Oh BOY! It's the annual Oprah's favorite things list!
I had worried that the end of the daily Oprah show would also mean the end of this post, but her magazine continues chugging along and here we are in early November and this massive task lies ahead of me. I know that a lot of you really love this yearly post, but I frankly find it terrifying, thanks to the now yearly post-post hurt emails I get from companies featured in it. I'm sorry, companies. I just have very bad taste.
For those unfamiliar with how this works - Oprah and some members of her television and magazine stable each pick out a page (if you are Martha Beck) or several pages (if you are Oprah herself) of gift suggestions, each with a certain theme. Since I do not watch any of these shows, I'm pretty much working in the dark about who these people are but I can say with certainty that I have nothing in common with a bunch of them. The price listed is the price given in the magazine, which is often lower for Oprah readers. Here we go:
Oprah - "Gifts That Comfort Mind and Body"
I can count on a few things every year from Oprah - very expensive robes and hand-painted pet items, for one, and me feeling like an absolute pauper for another. This year is no exception.
Homemade chocolates - Well, these are just adorable and I can't find a single thing to snark about them, which is just a TERRIBLE way to start off my Oprah list, isn't it? Bill says that if we lived in the States, we'd order the Saint Nicholas ones for December 6th.
Masala Chai - $10! Hey hey! Feel free to get this for me. Of course, I find that just as many of my friends hate chai as love it, so be warned that an equal percentage of your acquaintances may also be as sadly wrong as mine. But who cares? If they don't like it, I'll drink it.
Single-Serving Tea Cup and Pot - $20 or $16 with the Oprah code. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. I like it very much, it's reasonably priced, and the only issue I have is that the teapot shown is in a lurid shade of slime green that I do not much enjoy. The website has other, more attractive colours, however. So far, this list is going much too well for my liking.
Steam-Free Stainless Steel Frother - $30. Oprah suggests it as a stocking stuffer although it does not quite thrill MY heart. But it is a useful, attractive gadget and I cannot actually fault it.
Chicken Pot Pie - $22 or $12 for Oprah readers except shipping is also $30.95. I am certain - CERTAIN - that this is a delicious chicken pot pie. Yes. Except that is a whole lot of money to get a chicken pot pie shipped to you, unless you're rich and if you ARE rich, why are you reading me instead of swimming in a big room full of money?
Brut Gold Champagne - $300 and a favorite of Jay-Z, who has "a head for business, a soul for poetry, and a taste for luxury," according to Oprah. I wish that people said things like that about me, instead of "Beck has a head for hair, a soul for Twitter, and a taste for candy." Did I mention that this is a $300 bottle of champagne? Yes? Is there really anything more to say about that? Oprah has sent 25 cases of this to friends, which I also have nothing to say about. I'm sure it's a lovely champagne. $300.
Cotton Pajamas - Crisp cotton pajamas! I like crisp cotton pajamas very much, except for the sad reality that the button-front tops were not designed for women as generously bosumed as myself. But never mind, crisp cotton pajamas are very nic- HOLY HECK THEY ARE $238. WERE THEY WOVEN BY MAGICAL BEDTIME ELVES? DO THEY ROCK ME GENTLY TO SLEEP? NO?
Cable-Knit Cashmere Robe - Remember the slime green teapot above? This robe is also in a singularly unflattering shade of lung infection green, which is unfortunate because if I'm going to spend $458 on a robe, I would like it to not only flatter me but to also sing me soothing lullabies and keep the cats off my bed. It comes in better colours, however, should you feel like spending $458 on a robe. Now, I don't think you SHOULD spend $458 on a robe (well, $412 with your Oprah-reader discount), but my hectoring doesn't seem to have slowed anyone down YET.
Josh Groban's Noel - "Hey Bill!" I called out while reading the issue. "They're still recommending CDs as gifts! Do we even HAVE a CD player any more?" Yes we do, but it has been broken for ages. But ANYHOW. Let's say your Grandma would really like this CD - and she probably would, since grandmas tend to love Josh Groban - give it to her NOW so she can enjoy it NOW pre-Christmas, in the listening-to-Christmas-music time of the year. All right?
