Happy girls are the prettiest girls


3rd Blogiversary

December 31, 2010 I decided to create yet another blog. There had been many before it that had all failed for some reason or another. 
This one, I had hoped, would gain more traction. 
I would post more frequently. 
I would be able to make it more personal, and separate it from the "hair and makeup" blog I had been posting on previously. 
I was going to make more friends with this blog, too. 

My old unused blog is now a mess of broken links and empty photos that have since been removed from the original links I used. I haven't posted to it since August of 2011. I found a home on The Happy Girl Blog{a name I only coined this past year}, and I had no need of the old. I was moving forward. I managed to post pretty frequently {blogger says 211 times in 2011, in fact}, getting involved in blog hops and making friends in the blog world I wouldn't ever have had the privilege to know without this avenue. I also posted a lot of Audrey Hepburn quotes. 

I have leaned on this blog over the years, too. I found myself depending on the friendships, the public accountability to do what I said I would, and enjoying the safe space I had carved out to talk about my many fascinations, get real, or be as light and happy as I wanted to be. I may have drastically decreased my amount of posting thanks to spending so much time writing fiction and finally finishing a story idea or two early last summer. Add to that a giant cross-country move, and I was as good as done with blogging. I let it slip. Honestly, at one point it became so unimportant, I couldn't even get myself to read my friend's blogs, which I normally love. 

I knew I couldn't give it up completely, though. This blog keeps me honest with myself, and is a source of friendship that I can't let go of. I also knew I would be depending on my blog to help me transition into my new life in Texas. And thankfully, even though I am a terrible blogger, it has. I have already met some awesome ladies through blogging who have turned out to be really great in real life friends for me to lean on out here in Austin. Having people relatively local to me is amazing, as I crave the companionship, and don't have any other way to make friends yet.

So happy blogiversary to me and the Happy Girl Blog! 
We may have our ups and downs, but I am keeping it going, because I love it and I want more years together! Here's to another year of blogging, hopefully more consistently than 2013 ;)


Reflections and Resolutions

{{Greatest lesson}} Home is where your honey is. It doesn't matter that I am 1,700 miles away from my dear friends and family, the place I grew up, and everything that was comfortable; I still feel like I am coming home when I come back to Austin and my Billy. 

{{Hardest thing}} I think it's pretty obviously the move to Austin. Up and leaving my birthplace, walking away from a prosperous business I have spent the last 7 years building, and embracing the unknown was huge for me.

{{Favorite Memory}} Driving down the street to my very own house for the first time. It was surreal. Frankly, I still don't feel like it's real, but it is. We worked so hard for this, and never thought we would have a house like this, or really any house. I was so excited running inside the house for the first time, and knowing it was mine. *cue Gollum voice "my preccccciooouss"* Also, getting a new personal best half marathon time of 1:58! That was incredible.

{{What I learned}}  Don't be afraid to go after what you really want, even if it means leaving so much you have already worked for, and where you were complacent. Sometimes a change of scenery, job, relationship, can mean you open yourself up to even better opportunities and experiences. 

Looking forward to in 2014
{{Want to learn}} to eat clean and actually like it. HAH! That will be interesting.

{{Want to improve}} My average mile time for both running and cycling.

{{Goal}} Build my business to a level that supports my shopping habit. It doesn't have to be the same flourishing, crazy-busy business I had back home, but something that provides for me and my family. And the clothes, home furnishings and books I am constantly lusting after.

If you are having a hard time figuring out what you would like to focus on this year, this may help.


Celebrating the 1st anniversary of my 28th birthday

Celebrating an anniversary of a birthday is also known as denying that I am, in fact, getting older and closer to a number that I will never label myself as. Which is why instead of getting older, I am remaining 28. 29 year-olds are "almost 30". I will not be almost 30, or 30, or 31, or 32. I will stay 28 until I hit 33. I like that number, and think it's a good age to be in your 30's. Until then, 28 it is.

28 was good. It was the year of my golden birthday {28 on the 28th}. I bought a house. I hit a record number of booked weddings for my business {45!}. I won my 3rd straight The Knot Best of Weddings award. I ran my 4th, and fastest half marathon. So yes, I am remaining this age and can't wait to see what the 1st anniversary of my 28th year brings. 

