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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Answer To Oprah

I'd like to begin this post by saying that I have nothing against Oprah Winfrey. I think that she is a smart and talented woman who has worked her way to the top. I also think she is a good person. And I think that she rightfully enjoys the fruits of her labors. But since she travels in a far different economic sphere than most of the people who watch her shows or read her magazines, the things that she enjoys, and tells her viewers and readers are so fabulous, are often far out of their reach. I will also admit that I don't necessarily understand the celebrity mania that makes people view celebrities as if they were the Second Coming, only with better clothes and shoes. And I am not singling out Oprah here, folks. Have you heard about Gwyneth Paltrow's suggestions about how people should eat, shop, dress, and so forth? The truth is that most of us whose movie ticket, DVD/Blu-ray, and magazine purchases help pay these stars simply cannot even dream of affording the things these people take for granted.

This morning, as I was looking at news stories to read on the internet, I saw something about Oprah's annual List of Favorite Things. And we aren't talking about the simple sorts of things that are mentioned in the song from The Sound of Music. As I looked at the photographs of various items, I saw almost nothing I would ever be able to afford. There was a tin of tea, two ounces, for eleven dollars. And enough pre-made cookie dough for six cookies being sold for twelve dollars. Let me tell you - if you want some killer cookies, I can make you a 13 by 9 inch pan full of delicious cookie bars, available in many different flavors, for the small sum of thirty dollars, shipping extra, of course. Ha-ha! Of course, the concept of expensive is relative, isn't it, just like the concept of what broke means? One of my first blog posts, It's All Relative, addressed this issue. In the spirit of all things being relative, I'd like to share some of my Favorite Things. 

In completely random order, here are some of my favorites, things that I would love to get for myself, but which are mostly on the back burner for now. There will be no sets of four t-shits for $136, no $300 Ugg boots, no $95 truffle-flavored popcorn sets. Or $395 throw pillows, $222 cotton pajamas, $75 shower gel and $95 body lotion, $300 headphones, $75 cakes, $300 notes with envelopes and mailing labels, $225 candles, or even $29 bottles of honey. And forget about the $220 earrings and the $2900 wristwatch.

Garli Garni seasoning mix from Gilroy, California, $5.50. Delicious on all sorts of foods, including buttered popcorn, vegetables, meats, pastas...did I mention it's great on popcorn?

Real Theater Popcorn Popping Kits, five packets for $7.99. Yummy. Enough said. Seriously, though, this popcorn is fantastic.

Giants Sunflower Seeds, sixteen 3.25 oz. bags for $20.00. I love sunflower seeds, and these are the best I have ever eaten.

Hungarian Acacia Honey, $7.39. I first tasted this in my family's little village in western Hungary. It is light and wonderfully delicious. When we were in Paris, our hotel had individual-sized jars of Hungarian Acacia honey from the Bonne Maman line on their breakfast buffet. This honey is delightful on home-baked bread, toast, Greek yogurt...even just on a spoon!

Vinolia Soaps, two large bars for $16, and worth every penny. I haven't had any for a long time, but I will say this is the very best bar soap I have used in my entire life. Incidentally, it was so well-regarded that it was the only soap considered good enough to be in the first-class cabins of the White Star Cruise Line. Yes, it sailed on the Titanic.

Smith's Rosebud Salve and Minted Rose Lip Balm, both under $6.00 each at I have used Rosebud Salve on everything from insect bites to a dog's sore foot pads. I know I am supposed to hate it since it contains petrolatum, but I love it for all of the soothing things it does for skin. I am currently using it when I massage the incisions from Trent's thumb-joint surgery.

This list is by no means a comprehensive one, but I think you get the idea. There are other things I could put on my wish list of favorite things, like earbuds that cost less than $10. A Chromecast for $35. And in the arena of the more expensive, a new Samsung Galaxy Tablet, about $200, depending on merchants and sales. The book 11/22/63 by Stephen King, available now for under $20, and some other books as well. A couple of rolls of parchment paper for my kitchen. I love baking bread on it, and also use it for roasting chicken or bacon or potatoes. All in all, it's a pretty simple set of likes and joys. I can be made happy with very simple things. If I had the means, I could be happy with more extravagant ones too, I guess, like a trip to Hungary to see my family again, and seeing Ireland, the land of Trent's forebears. But for right now, I think I might be happy to just have those sunflower seeds. Dream big, but don't forget life's little pleasures.