Good Food in January

There’s something I find particularly comforting in eating food that is in season and following the natural rhythms and cycles to the year. That said, I live in New England, so I make exceptions for some things I can find in-season elsewhere.

I’m not a moral purist about this stuff: mostly I like the idea of seasonality helping me with decision fatigue!

I’ve been meaning to pick back up the habit of my monthly food list: a list of seasonal foods to eat, favorite recipes to cook (again and again), and new things to try! Given that I’m on a kick this week, and January is always a great place to start, here’s the first iteration!

I also gravitate towards cookbooks that capture the year: Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries (and his many repeat volumes) are some of my personal favorites.

Things in Season in January

Not all the things, just the things I might want to eat! I use cheat sheets from my Farmer’s to You order site, the Red’s Best fresh options, Foodwise (yes, it’s Calfornia!) and a few cookbooks (Stephane Reynaud’s 365) to make this list!

Vegetables and fruits: beets, leeks, rutabaga, parsnips, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, belgian endive, kale, kohlrabi, radicchio, variety greens, mushrooms, sunchokes, all the citrus! (Bag of clementines! Citron! Kumquats! A pomelo! A tangelo! Grapefuit!)

Fish: bass, monkfish, skate, oysters, mussels, cod, whitefish

Butcher: duck, oxtail, pork chops, ham, sausages from the freezer, steak

Cheese: fondue, comté petit reserve, roquefort

Special Things: caviar, foie gras, chopped liver, beet hummus

Things I’d like to eat:

Tis the season for soups and stews for me.

Marcus Samuelsson  Black Eyed Pea Curry (yearly tradition – done!)

Rice Bowls with Fish!

Nigella Lawson’s Chicken in a Pot with Lemon Orzo

Schnitzel with Farfalle and Cabbage (a fave of my mom’s)

Ropa Vieja with Yellow rice, Platanos maduros

Kapuska (cabbage soup; or Sherman’s Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup)

Duck Legs and Potatoes

Slow Salmon with Citrus and Herb Salad (Alison Roman)

Annie’s with Crab, Tomato Paste, and Sherry

Nabeyaki Udon (a fave of my dad’s)

Steak Au Poivre, Broccoli with Blue Cheese and Balsamic

Fondue and Potatoes and Cornichons

Fennel salad and Pork Chops

Split Pea Soup with Ham

La Jota (Beans and Sauerkraut soup) Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Italian Cooking – ***project soup

French Onion Soup

Kabak tatlısı (stewed pumpkin dessert)

Candied citrus peels

Restaurants to Eat From:

  • Grandma’s Kitchen (Chicken Noodle Soup)
  • Shan a Punjab Butter Chicken
  • Yogurt Parfait from Sofra
  • Wegmans California Rolls
  • Kava Neo-Taverna (with Kathy!)

What are some of your favorite winter dishes?

Weekly Good Things – Week 50

Hello! Hello!

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

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.

This afternoon, I’m writing in front of the crackling fire*, which is putting me in a delightfully cozy little mood.

*More specifically, I’m streaming the Studio Ghibli Calcifer Yule Log on my television, which is just alarmingly precious, and the fire crackle sounds are comforting. I delight myself each year when I remember suddenly, that one can watch a plethora of different fireplaces both on TV and through Youtube. Highly recommend!

“Life really life-ing!”

This week has been a challenging one for many of us. Some of the hard stuff was punctuated by a week dealing with a painful mouth making it very hard to eat! I absolutely *broiled* the roof of my mouth last week on boiling hot water, and it’s taking it’s sweet time to heal.

I did finally take myself to see a medical professional, so hopefully I’ll be back joyfully eating soon. Many thanks to my good friend and favorite Vet-Vet (Veteran, veterinarian!) 

Michele Pfannenstiel DVM who talked me into some sense to see someone. (She happens to be a fantastic vet, and wrote this handy post last week on triaging whether or not to take your pet to the emergency room.)

