Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Carmelle's Favorite Things 2007

Since Oprah has her list of Favorite Things, I decided I would make one too. Some of these are old standbys and some are brand new discoveries and inventions. The only thing I can guarantee is that I love them all! I've included places to purchase most items to make it easy, but I am not being compensated be any of the folks whose items appear below (unlike Oprah I assume).


Olay Regenerist Micro-Exfoliating wet cleansing cloths make vacations easy! I always take a pack with me instead of facial soap and simply wipe away the day before getting into bed for the night. I protect my face every morning with Olay Complete All Day UV Moisture Cream for Sensitive Skin. Both of these items are super-affordable ($6.46 and $5.99) and are usually available at your local drug store. For my lips, I don't leave the house without [various shades of] Lancome Juicy Tubes gloss. $17.50 at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.


Precious Lactose Free Plus Mozzarella String Cheese! This discovery is only a week old and I've already created baked ziti and homemade pizza with it. If you share my lactose intolerance affliction, praise Precious, lactose free, real dairy mozzarella is here! I prefer to slice into 1/8" rounds. It doesn't "string" as well as the real deal, but it melts like a dream. I also love Trader Joe's Yogurt Cheese in both plain and JalapeƱo Jack varieties. More real dairy, lactose-free cheese that melts, tastes and acts like regular cheese (except when it hits your tummy, then it's nicer!). I would be remiss if I did not mention that Kraft has also joined the lactose-free bandwagon with its LiveActive selections of cubed and sticks of cheeses. NutritionNow creates Lacto-Safe, the BEST lactase pills I have ever tried. The bottle boasts the ability for the user to digest 8 oz. of dairy with two little pills. They are right.

Thomas' nows makes Light Multi-Grain English Muffins with 8 grams of fiber and only 100 calories each! I love toasting these in the morning, adding Smuckers Simply Fruit and grabbing a banana for breakfast. Or create the previously mentioned "homemade pizzas" (heat a large tablespoon of marinara sauce in the microwave for 30 seconds, toast the muffin for 1 minute, spread the sauce on the muffin, cover with your favorite cheese and toast until bubbly).

When you really don't want to cook and are out of wine, head to 3rd Corner Bistro in Ocean Beach. A playful menu of small and large plates await with inventive salads and a selection of wine to keep you busy until your baked brie appetizer arrives. The best part? Pick a bottle from their 1200-bottle wine shop and your server will pour it for your table with no corkage fee. The menu prices are quite nice too: $2 to $18. I love the pan-seared sea scallops here and Patrick usually enjoys the New York strip steak.

When purchasing fruits, vegetables and flowers, I attempt to obtain as much as possible from Farmers' Markets throughout San Diego County. There are markets available six days a week during all seasons. This ensures I am serving locally grown, fresh produce to my family. It also reduces the amount of fossil fuels used to transport items across the nation. I'm also helping to keep local farms thriving.

Alcoholic beverages and destinations section:

Gloria Ferrar Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine is light and slightly fruity with lovely bubbles. Not only is this a perfect starter to any evening, when in Sonoma, visit their picturesque winery. I suppose you could dump orange juice in the leftovers the next morning too. But I wouldn't, because I would've finished the bottle the night before! And it's too good for the juice. Unlike Barry Bonds. Around $12-$13 and usually available at Trader Joe's.

Emerson Brown 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa and available online and at Jack's and Donovan's in La Jolla. Big, rich and boisterous. Enjoy with beef or lamb and a loved one.

Absolut Citron and Mandrin vodka. Enough said.

A Vinturi should reside in every wine drinker's home or purse. Pour your glass of wine through this brilliant piece of ingenuity and your vino will have been aerated to about two hours worth of sitting in a decanter, without the wait. Pour, swirl, sniff, sip and ahhh.

When visiting any city, check out their botanical gardens to see beautiful flowers and plant-life.

This section of the list could go on and on, so I will stop here and continue to search for good finds to add. Cheers!


OXO makes by far, the best kitchen gadgets around. Two of these our kitchen could not survive without are: the nylon flexible spatula, and the can opener. There's also the three-in-one gadget, which is extremely hard to find, even on the company's Website. But this ingenious little guy opens bottles: both capped and screw-topped and can be used to shove into your open bottle of wine or beer for air-tight storage. I bet you can find all of these at Great News in Pacific Beach.

We registered for the asparagus steamer at Crate & Barrel for our wedding. It may be one of the best items on my stove (Thanks Chuck and Patsy!). Its tall and skinny design (just like a bundle of its namesake veggie) uses an incredibly small amount of water and energy. Put your corn, artichokes, carrots or other veggies in the basket as soon as the water begins to boil and steam them to your heart's desire.

The Trader Joe's Insulated Grocery bag saves me dozens of plastic bags a week. I keep it in the trunk of my car and grab an ice pack from the freezer if I know I'm going to be a while. Whenever I hit the Farmers' Market or other store, I bring it with me. It keeps my cheeses, meats and other perishables nice and chilly. Worth much more than the $3 I paid for it!

This is a list of my favorite things, but my least favorite thing is seeing the planet abused. Please remember to reduce, reuse and recycle. We can all help save the world for future generations. But ALL of us have to try, even a little. If you want to know a few ways to help, ask me. I am happy to take a few minutes to assist you and our future.

I didn't watch this year's Oprah's Favorite Things show, so if there are any items in common, she must have good taste!