issue #144 - the one that's a bit of a throwback
One of my favorite series on my old blog was my monthly Hit List, where I shared the things that brought me joy and value over the last month. The items spanned from books and shows and podcasts, to clothes and jewelry, to random house things. If you’re curious to see what I was into 5 years ago, you can check out my old posts here.
Now, this is not a shopping or product recommendation newsletter, nor will it become one. But every time I sat down to write the editor’s letter this week, I kept thinking about the little things that have made me happy or were helpful.
Thanks for reading #5SmartReads! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
So please indulge me in a bit of a throwback, and enjoy a very random and long overdue Hit List:
lofi.co - this little desktop app has everything I love and need to get me into work mode - a timer, to-do list and notes function, vibey LoFi music. It also has a feature I didn’t think I needed but have thoroughly enjoyed, and that’s a chill scene with gentle movement (I’m a big fan of the ocean one). Is this app the only reason I’ve been insanely productive this week? No…but maybe? It is the only new thing I’ve added into the mix, and I’m weirdly excited to get to work every morning.
Alchimie Forever - longtime Hitha On The Go readers will recognize this brand, given that I’ve written about it here and here and here, and I’ve continued to be a loyal Alchimie fan and apply their products every day to my face. I’m so excited that we’ve FINALLY partnered in a formal capacity and shared my 'skin TLC' routine, and wanted to give another shoutout as I’m just that big a fan of their tightening eye gel (truly an espresso shot for your eyes), their gentle cleansing gel, and my desert island beauty product, the Kantic Brightening Moisture mask (which I like to mix with a few drops of face oil before applying). Alchimie is generously offering a 20% discount on one order with code HITHA20, and I highly encourage you grab all of these in their full AND travel sizes (and if hyperpigmentation is a concern for you, their serum is fabulous. If you need a clarifying moisturizer for this hot season, this one helps clears up my skin whenever I’m breaking out).
Cooling blanket - we’ve had a few nights where our AC wasn’t working in our room this summer, but I’ve been more than okay thanks to a great standing fan and this miracle of a blanket. I don’t know what technology or magic is woven into these fibers, but this blanket keeps my sheets - and me! - comfortable all night. I’m tempted to buy a second to lay under my fitted sheet, and the folks in my life who sleep hot will likely be getting this for their birthdays or holidays. Sorry not sorry to spoil the fun, but you’ll thank me.
Equilibria Sleep gummies - I’ve never slept better since I started taking these magical, delicious gummies - and neither has my husband. These have become a vital part of our evening ritual, and has helped us sleep better and wake up with more energy. We have these on subscription (along with the extra strength Daily Drops - I take these just after brushing my teeth to give me that immediate relaxation) and I can’t recommend them more. Equilibria is having their subscription sale right now, where you can get 50% off your first month with the code hitha50. If you’re placing a one-off order, my code hitha will get you 15% off if you want to try the gummies before committing to a monthly delivery.
Splice & BIGVU - these are the phone apps I’ve been using the most lately, to create Reels/TikToks and IG Stories respectively. Splice is the easiest video editor I’ve ever used, and I’ve gotten pretty good at editing and voicing over a Reel in about 20 minutes or so (it used to take me hours!). BIGVU has made filming IG Stories a breeze - it’s a prompter/video camera app that also transfers your script onto the video for accurate captions. These apps have really streamlined my processes for creating videos, and if you are looking to do more or need these features, I can’t recommend them more highly.
Nesara caftans - you’ve seen them on my ‘fit check Reels and in my Stories and I’m wearing one right now. The HOLD this garment has on me and my closet is epic. They are the prettiest and most comfortable dresses, and I will only wear other outfits if mine are all in the hamper. The latest versions have POCKETS, which means I rarely need to carry a bag with me when I’m running a quick errand or two. And that they’re designed by a South Asian woman and made in Rajasthan is really important to me - there are plenty of Western brands that feature Indian block printed clothes and supporting those artisans, but it’s really important to me to celebrate and support other South Asian founders. Code hitha gets you $10 off your order.
What’s a book/show/app/thing that’s bringing you joy lately? Come to this post on the website and leave your favorites in the comments!
