Things I Love Thursdays

1. This quote.  As much as this political climate and administration has drained me, I still live within this hope.  Love love love.

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it. Right now I’m living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.

– Barbara Kingsolver

 

2. The cutest office supply ever. Of course, it reminds me of the movie, Up.  And of course, it would get lost under stacks of paper on my desk, but still… ADORABLE.

Balloon Pin House byClive Roddy

Balloon Pin House by Clive Roddy

 

3. People who are nice, even when they don’t need to be. I had a funny, silly exchange with the voice at the Starbucks drive thru last week.  As I drove away, I noticed he had written me a message on my iced latte.  I never met him, I never saw him, I only heard his voice, but his small gesture made my day.

Starbucks guy, you made my day. 😊 @starbucks #starbucks

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4. My mom!!! Happy birthday, Mom! I love you, and your grandies do, too!

Nonna and her oldest grandchild.

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Leisure Time

Once a year my husband heads to Maine on a Friday morning with all three kids. This means that when I get home from work on Friday night, I get the house all to myself for a glorious 12-14 hours.  Sure, I’ll be sleeping for 7-8 of those hours but the other 5 or 6 hours?  I can do whatever I want!  And those sleeping hours?  They will be uninterrupted! (Except maybe by the confused cat, wondering where the rest of her noisy family is.) And the waking hours?  No one asking for anything (except maybe the hungry cat)! No one needing dressing, changing, wiping, feeding or any of my attention!  OH HAPPY DAY!

She loves Prime.

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My mind spins with all of the possibilities!  I will make a plan!

THE PLAN:

I will…

… go to Target on the way home, or maybe Whole Foods, or maybe Trader Joe’s!  I never go to Trader Joe’s! I will get their margarita mix!  And some onion bhajis!  And croissants! And flowers!  And mango babka!

Image from Trader Joe's. Click on photo to go there!

Image from Trader Joe’s. Click on photo to go there!

… swing by Starbucks for an iced tea! That I won’t have to share!

… stop by my regular grocery store to pick up some items on my list! And wander slowly through the aisles, contentedly humming along to the piped-in grocery store music! And I won’t buy goldfish! Or yogurt in a tube!

… go home, preheat the oven and make this chocolate cake! While listening to 80’s hits and dancing around the kitchen!

Smitten Kitchen's Everyday Chocolate Cake. This is her photo - isn't it gorgeous?! Click on the link to visit her site - it is one of the very best!

Smitten Kitchen’s Everyday Chocolate Cake. This is her photo – isn’t it gorgeous?! Click on the link to visit her site – it is one of the very best!

… clear some toys from the toy room while the cake is baking!  Finally get around to moving the toys we are keeping into the newly-finished basement!  Prep some toys for donation! Good deeds! Tax write-offs! Less legos to step on!

… clear some of the 5,000 photos (I’m not joking) off of my phone!  Back everything up to the Cloud, my laptop, and my external drive!  Add photos to my family photo share site!

… figure out my Amazon Fire TV stick!

… unpack my suitcase from my Midwest trip! Do a load of cold delicates that is just mine!

… go out and get a steak or something decadent, and sit alone, sipping a cocktail (or two!) and reading!  No picking up pieces of cold, slimy mac & cheese off of the floor when I’m done! No rushing through dinner! No asking for the check when I order the entree!

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

… put on my PJs and watch a movie of my choosing, with an R rating, from the seat of my choosing, on my own couch! While eating cake!

… sleep a glorious 8 hours! Wake slowly! Drink an entire cup of coffee while it it still hot! Take a walk then a long shower using all the hot water I want! Eat a piece of chocolate cake for breakfast! No need to set a good example!

… swing by the farmer’s market for raspberries! And tomatoes! And veggies! And anything else that strikes my fancy!

… pack my bag for the journey up to Maine! Listen to podcasts on the way! Stop at my favorite outlet in Kittery! Make it up to see the kids at lunch, feeling fulfilled and refreshed!

THE REALITY:

I will go home, put on my PJs, and order Thai take out.

I will then realize I have to get dressed to get the Thai food, throw on a sweatshirt (in July), and hope I don’t run into anyone I know who is out and being social and fun on a Friday night.

On the way out, I will realize we are out of cat food but skip the grocery store, lest I run into one of those social, fun, productive acquaintances. This means I will have to listen to the cat loudly lament the terribleness that is dry food (disgusting death nuggets, stupid human!) for the rest of the evening.

I will half watch The Great British Bake Off (go Ian!) while playing Plants v. Zombies until my eyelids droop at 9pm.

