Cooked To Perfection

Karista’s Kitchen

One day while mindlessly perusing my social media feed during a break at work, I came across a post that stated, “It’s okay to outgrow people, even yourself”. (And loved it so much I felt compelled to repost on the SFH Insta page) The latter part of that quote made me think about how much we change during the course of our lives.

As a culinarian, I cook for a living but I also cook for my family, just as many of us do every day. It occurred to me how similar we transform and evolve as individuals living through basic life circumstances, just like food transforms when a seasoning, heat or cold is applied during the cooking process.

This year I spent my summer cooking the most gorgeous scallops at a food and wine festival. I happen to love scallops and all seafood in general so this was a fun dish to prepare. In their original state, scallops are raw and clean and silky white. They are soft and punchy to the touch but have a strength inside that helps keep them firm enough to withstand any element without falling apart. When they’re placed on a hot surface, they begin to slowly transform. Add a touch of seasoning and it brings to life the natural juices from within its milky exterior to assist in forming a sweet golden buttery brown crust, or as we call it in my world, a sear. If left on the heat too long the beautiful sear that occurs will become dark and crusty and the scallop itself becomes too firm and rubbery. However, when the heat is applied just long enough this beautiful gift from the ocean becomes a culinary delicacy unlike any other. It nourishes the body, excites the taste buds and satisfies a hungry tummy.

Today, I see a scallop that once was, in its infancy, a beautifully raw and organic product of the universe. It has been seasoned and seared through the years and has inexplicably changed into a new, more perfect culinary delicacy. The strength from inside helped keep the outside in solid form (although at times it didn’t feel that way) while being transformed into the best version of itself. This is, of course, an analogy for the change I have felt in my life and the changes we all experience throughout our lives. It seemed, in my mind at least, to be quite relevant as we enter a new year. We begin life just as the raw scallop began its journey to the table but we grow and evolve into a delicacy from the seasoning and searing we experience along the way. And it’s my hope that we each embrace these changes along with those we love and who love us.

It feels timely to write this at the beginning of 2019 so, I challenge you to embrace the YOU that has been seasoned and seared and not look back to what you were, but the magnificent person you are today the exciting person you will be in years to come. Celebrate the seasoning and searing you’ve experienced because the beauty of life is the ability to become the best version of ourselves. Let us trust in the fact that all of life’s trials, tribulations and circumstances have and will continue to cook us to perfection.



Finding Middle Ground


Tips to successfully navigating divorce, remarriage and blending families.

One of the requests we receive most often from our readers is a request to post more information on how other women have navigated life changes like divorce. This is certainly not a fun subject to cover but having been through it myself, I think it’s important to open up the conversation and offer inspirational insights from amazing women who have paved the way for all of us by honestly and openly providing details around their personal experiences. And because SFH is a forum for real women to discuss real issues and real strategies that help us all be the best versions of ourselves, we decided we needed to share Tawnya Penney’s inspirational story.

Tawnya Penney

I sat down recently with an amazing woman, Tawnya Penney, to learn more about her perspectives on divorce, co-parenting, finding new love and what she feels she’s learned in the process.

Tawnya is not only the mom of two beautiful adult children, she’s also a successful woman in business and works as a Senior Real Estate and Construction Manager for AT&T. Talk about your #girlboss, Tawnya was a #girlboss before it became “a thing”.  However, life wasn’t all roses and backyard BBQ’s, although she entered into marriage just the way we all do, with lifetime goals of love and happiness.

“Divorce is something you never plan on when you get married. I always thought I would be married forever.” ~Tawnya Penney

Ten years and two children into her marriage Tawnya and her husband decided to separate. Her children were seven and five at the time. It was an incredibly difficult decision but she knew it was the best choice for all of them. She explains they spent the next full year separated; it was tumultuous and hostile. What she learned during this time was that in order to move forward and be sure the children managed to get through this with as little damage as possible, they would have to resolve the enormous tension between them. How did they achieve this?

These four key factors played a vital role in making it work for Tawnya, her ex-husband, and her children:

  1. Never talk about the other parent in front of the kids
  2. Never argue in front of the kids
  3. Remember, the kids didn’t choose this path so keep them out of the arguments
  4. Reassure the kids, as much as possible, they are loved more than ever by both parents
  5. Co-parent: I always recommend co-parenting even though you are not together. This was so important to both of us and provided our children with some sort of consistency no matter what house they were at. I truly feel (even though this was hard) this is what made the biggest difference in making our blended family unit work. We became very diligent about talking to the other parent when issues arose and even with disciplinary actions, we agreed before we acted.

