It snowed! All of a sudden, it feels like the holidays, which means I’m both euphoric and anxious. I can identify with this recent NYT essay; Susie Boyt writes, “I don’t know where I stand in relation to Christmas anymore. I love it, and would do anything for it, but I can’t help feeling it wants my blood.”
I wouldn’t go that far but I do know that I love this season and always feel pressure to make the most of it. With that in mind, here’s what I’ve got going on:
Dancing around to: Holiday music, what else? Rob made me the ultimate playlistlast year and from Leona Lewis’ criminally under-appreciated “One More Sleep” to Johnny Cash’s growly “Little Drummer Boy,” it’s a bucket of fun. I’m also adding some of your suggestions—many She & Him fans, plus shout-outs to Barbra Streisand (which I hadn’t ever heard!) and NYSNC, which I may need to get on vinyl…
Date nighting: Before we were officially together, Rob and I had many a non-date at dell’anima’s cozy bar. So we’ve been more than a little excited about Fausto, dell’anima partner Joe Campanale’s new restaurant in Park Slope. We tried it Friday night (thanks for babysitting, Mom and Dad!) and loved the warm vibe, the glorious, made-in-house pastas, and interesting wine list. My Etna Bianco (yes, white wine in the winter!) reminded me that Sicilian wines are delicious and affordable—time to stock up.
Stocking the freezer: This is the season of eating and the best counterpoint to nonstop cocktails and cookies is a freezer full of healthyish meals. I keep a couple containers of this easy and nourishing curried lentil and swiss chard soup on hand at all times, and if you’re not into curry, this red lentil soup with lemon is also great.
Baking: Speaking of cookies, you’re likely making some this season. Here are my favorites for eating and gifting:
- Spoon Cookies: I still have the copy of Gourmet (RIP) where Celia Barbour shared this recipe, and sadly can’t find an online version of her lovely essay about them. What you should know: They are brown buttery and crumbly and melty. They are also labor-intensive and are not the kind of cookie you give out willy-nilly. Make them for people you really love.
- Chocolate Pistachio Sablés: On the other end of the spectrum, these pretty cookies come together easily and the dough can hang out in the freezer for awhile so you can bake on demand.
- One project cookie: While I’ve never made these ombré rainbow cookies, I’ve been the happy recipient of them—they’re both delicious and Instagrammable. Just saying.
- New for this year: I’m giving these chic and simple chocolate-y gluten-free cookies a try, as well as Alice Mendrich’s triple ginger cookies.
Staying grounded: Exercise is my mental health, especially during busy times. I try to get in something every day, whether it’s a quick Peloton ride (we splurged on one last year) or a 7-minute workout. Lately I’ve been inspired by Mala Yoga’s instagram stories, where they demystify postures, and have been aiming to get on my mat a few times a week, if only to breathe and stretch.
Listening to: In non holiday news, Rob turned me on to Slow Burn, Slate’s new podcast about Watergate. It’s fascinating, and I also like that the episodes are all less than 30 minutes long so I don’t have to commit a huge chunk of time.
Easiest gifting ever: We launched our first Birchbox Limited Edition Box back in 2011 as a test (theme: Just Because), and they remain the greatest gifts in the world. Beautiful, no-wrapping-necessary packaging and amazing products at a ridiculous value—they’re my go-to gift for in-laws, sisters, and friends.
Wishlisting: The theme of Lilly’s Christmas wish list: warmth. I was jealous of my friend Hayley’s daughter’s hot pink snow suit so we’re asking for a matching one; and I am also adding these grippy Bombas toddler socks that she can grow into. Thankfully, her auntie Annie has the full-length bear suit covered.
And finally, Loretta is looking for a hot boozy beverage for an upcoming party. My friend Nick is a cocktail expert (wrote the Death & Co book, among many others) and shared his hot toddy recipe:
2 Lemon wedges
1 ½ oz bourbon or whiskey
¾ oz honey syrup (1 part honey dissolved in 1 part hot water)
Dash Angostura bitters
4 oz boiling water
Nutmeg and cinnamon stick for garnish
Squeeze the lemon wedges into a mug and add the remaining ingredients (except the water). Top with the boiling water. Grate some nutmeg over the top of the drink and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Cheers! Keep the questions coming, and will send baby travel recs soon.