2019 review

2018 review. All annual reviews.

(Side note: every year as soon as I publish my annual review, I start a new Markdown file for my review of the next year. Throughout the year I add achievements, details about goals I've accomplished, and favourite media, so getting the review ready to publish is much easier. I definitely recommend this approach!)

Here's a quick summary of 2019:

  • My main aim was to have fun and enjoy spending time with Josh. Having a puppy had added a lot of stress and tension to our lives, and though I still miss our dog a lot, we're a lot more relaxed and happy on average now that we have our freedom and flexibility back. So this goal was definitely a success.
  • I wanted to work on my piano and French, but ended up starting to learn Danish, ukulele, and drums. I'm happy with that.
  • I wanted to dabble in programming outside the iOS world, including trying my hand at web development. I'd forgotten this, since I didn't formally set a goal for it, but I did end up squeezing in an introduction to web development and my first web app project right before the year ended, so that's a win, too.
  • I also wanted to make more money this year, and we did increase our revenue, though not by heaps. We also didn't put much effort into marketing, so it's not surprising we didn't grow too much.

The good and bad

(Inspired by Stefan Vetter's review format)

πŸ‹οΈβ€β™€οΈ Health and fitness

πŸ’ͺ Deadlifted my bodyweight (and more)β€”I don't care too much about how much I lift, but hitting 70kg+ on a deadlift represents a huge improvement from the 20kg kettlebells I started with!

πŸ‘Ž Very inconsistent with gym routine and nutrition

πŸ‘Ž Maintained my weight all year with no visible body composition changes

πŸ’ͺ Built a routine of morning walks

πŸ’ͺ Switched to 100% decaf β˜• again

πŸ’ͺ Finally saw a physio about shin splints

πŸ’» Work

πŸ’ͺ Shipped all but one planned update, plus dark mode support in Exist for iOS

πŸ‘Ž Very meagre marketing efforts this year

πŸ’ͺ But better marketing efforts than the year before

πŸ’ͺ Learned enough about SwiftUI to start building new side projects with it

πŸ’ͺ Shipped two side projects to beta

πŸ’ͺ Started learning to build web apps with Python and Django

πŸ‘‹ Friends and community

πŸ’ͺ Went on a "friend date" despite nerves

πŸ‘Ž Didn't make any new friends

πŸ’ͺ Reached out to contacts in theatre for volunteer opportunities

πŸ’ͺ Signed up to help out with Melbourne Cocoaheads

🎡 Music

πŸ’ͺ Learned the basics of ukulele

πŸ’ͺ Starting learning drums

πŸ‘Ž Didn't put time into piano practice

πŸ€Έβ€β™€οΈ Hobbies and learning

πŸ’ͺ Spent more time drawing on my iPad Pro

πŸ’ͺ Started sharing drawings on Instagram

πŸ’ͺ Started learning Danish

πŸ‘Ž Barely practised French

πŸ’ͺ Read more books

πŸ’° Money

πŸ’ͺ Saved enough to book a holiday for 2020

πŸ’ͺ Made savings automatic

πŸ‘Ž Still spent too much money

πŸ‘ Best things I did this year

  1. Learned to play music πŸ₯
  2. Tried some new ways to make friends (they failed, but I'm glad I tried)
  3. Booked an overseas holiday πŸ›«

πŸ˜“ Biggest challenges

  1. Gave our puppy to a new home (this was horrible, but the right thing to do, so I'm proud I did it despite how hard it was) 😰
  2. Still struggling with the same existential crisis of my 20s, only it's worse now because I'm too old for it...


βœ–οΈ Do 12 art/culture things

I did 11! So close. I'm okay with 11, though. I saw 2 gigs, 1 exhibition, 1 musical, and 7 plays. Musicals are expensive and there weren't many playing in Melbourne this year that I wanted to see, but I'd like to see more of those in future, and some more exhibitions, too. I enjoyed seeing some live music more than I expected to, since I never really thought it was my thing. Now that I'm playing music myself, though, I find it more interesting and inspiring, so I wouldn't mind doing a bit more of that again in 2020.

