’t know if he’s been keeping it from me or what the problem is but there was 70s Christmas horror movies that I’ve never seen before. It was such a gift. It was exactly what I love in this lifetime handed to me in an email. So thank you to all of our listeners. I do feel like you’re the people who really know me, the people sending me dollhouse videos all week long and people saying, “How did you like glass onion?” Just all of the things that only you know, it’s a very special relationship we have. Email us anytime, we love it.
Emma: Yeah, especially if you have a big list of great recommendations. I’ve gotten so many great book recommendations, other movies, not just horror, they really know us. Alright, so let’s talk about, first up, most important, in my opinion, favorite book of the year.
Elsie: Yeah, this is very difficult I thought because, okay, so this was my first year to read fiction. I spent so much time on it. I think I read 78 books this year. I just checked my Goodreads.
Emma: Oh, man, this really sums up Elsie to me, because it’s like for years, like 38 years, she reads no fiction and then she’s into it and she reads over what did you say? 60?
Emma: I think I read like 12 books this year but I’m a lifelong fiction reader. I don’t know, this just to me sums up Elsie to a tee. She is all or nothing, she’s in or she’s not. It’s just hahaha.
Elsie: That’s true. All or nothing is the way to live.
Emma: Not me. But okay.
Elsie: I mean, a little bit at a time is great too. I’m just not good at that.
Emma: Anyway. So you’ve read nearly 80 books, what was your favorite of the year? You’re gonna have to pick one, but it’s okay if you want to mention a couple because I’ll allow it.
Elsie: I still have as of recording this, I still have one more month to finish. So sometime at the end of December, I will make a reel that’s my top 10 books of the year. I still have a couple that I’m trying to read real fast that I think could get in there and I don’t want to leave anyone out. One month out of 12 still feels like a lot of time, even though this is a busy month and I probably won’t read much. Anyway, I picked four favorite books. I had a lot of favorites but I’m gonna pick one that I haven’t mentioned yet on the podcast. So it is If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio. I just read it last month. It was the perfect spooky season book. It is like an artsy college theater program. The setting of it is a lot of Shakespeare stuff and it’s kind of a mystery. It’s like a who’d done it? I don’t read a lot of books like that. It’s a category that I struggle with a little bit more to find my special spot. So this one I enjoyed it the whole way through and felt a surprising connection with the characters. I liked it overall. What was your favorite?
Emma: So I’ve read a lot of good books this year and a lot of very different genres in the fiction category. One that I really enjoyed, and it kind of came out of nowhere in a way for me was, The Thursday Murder Club. It’s about a group of senior citizens who are living at a retirement home and it’s a who done it. So yeah, it was just fun. I like when books have kind of not your average protagonists. I feel like you’ve kind of mentioned this before Elsie, I’ll see like hot middle aged people, you know, or hot high schoolers. I read lots of books where that’s the protagonists but this just was something different and it was fun, fun to read that. And I love a who done it. I love a mystery. I also love romance. I love fantasy. I love lots of different kinds of books. So the only thing I don’t really read much is westerns. So almost anything else I’m into but this was just really fun. I think it wasn’t that I had low expectations, I just didn’t really have any expectations. I think someone had recommended it. And I just was like, Yeah, that looks interesting. So I just really enjoyed it.
Elsie: Yeah, I love that. Okay, so the next one is, favorite beauty item you tried this year. So last year was my LANEIGE year, this year was my Rare Beauty Blush year. This is the blush that people say you can only put one dot on each cheek and then it’s like already going to be too much. It’s really pigmented liquid blush. And okay, so it’s called Rare Beauty Soft Pinch, liquid blush. I actually don’t know the color that I use, but it’s a little bit of earthy blush color. I love it. It’s really, really bright and it stays on and I like a lot of blush. I’ve always been, like you know when it’s too much, I like to push the line, like push it right up until that line. And yeah, it just works really well. It’s a fun application since you do the dot. What about you?
Emma: I like that. I tried Glossier Futuredew Serum this year. And so I got, I guess I should say I got a whole set that was kind of like mini size or travel size. It was like trying out a bunch of different things. I think it had five items or more. I really liked pretty much all of it, but I loved the Futuredew Serum. I’m gonna buy that again, in the larger size, the regular size. If you’ve ever tried it, one, it’s actually really pretty. It looks like they maybe put glitter in it or something, like a tiny bit because it varies, like shimmery. Also, this is something that I wear at night, I think you could mix a little bit of makeup into it for kind of a dewy look but it’s pretty thick, and it’s pretty dewy, so I like it for nighttime. It’s almost a little bit sticky, but not in a bad way. I will say I like to put it on and then read for 30 minutes or more and then go to sleep because I feel like if you put it on and then immediately put your face on your pillow, I’m a side sleeper, it might rub off on your pillow, which won’t be the best. So there’s my tip for it. I love skincare stuff, I love a night routine. It just makes me feel like I’m taking care of myself but it’s not really hard. You’re just like putting creams on your face. So it’s nice. It’s a nice little hobby.
