The Happy Girl Blog

Happy girls are the prettiest girls

7.03.2014

Goodbye, my friend

Death is horrible. It almost feels worse when a young person dies, even though death at an older age still sucks, at least that older person has had more time to live their lives. I am thankful to have known my friend Daniel while I did, even though it was much too short. His big, loving soul made my life better.
Yesterday, I lost a dear friend who was just 31 years old. He had taken great measures over the last few years to really optimize his health. He was morbidly obese for most of the time I had known him, and had a gastric procedure to help him lose well over 200 pounds a few years back that gave him a new lease on life. He loved healthy foods, growing his own vegetables in a backyard garden, was into hiking, and this last year he took up mountain biking, and was going out several times a week to chase the adrenaline rush. He was also an accomplished DJ, playing his EDM and dubstep creations whenever he could, including a few years at Bass Camp for Burning Man. He loved cars and motorcycles and going fast.
Those few things do not even begin to make up the wonderful person Daniel (Fubu, Foobz) was. He was a peaceful, laid back guy with a heart the size of Texas. He genuinely cared about people, and was as sincere in his words as his actions. There was never a day he didn't want to spend time just chilling with you, or celebrating you, or talking with you about something you were passionate about. His joy for life was evident in everything he did. You could spend just moments with him and know all of this, and also know that you were better off for having met him.
As I think about Fubu now, I am beginning to realize all of what made him so special, and it hurts that I took it for granted so often, and didn't celebrate those little things that made him a wonderful human being and friend. I met Fubu the same summer I met Billy, as they were very close friends. The three of us even worked together over that next year. Losing someone makes you wish you could have changed a lot of things about the time you had with them. I wish I could have placed more value on the times I spent with him, and took the effort to have made sure we spent more together.
I am struggling with accepting that he is no longer with us. Maybe my grieving steps spend more time in denial than anything else, I don't know. I feel like at any moment there's going to be a big "gotcha!" and this is all a sick joke that one day we can laugh about.
It just can't be real.
But then I get moments of devastating reality that clogs my throat and weighs down my limbs and crushes me with a heavy tiredness and the truth that he is gone. Those moments are the worst, because I know, for a fact, that he will never be back.
I'm not an overly emotional person, and crying for me is usually a wetting of the eyeballs that doesn't trickle down my face. It's pretty rare for me to have a sob fest, but not having an outward expression of the emotions I feel is not indicative of me not feeling them. The tears I have shed are few, but they leave behind a bitter, salty taste of sadness. Death causes a different kind of heartbreak. It's not the cracked heart, can't possibly go on feeling of losing a romantic interest. Instead, it's a heavy, sorrowful feeling that blankets your whole mind, but allows you to keep living your life. Because when someone you are close to dies, you still have to keep going. Life gives no shits about who you have lost, and demands your attention and continued participation regardless of how torn up you feel, or how sad you are, and how polarizing the difference between your feelings and what you have to do still in everyday life is. God, death sucks. Loss is profound.
We love you, so incredibly much, Foobz. We will miss you every day of our lives, and you will always be a part of us. We will carry on your shining example of loving others and loving life. Thank you for entering my life, and making it better. May your afterlife be full of gnarly trails, beautiful music, and perfectly packed bowls of that plant life you were so fond of.
Rest in peace, Daniel Hauwert 3/16/1983-7/2/2014

6.24.2014

Going Texas, y'all

Since moving to Texas, I have been on a quest to assimilate. I will forever be a California girl, but when in Rome, or in this case, Texas, you do as the Texans.

Tacos for every meal? Check. A quest to find the best BBQ in the Austin area? Check. Big a** donuts? Check. And then it got away from the food sector.

It started simply enough with settling on a country station every now and again while in the car while the other stations were on commercial or playing annoying songs. That turned into knowing a few of the more pop country artists and songs enough to download an album(Cole Swindell, anyone?), or to put a pop country Pandora station on in the house. I figured it was pretty innocent, even though the 18 year old music snob version of me is rolling in her indie-loving grave.

