It’s here! I’ve been doing a Q1 reading list for the past several years that has somehow turned more into a book list for the whole year. (I have a lot of holdovers from last year that I’m keeping on here.) You can take a look through previous years here: (2022) (2021) (2020) (2017) (summer 2010) (Summer 2014) (Fall Cookbooks 2011)
Having a reading list helps me make decisions about getting in quality reading without falling into decision making slumps. I aim to have a large percentage of my reading written by women, POC, and international writers; and typically read a handful of Man Booker short list titles. I typically make a list of my favorite categories, and then will supplement or swap as I find reading that calls out to me.
I make room for the synchronicity of just picking up any random title, but I always have a backup!
One thing that I’ve learned after a lifetime of reading: it really helps me to have series that I can blow through – long books that don’t require me to continuously learn about a new world and a new set of characters, as well as a smattering of very easy read books (usually middle grade fantasy, or RomCom) – things I can read reliably for a half hour or hour before bed even after an exhaustive day.
A few notes and observations:
Audio Books: yes, I definitely count audiobooks as reading. I process information better when on my walks and runs, and thus prefer listening to memoirs or non-fiction this way. It’s also easier for me to stay engrossed and follow along while I’m moving physically.
Don’t forget FOOD! For the past several years, I read almost zero food memoirs, literature, or history – some of my favorite topics. So I made this one of my kitchen resolutions this year! (Again.) I’m also re-reading cookbooks.
The library is your friend. While I always try to support local book stores – I’m also a huge fan of my local library – grabbing things off the Speed Read Shelf is my jam. Plus you can leave with a large stack and it always feels like I’ve won something. (You can also get Kindle books from the library through Libby. Having a list allows me to put more things on hold, because sometimes there’s a longer wait.)
As always, still working my way through my list of Personal Leadership Development Books, and the BBC Big Read. I also read quite a few business books for work – whatever I need to expand my ideas and sharpen my skills.
I’m always interested in reading things that stoke great minds. I read for entertainment, to rest, to inspire, learn, and to stoke my curiosity. Whenever I listen to a podcast episode, I’m always curious about what kinds of things the guest is reading (particularly when the book is completely outside of their topic, or very niche in their topic.)
New: I’m trying to engage with my reading more by reading criticism, and more importantly, writing.
Categories to choose from: (I often choose outside these, but I find that when I’m in the mood for a particular feeling, it breaks down by this type of category.)
Book Categories I Enjoy:
Fantasy (Adult, YA Fantasy, Middle Grade)
Scandinavian Crime (or Noir crime in general)
Fiction (catch all)
Memoir (particularly: comedy, leadership, business or political)
Non-Fiction (Psychology, philosophy)
Nature (and generally Science Writing)
Work (Product Management, People Management, Sales)
Every year I sit down and make some resolutions for the kitchen. Given that food is one of my favorite sources of joy, novelty, and connection, it’s a favorite practice of mine to spend a little bit of time making this space more useful, and my time spent in the kitchen more meaningful. Having people around my table (even figuratively) is how I show love, and bring people together – and although we can’t do much of that these days, I’m thankful to be able to take the time to feed myself well.
I’ve been writing these resolutions for more than a decade, and some of them pop up year after year – affirm doing good things that work – and a handful are new each year. You can take a peek through previous years here: (2012) (2016) (2017) (2018) (2019) (2020) (2022)
Re-Commit to Consistent Kitchen Habits:
Particularly the habits that keep me consistent in other areas of my life. I find that most things in my life depend on me eating well.
Weekly Meal Planning: one of my home court habits in my “Let’s Eat” spreadsheet. I also make a weekly Evernote note with my shopping list on there as well.
Update my “Anytime Shopping List” ie: regular groceries list (favorites, protein, don’t leave the store without this!) — got a head start!
