present joys

Max Simon


Words by:

Max Simon

Max Simon is a Los Angeles-based baker and the mastermind behind @challahdad. Peep his feed to stay up to date on all his epic bakes and pop-ups, like this giant challah bánh mì sandwich made in collaboration with Sesame LA. Read on to partake in Max’s present joys:

Gluten Webs

I discovered the beauty of gluten webs from fellow challah baker, @peppelahchallah, who rips open a well-proofed dough to reveal a mesmerizing gluten web to indicate that it is ready to divide and shape. I gave this a shot and was floored by the result. It’s science, it’s art, and I’m excited to keep testing it out for my future bakes.

Alien Cake

What seemed like minutes after the so-called 'alien corpses' were shown at Mexico's first UFO hearing, the dang cake people of the internet recreated the otherworldly corpses as cake and sliced into them to make people believe that they weren’t real. I’m not a big “is it cake” guy but HOLY CANNOLI this was the fastest, most elaborate reactive content I’ve ever seen. And it brought me so much joy.

Uncle Albert's Sleeping Positions

My lil pup, Uncle Albert aka Albert aka Albie aka Albus Dumbledog, usually opts for a sunny spot on the kitchen floor. When that’s not available, he’s somehow sleeping on the top of the couch, using the wooden furniture as a pillow. I’m not sure how or why he does it, but his cuteness definitely makes up for the fact that he doesn’t pay rent.


I’m getting a lot of joy out of gardening with my Farmstand from Lettuce Grow. I got it to experiment with using fresh herbs in my challah (which has been a game changer… making one with parsley and string cheese this week) but now I’m making homemade salads, veggie dishes, propagating herbs outside of the stand, and really feeling the benefits of having a garden at home. It’s also interesting to see what produce is in season and it feels good to eat according to those patterns.

Headstands in Nature

If you know me, you also probably know that I am a goofball and randomly launch into headstands when I’m out in nature. It’s a fun way to pause for a moment and experience my surroundings from a new perspective, literally. Sometimes other people see me doing it and join in. A group headstand is quite a hoot. If you want to do a headstand in nature with me, send me an email and maybe we can try to coordinate something.

A few more joys from Joyce and Michelle...

Van and I somewhat spontaneously welcomed a new pup into our lives and the initial feelings of disbelief have quickly pivoted to full-on infatuation.

Sheila Metzner: From Life

Enjoyed this small but stunning photography exhibit at The Getty, on view until February 18th.

Hightide Stationery

Giddily grabbed a bunch of new stationery at Hightide (at ROW DTLA) last week, including this 2024 Planner. I’m particular with my planners and prefer this one’s format of a side-by-side view of the week and a page for notes.

Werner Herzog on Fresh Air

Appreciated Herzog’s remark in this Fresh Air interview: “You have to control what is wild in you.” This was in regards to him stabbing his brother as kid and the subsequent, sobering realization that control was necessary in order to live in community. While I don’t condone the sibling harm, his account provided some much needed encouragement that people are capable of choosing empathy over ego.

Speaking of Bánh Mìs

Moving to Pasadena has brought so much joy to my palate, starting with Phở Bánh Mì Chè Cali.

Antique Center and Annex

This gem of a spot has been around for more than 50 years. With 50,000 sq. ft. of antiques & furniture sold by over 100 different vendors, it’s hard not to leave with something in hand and with a lot of ideas in mind!


It was so special being in Mexico City this past weekend for my friend Emely’s wedding. It was an added bonus that it was also Día de los Muertos which the city celebrated with an array of golden orange marigolds (cempasúchil) throughout. Per NPR, “the fragrance of the bright orange and yellow flowers is said to lead souls from their burial place to their family homes.”

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