“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This famous opening line from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens comes to mind when I think back on May 2021. On one hand, there was lots of hope and optimism with me becoming fully vaccinated, and more COVID restrictions being dropped. But on the other hand, May 2021 was an extremely difficult month for me mental health wise. I received some disappointing news the second week of May and took it really hard. My depression and anxiety went into overdrive. This is why I’ve only posted one additional blog post since my last monthly favorites round-up. Nevertheless, there were still quite a few things that brought me joy even in the midst of a difficult month. Here are my May 2021 Favorites:
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Epcot Ceramic Starbucks Travel Tumbler
Can you think of anything more “on-brand” for me than a Disney World Starbucks tumbler? Starbucks designed custom ceramic travel tumblers for each of the six US Disney Theme Parks (four Disney World, two Disneyland). When I saw the Epcot Starbucks tumbler on shopDisney, I had to grab it while it was in stock. The colors are absolutely gorgeous, and the artwork features some of my favorite Epcot icons, like Spaceship Earth and Figment. If I had to pick my favorite Disney World park, it would be Magic Kingdom, because it’s quintessential Disney. However, Epcot comes in a close second. I always loved Epcot, even as a little kid. And Epcot holds some of my favorite Disney memories, like meeting Duffy the Disney Bear.
The Epcot ceramic Starbucks travel tumbler goes in and out of stock on shopDisney, so it’s worth checking back periodically. I’ve also seen the Disney’s California Adventure Starbucks tumbler on shopDisney recently as well. Although the colors are pretty, I’m holding off on getting it because I’ve never been to Disneyland. I’m hoping the Magic Kingdom Starbucks tumbler will become available in the future.
I returned to in-person work at the beginning of the month, and my new Epcot Starbucks tumbler definitely brightens up my desk!
Sarah Flint Perfect Block Sandal 60 in Sand Calf
I was thrilled to earn another free pair of Sarah Flint shoes through their Brand Ambassador program in May. This time I chose the Perfect Block Sandal 60 in Sand Calf. I wanted to add some open-toed shoes to my Sarah Flint collection since our summers are so hot and humid in the South. And while I have multiple pairs of flat sandals, I didn’t have any heeled sandals. I’m absolutely loving my new Sarah Flint Perfect Block Sandal 60. The 2.5 inch block heel is easy to walk in, and the sand calf color goes with everything. Since Sarah Flint designs her shoes with comfort in mind, these don’t hurt my feet either. Overall, these are a great addition to my summer shoe wardrobe, and I’m glad I actually have places to wear them out now!
I plan to do another blog post soon with more details and styling pictures of the Sarah Flint Perfect Block Sandal 60. But in the meantime, you can save $50 off your first purchase of any Sarah Flint shoes with code SARAHFLINT-BALIZS.
American Girl 35th Anniversary Felicity Doll
American Girl dolls were a pivotal part of my 90’s childhood. As a kid, I had Samantha Parkington from the historical collection, along with all of her outfits and several accessories. After I had Samantha for a few years, I added the American Girl of Today doll to my collection. My cousin and I used to love having weekend sleepovers at my grandparents’ house where we played American Girl dolls together. We also spent many a Thanksgiving weekend flipping through the Pleasant Company catalog together and making our entire Christmas lists.
My Samantha and Girl of Today dolls are still at my parents’ house. If I had ever gotten a third doll, it would have been Felicity. So when American Girl launched a reboot of their collection the of six original historical dolls (Felicity, Kirsten, Addy, Josefina, Samantha, and Molly) to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the original launch, I simply couldn’t resist buying Felicity as an adult collectors’ item. Although I got Samantha as a kid because she looked the most like me (and I also think her fancy, girly style is on-brand for me), I honestly think Felicity is my favorite. Her long red hair is gorgeous, and I like that she doesn’t have bangs. I also love her green eyes. In addition, I love that her stories are set in Colonial Williamsburg, one of my favorite places to visit.
I’m glad I got Felicity, and I’m actually thinking of using a $20 American Girl rewards certificate good this month to get a mint condition Samantha. While my childhood Samantha is still in decent condition, her hair is a little frizzy from being brushed and played with so much over the years! Note that Felicity is actually backordered until October 14, 2021, but the other five dolls in the 35th anniversary historical collection are available to ship now!