Elsie: Yes, I love it as well. The next category is: Best Budget Find. I’m thinking let’s say under $20. So mine, I actually have two free things. I thought about this for a really long time because I wanted to have the perfect little bargain thing, but I just couldn’t think of anything that was like $5 that changed my life. But there’s two free things that really have changed my life dramatically. The first one is so random, but I just love it. So I joined this email list earlier this year called Trusted Tarot. So if you go to trustedtarot.com, I think the woman who owns it is named Margaret. It’s just a free Tarot website. You could do a Tarot reading and it’s a full reading for the one on the website, for your first one, where you pick maybe nine cards or something like that. Then it’s an intensive reading that can maybe take you 10 minutes, and it’s very enjoyable and then you end up putting in your email. Then you get a Tarot reading every Sunday in your email. So it’s just like, the email shows up and then it’s like a deck of cards in there and you pick a card, and then you get your reading and they tell you your week. It became just really fun for me. I look forward to it. Eventually she did a new app. So I have her app now but I love it and yeah, it’s totally free to do the weekly email. So definitely do that if you’re interested in tarot even a little bit. It’s just for fun and I loved it. Then the other one is the Libby app. So I have to shout this from the hills anytime I get a chance forever because all you have to have is any public library card, just your library card number and you can use this app totally for free to listen to audiobooks. It’s just so simple. So I always have a queue and if you put in a popular book, like today, I just got Stephen King’s new book, Fairy Tale, that took probably like five or six weeks of waiting, but I put it in, forgot about it and then one day, it just showed up and now I can listen to that book for free. I have seven days to listen to it. Anytime that I don’t get through a book, like the second Court Of Thorns and Roses, I didn’t get through the whole thing and so it’s back in my queue. When it comes back up again, it saves your place for you. It knows where you were, which is great. Even one time it was like a year later, I started a book again, and it saved my place for me. So it’s just a great app. It’s completely free. Thank God for public libraries. And yeah, I do use a little bit of audible, because you know, once in a while there’s a book that Libby doesn’t have, or there’s a book that I need to listen to right away, like for the book club or something, and I don’t have time to wait. This makes it to where it’s just a lot more affordable. Also, I kind of enjoy the random aspect of it, where you never really know what’s going to pop up for you next, you’ve just saved what you want to listen to and then it sort of surprises you.
Emma: Yeah, I think the randomness is kind of fun. Also, I sometimes don’t feel like making a decision and so I kind of like when I’ve already made a decision a long time before and now it’s just here. You know what I mean? Something about that makes me really happy when I’m having a week where I can’t make a single other decision even about just what to read or what to make for dinner. Anyway. Okay, mine didn’t necessarily change my life, but it was what came to mind when I was like, Best Budget Find of the year. It is this lavender, pink, blue sweater that I thrifted. Ever since thrifting it I’ve worn it probably 20 times already and it’s only been a few months into winter. I just really like it. I think the color looks good on me. I just kind of mentioned it because I love thrifting and I would like to make more time for thrifting and 2023. I feel like I end up thrifting a lot of sweaters a lot of times, I don’t know if it’s because the material tends to be thicker so maybe it holds up to more washings in a way that some other clothing kind of doesn’t so then it ends up looking more weathered. I don’t really know, but maybe I just love sweaters. I don’t know. But anyway, that was one of my best things of the year. A lavender sweater that I thrifted.
Elsie: Love it.
Emma: So opposite of best budget find, what is your favorite splurge from this year? So something that you spent money on and it was worth it to you.
Elsie: Okay, so this was not planned at all, but sort of impulsively I went on a trip to France. So our friend Sherry texted me one night and was like, “Do you want to go on an art retreat in France?” And I was like, “Yes!”, I just instantly said yes. I didn’t have to think about it. I just knew the answers is Yes. And she was like, “if you want to go you need to register right now because I think it might sell out.” And I was like done, you know, just like, click click click done, and by a couple hours later it was sold out. And then it was on my schedule for months and months, just like looking forward to it, having something to look forward to was so wonderful. Then going there, doing a child free, kind of like a girls weekend in another country. We went to a flea market in Paris, it was just, it was magical. It was everything I needed at that moment in my life and I feel like it was the best gift I could have given myself. Really the thing that made it happen was just saying yes without hesitation when an opportunity came along. What about you?
Emma: I’m glad you did that. So I didn’t go to France this year but I did get a panel ready dishwasher and I love it.
