the august happygirl giveaway



Oh, August. The sunshine, the family time, the late night talks outside by moonlight and fireflies, the way we try to treasure every last drop of lemonade summer. August.

I love August. I love the way the sun feels against my skin on a morning walk by the sea. There is something about the way candlelight  moves in a glassybaby on a hot evening too, almost languidly as if it was just too much trouble for the flame to dance in the heat. August means a canvas Lands' End bag instead of a purse, heavenly coconut, pretty ponytails, s'mores, family game nights with popcorn and a pretty aqua pedicure that chases the waves. It's the way orange blossom smells on your neck after a cool shower.

It's all in here, the August Happygirl Bag. These are some of our favorite things here in The Happygirl Studio and we want to share the sunshine with you.

The August Happygirl Bag includes:

-Lands' End canvas bag (purse size with handles and strap. Style/color combination no longer available.)
-Uncle Woody's Truffle Salt Popcorn from Seattle Popcorn
-Turquoise glassybaby
-Jo Malone Orange Blossom Body Cream (travel size)
-Essie Turquoise & Caicos nail polish
-Tazo Wild Sweet Orange tea sachets
-Butter Baked Goods Toasted Coconut Marshmallows
-24 Elastic hair ties in Happygirl colors (aqua blues) Click here to see how I made them.


To enter, leave a comment here telling us what's been your happiest moment of the summer so far. The giveaway is open through August 31st, so after your dip in the pool and before you fall asleep to the sound of a fan, tell us your thoughts.

And happy August!

happy places: cape cod

I'm here on Cape Cod.

I'm so happy.

This small stretch of New England coastline is home to me. Cape Cod. On those cool, damp, rainy days in Seattle, I dreamed of Cape Cod--grey shingled cottages, family board game nights, dunes, ice cream, freckled noses, seaglass, sweatshirts on pink sky morning walks the beach, the smell of Coppertone and the bliss of outdoor showers.

It's this.











how to tie a bowtie

Here's something that every girl or guy needs to know how to do.

things to be happy about this week 7.30



farmstand peaches
Grab a ripe, juicy almost too good to be true summer peach and go sit outside contemplating 
the taste of summer.  For the ultimate summer dessert, try the 
Barefoot Contessa's Peach & Raspberry Cobbler recipe.

tuesday 7/31 is national mutt day
there's a dog out there just waiting to smile with you. 
Visit petfinder.com to find the next love of your life

the summer olympics
(courtesy of the Associated Press)
Invite some friends over to watch athletes who trained 10,000+ hours 
to become the best in their class. 
Vote on the fact the first person who points to the TV 
and says "I could do that" has to do 100 push-ups.

For U.S. athlete bios, schedule of events and more, download the 
NBC Summer Olympics On the Go app here. (You need this.)



this


"Excuse me, the milk is in aisle. . .?"


smell like a kid again
Use this and the playful five year-old in you will thank you. 
You'll be reminded of those wonderful long summer days 
when you were a kid on your bike flying down the hill for an ice cream.

one reason I love london? because of this guy



The 2012 Summer Olympics start today in London and here at The Happygirl, we are excited for the games to begin. Yes, we will be happily watching the Opening Ceremonies cheering especially hard for the athletes who may be the only ones competing for their countries.

I love London. During my job as a celebrity interviewer for MSN.com, I was lucky enough to spend a considerable amount of time in London as a reporter. I love this city. I literally love everything about it from watching the United Kingdom appear under the clouds as you land at Heathrow to the pride in which the London citizens have for their country. I adore the cabbies. It boggled my mind to learn that a green badge cabbie in London must pass The Knowledge test (sounds Harry Potter-like, yes?), an exam that tests their comprehension of 320 routes (that's 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks!)

There are the extraordinary restaurants (Try the Tea-smoked omelette, fruit muffin and a Passionfruit Smoothie at The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwall.) There are historic walks throughout the city, museums, monuments, churches, art galleries, shopping. . . Sometimes when I am rushing around between meetings or interviews I stop into a church, sit in a pew and close my eyes imagining the thousands of people who sat exactly where I have over the past hundreds of years. It's almost as if you can hear their prayers still hovering among the statues.

London is charming, of course but one of my favorite memories was of this man. He personified London for me.

