October 6, 2010 at 1:09 am 38 comments

cerealbowl My cereal bowl. The only piece of dinnerware I own.

I’m in love with life right now. It’s unabashed. It’s warm and fuzzy. It’s happier than I thought I could be.

I’m updating the blog with this mini-post to announce that homesickness has officially hit, even though I thought I was immune. Some of the credit goes to the Seattle Times, which published an article of mine in the Pacific NW Magazine this week. But most of it goes to a care package. Monday afternoon a box arrived in the mailroom with BERNSTEIN scrawled on the side. I carried it down the stairs, through the drizzly street, up the elevator – all the way to the common room, where I split it open with scissors. A few curious floormates between classes looked up.

It was filled with solid gold, or maybe solid sunshine. A bar of Theo chocolate. A smooth cylinder of orange vanilla green tea. Salts, salts, salts! (Gourmet salts!) A coin purse shaped like a cookie, a breathtakingly beautiful teacup, and a 108-piece, double-sized macaroni and cheese puzzle (which, yes, I finished in one night.) A finger puppet. Cookbooks, some adorable CakeSpy products, gourmet nuts and popcorn, stationary printed with pots and pans.

But best of all? A card. It has a photo of Pike Place Market on the front, and inside, signatures from Seattle foodies. Thorough honesty – standing there in the common room, surrounded by people, I managed not to cry, but barely.

blogview Window view

It wasn’t just Seattle, even though that was a big part of it. The chocolate bar, the tea, the CakeSpy cupcake comic, all of it is so Seattle in a way that Boston can never be. I miss Pike Place Market, Molly Moon’s ice cream and Top Pot Doughnuts with serious heartache. I miss mountains. I miss the water. I miss recycling. I miss my neighborhood, the evergreens blackening as the sun drops low. All of this, all of Seattle, managed to fit into that cardboard box.

But it was more than that. With Seattle came everything else, inseparably woven with family and my old life. As I flipped through cookbooks for the first time in a month, it truly hit me how much I missed the ability to get up and bake, whenever. And as I held that letter, I was overwhelmed with humility and appreciation and unfiltered love. There are people who care about me in Seattle. And for a few seconds, I forgot that I wasn’t there, and understood the significance of what I’d left behind.

I’m okay now. I unpacked the box, passed around the salts to be sniffed, broke off a piece of chocolate and felt better. I called Jenny of Purple House Dirt, who organized the mass care package. I left her a scattered, distracted voicemail about how happy I felt, sniffling all the while.

And right now, I’m filled with joy and gratitude.

chocolates The package included Gray Salt Caramels from Seattle-based Fran’s Chocolates

I know I do this all too often, but I’m compelled to thank each one of you for your support, kind words, and readership. And tonight, an extra special thank you for these incredible people: Jackie Baisa, Felice Lam, Keren Brown, Linda M Nicholson, Lorna Yee, Frank Guanco, Shirley K, Melissa Peterman, Valentina Vitols, Alice Currah, Kelly Cline, Myra Kohn, Andrea Duchon, Jeanne Sauvage, Jessie Oleson, Jenny Miller, and Janna Wemmer/Secret Stash Salts. Some of you have never even met me in person, and yet, you went out of your way to make my week beautiful.

One final heartfelt thank you to Jenny Richards. I just don’t have any more words to express how much this package meant to me.

[The no-recipe, all-Boston post is in the works. Just getting enough photos to put it together!]

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

Oat, Pear, and Raspberry Loaf Smoked Grape and Rosemary Focaccia

38 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Joe @ Eden Kitchen  |  October 6, 2010 at 4:16 am

    I tried Top Pot Doughnuts when I was in Seattle a couple years back and fell in love – I know why you miss them! Nice article in Pacific NW by the way!

  • 2. Yumi  |  October 6, 2010 at 6:00 am

    I feel your pain! I was lucky enough to get a dormitory with a kitchen, but the kitchen was ovenless, and all year every time I walked past a cupcake shop I would get sad. Hold on there, you’ll have oven access again soon.

  • 3. Jeannie  |  October 6, 2010 at 6:00 am

    Care packages… I love getting those, but it never comes without some homesickness. You are very blessed to have so many good friends.. and the food blogger community provides plenty of those! Wonderful post, Elissa.

  • 4. Maddie  |  October 6, 2010 at 8:51 am

    This is so sweet — I’m glad you got a little dose of home in care package form. Homesickness hurts, but you’re lucky to have so many happy memories (and generous friends) there to miss. :)

  • 5. debbie  |  October 6, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Beautiful, just beautiful, Elissa. I feel compelled to point out that the very fact that your fellow Seattle food bloggers even thought to send you such a wonderful package speaks volumes about *you.* It’s a huge (and well-deserved) compliment. Well done, all around.

  • 6. clairedille  |  October 6, 2010 at 11:37 am

    It is so wonderful to hear you got a care package from fellow seattle foodies! I can’t believe I have yet to go there but I know I’d love it. I’m sorry you are homesick, I definitely remember that phase of the beginning of being away too. Boston is a great city and if you go to the lovely little college around the common that I think you do, you will have a great experience!

  • 7. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking  |  October 6, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I feel your pain, Elissa. Or rather, I felt it was I was 17 and away at college in Boston, too. The homesickness will subside soon, don’t you worry, but it will show up again unexpectedly sometimes. Care packages are a sweet reminder of home in the meantime, though.

  • 8. Jenny  |  October 6, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Amazing how Seattle, or wherever home is, gets into your DNA. I missed all the same things when I moved away, and I found myself moving back to Seattle 3 times. But third time’s a charm. This really is home now. Just took me time to figure that out.

  • 9. Carol  |  October 6, 2010 at 11:49 am

    What a great article! And I just love those Fran’s chocolates too!

  • 10. Darilyn  |  October 6, 2010 at 11:53 am

    I’m so glad you are feeling the love from home. It’s hard to be so far away from those you care about. I’m glad you are in a new environment that has been so welcoming though.

  • 11. Tamanna  |  October 6, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    awwww that put almost tears in my eyes. i know exactly how you’re feeling, went through it while away from home and in college once upon a time. congrats on your article published, and love that cereal bown. quite an unique one!

  • 12. Marta  |  October 6, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Elissa, this will not do, I’m trying to prepare my babies’ dinner and I just can’t take my eyes off your beautiful article… :)

  • 13. summersher  |  October 6, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Last year, I went through the same thing. Stuck in the dorms, no kitchen. I spent a lot of time on tastespotting, and started a long list of things that I wanted to make. When I went home, I would take my list and make as big of a dent in it as I could. Keep yourself busy and a few months from now you’ll be wondering where time has gone! And next fall, when your heading back to school, it will feel like home, too.

  • 14. Devon  |  October 6, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Being from Oregon and living in the East Coast for 4 years, it was hard to understand the lack of recycling. They do try, but there is so much more that can be done. At least they have the bottle bill in Boston – Providence, Columbus, Ohio are so behind. Enjoy the humidity, because the snow/wind in Boston gets down right frigid. :-D

  • 15. bethradd  |  October 6, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    i have been reading your blog for just a very short time now. i love your recipes and your insight into life. but this post…this post took the cake for me. why? because i am soon to move to Seattle from Spokane, WA. i have been fearful of moving, due to the insane jump in the cost of living, the larger city (i’ve lived in Spokane my whole life), just the down right scariness of a new place after being in one for so long. but your post, THIS post, has soothed my fears completely. as a certifiably insane foodie, i knew Seattle would would appease my lust for the new and exciting, smells, tastes…many more options at my finger tips. but your post truly convinced me that Seattle IS the place for me. no fear now! thank you so much for this post and I am glad that there are those that love you enough to understand that sometimes, just a little taste of home is enough to brighten one’s day!

  • 16. sassy molassy  |  October 6, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Such a touching post. Leaving home and being on the other side of the country would not be easy. I stayed close to home and still missed my family now and then. And those Fran’s sea salt caramels…oh my. I just tried them for the first time a few weeks ago and my heart leaped. They are perfect.

  • 17. Sue  |  October 6, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    That sounds like the best care package ever! I remember homesickness so vividly though it was decades ago! It too shall pass, especially as your new surroundings become more and more familiar. Even so, sometimes, when I miss a certain person or place that same “homesick ” feeling hits again. From experience, I know that your parents are “homesick” for you too.

  • 18. Sarah  |  October 7, 2010 at 3:56 am

    LOVE your article about the kitchen trunk, you really are a fantastic writer, I’m sure we will be seeing your name in print for many many years to come!
    Glad you got a box of goodies to brighten your week too, hope the college experience is going well!

  • 19. Warm Vanilla Sugar  |  October 7, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Your writing is getting better all the time! A box of goodies is such a nice surprise. Lucky girl!

  • 20. Dana - Food for Thought  |  October 7, 2010 at 9:10 am

    The great thing about being homesick at college, is that you know that you will be going home soon, no matter what time of year it is! Will you be going back to Seattle for Thanksgiving? That’s not too far away!

