Best Spring Reads

Best Spring Reads


Oh, how I love book list posts. As springtime is upon us, it’s time for my seasonal book recommendation post. Spring isn’t quite as evocative as autumn or winter, but there are plenty of chilly and rainy days in spring that necessitate a good book and cup of tea, and also sunny days that necessitate a book in hand while having a picnic or a solo bask in the sun. If you find yourself in any of those, or other springtime scenarios, you might want one of the following books on hand:

Cranford, Elizabeth Gaskell


This little book, first published in 1853, is a delightful series of vignettes about the (mostly female) inhabitants of the little village of Cranford, located (naturally) in the English countryside. It is sweet, charming, wholesome and engaging. It was also made into a BBC One miniseries that is a who’s-who of great British actors– Jim Carter, Judi Dench, and Michael Gambon among many others make their appearances. I highly recommend this little book for an uplifting spring read.


Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen


Oh, my darling Sense! This is my favorite Austen, and the film with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman is my favorite book-to-movie adaptation of all time. This is a juicy love story, without being sordid (is Austen ever sordid?). It’s a pastoral portrait of women’s lot in Austen’s day, without being superficial. It’s cozy, but complicated. There’s sadness, fear, and regret in large measure, but happiness, playfulness, and romance are even more abundant. It’s beautiful. It’s meaningful. It’s wonderful.


Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maude Montgomery


My darling Anne with an E! Another all-time favorite, this charming book teaches us what real family, real friendship, and real love look like. It also teaches us so many things about being headstrong, doing things we regret, cultivating personal character…so many important, often neglected life-lessons taught by beloved teachers in highly realistic and relatable ways. Who doesn’t want to spend a spring on Prince Edward Island? It’s available to listen to for free as an audiobook on Librivox, for those of you who might prefer to give it a try that way.


The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett


Naturally, a story about a garden is perfect springtime reading. I read this classic for the first time last year and loved every second of it. I was a big fan of the 1987 film version with Derek Jacobi, so I knew the story, but the original book was every bit as delightful, mysterious, spooky, and beautiful. A lovely and worthwhile tale, it’s also available to listen to for free on Librivox. A wonderful, floral adventure!


The Awakening of Miss Prim, Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera


I adored this book! It’s about a mysterious man with a mysterious pack of children who live in a mysterious manor house in a mysterious little town that I desperately want to live in. The little town proves to be quite a Twilight Zone…but not in the way you’d think. A charming and funny little book that thrusts the insanity of life in the modern world in our faces, constantly causing us to question what we really believe about daily life as we know it in the societies we have formed. Whimsical and thought-provoking without once being heavy. I highly recommend it.


All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot


What’s not to love about these true stories from an English country veterinarian? No one writes with such simple, understated wit as James Herriot about such a beautiful topic– new life, animal friendships and life in the English countryside. Are we seeing a pattern here? Be that as it may, stories about lambing are best read in spring!


The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter, Beatrix Potter


And speaking of lambing, and little furry creatures, no one does them with such charm as our beloved Beatrix. I was given her complete tales for Christmas two years ago and I read it from cover to cover, delighting in the little drawings, the sweet little stories that I knew and loved. Not just for children by any means, re-read these classic tales for yourself and remember why you enjoyed them as a child…or perhaps discover them for the first time if they are new to you. Beatrix Potter’s art is timeless, and her little characters endlessly heartwarming (and occasionally maddening!).

That’s my list! What are your favorite books to read in spring? What are you currently reading, and what do you want to read? Take care!

St. Patrick’s Day Greetings

St. Patrick’s Day Greetings


Look at the extreme rainstorm that was predicted for today! Just look at all that gloom and doom! That’s the San Francisco Bay Area for you. 🙂 At first when I awoke to sun streaming in through the blinds this morning, when I had been expecting a cozy, rain-filled day, I was disappointed…but after a day of cleaning house and cooking, it is SO nice to open the sliding glass doors to the deck and let the fresh spring air into the house. Could it be a lovelier day?!

