24 December 2011

christmas cookies

Happy christmas eve sweet friends! I hope you are all channeling that fierce inner peace within yourself and letting the stress of the season just disappear. Soak up the magical moments with your loved ones and make memories that last forever.

A few days ago, we made cookies at Glamma's. Sookie had a lot of fun chasing me around with an egg beater. It was fabulous. ;)

Recipe is from the Rachael Ray magazine and can be found HERE. We did things a little differently, we used gold sparkling sugar and a star cookie cutter as opposed to a snowflake one. They are so delicious though, I will be making these again and again. I have a weakness for anything lemon and coconut, so these were just heaven!


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks plus 5 tbsp. (10.5 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 tbsp. half-and-half
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice plus 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • White sparkling sugar, for decorating
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut


  1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream 11 tbsp. butter and the granulated sugar on medium-low speed until fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and the extracts, scraping the bowl, for 2 minutes. Mix in the flour mixture in 2 batches on low speed.
  3. Divide the dough between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using the wrap to help, shape the dough into 2 disks and seal. Chill for 2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, using the mixer, beat the remaining 10 tbsp. butter, 1/2 tsp. salt, the confectioners’ sugar, half-and-half, lemon juice and lemon zest on low speed until smooth. Beat on high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Chill the filling.
  5. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 375°. Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment. Working with 1 dough disk at a time, roll out on a floured surface to 1/8 inch, rotating the dough as needed. Using a 2 1/2-inch cutter, cut out cookies. Divide the cookies among the pans, chilling the pans as you work.
  6. Sprinkle the cookies with the sparkling sugar. Bake 2 pans at a time, switching them halfway through cooking, until the edges brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack; let cool.
  7. Spread the bottom of 1 cookie with 1 tsp. of the filling. Sandwich with another cookie. Use your fingers to scoop and press the coconut onto the filling. Chill for about 30 minutes.

    What is your all time favorite christmas cookie recipe?

21 December 2011

stars in her hair

Our floors delicately shimmer with glitter, almost as though a little sprite of a thing came flitting through our home, quickly gracing us with her copious amount of Christmas cheer in the festive form of silver sparkles.

Hey, I can't complain. I am an 80s child after all.

Poppa Santa came by for a visit the other day.

I love how she is so over him at this moment. Ha!

She's thinking...I just want to go play in the field. My dad is thinking...can I take this thing off yet?

How lucky is she that her Poppa is Santa?! ;)

One of my favorite things is when we lay in bed after a long day; the four of us resting like puzzle pieces on our queen sized sanctuary. I capture the notion of how I am the most at peace when my feet are nestled against Jack's (our dog) back, my hand is holding Roar's and my arm is protectively over Sook's tummy. There's something about being close with all three of them that intensifies my wishes for our right now and our future, that precious potent magic power of using your yesterdays to make better your todays and tomorrows. A mess of hands, fingers, feet and toes; all loving and living in this shared space, following a path of a reality that has already exceeded my wildest, most imaginative dreams.

Nothing...just taking my monkey on a walk.

I also happen to adore it when she teases and bites like a fiesty little alligator.

We were out to dinner the other night. We ordered her a giant salad, girl loves her tomatoes, and Rory tells her, "If you eat all of that, Daddy will buy you a pony."

When she farts? When she farts she says "Burp", I don't have the heart to correct her because I would rather her refer to it as that, and it is so funny I crack up laughing each and every time.

My hands are under the covers, she pushes her cheeks against mine, and kisses me with no hidden agenda, no abandon, no hesitation. Just pure love, straight from momma to daughter.

I love that at 22 and a half months, even when half asleep, she can still find the energy to be polite. In the middle of the night, she turns to me and asks for more milk. I return with a fresh offering for her, and with closed eyes, she says "thank you". My momma heart melts and is oh so proud. SO PROUD, because her sentiment is not only genuine, it is unprompted. Isn't that the best kind of "thank you"?

