That last post was wearing some heavy boots, in the language of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, which is a novel I am reading but very slowly because while it is beautiful the story itself has heavy boots, anyway let’s shift gears to an incomplete list of things that have been bringing me joy:

A Keurig coffee maker. During the summer John came home from a yard sale with an old clunky Keurig in tow and at first I was like THIS WASTEFUL AND HULKING BEHEMOTH ON MY LIMITED AMOUNT OF KITCHEN COUNTER SPACE I THINK NOT SIR but after a couple trial days I can’t help it, I love the damn thing. I love its cheery burble, its polite “More water please” message, the oddly satisfying double-pour strategy of 8 oz-plus-4 oz. I’m not sure why it’s somehow more delightful to go through the brewing process each time rather than pouring from a pot, but it IS. (I will say there’s no denying the expense and waste of the pods although reusable ones are an option.)

Schitt’s Creek. You’ve likely either been a fan of this show for long-ass time or you’ve decided it’s not for you but if you’re in the latter category and you’ve only seen a couple episodes let me be the 900th person to encourage you to stick with it a bit longer because maybe the magic will eventually come and you, like me, will eventually be doling out the final unseen shows with the sad knowledge that the end is nigh, like the last few M&M’s from one of those bags that says SHARING SIZE and you’re just like LOOK I DIDN’T ASK TO HAVE MY PORTION CHOICES JUDGED HERE.

You’re Wrong About. I am super in love with this podcast even though they changed their theme music recently which was a damn shame. The hosts are much younger and smarter and funnier than me so I resent them a tiny bit but they are also, like, my best friends?

Dyeing my hair. After decades of having my hair professionally highlighted I started coloring it rose gold this summer, starting with a color mask from Moroccanoil and moving on to a variety of semi-permanent brands before settling on Overtone. My hair is usually somewhere between bright reddish pink and faded rhubarb, depending on washout, and the cool fingerpaint glop of working in the dye never fails to deliver a satisfying combo of nostalgia (those ‘90s era Manic Panic vibes) and anticipation.

A cordless vacuum. I just went for the Dyson v11 and did very little comparison shopping so my experience in this product category is limited but let me tell you that a light, cord-free vacuum is a LIFE CHANGER. Honestly I cannot recommend it enough, particularly for high-traffic pet-clogged areas. Cordless 2020: make vacuuming great for the first time ever.

Bubble baths. I have ended my day with a bath for years and years now, it’s become a sort of start-fresh-tomorrow smudge stick for my brain. I love a good bubble bath product, which can be weirdly hard to come by (even Bath & Body Works, which has bath in its name, only had one in their mega-selection of shower gels, and now when I look online it’s not even listed there) (so if you come across a bottle of “In the Stars” jump on it, it smells terrific) (I also highly recommend their “Sugared Snickerdoodle” candle, man oh man) (also their “Sweater Weather” hand soap OKAY I’M DONE), although here in Oregon you can buy CBD-infused bath salts. I am unconvinced they bring on any sort of effect aside from “I paid more for these so they must be superior” but I occasionally toss them into my nightly reboot-soup like dimes in a mall fountain: can’t hurt, might help.

What’s been lightening your boots lately?


28 Responses to “Spoonfuls of sugar”

  1. Alison in Washington on December 16th, 2020 3:18 pm

    1. Scented candles. A fucking bunch of them. I bought all the brands that are advertised to me nonstop on Facebook and I love them all.

    2. Fancy chocolate. Also advertised on Facebook for the most part, though my absolute favorite, EH Chocolatier (the pb cups and the pecan clusters MY GOD) I found through a google search for like, “fancy nuts” or something.

    3. Beef jerky from M&S Meats in Montana. This is like, old-fashioned, super dry REAL jerky. We used to get it on family trips to the lake when I was a kid and it’s just like I remember. My fave is the peppered buffalo jerky.

    4. Leggings and sports bras and new shoes. I usually wear dresses and tights but now that it’s rainy season I REALLY want to keep walking the dogs and need to be free of all reasonable excuses to do so, plus hey, SHOPPING. Fabletics pocket leggings + SheFit bra + Adidas waterproof trail runners (walkers in my case but I don’t name the damn things) + Lands End big-ass raincoat + airpods for my audiobooks = cash me outside, even in the rain.

    5. H O T – T U B. We bought it in May and it has been the best investment ever. I spend literal hours in it every single night.

