Tidings of comfort and joy

BEHOLD. I have found THE source for ever-lasting joy: A clean house.

This is not my house

This is not my house

Not that I have a clean house right now, but I did have one for about 14 hours (total, not consecutive) around Thanksgiving. Now, I’m swimming in a sea of tissue paper and candy canes, but I know that underneath the frothy chaos exists the possibility of clear tables, gleaming mirrors and glistening counter tops.

I don’t have any magical tips or tricks. Two “rules” that have stuck so far (inspired by husband and Gretchen Rubin)

1. “Have a place for everything, and PUT IT THERE NOW” (or, always have consistent answer to the question- “Where does this thing go?”).

2. If you spill it/take it off/drop it/set it down – wipe it up/ hang it up/ pick it up. NOW. Right now. Literally now. (originally inspired by “Adulting

Not my kitchen, but I'll take it

Not my kitchen, but I’ll take it

I’m not a black-belt declutterer (yet), but I’ve found two immensely helpful sites that are inspiring me to get my act together:

http://flylady.net/ – a rather intense, but thorough, organizational system/cult. I’m simultaneously inspired and overwhelmed every time I open her emails, but I do give Flylady credit for my new habits of making the bed daily and having a spotless sink at night.

http://unfuckyourhabitat.tumblr.com/– similar to flylady, but more cussing and more irreverence.

Both of these sites detail the importance of morning and evening “routines” to keep a house and its inhabitants in order. They both have basically the same evening routine, but site #2 calls this “unfuck your morning.”

  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
this will literally never be my closet. Ever.

this will literally never be my closet. Ever.

I have slowly begun to realize that if I want to enjoy this gloriously rich and glittery time of year, it is absolutely necessary to be able to retreat to a clear, calm, clean environment. Season, bring on the reindeer, ribbon, sequins and snowflakes! We’re ready!




Happy Food

Our prompt for today is- What food always makes you feel happy while you’re eating it?

hmmm this is difficult…. there are TONS of foods that make me feel happy when I’m eating them. I’ll list my favorites.

1. My dad’s stuffing- This is probably my favorite food in existence. I think I need to start asking for this as a birthday meal, and we should definitely eat it more than just on Thanksgiving. He uses sourdough bread, dried cherries, granny smith apples, pork sausage, mushrooms, and a ton of other beautiful ingredients.

2. My chicken noodle soup- I use this recipe, but I add a hefty amount of butter to saute the onions, and I use egg noodles instead of cavatelli. It’s more of a stew than a soup, and the chicken thighs are pure magic- do not use white meat!! I make it probably once a week.

best. soup. ever.

best. soup. ever.

3. This bolognese sauce, over noodles, polenta, or nothing. It’s delicious enough to eat like soup.



4. Chocolate chip cookies, preferably home made (with dark chocolate chunks) or from this bakery. Optimally, these would be shared with a friend or family member over a cup of coffee or tea. Naturally, chocolate chip cookies are delightful, and hanging out with people I like is delightful, but the combination is downright bliss.

food porn

food porn

Summary: (simple carbohydrates x 2) + fat + handmade magic + good people = happy food.

Add a little joy

Helloooooo December!! I loved November NaBloPoMo so much that I’m doing it again (with modifications, for laziness and/or bouts of inspiration) for this month.

Our prompt for today is-  What do you do when you’re down to bring yourself a little joy?

I love that the December theme is “joy.” While I know that “joy” is different than “happy,” I was having a hard time pinpointing how the two terms differ, so I decided to look of the exact definition. Merriam-Webster defines joy as:

  • the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; delight
  • the expression or exhibition of such emotion                                                                                  

  •  a state of happiness or felicity;  bliss

Aha!! So many delicious words there- delight, felicity, bliss… Words I typically with chocolate commercials.

insert cheesy voice-over about bliss

insert cheesy voice-over about bliss

What do I do to bring myself a little joy? (I don’t have to necessarily be “down” to want to get more joyful… )

-watch other people being joyful and sponge the energy! Especially during this time of year, taking my dogs for a walk in our downtown area is an immediate joy-boost. The little shops are all lit up, everyone is happily holding Starbucks red cups full of steaming goodness, storefronts and houses are decorated with trees and elves and deer and the like…

this is not our town, but it does look festive and joyful!

this is not our town, but it does look festive and joyful!

