January 2022 Reading Recap

I usually have a strong start to my yearly reading, and this year was no exception. I’ll get right to it… this is what I read in January:

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (5 stars) – This book was recommended to me by friends as a “OMG, I can’t believe you haven’t read this yet!”. I would put this book into the same category as Educated and Hillbilly Elegy – stories of adults who grew up in extreme poverty with toxic and/or inconsistent parents, learned the lessons and broke the cycle. I appreciate the authors of all of these books for not only conveying the day to day life of these situations but also what it feels like, which is key for those of us from different backgrounds to gain understanding of what that life is like.

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle (4 stars) – This book was recommended by a PA superintendent during a webinar I was on in November. She mentioned it as being useful in uniting her board members. I’m pretty sure I ordered it on the spot, and I’m thankful I did. As a new school board president I’m encountering some challenges that this book gave me insight into how to steer us towards success.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (4.5 stars) – I’ve had TJR’s books on my ‘to be read’ list & pile for AGES. I enjoyed the interview format of this novel, and the story was engaging the entire way through. It didn’t quite merit 5 stars because when I was done with it I knew I wanted to read more of her works but I didn’t finish this one with the big exhale that I typically have with a 5 star read.

Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Core by Patric Richardson & Karin Miller (4 stars) – I heard about this book from my favorite book podcaster, Anne Bogel. Not only does this book have great laundry tips (a tried and true stain guide for everything!) but offers engaging stories about the author’s history with clothing, laundry and his Southern family.


Currently Reading: Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman – I first found this work as the short series on Netflix when it came out in 2020. I thought the main character and her story was so engaging that I knew I wanted to read the source book. I found it on the shelf at Goodwill a couple of weeks ago (still one of my favorite places to pick up books!) so I grabbed it and dove in.

2021 Reading Recap

32 books. 11,014 pages. Here’s an overview by genre, and then I’ll give you a list of my 5 star reads. In no particular order…



Comfort & Joy – Kristin Hannah

Royal Holiday – Jasmine Guillory

In a Holidaze – Christina Lauren

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling

People We Meet on Vacation – Emily Henry

Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling

Normal People – Sally Rooney

Writers & Lovers – Lily King

One Last Stop – Casey McQuiston

Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling

This Time Next Year – Sophie Cousens

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

I Was Told It Would Get Easier – Abbi Waxman

In Five Years – Rebecca Serle



I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life – Anne Bogel

Why We Swim – Bonnie Tsui

Not All Diamonds and Rose: The Real Housewives Spilling Tea, Throwing Shade and Sharing Secrets – Dave Quinn

Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You – Jason Reynolds

This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action and Do the Work – Tiffany Jewell

How to Be an Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi

Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education – Ken Robinson

The Housewives: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewives – Brian Moylan

The Unlikely Thru-Hiker: An Appalachian Trail Journey – Derick Lugo

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World – Adam Grant

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed – Lori Gottlieb

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stevenson

Is This Anything? – Jerry Seinfeld

Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen – Dan Heath

Educated – Tara Westover

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Building a Story Brand – Donald Miller

The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1 – Robert Lacey


5 Star Reads of 2021:

Why We Swim – Bonnie  Tsui

In a Holidaze – Chrisitna Lauren

Not All Diamonds and Rose: The Real Housewives Spilling Tea, Throwing Shade and Sharing Secrets – Dave Quinn

Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You – Jason Reynolds

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling

Writers & Lovers – Lily King

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed – Lori Gottlieb

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stevenson

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

Educated – Tara Westover

Building a Story Brand – Donald Miller


I’m starting 2022 strong – I’ve already finished my first two books of the year. First was The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. This is a book that so many people said to me, “I can’t believe you haven’t read it!” A memoir that follows the childhood of the author growing up poor, traveling around the country to the next place their family believes they can put down roots, all with the aim of building their Glass Castle. Then I read The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle. This book was recommended during a presentation by a superintendent of another district as one of the resources she used to guide her school board through some team building exercises. Hoping to implement some of the ideas with my own team! Up next is Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Reid seems to be one of the hot authors lately turning out a new release every year or so. This will be the first book of hers that I have read but Malibu Rising is also in my ‘near future’ pile of books.

Holiday Surprise Boxes

Like many others, during 2020 I went down the TikTok rabbit hole. Around the holidays, I loved seeing what others were baking, how they were decorating their homes and what they were crafting. I also loved watching people open all kinds of different Advent calendars – ones with jam, cheese, wine, legos, toys, makeup – you name it and it came in an Advent calendar. One night a thought came to me… “Why doesn’t Gingersnaps have an Advent Calendar?” So early in 2021 I started making plans!

