entertainme: review "the five year engagement"

If you're debating seeing "The Five-Year Engagement" in theatres this weekend. The answer is yes, yes, of course you should.

And here's why:

The film stars Jason Segel ("The Muppets,""Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Knocked Up") who also co-wrote the screenplay.

The film also stars the lovely and funny, Emily Blunt ("The Muppets," "The Adjustment Bureau," "The Devil Wears Prada").

Just these two facts should be enough to convince you that seeing "The Five-Year Engagement" will be one the best decisions you will make all weekend.

Since you've already decided to see this movie this weekend, here's a little more information just so you know you really made the right decision.

Jason and Emily star as Tom and Violet, a couple in love who get engaged and through the mishaps of life postpone their wedding several times until it's been, well, five years. "The Five-Year Engagement" also features Chris Pratt ("Parks and Recreation") as Alex, Tom's best friend and Alison Brie ("Community") as Suzie, Violet's sister. The casting director was clearly inspired as the rest of the supporting cast are just as strong as the main characters. (If you find yourself scratching your head wondering where you might have seen the actor who plays Winton, Violet's professor/colleague, that's Rhys Ifans sporting a 180 degree look from his character as Spike, the roommate in "Notting Hill.")

As usual, Jason Segel knows exactly how to reel in an audience with his clever but real characters whose flaws and personality traits mimic our own or those or someone we know. Through the ups and downs of Tom and Violet's relationship you start remembering things that happened in your own relationship and the dumbass things that you actually fight about with your partner.  As the bride, Emily is scrumptiously wonderful, even when's she's being not so charming. The scenes are touching, sweet, honest, sad and most of all entertaining.

Bonus: Judd Apatow ("Bridesmaids," "Get Him to the Greek," "Superbad") is a producer with directing by Nicholas Stoller ("Get Him to the Greek" and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."

Bonus 2: For a fun read, check out Tom and Violet's Wedding Blog. It is AWESOMENESS.

Who should see this movie: If you are engaged, first date, 17th date, parent's night out, Jason Segel / Emily Blunt fans.

the happygirl guide to: 100 ways to say i love you in italian

Say "I love you" right now. Even if you're on the morning train go ahead and whisper it as you read this. And again. While hearing it from someone you love can make you smile down to your wiggling toes, we can say it so much that we become numb to it. It becomes like any other world like ottoman.
Now try this.
Sei il sole della mia vita.
(pronounced: say ill soh-lay dell-ah mee-ah vee-tah)

Isn't that lovely? It means 'you are the sunshine of my life' in Italian.
(Click here to hear how the phrase is pronounced. Tap the listen icon in the lower side of the left box.)

There's also:

Ti mangierei! (I eat you up!)

and my favorite: Mi hai fatto perdere la testa. (You made me lose my mind.)

I'm currently in my third semester of Italian and while researching conjugated verbs I came across a list of  100 ways to say I love you in Italian. It's just so sweet and OK, a little cheesy, but mostly sweet.

Tonight instead of saying "I love you" to your partner or your mom or your awesome dog try these phrases:

insights: here's your national take a chance day challenge

What if you got up the courage to ask your manager for more responsibilities and a promotion?

What if you told your parents you didn't want to get an MBA but you instead wanted to be a songwriter?

What if you took the plunge and cut your long hair into a beachy bob?

What if you did start that website that you have been thinking about for the past year?

What if you asked the guy you see every day in the cafeteria if he'd like to share a table?

What if?

the guide to the secret starbucks menu

I'll have the Penguin Mocha Please. Did you know that like most restaurants, Starbucks has a secret menu? And no, there is no Double Double Animal Style.

Here's a few you may not know about.

Dirty Hippy: Chai latte with soy milk

Captain Crunch: Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino with hazelnut syrup

The Window Maker: Half coffee, half iced tea

The Grasshopper: Mocha Frappuccino with chocolate chips and peppermint syrup

Cake Batter Frappuccino: Vanilla Bean Frappuccino with vanilla and almond syrup (alternatively vanilla and hazelnut syrup.)

Read the delicious full story at The Daily Meal. Perhaps over a nice Undertow.

the happygirl guide to national garlic day

There is something fantastically wonderful about the taste of garlic, the way the first bite of a good bolognese sauce feels or the smooth, creamy taste of roasted garlic spread on a warm, baguette fresh from the oven that can make your tastebuds go poppity pop pop. In honor of National Garlic Day today, here is my favorite hummus recipe, perfect for a light spring dinner or appetizer. Though, here is the recipe for Garlic Cheesecake if you are feeling rather adventurous.

This recipe is adapted from the most wonderful hummus I've ever tasted when I was at Red Mountain Resort in Utah. Hummus is healthy, gluten free, a nice source of fiber and good for your heart with olive oil, lemon and garlic. Garlic is a GREAT antioxidant (it contains Allicin). It's anti-bacterial and can reduce blood pressure.

Yes, it's easier buying it from the market but trust me, this recipe is easy and it tastes miles ahead of store bought brands AND it has no preservatives. Although, for research sake I did buy prepared hummus from Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and four supermarkets. The Lemon Hummus from Whole Foods is closest to homemade but once you see how easy this recipe is, you won't go back to store bought.


