gift guide: books

2013-09-20 15.30.04Christmas is a week out. WHAT!?

Luckily I do have most of my shopping done...just stocking stuffers to pick up at this point. I love giving books as gifts. I especially suggest it if you live in the Louisville area because Carmichael's gift wraps for free with amazing paper selections!

While I might not read as many titles as I'd like each year (52, I will get there one day!), I am a total book news geek. I love to listen to podcasts, read articles and suggestions. This is one of my favorite times of the year for reading because of all the Best of the Year lists.

If you're a sucker for this kind of thing and need new book ideas, immediately click here. The NPR Book Concierge is fantastic.

Here are some books that I think make great gifts.



The Paying Guests  Oh this book. You will not be able to stop. Post WWI, murder, illicit affairs, and excellent writing.

All The Light We Cannot See: A Novel  Again, I couldn't stop. Even though it's ANOTHER WWII story...Seriously, I've had enough!

Euphoria  My favorite book of the year. Short and sweet, but so vivid. Again, affairs abound, only this time throw in 1930s Papua New Guinea. Yep. This is for the adventurous reader.

The Children Act  This is a tentative suggestion. Do not give this to a casual reader, but someone who knows their stuff. It's typical McEwan--full of obsession, moral conflict, and weirdness. Serious readers will appreciate this short novel.

  Some of the funniest, weirdest little stories I've ever read. The one about heaven is worth it alone.


  I confess that I haven't actually read this, but for the technical/science-minded person in your life, this is good. I heard it discussed on NPR...that counts for something right?

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir  A hilarious take on taking care of your dying parents. I know, doesn't sound like a good gift. But it is. SO wonderful.

  For the foodies. Fabulously detailed description of working in contemporary fine dining.

  Because it's impossible to not love her. Especially if you live in Indiana #ParksAndRecForever


Quest Another beautiful, wordless picture book from Aaron Becker. I gushed about Journey last year. This one is equally fabulous.

Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog And Instruction Manual Weird, Weird, Weird. And really good.

  Surprisingly deep. Leaves kids puzzled, but has a lot of playful suspense. Fun to read aloud for sure.

  I love me some Chris Van Allsburg. However, this one will rip your heart out. Tread carefully.

  Because you have to include it. It's hype is out of control I know, but it's good.

  Herve Tullet's follow up to Press Here. Not nearly as good, but still fun. Much prettier too.

  You can never go wrong with Kadir Nelson. This is about the sweetest book ever.

  Like a coffee table book for kids. So funny and clever.

There you have it. Happy Holidays!








my favorite things I love this time of year on the many gift guides and best of lists. But also, I'm a big fan of Oprah's favorite things. Ahhhh....the audience reactions never get old...they're just the best. I always loved Oprah's favorite things show come Christmas and I'm so glad she still does it. Here's her 2013 list.

I decided I would do my own list this year. These are my favorite things...I love them and use them pretty much every single day.


1. Smartwool socks Can you ever have enough of these? I love the colors and whenever I put them on, I immediately feel better about everything. Also, they are really wonderful for sliding on hardwood yoga studio floors

2. Glass water bottle by Life Factory Easy to keep clean, water tastes better, and it's pretty!

3. Spotify Do you really need me to say more than I already have about this service? Don't waste any time, just go and subscribe

4.Davines Hair Oi/Oil A little bit of a splurge, but it lasts forever so it's really not that bad. Smells crazy good and makes your hair feel wonderful

5. Smartwool Beignet Booties Again, another splurge, this time a major one. I was able to find these on clearance last year, but oh my I think they might be worth the full price. Warmest ever and they are durable enough to be worn out and about..slipper shoes...done and done.

6. Manduka eKO mat Yes of course I still love love love my Manduka Pro...but this purchase was an experiment that worked out pretty well. I keep it in my little yoga room here at the house (for when I'm too lazy to walk across the yard to the studio...shhh I know that sounds crazy!) and it is really nice. It gives a great spring/support and is very anti-grip. I also love the colors they have for this mat. 

