Doesn't Take Much to Make Me Happy
Doesn't take much to make me happy . . and make me smile with glee . . . .
~ "Best of My Love," The Emotions
Although I'm viewed by many friends and family members alike as a driven, high maintenance, Type-A perfectionist with high standards and equally high anxiety, the truth of the matter is this:
It doesn't take much to make me happy.
This year, I told myself that I would use what I have and enjoy what I have. Many of the things that make me happy are low cost or free (at least free to me), easy, and/or within my possession or reach. In honor of the near-beginning of my favorite season of the year, summer (YAY!), here's a list of the little things that make me happy, in no particular order:
1. My husband, Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB). No, this isn't to say that he's perfect or we're perfect, but we're good enough together. We laugh ALOT. We have some insider stupid jokes that have been running between us for years. Never judge a marriage by what you see. There are things that go on within a marriage between two people that outsiders will never know and, even if they did, they wouldn't understand.
2. Iced Sweet Tea. There is nothing like a glass of iced sweet tea with lemon on a hot summer day.
3. Backyard barbecues. Gotta love'em. You set up the grill, and I'll make Memphis Minnie's Rib Rub and slather it on anything that was formerly a living animal and watch you grill it (I'm afraid of the fire, though. I tried grilling once when BMNB wasn't home, and I almost burned down my backyard tree and fence.)
4. Graduations. I don't care if you're graduating from kindergarten or a doctoral program. Graduations just warm my heart to bits.
5. My home. Not because it's big, because it isn't. Not because it's posh, because it's far from that. I enjoy my home simply because it's mine. There are small touches everywhere -- my summer vegetable garden; the roses, dwarf orange tree and jasmine that I planted in the backyard that make the backyard so fragrant whenever I walk out; the artwork and family photos on display; the mostly used furniture that I've spruced up with pillows and whatnot; my piano; the struggling magnolias in my front yard that were a gift from my neighbor; the tons of books on my shelves and coffee table -- all of these things make my home a comfort to me as soon as I walk in the door.
6. Finding NWT clothing items at the Goodwill. Here's the context. Yours truly has a weight problem. That said, I don't think I should have to look like a schlumpadinka just because of it. I also don't think I should pay a fortune for clothes for a size that I think is temporary. For whatever reason, I've been able to find lots of NWT (New With Tags) items from the Goodwill in my size in the clothing brands I like -- Talbot's, Jones New York, Tahari, Liz Claiborne -- for no more than $10 each. I've even found NWT shoes -- Joan and David, Etienne Aigner, Anne Klein -- for no more than $12. I like looking nice for work, but I just don't believe in paying a lot of money for things that depreciate, which leads to my next favorite thing:
7. Free coupons. The Sacramento Bee newspaper calls me every once in a while to ask me to subscribe, and I always tell them "no." Why? Because they leave the Sunday coupons in my driveway for free. Why subscribe to the paper if you can get the coupons for free? When I'm at the top of my couponing game, I can easily save $8 -20 bucks per grocery trip. That easily pays for my Roku, Netflix and Hulu Plus accounts. I know you're thinking that's not a lot of money, but it's free money to me.
9. Fresh vegetables from my own garden. Until you've had freshly picked tomatoes, zucchini, carrots and lettuce from your own yard, you really don't know what vegetables are supposed to taste like. Top off the tomatoes, lettuce and carrots with homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing ( balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Italian seasoning and one or two crushed cloves of garlic), some fresh mozzarella, some fresh French bread and a glass of wine, and that's living, my friend.
10. Reading the magazines to which I subscribe. I subscribe to a lot of magazines -- O Magazine, Real Simple, Sunset, Essence, More, HGTV Magazine, and Everyday with Rachael Ray -- but I rarely have time to read them when they come in. Curling up on my sofa with my old magazines and a glass of sweet tea or wine is a good time as far as I'm concerned.
11. Day trips in California. No shade on the rest of the 47 continental states, but IMHO California is the most beautiful of the lower 48. The sad thing is that I don't make time to see much of its beauty despite the fact that I live here. Daytrips are an inexpensive way to see all of California's beauty if you live here. In what other state can you trek to mountains, beaches, forests, lakes, various wine countries (even Placer and Nevada counties have vineyards) or the desert and make it back home by dinner? I've decided that seeing all of California's state parks is on my bucket list. Need ideas? Check out Sunset Magazine for some great tips for daytripping or camping in California.
12. Having friends and family over for dinner. Again, something that I don't do nearly as much as I would like to, partly because I do have high standards for what I serve to my guests and I end up intimidating myself into inaction. I'm working on that, though.
13. Morning coffee on the patio during summer. I love to have my morning coffee on my patio during the summer and listen to the birds chirping. The downside of this is that my backyard is so small and my house so close to my neighbors that sometimes I hear things I really don't want to or should not hear. Sometimes I smell them, too. Let's just say that some of my neighbors are extremely 420 friendly.
14. Books. I love to read, and I don't make enough time for it. I rarely buy books new, though. Again, the Goodwill and my local library have been my friends in this endeavor. I haven't bought an e-reader yet, but that's coming.
15. Trying new recipes. I have a cookbook collection that is to die for. I also get lots of recipes from all of the magazines to which I subscribe. I like trying new recipes and adding to my cooking repertoire, especially since I'm not a natural cook and am highly dependent on recipes. The folks at O Magazine, Real Simple and Sunset provide killer recipes.
16. Upcycling. I like taking used stuff and making it new or interesting again. I spray painted a used brass floor lamp I got for $10, and its new rubbed bronze color fits perfectly with the finishes in my home. I'm hoping to finish sanding and painting some headboards and tables I acquired used and cheaply. Yes, I do watch Lara Spencer's "Flea Market Flip" religiously. I get a thrill out of taking something that someone else has discarded and making it new and fashionable. Don't judge me.
17. Massages from Zen Spa in Roseville. $60 bucks for a 60 minute massage. No membership fee. Sweet.
18. Homemade Limeade. It's not summer for me until I've had that first glass of homemade limeade. Cook 2 cups sugar in 2 cups water over a low flame and stir until the sugar dissolves, then let cool. Add the mixture to a pitcher along with 2 cups fresh lime juice and 2 liters club soda. Add sugar as needed to taste. Enjoy. Thanks, Martha Stewart!
19. Hot baths after a hard workout. Since we're in a drought and I don't work out much, this rarely happens. However, the feeling of sitting in a hot bath with bath salts, bubble bath, and scented candles burning after a hard workout? Sweet. Even sweeter when BMNB is in the tub with me.
20. Writing this blog. 'Nuff said.