Equipped With Happiness


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A New Kind of Happy Meal

happy sandwichMoms, personal trainers, and food advertisers all like to remind us, “we are what we eat.” If they’re right, then it seems mankind has finally stumbled upon a key to lifelong joy. The secret to being happy must simply be eating happy-looking foods! And really, I think we all have a scientific obligation to test out this hypothesis. After all, even if it turns out to be a faulty theory, it still gives us an excuse to play with our food.

To ensure accurate results, it would be insufficient to simply eat some happy face pancakes and call it a day. Doing this experiment justice requires eating smiley foods at multiple meals. Here are just a few suggestions for how to proceed:

Breakfast:

Smiley-side-up eggs and bacon: Fry two eggs and put them next to each other on a plate to make eyes. Use a berry or a dab of ketchup for a nose. Then make a smile out of pieces of bacon (or sausage). If you’re really feeling adventurous, cut some toast into triangles and use them to make spikey hair or a goatee.

Fun fruit-n-nut oatmeal: Make a bowl of oatmeal thick enough to keep toppings on the surface. Arrange fruit (dried or regular) and nuts into a smiley face on top.

Happy face pancakes: It really wouldn’t be fair not to include the original smiling breakfast food. Not only that, there are so many awesome variations on this theme. You can use whipped cream, chocolate chips, fruit, syrup, and more, to customize this super-happy breakfast. And if you don’t mind entering a food coma, pancakes can even make a nice backdrop for smiley-side-up eggs and bacon.

Snack:

Goldfish crackers: These are advertised as “the snack that smiles back,” so they definitely fall into the category of happy foods. Not to mention they are deliciously cheesy. And for extra fun, you can always try to toss and catch them in your mouth or bite them in half perfectly (if you’ve never tried this, beware, it can get extremely frustrating).

Teddy Grahams: Basically like Goldfish, but sweeter. And possibly even cuter.

Orange smiles: Technically, these are just the smile, not an entire happy face. But if you eat them properly (i.e. by sticking them in your mouth rind-side-out and smiling a very orange smile) then your own face becomes the rest of the happy face. Problem solved! All you need to do is slice an orange into mouth-sized sections and enjoy.

Lunch and Dinner:

Smilin’ Sandwiches: You can make these open-faced (so your smiling creation is on display for all to see) or you can keep the happy face hidden between the bread. Either way, there are about a million ways to make happy faces on a sandwich. You can make a lunchmeat or cheese background and then use vegetables to make a face. Or you can keep it simple, and simply squirt your mustard in a smiley-face pattern. If you are looking for something sweeter you could start with a classic PB&J, and then make a face with banana slices. For an even sweeter experience, incorporate some Nutella or honey.

Peppy Pizza: Turning a pizza into a happy face can be as simple as some strategic pepperoni placement. Or you could go wild and create a perfect self-portrait out of every topping under the sun. Or perhaps a perfect portrait of your boss (any unhappiness that occurs if you decide to show them their pizza portrait should not be included in the results of this experiment).

Smile Salad: Start with a nice bed of lettuce. Then arrange any other toppings you like into the face. Some cucumber eyes with olives for pupils, a cherry tomato nose, crouton hair, and a black bean smile might do nicely.

Dessert:

Cheerful chip cookies: Take your favorite chocolate chip (or any other kind of chip) cookie recipe and give it happy twist. Instead of mixing the chips into the batter, bake the cookies without chips first. As soon as you take them out of the oven, while they are still warm, press the chips into them in the form of a happy face.

Friendly fruit and yogurt: Begin with a bowl of fruit. Use yogurt to create the happy face of your choosing. Just kidding. You could do it that way, but I recommend trying it the other way around. Also, maybe add some granola hair for a little extra pizazz.

Countenance cupcakes: The only way to improve a cupcake is to give it a face. Frost ‘em and then add some tasty decorations to make the face. If you can’t pick between all the amazing decorating options, don’t worry, because that’s an entirely reasonable justification for eating several cupcakes.

Okay, so maybe eating foods with happy faces doesn’t directly make us happy. But all the fun we have in the process definitely counts for something!


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Smile-Worthy Holidays to Celebrate in March

Photo by Debbie Mann

Photo by Debbie Mann

St. Patrick’s Day isn’t the only opportunity for fun in March. Here are some other great chances to celebrate this month:

Oreo Day (March 6)On March 6, 1912 an invention was made that would change waistlines forever… the Oreo Cookie. Now there are over 20 different kinds of Oreos. Why not celebrate the day with one of each?

