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It’s that time of year – time to share the very best products, hacks, and other cool things I’ve discovered in 2015. (I’m not sponsored by any of these companies – I’m only sharing them with you because I truly love them.)

Best Products

LaCroix Sparkling Water. As some of you know, one of my greatest achievements in 2015 was giving up a nasty Diet Pepsi habit that had plagued me since I was a teenager. Even though I was able to give it up cold turkey, I was never satisfied with plain water–I like my bubbles! My boyfriend introduced me to LaCroix, which we have to order from the States, but it’s so worth it! It has amazing natural flavours like coconut, mixed berry, pineapple-strawberry, and peach-pear, smells incredible, and there’s absolutely nothing bad in it. No sweeteners, no sugar, no sodium, nothing. Just naturally flavoured sparkling water that tastes great. If you or anyone you love has a soda habit, this could be the cure.

Tiny Hands. Perhaps it was growing up with scratch-and-sniff stickers, but this tiny scented food jewelry
immediately appealed to me. Mei makes every creation by hand with loving attention to detail. Each item comes beautifully packaged in a beribboned gift box with a personal, handwritten note on the invoice. Everything she makes is so adorable that it’s very hard to choose just one, and she even has a Necklace of the Month club where members get a surprise in the mail every two months. I love my Christmas cookie necklace!

Habitica - your life as a role playing game

Habitica – your life as a role-playing game

Habitica. This productivity hack has changed my life. It turns your to-do list into a role-playing game, so those who get their work done and accomplish their goals are rewarded with virtual pets, gold, food, and more. You can join with a friend to fight monsters, adding even more accountability to the game – if you don’t finish your work, your friend will suffer as well. The free version is fantastic, but if you subscribe, you get a lot of fun extras.

Baby Lips. A friend introduced me to this product, and it has been a revelation! There are tons of colours and varieties, but all versions soften your lips while adding just enough of a tint to be noticeable. Very natural without the stickiness of gloss, and it’s so subtle that you can apply it like chapstick. There are lines with SPF and an RX line that heals chapped or dry lips. This stuff is awesome.

Self Control. This app for Macs saved my sanity last week. I had a ton of articles due, but I was already procrastinating. Enter Self Control. This program locks you out of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and anything else that distracts you, for however long you need. Once you’ve turned it on, though, there’s no going back – you’ll be locked out of those sites until the time is up, even if you shut down your computer or delete the program.

chrys feyBest Helpful Blog

I read a lot of great blogs, but one stood out this year for being especially helpful. Chrys Fey’s Write With Fey was packed with so many great ideas about how to market a novel that I must have bookmarked every post she wrote in 2015. Not only is her blog fantastic – Chrys is also super supportive of other writers. She always responds to her audience, and she takes the time to visit everyone who leaves a comment on her blog. I don’t know how she does it!

And One Product Not Worth the $$

This was the first year I used a Passion Planner, and I’m sorry to say it will also be my last. This combination agenda/journal/vision board/day planner seems good in theory, but I suspect most busy people will discover what I did – that you just don’t have time to spend hours upon hours planning your life to the level this requires. I think I lasted about four months before getting hopelessly behind and giving up.

Your turn! What was your best find of 2015? Have you tried any of the items on my list? If so, I’d love your opinion. What blog helped you the most this year?

If you’d like to see my picks for 2014, you can find them here.

1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.

40 Comments

  1. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    Chrys had some awesome posts this year.
    I’ll have to check out Habitica! I’m big into role playing games. And procrastinating. It might help me.

    Reply
    • JH

      I think you’d love it, Alex! It’s so much fun. See if you can find a friend to join it with you.

      Reply
  2. Madeline Mora-Summonte

    Yeh for Chrys! I’m already a fan. 🙂

    Definitely going to check out LaCroix – I drink a lot of water and seltzer and am open to something new. And Habitica – that sounds like fun. 🙂

    One of my best finds was the Stand Stand – my easy to use, collapsible, portable standing desk. (I did a post about it awhile back.)

    Reply
    • JH

      I don’t know how I missed that, Madeline. I read all your posts (or thought I did).

      La Croix is amazing – the smell alone is to die for. And Habitica can change your life, seriously.