I will wake up to pee twice, and to a meowing cat three times.  And I will wake up three more times for no good reason, other than that I’m really used to sleeping next to my husband.

I will leave early to go to Maine, because I’m inexplicably up at 5:30am and have no coffee or half and half in the house, because I anti-socially skipped the grocery store.

And I’ll drive straight through, because I should.  And because Maine is awesome.  And so are my kids and my husband.

And lobster.

First Mate #nofilter

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Great! Full!

50 Days of Gratitude

Days 31-40

Phew!  I’m getting there.  I’m trying to avoid repetition, but have been tempted to recycle some items.  For instance, I would like to find 8 ways to be thankful for coffee. Lattes, coffee, iced coffee, cafe con leche, Dunkin Donuts, Irish coffee.  That’s seven.  What am I up to now? 180-something list items?  You try to make a gratitude list that long and not put coffee on it at least twice.

140. Plum’s cutest little woodchuck teeth

141. A good steak

142. A husband who loves yard work

143. Warm, clean laundry – When I was small… wait, I was never small… when I was young, I used to lie on the couch and have my father put all of the fresh-and-hot-from-the-dryer laundry right on top of me.  Weird, but comforting, too.  

144. Elections

145. Dishwashers

146. Sticky buns

147. Jeans – I mistyped this so for a second I wondered which “Jean” I was thankful for.  There is a woman named Jean in my office, and I suppose I am thankful for her, but I didn’t remember putting her on my list. If I can’t wear yoga pants every day, I would like to wear jeans (not Jean).  A girl can dream, and I dream of jeannies.  (Ouch, that was terrible.)

148. The smell of wood smoke – It means November is here, the days are short, the leaves are down, the wood is stacked and the slippers are on.

149. Meatloaf – With a ketchup and brown sugar glaze, and mashed potatoes on the side.  Mmmmm.  You took the words right out of my mouth! (Okay, someone stop me, this is getting ridiculous!)

150. Alpacas

151. Ohio – Blue state in 2012.  I am thankful for that. 

152. Microwaves

153. Kind words

154. Anniversaries – Happy #4 to me and my first husband.*

Photo by Hinkley Photo

155. Q-tips

156. Coffee milk – I think this is a New England thing.  Coffee syrup + milk = delicious.  Add a salami sandwich (#177) on white bread with mustard and you have a delicious and nutritionally lacking lunch of champions. 

157. Thoughtfulness

158. Dinner dates

159. Boots – When you are 2.5 and you have big feet, your boots go up to your knees. But you don’t care much and insist on wearing them everywhere.  Even with shorts. 

160. Parenthood – I may spend a lot of time whining that it is hard, but it is also so very very good.

161. Those jelly candy fruit slice things

162. Working garbage disposals – I am mostly thankful for these because currently we do not have one.

163. In-laws – No really, I’m not joking.  Mine are great.

164. Butter – REAL butter. What is up with people eating all sorts of food that isn’t actually food? I had breakfast at a friend’s house a few weeks ago and we had coffee and breakfast sandwiches. Seems simple enough, right?  But no. Bacon? Not real bacon. Cheese? Not real cheese, soy cheese. Butter? Not real butter – some sort of butter-ish spread. Cream for the coffee? Not real cream, flavored Coffeemate. I am no health nut, and my diet is passable at best, but I do have one thing going for me. I try very hard to make sure the food I eat is ACTUAL FOOD.  Bring on the butter. (And please disregard all of the items on this list made with high fructose corn syrup.) 

165. Grandparents

166. Hopefulness

167. Facetime

168. Gifts

169. Lobster – See also #164.

170. Modern medicine – My dear Plum, we are working hard to get those ears fixed, my dear.  Here’s hoping the 5th time is the charm. 

171. Peacocks

172. This day

173. My own special blend of slightly jaded optimism – Sarky Tartlet, Jaded Pollyanna, I’ve been called both.  And while I’m content to whinge and whine about the current state of affairs, deep down I still, and will always believe in people, in community, in love and in kindness.  I may not say that out loud – cynicism is easier – but it’s true. 

174. The swirl of sweet Plum’s hair – She used to have a perfect swirl of a belly button – alas, no longer. But it appears the swirl has migrated to her head. Her hair falls naturally into a perfect little vortex on the top of her little strawberry-blonde head.  

175. Roast chicken

176. A purring cat – The other night, Mr. Pickle discovered that cats purr. He was confused and then amazed. It took him 2.5 years to discover this, because he finally figured out the best way to pet our sweet Lula cat is from head-to-tail, and not vice versa.  Pickle thinks purring is a fabulous cat trick.  I suspect his amazement will subside in a few weeks when he gets his big boy bed and the purring cat tries to sleep on his head.

