paris with a toddler.

paris with a toddler | reading my tea leaves


If the flaneurs walked turtles, then parents of toddlers have chosen to walk moody puppies who shift from sleepy and complacent one minute, to bubbly and delightful the next, to wailing and obstinate, and back ’round again. In both cases, the experience has the effect of forcing you to slow down a bit and to generally change your perspective on things.

What are my best tips for places to see in Paris with a toddler? Try for all of it. Which is really to say, nothing much in particular. paris with a toddler | reading my tea leaves

Start with where you’re staying. Venture around the immediate environs. Poke your head into the local cheese shop while singing a friendly bonjour and pick up something delightful to enjoy, regardless of whether your puppy-child will agree with its deliciousness. If parents are grumpy and hungry there’s no telling where the day will go. Next: Find an épicerie or a patisserie, or some other -erie that will allow for another little treat. If you’ve just flown in from the United States you’ll need a snack. (Don’t pay a lick of attention to the time on the clock, just get yourselves fed, and preferably before everything’s shuttered up. You’ll catch on to local culinary customs eventually.) A child in a stroller making a mess of strawberries is better than a child in a stroller wailing, and so give your little bug something to munch on and continue on your with a toddler | reading my tea leaves

Expectations for sight-seeing need to be halved and then halved again. Long lines should probably be avoided at all costs, unless you happen to find one while the puppy’s in a particularly amenable mood or otherwise sleeping. (Never say never, etc.)


paris with a toddler | reading my tea leavesParks and gardens are to be embraced; especially the ones that permit a bit of lounging (and or running like a maniac) on la pelouse. (On the other hand, gardens where lounging on the grass is not permitted are perhaps better left alone, lest you need to carry a child kicking and screaming from a lawn that they desperately want to destroy. Spoken from experience, of course.) If your puppy is like ours, fountains will be a main attraction. This will cause mild consternation as you repeatedly need to wrest your child from falling over the edge, but her squeals of delight at the “bubbles” will put everyone in a good mood and with a little luck on your side she won’t end up going for a with a toddler | reading my tea leaves


If your timing is right, you’ll catch a delightful late afternoon sun glinting off the Pont Neuf, as we did. This moment might even coincide with a cheerful toddler gleefully pointing out the dogs on parade. Take time to take in the glorious open sky-a marvel for New York City dwellers like us. Walk slowly and in a direction that will guide you more or less in the direction of sights worth seeing, but without any expectation that you’ll check them all off your list. I’d warn against over doing it on the walking front (as we did) but this of course how you will manage to take in a bit of the beautiful city and so I say, carry on. (French pharmacies have an impressive array of band-aid options, anyway.) For us, a stroller was key and we even managed to boire un café en terrasse while the tuckered out toddler snoozed inside with a toddler | reading my tea leaves

The real point is this: You might well spend an afternoon sightseeing that leaves you feeling triumphant and wonderful as as if you’ve really nailed both parenting and touristing and in this case, a hearty pat on the back is deserved. The afternoon will likely also include moments when you are in the throes of an epic meltdown in which case the best idea is to slow your roll a bit and blame everything on with a toddler | reading my tea leaves

Let out a bit of a sigh. Look at admiringly at older couples enjoying a moment of repose, and trust that you will indeed one day be them and that they one day were you. Don’t linger too long on the future or the past. Right now you need ice cream, and likely a nap. 

Psst: Besides the obvious ones, James also took that last shot. I was busy chasing a puppy.


go for a wander.


While we’re busy battling jet lag, missing coffee meetings with friends while we oversleep, and generally bumbling about town with our eyes half-open, here are a few thoughts on traveling-somewhere nearby or far flung-and the art of the embarking on the perfect meander from my friend Tim.

Flâner: Se promener sans but, au hasard, pour le plaisir de regarder.

(To wander aimlessly, randomly, for the pleasure of watching.)

Roughly translated, the French verb flâner is the art of taking a stroll. It means stepping off the path of daily to-dos to walk with no destination in mind, see the world with the eyes of a poet, and notice all the small details.

