Happier Hearts: I’m Grateful For…

We try to put together a unifying theme for these “Happier Hearts” posts, because that way they sort of make sense. Like… here’s some stuff for your desk, or here’s our favorite treats… things like that.

Today I sat down and I was having kind of a crummy day. (Okay, truth time: I was having a really bad day.) So I employed one of those little tricks I’ve learned since being here at Happier—quick, come up with one thing to be grateful for right now. That led to another, and another, and before I knew it, I didn’t feel so cranky anymore, because I was laughing at myself for the eclectic range of items which strike me as greatly enhancing my experience on this planet. We humans are ridiculous, after all. And I may be more ridiculous than most. But this week, I’m grateful for…

happier-hearts-nailgooey-110613Nails Alive Gooey Base Coat. Yes, really. Understand that I am not a nails person, not really, and also part of my love probably stems from the fact that I’m pretty sure this stuff has existed for decades and they haven’t changed the label since its invention, either. (Doesn’t it look like it should be sitting on the shelf at the drug store right next to an industrial-sized can of hairspray?) This stuff, however silly-looking, is magic. It really does make your polish adhere better and last longer. I don’t know how or why, but it does.

I almost never paint my fingernails, but I do try to keep my feet looking decent throughout the summer, and in spite of the fact that I make most klutzes look coordinated, ever since I started using Gooey a few years back, my pedicure simply does not chip, no matter how many things I trip on or run into. Magic, I tell you.

happier-hearts-vitamelts-110814NatureMade VitaMelts Sleep. This isn’t anything super-high-tech, I suppose; it’s 3mg melatonin tablets, but they really do melt in your mouth and they taste like minty chocolate. Our family is full of insomniacs and we do keep the melatonin industry going. [Please note: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on the Internet. Even herbal supplements have an impact on your health, so consult your own doctor before trying anything new.] I appreciate living in a world where melatonin is readily available and affordable, and I really appreciate living in a world where that nighttime sleep aid is tasty. Because sometimes shallow is deeper than me.

happier-hearts-stickies-110814Lastly, I’m grateful for ridiculous sticky notes from Knock Knock. They make great stocking stuffers (pertinent info at this time of year, right?) and they’re funny, but the gratitude comes from the fact that they’re sneaky. My teenagers sometimes write things on them they’d never say. The kids think I’m giving them a funny gift; I know I’m giving them a communication line that they might not otherwise have. (If you have teens, you understand.)

Quick: what random products around you are you grateful for right now?

Happier Hearts: Some Bling For BFFs

I may be a grown woman now—no longer desperate to claim a single pal as my very best friend forever—but those interlocking broken-heart-pendant necklaces declaring bestie-status to the world were something I coveted as a tween and teen. Was it the jewelry itself? Probably not; they all looked the same, anyway, and even looked kind of dumb on their own. But I wanted a bestie, and a token to match.

So these aren’t necessarily for me, but I do love the plethora of BFF jewelry available, now, and the fact that you needn’t wear the same half-a-heart everyone else has if you and your best bud want matching bling.

Perfect For The Whole Gang
Not expensive, not even a little sappy, and perfect for up to six kids (hey, adults too, if that’s how you roll) to wear together: the pizza slice friendship necklace! Totally adorable, and who doesn’t love eating pizza with their besties??
pizzaslices-BFFs

Nerdtastic
Did you and your bestie meet at a science fair? Do you enjoy diagramming molecules together? Are you just delightfully nerdy? Then perhaps these DNA base pair necklaces will tickle both your scientific and best-friend fancy.
biolojewelry-BFFs

Elegant Enough For Grown-Ups
If music is your unifying, I love the idea of music note pendant necklaces, because while they still interlock, they’re interesting (and, some might argue, whole) on their own, too.
musicnote-BFFs

(Whether you wear your gratitude to your friends or not, those awesome folks in our lives who make us smile are invaluable and worth celebrating.)

Happier Hearts: Happy Family, Happy Life

This week we’re all about connecting with your family in wonderful ways, so what better time to share some of the make-your-family-more-awesome-er resources we love? Exactly!

