It’s been such a pleasure to visit the Estelle Colored Glass instagram account lately. The company has been promoting their pink and red handblown glass products for Valentine’s Day. The festive colors remind me of celebrations from days long gone. With nostalgia in my heart, I took to the internet in search of additional sources of inspiration.
A notebook is a place for me to deposit all of my thoughts. Naturally, I have a few dedicated to various topics. Every post on this blog has started out as an idea in the notebook I’ve reserved for this purpose. There’s also one for recipes. Another one holds bits of writing pertaining to my current literary project. I was introduced to the art of free writing in January 2017, and I’ve had one for that ever since. I’ve had countless notebooks for class notes. I’ve journaled, sketched, doodled, and practiced calligraphy—all in a humble notebook. The book that I’ve started most recently is dedicated to my virtual exploration of France.
I’m studying films that are set in Paris this semester. The France notebook has been christened with my observations on Le ballon rouge (1965) and Le voyage du ballon rouge (2007). I find taking notes to be very therapeutic when I’m not under pressure to prepare for a test. I’ve worked long enough at my formal education, and I won’t be taking any tests in the immediate future. Now I write for fun.
DesignWorks Ink is my go-to brand of the moment. I just ordered this stunning blue notebook—three of them to be exact. If you’ve been inspired to pick up your pen/pencil but don’t know where to begin, here are 20 subjects from the school of life to inspire your writing:
- the good old days
- friendships, present and past
- foods I’m trying for the first time
- places I’ve been in my mind
- heroes and heroines
- mistakes that have taught me well
- the events of my life
- worldwide wines
- my strengths
- dreams I had at night
- my ancestors
- startups I have in mind
- blueprints for my dream house
- things I want to learn
- the history of (insert name of country)
- inspiring quotes
- the clothes I like and why
- things I’ll never understand
- lessons from my grandparents
Apica CD-15 B5 notebook (navy); Stow pencil case; Uni-Ball black pen (0.8mm); Muji aluminum pen case; Apica CD-15 B5 notebook (sky blue); Designworks Ink Notebook (Neptune blue); Appointed notebook (lavender gray)
Moleskine notebook (earth brown); Fieldnotes (lined); Apica CD-5 A7 notebooks (pastel); Smythson notebook (Nile blue); Fieldnotes (blank); Muji pen case; Uni-Ball black pen (0.5mm); Smythson pencil case (Nile blue); Moleskine cahier journal
A Fortnum and Mason hamper is a gift that keeps on giving long after the original contents have been consumed. Traditionally, the hamper is filled with items from Fortnum’s food halls and given to a loved one as a gift. (Although, I’ve never thought of giving a hamper to anyone but myself.) The recipient will find items—jam, tea, biscuits, chocolate, wine—to elevate his/her next picnic. There are two ways to go about filling a hamper. You may choose one that has already been curated or you may decide to handpick the contents yourself. The distinguishable wicker hamper, which exists in a variety of sizes, can be seen atop countless picnic blankets across England. But, what of its other uses? I’ve been thinking of useful ways in which the hamper may be repurposed. Feel free to complete the following sentence as you see fit.
The F&M hamper may be used as a(n)…
- small, curated library
- boot box
- spa in a box
- crafting supplies catch-all
- plant stand
- lamp stand
- coffee table
- wine cellar
- toy chest
- healthy snacks box
- car emergency kit
- mail center
- bed for your four-legged friend
- end-of-the-bed trunk
Browsing at Fortnum & Mason was one of my favorite pastimes when I lived in London full-time. The magical experience began outside with the signature blue-green hue of the ground floor’s exterior and its artfully-designed window displays. The red carpet, sparkling lighting fixtures, and counter of loose chocolates impressed me on my first visit to 181 Piccadilly. But, I soon realized that there was much more to F&M than what initially met my eye. Established in 1707, Fortnum and Mason is an institution known for its tea and food-filled wicker hampers. On your loop around the store, you’ll see biscuits in beautiful tins and picnic essentials like wine and jam. Additional offerings include: jewelry, stationary, books, tea towels, tote bags, and Christmas tree ornaments. (The author of A Christmas Carol himself was a customer here.) There’s also a tea salon on the 4th floor and bees residing on the rooftop. I’ve taken to browsing online, but my mental Fortnum’s shopping list continues to expand nonetheless.
It is impossible to enjoy the weather if you do not dress for it. When the temperature reaches a degree that warrants a parka, it makes sense to wear one. (Puffer coats are also permitted.) You feel and look uncomfortable when you are cold, and that is not becoming.
When I wear my parka, I feel like a caterpillar in a freshly-spun cocoon: cosy and good spirited. I refuse to use inclement weather as an excuse to stay in, unless the weather is actually inclement. In the Mid-Atlantic states (or at least in PHL) we generally like to use the threat of snow as an excuse to close schools and nonessential businesses. However, things may look different this season due to the Covid work-from-home/study-from-home policies currently in place. Taking a walk every day is vital to maintaining good health. If you work from home, it may be the only opportunity you have to be active beyond your commute to the opposite end of the hallway.
You don’t become exempt from your daily walk just because winter has set in. You weren’t exempt from your commute when you were going into the office. If you prefer moderate weather, don’t worry. All of the seasons take their turn. For now, bundle up in your insulated, water-resistant coat and get moving. Count your steps if that works for you. Let’s not go downhill this winter unless we’re on a sled, tube, snowboard, or skis. In fact, a Christmas walk sounds gratifying.
Merry Christmas to you dear Reader. May you find health and happiness in 2021.
In addition to my family, friends, and writing this blog, Airbnb Online Experiences have kept my spirits up during Covid time. The experiences went live in April 2020, and I discovered them this past August. Over the last four months, I’ve traveled to Lisbon, Palombara Sabina, and Paris via Zoom. (For a comprehensive list of previous posts, refer to the archive.) With the first leg of my world tour complete, I intend to take a break from Airbnb activities until the new year. However, I’ve curated a list of experiences to look forward to. My 2021 virtual trip around the world will probably look something like this:
- Madrid Handpicked – A Celebration
- Cook Spanish Paella with a Top Chef
- Puerto Rico Holiday Cocktail and Dessert
- Traditional Cuban dishes
- Chocolate Origins & Create with a Maker
- Make Mexican Street Tacos with a Pro Chef
- Advanced Taco Tuesday with a Pro Chef
- Fun Argentine Wine Class with Local Somm
- Fran Argentine Empanadas & Chimichurri
- Cooking with a Moroccan Family
- Kenyan Home Cooking from my Family Kitchen
- A Kenyan Cultural Experience
- Explore the Pink City of Jaipur
- Taste of India – Masala Chai & Samosa
- Session on Tajmahal with Local Expert
- Cook Greek with Julia – Winter Menu
- Follow a Plague Doctor Through Prague
- Irish Village, History, Culture & Craic
- Baking Traditional Irish Scones Zoom
- Virtual Tour in Old Quebec with a Local
Works Sighted: My first look at County Dublin (October 2018)