Saturday, January 11, 2014

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

   So, way back in the day when I was in high school, after I would get home from school I would always
watch Oprah.  I know that probably wasn't very highschoolish, but I just liked Oprah for some reason. She always had interesting stuff and interesting people on her show. And one of my favorite shows they would do every year around the holidays was "Oprah's Favorite Things."  It was such a great show, because Oprah would keep this ongoing list of neat products and random stuff that she loved throughout the year, and then on the Favorite Things show, she would give away one of everything to her audience members.  It was just fun!  I thought about it the other day for some reason, and it made me think about what my own favorite things are, so I decided it would be a fun topic to write a blog post on!  Now, you could interpret the word "favorite things" in all manner of ways - things that are beautiful, things that make your life easier, things that have sentimental value, etc.  And I don't feel like separating the different categories, so these are going to be a smorgasbord of all of the above!  Some of these are individual items, some are sets of items, and just FYI, they are not in order of most favorite to least favorite. Here goes....

 1) My Camera - Canon PowerShot Elph 330
       I could have seriously made a 2nd career as the paparazzi.  I take pictures of everything!  But I'm old school...I don't do smartphone pictures.  I mean, I do..... but not as a replacement of a camera. They're just not as good.  I have a good smartphone - Samsung Galaxy 3, which I love (I'm anti everything Apple), but there is just something so much better about a real camera.  They have better zoom, a better lens, tons of different photo taking settings, less blurring, etc.  I keep my camera in my purse at all times. It never leaves my side. And I have been able to take some awesome photos with this little guy. Here are some I've taken this past year...

2) Children's Books
      I know we live in an age of everything digital and e-readers are the norm, but there is just something alluring about a real live book. I love taking a book off the shelf, turning the pages, and even the smell of books.  I'm actually not a huge reader when it comes to adult novels (and by adult novels, I mean any novels written for adult readers, not trashy romance novels...just to clarify. Haha), but I have a true love for children's literature.  While there are some wonderful new children's books that have been written in the last 10-15 years, there is a lot of trash for kids out there too now with sarcastic one-liners with no true lesson to be learned and no real literary value.  I still love the old classics -  Goodnight Moon, The Giving Tree, Where the Wild Things Are, Dr. Seuss, and all books by Jan Brett, Patricia Polacco, Cynthia Rylant, etc.  I have such sweet memories of my mom reading to me when I was little, even up to 8, 9, and 10 years old.  Parents don't read to their children nearly enough these days.  I love reading books to my kids at school, and I can't wait to be able to read stories to my own babies one day.
3)  Mary Kay and other awesome health and beauty products!
        I enjoy discovering new products that work well when it comes to health and beauty. I've pretty much tried it all, and I've found that the most expensive products aren't always the best.  While I love the moderately pricey Timewise Mary Kay line as well as Mary Kay's fabulous foundation primer (helps your foundation to go on flawlessly and keeps it matte) and eyeshadow/mascara, I can't stand their foundation.  I have been faithful to Revlon Color Stay foundation since high school, and I still haven't found anything I love more.  It's only $10 per bottle, and there's always coupons!  Same with Cover Girl powder... 

      Call me crazy, but THE BEST makeup remover I've ever found is Dawn Dish detergent....and it's like practically free.  You can get it for 99 cents a bottle or less on sale.  I know any skin care professional would probably shoot me for doing that, but it works great!!  I also have become a lover of natural moisturizers like coconut oil and sweet almond oil. They are amazing!  Sweet almond oil soaks right into your skin and doesn't leave an oily film.  Coconut oil is good for tons of stuff! It's a great moisturizer, a great alternative to cooking oil like vegetable and canola, and it's purely natural. Reading about all the synthetic chemicals that are additives in lotions like parabens, phathalates, etc. in articles like this one and how they are related to cancer, infertility, and birth defects, you'll only want to use natural stuff.  Your skin is your largest organ and you have to take care of it!! :)
      Comparatively speaking, I'm pretty low maintenance with hair care.  I don't have any upkeep with color or highlights. It's just way too expensive, and I'm too busy to have hair appointments every 4-6 weeks. I don't even get my hair cut but like every 5 or 6's just too much to keep up with.  But I do love my Helen of Troy hot rollers. I may look like an old lady when I'm pinned up in curlers, but soft billowing curls and added volume is priceless.  I hot roll my hair almost every day.

4) Pandora Internet Radio
      My husband and I are borderline obsessed with Pandora.  We listen to it every night when we go to bed.  Our alarm clock has a connector where you can plug in your smartphone and the Pandora app will play through the speakers of the alarm clock while charging your phone at the same time.  I have it on pretty much all day in my classroom too (calms my kiddos), and it often plays through our home sound system through the Blue-ray.  There is something so calming and joyful about music playing in the background - it's so much better than having the TV on.
      I feel like most people are familiar with Pandora, but I still meet people who have never heard of it.  So for you newbies, it's pretty much like all your favorite songs being played at the click of a button....for FREE!  Pandora has some pretty fascinating technology, courtesy of the Music Genome Project that allows it to code different songs using an extremely detailed list of attributes.  When you log into Pandora and set up a free account, it asks you which music artists you like.  Once you've typed in an artist, Pandora creates a radio station just for you, playing only music by that artist and other similar artists. If a song comes up that you like, you can give it a "thumbs up," which tells Pandora that you like that song and you want more songs played that are similar to it.  If you give a song a "thumbs down," it will never play that song again and gives Pandora more information about what songs not to play in the future.  So after a while, you have a radio station perfectly tailored to your own personal musical preferences.  I have about 20 different Pandora stations that I have created so far, and each are vastly different.  I love the mellow sound of the Coldplay station, the calming serenity of the more new-age Enya station, the jazzy vintage feel of the Frank Sinatra station, and every now and again when I'm in the mood for some old school gangsta rap, Notorious BIG is good too!  Other favorites: Mumford and Sons, Jim Brickman, Nat King Cole-The Christmas Song, and the list goes on......

5) Frozen Yogurt
     When I was in high school and college, ice cream was the craze.  Between Marble Slab, Cold Stone, and Bruster's, the freshman 15 was not too hard to gain.  But in the last 5 years, frozen yogurt establishments have been popping up EVERYWHERE!  Six or seven years ago the only frozen yogurt place around was TCBY, and now I'm wondering if they are even going to make it with all the other competing business.  But, I pretty much love this new trend, because yogurt is healthy for you!!  I mean, yes, it has sugar...but it has tons of pro-biotics, live and active cultures, and is either fat free or very low in that equals way less guilt!  I have become a connoisseur of all things frozen yogurt, and I like to try out all the new yogurt hot spots.  Thankfully my in-laws are always up for fro-yo after our family dinner dates....yay. :)  So far, here is my list of visited yogurt establishments:   TCBY, Yogen Fruz, Tutti Frutti, Yummilicious, YogHut, YoTopia, Yophoria, Sweet Frog, Blueberry Frog, Menchie's, and there is probably more, I just can't remember them all.  I have to say, I think my two favorites are Menchie's (Lexington, SC) and YoTopia (Augusta, GA).  Menchie's has the best red velvet, cake batter, and vanilla, and I just love YoTopia's dutch chocolate.  Those two brands seem to me to be the most creamy and ice-cream like.  Fro-yo, you're awesome....

6) IKEA Shelves

    Anyone who knows me knows that I pretty much love IKEA.  It is ridiculously awesome in every way....super chic and inexpensive furniture, all the organizational supplies you could ever want (can we say Type A heaven??!), and....... Swedish meatballs.  What more could you ask for? A trip to IKEA is an all day a good way.  It seriously takes you like at least 2-3 hours to navigate through the entire place, which is probably at least 10 million square feet.  Actually, I don't really know how big it is, but I'm pretty sure my whole neighborhood could fit inside the building with room to spare.  It's been a life saver for classroom needs!!  I made the huge mistake of buying super cheap bookshelves for my classroom from Wal-mart and Target my first couple of years teaching, and those lasted a grand total of 9 months before they warped and/or broke.  I should have known then that IKEA was the only way to go.  But since then, I have learned my lesson.  To date, I have purchased 5 sets of IKEA shelving units for my classroom. They are sturdy, inexpensive, and 1st grader proof....nuff said. 

Here is a view of one side of my classroom with some of my IKEA shelves.  I just love them!!

    So there is my 1st list of "favorite things."  I have many more, but they will have to wait for Favorite Things Blog Post Volume 2  The vacuum cleaner and washing machine are calling my name....ugh.  :)  Happy Saturday! 

  What are some of your favorite things??  I'd love to hear about them!

          - Beth


  1. I know that this is an older post, but I thought I'd try anyway. The student chairs at the round tables have wire shelves underneath these chairs come this way or did you purchase an attachement of some sort? I will be using tables for the first time in my teaching career this coming year and I am at a loss as to how to keep students organized. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kerri,
      The chairs came that way... our school purchased them to put at the tables so we could store things. I actually have little bins that I put underneath the chairs now for them to keep their things. Do you have cubbies in your room? You could keep student things in there. Or another option is to get one of those plastic sterilite 3-drawer organizers for each table. One drawer could be for each item - writing folders, journals, math workbook, etc.