Thursday, December 20, 2007

The List

The January issue of Real Simple is full of ideas for things that "don't disappoint". They're things the staff and readers swear by and can always call on as faithful constants in an unpredictable world. These are your favorite things, your good companions that make life easier, more meaningful, cleaner, more lovely, or just more fun. The things you found and swore to never be without again- a certain detergent or pizza cutter, a person, a movie, whatever. The editor's list included a wide range of things- from Dove soap to Starbucks coffee, from a certain kind of gum to the contractor that just finished her kitchen remodel. I decided to make my own List, randomly picking my own Top 10 Things that Don't Disappoint. Here they are in no particular order, and I'm sure I could think of many, many more.

1. Pottery Barn. Few things in my mailbox get me as excited as the new Pottery Barn catalog. From it I draw inspiration, motivation and guidance in how I decorate and organize our home. I love Pottery Barn. I only own a handful of things that are actually from there, though. Thankfully, lots of other people love Pottery Barn too, so there are knockoffs everywhere- you just have to wait a few months. The day several years ago when I realized my new dining room table was a Pottery Barn knockoff, I was elated. Right down to the shape of the legs and how the wood is joined together- it was exactly the same. I love, love, love Pottery Barn.

2. Sara Groves' music. The soundtrack to my life, I could listen to the sounds of Sara Groves every day for the rest of time and never grow tired of it.

3. Target. Target never gets old. I can see everything they've got and still not mind walking the entire store a few days later.

4. Cooks Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen. These people know what they are doing. Get a couple of their cookbooks and you'll never need to buy another one again. Their 30 minute meals really do only take 30 minutes, the recipes are tested hundreds of times and seamlessly streamlined to work every time- even the first time you try it. They accept no advertising so they give honest, real recommendations of the best products out there, and everything you make is homemade with real, basic ingredients.

5. Beth Moore's Bible Studies. If you want to dive in to the Word for the first time, or the 1000th, these are incredible. These studies never disappoint- what an amazing journey you take with the Lord- every time. And, of course, no time in the Word is ever a disappointment.

6. Torani Syrup. Unlike other flavored syrups you can grab at any grocery store, these never seem to taste "funky". The sugar free syrups are made with Splenda (my probably-carcinogenic sugar-free sweetener of choice) and taste really great. They make very tasty lattes, steamers, or flavored hot chocolate. I mix it with some skim milk and I've got a wonderful creamer for my morning coffee- since all sugar free varieties in the store taste, well, terrible.

7. Time with Jim. Growing up I always had friends I just loved hanging out with but, inevitably, we'd spend a little too much time together and then we'd just start annoying each other and I'd be thrilled to get away from them. Not so with Jim- we can spend hours and hours together and I never, ever, grow tired of being with him. Sure we can annoy and frustrate each other, but I can honestly say I've never, ever, in six years, thought I needed a break from spending time with him, or wished I could go on a trip to get away from him for a weekend. I've actually heard good friends of mine say that, and I don't get it. Getting some time away from my children, however, that I understand!* Anywhere Jim is, that's home to me and there's no place better.

*Yes, Koch children, when you read this someday- you're sweet, wonderful, and precious and I love you deeply- and I did just say I like to get away from you every once in a while. When you have your own wonderful, precious children you'll understand. And that time I get away from you is always better if your dad is there.

8. The Office. This is one of the greatest TV shows ever. It is always funny and I never get sick of it.

9. Pride and Prejudice. The book, the movie (the one with Colin Firth in it, of course, but the newer one with Keira will do in a time pinch). Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth, Mr. Bingley, that scoundrel Wickham- you can't go wrong.

10. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. These work everywhere. A Magic Eraser got permanent marker off my kitchen wall. Enough said.

So, now it's your turn. What are the things you couldn't live without? What do you faithfully purchase time after time? I'm always interested in adding some things to "The List".

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