Friday, June 21, 2013

happy wagon

 In the book Star Girl, the title character had a miniature wagon into which she would place pebbles representing happiness. Every time she was happy she placed a pebble in the wagon. Every time she was sad she took one out. I love this idea.

Spend the afternoon with a loved one.
Pebble in.

Get to work late.
Pebble out.

Start a new book.
Pebble in.

Lose a favorite scarf on the train.
Pebble out.

There is no chance of me keeping up with a literal happy wagon. The closest I get is making happy lists (I highly recommend doing this when you're having a bad day. Sit down with a pen and paper and start listing off things you have to be happy about. Once you start it's easy to fill the page and soon you'll feel better). What I like best about Star Girl's happy wagon is that it requires her to pay attention to what makes her happy. If you know what makes you happy you can take steps to fill your happy wagon often. 

This is a new concept to me. It wasn't until recently that I began to notice how much my own actions effected my happiness levels. On days when I oversleep, get to work late, eat ice cream for dinner, and neglect my chores to lie on the couch and watch TV, I am unhappy. When I lose my temper, break something through carelessness, or forget my loved ones, I am unhappy. All of these actions rob my wagon of pebbles. 

To fill my happy wagon up I:
drink a cup of coffee slowly in the morning.
nurture a balcony garden.
make time to see/talk to friends/family.
eat a healthy diet of whole foods.
run (a newly discovered joy-giver)
cook food.
talk about food.
think about food.
spend time with Kenneth.

The top photos of me are, in my opinion, unflattering. But I love them. I love them because they are pictures of me in one of my happiest places doing some of my happiest things. I love spending time in the kitchen. In this case I'm chopping up dark chocolate to make grain-free chocolate "chip" cookies with Kenneth. Looking at these pictures, remembering the fun evening baking with my love, fills my happy wagon to the brim!

What fills your happy wagon, friends?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

a recipe

The perfect day:
an early morning run along the bike path,
four feet moving in twos.

Coffee with milk and honey,
then a second cup.

The usual adventure
to the market, the bookstore,
another day, another errand.

In the kitchen together
making dinner, drinking wine.

Sun set, moon rise
in the garden.
Good night.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

tokyo twenty-twelve

I've been sitting on these photos since October. I leave for France in ten days. Nothing like realizing your next international trip is around the corner to make you edit your last international trip. This trip was hard for me because I spent the first half alone in a country totally foreign from my own with no ability to communicate beyond the basic "hello" "bathroom". That intense feeling of loneliness and isolation would hit me whenever I went to look at the photos so I didn't. I let them sit untouched on my camera and in little folders on my laptop; until last night. I guess enough time has passed. Now when I look at these photos I remember the great adventure of travel and the joy in discovering a new city and world. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

running south

When we were in college we would run away to Richmond. When the stress of papers and exams were too much we would pack our bags for the weekend, hop in Kenneth's car and drive two hours south to home cooked meals and a city that was a wonderful escape from our reality. We would sleep in and spend the day hiking, wandering Carytown, fishing and eating everything Kenneth's mom cooked for us. In a house filled with cats and dogs and a bedroom where we would watch movies and drink wine from giant jugs, we could hide from the real world.

Now the reality we're running from is a lot more real than it was in college. Now we're running from bills, jobs, and wedding planning. But we're still running to the same place. We're running to home cooked meals and cats and dogs and sisters. Two hours south is just far enough away to forget our forty hour work weeks and electric bills.

Friday, June 7, 2013

garden green


This year we are growing together. 

We have eight tomato and pepper babies on the balcony and the beginnings of an herb garden in the office. There is a lemon tree in my living room. Kenneth is also growing a potato in a pot. I always get so nervous after starting a garden. I feel such responsibility and also such ineptness. I know next to nothing about growing food and that knowledge (or lack of) overwhelms me sometimes. This year I am reminding myself that all I can do is my best and that anything that happens will be a learning experience. In the meantime, it is simply a joy to be surrounded by living green things. 

A home is more beautiful when it is filled with plants.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

the party

Every year I put together a little something for my birthday because there is nothing more wonderful then spending time with your favorite people all together. Each year I am reminded of how great it is to have such good friends. People who drive hours just to spend a few hours talking and eating together. Whenever I feel lonely I just remind myself that if someone is willing to drive two hours to spend three hours together before driving two hours home that there is a friend! I am truly lucky to have met such amazing people in such few years on this planet. I anticipate many birthday celebrations to come with them surrounding me.
This year we went the easy route with food. Pulled pork for sandwiches and two simple salads, one fruit the other veggie as sides. I wanted to have plenty of dessert options so I made my favorite zucchini muffins (lucky me there were tons of leftovers, I've been having muffins for breakfast for days), a lemon bread (which actually didn't turn out), and paleo chocolate cake with raspberry ganache. Kenneth suggested that we have a non-paleo dessert so he picked up doughnuts and I arranged them on a cake platter. I think everyone enjoyed everything and the cake received good reviews even from my non-paleo friends!
One thing I learned from this party is it is a great thing to have an adorable two-year-old as a party guest. Not only was Cordelia entertainment on her own but she also brought legos! There is nothing better then seeing your 25 year old friends down on the floor playing legos as they sip their beers. Cordelia's mama is also my best friend so it was really just wonderful to have the whole family visit! Oh, the monkey in this picture is not Cordelia's. It is the special friend of my dear friend and sister-to-be, Kirsten.
Another year, another party, and another reminder that life is wonderful and to be cherished.