“Oprah’s Favorite Things 2017” – The Reality Edition

If you live on Planet Earth, you’ve most likely heard of “Oprah’s Favorite Things”, the list of gift suggestions she shares each holiday season.  This is the 20th year of the notorious list and according to Oprah, “this year, there is something for everyone!”

Everyone, Oprah?  Are you sure about that?  I took a look at some of these items and, no offense to Queen Oprah, but I beg to differ.

1. Coatology Down Scarf $85


Umm…pass.  If I want a scarf that looks like that, I’ll just wrap a Hefty lawn bag around my neck for free and call it a day.

2. L’OBJET Bath Salts $150


One hundred and fifty bucks for a bottle of bath salts?  For that price it better come with a person that will stand outside the bathroom door and block my children, husband, and dog from interrupting my luxurious bath.  And then feed everybody while I’m soaking. Now that might be worth it.

3. Emi Jay Women’s Smooshshirt $136


The description of this product on Amazon claims that this is “the softest product to ever touch your body.” Clearly, Oprah has never tried on my Philips Academy sweatshirt from 1985.  Yes, I still have an article of clothing that I bought when I was 15 years old. And I will tell you, when you’ve worn and washed something for 33 years, it really is the “softest product to ever touch your body.” So I’ll save the $136 and carry on, Oprah.



4. Gratitude Glass Jar $45


I actually love this idea.  The concept is that family members jot down things they are grateful for, put them in the jar and then review them at the end of the year. What I don’t love is the $45 price tag for the jar itself.  I’ll tell you what I’m grateful for…the old mason jar I’ve got in my cupboard because now I have Item #4 for free.

5. Novelty Bird House, Prices Vary  *Hotel California Birdhouse $538


Seriously?  You would think the crazy thing is that there is a $538 birdhouse on this list…but the really crazy thing is that this birdhouse is sold out online already!  I never realized how many spoiled rotten birds are flying around out there.

6. 23andMe DNA Test $69


I don’t know about you, but if a family member gave me a DNA test kit for Christmas, frankly, I’d be a little freaked out.  I mean, what is the end game here? Are you trying to reveal a long-kept secret, like my dad is not actually my dad? Perhaps you’re trying to prove we’re not related somehow?  Do you love me so much you want my DNA available for cloning in 50 years?  Honestly, I’m not comfortable with any of those scenarios so thanks but no thanks on the DNA test. I choose to remain a mystery.

7. Maman Trio $65


Sixty-five dollars for twelve cookies??  Are they magic cookies, like with zero calories or something?  Or better yet, calorie burning cookies?  Because that’s pretty much the only way I’d pay over five bucks for a cookie.  I’m thinking Oprah hasn’t been to Costco in a while. Because they now sell “Toasted Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies” that are the size of small frisbees and are simply amazing.  I took a photo for proof…that’s a fig newton for scale.  At a buck a cookie, I’m sticking with these babies.


8. A Great Thought A Day Notepads $15


Finally, something on the list for a reasonable price.  But I don’t know…feels like too much pressure.  A great thought a day?  I don’t feel like I have enough “great” thoughts to fill that pad.  My great thoughts would probably consist of “bananas” and “waffles” because really, I’d just end up using it for my grocery list.  And isn’t that what the free notepads that realtors leave on your doorstep are for?

9. GoBone $199


A $200 dog bone?  The company claims “The GoBone automatically keeps a pup rolling around, chasing, and being chased, all at the touch of an app.”  I actually have a free app for that.  It’s called, “Kids, go play with the dog!”  No batteries required.


Sorry, Oprah, but this list is a bust for me.  My favorite gift I’ve gotten recently was from my sister, who sent me a t-shirt for no special occasion, that says, “It’s Too Peopley Outside.”


I was like “Yes”!  Now this is an awesome gift.  It IS too peopley outside.  Which is why I’ll be doing my holiday shopping from the comfort of my home, in my ultra soft sweatshirt from 1985, while munching on my giant Costco cookies.

Baker’s Remorse


I’ve always loved to bake.  I cook simply because there are mouths to feed over here but I bake because I thoroughly enjoy it.  And when it’s dark and cold and rainy outside there is nothing better than being inside a warm house with the smell of fresh cookies in the oven.

