Weekly Good Things – Week 48

Cross-Posted to my Substack, my new weekly Newsletter. (Sign up for goodness in your inbox directly!)

Hello! Hello!

Welcome to another weekly episode of Good Things where I give you a peek into my everyday life during the week, and roundup my good links, ideas, books, and more. Quite a few of you are new here, which warms my soul. Welcome!

I kicked off the weekend making holiday cookies with my neighbors – Mary made this sugar cookie dough recipe as the base, which was a strong contender if you need a recipe – with good texture, minimal cracking, and great taste. We frosted with Royal Icing – her recipe, which she texted, was spot on: “Royal icing: 1 lb confectioners sugar, 3 tablespoons meringue power and 5 tablespoons warm water. Mix very slowly for a few minutes.”

I feel *very* thankful to live in a place where my neighbors are part of my social community, and the neighborly text chain is more about invites to food, crafting, and patio sitting than complaints. (That said, we’ve had nearly a full month of daily noise with drilling followed by a comprehensive siding project next door, so there is plenty of good old fashioned commiseration.)

Tonight I’m sitting down to edit with a steaming mug of hot water with a cinnamon stick, after a full day that included a 3.5 mile rainy but joyful group run at Heartbreak Hill with my friend Cara and her RunYoga Crew. I also got to try out the new Nike Lab motion tracking set up which assessed my running, and spat out some fitness recommendations (more core work!)

I also spent the weekend immersed in the second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Series, which I’d generally recommend if you like creative fantasy with interesting magic systems and significant world building.

A Candle Quest

TL:DR; an epic quest (scroll down to the good things if you have no interest in candles!)

A month ago when the time change hit me hard, I broke down and got myself a fancy Voluspa Gilt, Pomander and Hinoki candle, on the good recommendation of one of my favorite creators, Cecilia, who lives in a cabin on #svalbard 🐻‍❄️ an island close to the North Pole.

Cecilia adores the Polar Night and the fully embraces the long cold and dark season, so I figured if there’s anything I can do short of moving north, buying a full set of Scandinavian bedding, and owning a house with a roaring fireplace and a full of twinkle lights (tempting!) it’s to start with a candle that she recommends.

Unsurprisingly, this candle is delightful. I typically don’t get scented candles, because they can give me a headache, but I’ve been loving this candle. Another candle that has been keeping me happy is one in my office, called “Boss Vibes” by Cayla Gray x Lite Pink, which I got from my friend Rebecca at her gathering of women entrepreneurs this fall. It has notes of Sparkling Rosé, Warm Sugar, and Amber, and is my current afternoon candle, or rather my “It’s 4:37 and what the heck happened to the light?” candle.

My regular candle is Trader Joe’s Unscented Pillar Candle, which I fit in my Weck jars and they burn nicely for weeks.

So delighted with my new candles, I emailed my cousin Keren (fellow enneagram 8) this weekend, who is an arbiter of good taste, to recommend some more fancy ones. She replied back with a gem of a list, which I’m just going to print here in full because it’s the kind of email we all need in our inboxes:

Here are the candles I’ve enjoyed:

Happy smelling!

**If you are looking for custom candles for an event or for client gifts, my friend Kate hand-makes custom candles.

This Week in Good Things:

