Salt & Fog

The Art of Veronica Casson


6 things I'm loving this month

Adventures & Parenting, Book & Record, NightstandVeronica CassonComment

1.  The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

tidying cov

I am way behind everyone at being a Marie kondo convert. Mainly for the reason that I was waiting for my name to come up on the library hold list for The life-changing magic of tidying up. It came up being pretty good timing it being available right after Christmas and all.

I am about halfway through doing the recommended purge for all of the items in our home that do not “Spark Joy.”  There’s a surprising amount of them. Clothes was first and thank goodness for that. 

Here's a pic of our bedroom mid purge.


2.  Beigey Brown Lipstick

sephora lipstick

I always have one go to lipstick per season that I use pretty much everyday.  Last winter it was Moxie Rise up by Bare Minerals which has been almost impossible to find this year.

So, Instead I have opted for Sephora's Rogue lipstick in ingenious. It is a subtle, almost nude, color that adds just the right tint for day time. 

3.  Satchmo at the Waldorf


Julie surprised me with tickets to this new A.C.T show. John Douglas Thompson does a remarkable job of bringing Louis Armstrong and others to life in the one man show, depicting a backstage conversation with Armstrong relating the events of his life after one of his last performances.

You'll have to be in the Bay Area to se this one but some tickets are still available from the A.C.T. site if you are.

4. Salt & Fog January Mix 

jan mix

What we are listening to this month, on our January Mix, is a mix of  some great new stuff and a few things we missed in 2015 (and a few of our favorite songs ever thrown in for good measure).

And more Hamilton because who could get enough Hamilton? Not us!

5. Down Dog App


Like many people, I vowed to change my eating and exercising habits at the start of the new Year. I love Yoga, but finding the time, money and overcoming my shyness (I am a closet introvert) to attend a class has always been a big stumbling block.  The Down Dog App has completely upped my exercise game.

The routines are clear and easy to understand with enough variations that they don't get too repetitive. There are also very yummy yoga-ing soundtrack options to boot. And that's just the free content!

If you have been looking for a new way to Yoga check it out.


6. Her Story


The first season of Her Story is currently available for on the Her Story website. 

What is Her Story? It's a very well done creator made show "that looks inside the dating lives of trans & queer women as they navigate the intersections of desire & identity."

It is very clearly a work of love. Having seen and read a ton of stories dealing with transgender people I love that this one does not focus on the transition as much as transwomen living their lives and finding relationships.

Her story also get props for giving a voice to a prospective partner of a transperson. They need a voice too sometimes. 




Spooky Stories

NightstandVeronica CassonComment

Can you believe Halloween is in one day? I know, it’s crazy. To get you in the mood here is a quick list of some of our most favorite spooky books.

Ghosts in the House! 

by Kazuno Kohara


For this once I am going to start with the picture book, as this one needs a little more love. And look how cute it   is this?  


They are all done in two color linocut illustrations. 


To me the little witch girl and kitty are reminisncent of Kiki and Gigi. And that is always a good thing.

purchase Ghosts in the House!

Let the Right One in

by John Ajvide Lindqvist


You have probably seen the excellent Swedish  movie (if not add it to your Halloween viewing you owe it to yourself). The book it is based on is just as excellent and different enough to keep you surprised.

Buy Let the Right One In

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

By Neil Gaiman


This is my favorite Gaiman since the Sandman series. Ocean at the End of the Lane is a creepy twisted fairy tale that does a wonderful job of bringing to life childhood fears and anxieties personified as monsters.

Buy The Ocean at the End of the Lane


The Little Stranger

By SarahWater 


Since falling hard for her first book Tipping the Velvet, I have read everything Waters has done. I will continue to do so. This, her most divisive book (possibly because of pace, possibly because a lack of a Lesbian relationship) , is a meticulously plotted haunted house story which takes a very long time to build. The atmosphere throughout is so rich I was happy to spend my time in it.

Buy The Little Stranger.

