the scene before the wedding






It isn't often that my husband and I dress alike. Though, whenever we board the Martha's Vineyard ferry, invariably we both tend to gravitate towards sky blue shirts (linen for me, cotton for L.) and bisque colored pants (linen capris for me, much loved/worn in chino shorts for L.)

And so, when we we dressed for our dear friends (Eric & Chloe) wedding this week I didn't consciously dress us alike but somehow it worked out that way. L. was away on business and arrived home just before the wedding and there waiting for him was a new black suit, crisp white shirt and a striped aquamarine bow tie. When he saw the suit he smiled approvingly but he stopped when he saw the bow tie.

"A bow tie? Really?" He held it up.

I was in my robe getting ready with hot rollers in my hair. I smiled at him. "A bow tie! The last bow tie you wore was at our wedding." I was elated. He would look amazing.

"There's a reason for that." He looked at the bow tie bemused. "But, OK, if you think so."

Half an hour later as we stepped out to the car, I smiled when I looked over at L. With my black dress and signature earrings and L.'s black suit and aquamarine bow tie, we made a perfect match just like we did on our wedding day. I am yours and you are mine. Ever mine, ever thine.

Happy anniversary, to my best friend and the love of my life. I'm a lucky girl. All my love.



why you should go home again

Del's famous lemonade

I have been lucky enough to travel around the world as a celebrity interviewer for MSN.com. I lived on a yacht in Cannes, held a koala in Melbourne, Australia and chilled out with psychic Sylvia Browne at a spa but honestly, the best trip I ever took was going back to my little hometown to find my happy again.

Typically New England


There are some vacations you remember in your life. You take photos, you put them in a scrapbook and every so often something will remind you of that time a koala scrambled into your canoe. Then there are vacations that can change your life. This story is about the vacation that changes your life, the one where I kept saying to the universe "This is too much, it's TOO good" and it's the one where I tried to get a tattoo.

I am from a small town in Massachusetts, a town that I miss terribly now that we live on the west coast. It really is funny (not funny ha-ha but funny in a tragic sense) that you don't know how great something is until it's no longer there. I don't think I ever loved my little hometown as much as when I left. It's the little things like the way the pink granite pillars of my former grammar school sparkle in the morning sunlight and the way the Dunkin' Donuts girls know what I mean when I ask for a coffee, regular (2 cream + 2 sugar).

To get to know the Boston area like a local, click here for the boston slang dictionary to find out what we mean we we say 'bubbler' and 'packie'

L. (husband) knows how homesick I am so he said "Go, have fun. See our family, your friends and find us a cottage at The Cape" and that is just what I did. In two weeks I drove a little over 2000 miles throughout New England. I wanted to remember who I was, in the places that formed who I am today. What would I find out about myself? Could these places help me remember what made me happy?

Sunrise over Massachusetts

Being the Type A girl that I am, I called/emailed/texted with family and friends and had an intense schedule for the time I was home. I took the redeye flight and the morning I landed at Logan, I looked out the window, saw the Prudential and knew I was home. I. Was. Home. I almost cried seeing the Dunkin' Donuts in the airport.  Driving along the MassPike I listened to my Home playlist and James Taylor sang me home. I landed in a big pile of hugs at my sister-in-law's house. I closed my eyes as I hugged the girls to me and cried. It was too good.

The Cape Cod house we almost bought

The Cape Cod house that dreams are made of

And we did what you do when you are in New England. My first week was just for family and we spent the week going to the beach, exploring Cape Cod, meeting with a realtor to find a small cottage where we could come home to each summer. It was wildly fun standing in a grey shingled cottage with my sister-in-law Sue and her girls Mia and Tita wondering what the space would look like without the brown paneling and frat house brown tweed couches. Mia, especially, had the eye for real estate as we drove along the coastline. She would spot a grey shingled house and say "Oh, Auntie Taylor. That one is perfect for you and Uncle L. You could do a lot with that space." We ate at lobstah shacks and shopped in the quintessentially sweet little coastal towns of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We talked of mermaids and laughed during the long car rides. I marveled at the wonderful job my sister-in-law and her husband have done raising these two little girls who are smart, generous, kind and self-confident. In a little shop we bought a ridiculously heavy mermaid statue that was so heavy that  the shop thoughtfully shipped her to Seattle. Someday she will be right at home in our cottage by the sea.

Tita's coffee menu


My niece Tita was quite the barista, ready to prepare any latte or espresso drink for Sue and I. In fact she created a menu that we used every day.