  • 🎤 Good Listening: I’m on a Huberman Lab kick. I really enjoyed this week’s wide ranging podcast episode with Adam Grant. There’s a section where he talks about spending a week writing to 100 of his acquaintances, to share with them a specific instance of where he thought they were being their best selves (this was transformative for both giver and receiver!) While I don’t think I have the bandwidth to write 100, I plan on writing at least 5, and starting from there.
  • ✍️ Absurdly delightful food writing: a friend posted some food writing thinking it was AI, but I immediately recognized it for where it was from: Nigella Lawson’s truly STAND OUT 2002 book ‘How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food‘. There are gem quotes like “The freezer can easily become a culinary graveyard. A place where good food goes to die.” and “I call this a pudding cake because its texture is simply a mixture between pudding and cake, though lighter by far than that could ever imply. Think, rather, of a mousse without fluffiness; this is dense but delicate. And it’s heavenly tepid, when the cakiness of the chocolate sits warmly around the sour-sweet juicy raspberries embedded within, like glinting, mud-covered garnets.” TEPID! If you are looking for a new cookbook, this ENTIRE book is full of gems. Don’t sleep on it.
  • 🏴‍☠️ Party-Watching the new season of Our Flag Means Death. I can’t describe this show in a way to give it any justice. Monty Python-esque? Absurd? A tale of deep and complicated friendships? Someone best described it to me this week as “historical fan fiction” though and that’s about right.
  • 📖 When I grow up, I want to be the Watertown Library NewsletterIt’s full of excellent events, workshops, and more. I loved this gem: “Read to a DogWednesday, 12/20 | 6:30 PM | Registration Begins 12/6 | Cozy up and read with our furry friends from Pets and People. For independent readers.” On that note, libraries are my favorite.
  • Dog Walks with Friends. We came across our friend Leda, the Samoyed for a walk and talk. Leda’s human is going for a golf vacation this week, and his other human is working hard on her contribution to Newton’s Gingerbread House Exhibit and Contest. We also rolled up to see our friend Meg at AnkFit (if you need great personal training in the Boston area, strongly recommend!) where she was wearing a matching sweater, and we practiced focused sitting for treats. We also went for an abbreviated walk with our friend Sawyer (and her human, Summer).

Acquisitions of Note:

  • 🔕 After several weeks of suffering through noise, I invested in a few pairs of fancy earplugs: the Loop. Are they life changing? I’m not sure, but they do work quite well, and have a variety of sizes included.
  • 🪴 I re-upped my Pro-Hort Horticulture class for 2024 so I can continue to have an excuse to talk all things gardening and plants on a weekly zoom. If you have an interest in the topic, it’s a spectacular program from UMN.
  • 🧂 In my continued descent into “bro-science”, I broke down and purchased some LMNT Electrolytes based on the recommendation of my cousin, Dan. If anything, this is a good excuse to drink an extra few cups of water a day with some light flavor.
  • 🏃🏻‍♀️I registered for my annual New Year’s 5k race, and next weekend Firehouse 10 miler at Heartbreak. I’m not training for anything in particular, just life.
  • ✍️ For those of you who like food magazines, I was heartened to see that Saveur is bringing print back this spring in a new way. (Disclosure, the Editor-in-Chief/CEO Kat, who purchased the magazine back from the big corporation is a fellow Wellesley Alum!)

Good Things to Think About

✨ Where have you given yourself the opportunity to PLAY this week? As adults, it’s all too easy to forget to have fun. I try to give myself plenty of time to dangle on things (I’m always game to try new torture devices at the gym), craft, dress up in costume, experiment with something silly in the kitchen, adventure quest, laugh whenever I can. This week I also spent a little too much time playing with “idler” games which can be meditative and soothing. Here were a few: quick draw, the zen zone (thanks to my friend Marie) – I like “break”, and Cats + Soup, which comes free with a Netflix subscription.

💌 “Life is going to life. It’s how we life with life that makes the difference. Attitude is the best navigator there is.” Wise words from my friend Sean this week. I want to note too that I worked with Sean for a few years on a client account, and we hadn’t connected in a while. He’s one of those amazing humans who asks how things are going and truly means it – he also said the kindest things to me many, many months after my dad died – usually around the time that people forget that you’ve lost a loved one (but the grief starts actually hitting you.) I won’t ever forget that.

⏳ I’m always fascinated by the passing of time, and how differently we think of time over a lifetime (and in between cultures). This week I read an essay in the new Noma in Kyoto magazine about the seasons – in the traditional Japanese calendar, there are 24 divisions, and 72 micro-seasons that make up the year. I love the idea of extra time squeezed in past our 52 individual weeks. 