I was staying for a few days at one of London's legendary posh hotels covering a movie junket. One of the challenges in traveling for your job is learning a new alarm clock at each new hotel. Often I would be fumbling late at a night after a screening or two to try and set an alarm for the morning only to find that I set it for PM or not at all. At this hotel, however, the alarm clock was perfect. It was a small, simple battery operated clock, gold toned in a black leather folding design, easy for the travel. It reminded me of something Grace Kelly would travel with. There was one button to set the alarm and the alarm itself was clear and loud but lovely - ting ting ting.

I was in love.  I woke up happy feeling like London was waking me up with a firm but friendly "Hello, my little traveler. It's time to wake up. Let's go! Get up, shall we?"

On my final morning in London, after breakfast I went down to the front desk to check-out. I had seen the clerk several times over my stay but on this particular morning he would become one of my favorite memories of London.

Front Desk Clerk: "Good morning, Miss Johnson. How was your stay with us?"

Happygirl: "So lovely. Thank you for taking such good care of me. May I clear up my bill please?"

Clerk: "Brilliant. Of course."

I remembered the clock. "One question. The clock in the room? The little alarm clock by the bed? Do you sell them?" (I often stayed at hotels where most things in the room were for sale, from the bedding to the bathrobes.)

Clerk: "I am terribly sorry, Miss Johnson but the clock is not for sale."

I was disappointed. "Oh. What if the clock were missing from the room, what would you charge me? Could I just pay that perhaps, in advance?"

Clerk: "Here at _____________ the items in the room are not for sale. However, if, perhaps, you were to take the clock home with you to America, I trust that someday you would stay with us again and bring the clock back with you. We have enjoyed your stay with us, Miss Johnson and we look forward to your next visit."

He said this in a serious tone but then there it was, a subtle, slight wink--the British sense of humor that I appreciate. In that one almost imperceptible wink I got the message "We may be posh and maybe a little stodgy but we're still kind of cheeky."

There may be extraordinary museums and art, outstanding shopping and restaurants but what stands out for me about London are the people, from the cleric who passionately points out the quirky facts about his small church and the cabbies who say "Hello, luv!" when you get in their cab to the hotel clerk who knows exactly how to leave an impression on a guest.

London, I love you so.

Here's to London and the games!

the happygirl carry on bag

I've traveled almost a million miles as part of my job as a celebrity interviewer and now The Happygirl.  There's really just a few things you need to take with you in your carry on when you travel. Here are my favorite things.

What do you always take with you when you travel?


thehappygirl carry on bag

the alternative red solo cup


I get it. The red Solo cup is ubiquitous. You may hold it in your hand or close to your heart. The red Solo cup means parties in college (Hello, Tau Kappa Epsilon boys!) and backyard family barbecues on hot summer days (Hello, Auntie Hope!). Maybe red Solo cups are an American tradition that shouldn't be messed with like "Dirty Dancing" or Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (traditional blue box, of course.) Maybe.

The shape IS perfect. It fits in your hand well like a good solid chocolate chip cookie does. It holds enough liquid that you don't have to keep topping it off but it's not so big that you look like you've stumbled in from an all-nighter at an All-You-Can-Eat on the Strip. I get it. The red Solo cup is a tradition. Traditions can be tweaked, however. Kinda like using Hawaiian Tropic SPF 50 instead of the Hawaiian Tropic oil you used in high school. (Admit it, you like it for the smell anyway and that's still there.)

Last week I was in a party supply store looking for some new muffin cups when I stumbled across an entire aisle of pastel dinnerware and flatware. It looked like the Easter Bunny had run amok with Lucky Charms marshmallows. It was here that I found these robin's egg blue Solo-like cups. Yes, I bought a sleeve and yes when L., came home from work the other day (on a rare hot Seattle day) he found me sitting on the Adirondack chair on the deck sipping pink lemonade from this cup. He burst out laughing and said "Of COURSE you found a Solo cup in the Happygirl color." He smiled wider when I gave him his.

Life is challenging. Some days traffic is worse than others. Bills come when you least expect it. Hazy, hot and humid days can be irritating. So maybe part of being happy lies in the little things like a plastic party cup in a color that makes you happy. And if you make new happy memories talking to your favorite people in the world while sipping away, all the better.







You gotta love the red Solo cup, too. Here's Toby Keith's homage to that "Red Solo Cup."



the most delicious fruit you've never had: the boysenberry

I was in Whole Foods this weekend and had a "When Harry Met Sally" moment.

