We made it through Election Day and the Red Wave that wasn’t and are now in the sped up, compressed sprint to the end of the year. It’s the best time, it’s the busiest time. While I love a cookie party and festive cocktail, it’s always tricky to find downtime amidst the crazy. My strategy is to proactively block days and nights on our calendar that are just for me and Rob or us as a family; it helps maintain routine and sanity so we can enjoy the events and gatherings.
And, as we head into the holiday season, it’s hard not to feel the weight of the constant tragedies, most recently, the horrific mass shooting at a LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs. It makes me think of Maggie Smith‘s poem, Good Bones, which I discovered through my friend Elana. The last line hits me right in the heart. This place could be beautiful, right? It’s up to us. Hold your people tight, give thanks and love, and consider donating to organizations like Everytown, GLAAD, or directly to the victims of the shooting.
Koginuts are our preferred squash.
Here are some things brightening my world right now:
Borrowing other people’s gift ideas: If you’re looking for kid gift ideas, check out my friend Youngna’s wonderful newsletter. For everyone else, you can’t beat Claire and Erica’s gift guides for hard-to-please friends and family (next year I’m submitting Jay Chen: “Dad who loves fly fishing and his grandkids and has returned every gift ever given, except Bugles and index cards”).
A building set kids and grown-ups love: Ok, one very specific gift idea: Jocelyn gave Finn a Marble Run set for his birthday and it has been an instant and enduring hit. It’s extremely satisfying to put complicated structures together and then let all the marbles zip through them. Just make sure to get a box or a tin (we use an old Rootless one) to keep all the marbles together.
Substantial salads to balance out all the sugar: I love green things as much as I love treats, which is a lot. During this time of year, I’m always looking for healthy-ish salads that I can have in between servings of pie and cocktails. Some favorites, old and new: Smitten Kitchen Kale and Quinoa Salad; Yewande Komolafe’s Beet Salad with Yogurt-Coriander Dressing; Heidi Swanson Olive Salad with Farro; and Nik Sharma’s Roasted Cauliflower, Paneer, and Lentil Salad (I’ve used halloumi as well!). Note: If you’re still searching around for Thanksgiving sides, any of these would be great!
The cookbook I can’t believe we don’t own (yet): Rob is forever forwarding me recipes from Nik Sharma’s newsletter The Flavor Files. Inevitably, they’re at the exact Venn diagram of what we both want: vegetable-forward with lots of texture for me, punchy flavors and generous (and optional) spice for Rob. He loves the in-depth food science, and I love that most things are fairly accessible. I’m putting Sharma’s cookbook, The Flavor Equation, on our wish list for the holidays.
New mom jeans at an affordable price: As I slowly rebuild my wardrobe, I’m trying to buy thoughtfully, investing in things I’ll use for a long time and also looking for good deals. These Levis wedgie jeans fit into the latter category. They are structured, with no stretch, and have a clean but relaxed look. I got the crop which is basically full length on me.
No more ill-fitting clothes: In addition to slowly adding to my closet, I’m also biting the bullet and tailoring things that fit just ok. This has included: shortening the straps on this very cute jumpsuit that was not made for a 5’3 frame; taking in the waistband of a pair of expensive jeans that inexplicably stretched out; and adding an extra snap to a dress that always flipped open. It feels so good! My wish for you: make friends with your neighborhood tailor (I love Boerum Hill Cleaners)!
Relationship tune-up: My friend Caro is VERY picky so when she recommended The Love Prescription, by Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, I was immediately curious. Her review: “It’s exceedingly well researched, structured and actionable – basically tiny things you do make or break your relationship so very low effort to add but high impact.” It’s a quick read and exactly what she said (funnily some of the advice reminds me of Dr. Becky’s tips for dealing with kids…). I’ve already instituted many of the Gottmans’ tips, starting with “turning toward” your partner.
A reminder that libraries are magical: Lilly just got her first library card and is completely obsessed with borrowing books, which reminds me of how I was as a kid. I can pick out anything I want to take home? What a dream! We’re currently running through the Pacey Packer, Unicorn Tracker series, as well as some superhero ones I don’t care to own. Rob and I also love using the Libby app to borrow e-books; it’s very good for quick reads you don’t necessarily want to buy and I also love their librarian-curated picks (Feminist Reads or Cozy Fantasy, anyone?).
Festive dresses for holidays and a big milestone: Black Friday sales generally stress me out but I impulse bought a couple special dresses with an eye toward holiday festivities and my 40th birthday in February. I couldn’t resist this Farm Rio Toucan number (sleeves!) and this Apiece Apart Klein blue tank dress. After nearly three years of wearing sneakers and jeans, I’m excited about getting a little fancy.
Gimmicky hair curler that actually works: I’m not allowed to use a curling wand because I have a tendency to burn myself. But Annie and Hayley just introduced me to a new, heat-free technique that is also very easy. They both use Robe Curls, which is a headband you twist your hair around, sleep in, and wake up to loose waves. It takes a little practice but really works.
The perfect mug, made even more perfect: Are you bored of me talking about East Fork yet? I hope not because they not only make my favorite bowl (the Everyday) but they now have my ideal sized coffee mug (the Small Mug). We have a few of their original, beloved Mugs but they are a little too big for my tastes and the shrunken version is my new morning go-to.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful, safe, and love-filled holiday. See you in December!