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My Favorites

Favorite Things . . . 2016 Edition

I did it in 2013, then again in 2014, and once more in 2015. Now it is time to continue the tradition and share my favorite things from 2016. As usual, all of these things are either new (to me) discoveries or things that suddenly became a fixture in my life during 2016.

Fireplace
No, I didn’t just discover fire last year. But this is the first time I’ve ever had a fireplace in my home. It is definitely a plus for this apartment. I love a good glass of wine next to the fire and dealing with the wood didn’t turn out to be nearly as annoying as I expected. Bonus! – The San Francisco weather means we can enjoy it a good portion of the year.

Caramel Macchiato
The daughter introduced me to this drink. Yes, I love a good overpriced coffee from the mainstream coffee joint that people pretend to be embarrassed to order from. My daughter introduced me to this drink – it is the perfect amount of “extra” when I want more than a plain cup of coffee without having a ridiculous calorie count to go along with it. Good thing too, since that nameless coffee shop is right next door.

Cracked After Hours
Another thing that has been around for a while, but I just latched on to recently. I want all of my conversations to be as hilarious and well-written as their meta discussions at the late-night diner. Maybe one day. . . .

Here, watch one of my favorite episodes – Why Sauron Is Secretly The Good Guy In ‘Lord Of The Rings’.

And. . . that’s about it. I’ve been pretty boring this year.

Favorite Things . . . 2015 Edition

I shared my favorite 2013 things and my favorite 2014 things. Now it is time to share my favorite 2015 things. All of these things are either new (to me) discoveries or things that suddenly became a fixture in my life during 2015.
 
Bob’s Burgers
I’ve been watching Bob’s Burgers nonstop since I discovered it while on a weekend vacation this spring. Sorry family, I just never get tired of it. I also own socks with the faces of the Belcher family, a themed book of mad libs, a photo of Louise autographed by Kristen Schaal, and a Linda Belcher figurine. I briefly considered getting a Bob’s Burgers tattoo, but the husband pointed out (rightly) that I would eventually fall in love with something else and regret it.
BobsBurgers
Haruki Murakami
My new favorite author. I started my year off reading 1Q84 and feel in love with Murakami. So far, I’ve also read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Kafka on the Shore, and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage (my favorite so far). I’ll be starting 2016 off with the copy of Norwegian Wood I have waiting on my shelf right now. I don’t know what it is about Murakami’s writing, but I feel like I just “get it.” It is hyper-realistic and ethereal at the same time. He often leaves important questions unanswered at the end, but it is still satisfying.
Murakami
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Another television show. I probably spent a little too much time in front of the box this year. I’ve seen a few random episodes of Drag Race over the years, but it never really caught my attention. This year however, I latched onto it like I was in danger of sashaying away. Yes, gawd! To be honest, watching this show makes me feel happy, strong, and fierce. I don’t know why, but I love it. Will I ever stop watching Drag Race? Not today, Satan!
RuPaul
Phillip’s hue Lights
I love these things and the husband reviewed them early this year. Our house is a technological wonderland. It even impresses neighborhood children. I love that I can control the lights with my phone, pick whatever shade of whatever color I want, and have all of the lights in the room doing something different. Great investment for us – money well spent.

Not my living room. From meethue.com
Not my living room. From meethue.com

My favorite. . . holiday stuff!

I can’t say I’m really in the Christmas spirit this year. See, I looooove the holidays. I’ve been waiting for December to get here since I took off my Halloween costume on October 31. But last week I got hit with a nasty cold and it has taken away some of the peppermint-scented joy. I tried to get ahead of it; I’ve been sleeping every free moment, 7pm bedtimes and all, but the cold is winning and I’m just not in the moody for laughter, joy, family, etc.

For example, it is nine days until Christmas and I only have three gifts underneath the tree. I’m done shopping – have been for a while – just haven’t wrapped much. And to be honest, two of those gifts under the tree are in decorative boxes so I didn’t really have to do anything for them. Christmas confession: I’ve only wrapped one gift.

I know that probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to a lot of you out there, but I live for Christmas. If I blow it this time around, I have to wait another eleven months to get a second chance.

In an effort to jump-start getting into the spirit, I’m going to share some of my favorite holiday things with you today. If thinking about these things doesn’t like a yule log under my . . well, you know. . . I don’t know what will!