Last year, Billy wrote a guest post in which he mentioned a move away from our families. Who would think that one year later, we would be living 1,700 miles away in a different state, in a house we own.  The year before that, he wrote a birthday haxx post, too. I decided to let him off the hook this year, and write my own birthday post :-p

Billy took the day off to spend my birthday with me, which is very sweet and awesome of him. We plan on going to see a movie and grabbing a fun dinner out, then having a few of B's co-workers and friends over to watch the UFC fights. Yes, watching fights is fun to me. Maybe not the most fun thing I can think of, but pretty darn entertaining. 
I decided I would make myself a chocolate angel food cake with whipped cream and strawberries as my birthday cake. Pinterest made me do it. I mean, look at that photo. I can't promise mine will look anything like that, but it's the basis for what I want to eat. Too bad strawberries aren't in season. 

Now go and have fun on my birthday!!


Christmas cracker tag

Casey and Sarah over at Real Suburbia are trying to get me to be a better blogger and tagged me in their Christmas Cracker post. I don't mind, it gives me a reason to blog, and I happen to like those ladies a lot.
Enjoy a little Q&A fun!

One: My Christmas list was unusual this year. Being so far from home, and not getting to spend time with our families, B and I did not make any lists. Normally I send my Amazon list to everyone and hope for the best. In years back, I would create a list for each part of the family so there wouldn't be any overlap. My family knows to stick to the list in order to make me happy. I am a bit of a control freak in that way.
Two: Christmas day B and I plan on sleeping in until whenever we decide to get out of bed, then mosey out to open the small amount of gifts I brought back from our family on my weekend trip to San Jose. I think I'll make breakfast and we will lounge around like it's just another day off. We wanted to go see a movie, either The Hobbit, or American Hustle, at one of the dine-in theaters around here, but it looks like most of the showings are either fully sold out or so full we'd be sitting in the very front row. Not really our style. We might find a regular movie theater, but after going to the fancy dine-in one, we are spoiled.
Three: It is Christmas Eve, and I still owe my little sister and my sister-in-law gift cards. I am thinking of just sending them virtual gift cards tonight.
Four: I. Hate. Surprises. Billy says it's stupid to surprise me because I'm so picky, and I hate them.
Five: I put up the tree on Black Friday. I bought a small fake tree for my apartment a few years back, and replaced it with a large fake tree this year. I like to keep the tree lit as long as possible, it makes me happy. I do take the tree down around New Year's though, it's the one Christmas-y thing I like on my birthday.
Six: Leggings and a comfy t-shirt! It's jammies all day with B and I, unless we decide to go out for a movie. 
Seven: Boxing day is December 26, and I do believe Ms. Casey and I will be hitting up Costco to load up on healthy food for our transition into healthy eating. We are going hard on 2014, and starting early. 
Eight: I can't remember when I stopped believing in Santa, but it had to be pretty early, like first grade or so? I had older family members who sucked the fun out of everything. Also, I have always hated surprises, and would hunt down the presents "from Santa" that my mom hid. It wasn't hard to figure out that Santa was just my parents.
Nine: I love the Nordic Pine scented soy candle from Target. It makes my fake tree smell fresh! I also love pumpkin scented candles all year long, they're delicious. 
Ten: Christmas is a really tough holiday for me, and not my favorite by any means. I struggle with my December funk, my birthday being overshadowed, and usually hate the stress it puts on me. I think my favorite part {and also the worst part} is the month long sweets binge that becomes not only allowable, but also encouraged. I am also a fan of going to a movie on Christmas, but I don't do it every year
I would like to tag:
Jessica and Laurie @ Ruthie and Rose

Can't wait to read your answers, ladies!

Here are the questions, for your copy & paste pleasure:

One: What’s on your Christmas list?
Two: What’s on your Christmas Day agenda?
Three: How much Christmas shopping have you done?
Four: What’s been your biggest ever surprise gift?
Five: When do you usually put up your Christmas tree?
Six: Do you have a special outfit planned for Christmas Day?
Seven: Do you have any plans for Boxing Day?
Eight: When did you stop believing in Father Christmas?
Nine: What’s your favorite Christmas scent? (Candle/Perfume)
Ten: What do you love most about Christmas?


Tasty Tuesday: Ranch chicken and veggies

It has been absolute ages since I last posted a recipe for Tasty Tuesdays, and since I have a few minutes before it's technically Wednesday, I needed to get this in. It was that good. Cassie hasn't been posting her Tasty Tuesdays either, but maybe this will be the push she needs to get back to telling us about her own kitchen adventures!

