I heard “My Favorite Things” while shopping for Christmas cards at Hallmark the other day and thought, When did that become part of the Christmas carol canon? I looked it up on Wikipedia, which offered this: “The wintertime imagery of some of the lyrics has made ‘My Favorite Things’ a popular song during the Christmas season, and it often appears on holiday-themed albums and compilations, although in the show and movie it is sung during a summer thunderstorm.”
Snowflakes and mittens make me think of winter, not Christmas, but whatever. I know, bah-humbug, right? Wrong. I’m in a good mood, actually. Stress levels have come down to manageable levels and my elliptical repair man will be here tomorrow. What more could a girl want?
Stress can be a teacher and fortunately I allowed it to help me to look inside and not away from the stressors. In doing so, I realized there were many favorite moments and discoveries this year, old and new, frivolous and serious. My list is nothing like Oprah’s favorite things, and there are no freebies hidden under your seat as you read this, although if I could, I’d give you all, dear readers, a jar of hearts of palm and an ionized hair dryer. You’ll understand further down the page.
So, in no particular order, here are my Favorite Things of 2008:
1. Fennel. I was introduced to fennel at The Ivy restaurant in Los Angeles when I was in California in March. My friend Michael took me there for lunch, and while we didn’t see any celebrities (at least none that we recognized), we did see a LOT of silicone. Oh my. Anyway, fennel. It was tossed into my $28 Ivy salad and I fell in love at first bite. I’m not a black licorice fan, but I do like anise and fennel has a hint of anise. It reminds me of the anise candy we got for Christmas every year when I was a kid. Fennel is a little sweet and very crunchy, and the best part is that I think of Michael every time I eat it. Love that guy.
2. Hearts of Palm. I was technically introduced to hearts of palm two summers ago while visiting my friend Heather in Chicago. She put some in our dinner salads. I didn’t buy my first jar until last week, so I’m counting it among this year’s favorites. The canned palms are in brine so they’re tangy and a little on the high sodium side, but I found a jar of palms with lower sodium at Trader Joe’s. Slice them up and put them in your salad for a nice little bite. Like the fennel, I have happy friend memories when I eat them. Which reminds me, I really need to get back to Chicago to see her.
3. My new haircut. All my life I’ve tried to find the right haircut. I had short wavy hair in the 70s, curling iron-hairspray bangs in the 80s and early 90s, and crazy out-of-control curly hair until this past March. Ashley, the most fabulous hairstylist ever, thought maybe I ought to try an Annette Bening style. Sure, why not, I said. And it worked! Finally, I have a hairstyle that in 20 years I won’t look back on and cringe.
4. My ionized hair dryer. When my old dinosaur of a hairdryer finally died last month, I bought an ionized one. I have no idea the technical details of ionization and I don’t care. All I care about is that my hair is not frizzy and it dries faster. I like this thing a LOT.
5. Mary Kay Time Wise products. The woman who helps me clean my house, Tammy, is also a Mary Kay consultant. Having been a Clinique girl since WAY back, I’d never tried MK before. When my skin starting breaking out last winter and nothing Clinique offered helped, Tammy suggested I try the Time Wise line of cleansers and moisturizers. Within two weeks my skin was clear. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with Mary Kay mascara and gotten my husband hooked on the men’s line. Given me some time and I will be the reason Tammy earns a pink Cadillac.
6. Blackberry Pearl. For a woman who just learned how to old school text message last year, the Blackberry was quite a step up with it’s fancy QWERTY keyboard. My Blackberry is pimped out with modem capabilities and with it I took photos in the balloon room at the Andy Warhol Museum. I can check my email, the weather AND the news in bed, and can call all my siblings for free. Of course, this requires me to turn it on, something I forget to do most of the time.
7. My Pampered Chef chopper. Makes my cooking life much easier. It can also take quite a beating. Seriously…when I chop, I REALLY chop.
8. NPR. I’ve dabbled in National Public Radio here and there. I’m a huge fan of “Prairie Home Companion” and “Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me!” but I’ve never ventured beyond that. Thanks to many trips to Pittsburgh this past year (a 70-minute drive each way), I’ve become an NPR junkie. “News and Notes,” “Radio Times,” “Talk of the Nation,” “The Diane Rehm Show,” “Forum,” “Tell Me More”…my heart is all a flutter. I recognize every news anchor’s voice, and I think Carl Kasell and Peter Sagal are sexy.
9. The gift of old friends. Visiting Minnesota this past summer, I saw people I haven’t seen in 20 and 30 years. What a treat to ride in a parade on the back of a wagon with my fifth- AND sixth-grade boyfriends. I cried as I watched my former choir director (now in his mid-80s) direct the choir in my old church. Such beauty that. I got to hug the parents of my friend Tammy who was murdered in Lubbock in 1986. We’ve stayed in touch every Christmas but I’d not seen them since the funeral. I saw every member of my wedding party (the first wedding), and I got to introduce my late husband’s beautiful daughter to many of his friends, including the woman she is named after. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
10. This blog. While I’d kept an online journal of my weight loss, I’d not blogged about weight issues on a regular basis until I started this blog in March and launched Refuse to Regain with another “favorite thing,” my blogging partner Barbara Berkeley, in May. The best part about this blog is you. I have learned more, laughed more, and grown more as a person because of getting to know so many of you through your comments and your own blogs.
And so with that, I offer you my most sincere thank you and my warmest wishes for a health-filled holiday and 2009. I leave you with my favortist thing of all, my granddaughter Claire, dancing so happy she had to get naked: