present joys

Packing lists, estate sales, extreme cashmere, and (not) banana bread


Words by:

Joyce Chai + Michelle Jolliffe-Saper


Lines in the sand drawn by the tails of two Galapagos iguanas crossing paths.

The Yapa + Tic-Tac-Toe

I spent some time in Ecuador with family a few weeks ago. We had a really great time exploring and making memories together in the city of Quito and the Galapagos Islands. There are a few moments of every trip in which I feel like I am floating above and observing while also partaking (I assume this is my subconscious making an effort to ensure that I remember this moment, this is special, there is something to be learned). This happened a few times on this trip; twice that brought me utter joy. The first was when a guide explained the concept of the yapa to me: when you go to the market and buy some fruits the vendor you purchase from might throw in an extra item called the “yapa”; think an apple alongside your purchase of bananas or a garlic bulb with your bag of onions. The concept is a generous one, but also one that builds loyalty to that vendor. The second was concocting a game of tic-tac-toe out of silverware and bread crumbs at dinner with my eleven-year-old nephew, Matteo. We must have played fifty games that night, weaving tales about life as an eleven-year old between shouts of “gotcha” when he managed to sneak a win by his admittedly competitive aunt.

REI Long Sleeve Shirt, lululemon pants, Thrive sunscreen, Natrapel insect repellent, wide brim sun hat, baggu Go Pouch set, Stashers, film camera, Speedo ergo ear plugs, Salomon x4 gore-tex hiking shoes, compression socks, Owala water bottle

Packing for Adventure

I really enjoyed packing for the trip to Ecuador, more so than I usually do (which is because I usually don’t). For an adventure entailing hiking, snorkeling, and bugs of all shapes and sizes, the above list served me well. I think I’m finally starting to see the pleasure in packing precisely.

Alyssa, Nadia, and I in Nadia’s lab at UCSB

Friends in Chemistry

I had the best time visiting my college roommate and good friend, Asst. Professor Dr. Nadia Léonard in Santa Barbara this past weekend. In addition to perusing the SB Funk Zone and popping into a few local shops (Jake and Jones, The Eddy, and Cheese Shop Santa Barbara), we also had the chance to visit her incredible lab at UCSB. I left the weekend beaming, not only with pride for the amazing work that Nadia is doing, but also for the opportunity for exposure to a space in which I never felt I belonged. It reminded me of just how powerful it can be exposed to people, places, things, etc. They can open up our minds and hearts in ways we can’t always imagine or predict.

Kappelmann Cookbook 1982 and a silver plated dish: $4 from an estate sale in Altadena this past weekend

Estate Sale Sundays

When we moved back to LA from the UK the only things we had put in storage were books, a few kitchen gadgets, a much-loved rug, and some special rocks (Lee being a geologist and all), so we had to start from scratch in furnishing our new place. We’ve been making a concerted effort, where possible, to buy things second hand and imbue them with new life. As part of that effort, I’ve taken to perusing estate sales and thrift shops on Sundays to make our little home feel more, well like home. To find estate sales I use (app also available) and for thrifting, Pasadena Antique Center and Annex and the surrounding thrift shops along that street have been my go-tos.


Via extreme cashmere

extreme cashmere

I love seeing the imagery that Dutch knitwear brand, extreme cashmere, puts out via their photo campaigns and Instagram. Whether it’s donning soft knits to figure skate, lounge around with your chic besties, or (most relatably) clutch a croissant, there’s an ease to it all that I really appreciate.

Still from Yourself and Yours (2016)

Hong Sang-soo Films

My ‘Recently Watched’ has included back-to-back films by South Korean director, Hong Sang-soo. From what I’ve seen and read of Sang-soo, his films can be typified by: quotidian events, directors or actors as main characters, and dialogues between characters that span multiple bottles of soju. As someone who lost her fluency in Korean, seeing these slice of life scenes feels magical. For how ever long the film’s run time, I’m graced with that ability to understand a language I once knew. Rather than the reality that is me working through a Level 1 Korean language handbook, I can live in my fantasy of finally understanding what that group of ahjummas are talking about in the table next to mine. It’s no wonder I keep queuing ‘em up.

Aker Fassi Clay Pot Lip Stain

The perfect red lip color! Made from pomegranate bark and dried poppy petals, this lip stain is baked within a terra cotta pot that you simply wet to apply. Lots available on Etsy.

Not Banana Bread

There aren’t many guarantees in life, but one that exists in our household is that—yes, even this time—the bananas will go brown before you can finish them. I’ve been in banana bread purgatory for far too long (Susan Spungen’s Buckwheat Banana Bread with Maple Tahini Glaze is my favorite recipe), but I’ve finally found a way out. Last week, I mashed up bruised bananas with equal parts brown sugar and butter, a splash of rum, and let the ingredients caramelize over the stove top. This alone would be great over oatmeal or ice cream, but a couple birthday celebrations this past weekend prompted a different use. I filled some choux pastry with a swipe of the caramelized banana and topped it with hojicha pastry cream for my newest cream puff obsession.

Wall of raw material incense ingredients at Goyo

Sundays Forever

What is it about Sundays that deem the day superior to the rest? I had an especially good one a couple weekends ago and would recommend this itinerary if you ever find yourself north of Glendale. Start your Sunday at the Montrose Harvest Market to get your fill of farmer’s market produce and small town charm. Pop into Lost Books (also situated on Honolulu Avenue) to peruse new and used books and records at bargain prices. Finally, make your way over to the neighboring city of Tujunga to stock up on incense from Goyo, the beautiful shop and studio space of Hyungi Park. Cozy up at home with your fresh stack of reads and light a cone of Hanoak in your new urn incense burner.

Previous Post

Jon Chao

Your Cart 0

Your cart is empty