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In Living Commentary

Record the good things that happen to you and your family in 2013. recommends, Jan. 12, 2013

How to start the new year off on a thankful note, good reads, premium liqueur and more in this week's edition of Recommends.

"Good things" jar – I got this idea from multiple Facebook friends and so far, it's been a big hit with my family. The concept is simple: get a clean jar (we used a pickle jar) and, if you want, write or type a "good things in 2013" sign and tape it to the jar. Then, put it somewhere accessible with a little stack of paper and a pen and every time something "good" happens in 2013, write it down and put it in the jar. (My meta 9-year-old was the first to put a message in the jar. He wrote: "Jan 5, 2013: My mom introduced me to the good things jar.") At the end of 2013, perhaps on New Year's Eve, read all of the "good things" messages to reflect on the pleasing aspects of the past year. Seems like a positive way to ring in 2014. –Molly Snyder

Luxardo Amaretto liqueur - I'm not a big drinker anymore. In my early years I did enough damage to last a couple of lifetimes. My drink of choice back then, and still, is Wild Turkey. I always thought it was a drink for real men, and since I considered myself a bulletproof, invisible, genius real man when I drank it, we made a great pair. But I'm done with those days and rarely drink anything when I'm out. But the other night I had something that knocked my socks off. I wanted something to drink before a play and asked for an Amaretto on the rocks. Normally you get Disarono, and it's not bad. But this time my server asked if I wanted to try Luxardo. I said sure and was very pleasantly surprised. It wasn't as sweet or syrupy as others I've had and it had a complex taste of almonds and vanilla. I'd hate to make a night of drinking Amaretto, but if you're having one, Luxardo is a brand you ought to try. –Dave Begel

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny by Laura Schroff and Ziex Tresniowski - Sure, I'm only about 1/4 of the way through this book, but I really like it. It's a story of common bonds, truths and random connections that aren't as random as we think they are. The title gives you the general concept, but once you dive into the pages you'll love the storytelling and probably see a bit of yourself in both characters. –Jeff Sherman

Kohl's Cares Dr. Seuss books – The Kohl's Cares merchandise is a win/win. For a mere $5 customers can get great hardcover kids' classics and matching plush toys. The money raised helps Kohl's fund scholarship programs and children's health programs across the country. The latest batch features shiny new editions of four Dr. Seuss books: "The Cat in the Hat," "Horton Hears a Who!," "Dr. Seuss' Sleep Book" and "Dr. Seuss' ABC." Also available are tie-in stuffed animals, including a Cat in the Hat, Horton the elephant, an alligator featured in "ABC" and a Snoozapalooza from the "Sleep Book." These make great gifts – I'm donating my copies of the books to a local school library – at a great price and for a good cause. –Bobby Tanzilo
Downton Abbey seasons 1 and 2 – Available on Netflix (Season 1) or Hulu (both seasons and Christmas special), the saga of the Crawleys and the minions they can't live without has just returned to American television for Season 3 on PBS's Masterpiece Classic. So if you're rusty on the storyline, here's a prime opportunity to bone up. Relive Mary and Matthew's on-again/off-again engagement (and try not to think about the fact that they're cousins), experience Sybil and Branson's upstairs/downstairs love affair and watch Edith glare angrily at everyone - all while the world of British aristocracy teeters on a precipice at the beginning of the century that would change everything. –Colleen Jurkiewicz


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