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte


The original Gothic Romance.

It's Jane Eyre - so, you know.


Buy Jane Eyre


Scary Stories

By Alvin Schwartz

scary stoeis


I have such fond memories of these. Just seeing the illustrations recalls evenings of scaring myself silly by reading these over and over again and not being able to put them down. They totally hold up as an adult too! Maybe it is nostalgia, sure but they are very solid books. If you can, find the older ones that have not been toned down.


Buy Scary Stories.

The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft

by Mike MignolaGary GianniTony MillionaireJill Thompso, & Scott Morse


Dark Horse comics gathers  an impressive collection of talent for their "Book of" series (others include Book of Monsters, Book of Hauntings & Book of the Dead). They are all great. Let's say this one is my favorite - though I cannot really decide between them.

Some pages from various artists within:


The Secret Place

By Tana French



The most recent volume in Tana French's creepy and addicitve Dublin Murder Squad series. This one centers on a posh girls boarding school where a note "I know who killed him" was posted on the communal bulletin board, know as The Secret Place. 

If you have not ready any of French's book. You can start here, but why not start on the first In the Woods.

Buy The Secret Place.

The Spooky Old Tree

By Stan and Jan Berenstain  


Arguably the best Berenstain Bear book. It;s Luke's favorite Halloween Book (and maybe Julie's too).

Do you dare go into the Spooky Old Tree? Of course you do!


Amphigorey Also

By Edward Gorey


You just cannot have a list of creepy books without having an Edward Gorey book. It just wouldn't be proper. 

The one on our shelf is Amphigorey Also, but go ahead and take your pick. They are all the awesomeness.


Buy Edward Gorey books.

Happy Halloween everyone!!! Be safe and have a blast!



Go Set a Watchman

NightstandVeronica CassonComment
“Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends.” 
― Harper LeeGo Set a Watchman

The Book

On the nightstand this week is the much lamented new title by America's (previously?) favorite author, Harper Lee. When Go Set A Watchmen was announced I immediately put a copy on hold at my local book store. I knew whatever the book was going to be, there was no way a forgotten unpublished manuscript was going to stand up next To Kill A Mockingbird. It just wasn't. I really wanted to read it before the bad press came in to get a completely ubiased view of the book. Which was impossible. The bad press was out before I even had my copy in hand. Oh, well.

Being a bibliophile I had to read and mention this book on Salt & Fog. It has been touted as the publishing event of the year after all. In theme with this Oceanside blog I am going to talk about what I liked about the book.

“the time your friends need you is when they’re wrong, Jean Louise. They don’t need you when they’re right—” 
― Harper LeeGo Set a Watchman

What I liked

What really worked to my advantage in being able to enjoy the book was having had learned that Go Set A Watchman was the first draft of To Kill A Mockingbird. According to this Vanity Fair article, Harper Lee's publisher/editor liked the flashback scenes in the original story which depicted the protagonist as a child and asked her to rewrite the book with that as the focus focus.
So, in essence Go Set a Watchman is merely the first draft of a much better book. Going in to the novel I  viewed it as a writing exercise. How did this, became that? It is pretty interesting.

Additionally, I really enjoyed the first third of the book. It follows grown up Jean Louise "Scout" Finch leaving New York City to visit her childhood home of Maycomb, Alabama. Being a city girl myself who was brought up in the suburbs, but still visits them every few years, made this part of the story feel very familiar and fun. Lee nailed the mixed sense of charm, nostalgia, and backwardness I feel whenever I visit my family.

Not surprisingly, all of the flashbacks, which are the basis for Mockingbird, were spot on and great. It was sure nice to have some more fun with Jem, Dill and Scout as they darted around the backyards of Maycomb county.

Those are the bits that stood out to me. I do agree with others in that when the major conflicts enter the story, involving racial prejudices, Go Set a Watchmen begins get muddled and loses focus.