Do It By The Book
If you’re the sort who likes to grab a book and read up on new things, we have two to recommend; both Bruce Feiler’s The Secrets of Happy Families and Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families are worth the read if you can spare the time and are looking for some great ideas on how to make your family even more fabulous.
happier-hearts-familybooks-102314

Unplug, Reconnect, Love No Matter What
Prefer to watch a couple of videos? Over at HuffPo this short video about unplugging to reconnect with your family, and if you have more time, Andrew Solomon’s TED Talk about loving children who are different is difficult but moving.

Still Working On Family Dinners?
Hopefully you’re making great progress on this week’s challenge to eat together, but if you’re still struggling, I have a few more great online resources for you that made us happier.

Do you have a favorite resource that’s helped your family be happier? Please tell us about it!

Happier Hearts: Pumpkin Spice Latte Alternatives

Here we are, smack-dab in the middle of October pumpkin spice season, and that means that absolutely everything is pumpkin-flavored. While the occasional fancy pumpkin spice latte is fine—more power to you if it’s what you love—I get a little concerned when everything’s turning up pumpkin, because some of it is better than others. Don’t waste the calories (or consume a ton of chemicals) if you’re just looking for a sweet autumnal treat; you can get orangeliciousness (that’s totally a word, meaning orange deliciousness) in plenty of other ways.

If you need your PSL fix…
happier-hearts-PSL-101614If nothing less than a hot, pumpkin-y coffee will do, try making your own at home—this recipe from The Kitchn is simple, delicious, and uses real pumpkin puree. You can make half a dozen at home for the cost of one at that place that rhymes with… ummm… Farmucks.

If you prefer it cold…
happier-hearts-pump-icecream-101614Is there ever a wrong season for ice cream? No; no, there is not. If you must have pumpkin, may I suggest these two fine dairy confections? You can’t go wrong with Turkey Hill’s pumpkin pie ice cream or my boyfriends, Ben & Jerry, and their pumpkin cheesecake ice cream. (Well, I guess you can if you can’t eat gluten, in which case you can join me in having this Edy’s Pumpkin Patch ice cream, instead. But I would much rather have the pumpkin cheesecake if I could.)

Happy Cookieween!
happier-hearts-TJs-101614Yes, I absolutely bake my own from-scratch cookies for my kids—featuring pumpkin—as often as I have the time. And I also grab seasonal Joe Joe’s (Trader Joe’s answer to the ubiquitous sandwich cookie) whenever I see them in TJ’s. The pumpkin flavor ones are a nice alternative to a vanilla cookie, and the jack-o-lantern ones are the regular flavor, but with orange filling to make them more festive. These are always a hit in lunch bags, no matter how old my kids get.

Go forth and indulge in pumpkin flavor, and let me know if there’s a pumpkin-flavored something wonderful I’m missing.

Happier Hearts: Enjoy Your Tunes

Is there any better way to pick up a blah day than with some favorite music? We say no—in fact, it’s rare you’ll find Happier HQ without a soundtrack going. Music can be great happier fuel, so whether or not you’re given to spontaneous dance parties, enjoy it!

Here’s just a few ideas for enhancing your music experience, if you’re looking for some ideas.

Trust him, he’s a monkey
happier-hearts-julius-speaker-100914Whether you like a bit of whimsy, yourself, or you have a teen or tween who’s been agitating for an MP3 speaker dock, you could do a lot worse than this Paul Frank Julius Dance Machine Speaker. Did we go for it because it’s a monkey? Yes. Yes, we did.

But! The sound is surprisingly crisp for an affordable dock, so if don’t want to get a real stereo system but need a sound boost, he’s worth it. Also: monkey.

 

Perfect for your walk, run, hike, whatever
happier-hearts-armpocket-100914Call me Goldilocks if you must (you wouldn’t be the first one…), but I’ve been through an embarrassing number of armbands for my iPhone. One was too tight, the next, too prone to slipping down. One held my phone but then I still had to stick my keys in my pocket (if I had one) or somehow attach the keyring in a way that invariably jangled while I walked.

