Smitten: Meeting "The Biggest Loser" trainer Bob Harper


the happygirl and the happyguy

In a small room, in a massive convention center on a cool foggy morning in San Diego I was enjoying a cozy breakfast of oatmeal & blueberries and waiting for a man. That morning at the BlogHer '11 conference we had already done a 5K and yoga. We were exhilerated. In the room were a select group of bloggers who were lucky enough to score Breakfast with Bob Harper, the world renowned trainer from the hit NBC reality weight loss show "The Biggest Loser."  I was delighted to meet bloggers from New York and Massachusetts (my home.) The room was buzzing with creative, happy women congratulating each other on the early morning run.

There was no announcement made but you could tell something changed in the room. The air felt different.  I looked up from my oatmeal and there he was-- Bob Harper.  Bob doesn't walk, he bounds. He smiles and he bounds, taking the stairs to the small dais two steps at a time. I looked around me and noticed everyone, even security were glued to Bob and smiling. He just has that spark that you want to be part of.  I've had the good fortune to interview some of the biggest celebrities in the world from film, television, music, sports and pop culture and there are some people who just have 'it.' George Clooney has 'it.' So do Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Susan Lucci and Meryl Streep, President Bill Clinton and Alec Baldwin. John Denver and Mr. Rogers had 'it' as well. 'It' is that thing that makes you feel good when you are talking with someone. I don't think it has anything to do with looks really, it's more about confidence, an inner happy that they just can't contain. That's what Bob Harper has, the exuberance of someone who wants to bring out the absolute best in you because he sees it, even if no one else does--including you.

I was so intent listening to Bob as he made eye contact around the room and started talking about his joy for fitness and good health that I forgot to turn on my iPad's audio recorder (a cardinal sin for a reporter!), but later I got a chance to ask Bob some questions and this time I hit RECORD.



Q: How do you keep your motivation going? 
Bob:  We all have those days when we don't want to work out.  Remember though how you feel after. It is a huge motivator. That is  a huge motivator for a lot of the contestants that I have worked with.  They don’t realize that all of our bodies want to be healthy. When our bodies are idle they are like "Come on! Give me the food I want! Come on move me around a little more!" and your body will respond in numbers. The numbers really show. You will drop your blood pressure numbers, your triglycerides and cholesterol . All these things are motivation for feeling better. The more information you have the better you will feel and that will keep you on this journey. 
The one thing I learned that I learned too, is that yes, losing the weight is hard but keeping it off is a challenge. That's the show right there. Remember how good it feels. You are in it for the long haul. People say  "I am in it for a lifestyle change." You have to change you life. Lose all the wight but you can't go back  after saying " I lost it all now let's go have pizza. It doesn’t work that way."
Q: What is your happy music?
Bob: I like British music, I like music from the UK. I think it's really great. There is a song from a British artist, Emeli (Sande). The song is called "Heaven." I played it this morning when I woke up. One of my other favorite songs is "Down with Trumpets." I saw a lot of head bobbing this morning when we were working out. "Down with Trumpets" is a really great song.
Q: What makes you happy? 
Bob: Find what you are supposed to do in your life. Find what that calling is, that mission is and give it your all. I am so luck y that I get a chance to talk with a room full of you guys and have a great morning and kick around and laugh in the workout this morning. I love that. This makes me happy.

Here is what is so great about Bob: He really wants to help you-- he does. He has this zest for life and he wants you to see what life can be if you live with healthy intentions. What you see on "The Biggest Loser" is real. The time he spends with contestants, motivating them on is real. Bob lives what he preaches which is evident in his new book "The Skinny Rules: the Simple Nonnegotiable Rules For Getting to Thin," a guide to eating healthy and losing weight for the real world.  It would be impossible to follow the nutrition and exercise suggestions that Bob outlines in the book and NOT lose weight. It's about being sensible and following the rules of someone who has done the research and seen how it works by turning unhealthy people into extraordinary fitness warriors season after season on "The Biggest Loser." While there is a one in ten million shot of being a contestant on "The Biggest Loser" you can learn from Bob in his book, through his websites MyTrainerBob.com and Bob Harper's Fitness Club (Yes, I am a member!) and on Twitter. That morning in San Diego? That warm feeling I had? It wasn't necessarily just the oatmeal. It was knowing Bob Harper believed I could do it. He was certain that I could lose weight and feel strong and be The Happygirl. I had it in me all along.

Thanks, Bob. We love a Happyguy!



pretty little poseys all in a row



When I was in LA I sometimes brought Sprinkles cupcakes (oh, their darling heavenly lemon coconut treats are our favorite here at The Happygirl!)  to meetings with studios, networks and labels. Today, though, at a partner meeting in Seattle I brought three glassybaby poseys for three very special people in their company's colors. They came out swell, didn't they?

(the glass marbles hold the peonies in place.)


  



it's true. happy people live longer.


our rescue girl, payton, has a ridiculous sense of humor. she makes herself laugh.


It's not just happy dogs who are awesome. Happy people are rewarded with a longer life span.

Read the full article here then go get yourself a funny rescue dog.

five things to be happy about this week.


That's me. Age 7. Memorial Day Weekend. 

When I was a little girl growing up in Massachusetts, Memorial Day Weekend meant that summer officially started. It was the weekend my mom pulled out the summer clothes and I started wearing my puka shell necklace (see picture above). It was also the weekend that my grandfather and I sat down on the front steps of our trailer as he went through his box from the war. I remember how cool the metal dog tags felt in my hand as he carefully handed them to me. My grandfather shook his head looking at pictures of his 'brothers' in Normandy. "Look, kid," he would say. "This was Jack. Goddamn kid didn't make it home." I nodded and held his dog tags tighter in my fist. It was hard to imagine that a smiling boy as young as my cousins died on a beach in a place so far away. I was 7 years-old that first summer my grandfather told me about Jack. It became a tradition after that day, one I looked forward to every year, just a grandfather and a girl he called 'kid.' To this day I wish Jack had someone he could have called 'kid' too.

As we kick off summer with Memorial Day, here are five things to be happy about this week.

1. Unforgettable homecomings of brave soldiers. 




2. Gardenias are in bloom


This photo is from the gardenia tree we picked up at the nursery this week. Even if you have a small outdoor space, the gardenia scent is heavenly.



3. Snow White and the Huntsmen comes out this Friday. Finally!



"Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?" "This girl who is fair AND fierce."

4. Farmer's markets are open for the season


One of our favorite weekend activities is browsing the farmer's markets here in Seattle. We love the carrots and organic free range eggs from local farms. Yes, that is a blue eggshell from Americana hens! 
Click here to find a farmer's market in your area. 

5. This awesomely good proposal


how to surprise your partner this weekend



Scene: Friday or Saturday night. L and I are in the car deciding where to go to dinner.

L (driving): So, where are we going?
HG: I don't know, honey. What are you in the mood for?
L: I could go for anything, Mexican, maybe, Italian? Greek gyros?
HG: Hmm, I don't know. Whatever you want.

And we usually end up at one of three restaurants that have been tried and true and where we don't even have to open the menu. We were, however, in a rut. And I felt bad about this. So we tried Yelp and OpenTable--both great sites but it felt like work as we read through menus. A couple weeks ago on a Friday morning I had an epiphany. Friday nights we could go wherever but Saturday nights I was going to research new restaurants and surprise L. It might be Algerian or Coastal, French or a little diner in a small town near the border but it was going to be new.

I asked L. if this was cool. Saturday nights were mine. He chuckled and said "Go for it. This out to be fun." And so that Friday I researched restaurants on Yelp and OpenTable and asked for help from friends (old and new) on Twitter. I was surprised at the folks who responded on Twitter, people like @FrancisFoodie and @mattsinthemkt who gave me some fun, new, thoughtful ideas for new restaurants.

Our first one was an Italian place called Lucia. I made a reservation through OpenTable. That morning L. asked me "So, where are we going?"
"It's a surprise!" I said.
He chuckled "I kinda like this."

Later that evening, we got in the car. L. was driving. We put the top down. "OK, my little wonder, where are we going?"

"Oh no," I said. "It's not like that. You'll find out when we get there. I'll be your GPS!"

L. looked at me in horror. "No. Definitely no. That is where I draw the line. No. No.You. You are a. . .you are an anti-GPS!" He shook his head.

He was, of course, right. If there is someone with a poorer sense of direction, I would like to meet you. I will get lost going to the next town which is weird for someone who traveled around the globe for my job.  L. bought me one of the very first generation GPS's because I was ALWAYS lost. He would shake his head and look at me after I arrived someone hours late because I was lost.

"How did you EVER get anywhere before GPS?" he would ask me. He only felt that I was safe when we were on Martha's Vineyard (an island) and he knew that I couldn't get in trouble because if I reached water I had to stop and go back. I was like a bumper car safe in a small space.

"I got this," I said. That morning I had meticulously mapped out our route and as we backed out from our street I said go left, go left, now right, keep going. . .

A couple times he looked at me doubtful while he was driving "You're sure? Go left? You're SURE?"