This is just a little mid-month hello. My last post was decidedly bleak. I mean, it was always bound to be. As much as I love doing daily life/bookish/tea/cozy posts, I started this blog as a way to work through my grief for Grandma. I’ve gained a few more followers here in the last few months (hello followers!!) and for those of you who don’t know me in real life, it might sound unnecessarily maudlin to have such intense grief over…well, a grandmother whose death was predicable, and natural. Grief is different for everyone, but again, for those who don’t know and couldn’t discern from my (absolutely maudlin) grief posts, Gram was truly my best friend and soul-twin. We were as close as two people could really be, I suppose. So, with that in mind, I’m definitely going to still be posting my thoughts on grief, even if they’re pretty heavy. They’re at least TRUE, and I’m getting a lot out of giving voice to my current truth. Thanks for bearing with me, and being such loving supporters, even if only by reading. 🙂

BUT MOVING ON…happy St. Patrick’s Day!! In honor of the occasion, I made the best vegan Shepard’s Pie:


Holy ding-dongs, did it come out good! The filling is a rich tomato-y mix of diced onion, garlic, carrot, celery and lentils with lots of rich seasonings like smoked paprika and tamari and the mash is made of Yukon Gold potatoes and rice milk.


I am loving eating mostly-vegan these days. It’s very simple, very plant-based, very low fat and packed with nutrition (at least, the interpretation that I am following) and guess what?!?!

I’ve lost five pounds!! WOOOOOOOOOOO!!! That’s 1/4 of the way to my goal for 2018! It really was only lost in the last two or so weeks because three weeks ago I was really in dire straits– I had been consuming wholesome but extremely high calorie food and eating way too much of it and I actually tipped the scales to hit a new high. Wow. Way to start of my year of weight loss. But I am now five pounds down, and I’m very happy. It is so much easier to stick to things when you actually begin to see progress!


Last weekend I cleaned off the piles of dead leaves from our little deck, threw away a lot of accumulated trash and dead plants that were out there and just tidied it up. It now looks like this, and as I sit in my living room, door open to the delicious breeze blowing through, piles of clean laundry on my rug, just having finished an hour-long conversation with oldest friend M, I am just so happy to be where I am. The days go by and they turn into weeks, and plans come to fruition and new plans are made. Life goes on, and even with its sorrow and pain and confusion, it’s wonderful.


This is another view from my deck. I think I’m going to put on my walking shoes and take a long walk over to the grocery store to pick up sushi rice for making mango-avocado rolls for lunch tomorrow.


And here’s my little alien kitty, Puffy (or Miss Puff, or Poof, or Poo-Bear, or Poof Ball, or just plain Poo…all semi-unfortunate but adorable nicknames that we’ve bestowed upon her) staring into the wilds of the deck. She is just as blind as a bat these days, poor thing, but she doesn’t really seem to mind. I catch her sitting in odd places, like in the hallway staring at the wall just a few inches from her nose, that she’d never be if she was still sighted. But she’s a kitty, and she’s doing just fine.

How is your week going? Hope everyone is having a great St. Pat’s and a great March!



One Year Later

One Year Later


It has been a year since I last saw your face, felt your arms around me. It might as well be at once a moment and a decade. A lifetime. The person you last hugged goodbye, twice, is gone. That person hadn’t experienced the loss of you.

It was a strange year, putting aside the wound that was your absence. The effects of grief are unexpected, unpredictable, sometimes unfathomable. My sense of time was completely altered. I experienced strange lags in my perception of time passing. In May I kept thinking we were still in March, and that only a week or two had passed, just to be jolted into the present abruptly each time I needed to know what the date was. In August my mind was still hovering around late May. In October, I was discussing something that I had experienced a few weeks prior with Husband, only to realize that six months had passed since that event. I was constantly caught off guard by time’s passing. I lived in a bubble, life happening around me. It wasn’t until November came, and with it the anchor of the holidays that my subconscious began to live in the present.

I’ve been taking comfort in the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay—

“Time does not bring relief; you all have lied

Who told me time would ease me of my pain!

I miss him in the weeping of the rain;

I want him at the shrinking of the tide;

The old snows melt from every mountain-side,

And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;

But last year’s bitter loving must remain

Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.

There are a hundred places where I fear

To go,—so with his memory they brim.

And entering with relief some quiet place

Where never fell his foot or shone his face

I say, ‘There is no memory of him here!’

And so stand stricken, so remembering him.”

Sometimes only poems will suffice. I am often prone to dramatics, but I stand by this sentiment. Time doesn’t bring relief. It has brought me the strength to expand my capacity for pain. It has brought me the ability to think about it less, think about you less. The pain stays the same.

I wept in the bath last night, a place that’s now a refuge when I want to cry but don’t want to disturb Husband…not even for his sake, but for mine. I often want to cry without the added burden of telling him that I’m ok, of thanking him for his generous comfort, of engaging at all with someone else when I honestly just want to be privately miserable for a while. I laid in the hot water, a little too hot, and savored that particularly sharp sensation around my heart, an awl being run through my ribs, and I reflected that when you first died it was like getting an anvil dropped on me. I imagined Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons, the anvil smashing me comically so that I am flattened like a piece of India rubber.

At first, the anvil was way too heavy to move. Impossible. I just assessed my injuries and screamed for help—no help could fix the problem, but some help did provide a lot of comfort. Such loving words from family and friends and their support in my darkest hours I never expected and cannot express adequate gratitude for. I have the most wonderful friends. I have the most wonderful family. I have the most wonderful spouse.

And after a while, I got used to the anvil—I got strong enough to carry it through my day. It didn’t get lighter. I got stronger.

And life does go on. My days are full of laughter, often. They are full of trivial problems, and mindless minutiae that is both important and utterly meaningless. I enjoy what life brings me—good food, good friends, perfectly ordinary days with ordinary happiness. Most of the time I’m really well, and I am content in my heart with everything that has come to pass. How could I not be? Your death wasn’t unfair. It was a picture of justice—that we will all, each one of us regardless of merit, be consigned to the earth once more. Or, from another perspective, that some good and loving people get to live long, long lives with relative health and much happiness. What could be more just? But there is a hole in the world that you once filled. I will (and do) remember you with joy, but…

The transformative process called grief isn’t done with me yet. I wouldn’t feel half so bad if it had only taken you from me, but when you passed it also robbed me of all the spiritual certainty I had cultivated specifically for times like this. The rug was pulled from under me, and suddenly everything I was so sure of—everything I shared with Husband—was gone. Ideas and beliefs long held flickered out, having once been so comforting, now only filling me with bleak horror. Unable to hold them, another pain emerged…that of spiritual separation from Husband as I realized that I’m no longer certain of anything at all. I’m certain of the existence of God, and that Christ is his Son. Beyond that, I am going through motions with blind faith, hoping beyond hope that God approves. At first, this fall from grace was almost as agonizing as the pain of your absence, but now…

I’ve settled into an almost-apathy, a patience that comes from believing God will show me the way in his own time. I’ve learned that this too is part of the process, that I am still in the MIDDLE of this, not the end. C.S. Lewis, in his brilliance, puts it so succinctly:

“Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.”

I’ve come to almost envy the certainty of atheism, and the irony therein—that they often accuse people of faith for believing because it is comforting at the hour of death. If only they knew! I have found exactly zero comfort in the complexity of the afterlife, the many possibilities of where you could be now, where your consciousness has gone. The complete and total silence from you does nothing to make me feel you’re “watching over me.” Eastern thoughts once held have crumbled into ash, because I cannot fathom the cruelty of having to do this more than once, or that you’ve reemerged somewhere to be recycled ad nauseum. The consolation of the familiar in Catholicism is a meager but distinct comfort…even if, as I said, I’ve been marooned on the island of “I don’t know.” My heart, my intuition, has shut down. I am fumbling through the wreckage of my spirituality blind, led by logic (which is a poor guide in matters of faith, but better than none when all others have abandoned you). And logic brings me to Aquinas (or perhaps Aquinas, in his Aristotelian logic, leads me to his own theology) , but it doesn’t ignite my soul. My heart is not moved, for it is broken. How lucky I was at one time to ever have had my soul ignited by spiritual certainty, and what I wouldn’t give for that now. I hold on, knowing only that God is guiding me and that I must trust in Him.

So, this is where I am a year later. I am no longer stunned. I am moving around, I am searching for joy. I’m attempting to redefine who I am without you to fill one half of me, my darling soul-twin. I am making plans for the future—happy plans! I am experiencing happy things. And I’m dragging the anvil of your absence behind me, uphill and over dale, without the map of spirituality I had crafted for myself, that loved ones had helped me to create. I am moving, I am gaining ground. And I though I am lost, I shall be found. That is my one prayer these days—“Lord, help me to know what you want for me.” He is as silent as you. He works in mysterious ways.

I love you. I am thinking of you always. I hope one day we shall see each other again, my best of friends. I used to believe that we could. Now all that I know is that creation is vast and unknowable, and that you are somewhere in it. May I find you again, so I can tell you how much you have been missed.


A Few of My Favorite Things…

A Few of My Favorite Things…


This blog is always a work in progress, and I recently had the idea to combine some of my more random posts into a single “favorite things” post to make it all more interesting…at least, I hope so! So here you have it! These are a few of my favorite things these days.

1.Thrift store shopping. Obviously. Here is the latest haul from this weekend:


J. Crew, Old Navy, and Tranquility&Mayhem shirts for Husband that fit him perfectly for $4.99 each. They need a quick bath and nice iron, but I am so glad we found these! Good quality and he will get lots of wear out of them.


I picked up this “Jack” label light coat for $7.99 and just love it. It’s well-worn and a bit pilly, but I really don’t mind. It is good quality, looks great on and I’ll be living in it until the weather warms up.


About a month ago, Husband saw this standing globe at Goodwill priced at $125. He has a thing for maps and globes, and he really wanted it as it was in good condition, but passed on it due to the high price. We went back today and it was still there, only this time the price tag had been removed! As his birthday is right around the corner, I asked if he wanted me to give it to him as a birthday present and he said maybe depending on the price. So, I casually asked how much it was going for and the lady, after checking with someone in the back said, “$60?” Done! Husband LOVES it, and I think it’s pretty enough, so it was a good deal for a nice birthday gift even if it was on the pricey side for a thrifted item.


I know I’m insane. But you guys know how much I love 1970s housewares. These two-tone terrycloth towels are so iconic of 1970s bathrooms that high-end stores like Anthropologie have been reintroducing the style. Well, I don’t care enough about them to buy from Anthropologie, but I’ve had a really soft spot in my heart for these things that seemingly every grandma had in her bathroom at one point or another. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but these are cherry red, with a lighter red contrast. I got a set of four for…I don’t even know how much because I didn’t care! They need a good bath by nature of being from a thrift store, but otherwise are in great condition for originals!


Again, I know I’m crazy. The first thing Husband said when he saw these was “Wow, those are really ugly.” I know. But I love them! They’re for the collection!! As I’ve mentioned before, I have an extensive collection of late mid-century stoneware and glazeware mugs and dishes…and while these are objectively strange by themselves, they will look delightful in the collection. And they’re handmade!


Speaking of stoneware, these aren’t vintage, but I was really charmed by them. They’re really solid, well-made stoneware bowls that to me look both vintage and futuristic– like bowls that Luke Skywalker would eat out of at his Aunt and Uncle’s house…well, before the…you know, the incident. 0_o. $1.99 each wasn’t a waste!

2. Eating healthy! I’ve been on an at-home, whole-foods-vegan kick for a few weeks now, and I’m really loving it. Yes, I have days where I still eat out (SIGH despite my best Lenten intentions), but I’ve been really conscientious about what I’m consuming and I’m finding that as the days get lighter, the easier it is for me to embrace food that’s good for me, and say no to foods that I just don’t need in my life every day (looking at you, cake).

On that note, I made the BEST OATMEAL OF MY LIFE last week, and brought it to work every morning:


Oh man. So, I discovered that if you cook oats as a ratio of 1:1:1 oats, rice milk and water, they become incredibly creamy and slightly sweet. The rice milk gives it this rich creaminess that you’d swear was from milk of the bovine persuasion, but it isn’t! I topped it with this delightful mix of stewed fruit that I also can’t get enough of:


I took prunes, dried apricots, raisins and sultanas and put them in a pot with some water, cinnamon and two star anise pods and then let them simmer until everything was nice and soft and jammy. Then I removed the star anise, added a small drizzle of maple syrup and ta-da! All done. Just scrumptious!! I can’t recommend this combo enough, especially with a sprinkle of coconut sugar on top.


I also cleaned out my fridge, which is now cleaner and emptier than it has been in a very, very long time. Yes, this is empty for me! But it’s full of healthy snacks, Husband’s homemade kombucha, and the makings of many healthy meals, so I have to keep this good thing going.

