Saturday, December 26, 2015


  A Few of My Favorite Things 2015

Things and fifteen rhyme but not baubles, geegaws or thingamajigs.  I loved watching Oprah's Favorites Christmas specials.  The best part was the elves descending on the audience members with armfuls of Oprah's wrapped favorites.  While I can't gift beach vacations or $3,000 bed sheets, I will share an assortment of my favorite things with one lucky reader.  In no particular order, this list is a personal  endorsement not tied to any compensation from anyone.  As the year is winding down, remember what made your life in 2015 a little easier or brought a smile to your face, something just for you.  Think about your own list!  (**Denotes brand new favorite products that may be included in assortment.)
Beginning with food, of course.  I have to start my morning with coffee, ASAP.  My new favorite is 1)**Just Joe Breakfast Blend from The Fresh Market with a splash of skim milk.   When it's not too cold, I enjoy my evening cup of tea sitting out on the deck, looking up at the stars.  2)**Constant Comment, Decaf, Bigelow Tea with a good squeeze of  3)**Pure Natural Honey, Bemis Honey Bee Farm, local and delicious.  Served in my favorite mug, an Amy Red Tulip Mug painted by Jeni.  My favorite during the day is  4)**Starbucks. They do it well.  My go-to is a Tall Latte with one packet of sugar.  Cate and Finn gifted me with a Mother's Day Card which began my habit in a serious nature.  The cooler weather fuels my addiction.

This year I have added new foods to my daily diet.  5)** Lance's Toast Chee Real Peanut Butter Crackers - the orange ones.  They make a good, quick lunch, except the dog has decided he also likes them.  During the day, I like to grab handfuls of  6)**Skinny Pop Popcorn.  Low calorie, non GMO, gluten free and nothing artificial.  USA delicious, good fiber and perfectly salted.  A bit pricey but I don't purchase alot of other snack foods.

The very worse new favorite award goes to 7)**Nabisco's Oreo Thins Mint Cookies.  Oh my goodness. I can't even look at these cookies because of their hypnotic effect.  Yes, I'm known for putting the groceries in the back of the car, chucking the bag of cookies to the front seat, opening the fresh bag of thin mint delectables and gnoshing with abandonment, all the way home.  I have to be very careful about bringing any cookie home.  But I am an equal opportunity eater.  The strangest favorite food of 2015 is Butternut squash.  I love vegetables but never, ever a winter squash.  I have created a yummy butternut soup which could hold up to anything Ina Garten whips up.  My crazy crave of 2015 was discovered at a posh party while nibbling appetizers in the fancy kitchen of the host's second pool house.  Stilton Cheese.  Every meal if possible, I wish.  I like a Triscuit with essence of Strawberry Jam topped by a little dollop of cheese.

While crunching cookies and sipping tea, I do have my favorite escape route pursuits.  My new favorite is the hottest trend - coloring for adults.  When I discovered the COLORFY Be Creative app on my phone, I was hooked.  The initial set-up is free - patterns and a basic board of 27 colors.  Some of the themes include Florals, Animals, Famous and Mandalas.  I have purchased the additional color boards and other patterns.  The prices range from 1.99 to 2.99.  There is no monthly fee.  As you can see, this is definitely a fave for 2015.

8)**Sudoku has always been a favorite for keeping my mind sane.  As a writer, my Sudoku books also act as notebooks.  There are no private conversations anywhere, especially at the hair salon.  "Are you in love?  Ever been to Europe?  For so long, all my friends lied to me.  I said that, but he said no...last year it was Mexico.  You need to eat humble pie.  This is not going to fly.  He is mentally unstable.  I told her 'Girl, that's not a diaper, it's your panties."  My favorite books are by Will Shortz but I don't know how one writes a Sudoku book.  I've reached the BeWare! Very Challenging portion and I'm in quicksand half of the time.  Sometimes I cheat and look at the back of the book.  It feels an awful lot like my math classes.  Not the cheating.  The frustration.

My new favorite places are the library and The Fresh Market.  A writer who doesn't read?  I know.  Wow.  Three books since October.  The Fresh Market is a great escape.  I love to go to the deli and check out the brie and the Stilton.

