A Sentence a Day

On my bedside table, you’ll find a copy of The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.  In short, the book is an account of the year Gretchen spent test driving studies and theories on how to be happier.  From cleaning closets to finalizing wills to waking her girls in the morning with a song, Gretchen offers the reader dozens of insights into happiness and several suggestions on how to feel happier.

Of these suggestions, perhaps my favorite is: keep a one-sentence journal.  As a busy mom of two with a household to run and more or less a full-time job as a writer, Gretchen admits while the idea of a journal is appealing to her, she struggles to actually execute a traditional “paragraphs and pages” journal, even as a writer.  So Gretchen, in her infinite wisdom, simply started writing one sentence a day.  Perhaps it was the memory of her youngest daughter going up and down a few stairs while on a boat ride, or maybe it was her oldest daughter requesting “pajamas” (toddler-speak for parmesan) on her spaghetti.  Regardless, Gretchen’s one-sentence journal is now filled with the “sweets of her day,” it requires only a fraction of her time, and it will be a cherished memento for her family.

I of course couldn’t wait to start my own.  I relish any activity that gives me permission to set the dishes aside for two minutes to write, and taking a moment to reflect on my day, recognize the “sweets,” and put pen to paper makes me feel…yes Gretchen, you got it – happy!  And another factor in this little happiness equation?  The actual journal in which I write.  Every year for my birthday, I receive a beautiful Smythson of Bond Street diary from an English girlfriend (a tradition steeped in generosity and thoughtfulness).  I tuck a few of my favorite pictures of my children under the cover, and sometimes when I’m not too sure what I’m going to write, just a quick glance at their toothy (and in some instances toothless) grins is all it takes for me to shake hands with inspiration.

Create a one-sentence journal of your own and see whether it makes a difference in your day.  Let me know how it goes, and feel free to share some of your entries!  Mine for today:

I picked the girls up at aftercare and noticed Little Bear’s handwriting on the chalkboard.  Messages as follows:

“I love my sisters.”

“I am a very good drawer.”

“I hope mommy makes homemade pancakes for dinner.” 

Oh how tempting to hide the erasers!

Technically more than one sentence, but one perfect sentiment on which to end my day.

Happy Journaling!

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Mmmm…..Mangoes

I am normally not a fan of mangoes.  To be honest with you, it’s not the flavor or the smell, it’s really the consistency.  I think they’re “mealy,” and therefore they’re just not my tropical fruit go-to (give me a guava any day!).  🙂  But last night, I fixed pork tacos for dinner for family and friends, and Martha Stewart, in her infinite wisdom, suggested I follow her pork tacos dinner recipe with baked mangoes for dessert.  Not one to argue with the high priestess of hostessing, I followed her advice – and I’m so glad I did!  These took a little time in the oven, but they were so tasty!  And since the weather turned cold yesterday evening, it was nice to tee up a warm dessert.

Baked Mangoes with Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas

Ingredients:

For the Mangoes :

4 to 6 ripe mangoes (about 4 pounds total), peeled

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar

For the Tortillas:

4 flour tortillas (6-inch)

3 tablespoons butter, melted

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt

Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional, but I highly recommend it!)

Preparation:

Bake mangoes: Preheat oven to 400  degrees. Slice mangoes into 4 pieces; cut each piece into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Pour butter into a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Add mango slices and sprinkle with brown sugar; toss to coat. Arrange slices in one layer. Bake, tossing once halfway through, until mangoes are tender and juice is bubbling, 45 to 50 minutes. While mangoes are baking, prepare tortillas.

Prepare tortillas: Stack tortillas and cut in half. In a large bowl, toss tortilla halves with melted butter until well coated. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place tortillas on a large (or two small) rimmed baking sheet; sprinkle both sides with cinnamon-sugar mixture, and arrange in a single layer. Place in oven while mangoes are still baking, and bake until golden and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool.

Assemble: Divide mango slices among plates. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired, and serve with cinnamon-sugar tortilla halves, broken again in half.

