Good Things 2023: Week 2

cubed pumpkin poached in syrup with walnuts on a stove
Turkish Kabak Tatlısı Pumpkin in Syrup with Walnuts

We’re mid-way into January, and so far New England has seen a smattering of flurries. I’m not sure if we should all be concerned, but I’m enjoying the temperate enough weather and trying to get out as much as possible. I have an amaryllis that’s blooming which is a joy to watch, and a fresh bouquet of Irises.

a bouquet of irises on a coffee table in a tall vase

{Still Fresh:}

skiing at the weston ski track
Night Skiing at the Weston Track

{Good Things, in No Particular Order:}

  • I’ve been doing morning yoga every morning to start my day, and pairing with a liquid vitamin (MaryRuth’s Organic Liquid Morning vitamin.) I’m historically intermittent with vitamins, and not really sure they do much, but even the placebo in the winter is a nice ritual.
  • My stairwell and living room bathroom painting is done! The stairwell looks SO FRESH! (This unintentionally set off a saga with fire alarms, and another with a pup with an itchy eye; but we’re rolling with it!)
  • I went to the gym to participate in an off-session Barbell Betties, and lifted a back squat PR for myself unintentionally. It’s so nice to lift with barbells.
  • Acquisitions of note:
    • I “stocked up” on fresh undergarments. Friends with tatas, I’ve switched over almost exclusively to the True + Co Body Boost V Neck. (One of my yearly intentions was to continue with the undergarment refresh.)
    • I got myself a season pass to the Weston Ski Track, which is conveniently less than 11 minutes from my house, and offers night skiing! My first go was a little bit harrowing, as it’s been about 20 years since I last skied, and somehow I found myself in the MIDDLE OF A SKI RACE! I’m going to be taking a few lessons and looking forward to it.
  • I went to my friend Nat’s small business and friends mixer down the street. It included ice breakers (the best being – what piece of media have  your recently enjoyed!) and a harmonica!
  • I went to a Female Founders and Funders event downtown at SVB. (Thank you Kristen and Meeta!) I also made it a point to connect with another founder in the same general space, and was kicking myself for not doing it sooner.
  • Good Reads: finished Ann Patchett’s lovely book The Dutch House. Took me about three years of audiobook to finish it, and still thinking about it. Picked up Danny Licht’s Cooking as Though You Might Cook Again, on Bettina’s recommendation list, which is a small and mighty little book to inspire you to cook and eat. Finally, a RomCom a month late – The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer – was delightful (and being turned into a film!)
  • Watched: Fire of Love– a National Geographic documentary on Disney+ about a pair of famous vulcanologists, Katia and Maurice Krafft. While I loved my geoscience and volcano research in college, I’m… also glad that I didn’t opt for a life of chasing live volcanos. (Their death is not a spoiler – you learn about it in the first 20 seconds of the film.) The footage is really quite remarkable.
watching a film about volcanos on a tv and a dog in a blow up cone snoozing
Watching Fire of Love (and little Cone Boy)

{Good Eats}

Another great week in food! I’m still reading the 60-minute Gourmet Cookbook (Pierre Franey), Smitten Kitchen Keepers, and The Woks of Life. One of the fun things I did was crowdsource some favorite recipes from my Wellesley food people, so I’m compiling that into a list now. My Turkish recipe of the week was Kabak Tatlısı – a kind of candied pumpkin dessert. I also made myself a quality avocado toast.

Some highlights:

Kabak Tatlısı: the recipe is very simple, you cut approximately 2 lbs. of pumpkin (or squash! I used a Japanese squash this time) into squares in a wide shallow pan. You cover with 8 ounces of sugar, about 1/4 pint of water, and the juice of half a lemon (I use a whole lemon because I like it lemony). Cover and poach gently for an hour, basting every ten minutes or so. I usually turn the pumpkin over mid way to make sure it’s all cooked. You then leave it to cool in the pan, and sprinkle with walnuts.

a bowl of rice and sardines and tomatoes and cucumbers and ginger

Sardines Rice Bowl with Tomatoes, Cucumber, Pickled Ginger, and Furikake I each a version of this regularly – it’s one of my most satisfying meals. Sometimes I use tuna, or salmon, but I truly adore sardines.

