entertainme: review: our idiot brother

When I mentioned to some friends that I was reviewing "Our Idiot Brother," Paul Rudd's new movie this is the reaction I got:

"Oh my God, I love Paul Rudd."

"Can I come?"

"Didn't you love him in 'Knocked Up' and 'Anchor Man'?"

Yes, Paul Rudd has an enormous fan base. Huge. Women wish their husbands were like him, men want to grab a beer with him, kids want him to jump on a trampoline with him. I'm with you. I get the whole Paul Rudd thing. You can relate to him, especially in "Our Idiot Brother."

We all have one, the brother/sister/grandmother/cousin who we love dearly but sometimes they make us want to run into a bathroom at family gatherings, stick our fingers in our ears and hum as they bang on the door asking us if we know where we keep our extra change/underwear/brandy.

"Our Idiot Brother" Ned is like that. He's actually sort of a well meaning overgrown puppy who doesn't realize the destruction be brings to a house as he slowly moves to each of his sister's houses following a jail stint for drugs. Ned's happiness is hanging out with his dog and girlfriend at their organic farm and yeah, maybe smoking and sharing a little weed. When he loses the girl and his farm it's then up to his family to help him get his happy back, but on their terms. Played by Zooey Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks and Emily Mortimer, Ned's sisters do their best to try and get their brother on the straight and narrow. The question is how do you change someone to fit the mold YOU want them to fit into.

What if your happy doesn't coincide with what someone wants YOUR happy to be?

"Our Idiot Brother" is a great take on what it means to be a family. Do you love each other and accept each other because you have to or do you REALLY like your family? How far would you go for them?

This is a slow paced and at times funny film with groovy music. If you're looking for an interesting character study movie, this is it. If you have a family member who you're baffled by, take him to see this movie. You never know, it may turn out that you're the one who baffles him.

insights: what I learned from steve jobs

There is something called the Out of Box Experience that makes my husband giggle like a 4 year-old girl getting a new bike with handle streamers. Last week he handed me a white box with my brand new Apple iPad in it.

“Open it!” he said gleefully. “Go ahead, open it.”

I was in the middle of making the puppy’s dinner. I looked up at him and smiled “Go ahead, honey. You open it for me.”

He shook his head “No. You NEED to open this. You NEED to have the out of box experience.” L. looked at me expectantly and nodded to the box that he was pushing towards me.

“Babe, I don’t care about the out of box experience. I just want the iPad once you do whatever you need to do to it to make it actually work so when I am on the road I can Tweet, write, listen to music and occasionally look up pretty new running shoes. K?”

“You. Need. To. Open. This. Box. You. Need. To. Have. The. Out. Of. Box. Experience. Please.” I looked over at L. He was almost levitating off the floor as I nodded “OK, let’s share the out of box experience.” I put the puppy’s dinner bowl on her mat and reached for the box.

“Hands,” L. said as he led me to the sink and pulled the box away from me. Clearly, the out of the box experience was something that had to be done with clean hands only. As I washed my hands he changed the Sirius station to Frank Sinatra. We now had “Out of box experience music.” I love my husband. When he does stuff like this, something in me jumps for joy.

Once we both had freshly scrubbed hands we sat down at the kitchen table and I swear to God the clouds parted and a sunbeam shone on the clean white box.

“Open it. Open it. Open the box. Go ahead. Now. Open the box.” L. could barely sit still as he sat next to me. I realized that this was pure joy for him so I very slowly turned over the shrink wrapped box to admire it from all aspects.

“It’s very rectangle,” I said admiringly “And heavy.” I raised my eyebrows approvingly.

“Oh my God, will you please open it.” L. said exasperated. I wondered if he had slipped some jewelry in there. It was as if he was proposing again.

I slowly peeled off the shrink wrap and slid the top of the box off. And there it was. We both stared at my brand new iPad sitting perfectly couched in its box with the paperwork and the cords tucked away somewhere underneath the clean expanse of white.

“Go ahead, take it out!” Poor dude was so excited for me.  I tried to match his enthusiasm.

“Wow! It’s an iPad! It’s white! It’s shiny! I LOVE IT!”

L. looked at me skeptically “You’re making fun of me.”

“No, honey, I’m not.” I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him. “I love the fact that you love the out of box experience so much. I love my new iPad. Thank you. I’ll think of you every time I’m sitting somewhere listening to “Summer Wind” on WiFi.” This was true. And then L., happy that I had the out of box experience, whisked my iPad away to his lair (office) and emerged with it soon after loaded with all my favorite apps, as well as apps I didn’t even know I wanted. (StarWalk! You can hold your iPad up to the sky and the iPad superimposes the constellations that are there along with observatory kind of music!  Tunein Radio so I can listen to Magic 106.7 from Boston!)

We sat together on the couch as I went through every app that L. had thoughtfully added to the new iPad. To be honest, I just liked watching his face as he proudly showed me what he had done to make sure I had everything I could possibly need or want on my new device. L. was right. The out of box experience was something to savor, especially this part.

When Steve Jobs announced yesterday that that he was stepping down from Apple. I realized what an important man he has been in our life and I thought about what I have learned from this innovator. I’d like to share that with you now, here.

entertainme: colbie caillat

It's lovely outside, isn't it? August evenings are perfect for a little dinner al fresco and the music that accompanies it should be just as light and airy. Colbie Caillat's latest release "All of You" is like a cool beachy breeze. Listen now then when you're bundled up inside this winter you'll remember what it was like to feel the sunshine on your shoulders.

Click here for Colbie Caillat on iTunes

charming things: paperless post

With the stock market going willy nilly as it has lately, I have become a big believer in being economically sensible but I also believe in doing things properly. I believe in manners and thank you notes in the mail. I keep a calendar in my bag. There is something gratifying about checking off an errand on your list that you just don't get with your laptop's calendar function.
For parties I always thought it was lovely (and proper) to send a paper invitation. We once threw a holiday party and sent everyone invitations with a small fresh pine branch attached. I still believe in sending cards through the mail, however once I discovered Paperless Post it is all we use now for events and parties. It's the smartest thing. It's brilliant, actually.

Paperless Post was created in 2008 by a brother and sister as an alternative to ad supported online invitation sites while keeping the feel and integrity of traditional paper and ink communication. You can customize your invitation with hundreds of designs, inks and even liner envelopes. When you sign up (for free!) you receive 25 free stamps (1 stamp = 1 email invitation). To purchase 30 more stamps is $5.00. (1000 stamps is $50 or $440 if you were to actually mail them.) Liner envelopes can be purchased as well. I'm over the moon for the liner papers. The coral oceany liner is dreamy with a robin's egg blue envelope.

There is something thrilling about going to get your mail, sorting through it and then among the bills and the magazines and ads, finding a card that is for you. Just for you. Wishing you a "Happy birthday," "Just because I love you" or "Please, oh please won't you come to my party?" With Paperless Post you still keep some of that feeling because of the delivery system of the card. The recipient doesn't receive a link like some other online invitation companies. Rather, your recipient will open an email with an envelope that has the true texture and color of a real envelope. When he clicks on it the envelope will open and the invitation slides out revealing your invitation. It has the same feel as receiving the invitation in the mail but it's greener and it's more immediate. The recipient can then click on the invitation to respond.

Why should you use Paperless Post?
  • Because it's classic and no ads will appear in your invitation
  • It's green - no paper will be printed
  • It's cost effective. Paperless Post invitations can literally cost 1/20th that of a traditional mailed invitation
  • It's immediate. If  your event is under a month away, the Paperless Post invitation will be received as soon as you complete your design
  • Because the combination of class + economically sensible is always a happy thing
Find out more about what they're doing over at Paperless Post on their blog.

Create your own invitation here.

Here's to many happy parties!

charming things: the best smelling t-shirts. ever.

I just came back from my morning run and as I was running in my neighborhood I kept smelling clean laundry. I thought maybe the crisp 60 degree sunny weather was allowing the dryer vent scent to drift to the sidewalk.  But as I ran past the garbage bins (Tuesday is collection day in my neighborhood) I realized that I should be smelling garbage and not clean laundry.

Then I realized it was me. I smelled like clean laundry. I had grabbed a fresh t-shirt and yoga pants from the laundry this morning and I had used a new product in addition to our usual Tide HE. In the wash I added Downy Unstopables, a fragrance additive that boosts the scent in your wash. I first saw this product at the BlogHer Expo last week, loved the Fresh Scent and picked it up at the market on Saturday. At $12.99 retail, the price is steep but the scent boost can last up to 12 weeks on a clean item. (So those sheets you rotate out will still smell good when you take them out of the linen closet.)

