Happiness Is…

Happiness is FRIDAY!  After a week where we all battled with different allergy/cold issues, I can honestly, sincerely say, “TGIF!”

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Happiness is fall.  It officially arrives tomorrow, and I am beyond excited.  When I saw pumpkins at HEB, I was taking pictures and smiling like a crazy woman.  And, as my dear husband so fondly pointed out, “Is that really any different than any other day.”  I love you for loving my craziness, Sean!

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Happiness is TWO soccer games tomorrow.  I am not so happy about the early 8 AM one, but I am still thrilled that I get to see my oldest baby play in two games.

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Happiness is Mr. Bear.  Summer brought home the class bear on Wednesday, and he made himself at home very quickly.  Ethan had brought him home a few times when he was in Kindergarten, so Mr. Bear knew his way around. Seeing my little girl beaming while she played dress-up, read books, did homework, and had dinner with Mr. Bear just filled my heart with joy.

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Happiness is celebrating birthdays.  Always.  I celebrate them for my littles…and I celebrate them for me, too.

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Happiness is a sweet husband who knows how to help out and pick up the slack now that I am working and attending meetings during the week.  I love that I can find little things done like the bed made, kitchen cleaned, or homework finished because he values what I do both in our home as a wife and mom and outside of our home as a substitute teacher and parent.

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Happiness is teachers.  I have always, always loved them.  And, now that I am in many classrooms each week, the appreciation level that I have for them has gone up about a billion degrees.

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Happiness if granola.  I eat it probably more than I should.  Sometimes I have yogurt and granola for both breakfast and lunch.  It is quick, easy, and healthy.  When I saw Averie Sunshine’s pumpkin granola this week, I just about did a happy dance.  I worked half a day yesterday, and instead of resting like I was supposed to do, I was in the kitchen making this granola.  Was it worth sacrificing a nap?  Absolutely!

Have a happy, happy weekend!

Happiness Is…Recipe: Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie

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Happiness is birthday celebrations.  One last night, one this Sunday, and another one next Sunday.

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Happiness is flowers. My girl loves picking them, and we both love buying fresh ones from the store.

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Happiness is memories…especially ones associated with food, family, and fun.

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Happiness is healthy children.  After a week of one after the other getting sick, everyone was healthy this week.

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Happiness is having so many people on Team Ethan who truly believe in him.

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Happiness is a weekend of working in the yard, soccer, birthday parties, and family in town.

Happiness is this delicious Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie. I am not sure where the recipe originated because we have been making a version of it since I was a child.  We typically used canned pie filling, but I forgot to buy it at the store.  So, I made my own strawberry filling this time.  And, it turned out just as great.  One bite of this pie is pure happiness, especially when the pie is the dessert to celebrate a special birthday.

Mini Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie

Mini Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie

Ingredients

Cream Cheese Filling

1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 package cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Strawberry Glaze

1/2 cup strawberries, chopped

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon water

Crust

Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cookies

Instructions

    Preparing the Cream Cheese Filling
  1. Add the cream cheese and condensed milk to the mixer. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour in the vanilla.
  3. Slowly mix in the lemon juice.
  4. Continue to mix until smooth and combined.
  5. Strawberry Glaze
  6. Add the strawberries, sugar, and 1/2 cup water to a saucepan.
  7. Cook over medium high heat for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat to medium low.
  9. Mix together the cornstarch and water.
  10. Slowly add to the strawberry mixture, stirring quickly as it thickens.
  11. Immediately remove from heat.
  12. Refrigerate.
  13. Putting It All Together
  14. Place cupcake liners in muffin pan.
  15. Place a cookie on the bottom of the liner.
  16. Add a scoop of the cream cheese filling.
  17. Repeat with all 12 liners.
  18. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  19. Before serving, add the strawberry glaze to the top.
http://cookingformykids.com/2012/02/24/happiness-is-recipe-strawberry-cream-cheese-pie/
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Have a happy weekend!

 I shared this recipe at Dwell on Joy, Whipperberry, Rattlebridge Farm, 30 Days, Ladybird Ln., Crazy for Crust, Mrs. Fox’s Sweets, Jennifer Cooks, Alli ‘n Sons, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Something Swanky, It’s a Keeper, Fireflies and Jellybeans, Domesblissity, Tidy Mom, A Little Nosh and Mom Trends.

Happy Birthday, Emma! – Recipe: Halloween Monster Cookies

Nine years ago today, my youngest niece was born.  I had the honor of being in charge of my oldest niece, Kate, who was 2 1/2 years old at the time.  We got the call that Emma would be here any moment, and we rushed to the hospital.  Emma was born just before we arrived, and we got to meet her almost immediately.

I felt an immediate connection to her, and I think that part of it was because I, too, had a baby in my belly.  I held her and dreamed of my own baby, hoping that they would be the best of friends.  And, when Gabriel was born 5 1/2 months later, Emma was at the hospital to be one of the first people to meet him.

Fast forward 4 years later, and we are moving in next door to my sister.  Gabriel and Emma attended the same preschool and now attend the same elementary school.  They are cousins and friends, and it has been fun watching their relationship develop.

Emma is fun, spunky, creative, soft-hearted, and sometimes a little crazy (in a good way).  She can laugh at herself, which I have always thought is a great quality to have.  And, she is free-spirited, which leads her to do things that no one else would ever think to do…for better or for worse.  🙂

Happy Birthday, Emma!  I love you because you are my niece, but I also love you because you are a super-sweet girl with a fun-loving personality.  I like to think that Gabriel would have been friends with you even if he had not been cousins with you first.  I look so forward to continuing to watch the two of you have adventures, conquer challenges, and encourage and support each other all through life’s journeys.  Keep smiling, keep researching the big and the small thing, and keep being yourself…because that is just the way that God made you.

Emma (aka M&M), I thought of you when we made these cookies.

Adapted from The Sweet Adventure’s of Sugarbelle’s Halloween Monster Cookies

Halloween Monster Cookies

Halloween Monster Cookies

Ingredients

3 eggs

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups Sunbutter

1/2 cup canola oil

3/4 cups M&M’s

3/4 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup candy corn, finely chopped

4 1/2 cups cooking oats, gluten free

2 tsp baking soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Beat together eggs and sugars.
  4. Next add the salt, vanilla, oil, and sunbutter and whip until fluffy.
  5. Add the oatmeal and baking soda, then fold in the M&M’s, mini-chips and candy corn.
  6. Using a cookie scoop, drop onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes.
http://cookingformykids.com/2011/09/25/happy-birthday-emma/

Enjoy!