The flâneurs, as they were known in early 20th-century Paris, were the poets who walked the streets in search of nothing more than the feeling of being alive. Today, a flâneur’s goal is much the same. They’re not window shoppers or mental list makers. They’re not Instagrammers or Tweeters. They are seekers of this current, fleeting moment.

So how does one go about taking a simple saunter? Here are my go-to tips for the embarking on the perfect meander.tealeavesflaner2

Leave the phone at home.

This is the toughest for me. It means no dropping pins for places I want to remember. It means no photos. And perhaps worst of all, it means that I don’t get the credit on my little walking app. As I leave my phone on the counter, I have to tell myself that some time apart will probably do us some good (at least one of us) and that my phone should work for me, not me for it. Being phoneless gives me a nowness that I wouldn’t have with my phone in hand.

Walk your turtle.

Flâneurs in Paris were once fond of leashing a turtle and letting the turtle set the pace. It slowed them down and served as a reminder to step slow. Don’t have a turtle? Not to worry; just remember that this isn’t a race to some enlightened finish line. Take time to savor your stroll.

Look for light.

You don’t have to fly off to Paris to take beautiful walks. Any given place in the world shares the same ever-changing and ever-beautiful resource, and that’s sunlight. Flâneurs are all about the way light shifts, cascades on a wall, or bounces off water. Noon light comes with its heavy shadows, late afternoon light comes with its low beams and softness. Go to some of your favorite spots around your hometown and see how they react with different times of day. (Monet got transfixed by haystacks, for goodness sake, and saw fit to paint them 25 times just to see how they’d look in different light, at different times of year.)

Observe – We’re all still really human.

It’s easy to gripe about our over-connectivity and obsession with emails and inboxes, but when I’m out for a walk, I see small moments and interactions between families that remind me that life is as it always was, and I’m comforted by that. The mother still fastens the buttons on her child’s wool coat. The old man still smokes his pipe. The kids still run for the sake of running. There’s a comfort in knowing that this powerful play goes on and that everyone is contributing verses similar to the ones that have always been written.

Schedule it.

My schedule always feels full and finding time to do nothing else other than walk-avoiding the temptation to also pick up the dry cleaning or grab some much needed caffeine-can be difficult. But I find I can still usually carve out an hour in a week for a meander. In fact, to make sure that I do, I’ve started scheduling my weekly walks right into my calendar.  Sure, they look a little silly written out on my iCal, but I commit to the exercise by reminding myself that time to simply be is a noble pursuit.

Annie Dillard once wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” I’d like to think that my days aren’t always a race toward productivity, that sometimes, life is a turtle-paced walk toward presence.tealeavesflaner3

To flâner with Tim and his wife Laura in Provence this October, check out Moveable Feast Retreats.

Or follow them and say hello on their blog.

packing for a month away.

packing for a month away | reading my tea leaves


Gulp an elderflower cocktail and throw caution to the wind while you fling your favorite things into a bag. There ends my packing advice.


Just kidding. A few more cents below for what they’re worth.packing for a month away | reading my tea leaves

When you keep a fairly paired down wardrobe, some of the hard work of packing is already done for you. In fact, taking a little look at steps 1-5 of Growing a Minimalist Wardrobe could be a helpful first step in thinking about packing a bag for a month (or a week) away. In case that’s too much reading, here are the main ideas:

Step 1: Choose a collection of colors that you love and stick to a streamlined color palette. At home or away, I have most success with a fairly limited selection of colors. Mine tends to be neutrals ranging from creams and whites to blues and grays. Keeping my whole bag more or less in the same color family means that everything I pack can be worn together.

Step 2: Stick to mostly trusty basics. You don’t need to pack only basics, but having a good base to work on keeps my bag light and makes getting dressed on the road easier. A trusty pair of jeans, a favorite sweater, a few tees, a solid dress or two. There’s not much more that I need than that.

Step 3: Consider limiting factors. Mostly: choose quality over quantity and timelessness over trendiness for wardrobe strategies in general and for packing specifically.

