Monday, December 26, 2011

Diamond Candles

Christmas is a time to spend with family and friends. The anticipation is almost overwhelming. Even as a young adult, trying to sleep is hard knowing Santa will 'pitter patter' sometime before the morning. This Christmas was different for me. I got to spend it with my Knight-in-shining-armor and his family. He dazzled me with fine clothes and perfume. He knows me well, I'm a sucker for fragrance!! Amoung other things, I also got a Kindle Fire from my dad. This was a great surprise because now I can read and blog whenever I want (hence the format change). My Knights sister (we will call her Princess for identity's sake) got me a candle. Its not just any candle, inside there is a ring. The only thing is you have to burn the candle to get to the ring. It could be worth $10, $100, $500, or $5000. Its almost magical waiting to see what your ring looks like. The smell is amazing. I got cupcake and love it. What magic came your way this holiday season? For more information on these magical smell goods, visit

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sunshine in October

I heard on the radio this morning that the month with the best weather is October.  I can agree with that.  I love the autumn and everything that comes with it.  Light long-sleeved blouses, boots, endless list of corresponding attire.  There are other things to enjoy though.  Changing of the leaves, desserts that are inspired by the season (wink, wink).  There are so many things we look forward to during the fall.  The  best thing about moving into a season of color, though, is the cooler weather.  After spending three months (or longer in some cases) baking in the heat, the slightly less baking is usually welcomed with open, covered arms.  For most this is true, but we shouldn't forget about the one thing that made us so happy throughout the summer.

The sun.

It's warm rays shining down a few months ago are still here.  However it is that that mad science stuff happens, it does and we shouldn't neglect it.  I don't mean striping down to your ski bees and laying out in the grass with goosebumps.  Instead, try having a picnic.  You can do this in your boots after all.  

This isn't as fun as eating tons of food outside, but I'm going to read a book.  I love to read and doing it outside where it's not too cold or hot is quite nice.  Besides, I could use a little color on my face.

Go outside and get some sunshine.  While you’re out there soaking it all in, doodle all kinds of sunshiny prettiness here.  – The Happy Book

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Exploring Happy Meals, Part 3

In only a weekend, I've moved on from the FF combo.  For all you that don't might understand that lingo...Fried Food.  This is because, I was humored and inspired by a McDonald's employee.

hmmm...want to understand a little more why this might be the third successor to Happy Meals...proceed...

I pulled through McDonald’s all of 30 minutes ago and noticed the new Sweet Autumn shake. As someone who likes to try new things, I wanted to know what was in this mysterious dessert. So I asked. The reply was of no help; the woman I was speaking to said, “uh, it tastes like Autumn. Like Halloween.” I chose to go a different route this time, but curiosity takes on a whole new role with this one. I want to know, WHAT IS IN THIS THING? Before seeing exploring a little more, I looked at McDonald’s website and it said the following:

“Football, falling leaves, soccer, pumpkins, hay bales, volleyball, turkeys! These are some of our favorite things that remind us that FALL IS ALMOST HERE! And now, we have one more thing to add to our Fall Favorites: the New Triple Thick McCafe Sweet Autumn Shake! 

Our newest McCafe shake combines delectably creamy reduced fat ice cream with the fresh flavor of Autumn. And if that’s not good enough, we add whipped topping and a cherry. The McCafe Sweet Autumn Shake is only here for a limited time, so hurry in and try yours today!”

Can you see why I might still be skeptical? I did find a fellow blogger that mentioned a few ingredients…but I’d like clarity…and I need your help. 

What does Autumn taste like?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Exploring Happy Meals, Part 2: Fried Food

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted something.  Happy or not so much, I’ve neglected my audience… Forgive me. 

I’ve mentioned before that as a student, school occupies 99% of my time.
The other 1% is chopped up in so many other directions.
Still, I’ve thought of you often.
This has probably been the LONGEST running series in the history of successions!!  I started this as a means to explore what every American thoroughly enjoys and often indulge in…FOOD.  
As part 2 of the ‘ever so long’ came to me while pondering what my weekend might be like.
It just so happens that this time of year brings many things…the State Fair being one of them…and along with it…Fried Food.  This is probably the best F combination.  Fried Food.
 The theme for this year is: Find Your Happy.
I think they should have called it, Fried Food Fountain of Happy.
A little extreme, maybe?
Still, the actual theme fits.
Fried Food #1:   Fried Kool-Aid.
“[…] deep-fried Kool-Aid balls make all previous fried creations seems like pure child's play[…]” (

Stay tuned.  After taste-testing this weekend, the list will expand.
What’s your favorite fair food?  Fried or otherwise.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Exploring Happy Meals, Part 1

In Japan, lunch is an art.  You can make your own bento-style lunch for yourself (and your friends) with the same artistic flourishes.
While the Japanese term "bento" roughly translates to "box lunch" in English, this is not your average packed lunch. The goal with bento is to assemble a meal that is just as appealing to the eyes as it is to the taste buds. It's not uncommon for Japanese mothers to prepare an elaborate boxed lunch, playfully and creatively decorated, to entice their children to eat all of their food when they're at school. If you're sick of bringing a sloppy sandwich to work or you'd like your kids to look forward to opening their lunch box, there's a lot to be learned from the bento tradition.

