Do you ever make these tiny, seemingly inconsequential changes in your home or your dinner routine or your life that have this transformative effect? I’m beginning to have a growing appreciation for the beautiful impact of the little things. A few weeks ago I bought this calendar from our store, and then a week or so after that I bought a succulent plant on a whim from Trader Joe’s. And then I cleared out a corner of our desk and placed them there, together. And now, in spite of the pile of clutter on the left side, I have this lovely oasis when I pause from my typing and peer off to the right.
It would be wonderful to have a perfectly organized home, but in the meantime, I’ve got this corner.
Cerie: Like how’d you dress before you were married?
Liz: I’m not married, Cerie.
Cerie: Oh, for some reason I thought you had like, three kids.
Liz: Nope, never married. No kids.
Cerie: Cause sometimes you have like food stains on your shirt and stuff. I just assumed that was kids.
I used to not care about stains. They happened. I washed my clothes. Usually they were still there. C’est la vie. Then I had a baby, and stains were everywhere. Somewhere in there I discovered OxiClean and realized how amazing it was to make stains go away.
Once I got the taste of stain-free clothes, I shirked my former laissez-faire approach and embraced being a bit more proactive. It is so much more pleasant to dress oneself in visibly clean clothing. Over the past year or two I have run across a couple things that have revolutionized navigating laundry for a family of two spill-prone adults and their toddler.
A tip found somewhere on this blog to immediately treat stains with soap and water. Almost works every time, especially on the “washable” paint and marker that are anything but.
And this stain remover (I skip the baking soda and keep it ready to go in an old soap pump) that gets out almost everything else.
Oh clean clothes. Happy sigh.
I think ritual might be the line between drudgery and enjoyment, or, in the case of dinner, the line between ordinary and elegant.
The ritual, inconsistently employed, that elevates my dinner experience from ordinary to elegant is a candle. I love presentation, but more often that not time and hunger seem to usurp any hope of grace. To quote Elaine, “…and now I just feel like a big sweaty hog waiting for them to fill the trough.”
Then I had a discussion with a friend about Leila’s eating habits, and the constant grazing and the complete lack of meal times and she suggested adding a ritual. It was simple – lighting a candle and saying a prayer. And that one more, little thing seemed utterly beyond grasp. How could I make dinner and light a candle? It was too much. But I tried it. Before our next meal, I took a moment and walked to the hallway and brought out a tiny tea light in a plain glass holder, and before the meal I lit it.
It was transformative. Suddenly our meal had this distinct beginning and end. The prayer felt less rushed. The mealtime felt more sacred.
Candles. I understand why they are a part of so many traditions.
I do not remember to light a candle before every meal. Now they sit on our dining room table, but it might take me days to take two minutes to change an extinguished candle and sometimes I do not feel like walking three steps to get the matches.
Tonight I did it though. Ben made dinner. I cleared the table and refilled the candles and lit them. And dinner felt special.
(Sometimes, on New Year’s Eve we get really fancy and light lots of candles and wear our best tutu and flower headband to the table too.)
Do you have any simple rituals that elevate the ordinary to elegant, or make the mundane a little more enjoyable?
I’ve realized I have started to integrate them into my life in small ways.