present joys

Breakfast on repeat, mushroom babies, impromptu New Year's Eves and solo escapades.


Words by:

Michelle Jolliffe-Saper + Joyce Chai

The Paintings of Artist Andrew Gordon

I love when one artist turns you onto another, this was the case with Andrew Gordon who I stumbled upon vis-a-vis the work of Barry McGlashan. I love the dreamlike fuzziness of Gordon’s work. For me, seeing this painting, albeit only digitally, was literally a dream come true; I’ve had a recurring dream of a painting who subject was obscured, then revealed, through a hazy window. I’m not sure what all the dream stuff means, but I am sure I’m eager to see the evolution of this body of Gordon’s work.

Waffles, Almond Butter, Yogurt, Blueberries…finito!

People, I’m sounding the alarm, and as basic as this alarm is, please heed this morning notice. I’ve been delighting in this simple yet multi-component breakfast for weeks now and I can’t kick my cravings for it yet. You start with your standard (or if you’re trying to be healthy *multigrain*) waffle, toast it obviously, lather with your favorite nut butter, follow with a generous dollop of full-fat yogurt (this is the magic part and we’re crediting Joyce for it), and finish with a nice handful of blueberries. I’ve riffed on the toppings a bit (see persimmon jam with pomegranates) but the almond butter and blueberries is still my go to. Waiting for the day when I’ll never want to eat this again or when we find out frozen waffles aren’t supposed to be a food group, but until then, find me in the frozen aisle grabbing stocking up on my waffles of choice.

Cevallos Bros Calendar

I ordered this Cevallos Bros calendar for Lee for Christmakkuh and it may or may not have been a this-is-for-you-but-it’s-also-kinda-yeah-it’s-for-me gifts. Don’t worry I also got him a couple other things he actually wanted, but this one was still a hit. We put it up in our kitchen and I smile every time I walk by.

Neighborhood Observations

The other day I stumbled upon this round bunch of mushrooms a few blocks from our place and its discovery provided the largest hit of dopamine my brain has had since Lee and I last completed the NYT crossword without checking for errors. I took so many pictures of this cluster you would’ve thought I had just birthed her myself. She’s about 72 oz, she’s perfect, and she’s gearing up to enter the 6th annual LA Mycological Society mushroom photo contest.

Image via Ceremonia

Scalp Masajeador

Rid yourself of your metal spiders and get yourself a masajeador. It’s gentle, relaxing, and leaves your scalp feeling perfectly blissful! It’s the millennial stress ball, if you ask me. TY Joyce!

Alexander's Steakhouse

After ringing in 2023 with a case of food poisoning and cancelled plans, Van and I were wary of making any commitments this NYE. We purposefully kept our calendar open in case any part of our souls (or stomachs) opted to skip a celebration. We blindly made day-of reservations to Alexander’s Steakhouse come 12/31 and I’m happy to report our spontaneity delivered. I can only describe the vibe as American Psycho, but this was precisely the corporate steakhouse environment I desired to close out the year. We shared the wedge salad, mac n’ cheese, and filet mignon. All were great, but it was the abundance of complimentary accoutrements that made me mutter “This is my new favorite restaurant” by the end of our meal. Excellent (and refilled) bread basket. Banana-flavored cotton candy? Sure, why not. Chocolate truffles to conclude our meal, yes. I can’t deny that I’m still that girl who was raised on AYCE KBBQ. I love me some quantity, damnit–which in this case is on par with the quality!

Rose Parade

Van and I have a fairly recent New Year’s Day tradition of walking from our apartment to Orange Grove Avenue to view the Rose Parade floats. It’s pure Pasadena wholesomeness and we take full advantage of our proximity to the event. Camping out in the cold for the official parade has never been an appealing prospect, so it’s nice to be able to casually stroll up and view all the floats in queue (and in great detail!) Most memorable moment this year: Bruce prancing past as an entire marching band gasped and cheered in succession.

Image via The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Betye Saar

Michelle and I took our first studio meeting of the year al fresco at the grounds of the Huntington Library. Our path and conversation were equally meandering with topics spanning latest breakfast obsessions to broad visions for our studio as we wove in and out of the different gardens. By mid-afternoon we wandered into the American Art gallery, namely to view the Betye Saar: Drifting Toward Twilight exhibit. It’s a one-room show featuring an impressive canoe filled with and atop an assemblage of found branches and objects. The room subtly shifts in colors, pulsing between the various shades of twilight. Take some time with the piece, but I also encourage you to watch the accompanying video interview if you attend the show. I was so charmed and inspired by Saar who (at 97!) embodies so much joy and vitality that I don’t often attribute to people past a certain age. Such a beautiful model on living.

Molded Popsicle

After strolling through the Alhambra Farmer’s Market last Sunday, I popped into the nearby HK Good Fortune Supermarket on Main Street. These periodic supermarket scans of mine lack any practical agenda but delight me to no end. My curiosity was rewarded in full by way of the above Caramel Milk Popsicle, intricately molded in the form of the Shenyang Imperial Palace Museum.

Solo Mall Trips

There are specific activities that I enjoy in solitude–one being trips to the Century City Mall. I will never understand that mall’s layout as each visit inevitably comes with an additional lap (or three) before I find my way back to the (equally confusing) parking lot. The M.C. Escher of it all aside, it always feels like an indulgence to spend an afternoon simply, slowly shopping. Many a sample is swatched at the Nordstrom beauty counters, no aisle of Eataly goes unexamined. See my last visit’s haul above.

Previous Post

Aya Yamasaki

Your Cart 0

Your cart is empty