This is the last in my series of looking back at 2017 and picking out my favorites from beauty, fashion, and now lifestyle. My 2017 Best of Lifestyle picks include actual items that either made my life easier or gave me joy, favorite books, and my favorite YouTubers/Bloggers/Instagrammers from the past year. Let’s start out with the actual items and then finish with my favorite-the people that I like to watch/read/stalk on the Internet! Somehow this also turned into my top picks from Amazon, which was completely unintentional, but that’s where I order the majority of household items and books. If you’d like to see more of what I get from Amazon, check out my personal Amazon Influencer page, which I will continuously add to as I buy more things (which is almost daily at this point)!
Adjustable Cell Phone Stand
I spend a lot of time at my desk, and I love that I can prop up my phone on this stand and charge it at the same time. I can see notifications as they come in without stopping what I’m doing. It also comes in handy during my Instagram Lives! The family loves it too-I ordered one for my husband and both of my sons!
Rose Gold & Marble Phone Case
I have to give credit to Kristina Braly for finding this one-and I’ve never been so excited about a phone case! It’s just so pretty! I can also attest that it does protect your phone-I’ve dropped mine several times and all is well!
This was the first brand of expensive candles that I ever splurged on, and I’ve rediscovered my love for them this year. My top two faves are the Sexy Cinnamon and Orange Vanilla, but this year’s holiday collection was incredible too!
Conair Extreme Turbo Handheld Fabric Steamer
This was another favorite that I found through someone else, and boy was this a laundry game changer! I can’t even tell you where my iron is, let alone the last time I used it! I even got my kids into using it. Also, because it’s a handheld steamer, it travels well too!
Tyler Glamorous Wash-Diva Scent
If you want all your clothes, linens, etc. smelling divine, you need this in your life! It gives a pretty intense, gender neutral scent to everything, and if you have stinky teens in your house, you’ll really want to try it. I don’t follow the label directions though. I use an unscented laundry detergent pod and pour 2-3 capfuls in the liquid detergent dispenser. I’ve also read you can put it in the fabric softener dispenser instead. If you’re not sure about investing in the full gallon, Tyler also has a sampler pack with 3 different scents, three votive candles and two candle holders for $28.50. It makes a great gift, too!
Pilot Frixion Pens
I love pens, but as a lefty it’s hard to find a really smooth writing pen that doesn’t smear. I’m also a bit of a perfectionist and hate using any form of white out to erase mistakes in my planner. These pens are amazing-they don’t smear, come in a ton of colors (the navy blue are my favorite) and are completely erasable. Something to note-if exposed to high temperatures, the ink will disappear. You can make it reappear by putting the paper in the freezer, but if you’ve erased stuff that will come back too. Since I just use them to write in my planner and that never leaves my desk, it hasn’t been a problem. Pilot also makes highlighter pens in this line too!
Karen Adams Desk Calendar
This Memphis-based stationery designer makes the most beautiful paper products, but her standout product is the desk calendar. I’m on my second one, and it just makes me happy to look at it every day. It’s understated, elegant, with a little whimsy, too, because each month’s design has a tiny bit of glitter, shine, etc. You can get the easel in silver or gold, and then after the first year, all you have to do is order refills.
Erin Condren Metallic Rose Gold Marble Life Planner
Excuse the screenshot-I promise I’m very excited about this one, despite the look on my face! I am very picky when it comes to planners, and I resisted drinking the Erin Condren kool-aid, but this planner ticks all the boxes for me. I prefer the horizontal, neutral layout, but there’s something for everyone on her site.
The Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader
It took me awhile to embrace e-books and put down my “real” books, but now I can’t live without my Kindle. I do read in bed with my iPad, but I keep my Kindle in my purse most of the time because it’s so much lighter and easier to read outside. I didn’t upgrade to the 3G version-I feel like the wi-fi is good enough, even when on the go. I love knowing I always have something to read with me!
Since we’re on the topic of books, here are my standouts from 2017! If I’m recommending a series, I’ll link to the first book so you can get started! I’m also going to add the brief descriptions that Amazon gives for each book-they do a much better job than me! If you want to see more of my book recommendations, check out my “bookshelf” here on the blog!
The Cainsville series started with Omens, but the last book in the series was released last August. Here’s what Amazon has to say about it: “In Omens, Olivia Taylor-Jones is shattered to learn that she’s adopted. Her biological parents? Notorious serial killers. On a quest to learn more about her past, Olivia lands in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois. As she draws on long-hidden abilities, Olivia begins to realize that there are dark secrets in Cainsville—and powers lurking in the shadows.”
