Setting up Shopify

Tentative heads-up for next flash sale. Not exactly a flash sale? This week, Stephanie is setting up Shopify for me, so it should make it much easier to order books, etc. from me directly going forward. (And let me just say, it astonishes me that she manages to get any work done at all with two small kids at home in the midst of all this.)

But we’re hoping to have it up soon, and then will be taking orders for Mother’s Day — order by Sunday May 3 to ensure shipping out by Tuesday May 5, in time for delivery (within the U.S.) before Mother’s Day. If you comment here, I’ll be sure to tag you in when the store is ready.

Books (cookbook, romance, sci-fi), pretty botanical soaps and bath salts, sweet treats, postcards, woot! Down the line, also more paper goods (cards, bookmarks), and who knows what else. I love the idea of having a Serendib line of…stuff. 

However, having too many options makes it very complicated and confusing for me, and sometimes I make mistakes. For example, this month I very sadly included a complimentary (but accidental) scented bath scrub in a food-only package recently, which ended up going to someone with scent sensitivities, AND the darn thing leaked (I won’t be using those tins again!), ruining her entire package. I’ve apologized and will be either refunding or giving her a free package in the next batch (her choice), but I feel so bad for the disappointment. I don’t want to risk doing that again!

The tentative plan is to do four basic packages:

– medium food treats only
– medium food & bath treats
– large food treats only
– large food & bath treats

With add-on options:

– curry powder
– books (Perennial, The Stars Change, Feast) (signed and/or personalized, of course, if desired)
– fabric mask (possibly)
– Feast postcards

I’m hoping that isn’t too complicated for me. (The Shopify platform will, I think, make it easier, since we can print off organized lists.) Executive function is not at its best right now — I’ll be so happy when Stephanie can come back to my house to help me make sure that the right things go in the right packages. But maybe I can talk Kavi into helping me with it this time around. She’s a smart cookie.

This morning’s batch of soaps are rose and passionfruit, 2/3 shea butter and 1/3 pure glycerin. Limited supplies of all these goodies, as I’m still hoping to spend at least half of my days writing & teaching. 

Kavi and Anand Make Bomatoast

Kavi decided she wanted to teach Anand how to make bombatoast for breakfast this morning. Fine with me!

One of the unexpectedly lovely side effects of all this terribleness is that the kids have grown closer again. Kavi had started disappearing into approaching teenhood, always off with her friends, and I think Anand was a little lonely. They still spend lots of time on their own, but also more time hanging out together again. It’s really nice — a tiny bit of sunshine in the midst of all the dark clouds.

Sugar Cookies for the ICU Staff

I haven’t made sugar cookies in quite a while, and oh, when you don’t do things for a bit, you forget all the little technique tricks — or maybe that’s just me. I got pretty frustrated trying to ice these cookies — first the icing was too thick and wouldn’t come out cleanly, then I added too much hot water and made it too thin, which made a big mess. Sigh.

Finally I got it just right, and it was so easy after that, though it means my end results are very far from professional in neatness. I should’ve taken a few minutes to get the consistency right before trying to ice! But in the end, happy enough with how they came out, and hopefully the ICU staff will appreciate them.

At least this way, it’s clear they’re homemade, right? 

Thanks, healthcare workers. I wish I could feed you all cookies.

Sugar cookie recipe from Sweetopia (and yes, use the real vanilla bean, it makes a difference), royal icing recipe from Alton Brown.

Getting Silly with Leftovers

Ruby and white chocolate blended, with passionfruit marshmallow bits. I made passionfruit marshmallows to send out to some ICU staff, and that involves cutting off the edges (to leave neat squares), and I can’t stand wasting food, so I end up doing silly things like this with the leftover bits.