Now, I know you’ve heard me complain about my lack of spoons, but it occurred to me yesterday that unlike the spoon situation, I actually have many baking sheets at my disposal.  However, my baking sheets are starting to look really worse for the wear.  Some are warped, and I think some of the “don’t put in the dishwasher” ones have in fact been put in the dishwasher.  Short of giving everyone in my family tetanus shots, I think it might be time to replace at least a couple.  Williams Sonoma has several baking sheets on sale, and I intend to take advantage. And since I learned the very best way to peel a mango is actually with a vegetable peeler (a few poor attempts with a paring knife put this lesson front and center) I’m going to pick up a new set of vegetable peelers too (Love the fun shades on these!  And I think the orange-ish one is the color of a mango!).

Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

Ode to Mary Jane

My girls wear uniforms to school.  All four of us agree this is a good thing.  Well…one of us (guess who?) worships anything that eliminates potential pitfalls in the “out the door and into the dropoff line” routine, and oh by the way – how cute are the little jumpers and the bright red cardigans?  And the remaining three are still too young to feel compelled to lead a rebel yell against all things plaid.

But in addition to how much easier my mornings are and how adorable I think the little jumpers are, I’m also a sucker for the Mary Jane shoes.  And yes, this is true of grown ups too.  Case in point: Mary Janes ala Manolo Blahnik.  Sigh…

Okay, I digress.  Back to little girl shoes.  Something about my little ones’ little piggies encased in a Mary Jane shoe channels visions of Madeline (red hair!) and the VonTrapp children (matching curtain playsuits!) and Shirley Temple (dimples!).  It’s heartwarming, even if we don’t march in line, burst into spontaneous song and tap dance while wearing them (well, actually….we kinda’ do)!   So I was more than pleased today to discover the nice selection of kids’ shoes available at Zappos.   I don’t know why I’ve only used it as a go-to site for myself up until now.  They have enough Mary Jane-esque and school uniform-approved shoes to fill The Good Ship Lollipop!  Nice!

And though I have no coupons to spare for either the Mary Janes or the penny loafer eye candy, (another weakness) I can’t help but encourage us all to go ahead and indulge our inner prep anyway.  Come on, you know you want to!

“That’s all there is; there isn’t anymore.” (Madeline)

Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda

My 6th grader is going to 6th grade camp.  Does that bring back grade school memories or what?  When I went, I was also in sixth grade, and we went for a whole week (god bless those teachers).  I still remember some of the songs I learned, and I love to geek out and sing them for my girls: “Here’s a story, doo doo, doo do, about Jaws, doo doo, doo do…”  They always respond the same way: “Oh mommmmm….”

At any rate, my daughter is only going for a quick overnight, but the packing list is a little daunting.  We tackled it last night, and this is pretty much how it unfolded.

Sleeping bag?  Check.

Pillow? Check.

Socks?  Check.

Jeans?  Check.

Sunscreen?  Hmmm….don’t you have to replace sunscreen every season?  Does Fall count as a new season?  Okay.  That goes on the grocery list.

Bugspray? From my daughter: “What kind of bugs?  Big bugs?  Like spiders?”  Yeah…good luck with this one, Mrs. Johnson.

Pajamas?  Check.

Raingear?  Check.  Oh wait a minute.  We should try that on.  Your arms are like a foot longer than they were last Spring.  Yep.  As I suspected.  You could use a new raincoat.  From my middle child: “I’m not wearing any hand-me-downs that are pink!”  From me: “Grrrrrrrrrr…..”

So mission number one this morning was to quickly locate a raincoat sturdy enough to withstand three go-rounds in our closets, in a shade other than pink (now watch, next year my middle child will be obsessed with all hues in the rose, blush and coral families).  And lo and behold, I think search success is mine! (Now if I could just do the same for my own raingear!)

Anyone else out there love Uncle Dan’s?  They always come through in a camping emergency for me (because I have so many…).  Here are my options this morning:

 

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(also comes in pink for those of you who do not have children who have declared a ban on the shade!)

OR…

Girls Printed Resolve Jacket

 

(mad for plaid!)

OR…

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(also comes in blue, pink and black…but I think the yellow is super cute!)

Now that makes for a happy camper!