  • 21. Amy  |  October 7, 2010 at 11:49 am

    You know about L.A.Burdick Chocolate in Cambridge, right? AWESOME.

  • 22. Vélez Delights  |  October 7, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Great post! Very heart-felt, and it was touching to see how much you appreciate everything :) Hope you’re enjoying the Fall weather up there. Take care!

  • 23. Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)  |  October 7, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    I definitely know what that feels like! I often felt that way at college sometimes, but you’ll get through it. When you stop thinking about it, the time starts to fly by.

    Care packages were my favorite ;)

  • 24. Jacqui  |  October 7, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    i’ve heard about your blog before, and have stopped by a few times in the past, but it was that article that really got me here and reading. you are such a talented writer, elissa, and reading your blog is incredibly inspiring. keep it up! :)

  • 25. Reyanna  |  October 7, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    One out of five of your posts always make me cry.
    You have such a way with words, and everything you write is heartfelt.

  • 26. Bonnie@WhatAboutPie  |  October 7, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    that was such a sweet care package. how wonderful for you to recieve such a thoughtful thing just at a time when you needed it most!

  • 27. linda  |  October 7, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    it is so wonderful to know how many people care about you & respect you…how sweet!

    & your trunk transformation…how special…

    i am a bit nostalgic as my college roommate of 40 years ago…yes 40 years & her husband & grown son just left from a visit…

  • 28. Geni - Sweet and Crumby  |  October 8, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    What an amazing group of foodie friends you have to send you such a package with lovely things from Seattle. Your writing is so touching and real. Thanks for each post.

  • 29. Sarah  |  October 9, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    This is amazing. I loved your article–it reminded me so much of my experience packing up my baking tools for school (My father trying to convince me I didn’t really need three different sizes of muffin tins, my mom assuring me that there will be Indian food in Washington, so I didn’t need to bring the whole spice cabinet). And your post brought me very near to tears. It reminded me how much I miss my home–the subway system, the smell of rain on Brooklyn sidewalks, bagels that actually deserve the name. I’m inspired by your ability to evoke such strong emotions in me and in every one of your readers. And I’m amazed by how successful you are in the things that you love. Reading your blog simultaneously makes me happier than I can say and gives me a massive inferiority complex. I can only hope that one day I will be as good a journalist and baker, as you are right now.

  • 30. Madison  |  October 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    That was so touching. I’m glad you got to have a little piece of home.

  • 31. Valentina Vitols  |  October 11, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    You deserve all the love you can be sent from Seattle. Glad you got a little piece of home <3


  • 32. Darina  |  October 17, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    I went to school close to home, so I never got any of those care packages, but I’m sure it must be a great feeling to get one. I would have especially loved those salted chocolates. Being from Vancouver, I could sure relate to missing the Pacific Northwest when gone for any extended period of time. It’s a great place to be.


  • 33. Paige  |  October 17, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Stick with it! Seattle is a great place, not an easy one to leave, but you will always have it to come back to. Moving far aways is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I wish you luck, and know you will find new favorite places and fabulous snacks in Boston.

  • 34. TESOL Certification  |  November 2, 2010 at 12:19 am

    Hope you can cope up fast with your emotions. College years runs fast. Keep you inspiration up through baking and cooking. You”re definitely good at it!

    Good luck on your studies!

  • 35. theplatypusproject  |  November 3, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    You’re a Seattle-ite transplanted to Boston…and I am a Bostonian (through and through) who is in LOVE with Seattle. I’ve spent many many “vacations” there, visiting my brother and taking in every nook and cranny of the city in a way one never can with Boston.
    However…Boston is beautiful…it’s big and there’s a lot to find. I wish you the best!

  • 36. Hilary  |  December 22, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Oh my goodness! i LOVE molly moons icecream!!!! right now they have a candy cane flavor it is soooo good and incredibly addicting!

  • 37. Lexie  |  May 12, 2011 at 12:36 am

    As I prepare to go off to college, I know that care packages will be something more than a box in the mail, but a taste of home, a scent of all of the things that I will have left behind. In a few short months as I leave home, I know I will rely on things like this to overbear the emotions of leaving my family, my home, and my comfort all at home. So wonderful how things like this can bring you back to certain places, without even being there. Much thanks to those who are able to give you this comfort without even knowing you!

  • 38. Leia S.  |  July 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I know I’m reading this about 9 months late, but this post totally hits home. I’m also a college student in Boston originally from Seattle and all those things you mentioned make being away from home that much harder.


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Elissa Bernstein

I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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