{happy video} derek redmond in the Barcelona Olympics

Sometimes working out seems like a drag. Sitting on the sofa with a big bag of Doritos and a Coke sounds like so much more fun than strapping on my running shoes and going out there.

When I feel like that though, I know that future me is going to be so annoyed with lazy present me. That is when I watch this video of Derek Redmond in the Barcelona Olympics. He tore his hamstring muscle and fell to the ground in pain but he got up and a man ran towards him from the stands. It was his dad and with his help, Derek finished the race WITH A TORN HAMSTRING. It's amazing how powerful the human spirit can be even in the face of physical calamities.

If you need a little boost, this video is for you.


the "yes" experiment

this is Bella

This was an experiment in saying yes.

I met them in line at the glassybaby sale. It was 4am and we were already arriving in line (as obsessive fans of glassybaby do) before the start of the sale at 8am. I had come alone. I was #28 in line. Just ahead of me were two friends sharing a headset, blankets and watching a DVD.  Behind me a group had arrived and was setting up. The small group of friends had chairs, blankets, magazines and the comforts of home. They even had a Yellow Lab named Bella. I sat quietly in my folding chair, with my headset on, closed my eyes and listened to my Chill playlist. Then it happened.

She sat on me.

Bella, the big Yellow Lab backed up into me and sat on my feet. My eyes flew open. Her owners were mortified. "Come here, Bella!" they said. She looked at them but stayed where she was.  I smiled and removed my earbuds "Is that OK?" they asked. "Yes," I said. "It's OK. I'm a dog person." I looked at Bella.  "Good Bella! Good girl! Who's a good dog? You're a good dog!"

And that was it. That is how I made three new friends, Bella and her owners Angie and Cynthia.

Angie and Cynthia were part of a group of six friends who knew each other well. They opened up their circle to include me. As an only child I am good on my own. I can entertain myself and be perfectly OK alone in a situation with lots of people around me. Typically if I am somewhere for awhile I'll listen to music on my headphones or read a book on my iPad Mini but this felt different. In that moment when Bella sat on my feet I could have smiled kindly at the group of friends and continued listening to music but instead, looking at this group of friends laughing easily with each other I wanted to open myself up to possibilities, to their light and joy.

I fell in love with this group of girls of all different ages including a mother and daughter (a little girl who patiently waited for the sale to begin). They were funny and smart and clearly loved each other. They knew each other's quirks and they had been there for each other through the good and the bad. At one point, we started talking about food (as girls do) and they decided what a wonderful idea it would be to send someone to fetch McDonald's Egg White & Cheddar McMuffins. When breakfast arrived they freely shared their bounty. I just loved this group. They welcomed a new friend easily and I was so happy that I had made that split second decision to get out of my shell that morning and open myself up to new friends.

hello, glassybaby

This was my fourth glassybaby sale and their first. We talked about strategy once we got into the shop. "Go directly to your favorite colors first," I said. "If you really like a particular glassybaby, pick it up and don't put it down. Someone else will pick it up and then nothing will compare to the one you lost. Bring a lighter or a flashlight to see the luminescence of each glassybaby. Do you have a market basket?"

They shook their heads no. I ran over to my car and grabbed my spare market basket I use for the farmer's market. (I always have two in my car. One for me and one for a friend.) They were ready. It was almost time. At 7:30am we put our chairs in the car and stretched. At 8am we entered the glassybaby sale with the crowd and promptly lost each other. The glassybaby sales are always so crowded that honestly once you lose someone in the crowd you may not find them again until you leave. After I successfully filled with my basket with new Aquamarines, I got in line to check out. That is when I saw the market basket I had loaned to my new friends, sitting there under the check out table. We hadn't exchanged information so I thought "How clever of them to leave it there for me to find!" As I walked to my car with my basket loaded down I was happy that I had spent the morning getting to know the coolest group of girls.

That is where I thought the story would end.

It didn't.

It turns out that Cynthia works with my husband and she remembered me mentioning his name and so she sent him an email titled "I think I met your wife. . ."As I drove home, Larry called to tell me he got an email from someone about a market basket and did I know anything about it. "Yes," I said. "I loaned it to the coolest girls. I have the basket here."

"Good!" he said. "They were worried that you wouldn't find it after loaning it to them."

When I got home I emailed them, thanking them for a great morning and we started to email back and forth. At the sale I had turned down their offer of a McMuffin because I was working hard on my fitness program. I told them about Disney's Princess 5K that I ran in February and Angie told me about Girls on the Run, a program she works with that is just filled with Happy girls. I asked if she would tell me more about it. Angie asked if I wanted to meet for lunch and I said "Yes." During lunch, I was inspired by these young girls who train hard to run their first 5K. I get it. I get what training can do for your body and your psyche.



Want to get inspired by some happy girls? Watch this video for Girls on the Run

Then she asked "Have you ever been to a Seattle Storm game?" I said "No." She asked if I would like to go and I said "Yes. Yes, I would love to go." And that is how I ended up at my first WNBA basketball game. I wasn't sure what to expect. Great athletes, sure, but these women had something more. The event had something more. In addition to the outstanding athleticism on the field, halftime included dog agility with numerous dogs racing each other over hurdles, loving every single minute of challenging themselves. We cheered on the identical Goldendoodles racing each other and smiled at the small puppy, long ears flapping as he tried to jump over each hurdle (he jumped each one on the way out but ran next to them on the way back!) During the second half I looked around and saw families out on a Saturday night, cheering on these unbelievable athletes.  I was having an incredible time doing something that I hadn't done before.  In that moment I was so happy that I let my guard down and said yes, yes and yes.



The power of yes is extraordinary. When you say yes, you allow your heart to open to possibilities. You have no idea what awaits you when you say yes to the universe, especially if you are accustomed to saying no. That morning when I drove top-down in the quiet early morning to the glassybaby sale, I didn't know about Cynthia or Angie or Bella. I didn't know that I would want to become part of Girls on the Run, to cheer on girls and help them achieve a goal that I just recently achieved myself. I didn't know but the universe did and so did one very pushy blonde named Bella.

What if you were to say "Yes!" today? What if? Try it. It could be a simple yes to the question of "Do you want spaghetti for dinner?" or a more permanent yes to "Will you be mine?" Today, say yes. See what happens.


{happy things} the coolest sunglasses summer 2013


I saw this photo of Robert Redford the other day and it stopped me in my tracks.  THIS is the epitome of a cool guy, a devil may care kind of guy, the guy that makes life look effortless in a Hubbell Gardiner kind of way.

I love sunglasses. Ironic since I live in Seattle. I think it can add a finishing touch to an outfit. My style tends toward classic Ray-Bans or Holly Golightly-style glasses but yesterday, inspired by this photo of Redford I bought a new pair. These 58 mm Ray-Bans. They're a teal blue and just different enough to make this preppy girl feel like she has an edge.


If you've been wearing the same glasses for awhile, here are some iconic images to inspire you. Are you feeling Bond-like today?


The Coolest Sunglasses Summer 2013

{happy summer food} burrata + tomatoes + basil


On my last trip to Italy, I spent a sunny, brilliant day in Sanremo, a small, charming town on the Italian coast. It was a spectacular summer day and the air smelled of lemons and the sea. After leisurely exploring the village I stopped into a small restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Relaxing on the terrace with a glass of Prosecco and a Burrata salad I stared out at the ocean, listening to the sounds of Italian conversations over the rush of the surf and savored this simple Italian dish. It was one of those perfect moments in life.

This weekend when I was at the farmer's market, I was reminded of this moment when I picked up some heirloom cherry tomatoes and fresh emerald green basil. And last night on the deck with Larry, over a simple Burrata salad, I savored another perfect summer moment.

Make your own perfect summer moment with this simple dish.


{recipe} Burrata with Tomatoes and Basil (for two)

Burrata is a hand-formed mozzarella ball with a creamy center reminiscent of buttery ricotta cheese. It can be found in the specialty cheese section of your local market.

Ingredients

1/2 a Burrata (Buffalo Mozzarella ball)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
4 basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar glaze
Salt to taste

Directions

Remove the Burrata ball from water and pat dry. Slice in half. Wrap one half in Saran wrap and place back in refrigerator. Using your hands, shred the mozzarella onto a plate. Set aside. 

Cut cherry tomatoes in half and sprinkle over cheese. 

Using scissors, julienne Basil leaves into thin slices and toss over cheese and tomatoes. 

Drizzle olive oil then balsamic glaze over cheese, tomatoes and basil. 

Top with a sprinkle of salt to taste. 

Serve with toasted rustic bread. 

Happy summer food!





{happy video} when "Saturday Night Live actor break character

If I am in a bad mood, the one thing that will always make me laugh is to watch a video of actors breaking character. When an actor laughs in the middle of scene, when he shows a little of himself and his vulnerability that makes me smile. This morning I woke up to this video in my inbox. It was from my husband who knew exactly what I needed to see this morning.

I think this will make you laugh too. Watch and be happy.



{happy summer things} kai fragrance

I was in Los Angeles working as a TV reporter covering the junket for the film "Leatherheads" the first time I smelled kai. It was a Saturday morning and I was in Fred Segal on Melrose. I was searching for a new fragrance that would remind me of sunshine and L.A. when I was back in my studio at Microsoft in cool, rainy Seattle. There were several fragrances that I tried and I liked including Child but when I took my first whiff of kai oil, that was it. I closed my eyes and there I was -- on Kihei Beach in Maui. The air was full of gardenias warmed in the morning sun. I opened my eyes and looked at the sales associate. "Yes," I said. "Yes, this is the one."

Later, during my interviews for "Leatherheads" I heard over and over again "My God, what are you wearing? You smell incredible." Yes, it's nice when someone leans in to say hi and they like the way you smell but more important was the way kai made me feel. I felt happy, sunshiny and like all was right with the world.

Since that weekend in L.A. I've worn Jo Malone Orange Blossom and even Bobbi Brown's Beach, both fragrances I love but when I want to feel happysexy I wear kai. It reminds me of summer, tousled hair and a white linen dress, standing on my tiptoes, bare feet  in warm sand kissing the man I love. That's happysexy.

kai is available in a fragrance oil roll-on as well as in body lotion, body butter, bodywash and more. Available at Nordstrom.com.

happy summer music 4: lovely day



I hear this version of Bill Withers classic "Lovely Day" and I think of sunshine sparkling off blue water and happy moments by the sea. It's just what you need to think about mid-week. The weekend is just two days away.

Click the blue play button below to hear "Lovely Day."


the s'mores in 50 states, surfing, meet a panda bucket list



Her name was Talia Joy Castellano and she was a 13 year-old CoverGirl.

She was also a little girl who recently lost her battle with cancer.

But that's not all she was.

this is from Talia's website. This is how she defined herself? 100% awesomeness.

In the wisdom that can come only from innocent hope and belief in her own power, Talia inspired millions. When she lost her hair due to chemotherapy treatments Talia refused wigs. They didn't fit with her 'realness.' Instead she turned to makeup to define her style and shared her tips with girls around the world on her YouTube Channel. Talia was brave, funny, talented, honest and she was a light in this world.

Cancer first touched Talia when she was 7 years-old and while she did go into remission after treatment, the illness came back and Talia decided not to pursue a bone marrow transplant. Instead she would enjoy her remaining time on this planet. So, she made a bucket list of 74 items she wanted to do before she died. There were things like #46 Surf. . ., #24 Write a letter to my crush, #34 Parasailing, #44 Take a photo every day of summer. Things that Talia started but never got to do.



And then this happened: Inspired by Talia, people started fulfilling the wishes on Talia's bucket list. From covering a car in sticky notes to parasailing, fans of Talia's indestructible spirit are keeping her positive energy going. It's an incredible homage to one very extraordinary young lady who showed remarkable grace and courage.

Then I wondered.

It's a lovely idea for people to fulfill Talia's bucket list but what about their own? What about yours? Do you have a bucket list? You don't have to face your own mortality to have a list of things you want to do in your life. What have you always wanted to do? What would make you happier than anything in this world? Have you always wanted to hold a sloth? Remember what happened when Kristen Bell, a fan of sloths finally realized her dream of meeting a sloth?



What would happen if you fulfilled your dream, say, of swimming with dolphins or visiting the tiny town where your grandparents emigrated from? What if you perfected the perfect blueberry muffin or learned how to juggle?

Have you always wanted to stand in a valley in Vermont on a crisp October day when the sky is so blue and leaves so orange it's almost too amazing to look at it? You now have three months (until October) to figure out how to make that happen.

When you close your eyes and you imagine being happy, what does that look like? Are you smiling, sitting quietly in a nursery holding a baby, as the summer breeze blows in, just barely ruffling her wispy hair? Are you inhaling the ocean air on a beach in Bali where you're learning how to surf? Are you learning how to make rustic pizza from a chef in Naples, Italy?

Life can be so amazing when you stretch yourself, when you push yourself. What do you want? What are you capable of?  There is a story that goes like this. Every day a young man would ask God "Please, God, please let today be the day I win the lottery." Yet every day goes by and he doesn't win the lottery. One day the man says to God "God, I pray every day that you'd let me win the lottery but I don't. Please let today be the day I win the lottery." Finally God has had enough and responds "My dear son, I would love to help but you've got to help me out here and at least buy a ticket."

Having a bucket list is the same sort of idea. How do you know where you want to go if you don't have a plan? You would never go on an unfamiliar trip without some sort of route guidance, would you? When you write a bucket list for yourself, you're putting that energy out into the universe. You're telling yourself and the world what you want. You can't get what you want unless you ask, right?

Start your bucket list. Today. Grab a piece of paper or even as you're reading this, open a document and start typing. It can be the simplest things like "Find out what a cronut tastes like" or "Run through Central Park." It can be big things like "Finally go get my degree" or "Have a baby." You're thinking "I don't have the time to do these things!" See, here's the thing. There is never a perfect time. Life is messy and things happen at the wrong time but if you want it enough, you will carve out the time to make it happen. So, you wake up an hour early every day to practice the banjo or you plan out a timeline to visit every single state in the U.S. Just start. The beginning is often the hardest step.

Go ahead. You've got this.

{happy things} the genius packing gadget


I recently went on a trip to Boston and my goal was to travel light. As I was packing I realized I could travel for two weeks with just a few small travel bottles for shampoo/conditioner etc. When I was in The Container Store to pick up some new leakproof bottles I came across these Pack-It Folders from Eagle Creek. I seem to always bring way too many clothes on my trips and my goal on this trip was to bring less and save space. The associate in the store showed me how the folder works.

Open the folder (I bought the medium size) and using the enclosed folding board (Think of what they use at The Gap), fold your shirts so that they are all the same size. Place each item in the center of the open pack. When you've stacked each item into a neat pile, bring two opposite sides in. Then close the other two sides and secure the folder with the attached Velcro. You now have a neat folder that saves space and prevents your clothing from wrinkling and moving around in your suitcase. I had twelve tops compacted neatly. With a few sundresses and pants in another folder, I was able to fit everything I needed into my smallest suitcase.

What I like about these folders is that it limits how much you can bring. I told myself that if it fits in the folder I can bring it. If it doesn't, then it stays home. The folders worked out perfectly on my trip. Eagle Creek Pack-It Folders are a happy thing! Try them on your next trip!



{happy music} "happy" from "despicable me 2"

Sometimes a song from a film just stands out. Like "Happy" from "Despicable Me 2." Watch this video sung by Pharrell Williams and you'll be bouncing along in your seat. Bonus: There's minions. Bonus 2: The lyrics appear on the screen so you can have your own karaoke moment.

Get your happy on. Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof! Clap along if you feel that happiness is the truth!

Happy weekend!

{happy things} the waffle wagon food truck


In our family, waffles rank high, somewhere between Thanksgiving dinner and s'mores on a summer night by the campfire. So, when Larry and I heard there was a Waffle Wagon food truck in Seattle, we knew we had to find it. This Saturday we checked Twitter and discovered that the Waffle Wagon was in Fremont next to the outdoor movie. 

We were giddy. 

Waffles from a pink food truck! We wondered: Could the waffles possibly hold up to our anticipation? The smell alone was happy inducing. We looked at the menu and since we had just enjoyed dinner we decided on: Monkey Chow, a hot waffle with Nutella and fresh bananas topped with whipped cream and nuts. (If we hadn't had dinner, we were going to go for the Potato Skin Waffle.)


It took just a few minutes for our waffle to be made to order by owner, Janelle Wehrman and her team. With waffle in hand, Larry and I sat in the sun and shared what was the best waffle we've ever had. Warm with melty, nutty chocolate and smothered in bananas and whipped cream, the taste was heavenly. We talked a little with Janelle and asked her what was the top selling waffle. "Shepherd's Pie," she said. (Not offered the day we were there. The menu changes each day). 

One of the things we love about food trucks is that the folks who own these food trucks are local and they are passionate about their food. Whether it's a taco truck or a waffle truck, you know that what you're going to eat will be delicious and prepared just for you. Eating at a food truck also means you're supporting the local economy and that's a good feeling. 

If you haven't discovered the fun of a food truck, try it this summer and if you're in Seattle, keep you eyes open for Janelle and her pink Waffle Wagon. It just might be one the happiest things of your summer!




{happy video} the little girl and the mormon tabernacle choir

My mother-in-law sent me this video yesterday and I sat in awe and watched. You will too.

In 2007, Chase Burch was a brave, sick 10 year-old little girl whose one request was to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing. She was unable to attend their concert because she was undergoing treatment  at St. Judes's Children Hospital for Megalobastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, but she hoped to meet a few choir members.

What happened next was the kind of thing that makes you smile and gives you goosebumps. The Choir showed up just for Chase and put on a concert for one. As Chase, wearing a baseball cap and mask and her family sat in awed surprise, the Choir in all their glory sang Chase's favorite songs including "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

If you want to believe in the absolute power of the human spirit, watch this video and feel inspired by the voices and spirits that came together that afternoon just to make one little girl happy.

(And, yes, today Chase is a healthy and happy young woman. See her update here.)


road trip music: Willie Nelson's "Just Breathe"

The first time I heard this song by Willie Nelson all I could think of was driving on some long, hot, dusty road in a convertible at sunset with the top dropped. Then I saw this video and it seems Willie thinks of this as a roadtripping song too.

Sure Pearl Jam did a great job with this song but Willie, well, Willie adds a raw gritty depth and you just know he means it when he says "Love you till I die, meet you on the other side."

{recipe: happy food} happy lemon-blueberry shortbread bars



She must have been two years-old at the most. It was an early sunny Saturday morning and we were standing in front of one of the organic farm stands at the farmer's market.

She tugged at her dad's hand. "Blueberries. Please." In front of her, just above her head was a table stacked with green cartons of purple hued blueberries, so ripe you could smell them baking in the warm sun. I watched her reach a chubby hand up and point to the berries. Then the best thing happened. A teenager, a boy, who was stacking cartons in the pick up truck behind the stand came around to the front of the booth. He took a carton of blueberries off the table and crouched down in front of the toddler, holding the basket up to her.

"Would you like some blueberries?" he asked. She nodded and carefully she chose what was to her the ultimate blueberry and then another and another. It was the kind of moment that makes you love the farmer's market.

It was just a moment. As I paid for my blueberries, so did the dad, who smiled at the teenager and his unexpected kindness.

I thought of this moment today when I made Happy Lemon-Blueberry Shortbread Bars. I felt a bit meditative as I prepared the dough and washed the blueberries. I was grateful for the farmers who grew the fruit, the rain that drenched the plants and the sun that warmed them. As they baked in the oven, our home smelled cozy and happy and tonight as my husband and I sat together in the evening sun sharing a shortbread bar I was overcome with happiness. Every night should end with shortbread, warmed summer fruit and someone to love.



{Recipe} Happy Lemon-Blueberry Shortbread Bars

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, diced into small cubes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
      grated lemon peel (from 1/2 a lemon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon ice cold lemon juice
3/4 cup fresh blueberries (rinsed and dried)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

15 minutes before starting to bake, grate peel of 1/2 of one lemon and set aside. 

Juice 1/2 lemon and place juice in freezer.

Place diced butter (in a separate bowl) in freezer. 

Mix together flour, sugar, salt, grated lemon peel, baking powder and cinnamon. Remove butter and lemon juice from freezer. Add cold diced butter to dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender (or a knife and fork) cut butter into dry ingredients.  Add egg yolk and continue to blend dough together until it resembles clumpy beach sand. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and continue blending dough. 

In an ungreased 8x8 pan, add 3/4 of the dough, pressing dough firmly into bottom of the pan using a spatula. Sprinkle blueberries over the dough and add remaining dough over the blueberries. (It's OK if all the blueberries aren't covered.)

Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden. 

Cool and slice into bars. 

Delicious for breakfast on the go!

(happy video) what to do when you encounter a bear

I love this reporter. She went all in to help viewers know what to do should they encounter a bear.

My favorite is moment :14. I'm not quite sure how being shifty eyed is going to help but it sure will give the bear a good laugh.


happy things: lobster pants experiment



I typically wear a lot of jeans. If I'm not in jeans I'm usually in running capris or yoga pants. This weekend though, on Saturday night I broke out my lobster pants. I've never worn them before but on a breezy, sunny evening in Seattle, they seemed appropriate.

I WILDLY underestimated how much fun it is to break out of old patterns and try something new, something completely unlike what you would normally do. These pants made me feel whimsical. They made me feel summery and happy. They reminded me that you have to make an effort if you want to be happier.

If you're a jeans person or if you have a uniform of your own like black pants and a t-shirt, try changing it up this week. Wear something that you would never have considered before. If anything, even just for a moment you can be a lobster-wearing, devil may care kinda person. Who knows what else you can be?

Khakis from Old Navy.

{happy food} chef joy's condiments gone wild



When I logged onto email on Tuesday morning, there was a message from Chef Joy that read: 

It's summertime Happy Girl.  We've got to live it up!  When you invited me to your neighborhood  Hotdog and Hamburger Block party I knew what I had bring.

I'm in charge of condiments....

It's Ketchup and Mustard Gone Wild!!

These secret sauces spice up hum-drum Burgers and dogs.  Guests will talk and try and taste and beg you for the recipes...   I'll be over this afternoon for a tasting... you won't believe how easy these are to make!

Cooking with Chef Joy is always a fun event so I said "Yes, of course, come!" Later that afternoon Chef Joy stopped by with her wicker basket full of ingredients.  There is something so comforting about ketchup and mustard. They are trusty condiments that can boost the flavor of every barbecue but by tweaking these two simple condiments with an extra ingredient (or two), the flavor is boosted into well, gone wild territory. In less than 15 minutes we had made seven different condiments. While each topping would be great on hamburgers, hot dogs or veggie burgers, some of the condiments would also work particularly with other entrees like mustard + dill  combination on salmon. (See more ideas with each condiment.)

Thanks to Chef Joy I know what we'll be serving along with our burgers this weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing which condiments the guests devour first. What's your favorite burger or hot dog topping?



Ketchup Gone Wild

Ketchup & Orange Marmalade 1:1 (serve with chicken nuggets)

Ketchup & Curry Powder (to bring out the true flavor of Curry, 'bloom' it by adding 1/2 teaspoon of Curry powder to 1/2 teaspoon of butter and sauté on low heat until the butter and Curry have incorporated) Mix the 1/2 teaspoon of Curry/butter with 1 tablespoon of ketchup (1 part Curry to 3 parts ketchup).

Ketchup + Hoisin Sauce: 1:1


Mustard Gone Wild

Mustard & Fine Chopped Tomatoes & Sweet Pickle Relish: 1:1:1 (perfect on burgers)

Mustard & Fresh Dill: mix approximately 1 tablespoon of fresh dill + 3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard. Delicious on salmon.

Mustard & Apricot Jam:  1:1 (ideal for shrimp)

Quick Special Sauce

2 parts Ketchup
1 part Mustard
1 part Honey

Great as a dip for chicken nuggets.

{happy food} free slurpee day at 7-11!


It's back! Free Slurpee Day is today 7/11! From 11a to 7p visit a 7-11 near you to get your frozen delight! In case you don't know the 7-11 closest to you, click here to find a store.

So your biggest question then is. . .which flavor are you going for? Personally I'm fond of the the sugar-free Mango Lemonade. 

Now go! It's a hot one out there today!

what to think of when you work out


{happy food} mini banana nut muffins


One of the things that makes me happiest on an early Saturday morning is whipping up something that I know will make my husband sleepily walk into the kitchen asking "What is that amazing smell?" 

This weekend after my morning run I made mini banana nut muffins that not only tasted delicious but also left us feeling like we hadn't just blown too many calories in one sitting. Sitting out on the deck in the morning sun languidly sipping iced espresso and enjoying banana nut muffins together was such a wonderful way to start the day. 

The great thing about making mini muffins is that one batch makes about 24 muffins. We kept eight out for the weekend and froze the rest in packs of two. For a quick breakfast on the go, it's easy to take out a pack of the freezer and within 1/2 hour they're at room temp. (You can also warm them in the microwave in 10 second bursts.)

Here's the recipe for banana nut muffins. Because every morning should feel cozy and happy.

{happy food} Banana Nut Muffins

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter softened
1 egg
1 large very ripe banana, mashed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup flour
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together then add the mashed banana, vanilla extract and sugar, mixing well. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, walnuts, salt, baking soda and cinnamon). When incorporated,  fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. 

Using a nonstick mini muffin pan (2), fill each muffin cup halfway and top with one walnut.  Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. You can also use traditional muffins pans but use muffin liners and cook for 25 minutes. 

Enjoy!






{video} alan cumming reads anything (NSFW)

Last night when I couldn't sleep I came across this video of Alan Cumming reading anything put in front of him and I cried laughing. I've interviewed Cumming for his films in the past and I adore him.  He is one of the cheekiest people on this planet. Which kind of makes him perfect for a video project like this.

Now, watch Alan Cumming read anything put in front of him. (Warning: This is not safe for work.)




happy summer music 3: summer breeze by Jason Mraz



This groovy version of "Summer Breeze" is the epitome of summer music. Take a listen and feel the breeze.

how to be happier: step away from the cupcake

just step away

Believe it or not there is a magazine called "Journal of Personality." This month's issue features a study done by researchers at the University of Chicago who found that people who are able to control their impulses and desires were in general happier people.

It makes sense. Every day I work out for 2 hours (running + kickboxing). Sometimes, though, I'm just too tired and the thought of curling up on the couch with a bowl of buttered popcorn sounds like much more fun. However, I know that in two hours I will be so happy with myself if I make the right choice to work out. If I give in to my desire to skip the workout and instead chill on the couch with a couple cupcakes, I know that in that same two hours I will feel angry with myself and annoyed that I didn't choose correctly. I think about what future me would feel about a poor decision I made.  This mental pause has allowed me to make the right decisions and lose 90 pounds.

The University of Chicago study looked at this same scenario. Were study participants able to resist temptation and how did they feel after they succeeded? In general the study found that when you give in to immediate gratification, you may enjoy the moment but in the long term you will be unhappier.

The next time you're bored and feel like giving into temptation, call a friend, brush your teeth or tell yourself that you can have the item of desire in one hour. The desire will pass but the good feeling of conquering your temptations has a long lasting effect.

Read more here.

{happy video} soft baby goat love pile

I love goats.

Baby goats.

Every time I see one somewhere (like at our local farm stand) I call my husband, Larry, and ask him if now would be the right time to get a pair of baby Nubian goats. So far, sadly, the answer has been no.

Then I saw this video. A girl getting loved on by a pack of soft baby goats.

Here's your happy video for this Monday. It's going to make you go "Awwwww! Lucky girl!"


Happy Summer Music 2: "So Good at Being in Trouble"



Monday mornings in the summer can be tough when you're at work and already thinking of the fun you'll be having next weekend if you can only get through the next five days. Take a listen to "So Good at Being in Trouble" by Unknown Mortal Orchestra and imagine driving top-down along the coast with the friends who just 'get' you. This song is playing in the background as the wind blows through your sun-dappled hair. Who knows where this weekend will take you?

You can do it. Just four+ days. Here you go. 


the magic watermelon pants experiment

I got this text message from my friend, Megs,  this week. It was so hilarious that I did an iced coffee spit take.


I asked her to send me a picture. She did.


I asked Megs why her pants were like magic and she said "All day these pants made me so happy. I loved wearing watermelon pants. I seriously love these pants. Why haven't I been wearing watermelon pants all along?"

the aqua running hoodie that makes me run faster and feel happier

I thought about what she said and I wondered if what we wear can influence our moods. I think it can. I have an aqua (of course) running hoodie and when I wear it I feel like I run faster and I am just in a better mood. The funny thing is too, when I wear aqua people tell me I look happy. So maybe there is something to the Magic Watermelon Pants Experiment. 

What do you wear that makes you happy?

Looking for watermelon pants of your own? Try these from J Crew.


July 4th and sitting in the bathroom with the dog




This dog does NOT like fireworks.

One July 4th night my husband and I found ourselves sitting in the bathroom with the dog. The three of us were together on the floor with the door closed and the fan on as the dog was losing her mind over the fireworks. We lived in a neighborhood where you could sit in a lawn chair in the front of your house and watch mind-blowing fireworks displays put on by your neighbors. It was beautiful but loud.

This, unfortunately, scared the bejeus out of our dog and so on this hot night the three of us were huddled in the only room without a window, hoping that the fan would drown out the booms. We had all the windows in the house closed and the radio on hoping it would help her. It didn't work very well but I think having the two of us with her  in the bathroom brought her anxiety level down a little. However, each time we cracked open the door to see if the fireworks were over and she heard the high pitch whistle of the firework shooting into the sky, she would bolt out of the bathroom and run around the house like a Tasmanian devil with her tail on fire. It would take both of us to catch her and three of us would again collapse in a sweaty heap on the floor of the bathroom. 

This is how we celebrated Independence Day. The things you do for love.

In case you have a dog of your own who hates fireworks too, here's some handy advice from the folks over at PETA. 


the happygirl guide to. . .3 happy days on nantucket (day 3)

A stop at The Juice Bar for the best ice cream on the island


Read Day One on Nantucket.
Read Day Two on Nantucket.

I woke up in my bed at The White Elephant on the third (and final) day on Nantucket feeling like it was Christmas morning. I was on the afternoon ferry back to Hyannis and there so many things still yet to do on the itinerary. I laced up my running shoes, went for a run along the beach, showered and got ready for the day. Then I headed into town.

the whale ornament from The Hub now lives on my desk


Come with me!

9am The Hub (31 Main Street, 508 325 0200)
The Hub is a well known meeting spot on Nantucket. It's also where you pick up newspapers, greeting cards or mermaids made out of seashells. Here I grabbed an iced coffee, a bagel and a small whale ornament for my desk and sat on a bench on Main St. just people watching. I love mornings in a beach town. Locals and tourists alike glow with that bit of a tan you get just from being on an island in the summer.

9:30am Mitchell's Book Corner (54 Main Street, 508 228 1080)
There is a bookstore called Mitchell's that is a local icon. You'll find it right across the street from The Hub. Sure it has new books and smart staff to help you choose the perfect beach read but walk up stairs and you'll find yourself in the Nantucket Reading Room. Here you can find Nantucket themed books from non-fiction to history and cookbooks. There are also a trove of books written by local authors like Elin Hildebrand ("The Island") and Nathaniel Philbrick ("In the Heart of the Sea"). If you're lucky you just might be able to get an autographed copy.

I picked up a gift for a friend who love Philbrick and placed an advanced order for Hilderbrand's new book due out this summer. (Note: I asked the staff if it would be possible for Nathaniel Philbrick to autograph the book for my friend since Nathaniel lives on the island and sure enough he did autograph it a few days later when he was in the store and they shipped it right to my friend. Another reason to love bookstores like Mitchell's.)


10:30 Inside the Graveyards Tour (Meet outside the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce)
I know this may not seem like a traditional beach town activity but to be honest, this was one of the most touching activities of the trip. Boarding a van driven by Elliot, we stopped at three of the most historic cemeteries on the island. As we walked through the graveyards, Robin, the tour guide, gave us a history of the location as well as some of the more renowned people now residing there. In the hush of the morning with just the birds singing I stepped softly in these resting places. I stopped at a grave for a child who died in the 1700's and read the marker. I closed my eyes and said a prayer for Emmalina.

1:00pm Lunch at Arno's (41 Main Street, 508 228 7001)
The funny thing about life is that the universe will put people in your path for a reason. I believe this. During our graveyard tour, I found Elliot (our driver) so interesting that I asked him if he would have lunch with me and so we had lunch together at Arno's. This interesting character has lived on Nantucket his entire life (with the exception of travels around the world.) He, this grandfather, is one of the happiest and most content people I've ever met. 

As we ate (one of the best fish sandwiches I have ever had) I listened as Elliot spoke about island life and his family and the importance of pursuing what's important to you. I wondered if part of my reason for traveling to Nantucket was to meet Elliot and learn from him. You follow your dreams, you care for others, you go for it. It was a very good lunch.




2:30pm Shopping!
With my ferry leaving just after 4pm, I had about an hour to shop. Nantucket has the requisite candy shops (Nantucket Chocolatier, One Cambridge Street), art galleries and t-shirt shops but I wanted to take something home that was small and would remind me daily of my trip. I stopped into Nantucket Natural Oils (12 Straight Wharf, 800 223 8660) and over the course of 30 minutes I inhaled the scents of Nantucket. As we dabbed the natural custom-made oils on my pulse points I settled on one that instantly made me happy. It was called Nantucket Dunes. I am wearing it right now and I am reminded of sunshine, salt air, morning runs on the beach and the glow I felt just being on the island. 

I stopped into The Sunken Ship for a new Nantucket sweatshirt and quickly ran back to The White Elephant to meet the driver who would take me back to the ferry dock with the bags.

4:35 Ferry to Hyannis
I boarded the ferry back to Hyannis and headed for a seat on the upper outside deck. I was leaving what was a magical trip. They say that what you remember is how something made you feel. You can see the Grand Canyon and appreciate the vastness but you will remember standing there with your toes so close to the edge that in that moment you felt small, and you wondered how all of this came to be. As I watched the edges of Nantucket disappear what I remembered was how I felt when I was on this little island 30 miles off the coast of Nantucket. I felt happy and settled. My heart soared as I ran along the beach. Isn't that exactly how a place should make you feel?

An hour later I stepped off the boat. In my bag I had a sweatshirt and perfume but in my heart I had...joy.



happy videos: conversations with a two year-old

I love these videos of a guy who reenacts conversations he has with his two year-old daughter. However, instead of featuring his daughter, the video reenacts the conversation between him and another grown man. It's creepy and adorable at the same time.

What do you think?


the happygirl guide to. . .3 happy days on Nantucket (day 2)


(See Day One here)

There is something about ocean air that just makes you want to get out and breathe it all in. After a full first day on Nantucket and a sound sleep in my bed at The White Elephant Hotel, I woke up at 6am and laced up my running shoes. The White Elephant sits on the harbor on Easton St. and is an ideal place to start a morning run. The concierge provided me with a jogging map that I tucked into my shorts (in case I got lost), I put on my earbuds and headed out the door for a hour's run.

 A brisk run in the ocean air is a good way to start the day 

The thing about Easton (and Hulbert where I eventually turned onto) is that it is just steps from the ocean. As I ran small, wet bombs dropped around me smashing into bits on the pavement. I ducked and looked up. Smart seagulls were catching shellfish with their beaks and dropping them on the pavement, like a giant nutcracker. "Clever," I thought as I listened to Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" which became my theme song of my stay. It's hard not to be happy when your feet pound to lyrics like "Hark now hear the sailor's cry. Smell the sea and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic."

After my run I showered, changed and went over the day's schedule with the concierge. I grabbed a quick cup of coffee (coffee and pastries are complimentary in the morning at The White Elephant) and started Day 2 on Nantucket. I tried to create a 3 day itinerary with as many different kinds of activities as possible from historic adventures to dining and shopping. Let's go!

A perfect salsa omelette at Black Eyed Susan's 


Day Two on Nantucket

7:30am Breakfast at Black Eyed Susan's (10 India Street, 508 325 0308)
This well-known restaurant is loved by locals and serves hearty food fast. It's perfect for fueling up a busy day of sightseeing. Bring cash because they don't take check or credit cards.

Also try:
The Downeyflake Restaurant for their doughnuts and blueberry pancakes (18 Sparks Ave. 508 228 4533) 


Sailing around Nantucket is the only way to see sites like this. It's a nice little cottage, isn't it?!

10:00am-11:30am  Sailing aboard the Endeavor (Slip #105, Straight Wharf $40, 508 228 5585)
If there is anyone on Nantucket who loves sailing, it's Captain James A. Genthner. Board the Endeavor for a 90 minute sail around Nantucket and get an idea of what it was like for bygone sailors who made this island their home. This is a must do on the island. The Endeavor sails at 10am, 1pm, 4pm and at sunset daily.

Also try: 
9am - 12noon The Natural History Tour (Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Reserve $40, 508 228 6799)
Explore Nantucket with the help of an experienced guide during this 3 hour tour of the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Reserve. On a beautiful day, this is the way to explore.

12:30 Lunch at Provisions (3 Harbor Square, Straight Wharf 508 228 3258)
Grab a Caprese sandwich, a bag of chips and an iced tea and sit outside on a bench taking in the sunshine and the people. Provisions offers simple, well made, hearty sandwiches to go.

Also try: 
Fog Island Cafe (7 South Water Street, 508 228 1818)  for clam chowder and the Fog Island Cuban Sandwich.



1:30pm Sightsee on a Beach Cruiser (6 Broad Street, 508 228 1151)
For $18 (2 hours) rent a bike from Young's on Straight Wharf. Take in the sights around Nantucket at a leisurely pace then stop for an iced coffee at The Hub.

3:30pm Drinks at The Jetties (4 Bathing Beach Road at Jetties Beach, 508 228 2279)
Enjoy a Sam Adams Summer Ale or a Nantucket Red (champagne  + cranberry juice) beachside on Jetties Beach. This beachside restaurant and bar is THE place to enjoy a drink with ocean breezes.

5pm The White Elephant Hotel for a quick nap and refresh




6:45pm Dinner at Corazon del Mar (21 South Water Street, 508 228 0815)
There is something about tequila + tacos that is just the right fit for a beach atmosphere.  At Corazon del Mar, try the Tecate Battered Fish Tacos + Anejo Tequila Flight for an extraordinary Latin dinner. If I could have eaten here every night for a week, I would have. The guacamole is so good, I almost wept.

Also try:
TOPPER'S at The Wauwinet (120 Wauwinet Road, 508 228 8768)
Take the launch from The White Elephant and enjoy a leisurely boat ride before dinner al fresco at Toppers, located at The Wauwinet. For a spectacular evening, order the Buttered Lobster followed by the Warm Ganache of Dominican Chocolate.

The church looks just a little ghostly at night, doesn't it?

7:30 pm The Raven's Nightwalk: A Ghostly Adventure (Meet at the intersection of Main & Federal 508 257 4586)
Though on any other walking tour, a light rain would not be welcome, somehow on this night as we embarked on this ghost tour of Nantucket, it seemed fitting. Led by knowledgable tour guide Robin (and her Raven), our intrepid group walked the narrow cobblestoned street through some of the most notoriously haunted places on the island. As we stopped at each location, Robin spoke about the lore surrounding each place from mysterious footsteps in a church to a long dead sea captain who sometimes shows up in photographs.

Robin knows her history and lore and keeps the walk at a pace that's easy for even the least comfortable walkers. While you may or may not choose to believe the otherworldliness of this adventure, it was hard to deny the goosebumps that we all suddenly felt on the warm, humid, foggy evening outside the Owen Chase House on Orange Street.

Also try: 
9pm Stargazing at the Loines Observatory (59 Milk Street 508 228 9198 
On Monday, Wednesday or Friday take a trip out to the Loines Observatory, part of the Maria Mitchell Association. This is a must-do on a clear night as the astronomers give you a tour of the night sky, planets and nebulae.

As I closed my eyes after falling into my bed at the hotel, it was the most content I had been in a long time. Happy island life.

Tomorrow: A graveyard tour and shopping!


the happygirl guide to. . .3 happy days on Nantucket (day 1)



Thirty miles off the coast of Cape Cod lies a little island called Nantucket. It's small by island standards at just 14 miles long by 3-5 miles wide (on average), but on this small piece of land lies the dreamy kind of holiday that leaves you yearning to go back even as the ferry pulls away from the dock.

Last week I returned to Seattle after magical three days on Nantucket and as I sit here at my desk watching the sun rise, I can't help but think of this island that the Algonquians called "Faraway Land." It is a place of such history and beauty.

I've traveled close to a million miles for my job as a reporter and I'm often asked "Where is your favorite place in the world?" My answer is of course, with my husband. Wherever he is, is my home. As a vacation spot though, Nantucket is special. When I am here my soul feels settled and happy, as if this is where I am supposed to be. Each day unfolds exactly as it should and with such wonder. A simple thing like sipping an iced espresso early in the morning on a bench on Main St. takes on such lovely significance. Especially when there are cobblestones under your feet and weathered grey shingled buildings around every corner. 

Come with me to Nantucket, a happy place.



Day 1 Traveling to Nantucket

Should you bring your car? 
Unless you're renting house out on 'Sconset or elsewhere away from the center of town, you don't need a car. If you do choose to bring a car be prepared to purchase your ferry tickets for you and your car far in advance. Obey every single parking sign because the parking enforcement officers mean business.  There is a good bus system and cabs if you need them.

Getting There
There are two ways to get to Nantucket -- boat or plane. Unless you have your own transportation, most people take one of the island ferries. Two choices are The Steamship Authority ($17.50 each way from Hyannis) or Hyline Cruises fast ferry ($41 each way from Hyannis). Purchase your tickets online to ensure that you get first choice of ferries. The 9:10am Hyannis to Nantucket fills up fast as does the 7:20pm from Nantucket to Hyannis. Leaving your car in one of the lots near the ferry terminal will set you back about $20 each calendar day. 


Where to Stay
Nantucket has some of the most beautiful hotels in the world. I chose The White Elephant Hotel on the harbor and got a great deal from their Specials & Packages promotions. The Tip: (I signed up for their email list and received their Hot Dates Cool Rates emails and secured a great rate for my two nights.) The White Elephant Hotel is centrally located on the waterfront and within walking distance to everything (except the astronomy night at the Maria Mitchell Observatory) I had on my busy itinerary. A White Elephant driver met me at the wharf when I arrived but most of the in-town hotels are an easy walk from the ferry terminal.
White Elephant Hotel reservations 800 445 6574

Other hotels include:
The Wauwinet 800 426 8718
The historic Jared Coffin House (in town) 800 248 2405
76 Main (recently renovated) 800 Nantucket
The Nantucket Hotel  877 807 6011

What to Bring
As with any beach vacation, bring comfortable, breathable clothing.  (Real Simple has a great Beach Vacation Packing Checklist.) In addition to your basic shorts and t-shirts, think about bringing a maxi dress or a blazer if you plan on going out to dinner at one of the fancier restaurants. 

If you want to look like a Nantucket native, wear Nantucket Reds or for men: khaki shorts, a worn in blue or pink oxford, a navy blue blazer and boat shoes. For women: a linen shift dress and sandals.

The Tip: The most important item to bring is a good flat pair of shoes. Nantucket has charming cobblestoned and brick streets that are notorious for destroying heels. One evening as I had dinner at Met on Main I saw six different women taking off their heels just so they could walk without tripping. Also handy? A small backpack.

my notes!


What to Do
The two best resources for planning my trip was the Nantucket.net events site and The White Elephant Hotel concierge. Before I left for Nantucket I checked out the lists of events happening on the island during my stay and chose the ones I thought would be most interesting. Then I stopped by the concierge desk the moment I dropped my bags off at The White Elephant. I went through my schedule with the concierge and she gave me some invaluable tips. 

The things to do on Nantucket are wildly varied. You can take a walking tour of historic homes, learn about whales, visit lighthouses, take a Figure Method class, shop for new art,  go sailing, visit a farm stand,  go stargazing or take a ghost walk through some of the oldest cemeteries on the island. I tried to do as much as I could in 3 days but I know I barely scratched the surface on the wonders of Nantucket.

Stop into Mitchell's and head up to the Nantucket Reading Room
 when  you need a quiet moment.

Nantucket Day One

10:10am Arrive on Nantucket. Drop bags off at White Elephant Hotel and meet with concierge to review itinerary.

11:30am Walk up to Something Natural (50 Cliff Road, 508 228 0504 @somethinnatural) for a sandwich. It's a good hike (a few hills, nothing strenuous) with a reward of a Sprouts, Vegetables & Avocado sandwich. Order inside then take your enormous Lobster Salad or Salami & Provolone sandwich out on one of the many picnic tables for a delicious, hearty lunch before a serious afternoon of sightseeing. Get a chocolate chip cookie to go (huge and the best on-island) and throw it in your backpack for a mid-afternoon snack.

12:30pm I walked around town to get a lay of the land and stopped into Peter Beaton Hat Studio. I bought a collapsible straw hat. It came in a lovely black and white striped hat box that they shipped home for me. I browsed some of the shops, and stopped into Murray's Toggery to get Larry a pair of Nantucket Red shorts. (When you buy Nantucket Reds, it comes in a stiff wash. The key to the perfect Nantucket Reds is to wash your shirt or shorts every time you do a load of laundry. In no time they'll soften into the perfect shade of salmon.)

This elderly couple took the walking tour of historic homes with me.
They never stopped holding hands. Aren't they sweet?


2:15pm Meet at The Whaling Museum for a walking tour of historic homes (2:15pm) followed by The Whaling Museum tour.  Both the walking tour and the museum were wonderful activities for the first day on Nantucket. The walking was easy and there were kids and senior citizens on the walking tour. It was an easy pace and everyone seemed to get something different out of visiting 18th, 19th and 20th century homes. After the walking tour I took my time in the Whaling Museum. Learning about Nantucket's history was fascinating. After the tour I sat out in the garden and enjoyed the chocolate chip cookie I had bought at Something Natural. 

4:30pm I walked back to The White Elephant and checked into the hotel. After a lovely shower I stopped into the library for complimentary port and cheese before dinner at Met on Main. 

Order the biscuits at Met on Main. They're enormous and warm. So good.


6:00pm Dinner at Met on Main. I arrived just in time to score the table in the window. I wasn't terribly hungry but I had heard about their infamous biscuits which I enjoyed before my Caesar salad came. Along with an iced tea, it was perfect and filling.  There is also a backyard patio. Try to be seated outside if possible. (Met on Main, 38 Main Street, 508 325 5111)


7:30pm There are so many activities in the evening to choose from. There are ghost walks, historic talks, live bands. . .but one thing intrigued on this night. At the Nantucket Atheneum was a concert of young artists. It was the year-end music recital for Nantucket children. I smiled when I read the description of the recital on the events page. I had to go.  I made my way up to the Atheneum (library) and took a seat towards the back of the room.  The room was full of parents. I think I may have been the only non-family member there. As each teacher presented a student, I sat back and smiled. I watched the parents as they watched their child play the violin or sing. My favorite was the last little girl. At just six years-old she played the ukelele and sang "I Wanna Be Like You" from "Jungle Book." I looked around and I wasn't the only one with tears in my eyes. I had goosebumps. In this historic domed room, on the second floor, we saw simple joy in the form of music. We applauded. Loudly. 


After the concert I walked back to The White Elephant. It had been a long day starting at 4am for the drive to Hyannis for the ferry. I arrived back in my cool room overlooking the harbor and fell into the biggest, softest, most wonderful bed. That night I dreamed of little girls and whales and blue oceans. It was perfect. 

Tomorrow: Breakfast at Black Eyed Susan's, bikes and ghost tours.