2020 Best and Worst Purchases of the Year, Favorite Restaurants, Favorite Activities

Top Purchases for the year:

Getting my hair professionally cut and highlighted – I was starting to get a weird bowl cut looking vibe and as soon as it was highlighted, I feel like my look was completely transformed and I loved my hair again.

Amy Cohen’s masks bundles for myself, boyfriend, grandparents, and parents – Not only was I supporting someone I knew (mother of a friend), but these masks were adorable and after months of wear they still hold up!

Lush shampoo bar – I have loved every sample and bar that I’ve tried from Lush. They are super sudsy and very long-lasting. They travel very well – no leaking!

Native deodorant – I really like the natural scents and it’s one of the best natural deodorants that I’ve tried over the past few years.

ebike – I bought a secondhand Raleigh Sprite iE 45cm 2017 from someone who had used it as a commuter bike in Seattle (a gamble!) and I absolutely love this bike. I’m really happy that it works and I only spent $1000. I’ve already put over 300 miles on this bike and it makes biking where hills are involved pleasurable.

Low cost DIY pallet garden – I was able to build and plant my garden for just over $200 because I spent time and effort sourcing free materials and was gifted several tomato starts and the time and help of my friends and family.

Garage fridge – After cleaning out the mini fridge I got for free several years ago, I left it to defrost outside and it never turned back on so I invested in a $200 compact but full-sized fridge for the garage that we put all our hard cider and fridge overflow into. This was a great investment since there are three of us sharing our small full-sized kitchen fridge.

Orgain Keto chocolate (especially on sale at Costco) – I love this tuff! I can make a mousse when I mix it with milk. I can make hot chocolate when I mix it with hot milk. I put it into my granola bowls to make them taste like dessert.

Rock paint markers – I got really into rock painting as a new hobby in the summer and have been hiding and gifting the painted rocks all over town. This set works so well though I have accidentally squished down the top of the white too much. They don’t have a fine tip, which is mostly okay and I can make adequately detailed rocks.

Pecan pie from Grocery Outlet – Who knew my favorite pie was pecan? Thanks to my partner for picking pecan, now I know that it’s my favorite! Grocery Outlet’s $5 pecan pie was the best pie we’ve found this season.

Fiskars Micro-Tip Blades – I went all out for my DIY garden this year and love the clean and sharp pruning scissors I got to help me harvest my greens.

Soccer shoes – Though we only got to play one time with other people before lockdown, my boyfriend and I enjoyed multiple nights of practice play and these shoes made so much of a difference!

Top Gifts for the year:

Summer veggie box

The perfect sized cup in my Edible Arrangements birthday gift from my mother – I love this cup so much that I will wash it after each use so I can re-use it again. I eat my granola out of this cup because it also makes the perfect deep-bowl.


Worst Purchases for the year:

$238.51 Indiegogo masks reusable N-99 silicone masks from ModPPE and $60 for additional filters – After backing this project in April of this year, I finally received my product in December. They have had a full production company since late summer, yet they didn’t cancel my order when asked and didn’t bother shipping from their US warehouse either. Worst customer service I’ve ever experienced from a company selling a product. And check out the sorry state the box arrived in! The product doesn’t fit either so I paid quite a bit of money for useless trash that took 9 months to arrive. You want one? I’ve still got most of them sitting in my closet.

Mixed seeds from Amazon – Never again. Not only did they just dump unidentifiable seeds in the packet, there weren’t 100 and they didn’t grow at all!

The AMC refillable bucket – Haha 2020. You got me!

The Lobster Shop – Most disappointing restaurant of the year. Overpriced. Too salty. Quality was meh.

AirBnB gift card – I thought I could use this gift card to pay for the second half of my reservation (should have read the fine print). Now I still have that gift card just sitting in my account when it could have gone to something more useful.

Pistachio oil and Pistachio extract – The pistachio oil didn’t have enough pistachio flavor and I didn’t really know what to put it in other than my salads. The extract was terrible and tasted very artificial!


Favorite Restaurants:

Pagliacci – I really have taken a liking to their pizza. I like the crust. I like the cheese. I absolutely loved their fig seasonal pizza. I like how they have new seasonals every few weeks.

Where Ya Matt – Local food truck with phenomenal New Orleans soul food. Worth breaking your diet for those beignets…

The Slip – New favorite non-traditional burger place. The Slip has fun burgers that are delicious! My favorites were the Thai PB&J and the Burgadilla

Jeff’s Texas Style BBQ – we keep coming back for this BBQ.


Favorite Activities:

Horseback riding at Mone Farms – what activities can you do that are naturally socially distanced? How long is a horse you ask?

