Give the gift of words

You could gift a kitten, but books are so much easier to wrap.

Whenever I'm stumped for a gift (or running behind on my shopping), I rely on one of the best options out there, the gift of words. (OK, I usually give books even if I'm not running behind, but whatever.)

So when it's three days before Christmas, the seventh day of Hanukkah, one day after the Winter Solstice and just a week until New Year's — like it is today! — hit a bookstore and grab a good old-fashioned print book. Bonus: they'll often wrap your selections too! (And you *could* give the gift of audio or e-book if your giftee would prefer...)

To help you along this season, here's a list of some of my published-in-2014 favorites (with affiliate links), and a few other favs I dug into this year.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin (pub. 2014)

A tale about a bookseller and a mysterious package. Lovely little novel that reminds us "why we read and why we love."

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett (pub. 2014)

A collection of short stories from a master (Bel Canto, State of Wonder, Run). If you've got a dog lover in your life, buy this book just for "Dog Without End," about her beloved Rosie. P.S. David Sedaris recommends this as the one book to buy this year.

Juice: Recipes for Juicing, Cleansing and Living Well, by Hayden Slater, Carly de Castro, and Hedi Gores (pub. 2014)

I overstayed my welcome with the library on this one because the founders of L.A.-based Pressed Juicery included 75 recipes from the shop's most popular items. And they're good.

I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool For Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail, by Gail Storey (pub. 2013)

For fans of Wild, I recommend Storey's memoir. Same hike, completely different journey.

The Vampire Psychologist series, by Lynda Hilburn (reprinted 2012)

I devoured (see what I did there?) this urban fantasy series. Kismet Knight is a Denver psychologist who finds herself in the middle of the vampire underworld. Smart, sexy and funny. Good for those who loved Deborah Harkness' All Souls trilogy. The first in the series is The Vampire Shrink.

A Thousand Mornings, by Mary Oliver (pub. 2012)

One of my favorite collections of poetry. Use this all the time in my restorative yoga classes. Just simply beautiful.

Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal, by Rachel Naomi Remen (pub. 1996)

I've given so many copies of this book to friends and family (and read it so many times) that I can't keep count anymore. It's been around almost 20 years (updated once for its tenth anniversary), but its messages are timeless.

What books would you add to this list?

Seven months down, five to go (ack!)


Hey ho. Here we are again. Another month gone by. And, frankly, I haven't done much on my #40before41 list but read because I've been busy with work (which has included new things not on my list, like mountain biking), participating in #thedailybon, and loving on a new foster pup.


Time to revisit and reconnect. Catch ya back here in a month!

• 40 Before 41 • 


• Develop a new website for my blog — Do you like? • Have a tarot reading done — A friend read the cards for me on my birthday. They indicated a lot of challenge over the next year, but lots of potential success too. She offered to read my cards again for my half birthday, and then she had to take her daughter to urgent care to have a bead removed from her nose. The things you never consider when you don't have kids! Another day... • Find more opportunities to dance — Still trying to tap dance regularly at Ormao (the evening changed so it's gotten a little harder, but now they've added a second class so we'll see if that helps) - made some new friends through it, which I wasn't expecting. Also still line dancing every Sunday. • Visit a hot springs in Colorado — I visited Mount Princeton Hot Springs in Buena Vista, Colorado, with my dear friend Jessica. It rained as we sat in the pools and it was a lovely, sensory experience. • See my byline in a national magazine — Woot! This happened! I've got a story in the Sept./Oct. 2014 issue of Spirituality & Health magazine. Look for it on newsstands now. I'm also working with on some travel pieces which is super exciting. • Climb Pikes Peak — My #CouchTo14er is complete. This was the biggie on my list. • Take a trip with a girlfriend — Not only did Amber climb Pikes Peak with me, but she and I travelled to Breckenridge for a training hike weekend, which was loads of fun. I am still hoping to take at least one more trip with a girlfriend who I don't see regularly. • Skinny dip — Ahem. Done. And I have photos to prove it. Whether or not anyone else will get to them remains to be seen. Lol. • Learn to make ginger beer — Haven't tried it on my own yet. I figure it's a good middle of winter thing to attempt. • Plant and grow something edible outside — One tomato plant, chard, basil, baby lettuce and mint made it into the pots. I feel like the herbs succeeded, the rest, not so much. • Intentionally play music in the house every day — This has been awesome actually. Somehow it makes the house feel more like a home. • Continue to reduce my wardrobe, a la Project 333 — This was my biggie for October. I joined in on the #33in33 challenge, and you can read more about my journey here, here and here.

In Progress

• Yoga and meditation, daily — Up and down with this. Getting to the mat each day is a real practice. • Blog at least twice a week — I think I'm averaging once a week now, which is much less than I'd hoped, but growing. • Read at least 52 books — Still ahead of schedule. Thirty-six books down, six in progress. I'm still trying to focus on finishing books I've started and set aside lately. • Send a snail mail letter/card/postcard/gift once a month — On track. • Journal at least weekly — This is so not happening. I think I like the idea of journalling more than the act itself. • Invest in a week’s worth of matching bras and panties (foundations matter!) — Five new sets purchased. Lots of lace. • Participate in a stage show (play, musical, etc.) as cast or crew — No callback from my audition for me, so it's time to do more research for new options. • Play paintball — Recruiting friends to join in because this seems like it would be more fun with a group. • Facilitate and participate in at least one improv writing session a month — Summer schedules and sickness got in the way this and last month. Hoping to get back on track soon. • Build a terrarium — Haven't built a full terrarium, but I do now have a mini hanging terrarium with rocks and an air plant. • Learn to bake French macarons — Looking for classes, have one potential option. • Plan my next trip to France — I've been chit-chatting and plotting and planning with my British friend Tamsin, owner of the Little French Retreat, about this ... • Take French language lessons — Tracked down a local French language Meetup group and two friends to go with me. Looking for other options as well. • Make new connections with at least three bloggers I respect — In progress! Figure out my signature style — This is happening as part of #Project333 and thanks to Pinterest. • Take classes on how to use all the buttons on my DSLR — I signed up for a class in November but it got canceled, so looking for other options. • Have at least one item of clothing tailored to fit — I've decided on jeans. And I'm currently saving to buy a premium pair. • Get will and living will in order — I've found a lawyer. Now, to make the call. • Visit Ojo Caliente — The hubs and I have been talking about doing this for our anniversary. Yip! • Give generously what I want to receive — I'm learning that this means to others and to myself. I have to treat myself well for optimum functioning, physically and mentally. It's a life-long WIP, really. • Show up (my 2014 “one-word” soul mantra) — I kinda think all of this is about showing up. Right?

Ahead of Me Still

• Find the perfect red lipstick (and wear it) • Add a piece of original art to my collection • Stay up once all night until sunrise • Perform at a poetry slam/open mic • Get make-up tips from a pro • Take performance driving lessons 

And ... the Not Gonna Happen This Year List

• Attend the Santa Fe Opera — Unfortunately, I didn't jump on this, and it looks like I won't be able to attend until next summer, after my birthday. Kinda sad about that, but perhaps if I ask for tickets FOR my birthday that will count?

What have you been up to lately? Let me know in the comments!