Things on my mind this week:

  • 2024 Planning, when things aren’t feeling as solid: We’re in the throes of planning for the new year. When you have a supremely clear vision of what’s next, this is often a very fun activity. If you’ve been through a lot of change recently, it can feel challenging. If you are feeling at all unmoored, do what I do – plan for the things that support you as a human. For me, that’s typically food, self care, reading, my inputs, connection with friends, and creative activities. I trust that the rest of the good stuff will fall into place when I’m taking care of myself!
  • Review of Wants and Needsa few months ago I came up with a very specific list of a range of wants and needs I have. Periodically I review the list to see what’s magically happened for me, and what I might want to gently nudge forward with some specific actions.
  • Memorializing a year: I went to a nice workshop with Elle Griffin of The Elysian this week. Beyond her very organized workshop outline with lots of useful links (goals!), the thing that really struck me was that at the end of the year, she makes a custom book of some of her writing! I bookmarked the site because the quality looks truly on point. I think it’s nice to make photo books at the end of a time period – pick one picture from each week or each month – Canva makes it very easy to get a book printed these days.
  • 3 interesting things from Tim Ferriss interviewing Sam Corcos, the founder of Levels
    • Sam has a goal of connecting with 1000 people a quarterwhich is a wildly ambitious goal (There was a nice moment in the episode where he mentions that they don’t always want to connect with you – and that’s okay! He focuses on the people who bring him joy).
    • Sam has a comprehensive public list of all the things he delegates to his four assistants (including loom video instructions).
    • How to host salon dinners (article) – after hosting hundreds of these – he has a detailed write up on how he does it. (I’d love to get an invite to one of these!) Last month I went to a wildly invigorating dinner like this, and I think I’d also like to host one (or several!) this year.

📆 Accountability Workshop on 1/6/24

  • Something I’ve been toying with for the past few months has been how to help other people move things forward. I’m of the belief that community is one of the best forms of accountability. For years I hosted a weekly *Do The Thing Hour, which is currently on hiatus, but love the idea of co-working towards getting things done together! I’ll be trying out something new in January, a “One Month, One Goal” workshop. We’ll come together to identify a *singular* goal you’d like to tackle in 30 days, and work together to make daily or weekly actions on your goal both measurable and more easily implementable. We’ll then have a shared goal tracker (via a fancy Google Slide Deck) Sign up here for the live class, or the recording if you can’t make it! January 6th on Zoom + 30 days of fun! $42.

This Week in Good Things:

  • 🐾 Pup Walks with Friends. This week, Bertram and I went for a stroll with Penny Puppadoodle, and her human, Somchay.
  • 🍜 Becoming a Regular: Grandma’s Kitchen. A few weeks ago I went into Grandma’s Kitchen, the delightful Taiwanese restaurant around the corner from my house, and just remembered how delightful they are. I went back this week for some chicken soup that hit the spot. I’m going to make an effort to become more of a regular!
  • 🎤 Good Listening: currently listening to Nonviolent Communication, Brandon Sanderson ‘The Hero of the Ages’, and Robert Greene: A Process for Finding & Achieving Your Unique Purpose on the Huberman Lab Podcast.
  • 👋 Recommended Action: If you have a fitness reimbursement stipend through your health insurance, don’t forget to submit your receipts before the end of the year! (If you need to spend on fitness, would love for you to consider an Ompractice membership! Come join us!)

Okay, and in prepping for this newsletter, I came across my Facebook memory reminding me tonight that I just finished my 6th year straight of running a daily mile?! (So, high five me!)

Good Things to Think About

➰ Closing Loops if you have a few minutes this week, consider sitting down and making a list of loops that you need to close. ⏳ Set a timer for 10 minutes and actually write them out! What’s been taking up space that could be finished or moved on from? What nagging tasks could use attention?

Other Good Things

Alison Roman’s “The Stew”

The Weekly Meal Plan:

Coming up in the next week? We’re doing soft food week with low acidity until my mouth heals!

