The Joyletter

Flower guilt, flower rebellion

Published about 1 year agoΒ β€’Β 3 min read

Hi Reader,

This week I finally got around to taking the dead chrysanthemums (yes, really πŸ™ˆ) out of the planters on my front porch and replacing them with fresh spring blooms.

Every time I buy flowers, whether cut stems or for the garden, I hear a little voice in my head:

"What a waste of money."
"You should be saving this instead."
"You're seriously spending THAT MUCH on something that's going to be dead in a few weeks?"

I study joy for a living and yet I still have so much trouble spending money on things that are purely for joy. And it's not just money: spending time on things that have no purpose, no productive output, is just as hard.

I have to remind myself:

"Who says that beauty is a waste?"
"What good is saving for a rainy day if I can't ever enjoy the sunny ones?"
"Yes, flowers don't last forever. But neither do I! Isn't that all the more reason to enjoy it while I can?"

All of life's wonderful things are fleeting. Flowers just show us this fact in real time. To spend money on flowers, to spend time on planting them and arranging them, feels like a rebellion against the culture of delayed gratification that keeps promising joy in the future yet never seems to pay out.

I don't think the guilt will ever fully go away. But maybe that's what makes it meaningful. To hear the call of practicality and turn away from it, toward the blowsy goodness of spring. To do it without justification. To do it only because it feels good.

Here's hoping you find your own joyful rebellion this week!



One Thing

Stop and smell the roses.

Well the roses aren't out yet here, but daffodils, tulips, hyacinths. If your budget can accommodate it, buy some for your table or your bedside. If not, take yourself out to a nursery or florist and go have a sniff.

Flowers have been shown to improve memory and mood, but truly, you don't need a reason other than that they are one life's truly universal pleasures.


Designers, I need your help!

Are you a designer, architect, or urban planner? A stager, home organizer, or healthcare professional?

For a new project, I'm looking for practitioners who have put the ideas in JOYFUL into practice in real spaces β€” or want to! This could be residential or commercial, public or private space.

If this is you and you'd be open to a 15 minute conversation in the next few weeks, please hit reply to this email to let me know!


Mood: Petitioning For A Flower-Eyes Emoji

Sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6​


7 Recipes that Restored My Joy in Cooking

I used to be an okay cook. Great with vegetables, a pro at salad dressings. But proteins I'd leave to my better half. Too much risk of overcooking an expensive steak.

Then, after keeping us fed throughout the pandemic, he burned out on cooking. The takeout rigamarole was starting to get old (and wasn't great for our health or our bank account) and I was tired of food being a thing we needed to do. I wanted dinner to be fun again. So, I dove into my cookbooks, planning to try at least one new recipe a week. My goal was to learn not just new recipes but new cooking techniques, which has helped me build confidence to try things I would've been too intimidated by just a few months ago.

Here are seven of the recipes that have helped me rediscover the joy of cooking:

Nigel Slater's Miso Honey Chicken
Slater has been a huge part of my kitchen awakening, especially A Cook's Book which is as beautifully written as it is full of simple, delicious food. Recipe (Note: this recipe is the closest I could find online, but if you want the original, get the book. It's a worthwhile investment.)

Yottam Ottolenghi's Whole Roasted Cauliflower
This is from Ottolenghi's book Simple, which makes me laugh every time I cook from it because I've yet to find something in there that accurately reflects the title. This recipe takes two steps but is worth it for both beauty and deliciousness. Recipe​

Ali Slagle's Turmeric Black Pepper Chicken​
Spicy but not too spicy, sticky, fast, and in one pot. I loved learning the technique of a spiced flour dip before stir-frying and will use it again. Imho this is better with snap peas than asparagus. Recipe​

Naz Deravian's Roasted Dill Salmon
I didn't like salmon and now I do. I make this the way Deravian says here stepmom does it in Bottom of the Pot β€” with sake instead of lime. Recipe​

Stir-Fried Shrimp and Snow Peas, Grace Young via Julia Moskin
I was looking for a good base stir-fry recipe and this one is perfect. Not too sweet, not too salty. I double the sauce and steam a pot of broccoli to throw in near the end. Recipe​

Cybelle Tondu's Scrunched Cabbage Salad
A fun new technique of scrunching the cabbage with salt to make it soft and glossy. Plus a crunchy nut-seed topping that works well on other salads too. Recipe​

Nigel Slater's Pork and Cashew Stir-fry
Back to Nigel, whose recipes appear on my meal plan every single week. This one is full of lime and herbs, and uses an affordable cut of meat that keeps the grocery bills down. I serve this with a cabbage slaw dressed with miso, lemon, and olive oil. Recipe​


Quote of the Week

"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."

β€” Albert Camus


The Joyletter

by Ingrid Fetell Lee

Designer, bestselling author, and founder of the School of Joy. I help people find more joy in life and work through design. Join more than 45,000 readers who receive our weekly treasure trove of science-backed tips, delightful discoveries, and inspiration for living a better life.

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