Letter 28

December 19, 2019

Our 2019 favorites

It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this newsletter for over a year, but here we are! For our last letter of 2019, we took a look back at everything we recommended this year and chose our absolute favorites to revisit. Here are the ten things we still really love—maybe you’ll love them too.

We recommend

🍽 Reem’s Muhammara Recipe

I talk about Reem’s all of the time, and I think about this muhammara everyday; I won’t make it again until I have a bigger food processor, but I treasure the experience, weirdly, of peeling the red bell peppers while they cool down, sort of blistering my hands, knowing how much I truly love making food. You can read my original recommendation here.


📱 Youper

In the past year, I’ve gotten really into journaling and mood tracking, and this app has been my daily companion in both. I loved it when I wrote my original recommendation, and I still love it now.


📖 Hard Damage by Aria Aber

I started re-reading this the other day, cementing it as my favorite of 2019; Aria is brilliant and heartbreaking. Buy her book, and read my original recommendation here.



I have gone to Portland for XOXO two years in a row, and I feel very certain that I will continue going every year for as long as possible. When I first shared it in this newsletter, I had just gotten back from my second time attending this weird, wonderful conference, and I was already looking forward to going back. So I’ll say it again: if you have the opportunity, please go.


📺 Polygon’s Unraveled

Brian David Gilbert continues to make me laugh when I am very, very, sad. The videos just keep getting more elaborate and have given me comfort most consistently throughout 2019. I’m saying nothing new!


🍽️ No-knead bread

I made a lot of bread this year, and almost all of it was this no-knead bread that I am still in love with. It’s easy, great for beginners, and very delicious. My original recommendation still rings true—this bread has never let me down.


📖 Kingdom Animalia by Aracelis Girmay

I’ll never shut up about this book! I read it in June and I read it in August and I’ll read it again and again and again and again once I get my own copy! I am chasing that feeling of overwhelmed with every piece of media I engage with and this one will never stop giving. I love it. Read my first recommendation here.


📱 Cute-ify your calendar

If you are using a calendar app (I am using three, because I’m me) you should put some effort into making it nice to look at. All of my event names have emojis in them, and my calendars are light pinks, purples, and peaches—because default colors are boring!


🎶 Rilo Kiley’s The Execution of All Things

Surprisingly, Rilo Kiley didn’t end up being one of my Spotify wrapped top 5 artists. However, many of the songs from the album were on my top 100 playlist—A Better Son / Daughter near the top. This album came near the end of my 2019 when I truly needed a new way to communicate certain feelings. It helped and it continues to help. If you want my raw, spiral-y reaction, that’s in Letter 23.


📖 How to Not Always Be Working by Marlee Grace

This book has stayed with me every day since I read it. If you are struggling under the weight of projects and side-hustles and to-do lists, this book is for you. I mentioned earlier that I took notes while I read it, and I still revisit those notes from time to time, whenever I need to remind myself to take a break from work.