So, because Op' dropped the ball this year (some talk about the dire economy and not wanting to encourage bad habit (should have thought of that 10 years ago)), I'm here with my favorite things. Please understand, NO ONE will be sending you any of this stuff and really none of it is new or fitting the definition of "hip". You save your nickles and dimes and maybe one day you can go buy yourself some old stuff I like.
Favorite Thing #1: The Ipod speaker (call it an Mp3 speaker if you so choose). We bought this a year or so ago when we moved here. It was pricey (ballpark $150) but its genius. The Ipod itself is genius but put it with this speaker and I'm speechless. It sits in the living room most of the time but when I cook in the late afternoon/ evening it migrates to the kitchen with me. We don't have the Ipod anywhere near full but the selection and variety... amazing. My mom bought a new stereo with a record player when I was a kid. It was small then with its 2 big speakers, and something the size of an 20 inch tv box. My Ipod speaker is the size of shoe box and weighs slightly more.
Favorite Thing #2: My Pressure Cooker
I've been working on talking myself into buying one of these for years. I couldn't decide if I really would use it enough to justify the expense. I found one in an appliance store a few months ago and the exchange rate was especially favorable so I thought I could justify it. At the exchange rate in April this would have been $70, at the exchange rate in October (when I bought it) it was $49. And what is a pressure cooker you ask: the "the green pocket book friendly" kitchen appliance you really can justify buying. It cooks in 1/3 time as conventional stove top cooking. For example: You want to save money in the grocery dept. Your family wouldn't mind eating beans X's a week as the protein source for a meal. You buy canned beans but as you examine your food bill that is still a costly area. Nix the beans and go back to meat? Or switch to dried beans which take a while to cook? Dried beans are a good option but now you've gone from paying for meat to paying a higher electric/ gas bill to cook the beans, even if you fill the oven to cook them. Answer: Pressure Cooker. I cooked a pound of beans this morning in 30 minutes. Beans sometimes take as much as 3 hours to cook on the stovetop. For me a cand of kidney beans costs about $1.75/ 14oz can. Dried kidney beans cast me $.60/ 1lb package (=3 cans). I also get bean broth to cook rice or add to soup. Canned beans have that wierd liquid in them that you rinse off. With a pressure cooker you can also cook a piece of tough meat and its not a problem. 20 minutes in the pressure cooker and you have soft meat. I've taken to buying bone in chicken, pressure cooking it, freezing it and it makes dinner quick. Applesauce is quick and healthy. Yesterday I made mashed potatoes from peeling to serving in 30 minutes. Buy yourself a pressure cooker and save some money (and warm up your kitchen, that's a draw back for me).
Favorite thing #3: My bicycle
I went through and tried to think of a physical activity that I have consistently enjoyed. A friend and I were going swimming once a week for awhile and I just didn't enjoy it, water started making me nervous at age 20 (my stupidity there) so waking up early to drag myself out of bed to feel a bit uneasy, added to the fact that I wasn't in control of the time expense- I didn't really enjoy it. I enjoyed running in college but I had access to track, don't now. I loved biking when I was kid, enjoyed it in college, lived off it in Africa and I enjoyed it when we had a gym membership in the states. So I mulled over a bike for a while, making sure I'd commit before spending the money. I've biked everyday this week and have come home when I wanted to and felt like I had more energy than in a long time.