-Do something that I know will make someone else happy- plan a thoughtful gift for one of my family members, make an awesome dinner, de-clutter an area of the house that has been on my/our nerves, ect. Focusing on the joy that person will feel automatically brings me joy.

-Do something that I’ve been dreading/procrastinating. Generally, this means cleaning. I wasn’t going to include this one, but what I feel afterwards (delight, bliss) falls into my definition of joy, so it’s fair game.

-When all else fails, puppy videos on youtube. I’m not suggesting that pure procrastination brings joy, but literally laughing out loud for a few minutes is one of the most effective ways to switch a mood. Guaranteed.



Here’s to the most joyful month of the year!


Prompt: Are you the funny one in most groups? What kinds of things do you find funniest?

NO, I am not the “funny one” in most groups. Within my group of friends growing up, my best friend was the one who could make us all laugh until we couldn’t breathe. I was, and still am, happy to be in the audience rather than on stage (even if the stage is just a patch of grass where we camped during lunch time in high school). I do occasionally make people laugh, but it’s usually situational humor.


What kinds of things do I find funniest? Absurdity.


And randomness.

Dog shaming: http://www.dogshaming.com/

If that's not remorse, I don't know what is

If that’s not remorse, I don’t know what is

Messed up cakes: (http://www.cakewrecks.com/)

Seriously what is this?

Seriously what is this?

Basically, I enjoy humor that doesn’t make fun of other people or animals- celebrate difference by laughing with our fellow humans (or dogs, ect) at the silly circumstances we find ourselves in. Not too much sarcasm (passive aggressive!), or obviousness (tired puns, “that’s what she said”- unless expertly timed). Or toilet humor (everybody poops! I’m over it!). Or mean-spirited humor.

Just kind, life-affirming, silly, nonsense.

Dr. Seuss ftw

Dr. Seuss ftw





The kindness of strangers

Our prompt for today is: Tell us about one time that you benefited from the kindness of strangers.

Oy, I benefit from the kindness of strangers every day! The driver who lets me back my car out of my driveway in morning traffic, the helpful checker at the grocery store who gives me insider advice, the passer-by who moves my newspaper off of the wet grass in the mornings… And those are just kind strangers yesterday!

In this past year, there are several instances of completely random kindness that knocked the wind out of me. One of them happened last fall. Reddit had a “back to school” online gift swap for teachers, and my husband urged me to add my name to the list. The form asked for details about my classroom and students, and what we needed. So, I detailed our little world: Kindergarten-third grade, moderate-severe special day class… We had -and still have- many kiddos with severe health impairments… seizures, shunts, cerebral palsy, blindness, deaf-blindness, and muscular dystrophy, to name a few. As tragic as this all sounds, my classroom is chock-full of happy vibes and triumphs of the human spirit. Awesome things happen here!

favorite corner of my classroom

favorite corner of my classroom

ANYWAYS. I wrote my little piece on Reddit, and promptly forgot all about it. Several months later, I received a box. I hadn’t ordered anything online, so I opened it with some hesitancy. I found kazoos, easy-to-grip tambourines and drums, jumbo crayons (easier for little hands to hold!), and a variety of other noisy, delightful toys and irresistible doodads. I was still a little confused, until I found a little note wedged in between a coloring book and a xylophone. My mysterious benefactor was a nurse in a pediatric intensive care unit in central California. She explained that many of her patients have the same medical issues that my students have, so she thought that maybe my students would enjoy the same types of toys that her patients like. That’s it. I. was. floored. A completely random stranger, who has never met me and never will, read my ramblings online, connected with my description of my students, went out and bought things she imagined they would like, packaged them up, and sent them to me. THAT’S INSANE. Obviously, I cried, called my mom, and texted everybody I knew.

Of course, my kiddos loved the gifts. We still play our instruments every day during circle time, and I hope that our benefactor can feel the joy and gratitude radiating from my classroom.



Nearly wordless weekend

This was, perhaps, one of the most deeply satisfying weekends I’ve had all year. Nothing flashy or important happened, it was just deeply peaceful and joyous. We basked in the calm, cloudy, cozy hours… the perfect little hibernation before the Thanksgiving and Christmas whirlwind.