Favorite Holiday Movies
1) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
2) A Christmas Story
3) A Muppet Family Christmas
4) A Christmas Carol (the 1938 version)
5) Rudolph

Favorite Holiday Treats
1) Oreo Truffle Balls
2) Starbuck’s Peppermint Mochas
3) Sausage Rolls
4) Cornbread Dressing
5) Hot Chocolate

Favorite Holiday Activities
1) Decorating the tree
2) Driving around to look at lights
3) Sending Christmas cards
4) Picking out new ornaments each year
5) Singing carols in my car

Favorite Holiday Songs
1) Bing Crosby – Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiian Christmas Song)
2) Otis Redding – White Christmas
3) Percy Faith – We Need a Little Christmas
4) Leona Lewis – One More Sleep
5) Straight No Chaser – Santa Claus Is Back In Town

Favorite Things . . . 2014 Edition

Last year, I shared a few things I discovered in 2013 that I really loved. Guess what?! I’m going to do it again. All of these things are either new (to me) discoveries or things that suddenly became a fixture in my life during 2014.

BzzAgent_logo_largetumblr_static_influenster_logoBzzAgent and Influenster
I love getting free stuff. All sorts of free stuff. I will gladly do all manner of assignments on the internet (well, lots anyway) to insure more free stuff arriving in my mailbox. BzzAgent and Influenster are very different, but have similar purposes so I’ve lumped them together here. I apologize to you on my personal Facebook and Twitter who are subjected to my spammy posts about random products. I don’t apologize to you Instagram followers though, as plenty of you do the same thing.

41CIM11cLuL._SX425_4C Liquid Water Enhancer, Totally Light Green Tea
Yum. Yum. Yum. One squeeze of this in a cup of water creates the perfect green tea. Delicious, with just a hint of sweetness. My daughter and I both love this product and I keep a bottle at work. Each bottle makes approximately 24 servings; I like my green tea a little weak though, so it lasts me a bit longer.

Adjust (green)Smashbox Green Primer
I already reviewed this primer, so you know my love for it. It is still one of my favorites and the one I use the most. I have found a couple of Korean products I like a bit better, but 1) they don’t tackle the redness and 2) ordering is a hassle.

evol. All Natural Burritos/Red’s All Natural Burritosevol-burrito-200x150
This was the year of the overpriced frozen burritos from the natural food section. They end up on my grocery list almost every week and have become my go-to work lunch. I like how I can easily stick a few in the work freezer and not have to worry about what I’m going to eat that day. Plus, they are yummy. I used to love frozen burritos as a kid, so maybe there is a bit of nostalgia involved too. I tend to alternate between Red’s and evol.

6674430809_eda2989acc_zRhett and Link
I’ve watched Rhett and Link on Youtube for a while, but this year I suddenly became a devoted Good Mythical Morning fan. Their show is consistently good and can always make me laugh. Sometimes, I even learn a thing or two. Typically useless knowledge, but still. I am a mythical beast, ya’ll!

Friday Favorites: Are You Being Served?

Are You Being Served? is one of my go-to shows; one of the shows I put on the television when I’m just looking to zone out for a bit, need a good laugh, or want some background noise.

I’m happy to watch any episode, but I do have a few favorites that I consider classics. [I borrowed the episode descriptions from Wikipedia. Too lazy to write my own, I guess.]

1. “The Erotic Dreams of Mrs. Slocombe”
Mrs. Slocombe is becoming increasingly fond of Mr. Humphries, and showers him with presents. The obsession soon drives her to alcoholism, and it is decided that to cure her Mr. Humphries must show her attention when they attend the ballet.

2. “The Clock”
As Mr. Grainger celebrates his 65th birthday, all the staff wonders whether he’ll get the traditional cuckoo clock that means he is being retired. In the evening, the staff and Mrs. Grainger have dinner and Mr. Rumbold tells Captain Peacock that Grainger is being given the cuckoo clock. However, Young Mr. Grace makes a late appearance, gives the clock to himself, and gives Mr. Grainger another five years.

3. “The Apartment”
Mrs. Slocombe is rendered temporarily homeless after squatters invade her new flat. After her co-workers fail to provide accommodation, Young Mr. Grace allows her to move into the store’s Furniture Fitting Department. Mrs. Slocombe turns the floor into a cozy home-from-home, but her space is soon invaded when a transport strike forces her co-workers to move in.

4. “A Change is as Good as a Rest”
The floor staff is summoned to the Board Room, and while they wait for Mr. Rumbold and Young Mr. Grace they look in the file on the table that says they are all to be replaced. In protest they decide to resign and Mr. Grainger does so first. However, they are then told that all the staff is merely changing departments for a week. Mr. Grainger asks for his job back, but Mr. Humphries and Mr. Lucas have already been promoted, so he is made Junior Assistant. Later, the staff is moved to the Toy Department for the week and Mr. Rumbold tries to get Mr. Grainger his old job back.

5. “Strong Stuff this Insurance”
The staff gets the opportunity to participate in a lucrative group insurance scheme that will land them all sizable pensions upon retirement. Unfortunately, they must first pass through a physical examination. In an effort to shape up without spending too much money, Mr. Humphries enlists his former ballet instructor. After their physicals, they retreat to Young Mr. Grace’s office to learn the results, and what they hear shocks them.