  • Sunday: Pastina with butter and truffled brie (like mac and cheese, but softer)
  • Monday: Soft eggs and creamed spinach
  • Tuesday: Madras lentils with yogurt, and palak paneer
  • Wednesday: Trader Joe’s Saucy Scallops and Mushrooms with Emmenthal
  • ThursdayTakeout (Grandma’s Kitchen?) or Leftovers
  • Friday: Artichoke bread pudding and green salad

Lunches: Leftovers (fondue, a plethora of cheese), tasty bite punjab eggplant and split pea curry, a new Trader Joe’s lunch item: peanutty noodles with chicken (if I’m up to it by the end of the week!)

Snacks: Ricotta, soft boiled eggs, cottage cheese, cheese sticks, tofu, chicken broth.

Treat options: Tapioca Pudding. TJ’s Pretzel Breadpudding. Chocolate mousse. TJ’s Iced Gingerbread in the freezer. Peppermint Hold the Cones. Walker’s Shortbread. Pumpkin Sticky Toffee Pudding. TJ’s Apple Tartin Tartelettes. (You’ll notice that this list keeps growing – I have a bad? habit of getting fancy desserts from Trader Joe’s from my freezer and taking forever to eat them.

🥑 Good Eats from this past week: I include a weekly meal plan in each week’s Good Things, and things never *actually* go as planned! Some of the standout additions include: The best bite of the week was pastina with butter and truffled brie! (So good, I’m having it again this week!) 

Alison Roman’s The Stew – with coconut milk, chickpeas, and greens – was just as good as remembered. I added chicken. Another shout out to 

Ali Slagle’s Forager’s Pasta, which I made with mushrooms, chickpeas, and added some leftover fondue.

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

xo, Sam

Weekly Good Things – Week 49

Good Things, and the Weekly Meal Plan.

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.

I thought I’d lead with a photo from the archives – I took this photo in 2009 on my way to Tahoe in the summer time, but thought it might be a nice (apologies if too obvious) light at the end of the tunnel metaphor for the challenging times many of us are having these days. If this week was hard for any reason, and you found yourself going through a dark tunnel, my deep belief is that there’s a vista to look forward to on the other side.

That was weird.

A few weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought to myself – I have to run the Boston Marathon. This is particularly weird because I don’t usually get transmissions from the universe like this.

It was a very strong feeling that popped up out of nowhere with a sense of specificity.

Not only is this odd, but I was working at Runkeeper during the marathon bombings and several coworkers and many many friends were running that day. It was truly harrowing not knowing where people were and what was going on, and the aftermath in Watertown where we could hear the gunfire from our house still triggers a vigilance response that pops up in unfortunate times.

I’ve explicitly said for years that I’ll never run Boston. (I’ve also spent the past many years saying that I’m definitely not a marathoner, happy with my consistent low mileage daily mile streak! I’m about to finish my sixth year!)

On Saturday, I ran the Firehouse, a 10 mile run, and the first long run of the marathon training cycle at Heartbreak Hill just to test the waters – or more realistically to convince myself better of pursuing this in any way. And then it didn’t suck?

So, I’m not sure what to make of all this – it’s a little late for many of the teams who have closed charity bib registration, including World Central Kitchen, which would have been a meaningful one for me! and the Red Sox Foundation – so I guess we’ll see what unfolds?

👋 If you’ve experienced a clear and resolute whispering that you’ve been happy that you acted on, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

This Week in Good Things:

  • 🎤 Good Listening: last year I decided that I’d like to work on a Youtube Channel, but didn’t get it up and running. I’ve been deeply inspired by watching my friend Aprilynne get to viral success with Youtube in a niche she was no longer interested in, burn it all down, and start from complete scratch to build her following from zero to now over 25k in under a year. (She’s a queen of methodical building.) This inspired me to get going and put up a video from 2016 on the topic of preventing burnout that I was due for a re-watch of my own wisdom! (Almost everything still tracks!)