Oversized apricot, olive and almond oil soaps - $17 each or $13 with your Oprah discount. Hm. I DO like nice soaps. Very much. I find these a little too much on the pricey side, however, the kind of thing where I'd want to give it to someone with the price tag still attached so they'd know that I just gave them a nearly $20 bar of soap. Am I likely to give someone a $20 bar of soap? I'd say no, except I gave Bill a really expensive tube of toothpaste last year for Christmas (in his stocking. Toothpaste as an under-the-tree present feels a shade pointed), which he has yet to use because who USES $13 jasmine-flavoured toothpaste? "Not Bill" would be the answer. So buy this if you like, I guess.
Hand-painted custom pet ornament - $70. Hand-painted pet portraits by an artist of your pet on a Christmas ball. Last year, on Christmas Eve, we RUSHED our big dumb fat cat Frank to the vet AN HOUR AND A HALF AWAY during a snowstorm on horrible Northern roads ON CHRISTMAS EVE (I know I already mentioned it but it bears repeating) SOBBING because we thought he would have to be put down and instead HE LIVED AND THE VET SAVED HIM and HALLELUJAH it was our Christmas miracle and do I now want to pay $70 to have Frank's dopey face on a Christmas ball? Nope. Still don't wanna. He's still a freaking cat.
Big canvas and leather woven tote bag - I had lots of fun covering up the price tag on this admittedly very nice tote bag and asking people to guess what it cost. Guesses varied from $75 to $200 because it IS a very nice tote bag. They all guessed wrong, though, because it actually cost $595. For a tote bag! Exclamation mark!
Botanical candles - $45. I have, I realize when I do this sort of thing, internal price limits on how much I am willing to spend on various items. Candles, for example, top out at $30 and that is for those really nice ones in the jar that I'm going to burn for a YEAR. Any more than that, and I become an affronted Victorian gentlemen. PSHAW! GOOD DAY TO YOU, CANDLE! I SAID, GOOD DAY, SIR!
Cast-Iron Mini-Cocottes and Stand - $40 for the dish, $28 for the stand for Oprah readers. It's a little Dutch oven-y thing? That costs a lot of money? I can actually see using this - mini casserole dishes are nifty - but that's a LOT of money for one little pot.
Lip and Eyeshadow Compacts - Okay. My usual grump about this sort of thing: half of the colours are colours that you would never ever use. Now I've said it, I will point out that each bitty little lipstick or eyeshadow compact is also $60 (for Oprah readers) which is a LOT of money.
Peter Walsh - "Handy, Whimsical Gifts"
I don't know much about him - he's Australian, I gather, but I liked everything on his list which makes me think he's Good People. His list was actually full of interesting, quirky, useful and rather Australian things, and I appreciate this in a person. Does this mean that I now judge people by their aptness in gift-giving? I rather hope not. But if this was a contest, Peter Walsh would win. Hooray for him!
Swiss Army USB Flash Memory Drive - $35. A Swiss Army Knife waterproof casing, holding a USB drive, which is reasonably spiffy, I guess. Of course, I'm of the BUY THEM THE WHOLE DAMN KNIFE school of thought, since a pocket knife is always handy (even my older two kids have pocket knives, and they are responsible with them). But one can't take pocket knives on planes or in many citified places, so use your own judgement accordingly about what your recipient might be able to use.
Drinking Buddy Charms and Topper (available through Umbra) - $8 and cute as a freaking button. These are ADORABLE. I LOVE them. I was having some wine the other day with friends and glasses got mixed up and my friend shruggingly drank out of what may have been MY glass, which is just NOT a good idea. These may have saved my poor friend's life.
Loveable Skin Lavender Essentials - $39. This is fine. I got some nice hand cream for Christmas last year and I was surprisingly quite happy with it. Of course, I was also really sick and fragile last year and found many things moving that normally I do not. Take from this what you will.
Monogrammed Gift Tags - $20 for Oprah readers. I guess these are okay. My feelings about them are irrevocably tainted by being married to a graphic designer and thus I consider things like this a) completely free and b) easy to come by. But I'm going to assume for a moment that not everyone is sleeping with a designer and so you have to pay for stuff like this and so.... these are okay.
Aussie Licorice Box - $27 for Oprah readers. See? Isn't that an interesting idea? A big box of Australian licorice. And I LOVE licorice so long as it isn't Dutch or being offered to me by a Dutch person and therefore likely Dutch or black licorice in general. YUCKY.
