Monday, February 6, 2012

small and simple things

cherrycupcake1 copy
a tiny little bite of happiness.
ok, maybe a few bites, unless you are being really piggy.
but you can't eat a cupcake and not be momentarily really, very, happy....
...even if it's just for those few bites.

A couple weeks ago I got a snarky-ish comment (delete!) on my post about having a simple year.
something along the lines of "this is really nice way of thinking, but you obviously don't have any real problems in your life"


You are right, my life is 100% problem free. yipee!
way to go ME. chest bump.

Well, actually, it's not. (gasp!)
But, I try the hardest I can every single day to look for,
search for,
DIG for if I have to,
little things that are happy.

We have the same stresser-outers that every young family has.
school. bills. let's move. let's find a new job. let's move NOW. this broke. that is breaking.
why do we live so far from family?
wow this house is really old.
 that thing broke again. We need a new ______.
Oh and let's not forget this nasty little bug I've been battling for 3 1/2 years. that's fun.
oh--and more bills! HOO-RAH!

But who cares about that junk?
I sure don't.
The reason I blog here is to try my hardest to share happiness--
and have you share your happiness back.
all the fun things in life, all the rainbows and glitter and kittens and unicorns. (melissa that is for you;)
oh, and talk about food of course.

If I lived my life without looking for little things, those big things would get really, really heavy.

So yes, I have become really good in making small things, big. 

Saturday I ran. 
On a trail. Covered in mud and snow.
Running has been hard--I relapsed last fall and I am very,
very, sloooowwwwly building my endurance back up.
But I was out RUNNING! In the sunshine! I had mud flying up my back and into my hair and I LOVED it. I was so full of happiness I was about to burst.

I love cooking for my family . 
Oh yes, there are those nights at 5 o'clock I still have no idea what I'm making (nights like that it's usually grilled cheese, or eggs, or both). But I love the days--like this weekend--where I have everything planned out start to finish--appetizer to dessert, and I get hugs and kisses and thank-yous for dinner. 

I think being able to find happiness, 
comes from knowing what YOU like.
close your eyes, and think about it.....what makes YOU just-about-to-burst-happy?

Make a list.

I like mountains. looking at them. climbing them. running them. being on top of them.
I like canvas shoes. vans. keds. cons.
I like arm balances in yoga.
I like warm chocolate chip cookies. ala mode.
I like a really good burger.
I like old books.
I like bananas when they are a little bit green.
I like road trips. Driving or riding.
I like campfires.
I like stripes.
I like smart comedy.
I like the ice at Cafe Rio.
I like summer.
I like skirts in the summer.
I like The Weepies.
I like sleeping in.
I like board games.
I like home-grown lettuce.
I like running in the mud.
I like digging in the mud.
I like goat cheese.
I like the smell of tomato plants. yes, the plant part.

I'm constantly adding to my list, and always trying to figure out how to get more of those things in to my life. (more goat cheese, yes please!)
They are all small things.....I mean yes, I would REALLY like a trip to Switzerland, or a giant farmhouse on a few acres. 
But the smaller things are a bit more realistic.
cherrycupcake2 copy
Chocolate Cupcakes with Cherry Mascarpone Frosting
makes 16-20 cupcakes, and can easily be halved

1 cup boiling water
1/2c unsweetened baking cocoa
1 1/3 c brown sugar
1c + 3TBS cake flour
1t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c butter, melted
1/2c buttermilk
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2t pure vanilla extract

Preheat to 350°
Line cupcake pans with liners and set aside.

Combine the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda and salt in large bowl and whisk together.
 In a stand mixer, mix the melted butter, buttermilk, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and hot water until well combined.

Add dry mixture to wet, and mix until just combined--careful not to over mix.

Bake in lined cupcake pans for 18-20 minutes

Cool completely before frosting.

Cherry Mascarpone Frosting
disclaimer: for the most part, when I make frosting.....I don't measure. I just add a little of this and a little more of that until I like it. So if you like to do that, then here are approximate measurements for you:
This frosting has a light cherry flavor. I am not a fan of artificial cherry flavor, and it's winter so fresh cherries were out of the question. I found a yummy jar of cherry preserves w/out artificial flavors or colors, that I thought went really nicely with the mascarpone and chocolate. This frosting is soft and light--not as set up as a buttercream (too soft for piping), but not as light as whipped cream.

