Friday, August 28, 2009

I simply remember my favorite things

Home alone and happy,
Nothing brings me down.

--Emiliana Torrini

Here's what I like:

1. Long lunches, which include naps afterward.

I've often thought that I would like to visit/live in Spain, because I heard they have a mid-day break that is from two in the afternoon to around half-past five. Autumn was in Spain just a couple of weeks ago, and she says it does indeed happen that way!

My ideal mid-day meal would include colorful and flavorful dishes, like from the book of world chef Tessa Kiros. Kiros is Finnish and Greek-Cypriot and has an Italian husband, and she wrote Apples for Jam, which I think is really fun. The sections are divided by color; for instance, the orange chapter has recipes like Turkey Breast with Dried Apricots and Pancetta and Orange Juice and Olive Oil Cake with Pine Nuts. Sprinkled throughout the book are dazzling color photographs, children's playful drawings, and Kiro's thoughtful written memories.

2. Big sun hats.

I have many hat memories.

A sad one would come from when I was seven, and my family visited the Happiest Place on Earth. On the teacups ride, the hat that was on my head and that matched my bunny pantsuit (the name is misleading: it was basically made of a dark-colored cotton with a light collar with printed bunnies) flew away. It was never to be found again.

A happy memory would come from when I went to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books one year, and a lady complimented the large brown sun hat that I was wearing. Later, she caught up with me and said that she had to know where I got it. Before we finally parted, she said to me, like she was telling my fortune: "You will have a good life with that hat!"

No doubt, life is better with a big sun hat, especially if it's as becoming as this pink number that Autumn is wearing. Did you notice the contrasting stripes? Not only does this hat keep the sun out of dear Autumn's eyes, but it also protects her skin from painful sunburn. A pretty girl in a pretty hat--what could be better?

3. Country living.

Lately, I chanced to visit Brentwood Country Mart, technically in Santa Monica, California. This place is for those city folk who aspire to the simpler way of living, with very pleasing results, as you can see in the following pictures. It is a very charming shopping center with the red and white rustic barn-like architecture.

One of my favorite shops there has a name that you can have a lot of fun saying over and over: Roberta Roller Rabbit. There, you can find some very comfortable pajama-looking beachwear in colorful prints. It's all very vibrant. And, you know what: they have sun hats!

4. The United States Postal Service.

Sometimes, I desire to connect with others, and e-mail just won't do--it's too slick and fast and everyday to my mind. That's when I bring out my good stationary and put my thoughts to paper.

"Sweet mail," which I just love, is what I've lately heard paper mail called. It seems just right, too, because it's so nice to get a card or letter from a friend or family person.

This is a sweet shot that we took of the post office at Brentwood Country Mart.

5. Gifties.

The post office at Brentwood Country Mart seems to know what people like! In cubby hole-style shelves, they have things like stuffed bears and lambs and baby's undershirts, and I should mention that Tessa Kiro's cookbook is also there. I know that I would like to receive almost any of these gifts in the mail!

6. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Having recently moved to a cozy one-room apartment (you should see the view that I have of the ocean!) from a much larger space, I've come to have an increased respect for organization, and I feel at peace when all is in order. That said, these French country fabric lined baskets from a shop at Brentwood Country Mart are very appealing.

7. Summer reading.

When I was a teen, as it was for Autumn, my summer days had their own organization: chores in the morning, lunch, the afternoon free, and summer drama workshop in the evening. The afternoons and the lulls that are inevitable during musical rehearsals required that I had a good book, and the longer the better was my thinking.

The summer that I was in "West Side Story," I had trouble deciding whether to read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy or Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind. They were both over a thousand pages, and I think that I settled on Gone with the Wind because it was some pages shorter--I wanted long but not that long! A heavy book ever on my lap, those were very pleasant days indeed!