      Reply
      • Madeline Mora-Summonte

        I did the Stand Stand post back waaaaay back in August, if that helps. 🙂

        Reply
        • JH

          Oh, I was probably in Greece! That’s why I missed it. I have a Trek Desk myself. 🙂

          Reply
  3. Heather M. Gardner

    Thank you for sharing so many cool things!

    I love Chrys’s blog as well. Her writing is pretty good too!

    I really enjoy coming to your blog and learning about all these mysteries. It keeps my mind churning with ‘what ifs’ and ‘why the hells’! 🙂

    Heather

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Heather.

      I’ve always enjoyed Chrys’s blog, but I’ve especially valued her posts on marketing this year. I got so much out of them.

      Reply
  4. Lisa S.

    Still am in awe that you managed to crack the Diet Pepsi habit. That is huge. La Croix flavours sound really tasty.
    Best purchase this year was a pair of Outpost Packs from Mountain Equipment Coop. They meet Air Canada’s luggage restrictions perfectly and are great for travel or work. We got lots of use out of them this year. 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      Hmm…I’ll have to check those out, Lisa! I may have a trip or two on the horizon myself. 😉

      La Croix is a revelation! Now I just need to find someone who regularly goes to the States.

      Reply
      • Kellie

        I’m not sure what types of stores you have in your area but LaCroix is carried at Walmart where I live (Ontario).

        Reply
        • JH

          Ooh, thanks Kellie! I’ll have to check that out.

          Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Anna. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I guess) I suspect all of my readers already know Chrys. But there might be a person or two who doesn’t!

      Reply
  5. Chrys Fey

    Aw! Thank you so much for mentioning me and my blog. It feels so wonderful to get a shout out from someone I look up to. 🙂 You’re so sweet. And everyone’s comments made me feel so loved. Thanks!

    The tiny scented food jewelry is so cute! The Christmas tree reminds me of my favorite Christmas cookies I’ve made ever since I was a kid. The trees are the best! 😀

    I live chapstick, so I’m definitely going to have check out Baby Lips.

    Thanks for sharing these finds with us!

    Reply
    • JH

      You’re very welcome Chrys, and I’m so flattered that you look up to me! I have no idea why, but thank you! 🙂 IMO, you hit a new level this year with those posts.

      As for the jewelry, I know, right? That cookie was so perfect, down to the silver candies. I couldn’t resist. Tiny Hands was a Stephanie Faris Berry discovery.

      You will love Baby Lips!

      Reply
  6. Elle

    You mentioned the water before, but now I have have a name brand. I’lll look for it next time I’m in the US. And thanks for the notes on the planner – I have a ton of friends who swear by that one. It’s good to know it’s not for everybody.

    Reply
    • JH

      Those friends must have more time than I do. 😉 Seriously, I could either write a novel or fill out that planner. That’s how labour intensive it is.

      The next time you go to the States, I’m totally hiring you as a water mule.

      Reply
  7. Stephanie@Fairday's Blog

    I used to drink a lot of diet soda in my teens and twenties. Like you- I love bubbles and am not satisfied with plain water. I have never tried the sparkling water you mentioned, but I will be looking for it the next time I am at the grocery store. Yeah! That Tiny Hands necklace seems awesome- I was a scratch and sniff fan (and still am). 🙂

    Lots of great products. I love Chrys’s blog. It is full of great advice.

    Thanks for sharing the Best of 2015. Lot of new things for me to check out. 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      You’re very welcome! Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Stephanie. You’re awesome!

      Let me know if you check out La Croix or Tiny Hands. I’d love to know what you think.

      Reply
  8. Roland Yeomans

    Chrys is a fantastic person who writes a fascinating, really helpful blog. I may check out that sparkling water. 🙂 Happy Christmas, Roland

    Reply
    • JH

      Merry Christmas, Roland! Consider La Croix the Chrys Fey of sparkling water. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Stephanie Faris

    Yay! I love this idea. I have a Passion Planner…and I’m hoping to use it, but I fear I’ll be just like you. But maybe it’s just the fact that you set those goals in the first place?

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Stephanie – and thanks for introducing me to Tiny Hands. Mei has made a few new sales thanks to you.

