present joys

Pasta perfection, imaginary bridges, running again, and pantry fixations.


Words by:

Michelle Jolliffe-Saper + Joyce Chai

Vicente Siso

I can’t remember where or how I heard about artist Vicente Siso, but upon seeing his work I was immediately enamored by its color and use of repeated elements. It feels happy, almost idyllic, but not quite. I want to live on the streets he portrays. His solo exhibition “Memories of the Land & Water” just closed but the pieces are still for sale at Tierra del Sol Gallery.

A New Go-To Pasta Dish

This One-Pan Crispy Spaghetti and Chicken is the best thing I have made and eaten in a long time. It’s cozy, delicious, and very approachable (in that you want to approach it when you see it and it’s not very daunting to make). It is also the perfect hosting dish in my eyes because it checks all the right boxes: you can prep most of it in advance, it serves a group of four to six, and is fun to reveal and dig into. Definitely a keeper! Recipe note: use chicken stock in lieu or partially in lieu of water.

Alligator Crossings

Neighborhood walks are something I enjoy tremendously and do a lot of. What I enjoy about them most is the duality they bring: you’re at once somewhere familia yet there is always the possibility of stumbling upon or simply noticing something new. My heart jumped at this chalk bridge complete with winding waves and an alligator—a simple reminder to delight in the power and lightheartedness that can come with imagination.


Our friend, Alexandra Cadiz, performed as Sette a few weeks ago and she was absolutely brilliant. Her voice is ethereal and her stage presence honest and charming. In the car ride home I was gushing with pride for Alex because, through her performance, she inspired me to bring more awareness to the present moment, to live more actively in it and to bring a sense of gratitude to it because time passes us by in the blink of an eye. Listen in.

Image via ArcopedicoUSA


I’m an ecco girl through and through, but after reading up on Arcopedico recently and seeing their knit offering, I’m considering a further foray into supremely functional footwear. The company’s been around for many generations and, according to their website, “to this day all Arcopedico shoes are produced in the picturesque Villa de Conde, Portugal” which seems nice. To knit or not to knit? Or am I satisfied enough with simply enjoying the design?

Running Again

I somewhat spontaneously joined a friend to run the Chinatown Firecracker 10K last weekend. Though I enjoy running, it’s easy for me to slip out of the habit if I’m not following a dedicated training plan. It had been a while since I’d run more than a couple miles, so I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this one (especially since I mistakenly showed up a day before the actual race, oof). False starts and steep elevation gains aside, this run was surprisingly fun! I love seeing the city map itself out via the various run clubs (Koreatown Run Club, Eagle Rock Run Club, Pasadena Pacers, etc.) and witnessing the camaraderie that this sport so clearly provides. Happy to report that I finished faster than expected and am back on my thrice-weekly runs.

Brushing My Hair

In terms of hair care, I don’t really have the desire or knowledge to do much. But maybe/singularly because of the above scene from Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, I’ve begun to brush my hair beyond just a quick untangle. A small, simple act, but one that makes me feel so grown-up and lavish. This joy has been accompanied with a creeping curiosity re: Mason Pearson brushes, though. Are they worth the splurge? :X

Pantry Faves

A roundup of some of my favorite grocery store finds:

Majestic Garlic Hummus A swipe of the sun-dried tomato flavor + fried egg on a piece of toast has been a repeat breakfast.

G-nola With a simple ingredient base of oats, maple syrup, and—unlike most granola which uses oil—BUTTER, this granola has been a dangerously addicting snack.

Rancho Gordo Pineapple Vinegar I’ve been obsessed with simple salads made with splashes of this vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Also mixed it with powdered sugar to create a glaze for these gingerbread cookies.

Old Cookbooks

Van and I stopped by a coffee shop on our way back from a weekend in San Diego where they had an assortment of old cookbooks on display. While waiting for our breakfast sandwiches, I flipped through Patisserie of Italy (above) and found both the desserts and photography so enticing. Each photo had a soft, glossy quality reminiscent of glamour shots (or the resulting photos from a smudged iPhone camera). Whatever the technique required to achieve this aesthetic, I’m into it.

Green Porno

Criterion recently welcomed Isabella Rosselini’s charming series of shorts, Green Porno, to its collection. I last watched this series during college (where I majored in ecology) so it’s been fun to embody a past life. Described as “Part nature documentary, part DIY cartoon, GREEN PORNO is a cheekily hilarious, gonzo zoology lesson propelled by Rossellini’s irrepressible charisma,” each episode spans one or two minutes and details the mating habit of an insect or animal. (Also available on Youtube.)

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