I was hungry. I had skipped breakfast and lunch. You know that feeling of "I need to eat something right now. Now. Right. Now."? As I walked past the ready to eat hot foods,  the creamy, hot macaroni & cheese called to me. I swear it did. I wanted to stick my head in the pan. There were my favorite raspberry thumbprint cookies in the bakery and the cool potato salad in the deli. Tempting, but I lost 20 pounds in the past 2 weeks (11.2 week 1 + 8.2 week 2) and there was no way that I was going backwards.

This is when the produce god came into my life. I was in the produce aisle when I saw a new organic produce section built out. I needed some raspberries and I saw them--HUGE berries--HUGE. I had never seen them before. I picked up the flat and brought it over to the produce guy stacking blueberries.

"Hi. What are these?" I asked.

"Boysenberries," he replied, smiling. "Locally grown. Try one. Really. Try it."

I popped one in my mouth and summer exploded on my tongue. The berry was so juicy it just melted in my mouth. I closed my eyes and tasted a tangy summer morning on Martha's Vineyard. There was a bit of tart lime from an afternoon on a Mexican beach and sweet cherry from a cool wet morning in Washington. The flavors were so complex and simple and sweet and pure.

I moaned. "So good," I said to the produce guy. "Boysenberries. I love Boysenberries." I picked up two flats of the berries to add to my cart. There were several people around me looking at berries and now they were looking at me. From my flats I offered a berry to each of them. It made my day when one woman said to her friend "I'll have what she's having."  And with that, the rest of the flats of Boysenberries were gone.

There was no macaroni & cheese eaten that afternoon in the car. Instead, I put the top down, listened to vintage Pink Martini and savored the happiest fruit I've ever tasted. Bonus! I felt good about the choice I made by sticking to my healthy eating plan.  There's something to be said for beating a challenge!

Yes, Boysenberries sound like a made up fruit in a Dr. Seuss book but they are  incredible. I had a girlfriend over for lunch and served these berries with a side of Whole Foods 2% Greek Yogurt (the best Greek yogurt I've tried) mixed with a little cinnamon. It was heaven.

Check out Whole Foods or a local farm stand in your area for happy summer fruit, the Boysenberry.

review: "the dark knight rises"




Earlier this week as the credits started rolling at an advance press screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" the audience clapped its support of the film. The guys around me loved the movie, including my husband who went with me. So, I may be in the minority of those that didn't love the film. I appreciate the hard work that director Christopher Nolan obviously put into this film, as well as the cast including Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/ Batman), Anne Hathaway (Catwoman), Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon), Morgan Freeman (Fox), Tom Hardy (Bane), Michael Caine (Alfred) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Blake). As far as action movies go, they rose to the occasion pleasing the fans (at least those in my screening.)

In this third film of the trilogy by Nolan, Batman is secluded, having been outcast eight years prior. However a new evildoer (Bane) is reigning havoc over Gotham and only Batman can save his precious city from certain disaster. All the characters that you love are back with the addition of Anne Hathaway who has the best zingers in the film. She purrs especially well when she's being a bad kitty.  Gordon-Levitt is a refreshing addition to the cast as the honest cop turned detective trying to stop Bane's reign of terror on the city. Bane, however, with his caged mouthpiece is almost impossible to understand. In fact if Sean Connery and Darth Vader mated, the spawn would be voiced by Bane. Perhaps it was the deafening reverberations of the IMAX theatre but it was difficult to make out some of his dialogue. Though, he was more of a physical kinda guy so if you missed some of his dialogue, you still got the idea.


While "The Dark Knight Rises" is a BIG splashy summer movie, I wouldn't recommend taking younger kids to see this film. I'm not against violence in films but the violence in this film was overwhelming, especially some of the scenes where Gotham being terrorized. As I watched the smoke rise in the city, it felt too chillingly reminiscent of the 9/11 attacks. Yes, it was Gotham, a fictional city but the fact that it looked so much like Manhattan was enough.

The fact remains that Batman fans will go see this film. For me, it was violent and I didn't leave the theatre happy. However, just about every guy leaving the screening loved the movie. My husband said the film was like playing a video game, lots of violence but you have to remember it's just a movie after all.

the guide to a light, easy summer caprese salad


When I was in Italy on those sunny, balmy days in May I enjoyed one of the happiest meals I've ever had. It was simple but sublime: Caprese Salad with crusty Italian bread and Pelligrino with lime enjoyed while sitting outdoors at a cafe staring out at the Mediterranean. The ingredients were simple, rustic and pure. It was heaven.