"Yes, we have a reservation. We're good. I promise."

L. laughed. "I like this. This is kind of cool."

With a final direction of "Go right, right here, go right," we pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant. Sitting by the big open windows we had an incredible dinner at a new place. I asked L. what he thought about this new Saturday night idea.

"I like it. I like that you surprised me." He smiled at me. I know that he works long hours and makes decisions all day. If I could take one decision off his table, would that help? It did. In fact, it added some fun back into the typical "So, where do you want to go?" discussion.

I asked L. if he wanted to do it again "Every weekend," he said. "I love this." He laughed as we finished the gelato. "You are awesome, Taylor." There was one caveat.

"I know. Map it out. I know."

This weekend, try this with your partner. Go to Yelp, Open Table, post a message on Twitter and find a new place. Surprise your family or your partner with a new experience. Get out of your routine. Have an adventure!

the happygirl guide to making a glassybaby bouquet


Here is how to make your own glassybaby bouquet:

You will need a glassybaby, flowers, small beads/stones (available at craft stores) scissors and water.


 

1.) Rinse your glassybaby under water and pat dry.
2.) Cut flowers (on the diagonal) to 4 inches.
3.) Add the small stones about 3/4 of the way up the glass. (The stones will help keep your flowers in the vase. Without the stones, the flowers will slip.)
4.) Add water filling just past the stones.
5.) Carefully insert one flower stem at a time, cutting more of the stem if needed. Add flowers until you’re happy with the arrangement.

entertainme: what your dog does when you're at work

celebrating national blueberry cheesecake day with this spa recipe


Last October I spent a week at the Red Mountain Resort in Utah working out, hiking my way through the desert and sweating. Each day I ate better than I ever have, feeling strong with healthy foods that made me happy. The first night after an exhausting day pushing myself in the desert, the pool and the gym, it took everything I had not to collapse on the soft, cool white sheets after a refreshing shower. Instead I walked over to the cool dining room. As the sun was setting over the red mountains I asked if the chef could prepare my favorite meal-- salmon (blackened), grilled pineapple and grilled onions (no oil) with fresh squeezed lime juice over the fish and vegetables. It was perfect. It tasted clean and healthy. It was so good in fact that I ordered it for dinner every night. The meals at Red Mountain were heavenly. It was nice to not think of calories and know that the chefs had already thought of that for me. Everything on the menu was healthy including the desserts. Oh, the desserts. 

charming things: why we love glassybaby



In the South of France on the Cote d’Azur is a small town called Antibes. In May, in the warm pink evenings, the heady fragrance of Night Blooming Jasmine is carried on the breeze with the scent of the aquamarine Mediterranean Sea. The combination is almost too lovely to bear. Off the coast of Maui in the town of Wailea, the ocean water is so unimaginably blue that snorkeling can feel like an underwater scene from "The Little Mermaid." In Cancun, swimming alongside dolphins in the blue sea is literally a spiritual experience. I am a water baby. I am.



As a reporter I have traveled almost a million miles interviewing celebrities around the world. It sounds exciting, doesn't it? But in reality I have spent thousands of hours navigating airports, answering email in taxis as we jerked along in city traffic and sitting in hallways waiting for my interview slot.  Typically on trips I would see the airport, a screening in a dark theatre, the interview suites then back to the airport. Sometimes I would forget what city I was in. However, whenever I could I would take a swim. When I am in the water diving under the aquamarine frothy waves watching the bubbles rise poppity pop pop to the surface or sliding into a hotel pool for a quick morning swim as the sun rises above palm trees I am at home. Cutting the surface of the water with the sun warm on my face is when I am happiest.



In May of 2009, I was laying on the couch feeling sorry for myself after my job as Celebrity Events Host at Microsoft was eliminated. My life literally had become a cliched country song. I lost almost everything. I was feeling bad for myself. I was depleted. A few days after I lost my job, the doorbell rang. When I answered the door a very nice Grandpa (not mine) handed me a tidy, sweet bouquet in a small glass vase, snuggled in a box surrounded by newspaper. I carefully removed the vase and I sighed. Oh. Oh! The small vase was aquamarine. It was the color of the sea. It was the color of happiness.  Looking at this vase it looked like someone had scopped up the aquamarine water from the Cote d’Azur and frozen it into this lovely little globe. I opened the card and it was from some friends at Microsoft who wanted to say “Love you. It will be OK. It will.”



