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S: Ultimate Favorite Things

FC: One magical day....Oprah's Ultimate Favorite Things 2010

1: The story of two good friends,an amazing teacher, an email, a Girl's Trip to Chicago and one magical day!

2: On the website I saw a note inviting readers to nominate someone who was a "Community Hero" for an upcoming show. on "Heroes." I wrote up a quick note about Kathy and what a great teacher she was and how she gave tirelessly of herself and truly had a passion for the kids she taught. And then I completely forgot I had written the email. Three or four weeks later Kathy and I were shopping on a Saturday morning and I suddenly remembered I had written in to the show. We actually bent over laughing while we were joking about how cool it would be to get on the show....we knew that would never happen but it was fun to think about! | It all started with my all time favorite musical "The Sound of Music." I saw that the Oprah show was going to feature a reunion of the original cast so I went to the website to look for further information.

3: On Sunday, November 7, I received an email inviting Kathy and I to be in the audience for a show about "Heroes." I looked at the email and instantly dismissed it...it honestly looked like a mass email or an advertisement. A few hours later I went back and read it again and this time forwarded it to Kathy. Over the next few hours, we grew more and more excited about the possibility of the show...especially since a quick internet search revealed that people had desperately been trying to get audience reservations for any of the shows in the last season. The Oprah show in the last season, an impromptu trip to Chicago...why not ? A flurry of emails with Becky Ahasic (audience coordinator), a few phone calls to confirm authenticity and then faxes to confirm our identity and it was BOOKED!

4: Monday and Tuesday morning we were busy sending in confirmations . Harpo staff requested we send in our drivers license and our social security numbers. Kathy and I didn't hesitate to do this....we were just so excited to be having an impromptu girl trip! It dawned on us later that we could totally be giving out info to identity thieves! Once our flight and hotel were booked, it was time to get down to the important business of SHOPPING for what we would wear to the show. We were told to dress nicely and wear bright colors. We spent most of Saturday shopping and putting together outfits and accessories. Monday was a crazy day with both of us doing the normal mom scene of getting the girls to school and then going in for a busy day at work. We both left work a bit early to rush home, finish packing, hug our families and then get to the airport. The flight to Chicago was exciting and entertaining. The guy behind us talked incessantly and we got to hear about his many careers in computers, travel adventures and wacky relationships. Once the flight attendants heard we were going to Oprah show, they gave us complimentary champagne and snacks..woohooo! Let the girls trip begin!

5: Leaving For Chicago!

6: THE SENECA HOTEL | 200 East Chestnut Street Chicago, Illinois | The Seneca Hotel

7: We were pleasantly surprised by the hotel. The price was great, it was located right off of "The Magical Mile" and they upgraded our room to a suite! | We were worn out after a long day of work and then travel and we were paranoid about being late to the show in the morning so we went to sleep before 1030!

8: We were up bright and early the next morning. We had breakfast at the hotel, got ready in our new clothes and headed out to catch a taxi. | This parking garage about gave us a heart attack...the cars were right over the river!

9: We arrived at Harpo Studios around 8. We posed for pictures in front of the studio sign and met two nice ladies from Michigan. We went around the corner and found there were already four people in line at the door but we were still among the first to line up. The ladies in front of us offered to hold our place while we went over to the Oprah Store...that almost turned out to be a big mistake because when we emerged 30 minutes later the line was almost around the block!

10: This is where we waited in line for at least two hours! Even though it was a long wait, it was still fun because we got to meet such interesting and gracious people from all over the country. We met two retired teachers from Chicago and a woman who ran an adoption agency. | While we were IN line, camera crews from the show came out and started filming us. We had no idea what was going on UNTIL the early a.m. show started letting out. They came out with smiles on their faces but trying noticeably to be calm. They had clipboards in their hands and then disappeared around the corner. About 25 minutes later they emerged....hands full of "Favorite Things" bags. It was CRAZY to be right there and realize THAT show had just filmed and we missed it. While it was hard to realize we had missed the show, it was actually really exciting watching them come out...we were happy for them!

11: The pictures end at this point. After what seems like forever, they started letting us into the building. The front desk was actually a security checkpoint where we had to turn in all cell phones and cameras and the contents of our purses were searched and then returned to us. From there we were ushered upstairs to a huge room where there were box lunches waiting for us. This was a nice surprise since we had been told to eat well before we came since the filming would last a long time. We sat and ate lunch and visited with our new friends.

12: Once we were finally seated in the audience, a show coordinator came out and got us all pumped up with some fun songs. When things quieted down, she asked the audience if we had any questions. One person in the audience asked if we had missed the "Favorite Things Show" and she said that yes, we had missed it but hey...we were there to see the show, right ? THEN a woman in the upper part of the audience asked: "Is there anything left over for us ?" | Oprah finally came out and seated herself in the middle of the lower level. Her "people" hovered around her, fixing her hair, etc. and she started saying how tired she was from filming "that show." She asked us how we felt watching all of the other audience members coming out with "all their loot." The blond woman in the picture above answered "I was PISSED." Most of the audience "booed" her, but some laughed and agreed. When Oprah said " they say they weren't angry" the blonde lady said "They're lying !"

