This month began with a flurry of birthday celebrations, including a dreamy girls surf trip in Rincon, Puerto Rico (highly recommend!), and is closing out with a nine days of norovirus (round two, if that’s even possible). High highs! Low lows! All against a backdrop of a country where we inexplicably, heartbreakingly continue to witness mass shootings in our schools, in our schools, in our schools, and everywhere else. Read my dear friend Bess’s piece and laugh/cry, read Courtney Martin’s piece and cry/cry, then download the Moms Demand Action app for resources, ways to get involved, and community groups.
It’s all a lot. I’m constantly struck by how the world can feel so bad, so catastrophically broken but also hold so much love and wonder and joy. In my tiny corner: the kids seem to have made a full recovery, there are daffodils everywhere I look, and tonight I’m going to sit at the bar and have a solo glass of wine by myself.
Here are some of things I’m excited about right now:
Speaking of joy: During our week of illness, I listened to Ingrid Fetell Lee, founder of The Aesthetics of Joy, chatting with Dr. Becky about finding joy in parenting. I met Ingrid years ago through mutual friends and was immediately won over by her realistic and radically optimistic approach. Her conversation came at opportune time: it had been a rough week that nonetheless featured plenty of laughter, including Lilly’s dramatic reading of her comic, “The Pizza Ran.” Ingrid talks about the difference between happiness and joy, and how we can all find those moments of delight even with things are challenging, stressful, or covered in bodily fluids.
Engineering better gatherings: I discovered Priya Parker, who wrote The Art of Gathering), last holiday season when I came across her post about “intentional guesting.” It was a mini lightbulb moment: We don’t have to do things just because we think we have to, and it doesn’t serve anyone if we show up for things we aren’t excited about (with some exceptions). Since then, I’ve loved following her newsletter and IG, and find them useful as well as full of excellent party inspo (see: “house cooling party!”). I credit Parker for helping me design my ultimate birthday gathering, which featured people I love, in a space I love, with food that was both beautiful and delicious (thank you, Edys Grocer and Pelah Kitchen!).
Alone in the kitchen with cottage cheese and peanut butter: Rob is away on a work trip and last night, while eating a bowl of cottage cheese, banana, and peanut butter, I was reminded of the late food writer Laurie Colwin’s wonderful essay about cooking for herself. I haven’t revisited the piece in years but it’s as warm and wonderful as I remember. It inspired a collection, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, featuring essays by Ann Patchett, Nora Ephron, and more about what they eat when no one is around. Read all of the above, preferably by yourself.
Practically instant South Asian food: Our house is very well-stocked with lentils and beans (Rob secretly joined a bean club and hoped I wouldn’t notice) and we’re generally good at cooking them. However, whenever we’ve tried to make daal or kitchari, two dishes I love, they turn out flat. That’s why I was very excited when I met Umaimah Sharwani and heard her vision for a line of South Asian lentil and spice mixes. Now Paro is here and it’s everything I hoped for — both the masoor daal and kitchari are comforting, lush, and deeply spiced. They’re definitely going into our rotation.
When you’re so over roasted broccoli: Broccoli is one of the few vegetables Finn will eat so we always have it on hand to make broccoli pancakes and burned broccoli (olive oil and salt, 500 degrees till slightly blackened). Tasty but it gets old so I went searching around for something brighter for myself. Chef Beverly Kim’sBroccoli Salad with Warm Date Vinaigrette hit the spot, so much so that I made it two weeks in a row. It keeps well in the fridge and makes for great leftovers, and I add grains and chickpeas to turn it into a meal.
Sprinkles cure all: Last week, despite having zero appetite, Finn suddenly asked if we could make sprinkle cookies. We found a recipe that met his exacting specifications (“lot of sprinkles, the crunchy ones”) in Britney Breaks Bread’s Sugar Sprinkle Cookies. The recipe was simple and kid-friendly, especially the part where you roll the dough in sprinkles, and they tasted exactly like a perfect old-school cookie. And, despite being mid-stomach bug, Finn ate half and declared it, “Soooo yummy.”
Late in life poetry appreciation: I never thought I liked poetry, though I also hadn’t spent much time with it since high school English. But over the past couple years it has snuck in, admittedly through @poetryisnotaluxury or through widely loved and quoted authors like Mary Oliver. While I still reach for novels more often than not, I find poetry is a good change of pace from my usual must-find-out-what-happens mode. Recently, I picked up Ada Limón‘s The Hurting Kind after hearing her conversation with Krista Tippett on On Being (listen to Limón read her piece, “A New National Anthem” – it’ll make you laugh and break your heart). I read a page or two before bed and her precise, textured writing is a real antidote to the endless scroll of the day.
It’s the little things: Back in my beauty days, I used to wear lipstick all the time — tomato reds, neon pinks, the whole range. But between parenting and the pandemic I fell out of the habit. Recently, I decided I needed some more color in my life and asked my former colleague and beauty expert Julia Casella for help. She sent me Hourglass’s new lipstick to try and I immediately loved the creamy texture and how it had a slight shine without being glossy. The colors are also amazing; I have been wearing Dove, a peachy pink, on a daily basis, and loved Reef, a bright coral, while on vacation. Whether it’s the return of the lipstick index or just combatting late winter doldrums, I’m into it. I also requested something “to make me look less tired” and their Ambient Lighting Palette does the trick – saturated blushes plus pretty highlighters.
Thanks so much for reading and see you next month.