Friday, December 18, 2015

Move Over Julie Andrews - These are Some of My Favorite Things

by Shirley Hailstock

I'm having a Christmas party.  Of course that means cleaning the house, at least the part that the guests will see.  So I'm vacuuming the dining room, when I start thinking about how I love seeing the lines the vacuum cleaner makes on the carpet.  And the idea for this blog comes to me.  This is proof of that common question writers get: where do ideas come from -- from the great and powerful and the mundane and necessary.


So, my first favorite thing is a clean carpet.  Mind you, I don't like being the cleaner.  I avoided the cleaning gene while I was still in the womb.  However, in order to get what I want, something I have to suck it up.  Writing and reading reference:  submitting a clean manuscript to your editor; providing a reader with wonderful experience devoid of typos and distractions that throw them out of the story.


The smell of fresh cut grass is another favorite.  I like the smell all summer long, but that first cut of the year is like all the fragrance buds opened up and offered their scent to the wind.  I don't cut my own grass.  I have a service that whips through the process in record time.  Yet, that first cut welcomes the change from winter to spring.  Writing and reading reference:  The writer has finally birthed the baby and she's holding it in your arms, ready to allow someone, a stranger who plucks it off the shelf (real or virtual) to read her story.  It's going to be a new world as soon as she lets it go.  Her feeling of fear increases ten-fold, until that first review comes in, until she can exhale and allow all the pent-up emotion out.  For readers, a new voice just entered the world and you're there to receive it.  With hope and admiration, you settle in your chair riveted to the pages, waiting for the end, for your ahhh moment as you reach the last page.  That's the first smell of cut grass.

The heat on my face when opening an oven.  It's a flash of heat, but it's dripping with anticipation.  There's something good in there.  I can feel the heat of it.  At the first snow, I love to make cinnamon rolls.  They remind me of home when I was a little girl.  We'd make them from scratch, eagerly waiting for them to finish cooking so we could open that oven door.  This brings me to a complementary favorite -- sticky hands.  We couldn't wait for the cinnamon rolls to cool down, so we'd ice and eat them, still hot from the oven, as the icing dripped down the corners of her mouths and onto our hands -- ala sticky hands.  Writing and reading reference:  It's a favorite book.  All writers have one.  Most won't tell you which one.  We don't want you to think there is a best because the writer's  favorite may not be the reader's favorite.  What sticks to your hands may not stick to mine. But something will stick.  And you won't be able to put the book down.

I love people who smile.  I find that smiling makes the day better.  It begins that way and continues.  This is not to say that life doesn't happen, that disappointments don't come, sometimes in droves, but putting on that happy face can make it feel a lot less irritating.  Long ago, I read something (probably in science class) about it taking more facial muscles to frown than to smile.  I was skinny then and thought smiling would be better.  I still think that and I also know that frowning uses more energy, but not enough to make you lose weight -- so smile.  You'll feel better.  Writing and reading reference:  Books make you laugh and cry.  They touch your emotions and introduce you to fictional family and friends.  They are people you can laugh with and most often, they make you smile. You may not know it, but they do the authors and readers have the same reaction.  Sometimes we're reluctant to let them go.  Readers want another story with their new-found friends.  Writers have new ideas, new directions to travel with the people they've brought to life.  Come on people, let's all get together for a group photo.  Say SMILE.

I also include chocolate among my favorites (only about a dozen people in the world don't).  However, I'm a chocolate snob, a cheap snob if that's a consolation.  I'm a Hershey girl.  I like milk chocolate.  I don't favor expensive chocolates.  When I was in San Francisco, a friend walked me around for an hour trying to find a very famous chocolate store, Ghirardelli.  I'd never heard of them.  (I can hear you gasping.)  I tried several different samples they had in the store, didn't like any of them. I've tried Cadbury Chocolate, Dove Chocolate, Whitman Samplers, Russell Stovers, even Godiva Chocolate (which always reminds me of a naked lady on a horse), and none of them appealed to me as much as a Hershey bar.  There are other favorites in the chocolate category that I adore; chocolate cake with chocolate icing, chocolate mousse, hot chocolate, chocolate milk, the list goes on.  Writing and reading reference: different books appeal to different people. Some like historical, some small town contemporaries, some Navy Seals, others FBI thrillers, there's something out there for everyone's taste.


I could go on listing my favorite things, but Julie has come in and wagged her finger with the enough is enough gesture.  So, let's leave it with a favorite wine, a fireplace with a roaring fire, and good friends.



What are some of your favorite things?

As always, keep reading...




28 comments:

  1. I agree with you on the chocolate. Every Christmas, a person I work with gives me a box of the most expensive and fanciest chocolates out there. I regift them. Give me good old milk chocolate without added flavors.

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    1. I re-gift mine too. My daughter's school sold chocolate bars as a PTA fundraiser. Instead of trying to sell them, I just bought the case to support the PTA. They weren't Hershey's. I tried them, but they aren't the same. I gave them out at Halloween.