After putting one of my favorite spring traditions on hiatus last year due to COVID, I was so thankful to resume strawberry picking this spring. Waller Family Farm in Durham is where I like to go. I have to wear my Lilly Pulitzer strawberry shorts whenever I pick strawberries. This is the Creme Fraiche print from Summer 2010, so I’ve had these shorts for over a decade now! The owner of the strawberry farm loves these shorts, but sadly he wasn’t there the morning I went.
I feel like fruit that you pick yourself tastes even better. My favorite way to enjoy strawberries is with angel food cake and Cool Whip. This year I also had some Sara Lee pound cake with them.
Sephora Rewards Drunk Elephant Lime Green Puffer Bag
I had accumulated quite a few Sephora Rewards points over the past year or so, and was intentionally saving them for Drunk Elephant products. A Drunk Elephant Facebook group I’m in gave a heads up that some Drunk Elephant items were coming to the Sephora Rewards Bazaar. If you’re unfamiliar with Sephora Beauty Insider Rewards, you earn points on every purchase. You can then redeem your points for different items while supplies last.
Drunk Elephant items tend to sell out pretty quickly when they’re on the Sephora Rewards Bazaar. So I headed over to the Sephora website ASAP when I found out new Drunk Elephant items dropped in the Rewards Bazaar. I was happy to get this bright and cheery lime green puffer cosmetic bag filled with three Drunk Elephant minis: D-Bronzi Drops, B-Hydra Hydration Serum, and Sweet Biome Fermented Sake Hydrating Spray. Although most of my skincare is Beautycounter, there are still a few Drunk Elephant items I love. I use D-Bronzi and B-Hydra regularly, and I had been wanting to try the Sweet Biome Spray, which is one of their newest products. So this Sephora Rewards set is perfect for me! The lime green puffer bag is so fun, and it’s bigger than it appeared on the website.
Beautycounter Hand Savior Radiance Boosting Serum
Beautycounter’s newest product is their Hand Savior Radiance Boosting Serum, and I got my hands (pun intended) on it in May. Specifically designed for the hands, this serum hydrates, brightens, and evens skin tone. Hero ingredients hyaluronic acid and niacinamide help your hands retain moisture and a youthful appearance. As a bonus, Beautycounter Hand Savior contains a CDC approved hand sanitizer. Due to the price point, I promote this as primarily a serum, but having the hand sanitizer component is an added benefit. I use my Beautycounter Hand Savior at night, or when I’m not going to be washing my hands for a bit, in order to maximize the radiance boosting benefits. Plus, it has an amazing citrus bergamot smell!
ILIA Lip Wrap Hydrating Mask
ILIA Beauty, another one of my favorite clean beauty brands, released this Lip Wrap Hydrating Mask in January. I really wanted to try it, but made myself wait until the Sephora spring sale when I could save 15%. Even though I technically got this in April during the Sephora sale, it didn’t arrive until the very end of April, and I wanted to be able to use it for a bit before I included it in a monthly round-up. I’ve been using the ILIA Lip Wrap Hydrating Mask almost every night for over a month and a half now, and I feel like my lips are fuller and more moisturized. This lip mask contains hyaluronic acid, which is one of the gold standard skincare ingredients for moisture retention.
Ty Beanie Boo Happy Meal Toys
If you’ve been reading my blog or following me on Instagram for a bit, then you know that towards the end of 2020 I got into collecting certain McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys. During May 2021, McDonald’s had mini TY Beanie Boos in their Happy Meals. These adorable little animals might be my favorite Happy Meal toy promotion since the Mickey’s Runaway Railway one last November. Also, as a 90s kid, this brought back nostalgia of the Teenie Beanie Babies that McDonald’s did in their Happy Meal way back in the 90s. (I actually still have a few from that collection.)
