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Archive for the ‘Joy’ Category

Beautiful view on a farm outing with friends

I look forward to Joy the Baker’s summer bucket list every year. It’s typically a mix of places to go and things to learn and/or make, and it’s inspiring. Because summer tends to be a busier time for me, I am expanding my timeframe into fall (and really – the rest of the year). So this is my remainder-of-2021 bucket list. Doesn’t quite have the same ring but…oh, well.

  1. Get some ducks in order – Some of my goals are just reminders to get/keep it together enough to be healthy or at least not completely derail any progress I’ve made in various areas. To that end:
    – Pay off personal loan (last payment due in September!)
    – Carve out time to get back into Pilates practice
    – Make eye exam and yearly physical appointments
    – Write, edit, and submit a short story every month
  2. Take a trip with friends – Okay, so I’ve already done this one. We went to Colorado for a few days in June, and it was magnificent.
  3. Get a new (to me) car – Watson is showing signs of unreliability, and I want to trade her in before her upkeep starts costing more than a car payment would. My first car was a hatchback, and I’ve wanted another one ever since, so I’m looking at gently used options in the area along the lines of a VW Golf or Kia Soul.
  4. Take an overnight bookshop trip – I’ve been musing about going to Magic City Books in Tulsa for a while, but I think my next long-distance bookstore venture is going to be to Nowhere Bookshop in San Antonio. They’re opening for real to the public on Monday, and I think a leisurely drive down there in October would be a great way to break in a new ride.
  5. Choose a new planner – I do love my Simplified Planner, but the siren song of Papier’s daily planner beckons me. I have had separate goal and meal planning calendars for the longest time, and the idea of having everything in one book is so appealing. Also…there are so many cover designs to choose from. *salivates*
Although there’s certainly nothing wrong with this cover…

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I read Laundry Love by Patric Richardson and Karin Miller in almost one sitting. It is delightful. I knew I would love it because I love doing laundry. I find it soothing and comforting, and it was wonderful reading the thoughts of someone who clearly enjoys it just as much as I do.

Of course the book is full of great tips, but it also contains quite a bit of insight on the textile and fashion industries. The way it places this simple, personal chore into the larger context of environmental and labor ethics is right up my alley. Yes to preferring natural fabrics over synthetic ones because they breathe better, are better for the environment and won’t melt before your very eyes if you accidentally spill nail polish remover on them (not that I’m bitter, acetate). (I’m definitely still a little bitter.) Yes to saying no to fast fashion whenever possible (which is almost always, even on a tight budget). Yes to washing and pressing that wool blazer at home because you know how to do it right. Yes to extravagant musings about the laundry room of my dreams (I have drawn floor plans) right alongside a list of the perks of the laundromat. There are even family recipes at the end because it would just be unfair to mention the downside of favorite foods (i.e., staining) without also sharing how delicious and thus completely worth the mess they are. If I were to write a book about this favorite household task of mine, it would look a lot like this.

Of course, I have comments.

Longevity

One of the benefits the authors listed of taking proper care of your clothing is that it lasts longer. At one point it was mentioned that if you care for it well, a garment should endure 50 wash/dry cycles. I realize they were likely making a conservative estimate, but since I’m not the writers and am thus not at risk of losing book sales by making extravagant claims, I’ll go ahead and do so. If you follow the advice in this book on not only caring for your clothes but also choosing pieces that are made to last to begin with, you should get way more wash/dry cycles out of them and keep the clothes you love for as long as they fit.

For example, I still have and frequently wear a skirt I bought at a thrift store in my mid-twenties. Aside from the occasional seam reinforcement or elastic replacement, it is still in great shape two decades and hundreds of washes later. Buying well-made clothing doesn’t have to be expensive. I doubt I spent more than $5 on that skirt, and it’s lasted forever. It’s just a matter of learning how to spot good quality.

Fabric Softener

I typically add a little bit of vinegar (i.e., 1/8-1/4 cup) to each rinse cycle, and that sufficiently softens clothes, towels, linens, etc. It even reduces static a little, as does using wool, silicone, and/or aluminum foil balls in the dryer, or air drying my clothes. But if I want to completely eliminate static (and I absolutely do), nothing works like fabric softener.

I know it’s bad for the environment. I know it’s bad (yes, even the free and clear kind) for humans.

I KNOW.

I also know that it’s the only thing that saves me from thousands of tiny electrocutions every time I roll over in my peppermint-scented lightning sheets at night. It’s the only thing that keeps me from flashing my ass to the world when my skirt rides up on the walk from my car to the office (PSA: I have no qualms about showing some skin. I just want it to be my choice, not my clothing’s).

