Miranda Lambert_orig.jpg

Miranda Lambert is Absolutely Loving Life

Inspired by role models Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire and Beyoncé (“I’ve seenher five times; I’m a little bit of a stalker”), Miranda Lambert is making aname for herself as more than a pretty face.The making of a country starAfter proving she has the chops to make it on Nashville Star, Miranda hasgone on to release five solo albums, including her latest,Platinum, in June. She has racked updozens of awards, including a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance,Female, for her heart-tugging hit “The House That Built Me”; a record fivestraight wins as Female Vocalist of the Year from the Academy of CountryMusic; and four consecutive wins in the same category from the CountryMusic Association.Busy, but happyShe shares that shelf with her husband of three years, Blake Shelton,who has accumulated a blacksmith’s trove of statuettes and a legionof fans himself.In addition to opening up Pink Pistol boutiques, Miranda has also launchedher own shoe line, Miranda by Miranda Lambert. “I’m really hard on bootsonstage,” she says. “I stomp around and they have to be comfortable andthe heel can’t be too high. I thought if I could just have my own boot line, I could make exactly what I want.” And her MuttNation Foundation, createdin 2009, has raised nearly a million dollars and supports no-kill rescueshelters in every state.Small-town successNot even Blake shares his wife’s industriousness. “The other day I told himhe should open a bait shop because we have a lot of fishing around butthere’s nowhere to buy bait,” Miranda says. “And he was like, ‘I don’t wantto be as tired and stressed-out as you.’ ”She laughs, and then concedes,“Yes, sometimes it is stressful because I have a lot going on, but it’s also sosatisfying when these things are successful, and I see people get a job in our tiny town or see the dogs have a happy place to live.“There’s always a reward that comes with hard work that keeps youdriving to the next level.”
Read More
Bethenny Frankel with her daughter

Mom’s the Word

Hand Bethenny Frankel a lime, and she’ll make a margarita that morphs into a multimillion-dollar business in the form of her Skinnygirl line of low-calorie drinks. Hand the former Real Housewives of New York star a lemon, and she’ll make lemonade, which is exactly what she’s done since learning earlier this year that her talk show, bethenny, isn’t being renewed after just one season. Rather than despair, she wrote in a loving open letter to her fans: “What I really want now is to be with my daughter, to do yoga, to focus on Skinnygirl and my writing, and to give myself a break.”Taking time for her daughterToday, you can find Bethenny doting on four-year-old daughter Bryn in the streets of New York, time she views as invaluable for keeping her spirits up. “Parenthood gives you direction and defines you; it makes you a part of a community that’s going through the same rundown of emotions—guilt, exhaustion,” she says. “I want to be the kind of parent who looks about for the things my child does naturally in life, to embrace who she is and nurture that, whether it’s sports or music or dress-up, because if you do what you love, you’ll be happy.”From cookbooks to children's booksFor Bethenny, what she loves to do is write books. And for her latest story, Cookie Meets Peanut, she was inspired by Bryn, who she’s described as the love of her life. The children’s book is loosely based on her own experience bringing Bryn home to meet Cookie, her beloved, albeit “very particular and sassy,” Lhasa Apso.Told with equal parts wit and wisdom, the story chronicles the evolving love between a child and a dog, and how “when you bring home a new baby, your dog becomes…a dog,” she says. And, sprinkled in with the illustrations and antics to entertain tykes—think cooking with glitter—moms and dads will find words offering reassurance and advice, a task Bethenny says she’s always up for.Using her new-found wisdom“I’ve been through many difficult things,” she says, “but the difficult times are not for naught, because I can help other people.”
Read More
Woman eating popcorn and watching a movie