In that moment, I had an epiphany. It will be OK. It was OK. The wonderful moments I had in the past will always be there. I will always be able to close my eyes, smell jasmine on a balmy night and I will be back in the South of France. Whatever wonderful things that happened in the past were still there. I was lucky that I got to experience the things I did. For a girl who grew up poor in a trailer park, being able to even visit a place like Antibes or Wailea, I knew I was lucky. In that moment I appreciated everything I was able to do. Just because something is over doesn’t mean you are lost. What it means is that you were lucky enough to experience wonder or love or contentment with a job or a person.

Yes, the epiphany was from looking at a vase. I called the florist. I was over the moon for this vase. They told me it was a glassybaby votive holder. I looked glassybaby up online. I read about Lee Rhodes, the extraordinary creator of glassybaby (Entrepreneur's Magazine's 20011 Entrepreneur of the Year) and her extraordinary story of starting her company after surviving cancer. I read that glassybaby gives a good percentage of profits to charities (over $900,000 so far). I needed to be part of something this good. I found that the studio and store were located in Seattle. I decided to go see where my little glassybaby came from. Walking into the store is a sensory experience. You can see the glassblowers making each glassybaby by hand. Watch them. Their focus and passion is evident when you hold a glassybaby in your hands. That artisan's passion transfers to the glass. It does.  The day I was there, there were several dogbeds lined up along the wall in the studio with dogs curled up watching their people work (yes, it is safe for them). The store is simple. White with dozens and dozens of colorful glassybabys. The candles flickering in glassybabys lit up the store.



Looking at the colors you think “That cobalt blue (lady di) is exactly the color of my Nana’s waterglass she kept on a table beside her rocking chair.” “That brown is exactly the color of George's coat!” (and interestingly enough it is called wet dog!) There are ballet pinks (tutu), innocent whites (grateful), vibrant reds (happiness), vibrant greens (verdant). Walking around the store I picked up the aquamarine, held it cupped in my hands and up to to the light. There were also dolphin, seaglass and ocean, all the colors of the sea. I looked around and I saw the same grin that I realized was on my face, on others in the store as they held up glassybabys in purple, orange, olive, red, grey and yellow. That day I bought dolphin and grateful. When I got home I put dolphin, grateful and aquamarine together. I lit the candles in the votives, dimmed the lights and I told L. that they represented us, our family, L, me and our dog Emma. And thus started my love affair with glassybaby.



I am not alone in my love for glassybaby. Collectors are passionate about their favorite colors. They will stand in line in the rain for hours at the glassybaby Seconds Sale (January and June). glassybaby fans use their glassybabys for candlelight but they also get creative, using them for ice cream sundaes and for flower arrangements. Here, at the Happygirl studio we have glassybabys all around the office. This week we found peonies at the market and made bouquets for our desks.

As I write this I am looking at my very first glassybaby that sits here on my desk, never far from me. Right now it is filled with peonies. Later this week it may hold a tealight. Maybe someday it will hold a little Cheerios necklace that my daughter makes for me.


Maybe that’s what makes glassybabys so special. They hold dreams.


     
         





The Aquamarine glassybaby is our signature gift here at The Happygirl. In fact, we liked the color so much it inspired the happygirl logo! We send glassybabys as thank you gifts,  shower gifts (wedding and baby!) and as "We love you! You are a true happygirl/happyguy" gifts. We really love them!



If you purchase your own Aquamarine glassybaby, 10% of the proceeds of this color goes to the Marsha Riven Center for Ovarian Cancer Research. We love that.

And because we love the Aquamarine glassybaby so very much, we’d like to give one away to a happygirl or happyguy! Leave us a comment before June 16th, 2012. Tell us your favorite color glassybaby, or what your glassybaby means to you. We’d like to hear what you think. One winner will be chosen at random on June 17th and announced here.



charming things: slurpee lite is here!

Today- May 23- it's SlurpFree Day at 7-Eleven! 
Get a FREE 7.11 ounce new Sugar-Free Mango Slurpee!
(At participating stores between 11am-7pm while supplies last. Click here to find a store near you!)

The summer after 5th grade (and Sr. Susan) will always be known as Slurpee Summer. This was the June that our parents let us roam free on our bikes, trusting that we as ten year-olds were mature enough to stick together and stay out of traffic.

And so, my best friends Kate, Susie and I would ride our pink bikes with streamers in the handlebars (and playing cards stuck in the wheels so we made click click click sounds when we rode) around our neighborhood flying down McKinstry Avenue past the farm stand with the good blueberries and the Gilpatrick's farm. Up the hill we road, sweaty and on a mission, for at the top of the hill was 7-Eleven and cherry Slurpees. With hot quarters from our sticky palms we proudly paid for our red icy treats. We sat on the curb with our bikes parked neatly near each other (after all, we did go to Catholic school and learned that neatness was next to godliness.) We were quiet there sitting in the sun with our thighs burning against the hot curb, as we sucked on the Slurpees. It was always a contest to see whose lips were stained the reddest. Susie with her white blonde hair and blue eyes always won.