Her skin is still fresh, ripe even, with bold innocence and technicolor dreams.

17 December 2011

their happy is too loud

I will never stop fighting to believe life is good and that the universe loves us. Even mid-mini-meltdown on my laundry room (okay, our house is small, so more accurately, laundry hallway) floor as I cradle Sookie and her hair glistens with my salty soft falling tears as she holds my iPhone so expertly while she snaps moments of this and my turquoise polka dot socks.

Do you want to know why life is crazy? 27 years ago last Tuesday, my parents were given news that they never wanted to hear. A disease, their daughter, she would not have 9 years on this earth. A relentless disease that affects every cell in the body. A disease that destroys kidneys, bones, eyes, pancreas, liver, muscles, and can eventually rob someone of their precious voice, priceless sight, ability to swallow solid foods...but not will to live. 

But I celebrate. 

I celebrate I've never known what healthy feels like because it has always been this way, so I don't have a frame of comparison to measure up what I am missing. I celebrate what I used to have and what I can do today. I celebrate the people; the people who know how isolated walking this journey can feel. How triumphant absence of vomiting and nausea truly is. The ones who come to surround me, lift me up, who soak up my tears of defeat with their shirt sleeves, but also point out how my tears of joy sparkle in the sun.

I celebrate the 19 years they said would never happen.

"Their happy is too loud."
A line in a scene from a movie that shattered my heart. A little girl is trying to sleep and their neighbors are having a party. She tells her daddy, 'their happy is too loud." I melt. I want a big banner proclaiming this to hang proudly on our front porch.
Yet another line from a Cameron Crowe movie that has become a welcome, all encompassing mantra in my life. Last weekend we went on a much needed date to a sneak preview of 'We Bought A Zoo". (The last time we were really alone happened to be at NIH, and as much fun as that was, sitting around waiting to be a lab rat at a government run hospital is just not high on our list of romantic adventures. Wink.)
So this movie? This movie is about a single dad with a teenage son and a little girl with red curly hair. The mommy was sick, the little girl about 7 years old in the movie. Based on a true story and as hard as I tried, I could not stop thinking about Sookie. I think we cried on each other the entire length of the film."It's all happening" courtesy of Almost Famous was the theme for my Make A Wish weekend meeting Hanson (for the first time; that is the funny thing about make a wishes...one comes true and then you are running into the three blonde brothers multiple times all over the United States. But that is a story for another day.)

Obviously, when my emotions are charged, I tend to gravitate toward elements of art that are way too close in reality to my own. Another case in point? I read Matt Logelin's "Two Kisses For Maddie" a few weeks ago as I climbed out of the dark depths I tumbled into after my traumatic trip back to DC.

I'm sitting in the corner of the kitchen and I make a bold statement; to Roar, to Sook, to the world outside and to the skies above.
"I just want to be with her forever."
Roar's response?
"How do you know you won't be?"

12 December 2011

We Need A Little Christmas, Right This Very Minute

A sprinkle of fresh fallen snowflakes merging together to form a blanket of white, eight spunky reindeer, bouncing with the endless sugar rush from seasonal treats, a cozy and invigorating fire, the dazzle and glow of a Christmas tree you put your heart into, and the newfound excitement of an otherwise mundane activity of checking the mail; all of these things are what I adore about this time of year.

What kind of card you send showcases where your family is at the moment, on your little own story you build together. It compells you to ask how you want to sum up your year in one big final bang and wave goodbye to this year.

I adore tiny prints and what they have to offer. They have Christmas and Holiday cards for whatever vibe you are aiming for this particular year; from simple blank and white understated elegance, to cheerful, colorful whimsical fun.

Here are a few of my favorites: 

If your Christmas to do list is still miles long like mine, you still have time! Tiny Prints offers super rush delivery, which let's face it, is sometimes the only way things get done around all of the holly and jolly floating around right now.