I would be delighted to find a tip or trick that does what fabric softener does. I would love to eliminate it from my laundry routine. But to date, every tip I’ve tried has failed me (have a tip? Feel free to share. Bet I’ve tried it, though.). Until there is a real solution that actually works, I will continue to use fabric softener sparingly.

Multiple Wearings

The tips for refreshing fabrics so that you can wear them multiple times between washes? Great advice. Unless you live in Texas in the summer. Then you get a pass. I mean, if I only wear a sundress to go to the farmers’ market and then come right home, I will give it a vodka spritz and air it out before hanging it back in the closet to wear again. But if my outfit goes through a whole day in the Texas heat of walking a couple of blocks from my car to the office, walking a few blocks to and from lunch, walking back to my car in the late afternoon, and then running whatever errands or attending whatever meeting I have that evening, I’m going to give it a proper wash before I wear it again. It’s earned it.

Texas folk, you don’t have to be a hero. Please be advised that it’s perfectly okay not to walk around in clothes that are holding a collective three days of the August-in-Texas meat sweats that have accrued since the last time you washed them. There’s not enough vodka (for spritzing or otherwise) in the world to combat that.

To conclude, I really love this book. I look forward to referencing it for advice and entertainment in the years to come.

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July TBR

I was fortunate to spend a few days last week basking in the cool air of Colorado. A brief reprieve from the intense Texas heat with people I adore. This week, I was back in it (although it’s been rainy and a little bit cooler – a tiny mercy) and back at work. The choices below are defintely leaning toward my typical summer reads (adventure, mystery, fun, etc.) this month.

Book Clubs

Books About Joy

This month’s joy selections focus on finding joy in ordinary life (even daily, seemingly dull things). I need this reminder during the summer when my automatic modus operandi is just to get through it.

Library Reads

These are the main books I want to finish and return to the library this month, although I suspect there will be more by the time the end of the month rolls around. I’ve been on a reading frenzy lately!

What are you reading this month?

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Resting

I think Sunday Me was a little overwhelmed at this week/weekend’s calendar.

After about a month and a half of being back in the office, I am settling into old routines. I’m getting used to commuting again (I forgot how much audiobook listening I get to do when I drive more often). I’m also relearning how to balance social time with colleagues and task time while on the clock (I tend to lean too heavily toward task and neglect the social). I sorta forgot how to people in person.

Some of the old routines that are creeping back up need to stay gone, though. Procrastinating housework and fun things until the weekend so much that my to-do list is so long by the time it arrives that I don’t ever actually slow down to rest is a habit that I could stand to keep in the past. My tendency to say yes whenever possible (so that people will be happy? so that I can pride myself on fitting another piece into my puzzle of a schedule? who even knows why?) needs a tighter leash when I can’t do everything from home.

I need to remember to guard my down time a little more consistently so that I maintain the restfulness I need to function well. Sometimes this looks like relaxing plans with friends (relaxing plans = not in public, maybe in a pool or with drinks, maybe we just read in the same room) but mostly it looks like actual alone time where I can nap or read or create or even do some repetitive/regular household task without interruption.

I also am having my regular jealousy about other people’s summers where they are free to go do things while my schedule remains busy, but this year I am making myself free to do some things, too, even though this is not typically an easy time of the year for that to happen at my job. I want to do at least one summery thing each week, even if it’s something small. This week, I got to swim, and that was nice (don’t remember the last time I swam but my swimsuit definitely no longer fit so it must have been quite a long time ago). I look forward to my first snow cone and first really good peach of the season, too. That’s as far as I’ve gotten on my “favorite things about summer” list. That list is super short. I’m not summer’s biggest fan, but I’m determined to squeeze whatever joy I can out of it.

Shameless crowdsourcing – What are your favorite things to do in the summer?

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Once again, I have a library problem. Or I’m a problem to the library. At any rate…I also have a solution.

So I was doing really well, only checking out a sensible number of books at a time that I could reasonably expect to finish before they were due back at the library. Just a little thing like having to schedule a time during their limited hours to pick them up was all it took to curtail my habit of going on a reservation spree and taking out more books than I could possibly hope to finish that quickly. But now that the library is back to normal hours and operations, and I can just pop by and pick up everything I’ve put aside at my convenience, I’ve reverted back to old practices. I wish I could tell you that the stack above represents even a fourth of the books I have checked out, but…no.

This month, I’m weaning myself off again. I’m never at a loss for something to read. I have four apps with books and audiobooks I can read from my phone. I also have hundreds of books in my personal collection at home. So there’s no reason I need to hold on to the library’s copies that someone else could be enjoying. I’m going to read my books for the clubs I’m in and my joy selections for the month, but other than that? Working on this stack of library books so I can get them back where they belong.