3. Teatime. As always. As usual.


Last weekend I checked out Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi from the library and read in a few hours. It’s a graphic novel about a young girl’s experience of the Iranian revolution. It’s beautiful, but heartbreaking in many ways. I’m glad I read it, it reminded me of Marzi, another graphic novel that I love love love and have mentioned before in one of my book list posts.


Of course, I read it while enjoying some “Earl Grey de la Creme” tea that’s new in at Trader Joe’s. I’ve had another version of this made by a different company which was unfortunately named “Creme de la Earl Grey” (unfortunate because I think the French grammar there is atrocious, but what do I know, I don’t speak French) which was SO INSANELY delicious. It had a very sugary-sweet, creme brûlée aroma while not having detectable sweetness on the tongue. Just delightful tea, scrumptious with a little maple syrup and milk. I was excited to try this version, and it wasn’t quite as delightful. TJ’s blend is much heavier on the bergamot, so it tastes more like a mildly vanilla-scented Earl Grey. Still, I liked it a lot. Also, I used Grandma’s Blue Onion teapot for the first time in years.


I love this teapot, and I’ve been keeping it safe since Grandma moved out of her home and into assisted living in 2012. The last time I used it, she was alive and we were enjoying tea together. She told me that she bought this pot at Gump’s, downtown off Union Square, when she was young. She really wanted a teapot, and this one cost $8– GASP! She remembered thinking, “Eight dollars?! Yikes, how extravagant!!” She laughed about it with me, remembering. I’ve been afraid to break it. I really don’t want anything to happen to it, but I also know that she’d be sad to think it wasn’t getting any use. So I’m using it, and remembering her with every breath I take, every little special ritual, as the one year mark approaches on the 13th. “Don’t be sad for too long, Fessie,” she said. I’m trying not to be.

4. Relaxing media. Mostly of two types:


I have no kids, and yet, “The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends” series by the BBC plays so often on my TV you’d think we had a passel of children who enjoy it. We don’t, it’s just me! Sister and I enjoyed this series so much as children, and when I moved in with Grandma at 18, we went to Costco one day and I saw they had it on DVD. “Get it!!” she insisted, and bought me the whole set. The stories are, naturally, heavenly and the artwork is beautiful, but the music! Oh, the music!! I think some of these are on YouTube if you’ve never seen them. Just give them a listen. They main reason I put them on is to have their soft chatter and gorgeous music in the background while I fold laundry, write in my journal, or read.

Another thing I’ve discovered that is meant for background ambience is a YouTube channel called ASMR Rooms:–9PlQ74JVIEmw

Sorry, leaving the ugly link. Anyway, it’s this amazing channel of animated scenes with beautifully curated fantasy soundscapes meant to be used as white noise or just ambient sound. The girl that does them is so talented, and one the main reasons I love her is that she heavily emphasizes the world of Harry Potter in her creations– she has some scenes from Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and other fantasy worlds, but she is extremely dedicated to Harry’s magical world most of all, and has over thirty soundscapes for it alone.


Here is a scene from the Gryffindor common room! My favorites are The Gryffindor Common Room, The Ravenclaw Common Room, Dumbledore’s Office, The Hogwarts Library, Waking Up at Shell Cottage, Waking up in Hogsmede, and Christmas at the Burrow. There are many, many more, so check them out! They are so fun to put on while reading or sipping tea.

5. My kitty.


This old girl turns…seventeen this year? I say that with a question mark because I’m not entirely sure of her age. She was rescued by Husband’s family and lived with them for her entire life as an outdoor-sometimes-indoor kitty until a few years ago when we adopted her. She’s been enjoying her retirement in the Bay Area as far as we can tell. This little feral thing, often grumpy and unpredictable, has mellowed so much in her old age and is now very, very blind. But she’s developed a sweet, affectionate nature that I didn’t think possible a few years ago when we first took her. I’m so glad she’s come to live with us, and that I’ve been able to befriend her. While Husband is clearly her best friend in the world, she doesn’t seem to mind me as much and has recently taken to curling up next to my head at night to sleep when, for years, she wouldn’t even sleep in the same room as us. I love having her around, even when she gets a case of the grumps. Pets are so good for the soul.