    6. Fancy lattes of all kinds. I am a regular at every coffee place in the vicinity. Cardamom coconut breve–OOF.

    7. Audible subscription. I canceled it when I stopped commuting to work but renewed it when I realized I could just like…listen to books whenever I want? In the hot tub? While smoking joint after joint and drinking a fancy latte? Also a Bluetooth speaker. Perfection.

  2. Ginger on December 16th, 2020 3:22 pm

    Truffettes of France, a rich to die for chocolate gifted us by neighbors. Probably makes for more of a load for my boots to carry, but a sublime experience, an exaltation of taste and comfort.

  3. Jamie on December 16th, 2020 3:28 pm

    1. Reconciling myself to the fact that I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life, and that the mere fact that I have become fat does not make me a failure. I am battling anxiety and depression in a fucking pandemic and trying to raise my 3 young kids in a way that makes me proud to know them. I was thin once but I am happy now. Maybe I’ll get there again someday, maybe I won’t. I’m a good person and that’s is enough for now.

    2. The sound of my kids laughing with each other.

    3. The admission of my 5yo son that he only uses my husband’s pillow as an occasional “fart muffler” because he loves me more.

    4. The ability to obtain delicious takeout whenever I can’t muster the energy to make dinner. Again.

    5. Holiday cards arriving each day in the mail.

  4. Cara on December 16th, 2020 3:46 pm

    1. A slower, quieter Christmas. We’re still doing everything, but it’s a bit scaled back by social distancing. And I love it. Really, really love it. My gifts are all bought and wrapped. Wrapped. It’s a Christmas miracle.

    2. Our puppy. Yes, we adopted a pandemic puppy, and I have zero regrets. She’s brought new vigor to our older dog and so much joy to the rest of us.

    3. Pears. My husband has a client that sends a box of pears and apples every year, and I always get giddy to see it. (We don’t get good pears in Florida.)

    4. Sewing again. After 3 months without touching my machine and several more of barely sewing, I sat down last week to see reusable gift wrap. It rekindled my passion, and I have seen every day since.

  5. Shawna on December 16th, 2020 4:50 pm

    I loved Christmas shopping and can’t believe I’m pretty much done. Now all that’s left is the wrapping (bleh) and the anticipation of the delight of the recipients.

    We are doing the full-on 2-week don’t-leave-the-house-for-anything isolation leading up to Christmas so we can visit our parents (my mom and my husband’s dad are together – we were first so it’s okay – so this is a perfect 2-birds-with-one-stone visit) and let me tell you, these two weeks are A LOT of togetherness, but man am I jazzed at the idea of being able to spend a day just hanging out and eating treats and cooking a traditional Christmas dinner with my mom at her house at the end of it.

    Also, I bought a giant sleeve of After Eight at Costco. I’m loving those chocolate-minty little bastards. Do they have them in the States?

  6. Camille on December 16th, 2020 4:50 pm

    In the darkness that is a 3:30pm on a rainy December day in the PNW when you’re too lazy to get up and turn on the light, I read the last sentence as “What’s been lightening your BOOBS lately?” :)

    I’m stealing Cara’s top two.

    1. My husband and I are Canadian and typically drive to see his family on Christmas day. With the border being closed and Canada requiring a two-week quarantine for returning citizens, we’re staying home. I’m sad that it’s been so long since our kids saw their grandmother and cousins, and that being away this Christmas is an added kick in the head to this crappy year, but I’m also thrilled that Christmas day will be quieter, more relaxing, and less exhausting (and that I can wear pajamas all day).

    2. PANDEMIC puppy!! We’ve had our dachshund-chihuahua rescue since August, and she’s so much fun. Our first dog loves her, and the two of them together are delightful.

    Happy holidays, everyone. Here’s hoping for a new year with considerably less crappiness.

  7. Camille on December 16th, 2020 4:55 pm

    And Shawna…I miss After Eights so much! You can get them in the US through Amazon but only if you’re willing to pay a small fortune for the small box (which, let’s be honest, I could finish in minutes).

  8. Kirsten B-H on December 16th, 2020 5:56 pm

    A Keurig coffee maker– we use the reusable plastic pods with mini filters then compost for less guilt

    yes, cordless vacuum is a LIFE CHANGER!

