8 items for your kitchen {It’s the simple things}

I’m sitting at my dining room table typing this. My feet are up. I’m listening to the French Cafe channel on Pandora, and I’m sipping a non-alcoholic Kir Royale. My dining room table often serves as my desk because so much of my actual work involves being in the kitchen. Take today: I’m writing this blog post, putting together my menu for Sunday and working on 3 recipes for an upcoming article in Relish Magazine. One might consider these chores, but I enjoy them.

These things aren’t chores for me, partly because I’ve reframed what I “have” to do into what I “get” to do, which has made a huge difference—and partly because I made the kitchen a pleasant place to work (and eat and drink of course).

Sometimes it’s the simple things, a favorite drink, the smell of basil, a beautiful candle, that can set the tone to positive—not only if you work at home like I do, but also when you’re doing something you might consider a “chore.”

While these are my recommendations, you probably have some of your own that keep you smiling, whether you’re working at home, washing dishes, getting the kids ready for school or making dinner for yourself and/or your loved ones.

I hope these resonate or at least inspire you to surround yourself with a few simple yet special things that make your day better.


EC50 Stainless Steel Pump Capresso

Espresso & Cappuccino Maker

So many of my online friends have gone the way of green juicing in the morning and said goodbye to coffee, but I still greet the day with a latte, thanks to this affordable cappuccino maker that makes a great cup of coffee. I buy espresso beans from either Fairway or The Roasting Plant and both create just the buzz I need in the morning as I get Little S ready for school and prepare for my busy day. No longer do I have to wait to go out to a café for my favorite morning beverage; I can enjoy a latte made at home.

What small thing can you do in the morning to get your day rolling?

Beautiful linens

Spice Route ~ Luxury Red Orange Table Runner
My dining room table is one of my favorite pieces of furniture. It’s made of wood restored from old Indian railroads and has industrial metal legs. It’s the focal point of my home so I want it to look nice. On top of the table I place beautiful linens from Saffron Marigold. I am currently using the “spice route” runner and their orange paisley dinner napkins. Their luxurious Indian products are more gorgeous in person than on their site. (That’s not my table above.)

What can you do to create a beautiful place to eat with your loved ones?

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day

I admit it: Much to the chagrin of my mother and grandmother—you could eat off their floors—I hate cleaning. Enter Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products that are earth-friendly and cruelty-free. I just love these garden-smelling products. I use lavender laundry detergent,rosemary dish soap, basil hand soap, lemon-verbena counter top spray and honeysuckle all-purpose cleaner. Not only does it smell nice around here, it’s actually (sort of) fun to clean.

How can you make cleaning less of a chore?


Peeled Fruit

I only eat real food, i.e. nothing processed or canned or containing strange-sounding ingredients. Yes, I’m a whole foods snob and I admit it. But sometimes I like to snack while I’m working and these nourishing organic dried fruits (sugar free, full of fiber and they’re gluten-free if that’s your thing) from Peeled Snacks are about as junk food as it gets around here. Little S likes the “much ado about Mango” and “paradise found.” We took some to Central Park the other day and S didn’t even stop at the vendor selling frozen treats. While I’m working it’s nice to nibble on a natural snack.

What do you like to snack on that’s healthy?


Genesis - Seltzer Starter Kit
Bottled water is such a waste to me, all that plastic. Anyway, I won’t preach about my disdain for the bottled water world. When I go out I always bring my own water in a BPA-free bottle, straight from the filtered tap so that S and I can hydrate during our NYC adventures without having to pop into a bodega for bottled water. While I prefer flat—and never drink sugary sodas—once in a while I do like some bubbly water. Thanks to SodaStream I can just make my own seltzer at home. Sometimes (like today) I add a dash of d’Arbo organic black currant syrup for a non-alcoholic Kir Royale.

Do you have a favorite beverage?


Candlelight at dinnertime is always a nice touch. I have long sleek white candles for everyday dining at night. But when it’s dark out during the day, like it was when it poured out two days ago, I lit my devotional candle from Milagro Roots. Magical woman Bri Saussy sent me one when I moved and it flickers as I wonder and work. Whether you believe in woo woo or not, candlelight is magical any time of the day.

Do you light candles when you dine?

Fresh Herbs

I don’t have a garden, but I love having plants around the house and in the spring I always buy several herbs to keep on my windowsill. Not only do they smell nice but I use them in my recipes. (I used the parsley in this turkey burger.) Well the oregano is sadly dying, but the basil, parsley and rosemary are going strong.

Why not buy some fresh herbs today? And then add them to your next meal.

Mast Brothers Chocolate

Who doesn’t love a little sweet for an afternoon pick-me-up? Oh, I do, just a few bites even. I’m sure my friend Sue Ann Gleason from Chocolate for Breakfast would agree. During her visit to New York, we stocked up at the the beautiful Mast Brothers Chocolate store in Williamsburg. I love both their Stumptown Coffee and Vanilla & Smoke bars. I also head over to The Meadow for other amazing chocolate bar choices.

What’s your afternoon pick-me-up?

These are simple things that can transform your tasks from “have to dos” to “get to dos.” But remember: it’s your outlook on life, too. : )

What are some simple things you can do to perk things up at home so that daily tasks don’t feel like chores?

  1. Well, Tracey I hate the housework too! However, with pets and grown boys i still have to do the daily basics. So, I enjoy listening to classes etc., that I’ve taped on my blue tooth headset. I love learning new things and it makes the work fly by!

  2. Reading this post made me want to come hangout at your table drinking coffee and eating chocolate.

    I really loved your questions. They made me realize that I haven’t been creating a loving, nurturing for environment for relaxing into my work.

    Definitely going to work on it.

    Plus- I have a gorgeous old, oak, claw foot dinning table that has been in my family for years. It is covered with stuff and pushed into the corner of the room. I think it needs a pretty table cloth!

  3. I love these beautiful ideas and reminders to create the lush and beauty we want in each and every day. If you’d like some oregano, it’s taking over my raised bed….I think it’s even crowding out the chocolate- and lemon-mint! Imagine that! Hugs and butterflies, ~Teresa~

  4. Love it 🙂 My sister loves her soda stream and I can’t live without having herbs around my kitchen! I have to admit I love my bread maker. It’s one of my favourite things. I try to think more about it these days & buy things that I really love rather than working on the basis of “that’ll do” which I had to for many years. it makes all the difference to your home environment, and working from home that is more important than ever to me. Love this article 🙂

  5. Hi Tracey-I love having fresh flowers. We just recently added color to our walls! That table linen is beautiful!

  6. As The Happiness Coach I spend so much of my time teaching people how to bring joy into their lives. This blog post is full of joy…and the questions make you pause and reflect on how to keep the joy going.

    I’m a tea drinker and last year searched obsessively to find the perfect teacup to elevate my tea drinking. After a lot of research I found it and every time I drink from it (which is many times each day! I really do like my tea.) I am reminded of how lovely it is to drink from. Simple pleasures make up our lives.

    I’m now off to find that chocolate!

  7. I love candles, any day, any time! And, like you, I love growing my own herbs. In fact, my upcoming kitchen renovation includes a windowbox on the inside of the window, just for that purpose!

  8. Such a treat to walk in your shoes for a moment…I can only aspire to be so deeply enchanting. I like to keep my home simple, not too cluttered and plants in every room is a MUST have. My husband began growing a geranium indoors since spring seemed never to come. It’s in full bloom sitting on my end table in front of the window. A friend suggested it may be time to move it outdoors, to my dismay I replied, “Oh no! I simply wouldn’t be able to enjoy it half as much as I do here in the same space with me.” ♥

  9. I love that you love and appreciate the simple pleasures that make life so grand. My husband insisted we get a soda stream. He makes his own blueberry soda by blending the water with frozen blueberries and a little stevia. It’s one of his favorite things. I love Myers’s products and am always well stocked.

    I’ll have to check out the linens. They look amazing.

  10. I think my fresh herbs are the highlight of my summer. They are happily living on my deck and they dance in my salad EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. Thank you for all these great finds, Tracey!

  11. Ah yes, tea…the perfect cup makes it more enjoyable, doesn’t it. I have so many teas in my cabinet and a few teacups I love. I’m glad you thought the post was full of joy. : )

  12. It makes me smile to think you think my life is enchanting. But I suppose I’ve made it an effort to live like this. I love plants too! I moved in March and I am starting to bring in more plants. Some of my favorite plants had died in my last place.

  13. I’d love to have a bread maker! Now, that’s enchanting…along with the fresh herbs. I agree, no more of “that’ll do.”It’s no way to live.