The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

Annemarie Dooling of the Wall Street Journal on the Italian tradition of "dolce far niente"

“The best down time is doing not a thing,” says Annemarie Dooling, an Engagement Experiences Product Lead with the Wall Street Journal. The idea of doing nothing can be really unsettling, especially for over-productive folks who are constantly in motion. I know I’m not alone in the fact that even when I’m taking a break, I’m trying to make the time constructive by listening to podcasts, scrolling through social media, and even measuring my relaxing evening walks with step counters and Fitbits.

In American culture, time is money. It’s hard to shake off of the idea that every moment needs to be monetized, commodified and quantified. But Annemarie says that the Italian lifestyle of “dolce far niente,” the sweetness of doing nothing, can help break the cycle of always needing to be on. In the latest episode of the Amuse-Bouche podcast, she walks us through the benefits of doing nothing, what it means to do nothing (it’s harder than you think), and how to build nothingness into your routine. So whether you spend a few extra minutes in the shower, take a few moments in the morning to brew a pot of coffee, or spend your evening chopping vegetables and stirring a pot, incorporating a little bit of nothingness into your day will do you a whole lot of good.

Learn more about dolce far niente in the latest episode of Amuse-Bouche. You can listen to this episode on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and everywhere you listen to podcasts. You can also learn more by reading Annemarie’s Wall Street Journal article “How Being More Productive Starts with Doing Nothing.”

Listen to Amuse-Bouche on Apple Podcasts

Listen to Amuse-Bouche on Spotify

On a Quest to do Nothing

As a person who is juggling a lot of projects and can’t seem to stand still, this idea of dolce far niente is priority number one for me this summer. I’m on the hunt for advice on how to slow down, sit still, chill out and do nothing.

What activity do you find helps you? Do you walk? Cook? Garden? Play passive games? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!

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Very Berry Frozen Yogurt Bark

It’s been so warm lately meaning it’s the perfect time to try out cool treats for summer time! Here’s one I’ve really been enjoying lately.

- 2 cups of Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup of honey
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
- pinch of salt

1.) Stir ingredients together.
2.) Spread mixture onto parchment on cookie sheet.
3.) Top yogurt with fruit and nuts.
4.) Freeze for at least 4 hours.
5.) Remove from freezer. Break into pieces and enjoy!

The Dirt: The Wrath of Pests

The Philadelphia region went for weeks without a drop of rain, and then over the Memorial Day Weekend, got nearly all the rain we needed for the entire month. That meant for the first few weeks my plant babies were in the ground, I had to maintain a consistent watering regimen. It wasn’t ideal to water nearly every day. Watering too frequently can result in the roots not going as deep as they should be. But the alternative was waiting for rain and letting my plants whither in the dry 90 degree weather mid-May gifted us.

The watering and the rain seemed to help. Everything is now triple the size it was when I first put them in the ground. But gardening isn’t a set it and forget it activity. Just as my plants were getting established, all kinds of pests and critters decided my veggies were the perfect spot to lay eggs. I’m doing my best to use no chemicals or pesticides in my garden, so I am depending on companion planting and organic neem oil to do the job.

I diluted the neem oil with water in a spray bottle and coated every little leaf of each plant, paying close attention to each leaf’s underside, since that’s where these critters like to hang out. The oil is effective in controlling bugs and is not harmful to your plants as long as you apply when the plants aren’t in direct sunlight. Horticultural spray, soapy water, and Diatomaceous earth also work really well and have been strategies I’ve used in the past. When the plants start really pumping out vegetables, I opt for soapy water and Diatomaceous earth over neem oil and horticultural spray.

Aside from neem oil, I’ve planted calendula, garlic, dill, and scallions in the rows between my plants. These are fragrant plants that we enjoy, but they act as a natural repellant against pests. I tried this last year and it was pretty effective in keeping stink bugs and other critters out of the garden, so hopefully it’s a trick that will work again this year.

How are your gardens progressing and how are you keeping the pests out? Let me know in the comments!

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Got to talk to Salon about the role of Philly food in the Mare of Easttown! Yes, it’s the world’s best Wawa spon-con, but the foods that make an appearance in the show really help to build an immersive world.

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Creating Space to Grow with KitchenAid. This was such a rewarding story to work on. Not only is it a story about urban farming in Philadelphia and the importance of food sovereignty, Christa Barfield of FarmerJawn gave us great advice on maximizing small spaces, gardening organically, and doing so with purpose. So proud with how this turned out!

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I got to dive deep into the world of Rugrats on Ross Weisman’s podcast Kidflix — and just in time for the new series to drop on Paramount+! If you’re a nerd about animation, nostalgic cartoons, and the role Rugrats played in our culture, this is the podcast for you!

Listen to Kidflix