βœ”οΈ Save up to $5k

My savings went much better this year, once I started automating savings instead of only saving what was left over at the end of the month.

βœ”οΈ Go to 8 social events

This was a mixture of meetups, Nerd Nite events, gym-related events, and a "friend date". Although I ticked off the required number of events (and more, actually), I felt that most of them didn't actually help me make friends. I'm not sure how I'll change this next year, but I don't think attending events that count as "social" is enough to increase my social circle. I also looked into a volunteering opportunity, but didn't like it, and I tried Bumble BFF but found the dating-style process of meeting friends to be too full-on and stressful.

βœ”οΈ Read 20 books

Favourites included in the media section below.

βœ”οΈ Release one side project

I sent out beta releases of two side projects, which counts for this goal because they're in the hands of users, if not available publicly yet.

βœ”οΈ Release the review redesign in Exist for iOS

βœ”οΈ Release support for new Apple Health attributes in Exist for iOS

βœ”οΈ Release iPad support in Exist for iOS

βœ”οΈRelease correlation ratings in Exist for iOS

βœ–οΈ Release trends pages in Exist for iOS

This feature is available on Android but needs some UX tweaking so we decided I should hold off on implementing it for iOS until that's done, so I can do it right the first time.

βœ–οΈ Publish 30 blog posts (across my blog, Hello Code, Larder, and Exist)

I managed 24, which is not a terrible effort.

I published 16 posts on my blog:

4 on the Exist blog:

...and 4 on the Hello Code blog:

Favourite media


No Activity

I was hesitant to add this show, because it didn't blow me away, but I really admired the writing. It was clever in a super weird, random way. It must be hard to make such nonsense sound realistic. It was a lot of fun, especially the last episode of Season 1. (Honourable mention: Fallet, which was going for a similar vibe, only with some fun British/Swedish crime references thrown in, but didn't end up being as engaging. Both worth trying if you like low-key, useless-police comedies.)

Los Espookys

This is a bizarre Latin American comedy that has just the right sense of humour for me. I loved how weird it was. It was definitely better than I expected, based on the premise, which is that a group of people try to start a business being hired to do special horror effects in real life situations. I can't find a way to put into words what's good about this show except that it's funny and clever in all the right ways.


I try to stick to mentioning media in my annual reviews that was new to me this year, so I don't end up rehashing the same things every year. But I'm making an exception for Mum this year, because after watching two seasons last year it seemed to get even better in Season 3. The writing is excellent, in a simultaneously-bizarre-and-funny way. It puts you on edge with excruciatingly awkward situations, but it also made me laugh more than any other show this year, I think. It genuinely made me laugh loudly. A lot. (Honourable mention: Toon, which was not nearly as good as Mum, but did fill the "excruciatingly awkward comedy" hole left in our lives when Mum finished. It also gave us a chance to practise our Dutch, as it's set in Amsterdam.)

Life at 9

This was a rewatch, but I just love this documentary series so much it's worth a mention. It's an Australian series that followed a small group of children from babies to 9-years-old. The kids were part of a huge, ongoing study of Australian children and how the circumstances of their upbringing affects them as they grow up. The doco returned every two years until it stopped after Life at 9, but there are talks of a Life at 15 and I'm really hoping it gets funded, because the series was fascinating, both in terms of looking at how parenting approaches and your life choices as a parent affect your kids, and how our personality quirks could be related to our own childhoods.

Delhi Crime

I loved DCP South Madam Sir in Delhi Crime the way I loved Birgitte Nyborg in Borgen. The show revolved around her and I loved the way she handled every situation. This is a drama about a horrific crime in Delhi and the efforts of the Delhi police to catch the criminals afterwards. There's also some politics thrown in, as the police deal with low resources and a public that distrusts them. There are a few laughs here and there, which don't always seem intentionalβ€”for example, I couldn't help but laugh at how the police held hands with the criminals (interlocking their fingers even) as they transferred them to jail, rather than handcuffing them (are they so poor they can't even afford handcuffs? Perhaps they areβ€”when taking criminals into the police station via the back door, they all had to jump the fence to get in). In one case, the accused managed to get away from a group of police officers as they all waded across a river, one holding his hand. The mishaps and lack of resources were shocking, hilarious, but also tense, as we watched in hope that the police would find all the criminals responsible.


