issue #201 - another favorites one

Christmas movies, pants that fit, and my favorite beauty device

A quick favor - if you enjoy this newsletter, would you share it with your circle? I’m always so appreciative of you allowing me to visit your inbox weekly, and I love connecting with new folks and growing this smart community.

We’ve talked about feeling lost, about grief, and on holding onto our humanity over the past weeks.

It’s been a heavy stretch, so let’s lighten things up. I wanted to share some of the things that have made my life better or more joyful recently, in the hopes they do the same for you:

  • Candle warmer lamp - I don’t burn my candles anymore thanks to these lamps - they gently melt the wax to release the candles’ gorgeous scent, offer a cozy glow, and generally level up the vibe of whatever room they’re in. They also extend the life of your candles (last year’s Holiday and Chalet candles are currently being warmed in my home right now - I highly recommend this combination).

  • Earthfoam pillow - Abigail gifted me this pillow as a surgery recovery gift. It’s truly the Goldilocks of pillows - not too firm, not too soft, breathable so you quickly get a cool side. It’s perfect, but more importantly it’s helping me establish a new sleep routine (my health priority for the month).

  • Medication tracker - in an effort to stay on top of my meds (levothyroxine for my newly diagnosed hypothyroidism, lamotrigine to manage bipolar 2 disorder), I got these little trackers for my prescription bottles and I’m kind of obsessed with them. Noncompliance with medications is one of the biggest healthcare problems we don’t talk enough about, and this simple solution has helped me stay on top of mine.

  • Armoire - I’ve been a longtime customer of this clothing rental service (I find it so much easier to navigate than RTR, and the options to be better curated), but it’s been especially clutch as none of my old jeans or trousers fit me. I finally have some pants that fit me (a pair of wide legged trousers and a pair of kick-leg pants) that fit like a glove. I also picked up this amazing jacket to dress up any outfit, and this skirt to wear to an upcoming event and to my 13th wedding anniversary date with my husband. If your wardrobe could use a zhush, I highly recommend Armoire - get 50% off your first month and 2 bonus items with my link!

  • Hallmark Movies Now subscription - if you’re a sucker for Hallmark Christmas movies like I am, you’ll want this subscription. It’s got so many Hallmark Christmas movies (though not all of them, and not the new ones), including the classics like Haul Out The Holly, Christmas In Rome, and The Christmas House. It’s also only $1.50 a month for the first two months, so you can get your fill of thoroughly predictable, saccharine-in-the-best-way Christmas movies.
    If you’re a Peacock subscriber, there’s a lot of Hallmark movies on that service as well.

  • Peppermint chocolate almonds and protein bars - while we’re on the subject of seasonal treats, these almonds and protein bars in my all-time favorite flavor are FINALLY back in stock, and I’m stocking up so I can enjoy them year-round. All that’s missing is a pint of Van Leeuwen’s peppermint stick ice cream in my freezer (I’ll be picking one up today).

  • A Philly Special Christmas Special (aka the Philadelphia Eagles Christmas album) - the full album is better than the playlist, and I’ve been playing it around the clock since yesterday. My family might be sick of me, but I’m not tired of the sweet, victorious voices of Jason Kelce, Jordan Mailata, and Lane Dickerson (and friends). I just want DeVonta Smith on the next one, please (and for Zach Ertz to be re-signed to the Eagles).

  • Epilator - if you don’t want to deal with shaving/waxing your legs next summer, get yourself this epilator and start using it now. After six months of regular use, I probably run it over my legs once a month and the hair is so fine and barely noticeable. I know summer feels far away, but your future self will thank you if you get on this routine now.

Things I Did And Shared This Week

The big highlight of the week (and year, and life!) was closing on our home in Bucks County! This will be my parents’ full-time home where we will spend weekends and summers with them, and I cannot wait to get started on the design work with the incredible Design Manifest.

My days were spent at my desk, my evenings with the family, and my nights watching cheesy Hallmark movies with my father (and sometimes my husband). Next week is more of the same, and I’m honestly thrilled for these low-key weeks heading into the holidays.

If you love the daily #5SmartReads, would you consider sharing them on your Instagram Story or repost on TikTok? I’ve been posting a quick preview of each day’s smart reads on Reels and TikTok. I truly appreciate your support and your shares of my work!

What I Read This Week

Endgame: Inside the Royal Family and the Monarchy’s Fight for Survival by Omid Scobie - there’s no real surprises in this book and it won’t change the opinions you already hold about the British royal family, and Scobie recounts the past two years with enough spice that it feels like a season of Housewives. It’s salacious but also very smart, and if you have even a passing interest in the Royal Family, I’d definitely pick it up (and ignore all of the press about the book - I did).