I asked Tawnya, What specific things did you consciously or unconsciously do that helped your children adjust to the divorce and eventual remarriages?

“Co-parenting was the most important part of the process. Once we decided this was vital to our kids we managed to put our disagreements aside long enough to make this happen. It was one of the best decisions we made during the divorce process”.

Explain the process you went through to blend your families after remarrying.

We always supported the kids as a family. I remarried first, then Mike did and they had another child. No matter what sporting event we went to for the kids we all sat together and cheered them on together. This way they didn’t have to choose who to go say hi to or make it awkward for them.

The bonus for all of us, was with the kids in sporting events every weekend all year long. We always got to see them, even if it wasn’t our weekend.

Trust me this was not easy at first but as time went on and the kids flourished with us doing this….. we all became more comfortable. Now, I go to Disneyland on a regular basis with the kids new little sister and step Mom. We have become friends. We had graduations (High School and College) to go thru as a family unit and we still have weddings and possibly grandchildren to celebrate together. Why miss out on wonderful memories when you don’t have to?

What key advice would you give other women who are trying to blend families and raise children through a divorce?

Forgive…… don’t hold on to your anger. Leave the negative energy behind and embrace the power of forgiveness.

Remind yourself that the hard times will pass and remember the rewards far outweigh the hardships.

Life is too short and time with your children is so precious. So make the most of the time you do have with them. And when they are with the other parent make the most of that time as well. Take care of yourself, this allows you to be a better parent for them.

Take one day at a time. Be kind and remember the kids come first.

Be the bigger person (This is the hardest thing to do) No matter how hard it seems, take the high road. Kids are smart and they will see the truth as they get older. So always take the high road and be the better person when the other parent is making your life difficult.


The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. ~Henry David Thoreau

Running Strong


Feel the Glow

One of our favorite mantras here at SFH is summed up by this quote, “Move and then move more, you will never regret it”. Exercise is one of the most important keys to unlocking a positive attitude, feeling confident, beautiful and celebrating the happy moments in life. And now that summer is in full swing, we’ve received a lot of questions about exercise and nutrition from our readers so we thought it would be perfect timing to list our exercise recommendations, beginning with a good run!

I love to run (more than the rest of the team) and I know a lot of women who are avid runners these days. It’s one of those things that doesn’t require previous athletic ability in order to get started. And the results are amazing!

I can’t begin to explain how running has personally impacted my life but it has been vital to my health, both physical and mental. Our lives are busier now than ever and the stress from the way we live in 2018 can take a toll on our ability to stay focused on what’s important. Research on this subject confirms when we run, we not only release endorphins but also enhance the growth of new nerve cells in the brain that are linked to learning and memory.  Running also builds bone density (an important key to our health as we age), gives us a better self-image, stimulates confidence both mentally and physically, helps to increase metabolism and provides an overall feeling of well-being. Seriously, ladies, who doesn’t want a little of this medicine?

If you want to begin running and you’ve never been a runner, be sure you’re in good health before you begin. If necessary, visit your doctor for a checkup and let them know you’re going to begin a running program. Start slow and work up to your goals at your own pace so you see and feel results and don’t get discouraged.

Here we go!



Carve out 30 minutes of your day (4x per week) to either run on the treadmill or outside. I prefer outside but sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate so the treadmill is my next best option.



Be sure to make yourself accountable by telling a friend you’re beginning a running program or post on social media that you’ve begun your training. Get others involved so you have to provide updates. This will get you out the door on days that you’re not feeling it and help you see progress sooner than later.









Buy a great pair of running shoes, make a “running” playlist to take with you on your run (I use Spotify), wear comfortable clothes and hit the road! I’ve outlined a basic training week below that you can replicate to get started. Continue to use the training program weekly to help guide your progress.

Day 1: 30 Minutes

Warm up by running in place for a few minutes and then stretch out your calf and thigh muscles using basic stretches. Don’t stretch too hard, just a nice soft stretch to help eliminate any potential leg cramps or muscle tightening.

When you get out on your first day, time yourself and stay out for 30 minutes. Do a run/walk combo. I recommend running for 1 minute, walk for 2 minutes. Run for 1 minute, walk for 2 minutes. Do this run/walk system the entire 30 minutes your out for your run.

Don’t forget to hydrate! Water will help you to not only feel less fatigued when you’re finished but will also help flush out the toxins your body will be processing from sweating.

