Winter Reading List 2015

I know we’re all in the thick of holiday celebrations and some of you have been living in a winter wonderland for weeks, but do you know what this Sunday is? The first official day of winter! We’re totally entitled to crawl into bed at 7 pm and get our winter reading on until the days get long enough to live productive lives again!

Here are four books I’m most looking forward to in the next few months. What are you looking forward to reading this winter?

Winter Reads 2015, Lucky Alan, Find Me, Hausfrau, Funny Girl

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby (February 2015) Who doesn’t love Nick Hornby? A Long Way Down. About a Boy. High Fidelity! Set in 1960’s London, Funny Girl is a lively account of the adventures of the intrepid young Sophie Straw as she navigates her transformation from provincial ingénue to television starlet amid a constellation of delightful characters.

Lucky Alan: And Other Stories by Jonathan Lethem (February 2015) I always love to throw in a collection of short stories. Lethem’s work, humor, and poignancy work in harmony; people strive desperately for connection through words and often misdirect deeds; and the sentences are glorious.

Find Me by Laura van den Berg (February 2015) This thriller is a departure from my comfort zone. Joy has no one. She spends her days working the graveyard shift at a grocery store outside Boston and nursing an addiction to cough syrup, an attempt to suppress her troubled past. But when a sickness that begins with memory loss and ends with death sweeps the country, Joy, for the first time in her life, seems to have an advantage: she is immune.

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum (March 2015) If I’m judging any book by its cover, its this one. It’s so so lovely, and the endorsement by Janet Fitch doesn’t hurt. A striking debut novel of marriage, fidelity, sex, and morality, featuring a fascinating heroine who struggles to live a life with meaning.

How to make a snow globe with a Target GiftCard #GiftCardCheer

We partnered with Target to bring you this slice of holiday cuteness as part of their #GiftCardCheer campaign.

The holidays are upon us! How are you doing with your shopping?

If you’re shopping for me (hey, the holidays are all about wishful thinking!) the bad news is that I’m probably what most would consider a hard person to shop for. I’m terrible at putting together a list or giving givers any guidance because I’m an impulse shopper and buy what I want when I want it, leaving little to be desired.

Target LogoThere’s probably someone on your shopping list just like me, isn’t there?

The good news is that a Target GiftCard® is the perfect gift for someone like me, full of possibility and potential, ready to be used whenever the impulse strikes!

But I’m guessing you feel a little meh about giving a gift card, right? Target did a little research, and found that 90% of people love receiving a gift card as a gift, but only 30% of people feel good about giving one.

Gift giving has to feel good for everyone involved, and making a gift card feel special through presentation will make you feel better about giving them and is icing on the cake for whoever you’re giving them to.

One of my favorite ways to give a gift card around the holidays is to create a snow globe and I’m going to show you how to make a snow globe! It’s simple, sparkly, and festive and I picked up all the supplies at my neighborhood Target.

snow globe supplies, how to make a snow globeSupplies

  • Glass jar with secure lid
  • Target GiftCard®
  • Tchotchkes
  • Super glue
  • Water
  • Glycerine
  • Glitter
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors


  1. Super glue tchotchkes to the lid of the jar. I used a little pine tree, but you could use any little toy or figurine that you want to appear standing at the bottom of your snow globe.

gluing tree to inside of snow globe

  1. Fill jar with tap water and teaspoon of glycerine, which helps breaks the surface tension so that the glitter falls like snow. You can also use a few drops of low suds-ing dish soap.

adding glycerin to snow globe

  1. Add glitter. The more the merrier IMHO.

adding glitter to snow globe

  1. Add Target GiftCard®.

adding gift card to snow globe

  1. Secure lid.

secure lid of snow globe

  1. Tie a bow around the base, invert jar, and gift to someone special!

homemade snow globe, how to make a snow globe

With a pre-purchased Target GiftCard® and a little creativity, gift cards can be the perfect gift for the giver and receiver.

Are you giving gift cards this holiday season? What’s your favorite creative presentation?

Compensation was provided by Target via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Target.

25 Amazing Stocking Stuffers Under $25

Stocking stuffers aren’t my family’s thing, which I think is part of their appeal to me. Sure, we exchange gifts big and small, but the tradition of actually filling a stocking isn’t one that ever stuck.

My childhood sure was bleak, wasn’t it?

To make up for it, here are 25 fun, quirky, practical, and cool stocking stuffers…all under $25!

25 Awesome Stocking Stuffers under $25

1. chocolate peppermint whoopie pie kit $10
2. Madewell tassel key fob $19.50
3. IKEA LED lanterns $4.99
4. candy cane Chapstick (3 pack in a cute tin at Target) $3.99*
5. TOMS for Target journal $18
6. Burt’s Bees essentials kit $9.99
7. instant snow kit $6.95
8. Kate Spade polka dot notepad $8.95
9. travel perfume bottle $12.95
10. What I Love About You By Me book $10
11. scratchable world map $20
12. magnetic Scrabble $19.99
13. green armymen iPhone stand $8.95
14. mini bonsai kit $6.95
15. photo cable $6.95
16. Christmas tree wine pourer $5.99
17. (sample received) Brownie Brittle variety pack $13.99**
18. magnetic gold photo frames $18.95
19. artisanal sriracha $15
20. cork decorating kit $5.99
21. personalized dog treat cutter $16
22. handmade honey caramels $8
23. A Christmas Story leg lamp nightlight $14.99
24. sun art paper $6.99
25. weekly calendar sticky notes $9.99

* My absolute favorite Chapstick. I buy it in bulk every holiday season.
** If you, or the person you’re shopping for, loves the crunchy corners on a pan of brownies, they will love Brownie Brittle.

Worthy of the Week

Worthy of the WeekAccurate depiction of my week.

Worthy of the Week

Book of the Week

I’m currently reading An Italian Wife by Ann Hood isn’t very good but my god is it dirty. Worth the read if only for the smut. Be sure to open a bottle of wine.

What are you reading? Is it one of the 100 notable books of 2014?

Easy Tortilla Soup

Enjoy this amazing recipe from my sidekick, Samantha!

It’s that time of year, once again. The time of year when Austin hits 60 degrees and I pull out my scarf and gloves and crave hot foods and drinks. The minute we have a slight cool breeze, a switch flips in my head and all I want is hot chocolate and lasagna and soup. No worries – I’ve near perfected my tortilla soup recipe.

I typically make a really big batch and freeze it in smaller servings. Then I’ve got plenty of leftovers that just need to be defrosted and it’s awesome. This recipe is for a basic soup, but great toppings/mix-ins would be chicken, lime juice, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream, avocado…really anything you would throw on a taco. Enjoy!

easy tortilla soup

Easy Tortilla Soup


tortilla soup ingredients

  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 28 ounces tomato puree
  • 2 quarts reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 bay leaves


tortilla soup prep

  1. Saute garlic, onion, pepper, and cilantro in olive oil.
  2. Add tomato puree and bring to a boil.
  3. Add spices, broth, and bay leaves. tortilla soup broth
  4. Return to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Don’t forget to fish out the bay leaves before serving! bay leaves in soup
  6. Season with salt to taste.
  7. Serve with desired toppings.

tortilla soup