But something happened a few days ago that has never happened before…I sort of found my kryptonite.  I decided to try a new chocolate chip cookie recipe and I’ve completely lost all self-control.  Now, I like sweets as much as anyone, but I’m aware of the rules of normalcy….eating a couple of cookies after lunch, not a problem.  Eating SEVEN cookies before 10:00am….now it’s getting weird.  

And it’s gotten WAY weird with these cookies.  My first mistake was making far too much dough.  My second mistake was cooking them so that they were a little crispy on the outside yet chewy and gooey on the inside.  My final downfall was keeping dozens of these cookies in plain sight on my counter in a clear plastic container.

And every single time I walked into the kitchen there they were, just taunting me with their deliciousness.  Once I realized that me and these cookies had a little problem, I tried ignoring them.  Tried avoiding eye contact with the container.  I got to the point where I would spend lengths of time in the kitchen doing the dishes, preparing meals, stealing glances at the container out of the corner of my eye, pretending that I was going to win just this one battle and leave the kitchen empty-handed.

But I was shamefully defeated EVERY damn time.  When I opened the container to take this photo I LITERALLY PUT A COOKIE IN MY MOUTH AND IT WAS HANGING THERE while I clicked away.

When the kids asked to have a cookie I was like “YES!  Have a cookie!  Have FIVE cookies!  Pack them in your lunch and pass them out at school….JUST PLEASE MAKE THEM GO THE HELL AWAY!  

Thankfully, the cookies are now gone and life resumes as normal with the exception that I can’t button any of my pants.  If any of you are curious as to the recipe, I apologize but after the last cookie was gone I ceremoniously burned it at the stake while singing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” around my kitchen.

“Where DOES The Other Sock Go?” And A Few More Things I’d Like To Know

1.  The lyrics to Yellow Ledbetter by Pearl Jam.  Eddie Vedder…you’re amazing and all but I’ve heard that song countless times since 1992, and I still don’t know WTF you are saying.  Just listen for like, 20 seconds…..

See what I mean?  That song totally cramps my car karaoke jam, it’s much harder to annoy my children when I’m just mumbling nonsense the whole time.

2.  Boy or turtle?  A many years long, great debate in my family.  I mean, clearly, it’s a turtle.

Slow Caution Danger Sign

3.  Where DOES the other sock go?  It’s pretty much my goal in life to unload the whites from the dryer and have them all match up, just once.  It will probably never happen, but a girl can dream, right?


4.  How is it that I have a degree from UCSD but I can’t help my kid with 4th grade math homework??  I mean, I can figure out the answers, but according to my daughter, “THAT IS NOT THE WAY WE LEARNED IT AT SCHOOL!!  YOU’RE DOING IT ALL WRONG!!”

Image result for common core word problem funny

5.  How can an egg roll possibly retain heat for so long?  I make like four attempts to eat it and I get screwed every time.  I’m like a dog that gets shocked but I just keep comin’ back for more.

Homemade Chinese Vegetable EggRolls


6.  That Meat Loaf song, “I would do anything for love (but I won’t do that).”  I know every single word to that song but for the life of me I can’t figure out what “that” is.  Please, somebody tell me…what won’t he do???  This is the crap that keeps me up at night.


7.  How is yawning contagious?  I bet you yawned reading that, didn’t you?  Want to see if someone you know is a psychopath?  Yawn in front of them.  People high in psychopathic personality traits often don’t “catch” the contagious yawn, because they are lacking in empathy.  Just learned that today.  MIND. BLOWN.  And I yawned like six times while writing this so I am totally not a psychopath, just in case you’ve ever wondered.

8.  Why and OMG WHY???  Nobody should eat their breakfast on a stick.  NOBODY.  (For some reason, I imagine myself saying that with a thick Italian accent.  Probably because if my Italian ancestors saw the kind of crap Americans deem “food”, they would die).



Anyway, those are just a few of the things I ponder during my morning shower.  Thanks for listening.  How about you…what are some things you would like to know?  Feel free to share in the comments!

Friday Night Entertainment On Bainbridge Island

My husband and I were born and raised in the suburbs of Southern California and New York, respectively.  Our decision to randomly pick up and move ourselves and our three children to a small, rural island in the Pacific Northwest surprised a lot of friends and family.

“But what is there to do?”
“There’s no mall at all?”
How far do you have to drive to Target?”
“What if you, like, needed to buy underwear?” (I still don’t have an answer to that one)
“You have to take a ferry everywhere?”
“Does Amazon even deliver there?” (Yup, I would not be able to survive here otherwise)

Anyway, when we moved into our house in the woods four years ago, we inherited a feral cat called “Blackie”.  The previous owners had been feeding him for years and asked if we would continue to look out for him.  We agreed.  Now I actually spend more on cat food than dog food for my actual pet because he’s a spoiled feral cat who only likes expensive canned stuff.

