Tag: Recipes

Happiness Hacks For September 2017

Happiness Hacks For September 2017

Posted on September 26, 2017 by

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.


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

Posted on September 11, 2017 by

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!


  • 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


  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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My Best Life, June, 2014: A Month of Emotion

Posted on June 30, 2014 by

June was a month of emotion, a month where I saw the end of eras. June was a month of spontaneous tears, trickles of emotion both quiet and forceful. It was a month of smiles, and hugs, and goodbyes. June was a month of mercurial emotion, a month I searched for and found gratitude over and over again.

My Best June:

Best Quotes:

Looking back on my Twitter feed (where I regularly post #quoteoftheday), I noticed my tweets fall into two categories: those for me to pay attention to, and those for my children to pay attention to. Can you tell which is which? Oh-the last one is my favorite 🙂

LOVE Brene Brown

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.” -Pearl S. Buck

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”-Eleanor Roosevelt

“Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.” -Buddha

“If you find in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.” ~Maya Angelou

“Refuse to settle where you are. There is a great plan for your life. Press forward and become everything that you were created to be.” – Joel Osteen

“I have accepted fear as part of life,specifically the fear of change.I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says turn back.” -Erica Jong

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”-Havelock Ellis

“Mom, I don’t twerk” – Lily Wolfe

Best Compliment:

My girl can drive a bus!

My girl can drive a bus!

I wish I could remember exactly who said this to me…the one compliment that stood out the most this month – and I’m not even sure that the person meant it as a compliment – was that I’ve raised a ‘gutsy’ girl. I love that. When she was born, I was determined that she wouldn’t follow in my ‘shy girl’ footsteps….and she hasn’t. I’m proud to have raised a girl who is confident, adventurous, and trusts her ‘guts’ to try new experiences in life (like getting a Class 2 bus driving license!). You go, girl!

Best Recent Read:

These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner...LOVE.

These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner…LOVE.

I did NOT want this book to end…and was amazed that I hadn’t read it before! These Is My Words is the story of Sarah Prine, the author’s grandmother-with a  bit of historical fiction thrown in,too. Like my friend Dawn Wink’s novel, Meadowlark, These Is My Words tells a love story of Sarah Prine and her challenges as a strong woman in the Arizona Territories. I was captured in the plot, and fell in love with Jack Elliot alongside Sarah! Lucky for me – and for all other lovers of Turner’s story – this is only the beginning of a three-part series! I’m reading Sarah’s Quilt right now…I’d love to see what you’re reading, too – click here to follow me on Goodreads.

Best Way to Unwind:

My dog and my boy, evening walk (or skate)

My dog and my boy, evening walk (or skate)

When he was little, he used to love taking walks with me. We went all over town, usually with a tote bag to collect treasures. I miss those days. Deep gratitude for every single second together.

Best Photos:

Before she grew up and went away…

Best Selfie:

Me and my boy at the beach, Santa Cruz, California

Best Friends:

So much emotion this month as I watched girls who have been friends since primary grades finally graduate together. In these days of ‘mean girls’ and ‘girl drama’, I feel so grateful that my girl has such amazing young women in her life. True friendship is never to be taken for granted.

This is what friendship looks like

To be blessed with such good girlfriends…

Best Recipes:

Giada’s meatball paninis…must try!

Yes, these were as good as they look, and yes, I made the meatballs from scratch. My girl and I love watching Giada, and when we saw this recipe we knew we needed to throw a meatball party to celebrate her 18th birthday, so that’s exactly what we did! They were a HUGE hit!

Little bit of heaven right here...

Little bit of heaven right here…

Seriously, these are the BEST bites I’ve had in a very long time…chocolate honey tartlets with a graham cracker crust. Giada again-yep, we served them at her meatball party, then made them again for her graduation party, and ONE MORE TIME for a friend’s rehearsal dinner. They’re that good, and easier than you might think.

Best View:

This summer I’m staying put on the west coast, and to start off my summer adventures I traveled to Santa Rosa for a friend’s wedding. After the festivities concluded, I slipped away for an early morning walk. Our drought may leave the fields golden instead of green, but beautiful nonetheless.

A quiet morning walk in Santa Rosa, California

Best Moments:

I’ve written volumes this month about all the emotion I feel surrounding my girl’s graduation, growing up, and going away to college. This moment almost didn’t happen; the girls were struggling to find each other after the ceremony, but their determination to capture their joy and friendship conquered and while we were one of the last to leave the field, they made it happen. Deep gratitude right here.

