My Commonplace Blog

Bits of info in bytes


April 2016

Brittany Stinson weighs in: “I don’t know if many applicants usually explore the mundane in their essays—that seems to have taken a lot of people by surprise.”

She was accepted to five Ivy League schools and her essay is on shopping at Costco with her mom. Quartz did a pretty darn good story about it.

Here’s what Original Thinkers do that leads to success. If only I could perfect procrastination I, too, might be original. And veja du (yes, that’s a real thing).

I’m always on the lookout for ways to access creativity; these five tips should help. However, beware of No. 3 (third one in the list; a numbering snafu lists it as 1. . . after 2. ), based on personal experience and Wednesday’s post.


Sighing Over Spilt Cream

Spilt cream
Thank goodness cooking doesn’t require a license. Based on recent performance, mine surely would have been revoked. Over the past week I’ve made a half dozen thoughtless errors from not having key ingredients on hand to messing up ingredients (wrong amount, added at the wrong time, etc.) to this unfortunate boilover. Emergency grocery store runs mid-recipe are almost commonplace. Sigh.

What’s with the distraction? Well, I’m in the midst of the third or fourth dozen “What am I doing with my life?” phase, and cooking is thinking time for me.

Phew. I better snap out of this before one of these distracted moments requires a call to the fire department!

Last Year’s Lavender

Sunday’s warm weather inspired me to start an annual task that’s tedious but necessary, slightly sad but with the promise of joy: Cleaning the lavender bed. The yard drops off steeply along the front walkway so the bed gets lots of sun, has good drainage – a good spot for lavender. For years we were graced with an enviable abundance of fragrant blooms. Trimming back the faded first bloom ensured a second bloom.

As with most things, time hasn’t been entirely kind. The older plants are no longer as vigorous. The gnarled old growth at the base of those plants looks like miniature grapevines – ruggedly attractive but wholly unproductive. At the front of the bed, the oldest plants have a horizontal rather than vertical habit. The newer plants grow upward, balancing the overall appearance. Scattered gaps in the bed are reminders of varieties unable to withstand Midwestern winters. Perhaps the poor seedlings didn’t read the labels promising sufficient hardiness. They didn’t know they were supposed to survive.

This year I’m taking the task slowly, pruning with more thoughtfulness, kindness. The joy these plants can still give has to be coaxed out gently; trimming properly and, just as important, leaving well-spaced branches should reward us all in a couple of months.

After picking up the tools, I put the bin of trimmed branches in the garage, the pale scent of last year’s lavender filled the air.


Truth in Soap

Truth in soap

Last Friday I went to a little shop named Eden. As the name suggests, it’s full of lovely things. Picked up some Swedish soap and got a faceful of reality with it. All for the price of six bucks.

Cover letters are the death of me, so this is priceless:

Quartz’ Cover letters of the famous


Design*Sponge’s 2013 April Fool’s Cat*Sponge.

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