6 Best Break-Up Movies of All Time

Breaking up is hard to do. Side effects may include heartache, Facebook stalking and large swaths of uninterrupted free time. Whether you want to laugh, cry or simply be distracted, movies are a great way to fill the void and—if well-chosen—lift your spirits.Below are films that can pick you up, dust you off and restore your faith in romance, and possibly the human race.Films of Friendship1.Thelma and LouiseInvite some friends over and remind yourself of the power of female bonding courtesy ofThelma and Louise. The men in your life may come and go, but best friends are forever. Thelma and Louise embark on a road trip in a classic convertible car—an often-told American tale, and yet this film was groundbreaking in that it marked the first time the open road was hit by women instead of men. It showed us that women also have the capacity to break free, make mistakes, and have adventures, where nothing is off limits (including a fling with a younger, gorgeous man—a practically juvenile Brad Pitt). Watching Gina Davis and Susan Sarandon, who have amazing chemistry together, will remind you that you don’t need to be with a romantic partner to have fun. Just don’t shoot anyone along the way, and everything might turn out OK.2.The HeatIn this hilarious twist on the buddy-cop film, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy star as Ashburn and Mullins, respectively. Ashburn is an uptight, proper, by-the-book cop; Mullins is more of a crude, casual anything-goes kind of gal. These two characters at first seem like they have nothing in common, but it turns out that each makes the other better. It is hard not to giggle watching Ashburn try to explain the benefits of Spanx or keep a straight face when she encounters Mullins’ family of Boston-Irish lunatics and tries to explain that she’s not a “nahk” (narc).[video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1O3iRdiplB0 width:525 height:394 align:center autoplay:0]Romantic Comedies3. The Princess BrideIf you want to lose yourself in a romantic comedy that contends true love does in fact exist, The Princess Bride will do just fine. Director Rob Reiner does a deft job of transferring William Goldman’s popular book to the screen, keeping both the comedy and the romance intact. The eponymous Princess is played by a dewy, gorgeous Robin Wright—and Cary Elwes is not bad either as her paramour, Westley. Mandy Patinkin turns in an epic performance as the heroic Inigo Montoya, and Billy Crystal and Carol Kane chip in for comic relief.4.Bridget Jones’s DiaryA romantic comedy for the modern girl (it’s hard to say woman when Bridget is such a flibbertigibbet), Bridget Jones’s Diary is a hilarious look at the dating life of the young, shallow and British. Also adapted from a book (the bestseller by Helen Fielding), Bridget Jones follows our plucky heroine on her adventures through dating and romance. Renee Zelwegger is at the top of her game as Bridget, and the casting of Colin Firth (the “real” Darcy from the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice) as the earnest Mark Darcy is a brilliant touch. Bridget is not just a girl on the prowl, she’s also easily relatable as she gets blotto with her best friends, gives disastrous dinner parties and chronicles it all for the rest of us to watch and enjoy.[video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQdy98B1nf0 width:525 height:394 align:center autoplay:0]His Take5.High FidelityBridget Jones gave the female perspective on dating. In High Fidelity, Rob Gordon (John Cusack) gives viewers the male take. Rob re-examines his past relationships and breakups in order to have a successful relationship in the present. The film, based on Nick Hornby’s book, is filled with phenomenal music and an all-star cast (this was Jack Black’s breakout role). John Cusack has made a career out of playing the everyday man that both men and women can root for. His explorations of past relationships help us realize that not all romances are meant to last forever—and that can be a good thing. 6.SwingersApparently Jon Favreau wrote this road trip/bromance in just two weeks, and yet its quotable lines are burned into our brains forever. Released in 1996, Swingers became a star-making vehicle for leads—Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn. Manic, sexy Trent (Vince) wants to help his buddy Mike (Jon) get out of his funk, in which he forever obsesses about his ex-girlfriend. A jaunt to Las Vegas and much hilarity—and cool swing dancing—ensues, and by the end of the movie, Jon has come out of his depression/obsession and is ready to pursue other fish—maybe even Heather Graham, as a swing-dancing hottie. Possibly the funniest scene is when, instead of having relations with a sexy young woman in Vegas, Jon ends up crying on her shoulder as she plies him with tissues. (That was before he realized he was so money.)[video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoNOlh_zCf8 width:525 height:394 align:center autoplay:0]
Read More
Healthy woman jumping on the beach