This is a product I will be using with every load of wash we do. You can vary the amount of scent you add by varying the level of fragrance beads you add to your wash. Downy Unstopables are available in Fresh Scent (think clean laundry hung out to dry in the sun) and Lush scent (strong floral). This product is HE, color and fabric safe.

Did I run longer because my t-shirt smelled so good? Maybe!

This is a definite Happy Thing.

entertainme: review "glee: the 3d concert movie"

In the world of movie releases, autumn is known for the rollout of possible awards nominated releases.  Summer, of course, is always great for those big superhero movies where you leave thinking “Man, if only I had a superpower and a pair of tights.”

There are movies, though, like "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie" which fits it perfectly, any time of year, but especially summer. It’s like a cool slushie for your mood on a hot, humid day.

If you are a Gleek than there is no need to even read this review. By now, the theatres have been open for several hours and you have already seen the film at least once. You cried and you posted your love on Twitter and Facebook.

For you non-Gleeks (geek+ “Glee” fan) this review really is for you.

If you haven't seen "Glee" the television series and you're going with people who are HUGE fans (as most "Glee" fans are) you might be concerned that you'll miss some inside jokes, but no worries, the “Glee: the 3D Concert Movie” is enjoyable for both Gleeks and non-Gleeks. As a non-regular viewer of “Glee” on Fox, know that some things might confuse you, i.e. why Artie, the kid in the wheelchair can suddenly rise up and dance, but just go with it. If you leave the theatre feeling uplifted, go buy the DVD’s and it will all make sense.

Shot earlier this summer by director Kevin Tancharoen ("Fame") over the course of two concert dates at the Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey, “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie” contains behind the scenes conversations with the New Directions singers, interspersed with concert footage and interviews with “Glee” fans. (The scene with Rachel's character in her dressing room as she discovers some news is hysterical.) While “Don’t Stop Believing” is always a good mood enhancer, it’s the interviews with the fans that are touching—the gay student who was outed and then felt empowered watching “Glee," identifying with Kurt’s struggles with the same issue, the girl who struggled with Asperger’s syndrome who began to overcome her shyness when she started watching “Glee” and was inspired by Brittany’s character on the show.

If you are a purist, the interstitial interviews may be distracting, but if you are a fan of the show, it’s inspiring to see people just like you and how their lives have changed because of the show.

Fans may be disappointed to see that some of their favorite adult characters are missing from the concert but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the music is uplifting and while the show is on hiatus for the summer, “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie” fills that void nicely.

The 3-D action isn't as noticeable as if say, the characters were doing somersaults towards you but the upgrade to 3D does give the theatre audience the sense of being there.

Will you feel happy when you see “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie”? Yes, there is no question. Yes, absolutely, you will.  There’s catchy music, your favorite “Glee” characters, uplifting stories, a mini-Warbler and a surprise guest. It’s pure summer fun.

charming things: the luna bar

Last week I was flying out to San Diego. My flight was early in the morning and I got to the airport before breakfast. Once through security I was starving and as I wandered through the foodcourt I vowed I was going to make a healthy decision. I started at Starbucks thinking I would get hardboiled eggs or oatmeal but this Starbucks didn't have either nor did they have any fresh fruit. I tried the bagel place but they had well, bagels. Burger King had egg and cheese croissants, delicious yes, part of my old diet yes but not so much on my new program. I started back at Starbucks, then bagel place again and then Burger King, staring at their menus.

As I stood contemplating exactly how unhealthy a bagel with egg and cheese would be, I remembered then that I used to travel with Luna Bars--Blueberry Bliss and White Chocolate Macadamia. I reached into my carry-on bag and there it was. A solitary Blueberry Bliss  Luna bar leftover from my last flight. I grabbed a small Americano from Starbucks and sat down at my gate enjoying a healthy option that also tastes exactly like a cross between a hot blueberry muffin and a blueberry Pop-Tart. With 70% organic ingredients, 8 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, a Luna Bar was a good healthy choice in a sea of high carb, high fat options. When I was working 12 hour days in San Diego last weekend I wished I had brought more bars with me. When you haven't had time to grab a bite it's a much better option than a bag of chips or a candy bar from the mini bar. The added bonus is that when I make healthy choice I am more likely to stick to my healthy eating program. Unfortunately, I have the mindset of once I go off the program I am off the rails for whole day.

I'm on the road again in a few weeks and I will be packing my two favorite Luna Bar flavors along with bags of almonds and a couple Granny Smith apples.  Balance is a happy thing.

charming places: who needs hawaii anyway?

