Create: That’s a Wrap

I’m alright at selecting gifts, but I fall short on the wrapping. I find it remarkable that someone would see a need for a ‘wrapping station’ (or an entire wrapping room!) in their home.

Perhaps I overlook the tied up with a bow bit because I grew up in a house where Santa  neatly displayed gifts beneath the tree, but, unless you consider an errant price tag decorative, rarely did shiny paper mask the contents. This never diminished the joy, and, as for the surprise, Santa probably knew that I had ferreted out nearly every hiding spot. So really, what was the point?

But, leave it to the Japanese to make me reconsider gift presentation. Furoshiki, the ancient art of wrapping parcels and gifts in decorative cloth, is so practical and thoughtful I couldn’t help but be wooed. Like the newborn present for Soren that arrived in a gift from a stork style bundle, or the stack of of birthday treasures that my sister-in-law nested within a robin’s egg blue scarf. So lovely.

And so easy too. Simply recycle a scarf or make use of scrap material and start wrapping:

1. Lay the cloth flat with the bottom corner pointing towards you (the opposite corner will be pointing away from you and two corners will be directed left and right).

2. Place the object at the bottom of cloth with the corner exposed. Pull the exposed bottom corner over the object.

3. Hold the partially wrapped object in the cloth securely and tightly roll the object in the cloth in an upward direction to reach the top corner.

4. Position the wrapped object so that the exposed top corner is underneath.

5. Pull the left and right corners to the center of the object and tie securely. If enough cloth is available, tie together in a bow knot.

For even fancier Furoshiki check out this step-by-step diagram.

Wander: Off-Hours

Birthday lunch for my husband, who prefers a quieter scene.

Some of the best dining experiences I’ve had lately have been during the very unfashionable time slot of lunch. In a town where it can take six weeks to snag a coveted 8:00 reservation, my friend, Jane, tipped me off to the blow-out lunch as an option to the 10:30 p.m. dinner. It’s not a new idea, after all, this is how the Italians have dined for generations.

On our trip to London this year we booked a lunch reservation for the day we arrived at a place we had no chance of getting a table for dinner.  Nothing like wine upon landing to even out a time difference and distract from jet-lag wooziness. And when playing tour guide in town, we’ve found the giant lunch at an of-the-moment-spot is an excellent way to entertain guests––plus it frees up the evening for other adventures.

So, if you’ve been curious to try THE place that was just written up, but aren’t patient enough to wait months for dinner, book a table off hours.

Ps&Qs: Moving Day

About 10 years ago I realized that there wasn’t enough pizza or beer in the world to properly thank friends for lugging my stuff from one apartment to the next. Moving is at best cathartic, but generally it’s chaotic and just not a mess that I want exposed. We moved recently and our wonderful friends and family of course asked how they could help. Aside from extra boxes (thank you Katie!) the answer was coffee.

I discovered this because of the kindness of Erin S. in Chicago on the day we packed up and left that city. Our home––the scene of so many warm, hilarious nights with friends–– was a depressing hollow shell, a daunting cross country drive threatened and stress levels were elevated. Erin showed up just in time with dark, caffeinated sustenance. Bless you.

Our most recent move was only a few blocks away, but still stressful. Our friend and neighbor, Sue, delivered coffee and hung around to offer a very pleasant (and necessary) distraction. It absolutely made our day.

I wish I had learned this secret to easing transitions and helping out on move day sooner. Call me when you move, I promise to bring the coffee.