TikTok Multi-Touch Watch Kit - $32 with the Oprah code. Huh. This is actually pretty nifty - it's a silicone wrist strap that turns an iPod Nano into a wrist watch. Of course, this presumes that your gift give-ee has an iPod Nano, but if they DO, it's a fun idea and not a huge chunk o' change, either.
Bottle Tote - Useful! Attractive! $12! Thank goodness the whole list wasn't like Peter Walsh's or it would just be one sad attempt by me to be both pleased and interesting.
Martha Beck - "Gifts With Soul"
Thank goodness Martha Beck came next. I found her list so infuriating that I actually YELLED AT A MAGAZINE, which is not something I NORMALLY do.
Hand-blown glass ball - These are, Beck (not me, as I will prove later on in this sentence) assures us, "filled with good juju" and there is a phrase I promise to never personally use about anything. This is an attractive-enough hand blown glass ball - and for $45 it had better be - but actually has no magical powers that I can make out with my eyes. Maybe it does, though, and I am just a leaden, unenlightened being, unworthy of such splendour. This seems likely.
The World is My Playground Necklace - THIS is what I yelled at. "I don't know about you," Beck - who is NOT me - writes, "but sometimes I need a little help remembering that the world is my playground."
North Korea! The Congo! Afganistan!
Gosh, I'm so glad she's enjoying herself. Hey, affluent ladies! Do you also need help remembering that the whole world is here for your amusement? DO I HAVE THE NECKLACE FOR YOU. It's $49 if you read Oprah and of course you do. I personally believe that life is serious and the world is hard, but that doesn't fit as cutely on a necklace, DOES it.
Cups Of... hand thrown mugs - $22. These are made by a husband-and-wife team. Who live in Vermont. If they were made by a factory I would say something else but I'm just going to leave them here without a comment.
Table Topics Conversation Cards - $20 for Oprah readers. I guess I can see a use for these because family gatherings can just be all sorts of tension-filled horrible. Honestly, though, if forced to choose between being asked "Which famous athlete would you like to meet?" and "Is it harder for you to eat right or get exercise?" or listen to my dad and my uncles argue about politics all night.... ppfffhh, I just don't know.
Fat Funny-Looking Crayons - $10 for Oprah readers. Hey! I like crayons. Here is common ground for me and Martha Beck. She suggests giving them to adults, which would not go over well with most adults I know. Don't give most adults crayons. It's weird.
Italian Leather and Japanese Cotton Canvas Satchels - Not a bad bag on aesthetic grounds, but spending $485 on a satchel in economically terrible times seems a shade insensitive.
Baby Magnolia Tree - $35 for Oprah readers I don't find trees offensive. Carry on.
Gayle King "Cheery, Delicious Gifts"
Just like last year, I find Gayle's list a mixed bag of things that I cannot imagine ever giving anyone (hideous sneakers!) and things that I find quite charming and sensible.
Cupcake Bath Bombs - $8 for Oprah readers. Sure. I like these. This sort of thing is a nice stocking stuffer and it doesn't clutter up the place later on.
Python Print Carry-On Bag - $108 for Oprah readers. Uh, It's fine? The print isn't to my liking but a lot of people like snake-print stuff and a carry-on bag is a pretty useful thing.
VR-310 Camera - $180. Hey, a camera. I could use one of those since I keep breaking all my other cameras and this is what you call a "hint" to family members reading this. Was it too subtle? I would like a camera for Christmas. This one would be fine.
7-Layer Christmas Caramel Cake - $46 for Oprah readers. - Erm. It is a cake. If you want to buy a cake, here is one.
All-in-one adapter in leather-blend case - $98. I have no idea what to say about this. If your gift give-ee travels frequently, this would probably be handy, at least. The cases are spiffy looking. Is this a good price for this sort of thing? I dunno.
Neon Patterned Sneakers - Go look at those. Pause, horrified, for a moment. THOSE ARE THE UGLIEST SHOES I HAVE EVER SEEN. Give these to me and I'll spend Christmas morning acting like that scene in Se7en when Brad Pitt opens the box with Gwyneth Paltrow's head in it. UGLY.
Wooden 60's inspired toddler scooter - $90. Now this, on the other hand, is spiffy - and as usual, one of the only things intended for children. It IS that shade of slimy frog belly green, but there are other colours available.