09 December 2011

rise and fall

Simple thoughts like these propel me forward.

The rise and fall of her chest is the paint I use for the blueprints of our dreams, the words I use to document our legacy together, and the rhythm with which I find the courage to LIVE.

01 December 2011

i'm blank because...

Happy morning to you! 

I saw this on two of my favorite blogs: Little Miss Momma and Casey Wiegand so I thought it would be a fun little exercise. I love lists. :)

I’m weird because…
I love to vaccuum.
I wear glitter shoes to cheer myself up when I'm feeling blue.
I tell Sook a million times a day how brave she makes me, because she is so brave.
I love to dump malt vinegar on my french fries and cover them in salt.
I chew on my hair when I'm nervous.
I online window shop to let real life wash away.
I'm addicted to peppermint oil in water. 
I am a huge believer in co-sleeping.
I know more about Cystinosis than the majority of doctors I see.
I can eat an entire giant bag of salt & vinegar chips in one sitting.
I love doing laundry, I simply don't like folding it or putting it away.
I believe in letting kids make messes; that is how they learn, discover, and explore their world.
I'm making a conscious effort to get rid of things or activities in my life that don't make my life bigger or better.
We bought Sook a Fozzie Bear hat on clearance at a Halloween store and because it is too big for her, I've been wearing it. (See photographic evidence below.)
When on shuffle, my iPod will play Neil Young, Hanson, Ryan Adams, Nirvana, Jann Arden, Carole King, and Kings of Leon...all in a row.

I’m a bad friend because…

I'm horrible at being prompt when replying to text messages.
My feelings are hurt extremely easily.
I'm incredibly stubborn.
Sometimes I hold the people I love to ridiculously high standards.

I’m a good friend because…
My loyalty is fierce and mighty.
I give and give and give and give until I have nothing left.
I lend support whenever I can.
I aim to cultivate love and light every single minute of the day.

I’m sad because...
I will never be pregnant again.
Medical research moves achingly slow.
Sometimes regrets get the best of me.
Certain people in my life, just don't "get it", they simply don't understand Cystinosis is progressive and there is not a quick fix for everything.
Cystagon makes me so sick, but saves my life. It is a difficult paradox to convey and triumph over. I'll explain this further in a 'living with Cystinosis' post I'm writing, but in short, it has been used in laboratories to give animals ulcers. 
I've been thinking about my health way too much lately.

I’m happy because...
I'm here, right now.
Our girl is healthy. This is big, SO BIG, I never take it for granted... truly. I would walk on hot coals every day for the rest of my life if that meant she never had to deal with illness or disease.
HUGE things are happening early next year for Roar and his business.
Sugarland's Christmas album, Gold and Green, makes me feel all fuzzy, warm, and invincible.
I feel like the luckiest girl in the whole universe that I am her momma and I have the privilege to be her full time caregiver...because it IS a privilege. 
Jack (our dachshund) will be here for another Christmas with us. (He has a lot of scary back problems due to his size and build.)
I'm currently in the throes of a Miranda Lambert obsession. 
The sweet emails, comments, thoughts are receive from this little blog are such bright lights in my day!
We launched gLockets a few days ago! They will get their very own post, but I'm so in love with them; they are glass lockets that hold birthstones. For a limited time, get $5 off with code HAPPYGIRL

I’m excited for…
Playing in the snow with Sookie this winter, building snowmen with her and making snow angels.
A lazy Christmas day at home with my loves; we decided this year we are going to stay home to soak it all in, instead of rushing around from house to house in a whirlwind of stress.
The solace this blog brings into my life.
Sookie turning TWO!!!
Incredible couples I love and adore tying the knot in 2012.
Personal growth, new goals, really pushing forward full force with my memoir in the next few weeks and beyond into 2012.

