the happygirl inspiration: #435

Being 2800 miles away from my friends and family that I love so much, it's not easy to maintain relationships but lately I've come to realize that if someone is supposed to be in your life, the two of you will find a way to make it happen. It doesn't mean you will talk every single day, but when you do, that little tingle in your chest that says "this person just gets me!" will make the distance seem unimportant. Two souls who get each other will always gravitate back to one another. Always.

inspiration #218

how to turn someone down

I have a tendency to take on too many things. I can't say no, even when I know I should, when I just don't have the time or, frankly, the desire to do what someone asks. So, when I read Austin Kleon's article about How to Graciously Say no to Anyone I realized that saying no (graciously) is a skill that one should learn.

I've been like this my entire life. When I was a little girl, my mother gave me a book. I don't recall the exact title but the gist of it was "Be a Do-Be, not a Don't BE!" On the pages of this little children's books were examples of "This little girl is a Do-Be because she ate all her vegetables. This little boy is a Don't-Be because he won't eat what his mother put on his plate. Be a Do-Be!" I took this book to heart. While I was in early grammar school, my mother was in nursing school while she also worked at the hospital. She was exhausted when she came home. I wanted nothing more than to please her. In Catholic school I also learned to respect the nuns. You did what you were told. Period. 

This attitude is something I have carried like a badge of honor. I do what I am asked. Whether it's because I want people to like me or I just dislike the idea of confrontation if I say no, I often say yes when I want to say no. As I look at moments in my life when I should have said "Sorry, no I just can't do that" I realize that I could have said no. There were dates that I knew would be a disaster, experiences that I took part in because I didn't want to hurt someone's feelings. I could have guarded my time better, I should have honored the fact that it's OK to say no.

Traditionally, however, when we say no, we often give an excuse like "I've got the kids, sorry" or "I don't have the money/time." We don't want to upset someone.  It's sometimes easy to offer up a lie than to say "I have no desire to take ski lessons/chair a committee." Lately, I have to come to realize time is precious and it's OK to make choices that may not be popular with someone else. You can't be everything to everyone. It's better to say no than to offer a project (or even a person) 10% or even 70% of yourself. Be true to yourself and honor your time and energy.  People will get over it when you say no. They will find someone else to take on a date/lead the choir/babysit/run for mayor. 

It's hard to do. It is.  However, you can do this.  A simple "I'm sorry. I can't at this time." The end. Or if you really feel the need to offer an excuse, I like the one above. "I must decline, for secret reasons." If you say it with a sincere smile,  I can't imagine a better response.

happy food: cauliflower crust pizza

We love pizza. L. and I have a love affair with pizza. Some of our best dates have been over pizza. Often as we're enjoying an entire pie, one of us will moan with joy and say "I could eat this every night." While pizza is pretty much the perfect food, it just isn't an every night kind of meal. Too many calories, too much fat, too much gluten. The day after a pizza dinner, we always throw in an extra mile or two into our workouts.

Two weeks ago a friend of mine, Fr. Matt, texted me pictures of a pizza he had made. It looked incredible, golden brown, crispy. I salivated. Then the next text read "I made it from CAULIFLOWER and it was delicious!" What?! I've tried "fauxtatoes," a cauliflower/cream/butter combo that mimics mashed potatoes. However, no matter how smooth I blended this combination, it still tasted like cauliflower with cream and butter, not creamy mashed potatoes. So, while I was curious about a cauliflower crust pizza, I wondered if it could indeed pass as a good substitution for traditional pizza.

Fr. Matt sent me his recipe from Katie Lee. I also scoured the web for recipes. I read the comments and watched the YouTube videos. Then I started the experiments. It took four tries to get this right but when I did get it right, it was sublime. While it's hard to beat a warm, traditional doughy crust, this cauliflower crust pizza tastes like the real thing without any of the guilt and calories of a wheat based pizza.

To cut the time, I used Trader Joe's ingredients but if you have some time, try making your own pizza sauce.

Happy Food: Cauliflower Crust Pizza


1 large head of cauliflower  (or two bags of Trader Joe's fresh cauliflower florets)
1 egg plus 1 egg white, beaten
1/2 cup parmesan/romano cheese
2 tablespoons of almond or coconut flour 
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Your favorite pizza toppings. This is a great pizza sauce recipe.  If you're short on time, Trader Joe's pizza sauce is fantastic. For this pizza I used TJ's sauce along with turkey pepperoni and 1/2 cup low fat mozzarella cheese.