Dr. Oz - "Feel-Good Presents"
After last year's great Dr. Oz list, I came to this one with a fairly high measure of good will towards him and for the most part, his list was pretty solid except for his distressing propensity to giving people kitchen scales. Way to go, TV Dr. Man!
Sleep Mask - $20. It's fairly funky looking, at least, and I actually know a few people who DEPEND on sleep masks. They travel a lot for work.
Retro Kitchen Scale - $24. It "takes the guesswork out of portion control," says Dr. Oz. It also says "Stop shovelling food into your gaping piehole, you big fat lardo!" but what do I know? Maybe that's what you want to say this Christmas.
Vintage European Ski Poster Skiing Zip Neck - $116, and while I find it all sorts of ugly, a friend found it quite cute. Oh, friend. How very, very wrong you are. It might be quite cute ON if you're the slender, straight-built type. On curvier ladies, the mountains would be in all the wrong places.
Slippers - $45 and they provide a person in need with clean drinking water for a year, which means that I can't snark on them, because who hates slippers and clean water? Not me, at least.
Tumbler and Tea Infuser Kit - I want this! This mug right here! $9 for Oprah readers and a freaking STEAL. Beautiful! Useful! Affordable!
Lemon and Chili-infused olive oil 3 pack - $30 for Oprah readers. I've given up trying to understand why people would give oil as a Christmas gift. Should you feel so inclined, here is some oil that you may give your fellow oil-loving people.
Child-designed St. Judes Alarm Clock - $22. It's hard to snark about things like this without sounding like I somehow hate sick children. Do I hate sick children? No I do not. The clocks make the sound of the animal featured, which is pretty cute.
Val Monroe - "Gifts That Delight The Senses"
I don't envy Oprah's show people for having to do these yearly lists. I certainly can't think of a decent theme and 10 or so interesting items to go along with it, since all I give people are books, unless they are children. "The perfect present makes you feel recognized and deeply loved," writes Monroe, which is a lovely sentiment and not one I disagree with. Books that I like make me feel deeply loved, as do video games that I want. Please update my files.
In other news, I have no idea who Val Monroe IS. She looks nice in her little picture, like she'd be fun to have lunch with.
Animal Print Linen Cocktail Napkins - They are $79. For 4 cocktail napkins. I am done with this culture. Please someone get me a new one that is not so stupid.
Katie Couric-codesigned reading glasses - $75 and much like the attractive glasses that Katie Couric wears. After the $20 a piece cocktail napkins, I could just weep at seeing sensible reading glasses, even though giving someone reading glasses is exactly equivalent to giving them a large print sign that says YOU ARE SO OLD NOW.
One Dozen Hand-milled egg-shaped soaps in carton - $22 for Oprah readers and all right, I guess. One of the scents is "verbena," which I always see mentioned in expensive soap listings and yet have never run into in real life, which leads me to believe that "verbena" is secret rich people code for "smells like money."
Tubes of shea butter hand cream and lip gloss - $19 and completely fine. I can't think of snarky things to say about hand cream anymore. I have lost my edge.
Face Powder in Jewelry-inspired Case - $125 - "Watch your girlfriend's face light up," writes Monroe, "First with happiness" (because she thinks she's getting jewelry), "then with a pearly, translucent radiance." Is this what we really think would happen if one's girlfriend thought - quite reasonably - that she was getting some nice piece of jewelry which then turned out to be face powder? I kind of think not. Expensive makeup can be a nice gift for ladies who like expensive makeup, but this seems a shade risky.
Geranium Pour Monsieur Shower Gel - $70. Do you know many men who would enjoy $70 bath gel? I'm trying to imagine my husband's face on Christmas morning when he realizes that I spent $70 on bath gel for him. Heh!
Cranberry Orange Bread - $13.50. Who buys quick bread? It's QUICK bread. "Quick" means "fast and easy to make." I'm sure it's tasty and all and maybe you burn down your kitchen just by walking into it, in which case you should probably just buy it.
Suze Orman - "Gifts To Share"
I have an inexplicable fondness for Suze Orman. Whenever I read Oprah's magazine - which is not often - Suze's columns are my favorites. She is so financially sensible! I admire that so much in people who are not me! I also like the no-nonsense theme she picked this year - her page of gifts is GIFT THEMED, sensibly enough.
