happy food: trader joe's blueberry breakfast biscuits

This morning was so busy that by the time I thought about breakfast it was 10 and I was famished. I was at that dangerous point of being myopic. Need. Food. Now. This is when I usually  get into trouble foraging through the pantry and I end up with various handfuls of Pirate Booty, a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter and a box of animal crackers. 500+ calories and yet still hungry.

As I stood in the pantry a few minutes ago I came across the box of Trader Joe's Blueberry Breakfast Biscuits I had wisely picked up last week. I made myself a cup of coffee and sat at my desk with a package of the biscuits. With chunks of blueberries and a biscuit that tastes a little cinnamonny/spicy like their infamous Speculoos cookies, it was a satisfying breakfast/snack that took a while to eat.  At 210 calories (5 grams fiber, 7 grams fat and 10 grams of sugar)  for a serving of four cookies, it wasn't a bad choice.  It was delicious, filling and most of all, I didn't feel like I blew my breakfast on a bad choice which can often set me up for a day of bad food choices.

When I fly, I usually pack Trader Joe's individual packets of almonds but in the future, I will be bringing along these biscuits, especially on a red eye flight to give myself a boost of energy before I land.

Trader Joe's Blueberry Biscuits = a total happy food.

a happy couple: chip & Joanna gaines (video)

One of my favorite ways to spend a rainy afternoon  is to curl up with our dog on the sofa and binge watch "Fixer Upper." Sure, it's Joanna's design aesthetic that I like and who doesn't love a makeover story? But it's the banter between this husband and wife as they work on a project together that I truly love.

Golden Retriever-like Chip teases Jo but with every tease is a gosh-golly-wow compliment of how talented his beautiful wife is. When Jo's working late on the makeover house the night before the reveal and Chip brings their four little kids by with some dinner, my heart just swells from the adorableness of that gesture. ("Go on and give Mama a kiss before we have to go and let her work her magic for this family.") Their ease and acceptance of each other's quirkiness is something to admire. Marriage and coupledom can be hard. I like to think that watching other couples successfully navigate life can be a learning experience.

So, yes,  every time Joanna says SHIPLAP, I can't help smile (and think "Could I use shiplap in our house?") but every time Chip gazes over at his wife with delighted wonder, I realize THIS is why I watch.

"Fixer Upper" airs on BravoTV.

happy food: panzanella salad recipe

Last week one of my girlfriends came over for lunch and it was so sunny and beautiful that we decided to enjoy a salad with some peach sangria out on the deck. Neither of us wanted a heavy meal so I turned to one of my favorite go-to summer meals--this easy Panzanella Salad that feels rustic and light.  This is also one of those salads that would be great to take to work in a mason jar. Just add the dressing to the bottom of the jar, then add the salad. When you're ready to eat, just turn the jar upside down to dress the salad.

print recipe

Happygirl Panzanella Salad
An easy summer salad that will make you feel like you're eating al fresco at a sun-dappled Italian restaurant
  • 1/2 a large French baguette cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 medium tomatoes cut into 1-inch cubes (heirloom is best)
  • 1/2 a large English cucumber, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 a large red or orange bell pepper cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 purple onion cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 10 basil leaves finely shredded
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (or white balsamic)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place in a single layer in oven to toast until golden brown or place in saute pan on stovetop until cubes are golden brown. Set aside in bowl. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion, feta and basil. Set aside. For dressing: Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and mustard until incorporated. Add toasted cubes to vegetables and drizzle dressing over the salad. lightly toss until the dressing uniformly covers the salad.Serve with a white wine or sparkling water.Notes: You can omit the croutons if you're gluten-free or the feta if you're dairy-free.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 dinner servings

happy things: ladybugs (AKA God's little cows)

The other day I was sitting on the deck with our dog when I watched a ladybug land on her little white sleeping snout. She twitched for a moment in her sleep but otherwise she was oblivious to this little bug taking a pause in her day.

I tried to stealthily reach for my phone but the ladybug caught on and flew away (So much for the Instagram moment.) I started thinking about ladybugs and why they are so much more charming that say, spiders or centipedes.

Five things I learned as I Googled ladybugs:
  1. Ladybugs aren't bugs at all, but beetles
  2. They can eat 50-100 aphids a day (they're great little pest killers)
  3. They are named Ladybugs after the Virgin Mary
  4. In Russia, they are called "Bozhya korovka" or God's little cow (in reference to their spots)
  5. Many people believe that a ladybug landing on you heralds a time of good fortune or happiness
If you think of a ladybug landing on you as a little bit of good luck, you'll enjoy this article.

(If you need happiness or a little luck in your life right now, increase your chances of a ladybug landing on you by finding some rosebushes. Ladybugs have a thing for them.)