What I Read This Week
Do The Work: An Antiracist Activity Book by W. Kamau Bell and Kate Schatz - I had the great privilege of partnering with Workman Publishing to help launch this book on Instagram, so I’ll spare repeating my blurb and just implore you to read and work through this book - I learned SO much from it, and am committed to learning more and doing better every single day.
Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet - This book left me as bereft as ACOTAR and Crescent City did, and now I don’t know what to read or what to do and I feel a little lost, literarily. And now I have to wait until October for book #4 to be published and I may just go and re-read this entire series, though my friend Rahaf will probably tell me to finally start Nalini Singh’s Psy Changling Trinity series (and since she recommended Kingmaker, she’s probably right). Anyway, anything I want to say about this is a spoiler, so please just get on this bandwagon so we can talk about it.
What Everyone Else Read This Week
The Beach Read by Emily Henry- Goodness, all I want from my books this summer is a little bit of escapism, which means that I've begun and added more books to my Did Not Finish list than ever before (usually I try and power through even if I don't really love something) but also means that I am finally getting around to reading some gems that have been sitting on my To-Read list for a bit, languishing amongst more literary fiction. This was one of them and it really was just so much fun (and also sexy - just a heads up ;-)). I liked Emily Henry's 2021 novel, People We Meet on Vacation, just as much and am adding her latest and greatest, Book Lovers, to my list now.
Top #5SmartReads Of The Week
We Can’t Upgrade Our Lives. We Can Only Live Them. (The Washington Post)
Mastering The Art Of Influence (A Cup of Ambition)
A love letter to cozy games, the gentle game movement we need right now (Los Angeles Times)
The rest of the week’s reads + last week’s (and conversations!) are below:
Your Questions, Answered
My husband works significantly more hours than me and does ~50% of household tasks (no kids yet but hopefully soon). I love that he views our home/life as a shared responsibility but this dynamic doesn’t feel partially fair. Advice on how to navigate?
I mean, I feel like you are living Fair Play Life and that’s amazing!
As long as he feels like the balance is fair and you reassess regularly, I don’t think you need to do much on the relationship front.
I would sit with how you’re feeling and unpack them a bit- do you feel this way because society has normalized women shouldering the bulk of the home work quietly and silently, or do you really feel like your division of labor is unfair to him?
Just because things have been normalized (aka American society having been built on the free labor of women, and especially women of color) doesn’t mean they are normal or fair. I had my own unlearning journey early in our marriage and it’s a mindf&$k.
Do you ever wish you had a daughter?
I totally had this fantasy of tasing a fierce daughter that was my mini-me early in my pregnancies.
But after my sons were born (and I found myself again), I absolutely love being a mom of these two boys and I feel like it was meant to be this way.
Just started a product food product business with my husband. How do we get the word out there? Product in your hands and others?
If you have bandwidth and budget, I can’t recommend my friend Amanda Goetz’s marketing bootcamp more highly (she’s a marketing exec and D2C brand founder) and she is absolutely brilliant.
Be extremely thoughtful and specific in your outreach when DMing and emailing content creators. I’m linking this newsletter where I share the cold email that Alisha Kumar (who went from being my intern to family) sent me, and I break down why it’s so effective and how to adopt it for yourself.
Baby boy names that are unique
Ooof. I found boy names to be so much harder to find than girls’ names. I obviously love my kids’ names, but here are some others I like:
Han (yes, after Han Solo. I like it!)
Rhys (the hold ACOTAR still has on me)
How do you envision your work on social media expanding? As social media keeps changing- I’m curious what that means for thought leaders like yourself.
That’s a really good question! And the answer is I don’t know right now.
I’ve treated this platform as a years-long audition for The View ABC or a similar show, so I’ve been very focused on my why when it comes to social media, which has helped me establish boundaries with it and my private life.
I expect it to continue and to grow 5SR with my amazing team of contributors, but centered more on them and less on me.
In short, I take it day by day but I do want to transition to more “we” and less “me” on social.
Your transparency is so refreshing. You understand privilege/class/race relations. You are always clear and honest about it. Most influencers make women feel they can have it all and we know it takes a lot of money and help.