Sketching in the Afternoon

Spent a little time sketching this afternoon. Originally, I was trying to do a sketch that I could use for the next watercolor lesson, but I’d forgotten that it was supposed to be monochrome, and both of these, I’d want to do in color. So they’ll wait to be filled in. I’m a little worried that if I try to fill in with watercolor, I’ll just get a big muddy blur — maybe I need a really fine brush, or watercolor pencils…

But I like the concept — I took the sketch Kavi did for me for Serendib Kitchen, and I cleaned it up a little, and am happy with the result. Also did a similar sketch for Serendib Garden. I like the idea of having it center on a gate or door or window, but always with another window or such in the image too. I’m a little obsessed with doors and windows and gates.  (The sketches are so faint because most of the pencil lines should disappear under the watercolor paint.)

Now, what I’d like to do is figure out how to take this image and get a clean version on the computer, and then how to use a program to clean it up more, suitable for turning into bookplates or website logos or chocolate wrappers or fabric at Spoonflower, etc. Advice welcome! I’m feeling a little lost…


Sigh. I have to admit, I’ve mostly hit pause on all of the book launch activities around the cookbook, even the digital ones, because it feels so weird to be trying to sell something during a pandemic. I have this list of places to send press inquiries, for example. I think I probably should just go ahead and start working on all that again — it’s better if the world doesn’t just stop for several months. But it feels strange.

I just checked, and with 13 reviews on Amazon, Feast is still at 5-stars. Y’all, that is just the sweetest. I am verklempt.

I also think it’s interesting how many of the reviews (there and on GoodReads) talk about the book being inviting and welcoming to beginning cooks, people from outside the culture, etc. I don’t know that I set out to do that, specifically? But I think I had my kids in mind when I was writing the book, and so I tried to write everything as clearly as I could…and, of course, 25 years as a teacher has to come out somehow, I guess….


“The Guild sought to disavow the idea that because people were locked in their homes, more were buying books. ‘While social distancing and shelter-in-place orders have resulted in more people reading than usual, it is a mistake to assume that means more book sales for most of today’s working authors,’ said Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Guild. ‘The closure of bookstores, libraries and other venues has made it very difficult for writers to connect with book audiences and promote book sales. This is particularly problematic for those authors who recently released a book or have books scheduled for release this spring.’ Nearly half the members surveyed said they had recently published a book or were planning on publishing a book in the near term, and among those, 74% said they anticipated lower sales.”

Authors Guild Finds Writers Are Losing Significant Income

A survey by the Authors Guild of its members earlier this month found a majority of authors had already lost significant income due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The Guild received 940 responses to its survey and asked if income from any source declined in recent weeks due to the crisis, 54% responded “yes,” compared to 45% who responded “no.”

Oddly Tired

I am oddly tired today, dear readers, and so I am not actually writing up a recipe for traditional Sri Lankan New Year’s food: milk rice and lunamiris sambol, plus a nice salmon curry. Maybe I’ll come back tomorrow and post recipes, though if you google, you’ll find many that are basically identical — they are very simple, very traditional recipes.

I barely managed to cook this — only because Kevin was willing to chop onions and wash rice for me; it felt like too much to manage otherwise. (The salmon curry I already had on hand, thankfully.) It’s supposed to be lucky, and I feel like we’re in need of all the luck we can get.

I wish you a happy and healthy New Year, with plenty of rich and well-spiced food.

Doing My Part for USPS

Doing my part for USPS, shipping a dozen more copies of Feast out into the world; it makes me so happy thinking of people cooking from my cookbook, especially today, on Sri Lankan New Year. Happy New Year, folks. I’ll make some kiri bath and lunumiris sambol later. It feels strange not throwing a big party for the New Year, the way we usually do, a feast for all of our local friends, but at least there’s some Sri Lankan curry powder heading out in the world; that’s something.

I actually really love USPS’s priority mail flat rate boxes that they’ll pick up, postage-paid from preprinted labels, from my door. It makes running a micro-business much more feasible than it would be otherwise — we’re saving so much time this way, over running to the post office, and the flat rate boxes make it much more convenient to calculate postage for orders. Just great all around.

Reliable and affordable mail delivery is essential to a functioning civil society.