5.30.2008

Tift Merritt

I've posted about Tift Merritt before. She's great. Give her a listen and have a happy Friday!


5.29.2008

Slow Down Now


This site cracks me up. It is very sarcastic, but there's probably a lesson in there somewhere. If not, at least you'll laugh a little. Here are a few of the tips included in the beginner's guide to slowing down:


1. Have a cup of tea, put your feet up and stare out of the window. Warning: don’t try this while driving.

2. Spend some quality time in the bathtub.

3. Write down these words and place them where you can see them, “Multi-tasking is a Moral Weakness.”

4. Try to do only one thing at a time.

5. Do not be pushed into answering a question right away. Take your time.

6. Yawn often. Medical studies have shown lots of things and possibly that yawning may be good for you.

7. Take a nap and spend at least an hour extra in bed. You deserve it. If you need help getting out of bed, then read this. If you think you have a hard time getting to sleep then read this .
Note: If you just can't shake of an attack of seriousness, then amble slowly over to the slow blog http://www.blog.slowdownnow.org/

5.28.2008

Holidays, Slides, and Naps

Memorial Day's Three Beautiful Things:

1. Waking up on a Monday morning, not having to go to work.

2. We walked to the farm, and the little boy had fun looking at all the animals. He not only says "moo", "baa", and "neigh" - he's now added the sounds of chickens, roosters, and goats to his repertoire. Afterwards, we went to the playground, and he wanted to try the slide. We let him go by himself, and after he went down, he ran to me, lip quivering, as if to say "too scary Mommy". I asked him if he wanted me to go with him, and he nodded. We went down three times together, and he squealed in delight. He then went again by himself, this time laughing the whole way. Then he was done, having accomplished that goal.

3. The boy went down for a nap, and K and I decided to join in the fun. A 30-minute cat nap on a warm day under cool sheets. There's not much better than that.

Pancakes, Picnic Tables, and Phone Calls

Sunday's Three Beautiful Things:

1. The three of us ate K's blueberry pancakes for breakfast.

2. K's mom and sister came to visit, and we sat at our new picnic table, enjoying white sangria in the sunshine.

3. I enjoyed a conversation with my sister. She lives far away (Barcelona), so every phone call is precious.

Concerts, Grilling, and Lilies of the Valley

Three beautiful things for each day of the long weekend. Here are three beautiful things from Saturday:

1. We went downtown for a free concert on Boston's esplanade. Full of people celebrating "Earthfest". Tons of vendors and sponsors giving away free stuff - everything from shopping bags to yogurt to flower seeds. I wondered why I bothered to pack a picnic lunch. We ended up going home with more than we went with. The little boy chased after every dog ("goggie") he saw. We danced in front of the family stage. And then the boy collapsed in the car on the way home. A fun morning.

2. Knowing the long weekend was going to be warm and full of sun, K and I planned what to put on the grill each evening. Tonight is barbecue chicken.

3. The lilacs have reached their peak, but they passed the baton to the lilies of the valley, which now perfume the yard.

5.27.2008

Organizing Project: Bedroom Closet

This week's organization project was to tackle my closet. First, let's describe my closet. I guess it's technically a walk-in, although you have to be pretty skinny to fit in there. It is a pretty small space, with my husband's clothes on one side and mine on the other. We each have hanging clothes, and we have a couple shelves on either side as well. Unfortunately, the shelves are pretty old and shallow, so it's tough to stack too much on them, particularly for my husband. We each have a hanging shoe rack, but we also have shoes on shelves or in boxes on the floor.

So....all that said... This project took closer to 30 minutes, but the results were huge! Here's what I did:

1. Took all the clothes off the shelves, folded them, and put them back, minus a few items that got put into our donations bag or winter items that were added to our winter storage boxes. (Hooray for Summer!)

2. Removed all the old dry-cleaning hangers and empty dry-cleaning bags. (So that's where those pants are?!? I found several pieces of my clothing on K's side, not yet separated from the dry-cleaners.)