Ashley, over at Our Own Ordinary is my new Instagram buddy, thanks to randomly commenting on a photo I took of a sign that Wizard's Academy out near Driftwood, Texas. She actually got married there recently, and wanted to let me know. Fast forward to today, when I finally clicked her blog link in her IG profile, and there it was, the inspiration for my own dinner, her recipe for rosemary roasted chicken and veggies. Y'all, it looks delicious in it's own right, and had me thinking about how I could get crafty with what I had on hand.

Then I went to my new favorite place ever, the HEB grocery store, and spent a wonderful hour piling my cart high with all sorts of amazing yumminess. If you are not from Texas, you have no idea what you are missing. In short, HEB is a mega grocery store chain native to Texas, and has everything from your normal groceries, to electronics, to garden stuff. It's ridiculously amazing. I mean, what other grocery store lets you sample cheese and crackers, and do wine tastings in the store?! I absolutely got all of my ingredients from my local HEB, all fresh and awesome.
I digress. Back to the recipe! Chicken thighs make this juicy, tender, and so flavorful. You can also use chicken breast, but I think thighs are more delicious, and cheaper too! The ranch seasoning is such an easy addition that gives a great pop of flavor with hardly any work. The veggies fill you up and make you feel healthy. I swear, this is the perfect weeknight recipe to throw together, with such a satisfying result.

Happy Girl Ranch Chicken and Veggies

  • 1lb boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets, trimmed of fat
  • 1 packet Ranch seasoning mix
  • 6 baby potatoes {or 2 russets, a handful of red, any potato you like, etc.}
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped into chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into chunks
  • 1 cup sliced baby portobella mushrooms {I felt like adding some fun{gi} to the mix, you can omit if you don't like 'em}
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat, and coat with non-stick spray or 1 tbsp on evoo.
  2. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray, and throw in your chopped veggies. Sprinkle half the Ranch packet and the remaining evoo over the veggies, then toss to coat. Stick in the oven to roast while you work with the chicken.
  3. Sprinkle the rest of the ranch seasoning on the front and back of your chicken thighs. Place in the heated skillet and brown both sides, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Remove the veggies from the oven and place your browned chicken on top, then return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until your chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender. 
  5. Serve with a salad, another veg, or your favorite side dish. It will be delicious, and you will pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
My fitness pal says it's about 312 calories per serving, and serves 4 with the way I made it. Not too shabby! 
I most certainly followed up this healthier dinner with a big slice of the chocolate bundt cake I made earlier! It was amazing. I have a similar recipe that you can use, here!


the December funk

If you have been following me for the last few years, or happen to know me in person, you might have noticed that December is a hard month for me. I generally get a little sad and melancholy, anti-social, and just funky. 

The earliest I can remember this happening was my senior year of high school, so 2002. I know, that was so long ago, but that's where this has to start. I remember the days leading up to Christmas lacking any sort of happiness, my irritability levels were off the charts, and I was so blah that the idea of hanging out or even talking to people made me want to just crawl back in bed and not wake up until the next day. My friend Josh diagnosing me with having some form of SAD over AIM all the way from Portland. AIM was big back then, do you remember it? I had never heard of SAD, but he had, thanks to being from the wet and dark Pacific Northwest. 

I just think I had grown tired of sharing my birthday with the attention hogs known as Christmas and New Year's Eve.  My birthday falls smack in between them both, 3 days after Christmas, and 3 days before NYE. Not a fun place to have a birthday. Your friends are out of town, your birthday presents get lumped in with the Christmas gifts, and a card always explains them as a 2-for-1 deal, like "haha, isn't this neat? We got you one present for both!!" Or your well-meaning relatives casually wrap a birthday gift in Christmas wrap. I am sure other December babies feel me on this one. I just didn't want to deal with it anymore. I have tried celebrating my half birthday instead, but it's not the same. You try celebrating your birthday on any other day and tell me how odd that feels. I shouldn't have to. 

Back to the December funk. It comes around every year, like it or not. This year was no exception. Last Monday I didn't want to wake up. I finally dragged myself out of bed around 11, then sat on the couch for hours and had absolutely no motivation to do anything. I finally dressed and managed to get myself out of the house on the hunt for groceries and to run errands, but it took such a physical effort, I was exhausted. While in the car, I had inexplicable tears pricking my eyes. I kept from crying, just barely. I couldn't tell you why I was feeling this way, just that I had such an ache all over. I made dinner, and tried to hold back the tears when B got home. Eventually, I just bawled my eyes out, holding him around the neck while he patted my back and told me to let it out. He understands. He's seen me at my best, and my worst. He knows my funk well, having been around me for 10 Decembers now. 

