Tuesday, February 26, 2013

top ten Tuesday: simple pleasures.

With trying to plan a super awesome fantastic wedding (YOU GUYS THERE ARE WAY TOO MANY DECISIONS TO MAKE) and the grey Midwestern winter days, I can be a bit of a grump lately. That being said, it’s time for me to take a breath and appreciate some of the smaller things in life. They (don’t ask me who “they” are) say it’s the little things that make you happy, so for this top ten Tuesday, here are my top ten simple pleasures.

Burt’s Bees
There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need lip balm on them at all times, and people who don’t. I fall into the former category (obviously, or I wouldn’t have an entry dedicated to lip balm). They say (again with “they”) say that you can actually get addicted to lip balm, which I totally believe. My lips may not be chapped or dry, but if I don’t have access to lip balm, I won’t be able to think of anything but. (True story: I applied lip balm less than five minutes before writing this, and I already want more. Good thing I have some in my pocket.) However, not all lip balms are created equal. I was a Chapstick person all the way through junior high, but one day, my great uncle Burt brought me some Burt’s Bees. I don’t know if Uncle Burt used Burt’s Bees or if it was just because of the name. Either way, Uncle Burt introduced me to the brand, and my Burt’s Bees and I have been inseparable ever since. Even better: their flavors are fantastic. Pomegranate was my Burt’s Bees of choice for quite a while, but I’ve moved on to acai berry. I can hardly wait to try my next flavor (mango, I’m looking at you).

dresses and skirts with pockets
Partly (ok, mostly) because of my Burt’s Bees addition, I hate being without pockets. I work in a business casual environment, so most of my days are spent in dresses and skirts (because dress pants are THE WORST). But where shall I keep my Burt’s Bees? Luckily for me, one of my skirts and probably 60% of my dresses have pockets, and I love them all the more for it. Whoever decided to put pockets in dresses is a genius. Even the dress I’m wearing at my wedding reception has pockets… because I bet I’m still going to want Burt’s Bees on my wedding day!

fun socks
I’ve told you about my penchant for fun socks before, but I’ve just got to revisit the topic. I’ve been wearing nothing but patterned socks (save for the rare occasion when black dress socks are needed) for the better part of fifteen years. You’d be surprised at how quickly a neat pair of socks can liven up an outfit, plus matching socks after doing laundry is a billion times easier. I have quite a collection of socks, but some of the stand out as favorites: my crab socks and my candy corn socks come immediately to mind. As I write this, my socks are red damask (which sound a lot classier than they actually are). But seriously, if I had to wear plain white socks every day, I would be one sad lady.

a big stack of library books
Like the socks, I’ve already told you about how much I love libraries. When I was a kid, taking home a big stack of library books was the best thing EVER. I could pick out whatever I wanted (and it usually had to do with ghosts or Bigfoot or something weird), and my pile of books could keep me entertained for days. I would drag these books to the lake, to school, to restaurants… everywhere. When I lived in Denver, I couldn’t get a city library card without paying a $100 fee (I was an unpaid intern who worked part-time at the mall. $100? I DON’T THINK SO), so I had to be more creative. I a.) sat around the Denver Public library reading books until I got too hungry to stand it, b.) borrowed my uncle’s library card and visited the small suburban library near their house, and c.) scurried over to the downtown Barnes and Noble after work (“work” meaning “unpaid internship”) to try and score one of their tables. If I failed (the Barnes and Noble tables were highly sought-after), I’d be forced to sit in the Starbucks section, which meant I had to part with five of my precious dollars and buy a coffee beverage (on the bright side, that meant I could put off supper longer and spend more time reading). When I moved to Minneapolis (and was initially very poor), I was elated to find out that I could get a library card for no charge – I still held a South Dakota driver’s license, but that was fine as long as I could provide proof of a Hennepin county address, which I TOTALLY COULD. So big stacks of library books kept my moneyless self entertained for ages (and I have to say, the Hennepin county library system is AWESOME). When I moved to Sioux Falls, I got myself a library card that December… and a job at the library that February. Now, it’s my job to roam around the bookshelves all day, and I spend each and every lunch break plopped in a chair with a book. And if I finish my book? I’m still in the library, so all I have to do is wander out to the shelves and pick a new one. The possibilities are endless.

new shampoo or body wash
Some people find a shampoo brand and stick with it. I am not one of those people. Be it shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, makeup, or what have you, I seldom remain loyal to a cosmetics brand. If there’s one I really like, I’ll add it to a rotation, but it’s a rare occasion for me to buy it two times in a row. I like variety. When I go body wash shopping, I stand in that aisle and sniff absolutely everything. Sometimes, nothing that the body wash aisle has to offer is new and different enough, so I’ll end up with something tried and true. However, on occasion, there will be something new and fantastic-smelling on the shelves, and that’s what comes home with me. I tend to buy new body wash before the old body wash is used up, so the few weeks it takes to use up the old body wash are spent in agonizing anticipation (maybe “agonizing” is too strong, but you get the idea). The first day I use the new body wash/shampoo/whatever is always thrilling: will it make my skin glow? Will the shampoo make my hair lustrous and eliminate winter static electricity (FYI, all shampoo has failed to eliminate static electricity so far)? I don’t know, but when the day comes to use the new product for the first time, I’m always excited to find out!