I was able to get 7 of the 14 Beanie Boo happy meal toys, including the two I wanted the most-the panda and the tiger. On the way to the beach Memorial Day weekend, I stopped at a McDonalds in Beulaville (aka middle of nowhere Eastern NC) to see what Beanie Boos they currently had. To my delight, they had the panda and the tiger! I ended up buying them without getting any food so I could add to my collection. After a couple of emotionally taxing weeks, it was also a sweet reminder that if God cares about even the little things in my life, like which Happy Meal toys I want the most, then of course He cares even more about the bigger desires of my heart, even if His plan and timing is different from my own.
Otterly Adorable Knits Drawstring Bag
Speaking of pandas, my mom got me this cute panda print drawstring bag from one of her favorite Etsy shops, Otterly Adorable Knits. The panda print is currently sold out, but you can browse other prints here.
BSF Share Night
Towards the end of May, it felt so amazing to get back to gathering with people in-person, indoors, and without masks or social distancing! My favorite such gathering was BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) Share Night. After doing our entire Genesis study on Zoom, it was so sweet to gather under one roof and share what God taught us through the study.
This was my third year doing BSF, and I think the Genesis study was my favorite. Genesis is full of stories about people waiting on God, and how He is always working behind the scenes even when it doesn’t feel like it. This study was a timely reminder my heart needed, as I have been in a waiting period for years with respect to a desire God has laid on my heart.
At the beginning of May 2021, I thought some prayers I had been praying for a long time might be on the threshold of being answered. However, I soon discovered that things weren’t going to unfold how I anticipated. During some of my toughest moments in the wake of this disappointment, I kept going back to Genesis 48:11:
“Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”
Jacob spent all those years thinking his beloved son Joseph was dead, but then God poured an unexpected double blessing out in His perfect timing. Not only was he reunited with Joseph after all those years, but he got to meet Joseph’s children too! This reminded me that though we go through hard seasons where it feels like God is distant and prayers are unanswered, He delights in giving unexpected blessings to His children at just the right time.
The third weekend in May brought a fun and relaxing girls’ weekend with my best friend. It was fitting that she was my first overnight guest post-COVID and first overnight guest in my new apartment. We ordered pizza, watched Gilmore Girls, got Japanese takeout, relaxed by the pool, and played the Disney Theme Park edition of the Game of Life.
Memorial Day Weekend Beach Trip
I enjoyed kicking off summer with an extra long weekend to the beach house with my parents. Although we had one unseasonably cool day during the trip, I still got to enjoy some good time relaxing on the beach. Starting my mornings off with Dunkin’ and a latte is always a favorite beach tradition.
J.Crew Factory Bathing Suits
I typically wear bathing suits for more than one summer season, but still end up buying a new one each year. Last year I didn’t buy any new bathing suits, since I didn’t go to the pool at all and I only went to the beach with my family. This year I needed to retire a couple of my suits that were either stretched out or faded. Shortly before Memorial Day, I ordered two new bikini tops from J.Crew Factory: the striped ruffled French bikini top, and the regular French bikini top in a fun fruity print. I also got the striped French bikini bottoms to match my top.
While I like to wear two-piece swimsuits, I don’t like super skimpy ones. These French bikini tops have coverage I feel comfortable in, and they fit well. I typically wear an extra small in clothes, but I usually size up to a Small in swimwear. The small fits perfectly for me! I’m especially picky about my bathing suit bottoms, and these French bikini bottoms from J.Crew Factory are perfect. If you’re like me and want full coverage bottoms but arent a fan of high-waisted, these fit the bill! I’m glad they arrived in time for Memorial Day beach weekend!
Better Late Than Never
I’m normally publish my monthly round-up posts MUCH earlier in the month. But as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, May was rough for me mental health wise. So when June rolled around, I was behind on blog stuff. I also wanted to get my reflections on the pandemic post up first. In addition, I’ve been adjusting to being back in the office after working from home for over 14 months. Hence why I’m just now getting this up two-thirds of the way through the month. Hopefully I will find my groove with my new routine soon, and be able to juggle things more efficiently. I definitely have some blog post ideas up my sleeve!
May 2021 was definitely a reminder that even in challenging seasons, there’s still joys in life to be grateful for. What’s something that’s brought you joy lately?
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