Other Good Things

  • 📺 Watch: I’m saving my GBBO finale for tonight, but not sure if I’m going to be thrilled or disappointed. // This John Oliver episode about dollar stores.
  • 🥥 Eat: Every year I make the recommendation for this recipe for New Years Day – Marcus Samuelsson’s Black Eyed Peas with Coconut Milk and BerbereTruly an exquisite dish.
  • 🍫 Even if there are no small children in your midst, I highly recommend getting yourself mini marshmallows and hot cocoa for seasonal evenings. I’ve been following this woman’s hot chocolate quest.
  • 🎤 44 clever conversational starters for holiday parties (arguably for any time!)
  • 🧠 Wisdom: What I Know at 60, Elissa Altman. My favorite kind of list.
  • 💍 Fun Celebrations: I couldn’t help flip through Alison Roman’s 42 picture spread of her Wedding in Vogue. I subscribe to a newsletter by Alison Roman and bookmarked this weeks lamb with white wine and potatoes.
  • ☕️ Do this: when was the last time you stared at your face in the bubbles of your coffee cup? (There are hundreds of you!)
  • 🤣 Another way to describe it: I straight up chortled at this description of American Breakfast in this (generally excellent) Cantonese Home Cooking piece “Of course, before jumping to judgement, in my opinion this fare still compares reasonably favorably to that workaday American breakfast of “plain milk soup and highly processed anti-masturbation* flakes – with or without the extra sugar”.”
  • 🐚 Good Deeds. Shout out to my friend Lizzy this week, who filled up 2 40-pound trashbags with trash at the beach this week.
  • Memes of the week: xkcd the law of dramawomen and water bottles (Reductress), the Disney streaker, this tiny puking ball (I need one?), I don’t think you are prepared for this tiktok.

The Weekly Meal Plan:

This week I spent some time kicking off my What to Eat in 2024 project. I’ll likely make this into a sharable PDF. I’m busy making lists of meals I want to eat on a regular basis, seasonal good eats, projects to try, cookbooks to read, things to eat when I don’t want to cook (or eat) the things I have planned, and a list of favorites from Trader Joe’s to start. Bean of the week: still working my way through the Rancho Gordo large white limas.

  • Sunday: Butter beans, chicken sausage, tomato bake (with a little miso)
  • Monday: Chicken and chickpea tagine (from Nigella’s ‘How to Eat’)
  • Tuesday: A big green salad with salmon, crispy pancetta, and jammy eggs
  • Wednesday: Liver, onions, mashed potato, broccoli with blue cheese
  • Thursday: Pork tenderloin, endive + mustard salad
  • Friday: out! Bar Vlaha.

Lunches: Leftovers (including baked beans and quite a bit of cheese), TJ’s lamb vindaloo with yogurt, palak paneer with some sardines. TJ’ squiggly noodles with peanut butter and edamame.

Snacks: Soft boiled eggs, cottage cheese, cheese sticks, chicken sausage.

Treat options: Chocolate mousse. TJ’s Iced Gingerbread in the freezer. Peppermint Hold the Cones. Walker’s Shortbread. Pumpkin Sticky Toffee Pudding.

🥑 Good Eats from this past week: beyond my dinners, some of the highlights of the week included Tteokboki with chicken and cauliflower, beef and butter bean bowl with tomato and avocado, Trader Joe’s Bulgogi (new in the freezer aisle) over rice with avocado; Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Mac + Cheese with chicken sausage; evenings with home made decaf chain in bed; and a slice of ricotta pie.

That’s all for now! Hope you have a great week!

xo, Sam

Weekly Good Things: Week 47

December Intentions, Good Things, and the Weekly Meal Plan.

Cross-Posted to my Substack, my new weekly Newsletter.

We’ve had a bout of stunning fall afternoon light. (Ignore my weird smirk and just look at the light hitting the top of these trees!)

I hope you’ve had a generally good long Thanksgiving Weekend! My holiday was blissfully low-key – my family brought food to my house, and we all sat around and enjoyed ourselves.

Blast from the past: This weekend my cousin Dan and his (awesome) wife Jasmine were visiting from Seattle with their kiddos, and it was nice getting to spend some time with them. I got to be auntie – which includes things like being a human jungle gym – which is delightful. We went through a box of old photos and here I am with my cousins Dan (right) and Mike (left) wearing one of my favorite ever party dresses.

December Intentions

Still feeling like I need to recuperate from the shift in daylight hours, I’ve been working on adding intentional Joyful Activities, Self Care, and Good Things into my day to day. I’m hit or miss when it comes to working on my monthly intentions, but this week I actually sat down to do them in advance.

I don’t think of these as “to-do lists” more like “options”. Here’s my first stab.