5 Tips for Feeling Healthy Inside and Out

1. Exercise is the best The best way to feel happy, healthy and fit is to exercise. There is no substitute. Research shows that exercise will boost your mood, help you to sleep better and increase your self-esteem. This is partially due to the release of endorphins in your body as you workout. Endorphins decrease our sense of pain and increase our happiness and sense of pleasure. If you want your mood to go up, increase your exercise. Working out doesn’t mean 60 minutes or 0; all or nothing. Working out to a ten minute app on your phone is still exercise. Start somewhere. 2. Put good food in your stomach Ninety percent of serotonin is made in your gut. Serotonin is the chemical that makes you happy. That means, whatever you are putting into your body, could impact your mood. Do your best to stay away from frequenting antibiotics, processed foods and high sugar and carb diets. If you're a coffee fanatic, make sure to research science-based facts about its benefits, before you start investing in coffee makers. Healthy habits like taking walks, doing yoga, avoiding "toxic" people and eliminating negative self-talk will all help to minimize stress. 3. Find true peace of mind How do we find true peace of mind? Try making a list of your values and see if you are actually living them. Are you worrying over little things in your life? Are you overscheduled? Your kids overscheduled? Take a look at your day-to-day worries and see if there are a few things you can easily cut out, that will give you more free time (and more peace of time). 4. Don't compare yourself to others A great way to feel healthy is to stay in tune with your body and its needs. When we compare ourselves to others, we focus our time and energy on trying to be something that our body and mind might not actually want us to be. As we compare ourselves to others we are giving ourselves a very unrealistic and skewed perception of reality. This can decrease confidence and even lead to depressive symptoms. Instead, work on becoming more self-aware. Reflect on your values, your goals, your current life situation and begin creating a realistic plan to get you where you are trying to go. 5. Dress your mood up Of course, there are days when you want to cuddle up in yoga pants or sweats and just relax. Quite frankly, I think you should do that. However, don’t let this dress style be your only style. I know that the day-to-day routine can be boring or nothing exciting might be going on, but dress up anyway. At least twice a week, wear something that makes you feel pretty or handsome. The way we dress and feel in our own skin makes an impact our confidence and our attitude about our day. There is nothing like a new dress, a great hair day, or a nice suit to lift your spirits. Dress up your body, dress up your mood.
Read More
The Iron Throne

Why Audiences Love Game of Thrones

Spoiler Alert: If you haven't watched through the end of season 4, there are spoilers ahead.Here’s a little quiz. What’s your ideal fairy tale: Two people fall in love and live happily ever after?A plucky hero outwits an evil mastermind and saves the day?Or a hero kills his father on the loo and escapes onto a fleeing ship to avoid execution?If you selected c, you’re probably already a fan ofHBO’s Game of Thrones, which is based on George R.R. Martin’s insatiably popular book series Song of Ice and Fire.The HBO series turns the typical fantasy story upside-down, spins it around a few times and then throws it out the window before collecting the pieces and assembling a freakishly interesting journey into the land of Westeros, where the smart live longer than the brave.I have a realistic grasp of my own strengths and weaknesses. My mind is my weapon. My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer, and I have my mind." —Tyrion LannisterWhat makes us care about the tribulations in Westeros? Perhaps it has something to do with just how grim life is there, and how deeply ambivalent the characters. It’s easier to identify with a struggling character than it is with a perfect hero. Game of Thrones offers up plenty of flawed characters for us to root for, as well as embodiments of pure evil whom we can root against.But, you may be wondering, what do beheadings and gut-wrenching battles have to do with happiness? Aside from a strong whiff of escapism, Game of Thrones offers us some first-rate catharsis. Watching a show that connects to us on a deeper emotional level leaves us feeling better about our own lives. It’s terrifying to watch a character pop someone’s head like a balloon, but some part of us can appreciate the fact that at least it isn’t happening to us, as well as the fact as we know it’ll be over soon. Shows end, and life goes on, but in watching we’ve connected the drama and trials to ourselves and we’ve lived through it.If you’re still wondering how a show that had 169 on-screen deaths this season could possibly have any redeeming positivity, look no further than a brief moment of happiness as one of the main characters, Arya Stark, sails off into the sunset. If you know what this character has been through, (spoiler: she's lost her home, her family, and her friends) and this one moment represents new hope in every possible way. Arya's brief happiness comes as a reward for her incredible toughness and resilience, which makes the scene that much more powerful.Game of Thrones is a series that will come and go, but by pushing the boundaries of love and lust and violence and cruelty (and nudity, and disembowelment), it pushes our imaginations and our emotions onward to the next level.
Read More
A table of food for sharing

