If you are new to our community, I started writing my “Favorite Things” back in December of 2007. Each year since then, I (and eventually we) have highlighted some of our favorite things from the past year. Some may be little, some may be larger…but to make the list, they must be a favorite!
Our Favorite Things is the post I enjoy writing most each year! Once again, our kids—Layla who is 18, Leo who is almost 15, and Mia who is 12 years old—all chose to contribute. Ceceila, our new front office assistant, was also excited to join in on this year’s fun!
Make yourself a mug of tea, stay in your PJ’s, and cozy up with us!
If you’d like to take a look back at our favorites from years past, you can do so below:
Debbie’s Favorite Things
1. Child Safe Phone. Over the years, we have written about the dangers of social media and digital devices for children, so when it was time to buy Mia her first phone, we wanted to make a very thoughtful decision. After a lot of research and product comparisons, we landed on the Gabb Wireless.
The Gabb phone is exactly that—a phone! There is no internet, no games, and no social media. With her Gabb phone, Mia can still connect with her friends by making calls or sending text messages. We opted for the Gabb Phone Plus which enables group texting and photo texting, mostly because we wanted her included on our family chats (and because we trust what photos she would take or send). There are also optional “safe” Apps, such as calendar, calculator, and music.
As parents, we highly recommend the Gabb as a child’s first phone! And, for a limited time only, use the code MINDFUL and get a FREE device (yes, a free watch or phone!) and FREE accessory (up to $20) with a new 2-year contact!
2. Boho Earrings. I have two pairs of modern boho beaded earrings from Ink + Alloy, a women-owned jewelry company. Their pieces are fun and colorful and best of all, the make petite size earrings for smaller women like me!
3. The Way Out of Pain? Alan Gordon is the author of the book The Way Out and the creator of Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT), a mind-body protocol for chronic pain. Our local University of Colorado-Boulder conducted a large study on PRT, and the majority of patients were pain-free or nearly pain-free by the end. Impressive!
PRT is rooted in neuroscience and has shown that while chronic pain feels like it’s coming from the body, in most cases it’s generated by misfiring pain circuits in the brain. PRT teaches you to rewire the brain to break the cycle of chronic pain. As someone who has a chronic neck injury from being rear-ended three times, I found this book both educational and inspiring!
4. Thin & Absorbent Towels. This summer, we spent many family days at the community pool. Lugging along 5+ thick towels is a lot, even before they get wet! I bought this set of Turkish Towels and we are huge fans. They are made from natural cotton but are way thinner than regular towels. They take up less than a quarter of the space, are very absorbent, and they dry in the sun in minutes. We also use them in the car with the dog or to picnic at the park because they wash and dry so quickly and easily.
5. Better than Balsamic. Move over Balsamic, I have a new favorite salad dressing! Pomegranate Molasses is the thick juice extracted from the inner seeds of the pomegranate fruit. It is 100% pure and simply delicious! To me, it has a slightly sweet and slightly tart taste. I drizzle it over my salad with some olive oil and pinch of sea salt.
6. Live Theater. I grew up in NY and have been going to the theater since I was a child. All our kids have a real love and appreciation for theater as well. The last thing we did before the world shut down in March of 2020 was see the musical Rent. Then our tickets to Hamilton were cancelled, along with every other thing we had planned for the upcoming spring and summer!
This Fall, we were able to see three amazing performances. We saw Hadestown in Denver on Mia’s 12th birthday. Then she and I traveled to NYC and we saw an amazing performance by my cousin, who is starring in Funny Girl. And, finally, we were able to see Hamilton! If you enjoy theater, I highly recommend any (or all!) of these shows.
Dr. Roy’s Favorite Things
1. To Lounge or Explore. For as long as I’ve been doing these Favorite Things posts, I’ve had at least one or two a year that were inspired by my amazing brother-in-law Allan. He has an eye for quality and comfort, and since I’m a lazy shopper, I often just buy whatever he says is best. I’ve rarely been disappointed. This year’s brother-in-law pick is the Roark Explorer 2.0 19” shorts. They are super comfortable and durable on the trail, but stylish enough to wear around town. I have three pairs and will be getting more if they go on sale this holiday season.
2. Looking at Both Sides. Over the last few years one of the things that I’ve missed most are intelligent debates over opposing views. Things seem so polarized now, and tolerance for opposing views seem unacceptable in many circles. Having been brought up in an Israeli family, it was very common for my parents to “argue” the night away with their closest friends. While it would get passionate and heated at times, they all hugged it out in the end. A few weeks later, a new debate would ensue about the latest current or political events.
My parents really wanted my sister and I to learn how to think critically for ourselves and would often play devil’s advocate to help challenge our assumptions. What an amazing gift. The Honestly podcast has filled a little of that void. Bari Weiss and her crew cover a wide range of current topics and interview experts and people from a wide range of backgrounds. I look forward to each new episode and have listened to them all. Even the ones I’ve seriously disagreed with 🙂
3. Clean Water. About a year ago, Debbie and I switched from a reverse osmosis (RO) filter system to the Clearly Filtered 3 Stage Under Sink Filtration system, and I wish we had done so years earlier. The water quality and taste is as good as the RO system we had. In addition we’ve gained more than a square foot of under-sink space and, more importantly, the minerals that the RO system had been filtering out of our water. Although I had been attempting to supplement minerals, I had noticed pitting in my finger and toe nails after years of drinking RO water. Less than a year on our Clearly Filtered System, my nails are almost 100% back to normal.
