Open: January 18

It’s MLK Jr. day and the girls have the day off from school. Today is my usual work-from-home day and  I have done a highly enjoyable combination of bookshop details, futzing around in my kitchen, slowly but surely working through my laundry piles and facilitating the world’s best playdate. On these days off, all the girls want to do is stay home so we invited Henny, one of Cate’s friends from school to come over. Her birthday falls in between Cate and Jane’s birthdays and they play so well together. All three like to create complex play scenarios (the stairs were a mountain range and a great journey was undertaken). We took a break to bake the madeleine’s Cate and Jane and I made earlier in the morning and to have a tea party. Other than that the girls were upstairs, downstairs, outside. Jane moped hard for an hour after Henny left. “It’s just so hard when our friends have to leave.”


Many of my friends choose a word in the New Year to focus on rather than specific resolutions. As I usually have lists of resolutions, I was inspired to try it this year and I thought and thought about it and chose the word “open” as my word for 2016. My reasons were, I think, well considered. Open can be an action, as well as a reaction. I want to focus on creating community at the shop this year, I want to be open to new ideas and new possibilities both personally and professionally. In light of this, I decided to take a three-week yoga class this month that starts every morning, wait for it, at 5:10 AM. Which means I have to get up at 4:50. The class itself has been lovely. I feel myself getting stronger and well, more open. But I am so dang tired. Instead of engaging here and in other places, I am tired enough that all I have energy for at the end of the day is my book. Which isn’t all bad of course but not exactly what I pictured when I chose this word. It’s almost funny to me at this point.
*Note: late last week I realized I could just come home and sleep for another hour which has helped. I am SO not a person who can fully function on little sleep.

plainsong by kent haruf

Already, in 2016 I have read essential books that will be with me for a long time. Somehow I have never read Kent Haruf. One of my favorite customers told me that I must read Plainsong. So, the week after Christmas I had a little time off to be with the girls and noodle around my house, I got it down from my shelf (this book has moved with us multiple times) and opened it. I fell down a Haruf-sized hole, reading Plainsong, Benediction, Eventide and the posthumously published, Our Souls at Night in ten days. All of Haruf’s novels take place in the fictional small town of Holt, Colorado. These are plain, small town novels but the characters and their families intersect with love and grace and connection. When the two cowboy brothers take in Victoria, a pregnant teenager and their lives are changed and their hearts are opened and they learn to love her, it’s life affirming and challenging at the same time. Read any of these novels, they will stick.

when breath becomes air

I read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi this weekend, and I have to say, please read it. It’s an essential one. If you’re local, we have lots of copies at the shop. Kalanithi was in his final year of a neurosurgery residency at Stanford when he was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer. He died at 37, before he could finish the book. Janet Maslin, in her New York Times review says, “I guarantee that finishing this book and forgetting about it is simply not an option. There is so much here that lingers, and not just matters of life and death…”. I agree with Maslin. So much lingers and yes, it’s sad and difficult but there is an essential humanness that comes across in Paul’s writing.  I will come back to this book again and again. I have finished four books of nonfiction this weekend and am itching to get back to fiction. I am planning to start Anthony Marra’s The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories tonight.

jane was having none of it. attempt to get a christmas picture.

One thing I will say about Christmas 2015 is I never really saw it coming. Business at the shop tripled between Christmas 2014 and Christmas 2015. I thought I was prepared but boy, I am looking forward to next year and being way more prepared. I made a lot of rookie mistakes on amounts of books ordered, staffing, and plans for Cate during the first week of Christmas vacation. By Christmas morning I felt like toast. We had such a good day though – just our family in the morning, breakfast with Telfer’s family a little later and then dinner with Luke and Sherry and Co. Telfer got called into work Christmas afternoon but made it home to finish his crab two ways – king crab legs AND crab cakes. I also learned that taking the week off between Christmas and New Year’s is a must. The girls and I had such a good time. Eleanor was here and it was all low-key and enjoyable. Telfer and I spent one perfect night in Seattle together at our favorite hotel on the first of January.

christmas morning helpers
a little christmas uno
spent a night in seattle with telfer

And obviously I plan to be here regularly in 2016. I hope this year is starting off well for all of you. Much love for reading and for nudging me to continue here.


