Favorite Things: Winter 2017 Edition


If we can’t have sunshine and warm weather, then let’s celebrate some other pleasures. Sit back with a bowl of shredded tofu and shiitake stir-fry for my new list of favorite things.

  1. Hidden Figures – Original Score

Have you seen this fabulous movie about pioneering African-American women mathematicians who provided critical help for NASA’s first successful space missions? Even if you haven’t watched the film yet, check out the original score by Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, and Benjamin Wallfisch. I’ve been listening to it every day for a month and I’m not bored yet.

  1. A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative

First published in 1983, this book by Roger von Oech explores the 10 mental locks that prevent people from being more creative and how those locks can be opened. If you think you’re creative but want some fresh ideas – and especially if you think you’re not creative – pick up this book to get a fun, out-of-the-box look at creative thinking. Von Oech takes his creative strategies online with creative whack pack apps for iPhone and iPad.

  1. The Intouchables

At first glance I thought this film about a wealthy French quadriplegic and his caregiver from the projects might be depressing. Instead, it was positive, uplifting, and funny. Based on a true story, the film is in French with subtitles.

  1. Lion

You can tell it’s winter by the number of films on my list! Nominated for 6 Academy Awards, you have probably heard about this film. It tells the true story of a 5-year-old Indian boy who is lost on the streets of Calcutta almost a thousand miles from home. Bring Kleenex for both happy and sad tears.

  1. Dear Sugar podcast

Looking for advice with “radical empathy?” Listen to the Dear Sugar podcast hosted by writers Cheryl Strayed (Wild) and Steve Almond. Both Strayed and Almond had a turn as Dear Sugar when it was a column in the online literary magazine Rumpus . A collection of Strayed’s columns was published in Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar.

The podcast version of the column, which began about 2 years ago, promises good news for the lost, lonely, and heartsick. It is available free from NPR, iTunes, and Stitcher radio on demand.

I sometimes listen to the show before I go to sleep. If you prefer to read rather than listen, transcripts are online.

  1. Root Touch-up for Hair

Ladies (and some gentlemen), if you color your hair you might be interested in this product. Available in different shades, Style Edit’s powder-like root touch-up does a great job of covering those gray roots in between hair appointments. It washes out with shampoo but doesn’t come off on your pillow. I don’t use it all the time but it has come in handy when I have had a date and my hair appointment is 2 weeks away. It’s available in salons and on Amazon.

  1. Mortified Podcast

Did you keep a diary as a child, adolescent, or teenager? Do you remember writing a love letter to your 14-year-old crush? How about creating a poem about your “evil” parents or nasty teacher? The Mortified Podcast brings you the recorded live performances of adults sharing their childhood writings.

The best stories are delivered with heartfelt intensity and a recreation of the performer’s younger voice. Check out the podcast or the live performance if you live in one of Mortified’s chapter cities.

  1. Flipbelt

The Flipbelt is a great accessory if you like to listen to music while you lift weights, run, walk, or do any exercise (other than swimming). The soft, stretchy belt holds your cell phone and/or mp3 player, keys, and other essentials. It’s sleeker than a fanny pack and there’s no uncomfortable weight on your arm. I use this in the gym and when walking around the neighborhood.

  1. Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro by Billy Childs

If you haven’t heard Billy Childs’ version of New York Tendaberry with Renee Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma, you’re in for a treat. It’s my favorite song on this all around terrific jazz album. Other album guests include Rickie Lee Jones, Chris Botti, Dianne Reeves, and Alison Krauss.

  1. Babbel

¿Habla Español? Or Italian, Or French? If not, you might want to look into this language-learning app. I signed up for the Spanish version shortly before my trip to Spain. I wish I had found it 6 months before my vacation. According to its developers, Babbel employs cognitive research and communicative didactics to optimize how new vocabulary and grammar is received, saved and recalled.

“Whether you learn best by reading, writing, speaking, seeing or listening, Babbel addresses your individual learning type,” the website proclaims.

I liked the structure of the lessons and found it more reinforcing than other language apps.

Tell me if you try any of these favorite things!

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.