It started with a Saturday morning stroll in our backyard, appreciating the freshly watered roses and trying to get a “just right” picture of the morning light glinting through the droplets.

sprinklerdrops on roses

sprinklerdrops on roses

close enough to raindrops, right?

close enough to raindrops, right?

While putting the last few addresses on our wedding thank-yous, our dog Joni -who had, until Saturday, been completely clueless about how to “play” with toys (we adopted her from the pound last year as a 2 year old)- invented a hilarious and rowdy game of tackle and pounce soccer/hockey. It ended with her on her back, holding the tennis ball between her front paws and kicking wildly with her back legs. It was simultaneously pure magic and the weirdest thing I’ve seen her do to date.

Joni spots the target

Joni spots the target



getting ready to pounce...

getting ready to pounce…



Saturday concluded with a little backyard BBQ with a few friends… Carne asada and Apples to Apples by bonfire light. AND, the cutest little bundle of squirmy wonder. Look at those cheeks!! I die.

Baby is transfixed by Jon's mustache

Baby is transfixed by Jon’s mustache

Sunday flew by: church, a coffee date with Jon, a startlingly spiritual yoga class, “deep-cleaning” the office (well, Jon did that. I grocery shopped… they even out, right?).

We closed the weekend with a dinner of chicken soup over perfectly slurpy-chewy noodles with a side of sourdough for sopping, and two episodes of Parks and Rec. Warm, happy, silly and peaceful. Batteries= recharged.

serious comfort food

serious comfort food




Prompt: What is the one skill you see in other bloggers that you wish you had?


Some people- not just bloggers- have this amazing talent of turning any mundane thing into a story. Not just a story, a Story.

I don’t know how they do it! It’s amazing! I find myself retelling the most fantastic events- things that happen that are basically stories (with the whole arc thing, ect) that don’t even need editing- in the most flat, bland, boring way….

Like this: Once, we had a dog, and it ate a rock, and died.

THIS IS A TRUE STORY PEOPLE! A truly excellent story that requires little to no embellishment or exaggeration. It has drama, tragedy, comedy… and yet, I have never successfully delivered it. In fact, my repeatedly poor delivery has become somewhat of a “tag” among my friends group. Whenever someone tells a story that falls flat, another will inevitably chime in- “and then I ate a rock and died.”

So, all you talented tale-tellers, tell me your secrets!

Longest-ever writer’s block

Prompt: Have you ever had extended writer’s block? How long did it last? What did you do to break out of it, and do you have tips for other bloggers?

YES. I have had writer’s block. I’ve been reading blogs for 10 + years, and I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a blog for about the same amount of time. When some of the boring food bloggers I used to read got book deals, I languished in silent loathing.

I could point out grammar errors and poorly worded sentences until my face turned blue, but I couldn’t bring myself to type my own words.

Finally, one of the bloggers I read announced that she was going to do NaBloPoMo ’14, the planets aligned, my coffee kicked in, and I furiously rushed to create this little spot here, add my name to the list, and get cracking!

So, tip #1- browse your favorite bloggers while caffeinating

#2- If you feel a spark of inspiration, ride the coffee wave and hammer out a post!  If you haven’t been inspired after 15-20 minutes, just start.

#3- keep it in perspective. Not every post has to be brilliant, hilarious and make you tons of money and glory. .Just get it done (stealing some wisdom from Anne Lamott– just do that “shitty first draft”)

If writing something-anything- doesn’t jolt you, then continue to hunt for inspiration. BUT, don’t stop writing while you look. Slumps suck you in, and the longer you stay stuck, the harder it is to move.

This guy should have just written his shitty first draft. Now look where he is.

This guy should have just written his shitty first draft. Now look where he is.


2014-07-21 12.01.53     The weekly photo challenge at the Daily Prompt this week is “minimalism.” Jon and I went to the Cook Islands for our honeymoon… The Cook Islands are a 9 hour direct flight from LAX, and eons away from “real life.” Because of the remoteness of the islands, internet (wireless and *gasp* dial-up), phones and television were essentially nonexistent. It. was. heaven. It took some getting used to though… having a gorgeous meal without the ability to act on the impulse to instagram it, or surviving a rainy afternoon without the flickering distraction of blogs and forums and pinterest. We quickly discovered that distraction-free living suits us though. All I’ll ever need- two palm trees, a big hammock, the ocean, and my hammocking partner. Bliss. We get to go on another honeymoon on our anniversary, right?