A Few of My Favourite Things: 2011

by meerabel

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that 2011 has been, as a good friend of mine said when she wished me a Happy New Year, “a bit of a toughy for everybody” – economically, politically, personally, it’s been a turbulent year to say the least. But even in the hardest times, making the best of a situation or finding something to make us smile can help to keep us going.

I’ve put together a list of my 2011 highlights – things that made me smile, inspired me and, let’s be honest, distracted me:

Favourite Film: Crazy Stupid Love

I don’t know how many times I watched this film this year, but I never stop enjoying it. I don’t think there’s a single thing I didn’t like about it, and I’m an avid hole-picker. The story was lovely, it was beautifully shot and styled, the casting was perfect – and I finally got the Ryan Gosling ‘thing’ (boy, did I!). Maybe I loved it so much because, on the one hand, its take on relationships was often very true-to-life – especially the messiness of it – but on the other, there was a gratifying gloss that makes you wish your life was a little bit like that – I especially loved that the goofy girl (ignoring the fact that she’s beautiful) got the gorgeous guy (previously a cad and a bounder, but never mind that). This is one of those films I don’t think I’ll ever watch too many times – accompanied by cupped chin, googly-eyes and sighs.

Favourite Brand: Mario Badescu

I started using Mario Badescu this year, and it’s transformed my approach to skincare. Whereas previously I’d attack my skin with abrasive treatments in an attempt to deal with acne and other problems, Mario Badescu’s products taught me to coax my skin back to behaving as it should, at its best. The products are gentle, natural and tailored to specific skin types, and my skin has – unsurprisingly – responded very well to being treated kindly. I’d recommend these products to anyone, because there’s something for everybody – the website has a skin analysis service so you can find out which products are best suited to you. In the UK, they’re only available on BeautyBay.com. My two must-have products are:

Perfect cleanser for gentle daily exfoliation - keeps your skin clear and glowing.

Miracle product that heals blemishes and fades marks. A godsend.

Disclaimer: No, they’re not paying me! I just love the products and I’m a very enthusiastic beauty – enthusiast… who believes in sharing what they love! Speaking of which…

Favourite Start-Up: What’sInMyHandbag.com

The first time I heard about this site, I was so psyched! As a total beautybrain (not to be confused with birdbrain, ahem), I’m always on the lookout for new products recommendations – I will literally chase someone down the street to ask what perfume or lipstick they’re wearing, and I’ll surreptitiously (in fact, probably totally obviously) peer over my book to watch ladies on the train doing their makeup. I love the idea of peeking into someone’s makeup bag, so my obsession with WIMH’s concept is a total no-brainer. So far they’ve featured exclusive recommendations by industry insiders and beauty professionals, and they promise that 2012 has lots of exciting features in store. Can’t wait!!

Favourite Website: BeautyEquation.com

I discovered this website early on this year, when I first heard about Nigel Barker’s book of the same name. Nigel, who I knew as a fashion photographer and one of the resident judges on America’s Next Top Model, turns out also to have a very unique and holistic perspective on beauty – something that is beyond rare in an industry that will sooner eat you alive than tell you to feel beautiful on the inside. Nigel’s book is a personal, no-holds-barred, step-by-step guide to revealing the best you from the inside out. I was really moved by this book, which makes you face up to a lot of home truths in the process of self-betterment, and was intrigued by his website, BE One, which takes the approach one step further by allowing readers to write from their own perspectives about issues that matter to them. Although there are official contributors, anyone is welcome to post to an incredibly kind, non-judgmental and safe community that is unfailingly supportive. Nigel’s emphasis on bettering not only ourselves but the world we live in is very inspirational, as are the many readers who respond to and share this feeling. It’s more valuable than I can possibly explain to be reminded that the world is filled with goodness.

Favourite Place: India

I had a couple of months earlier this year to spend how I liked (the perks of quitting your job in the worst job market in recent history), so I returned to the good old mothership to spend some quality time with my family. I hadn’t been back in a few years and couldn’t believe how much has changed in such a short period of time – there is so much excitement there, so much possibility, and it’s a very exciting time for India. Coming back to the UK afterwards was pretty depressing, as the doom and gloom here contrasts starkly with the positivity of outlook in India.

I’m very proud of India, I think it’s been underestimated for a long time and it’s on the verge on world domination – put it this way, India’s experience of the recession was something like 8% growth instead of 10%. Pretty unreal in comparison to our soul-crushing deficit – OK, now I’m depressed again. Quick, onto something fun!

Favourite Music Video: LMFAO ‘Sexy and I Know It’

I loved LMFAO even before I saw this video, but this sealed the deal. These guys have blown up in the last year, and probably have minions catering to their every whim – including finding them the sexiest girls for their video. They could have used their ‘party rock’ single Sexy and I Know It as an excuse to feature dozens of scantily-clad gals prancing around for 4 minutes – instead, they had a field day indulging their inner goofballs. As a result, I have a big crush on Redfoo and SkyBlu and would happily watch them dork out – I mean, ‘work out’ – any day :

Enjoy the video and let this prepare you for a light-hearted, fun-filled 2012 – if there’s one thing this year has taught me, it’s that it’s bad for your health to take life too seriously. Thank you, LMFAO and everyone else who has reminded me there’s always something to smile about.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Here’s to an amazing 2012 (I’m toasting you with champagne and pizza), thanks for reading and see you in the new year.

Meera xoxoxoxo