April 10, 2014

5 Things that Make Me Happy Lately (Thinking Out Loud Thursdays)

It seems right now the world can't escape Pharrell, his huge hat, and his hit single Happy. It's everywhere. and I love it.  I'm okay with a catchy song with a nice message on the airwaves among so many empty, dime-a-dozen pop songs (which can be fun, but still). Today I'm talking about being happy. Yes, clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.  Now I'm not saying I'm completely happy-I'll always be chasing that. Lately even amid the stress and negativity I've been focusing on the positive things,even if something isn't going my way.  I'm obsessed with my daily TUT emails (there will be more TUT-inspired posts on here) and this one from a week ago really sparked these feelings for me: 

Nothing is worth your unhappiness, Lauren; not because the awful and ugly don't happen, but because there's always more of the really good stuff. 


    The Universe

Nothing is worth my stress and unhappiness. Life is too short to not be happy and time does fly. It's like that motivation saying "a year from now, you'll wish you started today" or however it goes. Maybe it's just my birthday coming up far too fast that is causing me to be so reflective. Anyways counting all the good little things in my life makes the rest seem not so disastrous. Today I'm sharing some things that have me feeling positive.  This might become a regular little exercise of reflection for me! My random moments of happiness and tips for focusing on the present are also a great fit for Amanda's Thinking Out Loud linkup

5 Things that Make Me Happy Lately

1.  Taking time to cook leisurely. Last night I made some butternut squash veggie mac & cheese. I added some noodles, sauteed kale and mushrooms in with my cheese sauce. The recipe for my cheese is below if you are interested-it was tasty! You could make this completely dairy-free if you wanted-I added a little cheese from a local farm from my CSA. I just kind of winged it because I was in the mood for some comfort food and had some frozen butternut squash also from my CSA to use up. You could roast or boil and puree your own butternut squash to use.  

It was nice not just throwing something together because I was tired or eating something I meal prepped. Even though I made up this recipe on the fly, I  took my time to cooking it and even ate dinner without my phone next to me or the TV on. 

(serves 2-3)

Ingredients:2 cups of butternut squash puree (I thawed some frozen I had, but you can just cook and puree or blend your own!) 

1/2 tbsp. butter
1 cup milk of choice (I used almondmilk) 
1/4 cup flour of your choice (I used whole wheat flour) 
1 teaspoons dried ground mustard
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (if you don't have this on hand, you could omit)
4 ounces shredded cheese ( I used almondmilk mozzarella shreds and monterey jack leftovers in the fridge). 
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tsp xantham gum (optional, depending on thickness of sauce) (can also use cornstarch or arrowroot powder) 
2 cups macaroni noodles of your choice (I used Trader Joe's brown rice quinoa fusilli) 
Sauteed or roasted vegetables (use whatever you have on hand such as broccoli and mushrooms!)
1. Prepare your cooked vegetables and bring water to boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add noodles and cook for about 5 minutes.  
2. Heat  butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add milk and bring to a simmer, then whisk flour into milk until mixture thickens and turn heat down to medium-low heat.  
3. Next stir in butternut squash, ground mustard, and salt & pepper 
4. Whisk the cheese into the mixture until it is melted. If your sauce is no at your desired thickness, add the xantham gum.  
5. Finally mix cooked noodles and vegetables into the sauce. Once thoroughly mixed, remove from stovetop and serve
the final product! I ended up topping with a veggie burger for extra protein!

2. Iced Coffee. Springtime and warmer weather means it's officially time to make the switch to iced coffee. There is something super refreshing about an iced coffee, especially if I am grabbing one in the afternoon. It also hits the spot post-workout, just saying. 

3. Summer Travel Plans. While the cost of travelling and plane flights makes my credit cards unhappy, the fact that I have a trip every month this summer all to new places is making me excited. Besides the fact that it's for awesome reasons like Fitbloggin, Hood to Coast, and a bacherlorette party weekend. Oh and there is Boston next week too :) I have been saying I want to travel more for years, and I'm finally being ambitious enough to just go do it. I'll never have enough time or money at the same moment so I'm doing what I can!

4. Sunshine and actual springtime weather. Sunshine makes people happier-fact. While it's still a windy and a bit rainy this week, the weather has been warmer! I love seeing people outside running, people walking dogs, and flowers and trees in bloom. I even got to break out my sunglasses this week. Today I just took a moment outside when I got off the bus to breathe it all in.  

5.November Project Baltimore
Even if I don't manage to workout in the mornings for work lately, I am always up and on time on Wednesday mornings to workout with my November Project Baltimore tribe. This week the tribe was big, the sun was shining, and the workout kept me moving. I'm happy to be a part of such a fun community and can't wait to get to know people even better! #bmoresocial 
#bmoresocial post-workout
Bonus #6. I'm beyond excited to go Boston next week. 

What is making you happy this week? What is your favorite thing about the beginning of spring? 


  1. BOSTON, NOV PROJ, AND WEATHER! The caps clearly shows my excitement since we're excited about the same things lately. I love this weather. Spring is the best. Slash November Project was fun even when it was freezing rain but it's 100000x better now. Yep, lots of things to be happy about :)

  2. beautiful pics :) that mac n cheese looks epic - and i'm right there with you on iced coffee, can't wait to enjoy some this weekend!

  3. Nothing is worth your unhappiness -- I love that! I couldn't agree more about the importance of focusing on the good things. Yes, there will always be crap that we have to deal with, but the good stuff far outweighs the bad, and I've definitely noticed a huge increase in my level of happiness since I started practicing gratitude on a daily basis. What's making me happy today? Coffee, good friends, amazing opportunities, and chocolate... always chocolate :D

  4. sunshine makes me iced coffee obsessed! also love that quote totally headed over to TUT to check it out