30 November 2011

the letter 4 sisters giveaway!

today is going to be a great day.

want to know why?

we have a super fun giveaway from:

these sisters are gorgeous and as sweet as candy. (truly!)

here is a little bit about them:

We are 4 sisters that grew up like regular sisters. Hogging the bathroom, stealing eachothers clothes, laughing about anything and everything. Now we have grown up and moved away from eachother and to be honest, we miss it! Our blog has been such a great way for us still be close again and share projects, ideas, inspiration, and happenings together. Each sister has different talents and taste, so really there is something for everyone in our blog.

Today they are generously giving away 
a custom print from their shop!!! 

How perfect are these?
I think Sookie needs the zebra heart print! ;)

Winner will receive their choice of a custom print,
yup, you guess it, completely customized! 

Here is how to enter:

(Please leave a separate comment for each entry!)

Follow my blog and follow the letter 4 sisters blog. (one entry)

Visit the letter 4 sisters shop and come back to tell us your favorite item. (one entry)

Spread the word on facebook or twitter about this giveaway!
Example you can use:
I just entered to win a custom print from the letter 4 sisters shop on a happygirl.com and you can too here http://www.ahappygirl.com/2011/11/letter-4-sisters-giveaway.html
(one entry for tweeting, one for facebooking)

Good luck to all of you!!!

29 November 2011

so much to be grateful for

Car keys hang from a sign proclaiming "home", as does a sunshine yellow purse and a teeny tiny teal peacoat.
I smile at this simple scene. It is my life. 

I climb into bed. A strong hand wraps around my hip and pulls me close as the man I've always had visions of, is existing, breathing, sleeping next to me.

when i was devastated after our return from the NIH
roar wrote this on our white board
and insisted i finished it
he pulls me up like that

Glass half full baby.
Glass half full.

To me, gratitude is about so much more than saying, "Oh I'm thankful for this, this, and this."

It is an every day, every hour, every minute kind of zest that cements you in the sheer brilliance of a moment; whether it is a big moment, a small miracle, or anything and everything in between that strings our chapters together in a tightly wound epic tale of the book of our lives.

my daddy and my girl.
infinite love.

There have been several moments screaming boldness lately and I find myself wanting to capture the feelings they elicit and bottle them up for those times when I feel weak and start to doubt my own power, my own importance, my own legacy.

I love the little things; childhood christmas songs (alabama & kenny & dolly baby!), sunshine, sparkly headbands, diet coke, sleep, a cozy bed, warm boots, food I was told to avoid, I am swimming in and finding delight in, just eating much slower, savoring every single last morsel. The big stuff: Roar being on our local news with is app company, and our girl taking her first pee in the toilet (!!!) 

And while I obsess over food lately, because I am stubborn and I want to eat all of my favorites for as long as I can...it hits me with the strength of gale force winds, this little girl in your arms? This solid person so open to the world, so gracious to everyone and anyone? The one that looks so much like you, except she is perfectly healthy? You have been blessed beyond all limits to coexist on the same time trajectory with her. 

Nothing has changed, but I'm feeling a little drunk on love & light tonight.

Happy Tuesday.
I hope it has been filled with many blessings!

28 November 2011

la luce designs

i've been admiring la luce designs from afar for awhile now. my first glimpse of them was through a little blog you've probably heard of, enjoying the small things. can you imagine how my stomach filled with all sorts of fluttery goodness when sweet ashley emailed me and said she was interested in sponsoring the blog? i was thrilled to say the very least! i'm just dipping my toes into the waters that is sponsoring and i am very excited for the opportunity to work with ashley.

it is no secret we love headbands around here. you might even call us headband hoarders, but in my defense? there are much worse things to hoard. right? right. i adore them for the purpose of masking my crazy new growth of bangs. they are also nice to plop on sookie's head for that added dose of sass to her day. girlfriend's hair is all over the place lately, no matter how many times i comb it.

tahnie: the cassie
sookie: the aubrey

la luce also has rings and necklaces if your fingers and neck need a little refresh of decor.

