1. Brooklyn Orchids 2016 Calendar: for the past few years I’ve created 12-month calendars to sell on Zazzle, using photos I took of orchids that year. I don’t sell many, but I always buy one for myself and one for my husband, and I figure some of my orchid blog readers might be interested. My calendar arrived this week, and for the cover I chose to feature a Western Fairy Slipper Orchid, the first native orchid I ever saw in the wild! If you’re at all interested in orchids or know someone who is, this would make a great holiday gift. BTW, Zazzle has discount codes just about every day this month so be sure to look for them on their website before placing your order!


2. A little holiday spirit: you may or may not have noticed the lack of holiday content on my blog. I’m generally not much of a winter holidays person; I was raised Jewish but as an adult I don’t really celebrate Hanukkah (though my parents send gifts). We were not one of those households that celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas (seriously, I was like the only kid in my Sunday School class who didn’t celebrate both). My husband was raised Catholic but he’s also not religious. I suppose I’m a bit of a Grinch. However, this year we decided to bring a bit of a festivity into our home. I bought this mini Christmas tree yesterday and set up a small vignette with our mini Halloween pumpkins and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I also got a mini Menorah on sale for $7.99 at Whole Foods (Hanukkah’s already halfway over!) that I proceeded to light from left to right instead of right to left. At Walgreens, I bought a strand of multicolored lights that I draped along the top of our wall of bookshelves and some tinsel that I draped over our pantry cabinet. That’s probably about as far as our holiday decor will go.  😛


3. Speaking of the holidays and how I don’t really celebrate them, my mom sent me this lovely gift for Hanukkah. It’s a beautiful purple bird batik print drawstring bag handmade by marginalized women and sex trafficking survivors. The brand name is CREABELI—short for Creating a Beautiful Life—and this item and more (jewelry, scarves, pants) are available at Made for Freedom, a St. Louis-based company started to fight for survivors and raise awareness about human trafficking. If this is a cause that interests you, I urge you to check out the company’s website; they’re doing great work.


4. The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East: I heard about this graphic memoir by former Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Riad Sattouf on NPR’s Fresh Air program a few weeks back and was intrigued. Mr. Sattouf appeared on the show to speak with Terry Gross about his work, and he was such a funny and engaging personality that I decided I had to read his memoir. To be honest, this is not a book that would have grabbed my attention in the store, so I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn about it on the radio. The book made it onto my gift wish list, and it arrived in the mail from my mom this week (more of me not celebrating Hanukkah). I’m looking forward to reading this one for sure.


5. Serial Podcast, Season 2: it’s baaaaaaack! You know…I wasn’t quite as enamored of the first season as everyone else was. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it—I certainly did—but I didn’t feel that obsessive need to listen to each new episode the second it was released. I do fully appreciate the effects of Serial on Adnan Syed’s case; he was recently granted a new hearing in light of evidence uncovered on the podcast, which brings to mind the focus brought on the West Memphis Three by HBO’s Paradise Lost documentaries. Here’s hoping Adnan’s case ends similarly. (If you couldn’t get enough of Serial, I command you to watch all three Paradise Lost documentaries ASAP.) I hadn’t heard a peep about the topic of season two, so I was surprised yesterday while reading the New York Times morning briefing to find out that A) episode one had just dropped, and that B) the subject is Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier held captive for five years by the Taliban after abandoning his platoon. There was controversy over Bergdahl’s release last year, in exchange for five Taliban detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay. I did not see that coming as a topic! I listened to the first episode and my interest has been piqued…we’ll see if season two lives up to the hype of season one. (Also, where’s Mail Kimp girl?!)