Favorites of 2007

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I'm setting this to autopost at 5 am my time, when some of you are probably already out at the stores, but I'm still asleep (I hope). Heh.

I'd love to talk about some of the things that we've been enjoying this year. I'm going to make up a bunch of categories for my favorite things, and you can make up your own, too.

Favorite music: I've been listening to pretty much nothing but four albums (are they still even called "albums"?) this year. As I'm typing this I realize they're a totally random assortment, but I'm a random kind of person, so there you go. Here they are:

Free to Worship by Fred Hammond. I'm a crazy Fred Hammond superfan anyway, but the lyrics on the songs on this particular album have been really important to me in this last year. It seems like every time I'm struggling with something, I find something new in his words that expresses exactly what I need right then in the clearest, most lyrical language. And his songs are all bass-heavy and danceable.

Your Man by Josh Turner. (Or download the MP3 version.) I call him "my cowboy singer." I love his voice, and his songs are throwbacks to a time when men were honorable cowboys who just wanted to work hard and play hard. Sweet and goofy and earnest all at the same time.

Out of the Woods by Tracey Thorn. (or download the MP3 version.) I've loved her voice ever since she was in Everything But The Girl ("And I miss you like the deserts miss the rain..."), and was delighted when this CD came out earlier this year. These songs are so personal and achingly romantic, bleak and hopeful at the same time. Watch the videos for "It's All True" and "Raise the Roof."

Brazilian Hits and Funky Classics by Jorge Ben. A compilation of Jorge Ben's hits from the '70s. Lots of that rhythmic, groovy guitar that Ben did so well.

Favorite parenting book: Hands-down, my favorite parenting-related book of the year is Erica Lyon's Big Book of Birth. My review is here. Doctors should hand this book out as soon as a woman sees the second line or a positive beta.

Favorite pants for boys who rip through the knees every time: The jersey-lined nylon workout pants (real name: mesh-lined windpants) from Children's Place. Soft on the inside, but the nylon is far more durable than cotton pants or jeans. No more ripped knees!

Favorite airline: JetBlue kept me happy every single time I flew them this year. The Bliss lotion they give you on the red-eye is great, and their coffee is good, too. 26 real TV channels doesn't hurt, but bring your own headphones, because their free ones can be spotty. They're the nicest airline for kids that I've flown, probably because everyone's so anesthetized by watching those 26 channels of TV that the flight attendants have time to be nice to kids.

Favorite dinner: Bi bim bap. We found the recipe in Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park. It's super-easy to make, and kids can help stir together the marinade, and even crack the eggs and do the vegetables. My kids have decided they like chicken better than beef, so that's how we do it now.

Favorite lunch: Carnitas tacos from the gourmet taco cart near my office. Drool.

Favorite exercise: The winner and still champion...T-Tapp. Only I'm doing even better since I saw Teresa Tapp herself when she was in NYC last month. The ways she explained the Basic Workout Plus increased the intensity for me geometrically. And she's almost freakishly nice. If I lived on the UES I'd go to Donna's Monday night class every week.

Favorite paint: Benjamin Moore's Aura. Water-based, low-fume (seriously), and covers anything in two coats. I was skeptical, but went from deep red to Cameo White in two coats! Perfect for kids' rooms. It's way more expensive than regular paint (I think it's made of ground up truffles and Faberge eggs), but IMO worth it for the ease of application, great coverage, washability, and fewer fumes.

Favorite movie: I go to movies to escape, not to think about issues, so my favorite movie of the year was The Bourne Ultimatum. Completely and utterly unbelievable in so many ways, but I couldn't look away.

Favorite timesaver: Google documents and Google calendar. You can share documents and calendars with other people (whether or not they have a Gmail email account) and cut out a billion steps in the editing and collaboration process.

Favorite made-up knitting pattern: Legwarmers for under my puffy coat. One pair takes two skeins of Lion Woolease (for easy washability) or woolish yarn of your choice. Use US size 8 (5 mm) double-pointed needles.
Cast on 44 stitches. Work a *K1 through the back of the stitch, P1* rib for 2.5-3 inches. Increase 16 stitches evenly across for a total of 60 stitches.
Work body in mistake rib: Row 1: K2 P2 across. Row 2: P1, *K2 P2* across, end with P1. Repeat these two rows for the length of your shin plus a few inches more so you can get that Flashdance scrunch.
Decrease 12 stitches evenly across for a total of 48 stitches. Work a *K1 through the back of the stitch, P1* rib for 2.5-3 inches. Bind off loosely.