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My Menu Plan

2019 February 11
by WWGD

I realized recently that I was not inspired to share my weekly menu plans – sporadic as they have been – because they were simply not inspiring. Not for you and not for me. That was just the phase we found ourselves in. The holidays took over and then the new year felt daunting and exhausting and preparing not only a list of meals for the week ahead – but one that would get me excited in the kitchen – felt like a challenge. But this week, I remembered that I don’t shy away from challenge, I embrace it. So I decided to make this week’s plan almost entirely new recipes – for me and for you – in the hopes of getting us both back in the kitchen in an inspired way.

Sunday – made this five ingredient pasta from Gimme Some Oven. It was a great combination of flavors and it got my kids to happily eat kale, which is always nice. But I erred on the side of conservative with the amount of cheese I used and the result left the pasta a little dry. Next time, I will follow her measurements. Overall, easy to make even on a weeknight and the whole family enjoyed it.

Monday – tonight we are going for our favorite – and easy – fish tacos. Simply salt and pepper tilapia (we use one piece per person) and sauté it with your favorite green salsa. Serve with warm tortillas, Trader Joe’s corn salsa, avocado slices and lots of lime. If you need more filler, cilantro lime rice is a great addition, but we typically fill up just fine on the tacos alone. Don’t skip the corn salsa, it is a game-changer. Mango salsa also a favorite.

Tuesday – Thai meatballs with rice. Ground turkey and zucchini meatballs topped with a homemade red curry sauce. We love Thai flavors around here and I am excited to try my hand at making this one at home. Will report back.

Wednesday Mediterranean chicken with a dill yogurt sauce. I easily serve chicken at least three times per week, if not more. I am always looking for new ways to serve it up and these fresh, vibrant Mediterranean flavors look amazing.

Thursday – it’s Valentine’s Day! Our plans are up in the air and may include a few hours of night skiing and will definitely include our kids so I am not planning to cook or be near my kitchen. In the name of love, of course.

Friday – I may or may not get to this one on a Friday night (if I don’t, I think I will save it for Sunday) but I bought all the ingredients to make this rosemary mascarpone and potato tart from Donna Hay (photo above – isn’t it gorgeous??). I will serve it with an arugula salad and a great glass of red. And if it turns out even half as pretty as hers, I will consider it a win.

Have a great Monday, friends. x

*image above via Donna Hay


For Valentine’s Day

2019 February 7
by WWGD

Valentine’s Day is one week away and if you are like most moms in America right now, you have the holiday on your to-do list. You have to go to Target and find some sort of cheap bag of themed candy or cartoon-adorned cards and you will wonder why they never come in packs big enough to suit a class of 26 so you don’t have to buy three. Or you’re on Pinterest, pondering whether to mix some homemade love potion concoction and put a cute sticker greeting on it or to glue a pencil to a piece of paper printed with a pun about love and friendship.

I see you, mama. I have been there myself. I understand.

It’s another Hallmark holiday that has, frankly, gotten a little out of control with its expectations of bucket loads of candy and perfectly Pinterest-worthy greetings and crafts that…don’t get me started on the crafts. It’s hovering on your to-do list alongside make a dinner reservation and buy your husband a book and don’t forget about the heart-shaped pancakes with whipped cream and pink-tinged milk that you need to serve that morning. Obviously.

But here’s what I challenge you to do a little differently this year. You (and surely your kids) may love the candy. You may love the creative ideas on Pinterest. Heck, you may even love the over–priced prix fixe dinner because it gives you an excuse to get out on a weeknight, sans kids. But I want to encourage you – and more importantly, your child – to take this Valentine’s Day and make it a little different. A little more meaningful. To actually make it about…love.

Last year, my kids wrote real Valentine’s. To each and every kid in their class. A short note that said – I think you’re hilarious. Or you’re so great at baseball, I love playing with you. Or I love how you helped me out with that thing that time. Or simply, you’re a good friend.