As for beauty and health, I need a little polish every day.  I had a friend who traveled with her curling iron and full makeup for a weekend by the lake.  Not me.  But I do have new favorites in 2015.  I now call my facial foundation Botox in a Bottle.  Weeks ago, a lifelong friend leaned in closely and whispered, "Amy, tell me, really, have you had botox?"  Oh my goodness.  She is not the first person to say glowing things about my complexion in the last few months.  Vitalumiere Aqua Chanel.  A best friend can't be wrong!

I am all about lip product, either lipstick or balm.  I had horribly chapped lips when I was a little girl.  My new favorite is 9)**Peppermint Chapstick.  Only available during the holidays.  My Daddy always, always carried his Chapstick.  I'm forever on the search for a new toothpaste.  I love, love, love my newest toothpaste,  10)**Crest Complete Cinnamon.  Perfect zing but not overpowering and comes with whitening powers.

I am genetically blessed with good nails.  I made bad grades my first semester of college but my nail polish was perfectly fresh everyday.  A+  My new favorite color is 11)**OPI Act Your Beige.  It is perfect for long or short and looks very classic, Jackie O.  Pretty without trying too hard.  12)**The Equate Beauty Regular Nail Polish Remover Pad is a perfect team.  Never a worry about spilling the nail polish remover that will eat away at your quilted nylon robe, when you are doing your nails on the sofa, right after your Mama said not to!

This time of year, even down South, skin can become dry and itchy thanks to central heat.  My dressing essentials are not complete without my daily application of  13)**Kiehl's Creme de Corps (Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter).  According to the packaging, this "body butter is quickly absorbed to deliver rich hydration for a wonderfully indulgent experience."  I wholeheartedly agree.  Close your eyes and you're on the beach, soaking up rays.  I have a very sensitive nose but the fragrance quickly dies down to everyday and is hardly noticeable.  This is for luxuriant pampering, every day.

This next favorite beauty/health product should be offered by the other person who sprays mass quantities on his own coiffure.  Professional Sebastian Shaper Original Formula.  This is a serious essential in our home.  When is the last time your husband voluntarily dropped by your hair salon and picked up a new can of hairspray?  We like to buy two at a time because we don't like to run out.  Everyone needs a little help.  Speaking of a lot of help, one of my favorites is a person.  I've tried not to list people but he is in his own category.  Tommy.  I came to him with pitiful hair and he grabbed his Color Bible and whisked my color and hair back into shape.  I came home and found a swatch of hair from 7th grade that matched my new head of color.  He is that good.

I know it may come as a shock to those who know me (and the state of my house) but I only have one item on my list under the cleaning products title.  But it is a biggie.  14)** ocelo Dishwand  is a magic wand used to wash the dishes in the sink.  One end is a scrubby sponge and the other end is where the dish detergent goes.  All in one.  Makes cleaning up a snap.  Clean as you go.  No hot, sudsy water which turns nasty-cold.  No gross suds accompanied by a brilliantly, disinfected dish rag that was laundered a week ago.  Oh the stories I could tell.  I love my ocelo magic wand.  My hands stay dry and my manicure salon-fresh!

Now my quirky category for the items in no particular range but still worthy of my 2015 favorites.  The  15)**Paper Mate Clearpoint Mechanical Pencil is one of my all time favorites of any year.  Being a writer who prefers pencils to pens, these are the best.  I have eight unopened packages in my file right now.  Everything about these pencils is stupendous.  Bright colors, extra pack of #2 leads, two extra erasers.  These are my go-to, take with me everywhere.

The last three in the quirky category are three who can always take away my breath with their beauty.  Always.  Fleetwood Mac.  Ella Fitzgerald.  A Snow Leopard.  They do not need my definition.  All three are silk-wrapped presents loaned to our world for a short time.  If the snow leopards can't come, I don't want to go to heaven.  

From the common, mundane to the special splurges.  I would love to read about your favorites in 2015!  Please comment on blog or Facebook me with your list of 5 favorite things by January 2, 2016.  No anonymous folks please.  My staff and I will hold a raffle and pick the person who will receive an inviting assortment of my 2015 Favorite Things.  The winner will be announced in a later blog.

