In 2010, Smile. A lot!

Raise your glass...

And repeat after me.

I [insert your name here], do here by swear that I will have a fantastic 2010!
I will look for the small things that make life so wonderful and happy.
I will cherish the small things that make life amazing.
I will find something positive not matter how weird things get.
If I begin to complain, I will remember there are those with less who would treasure what I have and therefore I will feel blessed for the things I have.
I will work hard and play hard.
I will tell my loved ones I love them often and with passion.
I will hug those that mean the most to me and not let go until they stop hugging me.

I will do random nice things for complete strangers.
I will laugh loudly when others are shy to.
I will try my best to be nice to everyone... killing them with kindness is my new mantra.
I will smile. A lot!
(Katie added this one)... I will take amazing care of the dog no matter how cold, dark, or rainy it is.

I will have a fantastic 2010!

Cheers to the New Year!!  

Here's to health, happiness, and lots of good things within your reach!

(Love you Mr. Happy -- looking forward to celebrating over 2000 days with you!)

Frosted Leaves

For those of you on the east coast with me... remember when the ground was covered with a few of these?  Crunchy, colorful, and stunning leaves.  Although, I don't think I was able to appreciate them as much while I was raking and cleaning them up. 

But just look at them now!  The tree's are naked.  The leaves have blowing somewhere else or are now covered in snow.  I took these shots after a morning of frost when I was just starting to wear sweatshirts (this is long before I broke the jackets out). 

Just look at the cool veining and the way the frost settled on certain details of the leaves.  Who knew they had so much texture and detail!

I feel particularly drawn to this photo because of the green-ness of the moss and the way the sun was captured!  The leaves look edgy and cool, while the moss looks soft and inviting!

This particular leaf looks like the papa of the other smaller leaves.  I also enjoy looking for the curled edges versus the straightness of some parts!

You can almost see snow flake patterns on this one!

Same leaf... different angle and a little closer.  Stunning!!  Can you see the little frost flakes standing up too?

Toward the bottom of this photo their is a teenie tiny spring of grass poking through the leaves.  Reminds me of how overwhelming somethings can be.

Last one... this leaf felt like it was being used as a race track.  Just look around the edge of the leaf... like the the frost raced around it to complete the outline and then moved on leaving the center of the leaf mostly untouched.

Today, being the end of 2009, is all about perspective. 

Remember all the things you did this year.  As you are remembering maybe you think of a few things that you didn't enjoy in the moment.  But, much like these leaves, you can look back on those moments and see them now in a different way and pick out things that were nice about them. 

Changing your perspective = happiness!



"Whoopie!" she exclaimed as the countdown welcomed the new year!

or, "Whoopie! I have the most amazing husband!"

or just plain 'ole chocolate and marshmellow cream whoopie pies.

This time we are going to talk about the last one.  I wanted to try and start a new Thanksgiving tradition this year of making whoopie pies for desert.  Quick story even shorter I was immediately vetoed and asked to make apple pie.  But, they gave in a bit and said if I want to bring both... that's ok too.

So, I rolled up my sleeves and searched the web for a recipe to give a try.  I think I ended up using the one from Epicurious, but to be honest, most of the recipes looked the same.  I mixed together flour, salt, baking soda, cocoa, buttermilk, vanilla extract... I am probably forgetting some of the ingredients... but anywho that formed this stiff chocolatey dough.

You put the small scoops on a pan. 

Yes, I am using a pizza pan.  When I moved ... I moved to a small oven which is good because the darn thing cooks so evenly, the cooking light works, and it's a convection... the downside is that a lot of my baking sheets didn't fit in it. 

So, I keep saying I am going to go get some new (smaller) cookie sheets and just haven't done it yet.  Till then, the pizza pans are making for a nice substitute!  (don't laugh too much!)

Here are the whoopie cookies cooking.  Ha!  Say that five times fast!  They are still just melty globs.