[One could argue that I could just return the books without reading them and check them out later when I know I have time for them, but one would receive a derisive scoff as a reward for this helpful suggestion which would then be completely ignored.]

Book Clubs

Joy Books

We’re going a little meta this month. These joy books actually deal with joy as a subject.

Library Books

These make it back to the library by the end of the month.

Pride Month!

Of course, I will also be reflecting on my favorite books written by LGBTQIA+ authors and/or starring LGBTQIA+ characters in my local library’s monthly book discussion. If you want to explore this genre, some of my favorites can be found on these lists.

What’s on your TBR list for June?

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May TBR

This month’s reading plan includes a few that I didn’t finish from last month that I’m meandering my way through, but the new reads list is shorter this time. It’s starting to feel like summer again here, and my summer reading usually veers off the intended path. I want to keep up with book club selections and my joy project while still keeping some space for whatever delights intrigue me.

Two such delights are already on my radar:

  • How To Eat by Nigella Lawson – The one that started it all. I love how Nigella Lawson writes about food. I can’t believe I’ve never read her first book before.
  • Hanged by a Thread by ACF Bookens – The third in this series by one of my favorite cozy mystery authors. I’ve already pre-ordered my ebook for mid-month.

I have five book club selections for the month. My group that meets the first Tuesday of the month is reading something I’ve already read for another book club, and I liked it but I am unlikely to read it again in the next few days. I think I remember enough of The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek to discuss it over wine. The others include:

The main joy project selection this month is Joyful Militancy by Nick Montgomery and Carla Bergman (with an intro by Hari Alluri, whose poetry I really like). Resistance often seems so heavy, so I’m interested in the ideas of these experienced activists who urge readers to find joy, friendship, curiosity and other wonders in the work. And, because art and activism often go hand in hand, I’m continuing to work through Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit and The Collaborative Habit.

What are you reading this month?

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April TBR

April is one of my favorite reading months because it’s National Poetry Month. It’s also National Jazz Appreciation Month, and while the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival is postponed until the fall this year, I am going to be reading through some old standards via keyboard. So we’re taking liberties with what goes on the “reading” list this month.

Joy Selections:

Art in its various forms is a big part of my life, and I’m exploring the joy in that this month.

Book Club Selections:

This list will seem long. No, I haven’t joined four more book clubs. It’s just because Follow the Reader is doing choose-your-own-adventure poetry this month, and my perpetual adventure is that, when left to my own devices, I can’t pick just one collection.

There may be other things that I read this month, but these are my main foci. What are you reading these days?

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March TBR

Most of this month’s selections

I’m quite excited about this month’s reading – so much so that I have already started every book on the following list. Some of them I have finished, with some I’m a few chapters in, and others I’ve just read the first few pages. So that’s the kind of reading month it’s going to be – very little structure, picking up whatever I am most intrigued with at the moment. Rampant, abundance anarchy.

Which is pretty appropriate for a month where my book with joy in the title (and the supplemental I have chosen to accompany it – not sure when I decided to do that but we’re going with it) is about the joy of reading children’s literature as an adult. This concept has my cosign already, as I am experiencing the delight of tucking into the Percy Jackson series that my friend Maggie is reading her son.

Here are the books I have started for the month of March:

Joy books:
* Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult by Bruce Handy
* Why I Read: the Serious Pleasure of Books by Wendy Lesser

Book club selections:
* Brother & Sister by Diane Keaton
* The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
* Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Anne Friedman
* Professional Troublemaker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones
* The Removed by Brandon Hobson

New books by friends/library haul/etc.:
* Crossed by Death by ACF Bookens
* The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
* Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
* When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole
* Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I’ll let you know which ones I enjoy the most!

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This is nowhere near the whole stack – just the ones that were on the unshelved/library cart. Also, this month has a lot of ebook and audiobook selections.

So listen. I got really excited about being three books ahead of schedule on my Goodreads challenge and super happy about the 24in48 marathon this coming weekend and…I kinda overplanned. I fully admit that it is HIGHLY unlikely that I will finish all the books listed below but I do not care because I want to read them all RIGHT NOW and will probably start them all this month anyway because what even is an attention span.

I’m just going to list them this month because to list AND talk about them would be a little tl;dr even for me. So here we go. At least I’ve divided them up into categories for you.

Books I’ve started and will continue to read/finish this month:

Whew. I told you I have no attention span. Definitely about 20-150 pages into each one of these so far. And we press on.