You will also need:
a clean dishtowel
olive oil
parchment paper
baking sheet
food processor


Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the florets off the cauliflower. You will only be using the florets and not the stems. Place half of the florets in the food processor and pulse until fluffy. You may have to scrape the sides down several times. Set aside the mixture in a large microwave-safe bowl and pulse the other half of the florets again until fluffy. 

Cover bowl with microwave-safe wrap and microwave for 7 minutes. Remove from microwave and pour cauliflower "fluff" in the center of a clean dishtowel. Let sit for 5 minutes. 

The next step is VERY important of you want the texture of your pizza to resemble a traditional crust. 

When the cauliflower has cooled a bit, pull the sides of the dishtowel up around the cauliflower. Over the sink squeeze the water from the cauliflower. I was doubtful that it needed to be squeezed because cauliflower seems so dry but I was surprised when I got almost a cup of water out of the cauliflower. Be sure to squeeze tightly to get every drop of water out. 

Transfer the cauliflower to a bowl. Add in the beaten egg, cheese, almond or coconut flour and salt. Mix until incorporated. It will be very sticky and wet.

Place parchment paper on baking sheet and brush a thin layer of olive oil onto the middle of the parchment paper in about a 9 inch circle. Scoop crust mixture into center of parchment paper and using your hands, spread the cauliflower mixture out into a circle about 9 inches wide. The crust should be about a 1/4 to a 1/3 of an inch thick. Be sure not to spread the dough out too thin. Using your fingers, pat the dough down so it is compact. Brush top with a small amount of olive oil. 

Slide baking sheet into heated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until the crust is golden brown. When it is, top with your favorite toppings and cook for another 7 or so minutes. 

Let cool for two minutes and slice as you would any other pizza. Enjoy the happy!

What I learned from this experiment (& tips)

  • Your kitchen will smell like cauliflower. This happens during the microwaving process. However, this smell will dissipate soon when your pizza cooks in the oven. It smells just like traditional pizza. 
  • If you prefer not to use a microwave, you can also steam the cauliflower for the same amount of time.
  • I tried this dough with and without the extra flour. It's good both ways but I found that when I added coconut flour, it added a little more "sturdiness" to the crust. However, if you don't have flour, you can make this recipe without it.
  • The key to this recipe really is getting out all of the water from the cauliflower so squeeze, squeeze away. I tried squeezing the cauliflower as soon as came out of the microwave and burned my hands. So, be kind to your hands and wait a few minutes for it to cool before you start wringing the cauliflower dry. 
  • Be sure that the crust isn't too thin. On my first few tries, the dough was spread too thin and it burned in places. 
  • Using a blender to pulse the cauliflower doesn't work. The cauliflower is just too dry. You need a shallow bowl like a food processor. The cauliflower must be ultra-finely chopped for this recipe. In my research, people have used a juicer, using the cauliflower pulp and they had great results. You can also use a cheese grater in a pinch.
  • If you don't tell people that they are eating cauliflower crust pizza, they won't have an expectation that they won't like this "healthy" food. I would have had a hard time figuring out that this crust was made from cauliflower if I hadn't made it myself. 
  • It's key to use parchment paper that has been oiled, otherwise your crust may stick to the pan. 
If you're more visual, watch this video from Dani Spies of Clean & Delicious.


Inspiration #734

I have a tendency to be hard on myself. When I've made a bad decision, I agonize over it. While I would give a good friend slack and encourage them to be gentle on themselves, I don't give myself room to make mistakes. So, this post is about forgiving yourself, being gentle on yourself. It's a reminder to myself to forgive myself. People aren't infallible. As much as I think I am. :-)

Recently I heard a homily about forgiveness and how it sets your soul free to forgive. While it may be hard to forgive someone who wronged you, it seems the hardest thing in the world is to forgive yourself, to move past a mistake you may have made. It was a lesson. You learned it. Move on. Let it go. Be kind. Especially to yourself.  This is when your soul blooms and you make the greatest strides in life. 