3. Organized the hanging clothes by category - pants, shirts, skirts, suits and dresses. (I've seen people do it all sorts of ways - by color, etc. But this works for me.)

4. Arranged the shoes. I put the ones I wear the most in the hanging rack, since that's the most easily accessible, and then I organized the rest on a set of shelves on the floor. I added two pairs of shoes to the donations bag. Perfectly good shoes, but I never wear them, so they had to go. (One very smart tip I read about reducing clutter in your home: "Be Ruthless".) I also got rid of several empty shoe boxes and cleaned the floor before putting the shoes back.

*Again, this isn't a picture of my closet - not sure a picture would be able to adequately capture the improvement in my own. You'll just have to trust me.

5.23.2008

Weekly Inspiration

I love these Daily Thought Wallpapers from Real Simple, so I thought I'd share one every now and then with you.

Sister Hazel - In the Moment


I love listening to live music, and I love this song. Enjoy!

Lyrics to the chorus:

I'm in the moment

The one where nothing matters

And everything's alright

I'm seeing things so clearly now

And you're the reason why

I'm in the moment

And I'm alive

I'm alive

Two of my Favorite Things

"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book."
-Irish Proverb

I've been sick this week, and I still feel extremely run-down. But I think I've found what I need. I know I'll get my daily dose of giggles, and the upcoming long weekend should hopefully provide an opportunity for a nice long sleep.

5.22.2008

Memorial Day Sale


There seem to be good sales going on right now. Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, so perhaps we should all treat ourselves to something fun and summery. I need pants, which is what inspired me to peruse Banana's site. I found a pair on sale that I will hopefully like once I receive them - keep your fingers crossed for me! Pants are hard to buy online, but it's somehow harder for me to get to the mall. I did also buy a cute summery dress for work (navy - I don't think I could get away with that green!). It's not often that I treat myself - and to a dress! (I think I own even fewer dresses than shoes.) It will somehow make it less painful to go to work on a warm sunny day if I can wear a cute dress.

*Note: BR, Old Navy, Gap, and Piper Lime have consolidated their web sites into one. They're offering a flat shipping fee for anything you buy across the four sites - and it's still free shipping for Piper Lime or credit cardholders. This can only be a good thing for a loyal online shopper such as myself.

Keep It Simple

Why do we have to make everything so complicated? There are so many people giving advice and information these days, and I often wonder if they're just confusing everybody. I read this article the other day, and I sort of laughed at the end, thinking to myself, "well, duh".

I guess it's interesting information to know that cooked tomatoes have more lycopene than raw ones, but seriously - didn't we already know this? And that various cooking methods reduce the amount of vitamins in others? But who wants to try to keep track of it all or adhere to it strictly? I'm not going to stop cooking spinach because it loses a lot of its Vitamin C as a result. I'm pretty sure it's still good for me, and besides that, I like it. And I'm certainly not going to boil my zucchini, even if that helps it keep more of its vitamins, because I'd end up with a pile of zucchini mush. Ew.
Certainly we must all know by now that the key to a healthy diet is variety. Lots of fruits and veggies - cooked however we like, because as the article also points out, we'll eat more if we like the way they taste. Revolutionary!

5.21.2008

Good Books, Hugs, and Anticipation

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1. I am reading a really good book right now. It's difficult, and it's taking me a long time to read, but I am hooked. (*I'll post the details when I'm done.)

2. Yesterday, the boy and I were dancing in the living room (he's very into dancing lately), and I was overwhelmed by how much I love him. I asked him for a hug, and he ran into my arms with a huge smile and patted my back. Made me cry.

3. The only thing better than a vacation is the anticipation of a vacation. Ours isn't until the end of June, but the anticipation is delicious.

5.20.2008

Clean your plates!

