friday favorites

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.
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.
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!
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

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.


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)

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

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

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.”

“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.


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.

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 . . . television shows

Taking a break from writing about my thymectomy for a little Friday Favorites fun.

Current, on the dvr schedule and regularly watched
-World’s Dumbest. I’ve already written about this one.
-The Big Bang Theory
-New Girl
-Paranormal Witness
-Face Off
-Top Chef

Over, but still watch on a regular basis
-Gavin & Stacey
-The Golden Girls
-Are You Being Served?
-Grace and Favour (a.k.a Are You Being Served Again?)

Enjoy, maybe still catch an episode/wish I could catch an episode
-Married with Children
-Unsolved Mysteries
-Tales from the Crypt
-Keeping Up Appearances

Sort of watch, but tend to build up a backlog and marathon
-Mike and Molly
-The Walking Dead
-How I Met Your Mother

My favorite . . . ridiculous Oprah favorites

For this special Black Friday edition of my favorites, let’s get silly with some of Oprah’s picks. I borrowed all of the Oprah quotes from Oprah.com, as I don’t actually watch the show. Commentary is all mine.


Qooq Touch Kitchen Tablet ($399)
“I’m a refrigerator chef — I cook whatever I have on hand. That’s why I think the Qooq touch tablet is fantastic: It’s loaded with 1,000 recipes searchable by ingredient, with videos that show exactly how that cream sauce is supposed to look.” – Oprah

Look! It is just like a regular tablet, except far less useful. Plus, you have to pay extra to actually access the recipes. What?! If you have enough money to buy this kitchen tablet, you already have access to all of this stuff. It is called the internet. Enjoy.


Caddylicious Stationery Set ($300)
“E-mails are incredibly convenient, but they’ll never replace the real thing. This set of cards, envelopes, mailing labels, and notepad, all in a sleek Lucite caddy, gives new meaning to literary style.” – Oprah

$300 stationary. How could you ever work up the nerve to use it? I would always be afraid of wasting a precious sheet and end up just looking at it as it collects dust and dog hair on my desk. Buy a caddy at TJ Maxx and get some cute personalized stationary off of Etsy. You will get the same result with lots more money in your pocket.


Baby Love ($79)
“Here’s what the well-dressed baby is wearing this season. Presented in a woven basket, these hand-embroidered organic cotton bibs slip right over the head, with no hard snaps or scratchy Velcro.” – Oprah

White $79 bibs. Do I really need to comment on this? Why would you pay so much for something made to wipe up weird smelling globs and mysterious liquids? I’m sure someone out there is thinking something like, “But these aren’t supposed to be everyday bibs. They can be for going out and special occasions.” I’m assuming this is your first kid. At least it comes in a basket. So there is that.


Deepa Gurnani Plum headband ($100)
“Ever since I put on a headband for our big September Afro cover, I’ve been inspired to wear more. But not the plain schoolgirl ones—the more glittery, the better. These are like jewelry for your hair.” – Oprah

Headbands. I like headbands. I have a big head, so I probably wouldn’t want anyone buying me a headband for Christmas, but in general – not a bad gift. Don’t buy me a $100 headband though. Seriously. For starters, my daughter appropriates any hair product brought into this home. Plus, can’t you think of anything better to spend $100 on? I know I could make a list of better options.


Chocolate Nativity scene ($45)
“Even Mr. Hanukkah, Adam Glassman, is in love with this endearingly simple Nativity scene. In a delicious twist, each hand-decorated figure is edible, with a chocolate-covered cherry cordial at the center.” – Oprah

Christmas isn’t complete until you eat the baby Jesus. Yums.

Bonus round – an Oprah pick I need!


Sweater Mugs ($50 for 6)
“Snuggle up to your hot chocolate with these big dishwasher-safe porcelain mugs, jazzed up in the same design as my favorite sweater.” – Oprah

Well, I don’t really need six sweater mugs. I do think they are pretty cute though and if I could buy just one, I probably would. I have a useless collection of coffee mugs.

My favorite . . . celebrity chefs

Oh yes, clearly a very important topic. I mean, how could any of you possibly go on living without knowing which . . . um, chefs. . . I enjoy watching on the television.

Alton Brown
The #1 nerd’s chef. I though about just stopping the list here and making this entire post an Alton Brown love-fest. That didn’t seem quite fair though. Good Eats was my gateway show into cooking television. That says a lot – see, I don’t cook. Nearly ever. And not only do I enjoy watching Alton Brown (even on that less-than-stellar Cutthroat Kitchen), I actually use one of his recipes. His Yorkshire pudding recipe is a must-have in my household.

Alton Brown 2

Anthony Bourdain
Too expected? It seems like everyone loves him and I guess you can count me in those numbers. Last year, my husband and I went to see him live. I had no clue what the show was going to be a like – it was a chef/television personality all alone in a theater like a stand-up comic. The show was great though. He held his own up there without any problem and we laughed a lot.

Interview with Anthony Bourdain

Ron Ben-Israel
The host of Sweet Genius. Okay, he may not be the first person to come to mind when you mention “celebrity chefs,” but he is a chef and he is on television, so it counts. I love him. He is quirky and fun and totally unashamed of his love of desserts. According to Wikipedia, he served in the Israeli military and was a dancer before discovering baking. You have to love someone who can create a tasty treat, present it with a bit of flare, and forcibly keep away the moochers.