Elsie: I predicted that you were going to talk about the dishwasher because of your hidden trash true love. I was looking through last year’s pics and I saw the hidden trash can was on there and I was like, she’s gonna mention the dishwasher. Okay, so tell the full dishwasher saga because I think it is kind of a thing.
Emma: Yeah, apparently all I want to spend my money on is hiding my appliances and trash cans. This is like what I want to do with my life, apparently. But yes. Okay, so as everyone knows, we moved well over a month ago now by the time you’re listening to this and we bought the house much earlier this year, and we did a big renovation. So we knew we were basically buying all new appliances because we didn’t have any from our previous home. We were selling them with the home. There were very old ones, but the whole kitchen was getting demoed and so we either sold or donated what was there. They were pretty old anyway, so honestly, there wasn’t much to save. Anyway, so I hit up a Memorial Day Sale so that I could buy all the appliances on sale and then they sat in our garage for months and months and months and months before they ever got installed. And I decided to buy a panel ready dishwasher, which if you don’t know what that is, all it means is it’s just a regular dishwasher, but it doesn’t have a front. So if you’re getting cabinets made, you have them make you a cabinet front, and they put it on to the dishwasher and it has a dishwasher handle, usually you can get different handles, but usually it has a pretty heavy duty handle. So the handle might not match the rest of your cabinet hardware. It could but it kind of depends, because you probably know this, but dishwashers have a bit of suction to them. That’s how it keeps all the water inside while it’s washing. So you need kind of a good handle on it. Because when you pull it, you’re actually pulling harder than you would other cabinets. So that’s all it is, a panel ready dishwasher. They’re actually not much more expensive than other dishwashers. In fact, I think you can even find nonpanel ready dishwashers that are more expensive than the one I got. The one I got is KitchenAid if you care, and I love it. But yeah, the panel ready thing was just something that I wanted. I just feel like it makes your kitchen more sleek, kind of like hidden trash. Once it was getting installed, a lot of the folks who were doing some of the work were pretty confused by it. I guess it’s not very common in Springfield where I live. I didn’t feel like it was that fancy, but I guess it is pretty fancy. So anyway, we had some issues with it and I ended up having to call around and find other people to help with the panel ready dishwasher issue. I ended up finding this older man like he’s probably I would guess in his mid to late 80s. I didn’t ask him his age, but this would be my guess, his name is Cecil. And he was able to finish the job that lots of other gentlemen had looked at and hadn’t gotten it done. It was really fun because he was just like, the oldest gentleman I’ve worked with in our home. He did such a great job but he’s kind of retired and so you have to call him at 8am and be like, how’s your day looking Cecil, in order to have him come do something at your house because he just kind of does this on the side basically, like something to keep his mind busy and things like that, you know, but he’s very experienced, very knowledgeable, and he did a great job. I also love his name. I just am like really into the name Cecil now. I want to put it in a book or something.
Elsie: I’m glad you got that. Your kitchen looks amazing, by the way, and yeah, I can’t wait to see it all styled. When I saw it, it still had a couple little things that she was waiting on.
Elsie: Yeah. I could just tell that you had just moved in. And so yeah, I’m excited to see it when it’s all styled up and everything. It looks definitely like the most Emma dream kitchen I’ve ever seen. Okay, what was your favorite podcast episode of this past year, Emma?
Emma: I liked Episode 155, which was about our old lady creative retreat. I think of ideas for it all the time.
Elsie: I do think that was a special episode of the year and I think that we will have no problem keeping our openings full when the time comes.
Emma: Oh no, it’s already booked. Yeah, it’s not even happening and it’s booked.
Elsie: We’ve got applications on applications.
Elsie: My favorite, 138 Palm Springs Mom’s just because I want to go on another trip again. I think being a travel podcaster sounds like a great idea.
Emma: Oh, yeah, that sounds fun. Yeah, let’s do that. Okay, what about favorite movie and TV shows of the year?
Elsie: Okay, so last weekend, after Thanksgiving, we watched Glass Onion at the theater. It was so fun and I loved it. It was a 10 out of 10.
Emma: It was awesome. I loved it.
Elsie: That was definitely easily my favorite movie of the year. And for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. I think it’s already up on Netflix.
Emma: Yeah, Netflix or HBO. I don’t remember. They can google it.
Elsie: Yes. Loved Glass Onion. Then for TV, I am loving The White Lotus. We are watching the second season right now. It’s so good. Have you watched it?
Emma: No. What’s it about?