Day 2: 30 Minutes

Repeat Day 1

Day 3: Rest Day

Day 4: 30 Minutes

Repeat Day 1

Day 5: 30 Minutes

Repeat Day 1

Day 6: Rest Day

Day 7: 30 Minutes + Miles

Today you should map out how far you’d like to run and increase your run/walk to 5 minutes running and no more than 2 minutes walking. At this point, you should see a slight difference in your stamina and the ability to run longer than you did on Day 1.

Repeat this first week for the next several weeks and eventually, you will be running a full mile without walking!

We definitely want to hear from each of you who begins a running or exercise program so be sure to post on our She’s Finding Happy Facebook page.   Let’s inspire each other with pictures, updates, progress, milestones, etc! We can’t wait to celebrate with you!

Now Let’s Talk Nutrition:

Beginning any workout or exercise routine requires a healthy diet so don’t cheat your body of healthy proteins and fats. Here are a few easy and delicious recipes I recommend from our Health and Nutrition contributor, Chef Karista Bennett. Enjoy!

Farro & Summer Peach Salad


Pan Cooked Chicken Breasts with Sweet Mini Pepper Relish


Salad Lyonnaise


Order Up! A Plate of Truth With A Side of Bad Ass

woman wearing white deep v neck sleeveless top sitting on chair near table
Photo by Andres Chaparro 

If you read this blog long enough or follow us on social media, you will notice a trend, we’re huge fans of Dr. Brene Brown. Frankly, we can’t get enough of her “badassery” {we can’t take credit for this amazing word, it’s all hers and we love it!} And after spending a few months reading as many of her books as possible, I personally knew I wanted to share what her research and beautifully articulated guidance meant to me, but also, what it could mean to you as well. So, here are two quotes I read often.

“When we make the decision to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked.”  “We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, we cannot have both, not at the same time.” ~Brene Brown

Whoa. My head almost popped off my shoulders when I read this because, at the time, I had not yet recovered from getting my ass kicked.  Oh yeah, really kicked, in fact, still very sore from the kick. It was as if the Universe was speaking to me at that very moment in time saying, “girl, you got your ass kicked but, hey, you dared to try”. I’ll be honest, after reading Brene Brown’s words, my soul, and my ego were still so bruised that I couldn’t help but cry like I had just watched an ASPCA commercial with Sarah McLaughlin singing, “in the arms of an angel”. And trust me when I say this, I am not one of those people who look pretty crying. I was on a flight at the time (which was packed to the brim with people and luggage) and I chose, of all days to go with the “self-help” book instead of the “fiction” book, both of which were in my carry on bag. As I struggled to find a tissue or some sort of clean, mildly soft clothing in my bag to wipe my face and keep my eye makeup from melting off, I realized that I’d rather be the kind of woman who chose courage. I didn’t want to play it safe all the time and I never have.  Of course, that is why I’ve been face down in the dirt before and will probably be there again at some point. Shit, this hurts, I thought. But I want every moment of my life to count and when you have that burning desire inside, it’s next to impossible to choose comfort over courage. I want the comfort, I do, but only when I know I’ve pushed myself to the point where I have exhausted all of my potential and purpose for this life.

Dr. Brown takes it further when she states, “if we can learn to “own” our stories of struggle, we can write our own brave endings. When we own our stories we avoid being trapped as characters in stories someone else is telling.”  Yikes! so much truth here! This was a light bulb moment for me and again I began to tear up on my flight. However, at this point, the cute little guy sitting between me and his mother had a puzzled stare directed right at my face, so I decided to throw a little smile his way and pull myself together before I scared the poor child. I’m sure my black raccoon eyes and bright red nose didn’t help but he cracked a shy smile back at me with a cute wrinkled nose as if to say, I got ya, no worries.

Suffice it to say these passages were exactly what I needed to read, maybe not an optimal read for a business trip, but never-the-less timely for my life. And while I am certain the Universe is consistently conspiring to help me be a success, I’ve found a deeper meaning to life and growth amidst all the discomfort. There’s a real beauty in our truth and it’s important for us to recognize this beauty because when we can own our truth and our stories, we can fall down,  get back up, recognize that it hurt like hell and move forward with more wisdom and grace.  That, my friends, is being a Bad Ass.

“People who wade deep into their stories and tell their truths are the real Bad Assses.” ~Brene Brown


jumpshot photography of woman in white and yellow dress near body of water
Photo by Quang Anh Ha Nguyen