6. Journaling!


It has been YEARS since I kept a regular journal. Back in late 2014, I started writing to Grandma and we became pen pals, exchanging multiple letters a week. I still have most of the letter she wrote me, hundreds and hundreds of them. But the thing is, I stopped keeping a journal when I started writing to her because I couldn’t bring myself to document my daily life in two different ways. After she died, I had no one to write to anymore, and I’ve finally decided to start another journal. I chose this one because the cover art reminded me of the flowering English countryside, and strangely, our time in rainy Shrewsbury, which was whimsical and full of spring flowers despite the gloomy weather. I’m really loving it. It’s so satisfying, and I love having journals to look back on later in life. So that’s a fun new thing I’m really liking.

Gosh, this post got very long! But that’s it! A few of my favorite things right now. Love to you all, and hoping you are having a restful weekend.



Hello March!

Hello March!


Hello March! It comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, as the saying goes. If the next few days continue the way they have been, I can agree with this saying—it has been so grippingly cold in the Bay Area recently, I almost can’t believe it! I feel like I’m in Iceland again! The Sierras continue to receive snowfall, and my hopes and best wishes are with everyone up there, that the power outages may be few.

March is a lovely transitional month. It’s a month of movement. It really begins to be springy—it’s already noticeably lighter in the morning and evenings, and the trees and flowers are in bloom. Greenery is all around. The world is beginning to awaken, and I am happy to say I am feeling it in my bones. This turn of seasons lets us exhale a bit. We can poke our heads out of our hobbit holes and begin to rise from hibernation of various kinds.

March 13th marks the one year anniversary of Gram’s passing. It’s a really strange feeling. Back in December I feared this milestone. I wanted to stave it off for as long as possible. Up until now, I could say “last year at this time…” and remember her alive. A trip around the sun didn’t separate us in space or time. I could imagine her as she had been on this day, less than a year ago. But now we pass into a new era—that of years without her, not just months. Soon it will be that last year at this time I was grieving, instead of laughing with her. I was wishing she was here. Every day that passes takes me farther from her, and I feel such pain seeing the days I spent with her grow smaller on a distant horizon.


Through a new mental health benefit my employer introduced this year, I’ve been given full coverage for up to twenty-six sessions with a therapist. I’m so grateful for this amazing and generous opportunity, and a few weeks ago I met my new therapist for the first time. I have never done therapy solo before. Last November I did some therapy with family members, but that was my only experience with therapy. I kept telling myself I’ve been dealing with my grief well on my own. Maybe I have. But there are times, days, weeks…when I fall into the pit. When I regress to a place where none of it makes sense. It’s in those times that I’ve wondered, “Is this normal? Am I making progress? How do I hold this? Where do I go from here?” And that’s where I think therapy will really be helpful. I’ve been to three sessions with her, and I love her. I’m so glad that I have this resource, and I’m really looking forward to this interesting new experience. So March will see a continuation of this new journey.

I’ve been pondering how to mark the anniversary of her passing. I’d really like to not let it go unnoticed. We never did end up doing any sort of service for her. It was such a strange turn of events. Nothing was ever planned before she died, and after…we each had such mountains of things to deal with that it was decided against. I would have really liked to have rallied the entire family, but by the time I had the energy to take the lead, the moment had passed for them. We all deal with grief in our own ways, and I’m at ease now with the turn of events, even if I wasn’t at the time. The urn with her ashes sits in my living room, atop a bookcase near the ceiling, and I look up at it and know that it went the only way it could have. But the one-year mark is coming, and I can do whatever I want now, at least for myself. I’m considering going to a long-beloved restaurant that we used to go to, to order her favorite meal and cocktail (though I don’t typically drink). If anyone appreciated a good meal and an evening out, it was her. Still, I like the idea of coming together with friends and family. I’d like to share something with Sister, I just don’t know quite what. There’s still time.

Husband gets a weeklong break from school at the end of the month that thankfully coincides with the absurdly early Easter Week. Baby Niece, Sister- and Brother in Law are visiting, and we’re so excited at the prospect of seeing them again so soon (relatively) after the holidays! Mom and Dad are hoping to come down to experience the Easter Triduum at my parish, a particularly beautiful, large, and traditional parish that is home to a community of Dominican brothers. Their Easter Week festivities are phenomenal, and I am so happy that my family might get to experience them! Husband’s birthday falls right after Easter this year, so we might bundle Easter celebrations with birthday celebrations before it’s time for him to return to the old grind.


