Love.

Dear friends,

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You know what I love in January?

I love a national holiday that gives me a Monday off.

I love easy craft projects like Valentine’s pennant banners strung with heart-shaped twinkly lights.

I love afternoon naps under wool blankets when it’s 20 degrees outside.

I love being home all day with my boys.

I love chicken thighs cooked in wine and butter and then braised for several hours with mushrooms and leeks and brussel sprouts for supper.

And, I love a workweek that’s 20% complete before it ever begins.

With gratitude {for all of these things on a bright January day},

Joan, who can’t seem to reconcile her love for homespun pennant banners with her modern house and has given up trying

A most wonderful day.

Dear Friends,

I took the day off on Friday and it was a most wonderful day.

Sometimes all you need for wonderful is different.  If you work, a day at home can be lovely. If you stay at home, getting out can be exhilarating. A change of pace nudges us out of our ruts, stimulates our senses, and reminds us what we really enjoy when given the opportunity.

In my case, there was nothing earth-shattering about my most wonderful day. I spent the morning catching up on ironing, followed by a thorough cleaning and reorganization of my closet. (The former has been my nemesis ever since I lost my ironing lady; the latter was eight months overdue. Basically, when we moved into our new house, I crammed everything in my closet willy-nilly and figured I’d deal with it later. Later finally arrived yesterday.)

Look at the results:

I’m just enough Type A that nothing makes me more peaceful and content than organized closets, cupboards and drawers. Check out another view:

Photos via iPhone and Picnik

Before yesterday, my scarves were jammed in a too-small drawer, making them terminally wrinkled and impossible to find. Thanks to Mr. Mom, I now have a handy and accessible place to hang them. (Nothing more than a curtain rod, but it works!)

I have a plan to redecorate my closet, but I haven’t implemented it yet. I picked out wallpaper, a new rug, a new light fixture and art because I believe even closet decor should delight us, but I’ve gotten sidetracked on other projects. Someday, though.

After finishing my not-quite-spring cleaning, Mr. Mom and I went to town. (I love saying “go to town,” because it implies we live in the country, which we’ve always dreamed of doing. Actually, we live on a golf course, but with a 14-acre backyard that includes woods and a stream, it feels like the country.) We dropped off a load of gently used clothes for a local church, ate lunch at our favorite cheap Mexican restaurant, and went grocery shopping.

We were home by 2:00 pm, which gave me plenty of time to read a new magazine and nap. And who wouldn’t feel okay about napping after cleaning and grocery shopping? Especially since I still had dinner on the table by 6:30 pm — rosemary roast chicken, orzo with Italian tomatoes and Parmesan, and green beans.

Afterwards Mr. Mom and I settled in for an evening of Australian Open tennis. (With John Isner eliminated today, there’s no American male in the 4th round of singles for the first time in four decades. What, pray tell, is to become of American tennis? I’d speculate, but this is a happy post and I don’t wish to digress into unhappy territory.)

I’m sure there’s somebody out there thinking my version of wonderful is lame-o. But here’s the deal: I didn’t worry over budgets; I didn’t have to solve anybody’s customer service problem; there were no personnel issues to deal with; and no “we-need-it-yesterday” requests to scramble to meet. It was just me, Mr. Mom, a sleepy cat, a whistling bird, and three rambunctious dogs. The sky was grey and the wind was bitterly cold on this mid-winter day, but all was warm and bright (and tidy) in my corner of the universe. And tomorrow, I shall bake!

With gratitude {for a tiny change of pace otherwise known as a day off},

Joan, who as she types has a pup dozing on her left, a cat snoozing on her right, a glass of wine beside her, the love of her life making chili pepper popcorn, and who wonders if bliss gets any blissier

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