If you want to learn about yourself, play Life or Monopoly with little ones


There was the Newport polo match and the game of Life where Auntie Taylor drew the doctor card and lived in a mobile home with my wife and adopted daughter from Vietnam. (I thought maybe it was a good life lesson for the girls when I landed on the marriage spot and chose a pink (instead of blue) spouse peg to add to my little car. Anyone can love anyone, right?) It was heaven just sitting at the kitchen table drinking lemonade and giggling until we couldn't breathe.

Ryder was such a trooper as we got the hair out of his eyes with a hair tie

After a week I left for the BlogHer convention in NYC and when I came back I drove to my other sister-in-law's house in Massachusetts. This was the week I scheduled to see friends and every day I drove to my hometown, 45 minutes away. The first morning back home I went to 7am Mass in the church I grew up in with the nun who was my fifth grade teacher.



As I sat in the pew I looked up at the stenciling on the walls and I realized it was aqua. I wondered:  Do I love this color blue now because it reminds me of the safe mornings I spent attending French Mass in church with my grandparents every morning before school? And as I sat across from my fifth grade teacher at breakfast after Mass I wondered if she knew how much she meant to me? I started to tear up as I told her that she will always hold a special place in my heart because she was so kind to me when my parents were getting a divorce. She was in her early twenties, then, a new nun starting out. I adored her. I still do.

The rest of the week was like a movie montage, you know the part of the movie with the great catchy music and scenes where the lead finds herself or falls in love or tries on clothes? That's what this trip was like.  On a dewy, sunny morning I visited my grandparent's grave and asked them to watch over our babies in heaven. I asked them for a sign, any sign that our babies were OK, a squirrel, grass blowing in the wind, anything. . .but nothing happened. I got back in the SUV disappointed. I don't know what I expected would happen. I turned on the ignition of the new car and that is when the radio died. The radio I had been listening to all week was stopped in the middle of a song. As I sat there I thought "Good one! I don't know how you just did that, Meme and Pepe but that was AWESOME! However, I kinda need music. . ." and then the radio started. Be careful what you ask for. I kinda scared myself in that cemetery.

Hampton Beach, NH


I saw high school friends I hadn't seen in years. There was the breakfast with my girlfriends, Louise and Kathy where we laughed so hard that we hiccuped. I was 16 again as we talked about our lives and the boys we love. And the dinner in Northampton with Brian (who I hadn't seen since graduation) that lasted 5 hours (and we didn't even order dinner until 4 hours in. Thanks, Fitzwilly's!) The next morning Brian surprised our friend Bill by joining us for breakfast at Sylvester's (these former best friends hadn't seen each other in years), followed by a nostalgic drive including a stop at a favorite vintage bookshop housed in a former barn in the countryside and a visit to the tattoo shop in Northampton for my first tattoo (no matter how hard we pleaded, unfortunately the tattoo artist was completely booked for the afternoon). There was the spontaneous 3-hour drive to Hampton Beach with Billy, just so we could take a picture.

The books I found in the vintage bookshop


Sitting across from each of my friends that week-- Denise, Billy, Brian, Louise, Kathy and Bill I learned something about who I was and who I am now. I  remembered who I was at 13 and 17. When I looked at Louise or Billy I didn't see them as they are now. To me, they are always going to be 17 and the funny, bright friends who made me laugh. I remembered the hard parts too, the break-ups and the dramatic fights over things that seemed so important back then. I realized that high school is really a training ground for the rest of your life.

Yes, I noticed that the Fuzzy Navel carton had Mojitos in it. We fixed this.


On my last night back home, I set aside that time to be with family. After dinner on the deck high above the lake, my three nieces danced around to "Marry You" by Bruno Mars. As the sky turned from pink to indigo, the girls took their baths and came out to say goodnight in their jammies with wet hair smelling like strawberries. I hugged each of them to me and closed my eyes. I was so in love with these little girls, these sweet, funny, kind girls. I hoped they would remember this night. Later, when they were in bed I made cocktails. When I was back in my hometown I had called Billy to ask if I could buy liquor in supermarkets as we can in Seattle. He said "No, of course not. The packie, remember?" Wow. I had forgotten about the packie AKA the Package Store which is the only place in Massachusetts where you can buy liquor. On my way home that night I had stopped at a package store and bought Patron Silver and Bartles & Jaymes Peach wine coolers (our #1 choice of alcohol in college).  And so on this night, I poured a B&J wine cooler into a plastic tumbler along with some ice and a shot of Patron. As we sipped under the stars on the deck with the dogs curled at our feet, I realized that this is why I was home. The best vacation wasn't sitting with George Clooney in the South of France (although that WAS really good). The vacation that you will always remember is the one where you feel loved. And at that moment with the girls sound asleep, talking about life with my sister-in-law I knew that this is where I belonged.

