the happygirl guide to movies this weekend

I love summer movies. They're typically popcorn-fueled films that are funny or suspenseful or touch the geek in me. Sure, autumn is for Oscar movies but summer is just about fun. Wild fun in a cool, dark theatre, an escape from the hot summer nights.

Here's what you need to know about movies opening this weekend:

"After Earth"

I once interviewed Will Smith and we joked about the fact that he OWNS the summer. He still does.  This time he's starring once again with his son Jaden. (They also appeared in "The Pursuit of Happyness" together).  "After Earth" delivers exactly what you hope for in a Will Smith summer blockbuster -- suspense + action. The premise: After crash landing on Earth after the planet has been abandoned for 1000 years, Kitai (Jaden) must save the lives of both he and his father after his dad Cypher (Will) is injured.

Who will like this movie:  Fathers and sons. If you're into bonding, space, adventure and dramas by director, M. Night Shyamalan, this is your pick for the weekend.
Suggested snack: Starbursts.

"Now You See Me"

I'll be honest. I will see anything with Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo or Morgan Freeman. Add in magic and I'm sold. The premise:   "Now You See Me" is the story of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their shows. It's brilliant, actually and it's the kind of summer film that's clever and wildly entertaining.  In addition to Caine, Ruffalo and Freeman, "Now You See Me" has a dream cast including Woody Harrelson, Common, Jesse Eisenberg and Isla Fisher. Together they're, well, they're magic.

Who will like this movie: If you played with a magic kit for one entire summer when you were a kid, this is your pick.
Suggested Snack: Swedish Fish.

"The Kings of Summer" (select cities)

Do you remember how cool summer was as a kid? In the morning you threw on the first pair of shorts and t-shirt you could find. You grabbed your sneakers, whatever change you had and your bike and you were gone exploring with your friends until the street lights came on that night. There were forts to be made,  pools to be jumped in and ice cream that melted too fast.

If you look upon summer days as idyllic, then "The Kings of Summer" is going to make your heart swoon.  The premise: "The Kings of Summer" is the story of three boys who run away to spend the summer together in the woods building one hell of a house. It's the kind of thing you thought about doing as a kid but never did because A.) There were too many weird, furry things that lived in the woods and B.) Your mom made a Jello cake every Monday and there was no way you were ever going to miss even one.

Nick Offerman and Megan Mullaly turn in funny, poignant performances as the parents who *will* remind you of your own mom and dad.

Who will like this movie: If you had dreams of taking off with your friends when you were kids and living on ravioli and candy, this movie will make you feel nostalgic. It's this generation's "Stand by Me."
Suggested Snack: A bucket of buttered popcorn sprinkled with M&M's.

"The East" (select cities)

We're going into darker territory here. Think politics and drama in this Zal Batmanglij film about covert attacks, infiltration and danger. The premise: Brit Marling stars as a woman willingly infiltrating an anarchy group attacking corporations. Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page, Patricia Clarkson and Jason Ritter also star.

Who will like this movie: If you're a fan of Alexander Skarsgard or you like dark dramas, this is your pick this weekend.
Suggested snack: A simple black coffee.

inspiration # 362: it's never too late

Sometimes I get frustrated thinking about things I should have done. I SHOULD have gone to law school when I had the opportunity. I SHOULD have done so many things. Then I read this quote and I realized that it's really never too late to pursue your dreams. Whether it's to lose weight once and for all or to go to cooking school or to have a child, if you have a dream or a goal in mind, do everything you can in this life to make that dream REAL.

I want to lose weight so I'm running 4 miles a day.
I want self-confidence so I just started kickboxing.
I want to pursue more education so I just requested information from 4 law schools I wanted to attend.

It's never too late.

What have you always wanted to do?

happy food: {recipe} chef joy's 4-ingredient rustic tomato-bacon soup

It was a drizzly summer morning when Chef Joy called to say she had an audition and could she come by to try out her recipe. I said "Sure!" So, later that morning Chef Joy swept in with her wicker basket. I sat across the kitchen island from her as she said "I have an audition with _______ to be an instructor and I have15 minutes from start to finish. I'm going to prepare my creamy tomato-bacon soup. OK, so time me!" I glanced at the clock "OK, go!"

As I sat across from her, Chef Joy entertained with her secrets to the best, easiest tomato soup. I watched as she piled fresh basil leaves on top of each other, rolled them and them sliced the basil "cigar" into shreds known as Chiffonade (French for little rags). She bustled around the kitchen like a blonde, peppy Italian grandmother. Within  15 minutes I was inhaling the homey scent of a bowl of warm creamy tomato-bacon soup. It was the best tomato soup I've ever had. She's going to nail this gig.