Broccoli with Blue Cheese and Balsamic, tossed in some leftover Chicken + Kebabs: I get addicted to a combination, and then can’t stop eating it. Broccoli, blue cheese, balsamic, and toasted walnuts (if you remember) is really a perfect combination. I find myself eating the entire bag of broccoli this way.

a bowl of christmas lima beans and tomato celery with a lemon wedge

101 Cookbooks: Christmas Lima Stew – this is a truly stellar recipe, and I cook up Rancho Gordo Christmas limas. This time around, I was planning on cooking the soup the day of, but I ended up taking myself skiing at the last minute, so when I came home, I simply made all the ingredients into a bean salad! Celery, Caraway, Olives, Lemon, Parsley. All delish.

Two bolo cheese sandwiches with açili I picked up these Portuguese sweet breads, and ended up making myself a late night cheese sandwich. My neighbor had given me a jar of her tomato and pepper condiment from her garden in Turkey, and I’ve been hoovering it this week.

a bowl of salad with goat cheese and a baking tray with baked skate fish with some crunchy panko topping

Baked Fish with Crunchy Miso Mayo + Green Salad with Honey Goat Cheese. I usually eat fish on Wednesdays when I get it fresh from my farm share. This time though was Red’s Best Skate wings from my freezer. (The goat cheese was from the event I went to.)

a bowl full of chicken and bulgur with yogurt and parsley

Chicken thighs with tomato and bulgur (riff on the chicken and rice dish in Smitten Kitchen Keepers) – I always love homey dishes like this that are sort of stove top casserole and low effort. I ended up cooking some leeks and garlic with smokey Rancho Gordo paprika, cumin, chicken thighs, and then tomato, little honey vinegar, and Turkish bulgur with vermicelli.

a bowl of the epicurious kale and date and parmesan salad with almonds

Epicurious Kale Salad with Dates, Parmesan, and Almonds + Pork Chop. This is a PHENOMENAL salad. Honestly, might be up there in my top 3 salads of all time. MAKE THIS SALAD. It’s easy to make, and truly exceptional. I add a whole lemon instead of half.

a dog rolling in the grass with his belly up

May we all barrel roll with the JOY that Bertram brings to flinging himself and rolling in the grass.

Here’s to a great week! –– xo Sam

Good Things 2023: Week 1

Lemony Shrimp and Bean Stew

Another year, another excuse to go back to “Week One” – which is a satisfying way to start again and renew for the year. One things I try to do at the end of every week is a pause for gratitude – taking a moment to do a little review of the week, how I felt, and what I experienced. Every time I do this activity (*every* *single* *time*) I’m reminded just how many really lovely moments I’ve had.

This week, I wrote!

  • I published My 2023 Kitchen Resolutions! and my 2023 Reading list (and beyond!)
  • I spent a little bit of time on “systems upgrades” – reviewing my “Let’s Eat” spreadsheet, adding new recipes to my list to try, reviewing my “list of lists“, my January Intentions
  • I’ve kept a movie watching spreadsheet since 2019 (and an unorganized Letterboxd of most everything I’ve watched) – but this week as a gift to myself, I made a to-watch movie list with options for my favorite genres – primarily classics that I’ve missed.

Also, if you haven’t yet downloaded it, my 20 page Winter Good Things Guide is here!

{Good Things, in No Particular Order:}

  • I ran my first 5k of the year – I’ve run the Needham New Year’s 5k maybe for the past decade? (This year I had to tie both shoelaces..)
  • My stairwell and living room bathroom are being freshly painted
  • I’ve gone to bed by 11:30, and woken each morning to do some yoga or lift (I’m not usually a morning movement person, but I realized that I could get in 20 minutes without disrupting my morning coffee and reading.
  • My ProHort gardening and horticulture class kicked off! Looking forward to getting my gardening to the next level. (I also “accidentally” acquired some dahlia tubers from Five Forks)
  • Acquisitions of note: I sprung for a month of Youtube premium to see if it makes a massive experience difference.
  • Good Reads: we kicked off the year with The Bodyguard – Katherine Center (very fun romcom), 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman (2021, 129 pages) – strongly recommend!
  • Watched: The Menu (HBO) if you like watching Chef’s Table and dark comedic violence, you’ll likely be mostly satisfied. Wasn’t perfect, but enjoyed.
  • Chopped off about 5 inches of hair! And now it’s swishy!