Step 4: Care for your clothes and to pay attention to fabric choices. Skip the stuff that needs too much special attention and choose clothes that can be easily hand washed or thrown into the laundry without too much special attention. I usually stick to natural fibers because they clean easily, they stink less when I wear them a few times between washings, and they hold up to being rolled in a suitcase. 

Step 5: Choose underwear wisely. Even if I’m going away for longer, I try to pack just enough underwear for a week. All of my underwear tends to fall into the packable category, but in case you’ve got a wide range, I’d say sticking to natural fibers, solid colors, and comfort would be a good starting place.  (Lord knows, if you’re hell bent on bringing your laciest lingerie, don’t let me be the one to stop you.)packing for a month away | reading my tea leaves

Beyond those general steps,  a few more thoughts about what I add to my bag and how I do it: 

Choose a small bag.

Keeping the size of my bag itself manageable guarantees my best success in packing modestly for a long trip (or a short one trip). If I bring a larger bag, I’ll fill it-Cheryl Strayed-style-and be unable to move forward, weighed down as I am with the extra two pairs of shoes that fit int0 that extra pocket.

James and I ended up with Tom Bihn bags after deliberating between a few different ones before our last trip (as you might recall). I have the Aeronaut 30 and he has the Aeronaut 45. We took only these bags with us to LA and really loved them. We ended up needing to pack a separate bag for Faye’s clothes this time around since cramming a wetsuit and camera equipment and computers for working meant a slightly heavier load, but we’ve still tried to keep things fairly streamlined. Your best is all you can do.

Pack clothes enough for a week.

Chances are that regardless of the amount of time that you’re planning to be away for, you don’t need to pack for more than a week away.

Overpacking almost always comes from wanting be prepared. What if it’s cold? What if it’s sweltering? What if I’m invited to a ball? But I like to think about what I would really wear in a week at home and pack those things. 

Packing light means throwing a little bit of caution to the wind. You gotta just go for it. Do your best but accept that you might need to use a scarf as a shawl; you might not have a waterproof jacket if it rains; and you might not have a ballgown should you get invited to the palace. Alas, alack.

Do I strategize a little bit. Definitely. Jeans? I wear the same ones almost every day anyway so I rarely pack more than one pair for trips. Tops? I find that loose-fitting clothes have slightly longer staying power between washes than tight ones. It doesn’t mean I won’t pack tight tees, but I’m just thoughtful about striking a balance. Sweaters? I bring one sweater that works over pants or a dress, and not the one that looks funky pulled over one or the other. You get it: choose your hardworking stuff, not your fussy stuff. (And don’t forget comfy pajamas.)


packing for a month away | reading my tea leaves


Bring your favorite stuff. 

Bring what you actually like. I don’t care if you own the “world’s most practical pair of zip off pants,” if you don’t like wearing them, they’re just taking up room in your bag and putting you in a bad mood. Of course, I’d consider parting with things you don’t much like indefinitely, but in the meantime, I definitely wouldn’t make room for them in my suitcase. I bring the stuff that makes me feel my best. My favorite stuff isn’t necessarily what you’d find on a list of travel essentials, but if it’s something that I don’t mind wearing over and over again, that’s far more practical to pack than something I don’t like. (See also.)

Choose two pairs of shoes.

I have a shoe thing, too. Too many pairs; not enough places to wear them. Never is this more true than in packing. Shoes are heavy. I try never to bring more than two pairs. If I have a dress-up occasion I might need to bend the rules-no need to be uncomfortable for more time than need be-but otherwise no. Two pairs or bust. For summer that’s usually canvas sneaks and sandals.

Wear your bulkiest stuff.

This goes without saying, but I always try to wear my bulkiest or heaviest things. Sandals get packed, sneakers get worn. Sweater goes over my shoulders, extra tees go in the bag. It sometimes means getting a smidge overheated in the airport, but I’d rather by cozy on the plane and not have to lug extra weight in my bag.

Roll your clothes.

