Friday, January 13, 2017

The Happy List v.1

It's cold here.

Really, really cold.

That means I'm spending a lot of time indoors which gives me too much lots of time to think, surf the internet, read, shop online, and apparently, blog about it all.

Some of the blogs I read do a regular "Friday Favorites" feature which I always enjoy. I'm a fan of reading a hodgepodge of mostly useless but sometimes helpful ideas, products, and activities from people I don't know in real life but kinda like to think I do. Sitting here this morning, after having braved a freezing cold trip to Trader Joes and deciding I was never leaving my house again, I thought to myself, "Self, why don't you just have a little fun (remember, I'm having FUN these days) and write your own little list of what is making you HAPPY this week." I thought Self had a good idea, so here we go- for better or for worse.

Just so we are clear, I'm not promising this is a new regular feature. I'd loooove to say it would be, but there's that whole issue of mine with sustaining new ideas...sometimes yes, sometimes no. It's really hit or miss and there's no way of predicting the outcome at this early juncture. Stay tuned. 

1. Trader Joe's Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream

I'm starting with this because 1) It's right in front of me, and 2) I don't want to set the bar too high and have your interest pique right at the outset, but I also don't want to kick this off with a total loser. Hand cream seemed a safe bet.

I actually literally picked this up this morning and the nice TJ checkout gal and I had an extended conversation about it. She was really curious to know what I thought of it and I promised I'd report back. This is what people living in freezing temperatures talk about. 

Here's what I think after one use thus far: I like it. Helpful? No? Okay, I like how it goes on feeling really thick and moisturizing but it soaks in quickly and before you know it you are typing away on a keyboard with no greasy, slippery feeling in your fingertips (slippery is not a benefit when typing). For you smell-sensitive people, there is definitely a scent, but I find it a pleasant one. Not floral-y. I do not do floral scents. Shudder. But it's not a citrus-y scent either. I will do citrus scents. I am smelling my hands right now and I can't put my finger on how to describe it. Maybe a combination of baby powder and coconut? (Somewhere there is a perfume chemist fainting dead on the floor at my inability to describe a scent accurately). 

Anywhoooo.... For the one hour I have been using this hand cream, I am downright pleased. I will be keeping it in my desk drawer so I can have nicely moisturized but not slippery hands on these dry, bitterly cold days. (Have I mentioned it's cold?)

2. Plan To Eat

Okay, so I wasn't going to put this out there until I had been using it a little longer because of my very public struggles with meal planning and sticking with any plan relating to meal planning...but....this really is one of my favorite finds of the past couple weeks.

Here is what I can tell you, in the past 10 days I have only gone to the grocery store 3 times (That is record setting for me. I have been known to go to the grocery store 3 times in a single day.) I have had an advance plan for dinner every night aaaand- here's the kicker- have gone into the dinner hour knowing not only that I had a plan but that I had the ingredients on hand!

Whoop! Whoop!!

Here's where this site is making a difference for me. I don't necessarily hate to cook. I have many recipes I like and that my family likes. In fact, what I don't like are any meal planning services that tell me what to prepare. I KNOW WHAT WE LIKE, and I like finding new recipes for myself. What I HATE (yes, all caps) is making a grocery list for multiple meals, from multiple recipes, spread across several days. All the flipping back and forth to lists, the writing down, the cross-checking of ingredients...bleccch. Just put me back to bed. 

Enter....PLAN TO EAT!!

I get to import all of my favorite recipes (and it's super easy to do), drag and drop them into a calendar, and voila!! They produce my shopping list!! I can easily edit the shopping list based on ingredients I already know I have on hand, or items I want to add, or substitutions etc... and the list will be right there on my phone when I'm ready to hit the dang store. (Sorry for the colorful language.) 

I cannot over-emphasize all of the versatility of this site. I'm only still learning it all myself. It will adjust recipes based on quantity for you, you can create separate store lists if you shop different places for different things, you can add friends and then you have access to your friend's recipes as well (hello, Sister!!), you can easily shuffle meals around on your plan....I'm just agog, AGOG, I tell you, how user friendly and adaptable this site is! I. Am. Loving. It.

It is also very affordable. You can do a 30 day free trial and if you decide you want to stick with it you can either pay $4.95 a month, or $39 a year. 

I mean, come on! How much is your time worth? I'm quite sure I saved nearly one billion dollars in quality of life currency over the past 10 days by not going to the grocery store, pushing my cart through snowy, icy parking lots, every. single. day. (Which would normally be what I would have done.)

Plan To Eat. Friday Fave for sure.