International Fanny Pack Day (March 8, always the second Saturday in March): According to an article in Boise Weekly, it all began when a man named Nick Yates stuffed some fruitcake in a fanny pack on his way to the bus. He came across a homeless man, who complimented him on the fanny pack, and Yates decided to give the man his fruitcake. After that, Yates began a tradition of feeding the homeless from his fanny pack and officially established the holiday in 2007. Now, it is an opportunity for all of us to honor charity, as well as a questionable fashion accessory.

World Sleep Day (March 14)This holiday was established by the World Association of Sleep Medicine, and it is a day for celebrating sleep and raising awareness about sleep-related issues. Sounds like the perfect excuse for a nap!

Awkward Moments Day (March 18): We’ve all faced those painful situations that turn the cheeks uncomfortably pink and make us wish we could just crawl into a hole and hide for all of eternity. But, this is one day for us to put shame aside and proudly acknowledge our embarrassment.

International Day of Happiness (March 20)This holiday, established by United Nations, is simply a day dedicated to spreading happiness. Join the festivities and offer a smile, a compliment, or a helping hand to everyone you can!

National Corn Dog Day (March 22, at least for 2014): The date for this holiday changes from year to year, because it’s planned to coincide with the Saturday on which the NCAA basketball tournament is down to 32 teams. It is a day for celebrating basketball, as well as that tasty fried delicacy known as the corn dog.

International Waffle Day (March 25)This holiday began in Sweden, where it is called Vaffeldagen. It’s an opportunity for people around the world to indulge in the deliciousness of waffles. So whip up a batch and make sure not to miss any squares with that syrup!

Grass is Always Browner on the Other Side of the Fence Day (March 30): Sure the title’s a bit of a mouthful, but the idea it stands for is certainly worth celebrating. This holiday gives us a chance to focus on curbing envy and finding joy in what we have.

Have a happy March full of Oreos, fanny packs, sleep, acceptance for awkward moments, happiness, corn dogs, waffles, green grass, and many other amazing things!

References:

Morgan, T. (2010, March 10). International fanny pack day. Boise Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.boiseweekly.com/boise/international-fanny-pack-day/Content?oid=1515848.


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Wonderful Things About Winter

According to Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most accurate (and furry) weatherman, winter will be sticking around for a few more weeks. Sure, cold weather can be inconvenient at times, but there are still plenty of reasons to celebrate the season. Here are some of the best things about winter:

Photo by Debbie Mann

Photo by Debbie Mann

The foods/drinks. Winter is that amazing time of year when baked goods attempt to take over the world, and the best part is, no one tries to stop them. It’s also the perfect time for warm, hearty soups. And of course we can’t forget about those overflowing cups of hot chocolate,  topped with copious amounts of whipped cream and marshmallows. Or all the decadent holiday meals. Or the seasonal flavors of ice cream…

Playing in the rain/snow.  Splashing in puddles, building snowmen, having snowball fights, and going sledding are basically the whole point of winter. And I don’t care what anyone says, these are things you never outgrow.

Bundling up. It doesn’t matter whether you look forward to trying out the latest winter fashions or, like me, view winter as that awesome season where sweat pants, wool socks, and ugly sweaters are perfectly acceptable attire; there is something cozy about having the cold on your face while your body is all warm under every article of clothing you own.

The sights/smells/sounds.Winter treats the senses with snow-covered landscapes, rainbows, the welcoming aromas of baking and warm fires, the smells of fresh rain and snow, the pitter patter of raindrops on the roof, the silence after a snowy night, and so much more.

Winter sports. This is the season for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, bobsledding, hockey, and just about every other athletic activity that requires precipitation. Whether you play these sports yourself, watch them, or enjoy making fun of them (curling, that means you), winter is the only time of year you get the opportunity.

Being cozy inside. There really is something great about the feeling of coming in from the cold, snuggling up under a blanket, and settling down with your favorite book or movie. Every type of indoor hobby, from knitting to building model airplanes, becomes instantly more fun when it’s chilly outside.

So, that being said, a few more weeks of winter could actually be kind of nice. I guess I don’t have a groundhog to strangle after all.

Did I forget any of your favorite things about winter? Please feel free to share them in a comment!