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The Happiness Project: November is Home Month

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

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The Happiness Project: November Is Home Month | Faith Permeating Life

Holy crap! It's November!

Time for a happiness project check-in!

I did slightly better this month with my previous months' goals, though I'm still working on it. The main thing I've been letting slide is sending e-mails to friends. But I've been doing more social events: we had new friends over for dinner a week ago, we're planning a party for this month, and I even attended a fundraising event at work where I joined my coworkers in humiliating myself by singing a song from Sesame Street. Yup, I'm awesome.

How about October's goals? I did make myself some lists of what I love about fall and winter, and I've been doing my best to act on them. I've been drinking hot apple cider and eating roasted pumpkin seeds. Now that I'm doing our meal planning, we're having soup for dinner once a week. I try to notice the colors of the leaves every time I drive through our neighborhood.

I made it in under the wire with buying layers; I went out last night (Oct. 31) and got a blazer I can wear over my sweater and a short-sleeve shirt with a scoop neck for under my button-down. I figured it was best to find a way to add layers to the style I already have. I'd like to get some more shirts to go under, but I'm mostly glad I've gotten started in the right direction.

So, what will November's focus be? I wanted it to be a good one, as it's the last new one of the year. (December is supposed to be a "boot camp," where you try to do all of your resolutions every day that you want to carry forward into the new year.) But I also didn't want to overwhelm myself now that I've gotten involved in so many things.

I finally settled on Home. I remembered that Gretchen's new book is going to be called Happier at Home. I've made a lot of resolutions that play out at home, like repairing things right away and trying to follow the one-minute rule for putting things away, but I haven't put a purposeful focus on making our apartment a happy place to be. After I read this post on Modern Mrs. Darcy about the importance of physical environment, I realized I should put a greater priority on this.

So here are the things I came up with:
  • Make a list of steps to finish our art project. Mike and I have an art project we're making that is about 90% done, and I remembered Katy Wolk-Stanley's suggestion to finish up these kinds of projects so they're not nagging at you every time you look at them. Notice I didn't say my resolution is to finish it; I'm separating planning from doing to overcome the hurdle of inaction and because we may not have time to actually finish it this month. But I know having a clear plan of small steps, and possibly a timeline as well, will be a push toward finishing it.
  • Do a 5-minute clean-up before bed. This is one of those things Mike and I say every few months that we want to go back to doing, and then it lasts for maybe a day. But I've learned that all I need to do to build a new habit is add it to my resolutions chart, and it starts happening. So my goal is to spend 5 minutes before bed just going around the apartment and clearing clutter and putting things where they belong.
  • Design a more attractive way to meal plan. I am so out of my element with any sort of cute home decorating thingy like you see all over Pinterest, and I'll admit this resolution is as much about function as it is about decoration. Right now I have a Word template I created for meal planning that I like a lot, but basically I just fill it out for the week and stick it on the fridge. Then I print out any recipes we need for the week. (Sidenote: I'm torn about this because it's not very earth-friendly even though I'm printing on the back of used paper, but it's so much easier to find recipes on Internet using exactly what's in the house than finding them in our cookbooks. At the end of every week I've been copying our favorites onto cards in my recipe binder, so my hope is to eventually have a big enough collection of favorite recipes that I can just pull out the cards for the week and put them somewhere attractively.) I write the appropriate day of the week on each recipe and stick them all on a shelf above the kitchen counter. I would love a cleaner, more attractive method for displaying our meal plans and recipes for the week without adding too much time to my weekly planning. Suggestions?

That's the plan for Home. Tell me, how do you make your home a happier place?


  1. I love your idea of the meal plan. I know I really need to plan my meals better. It's a little harder since I cook for just me - but I know that if I plan my meals for the week I'll probably save A LOT of money. Making it look pretty and finding easy stuff online and saving it might give me motivation. :)

    And I'm also working on making my home a happier place. I'm trying to make my room pretty and working on decorating it.

  2. @Emmy
    So far meal planning has worked well for us, except when Mike doesn't follow my plan... so if you follow your own plans, you'll have a leg up there :)

    I kind of wish I had more motivation to make things pretty and decorated... but that's not really who I am, so since I'm trying to "be Jessica" I'm telling myself it's OK not to put my energy into decorating! But I am trying to make things look clean and organized, at least--that I can do.

  3. Though this won't help with printing out recipes, for my meal planning, I buy a cheap cute wall calendar for each year then write what meals we plan for which days on that and hang it on the fridge. So it's a little decoration and a little organization at the same time.

    As far as printing out recipes, I am in the same boat. To try to save paper though, I put them in a word document first and try to get them to print on one page if possible.

    Hope this helps a little!

  4. @Brie
    OK, glad I'm not alone on the recipe issue. I think it will be less of an issue when we're done with our CSA veggies because we'll have more control over the ingredients (instead of having stuff we have to use up) and maybe I can rely on my notecards more for recipes we know we like. If I come up with a better system, I'll be sure to share it!

  5. I'm looking for a meal planning "system" as well! Presently, mine is a mix of recipes from all sorts of places (handwritten, torn from magazines, printed from the internet), and shopping lists, and notes to remind myself to defrost chicken or whatever, and a magnetic calendar stuck to our 'fridge. There has to be a better way! I envision this pretty, stream-lined system where everything has its place, and I never forget to buy something at the store. Does that exist? If I find it, I'll send it your way! :)

  6. @Melissa Jenna
    I don't know if it exists, but that's exactly what I'm looking for! :) Hopefully it is not just a fantasy. I have started using Pinterest to get some ideas, but have yet to find one that includes actual recipes AND a calendar with the kind of reminders you mentioned (e.g., take meat out of the freezer). But I'm thinking maybe I can combine ideas from several to make something workable. We'll see!


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