five things · Food · joy

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday!

How’s your week been? It’s been good here, but honestly, I was kind of done by Tuesday. Not sure why, but it felt like a very long week. It’s a 3-day weekend for the kids, and Husband is making it a 3-day weekend for himself, too, so we’re looking forward to some fun and downtime.

Also, thank you so much for all the kind, fun, inspiring comments this week here and on Facebook. I’m enjoying posting here more regularly, and your comments are a large part of that joy. So, thanks.

Here are a few things on my mind this week:

finger food friday

1. Finger Food Friday. I love meal planning. And I REALLY love having a go-to meal for Friday nights – a little family tradition, if you will. And we’ve had a variety of them. Pizza Friday. Nacho Friday. Now we do Finger Food Friday (FFF for short), where I pick up a variety of fun, appetizer-type foods at Trader Joe’s that morning and assemble it on a platter when we get home that night. (Friday afternoons tend to be busy for us, so trying to cook dinner cuts into precious Family Movie Night time. Assembling the platter takes less than 10 minutes.) We take the platter to the den coffee table, pile up with blankets on the sectional, and find a new (to us) movie to watch. It’s one of my favorite rituals of the week, and it always ends the week on a high note.

The FFF menu changes week to week (there are always new cheeses to try!), but some of my favorites are Turkey Summer Sausage, Norwegian Flatbread, Tomato Basil Hummus, and Dolmas. A few raw veggies are a must, and a handful of dates are the kids’ favorites.

PS – Any good family movies you’ve watched recently? Our favorites tend to be older releases and something with a little grown-up appeal. We’ve loved Cheaper by the Dozen (1 AND 2), Beethoven, Home Alone, The Incredibles, and, of course, now and forever, Harry Potter (the first 3). I’d love to hear your recommendations.

trader joe's flowers

2. Flowers. About a month ago, I read an article (cannot remember where or what context) by a man who wrote of his awe at his friend’s beautiful home – it always looked  ready for a design magazine photo shoot. After several visits, he realized that what made it feel so pretty, so “polished”, was that she always had fresh flowers in the rooms. Then, a week later, I read this article about simple abundance and the author’s decision to buy flowers at Trader Joe’s every week. Then, I went to my friend’s house for book group, and she had a flower arrangement on each table, and it looked fantastic. So last Friday, for “Big Shopping of the Week,” as BG and BB call it, I grabbed a $6.99 bouquet of hydrangeas (at Trader Joe’s, of course – I promise every thing on my list today isn’t about TJ’s) and plunked them in a simple vase on the den coffee table. I cannot begin to tell you the beauty and happiness this simple change has brought this week. Every time I pass through, I see the flowers and smile. They catch my eye, they make the den look “polished”, and they even keep me from making big piles of books on the coffee table. It DOES look more like a design magazine, and it’s a simple thing that brings so much JOY.

rick steves

3. Rick Steves. With our crazy school schedule this year (very different drop-off times and different pick up times), I have struggled to create a “schedule” for myself. Some days I work out before the kids get up, some days I do it in the middle of the morning (or not at all). Some days I run errands, some days I play cards and read books with BG. Some days I don’t shower until 1:00pm. (Don’t judge.)

But every Wednesday – and only on Wednesdays – I eat lunch alone. At first, I grabbed slices of ham or a frozen dinner or whatever I could scrounge in the fridge, but after some thought, I realized this was a great opportunity to treat myself.  After a really long walk (I can only do this on Wednesdays, too), I come home, make a REAL lunch (a big salad with poached egg or soup from scratch or a “gourmet” sandwich with herbed mayo, a stack of veggies, white truffle potato chips and a dill pickle spear), and settle in for a show. (I almost never turn the TV on during the day, so this also feels like a treat.) My favorite? Rick Steves’ Europe. I KNOW! But hear me out: First off, it’s beautiful – the sweeping landscapes, the architecture, the gardens, the cobblestone streets, the little shops. The mix of history and modern life. The art and food and wine. And, let’s be honest, Rick Steves is bit dorky but in a charming way. There’s always a moment where you chuckle and sort of roll your eyes. But in the end, you’ve learned something new and possibly added a destination to your future travel plans.

(Note: The photo above is a scene from last night just before dinner. I’ve gotten Husband on the Rick Steves’ bandwagon, so while dinner finished up and the kids did their screen time, we relaxed and talked and got caught up on the day and watched a little Rick Steves. Like my Wednesday lunches, it’s just a little slice of joy.)

the first step in crafting the life you want is getting rid of everything you don'tthe first step in crafting the life you want is getting rid of everything you don't

4. This quote.

5. This video. Wow. And JOY! That’s all I can say.

What are you up to this weekend? I’m having coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in years, and I’m taking dinner to another friend who’s been sidelined by the flu, and we’re planning a hike along the coast. (Side note: How’s the flu in your area? I know a handful of people who’ve had it, and it’s been AWFUL. My friend has been down for 5 weeks now! So scary.) Whatever your plans, I hope you have a delicious weekend full of beauty, inspiration, and joy. Thanks so much for reading!

five things · joy

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday!