Elsie: Oh my god. You haven’t watched any of it? You’re so lucky. Okay, then you have the whole first season and the whole second season. It is a wonderful drama about people vacationing at a luxury resort called the White Lotus and it’s just like craziest characters and there’s always a mystery to every season. So you’re going to love it. It has Jennifer Coolidge and it’s a 10 out of 10. The last show I lost my s*#t over a bit is, this is really funny, Fixer Upper, the castle. Yeah, so it’s like fixer upper, except for they renovated a castle. But it’s like a Texas castle in their hometown, where they always do all the houses. It’s an American castle. I thought it was so fun to watch. It was definitely my favorite fixer upper thing ever. Maybe even my favorite design show. It was so fun because, you know, it’s a castle. So it’s like they’re designing it and I liked how it turned out. Sometimes on fixer upper when they go into a category that’s not their own, like mid-century, it’s like hard watch. This was like, they were really into the castle. They were really good. It was a really good fit. It turned out beautiful. I just loved the whole thing. And it was weird. It was just weird.
Emma: I haven’t seen it yet. So when you say an American Castle, is it a residence?
Elsie: Yes. It’s like a 4000 square foot home that is a castle. It looks like a castle, but it’s not really big. It’s kind of a small miniature castle. I mean that’s not big for a house but small for a castle, right? You know what I’m saying?
Emma: Right, right. Yeah, I get what you’re saying.
Elsie: So there’s not really that many bedrooms. It’s like a living rooms, kind of regular rooms. They did a lot of like salvaging so anything that was there like the fireplaces and everything they were restored or kept. Then they did, I thought, a really great historic kitchen that blended, so it was just fun. It was really different from anything else I’ve seen. Design shows, you know, I think that they’re a good comfort watch, but they can be kind of boring. It can be kind of the same thing over and over. Then this was just extremely different so I recommend it for that reason alone.
Emma: That sounds pretty good.
Elsie: Yes. So tell us your favorite movie and TVs.
Emma: Okay, so I also loved Glass Onion. Another, who done it, that we watched recently that’s available I think on Netflix or HBO? I can’t remember. It’s called, See How They Run. It’s kind of somewhat based off of Agatha Christie, like there’s an Agatha Christie play and there’s an actress who plays her so her character is in the movie.
Elsie: Writing this down.
Emma: Yeah and it was very fun. I really liked it. It has Sam Rockwell and I forget the actress’s name. She’s very famous. You’ll know when you see but I forget her name, but it was lovely. Really enjoyed it. Very fun, very good, who done it. All right. Then something from earlier in the year, a movie that I loved was, the Bob’s Burgers movie that came out this summer.
Emma: As you know, I love Bob’s Burgers. Got to mention it all the time.
Emma: It’s my favorite TV show of all time, still going on and they had a movie come out this year, and I loved the movie. Then the only other thing I really thought I’d mention that I feel like it’s a no dub. But you know, nevertheless, I really liked the season of Stranger Things. I thought the villain was so good.
Elsie: Oh I loved it.
Emma: I just love all those kids. They’re not really kids anymore. I guess there are young adults, you know. But yeah, I love Stranger Things. I love the vibes. It’s probably the scariest thing that I watch because I’m not a horror person like Elsie, but I loved the season, so it was very fun.
Elsie: Oh that’s cute. We watch Stranger Things the whole way through around this Halloween, and I really enjoyed it. It was my first time to watch it. It was so cute to see them growing up. It kind of resonated like Harry Potter for me because the little actor or the actress growing up, it’s so sweet.
Emma: Yeah, they grow.
Elsie: I really love that story, it was sweet.
Emma: Yeah, it’s very fun. It’s very different too but I feel like everyone’s seen Stranger Things. So I again, a little bit of a no duh, but I just loved this particular season in particular. So I’m excited to see the next one too.
Elsie: We’re allowed to love things that are well loved and cliche as much as we want.
Emma: Oh, yeah. I have no qualms about being a basic b#$%h, I like it. I’m good with it. Okay, the next one was something you tried for the first time this year.
Elsie: Okay, so I really want to talk about this fiction reading thing. So before this year started, I had read two fiction books in my whole life since high school, I guess. I think that I had tried it a few times and had some false start or I had some kind of reason to believe, like lots of people, that it just wasn’t for me, which now I think is so laughable because there’s so many different types of fiction books. There’s literally something for everyone, you know, 100 times over. So anyway, I just had the best year and it was so magical to have the hobby of all hobbies, because you can do it sometimes but not all the time, but sometimes I can listen to audiobooks while I’m working. So you know, I definitely listen to them when I’m running errands, anytime I’m in Target, anytime I’m anywhere it’s like headphones are in and I love it. I just feel like I stumbled on the happiest thing. I’m definitely going to stretch it. This year I did that 52 books goal on Goodreads, I’m going to do that again and I don’t even care how many books I read. I just care that it’s fun. Actually, last year, I forced myself to finish books that I wasn’t enjoying that much and this year, I might not, I don’t know, how do you feel about that?
