We’re in that beautiful time between Christmas & New Year’s where I’ve lost all track of what day it is. It’s been a week of game nights and lazy mornings by the fire, paperback books and hot cocoa, soaking in family time and reflecting on this whirlwind of a year. As we collectively welcome the end of 2020, here are a few of my favorite reads, finds & joys from this last month. I hope you find something to bring you joy here too. Happy almost 2021! ❤️
FAVE NEW YEAR’S EVE READS:
If you’re in need of a new read for these lazy days between Christmas and New Year’s, these are my top two picks:
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Fantasy isn’t my typical genre, so I was hesitant to make this my Book of the Month pick back in October, but I am SO glad I did. In 1714, Addie LaRue made a deal with the devil to live forever with one unfortunate catch: no one she meets will remember who she is. Thus begins Addie’s dazzling adventure and lonely purgatory, as she spans centuries and continents, blessed with immortality and cursed with being forgotten. That is until nearly 300 years later when someone remembers her name… This book built a tad slowly for me but ended up as one of my favorites of the year. I can’t recommend enough.
Oona Out of Order
Staying in for New Year’s Eve? Read this. We begin on the eve of 1983 and Oona’s nineteenth birthday. But instead of turning nineteen at midnight, Oona is propelled 32 years into the future, waking up in her 51 year old body. For the rest of her life, Oona learns she’ll leap to another year, completely at random and completely out of order. Each year brings new lessons, loves and mistakes as she travels back and forth across her lifespan. While the premise is a little wacky, I quickly fell in love with this story as Ooona explores what it means to live a life fully in the moment, even if those moments are out of order.
FAVE LOCAL ARTISTS:
As usual, we have no shortage of talent here in Duluth. If you’re not already, make sure you’re following these two:
- Tin Cup Design is a longtime favorite local artist of mine and her latest print — “How Winter Works” — is simply brilliant. If you’ve experienced a Midwest winter, I have a feeling you’ll love it too.
- Claire Sahara Illustrations just launched her new online shop, full of the most beautifully whimsical prints, stickers and art, and I’m obsessed with everything she creates. I mean, how cute is this little skiing lady?!
FAVE ACCESSORY: This Wool Scarf
My most worn accessory this month. I’ll take one in every color, please!
FAVE GIFT TO MYSELF: A set of dumbells
Best paired with my favorite local studio. I’ve been putting off buying my own set of weights since we switched to virtual classes. Since we’re approaching the new year and talk is turning to resolutions and such, I figured now is as good a time as any. So if you’re in need of a little home workout gear like me, here’s the cutest dumbbell set I picked up from Target (because cuteness is important 😘) for my at-home yoga sculpt & HIIT classes.
FAVE RECIPE: HONEY BAKED BRIE
I could eat this all year round, but this is one of my go-to appetizers during the holidays. When it comes to brie, there are so many fancy recipes out there but this is my easy go-to that’s delicious every time. All you need is a few ingredients and less than 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Slice the top of your wheel of brie, and drizzle honey over top.
- Bake for 10ish minutes or until the cheese looks slightly melted.
- While your brie is baking, candy the pecans: I do this on the stove — add chopped pecans to a pan, drizzle with a generous serving of maple syrup and sprinkle with salt. Stir constantly, until the maple syrup has thickened and clings to the pecans. You should just begin to smell the syrup caramelizing when the nuts are done. Be careful not to let it burn!
- Once your brie is done, top with candied pecans! Serve warm with apples (I always use honeycrisp), crackers & my favorite mulled wine
FAVORITE TRADER JOE’S FIND: GINGERBREAD COFFEE
Coffee snobs may not approve of this, but the gingersnap brew from Trader Joe’s is truly the most delightful thing. You really can’t go wrong with any of the seasonal items they debut but this is for sure one of my top picks. Maybe it’s the colder mornings making the first cup of coffee tasting that much better, but for sure pick this one up if you’re looking to switch up your morning cup!
FAVE COZY BEV: DIRTY CHAI
And on those days where you’re missing your favorite coffee shop, my go-to fancy beverage at the moment is a dirty chai. If you’re local, drop what you’re doing and go pick up a bottle of this homemade chai concentrate (from my fave coffee shop — Yellow Bike) so you can make this cozy bev at home. I use my Nespresso maker to steam 1 part chai concentrate with 2 parts milk (about 1/2 cup total). Pour over 1-2 shots of espresso & enjoy!
Fave Christmas Cocktail:
We made these beauties on Christmas Eve and they were as delicious as they are beautiful. Find the recipe over on @brooklynbites page right here.
FAVE AT-HOME ACTIVITY: PUZZLES
If this isn’t a 2020 activity, I don’t know what is. Ben and I picked up a couple of puzzles this month to carry us through the winter months and I find it so wonderfully relaxing. Here’s what I ordered most recently:
FAVORITE THING TO LISTEN TO: Evermore (of course) + a few Christmas tunes too
I had Lauren Daigle’s Christmas album all cued up for the month and then Taylor Swift surprised us with another album drop, so plans changed. But if you haven’t taken your Christmas tree down yet, listen to this.