As grocery bills rise, we can all use the reminder to be less wasteful with our food. This article in the NY Times tells us that we waste a ton of food every day (well, about a pound a day for every American, which is many many tons). Give it a read if you're interested, but the bottom line is that we still waste way more than we should. One fact that I was reminded of was that rotting food that ends up in landfills produces methane, a major source of greenhouse gases. There's really no excuse. Here are a few things we should all try to do to reduce this waste (and our grocery bills!):

1. Stay organized. If you plan your menus and take regular stock of what is in your refrigerator, you won't find yourself with a half-used tub of moldy cottage cheese. (I am ashamed to say that's what I found in my fridge last night.)
2. Pack your lunch. If you have leftovers, pack them for lunch the next day, or use them in the next night's dinner.
3. Compost. We haven't started this yet, but I'm interested in trying to find a way to do this. In the meantime, having a garbage disposal installed is an easy way to reduce the amount of food ending up in the trash.
4. Order Small Plates or Take Leftovers. When you're out at a restaurant, order what you think you'll eat. I know that portions at a lot of restaurants are ridiculously large these days, so in those cases, order an appetizer portion, share with a friend, or bring a container to take your leftovers home.
5. Make Banana Bread. Most farmer's markets and often grocery stores have sale racks for produce, where they put bruised or over-ripe fruits and veggies. This is such a great way to get a deal! You're not going to want to make a salad with them, but most of them are perfectly fine when cooked. Take bruised apples and make applesauce; use brown bananas in a banana bread (it's best that way anyway!); onions, potatoes, peppers, carrots...all fine cooked up a number of ways.
6. Serve What Kids (and You) Will Eat. I absolutely don't mean deprive them of their veggies. I just mean only put a little bit on their plates to avoid it being thrown to the floor if they find it repulsive or if they are simply full. If they like it or they're still hungry, you can always give them more. (Same goes for adults, by the way. You can always go back for seconds.)

There are lots of things we can do to reduce the amount of food that we waste. I definitely have room for improvement on most of these items, so I'll keep trying.

Pantry

I made a resolution to spend 15 minutes once a week organizing some small part of the house. I think if I post it here, knowing I have to write about it will force me to do it. Last night, I realized the weekend was coming to an end, and I hadn't done my organizing. So while dinner was in the oven, I decided to tidy up the pantry. (*I wish I actually had a pantry! What I have is a cabinet with a few shelves for food.)

I took a few minutes to straighten up the food and take stock of what we have in there. I put like items together - all the pastas together, soups and other canned goods on a separate shelf, etc. I turned everything so the labels were facing out so that it's easier to find things. And I took several items out that I know we'll never use (why in the world do I have a can of beets?), and added an item to my to-do list to drop off a bag at the local food bank.

By the time our dinner was ready, that cabinet looked so much better, and I now know that I don't need to buy diced tomatoes or bread crumbs for a while. Maybe tomorrow night I'll tackle the fridge...

5.19.2008

Baby's First Year Stuff

I have a one-year-old, so I've survived the first year (almost 18 months!) of parenthood. In honor of my sister (hooray!) and friends who have just entered or are getting ready to enter the mommy ranks, I thought I'd share a few of the items that got me through that first year. This is not intended to be a list of everything you need - I'm not going to note things like nail clippers or onesies or gates - in fact, most of these aren't necessities at all. They are just a few of the things that leapt to mind as I thought about the things I liked or found especially useful.

Of course, the opposite list exists as well - those things I found unnecessary or wish I hadn't wasted money on or things I would've chosen differently if I could do it again. The amount of stuff we've bought in the last year and a half has been staggering. But as always, we'll focus on the positives.

  • Sling (Hotslings) Definitely my #1 couldn't-live-without item. I was mad at myself for waiting three weeks after the boy was born to order one. It does take some time to get the hang of it, but it never failed me. If the boy wasn't settling down, I'd put him in the sling, and he'd instantly calm and eventually fall asleep. I then got skilled at taking him out without waking him up. Absolutely the best baby item I own. (I still use it occasionally for the quick trip into a store.)

  • Boppy We had two - one for upstairs and one for downstairs. I don't know how any mom would do without one of these. Pillows just don't cut it. Also extremely helpful to use to promote tummy-time. My boy hated tummy-time, but he did better propped up a bit in a boppy.