Welcome to Fae Cafe by Jennifer Kropf - I think Fellowship of Bakers and Magic set my bar high for cozy fantasy (it truly is wonderful). This wasn’t the slower pace, super cozy, low stakes book that makes a cozy fantasy, but it was a solid palate cleanser between Endgame and The Messy Truth. It had whiffs of ACOTAR, Legends and Lattes - it was fine, but I’m not in a hurry to continue with the series right now.

The Messy Truth by Alli Webb - I remember seeing Alli Webb speak shortly after she sold the product side of Drybar to Helen of Troy, and being just in awe of her humility and honesty on that panel. This book feels like an extended version of her talk, and truly shares the messy truth of her life - the hard and sad moments as much as the good ones. It’s a very quick listen, and one I know I’ll return to (especially in hard moments). I really needed this book right now, and I highly recommend it anyone else going through it.

I’m continuing to read Network of Lies and am both elated/terrified to start Never by Jessa Hastings, which comes out on Tuesday.

This Week’s Top Reads

The Rest Of This Week’s Reads

Your Questioned, Answered 

How are you, really? What are you doing to emotionally close out 2023 and open 2024?
First- Thank you so much for asking (and always asking during these Q & As- it means a lot to me!)

I’m much better than I was earlier this month when I was blubbering on Instagram Stories and generally low and down about everything (work, family, career, elf). Mercifully it wasn’t as bad as my pre-medication depressive episodes, but I had to give myself a lot of sloth.bed rot time to rest and just pause. A lot of your advice helped me press pause and consider this period as one I’m meant to pause in, which I wrote about in this weekend newsletter.

I feel like I’m ready to start making small changes towards building a better, more stress-resilient foundation for all my health pillars and am investing in a few ways to do just that.

  • Investing in health coaching with Dee Gautham’s The Boss Body Revolution - I’ve been following her for eyars and love her approach and have loved so many of her recipes. I’m really excited to start working with my coach, Mya (more to come)

  • Getting a full blood panel done via Modern Age and working with their physicians to compliment what I’m doing with health coaching. (happy to share more if folks are interested! )

  • Prioritizing SLEEP for the rest of this year. We are hopefully on the other side of a phase of one of our kids coming into our bed multiple times a night, and re-establishing a better sleep routine is my current health priority right now.

  • Continuing to see my therapist and psychiatrist and adjusting medication or adding an extra session when needed.

  • Fully unplugging the last two weeks of the year (and deleting social media from my devices during that time)

  • Minimal alcohol consumption, and only with close friends when we’re out to dinner.

Fave meditation to release?
I have a few!

How involved are you in your sons’ education? I feel like I’m not as involved as I should be!
Rhaki’s in pre-K, so it’s not intense at all right now. He has an interest in reading and doing worksheets so I have an Education Com subscription to print them out for him.

Rho’s in 3rd grade and his school is fairly advanced academically (some of the things he’s doing in math are wha tI learned in middle school!). I definitely a checking his planner and we check and help him with homework, and I take the lead on projects (he’s had 2 so far and is turning in one more this week). I love that his teachers are very involved and offer student hours to help students with concepts that they’re having a hard time with, and we have a rule that he has to do problems/worksheets centered on his growth areas before he can play video games on weekends and over holiday breaks.

How do you balance the chaos of 2 kids and giving each child the attention they deserve?
I think we did this a little too much )each of us would take a kid to spend 1:1 time with), and now we’re focused on the four of us spending time together and the kids playing with each other.

The weekdays are pretty chaotic so mornings and evenings feel more like a factory line than quality time, but we prioritize no plans (or minimal plans) weekends to prioritize chill family time.

I don’t aim for daily or even weekly balance, but I try to make sure that I had a solid amount of unplugged family time over a month (2 weekends where I was fairly present, 1 week when I Was at home every night, 1 week where I was home most nights). what I learned this month is that I need to manage my energy first before I can be the mom by kids need and evening plans and doing the common sense health things that have frankly gone right out the window this month.

If I’m in NYC for work and want to DoorDash a super yummy lunch, what would you get?
I’m partial to Jajaja Mexicana, my dear friends’ restaurant which is SO SO GOOD!

I’d get a brunch taco (Chorizo, al pastor, mushrooms) and chips and salsa. The chorizo burrito is another amazing options.

Some honorable mentions: Souvlaki GR (it travels well), Bondi Sushi, and Benares Tribeca or Pippali for Indian.

Have a merry, happy, peaceful week, my friend.


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