not having to go grocery shopping
Note: not my actual cupboard. I've only ever
dreamed about cupboards this full.
Forgive me for stating the obvious, but there is a direct correlation between how much you like to cook and how much you like to go to the grocery store. It should not surprise you, then, that since I do not enjoy cooking, I also do not enjoy the grocery store. My dislike for the grocery store is compounded by the fact that the place is usually a zoo. If you go at the wrong time, you risk loss of life and limb. I never enjoy grocery shopping, so that’s why NOT having to go is such a treat. I’m really good at putting it off until my cupboards are more or less bare, but if I run out of milk, it’s game over. I simply can’t go without milk, so that’s when I’ll brave the grocery store. But if I have plenty of milk (full cupboards are a bonus), that means that I don’t have to go to the grocery store. And that is wonderful.

casual Friday
I’ve bemoaned wearing tights and dress pants before, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to find out that dress clothes in general just are not my cup of tea. When I lived Minneapolis, I worked in an office whose sole redeeming quality was that you could wear jeans every single day. Nine times out of ten, I wore jeans to work, and it was fantastic. But then I got a real job (with insurance! whoa!) with a real dress code. Wearing business casual clothes certainly doesn’t kill me, but man, do I miss my jeans. That’s why I love casual Fridays. I can put on my trusty jeans (as long as there are no holes) and sneakers (which I also really miss during the week) and head to work. Working at the library has a really sweet hidden benefit as far as jeans go: if we have a holiday off on a day that’s not a Friday, we can wear jeans the day after. So you not only miss a day of business casual for the holiday itself, but you get an extra day with jeans. Example: we had President’s Day off, which was a Monday. That meant jeans on Tuesday AND casual Friday, so only TWO DAYS of dressing up for work! Hooray!

a fresh crossword puzzle
I love a good crossword puzzle. I don’t have a newspaper subscription, but I’ve seriously considered buying one just so I could have a daily crossword puzzle. (And yes, I know that you can buy crossword puzzle books, but I find those much less satisfying than the puzzles in the newspaper. I must be a snob.) When I worked at the coffeehouse in Morris, we used to get a couple of Star Tribunes every morning. If I worked the closing shift, I’d scout for the newspaper remnants before we threw them away – if I was lucky, the crossword puzzle would still be intact. I love the Star Tribune crosswords: they’re challenging enough to make you think, but easy enough to make you feel smart. The Brookings Register has a good puzzle, too: my dad, uncle Mike, and I can team up and get it done in less than four minutes. (I can tell you’re impressed.) Want to know the reason I finally got a smartphone? Not so I could have Facebook on my phone, or even the app where you whip your phone and it makes a whip-cracking noise (although that was probably the second most important reason). It was so I could have a crossword puzzle app on my phone, and my friends, I use it every single day.

crunching fall leaves
Fall is, hands down, my favorite season. I realize fall is an awfully long way away, but I spend all year looking forward to it. I love the fall colors, the crisp weather, the pumpkins, and Halloween! I originally wanted to get married in the fall, but now I’m kind of glad I’m not. James and I are getting married in the summer, so by the time fall 2013 rolls around, the wedding will be done and we can relax and fully enjoy fall. There are so many things I love about fall, but topping the list? Crunchy fall leaves. Nothing beats talking a walk on a lovely October afternoon and hearing the leaves crunch under your feet. I may be almost 26 years old, but I will still (and probably always) head out of my way to step on a particularly crunchy leaf. Some people never grow up.

getting mail
Few things are more exciting for me than receiving personal mail. Christmas card season is the best, and I look forward to my birthday mostly because I know I’ll get cards in the mail (that will be proudly displayed on my refrigerator until my next birthday). At the risk of sounding like an old person, I have to say that it’s kind of a pity that email has taken over. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good email. It’s fast, saves you a stamp, and you can attach a bazillion pictures without having to get them printed at Walgreen’s. However, for me, receiving an email will never hold the same thrill as getting a letter in the mail. When I was a kid (and before I had an email address), I would write all sorts of letters to my cousins in Colorado. Before I had a digital camera, I would mail big packets of pictures to my friend Sue in Connecticut. When my sister was in boot camp, I had a lot of fun sending her my wordy letters about what was going on in the outside world. In New Orleans, I sent tons of postcards. But now that I live in Sioux Falls and my life is officially boring, I don’t have much to mail. Now that I’m so used to typing out a quick email, it’s hard to find the time to sit down and write a letter. But you know what? I’d love to get back into the habit. Anyone want to be pen pals?!


As winter drags on and James’s and my wedding draws ever closer, let’s hope that these simple pleasures can get me through. If not, then I’m adding simple pleasure #11: a strong drink. Cheers!

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