7 little January favorites

pomegranate lemon potpurri stove

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. Music, all the time.

It’s easier for us to play music now, so we’re playing music. We got a Sonos speaker back in the fall and I love it. (I had a great experience ordering through What Should I Read Next sponsor Zola.) I’m not sure why it’s a million times easier to use than the $30 Costco speaker I’d previously used, but it definitely is. It makes it so easy to play anything, all the time.

We have a family Spotify plan, so it’s easy to play exactly what you want to, or turn on a ready-to-go playlist, anytime. Good vibes.

2. A house that smells good.

I’ve been lighting the candles, filling up the diffuser, and putting a homemade pot of smells on the stove every single day. It makes such a difference in atmosphere (and I like to tell myself that two of these three do a tiny bit to combat our super-dry winter air).

3. Paperwhites.

They look beautiful, smell divine, and make me feel like a champ because I grew them myself, huzzah! My track record hasn’t always been good with things that grow, but this year these suckers bloomed.

When I was growing up, my mom would seek out paperwhite bulbs every year; this year I forgot all about winter bulbs and stumbled upon these by chance, on clearance at Home Depot.

I couldn’t fit them all in the bowl so I have a few random mason jars throughout the house. Did I mention they smell amazing? These are definitely in the running for the best $5 I’ve spent lately.

If you’re interested, here’s how to do it. I filled my big bowl with marbles, and my mason jars with tiny pebbles.

4. Greek lemon chicken soup.

I wish I could remember who to thank for sending me this recipe, because it’s easy to make, crowd-pleasing, and just the right balance of bright and cozy. I was a little bit scared of the unusual technique (it’s thickened with egg yolks, what?) but I took a deep breath and followed the directions and it turns out perfectly every time. So good.

5. Grove Collaborative.

I haven’t talked about Grove here in forever (perhaps because I’ve come to take it for granted?), but a few local friends signed up recently and their gushing reminded me to be thankful that Grove delivers my favorite sweet-smelling household essentials like clockwork.

I love their products (Method, Mrs Meyers, and their house brand candles are longtime loves, and their Acure Organics brightening facial scrub is a new fave) and I really love not running errands.

6. Aquaphor.

The air is so dry my kids and I suffer from brutal dry skin—but only when we forget to slather this on at night. This stuff is drugstore magic

7. Madeleine L’Engle.

Is it just me, or do the new Wrinkle trailers make you want to re-read everything she ever wrote?

I encountered a new-to-me L’Engle poem during the Christmas season, and I loved it so much I pinned it up by my desk. It’s called “Into the Darkest Hour” (I can’t find a reputable source to link to online, unfortunately) and it’s from her WinterSong: Christmas Readings collection with Luci Shaw.

That set off a chain of L’Engle exploration, and has me resolving to re-read Wrinkle and A Circle of Quiet, and to finally finish reading the rest of the Crosswicks Journals, and Meet the Austins and that whole series, which I’ve somehow skipped. Those sound like cozy winter reading to me.

What little, not-hugely-significant things are bringing YOU a disproportionate amount of happy lately? I’d love to hear in comments.

P.S. 5 late fall/early winter favorites, and survival strategies for winter, my least favorite season.


Leave A Comment
  1. Corby says:

    OMG snuggie blanket where have you been all my life. Got the lovely blanket for Christmas and now I can read and drink my tea with my blanket snug up to my neck and my arms nice and toasty.
    Speaking of tea…Simpson & Vail’s literary tea line is amazing. My current favorite is James Joyce blend.

  2. Susan King says:

    Movie Pass. This is a subscription service to movie theaters. Think Netflix for physical movie theaters. The $9.95 monthly fee allows me to see a movie in a theater once a day. It’s crazy fun!

    • Katie says:

      Oh wow! I’ve never heard of this. I used to love going to the movies. But now, depending on where you are, $9.95 isn’t even a movie ticket.

      • Susan King says:

        It’s an app for your phone. Download it, register through the app and they’ll send you a physical card that you use at the theater. I am looking forward to seeing A Wrinkle In Time AND Ready Player One. Probably multiple times! My reading life may suffer, though, as I want to see ALL THE MOVIES!!!