(Told you the oven was smaller.  But see that round thing in the back?  That's the convection fan... makes everything cook so so nice and evenly.  And see that bright thing in the upper right?  That's the oven light -- working!  I went nearly 2 years without a working oven light.  Oh, how the simple things can put such a smile on your face!!)

Ahh!  They are starting to rise and take shape and look more whoopie-like!!  This was the moment I knew I was going to be ok with this recipe! Nom-nom-nom!

All cooked and on the cooling rack while the next batch went in!

Just look at the color and texture of these whoopie suckers!!  Gorgeous!!

I mean seriously!  And the chocolate part is very rich, but in a tart cocoa and salty kind of way.  And it's dense!

Once I had everything baked it looked like this on my cooling rack.  All the whoopie halves were ready to find their other whoopie halves!

My mouth is salivating just thinking about all those whoopies waiting for assembly!

Making the cream filling was a gas! (can I say that?  I mean it was a LOT of fun!)  The filling is made up of marshmellow, butter, more vanilla extract... and I think that's it.  I know.. you are thinking really healthy.  Focus though... this was about new tradition.  Not health!

I think at this point I was covered from my nose to my elbows in whoopie cream as I spread some of the filling on one half and then joined it with another half. 

When finished I had one crazy sticky kitchen, dog, self, and a mound of ready to nosh whoopie pies!

Are you sold yet?  I know when next Thanksgiving rolls around you are going to be thinking..."self, I want to spice up this Thanksgiving... how am I going to do that?  Oh, how about with whoopie pies?  Those looked like so much fun to make and even more decadent to eat!"

Whoopie pies are such a harmony... the tart cocoa saltiness mixed with the extreme sweetness of the creme filling.  They play nicely together! 

I did end up bringing these to Thanksgiving dinner... they did end up enjoying them.  And even though I don't think they will be requested next Thanksgiving... they were still fun to make and I can see making them for something else in the near future!

So, I would like to propose the following:

Trying something new as a holiday tradition = happiness!
Making, eating, talking about, and saying the words whoopie pies = happiness!
Laughing at my pizza pans as cookie sheets = happiness!

And if you are still reading this... you ROCK!!


Puppy opening package

So, you know I have this dog. 

She's a peach. 

She got us up early on Christmas morning and I just had to share how much our furry kid enjoyed the morning.  We've been encouraging her to learn how to open presents on her own and this year she had it all figured out ... which is a blast to watch for sure!! 

Here she is posing in front of the tree looking very serious and probably thinking about how much I am going to torture her before I will let her have a wrapped goodie.  Told you... she's a peach!

"Mom, can I open one now?"

Of course she can.  She took the package very gently and look at me and then at Mr. Happy.  A sort of double check to make sure everything is a-ok.  When she was satisfied she began to nip the corners and got to work on the opening!

Then the gentle golden was gone and out came the wild child!!  She whipped that package around and flung it around a bit!

Still working on it... and you can see she's moving around like a maniac (hence the blurry pic)... but we heard a riiiiip!  Look the paper is giving away! And you can almost start to see something peaking out!

Give it a good karate chop to get that sucker opening faster.  Hiiiii -- yaaahh!  Ha, and you can see the paper flying!

Oh my goodness!!  A leg emerges!  At this point you can practically feel Katie's excitement!  A couple more good wiggles and the paper really began to drop off!

Chomp!  "Look Ma, it's a Christmas Moose!!  Mmmmm and it's so tasty!"

"Phew, that was a lot of work.  I think I will just lay down for a quick moment and hold on to my Moose so as to make sure it doesn't escape after all that paper ripping!"
I love it.. you can see her Christmas bow in these pictures too! 

Yup, I love my little horse.  She's all sorts of spunk and 'ttude all in one cute furry package!   If we all were able to appreciate one present as much as this pup... the world would be a better better place!


Rock my heart

Can't resist the title as silly as it is.  You'll see...  this proves love is everywhere!  And love most definetly = happiness!  Right?
When I am out and about hearts in nature always catch my eye.  Some are made from moss, others from rocks or prints in the dirt.  But no matter what they are made from they always make me reach for my camera.  I mean how can you resist?  You do see it, right?

