My Favorite Holiday Gifts, Part 1: Books

Christmas is two months away. I know! I know…it’s early to be thinking about it, but there was a time in life I had all my shopping done by the end of October. Those days are behind me, I’m afraid. I haven’t purchased the first gift this year. I have, however, been looking at possible gifts for a few months, and I’ve talked with friends and family about gift ideas. Because I’ve found so many awesome things, I’ve broken them into categories that I will feature over the next week or two: Books, Apparel, Accessories, Home, Travel, Men, and Stocking Stuffers…and maybe Kids & Teens. Today is BOOKS. These are nonfiction, with the exception of one, a collection of fiction short stories. I find it’s more difficult to gift fiction than nonfiction, but I have listed some popular authors’ recent fiction releases at the bottom, in case you have a friend or family member who is a fan of a particular author. I’ve read a few of these selections, but some were recommended by friends. Without further ado, here are some books, in no particular order, I think would make great gifts:

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Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon. If you were lucky enough to see her when she visited Charlotte last month promoting her book, you know Ms. Witherspoon is truly southern and truly adorable. This lovely book contains some of her southern grandmother’s recipes, and some great stories behind them. She includes party hosting tips, book club info, “do gooding” info, and more. Plus, the cover looks really pretty on a coffee table! Great for friends or sisters! Purchase through Amazon.com here.

 

order-book-tourHungry Girl Clean and Hungry Obsessed by Lisa Lillien. It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of the Hungry Girl brand. Lisa Lillien is the busiest woman I know, and she is always providing great info…by book, magazine, podcast, magazine, TV appearances, and website! And she’s really sweet too! If you need gifts for folks who want ways to cut the calories and fat in their lives, this is it. Purchase at Amazon.com here.

 

 bushtwavail.jpgGeorge and Barbara Bush: A Great American Love Story by Ellie LaBlond Sosa with Kelly Anne Chase. Through letters, photographs, and stories, Sosa tells the story of the enduring relationship of her grandparents, George and Barbara Bush. You can purchase on Amazon here, or *I received word that The Buttercup Gifts and Stationery in Charlotte will be hosting the author on Saturday, November 3, from 10:30am to 2:00pm for a book signing. Call The Buttercup for more information at 704-332-5329.*

 

510oZZ5X3DL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_-2Sean of the South, Volume 1 by Sean Dietrich. Deitrich is a humorist, storyteller, and writer with roots in south Alabama and a connection to a small town where I once lived, Brewton. He is plain-spoken, funny, and if you grew up in the south, you will relate to his experiences. If you grew up elsewhere, you’ll enjoy his stories too. Raised mostly by a hard-working single mother, he shares stories of his life and people he meets along the way. My mother loved reading Sean Dietrich, and we often talked about his Facebook posts. He has several books. This one is the first collection of short stories, so it is not newly published, but it’s a good place to start reading his work. See all his books at Amazon.com here.

 

 

caddyshack-book-cover-1-1525443738Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story by Chris Nashawaty. For those who were old enough to enjoy this movie in the theater or those who were too young and had to sneak to watch it on HBO, this book is a fun look behind the behind the scenes of the one of the most surprisingly beloved comedies of all time. Starring Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray, those of us who remember the film know it was comedic genius. And the candy bar will never be forgotten. I was in Target recently, and two young people ahead of me in line were discussing 1980s movies they wanted to see. I recommended a few, and Caddyshack was at the top of the list. Purchase from Amazon here.

 

sons-of-cain-1534874929Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers From The Stone Age To The Present by Peter Vronsky. This one was recommended by a friend who knows my fascination with serial killers. Having an interest in serial killers does not make me a serial killer.  According to my unnamed friend, the book is entertaining while examining the psychology behind serial killers and examining certain cases. She said the author includes too many statistics, but aside from that, she thoroughly enjoyed the book. It was released in August of this year. This one is on my short list for me, and I think my friend, Mary Ann, would like it too. Purchase from Amazon here.

 

 

NMHBQJZ_mzBruce W. Talamon Soul R&B Funk Photographs: 1972-1982. A collection of photographs by Bruce W. Talamon, this book features “legends such as Marvin Gaye, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder…” and more. For the music lover you know, this is a lovely gift that will likely bring back lots of memories or familiarize him/her with groups he/she has only heard and never seen. I’m getting one for my husband. Purchase at Neiman Marcus for $70 here.

