This month began with Lunar New Year, a welcome reset after a rocky January — culminating with, of all things, frozen pipes and a stomach bug. So far, the Year of the Water Tiger has been treating us well, even as the world feels increasingly scary (Russia invading Ukraine this morning being the latest nightmare).
Rob and I took our first flight in two years and it was blissfully normal. We watched a Bond movie, ate some nuts, got dehydrated. Positively 2019. We spent a whirlwind 48 hours in Miami, visiting my favorite spots from growing up, mainlining strong-and-sweet Cuban coffee, and soaking up Vitamin D. I even learned how to make a reel, just in time for my 39th birthday (next week!).
And yet, despite thinking February would be my time to pick my head up and be able to think clearly, I still feel very much in it. I’m not sure what it even is anymore. I think the truth is I can’t wait for that moment anymore. It’s up to me to force the space to think and plan and plot and do all the things that will make me feel like I’m progressing, not just maintaining.
Here’s what’s top of mind right now:
Reclaiming Chinese cooking: On Lunar New Year, Rob was incapacitated (see: stomach bug) so I dusted off our wok and made Longevity Noodles. I don’t usually cook Chinese food because I am always worried it won’t taste right — but I also want our kids to connect to their Asian heritage, and for me that means food. My friend Judy (an amazing home cook who makes her own kimchee and brought me ultra-nourishing Miyeok Guk after both kids were born) had the good advice to just start with one thing a week. Make it a regular thing so it’s no intimidating and don’t worry if it doesn’t taste exactly how you remember. Next up: Lion’s Head Meatballs.
The origins of Black History Month: I’ve known about Black History Month since as long as I can remember but I never knew how it came about. This immersive NYT feature details its origins with Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who believed, “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” It began as Negro History Week in 1926 and finally grew into Black History Month in the 1970s.
And seeing it through Lilly’s eyes: Lilly’s Pre-K class started the month with a week-long unit on Black Lives Matter, which I was impressed and heartened by. They’ve also been talking about skin tone, racism, and Black historical figures. At home, we’ve been revisiting many of our favorite books: Rio Cortez and Lauren Semmer’s vibrant The ABCs of Black History; Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli’s elegant Our Skin (also love their new one, Yes! No!, about consent); my friend Caroline Moss’ Blast Off Into Space Like Mae Jemison; and Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López’s The Day You Begin. We also recently picked up Dream Street, by Tricia Elam Walker and Ekua Holmes, cousins who dreamed of writing a book together — they achieved their dream and it’s stunning.
Gifts for when you don’t know how to help: In the past year, I’ve had friends experience very tough things, including cancer diagnoses. For the latter, Alula is a startup devoted to “making cancer less lonely” and has resources and product recommendations for both patients and caregivers. For run of the mill, I’m-sorry-you’re-going-through-something-shitty, I send Bellocq teas, which come in beautiful yellow tins (my favorite is Ashram Afternoon) or Kate McLeod’s Grounding Stone, which is exactly what it says.
Embracing geriatric millennial: I actually have no idea if this is related to being a geriatric millennial and/or the fact that I’m almost 39 but the two most important things in my life right now are my Neti Pot (damn you, seasonal cold) and my nightly Pysllium Husk tablets (damn you, lazy colon). Truly, it’s the least cool things that make all the difference.
Boring things made chic: On the subject of mundane made luxurious, I am in love with my Cocofloss. I finally bought it after hearing Claire and Erica rave about it on A Thing or Two and it’s truly the best. It has a slightly rough texture so it feels like it’s really getting everything out and leaves behind a slightly tropical taste. I like the coconut flavor and am contemplating a subscription. I am equally enamored with my Canopy humidifier, which looks nice enough to sit on the floor of our bedroom and comes with aromatherapy oils that give me spa vibes.
A new all-in-one: Filed under product I waited too long to buy: Ilia’s Super Serum Skin Tint. It has all the things I want/need: hydration, light coverage, and sun coverage. They offer it 30 shades, which was great except I didn’t know which one to choose. Happily, you can email them a selfie (firstname.lastname@example.org) and they’ll get back to you with many recommendations (I’m Morgat ST11-5 if you were wondering).
Stay put suits for all ages: I’m about to head to Mexico (second flight since Feb 2020!) with Hayley and some friends for a short girls’ surf trip. I asked my Hawaii cousins for rashguard ideas and they unanimously voted for Seea, which was founded by an avid surfer and is known for cute, functional suits, including a bunch of long-sleeved options. I picked up a floral rashguard for me and an adorable sleeved suit for Lilly to frolic around in this summer. On the bathing suit front, I also bought a couple mix-and-match pieces from Left on Friday, which has a similar stylish-sporty vibe. I love how they use UGC to help you decide fit and color combos. I went with neon orange and pink because why not.
Too crazy to be fiction: My friend Brandon is a very well-traveled journalist (over 130 countries!) but by far the most wildest place he’s been is Pitcairn. It’s a remote island where the mutineers from Mutiny on the Bounty fame ended up — and where their descendants still live. Brandon had the unique chance to spend time there, living with the descendants, and has channeled his experience into The Far Land, an engrossing non-fiction book that reads like a novel.
Last thing! I am an advisor to Loop Baby, a startup that lets you rent quality (Snoo, Uppababy, Stokke…) baby gear. I think the concept is genius and wish it was around when our kids were teeny. They started in the Bay Area and just launched in New York, delivering to Brooklyn and Manhattan. Feel free to use MOLLIE50 for $50 off your first order with an annual plan.
That’s all for now. See you in March.
P.S. Old editions live here.
P.P.S. Send tips on navigating the end of your 30s. Also if you found this newsletter useful and want to support a great organization, I recommend Partners in Health. I’ve donated to them over the years and was saddened to hear about founder Dr. Paul Farmer’s sudden death.