Archive for the ‘simple pleasures’ Category

Although I murmured a disappointed sigh when I had to pull my coat out of the closet now that we’re back in Seattle, it still feels really, really good to be home.  This weekend was full of all those little things I missed while we were away:

  • Our Seattle peeps.  There were so many moments in Texas when we turned to each other and wished our friends were sitting at the bar with us, pigging out on brisket with us, hanging at the park with us.  We got together with the gang yesterday for Jon and Adrienne’s baby shower, and it felt good to be back in the fold, to know how exactly what Nance meant when she said it seemed like we were gone for such a long time.
  • Watching the Giants on TV.  Dang, it feels good to veg out in my sweats on a Sunday afternoon.  Even if our boys did get swept by the Padres.  Hmmmph.
  • Fresh produce.  I did manage to squeeze in a salad or two between the tacos and the barbecue, but I really missed our fruit bowl while we were traveling.  Don’t get me wrong – ice cream and cheese puffs are still high my list when I get the afternoon snack attack, but that juicy mango I had at lunchtime hit the spot like nothing else.
  • Our house.  Our comfortable bed, our large bathroom (his and hers sinks have saved us many a marital conflict), our Japanese maple which brought forth bright new leaves while we were gone.  An afternoon nap on our cozy couch with my favorite blanket was nearly as satisfying as the aforementioned mango.

Like I said, it’s good to be back.  If I could figure out a way to come home each day to clean towels and a fresh-made bed, we might just book our next vacation in Seattle…

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Our winter wonderland has melted into a cold, dirty slush – this weekend was full of rain and dreary gray skies.  Hmmph.  So I’m seeking comfort wherever I can find it, drowning my post-snow sorrows in:

Fresh-baked banana bread – my second loaf of the weekend just came out of the oven, and the house smells like the happiest place on earth.  It’s cheap and easy, rich and moist, and so wonderfully versatile:  perfect for a morning brunch or an after-dinner dessert.  Shane eats it like it’s goin’ out of style.

Sunday afternoon football.  Not so much for the sport, but for the quality relaxation I get as I curl up next to Shane on the couch and read or nap while he watches the game.  Maybe because I grew up in a home of football fans, maybe because it’s something so inextricably linked with mellow winter weekends, but there’s something really comforting about an afternoon with the NFL.    p.s. Dang it, Ravens!

My Kindle.  I resisted the e-book revolution for a long time, arguing that there just isn’t any substitute for the feel of a book with flippable pages in your hands, but now that I’m a Kindle owner, I’m never ever going back.  I have stocked this itty bitty device with a dozen classics (free!) and am frequently taking advantage of the library’s list of e-books (free!).  Never again will I be caught without something to read.  Brilliant.

Candles, double pairs of socks, and blanket cocoons.  I feel like I’m in semi-hibernation, but I’ve made myself one heck of a cave.

Loving on this chilly Fall weekend…

Classical music:  We’ve visited the two different symphonies over the past two weekends, and for the first time in recent memory, I heard the music, and I really, really dug it.  Maybe Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky are acquired tastes, like wine or coffee – and as was the case after countless glasses of Cabernet and mugs of hot lattes, I think I’m making progress in appreciating the finer things in life.

Boots:  I’ve officially tucked anything sandal-like back into the deep recesses of my closet, and my new black riding boots are getting lots of play these days.  At the risk of sounding much more practical than fashionable, I’ll admit that what I love more than anything is the fact that I can wear my thick, cozy socks with them.  It’s amazing when comfort and style converge in a perfect pair of shoes, isn’t it?

Art books:  I’ve recently added a few new ones to my bookshelf and am really, really loving this collection of works by Yves Klein.  Shane and I saw a big exhibit of his work when we were in Minneapolis last winter, and I haven’t been able to get the image of his ‘fire paintings‘ out of my head since.

Big pots of hearty soup:  Sunday has become soup day in our house.  Which means Monday, and Tuesday, and sometimes Wednesday are soup days as well (which means less ‘cereal days’, which is a good thing)…

Adios, weekend…  And hello, three-day work week – woot!