Rain! Thunder! Books!

This was Capitol Lake on my walk with George this afternoon. Overflowing its banks but looking very pretty while doing so. This morning, I awoke to a huge clap of thunder and two little pajamaed girls flying into my bed about two seconds later. Telfer had already left for work and the three of us hunkered down for a pretty amazing December thunder-and-lightening storm. I thought for sure we would lose power. We did not but the road down to Jane’s school is closed due to flooding. She spent a good chunk of the day with me and it looks like she will be with me again tomorrow. Think of us. She loves the shop and is forever wanting to skip school and hang with mom for the day. For maybe twenty minutes? To her, that’s surely enough time to get everything done. All day long with all the customers and the talking and the “special projects” mom wants you to do and using the scary, gross bathroom is not what she pictures. Today, while in the bathroom with her I tried to explain what an 1888 building means in terms she could understand. It’s older than mom! It’s older than Grammy! It’s older than Nana! All she knows is the toilet is terrifying to flush. I love having this flexibility though. I can take my girls to work if I need to. They may hate it at this moment but they will remember it for the rest of their lives. I think that’s a win for sure.


And for those of you that care about my reading life, all my reading-related areas are updated here on the blog and I have begun my third installment of the shelf project. Here’s installment one and two if you are interested. To explain myself to my self again, I tend to get overwhelmed by what I want to do and read (so many things) and so this is a way of narrowing the amount of choice. I actually feel less stress and more freedom when I have a bit of a project in motion.

Five Things: Don’t Know Where to Start Edition

Somehow our tree is decorated and our house looks festive and Ryan the elf is back from the North Pole to hide in a new spot around the house every day until Christmas. This morning the girls found him hiding in the fridge! The last couple of weeks have been so full and good but I have had very little extra mental space available. The to-do list has been epic and I must have a bit of space to even think about writing here.  Retail during the holidays is no joke. It’s a big deal. We have spent a lot of time and money and effort getting the shop ready for the holidays and it’s so gratifying to see customers respond. The difference between last year and this year is epic.

christmas books advent calendar

This year I wrapped 24 of our personal Christmas books while watching the last episode of Scandal this year (devastation!)  and we are opening one book a night to read together. I bought one new book for the first night but the rest are old favorites. It’s a cheap and thoughtful way to celebrate the season. The girls are really into it.

and personalities expressed in one photo.

The girls were also so very into decorating the tree. Even last year I wouldn’t let them do the glass balls or the more breakable ornaments but this year I didn’t have to manage the scene. They are capable and involved and opinionated about everything. And this picture definitely highlights two very different personalities. I love.

my sisters
family of origin
crazy cousins!
cookie decoratingThanksgiving felt like a whirlwind but a very lovely whirlwind. It’s the kind of whirlwind you actually enjoy being swept up into. I was at the shop most of the day Friday and Saturday but we managed to fit in a lot of fun. Dinner was lovely, Luke & Sherry and Co. joined us. My sisters and I managed a very cold trail walk early Friday morning, the cousins crafted and frosted cookies, and we had a party at the shop with Chris and Mendy Friday night after closing. Owning the shop makes it tricky to travel for the holidays so I am so grateful my family is willing to come to us.

exploring seabrook
cate & jane at seabrook

The weekend before Thanksgiving our family of four went to Seabrook on the Washington coast for a couple of nights. Telfer and I really needed a break and we had a good time. Has anyone been there? It’s a planned coastal community and ridiculously, almost creepily (word?) cute. I just couldn’t decide what I thought about it. Regardless, it was such a great break for me and Telfer. The girls had fun (especially sleeping in a loft) but they were so thrilled to come home and play in their room, like so thrilled. I put them to bed the night we got home and minutes later all the lights were on and they were setting up a birthday party for Judy and Sarah (itty bitty babies). Telfer and I had a major realization moment: we are not good at resting at home. We both have so many projects and interests and things going on that a weekend at home is just an extension of our work week. We pack it in. We don’t play in our house enough. We don’t rest enough. It was such a good realization and of course, I am thinking about 2016 goals and dreams already.

