Five Things to Bring You Joy

Ahhhhh, it’s getting cooler here in Southern California. I could not be happier about that. I recently read that about 2% of people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) have the reverse of what you probably think of. Lots of people I know get the blues during the winter months, but I am exactly the opposite. I hate the sun, and I live for LA’s dreaded Gray May, June Gloom, and the cooler winter months. Rainy, foggy, overcast days are the best for walking and also for making hot chocolate and snuggling down to read by a fire. But even if you’re one of those sun worshipers not looking forward to the darker months ahead, today I’ve got five things I think you will like.

1) I recently wrote about my château fetish. One of the places that started my obsession was Château de Gudanes, a castle in the French Pyrenees. Seven years ago, a family from Australia bought the property and began restoring it. Since then, they’ve accepted volunteers and paying guests and also opened a small boutique, with all proceeds going toward the building/restoration fund. With COVID restrictions in place, the family has once again thought outside the box and expanded their online store to include even more exquisite items in all price ranges that would make excellent holiday gifts. Check it out, and try not to drool on your keyboard.

2) Speaking of drooling, if you’ve gotten into sourdough bread baking, you may be cringing every time you have to throw away excess starter. It just feels so wasteful. Despair not. Yasmine Maggio at Serious Eats (one of the best cooking websites ever) has rounded up some scrumptious recipes to use your discard. Give them a try!

3) My dear friend and fellow VCFA grad Melanie Jacobson has a new book out! I got to read a version of The Big Easy and Other Lies about ten years ago, and I absolutely loved it. I now own my very own signed copy. From the back cover: “Find out what happens when Project Runway meets Hoarders in a fashion showdown for the ages in this story about good friends, hard truths, and smoking-hot kisses beneath sweet magnolias.” If you like books like Maureen Johnson’s Suite Scarlett or Stephanie Perkins’s Anna and the French Kiss, this is the novel for you.

4) I fondly remember the years our family participated in our local recreation department’s soccer program. Patrick coached at least one team every fall, while I chaperoned whoever our youngest child was at the time to Coach Mike’s endlessly entertaining Little Kickers class.

When we moved to California, we traded soccer for swimming and water polo, but I will always love the Beautiful Game. We recently enjoyed Netflix’s biopic series The English Game, based on the true events surrounding the rise of football in the 1880s. Developed by Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes, it has everything I want in a British series: gorgeous settings and costumes; romance; and class struggles aplenty.

5) The Australian group The Avalanches have been around for a while, and they worked on their second album Wildflower for about 14 years. They have a new album coming out this December (much faster than last time!), but until then, enjoy this catchy and adorable song/video “Because I’m Me,” featuring Sonny Cheeba. It makes me homesick for the NYC subway. No, really.

That’s it! Have a great weekend, everyone. I’ll see you Monday morning.


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