Posts Tagged ‘delights’

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As a word nerd from way back, I love a good crossword – themed or more general, simple or fiendishly complex. I used to work the TV Guide crossword as a kid (remember when it came to our houses in paper form?), even though I never knew more than half the clues. And as an adult, I’ve become a devotee of the New York Times crossword.

I love the daily Mini for its quick hit of accomplishment, and the larger puzzles for the different experiences they provide on different days. Monday starts out slow and sweet, only requiring a little stretch outside my brain’s daily round of tasks and to-do lists. Tuesday is similar, though sometimes a bit harder. These early rounds don’t even always have a theme. They’re a cinch to complete in between work emails, toggling back and forth from spreadsheets and text messages to the pleasing symmetry of lines and squares. 

By Wednesday there might be a fiendish pun or two, or a handful of words turning normal wordplay conventions inside out. There’s sometimes an obscure athlete or actress, or a pop culture phenomenon from two generations ago. But Thursday is when the (metaphorical) claws come out.

Thursday is full of tricky double entendres, themes that are only connected if you squint at them sideways, and sometimes even the dreaded double-letters-in-one-square. Thursday still looks manageable, even enticing – but it rarely is. I still enjoy it, though I sometimes give up in exasperation, taking Friday and/or Saturday off before coming back for Sunday. When I do attempt the weekend days, I almost always learn something – even if I also shake my head and despair at either the creators’ diabolical wordplay or my own lack of crossword ingenuity.

Sometimes I think I spend too much time on the crossword – but one of its gifts is that it’s finite. Once it’s done (and the catchy jingle plays), it’s done. I can cross it off my mental list. Until tomorrow morning.


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One of the perks of having a partner who works at Trader Joe’s: a front-row seat to all the new fun seasonal products. This summer, it was jalapeño limeade, sparkling coconut water with yuzu and watermelon mint tea, and in mid-September, I walked into the store to find that a pumpkin spice factory had apparently exploded.

Starting on my birthday, we’ve tried all the fall treats: pumpkin ravioli with harvest pasta sauce (delicious), leaf-shaped tortilla chips (good, but kind of strange); pretzels dipped in pumpkin-spice yogurt (a little over the top, but yummy); pumpkin curry simmer sauce (divine); ginger-turmeric granola (I am seriously addicted). Now that we’re into November, the holiday treats have started arriving at TJs, but I’ve still got fresh apple cider in the fridge and a box or two of pumpkin samosas stashed in the freezer.

I’m not a pumpkin spice latte girl (I don’t drink coffee), and I’m not even that into pumpkin pie. But as Anne also noted, leaning hard into the seasonal joy this year felt like a good antidote to election anxiety and pandemic sadness. It even became a joke with one of my girlfriends: “Don’t hold back on the pumpkin [or fall] joy!” And, truly, from harvest spiced nuts to a cranberry goat cheese log, I feel we have made the most of the fall grocery-store delights.

So much of the novelty in our daily lives is missing this year; I am trying to savor the sweet parts of home, but I miss travel and trying new restaurants and having new experiences. A box of pumpkin pancake mix might not make up for all that, but it’s a fun way to bring a bit of novelty and joy into our days. (Especially when paired with ginger maple syrup and a steaming cup of tea.)

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I’ve had a hard time transitioning back into normal life after Bethany’s beautiful wedding. For one thing, arriving home on Sunday, tired and mussed with a suitcase full of dirty laundry, and then having to go to work on Monday feels like a cruel joke. For another, we had yet more chilly rainy days last week (I am so over the chilly rain). And finally, we had to say good-bye to a couple of friends this weekend – Scott and Beth, some of our best Boston pals, are moving soon. To Montana. Which is just ridiculously far away.

But, as she often does, Sarah came to the rescue yesterday, with a lovely post on the little lifesavers – the things that just make you feel good, that allow you to stop and breathe in and enjoy, and forget for a moment about the to-do list and those piles of clutter that never seem to go away and that stubborn sink that just stays full of dishes. She listed her little lifesavers, which (of course) inspired me to list mine. So here they are:

1. Splurging on brand-new, delicious hardcover books. I don’t do this often, but it’s always satisfying.
2. Children’s lit. This week it’s the books about the Moffats. So fun.
3. Sitting on our wee balcony, with my journal and the flourishing patio garden.
4. Trying a new recipe (last night: oil and garlic pasta sauce from Cooking with My Sisters. YUM).
5. Fresh nectarines.
6. Fruity summer candles.
7. Good pens.
8. Phoning a friend.
9. Tea at my desk.
10. Taking the long way to work across the Common, and breathing in the fresh green smells.
11. My Norah Jones Pandora radio station.
12. Shopping my closet for new outfits. (Amazingly satisfying when I pull it off.)
13. A new shawl pattern for some delicious yarn.
14. Looking forward to a Cape Cod getaway.

What are your little lifesavers – this week, or all the time?

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