    What’s been lightening your boots lately?
    -candles, candles, and more candles, especially Balsam and Fir scents
    –ArcadeUp! games of Millipede and centipede between conference calls
    -Reading the Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley and the Land of Stories, which my middle schoolers wanted me to read.They are awesome series!
    –Hot buttered popcorn with plain M&Ms on top and Christmas movies

  9. b. on December 16th, 2020 10:05 pm

    1. Jazza on YouTube… I am *so* not the target demographic, being a middle-aged mother who draws stick figures, but he’s funny and kind, and the world needs more of that.
    2. The online library app “Libby,” where I check books out like mad and then curl up reading as many as possible in a single day. I can read a Simone St James book in under three hours (they feature interesting and plucky heroines in spooky gothic predicaments, and I love them). Lately I’ve been reading Haruki Murakami’s “1Q84,” which is about a book within a book (very meta) but also counts as a (maybe?) sci-fi story. It’s breaking my brain a little, in a good way. It’s also taking me a lot longer than three hours to read.
    3. Lush bath bombs, a bluetooth boombox, and strict instructions to the rest of my family that as long as I’m in the bath, I’m NOT HOME. I enjoy watching the bath bombs fizz out swirly clouds of perfumed mica, even as it leaves the inevitable film of glitter everywhere. Given the price of a Lush product, it’s a rare luxury, so I save them for emergencies.
    4. Play-Doh. Which, admittedly, sounds a little crazy, especially as I’m not the one playing with it, and I always end up having to clean up an enormous mess. Listen. It keeps my 4yo occupied for consecutive minutes *in a row*, and for all of those minutes, he’s not saying “Mommy” every 15 seconds. Having to sweep the floor when he’s done is a small price to pay.

  10. Martha Pepek on December 16th, 2020 10:09 pm

    – Christmas movies and music
    – Impending snowstorm, 12-18 inches and the accompanying activities.
    – Brene Brown’s podcast: “Unlocked”
    – Long, deep, meaningful conversations with dear friends
    – “The Queen’s Gambit” and “The Crown”
    – Crossword puzzles
    – Writing cards and letters.

  11. Karen on December 16th, 2020 10:11 pm

    – Stroopwafels
    – Kitchens of India paste for butter chicken – Amazon, baby. My Indian husband says it’s incredible for being something out of a box. It’s delicious.
    – Shel Silverstein with my 9yo
    – Our pandemic kitten who’s now 8 months old and hilarious
    – volunteering for Meals on Wheels
    – baking bread with this recipe –

  12. Andrea on December 17th, 2020 4:45 am

    Long-time reader here. I just wanted to drop in and say that I absolutely love this blog. Every time I see a new post in Feedly I jump for it. You are so funny and relatable. So I will say that, today, this post lightened my boots! Happy holidays!

  13. Lori on December 17th, 2020 7:17 am

    1) The volcano candle from Anthropologie makes my entire house smell great. 2) The addition of a ragdoll cat is the highlight of 2020 for every family member. 3) Been working on my family tree a lot. Always cool to find famous relatives. Want me to do your tree? 4) I plan road trip itineraries for the future. 5) I was sick of planning meals, so now each of the six family members living at home have to pick one meal per week, then I pick a restaurant for the seventh night. Takes the burden off me in regards to meal planning and then everyone is guaranteed one meal they love every week.

  14. Sarah on December 17th, 2020 9:06 am

    I just paid for Amazon Prime so I could watch Happiest Season because it has Dan Levy in it. He was the best part of the movie.

  15. Melissa on December 17th, 2020 10:20 am

    1. Fancy coffee. Our municipal recycling collection is suspended because of covid outbreaks among workers and they’re prioritizing trash collection. Every week or so when I haul the pile of recycling to the dump, I get a fancy coffee from the pickup window at the hipster place. Cardamom honey latte FTW.

    2. Books. Because 2020 I went ahead and ordered a giant pile of books and didn’t even wait for some of them to come out in paperback.

    3. Baths. Like one of the other commenters above, the family has been instructed to enter the bathroom under penalty of death. I put on a podcast, sometimes with a glass of wine or tea, and soak away.

    4. Long walks alone. Year end work is BANANAS so I haven’t gotten to this as much but I need some alone time every day and I’ve taken meandering walks through the wealthy neighborhood about 2 miles N each day, mostly because there’s little traffic and the sidewalks are in good shape.