For the first two episodes I was really unsure about this show, as parts of the writing and direction really rubbed me the wrong way. But I'm glad I stuck with it because it really changed into a different kind of show over time and ended with a gripping final episode.

De Dag

This is a show about a bank heist that spends two episodes on each time period throughout a full day: one from the perspective of the police and negotiators, then another following the hostages and their captors over the same period. It was well done and really thrilling.

Mr Inbetween

This is another show I didn't think I'd add to the list, because it's not amazing, but it's grown on me so much I think it deserves to be included. It's an Australian anti-hero show about a hired hitman. Normally I hate anti-heros and can't come around to them as protagonists at all, so I'm impressed that this is the first show that's convinced me to keep watching an anti-hero. My guess is a lot of that has to do with his extreme ocker-ness. His broad accent, barely-mumbled "oh okay"s and "yeah"s, and the writing of some of the serious conversations he gets into with other criminals are at once completely removed from my everyday experience, and yet enormously relatable.

Though not technically TV shows, two video series I thoroughly enjoyed this year were 4 levels by Epicurious and Gourmet Makes by Bon Appetit.

The 4 levels series has 3 levels of chef (professional, home cook, amateur) attempt their own spin on a single dish (e.g. doughnuts, grilled cheese, burritos) before a food scientist (that's level 4) reviews their work. The series has some regulars I enjoy watched (look out for Emily, who owns her amateur level with pride) and taught me quite a few things about cooking.

The Gourmet Makes series is one of several by the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen team, who are a rag-tag bunch of larrikins, all with their own specialties. Gourmet Makes sees pastry chef Claire attempt a gourmet, home-made replica of a different American junk food in each episode (e.g. Twizzlers, Twinkies, Snickers). Other Test Kitchen members pop in to offer advice and appraise her efforts, so you'll get to know the whole gang, although Claire is the clear star.


Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

This is the book that got me back into reading this year after a very patchy reading history. It was a thrilling ride, with every chapter starting with a glimmer of hope, only to end by dashing that very hope before it all started again in the next chapter.

The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover

An Australian book that looks at the good and bad parts of the "good old days" in Australia. I learned a lot and would definitely read this again.

The Bees by Laline Paull

I mostly read nonfiction but I got drawn into this novel about an anthropomorphic beehive and all the drama within it.

Defeating the Ministers of Death by David Isaacs

Every time I talk about this book, I say this: its subtitle, "A compelling history of vaccination" is spot on. It is compelling. Another one I want to read again someday, because there's so much to absorb.

The Map Thief by Michael Blanding

I was really unsure about this book, especially since it took some very long and involved detours through the history of cartology which I didn't really care about, but it never actually got boring, even when it was a bit slow going. And the central drama did turn out to be interesting enough to keep me reading.

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

This book took a long time to get going, and didn't have the best ending, but once all the action started picking up, I found it a fun ride.


βœ”οΈ More please

πŸ‘©β€πŸ’» Side projects

πŸš€ Actually launching side projects

πŸ‹οΈβ€β™€οΈ Gym

πŸšΆβ€β™€οΈ Morning walks

πŸ‘‹ Socialising

πŸ˜„ Confidence

πŸ‘©β€πŸ³ Cooking

πŸ“ Fruit & veggies

🎹 Playing music

✍ Drawing

πŸ’΅ Saving money

πŸ’» Blogging/podcasting

🧴 Moisturising

πŸ’„ Wearing makeup

πŸ‡©πŸ‡° Learning Danish

πŸ“± Testing my apps

βœ–οΈ No thanks

πŸ’° Spending money

πŸ— Eating animal products

🍭 Eating processed food

πŸ• Eating more than I need to

πŸ’‡ Cutting my hair

πŸ† Goals

I'm hesitant to call these goals, since I'm not 100% convinced I care enough about them all to get them done, so I'm thinking of them more as things I'd like to complete this year but may not get around to.