 

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You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld. Ms. Sittenfeld is a successful Charlotte author with whom I was not familiar until she interviewed Reese Witherspoon onstage last month. Though I haven’t read them yet, she has hit the bestseller lists with previous novels, including Prep and American Wife. My friends sing her praises. Her latest, You Think It, I’ll Say It, is described on her website: “With moving insight and uncanny precision, this first collection of short fiction pinpoints the questionable decisions, missed connections, and sometimes extraordinary coincidences that make up a life.” I can hardly wait to pick it up for some friends! Purchase all her novels and this new short story collection through her website here.

 

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Road Swing
by Steve Rushin. I spoke with a friend about what books he would recommend for sports lovers, and this one was the first one he mentioned. An obsessed sports fan takes a road trip through the United States visiting every major sports “shrine” and shares his insight. It will make any sports fan want to do the same road trip to the same epic places.  Perfect for the sports fan on your list…especially if he/she is a fan of road trips too! Purchase through Amazon here.

 

41f1eA1LEoL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time by Ian O’Connor. Even if you don’t like the New England Patriots. Even if you think Deflategate was a terrible football scandal. By all accounts, this in-depth look at the most successful football coach of all time is compelling. Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe called it “a must-read for football buffs and anyone who appreciates leadership.” Purchase through Amazon here.

 

 

41EQr37Py+L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_All The Way: My Life in Four Quarters by Joe Namath. Last but not least, the one I’m most looking forward to…this autobiography is actually not available yet, but you an preorder it on Amazon here. I’d be thrilled to receive a card at Christmas telling me I will be receiving this book as soon as it is released. Scheduled for release in May of 2019, this book is the football icon’s life in his own wordS. He has lived a life like no other, so I expect an exciting read. Honestly, I have to admit I don’t really care what it says…I love Joe Namath so much that I’d be happy just looking at photos of him. Till that book is released, you can gift Namath by Mark Kriegel, a biography of Broadway Joe that was released in 2005, which you can purchase here.

POPULAR FICTION AUTHORS WITH NEW RELEASES:

Jodi Picoult, A Spark of Light: A Novel, purchase here.

Nicholas Sparks, Every Breath, purchase here.

Dorothea Benton Franks, By Invitation Only, purchase here.

John Grisham, The Reckoning, purchase here.

****Next time, more gift suggestions: ACCESSORIES.****

 

 

 

 

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I love Hungry Girl Magazine (and not camping)

IMG_8129Since starting Kelly Mattei’s Favorite Things on Instagram, two of the most popular posts are related to each other: a post about Hungry Girl Magazine and a post about one of the easiest recipes from the magazine, the Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Mug.

It’s no secret to my friends and family that I love Hungry Girl cookbooks, and frankly, I think Lisa Lillien, aka Hungry Girl, is the “bomb-dot-com.”  So no one was more excited than I was when the premiere premiere issue of Hungry Girl Magazine hit newsstands. I grabbed a copy at Barnes & Noble, and it is packed full of recipes for snacks, pizza-fied foods, make-ahead breakfasts, and lots of food hacks too. See all the sticky notes I’ve used to mark recipes in the photo? I especially love the section titled “Mug Shots,” recipes for desserts and breakfasts in single-serving mugs! Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien doesn’t profess to be a chef, but she is the “guru of guilt-free eating”, as shown on the cover of the premiere issue. You can find her cookbooks everywhere and see her on TV regularly. She KNOWS what we want, people! Most of her recipes don’t have tons of ingredients, and she knows we want PICTURES of the finished product. How many times have you picked up a magazine/cookbook that has a fabulous recipe but no photo? When there’s no photo, I tend to keep flipping the pages. Hungry Girl has photos for everything. The first recipe I tried from the magazine was the Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Mug…super easy and delicious! Make sure you use the nonstick spray as directed. I didn’t do it the first time. Trust me, you want to do it. (The photo below is my own!)

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Frankly, I tried this recipe first, simply because I already had all the ingredients in my kitchen. I’ve made it several times since, and every time, I’ve been pleased! In fact, it’s an easy, fast way to have a healthy breakfast. If I can make it, anybody can! I’ve also made the Chocolate Cake in a Mug, the Parmesan Zucchini Fries, and the Zucchini Pizza Boats…all delicious and low-cal. You can find more low-cal recipes and info at her website by clicking here. Get on the email list, and watch some of the videos. I just watched one for a Big Mac Bowl…dinner at my house tonight! She changes the videos daily, so while the video  may not be there when you look, the recipe for the Big Mac Bowl can be found here.