It was a problem, until I finally read some reviews rather than making my buying choices based on “that looks good.” Behold the Armpocket Aero i10: lightweight, comfortable, water resistant, and yes, Virginia, there is room for your keys. In short, it’s perfect. Yes, it’s a little more than I spent on the cheaper armbands, but the fact that this is the last one I had to buy offset the extra few dollars. Love it.

If money is no object and sound is king
happier-hearts-bose-100914Full disclosure: I have tried these, but I do not own a pair. That’s because I loved them but the price makes me hyperventilate. If you’ve got the funds and want the best listening experience possible, go ahead and pick up these QuietComfort® 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headphones from Bose. True to their claims, all you’ll hear is music. That’s it (even on a plane). They’re lightweight and comfortable, too, and as an added bonus, for an extra $100 (but who’s counting?) you can even design your own, choosing from a nearly unlimited array of color combinations. These are first on my list for when that winning lottery ticket comes in.

How do you enjoy your music? Have a must-have recommendation for us? We’d love to hear it!

Happier Hearts: Pamper Your Pooch

Here at Happier, we feel strongly about our furry friends. That was great news for me, because my children love to tell me I like the dogs better than I like them. (I plead the 5th.) (But seriously, the dogs never roll their eyes at me.) If you love your dogs as much as we love ours, today’s Happier Hearts is for you!

Indestructible!
happier-hearts-dura-doggie
Have a dog who feels obligated to perform emergency squeakerectomies and complete defluffings on every toy you try? The only toys in our house that have withstood two hyper chewers are from Dura Doggie, and every purchase means some money donated to a designated charity, too. We give these five paws up (and then one of the dogs falls over, probably.)

Because dogs want to be all-natural hippies, too
happier-hearts-burts-bees-dog
I love all things Burt’s Bees, already (it’s a love affair that started years ago with their apricot baby oil when my oldest was an infant), but I was thrilled to discover they have a line of products just for dogs. My dogs have sensitive skin and finicky ears, and while I’m sure all of the options are lovely, the peppermint witch hazel ear cleaner does a good job and seems to make sensitive ears a little happier.

No more choking on walks
happier-hearts-yuppie-puppy
I know, I know; a properly-trained dog will not pull on a leash. My dogs are maybe a little spoiled, plus they’re small, so their leash manners aren’t always the best because… ummm… I’m a terrible doggie mommy. But! With the Yuppie Puppy Anti-Pull Mesh Harness I no longer worry about my over-eager walker choking herself, and the harness slips over her head and adjusts with a single slider. The mesh keeps ’em cool, and the sherpa fabric on the straps means no chafing. I love this harness.

Tell me about your pampered pooch? I love hearing about other folks’ canine babies!

Happier Hearts: Scarf Love

happier-heart-tommy-krul-091814Last week we hunkered down together at Happier HQ to watch the big Apple announcement online (okay, a few of us were video-conferenced in, but the point is that it was A Thing), and yes, some of what they discussed was important to us because we make an iOS app, sure, but the real topic of discussion ended up being Scarf Guy. If you watched, you know exactly to whom I’m referring—Tommy Krul, the gaming executive who gave a demonstration of his company’s product. But somehow it was his scarf that drew all the attention.

We’re big fans of scarves, here at Happier. In Scarf Guy’s honor (sorry, Tommy, you’ll always be Scarf Guy to me), this week it’s All About The Scarf.

How to wear it
If you’re not already wearing scarves as the simplest way to mix up your wardrobe and add an instant dash of happy, it’s probably because you feel like you don’t know how to wear one. If you have about 5 minutes, here’s 25 different ways to wear a scarf. (I swear on my children’s heads that I have this video bookmarked for reference; it’s my favorite.)



What to look for, and where
Now that you have some ideas, what about the actual scarves? Well, you can find ’em just about anywhere, at any price point. I look for an outrageous print (but pair that with a simple outfit or risk looking a little over-the-top), a mix of patterns, or just some of my favorite colors. And then, it’s up to you. Below, from left to right: Mossimo multicolored feather scarf (at Target; $14.99); women’s mixed dot stripe scarf (at Lands’ End; $29); and Vismaya striped square scarf in berry/orange (at Last Call; $40).

happier-hearts-scarves-091814

Will you be sharing our scarf love? I’ll be looking for your pictures in the Happier community!