Out and About

Movie Theater (with Popcorn) on $7 Tuesday • SOWA Winter Market • The Holiday Market at Snowport • Burdick’s Hot Chocolate and a winter chocolate box • High Tea (at BPL?) • Quick trip to NYC to see a friend visiting from Luxembourg • M+J’s yearly holiday party • Dog Walks with friends • Movie Night at Home with Popcorn • Winter at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum • Sargent exhibit at the MFA

Good Eats

Nigella’s evergreen winter advice: “Indulge yourself, Darling!” • Candy Citrus • Caviar! • Dark Gingerbread • Iç Pilaf • Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows • Nigel Slater Winter Mid-Week Dinners

Self Care

Self-Care List • Massage • Charcoal Face Mask • Eye Masks • Stick on Nails until you can get a manicure again • Find a new TCM/Acupuncture/Acupressure person • LMNT order


Lift (Weekly Lifting 3x) • CRAW • Run the Firehouse! (10 miles from Heartbreak Hill Run Club) • Yoga (weekly Ompractice) • Pilates (Reformer?) • I’ve already signed up for the Needham New Year’s 5k

Update Lists

Inputs List (Podcasts, Reading, Watching) • Recipes to Cook • Cooking Projects 2024 • Bean of the Month • Hobonichi Prep for 2024


2024 Calendar • Sketch in Sketchbook • Winter Good Things Guide


List 5 things to giveaway on Buy Nothing • Figure out what you would outsource 3 hours of at-home support (Cleaning blankets? Dog beds? Body Doubling?) • Research options for said support • Updated addresses for New Year Cards • Ask Keren for her recommendations for Fancy Candles (now that you’ve broken the seal with the Voluspa Gilt + Pomander candle

This Week in Good Things:

  • Good Listening: this week the most interesting podcast episode I listened to was Huberman’s on ‘A Science-Supported Journaling Protocol to Improve Mental & Physical Health’. The concept is around journaling specifically about past difficult experiences in a particular protocol format in order to provide therapeutic relief. I found the notes about the science to be fascinating, and I’ll be trying this method myself.
  • Healing Touch: this week I had my once (quarterly-ish?) massage. There was a time in my life where I was going regularly to acupressure, but stopped. Getting body work done has a clear positive impact on my day to day mobility and my ability to do sports, so one goal I have in the new year is being more intentional about figuring out advance scheduling (but not too frequently!)
  • Nailed it. I’ve learned over the years that I need to keep my hands manicured regularly or I will destroy my nails. The past few weeks have been tough on my hands, so today I slapped on some Kiss IMPRESS press-on nails, and the first person who saw me in the wild complimented me on my manicure.
  • Who do you outsource decisions to? I’m trying to update my Movie list, and asked a few cinephiles to add their contributions to my list. This got me about 50 new films to add that I haven’t seen before. (I also use Letterboxd, which is like GoodReads, but for movies.)
  • Coffee with Friends: a thing I’d like to do more of in the new year. I’ve been trying to figure out which coffee shop is my favorite in the neighborhood for a casual beverage. (The answer is that they are all packed – so the best option is to take a coffee to go and go for a walk and talk with a warm drink in hand.)
  • Party-Watching the Loki finale. I’m a big fan of watching shows with friends. (Even though Disney got rid of the party-watch feature) and now we have to go ‘3, 2, 1, PLAY’ and pausing for bathroom breaks is more of a challenge.
  • Dog Walks with Friends. Last week I traipsed around the neighborhood with Bertram and his Corgi friend Sawyer (and her human, Summer). This week we met up with Guinnevere and her Frenchie, Sylvie.
  • Acquisitions of Note:
    • I try to keep spending to a minimum on Black Friday, but my local shoe store (The Barn Family Shoe Store) did have a fire sale on my regular shoe (the Brooks Glycerin 20), beyond the 25% off that Brooks had on their own website, so I picked up three pairs. In normal season, I pick up pairs at Heartbreak Hill with my Heartbreakers discount!
    • I received a Pendleton blanket as a well chosen gift.
    • Tis’ the season to buy yourself a waxed Amaryllis bulb. (It’s worth it!) Seven dollars at Trader Joe’s and it provides day by day excitement and you don’t need to water it.
    • I upgraded two substack memberships to paidAustin Kleon and The Handwriting Club (I’m a long time fan of her blog Shutterbean!)