Really they are everywhere!  And... can you believe Mr. Happy is the one who pointed this one out?  It's a puddle in the shape of a heart.  Adorable!

Who's rocked your heart lately?


I thought it may be time to freshen things here again.  Hope the new banner suits you. 
This past weekend the weather was warm enough to air out the house and it really put a new bounce in my step.  Open windows and new crisp air really do wonderful things for me!  Nothing like starting the new year with some fresh air (or in this case... a fresh banner) to liven things up a bit!

I propose fresh = happiness!

All that sparkles

Snow is something we had a lot of for the last few weeks.  We had a storm that brought us about 8 inches... and then second was a dud coming in around 3 inches. 
It was nice because it meant having a white Christmas which really makes the day festive and keeps the dog from getting muddy.  (A dog covered in snow is much more welcome in my house than one covered in mud!)
Then with the blink of an eye it all melted.  I mean ALL of it.  I admit I was happy to see the grass again and feel the squish of the ground under my shoes, but at the same time I am already wishing to have the snow back. 
Snow can be a pain... the shovelling, driving in snow can stink, and being stuck in the house because of snow isn't my favorite.  But when you look at snow from a different angle it can bring happiness.  (You knew that's where I was going with this... didn't you?)  Go ahead... roll your eyes.   But, I stand by what I said.... snow = happiness!  Let me show you how.
First of all with all of these dark east coast nights, (drive to work in the dark and return in the dark) you have to find a reason to begin to appreciate the snow in the dark.  It may be a strech, but just look at how pretty snow can look under a flood light in the dark.
It sparkles!!  Like diamonds!! 

Here's another one... how can you say that sparkles don't make you happy?  I bet you are already coming to believe me even if only a tiny bit more. 

Remember a few months ago we were talking about leaves and raking and jumping in leaf piles?  Where have all the leaves gone?  I'm still not sure what leaves do for the winter, but this one looks stunning on a background of sparkling snow with a drop of ice on it!  Stunning!

Of course this snow adventure comes with one snow loving dog.  Dogs (and this one in particular) never cease to amaze me.  Katie really can find the fun in anything.  She is like my teacher.  I say snow... blah!  She says snow... wheee!!  So, me being the looking for happy lady that I am, decided to put the two of us outside in the snow to figure out what that happy looked like.  She really makes snow look good!

As our snow playdate went on we ran around and chased leaves, all the while looking for snow tracks.  I warmed up tremendulsy from all the sillyness!  And I found that deep appreciation for all things snow that I know I had as a kid.  We even found some tracks (so hard to not have Katie stomp them before I snapped a photo -- trust me they didn't last much beyond this picture).  Looks like they may be kitty tracks?

So, next time the weather man promises snow, I bet I will be more whee! as I think about how much fun I will have with Katie after the storm exploring a winter wonderland!


Apple stinkin pie

There is something about apple pie that always makes me happy.  From the moment I pick out the apples and all the way through to putting that first bite of warm pie in my tummy. 
I made an apple pie on request for Thanksgiving (yes I realize that was already eons ago) and snapped a few pictures along the way.
So here is a feast for your eyes... apple pie... happy style!

Any apple pie starts with -- you guessed it -- apples!  I like to use 2-3 types of apples to give my pies flavor, texture, and tartness.
Pictures here are granny smiths and cortlands.  Just look at that tiny reflection!

You have to take the skins off the apples.  I peel my with a peeler all at once.  Then I core and quarter the apples.  At this point it becomes hard to tell which ones were which.  I decided to do something a little special with this pie and slice the quarters with the slicer for uniform pie pieces. 
Something about putting all those slices in the shell... made this amazing slice.  Well.. I'll tell you more about that when we get there.

Once all the apples are sliced they end up in a big bowl and I begin to sweet and spice them.  Sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper (remember I told you before I spice everything), and a pinch of salt.  Yup, that's basically it.  Then give the slices a toss to mix it all up.  And dump the apples in the pie crust. 
Crust... that's a whole other thing.  The one pictured uses butter and crisco... plus it's a cheddar crust.  Cheddar cheese just makes apples dance in your mouth!  Yes, I actually put shredded cheddar into the crust.  Heavenly!