After the whole "Sorry about the babies" business in June I was a trooper, I really was. I picked myself up by my bootstraps and did what I was supposed to do. I got on with life. I focused on The Happygirl Experiment, went

to the farmer's market on Saturday mornings, took care of my husband and our puppy. I did it all but part of me just needed a break from all the sad, from the container of leftover drugs still sitting in our vegetable crisper to the excited phone calls of "When's your due date?!" I needed to step away for a moment. My therapist thought I needed to relax. My husband thought I needed to do whatever I though would help me feel better.

So as you do when you need to get away, I thought of Hawaii. I'd spent some time at Turtle Bay Resort when we covered the "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" junket and the "Lost" set visits. It's a chill hotel on the North Shore where I could spend my day working out, meditating, cleaning out my head and then falling exhausted into a lovely bed. Last week I made a reservation for August 3-10. I had my plane ticket and my car rental. I was scheduled to leave this past Wednesday and I started packing.

And then the universe, oh the universe and that tricky sense of humor she (it?) has.

This past Monday I was online and I randomly came across a link to BlogHer. BlogHer, it sounded familar. I clicked on the link and it was a feature about BlogHer, the blogging conference that was scheduled for August 5-6. I read it and looked up at L. who was sitting across the table working on his laptop too.

"I think I need to go to BlogHer," I said as I read the description of the conference to him.

He looked up at me "I know. I sent you the dates on this like months ago. I thought you should go to it then. I think you should go to it now."

I didn't remember this and was about to tell him "No, you didn't" when I checked my email and there it was, an email from L. on June 19 suggesting I go to BlogHer. But then, that was right after the loss and I couldn't think about going to a conference. Or going to the market. Or tying my shoes.

It's funny how your intuition works. There wasn't a question, really, whether or not I should cancel Hawaii. There was no talk of pros and cons, why it would be good for me to go, why I SHOULD go to BlogHer. It felt like there was no other choice. This is what I was supposed to do. Within a minute of reading the BlogHer article I was on the phone with Turtle Bay. I cancelled my reservation, my flight and rental car while at the same time registering online for the conference in San Diego. By the time I finished canceling my travel arrangements, an email arrived with my BlogHer confirmation. Two more clicks to book the room and flight and within 10 minutes I had completely cancelled the vacation in Hawaii and scheduled the BlogHer conference.

It is now day three of the event, the last day of the two day seminars and pre-launch day of registration. It is 8:43pm and I am sitting in my hotel room here in San Diego having just finished a run along the waterfront. There are parties taking place right now in the ballrooms below me, but I needed to decompress, to look over these business cards I am surrounded by. So I sit here at my laptop inputting names and contact information as well as reminders of who the bloggers and company contacts are that I met before I forget and they all meld into one fantastic woman whose features I can't quite remember.

This, right now is where I am supposed to be. It always fascinates me that the universe has you on a path and try as you might to stubbornly stay on your path, no sorry, there are other plans for you.

My life has changed in the past few days.

I am in awe of these women who blog about their lives as mothers, activists,  teachers, wives, lesbians, ministers, CEO's, fashionistas, dominatrix. They all have a voice through blogging. These women who I have spent the last 72 hours with are so smart and funny and real, they blow my mind. I have talked with them in seminar rooms, elevators, ballrooms, hallways and while holding puppies at the first night party discussing SEO, cloth diapers, technical solutions, equal marriage rights, fitness (Hello, Fit Bottomed Girls!), chocolate, marketing and shoes. I have had a quiet moment discussing miscarriage with E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic and had breakfast with "The Biggest Loser" trainer Bob Harper.

I teared up as I listened to 14 brave women share their stories in the Voices of the Year keynote and I smiled as the grandmother behind Michael Angelo's frozen meals showed me her family album ("Here's our vacation in Italy. Here are my boys, aren't they handsome boys?") as her family plated up samples of their frozen meals for the expo attendees. (Seriously, great food. Love that the company is family owned and they care about the details including knowing exactly where the tomatoes are grown that are used in their recipes.)