{Good Eats}

It was a great week in food! I’ve been reading the 60-minute Gourmet Cookbook (Pierre Franey), Smitten Kitchen Keepers, and The Woks of Life – and been inspired to cook each evening (a working dishwasher, turns out, is the secret to my happiness cooking. Some highlights:

Ottolenghi Chicken Thighs with Fennel and Arak I’ve made this recipe maybe a dozen times over the past few years, and it’s always good. It’s also forgiving – you can swap different citrus out easily, and it’s a very simple recipe to make – you can marinate all the ingredients in a ziplock or even in the baking dish and just pop in the oven.

Cauliflower Gnocchi Deconstructed “Manti” (Turkish seasoned ground beef, yogurt sauce) I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi, and this makes me feel virtuous. You really simply season the ground beef (usually cumin, oregano, chile, or köfte seasoning). I air fried the gnocchi, and then tossed it in when the beef was done. You make a little yogurt sauce with some garlic to top it, and some more pepper on top.

Pierre Franey Mustard Mayo Flounder; leeks with red wine vinaigrette + tomato. Super simple mix of mustard, mayo, and parsley. You coat the fish and broil or bake. I had flounder from Red’s Best in my farm share. (The leeks were leftover from boiling a chicken over the weekend, and I made a red wine mustard vinaigrette to douse over everything.)

Pork Chops + Salad with Burrata, Tomato, Avocado, Dill Dressing. The air fryer makes perfect pork chops every time. (8 minutes or so at 390 and I let rest.) Big salad of everything in the fridge. Trader Joe’s vegan dill dressing.

Vietnamese Style Garlic Noodles + Whole Foods Lobster, Bok Choy: made a version of these. Sprung for lobster.

Lemony Shrimp + Bean stew with Christmas limas and Argentinian red shrimp from TJs, lemon parsley + sour cream. This is a great stew base recipe! You really want to add extra lemon and parsley at the end.

Also this week? I remembered how easy it is to make good popcorn in the microwave?

Here’s to a great week! –– xo Sam

2023 Q1 and Beyond Reading List

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)
  • Creativity
  • Work (Product Management, People Management, Sales)
  • Food Memoirs
  • Relationships (Hard Conversations, Boundaries, Joy)

Fantasy, YA fantasy or Children’s Fantasy

  • Tomorrow, Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (2022, 401 pages)
  • King of Scars (2019, 527 pages) /Rule of Wolves (2021, 592 pages) by Leigh Bardugo
  • Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo (2023, 496 pages)
  • Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin (2019, 513 pages)
  • The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy) by S.A. Chakraborty (2017, 544 pages) – own on audible
  • In the Serpents Wake (Tess of the Road #2) by Rachel Hartman (2022, 503 pages)
  • Skyhunter by Marie Lu (2020, 371 pages)
  • Derkholm #1 and #2 by Diana Wynne Jones (and Howl’s Moving Castle #2) (2003, 328 pages)
  • A Court of Frost + Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (2020, 272 pages)
  • Binti Series by Nnedi Okorafor (2015, 96 pages)
  • City of Ghosts Cassidy Blake #1 by Victoria Schwab (2018, 272 pages)
  • Mistborn Series Sanderson (will this be the year? 7 books)
  • Look out for new:
    • Kristen Cashore
    • Jonathan Stroud
    • Tamora Pierce
    • Deborah Harkness
    • VE Schwab / Victoria Schwab
    • Phillip Pullman
    • Sarah J. Maas
    • Zoraida Cordova
    • Tomi Adeyemi
    • Naomi Novik

Fiction, GENERAL:

  • Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (2022, 560 pages)
  • The Last Chairlift by John Irving (2022, 889 pages)
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen (1818, 249 pages)
  • Terry Pratchetta few last Discworlds I haven’t finished – Fifth Elephant #24 (464 pages)
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (BBC Big Read; I think I’ve read before) 453 pages
  • Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel (2002, 255 pages)
  • Thursday Murder Club #1 (Series) by Richard Osman (2020, 382 pages)
  • Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman (and Practical Magic) (2020, 396 pages)
  • Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt (2022, 368 pages)
  • Look for new:
    • Susannah Clarke
    • Erin Morgenstern
    • Stephen King
    • TJ Klune

