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.

How to change up your reading life

How to introduce more reading to your life and finding what to read seems to me like a chicken/egg problem. You’re not going to read more without having books to read but if you have books to read you also need a plan to get the reading done. So this is going to be a two part series and I’m going to arbitrarily pick which part to start with (the other part will come next Tuesday).

Part 1 – How to make changes to your reading life

I was the kid who always had a book in her hand. I would check out a stack of books from the library and tear through them after I got home. Libraries and bookstores continue to be a place of joy and excitement for me. But there was a period of my life when reading took a backseat (college, working, then working in Philadelphia and commuting 3 hours per day, and having small children). It got to a point where I knew that I missed reading and had to be mindful about how to incorporate it into my life again.

Here’s a list of ways you can be more mindful changing your reading life:

Set a goal – This goal could take any number of forms. Think about how you like to approach challenges and adapt that to your reading life. When I ran my first marathon, the thought of running 26.2 miles completely overwhelmed me. So my friend and I looked at the course map and broke it down to 7 milestones (places where I’d see my family, notable landmarks, etc). I could wrap my brain around just having to be 7 places much more easily than I could having to cover 26.2 miles. So if the thought of picking a “number of books” goal intimidates you, then choose something else.

A few examples of reading goals:
• Number of books – reading XX books per year/month
• Number of pages – reading XX pages per year/month
• Books on a topic – When I was in Key West a few years back visiting Hemingway’s house I had wished I had read some of his books and books about him before I went. What do you have coming up that you can read up on before you experience it?
• Back catalog of a favorite author – If there’s an author you enjoyed at one point, see if there are books of his/hers that you haven’t read yet.
• Number of minutes per day – Aim to read 5, 10 or more minutes per day. Use one of the strategies introduced by NAME HERE in Atomic Habits – attach that activity to one that is already a habit. For example, read 10 minutes right after you pour your morning coffee, or 10 minutes before your kids get off the bus.

Reading challenge – I’ve talked before about the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenges and the RAD Reading Challenge. I’m sure our friend Google would link you to many more options if you’d like to explore. I prefer a structure similar to this year’s RAD Reading Challenge because it encourages you to explore genres and types of books that may be out of your comfort zone. Last year I read 11/22/63 for this type of category in my reading challenge and LOVED it. I had always thought that I would never read a Stephen King book but I’m glad I pushed myself to try it.

Buddy read – I’m much more successful at reaching goals when I know there’s someone/something holding me accountable. Some days I’ll even text my to do list to a friend just to help keep myself on track. One way to do this with reading is to read the same book as a buddy or to just share your goals with each other and report in on them.

Book club – I know some of you are rolling your eyes right now at the words “book club,” but in the age of Covid they’ve taken on some interesting forms. Local book clubs may still be an option, but lots of businesses and organizations are offering discussion groups now too. Check your local independent book store, your college alumni association, and favorite magazine websites for read-together options. And on a much bigger scale there’s always our friends Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, and Jenna Bush Hager (from the Today Show) who have well known book clubs. Even some of my favorite bloggers and podcasters are hosting monthly reading groups. Lots of options!

What other strategies can we add to this list? I’d love to do a part 2 with your input!

And a 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.

January Reading

This year I broke my trend of setting my book goal as the last two digits of the year (so in 2021 it should have been 21 books). I have outpaced that goal for the last couple of years and set my 2021 reading goal at 40 books. I’m also participating in a couple of reading challenges this year, and using a reading bullet journal for the first time (which I’ll save for a later post).

I enjoy challenges because they force me to be more mindful about the books I’m choosing and stretch me outside of my reading comfort zone. The Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge for 2021 is much different than the past few years. She asks readers to evaluate their reading life and goals and to shape their own checkpoints for the year. I’m going to save mine for a mid-year check in on my reading. I wrote a few ideas down, but I want to see how this year progresses. The RAD Reading Challenge only has 9 topics and is great for those of you who are new to reading challenges.

I read 5 books in January, and did something with a 6th that I usually don’t do. I put it down without finishing it. In no particular order, here’s my take on each of those 6 books:
The Crown: The Official Companion by Robert Lacey – I love, love, love The Crown series on Netflix. I can’t remember where I heard about this book but it was part of the pile of books that my mom gifted me for Christmas. The author gives what actually happened in each episode of the first season and gives quick looks into the real lives of some of the characters. The book was interesting, but felt disorganized to me. I don’t love when the text of chapters are interrupted with pages of sidebar information. 3/5 stars.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah – This book was fascinating! I honestly didn’t know much about South Africa or Trevor Noah, but he fully immerses the reader in his life growing up there as the child of a black mother and white father. He does a wonderful job of explaining the cultural and racial landscape and how his mixed race affected him in various situations. 5/5 stars.

Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller – This book was recommended by members of my Rising Tide group, Tuesdays Together during our October meeting that focused on social media. It’s a bestseller for a reason – the author lays out a step-by-step process to refining your business’s or organization’s brand and how to convey that information through social media. 5/5 stars.

Educated by Tara Westover – Wowza. This book has been on my TBR (and my shelf) for a long while. The author grew up on a mountainside in Idaho with very non-traditional Mormon parents who didn’t believe in any government intervention in their lives – including sending their children to school. Westover shares her childhood and educational path through a wealth of stories – it’s a mentally and emotionally difficult read but well worth the time investment. 5/5 stars.

Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems before They Happen by Dan Heath – This book was recommended in the latest newsletter from the PA School Board Association, and I was delighted to find it in my local library. The author provides a great framework for looking at issues that may require systemic change or a creative view to solve. He identifies the roadblocks typically encountered in identifying these issues and a list of key questions to ask to solve them. This is a great read for anyone involved in any kind of business or organization! 5/5 stars.

And the one I didn’t finish…

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward – I started this book months ago, misplaced it for a little bit, and then picked it up again in January. The book just wasn’t sitting right with me at this time. I could have forced my way through it, but I’d rather wait and pick it up again at a later date. I feel like there is a stigma associated with putting unfinished books down. I believe that reading should be enjoyable (and yes, even difficult reads can be enjoyable), but forcing myself to read something isn’t worth my time.

What’s the last book you put down without finishing?

(Disclaimer: All links to books are Amazon Affiliate links, so Gingersnaps Bows will make a small profit off each book ordered from that link.)

Power Suit

There were many common themes in the events of Inauguration Day – the quality and tone of President Biden’s speech, the historical significance of VP Harris’ swearing in, the brilliance of Amanda Gorman’s words in her poem, and that the women of the day came immaculately and impressively dressed.*

Their outfits were downright striking – all dressed in brilliant hues, head to toe. The abundance of purple – what happens when blue is mixed with red – was outstanding . Dr. Biden was wearing light blue – the color an EdD wears at her graduation. These women all exuded confidence yesterday. I hope they felt the confidence inside that we all saw from the outside.

Since January 6, this picture has resonated with me for a very powerful reason.

These aides, an Emory University student (R) and a Northwestern University student (L), came to work this day dressed appropriately for their roles, probably not expecting this day to be as notable as it turned out to be. Once the insurrection started, these aides guarded our country’s democracy by carrying the electoral votes out of the chambers to safety. I later learned that the dress that the woman on the left was wearing sold out almost immediately. Because of their actions, the outfits these women wore on this day now carry those same attributes – power, safety, responsibility. I can only imagine that the women who ordered that dress on that day will also think of this intern every time they wear it and embody those qualities.

Yes, our confidence needs to come from inside, but there’s no reason our outsides cannot portray that confidence. For a few years I was an ambassador for a women’s running brand Oiselle. One of the most powerful concepts that I learned as part of that team was that of a power suit – clothing that makes you feel your best so you can do your best. Part of this blog post defines the concept of a power suit.

We all have the ability to approach our clothing choices with more insight. Every day, once you are dressed, close your eyes and ask yourself “how do I feel?” and “how do I think I’ll feel in six hours?” And if the answer is “probable foot pain” or “a dug-in underwire,” it might be time to break up with that garment. Take it off. Thank it for its service. Then, ask yourself – how do I want to feel today? What clothes make me feel that way. Define your powersuit, and wear it loud and proud in the world.

We all have those pieces of clothing in our closets that make us feel our best – perfect fitting jeans, a dress in the just-right color, shoes that feel like clouds. For me, even when I’m not feeling my best, I pull on favorite pieces of clothing so I can “fake it until I make it.” Wearing that outfit will help build my confidence and get me in the right frame of mind to tackle whatever I need to – it’s my power suit. I have favorite pieces of running clothing that I did amazing workouts in or raced a new personal record in that I’ll wear on days when I just don’t want to go run. My mood and mindset shifted because those pieces help me channel powerful energy.

Here at Gingersnaps Bows, we believe in the influence of the power suit for everyone, girls included. Our pieces help make the everyday special, allow girls to show their unique style, and make them feel their best. Our bows, headbands and scrunchies add some sparkle, whimsy and brightness to any day of the week.

*(In an ideal world, it would be about how smart and capable they are, about their contributions to our country, etc., but that’s another topic for another day!)

Photo credits:
Compilation of Women at Inauguration: @thehomeedit on IG
Capital Aides: Caroline Brehmen, via Getty Images