It seemed daunting at first, yes. My son wanted to give out baseball card greetings and my daughter wanted to give out mini packs of Skittles. But when I gave them some red paper, scissors, stickers and enough time and encouragement to sit and think about something – just one thing – they could say about every kid in their class, they had fun with it. They thought about it. They took it to heart. Pun intended.

Their friends missed out on one more pack of candy, sure. But I venture to guess that they got a little smile out of our Valentine’s, too. That even if they didn’t fully appreciate it in the holiday haze of first grade, they would remember that personal greeting down the road. That hopefully they, in turn, would think about spreading a little love on this holiday instead of just another greeting that their mom made for them to pass out anonymously.

Other great ideas? Find a neighbor who may be feeling lonely this season and deliver a simple bouquet of inexpensive flowers with a greeting. Send your own girlfriends a heartfelt card to remind them that you appreciate them. Tie red heart balloons with sweet messages and leave them anywhere you can. Pass them out to strangers in the coffee shop. Make it feel personal, even if it’s not. And have your kids witness it all. Because if there is one thing this world needs more of right now, it’s not just love. It’s children who are being taught not only to feel it, but to spread it. To show it. To encourage it. To shout it from the rooftops and share it with a friend. And that doesn’t start at Target or on Pinterest. It starts with us. At home. Wherever that may be. With a piece of paper, a kind word and a tiny red heart.

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends. Make it a good one. x


500 Minutes

2019 February 5
by WWGD

Every day in my meditation, there is a step towards the end where you are prompted to let your mind be free. After several minutes of following along with the guided voice, of counting your breaths and doing your body scan and working diligently to train your mind into a meditative state…it is given a moment of respite. A chance to be wild. Untethered. Completely unfocused. You are prompted to simply let your mind do what it wants to do. If it wants to think, let it think. If it wants to wander, let it wander. If it wants to dream, let it dream. 

I have meditated more than 500 minutes now. A goal I am very proud of. A tiny step in what is sure to be a long journey ahead for me because I love the way it has impacted my life, even this early on. And in each one of those sessions (at 10 minutes each, we’re looking at 50 or so) – every single time- when I reach the part in the exercise when my mind is left to its own devices…it does nothing at all. It’s the one point in the meditation, day after day, when it actually settles effortlessly into what I imagine meditation is all about. Complete calm, total clarity, stillness. When it is finally given permission to break out of its box and go a little crazy and be totally free…it does what it really wants to do. And it zeroes in on quiet. 

It astonishes me every time. I prompt it a little at first – go on, go ahead. Keep thinking about those to-dos that were beating their way in while you were counting your breaths. Worry about that thing that kept nudging you while you did your silent body scan. Let that inner voice whisper into your ear a little louder, you can listen now. But it won’t. It’s like it gives me a little smile and it goes into its happy, quiet place and it settles quietly. And stays there. 

I am at a crossroads in my life. I am 40. I have followed the guided journey thus far in life. Went to school, started career, married with kids, bought house, got dog. Check, check, check. And now it is becoming more and more apparent to me – through the conversations I am having and the books I am reading and the things I am gravitating towards – that my life and my heart and my mind want to be untethered a little bit. To be interested in new things, new opportunities, new ideas. To fall out of line. To define a new line. To look beyond the guided life plan and see what pops up, randomly, when you break out of the box and zero in on absolutely nothing. Perhaps my mind will find some quiet there. In the place where you aren’t counting a thing. Where you aren’t ticking off any milestones. Where you aren’t taking guidance from anything or anyone but yourself. Perhaps that’s where the quiet and the calm and the stillness are really laying. Smiling back at you. And staying there.  

Five Jackets

2019 January 24
by WWGD

I was going to title this post “Five Jackets That You Need” but let’s be honest…you don’t need any of these things. But if you want to add a statement piece to your wardrobe, these are some of my favorite jacket styles that let you instantly add a hit of style to a simple pair of jeans and basic tee or tank. Which is typically the way I dress, for both day and night. Simple, simple, statement. So let’s just call it five jackets that I know…and love. And you just might, too.

A leopard jacket. Preferably either vintage or a little oversized. I found one similar to the one pictured above at Zara in Paris and have been wearing it non-stop, day and night. It just adds a layer of cool to any look. Don’t worry about how you style it. The key to leopard is to treat it like a neutral. But shop selectively. There is a lot of bad looking leopard out there. J. Crew does a good one. Make that two.

A white blazer. My friends make fun of me for wearing white blazers all the time but there’s a reason why I do: they are a chic, unexpected twist on your standard dark version and make you stand out in any crowd. I have a short, fitted one from Helmut Lang (similar to this one – on sale at a MUCH better price than what I paid for mine…ahem) and a loose, oversized one from Zara and I love them both so much I may just get a third.

A statement sweater. These are all the rage right now and with good reason. A fun, embellished cardigan sweater like this one that you have seen all over Instagram makes a statement regardless of what you have on underneath. I bought that one and while the price does reflect the quality (it has a loose knit and the shoulders are not quite cut right and it sheds), it is an affordable, eye-catching look that I have turned to on more than one occasion. Just make sure it’s warm enough that you don’t need to cover it up with an overcoat.

A jean jacket with a twist. You probably already have a jean jacket but I like one that has a unique something. Maybe it’s black denim instead of blue. Maybe it’s extra long like this one. Or maybe it’s perfectly distressed in all the right places like my favorite one from Able. Either way, make sure the one you choose makes a statement beyond the basic blues.

A faux fur. Ok, I can’t lie. I don’t own a faux fur jacket yet but it is at the top of my wish list because I love the way it looks, especially when paired with simple basics. This one is fantastic. So fantastic it is sold out. This one is more glam, but in a good way. Skip anything that is stringy or in a color that real fur wouldn’t ever come in (ie pink, blue, bright red) and make sure all your friends know you’re faux. Naturally.

*this post contains affiliate links

**images in order from top to bottom: source unknown, via Wendy’s Lookbook, via Wild One Forever, via Shopbop, via Emerson Fry

My Favorite Everything

2019 January 18
by WWGD

Years ago, when I first started dipping my toe into the blogging world, I met a woman named Shanna who had a blog called My Favorite Everything. The premise was simple – and popular – in that she literally just talked about all of her favorite things. I really liked Shanna and I liked following her favorite things, too. It was feel good, frivolous and fun. And I believe that you need that type of mindless entertainment and inspiration in your life, just as much as you need the deep, soul-searching, engaging stuff.

This has been a strange week of ups and downs for me so I thought I would end it on a frivolous note. A quick list of some of my favorite things. Nothing too deep. Nothing mind-blowing (you can check my Instagram for a little of that from last night). Just some feel good fun. Seems like the right way to start the weekend. So without further delay, here is my favorite (almost) everything:

STYLE/BEAUTY

Denim – Madewell, high rise curvy skinny. I haven’t bought myself premium denim in ages but I want to try AGOLDE when I do.

Basic tees – Everlane linen muscle tanks or Gap linen tees

Leather goods – Saint Laurent

Underwear – Gap Body and ThirdLove

Outerwear (blazers, coats, etc) – Zara, J. Crew, Helmut Lang

Jewelry – J. Crew for fun and bright, Mejuri for delicate and affordable, classic diamond pieces for everything else

Sunglasses – Super

Skincare – Drunk Elephant for day-to-day, May Lindstrom for masks

Bath/shower products – goop (the bath soaks are incredible and I love the clay body cleanser and the salt scrub, too)

Make up – loving Vapour Beauty for foundation, Trish McEvoy tube mascara, Urban Decay eye liners, Bite Beauty for bold lip, Glossier Cloud Paint for cheeks, Glossier Boy Brow for brows

Vitamins – Olly (I take the women’s multi and the probiotic every morning and use the restful sleep one for sleepless nights; my kids take them, too)

HOME

Candles – Diptyque for luxury (hands down, the best vanilla candle in the market), Aura Candles for more affordable

Flowers – Trader Joe’s. Every week I buy three bundles of eucalyptus for the kitchen island and two bunches of all white roses for my living room. It’s a guaranteed $16 of joy.