7. Apple TV Best little box ever. Who needs cable when you've got Netflix,HBO, iTunes, and the internet? Speaking of, we started Orphan Black last night...whoa, crazypants. photo 2

8. Silpat Most of the time I see people using this for baking cookies, but I love it for anything roasted in the oven. Nothing sticks or burns and it's a dream to clean.

9. American Apparel long legwarmer These babies are super warm and very long. Great for under boots too.

10.YogaGlo Again, like Spotify, do I need to say anymore?

11. White truffle oil I don't cook with any butter, milk, or cream so my soups can sometimes lack richness.  A few drops of white truffle oil and you're good to go. Also, amazing with popcorn. Basically, it's a luxurious ingredient that is used in very small lasts awhile. I use this brand....but I'm getting a little nervous because the bottle is almost empty and Andrew isn't planning any more trips to Australia anytime soon that's for sure...Ha!

12. Keen Bern Baby Bern boots Tall leather boots that feel snazzy enough to be stylish, but are durable and feel like tennis shoes? Yes.

13. Hugo & Debra Naturals Shampoo & Conditioner I tried this for the first time recently and I doubt I'll ever go back. I often don't see a lot of difference in hair depending upon the shampoo and conditioner, but this was kind of crazy. However, they did just discontinue the shampoo I'm The orange + vanilla volumizing conditioner smells like orange danish rolls and it's still available though so I'm good.

photo 3

14. Cuisinart Smart Stick Immersion Hand Blender Yeah of course I want a Vitamix. But I'm not ready to drop $400+ on a blender...especially when I'm the only one around the house that drinks smoothies. My solution? I simply put all my frozen smoothie ingredients in the tall measuring cup that comes with this hand blender & microwave for 39 seconds (why 39? Don't ask, I don't know either). Blends everything to perfect smoothie consistency and then the clean up takes less than 10 seconds. Also, you can't beat this thing for pureed soups.

15. Woodwick candles Remember back in April 2013 when I bought this candle in Tabac? Yeah, it still has about 1/4 left!!?!?!?! It's STILL GOING?!?!?! They last a lifetime and that annoying crackling sound gets less annoying as the months go by that it's still burning strong.

16. JBL Flip bluetooth speaker Super light, holds a decent charge, great sound quality, and connects to iPad & smartphone through Bluetooth. Makes DJing around the house even easier.

17. Familia Camarena Tequila Reposado My favorite tequila and maybe my favorite liquor. Ridiculously reasonably priced at just $15.99. Makes the best homemade Skinnygirl margaritas. Here's my recipe.

18. Better Homes and Gardens Flip-Tite Storage containers My Mom converted me to these. Yeah I still use my glass jars, but these are unbelievable. Creative sizes and the lids keep everything fresh, fresh, fresh.

19. PageKeeper I've been using this since I started reading chapter books when I was kid. I can remember my grandmother and mom buying up all of the stock at Hawley-Cooke (awwwww....remember Hawley-Cooke Kentuckiana natives!?!?) for stocking stuffers. I forgot about them for a long, long time until we found them again at a general store in Austin. And yes, I did buy up all their stock. The flat metal rectangle clamps onto the back of your book and the wire hooks on to the page that you're reading. As you turn the page, it automatically moves the wire...doesn't matter if you abruptly toss the book aside, you'll know where to start again.

20. Miele Onyx canister vacuum Yes, this is a major item. Big splurge, but not really. I know I've said this before, but I'm serious: MY DOGS SHED. It's one really believes me until they see it, then they look at me with a sad and confused "how do you deal with this?!?" face. When we decided to buy a "real" vacuum, I knew I wanted a Miele. I first used one when I lived with Lis and then again when living in Norway. They are amazing...blowing Dysons out of the water in my opinion. I cannot recommend this product enough if you're willing to invest in a good vacuum cleaner.