Things I'd like to do this year

πŸ–₯ Make a web app

In fact, I'm almost done with this one already. I set myself a learning project to complete while I'm on holiday for a couple of weeks across Christmas/New Year's, and part of that was to make my own tiny web app. I'm hoping to complete this by the time I go back to work on Jan. 6th, but if not, it shouldn't take long to get it done.

πŸ‡©πŸ‡° Pass a Danish test

I wanted a concrete goal for my Danish progress, so I found a couple of free online Danish comprehension tests. I want to be able to pass at least one of those tests this year. Although, I'll actually aim to complete this goal by the end of April, because we're visiting Copenhagen in May, which is the reason I started learning Danish in the first place.

⌚ Make an Apple Watch app

I've played with watchOS apps in the past but I've had a lot of trouble getting my head around it all. My Series 0 Apple Watch stopped getting updates after watchOS 4, so I left watchOS alone since I couldn't run anything I built, and we have no huge demand for it in any of our products. But I got an Apple Watch Series 5 for Christmas, so my curiosity is piqued again, and I'd like to get a simple watch app complete.

🦷 Book orthodontist appointment

Getting braces has been a dream of mine for a long time, and I think this is the year I'll be financially ready to do so. This is more like a to-do, except that I need to save enough that I'm comfortable starting the (expensive) process before I can make the appointment, so this goal is sort of a culmination of my efforts this year to save towards an investment in braces.

πŸͺ• Master the E chord on ukulele

The E is an awful chord to play on ukulele. There's no easy way, just various difficult ways. But I've run into lots of songs I want to play that have this chord in them, so it's time to knuckle down and figure it out.

πŸ₯ Take a drum lesson

I've been renting a drum kit and teaching myself to play for about three months now. Around March I'll send the rental back and after that I'd like to buy my own kit. But before the rental period ends I want to have at least once in-person drum lesson to get a feel for that process.

🎀 Give a talk

I have two ideas for talks I'm working on, and to make sure I make this happen, I have a goal to give at least one of them this year. It doesn't matter where (it'll probably be Melbourne Cocoaheads), but I want to give at least one talk in public, which is something I've never done before.

🌱 Grow a plant

I'm going to start with parsley, but growing and keeping alive any plant this year will be a win.

πŸ‘©β€πŸ³ Master one type of food/recipe

I'm not sure what this will be yet, but I'd like to have a category of food that I'm confident with by the time the year is over.

πŸ‰ Enquire about local women's AFL

There's a women's AFL team in my local area, and I'd like to make the effort to see if they're recruiting and whether I can join in this year. I'm not sure if I'll like it, or if I'll be able to run enough while my shin splints aren't fully recovered, or if I'll be able to afford the regular dues and equipment I need, but I want to at least find out a bit about it and whether it's an option for me. I think it could be a good way to meet people as well as improving my fitness, so it's worth asking about, at least.

🏒 Try a local co-working space

This is something I kept meaning to do in 2019 and just never got around to. There's a co-working space about a 15-minute walk from me that I'd like to try out at least once in 2020 to see if I like it. If I do, I might try working there one day a week to get me out of the house and to meet more people.

πŸ“± Get more involved with Cocoaheads

I've already signed up to help out as a door greeter at a Cocoaheads event in 2020, and as mentioned earlier I might give a talk at some point, too. Other than that, I want to keep showing up regularly, make an effort to meet some more people instead of keeping to myself when I attend, and think about going to one of the extra events, like the drinks night or hack night.

πŸ€Έβ€β™€οΈ 1 unassisted pull up

I have a bunch of fitness-related things I'd like to achieve, but I think focusing on just this one will help me succeed, instead of bouncing around and not making progress.

Thanks for reading! I love reading personal annual (and monthly) reviews, so if you wrote one too, I'd love to read it. Send it to me on Twitter at @bellebcooper.