Coffee – Café du Monde (we buy it from Amazon)

Kitchen linens – Williams Sonoma

Dishes – Home Goods, various brands but always great selection and premium quality if you hunt a little

Hand soap – Aesop in bathrooms, Seventh Generation or Mrs. Meyer’s in kitchen

Bath towels – Nate Berkus

Frames – Pottery Barn wood gallery frames in black for small things, Framebridge for large

Serving ware – CB2

If I didn’t list a specific category here, it’s because I haven’t found my favorite…yet. Always open to suggestions. 

Have a great weekend, friends. Hope it’s fun and frivolous and your favorite ever.

*disclaimer – this post contains a selection of affiliate links


The Game-Changer: Headspace

2019 January 14
by WWGD

Meditation is certainly not a new topic of discussion but it’s new to me and therefore, it felt right to discuss it. I met with a life coach a few months ago and while we chatted about goals and vision and what kind of path she could potentially help me down (still trying to figure it out, so I haven’t committed to the process yet but will let you know when I do), she brought up two tools she recommended I start implementing immediately, regardless of where I wanted to end up: daily meditation and daily journaling.

You would think that as someone who calls herself a “writer”, I would already be a daily journal kind of girl, but I am not. I have always struggled with writing just for the sake of it. I want to write when I have something to say. Ideally something meaningful or useful or inspired. And when people will read it. And that has been a tough habit to break, even with her sage advice to start pouring out onto paper for ten minutes per day, and not worry about what comes out or who I can share it with.

I have, however, done a really good job at implementing meditation into my life. I started with the Headspace trial and quickly graduated to a full year subscription and now I can’t imagine not having the app on my phone to turn to on a whim (I even gave it as a gift for Christmas). I try to do my meditation in the morning though sometimes it’s easier for my brain to wind down into it in the evening. I’ve done it on walks. In parking lots while I was waiting on something or someone. When I am happy. When I am sad. When I am just looking to take a really good deep breath.

What has it done for me? First, it has taught me how to quiet my brain. I dealt with a lot of anxiety last year (mainly over silly, irrational things) and I knew I didn’t want to repeat that pattern going into 2019. Meditating has shown me how incredibly powerful it can be to try to focus your brain when it starts to wander…and how hard it can be as well. Second, it has helped me with my external focus as well. I have been much better at prioritizing, managing my time, and spending it wisely and with intention. I also think it has made me a better listener. I tune in more because my brain is more alert and better at focusing rather than wandering off to the next thought or moment. Finally, it has shown me how powerful routine can actually be, even when it’s imperfect. You know how they say it takes 21 days to create a habit? I never seem to make it to day 8. I get bored, I get distracted, I get disparaged. But while I haven’t been 100% consistent with a daily practice (yet), I have been committing to it enough to already see how impactful it can be. And I want to see more.

This holiday season was a bit of a strange one for me. While so many were focused on resolutions and change and ambitions, I was just sitting in simple gratitude. I knew that everything I had in my life was just fine. Things can tweak here or there, but fundamentally, it’s all pretty much fantastic. I just needed to teach myself how to realize that. How to believe it. How to appreciate it more. And how to remind myself of it, almost every day. That was the most important change of all. And I think I found it. In my own head.

How to Vacation with Friends

2019 January 8
by WWGD

I think that one of the coolest things we have given our kids is the gift of traveling with friends. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and they have traveled more of the world than most people I know (including me), but I only ever went anywhere as a child with them and my sister and I think my kids are really lucky that we choose to travel with friends so much and so often. Not only does it give them companions their own age to hang with, it allows us to explore new places that we might not if we only traveled as a nuclear family, it lets us cut costs here and there, and it keeps everyone – old and young – entertained and engaged on a different level.

