The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

happiness-project-rubin

 

Gretchen Rubin has spent an extraordinary amount of time studying and observing human happiness. Her book The Happiness Project is based on the idea of taking small actions to increase your happiness and the happiness of those around you. For a year, she made small goals to work on each month that she believed might increase her satisfaction with life. For example, in January, she focused on taking care of her body; in February, she put extra effort into her marriage; in July, she spent a little extra money on things that either boosted her mood or saved her time. Throughout the year, she held on to the ideas that helped enrich her life, and let go of the ones that didn’t.

This book is designed for the average person. It’s not intended to cure depression or help with a major life change. It primarily makes you think about the aspects of your own life and what small actions might make you more content with your home, family, work life, health, relationships, etc. In each chapter, she tells personal stories but also shares interesting facts about the way people think and behave, which I found quite interesting.

In the beginning of the book, she makes a list of her her rules to live by and lessons she’s learned throughout her years on this earth. These are simple things like “It’s important to be nice to everyone,” and “You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you like to do.” For the latter, Rubin uses the example of feeling guilty about not wanting to go the symphony or participating in a committee that she was invited to join. Once she stopped worrying about being a certain way and let go of the things that weren’t enjoyable, she could focus on doing more of the things she genuinely loved, like reading and writing. Pretty liberating.

Cooking with cast iron

Le Creuset Marseille Blue Le Creuset Marseille Blue

I have a fairy godmother (AKA, very generous aunt) who has given me the best things in my kitchen, including my Pistachio Kitchen Aid mixer, a very nice knife, and this kick-ass Le Creuset 10-inch skillet in Marseille Blue. After all of the reports about Teflon being an unhealthy material to use, I much prefer to use my cast-iron skillet whenever I can. It perfectly browns everything without burning it. I’ve used it for countless dishes and it always produces a delicious meal. In fact, last weekend, I made some darn good pancakes in it. In case you’re not convinced, the New York Times is a fan of cast iron too.

Side note: Someday I will have a kitchen like this one where you can hang your pots and pans. I’ll take the greyhound too, while I’m at it.

Spring packages

pretty packages tied up with string

These little packages were just too pretty to not photograph. They are precious gifts for a very special Mama-To-Be from Blanche + Mimi and More & Co. in Portland, Maine. If you are having a baby (or know someone who is), Blanche + Mimi has the sweetest clothes and gifts for little ones. More & Co. is one of the most refreshing and fun stores in Portland, with its original selection of well-made gifts. Not to mention that the folks who run the shop are incredibly creative and fun.

I couldn’t help myself from taking a snapshot before sending these off to one of my besties who lives on the west coast.

Hopes and dreams and pretty notebooks

IMG_9606

I decided back in January that 2014 is a year of exploration and growth. Meaning that I want to learn new things, challenge myself, and plan for the future. So far, this has involved completing a knitting class at Gathering of Stitches, re-instating my gym membership until it gets warm enough to run outside (yay, endorphins), opening a new savings account, making plans to attend a professional conference in Seattle, and signing up for a 5-week photography course that I will take this summer…among other things.

I’m the type of person who has to write things down in order to process them and to generate new ideas. When I write them down, the ideas begin to flow organically. If I’m brainstorming only in my mind, I try to hold on to the thoughts so they don’t disappear, which prevents new ideas from forming. So, into the notebooks the ideas go! In this case, a plain old legal pad simply won’t cut it. Good ideas must be written in a place worthy of keeping them. These notebooks are from Molly & Rex, Rifle Paper Company, and Mara-mi.

What kinds of new things are you guys learning and doing this year?

Refreshing skincare for spring

Origins 'Never a Dull Moment'I’ve been using Origins Checks and Balances face wash for years, but I decided to switch it up recently to try something new. Never a Dull Moment smells like tropical fruits and exactly what I need to start my day on a positive note. Unlike Checks and Balances, which is frothy, this one has a gel consistency, but if you start off with not too much water, it lathers nicely.

This almond butter will change your life.

Justin's Maple Almond ButterGuys, you have got to try this stuff. Nut butter is pretty good, right? Right. Well, this stuff is *amazing.* Justin’s is a company based in Boulder, Colorado, and they make the tastiest nut butters you’ll ever try. The Maple Almond flavor is my favorite. I eat it on celery (ants on a log!), apples, dates, and just about anything. A jar is pricy, but it will last a long time. Or if you just want a little taste of heaven, you can buy one-serving packets of deliciousness instead of the full jar. In Maine, it’s available at Hannaford and Whole Foods.