This this past weekend, I upped my game and went all in.

Friday night, one of Billy's coworkers invited me out with her girls for dinner, drinks, and to hit up the country bar in town, Wild West. I've never been to a country bar, or even watched country dancing other than at weddings when the Cupid Shuffle or some other "line dance" is played. This was a whole new world for me. People were dancing, like almost ballroom style. it was called two-stepping, and everyone, young and old, knew the steps. How do you learn how to do this? Is it a Texas thing that you have to be born into? Much observing was done on my part. Thankfully Wild West plays more than country music, so I made it onto the dance floor to do my signature shake the hips and wave my hands around moves. I have some real smooth moves. Later I was asked to dance, and when I said I didn't know how, the guy said he'd teach me, it was easy. Actually, it was! I made it through an entire song, with a few spins, without falling on my booty or looking like a complete fool. I'm just guessing about that last part, I never know exactly what I look like.
 
Saturday, I went even bigger. I ran with the bulls. Yup, you read that right. Real, big, 1500lb bulls running alongside me. It was the Texas Bull Run. I heard about it thanks to a Meet Up group I'm a part of, and originally had signed up to chase the baby bulls in an all girls run that ended up being canceled. So I woman'd up and ran with the big boys, in my Batman tank, no less. Twice. To say it was terrifying is an understatement. I played it safe and stayed near the front of the pack, and real close to the gates to be able to hop up on the fence when the bulls rushed past. "Bull rush" has so much more meaning to me now. Those suckers are fast and don't mess around. My only injury is a small bruise on my arm from where another runner shoved me into the fence in order to get in front of me. Not cool, bro.
I totally photo bombed my new friend Ben here. He was part of the group I floated with, so it's cool.
No joke, y'all. These suckers were scary.
After the bull run, I did another very Texas thing, and floated the San Marcos river. Floating is a new concept to me, so I'll explain it in case it is for you also. From the ranch, you are driven by school bus up the river, dropped off, then you float for four hours all the way back to the ranch. It's basically a floating party. Coolers full of beer get their own tubes, and you hook yourself together around them. Then you just...float. It was actually quite fun. I'm pretty sure it had a lot to do with the fun group I was with, but know it would be nice even in a different group. I would definitely do it again. No photos were taken, to preserve my phone from taking a dip in the river, but I'm sure you get the idea.

So there you go, I am going full on Texas, y'all. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose. Oh wait, that's just Friday Night Lights ;)

6.23.2014

8 weeks later

Happy summer!!
8 weeks ago, I started my very first Tone It Up bikini series. I had known about the TIU girls for years, and have been following them on social media and even watched their Bravo reality show. One time, I even signed up for a challenge and got all the emails, but never did a single workout. I knew I needed extra accountability, so I created a FB group, and a new instagram account just for my food and workout check ins. Both would go on to be invaluable to me.
Little did I know, this series would really change so much more than I expected.
Sure, the workouts were tough, but I was able to fit them in the majority of the time, or make up for a missed workout the next day. The weekly schedule was perfect for always giving me something to do. I loved that I was motivated to get a cardio session in every day by the #150bysummer goal, and the workouts themselves were usually under 30 minutes, so I could easily fit them into my day. Don't mistake a short workout as being easy--they usually kicked my booty and had me dripping sweat. I loved that they packed a big effort into a short amount of time.
The thing that surprised me the most, was the community. Other TIU girls were so incredibly supportive during every day of this series. People from all over the world were liking and commenting on my check in photos, and I even got together with some of the TIU Austin girls for a stand up paddle boarding meet up. There were so many mornings that I didn't want to get up to run or do my daily work out, but scrolling through my Instagram feed gave me the happy motivation I needed to get out bed and out the door. Without those girls who were so awesomely doing their own bikini series, I don't think I would have successfully completed the series.