Earlier this week at the farmer's market I discovered these beautiful deep red small tomatoes no bigger than 2 inches across (bigger than a cherry tomato and smaller than a typical tomato.) As I looked at the tomatoes, the groovy guy working the farm stand handed me a tomato to try. I did and it was POPPITY POP POP-- the taste of summer. I bough the tomatoes and I knew that however I used these had to showcase the simple, clean flavor of these locally grown organic fruits.

I remembered that day in the Italian sun so I stopped off at Trader Joe's and bough fresh basil leaves and good Bocconcini Mozzarella Fresco (Bite-size mozzarella balls in a small tub of water. For Caprese Salad this is the mozzarella to use. It can typically be found in the specialty cheese section of your local market.)



Caprese Salad can be served many ways. You often see it laid out on a plate with vinegar and olive oil drizzled over the top. However, several months ago I found these small dipping sauce bowls/plates and I knew this would be a fun way to serve the salad.

Here is how to make Caprese Salad.


Ingredients

Tomatoes (however many you'd like)
Container of Bocconcini Mozzarella Fresca
Package of Basil leaves
Olive oil (I used lemon infused olive oil)
Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper




To assemble


Each  serving of Caprese Salad serving requires 1 tomato, 1 Mozzarella ball and two Basil leaves.

Wash, rinse and dry tomato. Slice tomato horizontally into three sections. Put aside.

Scoop Mozzarella ball from water, pat dry and slice into three sections. Put aside.

Rinse Basil leaves and put aside.

In a small bowl begin to assemble the Caprese Salad stack with the tomato bottom followed by a slice of Mozzarella and a basil leave. Follow with another slice of tomato, Mozzarella and basil leaf. Top with top of tomato.

Combine 3 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of vinegar in a small bowl and whisk until combined. (This will be enough for four servings of Caprese Salad.) Drizzle one tablespoon of vinegar and olive oil mixture on tomato followed by a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Serve with crusty Italian bread and wine or Pelligrino for a light summer meal.

Tips: 

The tomato stack is slippery and will topple over if not in a small bowl that just fits the tomato. To keep the stacked salad, insert half a bamboo stick (typically used for barbecue skewers) into the middle of the upright stack. You can also serve this salad kebab-like by sliding each ingredient into a skewer.

If you have large tomatoes you can also make this, just buy the larger Mozzarella balls and stack the same way or serve sliced on a serving plate, still using the tomato/Mozzarella/Basil method.





the guide to making elastic hair ties: a rainy summer's day project


Last week I was browsing in a sweet little boutique and on display were elastic hair ties. They were the ones that celebrities have been spotted in lately that make their ponytails look polished. Made of a length of colored elastic they are dainty, ladylike and bonus they look cute on your wrist. I am the kind of girl that always has hairbands on my wrist, in my cupholder or in my purse. Now, instead when I'm doing yoga or driving top down I can look like I planned for it to be a ponytail day. 

At $2.50 each however, I thought I could easily make the ties myself. They are, after all, just a length of elastic ribbon (similar to what you would find on lingerie) cut and tied. I went online and did a search for 'elastic hair tie supplies' and found a spectacular assortment on ETSY.com. I ordered a bunch of colors and on a rainy day this week I started making elastic hair ties that cost just a few cents each to make. It's a simple project that you can do in under an hour. It takes about 30 seconds to measure, cut and tie an elastic hair tie. Here is how you do it. 

hair ties in shades of blue in the glassybaby courtney drinker

Tools
Elastic hair ribbon (found online or in some craft or fabric stores)
Scissors
Ruler
Fray Check (optional)






Instructions
  • Measure length of ribbon to 9 inches and cut.
  • Fold ribbon in half with shiny side out and tie a knot towards the cut end, sliding the knot to approximately 1 inch from the cut ends.
  • optional: The ends can fray so I dip the ends quickly into Fray Check right after cutting the sections. It's invisible but it adds a nice finish onto the hair ties.

Once you get the hang of it, it's easier to measure and cut the ties first and then tie them later so you don't have to stop, cut and tie each one. This process is much faster this way. 

Making elastic hair ties is a fun, easy activity and they make a great gift if bottled in a Mason jar or glassybaby. 





what if it does take a village to lose weight?


this is me after losing 90 pounds

Last year I did what I never thought I could do. I lost a little weight. 100 pounds. I did it through this program: a diet of no wheat, dairy, sugar, coffee or alcohol. I went to Weight Watchers every week where they cheered for me at every 5-pound increment. In about 5 months I had lost the weight. I went from literally zero exercise to running 5 miles a day. Then one day in February after the baby loss I thought "OK, you've worked REALLY hard and it's been a difficult month. It's just a little coconut creamer in your coffee. You deserve it." That started the slip. I had coconut creamer (the fake stuff) then a little low-fat muffin which became a cheese danish and before you knew it, I was happily eating tuna casserole. I stopped running and I slid backwards. All because of a little creamer. It starts small. Just like that.

Writing this post is difficult. Perhaps the most difficult one I've written so far on The Happygirl. It feels embarrassing to talk about this but maybe that is part of the whole Happygirl Experiment, to be honest about the good stuff and the stuff that is a challenge to share, to put a thought down in black and white. I know that when I hit POST that what I say will be out there online forever. That is a scary thing.  As I sit at my desk, I type a sentence then hit delete. It's as if I type it then it somehow makes it more official. I'm afraid of what people will think. There is a great line from one of my favorite films "St. Elmo's Fire" where Demi Moore's character says something to the effect "I'm afraid you won't think I'm so fabulous anymore" (when she breaks down and tries to off herself by sitting in a cold room.) I'm afraid that when I hit send you won't believe in The Happygirl. I hope, however, that when you finish reading this that maybe, just maybe, you'll believe in The Happygirl still.

at 80 pounds lost, running at Greenlake

When I look back at my success last year, one of the BIGGEST things that encouraged me to lose weight last year was social media, Facebook especially since I hadn't embraced Twitter yet.  Each week after Weight Watchers, I posted the loss. I didn't say anything more than "-34" or "week 9 = -43." With each person liking the post or leaving a comment I felt stronger. I felt embraced. When I was feeling weak, when I didn't want to go for a walk, especially at the beginning I would read the comments my friends and family left. Maybe it is egotistical but those likes and comments helped propel me to pull on my running shoes and go for that walk no matter how much it hurt or how bad it was raining (it is Seattle, after all.) When L. was traveling and I was alone for a week at a time I wanted to badly buy the stuff I liked and have a happy time sitting at the kitchen table indulging in my favorite things, the things that made me unhealthy in the first place. Then, honest to God, I would open my laptop, read the encouragement from friends or think about the Weight Watchers meeting and the cheering I would get for each mini goal I reached. Yes, I did have some weeks were I plateaued and even gained weight but I didn't slip up. I am a very black and white person. I'm either all in or not. I am impossibly hard on myself and I knew if I slipped that I wasn't going to be able to stop which is why I stayed on my program. Then  one day I slipped and it took a long time to recover.

Until now.

I've been open about our baby losses and that is an extraordinarily difficult for me to talk about. It's blindingly hard to see my friend's baby announcements and ultrasounds. However, I know that if I want to hold our baby one someday  then I need to get myself back on track and I was wondering, just possibly, if you would be there for me again. See, I know that with your encouragement, I can do this. When I'm not strong, you're there. And when I am strong, I am able to be there for others who needed encouragement. Maybe even you.

So, here's the thing. Here is what I promise you: Once a week on this blog, on Facebook and Twitter I will post the loss or even the gain. I will be transparent. Even if you don't comment or like a post I know that I made this pact to you. I'm putting it out there. There it is. I can't get it back and I'm kinda glad about that.


at 100 pounds lost
Week 1: -11.8.

"take this waltz": the movie you need to see this summer

Luke Kirby and Michelle Williams  (c) Magnolia Pictures


You just have to watch the trailer for "Take This Waltz" and you can feel the steamy summer heat that rises on a humid evening in the city. That's what this movie does. It makes you feel. You feel the heat. You feel the longing. You feel.

Michelle Williams stars as Margot, a woman happily married to Lou (Seth Rogen) a lovable cookbook author. One day she meets Daniel (Luke Kirby) an artist and her world as she knows it shifts in its axis. Watching Michelle as Margot navigate the relationships between Lou and Daniel is achingly beautiful,  poignant and extraordinarily touching.

If you've had the cheeseburgers, beer and big blockbuster summer movie experience already, this is the lovely dinner in the tucked away little bistro followed by the movie that will enrapture you. Even if you don't think of yourself as an indie movie person, this is a film that will stay with you even as your tan fades when September comes.

