Hey there, friends. I can’t quite believe it’s already November. It was eighty degrees here yesterday, which makes it difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that we’re entering the holiday season. This is the sporadically monthly post wherein I tell you a handful of things that have been bringing joy to my life. I’ve got some great stuff for you to check out this month, so keep reading.
What Should I Read Next? Podcast with Anne Bogel. Anne, also known as Modern Mrs. Darcy, has been one of my favorite bloggers for a long time (I mean, she writes about books–what could be better?) but I didn’t jump into her podcast until more recently. On each episode, she interviews one guest to find out three books they love, one book they don’t, and what they’re reading now. Then, she does a little “literary matchmaking” and sets them up with three books to read next. I often listen as I make dinner, and my kitchen planner is filling up with book notes. Even better, Anne chats mostly with intriguing people you’re unlikely to already know, some of whom you’ll undoubtedly want to start following on social media. My new pencil set (below) is a result of a WSIRN episode. And to top things off, Anne couldn’t have a better voice for podcasting–or for talking books. Her soft, velvety drawl will soothe your nerves at the end of a busy day.
Ideal Bookshelf Mugs. You may remember or even own the book The Ideal Bookshelf, wherein a slew of contemporary cultural figures from actors to politicians to famous restaurateurs share their favorite books, whose spines are colorfully illustrated by Jane Mount. Well, now Ideal Bookshelf carries themed mugs wrapped in colorful book spines. You can choose from 20th Century icons, children’s classics, fantasy fiction, cookbooks, and more. While a new mug is never something I actually need, I had to have one of these. If I’m being completely honest, I’ll probably have to have a few more. Note: these are standard 11-ounce mugs, so not the oversized versions you might be used to. I find that mine is perfect for my afternoon cuppa tea. Photo: idealbookshelf.com
Jenny Rosenstrach’s Homemade Burrito Bowls. If there’s a recipe we’ve been enjoying, I like to stick it in here. E asks for this remake of Chipotle’s burrito bowls fairly often, and while they’re a bit of a kitchen dance to make, it’s more than worth it. Our nearest Chipotle is inside the mall (ugh), so we don’t tend to frequent it–too loud, too crowded, and always hard to find a clean table in the food court. E says the homemade version is better, anyway. The extra touches are all here–bay leaf and lime juice in the beans, cilantro and lime juice in the rice, seasoning on the chicken. The only thing I add is sauteed onions and bell peppers because we always ask for those at Chipotle. You can also find the recipe in Jenny’s third cookbook, How to Celebrate Everything. It’s filled with other recipes we love and put to everyday use, not just for celebrations. Photo: dinneralovestory.com
Lark Rise to Candleford. I owe this one to Sally and Sarah Clarkson, who gave it a mention in The Lifegiving Home. It’s my “laundry show,” which means I usually watch while I’m folding clean clothes. This also means I haven’t binge-watched, as I prefer to savor each episode, but if you love British period drama, you may find yourself doing just that. Think Downton-Abbey-meets-Call-the-Midwife-meets-Grantchester. Two small towns, one community-minded postmistress and her protege, an occasional mysterious happening or bit of romance, lots of afternoon tea, and all the things that make you want to move to England 100 years ago. If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll find it there. Photo: bbc.co.uk
CW Pencil Enterprise’s Sampler Set for Pen Lovers. I discovered CW Pencil thanks to Anne Bogel, who interviewed CW’s founder and owner, Caroline Weaver, on her podcast, What Should I Read Next? (see above). I went immediately to CW’s website and searched for the pencil set she mentioned on the show. While I’m a pen lover and have not used a pencil much for many years, I have a deep-seated yen for a good pencil–the soft, velvety kind. I was quickly sucked in, and ended up ordering the Pen Lover’s Sampler Set, a 1950s-esque green vinyl pencil case to keep them in, one of the ubiquitous pencil clips (I like to keep my writing utensil clipped to my notebook, so this was a must), a couple of nickel-plated pencil caps to protect those carefully sharpened graphite points, a handful of the lauded arrowhead erasers (we have a toddler in this house who likes to bite the erasers off the ends of pencils and a kindergartener who likes to misplace her Pink Pearl eraser), and a small, ledger-style notepad. I could not be happier. I also ordered a magnesium blade sharpener by Möbius+Rippert from Amazon, since I wanted a child-friendly version. Each of the pencils is a dream to write with, and I find myself reaching for one of them over a pen about half the time now. Perfect for the Anne Lamott-style “shitty first draft.” CW’s brick-and-mortar store can be found in New York City.
In Grand Rapids, Michigan:
Books & Mortar bookstore. When I was in GR a few months ago, my bestie Sarah introduced me to this charming new independent store in the Easttown neighborhood. They have a curated selection of books, including a great children’s section, and a plethora of enticing and unique journals, stationery, and other items book lovers drool over. The exposed brick walls, open-backed shelving, and tall windows make this a wonderful scene for book browsing. If you find yourself in West Michigan, add it to your list of local places to visit. Photo: booksandmortar.com