“A man can condemn his enemies, but it’s wiser to know them.” 
― Harper LeeGo Set a Watchman

Who I would recommend this to

As I said previously, Go Set a Watchman is best viewed as an interest piece on writing. On its own it does not stand up to To Kill A Mockingbird. So unless you are fascinated with the art of writing you might want to skip it.



Summer Vacation, Whimsical Homes & Zombies

NightstandVeronica CassonComment

Each month I pick three to four books— usually one novel, one picture book, and one non-fiction or graphic novel — and highlight some of the things I liked about them. Keeping with the theme of Salt & Fog , I will most likely not review something I did not like. 

On the nightstand this month:

The Girl with All the Gifts 


By M.R. Carey
Science Fiction

Can I be both a sucker for anything post-apocalyptic and tired of it all? The great ones hit that perfect mark of horror, survival, human relationships and adventure.The bad ones are rehashed scary movie tropes with new characters less alive than the zombies they are running from.


There are so many books in the post-civilized genre these day that even the most avid fan is starting to get burn out. I am for sure. Still, a few each year cut through the crowd of mindless infected unlike the others. One example is last year’s very excellent Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Another is currently on my nightstand, The Girl with all the Gifts.


Almost anything I say will be a spoiler as the story starts mid-action. I hate spoilers myself so will not go down that path even when tempted. I will say that in between the terror, gore and running for their lives the characters have a huge beating tender heart and such stunning empathy. Even if the heart itself is cold and devoid of blood.


From the first page:

Melanie was new herself, once, but that’s hard to remember because it was a long time ago. It was before there were any words; there were just things without names, and things without names don’t stay in your mind. They fall out and then they’re gone.

This was a book club pick. Some members lamented that the second half felt too comic book or action movie. I was okay with that, but you have been warned.

Purchase The Girl With All the Gifts

This One Summer


Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
Graphic Novel

Oh gosh, this graphic novel was so great. I found it on the recommend shelf at Folio books in Noe Valley.  After flipping through the first few pages Julie and I both had to have it. I let her read first, because I am a nice wife (and was not quite done with The Girl with all the Gifts yet).


This One Summer flat out captures that pre-teen summer vacation feeling perfectly. You want to be an adult, and to be taken seriously, but grown ups are messed up and can be scary as hell. So you kind of fake it and hope your old friends won’t call your bluff. Or maybe you have outgrown the summer camp friends you only see once a year and who never seem to change even when your whole world has shifted in the intervening months. Why can’t they just get with it already and stop being such babies? Or maybe it’s you who is being the jerk? Feelings are hard.


Some page from This One Summer:


The time in-between milestones can be as momentous as those we photograph and hang on the walls and This one Summer gives those days their due.

Purchase This One Summer at Powell's Books.



by Carson Ellis
Illustrated Storybook

Carson Ellis is one of my favorite illustrators. She manages to capture so much in such a sparse drawing style that her watercolors seem like jewels of cut paper.

I first became aware of her work as the artist for The Mysterious Benedict Society YA series and her paintings for the album covers of her husband’s band the The Decemberists (though it took me a ridiculously long time to make that connection). 

She has rightfully won awards for illustrating Dillweed’s Revenge by Florence Parry Heide and The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket but this is her first solo outing.

The sign of any great storybook is when the parent is as excited to read it as the kid is. This is one of those books. Take a look at some of these pages and you will get why all three of us look forward to sitting down with this:

home_ 2

Now for complete fangirling; Carson and her husband Colin live on this adorable farm in Portland (as per her instagram feed), and are actively making amazing art all the time.  She and Colin are probably my favorite “celebrity” couple.

Purchase Home here.

Book Shopping: my tips and tricks

Book & Record, NightstandVeronica Casson2 Comments

I adore book stores. I find them soothing the way others do a spa day or yoga retreat. The general quiet and soft murmur of other customers. The warm lighting. The shelves of experiences past and yet to come.