Emma: Hmm, I usually finish books but if I really don’t enjoy something, life is short. I will say though, something you just said it was really sticking in my mind. When you said, it’s devastating when you find a new author and you love them and there’s only a few books. I just started thinking about the devastation of loving something because when you really love something, and it’s over, we’re just talking about favorite movies, favorite TV shows, books, just stuff. I think I’ve been feeling that a lot this year with motherhood where I didn’t even realize how devastating it was going to be. I just thought about it, was more like, I want to have a kid and do the kid stuff and it’s fun, you know? And it is, but it’s also like each little phase that he gets over, when he grows out of clothes, I’m like, oh, that’s over now and there’s this little devastation. Kind of like when a really good book ends and you’re like, oh, no, I’m kind of sad because this thing I loved is now kind of over. Anyway, just thinking about that. It’s funny because it’s like, the flip side, or like the thing that has to go with loving something deeply. Whether it’s a really good book or your child or whatever, you know, different levels, but something about it probably ends. And that is just like, heartbreaking and it’s just, I don’t know, maybe I’m in an emo mood, holidays, I don’t know but something about it really resonates with me.
Elsie: It’s definitely one of the greatest treasures and I had no idea how many good books there are. I think I thought Oh, you’ll find a favorite author, it’s not like that. It’s like, I can tell, there’s really hundreds or 1000s of books to read in the next decade and it feels so good. It’s just, it’s such a comfort.
Elsie: And as someone who, I’ve kind of watched every 70s horror movie, and I’ve kind of watched every good TV show. It’s nice to have something that feels so unlimited again.
Emma: I like that. I struggled with this one. The thing I thought of though, I’ve mentioned this on the podcast, so listeners will know. I went on a little writing retreat, just myself. I booked this Treehouse Airbnb that’s actually in Branson, Missouri, which is only about 45 minutes from where I live. So I didn’t travel very far but it felt like I was away from home, which I was, and I just spent the weekend working on a novel that I’ve been writing. That was really fun both because I’ve never prioritized a hobby on that level before, I thought that was cool, and I really enjoyed it. And then also, I kind of realized, I haven’t really traveled by myself in a long time. I used to do a good amount of traveling on my own, like when I was in college in my early 20s. Because you know, you’re single and you’re young, and I didn’t have important jobs where I needed to be there. So you could travel some and do it on the cheap and go by yourself. It was really fun. I’ve always loved traveling by myself, like a lot of alone time person. So it doesn’t freak me out in any way to think about traveling somewhere and being alone and maybe not even talking to someone for days or a week or two, doesn’t really freak me out. That to me is very normal. I think for some people, they wouldn’t find comfort in that but for me, it’s like yeah, no. But anyway, I hadn’t done it in years and so that was another thing that was like, Oh, I haven’t done this in a long, long time. It almost feels like a first, just traveling on my own, like doing a trip by myself.
Elsie: That’s very cool. I definitely want to follow in your footsteps someday, that’s super, super cool.
Emma: Something that you’re proud. Mine’s related to the writing retreat, something I’m proud of is that I finished the first draft of my murder book. So now I’m in this phase, Stephen King tells you, my friend Stephen King, he tells you to, when you finish your first draft, you just set it down for a couple months and don’t even think about it. Maybe work on something else before you start the second draft, which is like fixing all your problems and expanding on things and all that. So I have finished my first draft and it’s done but I already know a bunch of things I’d like to change. I’m in the phase where I’m just setting it down for a while. I also wanted to mention, we launched a new look of our website, abeautifulmess.com website. It’s just very different. It’s very like Gutenberg block friendly, which is something we’ve been learning over the last few years as bloggers, and it was just really a big project for us. it was fun to see it come to life and I’m really happy with how the site turned out. So I’m also really proud that that happened this year.
Elsie: Okay, so the thing I’m most proud of from this past year is, we haven’t totally launched it yet but launching Childhood Magic. It’s mostly launched, if you go to childhoodmagic.com as of the time we’re recording this, it still doesn’t have a blog design. It’s like we’re just using WordPress how it comes without a design but we’ve already published over 100 posts, and a lot of them are free printables. They’re all some kind of free activity that you can do with kids. So there’s printables, there’s book round ups, there are lots of games, there’s templates, there’s just all kinds of cute stuff. We did all of the seasons, we did all the major holidays, it was a lot of work, very fun and exciting. I would say just a fun change of pace from what we do at A Beautiful Mess. They are just kind of different and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I can’t wait to keep going on it for the next few years. I can’t wait to see it design because we’ve seen it on the back end with a design that looks so pretty. So yeah, as soon as it gets the design, then it’s really gonna sparkle.
