These are a few of my favorite things (2015 edition)

The holidays are here again, and everyone is crazy busy. My shopping is nearly done for the year, but if you’re still looking for that perfect gift, let me offer a few suggestions, à la Oprah. Dear readers, these are a few of my favorite things:

bake mug

FOR THE TEA DRINKER: White Ceramic Bake Mug

My favorite mugs are all quite large; they’re the kind you fill with delicious drinks and use to warm cold hands. This mug, which I received for my birthday, is perfect for tea, coffee, cocoa or any liquid you intend to imbibe.


FOR FOODIES: Farmbox Direct

Ever thought about joining a CSA? Or perhaps your friends/family just want access to more fresh fruits and veg without the hassle of trekking to the grocery store. Then check out Farmbox Direct. I use this service every other week and I just love it. Not only is the product seasonal and organic, each box also comes with free recipes featuring the included ingredients.

garlic press

FOR THE GADGET GURU: Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press

My old garlic press bit the dust this year. America’s Test Kitchen recommended the Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press, and after several months of usage, it has not disappointed.


FOR THE PET LOVER: iRobot Roomba 595 Pet Vacuum Cleaning Robot

We have a lot of pets, and come springtime, shedding season will begin in force. That’s when you really need one of these ‘bots. Just turn it on, let it run and once the room is hair-free, it’ll return to its base for charging. You can even schedule up to seven cleaning sessions a week.

fitbit charm

FOR THE FASHIONISTA: Charms for Fitbit Charge & Fitbit Charge HR

Dress up your Fitbit with slide-on jewelry created by Mary Beth Neyland. I picked up four of these charms and every time I wear one, I receive compliments.

back to the future memorabilia

FOR THE LONGTIME FAN OF “BACK TO THE FUTURE”: “Back to the Future” Paper Prop Set

Created by Nina Bergeron, these props are the perfect gift for someone who’s a big fan of the time travel flick, “Back to the Future.”

flannel sheets

FOR THE INSOMNIAC: Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Sheet Set

As many of you know, I adore cold weather. One way I know winter has arrived is when I take these flannel sheets from Portugal and place them on the bed (or, to be more precise, when M does so for me). This set is soft, warm and it holds the heat you generate while sleeping.

wrist rest


Ease aching wrists with this gel-filled wrist rest. I prefer the 18-inch model, but you can buy a smaller one for typing on a tablet or a bigger one for use with full-size keyboards.

fran's mint thins


Fran’s is, by far, my favorite chocolatier. Whenever I’m in Seattle, I stop by her shop to buy the most scrumptious chocolate mint cookies. Alas, these treats are not available for sale online, but her mint thins are a delicious substitute. The dark bittersweet truffles and the dark salted caramels are divine as well.

5 confessions of a jaded mind


* Yes, I really did travel to Scotland and place my hands on standing stones in hopes that I would be whisked back in time.

* My least favorite color is yellow.

* I’ve been known to dog-ear books, but I never use a highlighter on the pages.

* When I’m sad, I generally don’t want to be touched. I just need time to deal with the situation.

* Despite the world’s best efforts, I continue to revel in the holidays.

“Without creation, what are we but stalled in life?”

42 candles

Cake layers are baking. Frosting’s in the fridge. In a couple of hours, I shall assemble the two and make a blackout cake to rival anything found at the local bakery. Once topped with candles, I shall make my wish, extinguish the flames and celebrate turning 42 by eating the chocolate-y creation.

A dear friend of mine called not long after midnight to wish me a happy birthday. He does this every year because he is both thoughtful and cognizant of the fact that I’m actually awake at that hour. When I mentioned my plans to bake a birthday cake, he was a bit taken aback. However, as I explained to him, baking is a joy for me. Creating something delicious out of ordinary ingredients is the perfect way to start a new year.

As any artist or writer, baker or filmmaker, musician or mother can tell you, the process of creation is both difficult and magical. Yet having the freedom to do so, in any form, is not something I take for granted. It is that freedom I bear in my mind as I write these words. It is that freedom I recall when I see stories about journalists being imprisoned and killed for doing their jobs. Or when I read about the planned executions of poets. Or when I hear about musicians, and their fans, fleeing gunfire.

Why anyone would want to halt the beauty of creation is beyond me. But as I begin another anniversary of existence on this planet, I vow to spend more time creating, and less time stressing out about those who are only able to destroy that which they do not understand.

–Quote by Dhani Jones. Photo by Vladvvm. Used with permission.

Paris, Sera, stress and a smile

skull engraving paris

It’s been dismal here in the Walker-Weir household this week. As you can imagine, M and I are saddened and angered by the Friday the 13th terror attacks in Paris. I shall not participate in the debates that are already raging on social media; I simply have too much work to do. But please know that during every moment I spent covering the explosions and the shootings, the manhunt and the worldwide response, the victims and their families were always in my thoughts.

We also received the distressing news that our youngest cat Seraphina — a.k.a. Sweet Sera — has cancer. There was a lump, there was a biopsy and then there was a diagnosis that was basically a death sentence. I’m still reeling from the news as she and I are very close and I had hoped to have her in my life for many years to come. In the past, M and I have lost cats to kidney problems, liver failure and old age, but this will be the first time we’ve had to face the big C. If any of my readers have experience in dealing with this, please feel free to share your thoughts/stories/guidance.

These two experiences were amplified by what I can only describe as sudden onset, stress-induced insomnia. My thoughts simply refuse to stop whirling in my brain. And when I finally manage to reach Morpheus’ realm, the experience is not restful. I do have a vacation coming up soon; perhaps I’ll be able to decompress then.

One ray of positivity… in the midst of my sorrow, I received a kind note from a dear friend. That missive raised my spirits and talking to her on the phone boosted them even more. To pay her kindness forward, I offer this small bit of advice: If you have a friend in need, someone who’s struggling with illness, loss, financial difficulties or really anything troubling, reach out. Even the smallest gesture can make a huge difference.