Box of Pears - $46 for Oprah readers. Pears are presents now? I thought pears were groceries. Silly me.
Leopard Print UV Sun Shirt - $40 for Oprah readers. I didn't even know what this was when I saw it, which should let you know exactly how much time I spend dashing about in the sun and the surf. (not much) But maybe you're giving a present to a surfing instructor or someone with a sailboat or something? This would do nicely. I wouldn't use it, but not everyone is a crabby nature-hating recluse.
Orange Blossom Body Creme - "I give this luxurious cream to my houseguests," writes Orman, and at $75 a pop she certainly does enjoy making "everyone smell like an orange blossom." I love the smell of orange blossoms too, but this is far, far out of my reach.
Crisp Cotton Button-Front Shirts - They WERE $69 in the magazine but now they're on sale for $39.99. It IS a nice shirt. The problem with button-down shirts, however, is that they only look good on women built more or less like Kate Hepburn. On women like me - buxom - they are less aesthetically pleasing.
Tin Of Flavoured Popcorn - $40 for Oprah readers. I HATE popcorn. HATE HATE HATE. But one year a friend gave us a brown paper bag filled with homemade caramel popcorn and my kids LOVED it. It was probably their favorite thing that year. So people who are not me probably like getting popcorn for gifts.
Handmade French-Style Caramels - $12. Doesn't this sound like a nice thing to get for a present? I would be enchanted to get a little box of homemade caramels. Nice.
Portable Mini Set of Water Colours - $40. I love the idea of walking through the wilderness, my little portable water colour set in tow, pausing only to beautifully sketch wildflowers and the beautiful vistas of the Canadian wilderness and the only problem with my fantasy is that a) nature is trying to kill me and b) I can't paint with watercolours to save my life. They're hard!
Cat Cora - "Fun, Active Gifts"
Who IS Cat Cora? Is that really her name?
Funky Bike Helmets - $20 and unbelievably spiffy fun for kids.
Dr. Dre Headphones - I liked these very much when I saw them. And then I saw that they cost $299 and I was AGAST. But if you're extremely wealthy, these are fine.
Steve Azar CD and Zac Brown CD - Hm. On the one hand, music is a fairly personal thing. On the other, if a friend gave me a CD for Christmas that they'd loved this past year, I'd be quite charmed. It's a sweet idea. On the OTHER other hand, I think these particular CDs are not to my liking. Do not get them for me.
Sound System Model S - $240 for Oprah readers. It's a big red speaker. I can imagine giving this to certain people (like Bill. Bill is always asking for speakers), so I guess it's completely fine.
The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield - DO NOT JUST RANDOMLY BUY THIS BOOK FOR PEOPLE. EVERYONE WILL NOT LIKE IT. If your sister really liked Eat, Pray, Love - here is a gift suggestion for your sister. To most people, however, this book will feel like the gift-wrapped assertion that they need to work on their spirituality, which is not a very nice assertion to make, when you think about it.
1815 Tapas Bowls - Bill and I actually got into a wee argument over those. I pointed them out to him as an example of egregious over-spendy-ness, and he frowned at me and said that $58 for 8 nice bowls was a reasonable price and so I guess it's your call here. I think that nearly $60 for 8 little bowls is a lot of money, while Bill (who is NOT a fan of excess) thinks that it's fine. They're nice looking, at least.
Classic Cardy Uggs - Oh hey, these look cozy. I'll buy my pair when I'm tired of The Sex. See what I'm implying here? I'm implying that these slippers will make one look utterly uninterested in sex, but subtly. They would also make one look like one had big red hooves, but maybe that's the look one is going for, I dunno.
Adam Glassman - "Stylish, Unforgettable Finds"
I am looking at Adam Glassman. I am trying - vainly - to think of something to say about him. Hold on while I google him. He is the creative director of O magazine. Okelely dokely.
Melamine Places with Iconic Portraits On Them - Starting at $11. I love these. I love them unironically and totally. I think I might buy one for Bill and then use it all the time for MYSELF. I think I might buy the Napoleon one for The Baby, but then I fear it might give her Ideas.
One Piece Marble Menorah - $275. I don't know if I like this or not, but I'm not a huge fan of modern streamlined design. If you - or your recipient - are, then this is probably a fine thing.
