Category: Book Reviews

where i’ve been hiding.

Fresh Scratch, Creperie

I’ve decided the best parts of a summer’s day are in the early morning – while there are still pockets of shade in the backyard – and the late afternoon, when the shadows start to stretch out impossibly long and can almost cover my entire backyard. In the morning, that makes space for a cup of tea without sweating, and in the evening that makes space for a glass of rose’, and – by then – who cares if I’m sweating?

Those are the kinds of truths I’ve arrived at in the last few months. The simple kinds of truths. They matter to me. While in the crazier seasons of life, I can’t slow down to make those kinds of observations, and then I feel like my lungs are gulping water instead of sweet air. Because I sort of feel like a person who was born inside out, where everything automatically sticks to my soul – good or bad – and life can easily get overwhelming. And I am a person who needs solitude and space to process so I can better be present to all the gorgeous wonder that surrounds me.

For a long time, all of my processing was done here, five mornings a week before the sun came up. But there are some serious life things that a girl just has to sit with and work out in her own sweet time. I gave myself a wide margin and trusted my creative process to swing me back around when it felt right.

It feels right.

It’s been a while.

It’s good to see your face.

Here are the spaces, places, and things that I’ve been cavorting with while I’ve been thinking:

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Rules for a Knight by my boy Ethan. Yes, my boy. Since like high school. Because he is a thinker. And there is nothing more intriguing than a curious, creative mind. But I digress. This book!!! Equally important as the actual story between the covers is the introduction that comes first. When Ethan’s grandma died like in the 70’s or something, his family found some very old Cornish papers in her basement. In recent years, he paid a professor to translate them. They were letters written by Lemuel Hawke, a distant ancestor who was a knight. He wrote them to his children before going off to a battle from which he never returned, offering life lessons and wisdom.

You get the feeling Ethan isn’t so sure these are legit, either, but he wants to believe it, and why the heck not? So he took some liberties and wrote little chapters in the knight’s voice, with titles alluding to things like bravery, honesty, etc. His wife restored some art work of birds that were found along with the letters, as his family were once hawkers (hence the last name. See that? Neat, huh?), and those simple pieces introduce each chapter. Every chapter made me think about my own life. You can find the book in the kids’ section in most book stores {my fave, as you know: Browsers in downtown Oly!}, but I think it’s a fine choice for any age.

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My husband thinks Ethan Hawke is a “hunk” – oh, how I hate that word! Whatever. I think he is unpretentious and just trying to figure it all out. And he’s not afraid to say that. Why do I know all of this? Because I’ve been listening to a lot of long interviews with him while I’ve been doing things like pulling weeds or the dishes or just lying on my bed like a high school-er in the middle of the afternoon.

I know.

My take-away? We are all just growing. There’s no growing up; there’s no growing older. There is just growing. And we never stop. You will never reach the end. You will never be satisfied. You will never know everything. You will never not question. It just goes on your whole life, forever and ever, amen. This is why you can have friends of all ages. We all have the same questions. We all can learn from one another. And we can all have wonder at life at any age.

Here are some of my favorite interviews with him:

  • Go to the bottom of this link to hear a short clip about the time he went gaga over Springsteen.
  • This long one.
  • And this really amazing one that I spent all of Mother’s Day morning listening to. It’s like ninety minutes!

And have you seen him playing Chet Baker in Born to be Blue? He broke my heart. He really left it all on the field – an Oscar-worthy performance, for sure.

Have you watched my secret boyfriend James Corden in this one yet? Dang, I’m going to miss Michelle.

And OH MY GOD, BECKY, have you been peeping at the Netflix original series Stranger Things through the holes in your afghans like I have late at night???? It’s all the best creeptastic-ness of vintage Spielberg and Stephen King rolled into one. There are eight episodes of sun flares in the cinematography, the perfect setting of 1983 America, four middle school boys getting in too deep with things they can’t understand, the girl who just lost her virginity and DOESN’T SHE KNOW SHE WILL BE THE NEXT ONE THE MONSTER WILL TAKE BECAUSE THAT IS THE FORMULA IN A SCARY MOVIE?! and Winona Ryder playing to perfection the chain-smoking mom of a missing a kid. Oh, and did I mention Matthew Modine? Yes, that Matthew Modine. As a scary doctor. Come on. You have to watch it. It’s absolutely brilliant.