Note: I also tried the leftover soup the next day which turned out sunny and bright. I had it cold for lunch and it was spectacular.

Chef Joy's Rustic Tomato-Bacon Soup


28 ounce can of stewed tomatoes (this is the secret! Be sure the label says stewed tomatoes)
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 slices of cooked, crunchy bacon
1/2 cup (or 10-12 leaves) of chopped fresh basil

(toasted whole grain bread for croutons)


Roll basil leaves and slice into thin shreds. Set aside.

Toast whole grain, seeded bread or other hearty bread. Set aside.

Cook bacon until crunchy. Drain on paper towels, set aside.

Pour tomates into soup pot on stovetop. Break up tomato pieces with your hand, mushing the pieces into a rustic sauce. You can also use a potato masher or the back of a spatula for this. Heat on medium to high heat.

Add cream and crunchy bacon.

When heated, add basil. Stir.

Serve warm with toasted croutons.

Enjoy! Thanks, Chef Joy!

breaking through plateaus with "extreme makeover's" chris powell

I was celebrating and I was at Walt Disney World, which is a very, very good place to be when you have something to celebrate. Since October I have committed myself to eating healthy and working out. This plan has worked. I've lost 85 pounds. On a day, though, that I should have been happy celebrating this loss, I was instead frustrated. It seems no matter how hard I worked, the scale wouldn't budge. I was driving myself crazy trying to push through the plateau. As fate would have it, as I was feeling this way I met Chris Powell, the host and trainer from ABC's Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition at an event I was taking part in at Walt Disney World.

Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition 
series premiere TONIGHT on ABC 8pm ET/7pm CT

As part of the Disney Social Media Mom's Conference I was attending, Disney invited a number of energizing speakers to meet with our small group of bloggers about issues affecting our lives from health and wellness to family, marketing and loyalty. At a party one evening, Chris Powell was the featured guest. He spoke with passion about about the secret to successfully transforming your life. 

Powell said it ISN'T about the food or the exercise. It's about the INTEGRITY of your promise to yourself. If you make a commitment to yourself, you keep it. Take small steps, make small promises like "I will exercise for 10 minutes each day" and do it. Follow through with your promises and your self-esteem will grow. I believe in this tenet. On Facebook, I have made a promise to my family and friends that I am committed to being healthy. Throughout my weight loss journey I update my F&F with weight loss statuses. I made a promise that whether the scale goes up or down that I will still post the status. This was a scary thing to commit to but I am happy that I did. It keeps me honest and I know that I have  of hundreds of people tracking my progress. Chris Powell was absolutely right about INTEGRITY being the secret to successful transformation. 

How to Break Through a Plateau

But I still frustrated. As hard as I worked, running 4 miles a day and eating "clean" foods (no wheat, dairy, sugar or alcohol) the scale wouldn't budge. It took weeks to lose 1 pound. After he spoke, I met with Chris alone. I told him about my weight loss and he congratulated me on my transformation. I said "Sure, it's fine but I am stuck. I am discouraged. The scale just won't move no matter what I do. I want to quit."

Chris said "Sure you do! I see this all the time with my people. They reach 75 pounds and the scale seems to stop but YOU can't stop. You have to keep pushing through. In my new book I talk about the Slingshot Technique. Your very clever body has learned to adapt to your new weight loss and conserve as much energy (fat) as it can. You need to change your eating pattern so your body has to learn how to adapt again. This will restart your metabolism. DON'T follow your intuition when you hit a plateau and eat LESS. This won't work. Your body is too smart for this. You will not lose weight doing this. You need to reset your metabolism. Eat seven high-carb days in a row. Your body will notice that you're not eating low calorie and it will assume it does not need to save energy (fat). You will start burning calories like crazy. THEN go back to the 7-Day Carb Cycle.  If you follow the Carb Cycle Solution you WILL lose weight."

It was exactly what I needed to hear. I picked up Chris's new book (Choose More, Lose More for Life) and I started following his suggestions. The scale started to move again and I'm feeling much happier these days about my transformation. I'm the kind of girl who needs to see a payoff if I am going to work this hard.

Lesson: I believe that sometimes you just need to call in the big guns, the experts who have experience, who are passionate about helping people achieve their goals. I would call an electrician to fix a broken circuit so it makes sense to reach out to a transformation expert to help achieve weight loss goals, right?

What has helped you lose weight or transform into the person you've always wanted to be?

Chris Powell's Secret to Transformation
from Walt Disney World on May 9, 2013

When it comes to the secret of transformation what we have learned just through our experience of working with all these different people is that there are these common denominators that are present among everybody who truly transforms. Here we go— this is the punchline. Transformation is about integrity. Integrity-- what is that?  That is the value we have on our word. If you give your word to somebody else, you are going to follow through on that, right? If you tell somebody you are going to do something, you do it. Most of us are fantastic at fulfilling our commitment to other people but how many people have said "The diet starts Monday?" or "2010 THAT'S my year! 2011 THAT'S my year!" We are great at fulfilling our promises and commitments to everybody else except who? Right. The most important person in the world because if you can't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anybody else. 

Here's the gist of the whole thing— your integrity, the value you have when you keep the promises you made to yourself and your dignity, that is your esteem- your confidence  and self-love they are one in the same and what happens when I meet people who are beginning this (weight-loss) journey, they have no self esteem and they don't know how to get out of this place. I don't see 200 pounds of extra body fat. I see 200 extra pounds of broken promises. After time they don't even say their promises to themselves in front of other people because. . .  You don't want to be vulnerable or show that you are weak. What happens is you sweep those promises under the rug thinking no harm was done but there was harm done.  Your dignity take a hit because every single time you make a promise and you break it. 

Follow Chris Powell on Facebook and Twitter
 for more encouragement. 

Transformation begins with a simple promise you make to yourself. Forget diet and exercise. It begins with a promise. When you take the value off or diet and exercise and you put the value on the promise, that is when change starts to happen. For my people, as soon as they change that lens through which they see transformation, at the very end of the year they see their body on the stage and they could care less that they lost 200 or 250 pounds. Their chin is high and their chest is out because they love themselves. It's not about the diet and exercise or the number on the scale. I will give you an example of how powerful this is. If I were to take any of my people at the end of the year and they were supposed to do 30 minutes on a treadmill and I took them off at 29 minutes, they would throw a punch at me. It's not about the treadmill. What's a minute on the treadmill? They would still lose the same amount of weight. It's about the promise they made to themselves and that is how transformation begins. The biggest mistake that we see everybody make, I am guilty of it, is that we make these inflated promises and we begin the process of losing weight with a quantum leap "I am going to do 45 minutes of cardio, eat five small meals a day, drink  a gallon of water a day. . ." You make all these promises to yourself that are so unattainable that you are bound to break them.  What we don't realize is that our dignity is out of line.  When we make those promises and break them, sure enough what happens to our belief?

That is the other magic ingredient.  It's the belief we have in ourselves. It goes out. Once we believe in ourselves that is when we have the strength to do what it takes to go where we want to go. It is all about those promises. So what do we do? People see our transformations on our show. Someone has to lose 250 pounds. How we do start? Day one I say "I want you to make one promise to yourself and do NOT make a promise about something you can't attain." We suggest setting a goal for five minutes—just five minutes of moving, whether it's walking in place in front of theTV or running outside, but if you do 4:59 you lose.  It's not about the movement. It is about yourself. Take the value out of diet and exercise and place it in yourself. That is when you begin to change, that is the true magic of healthy living.

This is a conversation we have with  every single person who begins a transformation. For those that get it, it is my job to just get out of their way. Otherwise, I am holding them back.  This is how we take the lid off of people. Even for those that don't believe in themselves yet, if they keep promise after promise after promise that they make to themselves, they think "What else can I do?" When that starts to happen, that is when we believe and when we believe on ourselves we think that there is nothing that we can't do.  That is the magic of transformation. It is about taking those tiny little steps. 

More than anything I wanted to share that secret. Put the value on yourself and there is nothing you can't do. From this moment on, be a promise keeper. Set those small attainable goals. Don't try to begin any transformation with a quantum leap. Just take a single step  and from there take another step and another. Take your time. You can get anywhere you want to go. That is the secret. 

what to do this weekend (Memorial Day Weekend)

Growing up in New England, Memorial Day weekend was always one of those holidays that made us giddy. Though school would go through the second week of June, even the nuns seemed more relaxed when we got back into the classroom on the Tuesday following Memorial Day.

Memorial Day weekend traditionally meant shopping for a new swimsuit + and the first tube of Coppertone along with movie night, always a movie. I like tradition and today I bought a new swimsuit and yes, my first of several bottles of Coppertone sunblock. Tonight we'll grab a burger top down at the drive-in and tomorrow night we'll be seeing a movie. It's the wonderful, happy, first weekend of summer. I hope you enjoy it too! What are your plans this weekend?

See you Tuesday!

Buy a swimsuit

There are some super sales this weekend. These two from J Crew would look good on anyone. (+ this weekend up to $75 off on your purchase)

See a Movie

"Fast & Furious 6," "The Hangover Part III" and "Before Midnight" are all good choices. It's worth it just to hear Ethan Hawke say "You are the mayor of Crazytown, you know that?"

Shop for a Bike

It's a great time to look for a bike. Saturday mornings will take on a whole new outlook when you're pedaling to the farmer's market.

Try something new at the farmer's market

Click here to find a farmer's market in your area. 

Order a very special flag

Did someone special to you fight for this country? Remember them by flying a flag that was flown over the United States Capitol. How thoughtful would it be if you were able to give your mom, or brother or uncle a flag that was flown on a special day like her birthday or the day he came home from serving abroad? 

Here's how you do it: 

Contact your Senator here then click on the web form under their pictures. Submit your request to them including the date that is special to you and any other information (i.e. it's honoring your grandmother who served in Vietnam.) 3-4 weeks later you will receive your flag with a letter of authenticity from the Architect of the Capitol that the flag was flown on your date (as well as the specific occasion, if requested).

{video} kitty wants to nap, kitty doesn't want to exercise

Are there some mornings when hitting the treadmill is just too hard? This kitty certainly thinks so. He sees the treadmill more as a place to lay down rather than work out. Maybe he's used to his human's treadmill being covered in clothes? Either way, he's not exercising.

the happygirl guide to. . .easy, healthy panang curry {recipe}

There are some nights that just call for Panang Curry, nights where comfort food is the only cuisine that works. Luckily, Seattle has some of the best Thai restaurants in the world and I think we may have tried them all. Lately, though, I've wondered if I could make our favorite Thai recipe healthier at home. Both L. and I are eating healthier these days but we don't want to give up on our favorite meals. After several attempts, all rather good, we finally found the perfect recipe last night. With a stop at Trader Joe's, this version of Panang Curry was quick, easy and healthy. This is now going to be a staple at our house. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

happygirl easy panang curry {recipe}


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 16 ounce package of Trader Joe's frozen red, yellow and green pepper strips (or 2 peppers sliced)
1/2 package of Trader Joe's chopped fresh onion (or 1 onion chopped)
1 package of Trader Joe's roasted chicken strips (or 2 chicken breasts cooked and sliced into strips)
1 14 ounce can of Trader Joe's reduced fat coconut milk
1 package of Trader Joe's sliced fresh pineapple spears cut into chunks (or 1/2 a 14 ounce can of pineapple chunks)
4 tablespoons of Red Curry paste
5 large basil leaves 
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste

1 package of Trader Joe's frozen brown rice


In a large skillet on medium heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil followed by pepper strips and onion.  Sauté until softened (5 to 7 minutes). 
Add cooked chicken strips, coconut milk, pineapple, Red Curry paste and lime juice. Stir to combine. 
Using kitchen shears, slice basil leaves into slivers directly over the sauté. Stir.
Cook on medium to low heat for 15 minutes to let curry thicken.

Cook brown rice according to directions and serve Panang Curry over warm rice.

the song you should listen to before bed

This morning I heard Iz's version of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" for the first time and I felt my eyes start to close softly. I have a hard time falling asleep but I think if I listened to this song when I climb into bed each night I might just think about moonlit palm trees blowing in the Hawaiian breeze and the sound of the soft surf on warm sand.

I imagine this would also be the loveliest song to play as your rock your little one to sleep at night.

Sweet dreams.

The happygirl guide to. . .graduation gifts

{video} after the tornado, a grandma reunites with her dog

What happened yesterday in Oklahoma is devastating. The extreme loss of life and property due to the tornado is almost hard to comprehend. There was one beacon of light, however. During an interview with an elderly resident who lost everything including (she thought) her little dog, a reporter spotted the woman's determined pup burrowing out of the rubble of her former home. Watch this video to see pure, absolute joy as this bruised and battered grandma is reunited with her dust covered, brave little dog.

To help the residents of Oklahoma, visit

happy summer music: #beautiful {Mariah Carey featuring Miguel)

Every time I hear this song I think of warm summer nights, toes in the sand and the smell of suntan lotion on tanned skin. Take a listen to "#Beautiful" and see what it makes you think of. It's dreamy, catchy and almost a little bit country. I can't get enough. This is officially the first song that's going on my summer playlist.

What songs are a must have on your summer playlist?

cool website: tunefind

I am obsessed with "Scandal" on ABC. Last week's season finale left me tapping my foot restlessly waiting for the season premiere in the fall. One of the (many) things that makes this series so tantalizing (in addition to the brilliant storytellin)g is the matchmaking of music to the scene.  Music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas, deftly lights a scene with her musical choices, often using R&B, a favorite of "Scandal" creator Shonda Rimes.

In the May 2nd episode, "A Woman Scorned," Fitz (The President of the United States) proved his love to Olivia (his lover)  by waiting out Mellie's (his wife) game. A song accompanied this scene that conveyed the mood perfectly.  I thought "I need this song on my iPod" but I was so wrapped up in the scene that I forgot what the song was. Then I mistakenly deleted the show from our DVR. Yesterday, I remembered how much I loved that song so I did a search on Scandal + ABC + Music. I came up with TuneFind, a site that compiles music featured in TV & Movies. The site itself is simple. Type in a TV series or a film. Click on a season or an episode. You'll see a list of songs as well as what scene the songs were played in. Click to hear the song and click again to buy the song on iTunes or Amazon. Simple.

The song that was so perfect? "You're All I Need to Get By" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. 

That's when I fell down the rabbit hole. 

I started with "Gossip Girl." I loved the music for this series. It was genius. I always felt like the music supervisors on this set were turning me on to music I never would have considered before. 

Then it was "Swingers," the 1996 film followed by "Mad Men" and "Veronica Mars." After spending a few hours on the site, my "Run Hard" playlist has been refueled with music that will keep me entertained while I'm working out.  Our "Chill" playlist has also been bulked up thanks to TuneFind. 

If you like a series, then most likely you'll like the music played in the series. It's kind of like having a DJ choose music for you and TuneFind organizes it all for you. Brilliant.

the song Megan performs at Don's birthday party was "Zou bisou bisou"

{video} so a monkey and a puppy share a lollipop

the happy sip: fresh coconut water

It's was warm in Seattle yesterday, the kind of day you can put the top down and enjoy the sunshine. I had just walked into the house when I got a call from Chef Joy. "I'm coming over and I'm bringing you something you're going to love."

I met her outside and this is what she handed me, straw and all. "Sip. You're going to love this. I promise." I did as she asked. I sipped. It was my first time trying coconut water. It tasted nutty with a slightly salty aftertaste. I thought of Hawaii.

As I sipped and cooled off, I started wondering about the health benefits of coconut water. By drinking this, was I undoing my run from the morning? Was it healthy or full of sugar? Here is what I learned:

Coconut water is high in antioxidants and Potassium (more than four bananas worth!) 

In some developing countries, sterile coconut milk can be used for plasma or intravenous saline.

Enjoying water from one young coconut will cost you less than 50 calories and less than 5 grams of sugar. It is also naturally low fat.

You can find coconut water virtually anywhere today in Tetra Paks, but I liked the primalness of drinking directly from the nut. Chef Joy said she stopped by our local Asian market to buy the young coconuts at less than $2 each and used a sterilized screwdriver to poke a hole in the coconut big enough for a straw.

Will coconut water make you happy? It will. There's something kind of sweet and slow and summerlike about sitting on your front step sipping from a cold coconut that reminds you of being young and happy. Plus, you're doing your body good. Coconut water? It's a happy food.

feel good about. . .badass animal rescue

My husband, L., and I are passionate about a lot of things -- apple cider doughnuts from Atkins Farms in Massachusetts, dewy early mornings at the beach, Frank Sinatra songs on summer nights and animals. If we could, we'd have a dozen rescue dogs (and a couple rescue goats) living with us. We are dog people and we have a soft spot for organizations that help rehome animals who would otherwise not have a place to live a life chasing balls and cuddling up with their favorite humans. 

We just learned about an animal rescue organization called Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue. Here is their tag line: 

"Saving badass dogs from idiot humans."

This may be the greatest mission statement ever. 

As an all volunteer organization, Badass rescues dogs from high-kill shelters in the rural south (some of the shelters have a 90% euthanizing rate!) These volunteers with huge hearts visit shelters in high risk areas and rehabilitate (if needed) and rehome dogs whose lives have been an uncertain mess due to well, idiot humans. They are gently cared for from the moment they are rescued, followed by a vet check up and surgery if needed. When they are ready, they are matched with families who will never know a love greater than that of a rescue dog.

Check out the good work that Badass is doing and if you're so inclined, donate to this extraordinary  organization. There are other ways you can help too, from rescuing, adopting or  fostering a dog. The best way to feel better about yourself, to get happy into your life is to provide happiness to someone else. Think about helping this cause. There are few things in life better than a happy dog. 

Harmony K is available for adoption. Somebody likes her toys. 

Follow Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue on Facebook and  Twitter

{video} heartfelt farewell from the cast of "the office"

The series finale of "The Office" airs Thursday, May 16th on NBC. Before you say goodbye to the show you spend Thursdays with, watch this farewell from the cast.  Dwight cries? Yes, Dwight cries.

happy things: the guide to beachy hair


During the summer when I was eight years-old, my grandfather would drop me off at the public pool in our town. With the red plastic pool badge attached to my rainbow swimsuit and $1 for snacks tucked under the sole of my right sneaker I was set for the day. I loved swimming, yes but at this pool was a lifeguard that I was crazy about. She wore a red swimsuit with a white long-sleeve t-shirt but what I loved most was her hair. She looked like a mermaid to me with long, blonde, wavy hair. I wanted to be her. Funny, I still think of her every summer. I still think of chlorine and happy summer hair.

I have pin straight hair but I've always wanted the sort of tousled, lovely, sunkissed look. In the past I've tried to use a regular curling iron to get this look but I ended up with big wavy curls like I was going to the prom, not the kind of natural looking curls that mean beachy hair.

When I was in Florida this past week, I found this new curling iron that definitely looks odd but creates easy, imperfect, beachy hair. The Goody Heat Wave Creator Styling Iron is easy to use and the first time I used it, I got the exact look I was hoping for.

How to Get Beachy Hair

Wash your hair with a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. (I used Finesse -- mainly because I love the way it smells.)

Towel dry and comb through.

Follow with mousse or styling gel. (I used Finesse mousse -- again because I like the scent.)

Using a hair dryer, dry your hair all the way through, just using your fingers to comb through your hair. 

When your hair is completely dry, take a two inch wide section of hair and wrap it around the barrel. It can go over the round bumps and in the little valleys. This is what will give your hair a natural look with different size curls.  Leave 1 to 2 inches free at the end. Hold for 30 seconds and unwrap hair. Do not comb through. 

Move onto the next section, wrapping hair around the barrel. It doesn't matter if you wrap forward or backwards. 

Once you wrapped all the sections of your hair, shake curls loose. I didn't add any further product and my hair stayed beachy looking throughout the day and evening. If your hair needs a little hold, follow with a light hairspray but the key to beachy hair is movement so don't overdo it with hairspray. 

Apply sunscreen (I like Coppertone) before you go out and you'll be protected AND adorable! 

Have you tried beachy hair? If you have, send us your photos and we'll post them here!

{Video} the best morning commute ever

What is your morning commute like? Chances are it's not as enjoyable as the Danes on the Copenhagen Metro. Enjoy this flash mob video and imagine sunbeams and happy bunnies tumbling in the forest.

{video} restoring your faith in humanity: celebrating zach sobiech & "clouds"

Sometimes things in life are hard, impossible, awful even and what's inspiring is to see bravery, love and creativity in the worst of situations. There is a 17 year-old young man named Zach Sobiech who is dying from a form of cancer called Osteosarcoma. This extraordinary, brave boy wrote a song to say goodbye. It's called "Clouds." It was recorded by Jason Mraz and in this video, Zach's life and song are celebrated by his family, friends and some celebrity guests. This song and Zach's legacy of hope and strength will live on and continue to inspire love love love.

Turn up your speakers, listen to the words and learn what bravery really means.

To learn more about Zach and the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund, click here.

the last minute mother's day gift: the gift of music

We were tossing around ideas on what to get Mom for Mother's Day. Flowers, chocolates, a gift card to her favorite salon? Her kids are all around the country. We wanted to chip on something GREAT. Then we had a brainstorm "Let's ask her!" So, we called her.

"Mom, help us out. What would you like for Mother's Day?"

"I love you kids. All I need is for you to call now and then. Every day I hear from you is like Mother's Day."

"Mooooooom! Really? That's it?" we asked.

"You kids are clever. I'm sure you'll come up with something lovely."

So, no pressure. Right. 

We know Mom loves music so we decided to get her a new iPod Nano and load it with music (her favorites + ours). We liked the thought of Mom listening to Lady Gaga (she LOVES her) while preparing vegetables for her infamous Summer Salad.  (Yes, she has an iPhone with some music but Mom likes listening to music in her kitchen/great room and her iPhone is usually docked in her office.) 

A quick stop into the Apple store and within an hour we had combined the playlists from all the kids and loaded her new device. Along with this wireless speaker, Mom's hooked up. For the same price as all of us sending Mom flowers, she can now listen to her favorite music anywhere in her house or even by the pool off the lanai. It warms our heart to know that when she hears "Your Smiling Face" she'll think of the summer we all spent on Martha's Vineyard or "Isn't She Beautiful?" which will no doubt remind her of her three impish granddaughters. 

In addition to the Nano ($149) other options include  the iPod Shuffle ($49),  or the iPod iTouch ($299).

What songs would you put on your mom's playlist?

Happy Mother's Day!

{happy video} what a sleepy duckling sounds like

You have a picture of your dog on your desk? Cool. This guy has a duckling falling asleep on his.

(Turn up your speakers for this one.)

happy travel food: the luna fiber bar

I am on the road a lot, logging almost a million air miles (so far!). I love most aspects of travel except for the poor choices that are easy to make in airports. I can't count how many times I've grabbed a bagel  with cream cheese and coffee as I rush to my gate. That's 600+ calories!

Not long ago I started traveling with my own snacks, some hit or miss. I liked the packets of unsalted cashews from Trader Joe's but the grapefruit sections in their own containers left me feeling sticky. Big fail. Before I left for this trip to Walt Disney World I bought a box of new Luna Fiber Bars. Available in Vanilla Blueberry, Chocolate Raspberry and Peanut Butter Strawberry, I went for the Peanut Butter Strawberry.  I tucked one in my carry-on bag and the rest in my checked bag. I knew I would be walking a lot and working in the parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot etc.) and I wanted to have something quick, easy, small and delicious to snack on.

On my morning flight  from Seattle when those around me tucked into cinnamon pastries, I unwrapped my Peanut Butter Strawberry Luna Fiber bar. I took one bite and I smiled. It tasted like a classic PB&J with the added bonus of 7 grams of fiber. The bar has 120 calories, 4 grams of fat, 11 grams of sugar and is made from 70% organic ingredients.

While I prefer to make my own trail bars, this easy to transport bar doesn't melt in the heat and tastes fresh. It was satisfying with the texture somewhere between an oatmeal cookie and a Fig Newton and filled me up on the long 6 hour flight. It makes me happy to know that as I work at the conference here in Orlando this week that I am fueling my body and making the right choices.

The Luna Fiber bar is a great happy food! (I also tried the Vanilla Blueberry and it reminded me of a blueberry Pop-Tart. It was delicious!)

inspiration #254: working out when you don't want to

happy things: the beach cruiser

There's something so lovely about a leisurely bike ride after dinner.  When the sun is sighing low and the breeze blows the fragrance of jasmine blooms around you, it's instant happiness. Tilt your face up to the sunshine, inhale the scent of fresh cut lawns and look over at your love pedaling next to you. It's the  most wonderful way to spend a summer evening.

I've been looking for the perfect bikes for L. and I and I think I found them. For women it's the Huffy Nel Lusso Women's Beach Cruiser. For under $130 at Walmart the cruiser comes with everything you need to enjoy a bike ride, including a cup holder(!) for your iced coffee and a front basket for your french bread and produce from the farmer's market. There is also the men's version here. Both can delivered right to your front door.

Even if the beach is more than a couple miles from your home, you'll still feel that wind blow through your hair when you ride your beach cruiser bike through town. Plus, you'll look adorable.

happy things: the 2013 volkswagen beetle convertible

I am a convertible girl. Fresh out of college I drove a vintage white Cabriolet with a manual roof that was ridiculously difficult to open. I've also owned a BMW (vintage 325i convertible), Saab (vintage 900 convertible) and a Volvo (very old, brown and basically a tank). For the past 5 years I've driven a 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible and of all the cars I've ever driven, the Beetle Convertible is the most fun I've had.

Recently we had a 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible to review for a week. The body style is definitely different than the former model. It's sleeker, like a Beetle + a Porsche merged into this new version of the classic Beetle body. I've heard that the new body was designed to appeal more to the male market as the Beetle Convertible is often referred to as a 'chick car.' I don't feel that way about my 2003 Beetle or this new Beetle. My husband looks quite at home driving this car. It suits anyone happy!

Our review car was the 50's Special Edition (also available in 60's and 70's special editions). With chrome mirror caps and 17" Heritage Alloy wheels, the shiny black exterior with beige leather interior was classic and clean, appealing to both L. and me. Our model featured a 2.5L, 170 hp 5-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic® and Sport mode for $26,095.

The first thing I did when I got in the car was put the top down. Just one push of the button and the top quietly went back and tucked itself in. The seats were comfortable and supportive with good room in the backseat for passengers (or a dog crate!) The cup holders were solid and the stereo system came with a Media Interface Device that allowed me to connect to my iPod. This edition also came Bluetooth ready. See the rest of the features of the 2013 Special Edition Volkswagen Beetle here

The car is zippy and fun to drive. It's hard not to be happy with the wind and sunshine blowing through your hair while listening to your favorite music.

It's going to be a beautiful weekend. Go for a long drive and have a wonderful time with someone you love!

Visit for more information on happy cars. 

the dedicating miles experiment: 100 miles

100 miles. 

Even as I type these numbers out I have a hard time believing that I reached this goal.  On April 2, 2013 I started this experiment: For every mile I walked/ran/sprinted I would dedicate a mile to someone, a friend, family member or former colleague. I was trying to lose weight and get healthy and I was stuck in a plateau. I thought about quitting. I hated working out. I dreaded lacing up my sneakers. I moaned when I walked uphill in the rain/hail/mist/drizzle. I annoyed myself and anyone who happened to be around me. I couldn't go on like this.

I believe insights, life-changers can come at the oddest times. I was walking (again in the rain) and I couldn't get a friend out of my mind. She was miserable and depressed. I held her in my thoughts the entire time I walked. I wished her love. I prayed for her. I wanted to be there with her and so from 954 miles away I did the only thing I could. I walked with her for 4 miles. I wished her love.

I felt good when I walked through the front door. I felt like I had accomplished something. I decided at that moment that every single mile on every single run would be dedicated to someone. Today, on May 2, after one month I reached 100 miles.

This is a big deal.

I am not a girl who likes to work out.

I am not naturally coordinated.

I can be like a newborn colt when I am running. If there is a stone in the road, I will trip over it.

I quit. When things get hard, I quit.

100 miles. I didn't quit. 

Why? Because you were there with me. You lifted me up. You pushed me. You encouraged me.

How it works: Before I even lace up my shoes, I look at my Facebook friends and I choose four people at random. I have a running app and once I start the app, I begin running and think of the first person on my list. I picture her face as I run and I imagine that my happy thoughts + energy surround her in pale aqua shimmering light. As I start running up the hill, I think "This is for you. This sweat, this determination is for YOU." When the mile is up, my app tells me and I say thank you to my mile 1 companion and start thinking of my mile 2 friend and so on through mile 4. When I complete my 4 miles, I stretch and thank each friend for joining me on this journey.

Every day I take a photo from my run. When I get home I create an image with the date and miles along with the names of the people I dedicated miles to that day.  I post this on Facebook. Sometimes I receive emails from friends or from someone I knew slightly years ago who was tagged in the image. The common denominator in these emails is this: How did you know I needed prayers and good thoughts on this day? I don't know how to answer that. Most often, 98% of the time, I choose the people I will run with (in my head + soul) at random. (Sometimes if I know that a person is having a challenge I will intentionally choose him on that day.)

What's weird + wonderful? There have been SO MANY times when I am stretching that I get a call on my mobile (out of the blue) from one of the people who I dedicated a mile to that day. They tell me "I was just thinking of you."  It freaks me out each time but it also reaffirms the fact that this is working. This good energy is working its way through the universe.

As I re-read this I know it sounds hokey and New Agey, but here are the facts: Since October I've lost 82 pounds and I know that the biggest reason I haven't quit is because of the support from my friends, my family and from YOU.

When I started this, I was a little nervous putting it out there. What if I quit and disappointed myself and everyone else? What I realized though, is that the biggest rewards in life are received after you've taken the biggest risks.

So, to you and you and you, to those who I have already run for and to those I have yet to run for, thank you for your encouragement and your love.

You mean the world to me. I wish you love, my friend.