Surfboard Incense Burner - $21. I went through a big incense burning phase. I found it really "spiritual" until it started aggravating my "asthma." I find this burner just dopey. Someplace out there, someone is enchanted with it. That person and I do not have much in common.
European Espresso Maker (available at Home Goods stores)- It's only $10! And it IS a gorgeous, cartoony looking thing! One for all my friends.
Jardin du Poete Cologne - $140. Oh, giving people perfume they haven't picked out themselves is SUCH a bad idea. It's probably a lovely cologne, but I really only think it's a good idea to give it to someone if they've asked for it.
Faux-Leather and Sequin Duffel Bag - Where was I when the love of sequins was handed out? I'm not going to say "someplace tasteful", since none of the rest of my taste seems to back this up. Anyhow. The bag costs $109 for Oprah readers which is probably reasonable enough for what it is but I'm still not buying it for anyone....
Mayan Artisan Hand Woven Wool Lions - available from Eleven Design Studio - Starting at $30. Cute enough, I guess, but not having an online store seems like a mistake.
Casa Dragones Tequila - $275! This is Oprah's favorite "sipping tequila." We sip tequila now? This is something that we do?
Siete Laguas Blanco Tequila - $40. I didn't know that people sipped tequila. I am feeling so left out. Where is MY sipping tequila?
Levee High Caramel Apple Pecan Pie - $31 for Oprah readers. LOOK AT THAT THING. I don't want to eat it - there's nuts in it, which is gross - but it certainly is structurally interesting.
Pasta Gift Basket - $72 for Oprah readers. "If unicorns made pasta," whoever wrote this bit wrote, and anyway if unicorns DID make it, it might explain the price but I don't think unicorns were involved in any way. As it is, you get four bags of pasta and 2 jars of sauce in a basket for $72. I am shaking my head.
Mini Doughnut Maker - $50 with 2 mixes, $39.95 on its own. If I got this for Christmas, 2/3 of my kids would just LOSE it. They LOVE homemade doughnuts. (The other 1/3 of my kids is too adolescent to enjoy something as puerile and immature as "food.") Of course, this seems likely to get as dusty as the rest of our specialty small appliances, but it would be fun for a while.
Belgium Foil-Wrapped Chocoalte Christmas Ornaments - $10 for an unboxed ornament. Erm. This is fine. Chocolate is yummy. It's pretty. I can imagine giving it to a co-worker or someone like that. Inoffensive. Let's keep moving.
Handmade Caramel and Sea Salt Chocolates - $17. I do love handmade chocolates. I do love caramel and sea salt chocolates. President's Choice - a Canadian food brand - puts out a very, very tasty boxed set of caramel and sea salt chocolates every year (not handmade, but I can't have everything) that I was too sick to eat last year. I will put that to rights this year, though, do NOT worry.
O Pioneers! Salami, Crackers, Cheese and Fig Jam - $70. Remember in Little House on the Prairie when Pa and Ma and their three little dragged-around kids ate artisinal salami with fig jam? Ah, the simple pleasures of pioneer life... I'm just joshing (do people still say that? Do people still "josh"?). I would love to get this. I'm a big fan of meat gifts. I'm not buying it for ANYone, though, because I don't like ANYone enough to buy them $70 in meat.
Box of 8 Miniature Cupcakes - $25 for 8 little bitty cupcakes! Are you made of gold? Is it nice in rich person land? Can you send me some money? Or really expensive baby cupcakes?
4 Dips and Spreads - $65. I find this magical. Sixty five bucks in money for four tubs of chip dip! Whee! This is - do I need to point this out to you? - NOT a good deal.
Oprah's 10 Pack Of Gourmet Peanut Butter - Was $124 but is $67 for Oprah readers and my brain just stopped working at "gourmet peanut butter," sorry.
Dark Chocolate Truffles in Box Made of Dark Chocolate - $129. Before I got sick, I would have been truly enthusiastic about delicious truffles in a box made of delicious chocolate but now my sweet tooth is sadly diminished. Oh, I'd still EAT it, but it would feel more like a chore now.
So. There you go. If I could, I would get all of you your own bottles of sipping tequila, now that I know that's a thing, but since I CAN'T, this post is my holiday gift from me to you. Hope you enjoyed it, since the freaking thing took me DAYS. DAYS! (and if you read this, please comment!) xo