Acknowledging privilege and being transparent is the least I can do. I’m grateful for this comment, and I hope other creators/leaders feel comfortable sharing who they have on their teams to show that it takes a village!
Do you love your life?
I do. I recognize that the life I live is one of privilege, and try to live a life that uses this privilege to make my community and world a more equitable place, and that I GET to do the things I do and what a gift that is.
Caught my husband cheating on me. Again. This time I’m planning to leave. Advice for starting over at 40?
I’m sending you all my love and support as you enter a new chapter.
Why doesn’t your Pharma company have an online presence?
We don’t need to!
Both SciDose (our last company) and Rhoshan Pharma licensed our products to other companies to commercialize, and our partners are the ones who launch and sell the products and handle the external comms and detailing of those products.
We’re a small, private company with a handful of individual investors and shareholders, who I communicate with regularly.
Who would you cheat on Taco Bell with?
Honestly the only other great restaurant love-of-me-life is Hillstone Restaurants and it’s a very different experience than Taco Bell, so it doesn’t feel like cheating!
Does your book about VP Harris address the harm she has done to marginalized communities, such as incarcerated transgender people, sex workers, the black community, and more?
My book is not a fully reported biography of the VP, but an advice book that draws on her experiences and connects them with tactical advice on how to embody those Kamalaisms.
One of those Kamalaisms is to evolve your perspective and do the work to make real change, and VP Harris has done that, and done quietly and authentically (not in a perforative way).
Her views and policy perspectives today have evolved significantly from when she was DA of San Francisco and AG of California, and the books yes cover that.
How did you decide to attend UW for undergrad? Have you ever considered living in Seattle again?
My dad took a job in Seattle my senior year of high school, and I was able to get in-state tuition once accepted and it was $4000 a year to attend a top university with incredible academic programs and in the middle of a city with great internship and work opportunities.
It was one of the best decisions I’ve made and I LOVED my time at @uofwa, the friendships I made, and the incredible education I received.
I’m a “never say never” girl so I could live in Seattle again- but I’m very happy with my life in NYC and have no plans to leave!
Did you always have such a good relationship with your parents?
I was a pretty big brat during my freshman and sophomore years of college and there were long stretches where I wasn’t speaking to either my dad or my mom but we worked through it. Living at home my junior year have us an opportunity to figure out how to communicate with my being an adult and wanting to figure out how to do things for myself versus doing things the way they would want me to.
Good relationships aren’t easy, but they’re worth putting the work into building. I’m incredibly lucky to have been born to my parents and I love them a lot (and like them a lot!)
How big of a culture shock would it be to relocate from LA to NYC? Always wanted to do it and thinking about it!
I’d recommend doing a sublet for a couple of weeks and see how you like it first!
For me, life in NYC is for me! There’s always so much happening and you can do, but I also love discovering new spots or frequenting our favorites in our neighborhood and how familiar and kind our community is.
Highly, highly recommend the UWS. ;)
I’m attending a Pithi//Sanger in September. Any advice on what to wear as a white female? Don’t want to appear to be insensitive in what I choose.
That’s very respectful!
Your wearing a nice salwar kameez or an Indy-Western dress from holiCHIC by Megha or Kiska would be appreciated! I would just avoid wearing white (color of mourning) or marigold (I’ve seen lot of brides wear that color for this ceremony). You could also wear a nice summer dress with a more conservative cut (to err on the safe side- cover shoulders and knee-length)
I saw your recommendations for the Indo-Western dresses, but I’m wondering if you have any recommendations for plus size and/or maternity dresses. I’m going to be 5 months pregnant at my friend’s wedding and usually wear an XXL/ size 18.
Kalki Fashion has some amazing options, like this dress which goes up to a size 21 and also offers custom sizing if you have time!
The quality and price point are amazing
What’s the best way for us to engage with your ads on stories to benefit you?
First of all- Thank you for engaging with all my content, organic and sponsored!
Certainly buying the products I’ve shared is amazing and the intended goal of the campaign, but liking the feed posts, and stories, leaving comments, sharing with friends or on your own story, or saving the content is all really valuable.
Here’s to a restful Sunday, and for a great week ahead!
Thanks for reading #5SmartReads! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.