13: "I've got a leftover ornament for you !" | At that point, a lone ornament rolled down the stairs from a side of the stage. Oprah picked it up and said sarcastically....

14: "It's beginning to look a lot like ...Favorite Things!" As she said this, the snow started falling from the top of the studio and the audience just went crazy!

15: "I got you! I played you like a fiddle. That was good!" | To say we were shocked doesn't even begin to describe the scene !We alternated between screaming and speechlessness! We had pretty much given up on the Favorite Things show early in the day when we saw the other audience parading past with their bags and here we were....knowing that hours of craziness were in front of us!

16: The set instantly transformed from an empty stage to a beautifully decorated stage complete with hundreds of wrapped presents. Oprah told us that for her last season, she had decided to do "TWO Favorite Things shows for TWO audiences full of heroes, givers and ultimate viewers!" | It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Favorite Things!!!!

17: The show started with Oprah giving away her "favorite" Favorite Thing...the iPad. Other first gifts were Ugg Boots, a Coach purse, cashmere sweater and then "Miracle Jeans." | In between each "set" the Keebler Elves would come rushing out with armloads of gifts. It was unbelievable to be sitting there with boots, purses and iPads in our laps!

19: The gifts just kept coming...each one crazier than the one before. Ballet dancers brought out the jewelry box with the diamond earrings. | Oprah made it clear that she did not purchase these things for us, that the companies generously donated the gifts for her audience members. | One of our "Favorite Things" of the show was the two $500.00 gift cards to Nordstroms. Oprah is "all about the power of a good bra." | Each segment just got better and better. In between each set we had snacks of cookies and croissants.

20: Sophia Coach Satchel | iPad | Hope in a Jar | Pottery Barn Jewelry Box | Miracle Body Jeans | Magaschoni Cashmere Sweater and Silk Leggings | Two $500.00 Nordstrom's Gift Cards | Chicken Pot Pie | La Creuset Cookware | Herb Savor | Croissants | Garrets Popcorn Chicago Blend | Talbot's Teas | Ugg Boots | Diamond Earrings


22: The absolute highlight of the show was hearing Johnny Mathis and Josh Groban. Johnny Mathis was introduced and came on first and sang a Christmas song. Right in the middle of the song Josh Groban came walking out of the side stage and joined him for a duet.

23: After the duet, Josh Groban stayed behind to sing a new song from his new album. It was such a treat to sit and listen to him sing on stage right in front of us! We were so caught up in the moment, the beautiful music and the craziness of what had happened to us that we didn't notice what was about to happen....

26: Once the show was over, the financial / legal guy came out. We were scared at first because once the excitement wore down we realized the $$$ would add up when tax day came. He came out wearing a "Grinch" tie so we were super scared about what he was going to say! After a long speech he broke it to us that Harpo would pay ALL of the taxes and Volkswagen would pay TTL and income taxes on the car. Huge relief! | After we signed a bunch of papers, we were led to the parking garage shown here on the left. Everything was organized and designed to have us make selections quickly.

27: We had to decide that night what color car we wanted. Volkswagen did a complete security and drivers license check on us. If you had any warrants, DWI's or legal issues, you weren't allowed to receive your car information. Moving through the line we were allowed to pick the color of the purse (burgundy!) and then we received a manilla envelope and then two of the white Oprah bags. Because the show was still a secret, we were required to then put the white bags into non-descript brown bags. There were police offers covering the whole block waiting for us to leave the garage. Taxi cabs were lined up down the street. We dropped into the first available cab...we had NO idea we were carrying diamond earrings, gift cards and iPads in our bags as we drove through downtown Chicago! When we got to the hotel, we posed for pictures with out bags and said "OH MY GOSH I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS" about a hundred times! We each called our husbands and spilled the whole story (Oprah had said we could tell our husbands "because Men can keep a secret." ) | After we posed for pictures and put everything in the safe, we realized we were STARVING and we needed to figure out how to get everything home. We came up with a plan to go and eat and then find an extra bag to use as a carry on.

28: Chicago Deep Dish Pizza | Celebration Dinner after the show!

29: The Sights of Chicago | We had to lay out a plan to figure out what to do the next day. We wanted to do some sight seeing but we also had to go back to the studio to ship our stuff home and pick up some stuff we left behind at the store the previous day. After breakfast we went up into the Hancock tower to take a tour of the city via the lookout windows along the top floor of the tower. Then we took a taxi back to the studio. We wanted to take some fun pictures in front of the sign and had to lie to the ladies who took our pictures about why we were acting all excited.

30: It's Favorite Things!

31: There were two ladies outside the studio sign who had just come out of the morning taping. Their show had been about "Weird Marriages." We felt bad for them because they were aware the "Favorite Things" show was yesterday and they asked us what our show had been about. We commiserated with them and told them we had missed the show too and our show had been a Christmas concert show with Johnny Mathis and Josh Groban. We asked them to take our picture and we said "this is what we would have looked like if we would have been on the show!


34: Goodbye, Chicago...we had a GREAT time.....!

35: Hello, Texas....hello girlies!

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  • By: Susan D.
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