8oz mascarpone cheese
(about) 1/2 cup cherry preserves
(somewhere near) 1 1/2 cup powder sugar
(around, oh....) 1/4 cup whipping cream
shaved dark chocolate, for garnish

With a handheld mixer, beat mascarpone, cherry preserves, and powdered sugar until combined. Taste it! want more cherry? Add more. Too tart? add more sugar. This is how I make things.
When you have a flavor you like, beat in whipping cream until you have a nice, light consistency.

Right before I frosted them, I folded an extra spoonful of preserves in for color.
Sprinkle with chocolate!
Keep this refrigerated.....unless you will be eating them right we might have.
cherrycupcake3 copy
I hope you can enjoy something small and simple today.
.....or at least just makes some cupcakes.

What is on your "I like" list?
(if you blog your likes, feel free to link back here so others can see!)

edited to add:
the cupcake liners are Wilton. I found them at Michaels.


Shan and Cam said...

I like your blog... thanks for all your awesome recipes!

Elise said...

This recipe looks so good! Too bad for people who comment mean things! Thanks for keeping it positive!

Jecka said...

Looks so yummy! I've never worked with marscapone before, but that frosting looks delicious enough for me to give it a try!

Kaitlyn Luce said...

The little happy things on your blog are what keep me coming back. It's so obvious that you look for the little things in your life each day. It shines through in your little stories here. Thank you for looking for the little things in each and every day, and digging for little things to be happy about each day. Thanks for reminding us all of the little things. :-)

Kaitlyn Luce said...

Wow, how many times can I say little?

twinsontherun said...

I like seeing a blogger that I person! I saw you at the store on Saturday afternoon but I was too shy to say hello. Is it funny that I knew for sure that it was you by your hair?? I had a question that I really wanted to ask you but didn't want to interrupt you and your little ones. Has a reader ever stopped you to say hi or is that too weird? So I just went on my way, excited that I got to see a blogger in real life. Made my day!

melissa said...

haha, there is nothing like a shoutout that includes unicorns, that's what i always say!

i really like mountains, too. and cliffs. they kill me every time! they're so awesome. #1 on the list for sure.

ps what the heck, i just failed the word verification, too!

gram said...

... some people just can't think of anything better to do than find fault with someone else's happy thoughts! ... they're just jealous! love from your gram...

Laura said...

Oh I have to make a list too. I LOVE lists. I love being happy. I love your blog. Booooo to everyone who focuses on the hard stuff and the yay to you for making the little and the good your focus. =) Love reading your posts!!

Anna said...

I love your way of seeing things. It's just so positive! and these cupcakes look so delicious :)

summer said...

the tomato plant!!! YES! for real.

i love your little happies, dear:)

WSAKE said...

oh, i going to eat just the frosting if that´s okay (can´t have any chocolate right now, such a bummer). i really admire you for your awesome way of "making small things big"!

Amy said...

I like the smell of tomato plants too!
And I like the idea of keeping a list of things you like. It seems like it would help me focus more on the good stuff and be more content even when thoughts like "lets move NOW." pop into my head. :) I'll have to give it a try.

Unknown said...

I love your blog and all of the wonderful happiness you find in life! It inspires many of us, I'm sure! It sure inspires me! Thanks for sharing and for your idea of making a list. Definitely need to do this!

Danielle said...

Anyone who thinks battling lyme is easy, is nuts. I personally WOULD like to hear more about your lyme, since my husband and I both have it...but I understand not wanting to focus on it. You are pretty impressive if you really can see so much good all the time as it appears! I'm sure its not so easy though :)I'm really really interested in your thoughts on gluten/sugar. Most people fighting lyme avoid it. Anyway, you have a beautiful blog! I wish I was as positive :)

eden greer said...

BLess you and your outlook on life! You are a true inspiration!

Andrea @ Knitty Bitties said...

Eh, what's a little Lyme disease? I mean really, when life hands you Lymes ... make limeade, right?!?!

{Insert laughing and sarcasm}

This was an EXCELLENT post. You're so right ... life is tough and hard and sometimes can feel not so great if we forget to look at all the wonderful that is happening day in and day out. Little things can be the things that take up the most room in your heart.

I'm getting ready to head out for a run in the sun too! Oh and last night I made homemade Pasta Fagioli soup from America's Test Kitchen and we served it with sourdough my husband made ... good for the body AND soul.