Here, at home, I was just TJ. I was just a girl who was still learning how to be me.

I learned that going back to your roots can help you move forward with your life. Socrates said "The unexamined life is not worth living." To be able to sit across from someone who was so important in your life at the time and see how they remember it is a real gift. There were times during this week I thanked my friends for being such an important part of my life and there were also times I apologized for being such a bitch. It was such a relief to let all that go. When was the last time you looked at a period of your life and examined where you came from? AND you got a perspective from someone else?

The next day as I took my seat on the plane, I read the text messages coming in on my phone from my friends "I love you! Come back!" "I love you guys too!!!!!!!" I typed back. I was so excited to go home and see L. and our puppy but I knew that I would be back to Boston in October just in time for the Macoun apples. There is so much more happy to be found and I know just where to look.


the "it" boots you want this fall- the hunter champery

I have a thing for riding boots, the kind of boots you pull on that make you feel like you'd fit right in in your jodhpurs and black cashmere turtleneck meeting pals William & Kate for a pint in SoHo on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The problem with riding boots is that they can be high maintenance and in inclement weather, your feet will get uncomfortably soaked. There are, of course, the iconic green Hunter Wellington boot, the footware that will keep you dry yet looking like you ARE wearing rainboots and you just might have dashed out in the middle of gardening.



these are the llbean boots I wore throughout high school and college. 
it was the east coast and combined with jeans and an irish fishermen's sweater 
it was the epitome of east coast prep



these are the original Hunter boots affectionally called "Wellies" (short for Wellington)
my husband bought me these the first christmas we moved to seattle



So fashion or function?

Enter the Hunter Champery black boot with the wedge heel, the boot that you can wear in the city to meet your stylish friends at a pub as well as a walk along with country moors with your dogs. Imagine your Hunter Wellies + your Frye riding boots hooked up and the result was a fashionable workhorse of a boot with impeccable heritage and Vulcanized rubber to keep your feet cozy and dry and after all, dry feet are happy feet! Bonus #1: They're comfortable. I could walk Manhattan blocks in these. Bonus #2: They make your legs look looooooong.

These are the boots you will wear for:
  • The farmer's market
  • Football games
  • Walking the dog
  • Dashing out on a rainy Sunday morning for muffins and coffee
  • Meeting the girls for drinks after work
  • First date at that Italian restaurant with the great cannoli
  • The kids' soccer games
  • Building a snowman
I was going to wait to feature these until the weather starts to feel more like fall but the black version is almost completely sold out on Nordstrom.com. If you need new boots this season, get these now. (They are available at Zappos.com)

Now, just in case you are called to meet those friends in a pub, you'll be ready to roll. 


(video) how to separate the yolk from the eggwhite

This was so awesome I had to watch it twice. If you're a baker, you'll love this. Even if you're not, Graci is just so happy doing this that you'll love it anyway.



6 things to be happy about this week


1. This awesome video of a grumpy, talkative baby bulldog. You're welcome. 







2. This picture. The Queen in a hoody driving a Range Rover.






3. Labor Day is this weekend. Plenty of time left for this


and this 






4. There's still time to enter the August Happygirl Giveaway. Click here to enter.



5. This song "Madness" by Muse







6. The simple loveliness of garlic + basil. Click here for The Happygirl pesto recipe.



happy places: the restaurant supply store (really!)




Sunday night I was making cookies for L. I got out the butter and the flour and chocolate chips. When I went to take out the cookie sheets they were gone. All the cookie sheets were gone. We have a double oven and I keep the cookware in the lower oven since we typically only use both ovens during the holidays. I closed the lower oven door then opened it and looked again. Maybe they would be there? Muffin tins, muffin top tins, baby muffin tins, bread pans, all organized nicely on the oven racks but the cookie sheets were gone.

I had just come back from a two week vacation so I thought maybe L. had used them. He was on his laptop at the kitchen table.

Me: "Honey, do you know where the cookie sheets are? I can't find them."

