~ Discovering Cupcakes and Other Delights

Everyday Comforts: Cupcakes are a simple pleasure

Cupcakes Provide Pleasure and Comfort With Every Bite

Cupcakes are something I can believe in. And I’m not alone.  I’ve recently read articles in various national magazines about the growing trend of “Cupcakeries.”  It seems that they are becoming the new decadent dens of delight, for those seeking solace. In these recessionary times, people seem to be spending more in small increments, rather than going on a cruise to Cabo.  Simple pleasures such as sugary baked-goods, luxury home products, and spa items that create  “staycations” are on the rise. So is it possible that comfort-related products and businesses might be  recession-proof ?  

Looking at baked goods, for example: it’s a true phenomenon and there’s evidence that it’s just begun. “Sprinkles” Cupcake stores are expanding to over 10 retail locations by the end of this year. Originally just a Beverly Hills store, the company exploded after Oprah raved about it; and after it was mentioned in celebrity magazines as Suri Cruise’s favorite birthday item (her parents got them shipped across the country, when they were on a film shoot). Martha Stewart’s cupcake cookbook was on the New York Times’ best-seller list for months. There are multiple TV programs running on various cable networks called “Cupcake Wars,” “Cake Boss,” and even “DC Cupcakes.” It’s also a growing area in small businesses and blogs. Sunset Magazine recently focused on mobile gourmet food companies, such as high-end Cupcake and Ice Cream  trucks (in addition to high-end “roach coaches”). It’s exploded in big business this year, too: “Cinnebon” is expanding their footprint internationally and has recently added cupcakes to their menu. 

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~ Music is Happiness Food for the Soul

Everyday Comforts: Music is one of life's little pleasures, simple joys and treasures!

Music is truly a simple joy and a source of everyday happiness.

I must admit, I’ve always loved music. Music=Happiness to me. From the time I sang as a young child with my Dad, to my stint as a college DJ: music has provided me with a huge amount of pleasure. I hope to discuss many different senses in this blog, but for the moment I hope to explore my love of music: and how the digital age provides an abundance of discovery and access to pleasure.

I believe music to be the poetry of our modern times, that helps to connect us and share emotional experiences. And it’s also a potent antidote to daily stress.  I have diverse musical tastes and find music exploration to be mentally and creatively expansive.  As such, I have become a bit of an aficionado of social music discovery sites, like Pandora, Last.fm, iLike (and others, like Slacker and MOG)!  I’ve discovered alot of artists I might not have otherwise heard of, through others that have similar eclectic-but-specific tastes.  And I’ve been able to help people discover a few favorite musicians of my own liking! This sharing/social aspect is wonderful.

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~Ten Things for Daily Happiness

Picture of my dog max in a summer garden.

Picture of my dog max in a summer garden.

In my last post, I talked about how we need to simplify our lives, integrate a habit of simple joys and surround ourselves with things that bring us comfort. Here’s what I count on daily, to add quality to my life: what about you? Please feel free to share your own suggestions.

1. Walk by the beach, and listen to the sound of the ocean

2. Use soaps and products with lavender, or that smell like fresh laundry and flowers

3. Listen to some amazing music and sing along very LOUDLY while no one is around; alternatively, remember to laugh at myself  occasionally

4. Eat well: enjoy fresh food, and make really enjoyable delicious things at least once a day

5.  Spend a few moments admiring a garden or a beautiful park (ideally while enjoying a picnic lunch)

6.  Take a long walk with my dog and spend at least 30 minutes playing with him, talking to him, and petting him generously

7.  Giving a quick call to family and friends: there’s no time to connect with people you love like today

8.  Admire things that inspire me and give me solace in my home (like art, home furnishings, perfumes, movies, music, etc.); and think of how to make my environment more enjoyable by appealing to the senses

9.  Read positive quotes and take a brief moment for meditation over my morning coffee, and then do ONE random act of kindness for a stranger during my day

10.  Take ten minutes to focus on the things and people that I love, and say thanks for “3 things that I’m grateful for” before I go to sleep

~Are Simple Pleasures A Necessary Thing?

Focusing on things that bring us pleasure is much needed in these times

Focusing on things that bring us pleasure is much needed in these times

I was viewing a philosophical video essay recently with a very interesting premise.  It was that “The Pursuit of Happiness is a Moral Obligation” versus a selfish desire.  The idea is that how we act and what we do impact not only our own feelings, but that of others. So why impose anything other than happiness, laughter and joy on others? It is a conscious choice that we can make.  Even a leading psychologist and scholar, Martin Seligman, has suggested that happiness is a like a muscle: that we can consciously strengthen with daily exercise.  So it’s best for ourselves and it’s best for others,  but how do we achieve this in these complicated times?

In reflection on my own life, I realize that I’ve often been too focused on the end result versus my journey there.  Perhaps I’ve been a lesser person than I could be, in terms of my not only my own happiness but also my impact on others. There have been so many times that I have denied myself pleasure for the sake of discipline and staying focused on career, personal goals and finances, for example.  And if I grew frustrated or tired, it showed. Gratification and balance were always delayed. Somehow, I thought that was what an admirable, hard-working professional should be: persistant and stoic no matter how tough things got. Who has time for pleasure when there’s so much to DO?

I think the best analogy I’ve seen or read has to do with allowing some “white space” in your life.  In the same way that graphic designers know that art needs to be balanced with an adequate amount of white space to be effective and uncluttered; I think we as individuals need white space in our lives for solace and pleasure to rejuvenate ourselves.

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