Note: Some knee surgery and plenty of November/December distractions have made writing a bit more challenging than usual. I’ve fallen behind. This week, I’m combining my Monday post and The Middle into one post. Also, for several hours I’ve been unable to upload images to this post. I’m publishing without the photos, but check back later, as I hope to fix this problem. Other bloggers— are you having trouble with the new Word Press media program?
This is so not Oprah; there will be no giant give aways at the end. It was fun sharing some of my favorite things last year, and great to hear what you all liked and what you would add to the list. So, at the end of this post, throw out your own suggestions. Share your favorite things in the comment section. These are not in any particular order; they’re all favorites.
When I was a kid, Noxema was the bomb. Simple to use, inexpensive and the eucalyptus smell made it seem that it was extra good for my skin. Over the years, I got older and so did my skin. It’s much more sensitive and it needs things it didn’t need when it was young… like plastic surgery! However, for now I’m sticking to things I can get at my favorite: Nordstroms. Three years ago, for Christmas, I got the Clarisonic Skin Cleansing system. My Clarisonic is a favorite things because it makes my skin feel so good, and it’s almost effortless. The spinning brush deep cleans your skin and leaves it feeling fresh and soft. It does’t take away wrinkles or erase years, but it leaves my face feeling much better than when I start. There are several different models, and it’s wonderful for teen skin that often breaks out, or is hard to manage. I’ve had mine for three years now, and replace the cleansing brush as needed, for only $15. There are several models, ranging in price.
I use another one of my favorite things with the Clarisonic: Khiels Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser. I’ve been a fan of Khiel’s products since I tried samples at The Tiffany hotel in Miami. I had never heard of the company before then, but fell in love with the little samples in the room. If you have sensitive skin, the Gentle Foaming cleaner is fantastic! Khiel’s uses pure botanicals and few fragrances. Their products tend to be very good on sensitive skin, which is just what I need. I’m also a big fan of their liquid soaps, and use them both at home and traveling. My favorites are Coriander wash or Grapefruit wash. Both are refreshing and gentle on the skin.
I don’t have the sweet tooth that the rest of my family has, but I’ve recently discovered a treat that I am totally stuck on. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Nutty Bits are amazing! They come in small nugget bites, and are hard to resist. Dark chocolate on a cluster of almonds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, sea salt, and pistachio, make for a salty-sweet treat that is delicious. That’s the best reason I know not to buy them, but I don’t seem to have much self control when it comes to these. At 160 calories per three pieces, life is not fair! I was far better off with the Ritz and Cheez Its that so many of you know I crave. However, I find myself finding more reasons to visit Trader Joe’s, and it’s not for the organic veggies. Can you say Addiction?
When I’m done with the sweets, Colgate Optic White is fantastic! It works. That simple, it works. It’s not harsh on sensitive gums, and it whitens teeth. In a world full of bright white smiles, it’s the easiest, cheapest solution.
No more expensive skin creams for me. My dermatologist suggested CeraVe skin cream and I haven’t used anything else since. No promises on the jar that you’ll see a reduction in fine lines or wrinkles; it doesn’t promise to plump or heal skin. It moisturizes; that’s all. However, it does it very well with no fragrance, and costs a tiny fraction of the the other fancy skin creams I used before. At $15-17 for a 16 oz jar, it’s my favorite daily skin care helper. I have really dry skin, and now I don’t apply cream multiple times a day. Once in the morning and then in the evening, and that’s it. Easy breezy and very affordable.
My MacBook Air is my absolutely favorite thing. I’ve had it for nearly a year and a half now and I use it virtually every day. No doubt we’re a Mac family, so when my old Mac began to fail I knew I’d be looking for another. I find them very user friendly and I wanted to stick with what I already knew, as I’m one of the least tech savvy people I know. I chose the MacBook Air because of its size and weight and it has a been a dream. I know that lots of people love their iPads, but I need to type. This where I type my blog posts, read the news, work on my book and play Lexulous (for those of you who know I’m an addict). This computer weighs only 2.38 lbs; I can literally carry it with one finger, if I could balance it. That, in a backpack, is easy on my back and really pleasant to travel with. It doesn’t play discs unless you add the disc drive, but that is easy to carry too and I only take it with me occasionally. Overall, for someone who will be doing a lot of writing, and searching the internet, this computer is ideal. You just don’t need anything bigger.
