The 2nd Annual Rammy Awards

IT’S 2019 Y’ALL! We had such a busy holiday season, complete with traveling to see family in three different cities, and me standing up in a wedding in yet a fourth city! Whew! But we’re home now, and school started back up today.  I’m sad to see the lazy pajama days go, but I’m happy to be back to some structure, too.

With all that craziness, I have not had a chance to sit down and write the single most important post of my entire year – THE 2ND ANNUAL RAMMY AWARDS! If you’re just joining us, the Rammys celebrate excellence in a totally arbitrary list of categories, chosen by me. They are things that made my 2018 better. Think Oprah’s Favorite Things without the free cars…or anything free for that matter.

But I know you’re anxiously waiting with bated breath to hear all about my favorites of 2018, so here we go!


Best Book(s):

Picture Book Category: Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller Every child should own this book. No debate. (I loved it so much I bought one for my daughter’s kinder class, too.) As a parent of three young kids I can tell you this is definitely where our parenting needs the most work. We focus on feelings, we focus on winning, we focus on reading levels, but are we focusing enough on teaching our children to have people eyes for those that need a little bit of kindness? Kids are innately kind, but we teach them to worry about so much other stuff that their instinct slowly gets pushed to the back burner. This book reminds them to keep it front and center. Not to mention, this world desperately needs more kindness.

Get Be Kind HERE.

Grown-Up Category: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis I’ll be the first to admit, when everyone is talking about a certain book, I usually prickle up into “book snob” mode and preemptively dislike it. And EVERYONE was talking about this book this year in my circles. I had pretty much decided it wasn’t for me, when I was faced with a 4.5 hour drive alone. (The last time I drove it, it was 2015 and I listened to Hamilton for the entirety of the drive.  It was glorious.) With no similar OBC recordings released lately, I logged into my library account and discovered I could listen to Girl, Wash Your Face, read by the author. Why not? Oh my goodness.  Not only was this for me, it was REALLY for me. If you’re not familiar, the author examines twenty lies that women tell themselves that hold them back. Some did not apply to me, but one of the lies she debunked was titled, “The Lie: I’m a Terrible Writer.” That chapter was all about the publishing world and trying to get your work out there.  It was timely and perfect. I’m so grateful I stumbled onto it. So much so that I asked for the hard copy for Christmas so that I could read it again and mark it up. (I may have also bought the Start Today Journal.  But we’re not going to talk about that.)  

Get Girl, Wash Your Face HERE

Best Musical : The Prom We were introduced to this on Thanksgiving Day on the Macy’s Parade. I got the OBC recording as soon as it was available and it is delightful and important. The story follows four Broadway actors who take up the cause (for their own benefit) of a high school girl who just wants to bring her girlfriend to her prom. I’ve written before about how much representation matters and this was another great example. It made me so happy when my kindergartner watched the performance with me and asked me questions. “Is she dressed as a boy?” No, girls can wear kickass suits, too. (I didn’t say kickass.) “But they kissed at the end.” Yep, a girl can kiss another girl.  Remember [her friend whose parents are gay] has two mommies? Just like that.

It makes my heart swell that there is a generation growing up just seeing all different sorts of love and families, and that they won’t know any different. Love is love is love is love.

Best Service: Kroger ClickList Is there anyone not doing this?!? It’s been two years since I started ClickListing and I’m always shocked when someone (who has a Kroger nearby) says they haven’t tried it yet. Unless you are one of those people who enjoys grocery shopping, it’s time. Yes, it adds $5 to your bill. But I promise you will save that $5 in random impulse buys or items to placate your children as you schlep back across the store for the third time because you realized your forgot to get that one item from the frozen food section. (Not that I EVER did that…) The website/app saves your preferences, alerts you to sales on items you buy often and allows you to make notes if you are fussy about substitutions. I cannot express the amount of time and energy this has saved me. You also have your running total right there as you add to your cart, so staying on budget couldn’t be simpler. Maybe I’m blessed (I have heard some horror stories) but I’ve never had a problem. If you have young kids, and hate trying to score the “car cart” to keep them happy, DO IT.


Best New Toy: Instant Pot My husband got me an Instant Pot for my birthday this year and I was excited, but hesitant. As a devoted Crock Pot user, could this really live up? Would it really be better? Well, I am here to tell you it does and it is. I actually have not used my Crock Pot since getting it. Shredded chicken from frozen in minutes? Check. Perfect, easy to peel hard boiled eggs? Check. It can sauté, pressure cook or slow cook and it really is SO easy to use. (It helped out so much at Thanksgiving!) I need to master the slow cooking settings, but the pressure cooking is pretty simple. Definitely worth every penny if you’re cooking for a crowd.


Best Recipe: Brisket Tacos Speaking of slow cooking…So this one is not new to me in 2018, but I thought I would share because it is my first publication! I may not have sold one of my picture books in 2018, but I’m featured in my church’s cookbook. BOOM! (They may have been begging for recipes but that is completely beside the point.) This is a super simple recipe that has a big impact if you’re looking for something different to feed guests.  Unless you live in TX, where this is just everyday stuff.


So there it is folks, the best of 2018, as decided by me! I hope your 2019 has started out with love and health. Let’s get it this year!!

Emily Ramquist