We travel with friends often and just got back from another week away with two other families we adore and it got me thinking of the tips and tricks that have worked with us and our nomadic gang of “family friends”, as we call them, that others might find useful. If you don’t avidly travel with friends, here are some things to think about when you do (because you should!):

Pick your traveling buddies wisely. Traveling with families is more complicated than a solo girls or boys trip because you have to be able to manage and enjoy so many different personalities. The adults, the kids, even the dogs (if you are traveling with me and it’s within driving distance…Luna is always on board). You need to give careful consideration to the families that you can truly travel with and be honest with yourself if some of your friends just aren’t that type. They can be great dinner party friends instead. Look to book adventures with people that you truly believe you can not only live with, but dine with and hike with and beach with and be yourself with…otherwise, it’s no vacation.

Book separate accommodations. All that said, even if you are traveling with some of your favorite people in the world, when it comes to group trips, you need a little space. If you are sharing a house, make sure it has plenty of room – indoors and out – for people to break away when they need to. Otherwise, opt for separate but neighboring condos or hotel rooms so everyone can enjoy some solitude when they need it. And make sure to respect the signs when someone needs their space or has to tend to a child who needs theirs. You can’t take anything personally when traveling with friends. If you do, see above. You picked the wrong ones to go with. Oh, and always one bathroom (minimum) per family. Always.

Plan a few solo activities. Maybe you appreciate a spa day while your girlfriend would rather shop. Perhaps your kids want to go to a museum and their buddies prefer the beach. Or maybe you just need a night off from the big crew and want to get in some quality time with your nuclear tribe. Make sure you discuss as a group and plan for a few solo blocks of time ahead of your trip so that everyone has a chance to a) get a break from the group dynamic and b) check off their own personal must-see list without having to worry about keeping everyone happy.

Use Splitwise. This easy app makes it simple to keep track of group expenses throughout the trip and then divide it by couple, single or group at the end of the trip so no one gets stuck with one massive dinner bill or that extra three rounds of drinks inadvertently. Make sure everyone downloads it ahead of time and commits to using it throughout the trip.

Make it fun! Seriously, it is so cool that your kids (and you!) get to travel with friends so keep that spirit going when you are abroad. Let the kids have sleepovers in each others’ rooms or condos. Take turns hosting family dinners to give yourselves a break from eating out – and the cost of it. Take video and pics (the one above is of my son with two buddies in Lake Tahoe last week) and create a shared album so everyone can keep them. The memories and the people making them – both big and small – will be worth hanging onto. I promise.

Did you know? I share my favorite family-friendly (yet always cool) hotels and destinations on Instagram @_neverleaving.

One at a Time

2019 January 6
by WWGD

We just returned from a New Year’s trip to the mountains. It is a ritual I like to do every year. A few days after the holiday haze to pause, take in nature and hopefully breathe a little easier as a family before we take on another new year.

This year’s trip was an important one. The kids opted out of lessons and we opted in for a little extra patience and decided to ski and snowboard together as a family the whole time. My daughter skis like me and my husband snowboards with our son so we took a 1-on-1 approach to teaching them and guiding them down the mountainside and off the chairlift, one run at a time. We coached them from behind, tried to stay patient when they weren’t listening to our coaching, tried not to gasp too audibly when they were headed for near disaster, reminded them – over and over – to ease into the mountain’s relief, to focus on control and speed, to take it one turn at a time.

During our trip, we ventured up to Emerald Bay, a scenic vista high above Lake Tahoe. We’ve never been to the area and the views were breathtaking on this crisp, clear day; one of the first of the year, filled with promise and optimism. Tourists were everywhere, snapping selfies with the view in the background, yelling at their kids to avoid the steep cliffside that spilled out below us, honking at each other over parking lot squabbles. We had our dog with us and she wasn’t allowed on the main vista or walking trails so I cut off to the side with her to try to take in the scene on my own, away from the crowds. I saw a man, sitting quietly on a bench, taking in a perfect angle on the lake and the mountains that surrounded it, accompanied by no one. I thought about asking him if I could share the bench with him but decided against it. He was so lost in thought, in his private view on the world, that it felt wrong to intrude. So we found a rock a few yards behind him and sat there, watching him watching the world from there. Just me and my dog. Taking it all in, one quiet moment at a time.

