the "your strange disease diagnosis" game

I am getting ready for Claire's thirteenth (!!!) birthday party, and stumbled upon this list of strange diseases I made up last year when the girls played the "Your Strange Disease Diagnosis" game at her twelfth birthday party. (I split them into one team of patients and one team of doctors. The patients each acted out and described her strange disease, and the doctors had to diagnose her.) We all laughed so much!

Your strange disease is...

you start hiccuping whenever you go through the lunch line at school.

Your strange disease is...

you can only sleep if you are in a tent at the zoo.

Your strange disease is...

you think you are Snow White.

Your strange disease is...

you get itchy on Thursdays.

Your strange disease is...

you have to shout "snoo!" whenever you see an airplane.

Your strange disease is...

you are afraid of maps.

Your strange disease is...

your eyebrows are turning pink.

Your strange disease is...

you think you own the Dodgers.

Your strange disease is...

you always feel as if you are walking on top of cold spaghetti.

Your strange disease is...

when you talk, every other word you say is the word "sunny".

Your strange disease is...

when you watch a movie or a t.v. show, you pretend to type every word that the actors are saying.

Your strange disease is...

you sneeze whenever you see the color red.

Your strange disease is...

you think you invented chocolate, and you want everyone to give you credit for it.

Your strange disease is...

you are afraid of shoelaces.

Your strange disease is...

you think you are a chicken.

Your strange disease is...

you only eat grapes. Nothing else.

Your strange disease is...

you bark whenever you see a cat.

Your strange disease is...

you have seventeen toes on each foot.

Your strange disease is...

you sing whenever you are doing a math problem.

Your strange disease is...

you think everything tastes like spinach.

Your strange disease is...

your eyelashes never stop growing.

Your strange disease is...

you are aging backwards and becoming younger-looking every year.

Your strange disease is...

you can only make friends with people named Dave.

Your strange disease is...

you think Target is a movie theater.

Your strange disease is...

every other word you say is "Mississippi."

Your strange disease is...

when you greet someone it makes you burp. LOUDLY.

Your strange disease is...

you are allergic to breakfast cereal.

the entryway


Here's what you'd see if you walked in our front door and kind of milled around in the entryway.

We've been in this house a year come Thanksgiving. There are a few things I'd still like to do, mostly outside, but we're mostly settled. It feels good, and we like it. My favorite thing is all the windows, I think. There is good light, and there are good trees.

Our friend Ava calls it the Captain America House, because of the shield on the little glass window in the front door.

snow in madrid by joy davidman

Joy Davidman, who is mostly known for marrying C. S. Lewis and then dying too soon, was actually a good poet and writer in her own right. I don't know why I am thinking about this poem of hers today, because it's not snowing and I'm not in Spain, but I have it in my head. It is one of my favorites. Joy wrote it as a response to the three-year siege of Madrid during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939.

Snow in Madrid

Softly, so casual,
Lovely, so light, so light,
The cruel sky lets fall
Something one does not fight.
How tenderly to crown
The brutal year
The clouds send something down
That one need not fear.
Men before perishing
See with unwounded eye
For once a gentle thing
Fall from the sky.

copper pots

copper pots

Recently, my Aunt Lucy asked me if I was interested in some copper pots that she and my Uncle Keith had stored in their basement. She knows I am kind of going for a French feel in the new house. :)

I was so thankful and excited about this. I have always loved copper pots. They are right up there with brown paper packages tied up with string, and warm woolen mittens.

They arrived in the mail this past week, and I want to look at them all the time, so I stuck them on top of the little kitchen bookcase.   

I will probably hang them up over the bookcase eventually, because securing large metal items is a good idea in earthquake country, but for now I like them here.

There is also a patina-ed double-boiler I will show you later. I have it sitting on the stove.

What really tickles me about this is that I am eventually going to paint our kitchen cabinets (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in my favorite Aubusson Blue), and I would like to add copper-finish hardware to them. I will have to tell you all about that in a separate post, because it involves showing umpteen kazillion photos of kitchens I have pinned on Pinterest. :)

blueberry & raspberry mini megs


When we were staying in Chipping Campden in summer 2012, one of our favorite places for lunch was the Meg Rivers Cafe

Julian Day is the proprietor of the Meg Rivers Artisan Bakery. (Meg Rivers died in 2001.) When I came back to the U.S. after Chipping Campden, I ordered his lovely Classic Artisan Baking cookbook. Everything I have baked from it has been unique and delicious; today I made the Blueberry and Raspberry Mini Megs. 

I didn't have any panettone cases, but I did have deep baking cups I'd bought at Cost Plus, and they worked perfectly. (I got fourteen Mini Megs out of the recipe.) I put them on a baking sheet for baking.

Also, the recipe calls for 1-1/2 cups each of blueberries and raspberries, but I had more than enough just purchasing the 6-oz little clamshells. I baked them for the 48 minutes, and they were just right.

Raspberry and Blueberry Mini Megs


  • 2-2/3 sticks butter, salted
  • 1-2/3 c. sugar
  • grated zest of 2 large oranges
  • 4 eggs
  • 2-3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. ground almonds
  • 1-1/2 c. fresh blueberries
  • 1-1/2 c. fresh raspberries


Preheat the oven to 325˚F.