    • Britany Arnold says:

      Yes!!! I got this for my dad for Christmas and he’s gone at least 14 times now. I need to get one for myself! He loves it and safe to say it was a hit. ?

  3. Renee says:

    I always want to read all the L’Engle, but definitely now more than ever! I never knew there were other people who loved her as much as I did until I found this community! ? I got a couple of really pretty travel mugs for Christmas and I love seeing them when I’m having my coffee at work!

    • Mairsydoats says:

      I LOOOOOVE L’Engle! I might, I mean, just MIGHT have yelled at my copy of The Severed Wasp “But where is your sister Vicky? WHERE? How can you not ever mention anyone else in your family?
      Then went back and re-read the book to see if there were any clues I missed.
      Um, Anne, you might like the Austins. Just don’t skip the other books. They’re all interconnected!

  4. Allison Wolfe says:

    My favorite indulgence? Glamorous Wash by Tyler Candles, Diva scent. It smells incredibly divine, but is expensive, so I just do my sheets and fine washables in it. But oh that scent that greets me at bed every night when I slip between the sheets. Heaven!

  5. Blaire says:

    I love a simmer pot! My grandmother always has one going especially when hosting and it makes the whole house smell amazing. I’ve taken up the tradition and it makes me so happy. Also winter fruit like cara cara oranges and Meyer lemons make me happy this time of year.

  6. I would love to try growing paper whites because they smell like heaven! Good idea about the homemade pot of smells. Anything that helps combat the dry air with the added benefit of a lovely scent is a great idea this time of year. I need to try your recipe. Great list!

    • Brittney says:

      I’m so intrigued by this! I forced paper whites a couples years ago for Christmas, and the smell was unbearable. We kept thinking the toddler had a diaper problem! I haven’t done it since because even though they were so pretty and I was so proud, we didn’t want that stank again. Maybe I got a bad batch??

  7. Kathryn says:

    A great cup of coffee (or tea) and time to savor it.
    BTW the L’Engle poem can be found on the nextreformation.com website. I had the priveledge of hearing her speak at an Episcopal church in Fairfax, VA in the early 90s … she was a wonderful speaker,

  8. Claire says:

    It’s 10 degrees in my neck of the woods so here is what I am loving: 1. Educational toys that kids can play by themselves. My boys are 3 and 5 and it seems like EVERY toy or game we got for Christmas requires ME to play with them. And they beg me to play them. Every. day. I definitely do some of this but also have work and other things I have to get done. Thank GOD for lego Junior, easy puzzles, basic dominos (my kids use them like blocks) and Where’s Waldo (this is not a “toy” obv but it is more of an activity in my house). 2. Celestial Seasonings Dirty Chai tea – I am obsessed with this stuff. Like, I buy it by the case. Perfect afternoon treat.

  9. Cheryl says:

    We were early adopters of Sonos, absolutely one of my favorites (although the new app interface STINKS). But I finally upgraded to a family Spotify subscription. Definitely a good thing! A good thing for me that I just learned: I didn’t think I liked Kindle books, but I read more if I have one on my iPad. In the morning it’s just habit to grab my iPad, but when there’s a book I want to read on it, I end up reading instead of surfing around. Win! And if I need to buy the hardbound book, too, I am giving myself permission to do that.

  10. Tina B says:

    I listen to my downloaded music on my phone all day at work. I didn’t even think about it until I ready your list. I take it for granted, but I need it every. single. day. And, at home, it’s a snuggly blanket that I use in the evenings. As soon as I cover up, I fall asleep. It’s so soft and wonderful.

  11. Heidi says:

    My mom bought us a Keurig so she could have the coffee she likes when she’s at our house, and I rolled my eyes – stupid gadgets! But lately I’ve been waking up early to exercise and write before the kids wake up, and I’m so thankful for that little one-cup wonder!

    I ran across the Time books at our library, read by ML herself. They were amazing. Audible has a different reader, so it might take some hunting to find them, but her voice with those stories – so worth it!

  12. Heather says:

    Trader Joe’s had a vase with a paperwhite bulb and unfortunately I had to toss mine because it was dying. I was following the directions, but I guess they would probably do better in soil. I was so excited about it too! The Greek soup that you mention I believe is officially called Avgolemono Soup. It must be the “it” soup because it was in two cookbooks that I recently got from the library (Dinner Book and Tartine All Day). I thought it was delicious, but my boys weren’t huge fans :(. The pot of smells is genius! I will have to try that!

