The Happiness Report: 5-26-2020

Coming at you on a Tuesday, because Monday was a HOLIDAY!  Yesterday was Memorial Day, and I spent the day with my guys, lounging, dodging the rain, and not blogging.

But now, as I’m preparing my bright spots for you (and me), I’m sitting here reflecting on last week.  I used to raise all the praise hands when I had a week that was uneventful.  When there wasn’t much to report.  When there was a lot of downtime.  When there was blank space on my calendar.  And now, here I am, with more blank space than what makes me comfortable on most days, and I’m wishing for more events, and more people, and more travel, and more normalcy.  Honestly, it’s a really interesting feeling, because I want all of those things, but I want to temper it with quality and not quantity.  So when I think about last week, although at first blush, it feels like nothing much by way of quantity, there were many quality moments that brought me a lot of joy.

  1. Instagram Interview.  A first for me!  Yes, I have been a guest on a podcast, or two, or three.  But a live Instagram interview?  Not yet.  But that changed this week when I chatted with Ask Buddy.  Ask Buddy is building a community of culture seekers and connecting them to safe, authentic experiences in Kansas City.  They have a great curation on their website, and they have a very active Instagram presence, where they have recently been interviewing local “Tastemakers” about their KC favorites.  So when they reached out to ask if they could include me in this series, I was honored and excited.  Obviously I love Kansas City and will take any opportunity to talk about all my favorite spots.  Check out my interview and my top picks here.
  2. Grazing KC Live Charcuterie Demo.  Yea, I bet that made you pause.  I mean, who doesn’t love a charcuterie board?  I was fortunate enough to meet Sarah, the owner of Grazing KC at an event last year.  At this event, she had transformed an entire table into the charcuterie board of my (and your) dreams.  It was so beautiful that many of us commented about how it looked almost too good to eat.  Almost.  Because of course everything was delicious, as she takes pride in using the most quality and inventive products.  Since that event, I have stayed connected with her (and honestly just stalked her gorgeous Instagram feed), and last week I saw that she was offering a free live demo.  Sign. Me. Right. Up.  During this live event, she walked us through her tips and tricks, and it was such a fun way to spend a Thursday night.  She does offer events and private classes, so when things return to “normal,” I can’t wait to get some hands on fun!
  3. Family Pictures.  Finally!  We were scheduled to take family pictures in early April, in advance of Jack’s 3rd birthday.  Taylor, of Photo KC, has been taking our pictures for the past couple of years, and she does such a wonderful job.  I always look forward to shooting with her, because she is so sweet, so disarming, and so positive.  Plus she always makes me look and feel like a dime!  But of course, with the Stay At Home Order and social distancing protocols, we had to postpone our photo shoot.  However, last week, we made it happen!  And it was so worth the wait!  It was wonderful to get dressed up with my dudes, to see our favorite photographer, and to smile and laugh in the sunshine.  And y ‘all, per usual, the pictures are stunning!
  4. 143 Day.  This was a new one for me, but it brought some unexpected joy to my week.  Mr. Rogers regularly used 143 as his special code for “I Love You,” based on the number of letters in each word.  Now it is a day when we are encouraged to share the acts of kindness and good deeds we do for each other. Remake Learning reached out to me about a new campaign they were starting, called “Tomorrow,” and it kicked off on May 22nd, 143 Day.  Tomorrow, calls us to forge a future where each day holds promise for every learner—where youth, families, and educators connect timeless ideas and new ways of learning to prepare for what comes next, no matter what tomorrow might bring.  From 143 Day through October, they will be hosting webinars, virtual events, and so much more.  I was a part of their kickoff, and I will be one of their influencers throughout the campaign.  I am completely honored, and I can’t wait to learn and share more!
  5. A Special “Holiday.”  On May 24, 2002, Chad asked for my phone number on a paper towel in the kitchen at a house party.  Obviously you know how that turned out.  But fast forward to May 24, 2017, and Chad and I were standing in front of a judge at the Olathe Courthouse for our adoption hearing, receiving our final decree of adoption.  We didn’t get to pick this date, so it was a completely unexpected fun little God wink.  After we left the courthouse, we were starving, so we drove straight to our favorite Mexican restaurant, K-Macho’s, and celebrated Jack’s Gotcha Day with margaritas, chips and salsa, and a sleeping baby.  The last two years, we celebrated with dinner at the restaurant, but since we’re still staying at home, but I am BIG on tradition, we got takeout and celebrated at the kitchen table.  It was such a sweet reminder that tradition is not canceled, and there is still beauty all around us.


