I like to keep a list in my bullet journal of the (mostly) little, everyday things bringing me a disproportionate amount of happiness these days. A recent sampling:
1. The daily crossword. I love crossword puzzles nearly as much as jigsaw puzzles, and the written variety takes up a lot less tabletop space. So I finally bought myself an inexpensive subscription to The New York Times crossword and it makes me so happy. (Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I think I’m getting better, too? The rebus ones are my favorite.)
2. Everything pumpkin at Trader Joe’s. Because most of our out-of-the-house activities continue to be cancelled or moved online, we aren’t getting out much these days (okay, we aren’t getting out at all), and perhaps that explains this week’s coping strategy of choice: my 10-year-old and I made an impulse stop at Trader Joe’s and filled our cart to the brim with nearly every seasonal pumpkin item they had. Apparently we’ll take our excitement/entertainment wherever we can find it. (My kids are already begging for a return trip for pumpkin bagels and pumpkin waffles.)
3. Morning time. I’ve accumulated quite the backlog of books, courses, and projects related to personal/professional development: those things that don’t feel enough like work to tackle during the workday, but don’t feel like leisure, either.
And so this summer I tried an experiment: I decided that once I was awake and had tended to my morning ritual, I would spend any remaining time between that moment and 7:00 a.m. on this stuff. (To be honest, the success of this particular plan was in large part due to the poor sleep I’ve experienced these past months.) Some days I might only get ten minutes for my current project, but some days I’d get more than an hour.
It’s felt good to make progress, and to find a plan that works for continuing it.
4. The Princess Bride. Around here we struggle mightily to find family-friendly entertainment that satisfies Will, me, and our four kids aged 10-17. Last year our Superhero Summer was a HUGE success, but now we’re out of Marvel movies. (sniff) Out of desperation, Will and I fired up The Princess Bride, which neither of us had seen in at least twenty years.
Everyone LOVED it. So much! And then I had my own kind of fun, exploring the movie’s history and initial struggle to find its audience. The genre-blending that makes it so much fun to watch also made it incredibly difficult to market when it came out in 1987, and its box office performance was mediocre. But over time it became a word-of-mouth sensation.
Of course, it’s hard to find another movie “like” The Princess Bride because there’s nothing else quite like it—but what other movies would you recommend along these lines? We’d love to give your recs a try on our next family movie night.
5. Eggplant. Who would have thought it? Not me. But recently we’ve been enjoying—and what’s more, seeking out—a ton of eggplant recipes. Big hits in our kitchen have been this longtime favorite Barefoot Contessa dip, and new-to-us Smitten Kitchen baked eggplant with orzo and mozzarella and Melissa Clark’s sheet pan ratatouille with goat cheese and olives. (If you have a favorite recipe, tell us in comments!)
6. Burning the candles. This daily habit that I wrote about in Don’t Overthink It brings me so much happiness—but since I only do it in the cooler months, I need to restart the habit every fall. It’s a simple thing but it takes a conscious reset: every morning when I wake up, I light a candle in the dim kitchen while I start my coffee. It’s so much more satisfying than hoarding the “good” candles, which is what I did for far too long.
My current favorite is the Acorn Spice scent from Mrs Meyers. I never would have picked this scent based on the name, but the reviews on Grove.Co (my go-to place to get cleaning supplies and household products) convinced me to give it a try. (I’ve partnered with Grove for a long time now: use this link to get a free Mrs Meyers and caddy set with your first order.)
7. Corner Gas. Our Canadian friends turned us on to this old sitcom set in Dog River, a tiny Saskatchewan town in the middle of nowhere. The episodes are short and funny, and my whole family enjoys them.
8. Front porch reading. After a summer of sweltering heat and humidity, I can’t get enough front porch reading time. The mornings are now cool enough to require a hoodie and—glory of glories—maybe even a blanket. (And if you think all this front porch time makes me happy, you should see Daisy. She loves nothing better than to sit and smell the air and watch the world go by.)
9. Q-tips. I’m not even kidding. A couple of months ago my whole family had a rousing conversation about how the products we buy are getting junkier and junkier. We knew we were being a tiny bit ridiculous; maybe that’s why our discussion was so fun? My brother complained about airline leg room, my mom about the grocery store, and I ranted about just how crappy q-tips had become. Seriously, now they’re like flimsy straws with a tiny sheet of paper on each end, and I would happily pay for a better product if they’d give me my old q-tips back!
My mom was listening. And much to my surprise, soon gifted us all with our own box of Really Good Q-Tips. Technically, they’re U.S. Cotton First Aid Cotton Swabs, and I love them. It is a tiny, tiny thing—and yet every time I reach for one I think of our conversation, and my mom hunting down cotton swabs for us on the internet, and it brings me joy. (Thanks again, Mom.)
What (mostly) little things are bringing YOU a disproportionate amount of happy lately? I’d love to hear in comments.
P.S. Previous editions of little things I’m loving: 8 (mostly) little things I’m loving for early fall, 9 little things I’m loving this September, 6 things I’m loving for early summer, 5 late fall/early winter favorites, 7 little January favorites, 9 October favorites, and 7 not terribly exciting things making me really happy these days.