Books, books, and more books. There were a lot of great books to read this year. I did more writing than reading this year, but I read enough of them to list them as favorite things. Top of the list is Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern (magical, romantic, fantastic!). I loved Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (slow start, but couldn’t put it down from middle to end- interesting cameo by Richard Burton); I really enjoyed finally reading The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck (Pulitzer winner in 1932- a classic, set in China pre-WWII), and loved A Land More Kind Than Home, by Wiley Cash (great Southern story, with snake bearing evangelists and wonderful characters). It was a year of series for me. Our whole family and both exchange students read and loved The Hunger Games Series, and I’ve finished four of The Game of Thrones books. They are all addictive and exciting reading, neither for the faint of heart. Finally, Two of my blog posts were published in Tangerine Tango, Women Share Slices of Life, edited by Lisa Winkler, this past fall. It is a small book that is available on line and in hard copy.
I’ll say it again… and again: Townsend Bay Soaps (order on line) are fantastic! Ok, call it nepotism but these may be the most wonderful soaps anywhere. They’re all natural and fabulous on all skin types. TBSC uses the highest quality essential oils and will do personalized labels for baby showers, weddings or whatever makes you smile (I had to photo shop the Bar Mitzvah bar, as it didn’t say Little Man’s Bar Mitzvah Bar). I’m a huge fan of the liquid soaps too. I often use the bars for both bathing and in drawers, to make my whole room smell wonderful. The products are sold on line and in Made in Washington stores at Seatac and elsewhere, as well as in many small local stores around Washington state. I always get a call to say “That soap is amazing! Thanks!” when I give it as a gift. Watch this uber cool video to see how it’s made. Besides all that, I happen to love the owners to pieces.
Another plug for Trader Joe’s. Love, love, love their Pita Bite Crackers. They’re super crisp, and the flavor is perfect with almost any cheese. Lately, I prefer goat cheese cheddar on them, but they work with everything. They remind me a little of Carr’s water crackers, but have a bit more oomph.
Raw almonds are a daily favorite; can’t stand it when I’m out of them. Recently a friend suggested baking them for 30 minutes at 300 degrees. With a toasted flavor, it’s better to eat them by the handful! I think it counteracts the effects of the chocolate clusters, the Cheez Its, the Grapefruit cocktails (yes, still a favorite) and the Cool Coffee Creams.
Cool Coffee Creams are mostly a local treat, thought Cruisin’ Coffee (home of the CCC) is now in Hawaii as well. It’s a milkshake with ice-cream, espresso, chocolate and ice. Simple and heavenly. I have one once a week on Tuesdays,and then augment that as needed. Some weeks are a 2… or even a 3… CCC week. I order it decaf with only half the chocolate, and it’s a guaranteed smile. (There are no pictures, because I drink them down too quickly).
Movie time, couch time, would not be the same without my cozy blanket. They are sold at Costco and this one’s a family affair: we all have one. Once side is a very soft velveteen fleece fabric and the other side is thick fleece that’s like lamb’s wool. When they’re new, there is nothing softer and cozier than these blankets! They get a bit lumpy with age, but are still super warm and nice for cuddling up for movies. My Mom had one and loved it. In Hospice it was the perfect blanket for Mom’s sensitive skin. After Mom died, her blanket was not in the best shape, as it had to be washed in super hot water at Hospice and had gotten very “matted.” Gracie is very happy to have that blanket, and there were few people more doggy focused than Mom. She would love to see sweet, little Gracie all cuddled up in that blanket. Mine, I don’t share.
The C-word; hard to resist. The other C-word! It’s a treat, but love a nice Cashmere sweater. At my age frankly, my skin is really sensitive. The wrong wool is nothing but itchy, but the right one is yummy. Some of the nicest cashmere has endless hairs to fly into your eyes, and can be very itchy. The really cheap blends are worse. Somewhere in the middle there is really soft cashmere that keeps you so warm in the winter, doesn’t make me itchy and miserable, and lasts forever.. My grandmother was a cashmere fiend and after she died, I got two of her sweaters which are still favorites. My grandmother had wonderful taste, and as a bonus sometimes when I wear here sweater, I can still smell her Shalimar.
Tis the season to give. For me, these are all things that make any day extra good. What are your favorite things? What do you enjoy every day, or regularly? Share your favorites.