jane and her copy of jane eyre

I put this photograph of Jane on Instagram and Facebook too but lately Jane has been carrying her copy of Jane Eyre with her everywhere. She sleeps with it, takes it to school, flips through it. Yesterday I asked her on the way to school how Jane Eyre was doing and she replied, “pretty good”. No big deal.

new end cap mini shelves


my decorating person. this kid is so helpful and wonderful.

shop at night.

christmas windows

A few shop updates: I had a wonderful carpenter make me the little shelves. We had a lot of sad, unused real estate on the sides of bookshelves that look so wonderful now filled with books facing out. It’s amazing how much faster a book sells when the cover is displayed. Telfer and our friend Tony also put stickable wood on the sides of our window displays right before we decorated for Christmas. It just warms up the space and gives it texture and depth. We bought the wood more than a year ago but just hadn’t quite got it done. It really makes a big difference. Decorating for Christmas was so fun this year – my employee Clare helps a lot and Cate obviously loves a good project. I bought these garlands for the upstairs railing and they are so very pretty.

Parting note: If you are local, please consider going to and voting for our windows. You are entered to win gift certificates from local businesses.

Five Things: Rainy (Stormy) Friday Evening Edition

Doesn’t it feel like November all of the sudden? A few leaves left over. It’s dark early and this year, I am all in. As soon as we get home, we light candles and turn on the fire, the girls tell us their highs and lows at the dinner table, and we snuggle in for the night. Yesterday I may have had my pajamas on at 4:00 PM. It was a particularly stormy day though and the girls and I were in for the evening at 3:45. We had a tea party with our pajamas on shortly thereafter.
gingerbread turkey
A mid-week Veteran’s Day is actually pretty wonderful. A slightly weird but wonderful mid-week break. Telfer and I tagged-teamed the day. The girls just wanted to stay home. We made this gingerbread turkey from Trader Joe’s in the morning. SO cute! I almost texted my mom and sisters to say that we could forgo pumpkin pie this year and I could save this turkey for Thanksgiving dessert. Good idea? The girls so love this type of thing. I stayed with them in the morning and early afternoon until Telfer got home and then I closed the shop while he stayed home. Then I brought home Indian takeout to enjoy with Telfer after the girls went to bed. Pretty much a great day. I did manage to shear off my key in the shop door while pushing in our red carts. Not my finest moment. Those carts are heavy and the push in is on an incline. I could tell a cart was stuck on something but that didn’t stop me from pushing as hard as I could. My arm muscles are still sore! Had to call the locksmith the next morning. Classic me. Just keep pushing until *something* happens…
school pictures. love.

All I have to say here is how cute are Cate and Jane’s school pictures this year?

pretty gift tags

This last week I did a Pinterest project that actually turned out well. I used tie-dye on these tags. I plan to use them at the shop for our wrapping and at home for our personal Christmas presents. They turned out so pretty, maybe especially in person.

my happy place

Telfer has been traveling again this week – he comes home tonight! I spent yesterday evening paying bills, doing paperwork and catching up on email and all the little detritus that comes back and forth from the shop to our house. My home office has a comfortable chair for reading and a desk area. It’s only a closet (with a window!) but it’s my favorite space in my whole house. Even an hour spent here makes my whole day better. George was sleeping on our bed, Jane on the sofa outside my room and Cate in her bed next to our room. Such a sweet couple of hours, to be quietly working with most of my loves nearby.

oh boy. couldn't finish these two.

Confession: I am finished with my Shelf Project #2 except for these two books. Ann Patchett told me to read Independent People. She said it was her favorite and very brilliant and I tend to listen to Ann Patchett. I have actually fallen asleep in the BATHTUB trying to read Independent People as well asleep on so many nights in my actual bed. And I am on page 47. I am not saying Ann Patchett is wrong or that I am a useless reader but during this season of my life, Independent People may not be for me. As for the Penelope Fitzgerald biography, maybe I should have read the bio first and then the novels? I read the novels and my Penelope Fitzgerald moment has clearly passed. Again, maybe during a different season. It’s okay to postpone. Of course there will be a Shelf Project #3. Stay tuned.

such a cliche

This is such a cliche but this bookseller spent an evening this week watching You’ve Got Mail while messing about with boxes and boxes of books. The inventory project is going well. I would say overall, the shop is more than 70% inventoried but the online books are more like 90% inventoried. I think I have said this before but the previous owner used an extensive sticky note and handwritten notebook system to keep track of the online books. I could (can) barely deal. I am now on notebook #4 of #4 and my goal is to be done by Friday. I had to take down all the online books and start from scratch, finding each one of these books on the shelf, but I am happy to report the descriptions are better and sales are amazingly higher. It’s such a gratifying and concrete project. Next up: decorating the shop for the holidays. Such a busy and fun time of the year.