A few recent happiness-makers…

The Epicurious iPhone app:  I have come to discover that it’s not the act of cooking that keeps me from preparing homemade meals; it’s really the act of meal planning that I find so daunting.  I’m overwhelmed by the possibilities and the unknowns (c’mon Martha, demi-glace???) when considering what to make, and so I resort to the same rotation of stir-fry with store-bought curry sauce, pasta with store-bought marinara sauce, and soup that has “NOT HOMEMADE” practically printed on the label of the can.  But thanks to the convenience of having a number of simple, healthy, non-pretentious recipes at my fingertips via the Epicurious iPhone app, I’ve been on a cooking streak as of late.  I can scan their recipe collection on my phone while on my way home from work or while I’m lounging on the couch, tag a few favorites, make a shopping list and send Shane off to the store for the week’s ingredients, and voila!  Lots of hearty soups (we made this the other night and really liked it), veggie-filled pasta dishes (this one is on the list for next week), and plenty of muffin recipes to keep my baking streak on track.

Black Raspberry Green Tea by Republic of Tea:  I picked up a can of this at the Coffee Mill while I was back in Florida, and I have quickly become a believer in the difference between quality tea, and the cheap stuff that you pick up at the grocery store, just ‘cause it’s on sale.  Full of flavor and fragrance, and so, so good on a cold rainy night when all you want to do is curl up on the couch with Harry Potter and something hot to drink (I have had a number of these nights recently).

The new iPad:  I will admit that as with all things technological, I rolled my eyes when Shane started his sales pitch to me.  With two laptops, two iPhones, and a desktop computer in the house, I was hard-pressed to understand why we needed yet another gadget.  But dang, it’s pretty cool.  It’s going to be perfect for travel, considering the backache that usually ensues when I try to lug around my laptop in addition to my camera and Mary Poppins-esqe purse.  Super-sleek, super-light, super…Apple.  Kudos to Shane for not giving up in his tireless week-long hunt to get his hands on one so soon after their release.  Only strike against it is that it is so stinkin’ perfect for techie time-wasting: Angry Birds, YouTube surfing, Zappos browsing – I’ve been sucked into it all…

Survivor – Redemption Island:  It’s true – the latest season of this reality trash has me hooked.  Don’t judge.  Until you’ve bitten your nails throughout an intense Tribal Council, hoping that the nice guy will be spared over the back-stabbing hussie, you just don’t know how good it is.


Christmas-time baking – I made my first batch of almond butter toffee yesterday, and am on the lookout now for a good cookie recipe to add to my baking repertoire.  Preferably one that calls for massive amounts of both butter and chocolate.  ‘Tis the season…

My new copy of Drawing Now.  Insanely beautiful drawings, from a collection of enviously talented artists.  I love every. single. page.

Holiday movies.  Every December, I pull out Serendipity to swoon over John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale’s fairy-tale romance, and Little Women to cry over the heart-breaking loss of Beth.  Shane and I have also made it a tradition to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy every December – though they don’t fall in the ‘holiday’ genre, these movies feel deeply connected to the Christmas season, as we always caught them in the theater as a family during their late-December releases.

Rainy Sunday afternoons, when I can light a couple of candles, snuggle up on the couch, and munch on holiday goodies while flipping through good books or watching the afore-mentioned movies.  Today was that sort of day, and it was gooooood.


Mint dark chocolate by Divine.  Minty, but not too minty, dark, but not too dark, and sprinkled with little bits crunchy peppermint that give a perfect contrast to the creamy chocolate.  Plus, it’s fair-trade and organic – bonus!  The only downside of this stuff is that Shane, who is not usually a sweets-eater, loves it too, so I’ve resorted to hiding my share in the deep recesses of our kitchen cupboards (I never claimed I was good at sharing).

My art hanging on the walls of our home.  Bit by bit, I’ve been getting some of my encaustics and prints up on our walls.  It’s really satisfying (and motivating) to daily walk past the fruits of my creative endeavors.

Tomatoes from our garden – due to the cooler weather and all the rain we’ve had lately, this was not a stellar summer for tomatoes, but the handfuls we’ve picked from our vines have been sweet, juicy, and absolutely perfect when paired with fresh basil and drizzled with olive oil.