A few days after Christmas, one of our good friends lost her husband to a tragic accident. The news came in via text message. A text message I will probably never erase. The phone call that followed was heart-wrenching. Tears on both ends. Wails of sadness from her, words of desperation tumbling out, one after the other, seemingly unstoppable. We spent last New Year’s with them and my husband and I sat by the fire in our little mountain condo a few nights ago and reminisced on those good times. Dug up the pictures and video from last year’s trip. All of us drunkenly singing along to “Sweet Caroline” on the dance floor of our friend’s wedding. All of us after a boozy, Bloody Mary-filled New Year’s eve brunch, smiling in the desert sun. Him and our young son in a photo, Kai grinning goofily for the camera, our friend grinning goofily at him. We talked about him and them and everything else in between with happy tears in our eyes. When I ended my call with her that day, I told her she didn’t have to think. She didn’t have to make any decisions at all on the future. She didn’t have to talk anymore. She just had to take it one breath at a time.

Today, we are back home. Tomorrow, the kids go back to school. The rituals begin again and real life sets back into its easy schedule. I’ve decided to write more. I’ve resolved to menu plan again. I’ve written lists of intentions and business goals and things I want to do to make this new year better than the last one. We’re always looking to make each one better, even when they don’t turn out that way. When one day can change everything, particularly the best made plans. So my one real vow is to take it one moment at a time. The happy ones, the sad ones, the exciting ones and the mundane. The successful ones and the failures. All we have to do is take it all in, one moment at a time. One view, one turn, one goal, one memory. And most importantly, one breath. Just take it all in, one at a time.

Happy new year to you and yours. You will be seeing more of me around here this year. I hope to see more of you, too. x

Today You Are Eight

2018 December 20
by WWGD

Today, you are eight. 

Today you are longer and leaner than ever. A true big boy, from head to toe. A baby only when you need to be one. And sometimes when I still need one, too. 

Today you are sports. Any sport and every sport. You shine at baseball and basketball. You give your all in soccer. You pass on golf. And much to your dad’s chagrin, you haven’t hopped on a surfboard yet. 

Today you are bright, chocolate brown eyes and a big, toothless smile. You bring a warmth and light to every room you walk into. You exude charisma, confidence and a kindness that will change the world. 

Today you are Adidas and basketball shorts and a cap permanently glued to your head, covering up your gorgeous, thick hair. 

Today your favorite subject in school is recess. You come home with stories about the games you played and the friends you ran around with and the points you scored. A social butterfly that never wants to land. 

Today you are brilliantly smart. Reading like a sixth grader. Sprinting through your math homework. Writing and creating slideshows and using your imagination in all the best ways. 

Today you are 6:30am wake ups and 8:30pm bed times. You have a LOT of energy. They tell you boys have more energy to burn. They aren’t lying. 

Today you are (still) pasta and grilled cheese and the odd fish stick. You are happy to eat any kind of fruit and just discovered Gatorade (god help us). You have a sweet tooth but, as with almost everything you do, it’s in moderation.

Today you are hyper focused. You taught yourself how to play baseball by tirelessly tossing a ball in the air over and over and over until it landed in your glove every time. 

Today you still sleep with your sweet monkey.

Today you are forging your own path, out of your sister’s shadow. She is still one of your favorite playmates, but you have a very different approach to life and fun and play than her and it shows. 

Today you are sensitive and empathetic. With everyone and everything. 

Today you are 60 something pounds. Almost 4′ 6″ tall. 

Today you are a leader. In all the best ways. 

Today you are baseball shaped balloons and waffles with whipped cream and sprinkles for breakfast. 

Today you are learning about the world and your place in it. You are interested in travel, languages, other cultures, new faces. I hope you keep that curiosity in you forever. 

