This entry is long overdue, but I figured that since this is the first time actually ever drafting up a “love list,” I could take my time. The concept came to me in April, but as you are aware, the month sort of sucked for me. It was a transformative month, yes: I experienced some of the saddest moments of my life and just days later, had a pep in my step and could not have been more appreciative with my current existence. I was consistently plagued with bouts of excruciating pain but was yet strangely motivated: My younger sister’s wedding is now just a few weeks away and in my sorrow, I found sanctuary in a productive, packed routine. It’s the reason why my canvas has been blank- I wake up in the morning and stretch. I turn on the coffee pot and take time getting ready, prepping my skin for shower, bachelorette, and wedding festivities. I throw Crest Whitening Strips in and add to my party playlist while making the bed and tidying up the house. I work until I am ready to collapse and then when I get home, jump on the treadmill and push myself to exhaustion. There hasn’t been much time to read or write, and when I pause to call myself out on the sentiment, I backtrack. I am not making time to read or write.
My husband was gone for two weeks and instead of staying up till the wee hours of the morning, capturing my thoughts on paper, I drowned them out by starting season one, episode one of Game of Thrones. Yes, I know I’m a late bloomer. But the show is just what I need to get me through an hour of sprints on the treadmill, it’s a perfect way to fall asleep when the mind just wants to submerge into an alternative reality.
But writing. It hasn’t been my priority. I signed up for Tyler Knott Gregson’s “Wander With Wonder” class, was so excited to have time alone in April to dedicate precious hours to his 1:1 support, and once I saw everyone else in the classroom crack open with their most vulnerable thoughts in our closed Facebook group, I mentally dropped the course. I wasn’t ready to go there yet.
Instead, I am working like crazy, running like the wind, girl-crushing over the Mother of Dragons, planning a shower and bachelorette party, and filling my days with routine productivity.
It’s not the worst place to be in.
And I have come across a few gems in my hurried travels, things that I am, quite literally, gushing over. So pull up a chair. Have some coffee with me. Let’s chat about the little wonders that currently make each day wonderful.
- Epica Automatic Electric Milk Frother and Heater Carafe – My husband knows my obsession with coffee shops and therefore gave me the sweetest gift ever for my 31st birthday: An entire at home brew kit to jumpstart my own coffee shop dreams. In Banff, Canada, we found a shop that had old coffee sacks for sale and we snagged one: He got that beautiful stretch of burlap framed. I received latte mugs and art books and a frothing wand and spice stencils. It was amazing and I couldn’t wait to begin making my own creations… and tried almost immediately. Let’s rephrase that: Failed almost immediately. No matter how many times I stirred, heated, purchased different kinds of milk, etc. I just ended up wasting one $5 Nespresso pod after another. On top of that, I am more of a coffee kind of girl, don’t really like the taste of espresso so I grew tired of drinking all of my unsuccessful attempts.
Enter in two earth-shattering discoveries: Café au laits while in New Orleans and the Automatic Electric Milk Frother from Amazon. I know what they say: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” But now I can try making lattes WHILE sipping the coffee of my dreams. Win, win.
The reason I like this particular brand is because it:
- Has over 6,000 4-star reviews, while others, like the VAVA Milk Frother, were rated better but had far less ratings (4.5 rating with 373 reviews)
- It is only $25.00 on Amazon Prime with free one day shipping- The only other one I saw that was rated more highly was $39.99 and hey, I’m still sort of paycheck to paycheck.
- You can make hot froth, hot milk, or cold froth: Many other brands just give the option of hot foam
- Here’s the biggest differentiator: You can even froth low-fat or non-dairy milk such as soy or almond milk! This was big for me as I mainly drink 1% or almond. So far, I’ve tested with low-fat and it works!
I now make better coffee without the fuss and my mornings have become more blissful because of it. Do yourself a favor: Add this one to your Amazon cart.
- Earthbound Trading Co. – I came across this store while in New Orleans and fell in love: There were dream catchers, crystals, moon phases, journals, and all of my favorite things packed into one gorgeous open-concept loft. I purchased an adorable dreamcatcher cuff bracelet for $7.95 and promised myself that when I returned home, I would give their website a lengthy look. I was not disappointed: Not only did the site have an extra 50% off sale happening on their clearance items, but stuff was already pretty cheap. I spent $150.00 on nearly 20 items: Fun additions to my coffee shelf collection, my jewelry drawer, and my closet. The clothes are of great quality and buying little pieces helps create a whimsical look without going full-on hippie. The brand as a whole is something that my inner boho beauty craves, one that I will certainly come back to, again and again.
- Circe– I have already written book reviews for the following two literary accounts but feel compelled to highlight them here as well. With Circe, the character stays with me, a month later, and I am still completely in awe of her brave, beautiful, heartbreaking story. Few heroines capture me the way Circe did, and now while watching Game of Thrones, I am having trouble hearing the name and seeing someone with such a vile personality. In my mind, the two females fight, and of course, Madeline Miller’s queen prevails.
- Seven Spiritual Laws of Success– As mentioned in my book review, I read this in a single carride and will continue to pick it up, again and again. The author, Deepak Chopra speaks the profound truth in a common vernacular, and whether you are a seasoned spiritual master or a skeptic, looking to gain some motivation within all that seems ordinary, this book is one that you should take with you to the beach this Summer. A quick, easy, delightful read.
- That Bookstore– While staying at my parent’s house in Connecticut, I decided to venture to a new bookstore that I found out about on Instagram. Right on the Silas Deane Highway in Wethersfield, its claim to fame promised an inviting haven for book AND beer lovers. Disclaimer: My husband has read maybe 5 books in his adult life and would never be found in a bookstore for his own enjoyment but DOES have a newfound Instagram account dedicated to his love of craft brews. The destination seemed like a new brainer for an afternoon pick me up.