Modern technology – Shane I and video-chatted for an hour last night with our dear friends Brian and Nicole, who moved to Africa earlier this month.  From our living room couch, Shane and I were able to take a virtual tour of their Tanzanian home, see the smiles on their faces as we cracked jokes and caught up with one another, and temporarily forget the thousands miles between us.

Also loving the thought of snuggling into my warm, cozy bed on this cool Fall-feeling night, as it’s been a pretty long day.  Bonne nuit!

As of late, I like…

Sunny evenings spent sitting in the backyard, drinking wine and eating slices of baguette topped with Brie.  It’s our little homage to our fondest memories of Paris.

Rainy afternoons (’cause in Seattle, those sunshiny days don’t last for long) spent holed up inside, playing board games with friends. Yesterday, I discovered my love/hate relationship with Settlers of Catan (loved playing the game, hated that I lost…).

This project in Berlin – a building with a completely blank exterior, which is constantly transformed with artistic installations.  I love the idea of using a building as a canvas.  Carsten Nicolai’s installation is exceptionally cool, with its opportunities for public interaction and chance.

My ‘Hipstamatic Prints’ iPhone app, which applies different lighting and coloring effects to iPhone photos.  Shane is not with me on this one, as he seems to be a bit of a ‘purist’ when it comes to photography, but I think it’s fun, and perfect for spur-of-the-moment shots.

I am also loving my Mint Melange tea, paired with a chapter of Till We Have Faces, so I will be wrapping up the weekend accordingly.  ‘Night.

Random little things that are making me happy these days:

Fresh berries.  My parents brought us a couple of pounds of fresh-picked Oregon blueberries when they were here last week, and Shane and I have been eating them by the handful.

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The Lupines that are blooming in our little front yard garden.

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This handmade white ceramic vase that we bought on one of our last days in Paris.  It’s nice to have little reminders of our trip such as this one scattered about the house.

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My cute new jeans that I got on super-sale at Nordstrom Rack.

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Evening and weekend runs with Shane.  We’ve put quite a few miles on these shoes over the past few weeks.  Feels good to be getting in shape together.

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Stuff I’m into these days…

*Art and design blogs.  I have come across some amazing talent via the internet and am inspired by people like Amanda Blake, Cynthia Ona Innis, and Anne Wilson.  Beauteous.

*The taco bus located less than a mile away from our house.  Spicy, meaty goodness wrapped in a homemade corn tortilla and topped with fresh cilantro, to the tune of $1.20 (granted, I can usually scarf down at least 4 of these tacos, but still a good deal).

*Glorious sunshine and its resultant plant growth.

*Looking out the window while riding the bus home, rather than burying my nose in a book.

*Our neighborhood.  We live next to some genuinely wonderful people and I’m enjoying getting to know them better.

*Green tea ice cream.

*Nantaka Joy’s stationery.  Simply elegant.  I’m a sucker for pretty paper.

*Looking at ideas for decorating our bedroom.  Shane will cringe when he hears that I want to repaint, but I’m ready for something new.  I’m really liking the combination of steel gray with orange or bright yellow.

*Weekends!  Hooray for Friday nights.

I’ve had a hard time “embracing the present” this week, and so I’ve been focusing on all that I have to look forward to:

Getting up late this Saturday, then making French toast for breakfast (I’ve had a craving lately).

Seeing my Kindergarten class at church this Sunday. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve taught, and I’ve missed those kids.

Finishing up the punch lists for the project I’m working on in just a couple of weeks. Time to move on. My feet hurt.

Receiving the new cool, modern, wood bed frame and headboard that we just ordered from West Elm. Good-bye, squeaky old metal frame.

Heading down to Portland in a couple of weeks to visit my niece. Gotta say, I’ve got the baby itch (we’re not ready for our own, but it’s wonderful to enjoy other people’s kids!)

Checking out “First Thursday” (local Seattle art gallery walk) with Shane next Thursday. I love that he works downtown now, just a few blocks away from my office.

Planning our week-end getaway for the month of June (a new summer tradition). Camping? Vancouver? We need to get out of town.

Completing my third licensing test in just 12 days, after which I am allowing myself to take a one-month break from studying.

I know I shouldn’t resist dwelling in the present, but future seems so much more fun right now…