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BACKSTORY: I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with Lisa Lillien, aka Hungry Girl, and she is as delightful in person as she is on TV! I first met her and her lovely assistant, Gina, when they were doing a book tour. Remember in my last post how I said I love giveaways? Well, at the book tour event, Lisa had giveaways. Early on, I noticed how all the winners politely waved when their numbers were called, so someone could bring them their prize. I told my friend, Meg, there was no way I was going to be all polite if I won…I was going to run down the aisle Price is Right-style. Alas, I didn’t win, so Meg didn’t have a chance to get a video of me running down the aisle. Chances are I would have fallen anyway, which would have been a whole different video!

HUNGRYLAND! I went with my sis-in-law, my daughter, and a friend (pictured above) to visit Hungryland, which is what they call their office in LA, in December. We were blown away by their warmth and hospitality, as they shared funny stories while showing us around. Lisa graciously signed copies of her latest book, Hungry Girl Clean and Hungry Obsessed!, for us. You can order your copy here. The decor in Hungryland is fabulous! It’s colorful and fun with several furniture and accessory pieces by Jellio, some of which you probably have seen on Nickelodeon’s iCarly. You can see their cute designs here. Everywhere we turned, there was vibrant color…a purple sofa with orange and green throw pillows and a bright orange rug (see photos). The table in the conference room is surrounded by multicolor chairs…giving off a mod vibe, and neon-lit signs featuring Hungry Girl references like “Chew the Right Thing” are strategically placed. FullSizeRender-10Food-related knick-knacks are the norm at Hungryland, including an ice cream sandwich bench and a portrait of the Hungry Girl logo made from colorful General Mills cereals. All videos for the website are made right there in the Hungryland test kitchen, where you will find the pink small appliances and barstools, and the multicolor knives that are often featured in her videos. Look at the photos of the test kitchen, and you also see a clock made of multicolor spoons and a giant box of Barnum’s Animal Crackers, familiar to all of us from childhood. Oh, what I would have given to decorate my room with that when I was growing up!

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They even have their own photo studio that features a garage door that opens to provide natural light when needed. There are strings of lights hanging from walls, and a Super Hungry Girl logo with veggies for body parts is featured on one wall. In short, it’s incredible! It’s a happy space! What a fun place to get to go to work everyday!

            FullSizeRender-15FullSizeRender-11*If anyone asks you what Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien is like, you can tell them you have it from a reliable source that she is the kind of person you want to hang out with…warm, happy, positive, and she has a great sense of humor. She and Gina (my new fake cousin…you know, those friends you bond with and you feel like they’re your cousins? Well, she’s my new fake cousin. She’s awesome! She’s in the pic with me…wearing the beautiful fluffy collar. I would tell you Lisa is my new fake cousin too, but y’all would never believe me.) went out of their way to make us feel comfortable on their turf as we discussed holiday plans, gifts, and things to do in LA. Lisa Lillien is an absolute doll, and she surrounds herself with other great people…like Gina (also a doll)! Lots of my photos were taken at Hungryland in December. If you’d like to meet Lisa, consider the Hungry Girl Cruise in April. It would be a great girls’ trip! Oh…I so want to go! I’m still trying to figure out how I can make it happen since I return from another vacation just a few days before. For info on the Hungry Girl Cruise, click here.

For those of you who asked about the I Love Not Camping Mug, it’s from Anne Taintor, a line that has all sorts of funny mugs, napkins, and gifts. You may see more from the line in future posts. Silly things make me happy. You can purchase Anne Taintor mugs by clicking here. Nothing rings more true for me than I LOVE NOT CAMPING.

GIVEAWAY INFO!!! **I have an extra copy of the premiere issue of Hungry Girl Magazine and the mug for one lucky follower! Follow my Instagram account (kellymatteisfavoritethings) and tag a friend before 11pm Monday in the comments section under post of the Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Mug, and you could win both! A $22.99 value! I will draw a name Tuesday, February 6, and announce it on Instagram! You can access my Instagram account by putting kellymatteisfavoritethings in your Instagram search bar or by clicking here.

My next post will be Tuesday, February 6! Join me then for some more fun and to see who wins!

XOXO,

Kelly

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