My four ‘daughters’…

My AVID students worked over half the year to get this bench built; it began with learning about ocean gyres and recycling, then turned to stuffing plastic bottles with non-recyclable plastic, and ended with days of hard labor and sweat to get this earth  bench completed before the end of the school year. This project not only taught them about how to care for our world, but also how to work hard and be proud of their finished product. I saw some kids shine in ways I didn’t think possible…I’m not sure they know how very proud I am of them.

My favorites in front of our AVID project, an earth bench.

The finished  bench

The finished bench

A simple decoration for the graduation party, but so full of magical moments. How lucky am I to have been blessed with these wonderful children.

wall of memories

wall of memories

Dear reader, what word best describes your month of June? Wishing you great possibilities in July – and as always, thank you for supporting mamawolfe. I’d love to connect with you on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, too!

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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My Best Life, December 2013

Posted on December 27, 2013 by

December….always a month full of contradictions for me. Try as I might to keep it simple, stay centered and enjoy the moment, I must admit that it often pushes me to my limits. There are still a few things that I loved this December; I hope you enjoy them, too.

Best View:

Moonscape in CA

As much time as I spend outdoors, I struggle to capture the perfect sunrise, sunset or moonscape. This month I focused on looking up, literally a and figuratively. I love this image that I captured one night as I was walking home from a late work meeting. It was definitely the best part of my day!

Best Recipes:

Baking DOES reduce stress!

My daughter was on a baking frenzy this month…it went far beyond her ritual Wednesday afternoon baking sessions, and morphed into marathons of molasses cookies during finals week, intricately decorated sugar cookies, Mexican Wedding Cakes, loads and loads of peppermint bark, peanut butter balls, and delicious cream cheese frosted Candy Cane Kisses bars. I managed to squeeze in a new recipe for Saltine Toffee…I know, I thought it was weird too until I tried it!

Candy Cane Kisses Bars

Candy Cane Kisses Bars

Best Book:

Sad to say, I didn’t finish a book in its entirety this month. I’ve started several, and am in the midst of six…I’m currently enjoying Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin . She’s the writer who published The Happiness Project, and with this book she’s looking at how to “kiss more, jump more, abandon self-control, and other experiments in everyday life.” The chapters are organized by month, and cover topics like ‘Possessions’,Marriage”, “Parenthood”, and “Family”. I’ll let you know what I think when I finally finish it!

Best Blog Reads:

“The Map”, was written by my friend and neighbor Beth, who writes with such honesty about the journey of parenthood. Please do yourself a favor and click over to her blog, “Grace in the Ordinary”. http://grace-in-the-ordinary.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-map.html.

The holiday season brings out all sorts of emotions. This year, I experienced my version of the blues, but when I read “Some Times”, by Progressive Parent, I couldn’t help the tears for all that she’s going through dealing with the loss of her child. Just feel her grief…http://theprogressiveparent.org/2013/12/14/some-times/.

Best Moment:

Candlelight Christmas Eve

This month was full of elation and a bit of despair, change and (modified) tradition. I tried to hold it all together, keeping Christmas as it always has been, but finally gave in and realized we’d just be having a different kind of Christmas. One of my best moments came on Christmas Eve, as we breathlessly scurried (late) into the pew of our church, just in time for the candlelight service. I cherish the moments when I can wrap myself between my children, breathe down to my core, and feel a complete sense of peace and security. Turns out, it’s one of my kids’ favorite moments of Christmas, too.

Best Quotes:

Looking back at the quotes I save each month, I always get a surprising sense of cohesion-even when my month has felt less than connected. For me, December was about change, reflection, quiet, emotion and reaching out…

“Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.”
~Sydney J. Harris

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
~Anais Nin

“I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Best Photo:

This photo just squeaked in at the last minute, lovingly posted by my ‘little’ sister post-Christmas. I love the reminder that there were days when we didn’t mind looking alike – of course, this is long before my mother lifted the ban on us wearing all-black! Thanks, sis.

Christmas throwback, 1970s-style

Thanks for sharing My Best December, 2013. I hope your month concludes on a peaceful note, and I look forward to an amazing adventure with you in 2014!


