The House in the Cerulean Sea

A very dear friend recommended this book recently, and I am so grateful he did. The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune is the kind of book you pick up and don’t want put down, just from the sheer heartwarming loveliness of it. I read it over a few days while on a short vacation, and the sweetness of both my trip and this story will be staying with me for a long time.

Meet Mr. Linus Baker. He is a case worker for DICOMY, or the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. His job is to visit orphanages for magical children and produce strictly impartial reports on their efficacy. His days are largely the same: dull grey and tedious, and he is remarkable in only his studious self-effacement. That is, until a unique assignment from Extremely Upper Management puts him on a collision course with love, joy, purpose, and his very first glimpse of the ocean. Intrigued? I was, too!

The titular house is actually Marsyas Island Orphanage, a secluded place run by a Mr. Arthur Parnassus. It is full of children who will tug at your heartstrings as much as they make you laugh out loud. Nothing has prepared Mr. Baker for whatever a Chauncey is, much less a six-year-old Antichrist, and their antics drive him to apoplexy. The children are as magically unique as they are uniquely magical, and their caretaker is both mysterious and delightful. I belly laughed, I teared up, and I came back for more even as my nights turned into the wee hours of morning. Beyond the beautifully developed characters is a story about finding oneself, making space for joy, and how even one of us can help bring positive change. Oh, and love. Most of all, this story is about love. It feels like a hug down to the very last page, and I hope you love it as much as I did.

The scent of summer

With my dad at Del Mar racetrack, mid 1980s

This morning I took a long walk around the neighbor with my dogs. I overheard a fellow dog walker across the street ask, “what time’s the party?” and when I rounded the corner, a little girl was twirling around in her front yard with a big bouquet of pink balloons, a shiny pink “5” floating proudly in the middle. Her mother was puttering in the yard as she twirled, and just past her in the driveway was a big inflatable slide, surely huge and and shining with promise to her little birthday girl self.

As I continued past the house, all of a sudden I caught a whiff of kids’ sunscreen, and I was instantly transported. I couldn’t help but grin, a huge ear-to-ear smile that took me totally off-guard. It was one of those olfactory memories that comes out of nowhere and takes your breath away. That smell was pure childhood summer to me — vacations up the CA coast, beach trips and running around the infield at the racetrack. Sunshine and swimming in a lake. Sandwiches, sodas, and giggles. I could practically smell the Italian bread we’d buy on our way to the races, a scent that mingled with sunscreen as my sister and I squirmed away from my mom, much more interested in lunch and the cookies that would follow than whatever hypothetical sunburn might befall us. In my mind’s eye I could see the geese that would honk and hiss at us despite our well-meaning offerings of bread (it was too good for them anyway… oh, that bread!). The grass under our feet as we ran from the far end of the infield to the other, determined to try to get a glimpse of those beautiful horses twice in one race. The feel of a cold can of black cherry Shasta I’d eagerly fish out of the cooler. Or the feel of the warm lake water of Havasu as we splashed outside the houseboat, life vests bright in the sun, and my dad eternally tidying and hanging up soggy towels. The games of Acey Deucey we’d play those evenings, betting with piles of little river stones, our foreheads slightly pink from the day despite repeated applications of sunscreen.

I had a happy childhood. Summers felt like a golden time, and that unexpected waft of sunblock on the breeze this morning made me remember just how beautiful summers can be. This year, as we stretch our wings and rediscover the world outside our front doors, I’d like to try to hold onto that golden, joyful summer spirit. We didn’t care if we were sweaty and tired. It was all about the joy of the moment… and those moments smelled like sunscreen.

Pride of place

Victorian Pride Centre in Australia’s updated rainbow logo has two new colors: brown and black were added to represent LGBTI people of color.

Welcome to June, and happy Pride month to all LGBTQIA+ folx. I see you, and I am sending you love. If you are out and proud, I see you. If you are closeted, I see you. If you are transitioning, I see you. If you are struggling to define yourself, I see you. This month is all about you and your freedom, your rights, your visibility, your love, and your being. You have a place. You don’t have to shrink away to better “fit in.” Your place is wherever you want or need to be.

Fun links and food for thought this week:

The pointless ‘kink at Pride’ discourse. “I want to bring my daughter to Pride parades… because I want her to grow up with a broad understanding of the ways love and enjoyment of others can manifest.”

A beautiful watch with a beautiful sentiment: you’re worth celebrating for you.! Plus, Shinola is pledging $120,000 to the Ruth Ellis Center and SAGE in their home community of Detroit.