Happy Week to you!!

Kelly said...

Ditto what Naomi says.
I LIKE - getting home from work and there is a parking spot in front of my house
a long hike through Fairmount Park,
blog reading from a great library of holistic positive women - .
picture taking and liking the results.
stripes and polka dots - clean and happy
a minimal empty decor...
thrift store shopping
heart rock finds on a walk in the woods,
waffles and cold milk
the sound of loud thunder and pounding rain -
taking off in a plane
a good hair day
the sound of my father's laughter
the sight of my dogs
meatball sandwiches
sweater weather -
Thanks, Sheena. We all have so much more good than bad. Thanks for keeping us "focused"

Unknown said...

amen sista. how come everyone is so blasted negative all the time?
so you basically stole my whole list of things i like... seriously stripes, running, sleeping, board games, summers, i think we might be related. besides that whole goat cheese thing- you might be a little crazy :)

other things im adoring right now is my new chair that cost 25 dollars at the thrift store-sure its a salmon velvet color but i love it. im also dreaming of making my spin off of these ( tomorrow for a chocolate social (gasp!). yes you heard me, chocolate social. now come to az, bring those cute kids to play with mine, some of those chocolate cup cakes we'll head to cafe rio and then to the chocolate social. ill even let you rock in my new old chair.

(im not always this crazy, theres something about your blog that brings it out in me)

Kimmie said...

OH and BTW...what absolutely adorable cupcake liners you have...I have never seen any that have cut little ruffles around the edge. Your photos are stunning, beautiful and look mouth-watering delicious!!

Lillian said...

LOVE this post - the small, beautiful things that make up all of the bits and pieces of life are my very favorite:) I have random lists here and there, but some of my favorites are in my about section:

I think I need to make some cupcakes soon now!

Lara said...

I love your blog! You are so uplifting, motivating and you share the most amazing recipes! I followed your lead at the beginning of the year and I deleted a TON of blogs that I had been following. It was so refreshing! I, of course still follow you though - actually the ONLY one that isn't a close friend or family. Yes, that is how much I love your blog. Thank you for being so uplifting and showing the world that we can see happiness all around us, we just need to look (or dig) for it sometimes.

Brittany said...

a great post. <3 love it. and if you have any sense, you know that everyone has problems, every.single.person. this cupcake recipe looks incredible!

Anna said...

Wow, I've never thought of using mascarpone in frosting. I have some in the fridge right now... ! Thanks for the great idea.

Megan said...

I love this post (and all the things you love!) It reminds me of a post I had in 2010:

have a great day!

ashley sullivan said...

hmm. these cupcakes!?? they look so delicious.

Lisa said...

Don't those cupcakes look delicious. I find that people become jealous of happiness. When you can find joy and happiness, despite hardships and disappointments and, well, just life, people become jealous of that because many can't find it. Good for you!

Meg said...

it's definitely the little things.
today, mine was the combo of a warm toasty bagel and cold fluffy cream cheese.

connie said...

I love a chocolate and cherry combo! Looks fab :-)

Kristin Hanson said...

a) I need to make those cupcakes, not only because they look amazing, but because my 4 yr old has demanded that I do :)

b) I ignore the crazy stresses in life, too. That's not to say I don't deal with them,but I don't let them rule my life or take away the joy I have. After all, those mortal woes of bills, broken cars, homeownership, etc don't come with you in the end, but your attitude, actions, and personality do!

Tara said...

I knew I could count on you!! I wanted to make some really yummy cupcakes for Tiffany's shower and I thought I would check out your blog for cupcake ideas and BAM- perfect! I kinda wanted something Valentines-ish since who has their shower a few days before Valentines? Thought I should maximize that, so the cherry color is perfect. Thanks. BTW, don't feel bad if you don't make it, I will not hold it against you. :) K, I'm glad you ran again. I had that bursting-with-joy feeling the first time I ran after being pregnant with Kyle. I was laughing out loud, it was weird and uncontrollable. And one last thing- how did you get the little skirts on your cupcake liners? Did you buy them like that or fold them or what? It looks adorable.

Kaitlin said...

Sheena, I love you for posting this. There's no reason to live life focusing on all the sad and frustrating stuff. And no good at all comes of complaining about it to others, either. Is that what that person expected? Jeeze.

Haters gon' hate. They wish they could live like this and find their own happiness.

Leanne said...

Thank you. I just started reading your blog and it is quite refreshing to have someone REAL out there, ya know? I love your celebration of little things--it's helped me to be more aware of them in my life. :)

Courtney said...

Love you! Thank you for being so real on your blog and helping me to remember the little things in my life.

whitneyingram said...

You know, I really wish you would write more about how bad your life is. It would make me feel better about mine.

Krystal Celeste said...

This post just summed up why I love your blog, you have the ability to make the simple things sound magical. Every time I read your blog I'm reminded to look for the little happy things in life that when you really think about it amount to a whole lot. I don't often comment but I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate that! :)

Moments and Impressions said...

The smell of tomato plants! Do you think it is too early to plant some seeds? Yeah... I will just keep staring at them. Hurry up spring.

Unknown said...

how sad to never be able to enjoy the little things in life. I agree, the million little things BECOME the big things...

i like clothes fresh out of the dryer.
i like going back to bed when its still warm.
i like taking pictures.
i like a hot shower after an awesome run.
i like being barefoot....

Lula. said...

AMEN. Oh, and AMEN.

My mom and I always joke about cupcakes and blogs and how they are directly related to happiness :) Because they really are.

How in the world can you have a happy life if you aren't searching for the little, more simple things? I feel like you epitomize that without being fake, and that, my friend, is why I like you.

Nellie and Jason said...

The #1 reason I love your blog...ok, maybe #2. #1 is most definitely the food. But #2 (ew) is the fact that you don't gripe about every day mundane-ness, bills, garbage-y yucky days. You are always "on the bright side." Some days I need that inspiration, and most definitely the inspiration on what to make for dinner...especially today...if I don't find something fast, it's going to be Chinese take-out...yikes.

Nellie and Jason said...

And the tomato plant, but how to you get the nasty yellow-green stains out of your clothes after climbing INTO the plant to retrieve the perfect red delicious tomato? HATE that.

Miranda said...

I like sunlight filtering through the striped curtains by my table. I like how my toddler goes into the other room to pick his nose so I won't see and tell him to stop. I like having an idea and making it happen, especially when it makes someone else happy.

I really like chocolate and cherry together. And I would like someone to make these cupcakes for me for my birthday this week.

Eve said...

Thank you for this post and for your wonderful blog! I love your pictures and recipes - they all look gorgeous and taste great. :) And I also believe in looking on the positive side of things. Having a tough life doesn't mean you have to boo hoo and walk around looking like Eyore on one of his bad days. Loved the list too. Everyone needs one of those.

And on a side note, I also LOVE those cupcake liners! Where on earth did you get such cute little things?


- Eve

Claire said...

As usual, stunning photos, stunning words. Thanks for the excuse to make an "I like..." list. It was quite therapeutic.

You can find it here:

Anna Scandinavian Cottage said...

The smell of Tomato plants rock!
Barefeet in wet grass.
Morning coffee in the sun on the porch.
If you want more goat cheese in your life I have a great recipe over at my blog.
Have a great day!

Rachael said...

I love your 'What you Love' list! I think with me, there are still so many things I want to do, and try, and see, that it'll be hard to add things to my list! But I guess it's good to start small.
Love how you talked about loving the little things. I think that's true. I mean, usually the little things are all that matters anyway!
But still, love what you said. And how you said how your life isn't perfect. But I never thought it was, but it's great that you're still keeping it real.

amanda vanvels said...

i made my list:

kylie said...

love your thoughts. and especially the "chest bump" haha. i agree. making a list helps lots. i've had so many hard times this last year and on the blog sometimes i imagine it looks blissful... traveling all the time and having adventures. but there is a lot more that happens in reality and i've found myself writing things like "be happy" down on paper. i loved pres monsons message for january, to have a positive attitude / believe in yourself / and face challenges with courage. it's REALLY helped me.

Cerises et Gourmandises said...

WoW! Your blog is beautiful. I love your food pictures :)

Andrea said...

Just keep deleting those snarky-ish comments, then forget them and keep writing (and taking those fabulous food pics)! God is most honored when we are ourselves - you do a fabulous job at being YOU!

Moonegirl said...

Great post-you tell em! I like your list. I now have to make these cupcakes-simply because they look amazing and I have every single ingredient on the list. I have those exact cherry preserves that have awaited a deserving recipe. Yum.