January 13, 2020

10 Things That Put A Smile On My Face

10 Things that put a smile on my face

Since my goal is to write a blog post every day this year (so far, so good!), I have a list of things to write about when I just don't have anything interesting to say. I don't want to call them "filler" posts, because they are important to me.

I compare them to easy runs--a lot of runners call them "junk miles" because those runs are so easy that they don't really feel like you're doing anything beneficial. But they matter in a big way! So anyway, today I thought I'd share 10 things that put a smile on my face.

Here they are, in no particular order (I'm terrible at choosing the importance of one thing over another):

1) The seams that I taped and mudded between the wall and the ceiling of my entire house.

This is so strange to other people, but I am SO proud of it. It's something that nobody would really notice if they came over to my house (unless I was to show them pictures as a reminder) but it made such a huge difference in the overall look of my house that it makes me smile.

living room ceiling before

living room ceiling after

2) My squirrels.

I call them "my" squirrels because they come to my back deck (and even my front porch) every day, looking for special nuts (these squirrels are spoiled!). They really trust me enough to eat from my hand, and the fact that I earned their trust makes me truly happy. There are still a few that get nervous, but I hope that by next summer, they'll trust me as well. My squirrels showing up always put me in a happy mood! (Noah took this picture... isn't it great?!)

squirrel lying down

3) Playing board games with my family.

Noah acts like a grumbly teenager when I tell him we're going to play a game, but I can tell that he secretly likes it when we "make" him do family time. Eli absolutely loves playing games and gets very excited when we do it. (I have to admit, I don't want to do it most of the time--but once we start playing, I find that I really enjoy it.)

In case you're interested, here are a few favorites (for my family of four):
  • The Game of Life- Most people know this one, so I won't describe it.
  • Apples to Apples- This is like a G-rated version of Cards Against Humanity. Even with the good language, it's very fun to play with kids and/or adults! (It's best played with 6+ people, but sometimes we'll play with just the four of us.)
  • Fill or Bust- This is a card + dice game 
  • Cranium- This is a game that uses knowledge as well as artistic skill (some trivia, some drawing, some sculpting with PlayDoh, etc. The kids love this one! You work in partners, so it's great to have a adult + kid teams. 
  • Beat the Parents (my kids have pretty much outgrown this one, because they know the answers to a lot of the adult trivia--but it's great for kids that are about 8-10 years old), 
  • Trivial Pursuit Family Edition
  • Euchre- This just uses a regular deck of cards (where you remove some). It's a midwest game, apparently, but it's super fun to get together with another couple to play. You must play with four people. Jerry and I want to teach the kids, so we'll do that soon. 
  • Wits & Wagers. I just recently bought Wits & Wagers, and it quickly became our favorite game. I'd never heard of it, but it was on sale for half off after Christmas at one of those booths at the mall, so I impulsively picked it up. It's SO MUCH FUN. I highly recommend it! We have several other favorites, but they are best played with more than four people.

If you have a family larger than four, (or for parties) I recommend:
  • Guesstures- A charades game, but much more fun that typical charades!
  • Taboo- You have to describe a word without using a list of words that most people would use to describe it. Hard to explain, but it's a great game for about six or more people.
  • Outburst (this is the edition that I have--it doesn't look like they make it anymore except for a "very adult" version. But it's similar to the game show Family Feud), and 
  • Catch Phrase- This is the BEST for parties where everyone is just sitting around chatting. You sit in a circle (we usually do boy/girl/boy/girl pattern, so it's the boys against the girls). It's like hot potato in the sense that you don't want to be holding the game piece when the time runs out. The game piece has a word on it that you have to describe to your team, and once they guess it, you pass it to your left. Then they have a new word to describe to their team. And so on, until the game piece buzzes and someone is left holding it. This will make your heart race with anxiety (in a fun way!)
This is Guesstures when having friends over for Christmas a couple of years ago:

(I linked to these games on Amazon, and they are affiliate links--meaning I may get a tiny minuscule percentage of commission for recommending them. But I purchased these games myself, so I am not being paid to recommend them.)

If anyone of you have recommendations for fun board games (especially for four people) I'd love for you to share! We're always looking for new ones.

4. Phoebe and Estelle (my cats).

Joey (our dog) is great as well, but I am much more of a cat person. The cats have the funniest personalities! We took Estelle in when my friend Andrea said there was a stray cat in her neighborhood that clearly needed a home, and since I'm a sucker, she asked me. Somehow, I got talked into it!

Estelle LOVES to sleep on my shins when I am sitting with my feet propped up. Actually, she will find any part of my body that she can fit her oversized body on enough to sleep. I feel so bad moving her that I will sit there until my bladder feels like it will explode, and then I apologize to her for having to get up, hahaha.

