At this time of year, newspapers and magazines are full of "Best of 2007" lists. I used to compile a list of top ten albums of the year every year at this time, but frankly (and I know this will make me sound old), these days I'm lucky if I could name ten albums that were released this year.
Nonetheless, I love making "best of" lists and I love sharing a great find with my blogosphere friends. So here are ten gems that got me through 2007:
10. Contour pillows: 2007 was the year I discovered chiropractic care. I was having serious shoulder pain in the spring and early summer (probably due to ergonomic miscalculations with my laptop), and since chiropractors are covered by my insurance I decided to give it a try. I've become a chiropractic addict. There are few things more satisfying than the pop-pop-pop of my rapidly aging spine. Anyway, one of the side benefits of seeing a chiropractor was my discovery of contour pillows. The chiropractor actually suggested that I sleep with a rolled towel under my neck, but I just couldn't get comfortable, so I got me a brand new pillow. As I think I've mentioned before, I have always slept well, but now - well, it's a little slice of heaven.
9. Kashi TLC Original 7-Grain crackers: Sometimes I think I could live on nothing but TLC crackers and coffee. Okay, let's be honest - some days I do live on nothing but TLC crackers and coffee. And I have no regrets.
8. SmartWool socks: I live in a cold climate. I mean really cold. We have a few days every year when the temperature is twenty below before you factor in the wind chill. So dressing warmly is really the key to survival around here, and for keeping feet toasty warm there is nothing like the SmartWool sock. Okay, they are expensive (as socks go), so I only have one pair, but I'm telling you, for one day every week, my toes are positively giddy.
7. The Presby Environmental Enviro-Septic System: After several years of living with a failing, and then failed, septic system, we invested a small fortune into having the Enviro-Septic system installed this summer. It's like the Prius of septic systems, I think. Best of all, it works, and, take my word for it, you should never underestimate the value of that.
6. Clash of the Choirs: I'm not even kidding. This was some throw-away little reality something-something that NBC tossed on the week before Christmas to fill time during the writer's strike. Five musical artists - Patti LaBelle, Michael Bolton, Nick Lachey, Kelly Rowland, and Blake Shelton - each put together choirs made up of everyday people from their own hometowns and had three weeks to rehearse for a four-night competition. It was completely feel-good without a hint of Simon Cowellishness - drippy sicky sweet, uber-Patriotic, and let the angels sing. I loved every second of it. My only disappointment was when the choirs backed up their celebrity directors on one of their own hits: I'd really, really hoped that Blake Shelton would have his choir belting out "The more I drink, the more I drink...," but, sadly, it was not to be.
5. Scrabulous: Much to the chagrin of college students around the world, boring old people have begun invading Facebook. This year, my worlds collided on Facebook when I suddenly found that my Facebook friend list included current and former students, colleagues, supervisors and supervisees; high school, college, and grad school friends; most of my siblings and a sister-in-law; assorted blogging friends; and even my thirteen-year-old nephew. But the very best part of Facebook is Scrabulous - an online game of Scrabble that is played asynchronously, so that players don't have to be logged in at the same time. At any given moment, I have about six different Scrabulous games in play. And, okay, I spend most of my time getting my Scrabulass kicked, but I'm having a blast doing it.
4. Dexter: I don't subscribe to Showtime, so I was unfamiliar with this series until my uncle lent us the first season on DVD. For the uninitiated: Dexter works in forensics and is a blood-spatter expert. He is also a serial killer with a strong code of ethics. This is a show that's not to be missed.
3. Avon Moisture Therapy Hand Cream: I live in a cold climate (see number 8 above), and winters typically do a number on my hands. In past years, by early November my hands have been dry and cracked and painful and a nasty shade of red. I've tried every fancy hand cream and prescription medication I could find, all with little effect. And then this fall my mom picked up a tube of this miracle cream at some buy-in-bulk table at a flea market and all of my winter hand problems have been solved. I use it faithfully every night at bedtime (because it is so thick and slick that if I used it during the day I'd have to give up hope of holding anything in my hands), I wear gloves every time I leave the house, and I've successfully tricked my hands into believing that it's May.
2. The Highway 16 Traffic Report: This year, the XM satellite radio in my car has spent most of its time docked at channel 16, or "Highway 16: America's Route to Today's New Country." Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I've also been able to listen at home and at work. In fact, I started all of my writing classes by streaming Highway 16 as the students stumbled into class and struggled to wake up (because, while 9:30 might feel like mid-morning to people over 30, it is the crack of dawn to many a college student). The music drew a lot of compliments - though that may have been the result of the mistaken assumption that an expression of approval of my musical tastes might reflect favorably on the assignment of grades (needless to say, I am not so easily bought). Anyway, one of the treats-of-the-week for me in 2007 was the Highway 16 Traffic Report, a commercial-free countdown of the 50 most-requested songs of the week, which airs on Wednesday afternoons (good background as I plug away at my desk) and is replayed on Saturday afternoons (a crowdpleaser when Bud and I are cruising in the car).
1. The Keurig Single-Cup Coffee Brewer: The beauty of not having a Christmas wish-list is that often other people's improvisations are far superior to anything you might have come up with on your own. Such was the case for me when my mom presented me with this beauty on Christmas morning. I'd seen them before in businesses and grocery stores, but I'd always been too intimidated to try them out and risk the public humiliation of spewing steaming hot coffee all over my fellow paying customers. But I needn't have worried: as it turns out, the Keurig brewer is simple to use and produces a steaming hot cup of perfectly brewed coffee every single time. Sigh. Isn't it gorgeous?
So, there you have it - my own personal "best of" for 2007, without an ounce of corporate sponsorship or PAC money behind it. I'm still not able to endorse a candidate for President, of course, (which, interestingly enough, is the way I started the year), but, then, you're probably more likely to heed my advice on matters of coffee than on matters of international importance anyway.
Thanks for sticking with me this year, blogosphere. A very happy 2008 to you - and stay tuned for more strategic product placement right here in the new year.
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