I originally started this list as a look back at ten things I happily discovered in 2014, but I never posted it. This week's Ten on Tuesday is ten things I love, so I thought I'd modify it for that. These are ten things I started loving in 2014. (Note how this also allows me to avoid narrowing down all the other things I love into a list of only ten.)
1. Gillian Flynn - I read all three of her books this year - Gone Girl, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects. Two of them were on the infernal reading list that I challenged myself to read (and mostly hated). I haven't seen the movies yet, but that's a thing to do in 2015. Each of these books was a delicious morsel that I savored from start to finish. I hope to see more from her.
2. Jockey Bras - Through the twitterverse, I learned of Jockey's new volume based sizing approach for bras. As someone who has a difficult time finding bras that fit right at most stores, I thought I'd give this a try. I ordered the sizing kit, measured myself, and ordered a bra. Guess what - I love it. My only complaint is that $60 was a bit much to pay for a no-frills nude bra. (The bras also come in white and black.) There are all sorts of deals, and Jockey will email you to death about them. Right now, the web site is selling the bras at two for $99, which is far more reasonable. The quality is decent, and the bra I have is comfortable and supportive (which is saying a lot considering I am in the 2nd largest cup size they make). I just want these bras to be something I get excited about, versus a great basic (if bought at the right price). They are definitely worth checking out.
3. Timehop - This little app is a neverending source of joy. Every morning I look forward to it showing me a collection of my social media posts and photos from the past four years. Sometimes I share some, other times, I have private chuckle over things that happened in the past, shed a tear for someone no longer with us, or marvel at how little the kids used to be. With a full-time job, a part-time job, the kids, the pets, and everything else in my life, sometimes I forget things. Timehop is a great way to take a minute to reflect back.
4. Walk for a Dog - This is another app. It's free, and you select an animal shelter or rescue that you want to support. You can add your dogs' profiles and include them in your walks, too. Basically, for every mile that you walk, the app will make a donation to the organization of your choice. It costs you nothing, and it tracks your walks in terms of distance and pace. I actually find it better to use for that than some apps I've bought for that purpose. You walk, pets benefit, you benefit - everyone wins.
5. Cold brewed coffee - I don't even like iced coffee and I drink this stuff. (You can heat it up.) I first had it at a coworker's house, and he had brewed it himself. I have it delivered by our local dairy, who source it from a local coffee place. It's smoother and less acidic than regular brewed coffee. I usually mix it 50/50 with milk from the dairy. Yum!
6. Patron XO Cafe Incendio - I bought this as soon as I heard about it. Tequila with chile and chocolate in it - what's not to like!?! The best way to drink it - one shot of tequila to a 16 ounce mug of real Abuelita hot chocolate. (Abuelita makes powdered cocoa now, but I'm talking milk, a tablet of solid chocolate, and a whisk over the stove.) This is pure and absolute heaven!
7. Cafe de Olla - I had this after a super special meal in a Mexican restaurant in Manhattan. (Honestly, I think that the manager was super excited to have an actual hispanic person show up at his restaurant, so he went all out for us - introduced himself to us, jumped us to the head of line waiting to be seated, sat us at a reserved VIP spot at the guacamole bar, gave us all sorts of free food and shots of tequila.) We decided to try to make it at home, with some modifications. You are supposed to fill a pot of water with the coffee and all the spices, then strain it, but go ahead and make a pot of coffee (6-8 cups) in the coffeemaker and then pour it in a saucepan. Add Mexican cinnamon (2 sticks), orange peel (1/2 orange), 2 cloves, and 1 piloncillo cone, and cook until sugar is melted. Can be served with or without a shot of tequila in your coffee mug.
8. Garmin Vivofit - I went through three Nike Fuelbands before giving up on them. They were absolute crap quality. I tried a FitBit Flex, but that was even worse. It didn't crap out like the Fuelband, but the information that it collected was, um, wrong. It was so wildly inaccurate that it was useless. Enter the Garmin Vivofit, which I have had since July and which I love. It's accurate, it measures things that I care to measure, it syncs with MyFitnessPal to track food and beverage intake, it has weekly challenges, it has a little red line that tells me I've been still too long and need to get up and move, I CAN WEAR IT IN THE SHOWER AND THE POOL, and the battery doesn't need to be recharged because you simply replace it (allegedly once per year). (And, no, I never did wear the others in the shower or the pool, I'm not that spacey, but it's nice not to have to keep taking the thing off and putting it on again.)
9. Snow shovels with wood shafts. This isn't such a new thing, but what I discovered in 2014 is that those cool, fancy ergonomic shovels with the bent shaft (designed to help your back, I think) are just crap. They might work on the sissy snow in other places, but they are no match for New England snow. I bent one of these in half in November, on my second shovel of snow after the post-Thanksgiving storm. I finally found a good old school snow shovel with a wooden shaft and it is my prized possession (considering how many feet of snow we have on the ground that arrived in the last two weeks, that's saying something). Sure, it's a bit heavier than the shovels with plastic and metal shafts, but this baby is going to last until the plastic shovel is chewed up by the snow, as it always happens.
10. BarkBox - The dogs love this. They get treats and toys mailed to the house once a month. So far, everything that they've received in the first few months has been a bit hit with them. For those who want to know, the treats are usually (possibly always) organic and everything is sourced in the USA. Here's the November, football themed, box:
And someone wearing his new scarf, with his new elf toy, both from the December box:
Sadly, the elf was dismembered last week by this dog and our new foster dog. That's okay, they still have the toys from November and January, plus one toy from December, as well as all their old pre-BarkBox toys.
This has been a great way to try different dog toys and treats that are actually the type of quality that I would buy for the dogs myself. We even sent a BarkBox to the black dog's foster mother for Christmas, and her dogs loved it, too. Want to try BarkBox at 10% off? Here's a link.
I'm looking forward to trying some new stuff in 2015, not sure what. I'm not the kind of person who signs up for things or joins things or falls under the spell of new gadgets really quickly, but I'm always on the lookout for things that make life better and happier.