  • ✍️ The Mediocre Achievement Thread: on Friday I was feeling at a low point, and was craving some cheering up. I’ve been thinking lately of more ways to connect with people over the internet about day-to-day life, and posted a question to one of my more active Facebook groups I’m a part of: ⭐️ MEDIOCRE ACCOMPLISHMENTS THREAD? Hello! can we celebrate each other with high fives today? I started with a few personal ones in the comments, including: 1. I sat for 40 minutes under blankets before I got up while my heat came on doing nothing. I can’t underscore how much seeing the thread grow over a few days as done for me.Instead of celebrating our friends when they hit big achievements, how can we celebrate people for just getting through the hard days of life?

  • ☕️ Connections with people that feed your soul. This week I prioritized connecting with people who truly fill my cup. // One of my women’s groups had an end of season connection where we shared what we’ve learned from others, and it was a really nice way to cap a time period together. // I kicked off taking a mini-course on a topic I’m interested in (newsletters!) from an internet friend I admire Louie Bacaj. // I met with a friend on Zoom for a wild idea session! // I went to my monthly dinner with my friend Kathy (at Bar Vlaha, for you Boston area locals). // Another internet friend in Maine mentioned he had a few extra copies of Paul Millerd’s new book he had purchased and asked if anyone wanted one. I raised my hand, sent my address, and he replied back doing one better – he was coincidently having dinner *around the corner from my house* with friends and would hand deliver me my book! We had a great catch up over a cup of coffee at the shop around the block! // I FaceTimed multiple times with a brand new human! // I stopped by a friends house for Latkes and Donuts! 🥔👋 Recommended Action: I’ve been trying to take note of the interactions I have with people where I leave our time together with increased energy – and do more of that!

The feast at Bar Vlaha. What We Ate:

Very good bread HORIATIKO PSOMI house baked village style sourdough bread, served with sheep milk butter and sea salt; with TARAMOSALATA (carp roe, lemon, olive oil) and MELITZANOSALATA charred eggplant, peppers, and herbs

MANITARIA crispy fried oyster mushrooms, maidanosalata (great!)

KARAVIDES with crayfish, ouzo, tomato, fennel, orzo

PAIDAKIA lamb chops, olive oil, lemon, oregano and HORTA (greens)

Tasting Notes: loved the vibe, loved the meal, drinks were delicious – including my mountain tea, desserts were a pass for me!

Good Things to Think About

✨ Where have you given yourself the opportunity to PLAY this week? This is here from last week, because I’ve been noodling over it all week! How can we add more play to our lives? Thank you to my mom this week, who sent me a book related puzzle for Hanukkah. I’m looking ahead to filling my calendar in the new year with creative activities and self care, including an arts workshop at The Paper Mouse, a printmaking workshop at Shepherd + Maudsleigh, a reformer class at [solidcore], and a visit to a new-ish Sauna. Have any ideas for me? I’d love suggestions!

⏳ Creating structure for high energy vs. low energy weeks. I do really well when I have a lot of specific structure – when I don’t, I drop off. Overall, I’m spending a lot of time at this time of year exploring my energy levels: trying to figure out how to create repeatable habits that I don’t resent when I’m feeling low energy. This also includes: backup lists (for when I don’t feel like doing what is planned) and updating my support system (who do I call when I need help?)and bare minimums What tasks get dropped when I’m low on spoons?

Acquisitions of Note:

  • 🪴 Flower Share: for the past few years, I’ve gotten myself a season of flower shares from Fivefork Farms: spring flowers, peony, and dahlia shares, which I pick up each week around the corner at Rancatore’s. General registration opens on Monday December 11th at 9am for new members in the Boston area. (It’s like getting T-Swift tickets level of purchasing…) There’s nothing like a fresh weekly bouquet for yourself to lift your spirits.
  • 💵 Preparation in advance: I-Bond rates aren’t nearly as good as last year, but if you are looking to park some savings, consider your yearly allocations from Treasury Direct. (Which despite its appearance IS a real government website.)
  • ✨ For those of you who like a little magic (scroll past if you don’t!): 2024 year in advance reading with Christina Luna, and the Lunation Astrological Planner 2024 which I got a physical copy of because I love writing in prompts!