    5. Pandemic cat. Adopted in the fall, she’s maybe a year and shy but warming to me. So far she’ll only sit in my lap and purr away.

    6. Soup and stew. The slow cooker is getting heavy use for beef stew, chicken chili, minestrone, black bean soup, etc. It is cold and damp. Dumping things in in the AM somehow feels like less work then cooking dinner in the PM, even it means browning meat and chopping onions at 830AM.

  16. sooboo on December 17th, 2020 3:15 pm

    Now I have my eye on a cordless vacuum.

    – Audible subscription
    – cooking vegan, cream soups and baking bread, two things I never have done before.
    – lots of comfy clothing purchases from Old Navy
    – decorating for Christmas. I didn’t want to deal with a tree lot so I bought a fake wreath, some lights and a pine scented candle and it’s a fun, easy substitute.
    – low key Christmas. We usually go to my in-laws where there are political differences, scratchy, uncomfortable clothing required for dinner and lots of prep, hiring pet sitters etc. I am so grateful to do/ spend a lot less this year.
    – taking walks, finding new areas in my neighborhood even though I’ve lived in it for years.
    – definitely your blog! Love your writing and always look forward to it.

    I am also so happy there’s a vaccine, new president! 2021 is going to be good. The bar is so low it has to be, right?

  17. Lisa on December 17th, 2020 7:07 pm

    What a great post. I have a list of things like this too:
    1. Crabtree & Evelyn products. Expensive, but they smell so amazing and make showering even more relaxing.
    2. Coffee, whole bean and lots of it. My husband and I go through so much coffee that I recently subscribed to two different rosters so we don’t run out.
    3. New York Times Crossword app. There’s a new puzzle, mini puzzle and word making game every day. As the week progresses, the puzzles get harder, but using the app, you can revel a word or two or check your answers which hard core puzzlers would call cheating but I like being to able get unstuck if needed.
    4. FitBit Yoga- it’s getting cold in my part of the country so I need workouts that I can do indoors and I like yoga because it has the additional benefit of helping with stiffness and stress after sitting hunched over my work laptop for hours on end every work day.
    5. Amazon Prime. I know Amazon and Jeff Bezos are evil, but thanks to Amazon I never have to set foot in a grocery or big box store during all this madness. I always tip the grocery delivery people well.
    6. Doordash. Sometimes I’m too lazy or stressed out to cook and I don’t like going anywhere during the pandemic so it’s amazing to have pretty much whatever takeout we want delivered to us. I always tip those delivery drivers well too.

  18. Joanna on December 17th, 2020 10:24 pm

    1. Prepping coffee the night before. I did this often pre pandemic but my sense of gratitude and joy has been recalibrated and now it’s everything when I wake up. Sometimes my non coffee drinking husband will prep it for me and I feel like we may stay together forever after all when he does.
    2. Giant (and I mean GIANT) squish mallow pillow from Costco. My kids try to steal it but it was purchased at my request so I can recline in absolute comfort on the couch with my coffee and book in the morning.
    3. Perfecting my lounge wear – this has always been my favorite category of dress. I’ve worn the same outfits (total comfort: leggings with tunics and soft sweaters) on rotation for months and months and my clothes are becoming threadbare but I am undeterred and so happy when I do laundry and my favorite favorites are clean again.
    4. Pandemic puppy – puppies are so much more fun than human babies
    5. Clean sheets – my house is generally a wreck of kid messes but I love making everybody’s bed cozy.
    6. Being off the hook for enrolling my kids in activities which is usually bumpy for them anyway – we all love to be home and maybe it’s actually okay to just relax and be happy instead of prodding my child to learn various sports skills on weekend mornings?
    7. Being off the hook for socializing with adults – I know people are willing to risk their own lives and the lives of others rather than be forced to live like my family in total isolation (which I never would have known pre pandemic) but this is our normal and I love not having to fend off or occasionally cave to invitations. Probably not a typical pandemic experience and I know others are hurting for connection with friends and family – we are not and that’s okay. I knew we were introverted but I didn’t realize how different our social needs are from the norm until the pandemic. Rambling but I feel released from the pressure of reaching out and trying to have a social life (and the extreme anxiety that entails) when actually it turns out I don’t need it the way other people do?
    Okay I’ve drifted to intangibles so:
    8. Amazon music unlimited – my best adult coping method is to blast music when I drive. Sometimes I just need to grieve for my dad by listening to his music and sobbing en route to groceries. I discovered my kids love Vivaldi and we blast Four Seasons on the way to school. I can hear the swish of their winter coats as they do presto speed air violin.