I hope you found some joy in the stillness this week and that my happy moments made you smile too!



Molly B.

The Happiness Report: 5-18-2020

Full transparency, last week was hard.  It was probably the hardest week that I’ve had since this whole Stay At Home Order began.  I am an extrovert, through and through, and I’m really missing human interactions outside of my house.  For some reason that was hitting really hard last week.  And then I received the news that our company was cancelling all travel for the remainder of the year.  As you know, I travel approximately 75% of my time for my role, and it is now a major part of my way of life.  It was also a light at the end of the tunnel, something to look forward to at the end of this, and it was canceled.  It’s not my style to dwell on things, so I cried it out that night, and I came in the next morning with lots of ideas to pivot my role and stay engaged in things that bring me joy.  I was feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, and I was thinking that, although not ideal, it could still be a really cool year and the opportunity to expand my capacity.  Then, on Friday afternoon, I received the news that my enrollment in Pacific Coast Banking School had been cancelled due to these travel restrictions.  Y’all, this one hit really hard.  This graduate course work has been on my professional wishlist for over 10 years.  As soon as I heard about its existence, I wanted to go.  I got my nomination and acceptance a couple of months ago, and it was one of the happiest moments of my career.  So for it to be canceled was a really tough blow.

And I get it.  I get all of it.  And I respect and appreciate it.  My company is doing everything possible to keep our employees, our customers, and our communities safe.  I’ve been intimately involved in this work, so I can confidently see and say that.  But all I could think about was me and how I was feeling.  And honestly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  It’s okay for us to feel sad and disappointed about every way this pandemic is affecting our lives–big or small.

So to say that finding bright spots was hard seems like a meek description.  So on Saturday morning, I sat at my quiet kitchen counter, Notes app open on my phone to a fresh page, to start my list.  And although it took a while to get going, I almost couldn’t stop.  Because although the week was hard, there really were a lot of things that brought me joy.

(But note to self, I will now be keeping a running list on my Notes app throughout the week so I can easily recall these things in the future.)

Here are the five happiest things from my week:

  1. Virtual Cooking Class.  I am continually inspired by how our small businesses are innovating during this time.  And when I heard about how our local restaurant, Summit Grill, was offering a virtual cooking class on a Wednesday night, I was like, “YES!”  This was such a fun mid-week break and an unexpected date night for Chad and me.  I did a full recap for the blog, complete with the recipe that we made.
  2. Nelson Atkins Penguins.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a Kansas City institution.  As the daughter of a long-time museum employee in Tulsa, I am so happy to have this space and its collection in my city.  The museum is currently closed, but that didn’t stop them from inviting the penguins from the Kansas City Zoo inside for their own personal tour.  You guys!  I seriously cannot stop watching this video!  Guaranteed to make you smile.
  3. Wine Deliveries.  I’ve often heard that one way to boost your mood is to make someone else’s day.  Cliché maybe, but true.  Thinking of ways, big and small to make people smile typically makes you smile too.  Plus I just really miss my people, and I want them to know that I love them.  So on Saturday morning, I bundled up some of my new favorite warm weather treat, KC Wine Co Vine Coolers  and did some drive-by drop-offs to my best KC gal pals, followed by texts to go check their mailboxes or front porches.  It was so fun to be a little sneaky in the best possible way.
  4. Saturday Takeout with a Cause.  Give and Partake was created by a local KC mama, Ashley Judy, as a way to give back to local nonprofits while driving more traffic to our local restaurants.  She started last year with a Mac & Cheese Book, where you could visit a selection of local restaurants, and with the purchase of an entrée, you got a signature Mac & Cheese dish for free, and the restaurant donated a portion of the sale to charity.  Win, win, cheesy, feel good, win.  Since then, she created a Brunch Book and a collaboration book with Open Belly, focused on immigrant-owned and/or operated restaurants.  Obviously, with the closure of their dining rooms, our local restaurants need us more than ever.  So with her incredibly kind heart, and innovative mind, last week, Ashley launched the “Give and Partake-Out” book, with your takeout order earning you a dining credit to be used in the future, and a portion of the sales going to Operation Breakthrough.  We broke in our book on Saturday night with some Old Shawnee Pizza, and our goal is to knock out all 24 restaurants in this collection.  The most delicious quarantine adventure!
  5. Mug Cakes.  Baking has always been incredibly therapeutic for me.  And sadly, I don’t do it nearly as often anymore.  Call it busy.  Call it not wanting to have a ton of baked goods in the house.  Call it what you will.  It just doesn’t happen.  But one thing I’ve learned in my life is that you can and should revisit things that you know bring you joy.  So on Sunday afternoon, the little dude was napping, the big dude was mowing, and I took to the kitchen.  A podcast feed full of true crime and all the ingredients on hand, I created over 10 new variations of my favorite protein mug cake.  It was so nice to zone out and create for a couple of hours.

Thank you for your ongoing love and support.  I know that this may not have started out as sunny as you have come to expect from this space, but I always want to be honest with you about where I am in my life.  It’s okay to not be okay, and I hope that, and this list brought you some joy this week.


Molly B.

Easy Grilled Shrimp and Spring Vegetable Salad

One thing that I have loved about this quarantine is watching all of our local businesses innovate ways to stay connected to the community and to generate business.  Last night, Chad and I had a fun mid-week date night at home via a virtual cooking class.

Local favorite, Summit Grill, in partnership with Strongbox Wealth, teamed up to present #CookingForACauseKC, which was a live, hands-on, virtual cooking class.  This was also an opportunity to raise awareness for the Kansas City Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

We had the opportunity to learn from the Summit Grill Executive Chef, Conrad Barbera, as he demonstrated how to make a Grilled Shrimp and Spring Vegetable Salad.  It was so easy and so delicious!  I posted a few pictures on my Instagram, and people were dying for the recipe, so I decided to share it here.  Full credit to the chef on this creation, and I was honest about where we modified to match our culinary skill.

We purchased all ingredients at Trader Joe’s.

First step is to prepare your shrimp.

Herb Marinated Shrimp:


  • 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp. Hot Sauce (We used Sriracha)
  • 1 tbsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1 tbsp. Tomato Paste
  • 2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 2 lb Large Shrimp
  • 1 tbsp. Parsley
  • 1 tbsp. Lemon Juice


  • Combine Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Hot Sauce, Garlic, Tomato Paste, Oregano, Salt, and Pepper in a mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
  • Add shrimp and marinate in a freezer bag for 4-8 hours.  (We did 4 hours.)
  • Before cooking, coat in the Parsley.
  • Cook shrimp in grill pan for 7-10 minutes.  Do not overcook.
  • Add Lemon Juice after cooking.

At the same time you are cooking your shrimp, cook your vegetables.

Grilled Spring Vegetables:


  • 1 bundle Asparagus
  • 1 bag Sugar Snap Peas, cooked
  • 1 bag Spring Peas
  • 1 bag Edamame
  • 3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp. Parsley
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper


  • On a hot grill pan, cook asparagus over medium-high heat until lightly charred.
  • Reduce heat to low-medium and add Sugar Snap Peas, Spring Peas, and Edamame.  Season with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Parsley, Salt, and Pepper.
  • Mix thoroughly and cook 2-3 minutes.

Remove everything from heat and prepare your dressing.

Poppy Seed Dressing:


  • 2 cups Mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tbsp. Poppy Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Honey (We used Agave.)
  • 1/2 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined.

Prepare your salad.


Remaining Ingredients:

  • 1 bag Mixed Greens Salad
  • 2 tbsp. Toasted Almonds
  • 3 tbsp. Shaved Manchego Cheese


  • In a large bowl, mound mixed greens.
  • Drizzle generously with Dressing.
  • Mound cooked vegetables on top of greens.
  • Place shrimp around the salad.
  • Top salad with almonds, cheese, and more dressing if desired.


We had tons of leftovers, and it reheated very well!



Molly B.

4 Ways to Style a Leopard Dress

Okay truth be told, it’s hard for me to pass on a piece of leopard clothing.  But when I saw this leopard slip dress on its hanger in the store, it went straight into the try-on pile.  I was so delighted with the fit and instantly started thinking of ways to style it.  The possibilities are really endless, but here are four styles that I’m loving right now.

Wear it solo!  Throw on some sandals and a colorful accessories for a little interest, and let this cutie stand on her own.

With a Denim Jacket.  Throw on this closet staple and some sneakers, and you’ve got a casual everyday look.

With a Leather Jacket.  This is a dressed up option with a little edge that can also work year round.  Wear with some strappy sandals in the Spring and Summer and with some booties or over-the-knee boots in the Fall and Winter.