Pridefinder is a handy-dandy resource to help you find in-person and virtual pride events all around the globe. The IGLTA also has a global gay pride calendar, both equally useful if you’d like to travel or find an event locally.

In need of some underthings? Savage X Fenty is offering a Pride capsule collection that walks the walk. The collection was shot in Los Angeles entirely with individuals from the LGBTQ community, both in front of and behind the camera. They offer an inclusive size range of 30A-42H and XS-3X as well as small to XXXL, and a portion of the collection’s proceeds benefit five different organizations, including GLAAD. Yes and please!

If you’re in LA, the ONE Archives Foundation opens its “Pride Publics: Words and Actions” outdoor exhibition tomorrow! Free and accessible outdoor installations and a digital guide examine the intersections between pride and publicness, Expertly curated by multi-hyphenate Rubén Esparza, “the exhibition will examine themes central to queer public life and highlight trailblazers and their visions.”

And finally, some excellent nonprofits to consider donating towards:
Pride Foundation
The Trevor Project
The It Gets Better Project
SAGE Advocacy and Services for LGBT elders

Feelin’ myself

I’m really feeling good today, plus this weekend marks the unofficial start of summer! It’s been a while since we had a style post, so here is the uniform I’ll have on repeat for the holiday weekend (and the rest of the summer, tbh). Easy, stylish, comfy, and cute — what more could you ask for?

Marine Layer swing tees are my favorite, and this cherry red number is perfection. All their tees are absurdly soft, always a deal at 3 for $99, and they are building their brand to be as ethical and sustainable as possible. Yes, yes, and yes.

A teeny tiny pendant to sit right at the hollow of your throat all summer long, for a touch of glam and a little luck. Handcrafted with love in Los Angeles.

Distressed boyfriend jeans are a forever-classic. Plus get 40% off this weekend with code SUMMERREADY.

Clare V. nailed it with this chic little backpack. Love the stripes, love the leather that just gets better with age, love the grab-and-go ease. Fits everything you need for your summer adventures!

Block Shop has not only restocked their beautiful cotton and linen robes, but they have expanded their sizing and I couldn’t be happier! If you need me, I’ll be lounging in my new Alma robe whenever real clothes are not required. PLUS 20% of all sales will be donated to COVID-19 relief in India while this crisis continues. As if there wasn’t already enough to love about Block Shop!

Speaking of classics, Birkenstocks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. I’m on my second pair of these rose gold beauties, they are THAT good.

Of course, Memorial Day is a time remember all those service men and women who have lost their lives defending our liberty. Consider donating a bit of the $$ you save on all the great sales this weekend to help veterans in need. Homes for Our Troops, the Wounded Warrior Project (and their Women Warriors Initiative), and the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society are good places to get started.

Happy long weekend!

I confess

via @hairnlove

I stalked her
in the grocery store: her crown
of snowy braids held in place by a great silver clip,
her erect bearing, radiating tenderness,
watching
the way she placed yogurt and avocados in her
basket,
beaming peace like the North Star.
I wanted to ask, “What aisle did you find
your serenity in, do you know
how to be married for fifty years or how to live
alone,
excuse me for interrupting, but you seem to
possess
some knowledge that makes the earth turn and
burn on its axis—”
But we don’t request such things from strangers
nowadays. So I said, “I love your hair.”

—Alison Luterman

I stumbled across this beautiful poem by Alison Luterman recently, and it resonated with me so much. The delicate admiration of one woman for another, for youth to the grace of age-won wisdom — it is a luminous meditation of a small moment in time that left me thoughtful and uplifted. May you also find a sweet, pensive state of grace this week.

Mole in sunshine

It’s beautiful and sunny, and I blinked hard at the rays of sunlight as I emerged from our home to walk the dogs this morning. It felt like a perfect encapsulation of my state of mind right now. This week the CDC updated guidelines to the following: “Fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance .”

I feel a bit like a mole emerging into the sunshine. Last week I had dinner out twice with friends, all of us vaccinated, all of us grateful. I was drained afterwards, no longer entirely used to “normal” things like socializing or the energy it requires of me, a dyed-in-the-wool introvert. And I booked my first plane ticket in a year and a half. It was thrilling.

Now I am cautious and hopeful, still reflexively putting my mask on. Slipping it off outdoors yesterday evening felt sort of reckless, to be honest. Freeing. Like stepping into sunlight. I’m metaphorically (and literally) blinking at the dazzling outside-ness, and the widening possibilities. Mentally gathering myself to move out of hibernation. Girding my loins to re-enter the world. I want to do it with my eyes wide open. It’s springtime, it’s a new beginning, and I want to welcome in the light.