wouldn't the dakota make a stunning christmas gift?

i think it is easy to get overwhelmed in the headband realm these days and you might even adopt the attitude of well, i've seen one headband, i've seen them all. but au contraire  my dear girl; ashley has this incredible knack for mixing the coolest fabrics with detailed and gorgeous metal pieces to create a truly unique piece that is just as easily paired with jeans, boots and a sweater or a little black dress for a holiday party. a giant added bonus to la luce headbands? they are so comfortable you will forget you are wearing them. honestly, if sookie can keep hers on for an entire day, you know they are a cozy head decoration.


while i started this blog for sookie, i have found such incredible talent through my sponsors and it tickles me to band together to support each other. lifting each other up, offering words of encouragement and truly pushing each others' dreams forward? it is a remarkable feeling.

i would absolutely be honored to work with you to promote your blog and/or shop! all funds collected from sponsors go toward my immense and overwhelming medical bills. please contact me at tahnie@gmail.com if you are interested in sponsoring a happy girl in december.


23 November 2011


with the news last week that my esophageal and other swallowing muscles have started wasting, (due to complications from cystinosis), my brain has gone to some very dark places since we have been home. while my heart has been silent, simply too tired, battered and bruised to find the courage to fight for the light. i think such a key component to thriving with any kind of serious illness is that even when it does start to strip you of your basic human functioning, you have to channel the rage and heartbreak of that into making your spirit stronger. you have to. because if you don't and you let yourself start to disintegrate? it isn't good and you miss out on the beautiful life that is yours and yours alone.

and to put it simply: i love food. food is awesome. i do not like being told what i can eat. i'm not giving up my favorites just yet.


it was the first 40 or so pages of jodi picoult's 'sing you home' and the matt logelin piece in the latest issue of mamalode that made me stop the tears of self pity and lift my chin up toward the sun.

i've had 21 months, 3 weeks, 1 day, and 10 hours with a magical little being who has my DNA dancing throughout her body. this fact and this fact alone carries the weight that i should be able to face losing the basics of existing, like walking, talking, hearing, sight, eating anything with grace.

there is something law defying about flying from a dark east coast toward the light out west. chasing daylight. it goes against what nature says and i found the irony in the situation about where i am with my health. it is not lost on me the fact my kidney and my heart are both looking great, and they are two things that actually can be transplanted.

there is so much i want to share.

roar made me laugh in the middle of a breakdown a few days ago. i was asking him how other people dealing with the unimaginable find their strength. his response? "maybe she reads your blog."
ooof. point taken. listen to your own advice. choose laughter. choose happiness. choose beauty. always.

home is our girl sleeping soundly in her crib while orange stars are scattered across her ceiling. home is laughing at dinner, while she scoops up ranch with her bare hands, and seconds later, the tears falling fast over a silly train song (i promise to sing to you when all the music dies) sucker punching me right at the opportune moment. home is sunday night grocery runs to target. home is morning adventures outside. home is knowing who i can fall apart in front of, and who won't judge me for doing so. home is throwing all vanity into the clouds, because really? what is the point of eye makeup when you are doing eye drops fifteen times a day. (yes, i wish i was exaggerating.) home is sidewalk chalk in november, because that is how we roll. home is my girl dragging around a purse bigger than she is. home is indulging in a burger from five guys, because i'm stubborn and a certain doctor told me not to. i'm not even that big of a beef fan, but in this case i had something to prove and i was not backing down until the mission was accomplished. home is the thrill of a fresh new good book. home is all of the breakdown moments that led up to the giant one of: i.will.not.quit.

home is where i get back in tune and in step with my authentic self.

a few housekeeping items:
the winner of the bip and bop giveaway is... chelsea !!!
nicole is graciously offering you sweet readers 15% off with coupon code happygirl

could you vote for us on top baby blogs? thank you SO so very much.