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  2. I love this, Shirley. One of my favorite things is the first step out the back door in the morning--my office is in a detached garage. No matter what the weather, it's always a brand new day.

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    1. Oh, I love this. I write a lot in my family room (my office is upstairs). The family room is very sunny and I can see the trees in the backyard.

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  3. I did not get the cleaning gene either. One of my favorite things is quiet time. The house emptied, kid at school, husband at work, and dog outside. I allow the cat to share the quiet time with me. Lately, though, he's disturbed quiet time with "Let's get rid of the dog" covert stares.

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    1. LOL. For some reason, when I have all that quiet, I feel like taking a nap, which eliminates all the reason for being alone.

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  4. What a wonderful list of favorites, Shirley. I too, love people who smile. Don't you think it makes people much more attractive?
    As for my favorite things...books, hummingbirds, and neon Post-it notes.

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    1. I have a list of more favorite things, but I had to end the post. I love people who smile. When I lived in DC and took the bus to work, everyone getting on frowned, like they didn't want to be there. Like they were unhappy. I thought "it's only 8:00, you can't be angry already."

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    2. I grew up in the suburbs of DC, so I know what you mean, Shirley. :)

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  5. Fun post, Shirley. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. You're welcome and thanks for reminding me to hit publish.

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  6. Frothy milk in my coffee, the enthusiasm of a puppy or kitten, cat videos where they try to get inside small boxes, the glittery lights of my Christmas tree...

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    1. I don't have animals, but those glittery lights can have me wasting a lot of time watching them. Well, not really wasting time. They relax me. (Just don't go to sleep.)

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  7. Shirley, what a great post! Especially for this time of year when we're all entrenched in craziness. It's nice to take a moment to appreciate some of the little things in life that make us happy. Some of my favorite things are the feel of a sandy beach beneath my feet, that first cup of coffee in the morning (especially when my husband makes it) my doxie cuddled against my leg as I sit on the sofa and work on my lap top, and the smell of anything yeasty baking in the oven.

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    1. The first cup of coffee in the morning. I make my own, Maxwell House. Even with a Keurig, I fill the little cup and use that instead of the expensive packages.

      When my daughter gets on the school bus, I sit down with that cup and relax in the quiet enjoyment of the day. It's my favorite time.

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  8. Ron and I under a blanket and watching Big Bang Theory, Christmas, Yorkshire Gold tea, shortbread cookies, the press of animals around me, family around the dinner table, a new book idea. Ghirardelli does make the best white chocolate - but, then, that's not really chocolate, so maybe doesn't count. Good list, Shirley. I'm smiling.

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    1. So you've heard of Ghirardelli? Since I wrote the blog, I see this candy everywhere I go. Never watched the Big Bang Theory, but I know what the Big Bang Theory is (the scientific theory).

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  9. Hershey's chocolate is my favorite, and I'm not just saying that because I used to work for The Hershey Company.
    My favorite things: Books (especially Heartwarming books and authors, historicals and mysteries), tea with books, trees, mountains, birds, my cat, chocolate, pizza, a bright sunny day...oh...too many things to name. And I love it when people smile and demonstrate kindness.

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    1. I have two nieces who've never been to my house before. They're teenagers and I'm planning to take them to Hershey, PA. The park is closed for the winter, but we're expecting a mild (or even warm Christmas). They'll be able to see the kisses street lights and the water tower. The chocolate factory tour is open and of course, the tour ends in the gift shop. I think the whole place is made of chocolate.

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    2. I actually worked in one of their field offices in North Carolina, but I visited the park once as a child.

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  10. Things I like are family, friends, and sunshine. I like blooming flowers and dinners out. Love your post, because it made me ponder. Really I probably like too many things to list.

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    1. We all like too many things to list, but see how just the thought of them makes us smile.

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  11. Those are all favorites of mine, too, especially the books. But I do love dark, rich chocolate, especially with nuts (but not most creme fillings). Have a wonderful party.

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    1. The party is over and it was wonderful. It was small enough to be able to talk to all my smiling friends. And we ate great food and lots of chocolate cake.

      I'm also not into cream fillings. I love nuts in the chocolate.

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    2. Macadamia nuts in milk chocolate (or white chocolate) are the absolute best!

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    3. I never developed a like for Macadamia nuts. It might also be why Hershey chocolate is my favorite. Macadamia nuts take two years to grow and people devour them. Me -- I'd pass them by without a thought. There's that snob again -- the cheap snob.

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  12. I love the memory of the smell of my Mom's kitchen. The wonders she could create. :) I love the smell of baby powder on my grandbabies when I kiss their necks, a childs laughter and most of all I love reading. Happy Holidays everyone.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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    1. Ummm, that newborn baby smell. I love that too. Can they somehow bottle that so I can use it after my shower?

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