The Casey Duncan/Rockton SeriesI started (and caught up with) this series in 2017. A third novel is expected to be released later in 2018. Amazon says: Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows that someday this crime will catch up to her. Casey’s best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana’s husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it’s time for the two of them to disappear again. Diana has heard of a town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you’re accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, and living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. As a murderer, Casey isn’t a good candidate, but she has something they want: She’s a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn’t the only secret Rockton is hiding—in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.
Raine Stockton Dog Mystery Series
Author Donna Ball is pretty prolific-she writes a couple of other series that I enjoy as well, but this one is my favorite.
Description: As a native of the small town of Hansonville, North Carolina,and a wilderness rescue worker, Raine Stockton knows the Smoky Mountains as well as anyone could, but she gave up her Search and Rescue work after a tragic loss. Now she reluctantly returns to active duty to help find a young child who has been kidnapped and taken deep into the forest. But as Raine’s young golden retriever, Cisco, picks up the trail, his enthusiasm fails to make up for his lack of experience, and their first foray into the forest results in disaster…and the discover of the kidnapper– shot dead.
This started as a stand-alone book, but a second book in the series is coming out this year-yay!! Here’s what Amazon has to say: Dr. Greta Helsing has inherited the family’s highly specialized, and highly peculiar, medical practice. She treats the undead for a host of ills – vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entropy in mummies. It’s a quiet, supernatural-adjacent life, until a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead Londoners alike. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must use her unusual skills to stop the cult if she hopes to save her practice, and her life.
The Bride Quartet
This is actually four books that can be purchased separately, but I bought the whole bundle at once. The main characters are each co-owners in a wedding planning business/facility. Each book focuses on the story about one of them-a photographer, a florist, a pastry chef and the actual wedding planner. There’s no paranormal angle here-just pure romance and fluff and I loved every minute of reading them!
Another classically fun Nora Roberts read, this one is set on a ranch in Montana that is also host to a luxury resort. I can’t stop thinking about the characters in this one-this has to be one of her best books she’s ever written!
I picked the following people because I either really got into following them this year, or we made a special connection during 2017. I obviously watch and love a lot more people than are listed here, and I will make it a point in 2018 to list favorites every month!
Christopher Allen was a recent find, thanks to so many viewer suggestions (and a few other YouTubers as well). If you’re new to his channel, I’d recommend starting with his Vlogmas series-you’ll get to know him really quickly and fall in like like I did!
I’m a little biased about Kristina Braly-we’re friends in real life, and this year I finally got to meet her in person when she invited me to her baby shower in October. Kristina is an anesthesiologist, a wife, and now mom to a 2-month old little girl. She’s also pretty darn knowledgeable about beauty, luxury and tech. If you’re looking for a smart, funny, sassy woman to watch, then look no further!
Angie from Hot n Flashy is another personal friend of mine, but I was a subscriber and a fan first! Angie is a 50+ Beauty YouTuber who makes the most well-researched and best presented videos on beauty and skincare, with a little everyday fashion thrown in.
Miss Crystal is another grown-up on YouTube that gives the best travel advice, casual outfit inspiration, beauty reviews and grocery hauls. She’s from Alabama and has one of the best voices on YouTube!
Miss Louie (Erica to those that know her) is hands down the best fashion blogger on YouTue. Her outfits are wearable, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or you work in an office, AND affordable. She’s a huge inspiration to me, not only because of her content but in the way she presents it. Her editing and filming skills are incredible!
Jen from Beauddiction is first and foremost an Instagrammer and blogger, who has recently joined in on the fun on YouTube. She is the queen of drugstore makeup (although she does play with higher end stuff too). Click on the video above to see her review-it will save you a fortune!
Anti-Aging Amber first came to my attention on Instagram, and I’m so glad she’s finally come over to YouTube! Her main focus is anti-aging and skincare, but she knows quite a bit about makeup and haircare too! Her background as a nurse definitely helps her explain WHY something is good for you, too!
My last favorite is a blogger/Instagrammer called My Texas House. Her pictures are absolutely stunning, inspirational and aspirational. Don’t be surprised if you see my house in a year and it looks just like hers!!
There’s one more video I’d like for you to check out if you haven’t already-MINE!! Click on the video below or HERE if your viewer doesn’t allow for it to pop up below to see my talk all about the favorites mentioned above, plus a few more!