3 Good-for-Me Habits, and Another One

First, something: I’m wary of assigning sanctimonious yarns to everyday behaviors. In truth, what makes for a good habit today doesn’t always carry the years.

Related – For months, in college, I subsisted solely on free dinner rolls from the restaurant I waitressed at in a valiant attempt to save enough money for my first car. I’d have called that a good habit at the time. Look at that! I’d think. Just swimming in self control! Budget or bust!

But for today, for the me that is alive and well, there are 3 decidedly good habits I’ve been establishing as of late, things worth falling into that have surprised even me. Three habits I am loving, habits that are shaping this small self beyond the me I once was. Here they are:

Filling the Stock Pot with Banana Peels

We’ve been composting for three years going strong, which I’ll admit is far less than I’d like it to be. Our gardening efforts are often hit-or-miss, and this year, we skipped the whole practice in the name of procrastination. There’s nary a tomato to be found, and yes, for the curious, I have indeed learned my lesson.

And so, we’re doubling down on our efforts in preparation for a more – ahem – proactive spring next year. The dirt will be ready, no excuses allowed. All accountability aside, there’s something lovely about composting whether in need of soil or not. The act of filling a stock pot with banana peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, all manner of clementine peels dumped from small, sticky fingers. The end-of-night ritual of transferring the contents into the compost bin outdoors. Hearing the cicadas. Washing the pot. Awaiting a new cycle in the morning.

As is expected, the newfound care has trickled into other areas: bringing my own mug to the coffee shop. Packing glass storage dishes to take home leftovers from our favorite diner. Saying “No, thanks,” to straws.

Small things, indeed. But I happen to believe small things are not at all small.

Pancakes at the Playground

Last spring, I read the memoir that finally – once and for all – shook my indoor-loving self to the core. Ever since, the kids and I have shirked our former transportation methods in the comings and goings of our day in favor of one (two): feet. Dragging wagons of books to the library, jumping rope to the park, playing “Red Light, Green Light” all the way to the neighborhood playground and back.

The walking – so much walking! – has sparked a hundred possibilities for exploration, and just this summer, I’ve finally stumbled upon a wooded path that leads straight to the grocery, coffee shop, and our favorite family diner.

For those keeping score, where else is there to go?

Our newfound walking habit is simple in the gilded breezes of summer, but truth be told: I’m hoping it sticks even after the weather turns. When the snow comes, of course, I think I can safely guarantee the momentum of at least one happy outing (bribe?): A mile-long stroll to the library for a book to read over hashbrowns, eggs, and sausage at our favorite diner. Pancakes to go, please, we say, and once the bill is paid, we stuff our tupperware under the stroller and head home – but not before a stop at the playground for monkey bars, catch, and three fistfuls of syrupy dessert on the lawn.

We arrive home tired and sticky, easily having whittled 3-4 hours away, the better portion spent in the sun. It’s a tradition we’ve kept week after week, one worth continuing long after mittens are in order.

Ignoring the Barrettes

I haven’t sorted out the whys yet, but this is the first summer I’ve opted out of trends entirely. You’re not surprised, I know, nor are you a stranger to the slow layer-peel of releasing myself from the grips of consumerism, and yet: in the past, there have been many times I still wanted in. Many times it was difficult to resist the fiddle-leaf fig tree that I was sure would just make that corner in the dining room sing.

It is no longer difficult.

The woman who – a short lifetime ago – might have strolled the aisles of Target for fun has flown the coop. In fact, I realized in writing this that my last visit to Target was in 2016 to buy a car seat so we could bring Scout home. It stands to reason: what you look for, you’ll find.

And what you don’t, you don’t.

As such, I have completely missed the resurgence of barrettes, clips, etc. in all their nostalgic glory, and while I love and treasure the 90’s – and am forever complicating my relationship to hair – for now, for today, I’m ignoring the barrettes. Among other things.

I will say one thing here: this habit surprisingly required a bit of soul-shifting. Having once been trusted as someone who knew what was just on the cusp, taking a few steps back has presented a small bruising in pride.

(Well worth it, I have noticed.)

The last habit? One that I can’t accurately categorize as bad, but simply a ritual I’ve had a rough go of shaking:

Making 4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies With 5 Minutes and a Freezer

I affectionately refer to these as peaNOT butter cookies, because expectations are important. Still, if you find yourself with a midnight hankering for the oven version, this will help:

Mix 1 cup of almond flour with a drizzle or two of honey and 1/2 cup of peanut butter. Shape into balls. If you’re feeling fancy, lay them out on parchment paper and press each ball down with a fork to make those beloved crosshatches. Sprinkle with sea salt and throw ’em in the freezer for a few minutes. Thaw, then bliss.

 

Tell me: any new habits you’re trying on lately? You know how much I love to hear all about ’em.

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  • Great post and those PeaNOT butter cookies sound delicious. In the book Atomic Habits it talks about changing one small thing at a time that will increase over time and this post reminded me of that. Thanks!