When I read the news this week that 7-Eleven was coming out with a lite version of the cold treat (20 calories for 8 ounces) my heart skipped a happy little beat. Starting early this summer, 7-Eleven will roll out their Fanta Sugar-Free Mango flavor (with Splenda) followed later by Strawberry Banana and Cherry Limeade.

While no nutritionist would tell you to go willy-nilly with a giant Slurpee, an 8-ounce sugar-free treat is lovely once in awhile. Go on. Be a kid. What's happier than a Slurpee on a sunny day?

charming things: bobbi brown sparkling beach

Think of the beach. Quick. What do you smell? Ocean. Coppertone? Bobbi Brown's Beach fragrance is that. It is the beach. It is the smell of happy. For a limited time Bobbi Brown's Beach is now available in a shimmering fragrance oil. It's pink, it's beachy, it's happy, it's sparkly.

Even today when it's rainy in Seattle I'm wearing this under a sweater and jeans and I know summer is just around the corner.

entertainme: why kristen wiig is awesome

We've never wanted to be on "Saturday Night Live" but once we watched Kristen Wiig's final scene last Saturday night, well, it took all we had not to cry and start working on our stand up routines.

Watch and cry for yourself. (Crying of course is a good thing in this case.)

Bonus: You can distract yourself from tearing up by counting how many "SNL" alumni/guest stars appear in the final shots.

insights: why you cry at a school play




There is a moment that anyone, even the toughest soul would feel an overwhelming sense of emotion. It is that moment after a school play when the cast and crew flood into the lobby to be joined by the exiting audience, friends and family. 
This was the case this weekend after our local high school’s (Inglemoore) production of “Legally Blonde, the Musical.” We didn’t have kids in the performance, because, well, we don’t have kids yet. We were there to support our neighbor G., the drama teacher and her daughter M., who was in the musical. Even if you don’t have kids in the play, it’s an emotional thing when the cast takes its bow after a performance. If you’re close enough you can see the flood of endorphins as the cast hold hands and bows. No wonder they were happy. These students were incredible. You didn't need to have a kid in the play to know this was a great performance. These kids took this musical seriously. They understood commitment. And the audience knew it.
And so, after the sold-out performance I made my way out to the packed lobby where the kids were excitedly talking with their parents, holding bouquets, hugging dads. I was lucky to arrive in the lobby just as a grandfather leaned in to kiss the cheek of his granddaughter who starred as Elle Woods, the lead. Here was this man with tears in his eyes as his granddaughter hugged back and with tears in her eyes said “You’re here!” A woman standing next to them explained to no one in particular “She didn’t know they were coming.”
A boy who was alone sitting next to us during the performance had been holding two long stemmed roses. When a teacher saw him before the event she said “Hi____. Is one for _______?” “Yes,” he said. “And who is the other one for?” she asked. “I don’t know,” he told her. “I’ll tell you after the show.” I was looking for him. I wondered who he gave the second rose to. 
I saw the big football boys who sang and danced (and were so good)  in the show getting pats on the back by dads and hugs by moms. The girls, most of them holding flowers were laughing, still in costume and surrounded by love from families, from friends. Suddenly, I had to hold back tears. I feel choked up even as I write this. As I think about it, I don’t know exactly what caused this feeling. We see people do good jobs every day. The teller at the drive-thru at the bank gives us the right amount plus surprise! a biscuit for our dog in the car, the nurse gives us a flu shot that doesn’t hurt too much, an athlete catches the ball and runs a touchdown. They’re all examples of people doing a good job but we don’t cry, not typically anyway. But standing there in a room of 15-18 year-olds who rehearsed choreography in their garages for months during Seattle’s rainy weather, who studied their lines as well as geography and calculus, there was something there I can’t explain.  Maybe it was joy? Happiness for them completing a goal? I don’t know. 
As I slowly made my way through the lobby to the exit I saw girls hugging and through tears saying “YOU were good!” “No, YOU were good.” “YOU were. I LOVE you guys!!!!” I saw the grandparents and the teachers and fellow students all proud of these kids, these teenagers who learned the lesson early in life that if you put hard work in, you get results. The fact that they were getting such a tangible reward on this lesson made me think this was a lesson they wouldn’t forget. 

