My 21 2021 Favorite Things

It’s that time of year again!

Many of us are aware that Oprah shares a list of her favorite things each fall. In 2017, my husband ordered maple syrup after seeing it on her 2017 list. We enjoyed it all year with weekend pancakes and reused the pretty wooden box for other things. It was quite delicious.

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I decided to start my own favorite things list, a holiday twist on gratitude.

Here is my list of 21 2021 Favorite Things. Photos follow. May it inspire you to list yours. Scroll through photos on your phone. I can guarantee those photos are filled with favorite things, moments, people to inspire you for this activity.

Favorite: the status of bringing good and or enjoyment to life in a way that surpasses an ordinary experience.

  1. My good dog(s)
  2. Classic Christmas movies, especially from my childhood
  3. Nature calendars by local artist, Erin Vaughan
  4. Christmas decorations and the tree in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Anaheim
  5. Colorful fresh flowers
  6. Baby gender reveal moments (or waiting until the baby arrives to find out)
  7. Good physical therapy when recovering from an injury
  8. Breakfasts at good places, like Cracker Barrel, Original Pancake House, First Watch, or Auntie’s Bakery & Cafe
  9. Clean, clever humor
  10. Holiday hot fudge sundae with peppermint ice cream
  11. Staying connected with far-away loved ones – friends and family
  12. Flip-flops
  13. Simple Christmas joys
  14. Winter sunsets…or beautiful sunsets in any season
  15. Christmas cookies – homemade or bakery
  16. Going out for afternoon tea
  17. Good walking shoes – New Balance for me!
  18. Toilet paper
  19. Books to read
  20. Time to sit by the fire in cold weather
  21. Creative ideas to try from blogs and YouTube, like from my friend, Amy, at Tonality Designs, and Michael’s. See last week’s post.
“It’s time for dinner, in case you forgot,” said Samson #2.
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Classic children’s Christmas movies
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Calendars by Erin Vaughan, a local artist
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Colorful fresh flowers
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It’s a boy!
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Thank you, PPT Physical Therapy, a valued partner in healing throughout the years.
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Breakfasts at Cracker Barrel
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Clean, clever humor
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Holiday hot fudge sundae with peppermint ice cream
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Matching pillowcases: My mom loved violets. One year for Mother’s Day, I gave her this pillowcase. I kept the other one in the set. So, 2,000 miles apart, we still held each other in our hearts at bedtime.
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Flip-flops: I love wearing these in the shower at home or in hotels. They provide security against slipping.
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Simple Christmas joys…like tangerines in my stocking
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Winter sunsets…Copley, Ohio
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Tea time!
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New walking shoes
Toilet paper is even more precious since the pandemic lockdown hoarding panic, Spring 2020.
“So many books. So little time.”
Enjoying a winter fire at home
A last minute appetizer, Honey & Candied Pecan Cheese Spread, from Tonality Designs

My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music is often included on Christmas albums and playlists, though I’m not sure why. I never think of it as a Christmas song. But it had to be inlcuded here!

I hope thinking about your favorite things brightens your day. What would be on your list?

Stay charming, my friends.

Good Old Dog Days

Puppies - Sam's Litter

Samson 2 was born in March 2004, the same month our previous dog, Samson, passed away. Some of his brothers and sisters are pictured above in a photo the breeder sent prior to picking him out. We brought him home from the breeder in April 2004 at about six-weeks old. We began raising a puppy, a challenging time with great reward. I had no idea how much time and consistency it would take to help him grow healthy, happy, and well-behaved. He’s been our best beast ever since. His breed, the Labrador Retriever, is known for their amazing and loving temperament, and he was no exception.

Sam - Bringing Home Sam 2

I got to hold Sam on the car ride home.

When we got home, we introduced him to Ashley, our mature black lab. We had adopted her years earlier from another home. She helped train and entertain puppy Sam, as transition dogs do. She granted us time off from playing. He would climb over her and bug her. She’d look at us as if she were thinking, “What have you done?” Raising a puppy demanded time and energy from all of us.

The video below, taken on an old flip phone – pardon the low quality, demonstrates the energy Sam brought to our home. I think Ashley is safely in the background, and you can barely see her. He was a crazy spinning dog, and eventually out grew that tendency. We were grateful.


When he was new to us, he was so tiny in his crate which he soon grew to fill.

Sam - Baby in the Crate

We took him to puppy training school. So many friends post photos of back-to-school moments. I was happy to capture one of Sam.

Sam - Puppy School

Our young grand-nieces, Brianna (in blue) and Abby (in pink), enjoyed visiting Sam.

Sam - Brianna Kisses Sam

Sam with Abby

Fast forward to now, Sam 2 is fourteen years and seven months old, outlasting the life expectancy of labs which is supposedly twelve to fourteen years. He is in his late eighties in dog years. That is old. He still eats and drinks well, shows interest in people, moves around the house and the yard, but he struggles.

Samson on Bed - Sitting Up

At this point, he cannot hear very well. We still talk to him in complete sentences and repeat commands. Like that will work. It doesn’t, but we forget and try anyway. Getting up is difficult, more difficult some days than others, but he never gives up and works at it. That may actually keep some muscles stronger.

Sam does seem confused at times. He doesn’t always get outside to do his “business.” Almost daily we go on an “Easter egg hunt” to see where those indoor dog logs have been laid. We are comfortable with that now. It is what it is. We keep our clean-up supplies around the house: rolls of paper towels and Thieves cleaning solution in a spray bottle. We limit the rooms where he can wander. We are grateful it is usually solid waste.

We feel privileged to have shared life with this dog for so many years. He is still good company.  He’s shared his gentle ways with our toddler guests. We hope he will make it very clear to us when he’s done with his work here, and then we will grant him rest. Many of you know this path we are on. You can appreciate the dread of the pending loss of man’s best friend and the heartache that will follow. We are in the good company of friends and we’ve shared those days in the past for many beloved dogs gone on.

Our young housemate, Oliver, also enjoyed time with Sam.

Oliver with Sam


Oliver in Jammies with Sam


One of our earlier housemates, Pete, often played with Sam, as shown in this video.


In the meantime, we will enjoy him every day. We will smile when he seems to be running free in his sleep. We will giggle at his old man snoring. We will envy him for all the naps he takes. We will pet him, feed him, thank him, and make his days the best they can be. What a grand gift a good dog is to living life well! Of course when you risk loving, you risk loss. That’s OK. It’s still worth it. Good dogs are forever in our hearts.

Cindi (feet) and Sam on Porch Side-by-Side

Samson Close Up w Tongue - 8-2018

Stay charming, my friends! Cheers for life with good pets!