I hope today you are gentle on yourself. God/the universe/whatever you believe in, just wants you to live a life of peace, of kindness, of love--especially for yourself. 

the happygirl inspiration: #189

I've decided that I'm sick of worrying about things. That's it. I'm no longer a worrior. I'm a warrior. Let's be warriors.

the happy girl inspiration: #245

As I'm following my nutritionist's program and writing down everything I'm eating as well as my activity, I can't help but feel like I'm paying off a debt for something I never wanted in the first place. Those five cookies were so not worth the 90 minutes on the elliptical. Why did I have that mac & cheese every day for two weeks? Why does the weight come on so easily and it's SO hard to take it off?

High fat / high sugar foods should come with a warning like those on packs of cigarettes: "Are you sure you want this? Eating one serving will take you 30 minutes on the treadmill and that's running, not walking." They should seriously do this.

the happygirl inspiration: #176

I have this inspiring coach who tells me "Taylor, let it go, let it float away. The good things will come.  Put it out into the universe. Believe and relax."

the happygirl inspiration # 754

It's easy to want something. It's harder to actually take the steps to make your dream become your reality. One of my goals is to lose weight and become healthy. I've tried the same weight loss methods over and over with varying levels of success. Now I'm exploring other programs, other methods. I'm willing to do what it takes to achieve this goal. What goal do you want to achieve?

i was happy as a caterpillar

Six years ago my life changed. At 10:06am on Cinco de Mayo 2009, a job I LOVED as a celebrity reporter at MSN was eliminated. I had been with Microsoft since 1995. It was not a good morning. We were buying our new house at 11am (which we didn't do). I lost what I thought was everything on that day, including my self-esteem. I was lost. Larry and I looked at each other that night and said "Now, what?" After an ugly cry (on my part) Larry said "What's important?" "I don't know anymore. I don't know what's important.," I said. "We have each other," he said. He was right. 
Now 6 years later, my life is nothing like I imagined it would be. I am The Happygirl who gets to commute 2800 miles to her hometown every month and work at my alma mater, an outstanding Catholic high school in Massachusetts. I get to see my family and my friends who've known me since grammar school, and some new friends who have become like family. I owe Larry & Emma everything for keeping me together then. And now. And always.
So, Happy Cinco de Mayo!

the happygirl inspiration #854

My grandfather used to tell me that if I really wanted something, nothing could stop me from achieving that goal. Here's to the hurdles that help us realize what we really want in life.

taking the leap

Sometimes I wonder why it is so hard to reach a goal. You take baby steps then fall back a giant step. You scale a mountain by inches and you roll back down to the bottom. When I was thinking about that this morning, I realized that you can look at this a number of different ways, including feeling defeated. Or. . .or you steel yourself and make the determination that what you want most is what is worth fighting hardest for. Baby steps, leaps, whatever gets your there, well, gets you there. Just close your eyes and focus. Eyes on the prize. What's on the other side will be better than you ever imagined.

the happy girl inspiration #176

When I'm afraid I can't reach a goal, when there are too many hurdles, I remind myself of this.

happy moment: if only you could see yourself

When I am having the kind of Monday where it all just goes wrong and I feel like an idiot, I take a breath and a quiet moment and try to remember that God would say something like this to us.

the theme for the week of March 30, 2015: slay your dragon

I have fears.

Some based in truth, some are deep seated from my childhood. They seem illogical. Whatever they are based on, the fear is quite real. What I have found, however, is that often I am most afraid of the act of facing that fear - of slaying that dragon. Facing your fear (going skydiving, meeting a clown, not running out of the room when you see a spider, seeing an ex. . .) is scary. Your heart beats faster, your face feels hot. It's as if holding your breath somehow makes the next moment not happen. It's just ONE moment though. Then it's over and you're on the other side.

This week is as good a time as any to face what scares you and to change the trajectory of that fear. Make up your mind. You are stronger than your fear. Someone wise once told me that fear is just in your head. It is an emotion. What you do with that fear is what matters.

Get out your sword. It's time to slay your dragon.

happy life quotes: what your body would say to you

I saw this quote on Olivine's blog and it hit me so strongly. I struggle to keep my mind and my body connected and this--well, this quote is what I imagine my body would say to me.