  • Bouncer (This is like the one we had, but obviously there are many many styles) The boy spent most of his early days in the bouncer, happy as can be. Sleeping, waking, watching Mom do dishes…

  • Costco Membership We save enough on diapers alone to cover the cost of membership.

  • Playmat (Tiny Love Gymini is what we had, but again, there are other styles.) The giraffe is the first thing that made the boy belly-laugh.

  • Breastpump (Medela) Having a good double pump enabled me to continue breastfeeding after I went back to work. (Even if you're not working, having a pump is helpful to keep up supply and to keep a stockpile of breastmilk for when you need to be away.) It was an extra bonus that the Medela bottles also fit the simple Gerber bottles the boy liked.

  • Ultimate crib sheets are so so handy!

  • Soft activity book, such as this one. We got a similar one as a gift, and the boy still adores it.

  • Fisher Price Booster Seat Still use this every day at home, and it's also easy to take with us anywhere. It went with us to Grandma's house this weekend in fact. Easy to clean, too. (Although admittedly, mine's not especially clean at the moment.)

  • Puzzle Mat We got the numbers and letters and made a play area in our living room and used the rest in a play area by the kitchen. Great to have a little space to play, especially when they're learning to roll, and it's still great now.

  • Food Mill (Manual or Electric Food Mill) I have both of these. As we moved from baby food to table foods, these food mills became indispensable. Chop up some strawberries and peaches, grind them up, and voila! Breakfast! Super easy, and the manual one is great to take to restaurants to turn your food into food they'll enjoy.
  • These Outlet Covers They're expensive and a little higher-maintenance to put on than the ones you just stick in, but they're so great to have. We just bought a few to put in high-traffic outlets - the ones you tend to use for plugging in the vacuum cleaner, for example - and outlets that are in use.

  • Learn 'n Groove Musical Table Perfect for when they start to pull themselves up to encourage standing. Surprisingly, the sounds and music are not annoying at all - they're actually pretty fun!
  • Car Seat Cover - Especially nice for me, having a winter baby in New England. This kept the boy nice and cozy in his car seat, whether in the car or in the Snap 'N Go.

UPDATE: The best baby item I don't own: an exercise ball. Babies don't like (at least my baby didn't like) to be rocked so much as bounced, and it's exhausting walking around the house bouncing a baby. Gently bouncing on an exercise ball is so much easier, and the few times I did this, it put the boy right to sleep!

I definitely have favorites from the second year, too, so I'll share those too, when the time is right.

5.18.2008

This Week's Menu

Lemon-Rosemary Roast Chicken with Potatoes
Salad

Orzo tossed with chopped tomato, basil, feta (CL suggestion)
*This meal literally takes 15 minutes.

*This one is such a simple recipe that really jazzes up a regular jar of pasta sauce
Okay, so this was last week's menu, but I neglected to post it. These were all really simple and tasty!

5.16.2008

Beautiful Blanket


After much deliberation, I finally found a quilt I love. A wonderful, warm red that makes me happy when I walk in the room. Added bonus that it's organic and naturally-made. Little by little...

Missy Higgins - Where I Stood


Enjoy this song by Missy Higgins and have a happy Friday!

5.15.2008

Thanks, Mom!

Unfortunately, my family doesn't live near me. I am so jealous of people who have family members that live in the same city - heck, I'd settle for driving distance! My mom lives a thousand miles away from us, so visits require some planning. Since the little boy was born, she has been coming to visit every few months to spend quality time with her grandson and to help me maintain a less filthy house. The boy gets a week off of day care and gets to have fun with Grandma ("gama" or "mooma" or "nama" - he's working on this, but he absolutely knows her). And I get help around the house.