Emma: So speaking of blog posts, let’s tell everyone the top 10 A Beautiful Mess blog posts from the year. So the criteria here is, these were posts that were written in 2022, because there’s top pages that were written years and years ago. So these are the ones that were written from this past year that have the most page views.
Elsie: Yes, I love getting these top posts. Usually, we get one for every month too and usually there’s one that blows all the other ones out of the water. Also, it’s just interesting because a lot of times you just can’t tell. Some of the things that I think people who are our longtime readers appreciate most that we do are also like opposite of the things that get the most traffic that we do. So it’s just interesting. So number 10 is the easy hack to build an Ikea Pax wardrobe. I’m not surprised about this because I think IKEA hacks are so interesting and very popular. I know this one was done in Laura’s office and they look so good. I’ve never done a Pax wardrobe myself, but I know so many people have. I’m probably like the only blogger ever who’s never done one.
Emma: I haven’t done one either. Laura has quite a few on the list this year. Not surprising because her work is phenomenal and I love seeing it and this post is awesome.
Elsie: Number 9 is Emma’s chicken and rice casserole. These recipes, these are the golden A Beautiful Mess recipes. Just basic, everyday things that people need to know how to make.
Emma: Yeah, this one was inspired by a meal that a friend brought me during my meal train when my son was born. If you don’t know what a meal train is, it’s just like people sign up and they bring you a meal after you have a baby or if someone has fallen ill. It’s just a way for people to support you. So anyway, my friends, we have a book club, and we always do a meal train when someone has a baby. This blog post was inspired by a meal that I was brought.
Elsie: It’s a great one. Number 8 is Pink and White Kitchen Makeover. So this is Laura’s kitchen makeover. We will link all of these in the show notes if you want to click through to see any of them, they’ll all be there. Yeah, I love her new kitchen. I’m not surprised at all about that one. Number 7 is a new post so that means that it has moved up the ranks really quickly and that is butter cookies with six ingredients. So these are one of the ones we did for our quote-unquote holiday special. We made all those videos in August. We filmed Halloween and Christmas videos this year together for a whole week. It was so fun. We tried to do a lot of Christmas cookies like classic Christmas cookies was one of our emphasis this year so it looks like it was working. It was reaching the goal, so that’s good.
Emma: So we did make them really cute. We used these little Christmas stamps, but you could also do them plain. You could do whatever you wanted, but I just like cookies that are kind of unassuming in their looks, but then they’re really addictive. I think there’s something about that. That’s really fun and these cookies fit that bill for sure.
Elsie: When we had the cookie platter, no one can really give a review except for me because I taste tested them all constantly for a week and compared them. I do think that these butter cookies were probably the number one, but the other one I would say is the snowball cookies.
Emma: Snowball cookies yeah.
Elsie: The snowball cookies were so good.
Emma: Those are going to be on the site really soon.
Elsie: Okay, so number 6 is the kids art frame DIY. So this is like a frame, I have mine in my kitchen, where you can open them up, it has hinges, so you can always be changing out your kid’s artwork because every parent knows there is a revolving door of so many good art pieces coming in absolutely constantly. It’s hard to give them all their moment in the sun.
Emma: Yes, this just makes it easy to swap out the art too because otherwise, it’s like a, you know, traditional frame, you’d have to take it off the wall and open up the back and put the artwork in and then remount it and if you’ve done it with command strips, then they’re likely ruined. If it’s on a hook, then great, that would be helpful but sometimes when you take something off the wall it’s not so great. So anyway, this is a way to kind of solve that and also make it way faster, because you can swap out the art while it’s still hanging on the wall.
Elsie: Okay, so now we’re getting into the top 5. So the next one is Gooey Butter Cake made with a cake mix. What was going through your mind when you created Gooey Butter cake made with cake mix?
Emma: Yeah, if you don’t know Gooey Butter cake is a recipe that I think is associated with St. Louis, Missouri. Or at least in my mind, it definitely is. I feel like it originated from there, but someone might know more of the history than me.
Elsie: I didn’t know that.
Emma: Yeah, it’s from St. Louis, Missouri. Isn’t that cool? It has kind of two layers. A bottom layer that’s like a dense cake that’s almost like a crust. Then the next layer is like a very thick kind of frosting custard. So that’s kind of what Gooey Butter cake is. You can make it where that bottom layer, the cake layer, is made with a cake mix and you don’t follow the cake mix instructions, you do a few different things, but it just makes it an easier and faster recipe. So I was basically trying to bake this classic, that’s from my home state, but making it a little bit easier to accomplish with the cake mix.
