Happiness Project brunch, no.1


Eight of us gathered at my house this morning to talk about being happy. I alluded to this discussion group in a previous post, but in summary: Throughout 2013 we're partially discussing Gretchen Rubin's book and partially discussing our own happiness projects. Today was the perfect reminder of something I've always known: My friends are amazing human beings. They're smart, funny, creative, thoughtful, and in this case, adventurous. I mixed a few different friend groups to compile the full invitation to 18 people. It's not easy for everyone to discuss something as personal as happiness, habits, and goals when you met some of the people in the room five minutes ago.

You read that I mixed friend groups, right? Well, by way of constant introductions, this happened.

One of Rubin's rules is "Spend Out" - Meaning use your favorite stuff every day, over and over.

Of course I'll never mention anyone by name, and it's not my place to blog specifics of anything outside my own happiness project, but the variety of ideas covered today was fascinating. Rubin's January chapter focused on organization, purging, reclaiming your energy, etc. Collectively our favorite takeaway seemed to be the 60-second rule: Do not procrastinate anything you can do in less than 60 seconds. Tasks that feel daunting because they build up to a lump sum are virtually eliminated if you spend 60 extra seconds doing that one last thing you need to do. For example, why do I have three magazine subscription mailer things sitting on my counter right now? Why have they been sitting there for two months? Two months. That's 60 days, Internet. It would take me less than 60 seconds to renew the subscriptions and move on with my life. Instead I pass them every day and say, "Shoot. Right. Okay, tomorrow." Not tomorrow...do not put off anything you can do in less than 60 seconds. Watch it add up and watch your energy level shift when you don't have little bits of tasks floating around you.

Yes, the glasses say "Happy" and they were actually purchased before I'd ever heard of the book.

We talked about our own successful organizational strategies, but also shared our preliminary individual goals for the month and/or year. On one side of the room I have a friend who translated a year's worth of goals into daily checklists and spreadsheets, and on the other side I have a friend who is currently resisting the idea of anyone telling her what to do (even if that person is herself). I have a friend who has already organized and purged her home room by room, including the dreaded bedroom closet. Another friend joined a writing group and he's working on his memoir. Someone is beginning the process of moving in with a partner, and all the organizational compromise that comes with that, while someone else is settling themselves back into their own home after a long-term partner moved out. The similarities and differences are awesome and I can already tell we're going to learn a lot from each other this year. There were six additional people who couldn't make it to this first brunch for whatever reason, so it will also be interesting to watch the conversations and dynamics shift and different personalities are thrown in the mix.

Conversation starters related to the book, which this particular group did not need at all. 

We left our conversation on the note of "Power Words" -- a single word mantra that will remind you of your overarching goals for the year. A theme word, if you will. Each month may have specific goals, or maybe even a theme, depending on how people laid out their projects; but the power word is a summation of what you want the year to be about. I have an Instagram friend, who I've never met in real life but we're so similar in so many ways, who chose "light" as her power word. Isn't that beautiful? I decided on ABUNDANCE. There are many reasons why I settled on that word, and likely many more reasons I'll discover throughout the year that I don't even realize yet, but that's another blog post entirely. The basic idea is that I want to learn to trust in abundance, demonstrate that trust by taking more risks, and show gratitude for everything I have. Cheers, 2013!

Power Word reminder cards. I hear they're all the rage.

Finally, remember how I don't cook? Well, Dear Reader, that's what potlucks are for. Our spread this morning was particularly awesome. Also, there's one brunchy dish that isn't terribly difficult and I can more or less pull it off. I think it's full of flavor and great for groups. If it's your thing, the recipe is below. Perhaps you might make it and host your own Happiness Project brunch. Spread the love. And the frittatas. 

veg + egg + feta = done

Ingredients (yields about 16, depending on size of muffin pan):

6 large egg
4 large egg whites
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 cups fresh spinach, baby leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup canned artichoke hearts, packed in water, cut in chunks 
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, packed in water, cut in chunks
1/2 cup uncooked scallions, finely diced
1/4 cup low fat cream cheese, room temperature


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat muffin pan(s) with canola oil cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, beat eggs, egg whites, water, salt, and pepper until blended. Stir in soft cream cheese, then add spinach, artichoke hearts, feta, roasted peppers, and scallions. Mix well.

3. Spoon about 1/4 cup egg/veg mixture into each prepared muffin hole. Bake until set, about 20-25 minutes. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 4 minutes. Remove frittatas with a rubber spatula and cool directly on wire rack for 1 minute before serving. 

What January Taught Me

(mis)adventures en la cocina