Last year when a friend of ours, Carrie, got her doctorate, I had fun putting together a congratulations package inspired by Oprah's lists of her favorite things (and for the record, I'm not an Oprah fanatic--oh, that's a whole can of worms...nevermind). This package included lots of my favorite things, random items that are helpful to me in some way (like lemon furniture wipes) or simply bring me little bits of joy (a dancing, wooden ladybug toy). Putting together that box was one of the funnest, most satisfying things I did that year. Really.
So after the outpouring of venom in yesterday's post, I started to think positively about things in this world that work or simply things that bring me joy. I made a list throughout yesterday and today. I will share it with you now in the order I thought of them. Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen.
1. Comfy shoes. In Portland, you don't see much pointy-toed, high-heeled nonsense. You see Earth shoes, Keens, Birkenstocks, and Tevas, even with dresses. Awesome. This is my new favorite pair of shoes, my very first pair of Keens:
2. The Multnomah County Library. By visiting their website, you can search the catalogue and place any books you want on reserve, to be sent to your neighborhood branch. When it arrives, always promptly, you can go pick it up by going to the reserve shelves, finding you name, and checking the books out yourself with their self-serve kiosks. It's the most efficient system ever. I love it.
3. Shutterfly.com. It's totally free to place as many photos as you want here and ordering is way cheap and way-er fast. Your pictures always come in sooner than you think they will. We even ordered our wedding photos here.
4. At Peets Coffee on NE Broadway in Portland, the workers are somehow magically able to remember names and they're always in a good mood. Maybe they're being fed crack in the backroom, but whatever...it works.
5. Trader Joe's. Okay, okay, I know it's not original. Lots of people love Trader Joe's. It just took me an epic journey to first get there (a long story), so I now appreciate it dearly each time I get to go. Some of my favorite things: multigrain savory thins with the mediterranean humus, key lime pie (the best west of the Mississippi, for reals), their 99 cent greeting cards, the free samples and free coffee.
6. Strong, black tea. Last December while staying with a friend in Cambridge, I was the first one up (I owe that to residual jet-lag) and wandered into the kitchen to make something hot to drink and found a box of PGTips. I'd never heard of it before, so when I went on and on to my friend about how wonderful it is, he sort of rolled his eyes, saying, "Lori, it's nothing special--very much the working-man's tea." Since getting back to the U.S., I've seen it in specialty shops, marked up a decent amount. Today, I found the biggest box of it (or any tea for that matter) that I've seen in my life. It was a 240-count box! I laughed out loud when I saw it.
The other tea is Barry's, an Irish tea that we drank there three summers ago. I found it again at the Sleepy Monk on the Oregon coast. That, paired with a lemon biscuit brought much glee to my mouth. Now I can get Barry's at the Celtic shop in our neighborhood in Portland.
I could go on and on about tea. My friend Susan wrote a really good post about it. It's a special treat when Susan makes you a pot of tea, especially one kept warm with one of her home-made tea cozies.
7. My ice cream scoop. We'd been using this crap, plastic one from IKEA for a year that bent and would end up sending projectile scoops across the kitchen, so when we found an old gift card (wedding gift we lost) to Sur La Table, I got this heavy-duty pink one. It's more like an ice-cream shovel, which really...that's the way to eat it anyway.
8. Yankee Candles. I'm always amazed by how these candles replicate exactly various scents. Their 'wedding day' candle is freaky; how do they bottle (or wax?) that smell? Magical.
9. Oregon blackberries. In the summer, they're everywhere, even on the sides of the freeways (though I've heard you shouldn't eat those since they may have chemicals on them). They're so sweet and tart and wonderful. And they freeze perfectly. The trick is in remembering you have them in the freezer. We're now in a rush to eat ours from last summer before this year's ripen.
10. Goodwill. Oh, so many wonderful things about Goodwill. I've found so many awesome books there, a pair of Italian leather boots with real fur for $14, dishes, clothes, socks...on and on. After watching The Corporation last year, we made some lifestyle adaptations, one of mine being attempting to find the bulk of my clothes at Goodwill and other second-hand stores. It's that whole hippy, sustainable living deal that I think is a good thing.
Plus, and let me be honest here, I can be cheap, so finding deals makes me giddy.
11. The Office. I enjoy the American version a lot, but the BBC version is my first love. I can boldly say that I believe that The Office-UK is the best thing ever to air on television. Ever. I didn't believe it when an English friend who'd seen the whole series told me that I would cry at the conclusion, but oh my...both Ted and I were complete, blubbering messes when we got to the end. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are genious. (if you are in any way easily offended, do not watch this show; there's a considerable amount of off-color stuff there...and please don't judge me for loving the show).
12. This photo of my friend Kelly and Aaron Ruell, aka Kip from Napolean Dynamite. He was directing a commercial she was acting in. Kelly has one of the best laughs ever, and that woman can project! I just love the surreal-ness of this photo; you look at it and think "Holy Crap! What's going on here?"
I can see by your comments that you have lived quite a full, amazing, and adventurous life. So when you start hearing those comments from people about how old you and your husband are in getting started with children, just think about what you would have had to give up in order to begin earlier! With our oldest three and then 4 year old (and now 2 year old!!), we get strange comments too. I just laugh and say that we just weren't ready for the empty nest syndrome! And then when they assume our 4 year old was an "oops", I usually open my mouth and let them know that he was indeed planned! I sometimes just can't keep my mouth shut! But keep your chin up because the kids are worth all of it in the end!!
I really like your list and share your fondness for comfy shoes and strong black tea. I rock out in my Merrells every day (I'm curious about the Keens). Your list reminds me a little of "Amelie". Ever since I saw that movie I, too, like to make mental lists of things that make me sublimely happy. Thank you for sharing your list.
Karen Y. (Neola's sister)
we are in the midsts of adopting from ethiopia too and we just moved from portland! im so glad to find a fellow northwestern-er! well ok, we lived in vancouver, but basicly in portland the whole time.
anyway, it was great to read this post and recongnize and feel sentiment for all these things! mmmm fresh blackberries....
Did I mention how much I loved that package?
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