Neither would I.


Congratulations to the cast  and crew of "Legally Blonde, the Musical." You did it!

A Happygirl at a beach wedding

A Happygirl at a beach wedding

Tory Burch party dress
$995 - toryburch.com

Mystique strappy sandals
€137 - pret-a-beaute.com

Clutch handbag
£60 - coast-stores.com

Christian Dior nail polish
$23 - saksfifthavenue.com

charming things: the fiat 500c cabrio review





I’m taking Italian 3 this semester and so, I am immersed in all things Italian (tutte le cose italiane). I’ve been cooking Italian (pizza Napoli), reading Italian newspapers (Corriere Della Sera) and dreaming in Italian so it makes sense that the first Happygirl car review would be about the little Fiat 500C Cabrio or la piccola Fiat cinquecento (say it out loud-- pronounced chinqwah-chentoh. Isn’t that lovely?)

This past week we had the zippy little white and red convertible for five days and there really is only one word to describe this car: carino (cute). The car attracts people like a moth to a flame, a shiny, adorable, sexy little flame.  It's impossible to keep your hands off this car and impossible as well, not to say "Oh my gosh, it is SOOOO cute!" The car, in fact, should come standard with a bumper sticker that reads "Yes, I know how cute I am." 

We took the car out for the first time last Friday night around the lake. It was 72 in the late afternoon mellow sun. With the top down, iced espressos in the cupholders, Sinatra's "Summer Wind" playing, and hair flying we felt like we could be driving along the Amalfi coast. That's what this car has— a feeling. We wondered though, would that feeling be supported as we test drove the car for a week?

The exterior is best described as retrosexy (we coined the term the second we first laid eyes on it). The lines are reminiscent of the car that your mom drove after she graduated from Vassar (she loved that little blue car that summer she and her friends drove to the Cape every weekend before they all got married.) This 2012 version, however, has a sexiness that your mom's car never had. It's sleek and cheeky with its curved concentric circle theme throughout the car (exterior and interior). It also has a 1.4 liter MultiAir four cylinder 101hp engine that makes this car zippy and fun to drive. Available in both a manual (which we had) and an automatic model, the ride is smooth, with the steering and brakes exact. The car is light (2416 pounds) but when rounding curves the car responds well. Even as we crossed the 520 bridge on a windy day, the car safely within our control. This Fiat responds well to  acceleration (0-60 in less than 10 seconds) but it's a little sluggish. We'd like to see what a turbo would feel like. Extra oomph would really help with some of the steep hills here in Seattle.



The interior feels open and airy, surprising for a small car. The first time we sat in the car we looked at each other and said "It's sexy, right?!"  We loved the dashboard which follows through the circular theme and easy to read controls. The front headroom is 38.6 inches with the front leg room at 40.7 inches.

The backseat, like most convertibles is small. We have a dog crate when we take the dogs out and I'm not sure it would fit in the backseat but the split bucket seats do go back if you need the space. Older kids would also do OK in this backseat. Though I think if you decided to take your co-workers out to find the Taco Truck for lunch, they might enjoy more legroom.  The trunk is small at 5.4 feet.  When I look at a trunk I think— can I fit a rolling carryon back there? Yes, you could in this car but it would be a stretch with a stroller or larger luggage.



But let's be honest, the charm of the Fiat 500C Cabrio is the unique top. Traditionally a convertible means when the top goes down there is nothing between you and the open air. Instead, the Fiat 500C Cabrio has a rolling sunroof that can stop in three positions (little sunroof, medium sunroof and big sunroof) leaving the roof rails on either side. That is a cool feature. We all liked that.  (My husband also liked the rails because he felt it would be safer for me in an accident.) You can even move the top open further while you're driving or even more important—you can close it while you are driving. (I drive a VW Beetle Convertible and I will admit that more than once I have been caught in a sudden downpour with the top down while driving down the 405.) When you close the top, the two layer cloth is watertight and cozy. I've had convertibles in the past where I literally I had to shout into my Bluetooth because there was so much ambient air noise and rattling even with the top closed. The downside of driving this car topdown is that the top is bulky when down and I had a hard time backing out of a parking space, feeling like I couldn't see what I could be backing into.

Like a good gelato alla nocciola (hazelnut gelato) this car grew on us. It was smooth, sexy and classic. The price is right ($20,200 - $24,200) for the base model if what you are looking for is a small car that has character. This is not a car to take on cross-country road trips or if you have small children (and all their stuff). If you are looking for an Italian experience and you want to feel like you could quite possibly invite Sophia Loren to accompany you to the farmer's market by the water, this is a happy car (la vettura felice) for you.

insights: what I learned the day I lost a yacht

The decadent, star-filled extravaganza that is the Cannes Film Festival has begun in France. I've been lucky enough to cover the festival several times but there was this one time that stands above the rest. It was the time I lost a yacht.