One point that was important to me was to make our “advent calendars” more inclusive – not just for those who celebrate Christmas in whatever form (birth of Christ or with Santa delivering gifts), but for those who may celebrate other holidays this time of year. So I wanted to specifically call them something different – and the Holiday Surprise Box was born.

For the first time this year we launched 2 Holiday Surprise Boxes – one with hairbows and one with scrunchies – each with 12 wrapped items inside. Each item would be made of materials not already offered in our product selection – new colors, patterns and fabrics. Any holiday-specific items would be swapped for more general patterns/colors for families who I knew didn’t celebrate Christmas to reflect their faith traditions. Each box would be packed with the same items in the same order, but with there only being 12 items the recipient could start opening the items at any time.

I set up a launch schedule that would allow me to make sure I had enough materials on hand and get the boxes out in a timely fashion. The boxes were announced in late July and more information was shared on social media in August. Orders were open during the month of September only. Then I used October and early November for supply ordering, making the items for each box and packing for shipping. Boxes were mailed on November 15.

I have started daily reveal videos (to be shared on Instagram & Facebook stories) to show off what products are included in each box this year. I do have extras of some of the pieces, so if you see something that you’re interested in but didn’t get a box please reach out and I’ll try to hook you up if I can. Any remaining pieces will be launched on the Gingersnaps website during 2022.

If you have a Holiday Surprise Box this year, please share photos/videos on social media and tag @gingersnapsbows/#gingersnapsbows! We’d all love to share in the excitement!

Thank you again for your support and I’m looking forward to making plans for our 2022 Holiday Surprise Boxes. To make sure you know when our 2022 boxes are available for order, join our mailing list here!

Fall recipes for you!

This fall has been busy (which I am thrilled about!) but we’re also trying to eat at home more since eating out has gotten so expensive. We’re past the point of getting kids meals for the 3 kids, my kids have also discovered the joys of the appetizer course and we all know the cost of food is rising and some restaurants are even instituting a service charge for using a credit card! So back to menu planning and cooking at home most (if not all) nights of the week it is. I happened to find one of the Half Baked Harvest cookbooks the last time I went to Home Goods (this one) and I snapped it right off the shelf. I’ll be cooking a good number of the recipes this month and I’ll be back in November with an update.

But for now, here are a few recipes that we had recently that we loved. I made 2 soups last week. This butternut squash soup was *chefs kiss*, but my friend just told me she also added carrots to it. Genius idea! I also made this mushroom soup and made it smooth with my immersion blender. It was a good start but I will add more salt and herbs next time I make it.

I made these pumpkin bars last week for our middle & high school pep band before their home game (our music association feeds them pizza before home games and I’ve been baking for them too). So delicious but next time I make it I will make 1.5 times the amount of cream cheese icing. The recipe given covers the bars, but a little extra is never a bad thing!

Introducing The Sawyer!

I’m excited to not only bring you a new product this month, but to bring you the story behind the piece and it’s name. Last December in a social media post about planning for 2021 I asked for suggestions and ideas of what products you’d like to see. I received an email from a long-time customer who I had originally met through a local running group. She’s the parent of 4 little ones, and had a unique need for one of her children:


“My 4 year old son has long curly hair that we keep out of his eyes with hair clips. He would like hair clips that are geared more towards boys than girls.”


I created a few options for him and sent them off for her son to try. I made our clippies without the bow on top in a few solid colors, and covered some snap clips in a faux leather. Her son gravitated immediately to the covered snap clips and wore them daily! And so, the Sawyer was born.


This product is special because it was created with all children in mind. The Sawyer fits with our clean, classic styling but offers patterns and colors that would appeal to boys and girls to show their personality.


These are one of the few products that I offer that doesn’t involve ribbon. The Sawyer is made with metal snap clips and faux leather. The leather is first cut to our custom dimensions. Then a slit is cut on the back side for the clip to fit through. Next the piece is glued together and checked for flaws. The clips are packaged on our branded cards and are ready to travel to you!

March & April Reading

I read two books each in March and April, bringing my total for the year to 14! I’m already looking forward to warm summer days at the pool and lots of reading time! Here’s what I read!

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens – This story is told in “Sliding Doors” fashion which I love… present day happenings mixed with flashbacks to previous points in the characters’ lives. This was a quick, inviting read and a great choice for a light romcom novel. 4/5 stars

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb – I loved this book. I had it in my Kindle app forever and just like with Crawdads I’m sorry it took me so long to read it! A fascinating look at a therapist dealing with her patients, her own life issues and her journey through therapy. 5/5 stars

The Unlikely Thru-Hiker by Derick Lugo – This was a pick for a book club that’s an offshoot of my hiking group. Definitely an interesting story – Derick is a New Yorker who in a down moment in his life decides to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. The one thing that was missing for me was how he prepared for the journey. His account goes from making the decision to showing up on his first day with a perfectly outfitted pack. 4/5 stars.