    • Terry says:

      You can’t grow paperwhites in soil, just rocks and water. But they have to have water; dry out once and they’re toast. I’m amazed that most comments love the scent – it’s quite bitter. I like it but my family doesn’t so… ?

  13. Dawn says:

    I’m reading “Glimpses of Grace” which is a collection of L’Engle’s works in a daily devotional format. It is a tiny dose of happy and beauty for the everyday. Having a daily practice is something I struggle with but this has made all of the difference. I’ve kept up with it for about a month which is a record for me!

  14. Doris says:

    Aside from all the great reads so far in 2018, one little thing that is making me TOTALLY happy is a little electric Mr Coffer mug warmer/hotplate I got from Amazon for around $8. It keeps tea at the PERFECT hot-but-not-scalding temperature. No more luke warmish tea when I’m too engrossed in a book to remember to sip!

    • Adrienne Hudson says:

      Yes!! Years ago I bought a candle warmer which I keep on my desk to keep my coffee or tea warm. Such a small thing but it makes a huge difference in my day!

  15. Susie says:

    Love everything you post, like minds!
    One of my favorite books is Two-Part Invention, the Story of a Marriage by Madeleine L’Engle. Beautiful memior of her marriage.

  16. We share a few delights:
    1. Grove Collaborative IS my favorite! The holiday smells of peppermint candle some cleaners was just fabulous. I love my shipment every month and we never run out of napkins or paper towels anymore or hand soap!
    2. Madeleine L’Engle: read through her wrinkle in time series about 10 years ago and will reread them shortly. Don’t leave out A Swiftly Tilting Planet, A Moving Door and Many a Waters (none of which you mentioned and they involve the same characters to an extent). Very deep! I’m looking forward to my Christian-based book club’s discussion because of the Narnia-Esque references to the Godhead, light vs darkness and the creation/purpose of life. Incredible!!
    3. Scents are huge in our home; for the first time I bought some of the wall plug-ins at Bath and body and have been and now I’m hard with the glorious scents in my rooms!
    4. Morning and evenings cups of tea.
    5. Music is always big for me! Biggest joys are making lip-sync videos for friends’ birthdays, which takes 1-3 minutes. {Posted under #birthdaygrams.} And sometimes I do carpool karaoke (although I have no one else in the car) which makes me extremely happy. I smile thinking about it!
    6. MOVIEPASS makes me SO happy. Especially in the winter (Utah) when you can’t do much in the evenings (or sneak away at lunch). I’ve seen all my favorites twice and loved going “for free”…Movie lovers unite!!
    7. Getting my car washed & vacuumed in the winter (cars get salty, dirty & crazy here) brings me happiness.
    8. Delicious hot cereal breakfasts
    9. Soups! Can’t wait to try yours! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Cathy Garland says:

    1) Camellias – I apologize to them for underestimating them. I used to think they were just defective roses (pretty, but no smell) but because they bloom so beautifully here in the south in the winter (by beautiful, I mean PROFUSELY), I’m a new fan.
    2) Snickerdoodles – I had no IDEA. Again, I overlooked these.
    3) Annie Selke – I like their design style and highly recommend their fuzzy robes. Good quality. Warm. WASHable. (I’ve got a 6-month old spits up on it daily, so I wash it daily. It has held up!)
    4) Journaling Bible and Pilot Gel Pens – jumped on this bandwagon in January.
    5) Planner Love Coloring Journal and Pages – did I mention I jumped on this bandwagon? Loving that it allows me to do something while on hold for work (like right now) or when I take a moment of mindfulness.

  18. Madeline L’Engle. All the love. Have you read Christy by Catherine Marshall? It was my first re-read this year because it’s been at least 15 years and I can’t believe I forgot how beautiful and timely it still is.

  19. Meg says:

    Acure makes the best products! That brightening face scrub is my fave, I buy two tubes at a time. The Resurfacing Face Cream smells divine and is inexpensive.

  20. SoCalLynn says:

    I just started the 3rd Crosswicks Journal, The Irrational Season. I absolutely love them. I am currently reading some books that I feel I should have read and haven’t yet, such as Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Red Pony, and The Bridge of San Luis Rey. I am enjoying crossing them off my TBR list. (I can’t wait to try the soup recipe, thanks.)