  19. Ascentxqt on December 18th, 2020 5:12 am

    works of art.

  20. Lee on December 18th, 2020 5:35 am

    Loving this post and all the comments! Thanks for the ideas. Lightening my boots right now is simply: Hot chocolate at 11 am. Working from home and I basically stay cold, because I’m unwilling to turn up the heat for whatever reason (we’ve always kept it on “eco” because no one was ever home during the day and that’s a hard habit for a penny-pincher to break). So hot chocolate it is. Or tea.

    Also, the Great British Baking Show. Late to the party but it’s perfect this time of year, I think. Can’t wait to start Schitt’s Creek and Season 4 of the Crown.

  21. janet on December 18th, 2020 11:06 am

    Must watch Letterkenny. Had to watch with subtitles on the first episodes to catch the Canadian slang, but ran through all of the seasons (8?) in about a week.

  22. CK on December 18th, 2020 10:34 pm

    Have you discovered the “Trashy Divorces” podcast yet? It. Is. THE BEST!!!!!!! Total brain Candy did my overtaxed brain. Highly, strongly, totally recommend. Go all the way back to season one and start with the podcast about Newt Gingrich (SUCH A DOUCHEBAG) and Margaret Mitchell (Was Gone with the Wind a massive trill novel the whole time?).

    I live for their episodes.

  23. Nine on December 19th, 2020 7:14 am

    Caribou Coffee Reindeer Blend.

    A new Keurig. Our old Keurig was being a total douchebag for months and I didn’t have the wherewithawal to deal with it anymore so I bought a new one on mega sale. No regrets. \m/

    philosophy Fresh Cream lotion. I’m not really into vanilla scents but it smells SO GOOD in a comforting way. I was buying every coconut scented lotion in sight because coconut is my go to but none of them really did it for me. Fresh Cream smells like whipped cream and a hug, two things I need in pandemic times.

  24. M.A. on December 20th, 2020 8:00 am

    Linda, it’s so good to “hear” your voice — always a welcome sound, like your Keurig needing water. (God, how awkward was that horrible analogy?!)

    Anyway, Kudos for reading “Extremely…” — I’ve never had the courage but perhaps I will. I recommend the movie, if you have not already seen it, but like the book, you’ll need an entire box of Kleenex. I would be curious to know what you think of the casting — I thought it was just about perfect, especially Oskar and his neighbor.

    As far as boots lightening: FOOT MASKS or peels or whatever they are. For one thing, they really work, but more importantly, if you’re like me and ask random strangers at the beach if you can peel their sunburned back, it is possibly one of the most satisfying things around. Highly recommend.

    Big love, Linda, and Happy Christmas to you and yours. <3

  25. Caitlin on December 20th, 2020 10:25 pm

    I recently discovered Squirmy & Grubs on YouTube, and I love them so much. They are a newly married interabled couple in Minnesota who vlog hilariously and smash stereotypes about people who use wheelchairs and their partners.

  26. Kim on December 22nd, 2020 4:09 pm

    Awhile back you mentioned kettle corn and I must concur; it’s become my nightly treat, specifically Boom Chicka Pop. Sometimes with a pint of Baskin Robbins chocolate chip depending on how stressful the day was.

    Our two dogs, two goats and varying number of chickens. I loved all of them pre-pandemic but now getting to spend a lot more time with them, we’ve become frighteningly codependent.

    Walks-with-podcasts. My tastes tend to go toward either comedy or true crime, there doesn’t seem to be any in-between. The husband finally had an easy time picking out a Christmas gift for me – better headphones.

    And I’ll be a copycat with coffee: I’ve been getting higher quality beans and grinding them myself and the difference is astounding.

    Thank god for appreciation of the little things while the world burns around us.

  27. Missy on December 30th, 2020 8:54 am

    1. Fires in the wood stove
    2. My weighted blanket
    3. Very bundled up cold snowy walks with podcasts and audio books
    4. Schitts Creek and Homeland
    5. Facebook Messenger calls with my little niece and nephew being silly with all the filters
    6. A gently snoring dog asleep on my feet
    7. Quarantining for two weeks so I could hug my immune compromised sister on Christmas
    8. Soup

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