Originals by Adam Grant – I discovered the work of Adam Grant in the last year through Instagram, and organizational psychology has always been my favorite niche in psychology. This is the first book of his that I’ve read, but I’ve also enjoyed his podcast and his appearances on other podcasts. In this book Grant breaks down what non-traditional processes have led to great innovations and groundbreaking thoughts (and there’s a section on how to raise children to learn these skills!). As someone who is an introvert and has always thought about the world a little bit differently and aspires to lead the best I can, I appreciated his insights and will work to incorporate them into my own practice. 4/5 stars

In other bookish news, the physical pile of books that I have in my house that I still have to read has grown a little unwieldy. I’ll be taking some time early next week to sort through them and make a priority reading list for this summer. I’ll update when I know what’s on it!

What have you been reading lately?

Monthly Menu – April 2021

“Gee Sarah, it’s been AGES since you posted your family’s menu!”

Yes, yes it has… and here’s the reason. My kids and husbands are very avid skiers. They live for ski season, they talk about it all summer long. My kids race for Blue Mountain Racing, so they’re at practice every Saturday and Sunday from the beginning of December to early March. Now let’s add into that my husband not travelling like he normally does, so he and our oldest son have committed to skiing every single day that Blue Mountain is open. Every day. Add onto that a weeknight practice, middle school ski team… so basically every weeknight for 3 months I really had no idea how many people I was feeding until everyone got home from school and the kids decided if they were skiing that night. So I kept my kitchen stocked with meals I knew everyone liked and just flew by the seat of my pants. (and yes, I know this sounds nuts but it works for us).

So now it’s spring and I’m trying to get back in the groove of menu planning. I went through my stack of recipes I want to try, added in a few favorites, and this is a basic list of what we’re having to eat this month. I’ll let you know next month which ones were hits and misses.

Chicken Nuggets/Mac & Cheese – if you shop at Costco, don’t sleep on the Just Bare (green bag) brand of chicken nuggets. They taste just like Chic-fil-A nuggets and I hear they’re amazing in an air fryer!
Pork chops
Spaghetti & Meatballs
Beef tacos
Chicken Marsala
Sheet pan salmon
Pork tenderloin
Sausage & tortellini
Roast beef
Chicken salsa stew
Flank steak
Chicken with artichokes
Beef Bourguignon
Make your own pizza

What’s been on your menu lately?

All about… the Sale page

Today’s post kicks off a series where I’ll talk about some of the behind the scenes of Gingersnaps Bows. I’ll give you the history and deeper insight into our products and explain some of the hows and whys of the business. Today I’m going to kick off by talking about our Sale Page.

The Sale page that’s part of the Shop menu is a new addition in early 2021. When I’m shopping online at different sites and retailers, no matter what I’m looking for if there is a sale page I’m sure to click over there also before I check out. To me, you never know what kind of hidden gems may be waiting for you there!

The Gingersnaps Bows sale page will generally have two types of items – those that are being discontinued and sample sale pieces. Once a pattern or holiday style has been in our rotation for a while, I’ll move it to the sale page when there are a few left to make room for new patterns or other holiday items.

Sample sale pieces are ones that I make when I’m trying something new, or using just a smaller batch of ribbon that I might have on hand. You’ll find these pieces have the same quality and finishes as our regular price pieces, I just have them to offer in smaller numbers. In some cases, there may just be 2 or 3 of a particular item, so if you’re interested in it when you see it, I suggest that you don’t wait to purchase.

For both the discontinued items and the sample sale items on our Sale page, when they’re gone they’re gone. These items are ones that I’m not planning to restock to make space in our inventory for newer items.

Happy shopping!

February Reading

So somehow it’s the middle of March… but here’s what I read in February (in no particular order)!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – This book was incredible and I was actually mad at myself for not reading this sooner. This novel chronicles the untraditional childhood and early adulthood of Kya, known in her community as “The Marsh Girl.” She deals with an extraordinary amount of loss and parents herself from a young age. I was swept in by her strength and resilience and was so proud of the woman she became. I know a book is powerful when I need a little break before starting my next read (I call this a book hangover), and I had a big one after finishing this novel. (5/5 stars)

I Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman – Modern Mrs. Darcy included this book in her 2020 summer reading preview, and I grabbed it from my library’s new release shelf at the end of January. This story is told from alternating viewpoints of a single mother and her teenage daughter as they are part of a week-long college tour group. As someone who will parent teenagers in the coming years, I found the insights each character revealed as part of the mother/daughter relationship interesting. This was a quick, light read that I very much enjoyed. (4.5/5 stars)