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I was also wrapped up for a while with my seniors as they were preparing to graduate. Here I am with my niece Lexi on the big night. I got to read her name on stage, along with the names of quite a few of my favorite graduates, and it was such a blast. This year’s senior class really got into my heart in a way none before them ever had. It’s almost August, and I am still having dreams about them. My fourth period? The one that clapped for me every single day as I entered the room? When they did that on our last day together, the door shut, and I turned around, my back to the class, desperately trying to call off the ugly cry. It didn’t exactly work. I don’t know if they’ll ever understand how much that applause soaked in during a year when I sure needed it.

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I hid out in Europe for a couple weeks at the start of my summer. Here I am with my favorite grumpy crepe maker up on Montmartre – I think of him as Jacques. I told him about a photo I took three years ago of just the window, the jars, and his hand pouring a crepe in the background, then asked if I could get one with his face in it this time.

“You come to my kitchen, we get a picture,” he smiled.

So I handed off my camera, stepped inside, and suddenly his arm was around me. “Come here, baby.” There was finally a smile in his French accent. He may not remember me from summer to summer, but he is the one person I always hope I will see. We’ve got a four-year streak going.

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Just a week ago my family and I were returning from our epic RV trip across the North Cascades and into Montana. 90% of our trip was comprised of places none of us had ever been, and that made it ripe for adventure. This is Diablo Lake, which you’ve likely seen on Instagram at some point if you follow any PNW photographers. This photo was the entire reason why our trip had to begin in the North Cascades. It’s not lost on me at all that I live in a gorgeous place.

But now this wandering heart is at home. I don’t want to be anywhere else or go anywhere else right now. My wanderlust has been satisfied for a while, which is a rare feeling. I awoke days ago with a new spring in my step and a desperate urge to come to this page, to make plans for guests to come for dinner, and to purge my closet.

Like I said, it feels right. It’s good to see your face.

PS: See my face for real August 18th at Browsers, when Andrea and I host our first cookbook club! Space is limited, so sign up soon by calling or emailing the shop.

things i love more than valentine’s day.

Fresh Scratch, Paris, France, Montmartre

In case you live under a rock, let me just inform you that it’s Valentine’s Day. Let me save you the trip to Target and just tell you now: it’s all gone, peeps. That back corner with all the boxes of Star Wars Valentines and candies and hideous stuffed animals? It looks like it’s been robbed.

About all you can do for your beloved at this point is bake them something, wash their car, or do their chores. Or do some other stuff for them that I won’t mention in this polite company.

Since I am a hearty believer in Friends Day, my gift to you is the stuff I love these days. Please notice that I am not a heartless person for leaving my spouse, friends, new puppy, and daughters off of this post – the title says “things!” Because you all know I {mostly} love those people. 

So here it is, in no particular order: the 2016 list of stuff I am crushing on…

1. James Corden, I have a crush on you. Don’t be coy. You are hilarious, and I adore you.

Seriously, people! This carpool karaoke bit he’s got going on The Late Late Show is a riot. I’ve watched many of them, and these two are my favorites. The one with Adele pretty much broke the internet, so if you haven’t seen it yet, a) who are you? and b) you’re welcome! It was great to see her laughing and getting serious about her first love: The Spice Girls.

The one with Chris Martin {you know – Coldplay frontman, ex-hubster of Gwyneth, voted most energetic performer live in concert by yours truly? that guy.} is adorable and funny and heartwarming. There’s a certain humbleness to him that really comes through, and I love how silly he gets. I am also digging on the new Coldplay album. How about you? It makes me want to dance! You know who else really loves it? Clementine. She has sworn off Taylor Swift and pledged allegiance to Coldplay. This has caused her to move up in the ranks of coolness, not gonna lie.

2. While I’m on the subject of the Brits, let me tell you how much I am pulling for Lady Mary and Tom Branson to finally realize they are in love on Downton Abbey. OMG. I torture myself by watching it as it comes out on PBS Sunday nights, even though I have the whole season on dvd hidden away upstairs as a present to my step-mom.