Crime / Thriller / Gripping and/or generally Scandinavian

  • The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg (2010, 393 pages)
  • The Island by Ragnar Jonasson (2019, 336 pages) – 2 in the series
  • My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2018, 226 pages)
  • The Hunger by Alma Katsu (2018, 368 pages)
  • Death Notice (book 3, if they publish the translation) by Zhou Haohui
  • Beartown by Fredrik Backman (2016, 432 pages)
  • Pick a book by:
    • Henning Mankell
    • Jo Nesbo
    • Arnaldur Indridason
    • Viveca Sten (but I just read the newest in Dec.)
    • Lucy Foley

Memoirs / Non-Fiction Reporting 

  • The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish (2017, 288 pages) (own)
  • Dear Girls by Ali Wong (own) (2019, 240 pages)
  • Broken by Jenny Lawson (2021, 275 pages)
  • Taste by Stanley Tucci (own) (2021, 304 pages)
  • Eat a Peach by David Chang (2020, 306 pages)
  • “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman (1985, 356 pages)
  • I’m Glad my Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (2022, 320 pages)
  • Life Itself by Roger Ebert (2011, 346 pages)
  • Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe (2018, 518 pages)
  • A Heart that Works by Rob Delaney (2022, 196 pages)
  • A Book of Days by Patti Smith (2022, 410 pages)
  • Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan (2022, 423 pages)

Nature and Science:

  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben (304 pages, 2015)
  • Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright (have on audio) (2017, 336 pages)
  • The Nature Fix by Florence Williams (2017, 226 pages)
  • How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan (2018, 482 pages)
  • Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski (2015, 400 pages)
  • How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy: by Jenny Odell (2019, 257 pages) (on audible)

Food and Cooking

  • Note, I don’t keep cookbooks on this list, but I try to choose memoir-ish cookbooks as much as possible.
  • Cooking as though you might cook again by Danny Licht (2021, 78 pages)
  • Elegy for an Appetite by Shaina Loew-Banayan (2022, 88 pages)
  • Fatty Fatty Boom Boom by Rabia Chaudry (2022, 352 pages)


  • The Bodyguard by Katherine Center (2019, 282 pages – done)
  • Red, White + Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (2019, 318 pages – finishing)
  • Bride Test by Helen Hoang (Book 2 – 2019, 296 pages), The Heart Principle (3)
  • Hook, Line + Sinker Tessa Bailey (2022, 365 pages)
  • Anything new by
    • Emily Henry
    • Rebekah Weatherspoon
    • Jasmine Guillory
    • Jennifer Armentrout

Leadership / Business / Finance:

  • Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman (1983, 301 pages) – own on audible
  • 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman (2021, 129 pages)
  • Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson (2002, 273 pages) (book and audible)
  • The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Success by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, Kaley Klemp (In-Progress 2015, 377 pages)
  • Connect by Carole Robin, David L Bradford (2021, 203 pages)
  • The Gifts of Imperfection – Brené Brown (2010, 208 pages)
  • To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink (2012, 272 pages)
  • Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards by Yu-kai Chou (own) (2015, 513 pages)

Creativity: Writing and Creating:

  • The Practice: Shipping Your Creative Work by Seth Godin (2020, 274 pages)
  • Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon (2014, 225 pages)
  • Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon (160 pages, 2012)
  • How to Enjoy Art by Ben Street (2021, 160 pages)
  • Better Living Through Criticism AO Scott (2016, 282 pages)
  • Look for new:
    • Cal Newport
    • David Epstein

Fitness and Health / Mindfulness / Brains

  • Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell (2021, 291 pages)
  • Listen Like You Mean It: Reclaiming the Lost Art of True Connection by Ximena Vengoechea (2021, 337 pages)
  • Unmasking Autism by Devon Price (2022, 304 pages)
  • The Body, A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson (2019, 491 pages) owned on audible
  • The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life by Piero Ferrucci (2007, 354 pages)
  • The Comfort Book by Matt Haig (2021, 231 pages)
  • Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller (2020, 256 pages)
  • Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend (1992, 324 pages) (updated version on Audible)
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie (1986, 278 pages)
  • The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (1997, 163 pages)
  • Look for new:
    • Mary Roach
    • Bill Bryson

And that’s a wrap! Will I get to all of these? Absolutely not. Will I try to expand on the diversity of my thought and add things along the way? Yes indeed!

What’s on your shelf this year? What’s up next? Here’s to a year of good reading!

xo, Sam