Birchbox top ten...

Remember my post about box subscriptions last year? I've been very pleased with my Birchbox subscription. Mailbox bliss every month. And you never know what you might find inside when you open it. In addition to your monthly samples, Birchbox includes market finds. My favorite was Ghirardelli's newest flavor chocolate bar. It's so new that I can't find it in stores. Darn. Guess I'll have to take a trip to San Fran.

I've received many samples that don't appeal to me like perfume and hair products. Not a problem. My tween neighbors gladly take them off my hands. A Birchbox subscription would make a lovely gift for any product fanatic in your life. Or, you can treat yourself to one. Go ahead. You deserve it!

My top ten…

best of birch box

So what?

Has anyone else noticed the extensive use of the word "so" in conversations over the last several years? I'm talking about what linguists call the "sentence initial-so." For example. Q: "How was your trip to Puerto Rico?" A: "So, we spent the first day in Old San Juan…" Not, used for emphasis when unnecessary: "I'm SO going to the sale at J. Crew today." This is annoying too, but not the subject of attack here.

I was at a meeting last week and the chair answered every question -- I could kick myself for not counting, because it would have been impressive -- with the word "so." If you search this blog, you will likely find lead-in sentences starting with "so." This has become a personal pet peeve of mine. I can't stand when I catch myself saying it. Of course, I became curious about why the "sentence initial-so" went into verbal overkill.

According to askmen, the 10 most overused words today are:

#1: Like
#2: Nice
#3: Gay
#4: Seriously
#5: Bitch
#6: Whatever
#7: Awesome
#8: Ridiculous
#9: Literally
10#: Love/Hate

Honorary mention: LOL (used in Internet talk)

Admittedly, I say all of these words with frequency. Feel free to call me out on it. The subject of this blog, after all, is stuff I love and hate -- but I chose the kinder and gentler version "loathe" instead. Remember Charlotte's BGF (best gay friend) Anthony on Sex and the City? Anthony was direct. That's why I liked his character. Remember when he and Char went wedding dress shopping? "Hate it" he said to every dress presented until they found a winner. Just so you know, when I say I "loathe" a Golden Globes or Oscars gown, I really hate it.

Back on topic. Not surprisingly, language experts have explored "so" usage. A quick trip to -- yes, there is a blog dictionary -- unveiled various theories. Some experts say that "so" is used as a fill-in or pause phrase much in the same way "um," "well," and "like" are used in conversations. A 2010 New York Times article reports some other expert theories. Rutgers Linguistics scholar Galina Boldman says that the "initial word-so," among other reasons, is used to cue the listener that what follows is relevant to the conversation at hand. Check out her research. Linguist and host of A Way with Words Grant Barrett contends that it's used as an acceptable tool to manage conversations.

Interestingly, Microsoft tech nerds have taken credit for the "so" boom. Not sure it's something to brag about.

All of this may be true, but I personally think it's become contagious. You hear it a lot. You start saying it a lot even though it doesn't make sense. Speaking of, I'm sick of hearing more and more people deliver information or instruction followed by "does that make sense?" According to career coach Tara Sophia Mohr, this is one of the top 10 no no's for women to say at work. "This phrase sounds like you think you're incoherent." Same goes for "do you know what I mean?" which I often hear GRITS say'n.  Instead use "what are your thoughts" or "let me know if you have any questions," she says. Makes you sound more confident.

Over lunch recently a friend shared that she gets peeved when people say "no problem" instead of "you're welcome" as an expression of gratitude. I personally don't care for the new trend of people saying "no worries" instead of "no problem." Again, it's contagious IMO.

What overused words/phrases are getting on your nerves these days?

Golden Globes best dressed...

Who watched the Globes last night? Tina Fey & Amy Poehler did an amazing job hosting the show. And, they both looked fab. I've got to admit I was disappointed in the fashion department. In the midst of a lot of unflattering and hideous gowns, there were a few winners.

