present joys

Week of May 22, 2023


Words by:

Michelle Jolliffe-Saper + Joyce Chai


Miu Miu’s AW23 show Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Frizzy hair

Absolutely joyous that frizzy hair is finally getting its due. Enough of taming the mane, I’m here (and have been for quite some time) for the freedom of the frizz. From British Vogue on the frizzy looks at Miu Miu: “The styles are a nod to the current beauty landscape, one in which reality and surreality merge in ethereal looks inspired by mundane emotions and the weather, dreamy details, or, even better, both.”

Setting boundaries

More recently, I’ve been coming back to the importance of setting boundaries. It’s a concept I was wholly unfamiliar with until a few years ago and one with which I still struggle to fully embrace. Professionally, boundary setting has manifested itself in creating a distinction between work time and personal time—something that I hadn’t ever really separated in a conscious way before moving to Scotland. The culture here is one that focuses more on what you do outside of work than what you do at work. It’s been a gentle reminder to me that living a full like can be more than having a full job. It’s an obvious statement, but one that I need to keep in mind. Personally, boundary-setting feels slightly more foreign although it is just as important. I read somewhere that in order to establish better personal boundaries, it’s imperative to use objective language instead of emotional language. Overall, I’ve been enjoying the reminder that boundaries can be healthy and the slow, but steady progress I’ve made in trying to create the ones that work best for a healthy me.


Jarlsberg cheese

Originating from Jarlsberg, Norway, this trademarked cheese’s signature mild, nutty flavor and semi-soft texture has become my new snack fixation. I can’t stop eating it. And apparently I’m not alone—per this Guardian article from 2013, Jarlsberg is the most imported cheese to the US.

Bostock bakery

On a quick Saturday trip to the seaside town of North Berwick (about 30 minutes from Edinburgh), Lee and I were entranced by the scent and visual display of the breads and pastries of Bostock Bakery.

Vintage sweater

My mood has been undeniably glum these past few weeks (a definite handicap to compiling biweekly joys…), but a small moment last week provided some cheer. I purchased a knitted white sweater from a local thrift store and, of course, immediately spilled some coffee on it. As I was cleaning the stains, there was one stubborn spot that wouldn’t lift. I soon realized that it wasn’t a stain, but the site of a carefully mended hole with a yarn that was ever so slightly off-white. This (otherwise undetectable) level of care and detail was a delightful discovery.

Fartlek runs

I’m less than a week away from my half-marathon race and I’ve been somewhat militant about my training schedule—a mode that can be comforting for my personality (Virgo, if you care). For so long, I’ve merely focused on the number of miles vs. the type of miles I run. Lately, I’ve peppered in some fartlek (Swedish for “speed play”) runs throughout the week and they’ve been such an unexpected source of joy. The variety and challenge of these workouts have made routine runs so much more enjoyable.

Theo’s ddol

In Korean culture, there are two traditional celebrations that take place within a baby’s first year: the baekil which marks the child’s first 100 days and the ddol which marks the first birthday. Last weekend, we gathered for my nephew Theo’s ddol and it was a beautiful celebration which made me so appreciative of my family and culture. I baked Theo a cake for the occasion, and it warmed every corner of my heart to see him devour each component. First, delicately, the candied pistachios and raspberries. Then, with a bit more gusto, the layer of genoise, which finally crescendoed to double fistfuls of fig leaf pastry cream. What an honor to be the one to introduce him to his first bite of cake.

Dan Sung Sa

My Present Joys may very well alternatively be known as my jaunts throughout Koreatown. Food, especially ones that tick the boxes of comfort and nostalgia, will always spark a particular, piquant joy for me. Don’t sleep on Dan Sung Sa–a transportive tavern that serves a vast menu of skewers and Korean bar food. With the amount of new restaurants LA has to offer, the desire to be a regular at any particular spot sometimes feels rare, but I immediately wanted to come back after an incredible meal last week.

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