The Happiness Project


The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin is one of my all-time favorite books! Not only was this memoir full of fascinating quotes and statistics… it captivated my TYPE A – list it/plant it heart. :o) While reading through this book, I was convicted and inspired… often on the same page.

The full title reads, The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. While riding a bus home on a dreary day in NYC, Gretchen had an epiphany, “The days are long, but the years are short,” …”Time is passing, and I am not focusing enough on things that really matter.” Then and there, she decided to embark on a yearlong happiness project.

Like most people, including Gretchen, I have a pretty great life. I have a healthy marriage; two beautiful children, all my needs are met, and I get to have my dream job… homemaker! {grin}

Like most people, I could be happier. I could take time to enjoy small pleasures. Soak in the fleeting moments of my babies being babies. Deepen relationships. Stress less. Love more. Aim higher. Lighten up. Play more. Make friends. Pursue passions. Pay attention. Show gratitude. Be present.

One of my life mottos is a quote which states:

“Where ever you are be all there.”

 For some reason, this has always proved difficult for me. It’s easy for me to plan for some hypothetical scenario way in the future and let the present slip away.

I want to change that. I want to be happier … where I am. It’s not up to anyone else but me.

As a wise fortune cookie once said,

“Look for happiness under your own roof.”

 Moved by this book, I have chosen to take on my own happiness project of sorts. As the author notes, everyone’s happiness project will look different. However, many of the topics she covers in the book are areas in which I can improve. I figure there is no need to reinvent the wheel; therefore, I am following her outline.

January’s focus is on boosting energy and vitality.

I am going to need energy to accomplish the things I want to do, live life fully, and feel happy while doing it.

Here is how I plan to do it (I will be tracking these with a handy little chart from Gretchen’s website):

  • Go to bed by 11PM – I am a night owl and could stay up much later but I need to rest.
  • Rise to rest – I want to wake up 30 minutes earlier to have a quite time before the kids wake up… I am sure that will go a long way to feeling happier throughout the day.
  • Exercise better – Complete Julian Michael’s 30 Day Shred. Everyone knows exercise goes hand in hand with boosting energy and vitality!
  • Keep a food journal – keeping on track with my food is important too!
  • Take my vitamins – B12 and Vitamin D for energy!
  • Toss and organize – keeping a clean, organized, streamlined home cut’s down on housework and stress… leaving more time to do things that make me happy.
  • Apply the “one minute rule” – don’t postpone any task that could be done in less than one minute.
  • Observe an evening tidy-up – less stress and chaos in the morning… more peace, love, and happiness.
  • Tackle a nagging task – unfinished tasks drain you and make you feel guilty.
  • Act more energetic – in other words… “Fake it until you make it.”
  • Use my to do list – productive people tend to be happier.
  • Unplug- social media and technology makes a great servant but terrible master. I want to unplug a bit throughout the day to focus on and enjoy real life.

I will let you all know how this experiment goes. I am really excited to give it a shot.

I highly recommend this dynamic book!!!




Quinoa Meatballs

Can you tell I have a thing for quinoa? {wink}
I am re-posting this recipe from my old blog because it is a family favorite!

Serves 6
Sneak whole grains and veggies into crowd-pleasing meatballs with this easy recipe that will stretch your food dollar, too. Serve with your favorite pasta and marinara sauce or on a hoagie with cheese for a dynamite meatball sub sandwich.
Nonstick cooking spray 1 pound (95-percent) lean ground beef 3/4 cup cooked quinoa 1/4 cup finely chopped onions 1/4 cup grated carrots 1/4 cup grated zucchini 2 tablespoons ketchup 1 tablespoon chopped garlic 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 1 egg
Preheat oven to 500°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil then grease with cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, mix together beef, quinoa, onions, carrots, zucchini, ketchup, garlic, soy sauce, pepper, salt, oregano, thyme and egg until well combined. Shape beef mixture into 16 balls and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Roast until cooked through and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.
(Note: To cook quinoa, bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small pot. Pour in ½ cup quinoa, cover and simmer until water is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside off of the heat for 10 minutes then fluff with a fork. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.)

Per serving (about 4oz/113g-wt.): 150 calories (45 from fat), 5g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 75mg cholesterol, 470mg sodium, 8g total carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 2g sugar), 17g protein

(Recipe from Whole Foods)

{Ladybug Nursery Tour}

When I found out I was having a baby I was sure it was a BOY. Alex and I had a really cute forest friends nursery theme picked out and everything! When our ultrasound revealed we were in fact having a baby {girl}… my nursery plans were scrapped and I went on a search to find the perfect girly theme. I had a hard time finding what I was looking for but when I saw the Kidsline Ladybug Collection – it was love at first sight! The fact that I was able to find the bedding and accessories in brand new condition on Craigslist and on clearance at Babies’R’Us also helped sell me. {Wink} While in labor I even had a {sign} that I had made the right choice… while on a walk with my mom and Alex to speed things up a lady bug landed on me! No Kidding!

Graco Lauren Crib in Espresso (Thanks Saba & Gigi!) + Ladybug Bedding $50 on craigslist!

!!!Ladybug Curtains + Glider + Ladybug Boppy!!!

I found this great bookshelf on clearance @ Target! The top shelf hold big girl books and the bottom shelf holds board books. The ladybug on top of the shelf is a night-light that makes star designs on the ceiling. Ori loves it!

I found a twin bed frame with a trundle for a good deal on Craigslist + DIY headboard +  Ladybug Quote (Thanks Pinterest!) +  twin bedding on Ebay for $40!