"Take This Waltz" is available is select cites and on demand.


layered strawberry shortcake in a mason jar


Earlier this week when I was at the farm stand I bought a flat of strawberries. They were so red, so beautiful I wanted to just sit in the sun and slowly eat berry after delicious berry. Sometimes serendipity comes into play though. 


As I put the strawberries on the kitchen island I saw the mason jars that I have been using for pink lemonade this summer. I had recent caught Martha Stewart on The Today Show preparing a mason jar picnic and that inspired me. 

I ran to the market for poundcake and heavy cream to make strawberry shortcake to go.  It was easy and the results were so pretty that I delivered some to one of my girlfriends who needed a little happy. 

The Strawberry Shortcake in a Mason Jar was easy to make. Here is what you need: 

4 mason jars (I used pint size but any size will do.)
1 pint of strawberries
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1 pound cake (I bought a prepared one at our local market)
2 tablespoon of confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon


Directions

Rinse and dry strawberries. Cut off stems and slice strawberries. In a small bowl mix cut strawberries with 1 tablespoon of confectioner's sugar. (You don't need to add any water.) Let sit while you prepare the whipped cream.

Using your electric mixer, blend the whipping cream, 1 tablespoon of confectioner's sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until the cream forms peaks. This will take several minutes. Set aside. 

Slice poundcake into 8 slices. 


Assembly

Starting with the poundcake, layer the cake, a few tablespoons of strawberries then whipped cream. Add one more layer of each until you reach the top of the mason jar. Top off with one strawberry slice and close jar with mason lid. 

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

It tastes like summer in a jar. Enjoy!

is this the happiest little car in the world?



When I was growing up in Massachusetts there was a woman we would see every now and then who drove a metallic turquoise Karmann Ghia. We'd see her flying down Memorial Drive, her blonde hair in a tangle blowing in the wind. I wanted that when I grew up. The whole thing.

When I turned 17 I told my mom that my first car would be a Karmann Ghia. That did not happen. I got what most kids get, a safe car, a blue Toyota, a car my mom felt safe that I would be driving in down the Mass Pike. That Karmann Ghia never did leave my mind though. A few years ago I looked into finding one but there was never the right one. Yesterday, however, I think I may have found the  the happiest little car I've ever seen.

As I was crossing the street at an outdoor shopping mall, I saw a woman drive up and as if in a Rob Reiner comedy, find one of just a handful of parking spaces directly in front of the stores. And there it was-- a metallic Tiffany blue car parked in front of Tiffany's.



I crossed the street and stopped her as she got out of her car.

"Hi. Oh my God, what is this car?"

"The Zenn," she said. She was blonde, smiling and happy. While it looked liked angel beams were shining down on her as she parked, it turns out those were just sunbeams. The entire roof of the car rolls back into one giant sunroof, making it almost a convertible. On her passenger seat was a rolled yoga mat. The interior of the car was open and sunny, plenty of room for two and cupholders. There was no backseat, but there was a nice storage area in the back.


another car to fall in love with


I asked her to tell me about the car. She told me that the Zenn (Zero Emission No Noise) is an electric car with a range of 40 miles. It is classified as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle that tops out at a speed of 25 mph. This is the car you get when you just need to drive around town. I asked what happens if she tried to go more than 25mph and she said the car was sort of like a glorified golf cart and programmed not to go more than 25 mph. It can't go more than 25mph. I've been test driving some electric cars in the past few months and I have felt range anxiety as I watch the energy/range meter deplete showing just how far I can go. The driver said she doesn't have that anxiety since she just drives around the city and doesn't take highways. With all the steep hills in Seattle, I asked her about the horsepower getting up these hills. "Not a problem," she answered. "The car has plenty of get up and go." She loved the car. She was happy. It made you want whatever she had to give her that glow, that bounce in her step.

Maybe it's the fact that the Zenn cost approximately $100 a year to operate. Maybe it was the yoga. Maybe it was the good karma coming back at her since she's driving a zero emissions car. Whatever it was, I really wanted to say "I'll have what she's having."

What's your happy car?

(Unfortunately, the vehicle is no longer made but there are used models on the market.) 


the happy morning sip

When I was celebrity interviewer, most weekends I was lucky enough to work and stay at The Four Seasons on Doheny Drive in Los Angeles. Every morning I would wake up at 6am and head down to the gym out by the pool. I'd hop on my favorite treadmill by the lemon trees and run, listening to my Sweat playlist (Yes, "California Gurls" is on that list.") I'd think of questions I was going to ask the actors I would be interviewing at the junket in a few hours. (Brad Pitt: "So, what exactly was the last prank George Clooney played on you?").



One hour later I would walk the few steps over to the outdoor shower then take a dip in the pool. After a swim I would wrap myself into a big towel on a chaise lounge by the pool where a double espresso with half-and-half over ice would be waiting for me.  Having left rainy Seattle behind me, I'd look out at the palm trees and the way the California sunshine sparkled on the water. Sipping an eye opening cold espresso after a workout was bliss. It was my favorite way to start the day.

This morning I thought about recreating that feeling at home. So after a 3 mile walk I used our Nespresso machine to make a double espresso. I poured it over ice, added a little Silk creamer and that happy feeling blasted me. (OK, so maybe it WAS the caffeine just a little.) I started thinking about it and I realized that an easy way to bring back a happy memory is through taste.



Hot apple cider = autumn days in Northampton, Massachusetts
Hot tea + cream + sugar = Foggy London mornings
Dunkin Donuts coffee (regular = cream + sugar) = home in New England
The milk left in the bowl after eating Fruit Loops = Being a little kid
Peach wine coolers = college

These are my happy sips. What drink brings you right back to a happy moment?


the guide: make your own card, make someone happy



On my desk I keep a card that my grandmother sent to me at college. There was no particular occasion for the card. My 80 year-old grandmother wrote about a visit to her niece in Minnesota, a new pattern she found for a blouse (would I prefer blue or green?) and what she made for lunch that day (a tomato and mayo sandwich on white bread. Toasted.)

One of the reasons I treasure this card is that I think of her at the kitchen table on a sunny Massachusetts September day with the windows open letting in autumn air. Her first language is French and sometimes she would pause to find the right word in English. I can see that in the card, a pause as she smiles and writes down her daily thoughts to me, her oldest granddaughter away at school.

The fact is that I kept this card and every letter she ever sent to me. I also kept every letter my husband has ever sent me including the letters when we were long distance dating. There are hundreds. I have the notes my best friend Mimi passed to me in high school and every card I've ever received cataloged by year in several clear boxes.  Reading Mimi's notes I remember the excited thrill of how it felt when our crushes smiled at us at our locker (we shared, of course. Lockers, not boyfriends.) My mother reminds me to be responsible (college: Junior year) and an Alumni tells me he'll be proud to help me get into Boston College Law. These make me happy.

I read an article recently about the fact that letter writing is a dead art. Students aren't learning cursive writing like we did in school. I thought about this and it's true.  We email, text and pay bills online. When was the last time you received an actual card in the mail? When you did, didn't you pause at the mailbox and open it right then and there and smile? What if you could give that smile to someone else?

Last year when things weren't so good I turned inward, to my bed and towards macaroni and cheese. I secluded myself which really was just a cowardly move. One day I made myself write cards to a handful of friends and family I had disconnected from. It seemed like an easy way to slowly reconnect. Over the past year the list has grown to 30 or so and the list always changes. Sometimes someone you barely know needs to to hear "You're cool. You're loved. I made this for you." The cards are all handmade and each one contains a Tazo tea sachet themed to the color of the card or the season. So far there have been 7 in the series.

the february collection

Yesterday I mailed out collection No. 8. The cards I prefer to work with come in packs of 8 so I made 32 cards. They are easy enough to make in an afternoon with just a few supplies.



Here is what you need to make someone's day:

  • card stock (available at craft and specialty paper stores)
  • stamp (available at craft stores or online. I like Impress Stamps
  • stamp ink
  • marker
  • glitter glue
  • glue dots (or double sided tape for tea sachet)
  • teabags (Tazo teabags come in individually wrapped pretty paper wrappers)

Here is how I made the summer flip-flops card:
  • I chose a horizontal format for the cards and stamped the flip-flop design in orange ink. 
  • The straps are outlined so I filled them in with a turquoise marker then went over the turquoise with a fine-tipped glitter glue tube.
  • Let dry overnight.
  • The next day use 2 glue dots or double sided tape to attach tea sachet to the inside of the card. 
  • I like to choose a short quotation in addition to a personal note for the card and for this card I hand wrote the following quotation by Ralph Waldo Emerson

What would your card say?