1    15 ounce can of garbanzo beans (rinsed well in cold water. If you can, buy organic and low sodium)
1/4 cup tahini
2    garlic cloves diced
1/3 cup   olive oil
juice of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon each of sea salt and black pepper

Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Serve with pita chips, grapes and shaved Parmigiano-Regginao for a Mediterranean inspired tapas dinner.

Here is an awesome way to peel a head of garlic in less than seconds courtesy of Saveur magazine. This is genius.

Happy National Garlic Day!

(I've received some email regarding the candleholders in the picture. They are from Glassybaby in Dream, Seafoam and Ocean.)

insights: experiment #31- the card

Yesterday I was at Safeway watching my lemon yogurt, organic carrots, fresh Alaskan salmon and unsalted almonds being rung up and I thought of how lucky we are that we can choose what we eat from lasagne bolognese to brown rice & chicken to Doritos. We have choices. Sometimes we make good choices and sometimes they are just indulgent like Haagen-Dazs chocolate cookie dough ice cream. When I left the market I had the top down, my healthy groceries beside me and great music playing (Gotye). Driving through Seattle I saw four homeless people holding up signs asking for food, a job and/or help. One sign just said "God bless you. He blessed me." I wasn't sure if that was supposed to be ironic.

I've had some chats with friends about what you are supposed to do, what is the ethical thing to do when you encounter someone who needs help, who may have just took a few wrong turns and ended up hungry. Responses were everything from "Go buy them a meal at McDonald's" to "Nothing. They got themselves there. They can get themselves out." I thought there has to be a middle ground.

I contacted a homeless advocate center to find out what they recommend. Here is what they said:

We are all working together to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our community. It definitely takes a village to tackle the complex issues within our community as well as a variety of approaches.

A suggestion is to provide the money directly to an organization and stipulate that it is to be spent on direct services in the form of gift cards, bus tickets etc. (not administration or operations).

As a department, we value citizens like yourself who are engaged in the community and who strive to make a difference. We applaud your efforts and wish you all the best in this experiment.

I also researched Cadillac Man, a former Pepsi plant manager who found himself on the street and wrote a book about his struggles called "Land of the Lost Souls." When asked in an interview by Erik Bryan in "The Morning News" what the public can do, here is what he said:

Cadillac Man: By donations to soup kitchens, clothing donations, anywhere where the finances go more directly to the clients. Too much goes toward administrative costs and other hidden agendas. Also, the public could be better educated about who we are and why we are here. They often believe they live far removed from our way of life, but in fact they do not. Losing everything could happen to anyone at any time.

Here is what I decided: That to be a better person, to be a happier person it's key to think outside yourself. In fact, I think that this is so important that I am going to extend this week's experiment to a month. Each week for the next four weeks I am going to cut coupons, read the market circulars for deals and at the end of each order I am going to buy a gift card in the amount of the savings (at least $10.) Each week I'll donate (anonymously if possible) one card to someone who needs it, to help feed them, their kids or their dog. By giving someone a giftcard to a grocery store instead of a fast food fix, this will hopefully empower someone to make his own choices, to choose what makes him happy in a small way even in the worst of circumstances.

What if just 1% of people who read this blog do this? What if you did this?

Change starts with one person, right?



entertainme: anderson cooper's gigglefest #2

There are many reasons to love Anderson Cooper. His insightful views, his compassion and yes, his uncontrollable giggles on air. He had a case of the laughs last year over Gerard Depardieu but he did it again this week during his Dyngus Day story.

I triple dare you not to giggle along at around the 1:47 mark.

smitten: what if life came with a fun pass?

This is Caine's story. He's an ingenious kid who built a cardboard arcade in his dad's used auto parts store and you're about to fall for this extraordinary boy with sparkle.

(This is a long video at 10+ minutes but it will be the best ten minutes of your day.)

insights: midnight calls from the backstreet boys

Recently the New Kids of the Block and The Backstreet Boys toured together as NKOTBSB. Huge news. Two huge groups. Together. It's big. It got me thinking of four surreal days with the Backstreet Boys.

The call came in the middle of the night, in the middle of the deep lovely dreams. The phone was on my husband, L.'s side so he answered and it was a boy calling for me. We knew the call was coming but it was still a surreal moment.

"It's for you," L. said, cupping his hand over the mouthpiece. "It's one of the Backstreet Boys."

"Which one?" I asked him as I dashed out of bed.

charming things: ticklemore cheese

I found this goat cheese imported from England yesterday at Whole Foods. Ticklemore. Fantastic name, don't you think?

the happygirl guide to adopting a rescue dog

There are, in this life, literally millions of ways to find your happiness, in others, in you, in a take your breath away moment on Maui. There are the extraordinary moments in life where you get the job you really wanted or you find the person who makes your heart laugh. And then there are the unexected ways to happy.

Happygirl Experiment #17: Adopting a Shelter Dog

For awhile, L. and I had tossed around the idea of getting a sister for our West Highland Terrier, Emerson (Emma). We were certain we would buy another Westie from the breeder since Emma brings such silly happiness to our family. That was the plan.

Then, one day in February I stopped by an adoption event and Payton claimed our hearts. This little former mixed breed street dog from San Bernardino, California with the crazy hair and overbite, who goes from timid to feral in a heartbeat joined our family.

It’s been 30 days since the Payton Project started and here is what I’ve learned:

my favorite picture of L. and Payton