And successfully complete it I did. I didn't take measurements at the start of the series, but I did track my weight every day, just to keep an eye on what would make me retain water (hint: it's sugar and carbs, or eating a lot late at night). In the end, I lost 14.5lbs! That's pretty awesome for 8 weeks.

I still feel like I have a ways to go, so I am going to continue following the TIU schedule that is out every Sunday, or restart the bikini series today for another go at 8 weeks of booty kicking. If you want to join me, I would love it!

Here are my progress photos. I've definitely been smaller in the past, but I am happy with this for what I have done and what I have planned.

6.17.2014

Tasty Tuesday: almond butter yogurt bowl

Here's a delicious, filling, protein packed treat that pretty much anyone can enjoy. You can change ingredients to suit your tastes and needs, so feel free to make this your own. It's super easy to throw together when a sweets craving hits, or when you just want a healthy snack.
Happy Girl Yogurt Bowl
Ingredients
1/2 cup nonfat Greek Yogurt, I used plain Fage
1 tbsp almond or peanut butter
1 dash cinnamon
1 tsp agave syrup
1 banana
4 strawberries, sliced

Directions: Place yogurt, nut butter, cinnamon, and agave into a small bowl and mix together. Top with sliced bananas and strawberries. Enjoy the heck out of your delicious treat.

My bowl ended up being just over 300 calories, with 14 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber. Not bad! You can use coconut or soy yogurt, any nut butter you like, and any fruit that sounds like a good addition. You can skip the agave, or use honey or stevia as your sweetener instead. Pumpkin pie spice would probably be a fantastic trade off for the cinnamon. It's an extremely versatile dish that can be changed so many ways, so feel free to experiment and find what works for you.

6.07.2014

I ate Dallas

This is the story of how I ate all the things this week. Just kidding. I really wanted to eat even more things, but this TIU bikini series has given me a small measure of self control that was bent a lot, but not broken.

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, and haven't been deterred by my less than stellar posting habits, you may remember that I lived with my friend Kate for a month before moving to Austin. Well, it turns out that Kate and her husband, and her precious little baby bump, will be following my lead and moving to Texas next month! Unfortunately not to Austin, but close enough in Dallas.

I met up with Kate in Dallas on Monday for a few days of apartment hunting and girl time. We spent our first few hours following a Realtor around, checking out some townhouses and being less than impressed with his professionalism, but it was a good start. Kate introduced me to one of her favorite chicken places, Zaxby's, that is plentiful in Atlanta where she is from, but is scarce elsewhere. I really, really wanted to just get all sorts of yummy fried chicken, but I opted for a grilled chicken salad and knew I was missing out.

A short siesta at the hotel followed, and then excitement happened! Amber, of Brunch with Amber blog fame, showed up to get a hair cut from me. Yup, if I am in your city, you better believe I am willing to meet up and do a little hair. Amber is so sweet and wanted to donate hair to the Children with Hair Loss Foundation, and I am all about helping people donate to charities, especially when it benefits those who have lost hair for some reason. Amber's hair was long. Like looooong. Minimum donation is 8 inches, but we got 10 inches and still had plenty of length to achieve the style she wanted.
Seriously, how cute is Amber? And how awesome is she for donating her hair to such a great cause! I highly recommend looking into great charities like CWHL if you would like to donate your own hair.

Much chatting, good belly laughs, and fun was had by Amber, Kate and I, until Amber had to head home. Kate and I decided to check out Northpark Mall, where there is a Kate Spade store that my own Kate, who works for KS back in CA, wanted to visit. I should have been smart and stayed away. I went in blindly, having no previous knowledge of Kate Spade goodness.

Y'all. My eyes have been opened.

I need more Kate Spade in my life. It's an expensive new addiction, and it won't be completely scratched. Ever.

We found ourselves at the Kona Grill happy hour, where we enjoyed all sorts of goodies before calling it a night.