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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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My Best Life, November 2013

Posted on December 1, 2013 by

when autumn

flares out at the last,


and like us longing 

to stay- how everything lives,


from one bright vision to another,


in these momentary pastures.
~Mary Oliver

November…that time of year when the world begins to slow down, the morning bike rides to work are brisk to the fingers and nose, and the afternoon returns with warmth and sunshine. November…that time of year when we begin to hunker down, reflect, prepare, and hug those we love just a little bit more tightly.

What I loved this November:

Best Views:

Super Soul Sunday

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Whether you love Oprah or not, you’ve got to check out her Super Soul Sunday series. I may be a bit slow to become hooked, but this month she offered some thoughtful and thought-provoking episodes that had me watching them over and over again. One of my favorites this month was Oprah’s talk with Maya Angelou. She even inspired my fourteen-year-old son to watch with me and to write his Great American essay about what he learned.

Best Books:

Help. Thanks. Wow by Anne Lamott

Help. Thanks. Wow. morning read for gratitude

Help. Thanks. Wow. morning read for gratitude

Anne never disappoints me; this book may be less lengthy than some of her others, but it helped me start my mornings off with inspiration, gratitude and guidance. Next up on my Lamott must-read list: Stitches.

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner

This book wasn’t a ‘feel good’ read like Help.Thanks.Wow., but it did make me think about how grateful I am to have my children to love every day. The Last Winter of Dani Lancing, tells the story of a twenty-year-old college student’s murder twenty years prior, and her parent’s struggle to come to grips with life without her.

Best Blog Reads:

From the beautiful blog, Barnstorming, I loved the post about the Gift of Fragility. At this time of year, and when I’m feeling especially vulnerable to change, I find myself clinging to every fragile moment.

I love the daily posts from First Sip, and this poem about the love for a daughter made my heart weep. Made me think of my own beautiful, strong girl who is about to leave home. Consider having First Sip delivered to your inbox, too.

Day 1 of training: ✔️ #geterdone via _lilwolfey_

Day 1 of training: ✔️ #geterdone via _lilwolfey_

Best Recipes:

My daughter was on a Wednesday afternoon baking kick (must have had something to do with the stress of college apps due this month), and pumpkin topped the list. Our favorite? This recipe for moist and somewhat-healthy pumpkin bread.pumpkin bread

Twice this month my son requested spaghetti and meatballs; our favorite recipe was Giada’s Turkey Meatballs from Food Network. So easy and delicious-you should try them tonight!

Another sweet treat we tried this month came from one of my favorite recipe blogs, Iowa Girl Eats. Her recipe for Mini Pumpkin Sticky Buns uses pumpkin butter, crescent roll dough and November-flavored spices to create a sticky sweet bunch of yum!

Best Quotes:

Mr. Johnson (Sesame Street)

Mr. Johnson (Sesame Street) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amidst all the hunkering down and reflection, when I received this quote in my daily email from Goodreads it sure made me smile and remember times when life was so simple. Happy birthday, Sesame Street!

“Sunny day , Sweepin’ the clouds away, On my way to where the air is sweet ” – Joe Raposo

Best Photos:

Instagram is my new fave photo website, and I’d love to connect with you there! Here are some of the shots I loved best this month:

My boy and my dog...love.

My boy and my dog…love.

How could they betray me so?

How could they betray me so?

I tried to spend more time looking up than down in November

I tried to spend more time looking up than down in November

Best Websites:

Looking for some good news? Try Daily Good as an alternative to other news websites-you’ll surely find something to smile and think about.

I’m always looking for education inspiration, and lately I’ve found it on Edutopia. It’s worth a look if you’re interested in cutting edge education practices.

Are you a pinner? I use Pinterest for all sorts of things: collecting recipes, ideas for writing, teaching resources, places I’d love to travel…the ideas are endless. I’d love to pin with you here.

Best Moments:

Our teenage daughters talked us into a spontaneous trip to the Warfield in San Francisco to see Hoodie Allen…yeah, we’d never heard of him either. After completely embarrassing our girls by insisting we watch over them until the entered the theater (the Warfield is in one of the sketchiest parts of SF), we enjoyed a fabulous girls night out on the town!

Girls night out in SF

Girls night out in SF

 While I can’t honestly say that grading all these notebooks was my favorite moment, I can tell you that when my daughter arrived with a surprise coffee it made the afternoon so much more bearable!

Coffee makes everything easier...

Coffee makes everything easier…

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday month ahead.

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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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