Sabra Morris is a freelance writer, editor and content developer for lifestyle magazines, city and regional magazines and custom publications. She blogs at sabramorrismedia.com and these are her good things.
Good things to read.
In The Woods, by Tana French. It’s one of the most chilling, riveting, hauntingly beautiful murder mysteries I’ve ever encountered. French draws you in with her prologue prose and never lets you go. It begins, “Picture a summer stolen whole from some coming-of-age film set in small-town 1950s. This is none of Ireland’s subtle seasons mixed for a connoisseur’s palate, watercolor nuances within a pinch-sized range of cloud and soft rain; this is summer full-throated and extravagant in a hot pure silkscreen blue. This summer explodes on your tongue tasting of chewed blades of long grass, your own clean sweat, Marie biscuits with butter squirting through the holes and shaken bottles of red lemonade picnicked in tree houses.” I challenge you to get your full eight hours in at night after picking up this book.
Design Sponge. One of the members of the bloggers’ old guard, Design Sponge is also one of this media form’s most successful members. Writer Grace Bonney created it in 2004 to explore and celebrate all things design. Since then, it has become one of the most gorgeous, inspirational Web sites for discovering new trends in fashion, home décor, business, food and more. I also love the site’s Biz Ladies section, which features small business advice for, and profiles of, successful female entrepreneurs. What makes this site different than other trend-driven forms of media is its editorial voice, which evokes respect for design integrity above all else.
Smashing Magazine is an online magazine for Web developers and designers. As a writer, I often collaborate with designers to produce content. This site helps me see things from a designer’s point of view. I also love the free monthly Desktop Wallpaper Calendar downloads. They’re all beautifully done and give me something to look forward to changing as each new month begins.
Good things to watch.
BBC America. I haven’t really gotten into a long-running TV series since Lost. These days, I’m tuning in to shows with shorter commitment windows, such as Luther and Broadchurch, both of which rolled out brand new episodes this year on BBC America. I was a huge fan of AMC’s first season of The Killing, so I was thrilled to discover the same caliber of complexity of writing in Broadchurch, a mystery / crime drama series that focuses on the events surrounding a child’s murder in a small coastal English town. Broadchurch’s entire plot ran its course in 8 whip-smart episodes early this fall. And after months of waiting around for Luther to air its third season, I finally got to see the incomparable Idris Elba back on the small screen as the explosive, intense detective this past September. These two shows were so clever and satisfying, I can only hope they will both be available on Netflix later this year — and that BBC America has more good stuff waiting in the wings.
Pardon the Interruption (PTI). I come to PTI by way of my husband, who never misses an episode of the ESPN talk show. It’s hosted by Tony Kornheiser, a veteran Washington Post columnist, sports writer and radio show host, and his friend and colleague Michael Wilbon, also formerly of the Post. PTI deals with the most up-to-the-minute news in sports at a fast pace. What makes this show different than other shows of its type is the rhythm and chemistry between these two wild and crazy guys. They’re so engaging and their timing is so perfect, I feel like I could sit and watch them banter on about anything. I’m not a big sports nut (my interests are confined to NFL football and the occasional college basketball game) but I still manage to be entertained by PTI every time it’s on, which is every night in my house.
Good things to use.
OmniFocus. I love to geek out on productivity. And after almost two years of use, I can honestly say OmniFocus is still The Organization Tool I Can’t Live Without. A listing program developed by the Omni Media Group, OmniFocus helps me to categorize all of my life and work tasks into lists that can be organized and filtered by project or client (a great feature for work, where I manage multiple clients and projects at once) and searchable by contexts, such as home, work, kids or pets. It allows me to view only office tasks while in office mode or home-related tasks when focusing on personal to-do list items. I also love the “Waiting” context, which hides tasks I’ve begun, but are waiting for action from someone else before they can move forward. The best part: I can sync my lists across devices, such as my iPhone or iPad so I’m never without them, and can easily add to tasks on-the-go.
What to Drink with What you Eat, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. This is a reference-style manual that tells you which drinks to pair with just about any food or type of cuisine you can name. Just look up what’s for dinner tonight, and you’ll find beverage-pairing suggestions for your meal. And it’s not just wine. The book covers beer, coffees, teas and other nonalcoholic beverages like soda and milk. Curious about what to pair with your McDonald’s Fillet O’ Fish? It’s in there.
The Freedom No-Pull Harness. Made by an independent company called Wiggles Wags n’ Whiskers, the Freedom No-Pull Harness is the best leash-walking tool I’ve ever tried for my two energetic and erratic hounds. Unlike most easy-walk harnesses, this one has two points of contact, one on the chest for steering and one on the back for control. It also helps distribute the force of the pull, making it more comfortable to wear than traditional harnesses. My dogs also have almost no hair on their bellies, so the velvet underside strap is really the only thing they’ve been able to tolerate without chafing. Trust me, this is the best harness on the market, hands-down.
Charles Viancin Lily Pad Lid. I guess I couldn’t resist adding a fourth item to my “to-use” list. I bought one of these for myself on a whim last year and (spoiler alert!) everyone I know is getting one for Christmas 2013. It’s basically a vented silicone lid, shaped like a lily pad and it must have a million uses. It forms a seal around smooth-rimmed bowls, which makes it an ideal temporary cover, good for keeping steam in, and bugs out (for those summer cookouts) of family-style entrees. It’s great for reheating leftovers in the microwave and also works well for short-order food storage. Dishwasher safe? You bet.
Connect with Sabra on Twitter, @MediaMorris.