Friday, January 6, 2012

2011 - My Favorite Discoveries

While everyone has had their own 2011 retrospectives, I was busy with Christmas and travel and coming up with material for my critique group (who thinks that holiday breaks are for sissies). So now that I've had time to reflect on the entirety of the last year, here are some of my favorite finds...

1. Midnight in Paris

"I see - rhinoceros." I love this movie. I love the situational comedy, the observations about human nature, and the Disneyland-esque trip through the Jazz Age.  It's also the film that made Hollywood that realize that charm still sells. Who knew that such a thing would be said about a modern Woody Allen film?

2. White Collar

This USA Network dramedy is a rare beast - it's got style, clever writing, affection for its characters, and a true respect for marriage. I know, weird, right? But we love it. If you love Castle, give this a try. The first two seasons are streaming on Netflix.

3. Arthur Christmas

We saw Hugo, The Muppets, and TinTin, but my favorite family film of the holidays? Arthur Christmas, hands down. The characterizations and motivations are clearly and lovingly drawn, the pacing is quick and clever, and the voice talents are perfect. Catch it while it's still in theaters!

4. Susanna Kearsley novels

Until recently, Susanna Kearsley has been Canada's best kept secret. But with strong releases like The Rose Garden and re-releases like Winter Sea, this will not always be so. Kearsley's gift for writing strong, smart, sensible women (who don't feel the need to hit us over the head with how strong, smart, and sensible they are) means that every book gives us a heroine we can truly cheer for.

More than that, Kearsley's plots are truly creative - contemporary/ historical/ not-quite-magical-realism but not quite fantasy either, in Roses she handles time travel in a way I've not read before, and does it sensibly. Bet you didn't think that was possible, huh?

5. Cracked Black Pepper

Technically, I finally took the cracked black pepper plunge at the end of 2010, but I'm more thoroughly bonded now. Before you judge that it took so long, know that my childhood experiences with black pepper was the dusty stuff that my grandmother loved.  My grinder is about empty, and I'm experiencing the same kind of panic I usually experience when my butter reserves run low.

6. Once Upon a Time

Snow White, Cinderella, Jimminy Cricket, oh my! I've read a lot of fairy tale mash-ups, so it's fun to see what the Once Upon a Time writers do with the original material. I love the Snow White/ Charming thread the most - makes me think of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

7. Pinterest

I came late to the party, but once I caught the vision, I was hooked. You can find my latest pins here.

8. Mod Podge

The joys of quick-drying clear paste! Again, late to the party, but such fun. Getting to do things with Mod Podge takes me back to grade school crafts, but the end results are much more sophisticated.'

9. Smith's Rosebud Salve

I would have loved this before I moved to the desert, but now that I'm here, it's that much more appreciated.  It's a happy day when $6 buys you a really, really good dry skin combatant. It's long lasting, sweet smelling, with a long list of uses - I've read about it as a lip treatment, obviously, but there's also dry patches, minor burns, in-a-pinch hair product, winter eye cream, scars, abrasions, cuticles, insect bites, and diaper rash. So no matter what, you WILL find a use for it.

10. Swiffer Duster

Again with the desert, land of dust and dirt, and throw in a little (okay, a lot) of dog hair. The dusters are fast, easy, and frankly quite fun, if swiping things with something that looks like a fluffy-ended magic wand is your thing.

11. Microplane Zester

I finally got one! And I heart it. Really works as well as everyone says, and loved it so much I used a Christmas giftcard to get the larger grater.

Well, there's 2011 for you. I read of someone who doesn't care for even-numbered years, but I think (when pressed) that I prefer them. Do you have a preference? What were your favorite finds this last year?


  1. Hey Hillary! I pray you are doing well. Looks like you had a great year of discovery! Praying 2012 will be just as adventurous!

  2. Hi Hillary,
    I just finished a book and thought of you! (Its about writing and cooking:) maybe you've read it - its called a Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes From My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg. She writes a blog called Orangette, which is also excellent.

    Hope you guys are doing well in the tri-cities!

    God bless, Tiffany (clark)


Join in on the discussion!