Here is a nice way to have a nice day. First, get up and get out of bed. This is imperative to the plan—really, it just doesn’t work if you loll about reading old articles of Shouts & Murmurs on thenewyorker.com and wishing someone would bring you a plate of crispy bacon.
Okay, so you’re out of bed! Good! Well done! But that’s not going to be enough. Now listen carefully to this next part: tear through the “brush-teeth-wash-face-put-on-running-clothes-lace-up-sneakers” process. Under no circumstances are you to overthink this, or do it slowly, or put on your shoes but then instead of running shorts, try on a few nonsensical outfits like that ill-advised llama-print t-shirt you bought last spring from J.Crew with a long flowy silk skirt just to see if you can “pull off the high-low trend” (you can’t).
Just race through it! Now put in your headphones and jog out the door before you have time to think about whether or not you really want to take a run (spoiler alert: current-you does not, future-you definitely does).
Five minutes into the run, you’ll enter the park and turn onto the little mulched trail that leads to the bridle path. The ground is soft and yielding after a night of heavy rain. You’ll run, skirting the occasional puddle, up to the reservoir and follow the narrow track that loops around it.
Important: Look up every now and again and admire the skyline from all angles—the limbs of the cherry trees dripping with pink blossoms, the stately outline of the double towers of the San Remo building, the sweeping expanse of the water beside you.
Of course, you’ll need music. Put on “You Called Me” by Mayer Hawthorne. Don’t worry if you feel so much like dancing that you stop to “tie your shoe” but really just work it, just for a second. If anyone notices, you’ll probably make their day. Then listen to “I Know a Place” by MUNA and “Calma” by Pedro Capo.
Plan to finish your run at the little coffee shop that makes the best cappuccinos and get yourself a small one. Ask for it extra dry, partly because you like the foam the best and partly because it feels sophisticated to have that sort of coffee order. (Don’t admit that part to anyone, obviously that ruins the effect.)
After a long shower, put on “Can I Kick It” by A Tribe Called Quest and make some toast. Use very good sourdough bread. I mean it! (Okay, you may split a buttermilk biscuit in half and toast that instead—that will achieve a similar “good day” effect. But no mediocre bread. Life is too short for that.) Spread it thickly with mashed avocado, a little sea salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top. Make some soft scrambled eggs and sit down to eat it all.
From here on out, you can forge your own path, but I suggest incorporating at least three of the following things into your day to ensure maximum pleasure (with minimal effort):
Buy yourself lilacs and put them in a wide mouth Mason jar (so much nicer-looking than a vase, really).
Write someone a letter. Even just a postcard! Don’t say much, just “hi hello thinking about you”. Or, in a pinch, just write them a funny limerick and sign it with a big XO and your name.
Book a reservation at a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try.
Vacuum your living room rug (so satisfying). Fold your laundry. Tidy your bookshelf.
Make a simple but excellent dinner: Pick up a piece of good tuna and coat it with everything bagel spice blend before searing it quickly on both sides. Serve it with some greens and buttery rice.
Start a new book [I’m still reading this and I love it].
Bake something to use up that half jar of Nutella sitting in your fridge. Oh, you don’t have half a jar of Nutella? Then go buy one and eat half with a spoon immediately! Now, you’ll have half a jar leftover…
Granted, there are many ways to put Nutella to use (in crepes, on toast, heated and stirred into hot chocolate, spooned over ice cream, as a filling for layer cakes), but I particularly love today's recipe, which is just a simple twist on my classic cinnamon roll recipe.
You make the yeasted dough—which is soft, elastic, pliable, and so easy to work with. It’s enriched enough that you don’t even need to flour your work surface to roll and press it out into a rectangle. Once you roll it out after the first rise, you just spread it with Nutella, roll it up, slice it into rolls, and let it rise briefly again.
Before baking it, I like to spread it with Swedish pearl sugar for a little extra glitz, because why not?
Chocolate Hazelnut-Filled Rolls
Makes 12 large rolls
For the dough
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast or instant yeast
1 cup whole milk, warmed slightly
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
4 cups (17 ounces) all-purpose flour
For the filling
1 cup Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread
1/3 cup Swedish pearl sugar
To make the dough, whisk together the yeast and warm milk in a small bowl and set aside to proof for 5 minutes. It should bubble slightly.
Add the sugar, butter, salt, egg, egg yolk, and flour to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix to combine. Add the milk/yeast mixture and milk until it all comes together using the dough hook. The dough should be slightly sticky but not too sticky—add a little flour if it is really wet.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic or a damp tea towel. Set it aside in a warm-ish spot to rise for about 1 1/2 hours. It should just about double in size.
When risen, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and take the dough out and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle about 17” x 13”. Spread the Nutella (it helps to warm it slightly to make it nicely spreadable) evenly over the dough.
Butter a 9” x 13” baking dish.
Starting with the long edge closest to you, roll the dough into a log and pinch the seam tightly together. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces—TIP: you can use a serrated knife but the easiest and tidiest way to do this is to use dental floss (not mint! unscented!). Just wrap the floss around the bottom of the log and pull together to slice.
Nestle the buns in the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel, and let them rise for about 20 minutes. They should be puffy. While they rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Sprinkle the tops with pearl sugar and bake the buns for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Sometimes it takes longer so just start checking at 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool.