Hello, my friends!

How are you doing in these crazy times? I hope you’re staying strong, taking good care of yourself, and consuming only the bare minimum of news and social media that you need to function.

Every year around this time I write to you with a list of books and games I recommend as Holiday gifts. This year, I thought I’d share a pandemic special – my 8 favorite items I’ve bought in the last 7 months. These are Laybourne/Podunovich family tested and approved. (Please note – I’ve used a few affiliate links in here – I hope that doesn’t bother you.)


My husband Greg stopped drinking coffee and got hooked on tea. I surprised him with this Chai sampler/ Glass teapot set during those first intense months of lockdown. It was a smash hit. He prepares himself a beautiful cup of tea every morning. The kettle is really lovely to look at and works very well.


I splurged on this after having lunch (in early March!) with my cousin DeeDee Rescher. She pulled out a lipstick and put it on after the meal and I stopped her because the shade was so beautiful.  I got this Perricone MD lipstick set for myself (a huge indulgence) but I have never enjoyed a purchase more. This lipstick is so light and soft. It goes on like butter and makes the skin on your lips feel good. I don’t know how they do it, but I’m going to be giving this set as a gift come Christmas time. (And now you know, Mom.) 


I got us a set of these much-hyped bamboo sheets on Amazon and they are so lovely to sleep on. The bamboo helps keep you cool if you tend to get hot in the night. The fabric is luxurious, super silky and smooth. And I hear bamboo sheets better for the environment than cotton ones. I’m so happy when it’s these sheets’ “turn” on my bed!


I bought this as a birthday present for Lulit, my wonderful, dance-loving niece. She loved this game so much they played it during her (virtual) birthday party. Dance Charades would be a great gift for any active kid who needs to vent some energy. 


Confession – I had such a bad headache for a solid week that I became convinced I had contracted COVID-19. The headache wouldn’t respond to painkillers or caffeine. It was this tight band around my forehead. Then I read up on headaches and realized, to my chagrin, it was coming from tight back and neck muscles. I did some research and ordered this glorious (heated) back and neck massager and in a half-hour of lying on it – my headache disappeared. 


When I buy books, I try to spread out the purchases to multiple indie bookshops. I have my favorites from years of touring with Fierce Reads. But I also got a gift subscription to Book Of the Month as a Christmas gift last year and it was a really lovely thing to have during the pandemic. They send you an email every month and you get to choose a new book from an excellent (and short) list. For a book lover like me, this was a huge treat. I looked forward to it every month. I bet any book lover in your life would love it, too. Give it a try here (and if you sign up, they’ll send me a free book.)


We played a lot of the classic board game Dominion in April and May. The game has just the right amount of complexity to hook our teenagers. Rex beat us almost every time – his strategy? Buy Estates. (You’ll see!) I highly recommend this for families with kids 12 and up.


Okay, look, first of all, in Los Angeles wearing athletic slides is a TOTALLY acceptable look. Secondly, I started hiking so much in those first months of lockdown that I developed plantar fasciitis. These Hoka slides are heaven to wear. They are so comfortable. And only slightly orthopedic-looking…?

That’s it for my list of my favorite 8 things I bought during Coronatimes. Looking at it now, I realize a good number of these are self-care items I bought for myself. Well… good! That works, right? Self-care is essential. I dare you to take excellent care of yourself right now! Whatever that means to you. :-)

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That’s it for now, my friends. I hope this list makes your shopping a bit easier this Holiday season. I’m sending you and all of America vibes of peace, love, and compassion.