Estelle is a tortoiseshell cat, and she definitely has what tortie owners call "tortitude". She is quite bitchy at times, but in a funny way. She's extremely vocal, and when you talk to her, she "talks" back.

When we first got her, I thought it wasn't going to work out. I'm used to cats' body language, and she was always flicking the tip of her tail--in my experience, having had cats my entire life, cats usually just do that when they are irritated and ready to bite. It turns out she just does that all the time.

She always comes to the door to greet us when we get home. After Jerry leaves for work in the morning, she comes and sleeps on the bed with me.

She is also very curious--about everything! If you come to my house, she'll be looking through your purse in no time at all. Set a box on the ground, and she's in there before it even lands on the floor. She also gets embarrassed very easily. If she falls off of her cat perch, for example, she begins licking herself like she meant to do that. Estelle will even play fetch with certain items, which is pretty cool!

Phoebe is quite the opposite of Estelle. It took her a while to warm up to us. An acquaintance of mine said that her sister took in a stray cat and was looking for a home for her. She'd already been spayed and Jerry talked me into getting her. When we picked her up, we noticed she was missing half of her tail. She also had a bb (from a bb gun) under her skin, so we know she'd been shot. She must have had a rough life, so it was no surprise that she was skittish toward people.

Noah loves photography, and he took this photo of Phoebe. I love it!

One thing that I didn't know at the time is that female orange tabby cats are very rare. That was a pretty fun fact. Along with only half a tail, Phoebe was quite unique! (You can tell her tail was damaged in some way--she wasn't born like that. The end of it feels like maybe it was slammed in a door. Which wouldn't surprise me, because she is ALWAYS looking for opportunities to sneak out of the house.

One day, we couldn't find her--I realized it had been FOUR days since I'd last seen her. I was sure she was gone forever--taken by an eagle or hawk or coyote from across the street. I even went looking in the woods for her body. I wrote out the entire story on my blog here (it's too long to post here) so you can read it there.

I think after that whole incident is when she started to trust us. She saw that we took good care of her and she realized we weren't going to hurt her. She became the most lovable cat! She is still very wary of most strangers, and when people come over, she usually chills out in a bedroom. She is so petite, lightweight, and soft. Her fur feels like rabbit fur!

She loves peppermint, too. Whenever I put on my Burt's Bee's lip balm, she comes running and wants to lick my lips. I'll usually put a little on her paws and she happily licks her paws. One time she insisted on sticking her head in an empty bag of mint M&M's ;)

Phoebe sometimes gets in a mood where she just goes wild and runs around the house like crazy. It's hilarious to watch her!

Anyway, I could go on and on about my cats! They are fantastic. And they make me smile every day.

5. When Jerry does a completely random nice thing for me.

Whether it's an unexpected note I find sometime during the day or buying me a surprise gift he knows I'll love, doing the dishes in the morning before I wake up, or just getting my tea ready in the morning--I love and appreciate it all.

He has done things like this since we started dating over 21 years go (in high school)! Whenever we would go out on a date to a restaurant and they had paper placemats, he would draw a silly picture of us on it. I saved them (and I actually posted most of them on a post titled This Is Why I Married Him). I wrote that post in 2012, so I'll see if I can rummage up a few newer things.

He is such a genuinely good, nice, romantic guy, which is hard to find these days. Our "love languages" are 100% opposite, but I always appreciate his gestures.

He knows that I don't like getting flowers or jewelry, which took him a while to accept... what woman doesn't like getting those things?! But he started buying me random things like cat socks, or a shirt, or something else that I'll enjoy much more than flowers or jewelry.

I don't like to get mushy on social media, so I don't post about his gestures very often (even though I tease him that he probably does most of it just so I WILL post it on social media, haha). But for now, since it always puts a smile on my face, I will post some of the things that I can find pictures of!

I wish I was as good at writing the little notes as he is, but I'm just not. So my gesture to him is a new pair of fun boxer briefs that I give him once in a while (by a brand called "Crazy Boxers"). They are INSANELY expensive on Amazon, but I buy them at a store called Meijer for $5.99 each.

They have so many different kinds and they are so fun! I've also bought them for my kids and even a couple of Sponge Bob ones for my dad. (I've just written an email to the company to ask about a collaboration, so maybe they will possibly give a discount code? I'll update if I hear back.)

Anyway, I always smile when Jerry does something unexpected and nice for me. He's such a fantastic husband and I am so grateful that he still loves me so much after all these years to put time and thought into our relationship!

6. Giving someone a gift that I know they will love.

If I was going to put this list in order of importance, this would be my number one thing to put a smile on my face. I get SO EXCITED to give a gift to someone when it's something I know they will love. I get so giddy with excitement (and it's so so so hard to keep it a secret until it's time to give it to them!).