I make a really big stinkin’ deal out of the Easter Triduum. I’ve taken Good Friday off of work for the past few years because I love making the space to dig down deep into the silence, sorrow, and pain of what that day commemorates. For the last few years I’ve started the day by going to a Tenebrae service at my parish. This a really old ritual that involves chanted psalms and a ritual extinguishing of candles—acknowledging the journey of light into darkness. The church is filled with people, but they’re silent. The lights are off, the tabernacle empty. It’s a powerful service.

Holy Saturday is spent cooking, cooking, cooking up a storm! The tradition for the last few years has been to order a German cheesecake from Zanze’s—a beautiful family-owned cheesecake shop in Balboa Terrace, San Francisco, and then spend the day making many of our heirloom Italian recipes: peppers puttanesca, fried zucchini, Nonnie’s spaghetti sauce, salads and antipasti. Also, deviled eggs. Lots of deviled eggs. Good Friday might not be the most traditional day to dye eggs, but as I like to eat the eggs I dye, Good Friday is the day it’s done! It wouldn’t be Easter without deviled eggs!

And of course, Saturday evening is the Easter Vigil– the summit of all liturgies, the glory of glories and holy of holies, the three-hour long vigil that tugs your heart, engages all five senses, takes you on the journey of all existence– hearing the first words from Genesis, chapter 1, verse 1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” as you sit, shoulders pressed against your neighbors in darkness, an electric thrill coursing through every body crammed into the church. Together we illuminate the darkened space with candle light, give and receive flames from each other, witness the journey of people joining the faith, and reaffirm our baptismal promises in solemn declaration. It is truly incredible, unlike anything else I’ve ever known. It is ancient ritual, bigger and grander and older than I can ever be.

Lent continues, and now that I’m not in the throes of bronchitis, is much easier to focus on! There has been good success so far in some areas, and some work to be done in others. Plans continue to be planned with regard to our U.K. adventure that is five long months away. It is a beacon of joy and hope to look forward to, and I know it is getting the three of us through any crummy days.


Here’s what’s on for March:

March 9—“A Wrinkle in Time” film is released (one of my favorite books!)

March 11—Gaudete Sunday, San Francisco International Chocolate Salon

March 17—St. Patrick’s Day

March 19—Solmenity of Joseph

March 23—“Isle of Dogs” film by Wes Anderson is released (my favorite director!)

March 24-April 1—Spring Break!

March 25—Palm Sunday

March 29—Holy Thursday

March 30—Good Friday

March 31—Easter Vigil


Stuff I’d like to do in March:

–Go to the movies. I determined that last year I went to the movies exactly twice, and Husband exactly once. Goodness, we should go more often considering it’s something we really enjoy doing!

–Make Irish food for St. Patrick’s Day! Vegetarian Irish food, that is. Maybe I’ll try my hand at a soda bread and serve it with Irish butter. Yum!

–Finish booking all the train, tour, and ferry tickets for our vacation.

Not too many goals this month. It’s still winter, after all. The happiest of Marches to you! I hope everyone stays well– totally healthy and happy this month as we head into spring!

Delightful, Delicious, De-Lovely

Delightful, Delicious, De-Lovely


Here it is again, yet another installment of Delightful, Delicious, De-lovely!


Today, for the first time in a long, long time I went thrifting. Thrift-store shopping is treasure hunting for me. You find the best, one-of-a-kind items that you could never find anywhere else, never plan to buy, and often if you DID plan to buy them you’d pay a bundle at antique stores or on E-Bay. I have very specific collections of items that I love adding to, and today proved worthwhile!

One of the things I collect is stoneware (and other house wares) from the 1970s. Before you groan in agony, understand that the ’70s was full of a vast array of decorating styles and color schemes. Yes, much of it was awful. But a lot of it was really, really cool. Some of the pieces I find are objectively kind of ugly, but I love them anyway. Some of them are Mad Men cool (especially stuff from the late 60s). It just depends! Today, I added to my delightful tableware collections with these three dessert plates:


The little blue one at the bottom is a handmade spoon rest from Corsica. Everything above cost $0.50 or less!

I also added to my vintage mug collection. I have so many packed away that are looking forward to seeing the light of day when we finally move to a bigger place. Until then, I’m happy to keep adding to the collection when I see ones that make me smile, since they only set me back $0.50.



