Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter and The Happiness Project

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend.

I started it off with the Color Me Rad 5k that I ran with my oldest son...we got a little messy as you can see:

On Sunday it was a beautiful day here and was complete with all sorts of happy fun including an Easter Egg hunt:

 It was hard work finding all of those eggs

Speaking of I wanted to share with you a book I just completed:

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I happened upon it when I was visiting one of my local thrift stores, and thought for $2 it might well be worth a try (generally I go for the library first before investing...but I decided to indulge).

The book is a memoir chronicling the year long journey of the author to see if she can make herself a happier person.  Each month she dedicates herself to a resolution(s), while keeping her previous months resolutions (so they snowball on top of each other).

I'm going to go ahead and get my negative comments out of the way first so that I can end the review on a positive note.

I found the author to be very critical and pessimistic throughout the book, and I often wondered how in the world her family stands her with all of her complaining and nagging...but then I thought "Hey maybe she really did need to cultivate some happiness in her life."

I gleaned some useful information, I promise this will not spoil the book for you should you choose to check it out yourself:

1) Give a hug for at least 6 seconds (it maximizes the of release serotonin and oxytocin)
2) Smile, everyone benefits from this as it can help make you feel happier
3) Indulge in things that bring you joy (doesn't have to be a purchase it could be finding time to sit down and read)
4) Remember that the years are short (particularly poignant for those of us with children)

I did enjoy that each month/chapter was devoted to a different means to reach happiness and included more in-depth research for each topic (i.e. "can money buy you happiness?").  Reading about each month's explorations let you take a peak into how much work she did each month and how successful she was in keeping her monthly resolutions.

Overall I wouldn't recommend purchasing the book, but definitely think it is worth stopping by your local library to read.

I have adopted some of her suggestions such as the 6 second hug and I am reading more, because that really does bring me a great amount of pleasure.

So one of my goals this year is to read 52 books, which I am keeping up with on Goodreads, but do you have any suggestions of books you think are worth a gander?  I would love to hear them.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Delicious Squash Bread

I promised on Thursday that I would have a recipe on Friday...well I am a little late, but here it is.

From our local CSA we've been getting butternut squash.

My kids won't touch the stuff, so I needed to devise a way to use it up and get them to consume it.

Enter squash bread, and in my book way better than pumpkin.

1 C butternut squash roasted and squished (technical term)
2 ener-G egg replacers
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/4 C water
1 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1 3/4 C all purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (I used kosher)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom

Mix all of this together and pour into a greased bread pan.  I topped with a sprinkling of turbinado sugar to give it a little crunch (plus who doesn't like fat sugar crystals).

Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes.

I promise you will not be sorry and you will only have to worry about sitting down and consuming the entire loaf.

Enjoy and Happy Monday to you all!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Little Children, Big Challengers

I have a soft spot for Sesame Street probably because I can fondly remember watching it on Saturday mornings.

I just wanted to share with you all a new project that Sesame Street is putting out.

Helping Little Children Face Big Challenges
Sesame Street teams up with Committee for Children to help kids overcome odds
New York – “Providing your love and support is the most important step in helping children develop the confidence to overcome anything they face,” reads the Little Children, Big Challenges page of nonprofit Committee for Children’s website. Sesame Workshop, creators of the iconic Sesame Street TV show, asked the Seattle-based nonprofit to collaborate in the dissemination of materials that will help young children and their adult caregivers face challenging situations like divorce and incarceration, as well as addressing general resilience.
The Little Children, Big Challenges initiative comes in the form of toolkits containing resources for parents and caregivers of children ages 2–5. The toolkits, which are available online for free, feature videos and songs from favorite Sesame Streetcharacters downloadable tips and guides for parents and educators, and also include free mobile apps on the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon.
Committee for Children’s Mia Doces has been collaborating with Sesame Workshop on their social-emotional learning and anti-bullying content for several years. Says Doces, “We are proud to extend our ongoing work with the Sesame Workshop by making these high-quality materials available to our community of teachers and families. The ways in which the Workshop gathers top experts to create these research-based, engaging and practical materials are so directly aligned with the work we do here at Committee for Children.”
“Sesame Workshop’s mission is to help all children reach their highest potential,” said Lynn Chwatsky, Vice President for Community and Family Engagement at Sesame Workshop. “We can’t do this work without the help of partners like Committee for Children, who have an established reputation for providing social-emotional learning resources to educators and caregivers. Through this partnership, we will empower even more young children and the adults in their lives with tools that can help build resilience skills to cope with changes such as divorce, incarceration, and everyday challenges.”

# # #
About Committee for Children
Seattle-based nonprofit Committee for Children’s research-based educational programs, including the award-winning Second Step program, teach social-emotional skills to prevent bullying, violence, and abuse and improve academics. Their curricula are used in over 25,000 schools across the United States and around the world. To learn more, go to

Hello Friends

Well I took a little time off from blogging...since June of last year to be exact.

I needed some time to recharge and get back my blogging mojo.

So I've done a bunch of baking and reading books.

I have got some delicious foods that I want to share with you all, starting tomorrow with butternut squash bread (think pumpkin bread but WAY better).

I've checked out a whole slew of books from the library that I kept telling myself "One day I will read that"...well that day came and here are two of my favorites:

A very moving book (yes I cried a couple of times) and is definitely one to share with meat eaters.  He provides some pretty vivid details on animals and their treatment which really should get people thinking about whether the meat they are buying in the store really is worth the pain and suffering of the animal.

I had to lighten up and so decided next up was a fun, quick read, about ways to conserve resources and to think twice before you make a purchase.  Jeff has been featured on TLC's Extreme Cheapskates (which is a mostly contrived show about ways people freakishly try to save a dime).  The book is full of some very practical ways to trim your budget and to help save some dough so that you can actually have a retirement and not have to work until the day you die.

Well that is about it for right now.  I will get back in the blogging groove the more I do it again, kind of like riding a bike.

I have recipes galore to share, both sweet and savory (and not all vegan).

For now I am going catch up with my favorite blogs, and hey maybe you can check them out too:

Bit of the Good Stuff

The Wanderblogger

Feeding Five

What I Love

Bonzai Aphrodite