This is not your typical money-related post from good ol’ MissFunctional. But as the year draws to a close, a few things happen:
There are cards to write, presents to wrap and cookies to eat, GRAMMY nominations to complain about.
RELATED READ: Unlikely Things to Be Grateful For This Holiday Season
Please send your thoughts and prayers to all of Taylor Swift’s true fans during this difficult time.
She was totally and heartlessly snubbed for the Grammys this year.
I don’t ACTUALLY care; it’s not like I live and breathe and buy records based on what the Academy thinks. So it’s weird to me that I give a darn about this at all. I suppose I find some value in tradition and prestige in some ways. Anyway. It annoyed me.
Then I realized that I have a blog and I can 100% create my own list. So I did.
Proudly presenting: Functional Faves, the Ultra-Official Best of 2018 Awards
My only real guideline was that the “thing” had to actually be released/happen/debut in 2018 (versus me just discovering it in 2018). Drumroll, please!
Marrying my best friend was, hands-down, the absolute best thing to come out of 2018. In fact, it’s the absolute best thing to ever happen in my life, period. I’m endlessly grateful for him.
There are several experience-based purchases that should probably top this list, like concerts and trips and food (Taylor Swift concert tickets were technically purchased in 2017, for those who are counting). I’m paring this one back a bit, but Best Physical Thing Purchased That I Can Think of Right Now is a little obnoxious for a category name.
One of my favorite purchases this year was made in a tiny little book shop in St. Andrews, Scotland. (I talk about how we stumbled upon this store and how I wanted ALL OF THE BOOKS in this honeymoon recap.)
It’s a first-edition collection of poems from Scotland-born Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, originally published in 1911. It’s the perfect ode to an unforgettable trip and looks super cool on my living room side table.
Our other favorite purchase is our “fancy camera” that we gave ourselves as a wedding gift. We wanted something that was a little more than a point-and-shoot, but that was incredibly beginner-friendly and not too bulky. We went with the Canon EOS M50. We’re both super amateur, but we’ve had so much fun playing around with it. He’s more into landscapes, I’m more into portraits, so that evens out nicely. My husband really has an eye for photography, in my opinion. He thinks I’m the artsy one, but I have less patience with lighting and settings and all that. But I will say I’m a good director of photography — i.e. bossing him to get this, not that, and to widen this and lower that ;)
Which leads me to…
Best Picture We Took:
Omgomgomgomgomg don’t make me choose just one!!!!
There was so much good (and also so much astoundingly crappy) music put out this year, so this category was tough. I also take music appreciation entirely too seriously in general, and should not have wasted an entire evening put this much thought into my list. But since I did, here are my top contenders:
I Don’t Want U Back by BØRNS
The music video doesn’t do anything for me; in fact, I’d literally never seen it until right this moment. But crank the bass then kick back and listen to the lyrics — achingly relatable, right in the feels, but with a beat that doesn’t make you want to slit your wrists.
Greatest Love Story by LANCO
All I have to say about this is 😩😩😩😩😩😩😩 IT’S SO SWEET. It’s also the last song that was played at our wedding, with just the two of us swaying as the caterers started breaking down the tables. The song is. So. Cute.
Not Too Late (Acoustic) by Moon Taxi
All-around best feel-good song of the year. Just see if you can listen without dancing.
P.S. saw Moon Taxi play Charleston this year and they were genuinely like a ray of sunshine on the stage. Dude didn’t stop smiling/glowing the entire time. Incredible live performers.
I think the best song released in 2018 is:
Drowning Man by Eric Church
Lyrically outstanding, beautiful build, raw emotion — he wins. This wins.
To make sure you get the full experience, please put your volume as loud as it will go, lay on the floor wherever you are (I don’t care if you’re at work, Brenda, I said LAY DOWN!) and dramatically sling one arm over your eyes. Consider the context of the album’s release, which is discussed further below. Now listen.
Again, a tough choice.
Runner up: Delta by Mumford & Sons
A different, more “pop-y” album than anything they’ve put out before, “Delta” is sonically cohesive and heartbreakingly beautiful. The album is meant to be consumed as a whole, in my opinion, and is worth listening through front to back. “A wall of sound” is a good way to put it. Absolutely gorgeous music with strong undercurrents and timeless themes, though slightly less lyrically nuanced than previous albums.
Winner: Desperate Man by Eric Church
“But I hate country music”
“But you picked him for Best Song”
“But I can’t stand good music or clever songwriting.”
MY awards show, MY rules.
Even for those who generally don’t love country music, I’d bet there’s something you can get into on this album. As much as the composition and production matters, to me, it all really comes down to the songwriting. It’s entirely biased of me to say that — what constitutes a good song for you is probably different than me. But I’m a writer, and I believe that every single word should matter when you only have 3 minutes to say your piece. And that’s what Eric Church achieves with this one.
