Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Favorite Things '09 (What I'm Thankful For This Year)...

This was a rough year for me in a couple of senses of the word. For once I found that while a lot of pop culture and television were good for "zone out" moments, they weren't full-on distractions or salvations the way I sometimes needed (and had grown expectant for) them to be. Therefore, most of the things I find myself thankful for today have to do with those slightly more serious. But in order to spare you a trip to the holiday doldrums, I have managed to dig through it and find the top pop culture moments for which I am thankful-- even if the list may be shorter than usual this year.

The music of GLEE. I'm not going to wax poetic that this is the best written or funniest or even most unique show on television right now. I even think it ties with Modern Family for having the best ensemble cast. However, there is no denying that the music selection (and the new voices that carry the old classics) is inspiring, goosebump-giving, and just generally the perfect tracks to make even the stiffest person (i.e. me) feel like getting up and dancing.

Disneyland at Christmastime.
Even though I kind of miss seeing "the regular" Haunted Mansion when it's all done up as Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion, everything else at this time of year screams extra uber magical! I love the castle all done up in wreaths and icicles, the red velvet robes some of the characters wear to evoke Santa and Mrs. Claus, the snow falling into cups of hot chocolate while waiting for the parade, and especially the stores that devote whole sections to ornaments and stockings.

Stephen King. I know he was on the list last year as well, but two weeks ago he gave reason to be included again (if not every) year when his latest novel, "Under the Dome," was released. Just like the first novel of his I ever read, "It" (at least in the reprinted paperback form I picked up from Borders), this new story is 1074 pages of pure amazingness-- rich characters, and a somewhat creepy but definitely intriguing concept of the government "quarantining off" a town by encasing them in a dome-- and it would have the potential to keep me entertained well into the new year...if I read really, really slowly the way I tend to do when a book is just so good I don't want it to end.

My 'Just Desserts' Original Recipe Cookbook. Okay, unemployment can be a dangerous thing for a lot of people. Some don't learn to curb their spending habits to adjust to the fact that they no longer have expendable income-- let alone any income at all. Others go on vacation and forget to actually look for another (new) job. Some sit around, smoke pot and/or eat junk all day while watching court show after daytime talk show after soap opera. For me, though, I tend to get creative in the most new and random of ways. Case in point: earlier this month I started experimenting with new dessert recipes after craving something chocolately but unable to spend two to four dollars per cupcake. The first three recipes of my new cookbook idea have already been written: Molten Chocolate Loaf Cake (using partially uncooked batter as the "molten"); Hot Chocolate Milkshake (a reverse Serendipity 3 Frozen Hot Chocolate, if you will) with fudge and a scoop of vanilla ice cream coating the bottom and topping off the top, respectively; and Frosting Pie, which I invented in college and consisting of a pie crust filled with chocolate frosting. All things that sound like they should be gross but are really quite delicious. And unique.

But of course, above it all, the best thing about this year (or any year!) was my little baby Madison!!!

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