Happiness Hacks For September 2017

Happiness Hacks For September 2017

Happiness Hacks For September 2017

Happiness Hacks For September 2017It’s been an interesting month; the back to school adrenaline has definitely worn off and happiness hacks for September 2017 were a bit random. My baby is now an adult. I can hardly watch or listen to the news without wanting to crawl under the covers (I live right near the Pacific Ocean if you get my drift). My first born filed her papers to graduate from college. Pumpkin spice hit the shelves again (wait-it’s still 90 degrees here in northern CA) and I’ve STILL got a huge to-do list hanging on from the summer.

I’m exhausted.

Last night I socialized with a bunch of old and new friends, many that are teachers. We all had the same look in our eyes – the half-droopy, bloodshot and overwhelmed look that teachers get when they’ve been putting every ounce of energy into establishing classroom routines, tackling new curriculum and battling over sub-par technology.

And to think someone asked me why the beginning of the year is so tiring – don’t we already have our lesson plans from last year?

Ah, if only it was just about lesson plans….

So yes, I am seriously in need of some happiness hacks. I’m betting that you are, too.

I’ll give it my best shot – I’m not giving up!

Happiness Hacks For September 2017: A Bit Of Reading Time

Happiness Hacks For September 2017 book

My page-turning definitely slowed down in September, in large part due to not being able to keep my eyes open past 9:00 p.m. I did have to abandon a book that just wasn’t catching my interest, but I’m deep into/nearly finished with Jennifer Chiaverini’s The Spymistress. I’m a huge historical fiction fan and especially love finding books that make American history come alive through a female protagonist. This book focuses on the Civil War in Richmond, Virginia, and a young, unmarried woman, Lizzie Van Lew, who poses as a Confederate supporter to help smuggle Union prisoners and messages through her home. Van Lew is not a fictional character; she was instrumental in establishing the Richmond Underground and is known as one of the orchestrators of the escape from the infamous Confederate Libby Prison. It’s cool to see our female unsung heroes finally reaching the notoriety they deserve. One of my favorite stories is by Erin Lindsy McCabe, who wrote I Shall Be Near To You – you can read my interview with Erin here. It was one of my top ten books of 2014!

Happiness Hacks For September 2017: Happy At Home

This month’s Happy at Home is about meeting personal goals. Like many teachers, I’m a planner. I love to make to-do lists, set small, medium and large goals, and in the last few years, writing has featured prominently in most of my personal and professional goals. I decided to blend as much of my personal and professional life into my writing as possible, and it’s been a blast!

In September I hit TWO huge goals: doing a live TV cooking segment, and being PUBLISHED IN A MAGAZINE!

You can watch my cooking demo here – just a fleeting 4 minutes to make spaghetti with sauteed eggplant and tomato basil sauce!

Happiness Hacks For September 2017

If you haven’t flipped through the September issue of Real Simple yet, have a look at the “Relating” feature “5 Excellent Habits To Start When School Does”. Doing the interview and seeing my name in print is SO EXCITING!

Happiness Hacks For September 2017

I’m not second-guessing myself, just thanking the universe for the opportunities and helping me gather up the courage to say YES!

Happiness Hacks For September 2017: Something Yummy

I love to bake, but after my daughter left for college things definitely slowed down. You’d think that living with two men I’d be filling the kitchen with all sorts of delicious treats, but both my son and husband are super health conscious about eating white flour and sugar. So much for backing-as-a-form-of-stress-relief!

Happily, though, this month I stumbled on an easy, yummy treat that they both seem to adore. I call them coconut energy bombs, and I found the recipe here.

I’ve tried adding almonds (tastes like an Almond Joy), pecans, and even some cacao powder, but they like the straight coconut and dark chocolate the best. I used mini-muffin tins to form the bombs and store them in the refrigerator until they are gone. They’re super easy and taste like candy, without all the bad stuff!

Happiness Hacks For September 2017: Listen Up

I’m still loving my podcasts, for sure. As I noted earlier, the news-junkie in me has taken a huge hit with this new administration. I cannot subject myself to all the stupid/scary/abhorrent drama that seems to occur on a daily basis, so I rely on the NPR podcast “Up First” to get my 10 minute morning update while I’m cooking breakfast. Later in the day, I’ve taken to the “10% Happier with Dan Harris” podcast and the “10% Happier” app for quick, relaxing meditations. I mean quick – they start with 1 minute and can go up to 10. They’re awesome. Try it.

I hope these Happiness Hacks for September 2017 bring more gratitude into your life. Please be sure to leave your happiness hacks in the comments – I’d love to share your tips for living an ordinary, extraordinary life.

~Jennifer

Do you have to intentionally make yourself happier? Some people, like me, need ‘happiness hacks’ to remind themselves daily of what a blessing it is to be alive – what great fortune we have to be living for one more extraordinary, ordinary moment.

Years ago I started a gratitude journal – just a daily addition to my morning pages that documented the ordinary things that I was grateful for – simple things that made me happy.

During this time I read Gretchen Rubin‘s book, The Happiness Project – Gretchen’s writing and podcasts inspired me to create what I hope are monthly lists of ‘happiness hacks’ – small, simple acts or moments in life that bring me happiness and maybe they’ll rub off on you, too. You can read my essay inspired by Gretchen’s other book, Happier At Home here. 

In June 2017 I started with my first set of ‘happiness hacks’, and loved the responses I received on the post and on social media. Turns out, you do things to make yourselves happy, too. 

You can read my “happiness hacks” posts below:

Happiness Hacks For August 2017: Bring More Gratitude Into Your Life

Happiness Hacks For July 2017

 

 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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vegetarian awareness week

Vegetarian Awareness Week: My First Live TV Cooking Demo

Did you know the second week in September is Vegetarian Awareness Week? If you’re like me, eating veggies over meat is just a no-brainer; I think the last time I remember actually consuming a red meat burger was during my college years in 1985…

Things have definitely changed since then. I could barely cook back in the 80s, and going out for burgers was an exciting dinner treat on our budget. Just look at me now! Some of my best moments are spent in my garden and kitchen with my kids, cooking and eating as healthy as possible.

vegetarian awareness week

Living in California, having space to grow my own veggies and citrus in my backyard, and easy access to local farmer’s market produce has been such a gift towards healthy eating and cooking. This year we planted San Marzano tomatoes and 30 pepper plants! It seems like there’s always something in season that’s so delicious and full of nutrients that raising my kids on a low meat diet was simple; they’ve become fine cooks and enjoy trying all sorts of seasonal fruits and veggies. To encourage a love of food, one thing I always did when they were little was allowed them to pick out one new fruit or veggie on every grocery shopping trip. This didn’t always result in a new addition to their palate, but it did always result in them trying something new, like it or not.

Vegetarian Awareness Week
Making vegetarian tamales – I love cooking with my kids!

Vegetarian Awareness Week is just a perfect opportunity for me to share my love of cooking and healthy eating, and thanks to the folks at Cucina Antica, I have the opportunity to do my first ever live cooking demo on TV! And yes, just a little bit nervous, but honestly knowing that the product I’m sharing is one I use and enjoy makes it easier. You can watch my live demo here. Have you tried Cucina Antica cooking sauces? Cucina Antica sauces are authentic family recipes with no added sugar or preservatives and made with imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes. I love the copious amounts of veggies in each jar, the lack of artificial preservatives and no added sugar, as well as the variety of dishes I can make with each one.

For Vegetarian Awareness Week I’ll be making this yummy recipe for Spaghetti with Sautéed Eggplant – I’m so excited!

