Tag Archives: 20 days of happy

Twenty Days of Happiness Part 16: That Time I Was On Wheel of Fortune

There’s a scene in A Muppet Family Christmas where Ernie and Burt (from Sesame Street) have a conversation with Doc (from Fraggles) and Ernie and Burt can’t help pointing out what letter every word begins with.  “Bunk beds: B words!” they say as Ernie chortles.  When Doc looks at them askance they explain, “Where we come from, this is small talk.”  My sister once said that the scene reminded her of our family — except that complaining, not letters, are our family’s small talk.  It’s not that we are unhappy people.  We just like to air our grievances.  But sometimes it’s good to air positive feelings too and that’s just what I plan to do.  In this 20-part series, I focus on the many reasons I have to be happy.

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Look Mom, We’re On TV!

At this time two years ago, I was working long hours at the Los Angeles office of a law firm that was in a downward spiral.  Objectively, I knew I was lucky to have a “good” job where I had many friends.  But the constant undercurrent of negativity that existed because of the firm’s precarious financial situation was still taking a toll.  In the evenings, I would put my son to bed and switch on the TV just as Wheel of Fortune came on.  I would call out letters and puzzle solutions and think to myself, “I could totally do this.”  I imagined winning big in the Bonus Round and using my winnings to fund a move back to the East Coast.

Finally, I visited the Wheel of Fortune website and filled in the contestant application.  A few months later, I got an email inviting me to an audition.  In small print, the email said that I was welcome to bring a friend along and audition as a team.  I invited my husband.  We called out letters, jumped up and down and clapped, then held our breath as the names of those who made it to the final round of auditions were announced.  We made the cut and had the chance to play a simulated game.  Again, we enunciated and smiled, but we failed to solve a single puzzle. Surely a bad sign?

Months passed.  One day as I was sitting in my office, I came to the decision that it was time to give notice and move back to the East Coast — with or without the benefit of game show winnings (and without my next job lined up). A few weeks later, the movers came and packed up our apartment.  My son and I took a cross-country flight while my husband and the dog made the long drive in our car.

We took time off.  We traveled.  We spent time with family. Eventually, I found a job in Boston and we moved again.  We found a great apartment.  My job was interesting.  My son and husband were happy. Life was good.

Then, just before Christmas, I checked my voice-mail and heard the familiar click, click, click of the big wheel.  “Hi, this is Gary from Wheel of Fortune.  Please give me a call back.” For the next hour, I debated whether the message was an elaborate scam to obtain my personal information.  Surely, it couldn’t actually be a legitimate call from The Wheel of Fortune after all this time. But, in the end, my curiosity won out.

And that is how – last month – my husband and I found ourselves on a plane headed back to L.A. for the first time in more than a year.

Our episode airs this Monday, February 15.

To Be Continued . . .

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Twenty Days of Happiness – Part 16 – It’s My Party and I’ll Eat Rum-Spiked Pancakes If I Want To

There’s a scene in A Muppet Family Christmas where Ernie and Burt (from Sesame Street) have a conversation with Doc (from Fraggles) and Ernie and Burt can’t help pointing out what letter every word begins with.  “Bunk beds: B words!” they say as Ernie chortles.  When Doc looks at them askance they explain, “Where we come from, this is small talk.”  My sister once said that the scene reminded her of our family — except that complaining, not letters, are our family’s small talk.  It’s not that we are unhappy people.  We just like to air our grievances.  But sometimes it’s good to air positive feelings too and that’s just what I plan to do.  In this 20-part series, I focus on the many reasons I have to be happy.

Two Birthdays Worth Celebrating

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Between my husband’s birthday, my birthday and Mother’s Day, May is pretty much a non-stop celebration in our house and that’s definitely something to be thankful for. This year, being back in Boston after a nearly 10 year absence made our birthdays extra special.  I kicked my day off by making Tiramisu Pancakes from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts.  I’ve had my eye on this recipe since I bought the book. Pancakes packed with rum, coffee and chocolate chips are not your everyday pancakes, but they were perfect for a special birthday breakfast — especially topped with whipped cream.  (I substituted soy milk for the water, but otherwise made the recipe as written).

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We spent the day exploring the harbor area and Greenway.  When you look at the sparkling harbor and ribbons of park land, it’s amazing to think that one was formerly a Superfund site and the other a highway.  (The Big Dig was actually still going on when we moved to Los Angeles in 2005, so the way that the Greenway used to look is fresh in my mind).

We celebrated my husband’s birthday with a night out with friends and a s’mores cake.  I used the recipes for s’mores cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World to make a 2 layer cake filled with ricemellow cream and chocolate chips and topped with vanilla buttercream and graham cracker crumbs.

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20 Days of Happiness – Part 14 – Lentil Sunflower Pie

There’s a scene in A Muppet Family Christmas where Ernie and Burt (from Sesame Street) have a conversation with Doc (from Fraggles) and Ernie and Burt can’t help pointing out what letter every word begins with.  “Bunk beds: B words!” they say as Ernie chortles.  When Doc looks at them askance they explain, “Where we come from, this is small talk.”  My sister once said that the scene reminded her of our family — except that complaining, not letters, are our family’s small talk.  It’s not that we are unhappy people.  We just like to air our grievances.  But sometimes it’s good to air positive feelings too and that’s just what I plan to do.  In this 20-part series, I focus on the many reasons I have to be happy.

Reunited And It Feels So Good

My Facebook feed is full of #100happydays posts.  Since appreciating one’s good fortune is apparently super trendy right now, I thought it was the right time to finish my 20 Days of Happiness series.  I started celebrating the little things that make me happy back in October 2013, way before it was cool.  I assume it’s only a matter of time before the Today show takes notice.

Since my last 20 Days of Happiness post, so much has changed.  Although I’ve talked a little bit about those changes in previous posts, a little recap will make this post more coherent.  A year ago, I was living in Los Angeles and working for one of the largest law firms in the country.  As the firm continued to do worse and worse financially, it became less and less pleasant to work there.  The more unhappy I was at work, the more difficult it became for me to justify living thousands of miles away from my family and close friends. Eventually, I realized that I had nothing to lose by quitting (except my salary, of course) and potentially lots to gain.  I gave notice and we hastily packed up and moved across the country.

The original plan was to take some time off to travel and give thought to careers outside the law.  That plan changed when I had the opportunity to interview for a clerkship (job assisting a federal judge).  Although the judge ultimately hired someone else, she was incredibly encouraging and generously offered to help me look for other legal jobs.  With the judge’s feedback and the encouragement of the many wonderful mentors I’ve had throughout my career, I decided to give the whole lawyer gig another shot.  After a few weeks relaxation, I started looking for a legal job here in New York.

To save money during my job hunt, we are staying with my parents and most of our things are staying in a nearby storage unit.  Last week, though, I had a bit of good luck.  My husband decided he could not live any longer without our television and we made a visit to the storage unit to search for it.  We did not find the TV, but we did find most of my missing cookbook collection.  I now have all but about 20 books — and the 20 missing books are mostly vintage books that I don’t actually cook from.  With so many of our things still packed away in boxes, it’s nice to be reunited with a little piece of home.

This week, I’ve been cooking up some of our favorite recipes, like last night’s dinner of Lentil Sunflower Pie from Vive Le Vegan, Maple Mustard Potatoes and Green Beans from Vegan with a Vengeance, cranberry sauce and cabbage.  The Lentil Sunflower Pie is made from veggies, lentils, sunflower seeds and seasonings, but has an uncanny resemblance to meatloaf.  (Last night, this was confirmed by my omni parents, who said it tasted “a lot” like meatloaf.)  It’s actually my all-time favorite loaf recipe, beating out loafs made of “meatier” ingredients like seitan and tofu.  This was a meal enjoyed by the entire family, including my son.  To my surprise and delight, he ate his entire piece of loaf (which he called “burger”) and two servings of cranberry sauce.  He also chewed on the potato and cabbage, but did not feel they warranted swallowing.

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20 Days of Happiness Part 13 – Barbecue Sandwiches

There’s a scene in A Muppet Family Christmas where Ernie and Burt (from Sesame Street) have a conversation with Doc (from Fraggles) and Ernie and Burt can’t help pointing out what letter every word begins with.  “Bunk beds: B words!” they say as Ernie chortles.  When Doc looks at them askance they explain, “Where we come from, this is small talk.”  My sister once said that the scene reminded her of our family — except that complaining, not letters, are our family’s small talk.  It’s not that we are unhappy people.  We just like to air our grievances.  But sometimes it’s good to air positive feelings too and that’s just what I plan to do.  In this 20-part series, I focus on the many reasons I have to be happy.

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A SOUTHERN SUPPER AND TRUE DETECTIVE

 Since cracking my first Nancy Drew in first grade, I’ve been a voracious reader of anything in the mystery genre.  From cozies, to police procedurals, to hard-boiled detective novels, to thrillers — I love them all.  That’s why I first envisioned this post as “dinner and a mystery novel.”  Oddly enough, though, I haven’t read a single mystery in the past two months.  Instead, I’ve read parenting books, job hunting books, cookbooks and 90% of Team of Rivals.

As I pondered the possibilities of a Lincoln-themed dinner, HBO saved the day by premiering a new detective drama that pairs perfectly with vegan food.  True Detective stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as Louisiana detectives hunting for a serial killer.  The entire first season was directed by director and cinematographer Cary Joji Fukanaga, who appealed to my inner film-geek by shooting on actual film.  (I attended film school just as digital was beginning to take hold, but my college was old-school, so I spent many happy hours physically cutting and splicing my projects).  The first episode was beautifully shot and I think that the texture that film provides is perfect both for providing atmosphere and for rooting the story in a particular place in time (the show shifts back and forth from the original investigation in 1996 to the reopened investigation that takes place roughly in the present day).  

Because the show takes place in Louisiana, I had to make a decision between doing a Cajun meal or a Southern soul food type supper.  In the end, I went with my absolute favorite take on barbecue sandwiches — soy curls in Rough Rider Barbecue Sauce from Vegan Diner topped with the Sandwich Slaw from the same book.  Although I might be a state or two off in my choice of barbecue sauce style, I deemed the meal sufficiently “Southern” to provide an appropriate accompaniment for my night in.  (It helps that this meal is easy-as-can-be to make.  I used pre-made slaw mix, so I didn’t even need to do any chopping).

For dessert, I thought that the praline cookies from Cookin’ Crunk would be a perfect choice, but my husband was rather vocal in his demand for cream filled chocolate cupcakes.  I used the chocolate cupcake, vanilla butter-cream and ganache recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  Though they fit the theme not-at-all, they were tasty.  And, fortunately, there are seven episodes of True Detective left, providing seven more opportunities to make those praline cookies.

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20 Days of Happiness Part 12 – Spiked Hot Cocoa

There’s a scene in A Muppet Family Christmas where Ernie and Burt (from Sesame Street) have a conversation with Doc (from Fraggles) and Ernie and Burt can’t help pointing out what letter every word begins with.  “Bunk beds: B words!” they say as Ernie chortles.  When Doc looks at them askance they explain, “Where we come from, this is small talk.”  My sister once said that the scene reminded her of our family — except that complaining, not letters, are our family’s small talk.  It’s not that we are unhappy people.  We just like to air our grievances.  But sometimes it’s good to air positive feelings too and that’s just what I plan to do.  In this 20-part series, I focus on the many reasons I have to be happy.

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Reason to be happy #12: Relaxing with a cup of cocoa after my son goes to bed.

Reason to be happy #12.5: I spiked said cocoa with a shot of marshmallow vodka.

 

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20 Days of Happiness Part 11 – Tofu Scramble

There’s a scene in A Muppet Family Christmas where Ernie and Burt (from Sesame Street) have a conversation with Doc (from Fraggles) and Ernie and Burt can’t help pointing out what letter every word begins with.  “Bunk beds: B words!” they say as Ernie chortles.  When Doc looks at them askance they explain, “Where we come from, this is small talk.”  My sister once said that the scene reminded her of our family — except that complaining, not letters, are our family’s small talk.  It’s not that we are unhappy people.  We just like to air our grievances.  But sometimes it’s good to air positive feelings too and that’s just what I plan to do.  For my next 10 posts, I’ll focus on the many reasons I have to be happy.

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WEEKEND BREAKFAST ON A WEDNESDAY OR HAPPY NEW YEAR

Ah, the joys of sleeping in and then enjoying a big breakfast on the couch in your jammies — two things I know nothing about now that I have a kid.  Fortunately, I still get the joy of a hot breakfast on Saturday provided that it takes 15 minutes or less to cook (which is approximately the time that my son is willing to be entertained by his grandparents on Skype before he sets out in search of electric sockets in which to insert metal tools).  Our Saturdays are divided roughly 70/30 pancakes/tofu scramble.

This New Year’s Eve, my husband subtly hinted that he was in the mood for tofu scramble by purchasing a package of tofu and giving it to me “in case you feel like making tofu scramble.”  Weekend breakfast on a Wednesday sounded pretty good to me, so I kicked off the New Year by making the Sleepy Sunday Morning Scramble from Sara Kramer’s La Dolce Vegan AKA the Only Tofu Scramble I Ever Make.  It is the only scramble I ever make because it is far and away the tastiest version I’ve tried (and I’ve tried at least half a dozen).  For those new to scramble, you will find that it looks freakishly like scrambled eggs, but tastes almost nothing like them.  Still it is satisfying in its own right and pairs wonderfully with a toasted bread product and maybe some veggie sausage.

She who starts the new year with tofu scramble, toast with lavender berry jam and a good cup of coffee is surely starting the year off on the right foot.

Wishing you peace and joy in the year to come . . .  

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20 Days of Happiness Part 10 – Fruitcake Martinis

There’s a scene in A Muppet Family Christmas where Ernie and Burt (from Sesame Street) have a conversation with Doc (from Fraggles) and Ernie and Burt can’t help pointing out what letter every word begins with.  “Bunk beds: B words!” they say as Ernie chortles.  When Doc looks at them askance they explain, “Where we come from, this is small talk.”  My sister once said that the scene reminded her of our family — except that complaining, not letters, are our family’s small talk.  It’s not that we are unhappy people.  We just like to air our grievances.  But sometimes it’s good to air positive feelings too and that’s just what I plan to do.  For my next 11 posts, I’ll focus on the many reasons I have to be happy.

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MAY THE CALENDAR KEEP BRINGING HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU

I love pretty much everything about the Christmas season.  For the entire month of December, I’m basically an overgrown child watching endless Christmas specials, listening to carols on repeat and stuffing my face with Christmas cookies.  Since I’m technically an adult, I get to pair the whole experience with the perfect holiday cocktail.  The recipe for this Fruitcake Martini came from the December issue of VegNews, which has an entire cocktail feature.  It combines cake flavored vodka, pineapple rum, triple sec and cranberry juice for a festive boozy delight.  (Veggie Husband pronounced it “really, really good.”)

Unfortunately, due to a series of back-to-back-to-back colds, my December was lighter on cocktails then I would have liked.  This weekend was my first opportunity to sip one while gazing at our tree.  Fortunately, my family tradition is to leave the tree up until January 6 (the Epiphany), so I have another week to have my fruitcake and drink it too.

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