I wonder if the extraordinary co-founders of BlogHer-- Elisa Camahort Page, Jory Des Jardins and Lisa Stone know what they have done for women these past few days. They have connected women with each other from around the world. They invited experts from the most well respected companies in the world to teach us how to be our ultimate best online. We were exposed to products in the expo show that would enhance our lives and enable us to pass along our favorite things to our readers. I'm reflecting back on the 6 seminars I took and am amazed that I now have this information delivered by the experts in their respective fields. How can I ever thank them for making me expand my horizons? Do I want to be an ambassador for something I believe in? Maybe. I never thought it before and now I have offers to ponder. Do I want to publish a book? Maybe. Now I have the advice of authors and publishers who were kind and said "Stay after the seminar. Let's talk." I found out what makes Bob Harper and Giuliana Rancic happy.

What I learned is that I was meant to be here and I knew that on Monday night. I didn't fight it. I didn't ask why. I just knew that this is where the universe wanted me to be. I trusted myself. I trusted.

So over the next few weeks, months and even years you'll feel the repercussions of my experience the past few days. This is what I was meant to do.

To my fellow bloggers, this was truly an honor for me to be here with you. I learned so much from you. Two days ago I arrived alone, now just walking to the elevator it was hugs and "Hey!! Happygirl! Meet us by the pool in ten minutes?" I look forward to our paths crossing again.

Here we go. Stay tuned. You're about to get your happy on!

sublime food: dunkin donuts k-cups

As part of The Happygirl Experiment, one of my goals is to find the perfect things, the products that work, that make my life easier and make me happy, so I can share with you the things that will make YOU happy. I feel a little bit of a win when I try something and it does exactly what I expected it to.

I may be partial to this next perfect thing because I am from New England but Dunkin' Donuts is the perfect coffee.

If you don't live in an area with a Dunkin' Donuts (like here in Seattle) you don't know what you're missing. It's part of tradition if you live in Dunkin' Donuts land. Living in Massachusetts a right of passage is getting your driver's license and then going to the Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru to order a 'coffee regular' (cream + sugar). It's simple and it's perfect. The balance of the coffee with the cream and sugar is perfect. It's literally perfect. Dunkin' Donuts is what you drink on a Saturday morning in college when the most wonderful friend in your dorm does a DD coffee run. When you  have kids or you visit someone with kids you surprise them with Dunkin' Donuts pink frosted donuts and you're a hero.

Now you can get your happy on at home with Dunkin' Donuts K-cups because they have finally arrived in Dunkin' Donuts stores! Ever since it was announced in February that K-cups would be available this summer for Keurig coffee makers, Dunkin' Donuts fans have been waiting somewhat impatiently for them to arrive in stores. Now they're here!  They're here! If you don't have a Keurig  coffee maker yet, it will change your life. It's a single cup coffee maker that makes the perfect cup of coffee because each time you make a cup you use a pod that has a pre-measured amount of coffee. Here is the Keurig that we have that makes iced coffee in addition to the regular single hot cup (and yes, your travel mug will fit perfectly under the Keurig tap.)

Dunkin Donut K -Cups are available in select stores five flavors: Original Blend, Dunkin’ Decaf, French Vanilla, Dunkin’ Dark Roast and Hazelnut.

If you live in an area with a Dunkin' Donuts you are so lucky. If not, hopefully a friend can send them to you or you can pick them up on your travels. (Click here to find a Dunkin' Donuts location.)

insights: a lesson from 5 1/2 year-old Maddox

For the past few weeks I have been back to my regular walks/runs around our neighborhood after healing from a stress fracture in my foot. It's beautiful here now in Seattle. As I write this at 6am, the air feels cool, crisp and the sky is an indescribable blueish pink as the sun is rising over our hilltop. It's the perfect weather for getting back out there and breaking a sweat.

I have a usual path, as we all do around our neighborhoods. Every day I pass by fresh mowed lawns, lawns thathaven't seen a mower in weeks. I smell family dinners as I walk by houses and I hear small snippets of conversations. I pass by a house where they consistently watch 70's porn and in the summer I can hear the bad boom-chucka-bow-wow of the cheesy soundtrack. There are dogs who run to their invisible fence line and halt to a point where only they are aware of. There are lost dogs signs and rabbits who tentatively stop in the middle of road (which explains why so many animals meet their demise) and then there is Maddox.

I met 5 1/2 year-old Maddox last night on my walk courtesy of his dog Bella. Bella lives in a brown house with afence around the front yard. When I started my walks she would bark at me as if I was a giant squirrel about to attack her home. "Go. Get away. See how dangerous I am? Grrrrr. That's it. Keep walking! Ah, I've once again successfully defended our home! What a good dog I am! Grrrrr." Each day I walked by I would say "Good dog. What a good dog you are! Who's a good dog? You are!" And each day she would bark bark bark at me. Grrrrr.

Last week I stopped near her fence to throw my hair back that was slipping from my ponytail. I talked with the dog. "I'm just stopping for a second. I'll be gone in just a moment. Who's a good dog?" The dog's tail was wagging, a big wag where the whole lower half of the body wags. I was listening to my iPod and took my headphones off. The dog was whining at me. I thought "Well, this is an improvement." The dog came over to the fence and I let her smell my hand. She whined and wagged. I stuck my hand through the fence a little and petted her head. She closed her eyes and whined. Her owner was outside watering the lawn and shouted over "Her name is Bella!" "Oh! Thank you! She's a good dog!" I gave Bella a final pet and continued with my walk.

Some days Bella is outside and some days she isn't. When she is outside she runs over to the fence like I'm a long lost friend she hasn't seen in years. She whines and body wags and pushes her head into the fence so I can pet her. I now look forward to walking by their home.

Last night I didn't see Bella as I stopped. Then I saw here in a floor to ceiling window as she spotted me and ran to the door. Her owner let her out and she ran bounding down the stairs to me. I crouched down "Bella!!! Who is a VERY good dog? YOU ARE! You are a very good girl!" This time her owner came out. A woman with a tiny baby strapped to her chest caught my breath for a moment. I wondered if there would ever come a time when I saw a baby that wouldn't make me think of my own babies and what their soft little heads would have felt like. As the woman was walking over to me with her baby, a little boy dashed around her and ran over to me, his little hands grasping the fence as he stood on a rock to get a little higher up.

"HI!" he said.

"Well, hello," I said. "I like your dog" as I petted Bella through the fence.

He stared at me, tilted his head and gave me a giant smile, the kind only little kids can give. "Where's your bike" he asked.

"Oh. I don't have one. Do you have one?" His mom was now standing with us, running her hands over her baby's fuzzy red head.

"Why not" he asked.

"Hmm, I don't know" I said. "I'd like a bike. I bet you have a great bike."

His mom said hi and introduced her boy as 5 1/2 year old Maddox. Funny how that 1/2 is so important. I introduced myself too. She held up her daughter for me to see and introduced her as 7 week-old Katie. Her mom tickled her cheek and said "Katie, can you smile?" and this lovely little baby girl complied.

"Hey," Maddox said to me.

"Yes, Maddox?"

"I'm going to dream about you tonight," he said to me as he jumped up and down on the rock.

I laughed and touched hand to my heart. I was sweaty and my face was flushed, yet Maddox was going to dream about the girl who was kind to his dog.

"Does your heart hurt?" Maddox asked looking at me concerned.

"No," I said still laughing at the fact that kids say whatever they feel like. "You made my heart happy."

"Will you come babysit me sometime?" he asked.

I looked at his mom and we smiled at each other. "Well, I would love to visit you sometime when I see Bella. Would that be OK?" I said.

"You can come in our house. Now. You can come in. Now," he said with complete confidence that I would.

"Well, Maddox I have to continue with my run but maybe next time I can stop a little longer and you can show me your bike, OK? I have to go Maddox but I'll see you soon, OK?" I smiled at his mom and started my run again.

As I was running the second half of my path I threw by headphones back on and thought of my new friend, Maddox. He had no qualms about making a new friend. He wasn't shy about saying hi. I thought about all the people you walk/run by every day and how people avert their eyes. It seems that making a connection was not a good thing anymore.

I wondered when we lost this. As little kids we want to make friends. Children see a dog and it's like a magnet. They see someone walk by their house and they run over and tell you something that can make your day. It seems as if when we grow up it isn't cool to share your heart anymore. I thought of yesterday when I was in Ben Franklin, a craft store. I was staring at the wall of paints when a woman who was standing next to me said "They're all so pretty aren't they?" as she waved at the colors in front of us. "Oh, yes. They are" I replied still looking at wall of color.

"What are you making?" she asked, looking at me. I looked at her for the first time.

"I'm, um, painting a little table."

"That must be nice. What color are you thinking of?" she asked me.

"I don't know. Maybe aqua. Everything I own is aqua. We have a lot of blue in our home," I said.

And so we had a conversation and at the end she gave me her phone number. She was a painter herself and she loved color. I tucked her number in my pocket and walked to the register with my new aquamarine (of course) can of paint. At the register I realized what an unusual conversation I had. People usually stay in the own worlds, afraid perhaps to interfere in someone's life or maybe it's the fear of being rejected.