Billy thinks this year is worse than others because I am homesick for California, missing my friends, and not able to self-medicate with retail therapy like I normally do. He wasn't weirded out that I was a sobbing mess, extra clingy, and not sure how to make it better. He just loved on me extra hard and calmly took my mess in stride.

Thankfully, on Tuesday I met up with two new friends who made me so happy to be meeting people in the area. Irene and Jess are two fabulous ladies who recently relocated to Austin from Madison, WI, and were sent my way as friend material by my beloved friend Anne. Anne was right in thinking we could mesh. I left dinner {and 3 hours of non-stop chatting} that night with a full heart, and much less sadness. I again met up with Irene and Jess on Thursday when I went over to cut Jess's hair before their Vegas trip. My first meeting feelings that they are both sweet, genuine and fun girls was stoked as they welcomed me into their home, and raved over the Christmas goodies I baked, the little faux Christmas tree I am lending them, and the bag of Vegas appropriate clothes and accessories I brought for their trip. Irene and I grabbed lunch after sending Jess back to work, and I could feel the funk lifting with proximity to awesome new friends. 

Saturday I met even more girlfriends when I attended the Ruthie and Rose holiday blogger meet up.  {More on that, later!} I met Jessica and Laurie, the awesome girls behind Ruthie and Rose, Casey from Real Suburbia, and my instagram buddy Stephanie of The Vintage Modern Wife at a sweet little cafe in San Marcos before outlet shopping. Spending time with more awesome ladies really made me snap out of my funk and I hope it stays away.  

Next weekend I will be back in San Jose, visiting "home", seeing my friends, heading up to San Francisco for a birthday party, and doing a little hair and makeup for a family photo session. I know that this trip will fill me up with love and send me back to Texas either feeling content, or make me even more homesick. We shall see!


Guest room #1

Oh, hey there! I once again slipped out of blogging mode and disappeared on you. I'd like to blame it on being so busy that I couldn't sit for a moment to type out a 'hello', but that simply isn't true. I'm just a bad blogger haha!

I would like to tell you that I have completed all the painting that was required to rid the Ugly Duckling of its yellow feathers, but there is still one guest room that has not been painted. I had put all of my paint supplies away last week after I finished the main rooms and hallways, and could shut the doors on the last remaining yellow. I then proceeded to sit on my bum for a few days, and started to feel real useless. To give myself a project again, I dragged the ladder and all my supplies out of the garage and tackled one of the guest rooms. 
I even had some fun before I finished painting.
I was stumped for a bit on what color to paint this room. I don't have any decor picked out for it, so there was really nothing to go on. I have been put on a spending freeze, thanks to my hubby reacting to my overzealous desire {and spending} to make the house a home, so I couldn't go pick out anything, or buy new paint. I had to make due with what I had on hand. Which happened to be a half gallon of my French Silver paint that I had hated in the great room, and a bunch of samples and trim color. I ended up pouring some Arctic White into the silver, and adding a good dollop of Wet Asphalt {a very dark gray}. Stirring it up, I was happy that is was lighter than the French Silver, but with a new bluish undertone. 
Today, I set to work putting together our old bed frame {dear God, why do you make IKEA so attractive with inexpensive prices, yet so hard to put together and take apart over time?} With the help of my handy drill and some new hardware, the bed feels rock solid. We plan on moving our queen mattress into this room once we upgrade to a king, but for now, the aerobed will have to do. I moved our bookcase into the guest room, and finally unpacked my multiple boxes of books. I even dug out some framed photos and hung them, completing the first room in this house. 
These two girls were sure enjoying the bed, and didn't lift a paw to help as I hung pictures. After I hung the photos, I realize I have a preference for trios. I have 3 lanterns on top of the bookshelf, 3 vertical photos next to the bookshelf, and 3 rows of photos on the other wall. Well, 3 is my favorite number. I guess it comes out subconsciously in my decorating haha!

I found it pretty funny that a theme sort of evolved, without me even trying. The gray-blue wall color, the dark gray bedding, and black furniture and frames give the room a slightly masculine, and calming feel. 

I plan on painting the other guest room today, which is also the cat room and my someday office. It will end up being a light sea foam green, and I am planning on white accents. It will be the more feminine counterpart to the room next door.

Now I have to stop watching the Pioneer Woman Cooks, and get to painting! Oh, and babying my little Sadie, who somehow ripped one of her claws low enough to bleed, and is not a happy puppy. 

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