But I didn’t mean to talk about Lady Mary! I meant to tell you that I love this special edition of tea put out by Republic of Tea, Mrs. Pattmore’s Pudding Tea. It’s black tea with vanilla and caramel. It reminds me of one I sort of blend up myself in a jar here at home for Saturday mornings because it’s so luxurious.

Shara gave this to me for Christmas, and I brought it to work to try to make my planning periods a little more enjoyable {and this is where I will ask you what is up with people taking my honey and my half and half at work?! I am not talking about merely taking a little bit and putting it back. I’m talking straight up stealing my brand new jar of fancy honey or using all of the half and half I had in an unmarked mason jar in the fridge and then WASHING THE JAR! Who does this? I mean, there’s stealing, and then there’s taking the last of someone’s something! I don’t know how to handle this – I will accept advice in the comments!}.

3. Did you see Fred’s almost-breakdancing on New Girl’s 2nd episode this season?! It’s near the end of the episode, and unfortunately there is not a single clip of just the part I’m mentioning available anywhere on the interwebs. But I didnt’ want to make you miss out. I am not lying when I say I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. For some reason, watching someone being told to almost breakdance but never get to the actual breakdancing – to do that weird fronting the middle school boys would to back in the 80’s in their Run DMC t-shirts at recess…it just cracked me up!

Fresh Scratch, At the Water's Edge, Sara Guren

4. Remember Water for Elephants? I mean, how could you forget that beautiful story?! Sara Gruen did it again with At the Water’s Edge. This was my anniversary gift from Matt, and I finally got to sink into it at Christmas. It was the kind of story that I devoured in two or three days.

The premise sounds kind of hokey and almost just ridiculously not good, I warn you. It’s World War II, and a young rich couple disgraces the young man’s family with their poor behavior in public. To escape the fall-out, they take a freighter across the Atlantic with his best friend during what is arguably the. worst. time. in. history. to do so. You may have heard of U-Boats? Yes, those. But they are on a mission to Scotland to find…the Loch Ness Monster. Because that will surely be the easiest way to untarnish their good name, yes?

Right.

Our protagonist, Mattie, finally learns what it’s like to go without, to actually feel the effects of the war. She also has nothing to distract her from the fact that her husband is a major a-hole. There is also not much to distract her from the fact that Angus, the man who runs the inn where they are staying, is pretty much everything her husband is not.

Seriously. Read it!

Fresh Scratch, Opal Apple

5. I have no idea why this year seems to be the year of the Opal Apple, but it does. They just came, like, out of NOWHERE. And they don’t look good. They look like they’d be mealy. But I swear to you that they are the most crisp, sweet, flavorful apples I’ve ever tasted. My new fave. All that honey that’s supposed to be in a Honey Crisp? Apparently it’s been hiding in the Opal.

Fresh Scratch, GAP Chelsea Booties

6. I am not usually a person who buys multiples of something. I like too much variety in life. But these GAP Chelsea Booties? Le bomb dot com. Holy boots, Nancy Sinatra! I bought these over a year ago in this brown suede, then quickly snatched up the black pebbled leather. Right now they are a little tricky to find, as in, I can’t find a link for you online. But I did see them in a big GAP store last weekend. So there’s hope.

What I love about them is that they feel like someone cut the leather out exactly to fit my foot. They are so soft and sturdy, and I wore them everywhere in the weeks following breaking my leg, because {bonus!} the heel height matches perfectly with a boot cast thing!

7. Lucky #7 is Gwyneth’s {let’s face it – on my blog, we don’t need to bother with her last name} new makeup line with Juice Beauty. Here’s why I love it: it has zero toxins. It also costs the same as the nice stuff I was already buying. So there’s that. Basically, GP set out to develop a line of makeup that rocked like what she has on at a red carpet event, but without all that crap in it. I can tell you that I am loving the eyeliner and the mascara, for sure; enough so that I will be trying the other items as I run out of my old stuff.

I’m going to stop at lucky #7. It’s my favorite number, but it’s also almost time for dinner.

Happy Heart Day, friends! I hope you pamper yourselves today. Because the numero uno person that should love you is you.

xo, mrs. fresh scratch