Step 1:  Divide the meal proportionally—

When preparing bento, there are two ways to divide the food. You can stick to a 4:3:2:1 ratio (4 parts of rice, 3 parts of the side dish, 2 parts of vegetables, and 1 part of a serving of pickled vegetables or a dessert) or you can make a 1:1 ratio (1 part rice, 1 part side dishes, where the side dishes themselves contain a 1:2 ratio of meat to vegetables). You can follow one of these traditional layouts, or you can vary the ratio and substitute more familiar ingredients. The objective is to have a nutritionally diverse yet balanced meal.

Step 2:  Obtain a bento box which is divided into compartments reflecting the proper bento ratio

You may be able to find a bento box in an Asian food store or online. Keep in mind that in Japan, food portions are smaller than in the West. (This might be a good thing if you're trying to control your portion sizes, or it might be an inconvenience). If you can't find a bento box anywhere, you can improvise by using a square container and dividing the food creatively (e.g. with a dividing wall of baby carrots or saltine crackers). Muffin and cupcake cups also make great compartments.

Step 3:  Choose brightly colored food items—

The bolder and more solid the color, the greater the visual impact of your bento and the more nutritional benefits are conferred (at least when it comes to brightly colored vegetables). White rice, whole hard-boiled eggs, and cheese can add a nice contrast to your bento, especially when paired with bright orange, green, and red foods.

Step 4:  Pack the foods tightly in order, especially if your bento box does not have built-in compartments—

(This will keep the food from shifting around)

Rice (or other starch) is nearly have the meal; food items that are awkward in terms of shape or arrangement (e.g. a piece of chicken or a large dumpling) might have to go in first; food items that are flexible, such as potato salad or cut vegetables go in any large remaining spaces; small and sturdy items, like cherry tomatoes or small pudding containers, should fill in the gaps and accent the bento.

Step 5:  Create striking patterns and shapes with the food items and/or seasonings by using stencils—

(You can also decorate your bento according to a theme.  You can paint using food coloring mixed with cream cheese, butter, sour cream, or frosting.)

Keep the edges neatly defined.  Contrasting colors, textures and shapes should be placed next to each other, but similar ones should be separated.  Don’t let clashing flavors mingle (e.g. don’t put fried rice next to a pastry).

Make animal faces or other shapes with the food.  Two slices from a hard-boiled egg with a dot of paprika in the middle of the yolk can make a great pair of eyes.
Sprinkle seasonings and add garnish to emphasize the center of a section of food.
Cut fruit, vegetables, and cheese into shapes like stars, hearts, and diamonds with cookie cutters.

Put sauces or loose snacks into quirky containers. Small refillable sauce bottles made especially for bento can be purchased online.

Use your own creative ideas to spice of your lunch life. 
Make your own bento box.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Artistically the best

Is it true that a picture can actually say a thousand words?

In my case, it probably wouldn’t be true.  Most of my art includes paint and numbers.  My art probably says a hundred numbers, in numerical order!

At any rate, art is a fantastic way to pass the time and relieve some steam.

My best friend…
Ha, can you recognize this person?

Draw portraits of your best friend here—even and especially if you’re not an artist.  – The Happy Book

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

‘Take me out to the ball game; take me out to the crowd’

I am a fan of baseball.  It’s a great American sport; a sport that screams summer and patriotism.  After USC’s victory win, for the second year in a row, how can anybody around town not love baseball?

Well, you’re in luck.  The college season for baseball may be over but that doesn’t mean summer’s winding down. 

The Blowfish play tonight against the Florence Red wolves:

Location/Venue—Capital City Stadium

Address—301 South Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29201

Time—7:05 pm

Admission—Field Level Reserved Box Seats $7; General Admission (adults) $6; General Admission (kids, students, seniors, military with IDs) $5



Discount Beverage Night! $1.00 12oz suds and soda 6-8pm

Be a passionate fan for a day.  Attend a comic book convention, a pickle festival, a dog show – any place filled with people who find joy in a shared thing.  Post pictures and souvenirs here.  – The Happy Book

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Reminiscing through literature…so to speak

I love all kinds of books.  I can’t remember very many times when we would take afternoon trips to the library, but I can remember a few.  I cherish those moments.  Opening up old books, flipping through the pages, smelling the years, and wondering who else has touched this same book.  Opening up new books, feeling the delicate glossy cover and thinking ‘I’m probably the first person to hold this’.  Books are a huge part of my life.  I read them for pleasure and purpose.  It is a great means of escaping.  I can’t tell you how I became a reader or why.  I can only recommend some of my favorites!

 Where the Wild Things Are—the book tells the story of Max, who one evening plays around his home making "mischief" in a wolf costume. As punishment, his mother sends him to bed without supper. In his room, a mysterious, wild forest and sea grows out of his imagination, and Max sails to the land of the Wild Things. The Wild Things are fearsome-looking monsters, but Max conquers them by "staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once", and he is made "the king of all wild things", dancing with the monsters in a "wild rumpus". However, he soon finds himself lonely and homesick and returns home to his bedroom where he finds his supper waiting for him still hot.

Harriet the Spy—Eleven year old Harriet M. Welsch is an aspiring writer who lives in the Upper East Side of New York City. A precocious and enthusiastic girl, Harriet enjoys writing and she aspires to become a spy. Her best friends are Sport, who lives with his father, and Janie, who wants to be scientist. Most afternoons she follows her spy route and secretly observes her classmates, neighbors, and friends.
Harriet's routine life becomes chaotic when her parents attend a party. Ole Golly and her suitor, Mr. Waldenstein takes Harriet out for dessert and a movie. When they return home, they discover that the Welsch's have returned early to an empty house. When Mrs. Welsch attempts to fire Ole Golly, Mr. Waldenstein discloses to the Welsch's that he proposed to Ole Golly that evening and she has accepted. In an astonishing about-face, Mrs. Welsch exclaims: 'you can't leave, what will we do without you?!' Ole Golly replies that she had planned to leave soon because she believes it is time because Harriet is old enough to care for herself. Harriet is crushed by the loss of her nanny, who she was very close to.
Later at school, during a game of tag, Harriet loses her notebook. Her classmates find it and are appalled at the mean things she has written about them. For instance, she compares Sport to "a little old woman" for his continual worrying about his father. The students form a "Spy Catcher Club" in which they think up ways to make Harriet's life miserable, such as stealing her lunch, passing nasty notes about her in class and spilling ink on her.
Harriet regularly spies on them through a back fence, and concocts vengeful ways to punish them. She realizes the consequences of the mean things she wrote, but though she is hurt and lonely, she still thinks up special punishments for each one. After getting into trouble for some of her plans, Harriet tries to resume her friendship with Sport and Janie as if nothing ever happened, but they both reject her. Harriet spends all her time in class writing in her notebook as a part of her plan to punish the Spy Catcher Club. As a result of never doing her schoolwork, her grades suffer. This leads Harriet's parents to confiscate her notebook. Hearing of Harriet's troubles, Ole Golly writes to her, telling her that if anyone ever reads her notebook, "you have to do two things, and you don't like either one of them. 1: You have to apologize. 2: You have to lie. If she doesn't, she going to lose her friends.
Meanwhile, dissent is rippling through the Spy Catcher Club. Marion, the teacher's pet, and her best friend Rachel are calling all the shots, and Sport and Janie are tired of being bossed around. When they quit the club most of their other classmates do the same.
Harriet's parents speak with her teacher and the headmistress, and Harriet is appointed editor of the class newspaper. The newspaper—featuring stories about the people on Harriet's spy route and the students' parents—becomes an instant success. Harriet also uses the paper to make amends by printing a retraction, and is forgiven.

Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse— Lilly loves everything about school, especially her cool teacher, Mr. Slinger. But when Lilly brings her purple plastic purse and its treasures to school and can't wait until sharing time, Mr. Slinger confiscates her prized possessions. Lilly's fury leads to revenge and then to remorse and she sets out to make amends.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day— From the moment Alexander wakes up and finds gum in his hair, everything goes wrong! His brothers both get prizes in their cereal boxes, his best friend demotes him to third-best friend, there are lima beans for dinner, and there is kissing on TV. All kids experience this type of day, and will be glad to find they are not alone!

The Book Thief— It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

The Last Slice of the Rainbow— a series of children’s tales, ones they can get lost in and have a great deal of fun. Clem chases rainbows, makes a haggard old witch happy, and guides the reader into the next tale about a troll who wants nothing more than to steal a child’s bicycle and ride away, not into the sunset but into the path of a moving car! Just turn the pages to see how Joan Aiken sets that tale up right. A child born into royalty has no choice, and the tale of the Queen with Screaming Hair is no different. Whacking off a cat’s whiskers is mischievous, but what if the consequences are dire? In this case it was. Will little Christina learn to ignore her screaming, not so nice hair, or will she become a well-disciplined queen? This tale will keep any little girl hanging onto the edge of her seat. Haven’t you ever wished to have more than a memory when it comes to your childhood home especially if it was sold, leveled, or just doesn’t belong to you anymore? What if a piece of that property misses you too, and desperately? The tale of The Tree that Loved a Girl is just that. This tree is willing to give leaves, a branch, and perhaps its life to have the child dance under its branches happily once again. But what if the child can never go back again. Maybe she can’t, but the truth is, stories like these have magic that make the impossible something rich and favorable. What if you lose your legs in another tale? How will you catch them? The Last Slice of Rainbow is simply a collection of tales that will keep children in awe, and parents grateful that their child was entertained.