Enjoy!

My favorite. . . cheap wines

Wine is my go-to drink when I want to unwind on the weekends. Or on a weeknight if someone has pissed me off enough that day. I’m on a budget though, so I stick to the cheap bottles unless it is a special occasion. Even then, if you aren’t drinking your wine in the right conditions, price really doesn’t matter a whole lot (don’t tell a sommelier I said that).

For starters, let’s define cheap. I’m talking a bottle under $15, preferably around $10. I stick to white varieties when I’m drinking my cheap weekend wine. I enjoy red wines also, but I’ve found them to be a bit too bitter at home (whether cheap or expensive). I’m sure this has more to do with not storing the bottles properly or not serving at the right temperature, but I just don’t have the time for that. I let waiters serve me the reds and I serve myself the whites.
redwine_v_whitewineNote: Did you know I have a wine glass that will hold an entire bottle? Yep, I do. It is laughable and I love it. I also have a lanyard that holds a glass of wine so you still have both hands free at a party. Unfortunately, it will not hold the full-bottle glass. This is a massive product flaw.

A big plus for me = already chilled bottles. I’m looking to run home and open a cheap bottle, I don’t want to have to wait to chill it. Some of my favorite cheap options are my favorite simply because my local liquor store keeps bottles in the refrigerator. Priorities people!

You may see me buy a Pinot on the rare occasion (then always regret it), but generally I stick to these four big ones:

Sauvignon Blanc
Chateau Ste. Michelle (under $15)

Chardonnay
Barefoot (under $8)
Yellow Tail (under $8)

Riesling
Relax (under $12)
Willamette Valley Vineyards (under $15)

Moscato
Stella Rosa Moscato D’Asti (under $15)
Marco Negri Moscato D’Asti (under $20 – but only if they are out of the Stella Rosa)

Are these going to make a professional’s “best wines ever” list . . . eh, probably not. They work for me though.

My favorite . . . perfume

Yeah, that’s right. A completely useless and frivolous post about smelling nice. Happy Friday!

There was a time in my life when I didn’t wear many perfumes and was strictly a body spray kind of gal. This was mostly because all of the cutesy popular perfumes out there smelled overwhelming like flowers. I do not like to smell like flowers. Then one day in high school I suddenly discovered Gap’s Om. Remember those old Gap perfumes – Grass, Om, Heaven, etc.? Nobody I knew liked Om because it was very musky, almost masculine. When I sprayed that sucker on though, it was like the clouds parted with the angels were singing “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. A big switch clicked my mind – I’m not supposed to smell like flowers! I’m supposed to smell dark and mysterious.

Calvin Klein Euphoria    euphoria
Calvin Klein.com says this perfume is “mysterious. provocative. exciting. the fantasy and surprise of the black orchid creates a captivating oriental fragrance that contrasts exotic fruits, seductive florals and a rich, creamy signature.” All I know is that is smells good on me. Damn good. I get compliments all of the time. As a bonus, my husband bought this for me the first time without any input from me.

Chanel Chancechance
This is another one that people notice and compliment on me. Chanel.com says “It’s your chance . . . TAKE IT! A decidedly young scent . . . for those who dare to dream. The most powerful, concentrated and long-lasting form of fragrance; a constellation of orbiting scents. Floral notes merge with sensual, sweet and spicy elements.” Yeah that is mostly nonsense, but it still smells good. I’m out of this right now if anyone wants to buy me a bottle.

Nina Ricci Ninanina
It comes in an apple-shaped bottle. This is one of those that I just stumbled across while killing some time in Sephora one day. It is a little fruity, so I wouldn’t have been drawn to it necessarily, but I love the smell on me. The sweetness kind of drops away and leaves this wonderful unique smell. Macy’s describes it as “a magical fragrance, a promise of enchantment with a radiant power of seduction. A fresh fruity floral fragrance with mouthwatering accents.”

Clean White Woodsclean
This is a recent discovery. I got a sample from somewhere and instantly loved it. This is the kind of perfume that I can sometimes catch of whiff of during the day and just thing, “Oh, I smell delicious.” Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy to find as the others and I always have to order it online. Totally worth it though. From Clean.com, “This woody musk Eau de Parfum weaves a cozy, comforting blanket with hints of crisp bergamot leaves, sparkling mandarin, creamy vanilla orchid, sandalwood, praline musks, and a dash of black pepper. The result is a warm, luxurious scent that embodies the pure essence of natural light dancing in a quiet wooded path.”

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Obpal
I went through a period where I was all about the perfume oils. They are great and BPAL comes up with some of the most unique scents out there. Perfume oils can smell very different on different people, but you can usually get sample sizes and pass them on to others if necessary. For example, a scent called “Shroud” smelled like disgusting wet dirt on me, but smelled divine on my mother. O has to be my favorite from BPAL and one of only two I own full-size bottles of. From BPAL.com, “The scent of sexual obsession, slavery to sensual pleasure, and the undercurrent of innocence defiled utterly. Amber and honey with a touch of vanilla.”

My favorite. . . blogs

I’m assuming that if you are reading this blog, you probably read other ones too. I do. Today I want to share a few of my favorites – these are blogs I keep in my reader and check regularly. I picked blogs that are more themed instead of just personal. Maybe I’ll do a “favorite blogs about other people’s lives” next time. [Be on the lookout for Monday’s blog post. It is Playfullytacky’s first blogiversary and I’m giving something fun away. My definition of fun might not be the same as yours, but it is still a prize.]

Ask A Manager
“When I started this blog, I was the chief of staff for a medium-sized, successful organization, where I was responsible for hiring, firing, promoting, managing, all of that. In 2010, I left that job and struck out on my own, doing consulting work on the same issues I write about here. I think about management and hiring and systems for getting things done pretty much constantly. And I’m bossy, so I like to tell you my opinion. So if you’re not sure what the hell your manager is thinking, or how to ask for a raise, or whether you might be in danger of getting fired, or how to act in a second interview … ask away.”

Love That Max
“First came love (Dave), then marriage, then two kids, Max and Sabrina. Max has special needs. I launched Love That Max in October 2008 as an inspirational, informational, occasionally irreverent blog. It is currently the #1 disability blog by traffic ranking.”

Young House Love
“Hey there. We’re Sherry and John, and we live in Richmond, Virginia. Here’s where we chat about transforming our house, living in it, and all the random bits in between. We spend our days doing projects, photographing them, writing posts, and raising our three year old daughter. It’s sort of like running a little two-person newspaper (with a kid bouncing around the office). There’s always something to do/paint/write about!”

Doctor Grumpy
Doctor Grumpy doesn’t have an about me. The blog is full of funny stories of interactions with patients, drug reps, other doctors etc. It is very entertaining. The disclaimer “This blog is entirely for entertainment purposes. All posts about patients may be fictional, or be my experience, or were submitted by a reader, or any combination of the above. Factual statements may or may not be accurate.”

Historiann
“History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present. Historiann is the not very clever pseudonym of Ann M. Little, the author of Abraham in Arms: War and Gender in Colonial New England (2007) and several scholarly articles and book chapters on early American women’s and gender history. She is an Associate Professor in the History Department at Colorado State University.”

Favorite things . . . 2013 edition

I am going to share some things I discovered in 2013 that quickly became regular in my life.

jart

Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Beauty Balm
I didn’t really get the BB cream craze at first; every product I tried just seemed like a regular tinted moisturizer. This product is different though. Dr. Jarts has ended my fifteen-year struggle to find a makeup foundation I like. My face looks positively flawless when I put it on every morning. I’ve also developed a little obsession with Korean beauty products. If this is so awesome, what else do they know?

Fiber One Chewy Bars, Oats and Chocolate
Yum. I could eat them every day and many days I do. They are perfectly chocolately, but with enough oats to make you feel like you made a good choice. Great for fighting back afternoon hunger.

Hush Puppies Sonnet Slip Onhush
I love these shoes. I have them in red and brown and wear them to work almost every day. I probably would wear them every day if I had them in black. They are cute, but comfortable and ready to climb a ladder if necessary. Maybe not the most trendy choice, but perfect for this practical archivist.

Books by Mary Roach
I read Stiff, Bonk, and Spook this year and I just ordered Gulp to start off 2014. Roach’s writing is fun, entertaining, and smart. I come away from one of her books with new knowledge and some insane stories/facts to break out at a party. Stiff was my favorite, but that is a topic that always interests me.

Cosmopolitan magazinecosmo
It is silly, I know. I bought a subscription to Cosmopolitan during a $5 sale and – I must say – I enjoy getting the nonsense in my mailbox once a month. I usually read through it one evening. Laughing at the unrealistic sex tips and scrutinizing the outfits I could never pull off is a fun way to end a stressful day. Don’t judge.

Audiobooks
For some reason, 2013 was the year of the audiobook for me. I’ve listened to them before, but only on long trips or when I used to commute an hour each way daily. This year though, I have been all about those books. Any moment I have at work that is appropriate for listening, I had my headphones in. I listened to at least twenty, if not more.

My favorite. . . holiday music

It isn’t Friday favorites, but I’m going to go ahead and finish my holiday music posts with my favorite songs. You can catch these on repeat at any given moment in my house.

Otis Redding – White Christmas (1967)

Bing Crosby – Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiian Christmas Song)

Percy Faith – We Need a Little Christmas