Cream the butter, sugar and orange zest together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in the flour and ground almonds.

Using 2 spoons, divide the mixture equally between the panettone cases, filling each case half full. Arrange the fruit on the surface of each mini meg to make 6 of each variety. Bake the cakes in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.

A skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean.

The cakes will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container, or can be frozen for up to 1 month.


ramona (1988)

Sarah Polley as Ramona Quimby

Sarah Polley as Ramona Quimby

In the late 80s, I enjoyed the short-lived (10 episode) Canadian series Ramona, based on Beverly Cleary's books.  It starred smart Canadian actress Sarah Polley, who is now a grownup writer/producer/director. (She is currently working on a new screen adaptation of Little Women for Sony.)

It was released on VHS but never DVD, but recently someone was nice enough to put the first seven episodes on YouTube. Although it's dated and the quality is what you'd expect from VHS put onto Youtube, I still love this sweet little show. :)

I'll keep my eyes peeled for the last three episodes.

Episode 1: Squeakerfoot

Episode 2: Mystery Meal

Episode 3: The Patient

Episode 4: Rainy Sunday

Episode 5: Goodbye Hello

Episode 6: New Pajamas

Episode 7: Ramona's Bad Day

a little bit more of the living room

Here are a few more shots of the living room. You can see all the funny little things I still need to work on.  

I quickly hung the torn-paper beach scene over the sofa right before Christmas. I wish I hadn't, but everyone was coming over and the room looked so bare and I guess I panicked. :) I hung it too high, for one thing, and for another, it's lost on that big wall. 

Hang in haste, repent at leisure. We love it, but it is going elsewhere. In its place will be a big gallery of photos. I have picked out the frames and the photos, and if we factor in my customary procrastination, that means we're about ten percent of the way there.

The second armchair is on its way. Whoo hoo! It is dark gray, and is very comfortable. I know because I sat in one in the store (Fedde Furniture in Pasadena; ask for Danielle), and almost fell asleep.

The fireplace hearth was clad in marble at some point in the house's history. We will have a carpenter friend fashion a reclaimed wood mantel, which is more appropriate to the style of the house. I found several tutorials online for "slipcovering" your fireplace mantel in wood, and although it looked straightforward in theory, I remembered how hard it was just to hang anything in this house because none of the walls are straight. I think we'll leave fireplace mantel cladding to the pros.

See? Floaty beach art. Not good. I'll post new photos once I get the photo gallery up there. 

This corner is a bit awkward. The piano is tucked in the only place it could go in the entire house. When my mom originally saw realtor photos of this house, she noted that if those built-ins weren't there, I could center the piano on that wall. I think initially I was shocked at the idea of removing built-ins original to the house, but she's right. That would be a better and less squashy layout.

But we're going to work with what we've got going. I think once I spend some time thinking through how to decorate the mantel, piano, built-ins and washstand, so that it all looks warm but not cluttered, it should be fine. Right now it's just a bit desolate. 

I know I will have a small lamp on the piano and another on the washstand. That corner is a black hole at night. And I have a smaller piece of art that will hang beneath the girl doing her hair. That's all I know exactly yet, but I can see the feeling I want it to have inside my head. :)

I guess next time I'll show you the entryway. :)

a little bit of the living room

We have slowly been furnishing and decorating the living room since we moved in last November. It is a more formal space than we've had before, which is nice, but I don't want to mess it up. :)

We started with drapes, and a very long leather sofa. The drapes and sofa kept each other company for a few months, and also our old black end tables, which I am painting gray. (One is finished and one is not.) Then we got a coffee table, and that was exciting.

My mom gave me a piece of art from their home I have always loved, and we bought a beautiful colored-pencil drawing of a bit of the Cornwall coast from my friend Henry, who is an artist. I still need to get Henry's picture framed. I painted a mirror and got that hung up over the fireplace.

Our piano is in there, and a bookcase full of books, and a built-in bookcase I haven't done anything with yet. Last week I painted the fireplace bricks. My mom and dad gave me a marble-topped washstand they brought back from France before I was born, and I found a nice place for that, too. My hope chest is in the corner, and a t.v. will eventually go on top of it. 

So it's coming together. We ordered two chairs, and one came in last week. This chair is Bob's. It can swivel around to watch the t.v. (that doesn't exist yet). :)


Do you like Luluc? I guess they are my rebound band, because I discovered them when I was Googling The Civil Wars.

(Every few months I hope something will happen and The Civil Wars will get back together. Futile Googling. The artists John Paul is producing at Single Lock Records are more interesting to me than what Joy is singing post-breakup.)

Luluc has a different energy level, and a gentler harmony, but the serenity is compelling. I don't know why I'm comparing them to The Civil Wars, except that that is how I found them.

One reviewer wrote, "It’s not as if [Zoë] Randell has a limited emotional range here; these songs deal with fresh and buried pain, small pleasures, boredom, uncertainty, loss, satisfaction. It’s more like she’s singing from the part of your mind that can consider these things without agitation and make the right choices."

Zoë and the other half of Luluc, Steve Hassett, are both Australian, but splitting their time now between Brooklyn and Melbourne.


ps I had to remove my playlist from the blog because Grooveshark, who hosted it, went out of business last week. Sorry about that.