  • Reading this was such a pleasure after waking from a restless night of sleep. 1. I have wanted to compost for years but have never quite made it happen. I think I’m intimidated by it. Any good resources for a simple approach? 2. That book has stayed with me too. I think of it pretty much every day. Recently I had to stop driving because of a vision condition, so I got a cargo bike. It has been great fun towing my three around town to the library, the park, the beach.

    Also, I’m mixing up some of those cookies now, before breakfast! Thanks for your beautiful words.

    • Let me know how you like the cookies, Lindsy! As for composting, I was intimidated, too! Start with any egg shells, coffee grinds, and produce (remove stickers from peels), and throw ’em in a stock pot on your kitchen counter (one with a lid if you’re concerned about fruit flies!). At night, transfer them to something like this outside: https://amzn.to/2YzfVwv – or look for a compost drop-off in your area!

      • Thanks for the tips! That compost tumbler looks way less intimidating than a bin, for some reason.

        P.S. The cookies were amazing! I made a half batch and they have already disappeared :)

  • Funny enough I went into Target for the first time this weekend since about 2016 in search of a trend – overalls. But you see I am of the right budget, timeless piece only variety so for me it truly felt like a real indulgence – not a regular occurrence. And I am all for walking walking everywhere. I think it really started during my last pregnancy and my need to shake away the worries that come from conceiving ivf babies. But it’s stuck around and we all walk everywhere we can in our small town and in new ones we explore while camping. Happy Tuesday Erin.

  • I often think, as my friend says, we make our way by walking and we see the things that we miss in the hurriedness of life. Thank you for reminding me that pancakes dripping with syrup, a good book to hold in my hands and the walk in the changing of the of seasons is what matters the most.

  • You stumbled into the land of zero waste. I am excited for you. For us it simply less waste, but enjoyable and creative. It makes our grandma’s slow and simple way of doing life not so crazy, but desirable. Have you listen to Bea Johnson’s Ted & Google talks on YouTube, or read her book? She certainly gets me to rethink my normal. : ) Hugs ~Nikki

  • There’s an outdoor daycare in Paris on the Champs de Mars. It operates year round (except for August) for kids 18 months to four years old. I think the hours are 9-12 or 9-2. From what I’ve read, the kids just dress for the weather and are outside the whole time. Their philosophy sounds like it’s probably the same as the memoir you read.

  • Your words always make me happy Erin. Stepping away from consumerism. Yes, yes, yes. I’m trying over here… The less waste lifestyle lends itself to so many crazy changes and new perspectives on the way we spend time/money/and life itself. It’s been a humbling new habit, but so life giving and drawing me closer to my humanity and to God in the most profound way!

    Also morning learning time with kids, daily gardening time, actual phone calling of friends/family … All new habits that I’m trying to form!!

  • If I can live without straws then why not live without continually using and tossing a plastic pump bottle hand soap) at each sink? I shopped around the house, found beautiful, seldom seen and under appreciated little saucers and placed lovely bars of soap in them. Bonus; the moisturizing soap by the kitchen sink has unexpectedly made my hands soft. I have discontinued the lotion bottle too. Every little effort to create less plastic waste helps.

  • I LOVE my compost. Living on an island every little thing counts. We compost, we recycle, and only go to the dump once a month with one bag of garbage for a family of 3 (4 when my husband is home!) It makes me so proud.

    With this, I got into the habit of bars only for hand soap. Sometimes when I feel weak and buy a bottle that just looked so pretty and thought about how clean it would make the bathroom (wow can those bars make a mess) I do nothing but feel guilt and that darn bottle sneaks into my dreams to tease me.

    Oh, and that second double espresso after lunch. I like that new habit.

  • That VERY same book sparked the same sense of wonder and reappreciation for becoming part of the seasons with my little dude. It was like a second set of senses opened up after reading it, reminding me to drink in more of the seasons that are far less sunshine and long days, and more of the mittens and muted crunch of snowfall under boots. (I can’t wait for you to experience the next season now, having started with this one. It’s a whole new way to magic.)

  • My husband is now retired. I am not. It is okay though. We tag team our home responsibilities since we still have kids under our roof. He grocery shops, cooks, and gardens. I clean, do the dishes, and try to keep up on the laundry. In dealing with the latter, we have re-embraced our beautiful umbrella clothesline, made in Ireland. Hubby finds sorting and hanging all of it out, relaxing. One of us will bring it in, hopefully not rushing to avoid unexpected rain. Then I fold it all, hauling the piles upstairs, one at a time. I get some steps in but don’t put the clothes away. Others can do that. Although it isn’t a new habit, in revisiting it, it’s becoming a habit instead of an occasional occurrence. I LOVED this post Erin. I also loved the 2017 post about how to read your blog. Although the words are yours, your thoughtful and gentle compositions just make everything better. For this, I thank you.

    • Tina – thank you for such kind words. Your ritual and habit of the umbrella clothesline are so oddly comforting to me over here! Everyday is a lovely time to live in. :)

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