The above vintage travel mug (likely from the ’80s) cost me $0.99 and was purchased for Husband who expressed a desire to keep a vintage travel mug I purchased for Sister at Christmas time. He wasn’t overly thrilled with this one, though, so it might see the inside of the same thrift store shortly.

The cups below nearly made my heart stop when I found them. They are old, quite old. No makers mark, and not Fiestaware. The slightly dulled finish and manufacturing details on the inside and bottom makes me think they were made in the U.S., possibly as early as the late ’40s. It’s hard to tell with bright colors. They could be early ’50s, but I doubt they are much newer than that. They are remarkable, so charming, so small compared to what cups and mugs would grow to in the later decades. They were a steal at $0.99 each.


The below mug was also handmade stoneware, not vintage, but still charming enough that I was happy to give it room in the cupboard!


The two items below are bonkers, and I preface them by saying they aren’t for us to keep. I purchased them with a particular friend in mind who has the most incredibly decorated, beautifully eclectic house you’d ever want to see, stuffed with interesting esoterica, much of it from thrift stores. I can honestly say, though, that when I saw these two today I almost screamed. I did the look-left-and-right, “did anyone else see this?!” dance as I grabbed them from the shelf. $6.99 for the large decorative bowl, and $2.99 for the candy dish. They are on my coffee table at the moment, and while they don’t match the aesthetic of our home in the slightest…they are objectively really incredible pieces! I just love that they exist. Crazy? Yes! Stunning in their own right? Yes!!


They’ll definitely be happy and right at home in their new house, whenever I get the time to deliver them.



Alas, only one delicious photo today. Yesterday was spent with my dear friend G who came all the way from France with her darling little girl S, who is 2 1/2. I broke my Lenten fast with them by going to our favorite bakery, Thorough Bread and Pastry on Church Street in San Francisco. We enjoyed pots of Harney and Son’s “Paris” tea and the absolute most ethereal almond croissants known to man. It was so much fun! I was extra doubly bad by joining her in her first, long-awaited In-N-Out meal for dinner, and though I avoided cheese and fries, I didn’t avoid meat. Also, I managed to not take a picture of that.  The rest of the day was spent….


…wandering the city, seeing the touristy-ist of touristy Painted Ladies in Alamo Square and snapping views of the skyline from Ina Coolbrith Park.





It was a lovely day, though freezing, and before dinner we took a short rest at her Air B&B to have an instant cappuccino and catch up after almost a year apart. She will be here for two weeks, and we have several more delightful adventures planned. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful friends, and so thankful for G in particular. Three cheers for international friendships! ❤


A Horizontal Update

A Horizontal Update


It is now the fifth day of Lent, and boy has it kicked off with appropriate spirit! Tuesday evening I felt myself coming down with what I thought was a cold. Ash Wednesday I stayed home from work, thinking I would go back to work after a good rest and hot bath. Alas, I was on the downward slope until Saturday morning. Friday evening it was determined that I had bronchitis, and a more sticky, painful, and altogether disgusting cough I haven’t had in many moons, in addition to a low fever. Steam bowls, liquids, Mucinex, anti-histamine and a host of herbal remedies were able to minimize my discomfort, but breathing is rather essential, and it’s distressing when you feel you’re gasping for breath or drowning in phlegm (sorry). Thankfully, due to having this very issue many years ago, I keep an albuterol inhaler on hand even though I normally never need it. Boy, it is SUCH a miracle drug. It took me from a really wet, gasping wheeze to clear, smooth breathing in about five seconds. Thank heavens for modern medicine!


Today I am tired, but the grossest aspects of this nasty bug are now under control, and I’m mostly just worn out. Husband has been such a wonderful caregiver, shopping and cooking, cleaning the house, bringing me things, making me tea…I don’t know what I’d do without him! Meanwhile, the couch has been my bed for five days and I’ve been enjoying marathons of such favorites as the original Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movies, and lots of YouTube. When you’re worn out, you just need passive entertainment and I’ve found I just haven’t had the desire to read.


Lent is slightly topsy-turvy due to this well-timed bug, so life hasn’t been altered all that much. At the very least, what would be the hardest penances when I’m well are things I’m not even thinking about now– sweets, treats, and food goodies. I just don’t want them, so I guess that’s a good thing.

Just checking in, take care all!