It wasn’t my fault really.

One moment the lovely yacht was there and the next moment, it was gone. Vanished somewhere in the French Riviera.




Let me start at the beginning.

It was late winter and it was decided that we would be covering the Cannes Film Festival in May. My role was to arrange for credentials and accommodations as well as hosting the video features we would be shooting in London and Cannes. There would be four to five of us going including a videographer/editor, executive producer and a writer, all guys at the top of their game and the best group of guys to be traveling with. I felt lucky to be covering the festival with such a talented team.

It is notoriously tough to get credential passes to cover the Cannes Film Festival but due in large part to the writer's (Dave's)  brilliant past content we were able to secure passes (Rose level passes--very good! This got us into most screenings). It was the accommodations, however, that were proving the hardest obstacle. By February most of the hotel rooms were gone, booked by studios and media outlets the previous spring. I started with our travel department and asked them to check the three big hotels on the La Croisette (the main street in Cannes) The Majestic, The Carlton and The Hotel Martinez. No vacancies.  They expanded the search to other hotels in the area. Nothing. Not one hotel room, not even the dodgy hotels. I tried the travel sites. I called the hotels directly. Nothing. I tried hotels in a five mile radius. Booked. All booked.

It was time to get creative. I had two options. That’s it.

One. A villa, an amazing villa in the countryside of Nice that looked like Cary Grant and Grace Kelly had just stepped away while shooting “To Catch a Thief.” The pictures were beautiful and it was big enough for our whole team plus several other folks who would be joining us from our European affiliates throughout the week. This however ended up not being an option since there was no way to get back and forth to the festival easily. Because the team would be covering press conferences, video interviews and other events starting from 7am and going through sometimes until 2am we needed to be close by our rooms so we could drop off tapes, change, edit and publish our segments. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a driver who would help us travel back and forth to the festival. It seems everyone was already booked.

Two. A yacht. I found a man online who owned an apartment and a yacht in Cannes. The apartment was rented but would we be open to the yacht? I said “Send me the details.” A few minutes later I received an email with pictures of the yacht that was docked in the Old Port adjacent to everywhere we needed to be. It had 5 bedrooms and plenty of space for us to work and sleep. It actually turned out to be significantly less expensive to rent the yacht rather than hotel rooms for 5 people for 11 days. I forwarded the email with our options and within seconds I received a “Book it!” email.

May. We touched down in London first as we shot the junket interviews for “The Da Vinci Code” on the high speed train from London to Cannes. As we made our way to the dock in Cannes we met the bon vivant man about town who rented us the yacht. While it wasn’t a huge yacht, it would serve our purpose for the next two weeks as we covered the festival just steps away. There was enough room for us to sleep, cook our meals and edit the segments.





Over the next week or so we worked and lived on the water as the team storyboarded, shot and edited packages of interviews with stars attending the festival including the junket for “X-Men: The Last Stand" shot high in the hills at a rented mansion. We covered parties until early in the morning. One morning I walked back from a party to the yacht around 5am. It is one of my favorite moments from being on the road all these years. As I walked back to the boat along the Croisette the sun was just starting to rise, the sky pink. I saw couples in black tie and gowns strolling back from parties to their hotels on the beach hand in hand, she wearing his tuxedo jacket over her gown, holding her strappy shoes in hand while he walked with his tuxedo pants rolled up holding his shoes as well. The shop proprietors were sweeping the sidewalks in front of their shops. The little coffee shops were starting to brew and bake croissants, carts of fresh fruit and vegetables were being delivered to the shops from farmers. It was picturesque. The scent of the Mediterranean mixed with espresso in the air is something I’ll never forget.



After ten days or so working from early morning to late night we finally had a day off. We all did different things that day. One of the guys rented a car and drove into the countryside. I took the train to Monaco and Italy, spending the day seeing Grace Kelly’s castle and shopping in the markets of Ventimiglia. Around 5pm I took the train back to Cannes. I walked from the train station to the dock. I was looking down answering email as I walked to our slip. I turned left at the lamp to step onto our gangway but there was just water. Our boat was gone. I stood staring at the empty space where our yacht was supposed to be. “Ah,” I figured it out. I was on the wrong queue. There were two parallel  queues and I must be on the wrong one. I wasn’t paying attention as I walked and focused on my phone. I looked right and left. I saw the Frenchman on his boat to the left of our slip. Since we arrived, this very tan 70ish year-old man had been spending each day on the upper deck of his boat in nothing more than swim trunks, sitting in the deckchair and reading Le Monde in the sun. He looked down at me over the glasses perched on his very brown nose. He seemed amused at the predicament.