Five Things: Post Halloween Storm Edition

bookshop bound
a regular fairy and a bedtime fairy.
cutest little fairies helping me pass out candy at shop...
oh boy. jane and i are die-hard soccer fans.
I think we had the stormiest Halloween on record. First, Jane and I got soaked, and I mean soaked, at Cate and Gresham’s last soccer game of the season. We actually had to move fields because the goals were underwater and the balls were sort of floating into the goals. After we dried off and warmed up, the girls and I went to the shop for a good chunk of the afternoon, passing out candy to trick-or-treaters during the downtown Halloween event. The girls were in charge of the candy management, especially making sure the littles did not get the too-hot fireballs. They took their jobs very seriously. Telfer was done at the hospital in the late afternoon and I told him if he made me dinner I would take the girls trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. It started raining, hard, about three minutes after we left the house. Soaked, again. The girls didn’t mind at all – they would have kept going if I hadn’t wanted to stop after over an hour of trick-or-treating. The desire for candy runs deep. And, I had a very good dinner waiting for me when I dried off.

Just in case the pictures don’t tell the story: Cate was a bedtime fairy and Jane was a “regular” fairy. The first idea was that Cate would go as Maleficent and Jane as her crow but over time, the fairy option gained traction. And the only thing we needed was two new wands as all of our wands were defective in some way. I was a fan of the second option for sure.pumpkin carving station. love this...
2015 pumpkins by Telfer
Telfer did his annual pumpkin carving with the girls. We usually carve too early and the pumpkins are rotting by Halloween but this year he timed it perfectly. Cate’s pumpkin of choice was the ghost in the graveyard and Jane picked a cat. Telfer made me the polka-dotted pumpkin.   applesauce - first batch.

As I wrote about last week, I futzed around in the kitchen again on Sunday afternoon. I made the year’s first batch of applesauce. After it cooled down, the girls helped turn the crank of our cheap plastic food mill that I have been using since Missy taught me how to make applesauce when we lived in New York. I also made ricotta (Cate’s favorite) and slow cooked a batch of beans. I used the Christmas lima beans that I brought home from EVOO in Cannon Beach this summer. I highly recommend this method of cooking beans from Alexandra’s Kitchen. You can puree the beans after they finish cooking or eat them almost like a stew. Good bread is a must.
#3 down!

In case anyone is keeping track, why yes, I am reading all of Harry before Christmas! Just finished Azkaban this weekend and now onto Goblet of Fire. Between google and my phone’s calculator, I figured out that I just need to read three chapters-ish a day and I will finish by Christmas Eve. #lifegoals.    the long walk with george It’s been such a good day. Telfer was post-call. I work from home most Mondays but usually, when we are at home together we pursue our separate to-do lists with purpose. There’s always so much to do. But today we played hooky for much of the day and went to see Bridge of Spies at 10:30 in the morning (!). It’s been at least six months since I have seen a movie in the theater that is marketed toward actual adults (or kadults as we call them). We both loved the film. A couple of the story-telling moments felt a bit heavy-handed to me but I loved it overall. I loved getting lost in a story on a big screen on a Monday morning with Telfer. We meandered to lunch before we picked up Cate from school. I took George on our long loop and actually did not get rained on. We made spaghetti for the girls and had fun conversations at the table before the usual bath and bedtime routine. Such a good mom just made me the ayg My mom sent me this lovely framed embroidery of my initials early last week. It’s in my little home office. The same day I received it in the mail, we found out my mom’s eldest sister has advanced cancer. It’s been two and a half years now since my mom’s youngest sister died of ovarian cancer. What a blow. And so a flurry of texts between my sisters and my mom and me about our Aunt JoDell and surgery and hospitals and what the doctors are saying. So hard. Hug all your people and if you pray, please pray for both my mom and my sweet aunt.