Day 16: My Blender


My Happiness Project. Day 16.

About a month ago, my husband decided we needed a nice blender. Being the maximizer that he is, he spent several hours one morning doing his homework before he decided on a Blendtec Classic. In full disclosure, I wasn’t entirely convinced. After all, we have already failed at becoming avid juicers, and are reminded of this flop by the pricey juicer taking up valuable real estate in our kitchen cabinets.  Nevertheless, this time, he was right. This blender is amazing and is so quick and easy. Easy to use, and easy to clean up. I use it nearly every day to make healthy smoothies, sometimes more than once a day, and the entire process usually takes 5 minutes from beginning to end. Our blender is so fabulous, that I named her. Readers, meet Brenda “the Blenda” Whirlington.

Now… who is interested in buying a slightly used juicer? 😉




**Note: I have not been paid or compensated in any way to write anything about Blentec, or anything else. Opinions are strictly my own.**

Day 15: Animal Rescue



Just over a year ago, I started volunteering for a Cincinnati-based animal rescue called the Stray Animal Adoption Program (SAAP). Working with SAAP has increased my knowledge about dogs and animal rescue ten fold, as well as given me the opportunity to make a myriad of new friends and connections. I’ve fostered 28 dogs over the past year, including 2 mama dogs that came to SAAP pregnant and gave birth in my care. It’s been such an incredibly rewarding experience. Along the way, we have added two beloved family members, Joplin (pictured), a 6 year old Irish Setter who enjoys napping and squeaky toys, and Lydia (aka Lydi, pictured below), a 2 year old little hellion who enjoys kisses and chewing up your favorite shoes. I wouldn’t change a thing.





Day 14: Renovations



My Happiness Project. Day 14.

I suppose day 14 should really specify that I mean completed renovations, as the process itself was rather stressful. About a month or two back, we finished fairly major renovations to our home, and it still thrills me to look at the before and after photos and revel in the transformation. My husband did all the work himself, in his spare time, with the exception of installing the new counter tops. I’m so proud of all his hard work and how lovely and cheerful everything turned out. One million gold stars for my husband’s DIY skills. 🙂

A couple more photos of the transformation:




Day 13: Office Supplies


My Happiness Project. Day 13.

Shopping for any kind of office supplies brings back happy memories of school supply shopping as a kid. One of my favorite things about a new school year was picking out all the necessary and sometimes not-so-necessary, *ahem* Lisa Frank, supplies. Once purchased, I would take all my treasures home and spend a great deal of time organizing everything. I eagerly looked forward to this process all summer long. A start of a new year, everything brand new and fresh, was exhilarating. Now I take my own kids shopping for school supplies, and though it is a bit different when you are the one paying the bill, I still get a rush from the process.


Day 12: The Library


My Happiness Project. Day 12.

Going to the library makes me feel rich. I like to imagine that this experience must be akin to shopping for the uber rich. The feeling that I can pick nearly any book I please and take it home, even if only on loan, thrills me. Author Libba Bray said it so eloquently, “The library card is a passport to wonders and miracles, glimpses into other lives, religions and experiences, the hopes and dreams and strivings of ALL human beings, and it is this passport that opens our eyes and hearts to the world beyond our front doors, that is one of our best hopes against tyranny, xenophobia, hopelessness, despair, anarchy, and ignorance.”

Do you have a “hat rack” relationship?

What it means:

Recently, I’ve had a slight epiphany. I have been placing “too many hats” on a few people in my life that are closest to me. What I mean by “too many hats,” is that I am guilty of expecting certain people to fill many different relationship needs, some of which aren’t entirely applicable or appropriate for that particular relationship.

For example, meet my beautiful sister, otherwise known as my personal hat rack:



My sister and I have an amazing relationship. First and foremost, she’s my older sister and BFF. However, I’ve found that I put a lot of other hats on her as well: Stylist, Life coach, Business adviser, Editor, Mentor, Marriage counselor, Sounding board… You get the picture.