Good Things to Think About

🌨 How do I make my personal templates/checklists more accessible for the weeks that I have low energy? One conversation I had this week was about how to design for different energy levels. One of my systems that works the best each week is my “Friday Reset” which is a checklist that lives on the whiteboard on my fridge. It’s really simple: laundry, trash, dishes, shower, boxes, restock stuff, meal plan. Ordered roughly in the order I’d like to get things done. There’s a space for one or two other things (like “blanket/sheets”) I’ve been trying to think about how to re-create this for other aspects of my life – like workday needs.

👋 I’m thinking about Connection: meaningful ways to stay connecting with friends and family members (without necessarily spending more in-person time together). Things like nice notes, little things in the mail, meme trading, notes around meaningful dates, party watching, Zoom dinners, reading the same book with or without a book club. What do you do to stay connected? (Soliciting ideas!)

Other Good Things

  • 📺 Watch: was sad about this week’s Bake Off contestant leaving! Also, here’s a ridiculous recreation of the Great British Bake Off tent… with snails.
  • 👅 Good Tastes: I had Noma Pickled Chanterelles on a rice bowl this week, and the world is sleeping on pickled mushrooms.
  • 📖 EatYourBooks (the website I use to organize my cookbooks) has a list of upcoming cookbooks to look forward to for 2024.
  • The many names for Sneks. You think dog show people are intense, have you seen cat show people?
  • I absolutely loved this clip with Tig Notaro on Colbert about her kid heckling her at her standup show.

The Weekly Meal Plan:

One of my more enjoyable (for me) end of the year retrospective activities is going through my list of meals over the past year. I think the past year has been a little thin on creativity, so for 2024 I’m going to pay a little more attention to a list of a dozen or so dishes I can eat on repeat that are outside of my current usuals. Bean of the week: Rancho Gordo large white limas.

  • Saturday: Takeout from Grandma’s Kitchen, a truly delightful Taiwanese restaurant around the block from my house.
  • Sunday: Leftover’s Shepherd’s Pie with ground beef, gravy, mashed potatoes
  • Monday: Tteokbokki with chicken thighs
  • Tuesday: Butter beans with parmesan (or possibly with miso and tomato)
  • Wednesday: Fish night, rice bowl, nori, cucumbers, pickled ginger (this was the most eaten meal of my year)
  • Thursday: Soba noodles with tofu, tahini lemon dressing
  • Friday: Pizza night (either Cape Cod or Tenderoni’s)

Lunches: Leftovers (including baked beans and quite a bit of cheese), TJ’s lamb vindaloo with yogurt, assorted TJ’s bean burritos, TJ’s breakfast burrito.

Snacks: Soft boiled eggs (made a dozen), cottage cheese, cheese sticks, chicken sausage.

Treat: Chocolate mousse. TJ’s Iced Gingerbread in the freezer. Peppermint Hold the Cones.

That’s all for now! Hope you have a great week!

xo, Sam

Weekly Good Things: Week 46

Cross-Posted to my Substack, my new weekly Newsletter.

Buds. This week saw several pup-walks with our friend Sawyer the Corgi, and our friend Sylvie the Frenchie.

👀 This week I started my End of the year Retrospective Process. It’s something I really enjoy doing in downtime over the last few weeks of the year. I’ve written about this before in some detail here.

Usually, I’ll go through my calendar, my photos – 12k this year so far, my emails, my writing, journals and notebooks, and anything else that can help me to get a better picture of my life in the past year.

It’s quite a fun process – I get great satisfaction in looking back and re-living things!

I also make yearly lists while I’m at it: here’s a peek at last year’s 2022 Eating: A Non-Exhaustive ListList of Lists (which is due for an update). My 2023 Kitchen Resolutions. My 2023 Reading List.

And then over the next few weeks I’ll update some of my regular life-binder lists: my movies/shows to watch, creative adventures, purchases I’d like to make, creative inputs (podcasts, etc.), Goodreads, etc. I’ll review my financial plans and finish up my taxes early.

At the end of the month, I’ll update my intentions for the new year, and pick a new word of the year, so I can set off with fresh ideas and inspiration.

I’ve been loving the light hitting the tops of the trees this week on our late afternoon walks before it gets dark.