Day 2 had me up early, using the hotel gym to get 3 miles in on the treadmill and a Tone It Up workout before we started our day. Which was visiting a local ENT to check out Kate. It was sad folks. Poor Kate's ears never cleared after her flight to Dallas, having had to pressurize twice from a layover. Turns out that 5 months preggo Kate had a double ear infection, sinus infection, and bronchitis. Serious trooper, right there. She had to have a double myringotomy, which is a fancy way of saying the doctor poked holes in her ear drums to relieve pressure and help them drain. Ouch. Some antibiotics and a change to her return flight, and on she went. Total badass right there.

We met up with an apartment locator, Beverly of Dallas Apartment Locators, and toured a few properties and had the best time. I highly recommend using Beverly if you are looking for a place to live in Dallas. She was a breath of fresh air after our previous day's experience with a Realtor. I will end my review there, or else this will feel like a Yelp review, and you better believe I am going to give her a glowing review!

We grabbed Pinkberry, took a little nap, then ventured out to Trinity Groves to have dinner at LUCK (Local Urban Craft Kitchen) thanks to a Yelp scan.The food was amazing. We started with tempura battered fried green tomatoes with chili aioli and Texas caviar (get in my belly), and Kate had pot roast and brussel sprout hash, while I got pan seared mahi mahi with quinoa tabbouleh. The service was a little slow for an unknown reason, so while we got our appetizer before our drinks, it took another 45 minutes to get our entrees. Our server was very friendly and quite chatty, so he felt bad our food took forever and gave us free dessert--apple fritter funnel cake for Kate, and chocolate chip brownie for me. Free dessert? Of course I ate it, even though it was in no way Tone It Up approved! I was super sugar high after eating just half that dessert, my heart hammering well into the night haha
Wednesday I again hit the gym for 4 miles on the treadmill and a few TIU workouts. We had plans to head to the super cute Konx street so Kate could meet up with the Kate Spade store manager of that neighborhood store for a little meet and greet-- or so we thought. Knox reminded me a lot of Campbell, where my CA salon is located, so I loved hanging out. Turns out Kate pretty much got herself a job at that store, and a promotion, to boot. It's not quite clear to us, and maybe not even official if it's true, but we both got the impression that our meet up turned into an unofficial interview. Funny that Kate had thought she would not be working when she got to Dallas, and now it looks like she will be the visual merchandising supervisor for Kate Spade on Knox!
We got a lunch recommendation for Sissy's Southern Kitchen, which we were more than happy to try. Another round of fried green tomatoes was had. What can I say? I'm totally in love with them. Fried okra also made it to our table, and became a new obsession as well. I opted for the purple hull pea patties, while Kate ordered the renowned fried chicken. We were both pleased, and quite full, from our delicious lunch. Definitely a must have if you are in Dallas. Sissy's has the cutest decor, from a china plate installation around mounted deer heads, to the coolest light fixtures and a side room that is all Victorian and amazing.
 Kate had changed her early Wednesday flight from Dallas, to a Thursday flight from Austin because of her ears, so I had a road trip buddy to accompany me back home. Kate was a great DJ, playing a fun mix of music ranging from Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, to Kacey Musgraves. We even stopped in Waco to visit my friend Stephanie of the Vintage Modern Wife blog. I finally got to meet her cute puppy Pearl, and it was fantastic to catch up and introduce the two preggos while we were at it.

We made it back to Austin without incident, which is excellent in my opinion, and headed to dinner at Jack Allen's Kitchen in Round Rock, because obviously I needed more delicious food! We met up with some mutual friends of ours for a fantastic dinner and great conversation.

I was sad to see Kate leave early Thursday morning, but I am excited that she gets to be a permanent Texas resident in about a month's time! Now if only I can convince more friends and family to move out this way...

