On every episode of our podcast Spawned with Kristen and Liz, we share our cool picks of the week. We even started an email full of them every week. And now, we give you, our favorite cool picks of the year. Granted, it’s pretty hard narrowing it down to just 10 things, but I did my very best. I hope you find them as wonderful as I did in 2021, especially since all of them can be enjoyed in 2022 as well.

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What Do You Say, by Dr. William Stixrud and Ned Johnson

The new parenting must-have book: What Do You Say?: How to Talk with Kids to Build Motivation, Stress Tolerance, and a Happy Home

This book, and the podcast episode they joined us on, has completely changed my approach to parenting my teenagers. It’s really, really, really good.

We’re Here, starring Eureka, Bob the Drag Queen, and Shangela on HBO Max

Kristen's favorite cool picks of the year | We're Here on HBO

Whether you’re a drag fan or not, this show does way more than showcase 3 super talented queens. Every episode takes them to a different small town, where they help bring light, and provide support and love to the LGBTQ community there. Just make sure you have the tissues nearby.


Kristen's Cool Picks of the year | Porto, Portugal

I had the great pleasure of vacationing there this summer, and wow, what a place. Granted, it was my first sans-kids vacation in many years, but between the food and the sights, I fell completely in love. Even the 4000 hills didn’t bother me. Much.

L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Boosting Conditioning Primer Mascara

Kristen's favorite cool picks of the year | L'oreal voluminous primer

Why haven’t you gotten this stuff yet? Holy cow. It just gives your own favorite mascara a boost. I cannot live without it now.

The Stand-In, by Lily Chiu

Kristen's cool picks of the year 2021 | The Stand-in by Lily Chiu

Since I’m no longer commuting to an office, I haven’t listened to many podcasts, and rather, have been enjoying audiobooks. The Stand-In was a delightful rom-com featuring Asian characters and read by the talented Phillipa Soo (of Hamilton fame). What a fun romp!

Le Bon Shoppe socks

Kristen's favorite cool picks of the year: Le Bon Shoppe socks

I discovered these at a local boutique, and now I’m addicted. I’m not kidding when I say that they are the only socks I wear, other than sports socks with my running shoes. They are the best.

Sheep Jumping in a Ditch video

I feel like this is the perfect metaphor for parenting. I still laugh so hard at it every single time. Definitely watch it a few times in a row for full effect. Click the link and watch it. (Update: Unfortunately it’s been taken down! I hope you can find it somewhere though, it’s worth it)

Nike Air Max 

Kristen's favorite cool picks of 2021: Nike Air Max

I wear these pretty much every day.  I may have gotten them because of the houndstooth pattern, but they’re just so fun and happy.

My Grey Hair, and all my fellow grey-haired mamas

Tips for growing out your grey hair: consider getting highlights!

I started growing out my grey hair a couple of years ago (well, maybe longer than that – pre-pandemic, anyway), and this year, I finally came to love it, even more than my previous dark brown hair. It helps that there’s a wonderful community of #grombe ladies out there, cheering each other on, but mostly, it’s just accepting that grey doesn’t mean you’re old. And old doesn’t mean you’re dead.

The Broadway Community (and performing artists, in general)

Stephanie Hsu in Be More Chill, off-Broadway at the Signature Theater

The pandemic hit the wonderful artists we know and love extremely hard, and while we saw a bit of a light, with the recent omicron outbreak, it’s hitting them hard again. They deserve so much of our support and gratitude, for bringing their beauty to us when we have needed it most. Here’s hoping this passes quickly, but in the meantime, consider buying tickets for future dates – whether it’s a large venue or a small, local production. We need the arts in our lives.

And sadly, Be More Chill (above) is no longer on Broadway. It’s one of our family’s faves.