While many times these things are normal to discuss with your BFF, I  realized that it’s really unfair for me to bring ALL these things to any one person ALL the time. I’m asking my sister to wear way too many hats. While my hat placing has a direct correlation to the amount of respect I have for her, I realize that it’s likely unhealthy to place that amount of stock in any one relationship.



Just like an investment portfolio, I have come to the conclusion that I need to diversify. This is better for me as a person, and also for my poor sister’s sanity (though she is amazing and has never complained). I think most would agree that as we become adults, and especially parents, making friends and maintaining/growing those relationships becomes increasingly challenging. With someone like me who has moved what seems like a gazillion times, it’s even harder. However, I can’t let my friendships fall to the wayside. Solid friendships are good for my health and happiness.


Plan of Action. blackboard

I’ve thought a great deal about how I can diversify my relationships. Everyone is different, but here are the specific changes I’m working towards making:

1. Identify and connect with friends or acquaintances that share common interests, particularly interests related to business, writing, and photography. For example, I know my friend Kim is interested in freelance writing, so I sent her a message about being “writing partners.” My hope is that we can form a relationship where we can bounce writing-related questions and ideas off of each other.

2. As advised by Gretchen Rubin in one of her podcasts, I started a group! Creating a reason to get together with friends regularly will help keep these relationships at the forefront of my mind, as well as give me the chance to get to know some new friends. The group, like my blog, is named after Benjamin Franklin’s Club of Mutual Improvement. We are meeting this Saturday for the first time and then hopefully monthly after that. It’s going to be a stress-free gathering of drinks and discussion. I’m really looking forward to seeing old friends, as well as getting to know some new friends better!

3. Speaking of new friends, make some! In the same podcast, Gretchen talks about how whenever she starts something new, her goal is always to make 3 new friends. I think this is a fantastic goal and plan to adopt a similar motto.

What about you?

Am I the only one who is guilty of placing too many hats on people I love? I’d love to hear your thoughts!






Day 11: Sunshine


My Happiness Project. Day 11.

Because I know firsthand what it means to be Vitamin D Deficient and also struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I am particularly cognizant and appreciative of the sun’s bright and glorious presence. Spending adequate time in the sun is an integral part of my health and well being. Aside from it’s remarkable health and mood-boosting powers, it is also a significant element when creating a photograph.  I delight in toying with the placement of the sun to alter the look, mood, and artistry of my photographs. The sun is both my medicine and my muse.


Day 10: Rainbow Colors


My Happiness Project. Day 10.

I’ve been brainstorming what I might photograph to model rainbow colors since I began this project. Much to my delight, the entrance to Cincinnati’s Contemporary Art Center over the weekend delivered immediate inspiration. (And if you’re ever in Cincinnati, I highly recommend checking out the CAC – it’s one of my favorite places!) No matter the subject, the bright and cheerful arrangement of rainbow colors always makes my heart happy. It’s like a pep talk for your vision, shouting “Let’s be jolly! Hurrah, Hurrah!”



Day 9: Composition Books


My Happiness Project. Day 9.

There is something particularly proper and gratifying about writing in a composition book. Thanks to some superb back-to-school sales, I recently picked up this notebook for only $0.49 at the grocery store. I’ve been carrying it around with me to record little pieces of writing or photography inspiration when it strikes me. Somehow writing my ideas in a composition book, versus an app on my phone, makes those ideas carry a little more oomph when I flip back through them. I love oomph.


Day 8: Audiobooks


My Happiness Project. Day 8.

I recently received a gift subscription to Audible and it has been such a joy! Between Audible and an App through my local library, I keep my tiny mp3 player and cell phone stocked with audiobooks. I love that I can be listening to an interesting book from my “to-read” list while I’m editing photos, folding laundry, mopping the floor, or walking the dog. In fact, it usually keeps me doing monotonous tasks much longer, because I get lost in listening to the book. Three cheers for multi-tasking!