I am happy to share with you the books and other products that made my life much better this year!

  1. Amazon Basics cast-iron dutch oven: an affordable, beautiful kitchen essential that I use regularly to create delicious simmered dishes, including this chicken tajine and the French onion soup you can view in my Instagram cooking highlight.
  2. Stress Away essential oils: this delicious blend by Young Living was diffused at the yoga studio I go to, and even when I was still living in DC, I applied it everywhere and felt like I was back at my happy cocoon of relaxation and my stress was just melting away. If you know someone who sells Young Living essential oils, you can buy it through them. If not, just use the link I provided to get it from Amazon.
  3. Moroccan Oil: I have been growing out my hair in the past couple of years (my goal: luscious red locks that fall to my waist – I’m about two thirds of the way there!), and this serum has helped me tame flyaways and reduce damage from frizz, tangling and snagging as I learn how to care for long hair again. Bonus points because it also smells delicious!
  4. Edens Garden Fighting Five essential oils roll-on: After this essential oils blend (in coconut oil) helped me recover from a very nasty cold, I keep it in my bag and apply it whenever I feel a little stuffy. It nips any sickness in the bud and has the side-advantage of smelling like Christmas!
  5. Zum bar goat’s milk soap with lavender and frankincense: This bar is one of my favorites because the smell is heavy enough to make my showers feel like a spiritual experience. It blends two of my favorite scents in one, and the goat’s milk makes my skin feel extra soft afterwards!
  6. Winsor and Newton watercolour palette: If you’ve been following me on social media, you know that watercolours are an integral part of my self-care rituals and of my life (here’s my art Instagram account). I will write a post soon about getting started with watercolours and various supplies you can gather, but this palette is great for beginners, because it contains fourteen colors you can easily mix to create countless other shades, is portable, and the brand, Winsor and Newton, is a guarantee of quality.
  7. At-home gel manicure kit: I have a lot of trouble keeping regular nail polish from chipping, because I like washing dishes by hand and my nail tips are constantly subjected to small shocks from typing (and I’m also, uh, a klutz). After regularly getting gel manicures at the salon, I ordered this kit, which costs about as much as a professional gel manicure, and I have to say that while I’m not satisfied with the opacity of the polishes that come with it, it is a good starter kit, and you can always add to your collection of gel shades. It comes with all the necessary tools and some extras, and the LED lamp resisted my cousins and their friends using it, which says a lot about its solidity. Keep in mind however that getting gel manicures frequently can damage your nails because of the removal process that can be harsh – I’m currently taking a break from them.
  8. Colloidal silver: I heard about this when I got pretty sick last March, and while I was skeptical about it at first (I did my research and the results were inconclusive), I ordered it and it did speed up my recovery. Colloidal silver tastes rather disgusting, but ah well, a spoonful of sugar (make that Trader Joe’s truffle dark chocolate for me!) makes the medicine go down, doesn’t it?
  9. Yin yoga: stretch the mindful way by Kassandra Reinhardt: When I was away from my yoga studio, I developed my own practice at home. Yin yoga (where you hold postures on the floor for up to five minutes) is by far my favorite type of yoga, and while I always have a few postures in mind (or looked some up online), I like having a book that I can intuitively flip through, kind of like an oracle deck, and land on postures I wouldn’t necessarily think of on my own (it means that I need them!).
  10. Glossier balm dotcom: My teenage cousin gave me this lip balm for Christmas, and I can’t say enough about how much I love it, from the taste, which reminds me of almond paste and rose water, to the way it protects my lips (and, in a cinch, my cuticles and any cracked skin) from harsh winter elements without making them feel oily.
  11. iPhone case: I’m a massive, MASSIVE klutz, so when I got an iPhone XR in January, I was very worried about destroying the screen (and glass back) like I had on my previous two iPhones (4 and 6s, RIP… But hey, they both survived several years with me!). I tested a few cases, but my favorite by far is this one. It is similar to the gel ones available on the Apple store, but costs only a fraction of the cost, comes in a wide array of colors, feels lightweight (and very soft!), and really, really protects the screen and entire phone from shocks and falls (yes, I’ve dropped my phone several times, and it is completely unharmed).
