New England Leaves

New England 2015

Let’s rewind to the first of October . . .

K and I set out for New England, chasing that moment when the Eastern seaboard transforms into technicolor autumn. Instead, we found ourselves navigating the earliest touches of fall. The leaves teased us with bursts and patterns unpredictable, as if to say: You left, and you can’t just have everything back all at once, and only for a week. 

Still, we went apple-picking with young-couple relatives and their tots, sipped cider and marveled at how unique even the smallest humans are.

New England 2015


We visited a gothic summer cottage, scaled the White Mountains of New Hampshire in an aerial tramway, walked among miniature mountain-top trees, and watched trained bears dance. I knocked my head multiple times, and hard, against the low, slanted ceilings of our frilly bed-and-breakfast rooms, just below the attic, and felt like an overgrown Alice fumbling through a dollhouse. However, the breakfast was delicious. Later, we dined on Thanksgiving fare and I drank a glass of cranberry wine. We played old-school arcade games and drove back to Massachusetts.

New England 2015


New England 2015

Thanks to the pervasive autumn chill, I found myself once again craving tea throughout the day, so I scrounged up whatever I could find—tea bags in the back corner of a cupboard, Earl Grey k-cups that sputtered in a faulty Keurig machine. Upon my return to Oakland I was greeted by a cerulean blue sky, warm sun, and palm trees silhouetted above skyscrapers of humble stature. I made a beeline, tugging my suitcase-on-wheels behind me, for Burrito Express, and thanked my lucky stars that I live in California.

And so my beloved autumn has become a fantasy season, more inspiring in daydreams and tumblr photos than it is in person. Still, I miss the long stretches of brilliant hues I experienced in Maine, when each of the seasons awaited me and I had time to enjoy my pumpkin spice coffee and crisp, cool breezes day by day, instead of trying to scoop up all of the pleasures of fall in the space of one week. Traditional seasons evade me here, but it’s a small price to pay to live in the region that feels more like home than any other. And so my heart lives in disparate places, but mostly—approximately—it’s here.




Home, as a Location

DSC04361DSC04380 DSC04372 DSC04388It’s strange but lovely to say I spent the first 18 years of my life in a surf town with beautiful beaches and a seaside amusement park.

On January 2, I revisited it. The same pizza, coffee, cookies, views. Since I spent most of the past decade elsewhere, it was familiar and fresh at once. It’s so very much the same, but not quite. You know?

It seems that every entry I write lately relates to the idea of home, but in this case, it takes the form of a very specific location.

After spending so many years in other regions, no one place can encompass everything that has formed me — yet it’s nice to think that the place that comes closest to fitting this description is one small, scenic city on the Monterey Bay.

What reminds you of home?


East Bay Days

All my life, I’ve wanted to live in San Francisco. I can remember being about four years old, walking through Chinatown, utterly enchanted.

Recently, my lifelong dream of living in this city came true. Sort of. I currently live right across the bay from San Francisco, with a foggy view of the Golden Gate just a short walk past my door.

Though the city sits just beyond the stretch of blue that separates it from me and the East Bay, my weekday commute gives the illusion of a much greater distance. {If only I could just take a ferry across the water!} So when it comes to the weekend, I like to explore the little patch of the Bay Area in which I actually reside.


If only windswept hair looked as glamorous as it sounds.

On Saturday, K and I started out by meandering through the artisan booths of Oakland’s monthly waterfront market, Jack of All Trades. We saw plenty of adorable goods, but I have to admit that we also discovered the food trucks, where we enjoyed strawberry lemonade and cheese fries from Cheese Gone Wild. I was skeptical of the concept of cheese fries, but these ones were delicious.

In downtown Oakland, we discovered E.M. Wolfman, a small bookstore with a gallery and a gratifying small press selection. This place gives me hope for the East Bay I am only just beginning to know.


Gondolas are frequently seen in Oakland’s Lake Merritt.

With a bit of time to spare, we headed to a more familiar spot—the picturesque Lake Merritt, which always seems to draw us to it. We grabbed a couple of books from the nearby library and bided our time before heading to a vegan Chinese restaurant, Nature Vegetarian, for dinner. The dishes we ordered—Veggie Mongolian Beef (I think it was made with seitan) and Braised Eggplant with Spicy Sauce—were just as flavorful and hearty as I’d hoped. I am neither vegetarian nor vegan, but if delicious food is available to me without worry of gristle or (animal) fat, I often prefer it. This place (along with San Francisco’s House of Nanking and Shangri-La Vegetarian) makes my evolving shortlist for Bay Area Chinese food.


A festive view of Lake Merritt’s evening sky speaks in warm tones.

As the work week winds up and then down, I like to imagine what this coming weekend will bring. How are you planning to spend it?

My look ~ Sunglasses & Scarf: Charming Charlie. Earrings: Inherited from Grandma. Top: Thrifted. Pants: H&M.

Leaf & Sip: Chocolates for Breakfast / Iced Coconut Green Tea

While traveling, often without internet access, I had some time to think about this blog. As I reflected on The Burnished Leaf and what I would like it to become, I decided I would like to combine the categories I write about (style, books, tea, life/travel) more often. Book reviews are easy enough to find online, and there are so many wonderful fashion blogs. It feels fresher and is perhaps a better use of my talents to try to write about overlaps between my interests.


The novel Chocolates for Breakfast, iced Coconut Green Tea, and a reading companion

So, this is my first book & tea pairing, and the start of what I hope will become a series. In a nod to my blog’s title and the linguistic overlap between “leafing” through a book and the tea leaf itself, I’ve named the concept “Leaf & Sip.”

For each installment, I’ll select a book I’ve read or revisited recently, and pair it with a complementary cup of tea. The tea may be reminiscent of the book in flavor or association, or it may provide a refreshing contrast. Either way, it will be something I savored while reading.


This time, I selected Pamela Moore’s  Chocolates for Breakfast and Trader Joe’s Coconut Green Tea with Lemongrass & Ginger. I was lucky enough to read the book and sip the iced tea in my mother’s sun-dappled backyard. {Confession: It’s been weeks now since these photos were taken, but I still want to share them with you.}

Continue reading