5.29.2014

Just so you know

Very exciting things are afoot for my little family. B and I hosted my father and brother in law for a few days so they could go house hunting in our area, and eat some yummy Texas BBQ while they were at it. After much Internet researching, open house viewing, model home stalking, and several days later, they picked a brand new development about a mile from my house! Now they just have to sell their homes in California, then build their new Texas homes. Should take awhile, but it's awesome they are starting on the road to moving out here. It will be wonderful to have family out this way. Billy especially has missed his family like crazy. They are really close, so it's been hard for him not to be able to see them regularly. Now he has a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, and can have a lighter heart knowing they will be out here soon. If all goes according to plan, that is. Never know what life can throw at you. But we're staying optimistic.
Julie Wilhite Photography, hair and makeup by Revelry Beauty (me!!)
Wedding season is in full swing, with a busy summer ahead. It's not 45 weddings crazy like last year, but it's busy enough for me. I am traveling a whole lot more this year for weddings, which takes up more time and resources. I am so thrilled to know I will be a part of some of my friends' weddings that I otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity to.I'm looking at heading back to CA in June and again in July, Detroit, MI area in August, and Atlanta, Georgia in September. I've never been to Michigan, and it's been over twenty years since I visited Atlanta, so I am really looking forward to my brief moments of traveling to those locations.
I am still feverishly searching for a great vacation deal to somewhere warm with a nice beach that stays in budget. I kind of wish Austin had a larger airport, because the flight options are on the poor side, and require multiple connections or very expensive tickets to make it to the destinations I am researching. If you know of something affordable, warm, and beachy, let me know! I am literally open to anything  that hits those requirements, from South Texas along the Gulf, Florida, anything in the Caribbean, and Mexico. Cruises, too! All inclusive resorts are ideal, but if they price is right, I don't even care about that.
I've had some fun creative stuff going on lately, too. I teamed up with AzulOx Visuals for a dark Victorian shoot yesterday. Josh even shot some video of the shoot, which you can see below. It was really cool to work on something outside the normal bridal realm for a change. Josh definitely challenges me to think outside my boxes, which I appreciate! He's an amazing photographer, for weddings especially, so if you are in the Austin area and need photos, he's your guy.

Other than work stuff, I have been going strong on the Tone It Up Bikini Series, having lost 10 pounds in 5 weeks. It is so nice to see the real-time results, which keeps me motivated. I am struggling, though. I learned the importance of  a proper schedule and getting enough sleep. While family was in town, my sleep was little, and all over the place. That made me really tired and not want to work out. Being tired made me crave sweets and carbs for quick energy, and made it hard to get everything I needed to do and eat in, while encouraging laziness. Now that family has gone home, I need to work on getting myself back on a proper sleep schedule, and hit those workouts hard, since I only have 3 weeks of the program left. I can power through this and see even better results.

I was talking about what I will do once the program is over, and I decided to just restart it , or at least one of the other TIU free programs, so I can keep up a schedule and have something to guide me. I know myself. I would just flail and falter once the program was over and I no longer had a schedule or specific workouts to work for. I don't want to undo 8 weeks of hard work.

So what's new with you? Are you vacationing anywhere this summer? How about work, anything new or exciting going on?

5.20.2014

Tasty Tuesday: Peanut butter and banana oat cookies


Y'all know I am a total cookie monster. Doesn't matter if it's fresh out of the oven, or 5 days old, chocolate chip, or oatmeal, I love me some cookies. Even when I am satisfying my sweet tooth in a healthy way, I still want cookies. Or cupcakes, but that's a whole 'nother post. Basically, give me a baked good, and I'm a happy girl. I digress. Back to those healthy cookies.