  21. Dana Kumerow says:

    Cinnamon spice tea, shortbread cookies and great hand knitted ( not by me) colorful socks that are great for wearing around the house on these cold days. Learning to knit is also on my list. I can do that while we watch a movie or Netflix. Perhaps one day I can make my own colorful socks. Right now I’m only good at coaster and dish cloths. Making soup and homemade bread are satisfying now as well. I will have to try the soup recipe.

  22. Diana says:

    I bought myself flowers this week, just because, and the little bit of extra life in the house makes me so happy. I basically carry them room to room with me. Also, fleece lined leggings under my pants at pretty much all times.

  23. Melanie says:

    I started a collection of beautiful, mismatched mugs in the fall and they’ve made all the warm drinks of the season taste even better. I also love opening the cupboard and seeing them all sitting there in the morning.

  24. Meghan says:

    Madeleine L’Engle! She’s my favorite ever. I just finished reading Summer of the Great-Grandmother (Crosswicks #2), and while I don’t think I am in the right season of life for it like I was with A Circle of Quiet, I still ended up getting something huge out of it about writing and expectations of writers and a writing life, and wrote about it for my blog (along with Wonder Woman).
    I’m also a huge, huge fan of Acure. I use the citrus and ginger Argan oil, the brightening scrub, and the face wash (the gel one with the orange label).
    Right now, I’m loving the snow! We have snow here in western Georgia, and my kids are out of school (so I’m also loving board games, which they have been playing in my office while I work) and it has just been so fun to see them playing out in the snow. They’ve been super into Calvin and Hobbes, and have talked for months about snowball fights and making weird snowpeople and forts, and so it’s nothing short of a miracle that they’re getting to experience a real snowfall. I also am way into neighbors who saved snow gear from previous duty stations and are willing to lend what doesn’t fit their own kids 🙂 We gave ours away this summer to friends moving to Colorado.

  25. LoriBelle says:

    My January favorites are 1) Gray, the abandoned little kitten we adopted. Yes, she’s a terror and yes, she is added work but I am loving this little girl. 2) a big pot of goulash. Great for those “in a rush and need a quick, easy dinner” nights. 3) my Salomon running shoes, although walking is my thing. 4) my Alta fitbit for tracking steps 5) these lovely chilly evenings 6) winter squashes and other vegetables 7) the book I’m about to start, My Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock.

  26. Holly says:

    Let me start by saying I am huge fan of your blog. I check daily for updates! My favorites right now are 1) the pioneer woman’s vegetable chili (so delicious), 2) the small things blog, 3) the Life360 app (for tracking my teens) and 4) cabin socks!

  27. Pam says:

    1) My space heater for the living room. Between two large windows and a drafty chimney, I need it on our coldest winter days. I woke up to a wind chill of minus 50 degrees Celsius one day recently.
    2) My four wheel drive SUV. This is my first winter with this new-to-me vehicle, and the difference in powering through new loose, deep snow is amazing. Now I just need to invest in some snow tires for icy roads.
    3) New Skin to cover up the cracks I get on the ends of my thumbs this time of year. It takes the sting away and acts like a bandage that speeds up healing. I also live in a dry climate – semi-arid according to weather and geography types – and during the winter it’s hard to keep these cracks from forming. My skin soaks up any lotion and just wants more.
    4) Homemade comfort food! I recently baked some chocolate banana bread and made a pot of Portuguese Chowder. Hot sausage, ham, kidney beans, a beef and tomato based broth and lots of veggies. Yummy!

  28. Jen says:

    Sonos + Spotify is an amazing combo. I use both nearly everyday. We’re also going through a lot of Aquaphor in our household too.
    With the subzero temperatures we’ve been having lately where I live, I’m loving the warm and cozy wool scarf I bought in Florence, Italy a couple of years ago. Keeps me warm and reminds me of a fun travel experience!

  29. Amelia Brown says:

    And, of course, beyond the Crosswicks Journals (perhaps my favorite nonfiction of all time), there’s Walking on Water, which makes the most beautiful connections and inspires meaning in art, as well as Bright Evening Star…

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