L: "What do they look like?"

Me: "They look like cookie sheets. Metal, rectangular, shiny. Cookies sit on them in the oven."

L: "Nope. So if we have no cookie sheets then no cookies?"

Me: "You got it."

L: "We need to get some cookie sheets then."

So, after looking in every cabinet in our kitchen and even the garage I came up empty handed. Somewhere 3 lonely cookie sheets are wondering where the hell they are. I wish them well.

Which is how I ended up at Dick's Restaurant Supply on Monday morning. I could have gone to Macy's or Target, sure, but once when we had a party L. and I had visited the Dick's and got a great deal on serving pieces.



There are HUGE pieces of course, like barbecues, cooking stations and stainless steel islands but there are also chef jackets (I bought one in white with French braided buttons), tableware, napkin dispensers and solid cookware.  They stock glass syrup pourers like they have at your favorite Sunday morning pancake restaurant, bakeware, flatware, condiment containers and votive holders (cheap and classic). This is the place where you can stock up on your kitchen essentials with simple, elegant, clean-lined, heavy duty dinnerware, a stockpot for autumn soups and European style shot glasses. Imagine you lived in a NYC loft or a beach house on Martha's Vineyard. This is where you would shop. The prices are outstanding and the look is classic.

I ended up with:

  • A box of tall, thin shot glasses (24)
  • 2 boxes of appetizer/espresso spoons (24)
  • A Chef's jacket
  • 4 white classic espresso cups
  • 2 bread loaf pans
  • 2 industrial style cookie sheets with 50 sheets of parchment paper
I've actually worn the chef's jacket every night this week as I prepared dinner. Granted, L. laughed when he walked in the door Monday night and asked if he needed reservations but it puts me in the mood for cooking. That and some classic Sinatra wafting through the kitchen and I was a happygirl. 

these are the shot glasses I bought. the restaurant manager suggested they could be
 used for appetizers (with a spoon) or for a rich dessert like a 
chocolate ganache with a bit of whipped topping and a raspberry



Notes

There are different kinds of restaurant supply stores-- the kind that sells non-disposable items (like Dick's Restaurant Supplies) and then there are stores like Cash & Carry (also awesomely fun) which carry food and disposable items. This is where you can pick up Chinese takeout containers (much cooler to bring leftovers to work in), paper coffee cups and lids, huge boxes of straws (in all colors), super-sized cans of blueberry syrup, boxes of individual peanut butter and jelly packets and more. We buy all our party/cocktail/outdoor movie night supplies here.

There are restaurant supplies stores everywhere and most are open to the public.





happy food: peachberry shortbread pie (recipe)



When my husband and I were dating we'd often join his family at a cottage on Martha's Vineyard. Each morning his mom would send us (a variation of me, L. and his sisters) to The Scottish Bakehouse where we would pick up a raspberry shortbread pie that was so absolutely delicious that the first day we ended up eating it all in the car before we got back to the cottage and yes, we had to turn around and fetch another one. Each morning thereafter we bought two pies. I remember those mornings sitting out on the deck, all of us drinking coffee, savoring raspberry shortbread pie and soaking in the pink morning sunlight on the island.

So, earlier this week when I discovered this video by Chef John on Allrecipes.com, I knew I had to try to recreate this sweet moment here in Seattle. (You have to watch the video. Chef John really explains things like why you have to freeze the butter first.)

The recipe is for Blueberry Shortbread Bars but because I had succulent (organic 16% sugar!) peaches and marionberries, I used these fruits instead.

When L. tried the shortbread pie tonight for dessert, he closed his eyes and moaned. I guess that makes this dessert a home run.

Here is the recipe inspired by Chef John.

Ingredients

1 stick butter (cut in small cubes)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar (plus 1 tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon cold water
1/2 cup to one cup of fruit (I used marionberries and 1/2 of a large peach cut into 1/2 inch pieces)



Directions

1. Place cut butter cubes in freezer for 15 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3. Mix together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.) Keep extra tablespoon of sugar aside.

4. Remove butter from freezer and using a pastry cutter mix butter into dry ingredients. You can also use two knives to cut the butter and dry ingredients together. The mixture will be very dry. Add the egg yolk, using your pastry cutter, knives or fork to incorporate egg into mixture.  Add the 1/2 teaspoon of cold water and mix thoroughly. 

5. Pour 3/4 of your mixture into an 8X8 glass dish and press firmly into the bottom of the pan, coming up the sides just a little. 