There’s just no other way to do it. Rolling your clothes makes them easy to see in your bag, it minimizes wrinkles, and it keeps things organized. I will not be convinced otherwise. The technique is simple and probably doesn’t need explanation, but I essentially make a neat rectangle out of whatever item I’m packing and then roll it up, the way I imagine I would make a jelly roll if I were a more ambitious baker. The neat little rolls get all lined up for easy access and simple packing. I’ve recently become a devotee of the Tom Bihn packing cubes which really make a huge difference in keeping everything organized in our packs. (Especially since we share with Faye.) I also always include a canvas drawstring or two for tucking in shoes, dirty undies, slippery swimwear that won’t stay put, etc.

Unload your toiletries.

I’ve mentioned before that I keep my limited number of toiletries in my dopp kit. If this is not your habit, then I strongly encourage sticking to the basics when you pack. I always pack a hard-working little face serum. Ideally this is the one little bottle of goodness you need to keep your skin glowing while you cavort around and the beauty of an oil is that it can pull double-duty as makeup remover and moisturizer for the ends of dry hair. (Put a little dab behind your ear and call it perfume.) I generally pack mascara and chapstick and a cheek rouge for a dab of color. Since Stowaway came on the scene and made makeup in manageable sizes, I sometimes also include an extra rouge or their bb cream in case I want to look more polished. If I’m going anywhere for a significant amount of time-say, a month- I plan to buy bulkier essentials like shampoo or toothpaste or contact solution (for James) once I’ve landed. 

Make room for reusables.

Traveling can be a moment when efforts at sustainability can go out the window, but no matter how lightly I’m trying to pack, I still make efforts to bring along with me a few essentials that make lightening my so-called footprint a little bit easier. We’ll each take a water bottle, we’ll tuck two tiny reusable bags into the side pockets of our bags to use at markets, and a cloth napkin into Faye’s “undies’ bag.” We’ll put a little snack in a reusable tin that we’ll have with us throughout the trip, etc. If we weren’t flying and not wanting to check bags, I’d pack our foldable knife/fork/spoon sets, too.

My sister’s best tips for packing light with kiddos right this way.

growing a minimalist wardrobe: summer weddings.

growing a minimalist wardrobe: summer weddings | reading my tea leaves


In case you needed a reminder about my general philosophy on dressing up: I wore flat oxfords to my wedding. My dress was mostly cotton. Married in my hometown on a neighbor’s farm, our wedding wasn’t a terribly formal affair but I was assuredly less dressed up than some of the guests. 


Dressing up is hard to do. I’ve already written a bunch about that here, but that was in a wintry time of year. And now that I’m looking at three different save-the-dates tacked to my refrigerator, I’ve got warm weather weddings on the brain.

We’re used to the cultural expectation that for every bride-to-be there is ONE PERFECT DRESS.* But for the minimalist dress shopper, this same kind of pressure can creep up when we’re mere guests. A wedding invitation might spark an existential crisis about why we have yet to find our perfect match, or if we’ve found it, or whether we’ve failed at minimalism because we’re not sure we can bear to wear the same little black dress to the fifth wedding in a row. Whether for brides or wedding guests, I’m not going to try to suggest that there’s ONE PERFECT DRESS out there. I realize this sounds like minimalist wardrobe heresy, but that’s a lot of pressure, perfection.

No, I’m not going to suggest that we all go forth and find the great unicorn of dresses that’s timeless and beautiful and guaranteed to stay in gorgeous, impeccable condition FOR ALL TIME. A great dress is a great thing to have. When we happen to find the perfect thing for us to wear for a particular moment-or ten particular moments-well, then hallelujah. But sometimes we will find something that’s very good for right now and maybe not so much for all time. And you don’t know really know whether a dress is for all time until you try it out. None of us can make a full-time job out of hunting for unicorns.

For my own summer wedding guest conundrums, I’m continuing on my personal quest to find a dress or two that feel like me. Tall order. But for me, dressing up often feels like playing dress up. Like I’m walking around in someone else’s clothes. Sometimes this feels great: like I’m playing the role of my sexy alter-ego and damn it if I don’t look amazing. But often it feels less great: like I’m wearing someone else’s clothes and they tug in the wrong places and possibly everyone can see my underwear? 

