Favorite Things

Wow!  Things have been SO. BUSY. this month at work.  I’ve hardly had time to sleep or eat!  It’s included a trip where I had to talk in front of 1,000 people (yikes!).  It was stressful leading up to it, but it went very well and was an amazing opportunity.  Looking back now, I can hardly believe that I did it now…almost seems like a dream.

At any rate, I thought I would write a post about some new (or not so new) favorite things.  First, I’ll start with something that relates to my recent business trip…luggage!  There are actually two favorite things associated with packing that I used on my trip, where were amazing.  First of all, I bought this set of hard-sided rolling luggage, and it worked amazingly well.  It’s cute, easy to spot at baggage claim, tons of space, and kept things secure.  Also, it’s lightweight….MUCH lighter than you would think.  Can we talk about the 4 spinner wheels?  I’ve not owned luggage with more than 2 wheels before, and holy crapoly, these things are easy to maneuver through the airport.  Fantastic!

Another favorite thing?  The packing cubes from eBags.  I was skeptical at first because I like being able to tuck small items into the nooks and crannies of my suitcases, but these things hold SO MUCH stuff and easily fit into my new suitcases.  I bought the Value Pack (linked above), and it had a small, medium, and large square-ish cubes, plus 3 slim cubes.  In the large, I got a track suit, 2 pairs of jeans, dress pants, and at least 5 tops to go with the dress pants.  Everything was folded neatly and didn’t wrinkle in the suitcase.  The medium had jammies, 2 pairs of workout pants, and 6 t-shirts.  The small contained my delicates with room to spare.  One slim one held scarves and shells with tons of extra space, one had socks (10 pairs) with room to spare, and the 3rd went into my laptop bag and served as my “activities” bag.  I had my NOOK and a knitting project plus notions and a pattern.  These things are awesome!  I was able to get all of them (except for the activities bag) plus 4 pairs of shoes and my oversized toiletries bag into the medium suitcase above with no issue.  Best part is that in the hotel, all I had to do was pull out the cubes and put them into the drawers to unpack. Everything was kept neat and tidy without wrinkles there too.

And finally, a third favorite thing for right now is something that I’ve been using for a few months.  For the last several years, I’ve struggled with acne.  I’ve tried just about everything:  Proactiv, Noxema, Clean & Clear, etc.  All have worked a little bit, but they’ve all had bad side effects.  Proactiv made my skin dry and gave me a very ruddy appearance…almost like I had rosacea, and some just plain didn’t work.  Several months ago, an online friend suggested using Cerave and said that it had even cleared up some of the little bumps that show up under the skin but don’t actually turn into whiteheads.  I was skeptical, but I thought…what the heck?  It’s a relatively cheap solution to try, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll just move to something else.  I tried it, and it was ok but still not exactly the results I was looking for…let’s face it…I wanted instant gratification.   About that same time, someone I follow on twitter suggested following the guideline outlined on acne.org.  After reading through it, I decided that the Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser fit the bill for the cleansing that they suggest on there, and I didn’t need to buy yet another treatment solution from them.  I then bought the Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment as suggested on acne.org.  I continued to use my moisturizer:  Lush Enzymion Moisturizer, which gives me a nice matte look and moisturizes without making me oily…again, though not suggested, it seemed to fit the recommendations from acne.org.  They recommend doing the 3 step treatment twice a day, which I don’t always follow.  I wear mineral make-up that doesn’t clog my pores, so I get away with doing it once per day.  At any rate, in less than a week, I started seeing results, and I’ve been enjoying clear skin ever since!!  Occasionally, I still get a couple of small pimples around that time of the month, but it’s so much better than it once was!  I remember distinctly one morning thinking…wow, I’m only using concealer under my eyes!  When has that ever happened?!  On top of that, my husband has had trouble with acne as well.  He started following the program too, and his acne has cleared up as well.  We are both very amazed and are loving these products and the system.

Out with the old, In with the new

Well, 2011 was really a trying year for us, so I’m pretty happy to see it kicked to the curb.  We’ve had a host of medical problems in our family right up to the bitter end of the year, some of which are still unresolved but are hopefully on their way to being resolved soon.  Work was busy and stressful.  There were rivers of tears.  And, there has been some family drama that I don’t really care to repeat again.

Of course, there were plenty of good things throughout the year as well.  We had a ton of fun and took some really amazing vacations.  I think I’ve learned a lot about myself as well as new crafty things to do, new things in the kitchen, new things with photography, and definitely new things at work.  I think I’ve grown a ton with all of these new learnings.

Here’s hoping that 2012 won’t be quite as trying and that we are on to bigger and better things!  In the mean time, here are a couple of pretty pictures of some fun remaining things for 2011.

First up, my Hansen miniSpinner, a super generous Christmas gift from my husband.  I’ve had a ton of fun playing around with this, and I think I’m starting to understand the adjustments I need to get the yarn I want.  This is so different from my wheel but good all at the same time.  I love the portability and ease.

Next up:  I’m kind of obsessed with making this Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake (recipe here), which I got via Angry Chicken’s blog (if you don’t read it, you should…link to the right on here).  I’ve made this cake 3 times since Thanksgiving.  Most recently, I made it for my husband’s birthday at the end of December and finally got a decent picture of it.  It is a bit labor intensive as far as cakes go, but it is so so so tasty!  The recipe is definitely a keeper.  This last round of making it, I made one minor modification to the recipe, which I think I’m going to do from now on.  That is that instead of taking the cake out of the pan before putting the syrup on it, I left it in the pan and drizzled the syrup on the bottom.  I found that putting syrup on the top of the cake after removing it from the pan, you lose a lot of the syrup.  This way, it all goes into the cake to help keep it moist.

That’s it for now!  Here’s wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2012 and a better year than 2011! 😉