Trusted Housesitters – I love looking for new listings weekly on Trusted Housesitters and though we were only able to fit one sit in before lockdown, I still peruse their site every few weeks. It was such fun sitting this little guy. You can use this link to get 25% off a membership at Trusted Housesitters: https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/refer/RAF286731/

UFC family watch nights – Good food and good company, though I didn’t care too much about the UFC…

Mexico Vacation prior to the pandemic – Best vacation all year… I truly took a vacation (no sneaking in emails like I do during staycations).

Surprising my grandparents – chalk message, hidden painted rocks, and traditional Christmas breakfast

Building raised garden beds and a railing bed with my housemate (especially using her power drill) – I loved building the pallet garden beds instead of buying them. Saving money and learning a new skill!

Staying the weekend in a Tiny House in Tacoma (staycation) – I have become mildly obsessed with tiny houses and it was such fun to try one out for the weekend.

Pokemon Go – Another steadfast quarantine hobby has become Pokemon Go. We played so much that I was able to level up this year after playing almost every day.

Beatsaber, Sock Boy, Heads Up, and other games with my partner – Though I almost always lost, I still had lots of fun playing games and laughing with my boyfriend.

Tacoma Tiny House Trip – Viable Living Option?

I’ve been obsessing over the tiny house movement lately – watching every episode of Tiny House Nation on Netflix, subscribing to Living Big in a Tiny House, Living Tiny with the Bushes, and Tiny House Giant Journey on Youtube. I’ve also browsed local and national tiny house listings. And yet… I’ve never actually been in a tiny house – Airstreams and the like notwithstanding. This new ‘hobby’ of mine is rather a natural development from my most recent hobbies of minimalism, zero-waste, and frugal living. Tiny house living can check all those boxes.

I spent hours combing through AirBnB and best tiny houses to rent in the PNW. I stumbled on one amazing listing that even came with kayaks and was on the water! However, it came with a 4-day minimum commitment, a lot of the good dates were taken (i.e. over weekends), and it was pricey. So I went for my second choice and a top contender for a typical tiny house with a small footprint. Away we went for the weekend.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Location of the tiny house on the host property is very important! Our tiny house was located on a typical suburban lot in the back of a property already occupied by a full-sized house. The backyard was home to the yard, the driveway, four cars, and a small play set. For the amount of space available, the location of the tiny house was ideal and as private as it could be, but also not all that private. The windows of the loft bedroom looked out on an alleyway that had pedestrians and cars going by 12 feet away. Sometimes the kids from the main house played outside and the family came and went using this driveway to the side of the tiny house. The sprinkler for the grass came on every night for at least an hour and the sound carried right into our open windows.
  • I banged my knee on the loft railing one time, hit a hip on one of the cabinets one time, and pinched my fingers twice on the cabinet that pulled out under the sink to reveal the garbage. Otherwise, I was most worried about hitting my head on the large microwave/oven but never did. My 6’2″ partner did not bump into anything at any time.
  • I found the steps to get up to the loft a little too high for getting down and felt more comfortable descending backwards.
  • The air-conditioner – when on – was loud. I like the white noise it provided. It did blow directly on me when I worked in the kitchen and made me too cold. The windows weren’t cool enough for the loft at night and I had trouble falling asleep but didn’t feel like getting up and going down the large steps to turn on the air-conditioner.
  • The stove top burners had to be lit with a lighter/match which made me nervous at first but they worked nicely and didn’t ‘flame out’ like the gas burning stove we have at home does. This stove top was actually less scary than the one I use all the time.
  • I prepped a meal with three different pans and utilized the large counter and the area beside the sink while prepping without too much difficulty but I imagine if I was really prepping using my Vitamix, Instant Pot, and chopping vegetables it would get really crowded really fast.
  • Much of the storage was beyond my reach, even grabbing and putting the dishes away was well above my head and I clacked them together finding the right rack to place them.
  • This particular unit didn’t have washer/dryer/dishwasher.
  • I tried out the bath and found it as big as it needed to be for my 5’2″ petite frame. The toilet was also adequate and I enjoyed the little stomp flush. The sink in the bathroom felt small when I was brushing my teeth and the hand towel was right above the toilet paper roll – which seemed like poor planning at first but I didn’t notice water falling on the toilet tissue. We weren’t sure where to hang our towels to dry as there were a lot of places to hang them but not enough space for them to hang down without touching trash/toilet/floor and I placed mine on the shower curtain rod.
  • The fridge was a mini-fridge and would not have been adequate for fresh food storage at the amount I usually store. We filled it up with drinks and that worked great for the weekend.
  • It took longer than I’m used to for the hot water to kick in and it took me a few tries to get the temperature just right for the shower.

This is my current Tiny House Needs and Wants list:


  • Large fridge (small apartment size)
  • adequate kitchen prep/counter space
  • Aesthetic design
  • Guest/storage loft
  • Downstairs sleeping area
  • washer/dryer


  • 2-sided sink
  • Double lofts
  • Roof porch
  • loft pole to slide down
  • bathroom bidet
  • tub
  • large tv
  • dual work computer screens