Looking on the Bright Side: 6 Things That Delighted Me This Week

Looking on the Bright Side: 6 Things That Delighted Me This Week

Looking on the Bright Side: 6 Things That Delighted Me This Week


In light of my “Putting Things in Perspective” post last week, I’m zooming my lens in on the things that have put a spring in my step lately and focusing only on those.


Here goes.

1. Cocooning on a Winter’s Eve

My husband, Jame, and I were all set to go out on the town Friday night while Spence was away at a sleepover, but instead, we decided to stay in and cocoon.

Best decision ever!

When you’re surrounded by the chaos that comes with raising school-aged children, sometimes it’s magical to have the house to yourselves: to light a fire, and snuggle up together in a blanket with bowls of hot soup and a cute movie on TV.

Things that made me happy this week: Spooning on the couch


2. Registering for the HGTV Dream Home

Have you ever heard about this sweepstakes program?

Spence and I look forward to it every year. It’s become a bonding thing for us on New Year’s Day ever since he was knee high to a grasshopper. We watch the great unveiling of the current year’s dream home with awe; he gets first dibs on choosing which bedroom will be his, and I mop up drool as I marvel at the various homes’ views that range from mountaintop to seaside. All are spectacular.

Every day during the contest Spence, my registration task master, asks, “Mom, did you register today?” And then I do.

Will we win?

My Magic Eight Ball Says “Chances are Slim.”

Does that matter?

Not at all. It’s about the dream. It’s about fantasizing about owning a beautiful home in a tropical paradise, cruising down an inter coastal highway in the gorgeous boat that’s part of the prize package, and imagining the fun we’d have inviting guests to come share in our great fortune.

Entering is free, so I figure, what the heck? The idea of possibly winning brings warmth and island colors to our brown and white winter world, and that makes me happy.

By the way, if you’re interested in entering as well, here’s the link.

Dream Home Entry

Let’s take a closer look at the prize.

This is the front elevation of my soon-to-be tropical get-away on Merritt Island, Florida . . .

Things that made me happy this week: Dreaming of owning a tropical oasis


And here’s our future bedroom that, naturally, is decorated in tranquil, beachy tones, and overlooks the water. If you leave a kind message below and kiss up to me just a bit, I may let you crash in the macramé hammock swing for the night once we’re given the keys. But only if I’m in a benevolent mood.

And only if you fan me with palm fronds poolside.

For an hour.

Or two.

Or six.

Things that made me happy this week: Dreaming of owning a tropical oasis


And, finally, here’s the living room that overlooks the pool. Blissfully relaxing, classy, and my mind’s favorite temperate vacation from the cold.

Things that made me happy this week: Dreaming of owning a tropical oasis


3. My husband is down 55 lbs.!

I’m so proud of his hard work and dedication toward getting healthy. He’s like a new man. Lord knows I’ve been cooking lean and mean foods like never before, but his success can be attributed to much more than that. It’s because of his steadfast decisions to opt out of desserts, soft drinks, home-baked bread, french fries and other tantalizing goodies placed in front of us, especially during the holiday season. And he’s been able to stick to the straight and narrow because he’s learned the hard way that a leaner, healthier body feels so much better than turtle brownies taste.

I’m down 10 pounds, which is better than up 10 pounds, I suppose, but it pales in comparison to his loss. I have to start following his lead more closely since he’s become a health-focused rock star!

I mean, just look at him!

(Um, is it wrong of me to want to hug him one moment due to his tremendous success and strangle him the next due to the lack of my own? You don’t have to bother responding. I already know the answer. Shame on me!)

Things that made me happy this week: Weight loss success poster child!


4. Magnificent Blue Skies and Glorious Sunsets

The last couple of weeks have brought winter air that seems cold enough to crack, it’s true, but I’d much rather have cold temps with bright blue skies than the endless gray that typically comes part and parcel with winter.

Even if I find myself dashing from my heated car seat to a warm store in record time, I have to agree with Mr. Denver: sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy!

This winter has also gifted us with countless glorious sunsets. Here’s one I captured from our deck a while back.

Simply stunning!

Things that made me happy this week: Glorious sunsets galore!


5. This Completely Yummy Yet Healthy Dip

Honestly, in my quest to discover additional healthy recipes, I’ve run into a couple of doozies resulting in leftovers even my dog disdains.

But then there emerged this completely heavenly squash and cheese dip with chipotle adobo sauce called Butternut Queso Fundido that I test drove on my dressmaking friends and found that it was simply divine, darling! And my faith in healthy dishes was restored.

I posted about it yesterday. 

Try it!

You’ll be happy that you did!

Things that made me happy this week: Queso Fundido dip - healthy and delicious!


6. Visiting with Logan While Dining at Girl and the Goat

I’ve had an awfully strong hankering to see my oldest son this week.

Since his departure for college in August, weeks can go by when I’m A-Okay-dandy without seeing him in person, but then there are times when something comes over me and all of a sudden I ache to sit and talk with him about life, to see him smile in his own sweet way, and to hear him expound on the latest concept in which he’s currently enthralled even if I have to struggle to hide the fact that I haven’t a single clue about the lofty topic on which he’s pontificating. 

A friend handed me this photo of Logan a few days ago. Look at that Crest-sparkling smile! It was taken when he and his high school band travelled to Spain two years ago. I adore the photo and love the fact that she thought to print it and give it to me, and yet I nearly broke down right then and there.