6. Add fruit as seen below. The berries I used were VERY ripe and wet. If you are using very wet fruit, dry them off with a paper towel first so your crust isn't too wet.

7. Top with leftover mixture pressing down lightly. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar on top.

8. Bake in oven 30-35 minutes. Wait at least one hour for shortbread to cool before serving.










got a good friend? send them this video



This morning I watched this video (James Taylor's "You've Got a Friend") and the words moved me so much that I sent the link to some friends I saw back home in Massachusetts when I was on vacation a couple weeks ago.

I've already heard back from a couple friends who said this made them cry, that they forgot they were loved. That made me happy.

Is there someone in your life who needs reminding that they've got a friend? If so, here's the YouTube link:

http://youtu.be/scxIIk-NT-Y


And here are the lyrics in case you'd like to get creative with your email/ text / twitter.

When you're down and troubled and you need a helping hand
and nothing, whoa, nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there to brighten up even your darkest nights.

You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I'll be there, yeah, yeah,
you've got a friend.

If the sky above you should turn dark and full of clouds
and that old north wind should begin to blow,
keep your head together and call my name out loud.
Soon I will be knocking upon your door.
You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I'll be there.

Hey, ain't it good to know that you've got a friend? People can be so cold.
They'll hurt you and desert you. Well, they'll take your soul if you let them,
oh yeah, but don't you let them.

You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call, Lord, I'll be there, yeah, yeah,
you've got a friend. You've got a friend.
Ain't it good to know you've got a friend. Ain't it good to know you've got a friend.
Oh, yeah, yeah, you've got a friend.

happy places: the beachy posh ocean house (review & giveaway)



When I was planning my trip home to Massachusetts a few weeks ago my sister-in-law texted me "I'm taking you somewhere you will love. Ocean House. Sound good?"

"Yes, sure. It's called Ocean House. Yes."

And so on a hot summer's day, my sister-in-law Sue and her girls, Mia and Tita and I donned our most preppy and ladylike frocks and took a drive to the grand Ocean House. Oh, the Ocean House.

Imagine a place that feels like your grandparents may have summered here during a time when afternoons meant sipping iced tea on the verandah while the children play in the Atlantic surf. Now add a layer of easy elegance and salt air. Ocean House is old school charming with every touch of customer service you could possibly imagine. A thoughtful touch? While we were dining in Seasons restaurant, an older guest was chilly. Within moments, the manager brought her a camel and blue merino wool throw for over her shoulders. (I emailed the banquet manager to ask about the blanket and he immediately emailed me a reply. The luxurious throw is Pendleton's Plaid 5th Avenue Throw in Camel.)

Ocean House is beachy posh.



Your Ocean House experience begins when you pull into the drive of the grand pale yellow hotel. The valets who take your car look like the well-heeled boys you went to college with. I imagine right about now some of them just might be headed back to Boston and New Haven as school begins.

There is a croquet lawn to your right, of course, that's easy to imagine must hold the most lovely weddings with the Rhode Island coastline as a backdrop.

One of the wonderful (and charming) things about Ocean House is the rich history of the hotel. This grand Victorian hotel first opened as a beach resort in 1868 just after the Civil War. The original hotel closed in 2003 and Ocean House underwent a $146 million remodel using over 5,000 salvageable artifacts from the original structure including a stone fireplace that was taken apart stone by stone and carefully rebuilt. You can see this extraordinary stonework today in the lobby.



The new resort is now open year-round and features 49 rooms and 23 private residences (versus the original 159 rooms) decorated in beach friendly colors of butter yellow, cream and cornflower blue. All rooms feature water views and many offer fireplaces. While guests may feel pampered with the plush robes and towels, attention was also paid to the technology part of your visit with HD LCD flat panel televisions, iPod docking stations and state-of-the-art sensory technology alerts for all your housekeeping needs. And in case you were wondering, yes, each guest room as a dedicated floor valet for butler service.


Want a piece of Ocean House for your very own? 
Enter to win these pierced Ocean House earrings (made in Rhode Island) 
 by leaving a comment here. Entries must be received by October 31, 2012.


In Seasons restaurant (with unimaginably extraordinary panoramic views), we enjoyed the most wonderful lunch. We were especially impressed with Seasons' philosophy using farm-to-table cuisine including local, estate-grown ingredients from the resort's own farm as well as sustainable produce and the ethical use of the sea. Sue and I ordered iced tea and the girls loved the presentation which included sugar cane sticks which was a nice touch along with the lemon and ice cubes made from tea. I ordered the Grilled Swordfish with Mango and Jicama Slaw with Cilantro, Lime and Coconut Forbidden Rice. The girls had chicken fingers and corn chowder and Sue ordered the club sandwich. Everything we ordered was outstanding. See the complete menus here.




After lunch, we visited the calm OH! Spa which uses products, ingredients and scents reflecting the seasons. If you go, try the Fresh Lemon Scrub, a nod to Rhode Island's infamous lemonade.  There is also an indoor 20-meter lap pool with windows facing the Atlantic and if you fancy golf, step outside onto the resort putting green. For a round of golf, nearby courses include Lake of Isles in North Stonington. Want to frolic in the ocean? Enjoy an afternoon on the private white-sand beach with cabanas, sea kayaks and paddle boards. Hungry on the beach? The Dune Cottage is available for light fare. Need more amenities? See the full list here.



While the Ocean House is extraordinary in the summer, I would imagine that the hotel is just as dreamy in other seasons. With fireplaces situated around the hotel, curling up with a good book and a cup of tea while watching the Atlantic Ocean waves would be lovely on a drizzly autumn or winter's day.

Watch Hill's Ocean House rates as a top Happy Place because when you want to feel pampered on the beach, there is no better place to do this than a resort that your grandmother would have said was "in good taste, darling."

Facts 

  • Ocean House is located at 1 Bluff Avenue, Watch Hill, RI 02891
  • Click here for reservations
  • Room rates: From $260 off-peak, from $595 peak
  • Travel & Leisure rated Ocean House #4 in the Continental United States World's Best Awards 2012
  • Want to learn how to make the perfect martini? Every Wednesday at 4pm join the Ocean House head bartender in the Club room as he teaches guests "How to Make a Mean Martini"
  • Enjoy a traditional English tea every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 3-5 pm
  • The resort is gratuity free (not including food and beverage service)
  • The complimentary house cars will take guests to destinations within a 15-mile radius (So, yes, you can arrive in style as you take the kids to the historic carousel)







disney's princess half marathon experiment



"Do what scares you. Do what you think you can't."

My grandmother taught me this.

While I will NOT be buying any antique mirrors soon (that is just too terrifying), I will be doing something else that scares me, something I don't think I can do.

I registered for Disney's Princess Half Marathon at 
Walt Disney World on February 24th at 5:35am.

I registered for this once before but I didn't do it. The reason? We had good news (finally!) and I wasn't going to risk it. I was going to sit still and let the babies take. Then we had bad news and I was too depressed to do it. I chose mac & cheese instead. Not a good trade.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about when I felt strongest, when I felt happiest and I can pinpoint that exact moment in time. I was running. I had lost about 80 pounds and I had this bright orange sorbet colored running jacket that made me feel like I was lit from within. As I lost the weight and went from barely walking up my street to walking around the lake to running it, I felt strong and lean.


I want that.

The good news is that I know I can do it but I need a goal.





What is the Disney Princess Half Marathon? This video explains all.

The ultimate goal of course is to be a mom and I know that the best way that I can get there is to lose the weight and run and run. I am a goal oriented girl. I learned this from my senior class English teacher, Sister Marlene, who taught us about milestones and goals as we worked on our senior thesis. When you reach small milestones, you feel confident which gives you the strength to get to the next milestone until suddenly you did what you thought was overwhelming.

To get the baby I need to lose the weight and get fit. In order to get fit I need a goal.

So on February 24th at 5:35am I am going to be on the starting line in Lake Buena Vista, Florida with my tutu and tiara on as I run the Disney Princess Half-Marathon. I have my work cut out for me in the next 185 days 16 hours and 24 minutes. I know it is going to be hard. I know I am going to want to quit. But this is what I am going to say every time I want to quit: Bring on the walking, the jogging, the running, the weights, the tears, the "I can't do this!" moments. In the video above (a wrap-up of 2012's Disney's Princess Half-Marathon) Fairy Godmother says the characteristics of a princess are:

Commitment. Courage. Determination. Fantasy. Perserverence and Strength. 

This is my new mantra.

This is scary to me. It's going to be hard to go from sedentary to athlete condition in 6 months but I'm imagining what it will be to see my husband as I cross that finish line and maybe next time, next time there will be a happy little baby to cheer for me too.

What cheers you on when you think you can't do something?



Will you do Disney's Princess Half-Marathon with me? Click here for more information on registration. 


To follow your favorite racer on race day throughout the Walt Disney World Parks, click here.


How magical is Cinderella Castle?


happy video: the stacking otter

Her name is Nellie and yes, she stacks cups.
The :36 second mark is especially awesome. 

Who's a good otter? Who is? You are, Nellie.


happy places: the polo match



It started out like this. 

A text. 

"Do you want to go to a Polo match. In Newport?"

I replied. "Yes, yes I would."

The text was from one of my closest friends who is also my awesome sister-in-law, Sue. I was coming home back to New England for two weeks and she was planning things for us to do. Sue would send me texts and emails (like this one: "Ocean House for a girls lunch?") in anticipation of my trip. The answers were always "Yes, yes, love! Yes."

So, there we were on a hot July afternoon at the Newport Polo Club in Rhode Island, with a blanket, bubbly and adorable little treats. And yes, it was all very "Pretty Woman"except for the whole "I'm paying you to be my woman for the weekend" business. 

Polo is a very civilized sport. There are ponies and players, tailgate picnics and women in straw hats. There are men wearing baby blue slacks with little whales on them and tow-headed toddlers running across the grass. 



We (Sue, me, her husband, the girls, Sue's sister Carolyn and the dog, Ryder) arrived and unpacked our chairs, table and blankets as well as the picnic fare. We were on the general admission side along with the tailgate parties. On the other side of the field was shopping (with vendors like Alex and Ani and official Newport Polo merchandise) and the Patrons area (with tables and chairs). The game started with the National Anthem. Even that moment, with the horses on the field and the sound of the flags cracking in the wind against the song was beautiful.

The game began and the horses thundered down the field towards us. I looked over at my sister-in-law, Sue, and motioned with my glass over to the motion on the field. "So, how does this work? It looks like field hockey with horses."



Sue replied "Sure. It's like that." We laughed, because really what you're there for is to be with your family and friends, enjoying a picnic with the beauty of majestic animals and athletes playing a game that they love. Even now I can close my eyes and remember the vibration of the horse's hooves and the sound of their breath as they ran close to us.

Around us, everywhere I looked,  there were happy families and friends and groups of co-workers with clambakes and hotdogs, bags of chips and vegan burgers. There were dogs and children, college students and senior citizens.  And at $12 for a general admission ticket (for a 6-chukker match-like innings), Polo ranks as not only one of our top happy places but one of the most reasonably priced as well.  

Fun Polo traditions you'll like: 

  • Stomping the divots. A social tradition during half-time where the audience goes out onto the field and 'stomps' the tufts of grass lifted by the ponies during the game, back into place.
  • After the game, the athletes with their ponies, will circle the playing field giving high-fives to the audience.
  • For more on Polo etiquette, click here.

Click here to find a Polo club in your state. 










the guide to making the perfect glass of limeade


Last week when I was home in New England we had a very ladylike lunch at the Ocean House in Westerly, Rhode Island. When I ordered iced tea, this is what they brought.


How lovely is that? We all oooh'd when the server brought out the tray of iced teas. I loved that the restaurant used ice cubes made of tea and added mint, a slice of lemon and a stick of sugar cane to the glass. While my sister-in-law Sue and the girls and I enjoyed a lazy lunch I thought how easy it would be to prepare something as lovely at home. 

I love limes. I love lemon. I have a problem. This is what I came home with earlier this week from my short stop at Trader Joe's. 


So I decided to make my favorite summer drink--limeade with a twist-watermelon. 



I found this old-fashioned citrus squeezer on ebay 
but you can use a manual juice pulper or electric juicer

The recipe: 

1. Cut watermelon into cubes (1 cup) and place in a single layer on a tray (Easy method: buy watermelon already cubed in your produce department) Freeze for at least 1 hour.

2. Squeeze 9 limes (approximately 1 cup depending on the size of the limes).

3. In a glass, fill with frozen watermelon cubes and add 1/3 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice and 1/3 cup of sparkling water. Sweeten to taste with simple syrup (recipe here) or superfine sugar.


Now go sit outside and ponder how wonderful later summer is.






the guide: how to make your business card stand out


It was an accident, really. I was packing my things for the upcoming BlogHer12 Conference on my desk. This included my business cards. At the time I was also working on the elastic hair-ties (instructions here) at my desk when it hit me. What if I wrapped a hair-tie onto my card? I did and it fit so perfectly that I made 400 more to bring to NYC for the BlogHer12 conference.

Were they a hit? Yes! At first people thought it was a ribbon decorating the card but then they saw the elastic hair-tie on my ponytail and on my wrist and they laughed. Throughout the conference it was actually how I was identified. Someone I had given a card to was with someone else who wanted one. When they saw me they would say "That's the Happygirl! Go get a card!" I ended up giving away all of my cards as well as the extra hair ties I carried with me in my bag. By the end of the conference I saw Happygirls everywhere with the hair-tie in ponytails and on wrists as bracelets.

With so many business cards exchanged at a conference, it was a little thing that hopefully made the card stand out. Other options to make your card one that they save: letterpress, a different shape, an unusual material like vinyl or vellum or even scented! I received one last week that smelled like the sea! I kept it! Do you have a memorable card? If so, we'd love to see it!






what if you could ask Martha Stewart one question?


She is one the world's most innovative entrepreneurs. She's also an American icon who established a media empire. So when BlogHer, the world's leading network for women bloggers invited writers to submit questions for Martha Stewart for her Keynote at the BlogHer convention (NYC, August 2-4) there is only one response. Yes, yes, here is my question.

Actually I had 100 questions:
  • What is your favorite drink/appetizer combination at a party?
  • What was the moment like when you held your grandchild for the first time?
  • Where is your favorite beach and why?
  • What is a cool, unique anniversary gift for my husband?
  • What makes you happy?
I wondered then "If she were to answer my question in front of the 5000 attendees at the BlogHer 2012 Conference, what is something we would all want to know?" I submitted my question to BlogHer and forgot about it until the conference. For the Keynote I was sitting at a table in the Hilton ballroom along with several thousand extraordinary women (and men) listening rapt as Elisa Camahort Page, (co-founder of BlogHer and moderator of the event) interviewed Martha Stewart who was at the same time witty, clever, honest and self-depracating. 

Martha was a hit with the audience especially as she discussed her early adoption of social media including blogging,  Twitter and the iPad apps for Martha Stewart Living Magazines. We loved her openness, her business acumen, even her fantastic orange espadrilles.  It was an inspiring keynote even without what happened next.

Our table was just offstage and within eyeline of the teleprompter which is where I saw it. This. My question.



And here is what Martha said:

Well, encouragement is the most important thing, as to be encouraged by your network. My dad was a really difficult human being. . . Look at the scene in "The Help." Remember "The Help"? Look at that scene where the black housekeeper tells that little girl who was being put down by her mom all the time (she said) 'You're beautiful, you're wonderful, you're smart.' That's the best thing you can do. That's it for any young person. (audience claps wildly)

(It's about) giving confidence to young people in your life, encouraging them to follow their talents and follow their abilities. There are so many things people can do. Encourage it. Encouragement is the best.

Sure, it was cool to have Martha Stewart answer my question but it wasn't until I called my husband to tell him about it that he made a good point. When my role as Celebrity Events Host was eliminated at Microsoft (May, 2009) my self-confidence took a massive hit. I thought my skill sets as a reporter must seriously be called into question and I thought my career as a journalist was over. However, L. said "This is amazing, babe. Of all the questions Elisa could have chosen, she chose yours. Nice job." I admit at that moment I started to tear up. My instincts as a journalist never left. They were there all along. So, Elisa and Martha, maybe you thought you were just answering a girl's question but in fact you helped me remember that self-confidence doesn't come from someone else. It's really what you believe about yourself. It's a good thing.


Take a peek at Martha Stewart's new promo for her upcoming series Martha Stewart's Cooking School coming soon on PBS.






Follow Martha Stewart on Twitter
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happy clip: the "almost famous" "tiny dancer" scene

I'm a sucker for movie scenes where the characters sing along to a song. Tonight I was watching "Almost Famous" and the scene on the bus where the band sings along to Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" gets me every time.

Here's the happy.


happy in a ryan gosling kind of way



I have a friend who is bananacakes for Ryan Gosling. She is in love with this man. So this morning I did what any good friend would do for a best girlfriend. I bought her Ryan Gosling. Well, the paper Ryan. Ryan with a dog. Ryan being Ryan. Ryan Ryan Ryan.

Luckily, he is shareable thanks to the fun folks at Maiden. Here's the link to buy the Ryan Gosling Colouring Book but do it fast. He's a popular boy.