I've been fighting a sweets craving something fierce lately while on this TIU bikini series, and while I applaud myself for my restraint, I am still dying for something sweet to take the edge off. Last week, I finally allowed myself to experiment with some healthy cookies in hopes I could find something that would satisfy the craving, while not dumping me off the wagon. These did great! Chocolate chips, peanut butter, the lovely mouth feel of the oats...not bad at all. I had to put the rest in the freezer to get them out of my sight so I wouldn't eat the entire batch ;)
Healthy peanut butter and banana oat cookies
Ingredients:
3 cups old fashioned oats
2 ripe bananas
1 cup peanut butter (I used Jif reduced fat)
1/2 cup apple sauce (I used one Gogo Squeeze pouch)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life brand chocolate chunks which are dairy, soy, nut free)

Directions:
Heat oven to 350F. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick spray.
In a stand mixer, mash bananas with peanut butter, apple sauce and vanilla until creamy. Add in oats until combined. Add in chocolate chips.
Use a small cookie scoop to place 1 inch balls of dough on your cookie sheets. Smash down slightly with a fork. 
Bake for 15 minutes, and immediately transfer to a rack or onto a plate to cool.

I was able to make 50 small cookies, at 65 calories each. 
And just try not eating the dough, it was delicious before even being baked!

5.13.2014

Warm and tropical

I have been a mad fiend of vacation research lately. From all-inclusives, to cruises, I am Googling hotels, checking Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic reviews, and even pricing out airfare. All because I have a terrible travel bug that's itching to get somewhere warm and tropical. Mainly, the Caribbean, since being in Texas puts me much closer to those destinations than Hawaii. I am looking at Gulf Coast Mexico, the Bahamas, cruises that take you to several different stops, and more. I want soft sand, fruity drinks, and a very warm ocean and the breeze off of it to cool me down. 
Oh, and don't forget budget friendly. I do not have an unlimited amount of money to spend, and I still need to pay my bills when this vacation is over.
Now, I have only ever traveled to the Caribbean once, to Puerto Rico, and I have never taken a cruise. Here's where you come in: I need recommendations. Hotels, airlines, cruises, islands, excursions, the like. If you have been somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean and LOVED your experience, I want to hear it. I am flexible on travel times, and don't have my heart set on any one location yet, so we're open to all possibilities until one stands out above the rest.
Thought it changes with every new search I do, I am currently leaning toward a 7 night cruise out of Galveston. It saves on a plane ticket because we can drive there, and with 7 nights you hit up 3 different places. Cruises are appealing because they are (mostly) all-inclusive, so you don't have to worry about food, or planning transport to other areas, and offer a variety of things to do. Billy and I are VERY different travelers, so it would be nice to have options that appeal to both of us.
What I need to know is personal experiences with the different cruise lines, what you liked and didn't, the ports of call you visited, what you did while there, what to avoid or do...all of it.

Or, what all-inclusive or cheap resorts and hotels you have visited, and what your experience was like there. Basically, I want it all.

Tasty Tuesday: Black Bean Burgers

A few weeks back, Billy and I tried a new to us restaurant called Greenhouse Craft Food in Round Rock, TX. It's a locally sourced, seasonal kind of place, and everything we had was delicious! I had the chicken spring rolls for an appetizer, and the black bean burger for my main course. I've actually recreated both of those dishes now! The spring rolls I ate for three days straight and loved every minute of my first attempt at making spring rolls. Now I've tackled my first try at black bean burgers, and think it went over decently. I'll probably be tweaking the recipe each time I make it, but this was a good first shot!
photo via the foodie physician 
Black Bean Burgers
Ingredients for 6 burgers:
2 15oz cans black beans, drained, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 medium bell pepper, cut into pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup grated zucchini (squeeze the excess water out after grating)
1/4 cup grated carrot (squeeze the excess water out after grating)
1/2 cup corn
2 egg (for vegan option, use 1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp water for each egg)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup bread crumbs (or oats/brown rice/quinoa)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with non-stick spray.
Place beans, bell pepper, garlic, zucchini and carrot into a or food processor (or blender, like me, if you don't have a FP. Then swear like a sailor when you realize it would be easier if you did) and blend until it's the consistency of refried beans. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add spices, breadcrumbs and egg, stir to incorporate. Feel free to adjust the amount of breadcrumbs used to thicken the batter.
Use a spatula to divide the mixture into 6 parts, then form into patties and place on the baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes, flip (have fun with that!) and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Serve with your favorite burger toppings and sides!

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