This Week in Good Things:

  • Food Memories: I boiled a chicken. And then when it was almost done cooking, I some farfalle noodles to the stock, and served myself a soup with chicken, pasta, and a lot of lemon, just like my dad would when I wasn’t feeling good.
  • Sometimes Self Care is.. doing nothing? I had my quarterly-ish facial with Lily. Upon observing my skin, she mentioned that whatever I was doing with my skincare I should do more of. I didn’t tell her that actually, I went down a rabbit hole of finding the best products over several months, acquiring them, and then never using them. My skin just likes being ignored, almost criminally.
  • Change of Scenery. My neighbors are re-siding their house, which is noisy. So I picked up and went to work at the coffee shop a few times this week during the mid-day. It reminded me that I still haven’t gotten my pre-pandemic coffee shop routine back, and might want to figure out how to do that again.
  • First Snow (that wasn’t.) Well, it was supposed to snow, but ended up being a bit of a dud. That said, I decided to celebrate with chocolate mousse. I pulled in my dahlias (the tubers need to be split and saved this week.) The following several days we had un-seasonally warm-ish weather.
  • World Adventures: Our Battle Ducks team made it to region 11 of CRAW, the circumpolar race around the world. We’ve been going for several years now! This region is from the top of Alaska down through Canada to the Border of Montana. Early days I used to write a weekly re-cap of where we are in the world – I think I’d like to bring that back!
  • Good Snacks: Light Rye Wasa Crackers, Trader Joe’s Pavé Cheese, Kalles, and Topaz Apples.
  • I acquired one of the most unique cookbooks in my entire collection from one of our neighborhood little libraries: Sharing the Table With Your Bird: Recipes for people and parrots!
  • I had a great time watching The Marvels. Is it the best Marvel? No, but it has one of the most purely enjoyable Marvel fight scenes that I’ve seen period. The magic systems are interesting. And the new world locations that we visit are delightful. Also, I got myself popcorn, which I never do. (I also learned that Majestic has brought back $7 Tuesdays, and you can still reserve your seat on Atom. So I think I’ll be doing that again.)

Good Things Elsewhere and on the Internet:

I’ve been trying not to go down too many rabbit holes this week. (Although Sam Altman being outsted from AI has definitely been one of them.)

  • Age is a number. Statistics-wise, Lebron James is having the best season of his career. This is his 21st year in the league, and he’s about to turn 39. He’s also the oldest player right now in the NBA.
  • Birds are fascinating. Man plays a flute while his raven sings along. I also loved this one of a parrot reacting to their human leaving the house. Dancing along to the Tiki Room. Budgies Singing Sean Paul.
  • Taylor has her Disney Prince (with a good voice, too!) Swifties then proceeded to help him get to number one on the charts.
  • Are the 90s a lie? I’ve not been able to look away from the TikTok’s of Enrique Iglesias singing poorly at live shows. (Sadly, I feel like there’s something that has happened to his voice. Also, in contrast, Nepo babies crushing it: check out Emily Estefan on Instagram.
  • Local History: For those of you who know anything about Massachusetts Geography, I live right around the corner from the Star Market over the Mass Pike. Enjoyed this article about it’s history.
  • Nature. I made the mistake on chiming in on a Neighborhood Facebook Group post about Coyotes. (Do not recommend). Also, this video of a bull elkThis Dog TikTok Content.
  • Creative baking TikTok. “Cherry Pie”.
  • I stumbled upon my own blog as a citation in the Wikipedia page for Chez Panisse.
  • Maybe you need some Squid Facts. The nice thing about this is that it asks you to prompt it any time you’d like a fact, and doesn’t send them aggressively.

The Weekly Meal Plan:

This week I’ve been going through my meals in 2023. Every year I make a big recap list, and it’s always fascinating to see what kinds of foods I’ll eat for weeks at a time, and then… forget entirely.

  • Sunday: Meatloaf, mashed potato, steamed broccoli with blue cheese and balsamic
  • Monday: Chipotle Pulled Pork Chili, leftover mashed potato, green salad
  • Tuesday: Jaju Pierogi, grilled onions, roasted cauliflower
  • Wednesday: French Onion soup with… tofu.
  • Thursday: Thanksgiving! (We’re having Orenell’s.)
  • Friday: Leftovers and a very large salad
  • Saturday: Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

xo, Sam