Wishing you a bright weekend, friends!

Friday thoughts

This weekend is Mother’s Day. It is a time to celebrate motherhood, yes. But it is also a very complicated holiday. Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path. The lovely Ann Lamott expresses this complexity with beautiful candor, and her words got me thinking:
I love my mom dearly. She is still alive to celebrate with, and I am lucky to have had a happy childhood. Also I have chosen to remain childfree. I feel like Mother’s Day is a holiday that is about my mother and not me, but maybe there is room for the aunt-ing and pet parenting and mother-hen-ing of friends I do, too? Regardless of how I eventually answer that question, I have enormous compassion for the day’s complications, and the women who bear them gracefully, silently, and with a certain amount of internal rage or sadness. I see you if you’ve lost your mother. If you are estranged from your mother or your children. If you have a difficult parent/child relationship. If you’ve lost a child. If you’ve yearned for children and cannot have them. If you have children and yearn some days for something different. There is nothing wrong with perhaps wishing for a solo glass of champagne instead of shepherding a crowd of kids and moms-in-law et. al. to IHOP when you don’t even like pancakes. I see you all, and I’m sending you love.

For a little enjoyment this weekend, here are a few things to make/buy/watch/savor:

This delightful tote is perfectly French and effortless. Wear it all spring and summer on your breeziest of weekends.

For some light and easy sweetness, may I recommend Julia Turshen’s Afternoon Cake? I make this regularly and it could not be simpler or more satisfying. Just use the nut flour of your choice (I like almond flour) instead of finely grinding your own nuts to make it even quicker. Makes one perfect olive oil cake, citrusy and not too sweet, to enjoy for any reason — or no reason at all.

I am deeply inspired by this “secret” antique revival trend spotted by Caitlin over on stylebyemilyhenderson. Mixing old and new is right up my alley, and the color and pattern combinations are swoon-worthy. It makes me extra-happy to have my childhood wood dresser mixed into our living room decor! Also I may or may not have my eye on some vintage nightstands…

And finally, I’ll leave you with the cutest video I saw all week, a stealthy otter worthy of his own spy film franchise. Because otters! Happy weekend, friends.

vigil


how can we find power amidst enforced oppression?
we can grow between the cracks,
force things apart with our growing.
grow wide and tall, cracking apart
that which binds, blinds, brings us to our knees.

our expanse will stop them.

hatred cannot stand before our twisting, growing roots
sinuous and deep, love-strong, defiant, and true.

go forth and grow.
blind them.

they cannot comprehend our joy.



-Charla M. DelaCuadra

Mint julep

It’s April, the month of spring sunshine and mint juleps, and right now I am super inspired by soft minty hues with pops of orange. It is such an invigorating color combination, don’t you think? The grounded calm of mint green with an energetic little (or big!) zing of orange, bronze, tangerine, rust, or terracotta is just what I’m craving. These gorgeous interiors do it so well! Swoon, sigh, yes and please.

If you’re as inspired as I am, here are some beautiful picks for your home to get you going, from total bargain to splurge-tastic. Helle Mardahl’s Bon Bon vessels had me at hello, but a poppy orange tray on your coffee table would have the same visual impact. Of course, Rothko’s color juxtapositions are spot-on, and how cute is that microwave? (I have it so I’ll answer — it is adorable.) Happy shopping, and enjoy!

Decorate wild!

photo via Justina Blakeney

Congratulations to Justina Blakeney on her new book, Jungalow: Decorate Wild! In her most personal book to date, Jungalow is alive with Blakeney’s signature bold colors and patterns, mixed textiles, and plants galore. She centers her adventurous designs squarely amidst her own beautifully mixed heritage and encourages all of us to do the same. I found this to be not only a delightful design perspective, but a timely reminder amidst increasing polarization that we are all enriched by the “magic of mixing.” Cross-cultural food, art, music, design? Yes and please! Her mixes are artful, collected, and so stylish (amazing!) while also being grounded and respectful of deeply rooted traditions. As she shared in a book talk recently, she believes strongly in respecting cultures and supporting artisans. Her seriousness in this regard is matched only by the playful exuberance she brings to decor, and her earnest belief that we can all thrive, grow, and express our creative selves in the home we cultivate for ourselves. Bravo, Justina! I couldn’t agree more.

Jungalow is a feast for the eyes, full of Dabito’s stunning interior photography along with shots from Blakeney’s own travels. The colors are saturated and exuberant — such a delight after a dreary year! Pick up a copy and you won’t be disappointed, I promise.

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