In case you’re on the hunt for something schmancy to wear, here are a few beautiful formal dresses that have caught my eye lately.  They’re all fancy-ish things that are also being made thoughtfully. To be sure: they’re things that fit my particular definition of pretty and wedding-appropriate. They might not fit yours. Feel free to chime in with suggestions below!

Elizabeth Suzann: The current collection at Elizabeth Suzann is filled with ethereal pieces that might just be the route to finding a formal dress to love. (You might recall it was an Elizabeth Suzann dress that I ended up wearing to my last sartorially stressful event.) Dresses like the Inez Midi in Hemp Twill tow the line between comfortable and dressy and I can see it looking gorgeous at an outdoor summer wedding. And in silk crepe for a fancier evening affair? (And for the betrothed, The White Collection is even better. Please! Someone get married in this skirt!)

Of A Kind: This Pinstripe Picnic Dress by Christine Alcalay for Of A Kind is begging someone to wear it to multiple summer weddings. I love that the cut looks elegant, but that the fabric looks relaxed. Get thee to a farm wedding. (PS. Like everything else at Of A Kind, this dress is made by an indie-designer and part of a limited-edition run made just for Of A Kind.)

Lisa Says Gah: I love poking around this online shop, partially because I too say gah, and partially because everything in stock has been carefully selected from designers who are mindful about ethical production. If you want to make sure no one has the same dress as you, I’d choose the Delfina Balda Flora Dress.

Hackwith Design House: The new Bridal Collection isn’t just for brides only; in addition to cream and white, most of the pieces in the collection come in black, a pale pink called blush, and a lovely green called sage. I love the Hallie Pant paired with the Emmy Top. Fancy-casual, I say.

Reformation: These guys have lots of fancy-dancy things for wearing to a wedding. For formal evening occasions, when the words black and tie get put together, I’d probably head here. I’ve got my eye on the Francesca Dress for the next time I need to dress like royalty.

And if none of these specifics works, here are two more ideas, stolen right out from under friends who are maybe smarter than I am:

+ Get a personal shopper. It sounds far-fetched. Or uber-fancy. Who do you think you are, anyway? But there’s a case to be made for some good old-fashioned in-the-fitting-room shopping. And working with a personal shopper can make the experience feel luxurious and…easy! Lots of major department stores offer the service, so ask around. To be sure: you’re letting go of a bit of control, but I know someone who did this recently and the results were ah-mazing. As someone who hated shopping, this friend felt particularly daunted by shopping for formalwear. But she was able to relay her budget, her general style, and a sense of what she wanted, and the on-staff personal shopper returned with a selection of ten dresses to choose from that fit the bill. My friend ended up leaving with everything that she needed for a complete outfit: dress, shoes, scarf, bag…earrings. I know. (And she’s worn the entire outfit to three different weddings so far.)

+ Rent, borrow, beg. Another friend recently used fancy-dress rental service, Rent the Runway to huge success. She was able to find a gorgeous designer dress to wear to a black-tie event. Sure: she had to pony up cash for something she had to return just a few days later, but it allowed her to wear a truly lovely dress and to feel like a queen for an evening for the same amount she might have spent on a less-nice dress that she wasn’t sure she’d have the opportunity to wear again.

(If renting isn’t in the cards, old-fashioned borrowing has served me more times than I can count. Whether it’s the dress itself, or the strapless bra you need to wear with it, or the perfect necklace for the neckline of the dress you just found, borrowing your friends’ best stuff is maybe the best and the very oldest trick in the book. I wish we all dipped into each other’s formal wardrobes more often. Return it clean and loan something of yours next time around and I say, deal done.)

*If you’re into this sort of thing, I read One Perfect Day a few years before I got married and I recommend it to anyone interested in taking a slightly less conventional approach to wedding planning. The chapter on the wedding dress industry convinced me to get my dress made by a local dressmaker

learning to watercolor with skillshare.

skillshare | reading my tea leaves

This post is sponsored by Skillshare, an online learning community for creative skills.

