happy things: cara cara oranges

L and I agree on most things. We like the same music. (Hello, Bossa Nova) We love the same vacation spots. (Hey, Disney) We laugh at the same things. (Why is that aardvark in the video wearing a shirt?) One of the things we differ on is oranges. He is an orange juice buff while I slowly and carefully enjoy the whole orange experience from that first burst of orange zest when you peel it, to savoring one perfect section at a time.

It has been awhile, however, since I've eaten an orange because I've been burned too many times on oranges that are dry and tasteless with rubbery ends. At Trader Joe's last week, I decided to try a bag of Cara Cara oranges. With their bright pink flesh and super juicy, sweet yet tart tang, they have become my go-to orange for the past week. I am feasting on these like I do with Macoun apples (New England apples with a ridiculously short season) in the fall. These Cara Cara navel oranges are easy to peel, seedless and they make both great eating oranges and orange juice. (The juicer in the background is a vintage model from France I found on ebay.)

With the dreary, wet days of winter-almost-spring, starting each morning with a bright orange burst sets my day off with a big smile. (Plus, I feel like I am doing something good for my body which makes me want to follow my clean eating program!) The Cara Cara season is short so try them while they are still in stores!

The 3-pound bag at Trader Joe's is a steal at $2.99.

celebrating national i want you to be happy day!

Today is National I Want You to be Happy Day. So, I guess this would make this practically a national holiday here in The Happygirl studio. One of the keys that I have discovered in becoming happy (and staying happy!) is that doing things that feel good can make you happy but the joy in making someone else happy far surpasses anything I can do to make myself happy.

I'm struggling with a headcold but later, after a cool shower and some much needed Emergen-C, I'm heading out to buy our dog her favorite dried salmon treats. They smell just awful but they make her giddy with joy. Then I'm gong to buy the person behind me at the coffee shop their coffee where I will write a few cards to people who I haven't seen in awhile but I still carry in my heart.

Today, I won't hold grudges or get angry at the person who cuts in a line of traffic. I'll wave them through, I'll let someone go ahead of me at the dry cleaner and I'll tell my husband just how much we appreciate him and how grateful we are to have him loves us as he does.

Like Audrey Hepburn said "Happy girls are the prettiest girls." I wish you a happy day and a happy weekend! (Spring is just 16 days away!)

happy monday video: pixar's "piper"

This animated short played prior to Disney's "Finding Dory." It's so beautifully made and such a sweet story about not letting fear stop you from participating in life.


when valentine's day was the most important day of the year

It went like this. Your name was called on the intercom and you proudly padded down to the front desk of your dorm to claim your delivery. On this day, Valentine's Day,  the holiest of all days for deliveries for a college girl, you hoped for the biggest bouquet of flowers. Of course, if they were sent by a boy, that was ideal. There would be squeals of delight heard coming from the lobby. If, instead, they were sent by a girl's parents, that was still good and this elicited a very sweet sigh of happiness.

I remember watching the girls walking by my room (we all kept our doors open in our girls only dorm) proudly carrying their prizes, holding the flowers or stuffed animals in front of them like an Oscar award. The hallways were full of that high pitched excited girl talk that can completely baffle boys and parents alike. We clutched hands and hugged and admired one another's deliveries and we hoped our turn would come too. There were the girls, (You know them - the shiny haired, clear skinned, ponytailed girls who looked great wearing their boyfriend's oversized college sweatshirts and their own sweatpants hiked up to her calves) who received multiple bouquets. Sure, we were happy for these girls but there was a little part of us that was jealous, especially if we were empty handed.

I didn't receive flowers junior year. I wasn't seeing anyone so I didn't expect anything but still, when my roommate was paged as well as my other close friends, I felt a twinge of sadness.  I didn't realize it at the time but I (along with every girl I knew) had put so much pressure on ourselves for this day to be magical like a romantic comedy.  On Valentine's night, I headed down to lower church so I could study in quiet, while my floormates were on dates. It was hard to watch my friends getting ready when my date was with a political science textbook. Then, the clock turned twelve and it was over, just like that.

Senior year, I was seeing someone and that year I did receive an over the top delivery of roses and a ring. However, the delivery that meant the most to me was a very small, very simple arrangement of mini-carnations in a teacup.  There at the front desk, amid the happy cries and laughter, I heard nothing. Instead I could hear my grandmother's voice in my head as I read the card. It said "Mon petite chou, Pepe and I love you. Be a good girl. Love, Meme."  (Mon petite chou = French for my little creampuff from "chou a la creme." Chou literally translates to cabbage. ). I imagined my grandmother, who was on a very limited budget, calling a local florist and saying to them "Chou, C-H-O-U. . ." No Valentine's Day gift or card has meant more to me since then.

I look back on college and the Valentine's Days and the pressure we put on ourselves and on our poor boyfriends and I wish I could go back in time to tell myself that all that really mattered is that one person loved me. I was lucky. I had a mom and grandparents who were my world, who let me leave the safety of their protective space to go out on my own. And every so often, my sweet, little French grandmother would remind me "Be a good girl, my little cabbage." I can't imagine a greater love.

Happy Valentine's Day! May you know that you are lucky and that you are loved!