I also replaced the water cooler at our office with the Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher and couldn’t be happier with both the taste and financial savings.
4. Love Thy Neighbor. Won’t You Be My Neighbor is a touching documentary on Fred Rogers, the star and visionary of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. I never personally watched Mister Rogers as a child and mostly remember it from the Eddie Murphy Saturday Night Live skits. But as someone who has personally dedicated his life to the wellness of children, I really wish we had more conscious child programming from thoughtful people like Fred.
5. In Love with the World. Every once in a while, a book comes along just when you need it. Before our family’s summer trip, I texted a few friends asking what they’d recently read and loved. Jimmy, the bassist in my band, suggested a few titles but this is the one that caught my attention.
Turning 50 this year has me facing my own mortality and impermanence on a much more intimate level, and instead of running from it I’ve been trying to look it right in the eyes. In Love with the World: A Monk’s Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying is a profound book from a high Tibetan Monk’s account of near death, letting go, and impermanence. I’m planning on reading it again soon.
6. Slogans to Live By. Every once in a while a second book comes along just when you need it 😊. I colleague of mine (thanks Rachel Workman) casually mentioned the book, Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong to me knowing that I study Buddhism, and I was knocked off my feet.
I had never even heard the word Lojong before. Lojong is a Tibetan set of practical slogans used to stimulate contemplation. I had historically been turned off to Tibetan Buddhism because its many rituals reminded me of my Jewish upbringing. I’m a proud Jew, as you may already know, but I never related to its focus on ritual. My own Buddhist study has been more focused on Vipassana, or at times Zen, because I’m attracted to the simple “sit down and shut up” pragmatic style of teaching and meditation.
That being said, as I have gotten older, I have begun to see the value of ritual for myself, and even more so for our children. This has also helped me understand my own Judaism on a deeper level. Maybe the reason this spoke to me so clearly is that Norman Fisher is actually a Zen teacher and this book is his take on the Lojong. I try to review and meditate on at least one slogan daily.
Cecelia’s Favorite Things
1. No Two Snowflakes are Alike. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens aside, one of my favorite things is the annual snowflake from Gusterman’s Silversmiths. Numbered 1 through 100, these sterling silver ornaments are designed by master silversmith, Mary Eckels. Check out the entire collection beginning in 1978, the year she purchased the (now-adjourned) store in historic Larmier Square, Denver. My own collection starts at 2016 and I am eagerly awaiting 2022!
2. Hot Tea. To me, this time of year deeply encourages an appreciation of warmth & light. Absence sure does make the heart fond! It’s also the time of year when I can drink tea all day long. It may not be for Ted Lasso, but a mug of decaf black tea is my absolute favorite belly-warmer. Boil hot then add oat milk. Bonus to froth the milk with this. (I also love using it to emulsify a vinaigrette!)
3. Cozy Scarves. If you’ve been to the office recently, you’ve seen me in a scarf. I feel invincible to the cold with my neck wrapped in soft fabric. Somehow the people that love me know this, and I have been blessed with a few beautiful scarves. I like the big wool/cotton blends as an overwrap that seal me up like shrink wrap in the snow. The lighter silk/ cotton scarves I wear indoors to micro-control my own body temperature. The best part is that I’m reminded of Avrian, or Wendy, or my papa while wearing them.
4. Thank You Notes. I enjoy making cards to say thanks for the little things. The idea & message usually arises spontaneously, so I like having the card-making materials on-hand. My mom encouraged me to continue the tradition of Thank You Cards at my high school graduation. Since then, I enjoy expressing my thanks in a short note, as my grandma or great-granny would have done. My favorite method begins with brown cardstock and these watercolor pencils to make my scribbles look nice!
Layla’s Favorite Things
1. Comfortable Headphones. I like listening to things before I go to sleep at night. Its more considerate to do that with headphones now that I have a roommate. My favorite headphones are my Beats Studio3. I wear them at the library and at Lullwater Preserve when I take walks. They are very convenient and comfortable for my small ears, which do not fit air pods.
2. Nature App. The Seek by iNaturalist is a plant and animal identification App. I use it all the time to identify mushrooms to see if they are poisonous or not. (Foraging for mushrooms is my new favorite pastime!) I also use this App for my Ecology Society field work to identify plants and animals while I am learning.
3. Favorite Tote. Backpacks usually make my back hurt. The school gave Freshman an Emory tote on the first day of school and I’ve carried it around every day since.
4. Nighttime Bonnet. I started wearing a silk bonnet to sleep a few years ago. Because it is more humid in Atlanta, it is even more important to protect my hair when I sleep so I don’t wake up looking like a frizzy hot mess!