Elsie: Nice. Number 4 is biscuits and gravy casserole, which I have to say one of the hardest foods to photograph, because don’t you think it’s kind of an ugly food? So I’m very proud of you for this one.
Emma: Yeah, casseroles are tough to photograph and this one in particular. I was like, I want it to look attractive but I also want it to look how it looks coming out of the oven. Because sometimes you make something and it looks completely different than the photo online and I feel like that kind of throws me off as far as like, did I even make it right? So anyway, this was inspired by my father-in-law. I felt like it was something that he would love. I worked on this recipe, and the final version which is on our website, I made it for my son’s first birthday this past summer. We did a brunch with family. We did doughnuts for his cake because I did this all year long. I had done donut photos with him each month where each month there was another donut, so at six months there were six donuts, that whole thing. So anyway, for his first birthday we did donuts. We did a brunch and I made this biscuits and gravy casserole and low and behold my father-in-law did love it, rave reviews.
Elsie: I’ll have to try that sometime. Okay, number 3 is one of my posts. This is my only one on the list, which honestly, I’m not surprised because I’m learning how to food blog this year. I hope next year I can achieve some higher levels of food blogging status, but this year, not so much. Okay, so number 3 is, When An Open Floor Plan Is Too Open, and I will say I am an expert in this field. I have such big opinions about floor plans, and other people do too. It’s so interesting. It’s one of those things, there’s no right or wrong, it’s like do you want your kitchen basically in the living room or do you not? We all are either one or the other. So yeah, very interesting subject and I’m glad that people liked the post. Number 2, this is one of Jackie’s roundups. She’s proud of this.
Emma: Yeah, she should be.
Elsie: Yeah, 15 Easy No Bake Desserts. So I think this went up in the summertime. Emma has created these, like huge archives. Today I was writing a hot chocolate post and I searched hot chocolate. There’s so many hot chocolate recipes on our site. It’s so interesting. So we’ve been doing more roundups recently to make those more accessible. Like to have something in the season, that kind ties them all together. So this was a no bake dessert post, and I guess it did amazing.
Emma: Yes, yeah. I love a no bake dessert like cookies, pies. Laura has quite a few recipes in this roundup, too, because she has a couple of really delicious no bake pies. Here’s our number 1 blog post from the year, which I think is totally surprising because it’s truly just a random blog post idea. Like, no rhyme or reason.
Elsie: OK everyone guess in your head what subject. Ok, go for it Emma.
Emma: Favorite Things To Make In My Air Fryer. Number 1, it’s not even a recipe, it’s kind of a round up. It honestly has pictures of just frozen foods I like to buy and what I do with them to make it a dinner really fast. We talked about our air fryers kind of a lot. I love air fryers. We have quite a few recipes on our site. A lot of times I have people send me messages that’s like, I’m thinking about getting an air fryer, but I don’t know if I’ll use it. So I was like, oh, I should write a post that’s like, here’s all the things I make with my air fryer and how often it comes up. If you don’t want one, great, don’t get one but if you are thinking about getting one, but you’re like what else could I do with it? I was like this would be a great post to answer that question. If we get the same question over and over, if it makes any sense to write a blog post for it, we do because that way, in the future, if someone asked the question again, I could just send them the link. I’ll be like here’s the link, I answered your question. So that’s how this was.
Elsie: I use my air fryer literally every day.
Emma: Yeah, we use ours almost every day.
Elsie: Okay, so we had a question come in from our email. It’s from Grace. So I thought this would be a good way to end our final episode of the season because it’s a pep talk and we always all need a pep talk. This is a good one.
Emma: Okay, so this is the email we got from Grace, please do a podcast about how you battle stress and anxiety while getting so much accomplished in your personal and professional lives. I’m a mom to a four year old kid who’s home all the time, in the middle of trying to renovate a home we recently moved into, and some days it feels like nothing gets done beyond the dishes. Some days, the dishes don’t even get done. So Grace wants to know about battling stress and anxiety and it sounds like she’s got a lot on her plate.
Elsie: Okay, I do feel like I can give a good pep talk for this because one of the most heart wrenching parts of doing what we do for a living is getting messages like this where people think that we are such high achievers, and think that we have solutions. But this was one of the hardest years of our life. This was a crying year. It was a year full of setbacks, frustrations, family, heartbreak, disappointments, and fears. I don’t feel like I achieved on the level that I wish I did. When I look back at it, it’s not my proudest year of my life. I think that it’s encouraging that other people look in at what we’re doing and feel like we’re doing a good job because that helps us feel like, okay, it’s still worth doing, it’s not that bad. But it was, it was a bad year. Honestly, it was a hard, bad year and like extremely heartbreaking. I think that it’s maybe good to know that no one feels good about their year. I don’t know. I mean, just that it’s harder than it looks for every single person though and you look at your life in a way that other people don’t see.
