It’s Christmas week, and even if you do not celebrate, you probably have some time off. And if you do celebrate, maybe you need last-minute gifts (for others or yourself). And if you read this newsletter, you may have some interests that overlap with mine. Hence, a bonus list of recommendations based on the only three leisure activities I engage in: running, reading, and cooking. If you are looking for parenting or kid items, you won’t find them here, because this one’s about me!


I like to run in the dark at 5:30 in the morning. It’s my meditation time. Part of what I like about running (relative to, say, basketball) is that there isn’t a lot of setup or gear. But a few things that make it better…

  • Tracksmith. (Full disclosure, these guys wrote a piece on me recently. But they found me because I liked their stuff, not the other way around.) These are the best clothes I have found for running in the cold outside. I am obsessed with this top, which seems like it would not keep you warm at all but which I will wear without a jacket down to about 30 degrees. Below 30, I add a jacket and these tights. I will not lie, these are expensive. But not having to use the treadmill when it’s 25 degrees outside: priceless.
  • Gloves plus mittens. Here is my pro tip for other people who have a problem with circulation. You should wear gloves and put mittens over them. Game changer!
  • BSeen armbands. Because I do not want to be run over by a truck.
  • Garmin watch. I have a Forerunner, which I need to upgrade. But broadly, I like it.
  • Podcasts. Yes, I do podcasts and not music. I am into Slate’s One Year and Slow Burn. Sometimes The Daily, but honestly my day is too much about news as it is.
  • Oh, and if you want to be able to get up really early to run and not wake up your partner, allow me to recommend the Shake-n-Wake wrist alarm, which has been contributing to the happiness of my marriage for many years.


I read a lot of books for work (including a lot on parenting, some of which I’ve covered in this newsletter over the past year). But I was curious to look back to see what I’d read just for pleasure. It was a bit challenging to sort through my book orders, nearly all of which are elements of the Captain Underpants series, but here are some non-underpants-oriented books I thought were great, in the order of my reading them.


Cooking takes time, and I do not end up doing as much of it as I would like. (Thank you and shout-out to our babysitter, Clare, who does most of it and is also a better cook.) But I do have a lot of feelings about cooking. And the upside of my limited time is that most of this advice is made for people who also have limited time.

  • Instant Pot. Get it. Seriously. I like this Melissa Clark cookbook as a general place to start (the garlicky pork is fantastic). Also: tomato soup and chicken congee.
  • Smitten Kitchen Every Day, by Deb Perelman. Broccoli melts. Brussels sprout pasta bake. Any of the cakes. Blueberry muffins. Pizza beans. I have the original book too, but I come back to this one more since it’s more straightforward.
  • Egg rice.
  • Paprika. A menu-planning app that keeps recipes and groceries. It costs money but is worth it.

That’s it! Hopefully there is something fun in here for you. Have a wonderful holiday week! I’ll be back Thursday with something on sibling conflict and whether you can fix it.