Let's start with the most obvious. Lupita Nyong'o's red Ralph Lauren cape dress. Perfection!

Her performance in 12 Years A Slave was brilliant. J-Law is my girl, but Lupita deserved the award for best supporting actress. Just in case you were wondering, I loathed Jennifer's dress.

Margot Robbie pulled off her plunging white Gucci gown in style. Simple, yet elegant is always the perfect combination in my book.

{via Glamour}

Her gown was well fitted up top. Too bad two of my girl crushes -- Robin Wright and Amy Adams didn't get it right. As much as I adore Amy, I loathed her gown. So unflattering. Robin Wright's dress was pretty, but I saw several peekaboo shots of her paste on bra. Her hair didn't look nearly as cute as it usually does either. Naomi Watts looked very classy in a similar metallic gown. Nothing spilling out, sagging or gaping at the sides even with those sheer cut outs. Her butt looked good too. Way to go Naomi!

Of pregnant ladies on the red carpet, I thought Kerry Washington looked best with her baby bump. Wish I could say the same for Drew Barrymore???

Not to end on a negative note, but I must. Why did Leonardo win for best actor for comedy or musical. I thought Christian Bale was a shoo in. He and the other contenders were robbed. I'm not sure that I'll ever recover from Lenny making a mockery of Robert Redford's role in last year's dreadful remake of The Great Gatsby. And I will never get over Titanic winning best picture in 1998. Gives me nightmares. There is still hope the Academy will get it right.

Who were your faves?

My 2014 resolutions...

According to some estimates, more than 40% of people make New Year's resolutions, but only 8% keep them. These findings were reported by Dan Diamond in Forbes last year. Diamond offers some ways to succeed: keep it simple, make it tangible, hold yourself accountable by charting your goals or sharing them with friends and family, and believe in yourself.

With that in mind, here are my 2014 resolutions:

1) Keep abreast of current events. When I moved to Atlanta I pretty much lost interest in national news. I've always loathed local news. It is so depressing. For whatever reason, removed from the nation's capital, I was no longer a junkie. Once I had children, I completely lost sight. Sad I know.

As luck would have it, I recently stumbled upon the Skimm -- a one-page weekday newsletter straight from headline news with fresh content, hip headlines and analysis. The skimmers read so we can skim. Brilliant. I'm even learning some twitter lingo. Also, I did a House of Cards marathon after my knee surgery. Got me interested in political intrigue again. Mark your calendars, Season Two will be released February 14. Can't wait.

2) Write more correspondence in cursive. In November I took a copperplate calligraphy course. (Blog post to come.) Our first assignment was to write the alphabet in cursive -- upper and lower case. Easy, right? Wrong. I had completely forgotten the Zanerian alphabet. My writing sample was a pathetic hybrid of script and print. Okay it was fancy print. I know my Catholic school friends are gasping right now. All of those years with Sister Mary what's her name practicing perfect penmanship. Don't judge until you've done the exercise yourself. Grab a piece of paper and do it right now. No cheating. How did you do?

3) Send a holiday card. I want to thank those of you who continue to send me a holiday card year after year. Don't worry, you haven't fallen off my "A" list. I haven't sent one in a long time. This year, you will get one. Not sure which holiday it will be, but I can assure you that the envelopes will be addressed by hand in cursive.

4) Swim. Now that my tennis career is on hold, I've decided to take up swimming starting next week. My goal is to beat Mophead Jr.'s qualifying time from last season's championship meet. I won't have to hold myself accountable. He'll do it for me.

There. I have officially shared this with all of you. If you see me in the next several months you'll notice how buff I am from swimming. Be sure to mention it. If we go out to lunch, don't be surprised if I strike up a conversation about the current situation in the Middle East and proudly show you my check signed in legible cursive. I know you'll be eagerly awaiting my holiday card.

p.s. Happy New Year! May all of your 2014 resolutions come true.
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