Today, you are eight. They say it’s great because it rhymes but the truth is, it’s great because it’s you. Growing into the young man you are meant to be. Bringing so much joy to those that know you and love you. Giving your all to everything that matters to you in this world. I could be sad because you are my last baby and you’re growing up so fast. But I am not because I see the future in you and I cannot even begin to fathom how bright it will be. It’s almost too much for me to wrap my heart around. But I know I will do it, with you leading the way. And that’s why it’s great. Because it’s you. 

Happy birthday, Kai. 

Five Cookbooks You Will (Actually) Cook From

2018 September 18
by WWGD

If this quick glance at (half) of my cookbook collection isn’t clear enough…I love cookbooks. I read them like novels. I pull them out over and over for inspiration and ideas and in times of boredom. I like new ones, old ones. Complicated ones and basic ones. I order new ones all the time. Even as the shelves get tighter and tighter. But I will admit, there are only a handful that I actually cook from. Regularly. Today, I thought I would share the top five in my collection that I use…over and over. The ones with dog ears in the corners, oil splatters on various pages, notes in the margins. The ones that don’t overcomplicate. They fit perfectly into this current chapter of my life. One where good food, delicious meals and easy entertaining are key. And where obscure ingredients and complicated prep techniques are not. I imagine that there is a time and place for every one of them. Some day, I will cook from The Little Paris Kitchen and The Joy of Cooking (though I seem to have a very hard time without pictures…) and So Good. But today, I am cooking from these. All the time. I hope you find a new favorite here as well:

Small Victories. I was first introduced to the work of Julia Turshen when she was the co-author of Gwyneth Paltrow’s first cookbook, My Father’s Daughter (spoiler alert: more on that below). But her solo effort made me an official fan girl. Her recipes in this book are simple, straightforward and filled with comfort-food style favorites that I turn to again and again. The turkey ricotta meatballs are Insta-famous for a reason, the chicken and leeks is delicious and her roasted scallion and chive dip is a crowd pleaser. Every single time.

Dinner: A Love StoryThis is probably where my love of cookbooks (and my buying habits) started. Jenny’s guide to family dinner – throughout the various phases of her life – reads like a novel and a cookbook all in one and every recipe I have tried has been great. We love the pork chops with apples and onions. We crave the corn bacon hash. And Tony’s steak is a must-try. The underlying message about the importance of family dinner – one that my husband and I both take to heart in our own home – is the best part of the book and makes it an amazing gift idea for anyone, young and old, who values the importance of good food, conversation and connection.

My Father’s DaughterYes, there is a Gwyneth Paltrow pick on here. But only one. This is her first book and, in my opinion, the most relatable one of the three. The other two are gorgeous to look at, but this is the one I cook from. The blueberry muffins are like a warm hug from your mom. The chicken milanese is a family favorite. The spaghetti con limone is perfect. It’s a simple book filled with cozy favorites and lighter options that doesn’t feel over goop-y or convoluted.

Genius RecipesFood52 is easily one of my favorite foodie destinations on the web and I am happy to share that their non-virtual efforts are just as consistent. This book is filled with 100 “genius” recipes from various chefs, foodies and personalities that are said to change how you cook some of your favorite meals. Marcella Hazan’s famous tomato sauce with butter & onions, Jim Lahey’s prized no-knead bread, Michael Ruhlman’s rosemary-brined fried chicken. These are the (very best) recipes you want to keep with you forever. All in one pretty place. Genius.

FoolproofFinally, no cookbook collection is complete without an Ina Garten (or in my case…six of them) favorite in there. And while I consistently find them all a pleasure to cook from, Foolproof is easily the one I pluck from the shelf the most. These are “recipes you can trust” from the queen of home cooking and aside from the odd overly generous shake of salt, they are just that. Delicious, easy (for the most part) and great for dinners big and small. Some of our favorites include the penne alla vecchia bettola, the crispy mustard-roasted chicken and the easy tzatziki. Always amazing. As Ina does.

Have any favorites to add to the list? Would love to hear what you’re cooking from these days…so I can add to my Amazon cart!