The nightstand we also found on clearance @ Target. We added a ladybug lamp + ladybug drawer pull + picture of mommy and daddy for a special touch.

Grandma Joyce made her this beautiful ladybug cross-stitch which reads “Let My Light Shine For Him – Oriyah Alexandria Bobylev – July 20th, 2011.”

The baskets from Target (my favorite store) are organized like so:

Top: Cloth Diapers, Cloth Wipes/Wetbags, Wipes Solution/Essential Oils/Lotions

Bottom: Cloth Diapers, Inserts, Socks/Bibs

The Expedit shelf from Ikea works great for toy storage + the laundry hamper was another Craigslist find + picked up the lady bug piggy bank from the dollar store + and as soon as I get my hands on a {power drill} I will mount the corner shelf holding a beautiful flower arrangement my friend made for my baby shower… that happens to match her room perfectly! 😀

Night Light 😀

Blanket Storage

No room is complete without a Mezuzah!

Another DIY project!

Overall, I’m pleased with the way her nursery turned out! It’s girly but I think she will be able to grow into it as well.



Quinoa Patties

 Lately, I have been in a bit of a food rut and since we are trying to cut back on meat {kosher meat is $$$} I needed some healthy but frugal meal options.  Quinoa is a staple around here so I did some *googling* and came across this recipe for Quinoa Patties on  The Food Yenta’s blog. Enjoy!

  • 1 cup of uncooked quinoa
  • 1 onion minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 dried chili pepper, optional
  • 2 cups of water
  • 4 eggs
  • handful of herbs
  • 1 cup of panko
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • oil for frying (about a cup)

to prep: cook your quinoa. saute onion and garlic in about a 1/2 a tbl of olive oil. add 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water. cook until water is absorbed and quinoa has split and is cooked.

  1. to a skillet add about a cup of oil and heat up
  2. meanwhile, in a medium to large bowl crack open and whisk 4 eggs. add cooked quinoa and mix.
  3. stir in panko, herbs, i used parsley, basil and a little tarragon. add a pinch of salt and pepper and start making your patties.
  4. when oil is hot carefully place your quinoa patties and start to fry. you don’t want to burn them, so a medium to high flame will work well.
  5. fry each side about 7-10 minutes. when patty is golden on one side it will be easy to flip over.
  6. if you are cooking in batches cooled patties in a warm oven.

We topped our quinoa patties with melted cheese and warm miranara sauce. {DELISH!}



Moroccan Chickpea Soup

I love this soup! This is a great tasting, inexpensive, easy to make, parve soup for Shabbat, the freezer, or mitvah meals. 😀

1 Tablespoon oil
1 Onion minced
1 teaspoon sugar
4 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon paprika
Pinch of cayenne
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cumin
2 (15 oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1lb red potatoes (about 4), scrubbed and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
4 cups low sodium veggie broth
1 zucchini cut into ½ inch pieces
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sugar and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, paprika, cayenne, ginger and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the chickpeas, potatoes, tomatoes with their juice, and broth. Bring to a simmer, partially cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the zucchini and continue to simmer until tender 5-10 minutes.

Mash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot with a spoon to thicken the soup slightly. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

** This recipe also called for ¼ teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled, but due to the price I did not include them**

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and whole wheat pita bread.
{Recipe adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook.}

{Passover Sweets}

A post for my fellow sugar addicts. 😀 Chag Sameach!

Passover Chocolate Torte

1/2 cup pareve margarine

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

5 eggs, separated

3/4 cup white sugar

1 cup ground almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan with foil. Grease foil.
  2. Melt margarine and chocolate over low heat. Stir until smooth and let cool.
  3. In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat whites until stiff; about 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, beat together yolks and sugar until thick and pale; about 1 minute. Blend in chocolate mixture and stir in almonds. Fold in beaten whites, 1/3 at a time, into chocolate until no streaks of white remain. Scrape into prepared pan.
  4. Place an 8 inch baking pan with 1 inch of water in it on the bottom rack of the oven (to make the torte more moist).
  5. Bake torte on center rack at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 to 50 minutes, or until sides begin to pull away from pan and top is set in center. Cover the torte loosely with foil for the last 20 minutes of baking. Note: Don’t worry if the cake cracks because the top will be on the bottom later.
  6. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes and then carefully remove sides of pan. Invert onto a serving plate and cool completely.




Almond and Coconut Macaroons

2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup whole almonds
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (to be completely kosher for Passover, replace with 1 teaspoon lemon zest)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. If you don’t have those, spray cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together sugar and egg whites in a large bowl.
  3. Chop the almonds in a food processor.
  4. Add the almonds, shredded coconut, and vanilla (or lemon zest) to the egg whites and sugar mixture
  5. Form dough into 16 two-tablespoon mounds, and drop each onto sheet, two inches apart.
  6. Bake macaroons until golden-brown on bottoms and edges, about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets for five minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and let cool.

Makes 16 cookies.



Mint – Chocolate Covered Matzah

7 matza boards

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup butter

1 cup mint-chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
2. Line several baking pans with foil and then lay down parchment paper. Lay the matza on top of the parchment.
3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the brown sugar and butter until the mixture bubbles.
4. Turn the heat to medium-high and stir constantly until the mixture thickens and pulls away from the sides of the pan (around 3 minutes).
5. Spread the carmel over the matza with a spatula.6. Bake matza for five minutes, remove and sprinkle with mint-chocolate chips.
7. Wait five minutes and spread the chocolate over the caramel with a spatula.
8. Let matza cool completely and break into several pieces each