Leo’s Favorite Things
1. Baseball Bag. My baseball bag is great. It’s big enough to hold all my stuff but not too big that I can’t find things in it. I love that it holds two baseball bats and my compression sleeve. I have it in blue and it looks good.
2. Backpack. I started High School this year and I also like my new backpack a lot. It’s sleek and it has big pockets and space to hold two water bottles. It’s comfortable for my walk to school and helps me keep stuff organized. It also came with a charger, but I haven’t needed to use it because I am doing a good job keeping my phone charged 😊
3. Music Podcast. Dissect* is a music podcast that examines a single album per season, one song per episode. I love dissecting music myself. But these guys do it in crazy detail. They go deep into dissecting the lyrics and I learn so much. When I take my dog for walks, I like listening to it. You can listen to this as a short example.
4. Favorite Album. I really like new music. I listened to the album TV* this summer when we went to the beach. When you listen to it from start to finish, it’s a very relatable experience and makes you feel something—like an escape into his world. The coolest part is that I went to visit my sister Layla at Emory and Tai Verdes* was performing. I was in the front row, and he could see me singing every word. So, he asked my name and had everyone shout “I love you Leo”. And then later in the show when he sang the word “high five” he came and gave me one.
Mia’s Favorite Things
1. Favorite Book. I love to read but it’s hard for me to find a book I like. I was looking through the shelves of my reading classroom at school and immediately went to the sci-fi section. I saw The Martian* and was pulled in. I checked out the book and couldn’t stop reading it.
The Martian* is about a man named Mark Watney who is on a Mars mission. On one of the first days of their mission a massive dust storm arises, and he and his crew decide leaving is the safest option. He is separated from his crew when he is impaled by a part of their shelter. His crew looks for him but can find him, so they leave. He must figure out how to make his food last until he will (hopefully) go home. He has no communication with anyone else and faces many challenges.
I love The Martian* because there are lots of interesting science words and good descriptions. I can definitely say that it is my favorite book.
2. Mirror Cube. Rubix cubes are really fun to solve. They are an interesting brain puzzle that challenges many people. A few years ago, I learned the method to solve it easily and quickly. It honestly became boring. One day I saw my friend with a cube that looked like an optical illusion. It was shiny and warped. He turned some slides, and it was a normal cube again. The mirror cube has different sized pieces which makes it so the shape changes as you turn the corners. In spite of its unique look, it is solved the same as a normal cube but takes a little extra focus.
3. Computer Case. At school we need to use our Chromebook in almost every class. When you are walking quickly through small halls with a Chromebook in your hand, you are likely to drop it. I have seen so many Chromebooks die tragically as they fell. I was looking online for a computer case and I found the one I have now. It’s great. It has a section for your computer, a small mesh pocket and a larger mesh pocket. The computer case holds my book, pencils, a folder for homework and drawings, and of course, my computer. It is the perfect case!
4. Black Paper. I love to draw. White paper is the normal surface people mostly use but lately I have been into using black paper, which is amazing for art. It makes the colors pop on the page! Some pencils work better than others (Prismacolor are the best!) but for the most part they all work. My favorite thing to draw on black paper is flowers. Actually, they are just my favorite thing to draw on any paper!
If you made it to the end, we’d love to hear from you! Do you have any favorite things from 2022? If so, please share them with us below? We’d love to check them out!
*Parents: As always, please preview any music, podcast, book or movie to ensure it is appropriate for your family.
Great list! Your family keeps my family relevant and up to date on all the great books and gadget finds. I think this yearly blog is simply the best! Happy holidays!!
Thank you, Rosia, for letting us know that you enjoy our yearly favorites 🙂
Hi Debbie, It is so fun reading these lists, helps me stay connected with you and your growing family. What sweet kids you have. I’m glad you were able to travel to NY for your daughter’s birthday and have fun. Miss seeing you in the halls of the Redwood. Sending love and blessings.
I know Jamie – that office space feels like so long ago! BIG HUGS to you and happy holidays!
I always enjoy this. Thanks Debbie and Roy!!
That means a lot! Thanks for reading for all these years 🙂
Wonderful and warm post.
Thank you for the 2022 ‘Our Favorites’ list – it’s wonderful!
Special thanks to Layla for the Nature app and nighttime bonnet. Loved reading Leo’s update on the Tai Verdes concert – how fun! Mia’s Mirror Cube, black paper and Prismacolor pencils are going to make me look like a totally ‘with it’ Grandmother. Same for Cecelia’s watercolor pencils!
I have already ordered the Pomegranate Molasses.
A few of my favorites this year are garden related – broccoli seed sprouting (https://sproutpeople.org) , starting flowers from seeds, lots of indoor bulbs (paperwhites, amaryllis).
I hope you and your family have a lovely holiday.
Your note made my day!! I love that you will be a “with-it-Grandma” this holiday season!! And thank you for the reminder…I’ve been wanting to buy an amaryllis and get back into sprouting in the spring 🙂 I hope that you too are well!