This Open Thread Is Living In The Past

Hello m’dears, and Happy Monday! I’m writing to you from the past. Well, kind of. I’ve been staying in my childhood home for four weeks now; the weather has been glorious, and we’ve done a lot to bring back precious memories – zoo trips, ice cream by the fountain, and travelling old school in an actual train with actual opening windows and actual wind in our hair. Now my daughter has found my old scooter, and I’m constantly being quizzed about the old days. It might be getting a bit much, really – I can hardly remember what my real, grown-up home looks like! Continue reading

Perfume for the Wary Novice

I was going to write about some scents I recommend for summer, but then I thought I’d better back up and talk about fragrance in general. While a small number of people can’t wear it due to sensitivities, lots of people are scared of it. And with good reason: they’ve been around people who wear too much, which can trigger headaches or at least revulsion. It’s very inconsiderate to overdo it. Continue reading

The Elements of a Perfect Cafe

I’ve been café sitting for a long time.

I’ve sat in some great cafés and a few mediocre ones and even in a couple of pretty decent chain cafés (yeah, I’m looking at you, Starbucks across from my apartment in Beijing, you surprising devil, you).

A good café can give birth to anything, from the Harry Potter series to the French Revolution to your next hot date. Continue reading

Stitching In Time: Mom’s Sewing Machine

“Your brother took it,” Dad said of Mom’s sewing machine. “Karen wants to learn.”

For most of my life, my mom had sewn on this anvil-weighted machine that she’d gotten at Woolworth’s or W.T. Grant or some store like that in the 1970s. She couldn’t quite remember. It was incredibly heavy and, at the end of the day, she often needed help lifting it from the dining room table where she’d done her sewing for the day back down to its case on the floor next to the china cabinet.  Continue reading

Down in Fraggle Rock

Ah, the television of my youth!  Do television shows these days even have theme songs you can memorize the lyrics to? I don’t know. At any rate, with the arrival of the much-hyped ’90s resurrection on TeenNick, I guess I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic lately. But not for Clarissa Explains it All, Salute Your Shorts, or even Doug. Nope, I’m going further back than that.

Continue reading

Not Your Average Lullaby

There were lots of Americans talking about patriotism and the 4th of July yesterday at my usual Internet watercoolers, as you can imagine. I reflected a little on the idea that how you interpret patriotism comes from how what values your parents instill in you, and I was reminded of a conversation I had with my mother a while back on her choice of lullabies when I was young. Continue reading