The last time I wrote a My Favorites post was back in August, when the Ina In A Year project was just a glimmer of an idea and my life had not turned into a hurricane of cooking. Ah, those were the days.
I have missed writing these posts! I constantly find new things (or rediscover old things) that I want to share with you, and so I am bringing My Favorites back for 2019. With one small change. These posts, at least in the short run, will not be video posts. I lack the margin to film, edit, and upload video right now. Sad, but true. Hopefully, this will change in the future, and when it does, I will give video another shot.
Let’s get started!
I feel a full-on skincare blog post coming soon. There are a lot of little pearls of wisdom I have learned about skin in the past year or so, but for now, let me introduce you to my favorite toner: REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Toner. What’s an AHA? I’m glad you asked. AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid. Basically, AHAs are gentle acids that help your skin turnover quicker. The faster your skin cells turn over and produce new skin cells, the brighter and fresher and healthier your skin looks and feels.
This toner delivers a dose of AHA that over time will do its job of increasing cell turnover. However, the really great news is that in the short run, this toner leaves your skin glowing in the moment. I’m not sure how it works, but I love it. I wash my face. I dry my face. And then I swipe this all over my face and let it dry. When it’s done drying, my face is glowing, literally beaming and reflecting light. Then I moisturize and carry on with my makeup routine, and I swear it changes the way my face looks. It’s as if there is a light source underneath my make up, and yes, I realize how crazy that sounds. But it’s true. I would be in on this product for the long term effects alone, but the fact that it leaves my face looking shiny and new each time I use it has turned me into a Ready Steady Glow fan.
This summer I did a kitchen clean out. We needed help in the glassware department, and these beauties from West Elm hit the nail on the head.
Here’s what I love about them. They are a cool shape. They are low, wide, and modern, but in a non-trendy sort of way. Second, they nest. This means I can stack them on the shelf and twelve glasses take up almost no space in our tiny kitchen. Third, they are readily available and if you wait for a sale, they are super affordable. We break glasses in our home pretty frequently, so I always make sure we purchase items that can be replaced. These fit the bill. I love using the short squatty ones for wine, the mid-sized ones for cocktails or water without ice (I feel super glam when I do this), and at some point I will purchase the tall ones to use for iced tea or water. They slip effortlessly into the dishwasher, and they look beautiful on the table. I have loved these glasses both functionally and aesthetically.
I’m sorry, but I am going to need you to promise me that you will make this Parmesan Chipotle Popcorn as soon as possible and share it with everyone you know. This is my new favorite snack-atizer, and it could not be any simpler. You’re going to definitely want to make sure you use chipotle chili powder (not regular chili powder), and you are definitely going to want to use real Parmesan, not the fake stuff. Pop some corn, melt some butter, throw on the chili powder, salt, and cheese. Self control does not stand a chance in the presence of your new favorite party food.
Do you know Brene Brown? Brene is an author and researcher. I like to pretend that she and I are best friends, when, in reality, we have never met. I am only mildly obsessed with her work, and if one day I get the chance to hang out with her, I will look her in the eye and express my sincere gratitude for changing my life in the best way possible.
Her work and her writing are ground breaking and center around vulnerability and shame. Her teaching is based on years of research, and the data she has collected is astounding. I love the truth of what she shares, and I love that she’s not making this stuff up. She is a researcher sharing scientific findings about common human experiences. I never regret reading her books, and they are on my list of revolving titles that I revisit with frequency.
Dare To Lead is written with an intended audience of corporate leaders, but as I read it, I found so much truth that could be applied to any leader in any setting. Are you a CEO? Read this book. Are you a teacher? Read this book. Are you a leader of a committee? Read this book. Do you lead your family? Read this book. Seriously, everyone, read this book.
This is going to sound strange, but I am all in on freshly ground cracked pepper. And I’m not talking about the kind that comes out of a grinder that you twist. I’m talking about having a tumbler full of it at the ready at all times.
For years I heard Ina tell me to use freshly ground cracked pepper, and I didn’t listen. I honestly didn’t think it was that important. It just seemed easier to buy the pepper already ground. Someone gave me a hand-cranked pepper grinder a long time ago, and I used it every once in a while, but those contraptions are a beating. They work at the dinner table for a quick grind on your salad or something of the like. But if you are cooking and need two teaspoons of freshly ground pepper, you are not going to stand there and hand crank that thing for fifteen minutes until you have the necessary amount. Or, rather, I’m not going to do that. It takes forever!
For the Ina project, and because I am a literalist and a rule follower, I purchased a small coffee grinder and a large quantity of whole black peppercorns. Fine, fine, fine, I thought. I’ll grind my pepper. What’s the big deal? Oh. It’s only the biggest of deals and I’m never going back. My love affair with fresh pepper is bordering on crazy. I cannot get enough of the stuff. It’s like the pepper I’ve been using this whole time was a shadow of the real thing, and now that I’ve tasted the real stuff, full of zip and zing and peppery-ness, I cannot go back.
Freshly ground black pepper is a game changer, and the texture from the spice grinder (every once in a while you get a really nice big chunk) is far and away better than the uniform little specks that come out of the jar. I am one hundred percent in on the fresh pepper scene, and I want you to join me. Grind an entire jar, keep it in a ramekin near your stove, and start shelling that stuff out on everything that comes into your kitchen. You will never go back.