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What are you up to this weekend? I’m catching my breath after the first week back to school, plus helping my college sophomore get settled into his campus apartment in a nearby town. I’m hoping to set him up with the essentials plus a few fun things besides, and would love your ideas: what’s your favorite thing to give or send to college students living in campus housing away from home? (We were surprised to discover he has A KITCHEN—a big change from last year’s small dorm room—so we have abundant possibilities!)

I hope you have something to look forward to in the days to come, and that this collection of interesting reads and a few favorite things helps ease you into that weekend frame of mind.

My favorite finds from around the web:

  • I’d Rather Be Reading is the little literary essay collection that could—and it’s getting awfully close to the milestone 1000 reviews on Amazon. If you read it and loved it, would you leave a review? The algorithm gives extra love to books that hit that threshold so your review would make a big difference. Thanks!
  • I’ve had these mini Tweezerman tweezers for years but they’ve really saved the day lately—removing splinters and little pieces of glass(!!) from places they didn’t belong. So glad I always keep them in my travel kit.
  • Care Tactics. “Recognizing the creativity of disabled people, including those aging into it, can move us away from stigmatizing and toward valuing all the ingenious adaptations disabled people create.”

Don’t miss these posts:

  • A to-do list trick. A seriously simple tip that might change your life—or at least the way you approach your to-do lists.

Upcoming Events:

  • August 27: Sense & Sensibility Watch Party: Stream, buy, borrow, or rent the film, then join us as we all press play on the 1995 version of the film Sense & Sensibility, all together at the same time. We’ll use the Zoom chat feature to share our thoughts as we watch! This is a Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club event. 
  • September 8: Fall Book Preview: An exclusive live event for Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club members and Patreon supporters where I share a curated list of this fall’s exciting new releases. I’ll feature a mix of titles I’ve read and loved, titles I can’t wait to read, and titles the book industry is abuzz about for the season to come so you can decide which ones belong on your To Be Read list.

You can find more upcoming events here.

Have a great weekend!

60 comments

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  1. Toni says:

    An air fryer! I sent one to my son last fall and he cooks most meals in it now. It’s been a life saver this summer to not use the oven in his college apartment with unreliable air con.

  2. Kate says:

    My son will be in a house this year for college and asked yesterday, “Is rice hard to make?” For a highly-distractible young man who’s not going to be excited to clean up a rice pan and probably the stovetop, too? Yes. So, I ordered a tiny rice cooker for him last night.

    As for marinara, it’s on the expensive end of brands available in my grocery store, but I’ve fallen for Rao’s.

  3. Susan Craig says:

    I read the piece on Persuasion and agree with most of it. Persuasion is the book that made me a lifelong reader. If you want to watch a movie version, try the 1995 Amanda Root/ Ciaran Hinds film – nailed it. And the love letter!!!!

    If your son is new to cooking, a meal kit subscription might be fun for him. It would let him test out recipes and get a feel for his own cooking style.

  4. Mary Ann C says:

    I just moved my sophomore daughter into an on-campus apartment and you are so right about the difference between a dorm room! It feels so spacious compared to last year and she loves having a kitchen. Because it’s on campus they are limited as to what they can bring as far as appliances go, but a microwave is a must (their apartments don’t already have one) and we talked about getting her an inexpensive tv and letting her take the Wii with her (yes, we still have one!).

    I agree with Rao’s on the marinara! My mom used to make her own sauce back in the day, and she says this is the closest store-bought one to her homemade. It’s a little more expensive than your usual brands, but really good.

    • Brianna says:

      Having a tv in college saved me so many times, especially in the summer when I was working on campus and barely anyone else was around. I wasn’t totally alone and it was absolutely safe, but that extra bit of noise was a comfort.

  5. Kanner says:

    My son loved rolls of quarters as his off campus apt had no in unit washer/dryer. He also enjoyed a small projector to cast movies from his phone onto the wall for Movie Nights.

  6. Sheryl Dutrisac says:

    Rao’s! It’s a little expensive but very delicious!

    We Just moved my sophomore son into his apartment this week. I’m planning on sending him little quantities of spices and baking ingredients.

    Also bought him a few plants. (My fingers are crossed that they’ll stay alive.). I recommend Zanzibar Gem as they’re very low maintenance and easy to find.

    Good luck to your son and all the kiddos going back to school. ❤️

  7. Carol says:

    That first college house/apartment is so much fun. It’s when I gifted my daughter a Dutch oven. May sound odd but she loves to cook and uses it for so many things. Also a small cast-iron pan for an egg or two….
    Rao’s Bolognese or Marinara. So worth the premium price.

  8. Carol says:

    Rao’s pasta sauce has low sugar and amazing taste. Their arribiata sauce has a kick and is a nice change from the basic sauce.

  9. Cathy says:

    I’ve sent three boys off to college and they have most appreciated a grill, a coffee maker of some sort, a rice cooker, and Dawn PowerWash for the kitchen. It cleans up everything.

  10. Laurie says:

    Rao’s would be my vote for store-bought, but I make my own simple marinara with a good 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes with a TBS of good Italian seasoning* and salt to taste. *(I prefer to make my own Italian blend since the one I loved is no longer available where we live).

  11. Libby H says:

    Rao’s is delicious, but my favorite is Carfagna’s, a local to Columbus company, but also sold at Kroger. Not sure how wide their distribution is, but it’s worth looking for!

  12. Shelley Taylor says:

    Just moved my sophomore into his fraternity room. We made it all homey, then that evening he sent a pic of their newly bunked sofas 😂. Rao’s is your number one rec here for a reason. Pricey but worth it. My favorite gadget for young adults cooking for themselves is the Lekue microwave pasta/rice cooker. Thanks for the fun links!

  13. Sally says:

    I have tried Rao’s, and TBH I didn’t think it was any better than Trader Joe’s Organic Vodka Sauce, which is about 1/3 the price.

  14. loni says:

    Rao’s if I’m just needing sauce, but Trader Joe’s if it is more of ingredient. I sent the boys with air popcorn poppers. They both had meal plans, but appreciated a quick snack (we are popcorn people)

  15. Both of our college sons wanted and loved having an air fryer! I also got the parchment liners so it stayed cleaner for them!
    Our senior daughter just asked for the exact same pencil bag! Must be making the social media rounds! 🙂

  16. Catherine says:

    I would love to listen to an edition of Persuasion on audio, but for whatever reason my brain struggles with the British accent that I’ve found on all narrations so far!
    Has anyone found an audio edition with an narrator that has an American English accent? Or perhaps a really wonderful narrator with a British accent would do the trick!

  17. Biz says:

    Our favorite store-bought marinara is the Gia Russa Cherry Tomato sauce. To my taste buds, most store-bought tomato sauces are way overseasoned and this one isn’t.

  18. Lee Ann says:

    Rao’s is pretty expensive unless you get it at Costco. We usually get Ragu’s no-sugar marinara sauce, which is quite tasty.

  19. Linda says:

    Just moved our junior into a new apartment in college town and she has requested home baked goods and individual freezer meals. Also grocery and restaurant gift cards are greatly appreciated.

  20. Karen says:

    Definitely an air fryer, our kids used it daily. And to be practical, a tote of cleaning supplies, don’t forget a toilet bowl brush and a broom or inexpensive mini vacuum.

  21. Paige says:

    My son’s top requested items this year were LED light strips and an extra monitor for his lap top. He also has requested an extra long ethernet cord for when the WiFi gets spotty. He’s a junior and second year in an apartment. He mostly ignores the kitchen. He does have a toaster oven and a kettle. This year we got him a few more kitchen basics. Target had a 30 pc set of kitchen utensils that was pretty reasonable and we got him a pizza pan. He did ask for a cook book but sending him recipe links might be easier. I just sent one for quesadillas this morning that was pretty straight forward.

  22. Susan says:

    I agree that a microwave is a big help if there isn’t one there already. One of our sons requested a pannini sandwich maker and got alot of use out of it. For both of our boys, I put together a small binder of family favourite recipes that were fast and easy to make. Admittedly not sure they used them much but they appreciated the effort and memories.

  23. @Anne: Regarding the “Addresses of the Future” article, you might be interested in a British company called What3Words, established in 2013 that divides the world into 3-metre squares described by a unique combination of three words.

  24. Mandy M says:

    A Man, a Can & a Plan is a simple cookbook for college guys (and gals!) that has some yummy recipes. As the title states most ingredients are canned – this make the recipes pretty simple, easy to buy for ahead of time, quick to make and actually havw a lot of fruits and vegetables incorporated. Better to get some veggies in this way than not at all. Saves money too as ingredients don’t spoil quickly.

  25. Adrienne says:

    I love Rao’s marinara sauce too but for stuffed shells I use Mid’s Tomato Basil or Marinara sauce. It is the only sauce brand I have found that doesn’t separate into a watery layer when baked. I find it at Publix, and sometimes Aldi carries it.

  26. Jessica says:

    My son’s most used kitchen item is the Instant Pot. It has so many features rolled into one that it made the most sense for his small space.

    • Sue says:

      I second the Instant Pot – it is expensive, BUT you can use it as a rice cooker, a slow cooker, a yogurt maker, just as a regular saucepan, to cook beans or chili (you can throw in beans DRY – no need to soak them for hours) AND some of the latest models also include an air fryer component. A little cookbook for Instant Pot (or some printouts from FB instant pot recipe groups) to go with it, and they’re set.
      Also, a good can opener that WORKS. Not all cans have those pull tabs.
      If he has to clean the space himself, I would also suggest a little tote or mini-cart full of the cleaning supplies you use in your house.

  27. Erica says:

    I just moved my daughter back to college as well. We love this microwave steamer. It makes getting veggies in very easy. We do broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, potatoes & sweet onions, etc. So many options! Cleans up easy and is a staple in our kitchen and hers. Different sizes are available, so look around for the one that will fit your needs.
    https://www.amazon.com/9-45-Insert-Steam-Case-Color/dp/B00I2UUC1C/ref=asc_df_B00I2UUC1C/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=167126565975&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=9501588580992584366&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1016367&hvtargid=pla-312462408665&psc=1

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