Last night as I was falling asleep I thought about my new friend Maddox and how his joy, his freedom of heart was so clear. I realized that I can be shy, afraid to make new friends. I wondered what life would be like if I opened up MY heart to new people. What if I shared my joy with them? This morning I am heading out to San Diego for the BlogHer conference where I will meet 3,000 other bloggers. I think of the potential there for new friends if I just open my heart, like my new friend Maddox. That's my goal in The Happygirl Lab this week: to open my heart, to make new friends, to share the lesson I learned from a sweet and funny 5 1/2 year old boy.

Thank you, Maddox. I'll see on my run when I get home Sunday night.

In the Happygirl Lab this week: Try saying hi to everyone you pass by this week. It doesn't have to be a "Hello!" It can just be a nod with eye contact or even a wave to someone who's walking by in your neighborhood while you drive by. It may confuse them a little but they WILL smile and wave back. It's kinda cool, actually.  Connect with someone. Who's heart will you touch this week?

entertainme: the mariachi band and the beluga

Wonder if a Beluga whale grooves to a Mariachi band?

The story behind the video: At a wedding at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, the Mariachi Band serenaded the Beluga. It's spectacular.

Watch this for a happy vibe.

charming places: the four seasons beverly hills

One of the greatest things about being a little kid is that you have happy places and you can be very vocal about these places that make you jump with joy.

“I want to go swimming at Grandma’s!” you’d say on a summer morning and your mom would pack you up after the proverbial “What do we say?” “Please, I want to go to Grandma’s! Yes? Now? Can we go?”

And you’d spend the day jumping off the raft in the middle of the ice cold lake with your cousins, sprouting new freckles, yelling “Race ya!” and dodging the slick fish that swam around your legs and made you kick like a frenzied frog all the way to the old wooden raft that’s been there since your dad was a kid.

There was your best friend’s house where you’d go nearly every day after school because her mom would say to you both “Hello, girls, shoes off, wash hands! (even before she could SEE your hands!) and by the time you got to the table there would be warm Oatmeal/butterscotch cookies and cold, cold milk (How did she get the milk THAT cold?) fixed just for you two and her little brother.

When you were a teenager, it was basketball games played at Home on Friday night with your best friends eating popcorn and drinking Coke, flirting with the guy that you would eventually go to Prom with.

When I was a little girl my Happy Place was Hampton Beach, New Hampshire where for one week every summer my mom (and depending on the year, her boyfriend/new husband/friends) would take us to the infamous beach we dreamed of all year. We would wake up at 7am, and someone would have been dispatched for Dunkin’ Donuts (a cruller and OJ for me) and we would all head to the beach where we would cover ourselves in Bain de Soleil, (an orange gel that still to this day makes me swoon when I smell it.) The adults would lay on the blanket all day and being an only child I was good at amusing myself, walking down to the jetty that jutted out far into the ocean, seeing how far I could walk out until I got too scared and I ran all the way back, swearing that I saw a shark circling the end of the jetty. (It didn’t help that one year my mom and her friends took me to see “Jaws” while we were on vacation at the beach!)

At the end of the day, sunburned, we would walk back to our hotel, past the giant bandshell across from the boardwalk, take showers and go out to dinner (A fish place, always a fish place.) Then the boardwalk where I would take my $7 that I parceled out for each day and play Skeeball. One year all I desperately hoped to win with my Skeeball tickets was a cobalt blue rabbit’s foot. Another year was a blacklight poster with groovy  swirls of aqua (which may explain my early obsession with this color). Later on our way back to the hotel, we would stop for a fried dough at Blinks Fry Doe stand (raspberry jam topping, please.)

In the dead of winter I would think of our one week at Hampton Beach as the happiest place I’d ever known.

I’ve been thinking about Happy Places lately. When I was going through the hell that actually started The Happygirl Experiment, in session, my therapist would ask me “Do you want to go to your happy place? Describe it to me.”

And in the quiet of her office, with a blanket around me, I felt safe. I closed my eyes and thought of my favorite place. I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled almost a million miles. I’ve seen places I couldn’t have imagined as a little girl growing up in a trailer park. I tell her of a place that is closest in my heart- a turquoise pool with palm trees that glow against an orange daiquiri colored sky. It is here that I would sit on a chaise lounge in the morning after running on the treadmill in the fourth floor indoor/outdoor gym and enjoy an espresso while watching the sun rise.