She was here last week, and the boy got to go to a nearby farm several times. He loves looking at the cows, sheep, chickens... He's now saying "moo" and "baa" and "neigh". And I got the cleanest set of kitchen appliances! When's the last time you cleaned out the inside of your microwave? This is the kind of stuff she does for me. Microwave, toaster oven, stove, refrigerator. She cleaned the shutters in my bedroom. She mends (I don't). She is also an avid gardener - another skill I very unfortunately didn't inherit - so she helps around the yard as well. I'll share those pictures soon.

So although I don't have family nearby, I realize that I am very fortunate. Thanks, Mom!

*The picture above shows the little boy staring at the chickens

5.14.2008

Three Beautiful Things: Lilacs, Smiles, and Sun

I found a lovely blog entitled Three Beautiful Things. Every day, the author records three things that give her pleasure. A more regular version of my Happy List. What a nice way to focus on the positives and the simple pleasures in life. Perhaps I'll add this to my list of things to blog about on a regular basis. Today's three beautiful things:

1. The lilacs in our yard are in full bloom, and we have a huge vase full on the dining room table. So inside and outside, our home smells like lilac heaven.

2. The little boy woke up with a smile on his face and even let me get him changed and dressed before breakfast.

3. Today's forecast: Sunny and 70 degrees. Inspired me to wear a skirt to work.

5.13.2008

Hey, You Guys!

Do you remember 'The Electric Company'? I wasn't allowed to watch very much TV when I was a kid, but I do remember being very excited when I got to see The Electric Company. If you are not in Generation X, then perhaps you aren't familiar with it. It was a PBS show in the 70s, made by the same people that make Sesame Street. But it was targeted for slightly older kids (elementary school-aged), so it was cool. Morgan Freeman and Bill Cosby and 321-Contact and SPIDERMAN (My absolute favorite part of the show). Oh my gosh, just looking at the logo brings it all back - the browns and oranges and lime greens of the 70s.

What brought this up, you ask? Well, check this out! It's coming back!

Smile

"If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it." — Andy Rooney

Assume Positive Intent

I don't normally read full articles in Fortune magazine, but we do have them around the house, and this one caught my eye the other day: The Best Advice I Ever Got. They interviewed accomplished people from various fields who provided a description of a piece of advice that influenced them. This one, from the CEO of Pepsico, particularly struck me. To summarize, the advice she received from her father was to "assume positive intent". I like this way of thinking about things. It is so easy to react to situations in a negative manner, assuming that the other person is not understanding you, not understanding the purpose of what you're trying to do, trying to position themselves favorably without regard for others... But if you assume they are trying, that they are after the same goals you are, that they are on the same team...you'll be amazed at how differently you react to those situations, and how it affects your outlook.

While this sounds rather business-oriented, you can apply this to any situation. For example, I get really annoyed when people tailgate me, and I generally assume that most people do it just to be annoying. I am not an unusually slow driver, so what's the point of riding my bumper? But the other day, I had a woman doing this, and when we reached a stop light, she and her son popped out of the car to get to the school bus that was a few cars ahead. She was just trying to catch the bus to get her son to school! If I had assumed positive intent - that she wasn't trying to annoy me, she was just trying to catch the bus - I would've let her pass and definitely wouldn't have let myself get irritated.

So I am going to try to apply this piece of advice in all aspects of life. Everyone is doing the best they can. Assume positive intent.

5.12.2008

Blueberry Muffins

I made these yummy blueberry muffins yesterday, and they made the house smell wonderful. I adore the smell of bread or muffins baking. No matter how clean or dirty the house is, the smell helps make the house feel comfortable. The boy enjoyed them warm from the oven as an afternoon snack, and K and I have an easy breakfast item to take with us to work this week.

Organizing Project: Just One Drawer

I am making a new resolution to eliminate more clutter from my home. Especially having a one-year old, it seems like the amount of stuff we have only continues to increase and become less organized. I took 5 minutes this weekend to clean out my drawer in our bathroom vanity, and it felt so good! Starting now, I vow to take 15 minutes every week to declutter some little part of the house.