  12. Anjou essential oils kit: I tested several affordable essential oil kits throughout the years, and this is my ultimate favorite. It contains the largest number of bottles, and I love that, rather than three types of mint, for instance, they’ve thought to include a wider variety of oils such as palmarosa, ylang-ylang, cypress and rose geranium (which smells rather similar to the much pricier rose essential oils).  You can create many blends with them, depending on the season, your mood, or the effect you seek to achieve. I use these oils topically, in my diffuser necklace, in my oil diffuser, and even apply them as fragrance. If you are new to essential oils, I definitely recommend this kit. (Anjou’s customer service is excellent as well!).
  13. French press coffee maker: In the land of substandard coffee, I like this French press, which allows you to brew coffee with the smallest environmental footprint possible. It doesn’t use filters or too much energy (aside from separately boiling the water on your stovetop on in an electric kettle), allows you to determine how strong you want your coffee to be, doesn’t use too much counter space, and you can also use it for tea.
  14. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne: I watched the movie and had been using the two Secret apps for about a year before I purchased this amazing book, and would recommend it to anyone who would like to change their lives for the best. The Law of Attraction is real, it works, and it has brought about miracles since I have been learning it.
  15. Fresh rose face mask: I have the driest skin, and it doesn’t get better in the winter (or in the summer either, when I inevitably get sunburnt). This mask has been a lifesaver, restoring the moisture and reducing the inevitable redness and blemishes that come with irritated dry skin. It also smells delicious and you almost want to give it a taste!
  16. Cast-iron teapot: I’ve been making tea every day in a Japanese cast-iron pot – it may not look like a vintage porcelain Mrs Weasley-style teapot, but there’s still something delightfully cozy about it, and it keeps your tea warm for hours on end! A worthy purchase, if you ask me. (Just be careful while pouring, it may leak tea everywhere, and it also can be very hot to the touch, so handle it carefully!).
  17. The Energy Codes by Dr. Sue Morter: My fantastic yoga teacher Jen has gotten certified in the Energy Codes, which include healing techniques and more. I got reiki and B.E.S.T. treatments with her, and she was able to fix the chronic pain in my left shoulder that had been bothering me for almost a year. I took an Energy Codes workshop with Jen last May after beginning to read Sue Morter’s book, and what I learned, though it’s a bit hard to explain, really changed my approach to healing and helped me manage not only physical pain, but anxiety, stress and fear. I can only recommend you read the book, and find a practitioner in your area.
  18. Voctave: I discovered this a cappella group while writing – Youtube was on autoplay and I was listening to Pentatonix. To say that I am hooked is an understatement – I think I listened more to Voctave this year than to classical music. They cover anything from Disney and Broadway classics to devotional music and well-known and loved hymns (their rendition of Let there be peace on Earth was the first Voctave piece I ever listened to and it still gives me goosebumps). They are just amazing, especially the first soprano Kate Lott and her magnificent high notes.
  19. Himalayan salt lamp: There’s nothing more beautiful than the glow of a salt lamp while you’re sitting down and doing yoga, drinking tea, reading, or even working. It is said to emit negative ions, purify the air, and have many more benefits, but even if these are not proven, it is just so beautiful and soothing. My teenage cousin licked it, and said, “it is salty.” Then her teenage friends licked it, and said, “it is salty.” *insert eye roll followed by laughter*. A word of caution: My cat Julia tried to lick it several times, and I had to stop her from doing it, because ingesting salt can be dangerous to pets, even though they like the taste.
  20. Super Attractor by Gabrielle Bernstein: Gabby Bernstein is my role model when it comes to being a spiritual author, coach and business owner (because she’s young, beautiful, fabulous and what I hope to be like in ten years – but in redhead – y’all stay tuned for my TEDx talk!). I read all her books, including this one, which I just finished, and recommend to absolutely anyone. Thanks to Gabby’s teachings, and the yoga and energy work I learned from the aforementioned Jen, I am able to attract so many blessings and build a life beyond my wildest dreams.

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