 Ingredients:

  • 1 jar Cucina Antica Tomato Basil Sauce
  • 1 lb. Spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 6 baby eggplants
  • 2 tsp. Romano cheese
  • Fresh basil to garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  Preparation:

  1. Slice eggplants into 1/4″ vertical strips. In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil.
  2. Season eggplants with salt and pepper and sauté in oil until just slightly wilted. Set aside.
  3. Prepare spaghetti al dente. Meanwhile, heat Cucina Antica Tomato Basil Sauce.
  4. When pasta is finished, drain and coat with one cup of sauce to prevent noodles from sticking.
  5. Plate pasta and top with eggplant slices. Cover with remaining sauce and top with Romano cheese.
  6. Garnish with basil and serve.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Easy Ways To Embrace A Healthy Lifestyle

At this point in life, I’m learning that things that used to be easy in my twenties, like sitting cross-legged for hours on end, just aren’t quite as simple now. Or running a 5K. Or staying up late to go to see The Cure in concert night after night.  Passing 50 last December was certainly a milestone I’m proud of. But I’m equally proud of the work I’ve done to embrace a healthy lifestyle. I’ve realized that while some things used to be easier in my twenties and thirties, many struggles I had back then have ceased to be as anxiety ridden. I’ve learned that embracing a healthy lifestyle means more than just counting calories and getting enough sleep; I’m learning that for me to feel whole and balanced and joyful requires a few key elements.

Easy Ways To Embrace A Healthy Lifestyle

Setting boundaries

Like many working moms, I struggled in my thirties with how to balance my teaching career with motherhood. I wanted both. I knew I needed to work outside the home, and I felt the opposing pull to stay as close to my babies as possible. I tried every schedule I could think of. I switched schools, changed the subject I taught, and quit then worked part-time then quit again. Finally, after six years of this yo-yo life with teaching and mothering, I landed in the right school with the right schedule. In the fourteen years since, I’ve become adept at drawing the home/work boundaries. I didn’t grade papers when the kids were awake. I took time off to drive on field trips, and volunteered in their classrooms. I was home (mostly) in the afternoons and did the things with them that I wanted to do. It wasn’t always easy, but setting boundaries then has prepared me to set boundaries for myself. I draw a line between my work life and my creative/at home life, and rarely cross it.

Contributing to my community

When my four-year-old son started karate, one line of his daily pledge was to ‘contribute to my community’. I loved that message, and because of him we took it seriously. I tried to weave age-appropriate acts of giving into our lifestyles, and to teach my children that you get what you give. I love simple acts of kindness like bringing our neighbors some fresh cookies out of the oven, or bringing the kids to visit their great-grandmother at the senior center. We evolved into more involved, planned contributions such as trash pick up around our favorite creek, or cooking and serving meals at the homeless shelter. As teens, I’ve taken my kids to help improve schools in Nicaragua and am encouraging them to study and find jobs in order to make the world a better place.

easy ways to embrace a healthy lifestyle

Getting outside every day

In my twenties I used to love to run. Now, I love to walk. And I’m ok with that. yes, I have to walk much farther to burn the same calories as running, but to me, walking is meditation and exercise. I walk the dog, walk to errands, and walk to socialize with friends. I love to walk in cities I’m visiting, or along the beach. In the mountains, there’s nothing better than walking along a trail and just paying attention to what’s around me. Sometimes I listen to podcasts, but often it’s just me and my dog, and my teens (if I’m lucky!). A daily dose of nature lifts my spirits and reminds me that I’m just one small part of a very big universe.

