We are in France! On Thursday, while Rama set off for a concert in Belgium, Elodie and I embarked on our own adventure to visit some friends in the lovely town of Chantilly. Just a 25-minute train ride from Paris’ Gare du Nord train station, Chantilly is the horse-breeding capital of France and is home to a beautiful chateau. Since all that rococo detailing isn’t very conducive to sticky four-year-old fingers, we didn’t go inside, but instead spent a few glorious hours exploring the vast gardens. First stop: the cafe.


According to the English language brochure, a series of rustic, English-style cottages were built on the grounds in 1775 for the Prince of Condé. They now house a restaurant, so we headed over to taste the authentic whipped cream. “Chantilly” means “whipped cream” in French, and was actually invented here. Elodie’s chocolate chaud came with a wopping dollop of thick, rich, buttery, cream that tasted more like cream cheese frosting than ready-whip. Decadent indeed!


After our afternoon treat, which they call “gouter” en francais, we set out to find the children’s play area. Down a grassy path, over a wooden footbridge, and past a wide field, we were met by a flock of carved and painted wooden sheep. So sweet! The enchanting playground also featured a series of tiny wooden houses and grass-covered mounds of earth that formed a swirling pattern that was so fun to run on. An adjacent labyrinth was created for a prince’s birthday party. I read that when the children made it to the center of the maze, they found a table piled high with sweets and treats. We were nervous about getting lost in the labyrinth, so didn’t venture inside, but I once heard that if you run your hand along the right side of labyrinth, you will eventually find your way out.


Our friends are hoping to move back to the States soon, so who knows if we will ever go back to Chantilly, but we’re so lucky we had the chance to visit. And if we do make it back to that delightful town just north of Paris, we’ll certainly return to the chateau and while away an afternoon like happy French royals.


One brisk morning last fall Elodie and I ventured to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery to collect chestnuts. We had noticed the hundreds of chrysanthemum plants for sale at the local funerary businesses in our neighborhood (big bright bursting blossoms set out on the street always made me smile). And that morning, we were surprised to see gardeners planting dozens of them on the cemetery grounds. I later learned that the planting was in preparation for All Saint’s Day, or Toussaint as they call it in French. Celebrated on November 1, the public holiday is reserved for spending time visiting the graves of deceased loved ones. I adore strolling the cobbled paths of that crumbling cemetery any time of year, but the profusion of flowers that covers the newer graves in the first weeks of November make the month a particularly pleasant time to pay your respects to Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, and all the other luminaries lucky enough to be buried in one of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries. It’s also the time of year when we remember my great-grandmother, who would have turned 101 this year.

Here are a few photos from our walk that that beautiful fall morning in Paris.






I’ve been missing New York like crazy. So I went ahead and splurged on a little present for myself. I ordered the T-shirt pictured at the top. Now some of my cousins will think I should have gotten the shirt on the bottom, because Rhode Island is after all my home state. Of course Little Rhody, that dear old Ocean State, will always be home, and I get goose bumps just looking at its beautiful shape with all its little bays and inlets. But in my heart of hearts New York is my home. It’s home home, you know what I mean? It’s where I became a person. It’s where I spent my twenties, wistfully following the ghosts of Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan’s 1960s, kicking around Union Square and Washington Square Park like a folk singer or a Factory superstar depending on the day and the current obsession. And when that phase wore off I modeled myself after Bianca Jagger, pining for a Studio 54 of my own while drinking champagne to the beat of the Bee Gees. New York is where I became a career girl, fighting my way off the subway each morning in an A-line skirt and riding the escalator up to my office in Times Square like an East Coast Mary Tyler Moore. It’s where I nurtured my craft, interviewing jazz pianists and saxophonists in teeny apartments, out-of-the-way restaurants, and park benches. It’s where I pliéd and relevéd every Thursday night with an extraordinary group of 25 to 85-year-old women, bolstered by the energy emanating from the grand halls of Lincoln Center down the street. It’s where I spent lunch breaks volunteering at the library at PS3, my little sister’s elementary school. It’s where I walked by Tom Wolfe on an Upper East Side avenue and chatted with Hilary Swank in an elevator, and Monica Lewinsky in a different elevator. It’s where I drank draft beer in a Lower East Side honky tonk bar and danced to country music with the guy who would become my husband. There. So even though I only lived in New York for nine years, plus a couple summers during college, I think I’ve just offered up enough evidence to entitle me to wear the shirt at the top. Now if I can just figure out how to trade in that “California” driver’s license I carry around. Because try as I might, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to call this place home.

If you want a home T-shirt too you can order them here. Don’t feel guilty about dropping the 28 bucks because part of the proceeds go to multiple sclerosis research. Which state will you get?