1-5 lists received   2 items
5-10 lists received  3 items
10-20 lists received  5-7 items
Over 20 lists received  7-10 items

See you in 2016!!   Happy New Year!

Monday, December 7, 2015


I can hear the dog whining all the way back here in my office.  He is standing next to the counter and the leftover deli chicken.  Arthritis is about the only thing keeping him from running afoul.  But still, he has to let me know he knows.  There is no spiced tea simmering in the big pot.  Not a whirring of a ribbon spool anywhere to be heard or seen on our property.  The highlight of my day was turning on the dishwasher and drying a load of towels in the dryer.  Seriously,  Sometimes I have to laugh.

The holidays are hard.  This is a guilt-filled time of year for me.  Why can't it just be pleasant, joyous and anticipatory?  I am one fun gal any other time of the year.  But depression and anxiety seem to really kick in during the holidays.  Or as I like to say, the holidaze.  I am guilty over past years and the abundant gifts we have received which have never gotten used, eaten or seen, in shelves and freezers and under the bed, tucked away to hide our lazy endeavors and dulled good intentions because we are really lousy at finishing.

I am tired of guilt over things not done.  It's only December 7 but I'm feeling guilty for not having the Christmas Cards started.  I love cards but it's been a crazy few years and this year I was really going to make an effort.  I purchased photo cards in October.  I can reach out and touch them from where I sit but that is it.  No pictures taken.  Not giving up though.

I can see my backyard neighbor's Christmas tree lighting up their back deck, merrily, merrily.  Our lights are still in the attic depending on whether or not the squirrels have been active this year. However, I am sitting in my office with a string of colored lights running around the top of the walls.  All is not total humbug.

Is there relaxation?  Real enjoyment? As if everything were done then my holiday could be perfect.  What is perfection?  Happiness for more than a couple of hours tearing into wrapping paper. Racing for meaning.  Searching for depth.  Peace this year?  Sometimes it is easier to draw in and away, leaving fear outside the door, unknown.

I really want Pecan Sandies baking in the oven, Santa's Whiskers cooling on the rack.  I have a box, somewhere, packed full of pretty little boxes and tins for delivering homemade goodies to the special people in my life.  Brand new.  Just waiting for a party, festive woodland place cards holding their breath to be placed in front of Elegance in Blue, Nouveau and Allure.  Dinner for eight.  Of course, two can be a party but the more the merrier.

But all hasn't been lost.  I can remember the times it all came together.  Before tired hands and a weary mind.  Is it out there still?  Where is the drive and motivation?  Where is the girl I once knew?
Hopes. Dreams. Ideas.  Does youth hold the cards and my game is past?

Friends of mine are just sitting around with their feet up, admiring their wrapped gifts and dewy trees.
What if I went down my block and rang the doorbell and neighbors answered the door?  Would it be all homey and cozy?  Would I get a true glimpse of what Christmas means to them?  Can't go by looks alone.  Afterall.  The UPS man could ring my door, take a peek in and decide we don't celebrate.  No evidence of anticipation.

Sometimes anticipation can be read on one's face.  Fear and anxiety.  Hope and excitement.  We can't judge with just a glimpse.  We are good at  wearing the face of I'm Good and I Dare You to See Differently.  Hide the fear.

Shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  Suddenly, the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were sore afraid.  Terrified.  Mouths hanging open.  In the middle of the dark, bright as day.  These men kill wild animals preying on their flock.  They are not given to fear.  Holy terror.  Just a glimpse of God's glory.

The faces of Mary and Joseph.  Fear, anxiety, hope and excitement.  Opening their hearts to possibility.  The shadows of fear and anxiety flattened by omnipotent glory lying in their arms.

Waking up to another day of things undone.  The door is shut, locked, alarmed.  Nothing bad can get in.  Controlled fear.  Open the door!  Mid-December sunshine floods the foyer so bright it hurts my eyes.

The Angel of The Lord says
"Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy!!!!
For unto you is born this day, in the city of David
a savior who is Christ the Lord."
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,
praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace and goodwill to all."

Open the door.