I do my best to support any bookseller, particularly independent ones, but I do not have a large expendable budget. Its crazy challenging.  To ease my discomfort of being overwhelmed, by finding too many items I would love to purchase with little chance of getting them all, I use this method.

Step one:

I take a quick snapshot of any title that interests me.

Step two:

When I am ready to leave (usually at the urging of whomever I am shopping with) I do a quick scroll through the photos I took and see if there is any title I cannot live without and purchase that one. 

Bonus step:

Once home I review my photos and after a little bit of research or internal searching I post the ones I want on my wish list (I currently use Evernote, but have also used Good Reads, Amazon wish lists and pinterest boards.)

Here’s what I snapped during this last trip and why. 

Bring Up The Bodies, By Hilary Mantel


Mantel has written a lot of excellent books, including one of my all time favorite novels Fludd.

She has become most well known for her Cromwell Series of books, a fictional account of Thomas Cromwell's rise to power in the court of Henry VIII. This book, Bringing up the Bodies, is the second in the trilogy and Wolf Hall is the first.


As a long time fan of Mantel’s work I have been meaning to read her most popular novels and have just not gotten around to it. After finding this one on sale I thought it might be the time.


Annihilation, By Jeff Vandermeer


The first in the Southern Reach Trilogy. It is a Sci-fi thriller about four scientists who visit a remote area of civilization called 'Area X' that has a reputation for inflicting mayhem on anyone who visits.


You know who likes Annihilation and the rest of The Southern Reach trilogy? Friken’ everybody.

Another book series that I have heard a ton of buzz about. It was on the shelf with the other two parts of the series looking all tempting with its pretty graphic covers. 


RAT QUEENS , Volume one: Sass and Sorcery.
Story by Kurtis J. Wiebe and art by Roc Upchurch


The first volume of a fantasy comic series about four foul-mouth adventures.


There was a sign on the shelf marking it as the 2015 GLAAD Media Award winner which made me pick it up and take a peak. The art was pretty and after reading the first few pages it looks like it might be a lot of fun.



M. O. Walsh’s debut novel got a lot of attention after it’s release. Set in Baton Rouge it involves a horrible crime perpetuated on 15-year old girl who is a favorite of the neighborhood.


Another one I found in the bargain bin and considered grabbing. I have heard very good thing about Walsh’s prose but have kept my distance knowing there will be violence done to a minor. Any story that involves kid violence has been really hard for me to sit through since having our son. It’s also the reason what I have not watched the supposedly amazing first season of True Detective.




 Ron Lieber, The New York Times “Your Money” columnist's book about how to raise money conscious kids.


Who doesn’t want “Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money, “ as the cover promises? I sure do. I am taking strides to be grounded, generous and smart about money as a grown up. Perhaps reading this could help me pass on better money habits to Luke. I do think this is intended for older kids though.



WOMEN - by Chloe Caldwell


novella that explores an affair and the aftermath between two women who have a nineteen year age difference. 


I am a sucker for this little card displayed on bookstore shelves. The ones that say “Staff Picks” or “reader favorites” and ha s a little review or quote on them. This one said, “…..” and it got me to pick up the book and read the first page.

Here’s what I read and liked:

Sometimes I wonder what it is I could tell you about her for my job here to be done. I am looking for a short­cut—something I could say that would effortlessly un­tangle the ball of yarn I am trying to untangle here on these pages. But that would be asking too much from you. It wasn’t you who loved her, or thought you loved her. I wonder what I could write that would help you to understand that it is profoundly easy to fall in love with an olive-skinned woman that touches you just so, and who has a tattoo of a quote from Orlando trail­ing down her back. Show me your tattoo again, I’d say in bed. She’d pull up the bottom of her shirt, and I’d trace my fingers over the cursive words by Virgin­ia Woolf that read: Love, the poet said, is a woman’s whole existence.


This was the one I finally purchased. I decided I would easily come across the others again but there was a chance I might not encounter Women if I did not pick it up then. Which would be a shame as I really was drawn to the first page and loved the store review.