A tisket, a tasket, a surprise in a basket.  People have been telling me to read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project about as long as they’ve been telling me to try a Milky Bun, but I didn’t heed their advice until last night circa 10pm.  I’m a bit of a neat freak, so it was old news that Feng Shui inspires serenity (first chapter), but my interest peaked when I read how nagging destroys romance (second chapter).
Despite the whole ‘a clean home is a happy home’ mantra that lives in my bones, I’m known to… ahem.. throw wrappers behind my bed.  Eeww, right?  Can you believe I just admitted that on the Internet?  Thing is, I like ending the day with a book and a delicious snack while I’m tucked under a pile of covers.  Once the snack is done and my eyes are tired, well, it’s too much work to get up and throw away the snack, so I just tosssss it over the side.
I’m honestly trying to break the habit, but I slip and slide and have my faults.  The sweetest thing, however, is that while Jon thinks my bad habit is gross and unclean, he’s never said so.  He goes ‘ewww’ when he finds something, but he never takes it any further than that.  I’m a lucky girl.
Jon’s kryptonite is crumbly food.  Whenever he makes a sandwich, I cringe as bread and jelly and cheese goes here and there and everywhere.  It’s a mess.  But you know what?  I never say a word about it.  Once he finishes and leaves the room, I get a cloth and and sweep like Cinderella.  The thing is, the mess bothers me – not him, and so I make do.
My pictures reveal my intention to write about summer sports and baseball, but my midnight reading changed my plans.  Can I relate my Jon t-shirt to this anti-nagging post?  I suppose, in a way, it’s like the opposite of nagging, right? Cheering someone on?  Let’s say yes.
Is there anything that makes you nag, or have you got that under control?  Have you read Gretchen’s book?

take me with you

All day long I’ve been thinking about home.  And not in a ‘home is wherever I’m with you’ sort of way. Oh no, today I’m thinking about getting away from home and going somewhere far, far away – all because Twitter told me to.

Would you do whatever Twitter told you to? Or is that the modern day equivalent of ‘following your friends right off a cliff?’

Thing is, Twitter seems to have all sorts of research and science and statistics to support the theory that people get happier the further away from home they travel.   Are we tweeting while visiting the Coliseum and climbing the Eiffel and swimming with the dolphins?  Or do we really just get all sorts of happy when jaunting somewhere new?
Or, we could spin it all around and say that we’re more likely to be tweeting about our dislike for work and snow and traffic when we’re at home – and so, by comparison, we’re much happier on vacation?  What do you think?

Now, a blessing for my blog and a problem for my close friends: I love reading newspapers and magazines just as much as I love reading books and, in the thick of all that reading, I like asking people “did you know?” and “what do you think?” and “if this article says this and that book says that then can it be possible…?’
And on that note, I just read a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research that lists the US as the only developed country that doesn’t legally require paid vacation.  If you’re lucky enough to get 2 weeks vacay from your job, well, you’re just that – lucky! It’s not required, which is unfortunate, because according to Twitter – we’re going be much, much happier if we get away for a fortnight or two (or three if you’re me).

But, then again, my little cousin made the happiest little igloo, and she seems pretty content in her home.  Maybe, like most things, it’s about perspective? I suppose some people are happier at home in their warm igloo than traveling here and there and everywhere.
Side note:  Denmark pays employees more while they’re on vacation to cover travel expenses.  I might leave my igloo and move to Denmark for that kind of pay.

happily ever now

I truly intend to write about things besides love and kindness. My head is filled with tales of mystery, stories of adventure, and legends of the past.  When I start typing, however, my fingers get all excited about the love stories and, quite simply, ruin whatever else I was planning to write.

Okay, okay, now and again I get to draw silly pictures and make jokes.  More often than not, however, I’m writing about love, friendship, and the kindness of strangers.  Maybe I’ll break the habit, but today was filled with too much goodness to be a starting point.  Perhaps next week I will get to the action-packed sci-fi adventures.

As for today, Jon played hookie from work so we could take a color-drive, visit the zoo, and have dinner at my favorite rooftop restaurant.  When we got home, my sweet friends had decorated the apartment with birthday surprises – it was some kind of wonderful.

