Five Things

    

(1) Gifts in the mail. In the first picture is the latest Birchbox, giving me generous samples of all kinds of “natural” makeup, a cute postcard, and even fancy green tea from France – Thé des Alizés. Danny got me a subscription to this service as a Valentine’s Day present (after I dropped some serious hints/guidance) and I love the perfectly curated box every time it shows up at the front door.

The second item is a Scrabble game with chocolate tiles sent by Danny’s mom, Kathy. She steadily maintains the chocolate supply around here, sending all kinds of delicious, creative bars of dark chocolate. Awesome.

This most recent gift looks fun, but I also realize it’s a nudge to make my move in Words with Friends. We’ve got three games going. She is usually kicking my butt.

   

(2) “The sweetness and generosity and politeness and gentleness and humanity of the French had shown me how lovely life can be if one takes time to be friendly.” — from “My Life in France” by Julia Child

Julia — adorable, honest, and funny — certainly created a lovely life for herself. The love for Julia is something better understood after spending some time with her through her memoir. She starts off so humbly, asking Paul what a shallot is during their first meal in Paris and not long after she declares she is 37 years old and still discovering who she was. She starts cooking and soon decides she will be serious about this and somehow make it a career. And in the end, her advice is this: “Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

Julia writes about moving around the first few years after college, not being sure what to do. Julia Child! Naturally, I find comfort in knowing even she felt that way, too. She is frank about the disconnect between her parents, mostly her father, and herself. Her constant curiosity for cooking and the friends she meets along the way made this an interesting read.

I love learning the idiosyncrasies of her relationship with her husband, Paul, because that’s the most interesting part about two people being together, isn’t it? Remember that scene in Good Will Hunting? Sean (Robin Williams) explains to (Will) Matt Damon he needs to open up to others and accept everyone’s quirks and faults. The little things that only you know from spending your life with someone are what makes a relationship special. Example No. 1, Sean’s wife farted in her sleep. One time she farted so loud that she woke herself up, though he graciously told her it was the dog. Hysterical.

Julia and Paul buy a new car and promptly name it La Tulipe Noire. A busy schedule makes them reconsider a trip to visit friends until they remember one of their favorite phrases — “No one’s more important than people!” — and off they went to have a wonderful time with friends. After a dreamy few years in Paris, she and Paul move to Marseille, a port city which she describes as having a “salty-sparkly charm.” How can you resist her?

If you ever borrow a book from me, then you’ll probably see writing in the margins. There are exclamation marks next to some paragraphs and definitions next to words that are new to me or phrases in French. I underline especially good lines, hoping that I’m more likely to remember it or that by doing this a great line becomes mine and a part of me. Am I alone? My sister definitely likes to keep her books looking closer to pristine, and she certainly wouldn’t write in them. For me, writing in a book is like breaking in a new pair of shoes. I must.

(3) This Q & A with Gabrielle Hamilton, author of “Blood, Bones and Butter”

When asked about her favorite writer, she said, “That’s impossible to nail down – the whole perfection of a book is when you find it and it finds you, just as you are ready to receive its brilliance. I tend to read pretty happily within the great books of the western canon.”

(4) A list of 10 essential spices from Food 52. Our spice rack is missing cloves and cardamom, according to this list. My paprika isn’t smoked, does it count?

(5) Speaking of Julia, she’s available to watch on Hulu with Jacques Pépin!

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