Just look at that mound of delicious tart and spicy apples.  Happy yet?

Keeping in mind this was a fancy pie... I had to make a lattice top and fancy forked edges. 

Here's a little peak at those apples all nestled into their crusty home which is about to be warm and golden!  I think you can see the cheddar bits in the crust too!

Then for an extra surprise... brush the crust with water and then sprinkle sugar on that.  
Uh huh.. I know you are getting happier just thinking about making or eating one of these!  Do you see that sugar?

Pop it in the oven... let the crust brown and the filling getting bubbly.  I use a bit of foil to keep the edges from burning.  Once you get it out of the oven -- have your Thanksgiving golden guard your now prized pie while it cools outside (drives your neighbors nuts) in the autumn air.

The finished pie looked something like this.  A bit extra brown in some spots (ok burnt)... at this point I am still getting used to the oven in the new house, but the way we were eating it... you would have thought it was the most amazing thing we ever ate. 
Flaky light crust... touch of sugar hits your tongue quickly followed by those spicy apples I talked about so much.  Some of us put whoopsie cream on top as my grandpa would have said (that's whipped cream for those you who didn't follow).
All of us found ourselves smiling!

I would like to offer that a specially made apple pie = happiness!


New Tool

Follow my blog with bloglovin

Trying out a new tool which is supposed to help organize the zillion blogs I read daily.  Do you use Bloglovin? 


Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas filled with laughs and smiles!

Hope you find yourself happy and passed out under the tree tonight from all the joy:


Music to your ears!

Today a huge smile was on my face on my drive in to work. 

Sounds crazy ... I know. 

But, I'll share a little secret with you.... ready?

... for me hitting the right music on the way in makes all the difference in my day. 

Their is a party music station that has been kinda bad lately;  but not this morning.  This morning the DJ was mixing through a bunch of old party-dance classics... and then some how worked Offspring into the mix.  Fantastic!!

I had the radio loud... my shoulders bopping... and that big silly grin on my face.  I must have been a sight to other drivers.  When I got a funny stare, I just mouthed, "don't come too much closer.... happiness is contagious!" 

Ha!  Ok, so I really didn't mouth that to other drivers, but that would have been funny to do, right?

Today:  Happiness = good tunes to start your day with a smile!

Music sure to put a smile on my face:  Sublime, Live, Dave Matthews, and that Sweet Home Alabama song.  Oh and that song about Pouring Sugar... that's good stuff!!



Ahhh... vacation.  Time to recharge, sleep in, and find new ways to reach happiness!

I took a much needed break to do this and man 'o man am I back!  I have some pretty neat things to share with you too!

So, what does recharging look like?  Let me dig through some photos and see if you agree that they are the definition of recharging....

Here... we... go!

Recharging is seeing a row of kissing balls and thinking about how much you want to smooch!

Recharging is drinking a cold one in the sunshine!

Recharging probably means a lot of different to each of us.  It's funny too... my idea of recharging my batteries is mingling in a huge room full of funny, smiling people!  Ok, I'll take them even if they aren't funny.

One last try at it.

Recharging is your favorite goldie with a tiny little ribbon-bow around her head!

Tell me the last one doesn't recharge you and I send a doc over pronto... to check your head.

Ya, she melts me every time!!

And I've got plenty more where that came from! 

Glad to be back :)


Hike some more

Now that it's snowing today, I am thinking even more about how I am already missing hiking!  Here are a few more pictures from what seems like the last hike of the season. 

The water was very high during the hike... and how cute are those little bubbles?

Hee hee.... it's a Katie shadow.  Just look how happy her tail looks being outside and on an adventure with her parents!

*Sigh* Hiking will be missed till spring, but in the meanwhile we can satisfy ourselves with snowball fights, frozen pond walks, and hot cocoa by a fire!

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