#reverb11: some favorites of 2011

Which blogs did you enjoy most this year?

Oprah asks you to write an article on your favorite things of 2011. What are they? 

What were your favorite songs of the year? 

What books did you read? (The Writeous Babe)

Y'all know I love some lists, and with the stress of the holidays, family illnesses, and a broken refrigerator, I need to write about something fun. So here goes my list of stuff I liked in 2011.

Which blogs did you enjoy most this year?

I utilized my Netvibes RSS feeder a lot and ended up adding and purging blogs from it. This was part of my goal to get rid of digital clutter, meaning things I don't read, that I don't find myself wondering about or waiting for the next post. If I didn't feel a connection or moved by someone's writing, I deleted the feed. I'd been hanging on to a few lifestyle, style and decorating blogs that I never got around to reading and though I think they're wonderful, I can't devote a ton of space to them. Having them in my RSS reader as unread just made me feel bad.

Scaling down to stories I connected to makes room for new stories, new connections and a dedicated space where I can read about mostly women's lives and appreciate their insights without feeling like Imustgetthroughthisandontothenextone. (In one breath). 

This meant I did not really discover a lot of new blogs this year. However, I DID discover Amanda Klein's blog, Judgmental Observer and appreciate her perspective on culture and media. She has a great assessment of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On's popularity that I linked to in my post about happiness. I continued to love Lindsey's insights, Dooce's humor and the journey Rebecca and her now family of 6 are on. I also frequented recipe blogs and style and wedding blogs via Pinterest, which is also one of my favorite things of 2011 that I would write about for Oprah, more below. 

Oprah asks you to write an article on your favorite things of 2011. What are they? 

Keurig Elite Brewing System $119 I am so in love with my Keurig. I talked about it to anyone who would listen in 2011 and desperately missed it when I went out of town for 3 weeks this summer. I should have taken it with me and oh so many times I wish I had. I love this machine because I can make a cup of coffee, iced coffee, hot chocolate, hot tea, and even iced tea with it. It's like a magical dose of happy for me; I'm sure the coffee helps with that, too. 

 Vera Bradley Flora Nightingale Side by Side bag  ($68) and matching Zip ID Case ($12) I used the ID case a lot and it has been really nice to divide up what I need to carry every day with all the extra stuff I carry around. The purse is a great size and I think, incredibly reasonable. Plus, the pattern is supercute. Put a bird on it! (for any Portlandia fans).

Dove Dark Chocolate Truffles $6 each I have only ever seen these around Christmas and they did end up in some gift bags I put together this year. If you run across any, you should grab them and share them with friends. 

Sony Digital AM/FM Alarm Clock with Nature Sounds $50 When my Sharper Image Sound Machine, which I DID travel almost everywhere with broke, I ended up getting this alarm clock, which may have a few less options but also fits nicely on my bedside table and has a jack for my iPod or cell phone, which is cool though I have not used it.



Presto Pizzazz Plus  $43 This is an amazing invention. We cook almost everything we can on it: bagels, pizzas, taquitos; we reheat leftovers. We received it last year for Christmas and 2011 has been the year of the Pizzazz.


Pinterest My most common sentence this year was, "I saw this cool thing we should totally try." Michelle's response, "Did you see it on Pinterest?" Because most of the time, I found cool ideas, recipes and really cool things I'll never, ever make on the site which allows you to bookmark and create boards of inspiration from all the various websites you visit. It was incredibly helpful while wedding planning but I've also found a few great recipes to add to my weekly cooking. 

Starbucks Tazo Black Shaken Iced Tea $2 I am hopelessly obsessed with this tea. M would say I'm addicted to Starbucks in general these days. :) But this tea is one of my favorites!

I Love You Because Print $10 

Putting this print in a frame creates an instant Dry Erase Board and you can tell the person(s) you love why you love them every single day.


Lisa Leonard's Hand Stamped Necklaces $50-100

I have several of Lisa Leonard's necklaces and I love them. I love customizing them with my Word of the Year or putting a meaningful or part of a meaningful quote on them. For example, I have the illuminate necklace with "live the life" stamped on it, which comes from Thoreau's oft-quoted Walden, "if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." I wear the necklace to remind myself to live the life I have imagined.  






What were your favorite songs of the year? 

I write about some of my favorite albums and songs in my Late Fall Music post and in this #reverb11 post about joy. As I mentioned in the reverb11 post, Adele played heavily in my music rotation, "One and Only" being one of my favorites.

I also became obsessed with The Civil Wars , especially their song "Barton Hollow"

Fitz and the Tantrums' "Moneygrabber" was a fun song to dance around to as was The Airborne Toxic Event's "Changing."

Here's Fitz and the Tantrums featuring Darryl Hall on the 2nd verse :

and The Airborne Toxic Event (a name after an English teacher's own heart!) in their video for "Changing."



More seriously, I fell in love with Bon Iver's "Holocene" and anyone who asked me for music suggestions this year got my gushing about this album and especially this song. 



What books did you read?

Sadly, I did not read as much as I wanted to this year. (Do I ever really get that chance?) My goal was to read 15 books this year. Goodreads seems to count the books in a series as one book so according to their tally, I have read 9 books instead of 11, which I personally think is bogus. Still, I am behind. I may be able to finish a book or two before Jan. 1 but I doubt I will finish 4. Still, if I get close to my goal I'll be happy. What I read this year: 

It may be unfair that Never Let Me Go is on here because I read it over last Christmas Break. I started the book in 2010 and finished it in 2011 so I guess it's technically not cheating. It's one of my favorite books of all time and I don't say that lightly, at all. This is what I said about that book in early January when I finished it: 

 I just finished Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, which is a wonderful novel about friendship, the things that hold us together and tear us apart. It's also a dystopian novel but it's very subtle, providing impetus for the actions of the characters instead of taking center stage and having the characters move around a dystopian plot. It's beautifully written and wonderfully sad.

I put off reading The Hunger Games simply because everyone said I should. I'm stubborn that way. But in March, Michelle and I traveled to Atlanta and as we often do on road trips, we selected a book to read aloud to one another. It was Michelle's choice and I'm really glad it was because I'm not sure I would have gotten around to reading it, otherwise. And once we began reading, I was mesmerized. I'm both excited and apprehensive about the film version coming up.

Around this same time, I read Delirium, which is an amazing book. Many of the issues my colleagues mention with The Hunger Games are dealt with deftly here. Yes, the main character is motivated (as most teenagers, are) by her peers, and by a boy. But there is a lot more going on here for Lena. With love being treated as a disease in this dystopian world, there is much more at stake than romantic relationships and Oliver manages to show us this in ways that haunt you and you find yourself thinking about them later. I know there is a ton of YA dystopian lit out there but this story is very good and Oliver is a talented writer. The story grabs you from the beginning and you want to find out what is going to happen to Lena as she navigates emotions she is not supposed to feel, that are, in fact, illegal to feel.