Here's what I did: I took everything out of the drawer, gave away or threw away the stuff I didn't use, and then put everything back in an orderly fashion. Easy! And since this is a drawer I use every day - I start my day in this drawer - it feels particularly good to have it clean and organized. It also motivated me to do more - I cleaned out the rest of the vanity the next day.

Organizing can feel so overwhelming sometimes, and I think that's why we tend to ignore things for so long. But if you choose just one small thing - one corner of a room, one side of a closet, one drawer - it won't take long, it will feel good, and it will motivate you to do more. I promise.

*Note: This isn't a picture of my bathroom vanity, but mine is now just as clean!

5.11.2008

Happy Mom's Day!

I hope you are all enjoying a beautiful Sunday - and a happy Mother's Day for all the moms out there.

"If a mother respects both herself and her child from his very first day onward, she will never need to teach him respect for others."-- Alice Miller

"A mother understands what a child does not say."-- Anonymous

The picture above is of me and my boy, just chillin in the back yard.

5.09.2008

Regina Spektor - Fidelity

Yet another artist my sister has turned me on to. Check out Regina Spektor and have a happy Friday!

5.08.2008

Bathing Suit Season

Oh yes, it's time. Time to get our flabby white bodies (sorry, I'll speak for myself) under the flourescent lights to try on bathing suits. Actually, that just sounds awfully depressing, so I decided to skip that step. I went with a tried and true - JCrew.com is my friend when it comes to bathing-suit shopping. Here is the little number I ordered online for myself. It came in last week, and I am happy to say that it is super-cute. It also motivated me to do some crunches and leg lifts, but that's not a bad thing either. I also love this sweet little suit from Anthropologie - it's very cheerful and fun. Hooray! Summer's almost here!

5.07.2008

"Smile, Breathe, and Go Slowly"

Say it again: "Smile, Breathe, and Go Slowly". I think I've found my new mantra. This is a quote by a Vietnamese monk named Thich Nhat Hanh, and I swear I relaxed a little the first time I read it. I haven't found those ten minutes to meditate during the day, but perhaps I can take a minute here or there throughout the day to refocus, and I think this quote will help.

Last week, I was making dinner, and while things were cooking, I was also trying to make the boy's lunch for the next day. Oh, and I thought I'd just clean a couple dishes real quick as well. The oven timer went off, and I quickly turned off the oven, but I got distracted and neglected to take out my asparagus. Ten minutes later I realized it, discovering that I had ruined dinner. I was beyond frustrated. And then to highlight that I am a slow learner, I almost did it again a couple nights ago. (Thankfully, I didn't ruin dinner, but the quesadillas were a little crispier than intended.)

I need to remind myself to do things one at a time. Even as I type this post about my need to focus and avoid multi-tasking, I am multi-tasking. So I am going to slow down. Focus more on documenting my to-do list and then working through it one item at a time. My nighttime routine (that energy-sapping 5-8PM timeframe) definitely needs to be redefined as well. I haven't figured out how to change that yet - I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, I'm going to "Smile, Breathe, and Go Slowly".

5.06.2008

Healthy List

Inspired by yet another blog to make yet another list. This blog on Real Simple inspired me to take stock of my healthy and unhealthy habits. I think of myself as a pretty healthy person, but there are always things we can do better. Even the things I'm listing in the 'healthy' column have room for improvement. I think we also tend to think of just food and exercise when it comes to being healthy, but there are so many other aspects of taking care of our bodies and our minds, so it's good to remind ourselves of that as well. Here's my current status, along with my resolution to continue to do better:

My Healthy Habits:
*Eat lots of fruits/vegetables, whole grains, nuts, yogurt...good stuff
*Cook - I have been doing less since having a baby, but I am still managing to cook our meals almost every day (I'm also trying to pack my lunch as often as possible)
*Go meatless several days a week
*Floss my teeth
*Read books
*Visit my dentist every six months and my OB/GYN every year
*Wear sunscreen
*Keep in close contact with my friends and family
*Check food labels to try to stick to "real" and natural foods (I am currently on a mission to eliminate high-fructose corn syrup from my diet - a daunting task!)
*Take a multi-vitamin
*Don't smoke. Duh.
*Avoid caffeine completely
*Take walks and dance with the little boy; park far away from stores to encourage walking; walk to see people at work instead of calling
*Have the occasional beer or glass of wine