After my joy selections from last month were of the “ok, Type A, calm down and maybe sit still occasionally” variety, and I am not good at following that advice but I am super great at overcompensating by going the exact opposite direction, my restless soul has gone into super cleaning mode. I’m not complaining, but it seems like a good month for these three:

I also find joy in revisiting things that I’ve read before or series that connect me to people. So I’m dabbling in a little:

Book club selections for the month:

Recommendations from friends or continuing reading from an author or timely re-read or just because I grabbed it from the library because it sounded interesting and now I only have it for 21(ish) days:

And why not finish it off with some poetry?

It’s only…35 books. In a month.

This goal is so ridiculous, I’m making a guessing game out of it. For every $5 you give to Denton Bail Fund, you get one guess about how many I’ll *actually* finish from February 1-February 28. I’ll send the person whose guess is the closest (or the person whose name I draw out of a hat, if there’s a tie) the book of their choice from this list. Because of who I am as a person, some game rules:

1. To qualify as an entry, you must email coffeesnob@gmail.com:

  • Screenshot of your donation confirmation to Denton Bail Fund with date and amount showing
  • Which of the 35 titles you would like to receive if you win
  • Your mailing address (I will not sell your information – just use it this one time to mail you your book if you win)
  • Your guess(es) – one per $5 donated, whole numbers from 2-35 (I’ve already finished 2 – don’t guess lower than that) – about how many books I will finish between February 1 and February 28.

2. Donations made to DBF must be dated between 12:01 a.m., January 1, 2021 (because yes, I reward being already on this) and 11:59 p.m., February 10, 2021, to count toward an entry.

3. Deadline for receiving email entries is February 11, 2021, at 5:30 p.m., CST.

4. I will send a confirmation email when I get your entry. If you do not get a confirmation from me, you have not successfully entered.

All other things being equal, I will have a final total posted by March 5 and will place the order for the winner’s book by March 10, 2021.

Okay, so I’m going to go read now. I have so many choices! This is the best month!

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January TBR

Not pictured – all the audiobooks I’m listening to because of my current inability to sit still

I meant to post my TBR list on the first weekend of January, but it sort of got away from me. Beyond what we’re reading in my various book clubs, my January selections are typically a mixture of seize-the-day-and-world books accompanied by a little comfort reading, and this January is no exception. This year, of course, I have the extra category of at least one book with joy in the title (although if my growing list is any indication, it will likely be more than one a month).

Joy

This month’s selections are three books by Jennifer McCartney – The Joy of Being Online all the F*cking Time, The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place, and The Joy of Doing Just Enough. They’re quick reads – I’ve already finished the first two listed – and they’re perfect for the month when I am both excited and overwhelmed by my goals. Although they are meant to be humorous parodies of self-help books, their message provides the bit of balance I didn’t know I needed. Yes, have goals but also maybe calm down a little bit because the messy living room and the fact that I check my phone at least twice an hour? Not really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, and sometimes I need to hear that.

Book Clubs

  • How Not To Die Alone (or, as this title was deemed too harsh to do well in the UK, Something To Live For) by Richard Roper. I love this book. These are the kinds of characters I love/want to write, and the story was quirky and endearing.
  • The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi – Just started listening to this one, and I expect to love it. The description is right up my alley, and the writing thus far is gorgeous.
  • It Chooses You by Miranda July – I was gifted a copy by my friend Sarah, and I am really happy to have the hard copy of this one. The visual effect is a big part of the story.
  • The Swallowed Man by Edward Carey – I know almost nothing about this one, but Jenny Lawson picked it, so I know it’s going to be weird and wonderful.
  • Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham – the first selection in Roxane Gay’s new book club called The Audacity.

Personal Selections

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – One of my favorite New Year’s Day traditions is re-reading this little treasure. I get something different out of it every year.
  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez – Our Follow the Reader book club had a choose-your-own-adventure selections for December, and I was reminded that I meant to read this last year, so I’m starting it now.
  • If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead Yet? by Cynthia Heimel – My friend Brenda has a little free library at her house, and when this showed up, she messaged me to see if I wanted her to put it aside for me after she finished reading it. Of course I did. What a great title!
  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle – I’m twenty pages in, and I’m already feeling a little more feral. I like it so much!
  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes – This book changed a lot of things for me a couple of years ago and put a lot of things in motion that caused me to seek out communities that have played a big part in keeping me alive this year. The audiobook is fueling so much gratitude.
  • Night Cycles by Elizabeth Wilder – I’ve taken one of her poetry classes, and I love this collection. I was going to save it for Lent, but it’s pretty fitting for this political climate, too.

What are you reading these days?

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