If you’d asked me six months ago whether I’d ever take a watercolor class online, I would have said no. Or at least I would have hesitated. That’d be like watching paint dry, I would have said. Welp. I’m glad you didn’t ask me, because I would have had to eat my words. I’ve been using Skillshare for the past few weeks and turns out, watching paint dry is super interesting.

I mentioned in my last newsletter that I’ve been hunting for a little watercolor set. I’ve liked the idea of using our trip to France as an opportunity to do a little something creative. I haven’t used watercolors since I was in elementary school, but I was planning to wing it; to get myself a few tubes of watercolors, and some brushes, and to maybe pick up a pad of watercolor paper once I arrived.

But when Skillshare reached out asking if I wanted to give their classes a try, I leapt at the chance to take a little bit of direction from someone else. And I’m so terribly pleased that I did. (Psst: They’re spreading the love by offering RMTL readers three months of Skillshare Premium for only $0.99 (redeem here;more details below!))skillshare | reading my tea leaves


For the unfamiliar, Skillshare is an online community for learning creative skills. For a monthly fee of $10, users have access to thousands of classes taught by experts in their fields. Topics covered range from design to business, to photography, tech, crafts, film, writing…phew. If you need help brewing the perfect cup of coffee, Skillshare has your back.skillshare | reading my tea leaves



For my part: I went hunting for watercolor classes. 

I think the part about Skillshare that I most appreciate is that I can dabble. It’s so freeing! I can pick and choose what’s useful from a whole bunch of different classes. Classes tend to be about an hour long, but they’re broken up into digestible shorter videos, which makes hopping around even easier. 


For instance, before I began, I watched the supplies lessons from a few different classes to get ideas about what tools I’d need to get started (and then spent a happy hour poking around East Village art supply stores looking for the goods). I wouldn’t have bought a waterbrush or the kind of paints that I ended up with if I hadn’t had the chance to hear from a bunch of different water colorists about their favorite supplies.


Once I had my materials gathered, I continued my dabbling.skillshare | reading my tea leaves



In a class called Modern Watercolor Techniques: Beginner’s Level, for instance, I especially loved the lesson on transparencies and creating different color values from the same single paint color. I watched that particular lesson a few times and recreated my own transparency chart in my notebook.skillshare | reading my tea leaves

The class Basic Watercolors: Learn Painting with Paper Fashion focuses on fashion watercolors, which isn’t precisely my thing, but I found the supplies lesson and the color mixing lesson to be super valuable and felt encouraged to spend some time just getting to know my colors and how they worked together.skillshare | reading my tea leaves

It was especially neat for me to see how different teachers approached the same concepts-like making a color chart. And I was able to feel confident to make own chart based on a few different suggestions. skillshare | reading my tea leaves

If you prefer sitting very much in your seat, and sticking to one class, you can do that, too. Lots of classes come with assignments and opportunities to upload student work so you can see how the whole class unfolds. skillshare | reading my tea leaves

Maybe best of all, as I gain confidence in my (extremely rudimentary) watercolor skills, it’ll be so nice to have this catalog of classes to return to. If I forget something, or need a refresher, I can replay just one section of a class that I especially loved. (Not to mention, access to the whole range of classes gives me the chance to learn other skills, like, say, improving my wine-tasting game.)

If watercoloring isn’t something you’re into, but you’re still looking for a travel-ready hobby, the class Travel Photography: Seeing, Shooting, and Editing might be the perfect primer. Or if you’re feeling generally itchy for a bit of on-the-go creativity, you could take a look at Travel the World: Reinvigorate Your Creativity On the Road.