What books did you love as a child?  List them here, and then find them to read again.  (If you weren’t a reader as a kid, consider exploring the amazing world of kids’ literature now…the books are simply amazing, which makes us happy.) 
– The Happy Book

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Folks don’t be alarmed.  

You’ve had 25 days to prepare yourselves for this.  

No worries, the page is not having any connection problems.  

The site is not down.  I’m simply IN HAWAII!!!

Expect no more happy stories until after June 21st!  I’ll have plenty of material, pictures, tips, etc. upon my return!

ALOHA!!  (for real!)

A countdown to Hawaii: 1 stinkin day

Road to Hana

I love movies!!  But nothing could make me happier than to watch the road to Hana!

List your favorite happy movies here.  You can even break them down into categories – Favorite Movies from childhood, Funniest Movies, Sad Movies with the Happiest of Endings, Guilty Pleasures.  – The Happy Book

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A countdown to Hawaii: 2 days


Nine times out of ten, when someone says ‘guest list’, you think dinner party.  Let’s say, for an instant, that Haleakala allowed me to create the perfect guest list for a perfect hike…

Haleakala is a special place that vibrates with stories of ancient and modern Hawaiian culture and protects the bond between the land and its people. The park also cares for endangered species, some of which exist nowhere else. Come visit this special place - renew your spirit amid stark volcanic landscapes and sub-tropical rain forest with an unforgettable hike through the backcountry.

Lucky for me, my guest list is already created and already practically perfect in every way.  We have eight bags to pack, eight mouths to feeds, eight accommodations to make…  Before I introduce you…note, that the names are straight out of the baby’s mouth!!

The planning man and spear head on this possible best vacation ever, Daddy Verne!!  His Hawaiian honey (not Hawaiian, but they’ve been so many times, she mine as well be) Mama Marie, batted those pretty doe eyes until there were 6 excited (or almost excited) folks tagging along with her.  Little Man McGough…or baby!  No choice in the matter…but what would a vacation be, if you couldn’t experience it through someone so new to the world.  Papi, a little frightened but a historic buff none-the-less; who wouldn’t dare pass up a chance to see Pearl Harbor.  GG, a mom to all and is eager to see new things and try new things.  Aunt Aaee, free spirited and as lovely as a princess!  Uncle Mommy, my knight-in-shining armor, how could I not want him there.  And I was lucky enough to be invited…

The ninth and tenth, Uncle bubba and Aunt Amanda can’t join us…but we’ll oh-so be thinking of them and we’ll be sure to take LOTS and LOTS of pictures!!  Although ten would have been a more concrete number, eight has turned out beautifully. 

Two days left, and this fantastical guest list will hiking their way to paradise!

Create the perfect guest list for the most perfect dinner party you can imagine.  Let nothing – time, budget, space, or reasonableness – limit you.  On the seating chart, place your grandma next to Elvis.  Include Aristotle alongside your beloved kindergarten teacher.  Add more seats if you wish.  And plan your menu, with, of course, eight courses of dessert.  
– The Happy Book

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A countdown to Hawaii: 3 days

Discover Lahaina!!

Once known as Lele, which means “relentless sun” in Hawaiian, Lahaina is a historic town that has been transformed into a Maui hot spot with dozens of art galleries and a variety of unique shops and restaurants.

Once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the early nineteenth century, Lahaina was also a historic whaling village during the whaling boom of the mid-1800’s. Up to 1,500 sailors from as many as 400 ships took leave in Lahaina including Herman Melville, who immortalized the era in his classic novel Moby Dick.

Today, Lahaina is on the National Register of Historic Places. You can still get a feel for old Lahaina as you stroll down lively Front Street and visit historic stops like the U.S. Seamen’s Hospital, Hale Paaho (Lahaina Prison), the Pioneer Inn and other sites on the Lahaina Historic Trail. Approximately 55 acres of old Lahaina have been set aside as historic districts.

Lahaina’s sunny climate and oceanfront setting also provides the perfect backdrop for a variety of activities and entertainment. Get a fresh taste of Hawaii Regional Cuisine in Lahaina’s fine restaurants. Get your tickets to some of Maui’s best seaside luau where you can eat, drink and watch the traditional dances of Polynesia. The award winning show Ulalena at the Maui Theatre offers a Broadway-caliber production showcasing the culture of Hawaii.