Today is my birthday (37!) and I’m celebrating it with a few of my favorite things: a group fitness class (hard to get to these days) at Equinox, a lunch date with Rob at Gramercy Tavern (we love sitting at the bar and sharing a mess of things), and a Heyday facial (long overdue). And in the evening, Rob is going to wrangle the kids so I can cook something healthy-ish with a glass of wine in hand. Oh, and Lilly has been practicing singing happy birthday and blowing out candles on imaginary cakes so we’re all set on those fronts.
In other news, it’s been two months of navigating consulting world (client count: one!) and I’m learning a lot and also trying to give myself time to figure things out.
As we head into March, here’s what I’m excited about:
Kitchen organization, full stop: Rob’s birthday present to me/us is two shelves worth of these Bormioli glass canisters, which are now filled with all the nuts, seeds, and grains that were previously languishing in a pile of bulk bin bags. Just looking at them fills me with great peace—next up is spice organization.
Cali hit list: We took Finn to LA for a quick trip to say hello to friends and palm trees and were reminded how much we love the city. Rob lived in Silver Lake for three years and I spent a lot of time visiting so we have our list of East Side favorites (incl: Go Get ‘Em Tiger for coffee and a not-over-hyped avocado toast, Griffith Park hikes, Silver Lake + Atwater Farmer markets, Cookbook market…plus all my go-to green things spots: Forage, Honey Hi, Sqirl and Botanica). We also went to a few new places, notably All Day Baby, the self-described maximalist cafe from our friend Lien, and Mh Zh, a bright slip of a restaurant that felt like what I imagine eating in Israel to be like. We brought home a whole bag of treats, including Harry’s Berries, dried persimmons and raisins, sprouted nut butter, tangelos, and dates by DaVall.
Energy-giving books: I picked up Big Magic, a book on creativity by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame), after my friend Becca posted about it. I actually don’t think of myself as a creative person, unless you count cooking as creativity (which it is, according to Gilbert), but I found this book to be a really good reminder that you shouldn’t ignore the things that get you fired up and stick in your brain, even if they’re just side things that make you happy. It’s a really quick read and you can also just watch her TED Talk for a boost.
I also can’t stop recommending Adam Davidson’s The Passion Economy, which felt especially relevant to me at this point in my career—he talks about how rather than trying to be everything to everyone, we should hone in on the very specific thing we love and are uniquely suited to do, then find someone who needs and values that thing. It’s a business book told through very human stories, and has great takeaways.
Memories on autopilot: I’ve been consulting with Chatbooks, a tech company that has solved the problem of too many photos, not enough time. They invented the Instagram Photo Book Series, which automatically sends you a cute book every time you hit 60 images (you can also do it from your camera photo roll favorites). I printed a bunch of them as “research” and have been blown away by how much Lilly loves them and how fun it is to go through them with her—so much better than her staring at my phone. They also have the *easiest* custom photo book builder I’ve ever used—I made a Lilly & Finn book for each set of grandparents in less than 10 minutes, no joke. Use my friends and family code molliechen20 for 20% off any one-time purchase.
Kid-friendly non-baking baking: I rediscovered Smitten Kitchen’s Salted Brown Butter Rice Crispy Treats this month when I wanted a nut-free, kid-friendly treat that Lilly and I could make for her class Valentine’s Day party. You don’t need to know much more than: they’re ridiculously simple, great for kids and adults, and will make people think you’re a baking genius. Oh, and definitely add sprinkles!
Stylish and sustainable coffee: Even though we have coffee at home, I inevitably end up getting another one while I’m out and the mental image of all those disposable cups was starting to stress me out. I wanted something light and leak-proof, and this slim, chic Kinto tumbler is perfect. I also complimented two different people on it before realizing it was the same product, which means it was meant to be.
Sorta healthy pasta: Unsurprisingly, my favorite kind of pasta has lots of stuff (i.e. vegetables in it) and leans healthyish. Two recipes that fit the bill: this NYT Linguine with Chickpeas, Ricotta, and Broccoli, which was super adaptable (we used ricotta salata and whole wheat farfalle) and satisfying; and Bon App’s Cauliflower Bolognese, which was amazingly meaty and rich tasting (give it an extra squeeze of lemon).
Flattering, stay-put workout gear: I went to an event at the Lululemon flagship this week and picked up a pair of their new Wunder Train tights, which are a thicker, performance-oriented version of the Align, which I wore throughout my pregnancy. They feel great, keep you sucked in, and stay with you as you flow. And for jumping around, my all-time favorites are their Fast and Free Tight, which my sister Annie (5-time marathoner) introduced me to.
Last and very important thing: My brilliant friend Bess wrote a beautiful, heartbreaking, and hysterically funny book called No One Will Tell You This But Me (out 3/17! Preorder at a local bookstore or Amazon) about her lifelong “matrilineal love affair” with her grandmother, a larger-than-life, brilliant woman named Bobby Bell. Bess is a writer on Jimmy Kimmel and one of the most entertaining people I follow on Twitter and I laugh-cried my way through the book in one sitting. It made me miss my grandmother and great-grandmother and I think everyone should read it. If there’s one thing you take away from this newsletter: read this book.
That’s all! I’m off to eat some tasty things.