177. Salami

178. Many happy memories

179. Curiosity

180. Spellcheck

181. Plumbers – See #162.

182. Music

183. Live theater – I miss it.  Seeing it. Doing it. All of it. 

184. Wild salmon

185. Calm evenings

186. Wednesdays

187. Shoes that are comfortable AND cute – Right now I am crushing on Cole Haan flats and wedges with Nike Air technology.  Perhaps Santa will bring these?  I’ve always wanted my own pair of blue suede shoes! 

Cole Haan Milly Wedge in Cobalt

 

* He is my only husband, but that joke never gets old.

Gratitude Attitude

50 Days of Gratitude – My Thanksgiving Countdown continued…

The countdown to Thanksgiving continues.  I’ll admit, sometimes at the end of the day it is hard for me to come up with more than 2 things.  And usually one of those two is “sleep” or “bedtime” or some permutation thereof.  But I’m still going, and I’m more than halfway there.

You can find my first 10 days of gratitude here.

Things I am grateful for…

Days 11 through 20

49. Dragonflies

50. Sweet and surprising things Mr. Pickle says in the midst of the daily madness that catch me off guard – tonight it was an unprompted, “Thank you for dinner, Mama” while we all sat eating together

51. Hearing a great/fun/memory-full song on the radio that I haven’t heard in ages (The other day it was Phish’s “Bouncing Round the Room” and I was right back in high school again.)

52. English Breakfast tea

53. Junk food TV (My husband makes fun of me, but I am not ashamed to admit that I like Long Island Medium. I do. And I’m tempted to tune into Duck Dynasty, too. I have not yet reached the level of Honey Boo Boo, though.)

54. Drinking straws (The number of bendy straws I go through is irresponsible. Surely, I am contributing more than my fair share to local landfills. I feel guilty, but not enough to stop using them.)

55. Internet shopping (I have started my Christmas shopping, but only because it is so much darn fun to hunt for bargains and great gifts online. In case you’re wondering, I have not purchased the unicorn mask for anyone… yet.)

56. The overwhelming kindness and support of my friends

57. Night swimming (The activity AND the song by REM.)

58. The quiet of snow (I once heard something about sound waves travelling differently- or not at all? – through falling snow. I should probably look that up. But in the meantime, I think it is true and the stillness, and quiet it just amazing.)

59. Coordinated naps (Can I get an “Amen”?!)

60. The big freezer in my basement

61. Iced coffee

62. Gummy vitamins

63. Laughter

64. Flying, leaping hugs

65. My wise, old soul little girl, who loves “Goodnight Irene” better than any other song

My pensive 7-month-old.

66. Patience

67. The ability to participate in our political system

68. Pacifiers

69. Dental care

70. Flannel sheets

71. Legal pads (I inherited my love of legal pads from my father.)

72. Weekends

73. Love

74. Malbec

75. April, Jena and Christine (Different backgrounds, different ages, different life paths, but the same loving supportive friendship.  I am so grateful for them.)

76. Gold sunshine on an October afternoon

77. Tylenol

78. ATM machines

79. Leftovers

80. Roasted garlic (Or any garlic, really.)

81. Giggles (Is there anything better than hearing wild giggles emanating from your son and daughter while they play with their dad? Nope, there isn’t.) 

82. Adventures

83. Pajamas

84. Perspective

85. Cole slaw

86. Rock ‘n’ roll

87. New Zealand (I lived there in 2002 and I left a part of my heart there.)

88. Greek yogurt

89. Good hair days

90. Silliness

91. Monogramming (I can’t help it. Please don’t ever get me a labeller – it wouldn’t be pretty.  My daughter just received this blanket from Pottery Barn Kids and I love it. So does she.  If I had to guess, this blanket will quickly become her lovey.  Added bonus?  The gift giver had it monogrammed with her name!)

92. Nieces!

93. Oatmeal raspberry squares

94. Coffee, but not just any coffee, coffee that is the absolutely perfect temperature with just the right amount of 1/2 and 1/2.

95. My husband, who is unreasonably patient and kind, with me and with the kiddos

96. Baby bunnies (A co-worker raises amazing fluffy bunnies so she can shear them and spin their fur/hair into yarn.  One of her mama bunnies had 6 little ones, and I can now state, without hesitation, that baby bunnies are indeed the cutest things on the planet. Or probably the universe. Puppies are in the Top 10, as are kittens.  But bunnies top the list. No question.)

Image from FreeDigitalPhotos.net.