Room for Improvement:
*Eat ice cream every day - this is something I will never ever give up. It may not be entirely healthy for my body, but it's good for the soul.
*Don't get regular rigorous exercise or strength training
*Get only 7 hours of sleep at night
*Don't visit a dermatologist, opthalmologist
*Don't always wash my face before bed or put lotion/cream on
*Wear my contacts longer than recommended (I do at least take them out every night, though!)
*Don't always buy organic fruits/veggies (I'm trying, but sometimes the price is just stupid, so I'm at least trying to wash them thoroughly)

5.04.2008

This Week's Menu

My mom, a vegetarian, is in town. It's also May, which means asparagus and strawberries. Here's some of what we'll be enjoying this week:

Pasta Primavera
Dinner Rolls

Black Bean Quesadillas with Corn Salsa
Tortilla Chips


Red Bell Pepper Frittata
Cooked cinnamon apples

Pizza (*I linked to a simple Pizza Margherita recipe. We tend to throw whatever veggies we have on store-bought dough.)

And for dessert (we'll be lucky if this lasts two days!):
Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart
*Note: I always arrange blueberries on the tart with the strawberries. Super yum!

5.02.2008

Happy List

The Happiness Project is a great blog about all things happy. The author provides thoughts and tips about the challenges of being happier. Zen Habits is another good blog, focusing on happiness, health, simplicity, family. But if you want to just stick with me, I can promise to share some of my favorite posts from them here. One in particular from Zen Habits - you can read it here if you want - inspired me to make a happy list of my own. I think we all need the reminder to live more fully in the present and really appreciate the things that make us happy every day. Off the top of my head...

Dancing with my boys
My husband's blueberry pancakes
Crisp Fall afternoons with clear blue skies
An afternoon game at Fenway
An empty dishwasher and clean counters
Singing out loud in the car (or at home, or anywhere really)
Tickling the little boy until he snorts
Christmas stockings
My mom's summer ziti
My dad's macaroni salad
Long, hot, uninterrupted showers
Ice cream (too many flavors to name all my favorites)
Walking barefoot in the grass
Family reunions
Talking with my sisters
Going somewhere I've never been before
Watching shooting stars
Having a beer on the front porch with my husband
Good conversation with friends
Reading a book I can't put down
The smell of banana bread coming from the kitchen
Having nothing to do
A snowstorm when I have nowhere to be
Watching a sunset

What are those simple pleasures in life that make you happy?

5.01.2008

Sangria Saturdays

A few years ago, my husband and I fell into a routine of making a batch of Sangria every weekend. Almost every Saturday in summer became "Sangria Saturday". Sangria is the perfect summer drink - it's refreshing, easy to make, and everyone likes it. Yummy. We had a blast of warm weather last week, and it reminded me of the summer days ahead. We need to resurrect Sangria Saturdays.

If you'd like to start this tradition at your house, the first thing you need is a good pitcher. Clear glass is good, because sangria is pretty, but any large pitcher will do. Here's an example from Crate & Barrel. Next, you need a recipe. I'll include links to a few, but to be honest, my version is simple and very tasty.
Here are the basics: a bottle of cheap red wine, sugar, lemon-lime soda, and fruit (oranges and strawberries are our favorites, but throw in whatever you have - lemons, apples, etc). Mix the wine and sugar (to taste - maybe 1/4 cup, but I never measure) and fruit, and let it marinate overnight or until you're ready to drink. Add the soda (again, to taste) and ice before serving.
If you want to go white, get some dry white wine, and then just change up the fruit. Peaches are excellent in white sangria. Kiwis, apples, blackberries.
It's that easy! You can fancy it up however you want. Add a little extra booze for a kick - rum, brandy, gin, schnapps.
Enjoy those Sangria Saturdays!
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