Update my “New Recipes To Try” list (with at least 52 stellar recipes for the year and beyond); and a weekly Turkish recipe
AND: Dishes cleaned before bed, coffee maker set. Coffee cup next to the coffee maker, ready to take on the day. (After a year + without a working dishwasher, this is now so much easier with a working one! Another reminder to tackle nagging tasks!)
While some people find a perfectly spotless and minimalist kitchen ideal; I actually need to be able to see appliances or pantry items in order to be inspired to use them.
Do a systems audit for blockages
Make what I want to use more obvious
(New) Schedule a quarterly KITCHEN PURGE.
Quest for Best:
This is one of my personal values – I get a lot of satisfaction out of keeping track of the “best of”, like your own neighborhood consumer reports.
Do a pantry audit, and re-stock pantry with “best of” items, update my spreadsheet
Seek novelty: Bean of the Month Club, Spice Club, new item at Trader Joe’s or one new item at Formaggio each trip! (NEW: Noma R+D club shipments, an Omsom Everything box.)
• Get your knives sharpened. Just do it! (China Fair does it for a dollar) • Review storage containers for more sustainable options • Re-Read a classic cookbook every month • Read more food writing (and memoirs) – added to reading list!
AND: Write a new travel (and local!) bucket list of restaurants. (Currently in my Ideas Doc)
Make Memories in the Kitchen
Update Friends + Family Favorite List so I can cook in honor of my people and think about them (or cook for them!) If I haven’t solicited some from you, drop your favorites in the comments for me!
Monthly: Update Seasonal Favorite Cooking List (in my Ideas Doc)
Monthly: Update my list of “Big Cooking Projects” (in my Ideas Doc)
Zoom Cooking classes with friends! (In 2021, I had a great time taking a truffle making course, and a Lamb Biryani from Pondicheri – looking forward to choosing a few great options to take with friends and family!)
NEW: Pick two signature cooking gifts (something to perfect and send to people)
NEW: “The Weekly Bean” – I have a subscription to the Rancho Gordo Bean Club that leaves me with a very large stash of beans to eat. I aim for a bag a week. I was very inspired by a picture in the Rancho Gordo Bean Club facebook group of a woman who had a nice running list in a bullet journal of her weekly beans.
Here we are in mid-summer! I’ve been working off a “Joy in July” list which includes things like “eat a lobster roll”, “sit by the water”, visit museums, and hiking, etc., to focus on experiencing good things in what has been an otherwise mildly stressful summer.
Yesterday I found myself making it to Farmers Market for the first time this season (only a month late!) and was overjoyed to find myself actually inspired with vegetables and fruit for the first time in a while. My summer meals are a lot of assembled salads, and I keep Mark Bittman’s standby Summer Express 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less from the early 2ks bookmarked.
I was pleasantly surprised to find how much I could get at Farmers Market at a reasonable price in these times of inflation, and ended up coming home this week with lettuce, a boatload of tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, a bunch of zucchini, fresh basil, peaches, and raspberries. Grabbed some of the very good OMG English Muffins. Our farmers market has a great fresh fish vendor, too, although I was an hour late for the variety! I grabbed some of the last of the local haddock, which was delicious.
Weekly Meal Plan – 7/24/22
For the past few weeks, I’ve been having trouble with decision fatigue around food – and most other things – so this week’s meal plan includes more detailed options for lunches and breakfasts as well. I always feel comfortable swapping out if I’m craving something in particular in the moment, but having *something* planned helps me from stalling out on on my eating an actual meal.
Sat: Crunchy Slaw with peanut dressing, poached haddock, sliced tomatoes
Sun: Bonchon tacos (I’ve been hearing about these for weeks. Big decision will come down to bulgogi or chicken)
Mon: Red Sox Game – eat at the park!
Tue: WeCo roasted chicken ramen soy marinated roasted chicken breast with hoisin + ginger glaze; shiitake mushroom + spring onion broth; spicy miso paste; spring beans + peas with curry leaves + wilted spinach; fresh wavy noodles; scallions + pickled mushrooms + marinated egg
💙 Taking advantage of the flight delay this morning to come up with a list of some events for our local Wellesley alum club. We have more than 5000 alums living in the greater Boston area, close to the mothership.