We feed him every day to supplement his hunting and even with that, he allows no human contact.  He has survived for an unknown (but large) number of years on this island teeming with predators.  There are cats here that don’t last a single night outside between the coyotes, raccoons, bald eagles, etc.  He has survived rainstorms, snowstorms, freezing temps and 52 consecutive days without rain last summer.

We honestly did not understand how it was possible Blackie was still alive…until tonight, when he showed us just how tough he actually is.

I happened to catch a pretty amazing exchange with my phone.  I sent the video to my family who began to mercilessly make fun of me for my narration during the event.

From my sister, “Janene is narrating like she is in Nairobi on Safari.”
From my brother, “LOL!!!! Can I post on Facebook, pleeeeassse?”
From my son, “OMG mom, you’re like better than the double rainbow guy.”

And then my aspiring little filmmaker set about editing a re-mix of my ridiculous commentary.

And as embarrassing as it is, they all convinced me to post it.  And even though I know this time people will be laughing AT me, not WITH me, I guess I’ll take a laugh any way I can get it!


The Sock Incident


Having lived with Labrador Retrievers for many years, my family has no shortage of crazy dog stories. Honestly, the list of items ingested by our labs could fill a book.

Yes, we have lots of stories, however, none of them compare to “The Sock Incident”.

One day, when he was about 9 months old, Charlie (our current lab) seemed to be more mellow than usual, just sort of moping around. As the day went on, he looked worse and worse and that night when I put his dinner out and he didn’t touch it, I knew something was really wrong. Labs NEVER refuse food. Based on his track record I figured it was quite probable that he had eaten something he shouldn’t have. Our regular vet was closed for the day but I found a vet in the next town that was still open and headed over.

When I got there I explained to the receptionist and the vet tech that I wanted x-rays done because I was pretty sure that he ingested something that was causing his malaise. There was a scale in the lobby where we were standing and the vet tech wanted to get his weight in case they needed to put him under for surgery. “Here we go again,” I thought, mentally calculating the cost of this one in my head.

The vet tech took Charlie’s leash and tried to walk him toward the scale but Charlie refused to move. With a look of panic in his eyes, he just kept pulling back on the leash over and over. I was getting frustrated so I started to push him onto the scale and he bolted back with all his strength.

Suddenly he squats his legs and assumes the position of a dog who is about to do something you do NOT want him to do indoors.

Looking absolutely crazed now, he starts pushing and straining and pushing some more. The receptionist, the vet tech, and myself are all just standing there watching the scene unfold in what seemed like slow motion. And then it happened, like a cork popping off a bottle of champagne.

An object comes absolutely FLYING out of Charlie’s ass and shoots through the air like a torpedo.

And that object had apparently been plugging up a river of liquids and solids that were now being relentlessly unleashed and spewed all over the LOBBY of the vet’s office.

The three of us are all standing in a circle around Charlie, dead silent, mouths hanging open, staring at the wreckage before us and at the object that landed across the room, which we can now see is a large sock.

The vet tech breaks the stunned silence with, “I CANNOT believe that just happened.” The receptionist chimes in, “That is the craziest thing I have ever seen in my life.” I am looking at Charlie, who is now prancing around the lobby, tail wagging, like he’s just won the lottery.

The vet tech looks at me and says, “I hope you realize your dog just shit out a $2000 sock.”

I have no idea what to do, what to say. I am completely mortified by what my dog has just done in their office. The vet tech turns to me and says, “Well, do you want to go back and see the vet now so he can check him out?” I should’ve said ok. I should’ve done anything other than what I did.

I grabbed Charlie’s leash and started walking slowly backwards, toward the front door.

“Um, well, actually….I think we’re good now! I mean, clearly, that was the problem so…uh…I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry.”

And Charlie and I bolted out the door in utter shame, leaving our trail of destruction behind us.

When I got home and maniacally pantomimed the entire episode to my husband he was incredulous. “You mean, you didn’t do ANYTHING? You just ran? You didn’t pay them anything or even OFFER to at least clean it up?”

No. Regretfully, I didn’t.

But I did give them a hell of a story to tell at their next office party, don’t you think?