It’s cold outside, so this month’s Favorite Things is full of great ways to cozy up – from podcasts, books, and must-see TV to beverages and comfy hats.
Podcasts are a great way to consume information, whether you lean more to news, sports, or entertainment. Unlike audio books (or books on tape as we used to call them!), they were created especially with listening in mind and be quite captivating. If you haven’t gotten into any podcasts in particular, here are a few to try depending on your interests.
- For all you foodies out there, The Splendid Table is a culinary, culture, and lifestyle program. My favorite recent episode featured Prue Leith (from The Great British Bake-Off) and Nigella Lawson, famous British foodie and cookbook author.
- Crime Junkie is the modern day Unsolved Mysteries. Founder Ashley Flowers – who also happens to be a bestselling fiction writer – discusses the crime cases she’s obsessing over every week in a straightforward and suspenseful way that’s easy to follow. Flowers recently started a second podcast called The Deck, telling the stories of victims who are now cold cases with the hopes of cracking them open – which has happened many times through her podcasts. The reason for that title? Law enforcement agencies put faces of these victims on playing cards and circulate them in jails hoping that a prisoner will come forward with new information.
- Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett are the personalities behind Smartless, where every episode begins with one of the hosts revealing a mystery guest. Once revealed, all three hosts interview the mystery guest in what is a candid, laugh-out-loud hour, give or take. My favorite guests have included Bradley Cooper and LeBron James (and I’m not even a big basketball person), but you can scroll through the episodes and choose the celebrities that resonate with you. Perfect when you’re in the mood for light and funny!
- Guy Raz interviews some of the most impressive and well-known entrepreneurs on his podcast How I Built This. A few of my favorite episodes include Ben & Jerrys (so many fascinating tidbits) and Airbnb (a must-listen…you won’t believe the savvy when you get to the part about Obama-Os!). On a long car drive, my family stumbled upon the Fawn Weaver/Uncle Nearest Premium Whisky episode: Uncle Nearest is named for master distiller Nathan “Nearest” Green, a former slave who taught Jack Daniel distilling in the 1800s. Weaver started her company to give credit to the enslaved man who was truly the reason for the success of Jack Daniel’s, but got none of the credit or financial benefit. Suffice it to say, there are all sorts of gems in the archives of this long-running podcast, which is equal parts inspiring and entertaining. Credit to Raz, who is an expert interviewer, does his research, and is easy to listen to.
- The Moth is a storytelling podcast, and each episode includes several short stories told by the people who lived them. Depending on the episode, you may laugh, cry, become inspired, angry, or all of the above. The podcast culls from “StorySLAMS” around the country, which are basically open-mic nights for storytellers, and honors community, diversity, and the common bonds of the human experience. You can listen to one short story or a string of them, and I have loved so many that I can’t begin to choose a favorite!
- Want to shore up your knowledge of current events? The Daily provides an in-depth listen to pressing news issues of the day, delivered in 20 minutes (sometimes a little longer), 5 days a week, ready at 6am!
Need fresh book club inspiration or simply want to snuggle up with a page turner? My older son passed on his copy of The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz, and it did not disappoint. It’s a suspenseful thriller about a writer who steals a story, and suffice it to say that I did not predict the ending.
What’s waiting on our bedside tables? These picks, which came highly recommended by the owners of local bookstore Pocket Books:
If you or your family members have been complaining about sore throats this season, try
Throat Coat by Traditional Medicinals. The lemon echinacea flavor is especially tasty and soothing for a sore throat. A steamy mug-full has been a go-to when anyone in my family feels under the weather, but more recently I’ve been drinking it because it’s warm and tastes great! Widely available at larger grocery stores, Target, and (for locals) at Lemon Street Market.
Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate always taste better out of a fun mug! If you are a traveler – or could use a thoughtful gift for someone who likes to travel – this Color Map Mug is a great way to track and remember special trips. Simply color in the visited areas and then bake in the oven to make it permanent. Priced at $18-$25 from Uncommon Goods.
Favorite Winter Hat
Garnet Hill hats have been a favorite for years. Why are they so great? I like them because they are stylish yet stretchy enough for those of us with larger heads (that’s me!), and it doesn’t feel like you have hat head when you take it off! I have go-with-everything gray, but I’m eyeing the pink one. Do check prices because some colors are up to 50% off!
Favorite Food Containers
A hot lunch can hit the spot this time of year. The Rosti Metal Insulated Lunch Pot will keep your soup or meal of choice hot and insulated, and the separate compartment on top enables you to bring a crunchy topping like Homemade Parmesan Croutons or Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. The same pot will also work for keeping foods like yogurt cold, in which case you can use the separate container for Chunky Homemade Granola! A bit pricy for $58, but it may be worth it for lunch packers who need a sturdy product that’s insulated, leak-proof, and dishwasher safe.
For the kitchen:
Pyrex Measuring Cups are great for the obvious purpose of measuring liquids, but they make equally excellent mixing bowls too. The tempered glass is dishwasher, freezer, microwave, and preheated oven safe. The spout makes them perfect for pouring everything from muffin and pancake batter to dressings and liquids of all kinds. I have the 3-piece set which includes 8-, 16-, and 32-ounce measuring cups, and retails for $35. The 4-piece set includes a 64-ounce measuring cup and sells for $70.
For the dorm room:
Are your kids tired of the same dining hall food? Or might they need a little cooking encouragement in a college apartment? Consider investing in microwavable dorm room pots.
Anyday’s The College Dorm Set includes four containers of varying sizes for $90 and are dishwasher safe and eco-friendly. Or start simple with Dormco’s set of 3 for $7. Both provide a convenient way to cook and store food, like rice, noodles, and beyond.
Favorite TV Shows
When the weather turns cold, it’s especially fun to snuggle up and watch a good show. The choices can be overwhelming though, so I often seek a recommendation from a friend. Here are some ideas, which came to me via trusted sources and passed the test with everyone in my family:
- The limited series Dopesick on Hulu, starring Michael Keaton, came out in 2021 and tells the story of the opioid crisis in America, and more importantly who was behind it. Compelling on so many levels.
- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia had a 15-season run, the longest running live-action comedy in TV history. Following a group of friends who manage a pub in Philly, start at the beginning for a lighthearted way to remember what life was like back in the early 2000’s. Remember Danny DeVito? He’s introduced as a main character in the second season, but we won’t spoil the plot.
- Currently buzz-worthy, is the 2nd season of White Lotus on HBO. Season 1 and 2 explore the occasionally scandalous lives and habits of staff and guests at exclusive resorts (the first season takes place in Hawaii and the second in Italy) during one very eventful week. Both seasons start by revealing an event from the end of the story, which creates a certain level of suspense as the story unfolds. Though satire in nature, there are many serious themes and social commentary woven in. In this fun Fresh Air interview, writer Mike White reveals his inspirations for the show, which range from Laverne and Shirley to Fantasy Island and Survivor.
- Hulu’s Fleishman Is In Trouble follows Toby Fleishman (played by Jesse Eisenberg) as he copes with the disappearance of his ex-wife (played by Claire Danes). He’s left to take care of his two young children while attempting to re-enter the dating scene and juggle his work as a doctor.
- If you like thrillers, The Patient (Hulu), starring Steve Carell as a therapist being held prisoner by a psychotic patient, is worth putting on your list. He has to save his own life by providing his patient therapy to deal with his deeply disturbing issues. Will it work?
❤️As always, we love to hear from our readers. Let us know how you plan to stay warm and cozy this year in the comments section below.❤️