Boston friends, any ideas? What I’m looking for:
I’m looking for ideas around:
Learning something together
Socializing in a new way
Eating something together
Creating something together
Service projects in our community
Connecting to Wellesley
Cross Club events (reaching out to the presidents and SIG leaders)
So far, some of the ideas + planned events (with attention to the fact that many of our events will be virtual or outdoors). Both the College and the alumnae association at large already puts a ton of virtual lectures, so this is primarily locally focused:
🎨 Creating Arts:
Botanical painting class with the Wellesley greenhouse people (Zoom)
MFA drawing class
Songwriting for non-musicians class
Plant workshops (maybe at Mahoneys? Who is offering these?)
🖼 Museum-ish Visits:
We already have a group Art in Bloom Zoom scheduled with the MFA
There’s an upcoming trip to the Fogg/Harvard Arts
Mt. Auburn Cemetery Tour
Symphony (we went to BMOP and it was popular!)
🛶 Physical Activities:
Ompractice class with Reggie Hubbard
Kayaking at the Boathouse (could we do an on-campus day?)
On The Mark Archery at Gore Place
Hiking in Blue Hills
Virtual cheese tasting with Formaggio
Dim Sum (we’re going to Hei La Moon)
Dumpling making class (Mei Mei? Any reccs?)
Cross-Club cooking class zooms with “virtual restaurant touristing!” of local faves across states.
❤️ Service Opportunities:
Boston Marathon Volunteering
Cradles to Crayons
Any ideas for this for a small group? Either in person, or that we can do from our homes? What else should I be adding to my list? Looking for any suggestions at different price points!
On Writing: Who do you write for? Last night I spent a few hours reading through my old online journals through college, and sharing the best nuggets with friends. One thing that surprised me was the frequency in which I wrote. Faithfully, 3 or 4 times a week. The detail. The thinking in those pages. What a gift to my future self.
I think there’s something wonderful about writing to yourself and for yourself.
Who do you serve? There’s an Adam Grant tweet going around this week. (I’m currently mid-read of Think Again, which I’m enjoying.) “Too many people spend their lives being dutiful descendants instead of good ancestors. The responsibility of each generation is not to please their predecessors. It’s to improve things for their offspring. It’s more important to make your children proud than your parents proud.”
A few of the things that I’ve been very consistent at in the new year: going to bed with a clean sink and setting the coffee maker, and meal planning for the week.
I picked up a few extra bouquets of yellow flowers to surround myself with COLOR today. Two bunches from Trader Joe’s. The pink bouquet was from a delightful zoom flower arranging class with Alice’s Table.
⚡️ This week, I’ve been thinking about activation energy. Specifically, it takes me a disproportionate amount of effort to get started on things, even if I *desperately want* to do them. So cutting down any steps at the beginning of doing something, and making the first one or two steps I do simple to focus on action is key.
For tidying dishes, for instance, if I think about the effort to wash them, my brain overwhelms. Instead, I shift the focus to the first small step: turn on the water and let it get warm. This is enough to get the whole process going, and stay consistent with it.
Weekly Meal Plan 2/19/22
Next week I’ve outsourced most of my meals to WeCo, a local food delivery service. Why? Because much of my focus is going to be on working on our platform re-launch at Ompractice! The past several months have been low on energy. And WeCo meals are delicious, and the kind of food I enjoy cooking for myself, so I don’t feel deprived of the thing that brings me joy. (They’ve now expanded to New Hampshire!)
Sat: WeCo sweet chili shrimp + rice bowl sweet chili shrimp, brown rice, pickled celery + cucumber and kimchi + ginger slaw with sesame garlic vinaigrette
Sun: Turkish Spinach and Meat (although this might get swapped!)
Mon: Canadian Blue Box Kraft Mac and Cheese (thanks to my sibling crossing the border for food two weeks ago.)
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