Elsie: You know, I think whenever people say the meme with the tip of the iceberg, and it’s like what you see of someone’s life and then the underneath is what’s really going on. I think that’s the truest meme and the best meme. That’s the only meme I stand behind. So yeah, I would just say you’re not alone and you’re doing a good job and the way you feel is so normal.
Emma: Very normal. Yep. When I read Grace’s email, I quickly wrote down, I have six things. I guess these are tips or advice, I don’t know. Or mainly they’re just things that I do. So here’s the six things, I’m going to do them quickly because that probably sounds like a lot, but trust me, this isn’t going to take me an hour. Okay. Number one, focus on small wins when you’re feeling really down. So sometimes I have days where I feel like I didn’t even get the dishes done. Nothing got done. Think about small wins though. So if needed, do something small before you go to bed, anything, putting something away, putting the laundry away that was washed two days ago. There have been lots of days that’s the main thing I got done that day, just putting a laundry basket of clean clothes that have been sitting out for days away. Small wins, small wins are good. Alternatively, focus on caring for yourself and making that a part of your to-do list. So some days, it’s like you get to the end of the day, and you’re like, I’m so tired. I don’t even think I could take a shower right now. So, just make that your to-do list. Don’t worry about all the other things you didn’t get done. Just do something to take care of yourself. That’s it, and then that’s your win. It’s a win and you’ve got to count it as one. You can’t be like, Oh, it’s just me doing a selfish thing. No, it’s you taking care of yourself, just like you would your four year old kid, just like you would your family. It’s a win. All right, number three, zoom out. So there are lots of days Elsie and I get nothing done, or you work on something really hard and you know it’s a flop, something about it didn’t work out, you have to trash it. There’s all sorts of moments like that, and it sucks. So when you have those moments, one thing I’ll do is zoom out. So instead of thinking about what I didn’t get done, or what failed today, think about what you’ve gotten done this month, or this quarter, or even this year and hold on to that because those are the things that add up over time. Having a one day setback or a week long setback, those happen, but think about the bigger picture because I bet you it’s not as bad as you think in this moment. Okay, number four, this is kind of for all the parents out there, including Grace, raising kids well is valuable work, even if no monetary value is attached to it. I just feel like that’s something that we need to say to each other a lot more often because so often in our society, and I think this is changing, I think it’s getting better, but we really celebrate careers and making money and having accomplishments and that is awesome, but raising a child or children that is such a big accomplishment. Nobody’s going to pay you for it and it doesn’t feel like something that you’re going to brag about in a speech on a stage. No one’s going to hand you a trophy but you know what, they should, because we all need to be raised well, and it’s really important to the whole community, to the whole society. And you know who it’s really important to, your four year old kid. So you’re killing it. If you got that done today, don’t worry about all the other stuff. Number five, having fun and relaxing and caring for yourself, that is as essential as anything else. If you’re like, oh, there’s something about the renovation, I didn’t get that done, and I didn’t get this done. Caring for yourself needs to be on your list and it needs to be a high priority. If you’re getting that done, that really matters too. If you can tell, I don’t value myself well, so I have to give myself these little speeches a lot.
Elsie: I think that’s really relatable.
Emma: I think a lot of people do it, not just me, but you can definitely tell from all my pep talks that I do not value myself. I have to remind myself, that’s not cool, you need to care for yourself just as hard as you would others. Last thing and I realize that this is a privilege, but if you are able, therapy is awesome, a very beneficial tool. So if you have the time, capacity, money, get yourself to therapy. It is super, super helpful.
Elsie: Yeah, I’m super proud of going to therapy and it is life-changing. It’s definitely the best thing ever. I want to start my kids soon so that they will never remember not going because I want it to just be common. I love that idea. Thank you Grace for that question. Good job Emma for a six point pep talk. I think it’s something we all needed to hear and it is so true this time of year especially, it’s just so easy to get down on yourself, feel like you’re not doing as much as other people are, whatever. Yeah, but it’s mostly a lie. So this was our last episode of 2022. We will be back on January 9th with some exciting news. Some plans for the new year. We’ve decided to start some new types of episodes, we will announce those next month as soon as we come back. We will have new book club picks. If you have a book you really enjoyed or you think we should do, definitely DM us or email us at [email protected] anytime. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of your support in 2022. The podcast has become one of the highlights of how we connect with our audience and the social aspect of our career is definitely the best with our podcast audience. So yeah, we owe so much to you and we love doing this and we love your emails. We love your messages. Thank you for spending your time listening to us. It means so much.
Emma: It does.
Elsie: Okay, we’ll be back in 2023.