My brother-in-law and my aunt have birthdays this week, and so I spent the early morning (before the color-drive) making birthday cards and envelopes.  The envelopes were a fun project because I made them out of wrapping paper and mod-podge.  If you’re wanting to try a fun twist on the classic greeting card, here are the steps:

Pick a wrapping paper, a card (any size) and grab some mod-podge:Image
Place the greeting card in the center of the wrapping paper, just like you’re planning to wrap a present:
Pull the bottom of the wrapping paper over the center of the card and make a solid crease:Image
Wrap the sides of the wrapping paper over over the back of the card:
Cut the wrapping paper where at the top of the greeting card.  Use mod-podge to glue the wrapping paper covering the right and left sides of the greeting card to the wrapping paper that you pulled over the center of the card.  It should look like this:
Cut excess wrapping paper form the top of the card:
Fold the top of the wrapping paper into a triangle:Image
Tape the triangle over the back of the card:Image
Front of the card (mine is being hand-delivered, but you could also put the address here):Image

I made a simple card to go inside:
Just a regular ‘happy birthday’ stamp with white ink on red paper:Image
Here are some outtakes from my day with Jon.ImageImageImageImageImage1-IMG_6691


the wisdom of the duck & the owl

ImageWe can do a little bit of good on our own, but surely, if we work together, we can do much more.  Unit yesterday, all my random acts of happiness had been simple projects intended to make strangers in Minneapolis smile.  That all changed on Friday when the rah rah rah projects went on a road trip to Milwaukee.

Kaitlyn and Sarah, also known as the TheDuck&TheOwl, reached out to me with a brilliant idea: why not expand the happiness projects across the Midwest?  Spread the cheer and goodwill just a bit further than Minnesota? The idea was excellent, but I worried the execution would be tricky: how would the rah rah rah projects make it out of Minneapolis?

This is where the wisdom of the duck (Kaitlyn) and the owl (Sarah) came into play: they suggested that we plan a rah rah rah experiment (code name for random act of happiness) and then execute on the project in our respective Midwest cities.  (See that delicious cookie up up up above? That was made by Kaitlyn and Sarah.  I know, I know, I want them to be my best friends, too.)

I had such a fun time making ice cream with strangers that I suggested that we do a similar project with cookies.  For the collaborative rah rah rah, we would both bring sugar cookies and frosting to the park, and then we would get strangers to decorate the treats with us.  Sounds fun and delicious, right?

The Duck, the Owl, and the Apartment Wife may be the only people who think so.  I organized the cooking making station and then asked people if they wanted to join me. 30 minutes passed without any takers, and so I started using my phone to play on Pinterest.  I wondered how the project was going for Kaitlyn and Sarah. 

 And then.

 A nice man wandered over and asked if he could sit down with me.  He said that he was a painter, and I looked like an interesting subject: a girl sitting alone with cookies and frosting.  I giggled and asked him if he’d like to decorate a sugar cookie with me.  The man agreed, and we spent the next 30 minutes decorating cookies and talking about art.  A somewhat perfect afternoon, right?Image
After he left, I asked a couple girls heading to the beach if they wanted some cookies.  They said it sounded a little strange, but they were up for it.  We swapped stories and sprinkles, and then we hung out in the grass for a bit before they ran off to work on their tans.
It was a pretty fun day in Minneapolis, but the best part was that Sarah and Kaitlyn were doing the same project in Milwaukee.  Their project went a bit differently, and you can read all about it on their blog, TheDuck&TheOwl.  They provide a revealing account of the trials&triumphs of doing random experiments with strangers.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes you improvise 🙂

The three of us want the projects to keep expanding, so if you’re interested in being involved in the next one, let us know and we’ll involve you in the planning.  It might be successful, it might be a flop, but it will definitely be interesting – and hopefully a little fun. 

 Have a great Saturday, everyone! 

finding happiness in the little things

jon is one of those people who doesn’t just like working, but truly loves his job. he rises bright and early (6am), drinks his coffee, kisses my cheek, and then has fun (believe it or not) crunching numbers until 5pm.  with traffic and whatnot, i can usually expect him home for dinner around 6pm.
running a 5k has been on my bucket list for a while, and so when a friend invited me to run esprit de she, i was all about it.  registration began at 4:30, so i drank 3 chocolate coconut waters (i’m absolutely addicted), made a t-shirt for the event, and put on my lucky sneakers (i’ve had them since sophomore year of high school).

i was feeling pretty good about trying something new, but i was feeling even better when jon came home from work at 4pm (just as i was about to leave).  he had decided to take the afternoon off to support me during my first race.

since the race is called esprit de she (french for ‘the spirit of her’), he was 1 man in a crowd of 1,500 women.  if that’s not love, then i don’t know what is.
jon managed to take this photo of me crossing the finish line:
things got interesting while we were enjoying burgers on the patio after the race. someone in the apartment noticed my running gear, and they asked me about my time results.  before i could speak, jon excitedly responded “she did amazing — 5 miles in 30 minutes!”  the sweet guy was beaming and so proud.

it was with great regret that i explained a 5K is 3.1 miles- not 5… 🙂

oh, and in case you were wondering about the t-shirt i made for the race: