present joys

Next chapters, a fungi foray, freshly milled flours, and Sanrio sleeves.

Image of a variety of pastries spread out on a lace doily tablecloth. Decor of pumpkins and cherry tomatoes strewn throughout.


Words by:

Michelle Jolliffe-Saper + Joyce Chai

Two people standing on a bridge with greenery in the background on a sunny day

After almost two years(!!), the time has arrived to say goodbye to our life in Scotland. I’m writing this as I sit on a plane bound West with a whole mishmash of emotions jumbling around like the luggage in the overhead compartments. How could saying goodbye to a place and people you’ve become so close to be a present joy? For me, it’s simultaneously heart-wrenching and life-affirming. Of course it’s painful, and, as the many other times I’ve moved away from a place I’d begun to establish roots, I leave feeling devastated and fearful that I won’t be able to do it again or make the same types of connections that I had worked so hard to create. Perhaps, in a way, this is true—the friendships, apartments, food, cultures and pretty much every aspect of our lives will be different as I can’t, nor do I wish to, copy paste the life lived in one place for that in another. At the same time, I find immense gratitude and solace in the openness of heart and mind that’s allowed this iteration of life to be lived as it has. I'm leaving the UK a more full, more mature person—taking with me ideas of community, time, and rest that I didn’t have prior to arriving and hopefully leaving behind some of my own culture and perspective to those who so kindly opened their hearts and minds to me. Excited for this next chapter in Los Angeles, but also mindful to keep a nice, wee bit of my being reserved for the memory and lessons of bonnie Scotland.

A foraging basket full of a variety of fungi
Foraging for Fungi

Had quite the adventure going on a fungi forage this past weekend with my friend Alexa. We woke up bright and early and ventured into Devilla Forest just west of Dunfermline in Fife. Trekking through boggy patches and dense thickets, it was incredible the amount of diversity of plant and fungi we saw (and the amount of twigs we got in our hair and clothes). Luckily, we were in the company of an expert mycologist who helped us identify the edible shrooms from the ones better left rooted in Mother Nature. We also learned how to make a bandage out of a mushroom that grows from birch and is known for its antibacterial properties. The whole experience piqued my interest and I’m excited to continue exploring the world of fungi back home. Taking a look at joining outings with Usal and L.A. Mycological Society. Anyone up for an SoCal foray?

Dora Daar I to We teapot on a linen-covered dining table
Dora Daar

Really inspired by this ethos on living and home by Dora Daar as well as their projects and the items they’ve curated in their shop. I fell particularly in love with the concept behind the Almendrita talisman.

The interior of a Norwegian antiques shop

Trankokeriet Antikk as captured by Christoph Wolf via Google

Norwegian Antiques

I had the absolute best time browsing antique shops in Norway on a trip a few weeks ago. I’m not usually one for antiquing, but perhaps because everything was so pricey around the country, I found ducking into the plentiful antique shops a respite from King Krone. In Ålesund, I stumbled upon Trankokeriet Antikk. The shop sits perfectly on the waterfront mere steps from the town’s charming lighthouse. While the shop itself is huge, I felt uniquely at home here wandering through each room filled with an array of Scandinavian textiles, nautical trinkets and homewares spanning centuries. I only wish I had more time to explore (and more space in my carry-on).

The Basmati Kheer with blueberry compôte at Dishoom

The Basmati Kheer with blueberry compôte at Dishoom

Magic of Dishoom

Without a doubt, the most delicious bites we’ll miss from the UK will be those from the glorious establishment that is Dishoom. We were lucky enough in Edinburgh to have a local Dishoom a mere ten minute walk away. It was a place we took visitors and somewhere Lee and I would squirrel off to when we were craving a special feast. From the impeccable service to the delicious and colorful plates of food, the comfort and joy of Dishoom is part knowing what to expect because of the incredible consistency of the experience and part being open to what you may encounter on each visit because there’s always something new to try.

Image of a variety of pastries spread out on a lace doily tablecloth. Decor of pumpkins and cherry tomatoes strewn throughout.
A Bake Sale at Bucatini

This past Sunday I hosted a bake sale at Bucatini, the loveliest little Italian pantry shop that doubles as event space. Victoria and Sofia of Bucatini generously opened up their doors for a cozy bake sale morning. I’ve been relishing in the shifting seasons, especially on recent trips to the farmer’s market where summer and fall produce are nestled neighbors. This sale was an eager ode of sorts with the last of the season’s Emerald Green pluots and fall-spiced flavors all on one menu. It was so heartwarming to see friends, old and new, and fill up boxes brimful with home-baked treats.

Image of two bags of Grist and Toll flour, one Spelt one Sonora.
Grist & Toll

Piggybacking on the above joy, I have to mention Grist & Toll, an incredible Pasadena-based mill where I often source flours to use for my bakes. Even as I was mixing their Sonora and Spelt flours for a pie dough, the toasty aroma of the grains filled up my entire (tiny) kitchen. I cannot emphasize enough what a difference freshly-milled, whole grain flour makes in baking. Was and will continue to be one of my (tiny) hills to die on.

Screenshot of the words "Writing as an act of control"
Zadie Smith on Fresh Air

I really enjoyed listening to a recent Zadie Smith interview on Fresh Air. I found her candor and confidence so inspiring, especially in how she demonstrates her own formed opinions that diverge from those commonly held by society. I will often text myself reminders, quotes, or ideas as a lazy means of archiving, and jotted down the above to reserve for reflection. This was in reference to the way Smith views writing– a singular area in her life which serves as a safe container to freely explore thoughts and feelings, craft grammatical structures, and control her own narratives.

Image of "more letters for a young woman artist" open to a page with a letter by Micol Hebron
Letters to Young Women Artists

I stopped by the opening reception of The Feminist Art Program (1970-1975): Cycles of Collectivity, currently on view at REDCAT. I really enjoyed Gala Porras-Kim’s more letters for a young woman artist, a resurrection of Miriam Schapiro’s 1974 project, Letters to a Young Woman Artist, which invited women artists to share their “experiences, or advice, or whatever feelings you might wish to express” to the next generation. It was so touching to read shared exchanges between women, many marked with humility, kindness, and care. Bookmarked both complete texts here to read in moments when I need some extra encouragement.

Image of a woman's arm covered in temporary Sanrio tattoos.
Sanrio Nostalgia

My mid-thirties has been met with an intense onset of Sanrio nostalgia. If a shop is slinging Hello Kitty and friends, I simply can’t resist perusing and probably leaving with some adorable item I don’t need. With the guise of treating my niece and nephew to an activity, I bought some Sanrio tattoos and, erm, probably had the most fun.

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Elizabeth Carababas

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