Gran Fran loves paper whites, also known as narcissus. They're bulbs that bloom into beautiful white flowers.
When I was in college, I worked in every retail store imaginable, one of which was located in SoHo in Manhattan. We sold all sorts of beautiful housewares, furniture and bath items. Around the corner there was another shop that was very rustic, but kind of modern. I would walk over on my lunch break and dreamily go through every inch of the store.
They sold paper white bulbs along with some lovely smooth black rocks packaged in a brown paper bag with raffia tied around it. Every time I see these, it reminds me of Gran Fran. I found the above specimens at The Gardner in San Francisco this past weekend.
I think I'll bring her some this Thanksgiving.
After I posted this, my friend Jeff gave me the following advice (he's a garden guru, so trust him):
"OMG it is so easy to grow them. glass bowl, fill with rocks. nestle bulbs in rocks. add more rocks so rocks come up to shoulders of bulbs. bulbs shouldn't be touching. add water so water level is about half way up bulbs. every day check water to keep level between base of bulb and half way up bulb. don't add so much water that the whole bulb is submerged, they'll rot. put in room that gets lot of INDIRECT light. watch them grow!"