      I hope you like the planner more than I did. I started off strong, but in the end, it was too much work. I still set goals, but Habitica is much more my speed, and it’s right up on my screen, which I like.

      Reply
  10. Patricia Lynne

    I don’t think there was any products I found this year that I thought were amazing. I did read Chrys’s blog and it was super helpful.

    Reply
    • JH

      Well, feel free to try some of mine, Patricia. Prepare to be amazed!

      Reply
  11. Birgit

    Chrys’s blog is wonderful and so helpful to fellow writers. I was a coke fiend until I found out I was hypoglycemic. Water doesn’t do it at all for me so I buy soda water and OJ and put 1/4 of OJ in a glass and fill it with Soda water for the bubbles-I live on that. My hubby has the same but with Cranberry juice. I really haven’t found anything as exciting and my hubby complains about me being on the computer now with my blogging…I hope to invest in a tablet in the new year when I have saved enough

    Reply
    • JH

      Hi Birgit!

      If you decide to try the La Croix water, let me know what you think. It would be just as flavourful, if not more, without the sugar of juice. Of course, it doesn’t have the vitamin C either. Sadly, it’s difficult to find here in Canada, depending on what province you’re in.

      Tell your hubby you can’t disappoint your fans. 🙂

      Reply
  12. Frank

    The best thing I found was how much fun being a grandpa is. I’m addicted to it.

    I also found direction. Some motivation. Inspiration.

    Dean Wesley Smith’s work has been an amazing find for someone like me.

    Reply
    • JH

      I’m so glad, Frank. There have been many times he’s helped me too. And if you leave him a question, he will answer. He’s great that way.

      Congrats again on your darling granddaughter! And Merry Christmas. I’m very glad we “met,” my friend.

      Reply
  13. Sara C. Snider

    Cool list! I’ll probably check out Habitica and Self Control. The product that changed my life this year was Buffer (which I just started using a week ago). It schedules posts to Twitter and Facebook, etc. For some reason, I’m finding it incredibly fun trying to stay ahead of the scheduling curve I’ve set for myself. So much so that I think I really need to check out the Self Control app haha. And for me to be having fun on social media is a bit of a revelation. 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      That’s awesome, Sara! You don’t normally have fun on social media? I have too much fun, which is why I need Self Control. 🙂

      I’ll check out Buffer. Hootsuite is another version that people swear by.

      Reply
      • Sara C. Snider

        Normally, no, I hadn’t. Before it was a tolerated necessity. I think it also helped I reorganized my Twitter lists. Now I actually find interesting stuff on Twitter, which is fun.

        I toyed around with Hootsuite a bit, but ultimately I liked the simplicity of Buffer better. 🙂

        Reply
        • JH

          I’ll have to check them both out. I do everything manually now, for the most part.

          I don’t even look at my general Twitter feed. It’s just full of “BUYMYBOOKBUYMYBOOK!” Lists are definitely the way to go.

          Reply
  14. Nicole

    Habitica sounds awesome! Definitely have to check that out. My fav new thing of 2015 was actually something I made myself – a homemade eye cream! Just some coconut oil, vitamin e, and Rose essence and my eyes are refreshed!

    Reply
    • JH

      That sounds lovely, Niki!

      I think you’re going to love Habitica. It’s pretty awesome – you can hatch panda bear eggs!

      Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Denise D Hammond

    I don’t like drinking plain water, but I found a product called ‘sparkling ice’ in many flavors I like including lemonade. I may have to try your La Croix. I’ve seen it in stores here.

    Reply
    • JH

      I’m so jealous, Denise! I wish it was in stores here.

      Sparkling Ice sounds nice too. I was drinking a different brand previously, but it doesn’t come close to La Croix.

      Reply
  16. Tamara Narayan

    I follow Chrys too (and bookmark her stuff all the time.) I can’t think of any products that changed my life this year, but I did get addicted to chocolate chip pumpkin bread muffins. Now I need to kick that habit.

    Reply
    • JH

      Drink some La Croix? I’m not sure if they have pumpkin, but they have cran-raspberry…sort of Thanksgiving-like. 😉

      Reply

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