With a Graphic Tee.  Everyone’s favorite trend works well here too!  Another great way to wear this dress is as a skirt, with your favorite tee or sweater over the top.  It creates such a flattering silhouette, and you get more bang for your buck.

I’m seriously giddy thinking of all the ways to wear this dress!  It’s definitely more than worth the $25 price tag!


Molly B.

The Happiness Report: 5-11-2020

What a weird season we’re in right now. And whether you’re a planner or not, this much uncertainty is making all of us very uncomfortable. So on any given day, many of us are struggling to find the bright spots. When we’re stressed, sad, anxious, insert negative emotion of the moment, it’s so hard to remember all of the positive things that are happening in our lives.

I’m big on making lists. And not just to do lists, lists for everything, of everything. (If you could only see the Notes app on my phone. Seriously wondering if there is a maximum number of Notes one can have. Guess we’ll find out…) Recently, I’ve been trying to keep more of a record of the things that are bringing me joy, both as a reminder of the bright spots, but also a reminder of things I can do when I need some joy.

Also, I often gain ideas of things to try from seeing things that bringing joy to others. We never know who we’re inspiring or influencing, and this is no exception.

So that’s when it hit me: The Happiness Report. You can now join me here every week for a quick recap of five things that have made me happy in the past week. I’m hoping that these things will bring you joy and will serve as a reminder that even the little things can make us happy.

Things that made me happy in the last week:

  1. Self Care Sunday. Sunday has always been a day of rest around here. With the exception of church and lunch, we don’t do much of anything or go anywhere. But now that our church is virtual and restaurants are currently closed for takeout only, we’re not going anywhere! I’ve been using this extra time–and the fact that I’m not seeing anyone except my immediately family–to do some extra self care treatments. A bath, a deep conditioning hair mask, a facial, a pedicure, whatever I feel like doing. It is so relaxing and refreshing, and it’s also a great escape to our master bath for some peace and quiet.


2. Virtual Coffee Date. One of my girlfriends and I meet once a month for coffee at our favorite local coffee shop. It’s typically only an hour, but between our full time jobs, our kiddos, our husbands, and everything else, it is often difficult for us to make or keep our date. However, I texted her one morning and asked if she could do a virtual coffee date to catch up, and we were able to schedule and keep it with no problem. It brought me so much joy to see her face (although via FaceTime) and to catch up. Friendships aren’t cancelled.

3. Our Air Fryer. Look, I know I’m years late to this party, but Quarantine Molly does some new, different, and sometimes weird things, so here we are. This air fryer has been sitting in our pantry, in its original box, for several months. But it took one Pinterest recipe for cauliflower gnocchi in an air fryer for me to bust that thing out. Chad and I had fun figuring out our new kitchen appliance (it’s pretty simple, so not much figuring…) and are now brainstorming all the things we want to air fry, because it was so easy! (And yummy.)

4. At Home Date Night. I told Chad last week that I needed some romance. One thing that I love about my husband is that he is actually very affectionate–hugs, hand holds, kisses, freely and often. But romance? Well sometimes he has to be prompted. And with us being together EVERY.SINGLE.SECOND., I felt us slipping into a roommate situation. We’re really good about date nights in a normal environment, and try to go out at least once per month. But since that’s not really an option right now, we had to get creative. We got takeout from a local restaurant, and while Chad went to pick it up, I took care of putting the baby to bed and getting dolled up. And I even made a charcuterie board for a pre-dinner appetizer. Chad put on his date night attire too, so it actually felt like a real date. We started with wine and the board on our deck, moved into the dining room for dinner and dessert, and finished back on the deck for a night cap. No phones, no interruptions, just us, reconnecting. So needed and so much happiness.

5. Mother’s Day. Yea, this seems like a no-brainer, but it’s not in the way you might think. As someone who had a lot of years of very sad Mother’s Days, longing to be a mother, it’s a day that I am overcome with joy, but also sensitive to the feelings of others. But what really brought me joy this year was the way I saw women rally around the idea of motherhood in multiple capacities. I saw graphics of expanded definitions of motherhood–moms, dog moms, stepmoms, trying to conceive moms, moms of angels, and the list went on. Additionally, so many social media captions that were intentional to call out that this day may be difficult for others. It brought me so much happiness to see this widespread demonstration of empathy.


I hope this made you smile, and I would love to hear what’s bringing you happiness this week!


Molly B.