3. The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

So, one of my "happy goals" of 2017 is to read more fiction. I always enjoy fiction but when I'm in a more introspective, ponderish, broody place I start reading more non-fiction in the areas of theology, spirtuality, self-helpish sort of stuff. The former Psychology/Religious Studies major in me eats it up, and it does me good in a way that fiction doesn't. However, reading fiction and escaping into other places, time periods, and imaginary people's lives also does me good in a way that all of the deep-dive intellectual stuff can't. 

I started one book at the beginning of the month but I wasn't liking it. I used to never abandon books. I can count on one hand the number of books that I've started and not finished in my lifetime. But using my One Word as my guide, I decided that to continue reading a book that wasn't making me "happy" was silly. I moved on.

Luckily, my second try was a winner. This is not great literature (please look to someone else's recommendations if that's what you are looking for), but for me this book did what I wanted it to do. It sucked me right in and kept me turning pages and interested right until the very end. 

Now, I can't tell you how much I dislike the cover art for this book. If you read the book you get where this image ties into the story, but it really gives the wrong impression for the overall nature of the book. The book is historical fiction but it jumps back and forth between past and present, ultimately tying the two together. I'm a fan of that literary technique (or whatever you want to call it). The historical part centers on the Royal Romanovs of Russia just before they are overthrown by the Bolsheviks, and then following their not so friendly removal from power. It was entertaining and interesting and is one of those that finds you going to Google to remind yourself of all that history that you once learned but have since forgotten.

Okay- just a long sleeve tee... I know. But, I have been shouting from the rooftops for months now, "MY KINGDOM FOR A NOT BOXY, NOT TUNIC LENGTH, NOT SLUB FABRIC, SLIGHTLY FITTED LONG-SLEEVE TEE!!!"

The neighbors are so thrilled I have finally found one.

I think Nordstrom has probably had this basic for an eternity but I was always happy with my long sleeve GAP tees so that is what I went with for years. UNTIL THEY CHANGED THEM. (She crumbles into a heap unable to function for days.)

And now I've been on a long-sleeve tee quest and it has been harder than it should be because it seems we are never going to leave this fashion cycle of everything fitting big, and "slouchy" (which is just a new euphemism for tent-like), and tunic-y, and otherwise TOTALLY WRONG for someone who is only 5'1" with curves. 

All you tall, willowy people look positively lovely in your flowing fabrics and ponchos. I promise you do and I even envy you. But that is the wrong direction to go when you are short with curves. Without at least a semi-defined waistline, you are headed straight to Oompa-LoompaVille. You can take that to the bank and cross-stitch it on a pillow, my friends.

So, this tee is saving me from that fate. 

FYI: In case you are looking to purchase one yourself and not sure about sizing: Based on reviews and the sizing recommendation that says it runs a little small, I went with a Petite Medium. (That was my other excitement with this tee. It comes in Petites sizing!). The PM was right for me. It's still fitted enough to be great as a layering piece but loose enough to be worn out its own. (If you know me in real life, that might help you with sizing. If you don't then that will be zero help at all. You're welcome.)

Thanks, Nordys. I've found my will to live again.

I enjoy following a few real bloggers out there. (I say 'real bloggers' as in people who are clearly trying to cultivate a following and make some money out of their hobby- and actually blog on a regular basis- unlike, ahem, fake bloggers like myself.)

Anywhoooo... I had a handful I followed and kept up to date with but hadn't added anyone new in awhile. I don't like getting too many on my list because then it starts to feel like it's just something that clogs up my email and reading all of them becomes another 'to do'.

However, somehow this week, and I honestly can't remember where or how, I stumbled on this gal and after reading through a few of her posts I decided to subscribe. I'm really drawn to her more minimalist, capsule wardrobe approach but she does it in a way that still looks fun and not like you are just wearing a "uniform" all the time. (Although truth be told, I'm a big fan of a uniform. I lean toward finding combos I like and sticking with it. Like a good long-sleeve, semi-fitted tee! Just sayin'.)

Now this gal is young, and tall, and willowy, and no kids, so we pretty much have everything in the world in common but I like her anyway. I also like her emphasis on responsible shopping and hunting down ethically made products.

She's doing a 10 x 10 day challenge right now with her friend and fellow blogger, Style Bee, so now I'm getting hooked on her too. My blog list may have just increased by two...

Check her out! She's fun!


Hope you enjoyed this first-ever-possibly-not-last-I'm-not-making-any-promises Friday Finds, Fun and Favorites!

Have a great Friday, a restful weekend, and don't forget to BE HAPPY!!


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