This Rolling Stone article offers context to the album. His lyrics are especially timely and poignant when you consider all that he’s been through in recent years (surgery scares, the Las Vegas shooting and more).
Well done, Chief.
With a beautiful grasp on songwriting, Dermot Kennedy stands out as a singer/songwriter with his one-liner zingers, hip-hop influence and absolutely devastating passion. He has the folk-y originality of The Avett Brothers, the scream-your-heart-out passion of Mumford and the potential mainstream star power of Ed Sheeran.
He’s also Irish, not hard to look at and humble — mark my words, he’s about to dominate.
“Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty
This one was tough. My dad — loving, tender man that he is — has always said that I do not read books. I eat them.
I devour one after the next, inhaling everything from literary fiction and psychological thrillers to historic non-fiction and biographies and omg what were we talking about because I could talk about books forever.
She is SHARP. Once I read “Big Little Lies,” I binged all of her other books. I think that some of her work is maybe a bit cast off and overgeneralized as chick lit, but there’s a deeper, darker humor and self-awareness about her writing that makes me believe she’s so much more.
When I read one of her books, I find myself laughing out loud, and sometimes crying out loud, too. To me, that is the mark of a true storyteller. She’s just one of those where, no matter what’s she’s talking about or how trivial it may seem, you’re totally invested. You HAVE to find out how it ends. She's captivating, She is so incredibly down to earth, and that is worked into her storytelling in a refreshing, self-deprecating manner.
Mary Poppins Returns
I’m still swooning from seeing it in theaters yesterday. It’s a beautiful display of the transformative magic of music, and an urge to never lose our childlike wonder — a reminder we all need in 2018. I could go on and one about this one…
I’ll spare you my ramble about how iconic Julie Andrews is and how deeply I adore Dick Van Dyke, because this post is already getting very long and I want to go bake cookies.
But of the new movie I will say this: It was practically perfect in every way.
I struggled with including this category, honestly, because I’ve started following/connecting with so many bloggers in the last year. And everyone is so different, this doesn’t even seem to be a fair fight. But by my own completely made up conventions of what constitutes the winner of this category, the winner
Is writing based (vs. video or Instagram) — that’s just how I am judging this. A good, ol’ fashioned essayist who writes well and keeps my attention the entire post.
Actually writes original content
Listens and responds to real reader questions
Still, with those rules, there are several bloggers who win. So here’s the tier two test: I read every single email that this blogger sends and find myself entering the URL organically into my browser, just to see if there’s anything new. That’s a sign to me.
Congratulations to The Luxe Strategist!
Y’all head on over and peruse her posts; she’s especially relevant to those with an interest in quality and sustainable clothing, investing basics, travel hacking and fooooood.
Best of My Own Blog:
‘dis one: When Is It OK to Quit Your Passion?
I actually wrote this as a guest post, and a little bit regret not having it on my own site because it sums up my personal story pretty well (dang it, Mike!). But I’m glad it lives on another one of my favorites, MikedUp Blog.
and ‘dis one: Where Should I Start With My Money Problems?
The best overall meal and dining out experience goes to The Granary in Portree, Isle of Skye
First Course - Fried bried (obviously)
Main Course - Mushroom gnocchi in a truffle sauce topped with a fried goat log. Because one friend log of cheese is not enough for one meal. My husband had local lamb. Or maybe it was beef. Couldn’t tell ya, as we also shared a bottle of wine.
Dessert - Meringue! My husband had never tired meringue, and we had the most delicate, delicious dish of it with a strawberry sauce after our meal. The cherry on top of a perfect meal.
But my favorite meal was prepared by DJ Func Money for my birthday, complete with a PRINTED MENU BECAUSE HE’S THE CUTEST.
I don’t have a picture :(
But true fans know that you can’t waste time taking pictures when there are tacos on the table, waiting to be eaten!
Runner up: Braised short-rib tacos from Graze in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Winner: Taco night with the fam
As CHEESY as it sounds (pun 100% intended), I swear the best tacos I had this year were cooked at my sister’s house by us and our husbands. They were just your average beef tacos (and also ground turkey; shoutout to my sister for being needy), but they hit the spot. I couldn’t say if it’s because we were desperately hungry by the time they were finished or because tacos are best served with a side of belly laughs, but that night shines through as the winner.
In conclusion, I’d like the thank the fans…
Besides marrying my very best friend, this blog has been such a highlight of 2018. I’ve made so many “Internet friends” that have come to feel like so much more. And that’s not something I was really expecting. Plugging in to this community and being so honest about my lifestyle (not just my money thoughts) is something that I didn’t know would be so deeply satisfying.
So thank you, reader, for giving me a little slice of the Internet where my questions matter, my jokes are heard and my taco opinions are superior ;) I’m a lucky lady.
Cheers to the next chapter. May it be our brightest yet!