Things that made me happy this week: My happy boy in Spain.


Anyway, my almost breaking down is the sappy part, not the happy part. The up side of this tale is that I was able to satisfy my Logan jones over the weekend.

We picked him up yesterday evening and drove into the city together to go eat at one of our favorite restaurants, Girl and the Goat, which is one of the huge benefits to having him attend a school that’s only an hour away. From our standpoint, at any rate.

Never fear! We ate lightly all day, made sure to get our exercise in first, and then shared several small dishes amongst the four of us to minimize calories.

Everything in moderation. 

Even moderation.

If you’re a Top Chef fan like I am, you’ll be interested to know that Stephanie Izard, who was named Top Chef in 2008’s Season 4, is the chef owner of this restaurant. 

The food is fabulous! It’s unique and smart and incredibly delicious.

One of the signature dishes we ordered was called Wood Roasted Pig Face. Gross, I know. But it’s fantastic since it features the cheek of the pig, which is amazingly tender and flavorful, plus it’s embellished with interesting flavors such as a sweet maple gastrique, a tart tamarind vinaigrette, crispy potato sticks, and a perfect sunnyside-up egg. In order to eat it, you pop the yolk and mix it all together to form a sort of pig cheek hash.

Groan if you will. But you would understand if you were to taste it.

We ran across this dish recently on a list of “25 Foods You Must Eat While Visiting Chicago” along with cinnamon rolls from Ann Sather’s and a birthday cake shake from Portillo’s. Have you had either of those treats? 

You can see how small the servings are. When there’s so much flavor packed in every bite, there isn’t a need for a huge plateful.

Things that made me happy this week: Beneath this eggs lies a pig face in waiting.


It was so wonderful to see and talk with Logan. He’s fairly adventurous when it comes to food, so he was in hog heaven eating roasted pig face as well as petite beef short ribs and caramelized cauliflower with pickled jalapeños and pine nuts.

The basil chocolate chip ice cream for dessert, though, not so much. 

Last night’s meal was a perfectly delicious ending to a delightful week.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful week to come focused in on the bright side of life!

Written by Becky


  • Catherine says:

    Congrats to you both on the lost pounds! Pig cheeks? Same as hog jowls? I had the later at Christmas, courtesy of a good ole boy from Mississippi. They tasted very much like super strong heavy cured bacon. Sounds like your Chicago chef put a lighter interesting spin on them. I’m guessing they weren’t cured to begin with. I love to try new foods!
    I started entering the HGTV Sweepstakes just this past season with the NC bungalow! Your post reminded me that I needed to enter this one, too. For some reason, I was having trouble getting the entry form to load and was searching online for fixes when I found this interesting link to what happened to the past winners/homes. Some of the sales tax burdens were eye-popping! However, it seems like it all works out for everyone in some manner. When I win, be sure to come visit with all the family. There will be plenty of room! But make it fast, before the taxes come due and I’ll have to unload the property. 🙂 Here’s the link:

    • Becky says:

      Well, hey there! YOU are going to let ME visit? HAH! Unless of course you do actually win, at which point “Thank you!” would probably be a more appropriate answer. My Magic Eight Ball doesn’t think the odds are in your favor either though.

      I ran across that article on the Dream Home winners once before, and find it fascinating that most of the folks have to sell it because the taxes and upkeep are too much for them. You’re right though that they all are better off in the end because they’ve lived the dream for at least a short while, and are walking away with a pile of cash from the sale that they never had before.

      Oh, and on a different subject, I don’t believe the pig cheeks we ate were cured. They were soft and succulent instead of chewy and salty. That said, I’d love to give hog jowl a go sometime. What’s not to like about bacon, super strong or otherwise?

  • Tony says:

    Great post. Why now instead of after for Jamin’s photo

  • Mary says:

    55 pounds? Jame, that’s fantastic! And it totally stinks. What is it with men? They don’t look at food for a day – they drop 5 pounds. I look at a commercial for Taco Bell and I can’t zip my jeans.

    I’m going to award you the credit Becky for all the low fat, low carb cooking. Keep the recipes coming.

    • Becky says:

      Hah, I like how you think, Mary! And I certainly will keep the healthy recipes coming as I continue to look for interesting food to serve my ever-shrinking hubby. (Mixed in with a few comfort foods here and there as well, that is.)

  • Hey Becky, I LOVED this posting. Jame….hubba, hubba. What a wonderful difference your diet made! And you’re not to be discouraged, Becky. Keep plugging away. Everyone’s body marches to a different drummer. With my lack of (most) carbs and sugar, I too have lost some weight, but nothing very noticeable like Jame. We do what we can. And Oh your dream house! I can picture it as MY house…but in the Rockies, not hot, humid Florida. Thanks for a happy morning dream, Becky. YLM

    • Becky says:

      Don’t worry. I’m about to go downstairs and keep plugging away in just a minute. I refuse to give up!

      By the way, one of the Dream Homes was located in the mountains in Colorado. You would have loved it. I’ll send you the link so you can dream in a comfortable locale.

  • Lori says:

    Jame you look great! Proud of you!!!

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About Me:

Hi! My name is Becky. I’m a mom, a wife, a friend, a writer, and a compulsive thinker. Don't invite me to a spa or to shop the day away, but rather, make me laugh, engage me in interesting conversation, play a game with me, or give me a cappuccino and homemade vanilla bean flan and I’m yours ‘til the cows come home.

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