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson – This book has been on my TBR forever and I promised myself I would read it before seeing the movie. The author is a young attorney who starts an organization to provide pro bono services for inmates on death row in Alabama in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. He profiles black inmates who were wrongfully convicted of crimes and those who he could not save from their execution. His first hand accounts are heart-wrenching and show just how complex the legal system in his state is and how complicated it is for someone to navigate. (5/5 stars)

Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld – I’ve never been a fan of the show Seinfeld, but I adore his standup. This book is the entirety of his standup bits divided by decade, and if you can picture him saying them it’s the best standup show ever. (4/5 stars)

In Five Years by Rebecca Searle – I had high hopes and it just missed the mark for me. I went in thinking this book would be one thing, and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The main character of this novel travels through 5 years of her life after she has a dream that flashed her forward. What was disorienting at first plays out in perfect bits towards her living her life authentically. (3.5/5 stars)

Where do I find my next read?

Now that you’ve found a way to challenge yourself to read more, it’s time to find some books!

Podcast episodes – I found the podcast “What Should I Read Next?” about 2.5 years ago and it is incredible. Each episode has the same format – after a get to know you chat with the guest, the host Anne Bogel asks the guest to talk about 3 books they love, 1 book they don’t and what they’re currently reading. Then based on clues she gets from those selections, Anne gives the guest 3 suggestions of books he/she may enjoy. (Side note, she does this on the fly! She has shared on Instagram that she takes notes during the episode and cultivates a list of potential books for the guest during the course of the conversation) You can scroll through the episode descriptions and find guests who you think may have interests similar to yours – I tend to skip the episodes with guests who are heavy into fantasy and horror reading, but if there’s mention of a guest who likes modern fiction with a complicated family story, I’m all in!

Browse library new books section – My local library has a long case right off the lobby filled with new releases – fiction on one side and nonfiction on the other. I look at these shelves every time I go and will grab one or two that sound interesting or that I’ve heard something about.

Talk to your independent bookstore owner/librarian – Guaranteed the bookstore owner and librarian is a reader and a book lover, and will have recommendations for you! He or she is also knowledgeable about what’s new in the publishing world even if it’s outside of their personal area of interest.

Head to your local thrift store – One underappreciated place for finding books is your local Goodwill or thrift shop! One of my daughter’s dance classes is only 30 minutes long and there’s a Goodwill 2 doors down from her studio in the shopping center, so every few weeks I’ll wander in to see what they have. At that store most of the books are only $1, and I’ve picked up so many that have been on my TBR (to be read) list. Even if you’re starting from scratch with no TBR, cruise the shelves at your local thrift store and see what interests you.

Go back to those well-known book clubs and scan the lists of what they’ve read: Oprah, Reese & Jenna

Book of the Month – This subscription service (which I am *this* close to joining) sends you one of 5 new releases for just $10-15, and then you can add on additional books for $10. The monthly picks are from a range of categories so you can try different genres and see which one you like the best.

Goodreads – Goodreads is the Facebook of the reading world. You can connect with friends to see what they’re reading, but your news feed will also tell you what books are trending in different areas and you can look at other users comments on a particular book to see if it might be for you.

Social Media – There are active book communities on both Instagram and TikTok. Search #bookstagram on Instagram and #booktok to see what others are reading, what they love and what they don’t love. My list of books I’m interested in has grown so much since finding these communities!

Take cues from what movies/TV you enjoy –  See if your favorite series or movie is based on a book (Outlander, Crazy Rich Asians, heck, even Bridgerton!) and dive in! Or read the book before you see an upcoming movie release. I have been holding out on seeing the movie Just Mercy for ages because I hadn’t read the book yet (just finished it over the weekend!), but I also binged Firefly Lane on Netflix last week even though the book has been on my shelf for ages.


I encourage you to keep notes either in a book journal or in an online form like Goodreads as you’re working through finding what you like. Keep notes about what works and what doesn’t work so you can further hone in on a genre/story arc/character type that you enjoy the most.

And I’m going to repeat my caveat:

As with making any change, give yourself some grace. Life happens and missing one piece of your reading goal is not something to stress about. They don’t call it “reading for enjoyment” for nothing. Meeting your reading goal shouldn’t be stressful, it should be exciting. Along those same lines, if a book isn’t serving you or giving you joy, it’s ok to put it down. As you are discovering what you like to read, you’ll have some hits and some misses. If you know 75 pages in that something is amiss, don’t feel like you need to finish the next 200 pages. Put it down and make note of why that book wasn’t the one for you. All of these pieces of information will refine your reading preferences and help you be more accurate about your picks in the long run. I wrote about how I did that in this post. At this point, I don’t put books down often because I have a better sense of what I like and what I think I won’t like. Finding your preferences is a journey.