I looked up at him and motioned to where the yacht once was. In French I said “The boat. It’s gone.” (Luckily those years of French classes taught by the nuns were being put to use.)

He looked over to the open space and agreed “Yes,” he said. “She’s gone.”

I was baffled. “I don’t understand. Where? Where is the boat? The boat that used to be here.” I pointed to the water. I looked up at him.

He waved to the open sea “She went,” he said. “She’s gone.”

I stood there thinking of everything on that boat, our laptops, video equipment, our passports, our clothes, everything we owned. It was all on the boat somewhere out there in the sea.

I wondered what to do now. Call the guys, tell them our things are gone, call corporate and ask them for help, wire money, help us get new passports. My mind was reeling with all that had to be done. I was kicking myself. How well, really, did I know the guy we rented the boat from? The guy who just took off into the open sea with all of our things?

The situation seemed incomprehensible.

“Come,” our French neighbor motioned me onboard his yacht. “Come and have some espresso, my girl. Yes? Espresso? You come and sit with me.”

What else was there to do? I boarded his yacht and sat with the man who peeked in on me as I showered every day. His upper deck had a good view into the skylight of my bathroom that had to remain open during a shower. I felt better seeing that his view really just went to shoulder level. He rose from his seat to make us espresso. He was bald, paunchy and brown as a saddle but he was confident in his body, covered only in a red Speedo. Monsieur Jean-Michele handed me a small ceramic cup of espresso and waved off to the sea “Eh, she’s gone, yes?”

My God, yes, she was gone. But then I wondered. Could the guys have taken the boat out? I called them.

“Hi, it’s Taylor. Yes, Italy was amazing. Do you by any chance have the boat?”




Yes, they said. They had the boat. They were out somewhere near an island and it was incredible. Apparently, when we had arrived the owner of the boat said that if we wanted to take the yacht out to sea to give him a call and he would send the captain over. That is just what they did on our free day.

When I hung up Jean-Michele looked at me expectantly “All OK?”

I nodded, yes all OK.

Here is what I learned: I borrow trouble. I think the worst. The boat was gone and I assumed someone stole it. A cough is pneumonia. I see a parking meter officer and I assume I’ve gotten a ticket. My husband is late coming home and I think something has happened to him. I seems to always think the worst, to go for the most awful result. I wondered when I had become so cynical. The guys had simply taken the boat out for a sail into the open sea. I didn’t get a ticket, my husband was late because he had stopped to buy me lilies. I panic for no reason. How much stress I put myself through because I immediately go to a bad place in my head. I vowed to stop this. My grandmother used to tell my mother “Jacqueline, don’t borrow trouble. When it comes you’ll know it. Until then assume the best.” I vowed to listen to this piece of advice. Lately I seem to have forgotten this. I need to remember to think positively, to assume the best. It’s not about being Pollyanna. It’s about not stressing about something until you absolutely have to because worry is pointless.

On that day after hanging up the phone with the guys, Jean-Michele and I relaxed and spoke of wine, history and women as we watched the gold sun lower over the old port and we waited for the boat to come home.

entertainme: chilling with maroon 5's 'lovely day"

I was driving from Seattle across the bridge this morning in the sunshine with the top down listening to this song. It's Maroon 5's take on Bill Withers' classic song "Lovely Day."

Listen. You can feel the dappling your shoulders, can't you?




charming things: we always knew new orleans was cool

Life is brief and tender, and there is a lot we can learn from the people around us to help us lead better lives.

Here's a cool project from New Orleans. Inspired by losing someone she loved, artist Candy Chang created a giant chalkboard on the side of an abandoned house in her neighborhood. Stenciling "Before I die I want to________________" on the blackboard she invited residents to fill in the blanks with their dreams. And what they did was remarkable

The world was soon inspired and requests from around the world poured in with similar chalkboards now in South Africa, Mexico and Kazakhstan.   Hope it seems, knows no boundaries, no prejudice.

What do you want to do before you die? Swim with dolphins in Fiji? Buy bright new books for the kindergarten class you attended?

Why if you did it?

What would this look like in your neighborhood?  The "Before I die__________" toolkit is now available. Visit http://beforeidie.cc/ for more inspiration.


Kudos to Candy Chang and to every person who shared their dream on the wall.