Other Good Things

The Weekly Meal Plan:

This week as I’ve been writing my What to Eat in 2024 (pre-order is up here!) I’ve been thinking about the rhythm of the week, and how to better plan your meals around your energy levels.

One of the reasons I struggle with food sometimes is that my ambition and creativity gets mis-matched with my energy level and ability to actually cook something on any given day. So I’ve been trying to sync my cooking better with how I know I’ll feel on any given day based on what’s on my plate calendar-wise.

On that note, on my quest for higher and more even daily energy, I’ve been on a Quest for Good Decaf: this week I picked up a fancy box of Cometeer Decaf George Howell for the freezer (they actually have a Cometeer freezer at the shop on Walnut!), and on very good recommendation, a bag of Peet’s Decaf Major Dickason’s Blend which so far is winning.

Bean of the week: Rancho Gordo Ceci Neri (black garbanzos).

  • SundayPork tenderloin with latkes and green salad (😬 do not smite!)
  • MondayAli Slagle’s forager pasta with lots of mushrooms, chickpeas, lemon, butter and herbs. (I Dream of Dinner p. 122 – affiliate link)
  • Tuesday: Pulled chicken Turkish pilaf with tomato and cucumber salad
  • WednesdayAlison Roman’s The Stew – spiced chickpeas with coconut and greens
  • ThursdayTakeout or Leftovers
  • FridayButter Chickpeas and tofu with Rancho Gordo Black Garbanzos

Lunches: Leftovers (fondue, a plethora of cheese) TJ’s lamb vindaloo with yogurt, palak paneer with some sardines (or cottage cheese). TJ’ squiggly noodles with peanut butter and edamame.

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

Treat options: TJ’s Pretzel Breadpudding. 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: I include a weekly meal plan in each week’s Good Things, and things never *actually* go as planned! Some of the standout additions include Trader Joe’s Artichoke Bread Pudding (nice dinner with some salad if you like artichoke?). TJ’s Pretzel Breadpudding (very sweet and salty). Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Samosas. Last week’s Chickpea and Chicken Tagine from Nigella’s How to Eat was a standout. FONDUE BEANS, because of which I reached “Peak Bean”.

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

xo, Sam

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 44

56 days left in the year.

Dark by 5pm.

Every year I scratch my head at why we are still doing Daylight Savings. I’m not quite ready to prepare for a long winter.

Cross-Posted from my Substack. (Please subscribe if you’d like this in your weekly inbox!)

This Week in Good Things

I feel like I’m perpetually saying “I’m not sure how it’s… (insert the day/month here) already!” – but truthfully, I’m not sure how it’s November 5th already! Here are some of the highlights from my week!

