Monday, January 31, 2011

Statement Bracelet

Every time my outfit allows me to wear this bracelet, I am happy.  Usually, I don't like wearing bracelets because they get in the way of typing, but there is just something about the big flowers and pearl band.  In fact, I am currently lusting after many other large bracelets to add to my jewelry collection.  What's your favorite statement bracelet?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

These are the the best oatmeal raisin cookies I have had--so yummy, so soft, so perfect!  And how can one not be happy when their apartment smells of freshly baked cookies?  Wonderful on a cold, winter day.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
  1. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  2. 1/2 cup butter flavored shortening (I used butter)
  3. 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  4. 1/2 cup white sugar
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  8. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  9. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  10. 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  11. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  12. 3 cups rolled oats
  13. 1 cup raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, butter flavored shortening, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. 
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. 
  4. Stir in the oats and raisins. 
  5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  6. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until light and golden. Do not overbake. Let them cool for 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheets to cool completely. Store in airtight container. Make sure you get some, because they don't last long!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Botanical Gardens

Yesterday, I went to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens--what a nice way to spend a free evening.  You may be asking what kind of gardens can Cleveland have in the middle of winter?  Well, to be honest, most of the gardens are under snow at the moment, but they do have a glasshouse with two large garden exhibits.  The first was modeled after Madagascar and had a lot of spiny plants.  The second was modeled after the Cloud Rainforest in Costa Rica and it's where my favorite picture of the day (seen above) was taken.  My favorite part of this exhibit was the colorful butterflies and birds flying all around us.  Too bad they moved too quickly for a good picture.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

First Attempt at Mehendi

I have always admired the intricate mehendi artwork seen in several Eastern cultures, but never knew quite where to get the mehendi paste or how to apply it.  Imagine my delight when I found prepackaged mehendi cones at a grocery street on Devon (a street full of Indian stores and restaurants in Chicago).  These pre-made cones made the prep super easy--just cut of the tip of the cone, squeeze on to hands, and then don't touch anything for several hours as the design absorbs into the skin.  Since it was my first time, I kept it simple.  The top hand is my first mehendi drawing ever, and the bottom hand is mine.  Feels good to pick up a new skill and create something pretty!  

Some tips to get the designs to come out dark and last long:

1) Exfoliate the skin before you start drawing.  This ensures that only fresh skin will get the dye--not old skin that is about to fall off soon anyway.

2) Put a pinch of sugar in a small bowl of lemon juice.. Apply this mixture on the design once it is somewhat dry and won't be smeared.  You can apply this by either spraying or dabbing softly with a cotton ball.  I prefer to soak a cotton ball and drip it over the design until it is covered.  This will help darken the color by increasing the acidity and keeping the paste moist enough to let the dyes continue to soak into the skin.

3) Keep the skin warm!  Heat will help the color seep in faster and deeper.  So if you are prone to cold hands and feet, put them by a fireplace, heater, or any other source of heat.

4) Keep the paste on as long as you can, preferably overnight.  I like to draw the design after dinner once I have nothing else to do for the day.  Then right before going to bed, I will apply the lemon-sugar mixture one last time and cover my hands loosely with paper bags or cloth scraps.  In the morning, peel off the paste.

Pictures of future, more intricate mehendi attempts coming in future posts.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crème Brule French Toast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I never skip it.  But it's rarely more complicated than a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice.  Then I came across Crème Brule French Toast at a friend's party and fell in love with it.  Once I figured out how to make it myself, I feel even more in love.  You see, I like to EAT, not COOK when I wake up.  But with this, all the work is done the day before, and all I do is pop it in the oven when I wake up.  Easy.  It tastes like French Toast, with a surprise Crème Brule layer on the bottom.  The bright red strawberries I had in my fridge and the compliments from my breakfast mates were just more reasons to smile that morning!  Oh--and if you make a big batch, the leftovers can give you great breakfasts for many days. Don't worry, the recipe is below:

Crème Brule French Toast

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon syrup
  • French or Italian bread (1-1.5 inch thick slices)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange liquor or orange juice
  • cinnamon to taste (optional)
  • Melt butter in saucepan
  • Add syrup and brown sugar
  • Stir until sugar is dissolved
  • Pour liquid into bottom of glass dish
  • Arrange bread on top of sugar Mixture
  • Mix together eggs, half and half, vanilla, salt, and OJ (and cinnamon)
  • Pour over bread
  • Soak overnight in fridge
  • Bake 35 minutes at 350deg 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Welcome to Small Happy Pills--a blog devoted to the smaller pleasures in life.

These are the things that put a smile on my face even during the worst and most stressful of days.

These are the things that probably prevent me from needing the real "happy pills".

This blog's goal is to inspire others to appreciate the small joys in their life and to smile more often.  My life is in no way unique and many of the small things that make me happy are the same small things that you and millions of others in the world may have enjoyed at some point.

Feel free to comment and leave your small joys--I might try them out and post!