Thanks for all of your encouraging comments this week here and on Facebook. I’ve appreciated hearing suggestions for other books as I work on my One Little Word for 2018.

Here are a few things on my mind this week:

1. New Things. In preparation for the new year, I read several articles on resolutions and goal setting. I came across the idea of a New Things List here, and then, last Friday, I went to a champagne-tasting party where my friend talked about her list of new things for 2018 (including finding her favorite champagne and learning to make sushi). I love this idea, so I made my own. Here are a few things from my list:

2. This book. I’ve been moving through it very slowly – about a chapter a night. It took about a hundred pages to get into it, but I’m really enjoying it. It feels like a great winter book – I look forward to climbing into my cozy bed to read a little bit more each night about Count Rostov and the goings-on at the Metropol. I close the book, turn out my light, and smile as I drift off to sleep. Feels like JOY to me.

3. This quote.

IMG_3189-0024. Road to Recovery. This was beautiful, moving, heartbreaking, and inspiring.

5. Snow scene. My Facebook feed is full of photos of friends in Tennessee, enjoying the snow. We’ve had fog this week, which is as close as we’ll ever get. Then I found this. It’s like the Yule Log – it’s kind of hilarious, surprisingly relaxing, and addictive. And it turns out there are tons of these on YouTube. (Husband and I spent an inordinate amount of time critiquing them to determine the best. We think it’s this one.)

What are you up to this weekend? Last weekend was super busy, so we’re looking forward to a weekend without any plans. I’m hoping to finish my book, go for a long walk in the fog, and start a furniture makeover that I’ve been wanting to do for months. Hope your weekend is full of new things, good books, and quiet moments. Thanks for reading!

joy · one little word

One Little Word: 2018



Happy New Year!

I know, we’re already 16 days in! How are those resolutions coming??

Yeah, me too.

I’m not really a resolution person, and every year I say I’m not doing resolutions, but privately, I list a few new habits I’m going to pick up or lay down. But it never sticks.

Several years ago, I heard about One Little Word – the idea that you choose one word to guide your year. I love this idea because it makes me think about what I really want, it makes me find a connection between those goals, and it helps me simplify choices I make in my day-to-day life. It’s a guidepost and a reminder of what I truly value.

Every December, as the year comes to a close, and we fill that week between Christmas and New Years with lazy days, playing at the park, and wearing PJs, I try to figure out what word is going to guide me in the year to come.

This year, several words kept coming to my mind, particularly BE, SLOW, and JOY. I’ve done SLOW before, and it’s a good one, and I could chose it every year for the rest of my life and still not fully master it. But another word kept coming up in conversations and readings and even songs.


This One Little Word is different, though. In fact, I almost ditched it because I’m not sure I really know how to be joyful. Sure, I know how to have fun and how to seek things that make me happy or that give me warm, fuzzy feelings – candles and reading in bed and wine and delicious meals and time with friends and long walks and cozy blankets on cold, winter nights and a million other little things that make me smile.

But what I’ve been wrestling with is that I’m not sure any of these things are actually JOY. I think a lot of what I attribute to JOY might actually be PLEASURE. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing – there’s a lot of joy when I recount memories of these things that have brought me genuine pleasure.

A lifetime of little pleasures strung together builds a beautiful life.

But I wonder about purpose. I don’t think my life is supposed to be ALL about little momentary pleasures. My whole life can’t revolve around food and wine and books and being cozy. (Or can it?? It DOES sound pretty great….)

So, this year, instead of fully embracing it and BEING my One Little Word right off the bat, I’ve decided to spend this year diving into JOY – researching it, reading books (like this one) and articles (this and this have been interesting reads so far) and scripture and classic essays about joy. Interviewing people about what joy is for them and where they find it. Crafting a personal definition that guides me to a deep understanding joy and what it looks like in my life.


So when I start to fight this word – when I think it would be easier to choose SLOW or even BE because it feels more tangible somehow (if not attainable) – I realize that this is a perfect example of doing something for the sake of learning. Not because it’s easy, but because of what the outcome will be.

What about you? Did you choose a word for 2018? Or do you make resolutions? Or try a New Things list? (This idea is really interesting to me, too.) I’d love to hear your thoughts.