And what a pick me up it was! I scoured through all shelves, giddy as a schoolgirl, settling on “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens as my hardcover splurge and scoring classics like “The Kite Runner” and “Wuthering Heights” for a buck each. I spent about an hour reading all of the handwritten recommendations while my husband sat in the lounge area, sipping on Shebeen’s Salted Caramel Cannoli brew. I say that’s a “win” of a daytrip.
- Capitol Hill Books- Another bookstore that I fell in love with this month is a DC staple, steals the #1 spot on this Indie Book List from Washington DC publications. A friend and I decided to embark on a girls date one Saturday: Strolled Eastern Market, picked up coffees at Peregrine DC, and then spent at least an hour in the 2-story store. There’s something about haphazard stacks, overstuffed shelves, that makes a bookshop feel so cozy.
All books have prices handwritten on the inside cover and there are some really good deals on both new books and old. I got three completely random books because I wasn’t looking for anything in particular: “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides, “Stillness Speaks” by Eckhart Tolle, and “The History of Love” by Nicole Krauss. I simply picked up some interesting titles and searched the ratings on GoodReads- Look forward to diving into these true unknowns! (Make sure that if you venture to this shop, you snag one of their tote bags! So unique!)
- Mount Vernon- My husband’s parents both appreciate all of the history that our neighborhood has to offer, so when they came down to visit a few weeks ago, we decided to take them to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. He and I have been there once before but there is so much to do, it can fill up an hour, a day, or multiple trips. The grounds are absolutely stunning and on our first date there, we spent time just roaming the estate itself: Petting the livestock, visiting the estate worker establishments, making our way down trails to grave sites, farming lots, and gardens.
This time around, we made a dinner reservation at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant and quenched our hunger and thirst with hearty staples like cornbread and butternut squash soup and alcoholic beverages made from Washington’s own working distillery.
I still would love to view the museum there more leisurely, as they have wonderful exhibits, theater rooms, and showings that depict things, like the loving relationship between Washington and his wife, more descriptively. The distillery is another area that I’d love to see, as well as the inside of the estate.
- Tidal Basin- Do you have a place of peace in your town? A destination that provides sanctuary and serenity? The week after my mom’s passing, I felt this strong desire to get out of my house. My mind was wandering too much and there wasn’t enough to do within my four walls, to keep it occupied. So I got in my car and I drove to Washington DC’s Tidal Basin, where the cherry blossoms were in full bloom and the crowds were at bay, given the work week.
The Tidal Basin is a 106- acre man-made bay adjacent to the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., built in the 1800’s. Some of DC’s most iconic landmarks are sprinkled around the area, such as the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument.
I was able to find parking near the L’Enfant Plaza metro stop and walked the .8 miles to the paddle boat area. Although I still have get to ride one, I was content to snap photos of the leisure paddlers on the glimmering water, cherry blossom branches bouncing in and out of each shot as the wind rolled by. I then purchased a small snack at the Festival tent and sat underneath a taller tree, watched passerbys and allowed my mind to drift freely. Sometimes its those little moments of solitude, that feel the most like home.
Above all else, April’s theme is really all about the power of human connection. I wrote a blog entry about my mother, posted it publicly for the first time in a while, and was overwhelmed by the response and outreach. My co-workers collected funds to contribute a sizable donation to the American Cancer Society, on behalf of my mom. People dedicated masses to her, dropped off food and sweets and flowers. Indoor gardens bloomed in both my house in Virginia and childhood home. It was so amazing to be in receipt of such thoughtfulness and feel gratitude in this incredible way. On some days, the comfort in knowing that I was not alone on this journey moved me to tears. And it made me want to give back. I delivered thank you cards, I made time for theater nights with my Uncle and play dates with my little cousins. Bought Easter baskets for everyone in the house. Invested in small gestures of appreciation and time well spent, because after enduring such hardship, have realized that those times- are really the only things that count.
So my last few loves involve keeping ties tight. I purchased a wax seal set on Amazon to jazz up my thank you cards and some beautiful new address labels from Shutterfly. In going through my mother’s house, I found some of her greeting cards to add to the personal touch.
My Uncle and I had the best time seeing the musical “Girlfriend” at the Wadsworth Athenaeum and dining at nearby Peppercorns- our first solo date in years.
My best friend and I are dabbling in a new business venture that allows us to video chat once a week. For as long as I can remember, we have done an amazing job of closing the 300+ mile gap between us by chatting everyday on Voxer, a walkie talkie app, and now we are taking our communications, our strong bond, to the next level. It’s something so special to be a part of.
Giving Starbucks gift cards to co-workers who have helped me through this difficult time, stepped up while I stepped back. Buying lunch for those who need it after a grueling run in giving everything, their all. It’s all so important.
I’m not perfect, by any means. I still forget birthdays and anniversaries and don’t respond to all of the text messages that I should. But little by little, I am learning how to better set myself up for success: Keep cards everywhere, stamps always replenished. Create standing meetings or daily alarms for consistent application of outreach, to friends, family members, significant others. Add special dates to a shared calendar. Keep plans.
Now that I know just how grand these little gestures actually are, it’s a true goal of mine, to make sure that I am exuding that same level of thoughtfulness.
This list may be too short in versatility and too lengthy in content, but I guess I will tweak was I go. In this new chapter of my life, I am consistently evolving, and rapidly so. The new experiences will come, and I am eager to share them with you. So until our next coffee date-
So long for now, my friend.