Enjoying the ordinary moments

When my kids were little, I was obsessed with videotaping everything. I’m old enough that smart phones didn’t exist during their early years, but I faithfully recorded life from behind the lens, then followed up with daily journal entries. Looking back, our favorite memories aren’t necessarily the ‘big’ moments of life; instead, we love seeing the ordinary ones, the moments of everyday life when smearing yogurt on their faces made them giggle, or running after them when they rode their bike down the street, or just noticing the book we were reading or the car we drove up to Tahoe one summer. Now that I’m older and more reflective, I’m embracing those daily, extraordinarily ordinary moments. With one kid in college and one still a teen, my ordinary moments are less likely to involve my children, allowing me to slow down and really pay attention to the curve of the branches of a tree outside my window, or how the clouds flirt with the sun on an April afternoon. I treasure the first blooms in my garden and the way my students’ eyes light up when they understand what I’m trying to teach. Enjoying the ordinary moments leaves me joyful and grateful even on the most difficult of days.

easy ways to embrace a healthy lifestyle!

Eating well

I love to cook. A Saturday spent shopping and baking and preparing a creative meal for my family is one of my favorite ways to show my love. I’m a rabid fan of Food Network, having grown up on Julia Child and The Galloping Gourmet. Now, my love of eating well has transfused to my son, and we get downright giddy together in the grocery store. For a sixteen-year-old, he has sophisticated taste buds and reminds me to think about the flavor profile and what we’re eating, sticking to foods as pure and unprocessed as possible. Restaurants are a special treat; we’d rather spend a Sunday watching over a slow-cooker full of authentically spiced carnitas, or rolling out our own dough for cinnamon rolls. Eating well, to me, isn’t just about keeping a calorie count – it’s about indulging in food as a simple pleasure and displaying my creativity and caring towards my family.

It’s never too late – check out these fun and easy ways to embrace a healthy lifestyle with Chobani Simply 100! I’d love to know what you love to do!

Easy Ways To Embrace A Healthy Lifestyle

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Julia Child Started It All: My Cooking Show Obsession

julia cooking

My name is Jennifer Wolfe, and I love cooking shows.

It all started when I was a kid-it’s my mom’s fault, you see.  Along with Sesame Street and the Dinah Shore Show, I remember watching Julia Child at a very young age. I was fascinated with how she could entertain and create food right there on the screen, and my mom could copy whatever she made.  It was magic.

Once I moved out of the house and into my own apartment, my cooking wasn’t so much magic as it was a mess.  I tried to duplicate my mom’s recipes, but usually I either ended up crumpled in tears or fanning black smoke from the kitchen. I think one of the reasons I agreed to marry my husband was the way he handled my first attempt at making spaghetti sauce from scratch, and ate every charred chunk of meat without complaining.

My little black and white TV became my companion as I discovered Yan Can Cook and the Frugal Gourmet...every Saturday morning I would do my house cleaning, study a bit, and then fill my Berkeley apartment with the glorious images of their culinary creations.  I bought their cookbooks and began to actually be a decent cook myself.the-frugal-gourmet-cooks-italian-31087l1

When my kids were little, Martha Stewart was all the rage; somehow I thought that watching repeats of her show at 3 am when nursing my firstborn was a good idea.  When I realized that I could not work full time, parent my children and keep my house moderately clean, let alone come up with marshmallows from scratch and decorate for every season, I clicked her off.

Then, along came Food Network.  My dreams had been answered; whatever I wanted to cook, at any time of day or night, was there at the click of the remote.  Guy Fieri took me to affordable diners, Giada tempted me with her laid back California cuisine, Barefoot Contessa reminded me to minimize my butter intake, and The Next Food Network Star was perfect family reality TV entertainment. Cooking is cool again.

Over the years I’ve tried endless TV chef’s recipes, and created a binder system to store favorite recipes.  I keep a healthy Pinterest account with recipes to try, and have even checked out a Meal Planning Template that helps to plan and purchase food for a week’s worth of recipes.  Currently, I keep a white board on the kitchen wall with menu options for the week, and the kids help me choose what to eat each night. Not super high tech, but it works.

Right now, I’ve got to get downstairs and get cooking.  Watching Paula Deen today made us crave watermelon and angel food cake…and Pioneer Woman’s Fancy Mac n Cheese!

What’s your favorite cooking show? How did you learn to cook?

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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