Whatever the specific skills are that you’re looking to hone, if you’re interested in giving Skillshare a shot, they’re currently offering a 3-month subscription for just $0.99. Use the code RMTL to give it a try! Offer expires 11/17/2016

This post was sponsored by Skillshare. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that support Reading My Tea Leaves.

rhubarb lilac spritzer.

rhubarb and lilac spritzer | reading my tea leaves


I won’t forget the first time that I was in France as a young teenager and I witnessed kids my age pouring mint syrup into flat tap water at a sidewalk café. The result was green water the color of a gemstone. The taste like mouthwash minus the alcohol. The entire ritual was baffling to this American girl.


I’m still not the world’s biggest fan of syrups added to flat water, but when there’s a little sparkle-some bubbles for all of that flavor to bounce around in-I’m sold. Enter the spritzer.

The most delightful springtime spritzers have started to appear on menus across the city in the past few weeks and I couldn’t be more delighted. Pleased as punch. I’ve seen rosewater spritzers, rhubarb and rosewater spritzers. I’m already imagining strawberry and basil spritzers. Sour cherry spritzers? Yes, please. If you ask me, nothing makes a gathering-or an ordinary Saturday afternoon-festive like a the addition of a syrup or two to add to sparkly things.

Last week, I made a variation on the theme, but instead of rosewater, I used edible flowers that are in season: my beloved lilacs.rhubarb and lilac spritzer | reading my tea leaves

Lilac season is so fleeting, it makes me want to gobble the blossoms whole to avoid missing out. And so. I scoped a bunch of lilacs at the market on Saturday, double-checking with the farmer that the little beauties were safe for eating. Finding that they were, I hunted for the most fragrant bunch in the bucket and came home with an armload of purple blossoms and a few stalks of rhubarb.


rhubarb and lilac spritzer | reading my tea leaves


Rhubarb sliced into small pieces.

I followed the same basic recipe that I used to make my rhubarb syrup last May: about 1.5 cups of rhubarb (my stalks were significantly longer this go-round and I only used 4), a cup of water, and a cup sugar. This time I added a large handful of lilac blossoms to the mix and a few peels of lemon rind to keep things interesting.

The result is the same super vibrant syrup that turns into the perfect shade of light pink when it gets poured into water with ice. 


rhubarb and lilac spritzer | reading my tea leaves


Rhubarb and lilac flowers.

The lilac fragrance is subtle enough to be enjoyable-too much and I fear it would be called soapy. With a few lilac blossoms sprinkled onto the top as garnish, the heady floral scent gets you right where you want it, in the nose. And besides, who can resist a flowery flourish?

Rhubarb and Lilac Syrup

Here’s what you need:

1.5 cups rhubarb, washed and sliced


1 cup granulated cane sugar


1 cup water


1 large handful of lilac blossoms removed from the stem


2 small segments of lemon peel, taking care not to include too much pith.


Here’s what to do:

Combine sugar, water, rhubarb, lilac and lemon peel into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until the fruit has broken down completely and the color from the stalks has leached into the syrup. (This takes about twenty minutes. Depending on the color of your stalks the syrup will range from light pink to a deeper magenta.) Strain your mixture over a fine mesh sieve. I used cheesecloth this time, but it’s not strictly necessary. Whatever you don’t gulp straightaway, you can pour into a clean jar and keep refrigerated. It’ll last a very long time in the fridge, but not if I get to it first.rhubarb and lilac spritzer | reading my tea leaves

Very roughly measured ingredients.rhubarb and lilac spritzer | reading my tea leaves

Lilac blossoms removed from the stem and leaves.


rhubarb and lilac spritzer | reading my tea leaves


Rhubarb, lilacs, and granulated sugar.rhubarb and lilac spritzer | reading my tea leaves

Plus a few lemon rinds for good measure.


rhubarb and lilac spritzer | reading my tea leaves


Straining the rhubarb.


rhubarb and lilac spritzer | reading my tea leaves


Rhubarb and lilac syrup, strained.


rhubarb and lilac spritzer | reading my tea leaves


Rhubarb and Lilac Spritzer.



If not in sparkling water, the syrup would be just right in a summery gin cocktail or a cold glass of lemonade. It would be just right drizzled over vanilla ice cream. You wouldn’t be wrong to use it to drench a slice of pound cake or a bowl of strawberries.