Interestingly, or maybe not, this is one of the things that got us in credit card debt. When I was hypomanic, I would want to buy things for everybody--and I did. It was really hard for me to stop that when we started our budget. Now, I really think about things before I buy them, and I make sure that it's not going to put us over our budget. But it's still hard for me! We get "allowance" each month to spend however we want, and I spend about 90% of mine on other people, haha.

Nothing puts a smile on my face like giving a thoughtful gift. This was Eli's favorite gift ever--seeing him open it was the highlight of my Christmas.

7. Having friends over to my house.

My social anxiety kicks in when I go to get-togethers at other people's houses; but I am a homebody and I enjoy entertaining people here. I always keep it casual and (I hope) fun. It also makes me clean my house really well before they come over, so it's great to have a clean house! (A clean house always puts a smile on my face as well.) This was our last "old friends" get together before Spencer (who is lying across everyone) passed away from brain cancer.

8. A good bantering conversation.

I love banter! The longer it goes on, the better. Whether it's in person or text, a fun, light-hearted conversation makes me smile through the entire thing. I love sarcasm when it doesn't sound sarcastic, which makes the best banter!

9. Funny memes.

Most of my Pinterest boards involve memes of all sorts! I especially love dark humor, and all the better when it involves bipolar or mental illness because I can relate to it. I actually wrote a post on my blog of my 100 favorite memes about mental illness.

10. Working on projects around the house, especially woodwork.

Ever since I built my own shelves and kitchen island, I am hooked. I love everything about it! I usually draw out plans of what I need to do and what cuts I need for my project. Then I get to go shop at my favorite store--Lowe's--and make a mental list of all the things I want if I was to win the lottery ;)

When I get home, I get to work on my plans. I listen to podcasts (usually true crime) and I work for as long as it takes to get it done. I hate taking time out! I would even rather work on a project than eat--that's how much I love it--haha. And when I'm done, I get the satisfaction of seeing what I made with my own two hands (and the tools I'm slowly acquiring).

So there you have it! I thought this would be a very short post, but like always, it ended up being a novel. What are some things that put a smile on YOUR face?

(By the way, I know that Blogger's commenting platform sucks and a lot of you can't seem to comment. I wish I had a way to fix that! But I know you need to be signed into a Google account to comment. I disabled anonymous comments when I was getting a lot of hurtful ones. So, I'm sorry if you can't comment here! I'm not sure why it works for some people and not for others.)


  1. Just ordered Wits and Wagers - Can't wait to play. Thanks for the recommendation as our family loves game nights and we've been looking for a new game to play.

    1. I hope you like it! We LOVE playing that game now!

  2. We just got two tortie kittens for Christmas for our girls and I have noticed the tail twitch but, because I haven't had a kitty, ever, I just thought it was normal! Thanks for sharing! They have definitely brought us a lot of joy already. :)

    1. Awww, torties are SO much fun. They have big personalities (I've had lots of cats over the years). Enjoy them! :)

  3. You gave cover loads of great things in your list. I personally would add sport, I like team games and that feeling of. Winning as a team or scoring a goal makes me smile. I restarted playing after ten years out for 2 children and it's a fun way of getting fit. I don't expect to be be in the A team but just playing practice games makes me smile. Its a sport I started playing as a teenager, canoe polo, like basketball but 5 a side in a canoe, currently in a swimming pool, and none of you will have heard of it. But any team sport works the same really.

    1. I miss sports when they weren't so competitive! Now, it seems like all kids' parents are in it to win it, and it costs SO much money for kids to play. Eli wants to play baseball, but we just can't find an affordable team. I miss the days when it was just summer rec ball and everyone was out to have fun!

  4. What a fun post Katie! I love that squirrel photo, he or she looks so comfortable. Your cats are such cuties too. I'll have to check out those games they look like good ones(going to pin for future reference), thanks for sharing.

    1. I love the squirrel photo, too--we have lots of pictures of them lying down like that. I had no idea why they do that! I read it was to cool them off, but it's not exactly hot outside, so who knows? :)

  5. Have you seen the show Making It? The most recent season is on Hulu and it's a craft competition show with Amy Poehler & Nick Offerman. It's actually pretty fun and I think you might enjoy watching it. Maybe give you some me idea of other projects you could do with your woodworking skills.

    1. No, but it sounds interesting! I'm going to check it out on Hulu. Thanks for the suggestion!

  6. Settlers of Catan, King of Tokyo, and Codenames are really fun games and suitable for four people.

    1. Ohh, thanks for the suggestions! I've never heard of any of those!

  7. If you haven't tried any cooperative games, I'd highly encourage it! Pandemic is one of my favorites! You work together and either win as a group or lose as a group, which I really like. Forbidden Island is another one I like that is cooperative as well.


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

Featured Posts

Blog Archive