It is a place I have stayed at hundreds of times over the past ten years, mostly for work when I was covering movie junkets and meetings with studios and agencies in Los Angeles. It is a place where I feel at home, a place where I feel my stress leave when I pull into the driveway.

When I hear “Welcome back to the Four Seasons, Miss Johnson” I am chill, I am blissed out, I am in my Happy Place.

As I was thinking about the new Happy Places feature for The Happygirl Experiment, there was no question which place would be the premiere destination. It had to be The Four Seasons Los Angeles on Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills.

The Four Seasons Los Angeles is a place where I spent almost every weekend for 10 years and before you say it, yes I realize I am a lucky girl. This Four Seasons location is well known for their celebrity guests but you'll feel like a celebrity even if you are just a star in your own universe.

Yes, there are some wonderful hotels, even many outstanding Four Seasons around the world, but The Four Seasons Los Angeles has that something special that makes a claim in your heart. Maybe it’s the fact that everyone seems to remember your name even your first time there and they actually seem to care that you are happy. Or maybe it’s the heady smell of lilies when you walk in the entrance or  the beds-- the beds that are so sumptuous that you can actually purchase them.

While the hotel is beautiful and the public spaces like the pool and spa are fun and relaxing and the food is

extraordinary (best matzoh ball soup I've ever had was in room service), it's the attention to detail and customer service that makes The Four Seasons Los Angeles outstanding. Is there something your heart desires? The Four Seasons concierge will make it happen, from coordinating a marriage proposal (I once saw a proposal out by the pool with just a boy on his knees, a crying girl and hundreds of candles) to suggesting a great place for a tattoo (they immediately wrote down their recommendation without blinking an eye at me and they were right!)

It is a place where they serve the most delicate lemon ricotta pancakes (better than my grandmother's). It’s where I have studied my notes in the quiet of my room and prepared my questions for the talent I was about to interview and where I sat across from hundreds (thousands?) of the biggest names in Hollywood as I asked them about their films.

You might think The Four Seasons would be stuffy, fancy. It isn’t. Imagine if you had a very wealthy aunt who invited you to spend a weekend at her lovely home in Beverly Hills. Now imagine her house is REALLY big. With a terrific Italian restaurant and a pool where the pool staff bring you treats while you’re relaxing on a chaise lounge (peanut butter and jelly shakes, frozen grapes, watermelon. . .) Too hot in the sun? The pool team will spray you down with a cool Evian mist and even clean your sunglasses.

I’m afraid that there is one downside, however. When you stay at The Four Seasons Los Angeles, ever after you will always compare other hotels to this one.

Here are some tips to help you with your stay:
  • The hotel has recently experienced a spectacular and thoughtful remodel, so expect gorgeous guest rooms with flat screen TV’s, new beds and updated public areas, including a new restaurant, Culina, and a dazzling patio off the Windows Lounge.
  • There is a wonderful, almost secret patio as part of the Culina. Ask to sit here for dinner. The candlelight, fountain and ambience will make it a sublime evening.
  • A guest room on a high floor facing east (garden view) will give you an unsurpassed view of the Hollywood Hills and the Hollywood sign. (Sleep with your curtains open and wake up to the pink sunrise.) Ask for room 1128 with the panaromic balcony.
  • There is a house car that will take you in a two mile radius around Beverly Hills- a Rolls Royce Phantom and on the weekends a Mercedes S2 as well. (First come, first serve)
  • If you are an early riser, there is complimentary coffee and light pastries from 5:30 to 8am in the lobby and until 10am in Culina and the pool cabanas.
  • The gym is outstanding first thing in the morning with floor to ceiling window panels that slide open when the weather is lovely for a fresh breeze as you run on a treadmill.
  • Sunday Brunch is the best meal of the week here. Try the hot donuts (made right in front of you!) and a kid’s area with unbelievable mac and cheese and mini cupcakes.
If you want to be pampered, if you want to know what  world renowned customer service feels like, if you want to taste the best Mojito in the world (in the Windows Lounge), I hope you can book a stay at The Four Seasons Los Angeles and make it your happy place too.

Cheers to the very first Happy Place featured on The Happygirl Experiment- The Four Seasons Los Angeles!

Four Seasons Los Angeles
310 273 2222

entertainme: "the change-up" trailer

This just might be my favorite promo for a film ever. You must watch this. Now. What is Jason doing with that girl's hair?

Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds promoting "The Change-Up."