  • 🦹🏻‍♀️ Ask your friends what they think your Super Power is. Go ahead, text them right now. This week I was heading on a podcast (Becoming You with my friend Rebecca Cafiero!), and to pump myself up, I asked some of my friends to text me what they thought my superpowers are. What I received was honestly the greatest gift. Some of the highlights – not because I’m trying to brag here, just because I felt so SEEN:
    • “Fuckin joy with intention in everyday things!!!!! And sharing and organizing that experience. You are an amazing resource for me because of how you live your life every day and how you want to share everything. You’re like having the no 1 lifestyle magazine for a friend 😄” [Editors note: I *do* aspire to live life as incredibly as current Martha Stewart]
    • “Finding systems where things seem mis-aligned.”
    • “Productive directness, really helpful feedback, and x-ray vision.”
    • “I can’t say it better than productive directness! And concrete, authentic discussion and strategy. OH! And genuine curiosity.”
  • Find the opportunities to see your closest friends in their element! ✨ I got to sneak into the Business Leadership Council at Wellesley to see my bff Heather speak on an AI panel. Biggest takeaways? How do we regulate AI without stifling innovation? (It’s okay for legislation to be *behind* – so that we don’t over-regulate.)
  • 🖼 I also got to see Diana Greenwald, curator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner interviewed by my fellow Wellesley alum, Rudina Seseri (founder of Glasswing Ventures). I took pages of notes from Diana’s talk. Some of the more interesting themes: museum spaces providing consistency in a world of chaos and: how is this art making me think vs. providing a purely aesthetic experience? and AI forcing new points of creativity in the arts (as a good thing!) and also ISG’s brilliance forming a unique endowment structure for her museum, which would provide for a strong director, weak trustees, and no more than a 5% draw.
  • 🐾 I also just noticed that Diana has written a book called Isabella Stewart Gardner: Dog Lover, which I shall be acquiring for myself. On that note, I’m starting to think about signature holiday gifts. I love the idea of passing along something special that you really love to all of your friends.
  • ✅ Tackled a nagging task: had an extra key made (in about 3 minutes at the Ace Hardware.) It’s been on my to-do list for months – one of those things that takes no time at all when you actually set forth and do it. On Saturday morning, Heather was up to do errands with me, so we knocked it out!

Bonus: I got to leave an event with several bouquets of flowers! Perks of being a local!

Interesting Ideas:

  • The difference between reporting the weather, versus being in the weather outside. (A metaphor for logical mind vs. feeling your feelings.)

Good Things in the World:

  • Reading. Stephen King’s newest book, Holly. And finally kicked off Sanderson’s Mistborn series. A few hundred pages in, I’m generally enjoying it, but I’m not sure what I’m in for!
  • Down time. Been watching Loki on Disney+, and the Great British Bake Off.
  • Perfect bites. If you are every in the Wellesley area, a sandwich at The Linden Store.
  • Organized life. I’ve been eyeing hobonichi yearly planners from the Paper Mouse.
  • Now and Then. I thought it was odd that the Beatles would release a song that was on John’s cutting room floor. But it’s cool that it was recorded over the span of almost 50 years.
  • Hate to love. A month in, I reluctantly will tell you that my (refurbished) Dyson air wrap hair dryer pretty darn magical. It dries my foot and a half of hair in about 4.5 minutes. I was secretly hoping I’d hate it.
  • Emotions. Watching Dan Povenmire call his daughter at school to tell her she has been nominated for an Emmy. (Cue the tissues.)
  • Good Words: Phoenicopter. What I will be calling flamingos from now on.
  • RIP Roland Griffiths. Listened to this interview with Rachel Martin on NPR (14 minutes), and if you have a longer time to listen, I very much enjoyed his podcast episode last year with Tim Ferriss.

The Weekly Meal Plan:

The week of the quarterly shipment boxes! I’m expecting my quarterly Noma box, by Rancho Gordo Bean club box, and I got my Burlap + Barrel Spices this week.

  • Sunday: Pasta with pork shoulder, cauliflower, cheddar
  • Monday: Chicken thighs with Floyd Cardoz Kashmiri Masala
  • Tuesday: Hodo Tofu, broccoli, DashiRX
  • Wednesday: Dinner at an event at the Museum of Fine Arts!
  • Thursday: Big salad with fridge scraps.
  • Friday: Pizza night (mushroom Cape Cod pizza with added pepperoni); big crunchy salad with red peppers and blue cheese

Lunches: Lamb Vindaloo, cold tofu with peanut sauce, pumpkin samosas from Trader Joe’s, Bambino Pizza.

Treats: I’ve been thinking about making a sweet custard like chawanmushi in my Anyday bowls. Dole Whip (the kind at the store, not at Disney, alas!)

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

xo, Sam

PS: The Ompractice Slow Down is starting next weekend! Four weeks of classes to stay relaxed as the year ends. It’s $49.99 for four weeks (or free with membership).