How cute are these beach towels? They’re on sale at One King’s Lane today and I can hardly resist the urge to buy one for everyone in my family. Wouldn’t they make great Christmas presents? Although once the holidays roll around maybe it would seem weird to get such a summery item. Either way, I’d love to throw one in my bag and head out to Rockaway Beach right now.

Newport Creamery

Do you recognize the restaurant pictured above? How many times did I walk past that curvy counter to find an empty booth in the back? Dad would slide in across the table and we’d order Awful Awfuls. Regular size for him, Junior for me. Or maybe we’d order ice cream cones to go one late afternoon in summer.

My dad and my godmother both worked here when they were teenagers. Or maybe it was around the time I was born. They were basically teenagers then anyway. I like to picture them in their green and white striped uniforms, taking orders from the regulars and serving banana splits.

Growing up, my great-grandma Bobo always had a gallon of Newport Creamy ice cream in her freezer. She would re-use the giant plastic bin with its signature stripes to freeze her famous baked beans or Portuguese soup. I never thought much of it, taking for granted how lucky I was to always be able to have a bowl of ice cream whenever I wanted at her house. I think chocolate chip was her favorite. But recently I came to the realization that she bought those gallon sized bins out of necessity. It must have been the most efficient way to offer the cold summertime treat to my dad and his six sisters when they were little. Once they grew up and didn’t ask for ice cream quite as much, the habit must have stuck.

Of the three locations on the island where I grew up, the one in downtown Newport was my favorite. Their website says it was called the Long Wharf location. It was just a few blocks from the Newport Yacht Club, where my grandpa kept his boat the Mermaid’s Tavern. I remember running over with my cousins to grab a quick ice cream while he was getting the boat ready to embark on a Fourth of July float in the harbor with the whole family on board for the fireworks show. Or maybe we were setting off for a day at Rocky Point, an adventurous journey to Block Island, or perhaps just a midsummer’s morning cruising around Narragansett Bay for a little ocean swim and snorkel. Wherever it was, it was surely a happy memory in the making. And it was always just ever so slightly happier, with an ice cream.

If you’re taking a trip to Rhode Island this summer, be sure to find a Newport Creamery. There are nine locations throughout the state. I’m planning to go for dinner at the original Middletown restaurant when I’m in town next week. I’ll probably get a hamburger and a chocolate Awful Awful. Junior of course.


When I was a little girl, my mom made many of my clothes. She stitched up prim Victorian dresses in blue velvet for school picture day, and hemmed crisp new Easter frocks with mere moments to spare before it was time to meet my cousins for Easter mass.

So there was no question, that when I became a mom, I was going to make clothes for my child. Last week, one month before Elodie’s third birthday, I made her her first hand-sewn-by-mom dress. Sometimes it just takes us a while to get around to these things.

The fun started at the fabric store. We’re lucky to have a fantastic shop called Stonemountain & Daughter a short walk from our home in Berkeley, California. It’s stocked with a magnificent selection of cotton calicos and batiks, silks, satins, ruffled bolts, and yards upon yards of animal prints, children’s prints, vintage prints, and designs from places like Japan and Africa. We can spend hours in this place, and they even have a little play area with a dollhouse and some toy shopping carts for kids.

After taking a break from arranging tiny beds in tiny rooms, Elodie picked out a goldfish print. “Poisson rouge!” She exclaimed, making use of one of the handful of French words she picked up from our time in Paris. So we purchase a yard, took it home, washed it, ironed it, measured it, cut it up, and after a few minor mishaps, we ended up with a pretty cute little summer dress. I can’t wait to get started on the next one.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!








Easter is one of the best times of the year in our family. Not least of all, because it’s time to dye Easter eggs. Last year in Paris, we set up an Easter egg dying workshop with our friends McLain and Dayze, Elodie had the time of her life. I don’t think I ever saw her having as much fun.

First, we set out newspaper to soak up all the splashing and spilling you can imagine goes on when two almost two-year-olds dye eggs for the first time. Then, we laid out the supplies: a dozen white eggs McLain brought over, cups filled with a few drops of red, yellow, blue, green, and purple dyes made from food coloring and white vinegar. I thought we’d boil them, but McLain said blowing them out is easy. And it is! Makes the eggs so much nicer too. We just pricked a little hole in each end, and blew the yoke into a bowl. We had omelets for dinner while we admired our beautiful multi-colored pastel Easter eggs as they dried upon toilet paper rolls and cardboard toothpaste boxes cut to make little stands (see photo).

We’re looking forward to dying Easter eggs this year. Ten days until Easter, and we’ve already got two egg-dying events coming up. I wonder if Elodie (now almost three) will enjoy herself as much as she did last year. What springtime traditions does your family celebrate?


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