Breaking Bread

Food made and shared with love turns anymeal with family or friends into the best oftimes. As a willing participant, we’re first seduced by wonderful aromas, then by the visual delight of new or familiar dishes, and finally, by flavors embodying happiness.Somewhere between the first sips and thelast spoonful, we’ve smiled and laughed;swapped stories, jokes and opinions;reminisced about old memories and madenew ones. Making connections through food is adaily activity for chefs. They know one wayto melt our hearts is to tantalize our tastebuds. While we all need to eat in order tosurvive, when we share good food, we areliving life. Four chefs who know this wellare Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi in London and Andrew Ticer and MichaelHudman in Memphis, Tenn. All four men grew up in families wherelarge, shared meals played a central role ineveryday life. While the families of Yotam and Sami hail from the Middle East andAndy’s and Michael’s are from Tennessee,they held the same tradition in high regard. The foods of both sides of Jerusalem Yotam and Sami spent their childhoodssurrounded by food and family. Bothwere born in Jerusalem and they grewup just a few miles from each other—Sami in the walled, largely Palestinian Old Cityof Jerusalem and Yotam in JewishWest Jerusalem. Both experienced the joy of foodand cooking at a young age, but foundtheir calling in different ways. Wantingto break free of the more conservativeattitudes of their hometown, theyoung men found their way to morecosmopolitan Tel Aviv in their early 20s, where Yotam was an assistantteacher and budding journalist, andSami pursued a cooking career. It was on the doorstep of a westLondon restaurant, Baker and Spice,where the two finally met in 1999.Sami, who had by then attended LeCordon Bleu cooking school, wasthe head chef, and Yotam worked inpastry. After a 30-minute conversation,they realized the serendipity of theirpasts. A friendship formed, leadingto the opening of the first Ottolenghi restaurant three years later. The various combinations of Yotam’s German and Italian heritage, Sami’s Arabic upbringing, the vibrant street foods of Jerusalem, and cooking with their respective grandmothers and auntshave influenced what diners experiencetoday at the four Ottolenghi locationsand their fine-dining restaurant,NOPI, all in London. Mid-Eastern,Mediterranean, Muslim and Jewishtraditions mingle, along with a nod to California and a grab for the occasionalJapanese ingredient. For both chefs, happiness comesback to the sharing of food. “Food isnot a panacea and a bowl of hummus is not going to bring about world peace,”Yotam says. “Sitting around a tableand eating together is a good place tostart, though.” “How can you be miserable whenbeing offered a platter full of roastedaubergine [eggplant] or butternut squash topped with green herbs andpurple, jewel-like pomegranate seeds?”Sami adds. “It’s sunshine on a plate.” Southern hospitality Connection to the past also runsdeep with Andy and Michael. Friendssince the sixth grade and raised withthe family-oriented, hospitality driventraditions of the South, theyhad another influential presence intheir lives. Both grew up in largeItalian families with wise, adoringgrandmothers who dispensed love andadvice along with tastes of whateverrobust dish they had in the oven orbubbling on the stovetop. Andy and Michael each credit their "Maw Maw’s cooking" as their inspirationfor what they do today. Theirphotographs have prominent placesin their restaurant, Andrew MichaelItalian Kitchen.Their cooking is the best of bothItaly and the American South: Tortellini is stuffed with black-eyed pea purée,pecorino romano lives comfortablywith crispy fried chicken skins andCalabrian sausage flavors a simmering pot of collard greens. Ingredients aresourced locally; what farmers bringaround drives menu choices. Whensomething new comes into the kitchen, it spurs creativity. “When you cook, when you spend allthis time being into the food; you wantto share it,” Michael says. “Our guestsare coming into our house to eat ourfood and break bread with us. We wantyou to put everything aside and justenjoy yourself.” Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters with Lime Yogurt Serves 4 These addictive fritters are Sami’s mother’s recipe. She used to make them once a weekand give them to the kids in a pita to take toschool for lunch. They are not dissimilar toIndian pakoras. Best eaten hot or warm ortaken on a picnic—in a pita, of course, withsome hummus and tomato. FOR THE LIME SAUCE 1¹/³ cups Greek yogurt 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro Grated zest of 1 lime 2 tablespoons lime juice 2 tablespoons olive oil Salt and freshly ground pepper FOR THE FRITTERS 1 small cauliflower Scant 1 cup all-purpose  our 3 tablespoons chopped  at-leaf parsley plus a few extra leaves for garnish 1 clove garlic, crushed 2 shallots, finely chopped 4 free-range eggs 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground turmeric 1 ½ teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 2 cups sunflower oil for frying To make the lime sauce, put all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Taste—looking for a vibrant, tart, citrusy flavor—andadjust the seasoning. Chill or leave out forup to an hour. To prepare the cauliflower, trim off anyleaves and use a small knife to divide thecaulifower into little  orets. Add them to alarge pan of boiling salted water and simmerfor 15 minutes, until very soft. Drain intoa colander. While the cauliflower is cooking, put the flour, chopped parsley, garlic, shallots, eggs,spices, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisktogether well to make a batter. When themixture is smooth and homogenous, addthe warm cauliflower. Mix to break down thecauliflower into the batter.Pour the sunflower oil into a wide pan toa depth of 2⁄3 of an inch and place over highheat. When it is very hot, carefully spoonin generous portions of the cauliflower mixture, 3 tablespoons per fritter. Takecare with the hot oil! Space the frittersapart, making sure theyare not overcrowded. Fry in small batches, controlling the oil temperature so the fritterscook but do not burn. They should takeabout 2 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and drain well on a few layers of paper towels. Serve with thesauce on the side. (Recipe are from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, Ten Speed Press, 2013.) Pickled Beet Crostini withTarragon and Gorgonzola Serves 8 “One day in mid-fall, we had a partyscheduled for the restaurant, and we needed to come up with a passed appetizer for the event. For some reason, nothing really excited us, and then the Woodson Ridge Farm delivery truck pulled into our driveway. Leslie had some incredible lookingbeets that day that sparked an idea. We wrapped the beets in aluminum foil andlaid them right on the embers of the pizzaoven to roast. When they were tender, wecut them into pieces and poured some ofour house pickling liquid over them. Wewanted something nice and bright to gowith them, so we combined some yogurt,ricotta, chopped fresh herbs and citrus juiceinto a thick spread.” —Michael Hudman FOR THE PICKLED BEETS ¾ pound beets, any color (2 or 3 medium beets) 1 cup champagne vinegar ¾ cup sugar 2 tablespoons coriander seeds 1 tablespoon peppercorns 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds ¼ yellow onion, minced 2 bay leaves 1 bunch each fresh tarragon and thyme FOR THE TARRAGON YOGURT Scant 1 cup fresh tarragon leaves ½ cup fresh mint leaves Juice of 1 lime and 1 orange 3 or 4 ice cubes 1 cup plain Greek yogurt ½ cup good-quality fresh ricotta cheese Kosher salt One baguette, thinly sliced Extra-virgin olive oil Crumbled Gorgonzola cheese or trout roe for garnish Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the beets in a roasting pan and cover with aluminum foil. Roast until tenderwhen tested with a knife tip, about 45 minutes. Set the beets aside until coolenough to handle, then remove the skinsand quarter. Put the beet quarters in amason jar or nonreactive bowl. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar,½ cup water, the sugar, coriander seeds,peppercorns, mustard seeds, onion, bayleaves, tarragon and thyme, and bring toa boil over high heat. Reduce the heat tomedium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.Taste the liquid for flavor balance, but becareful not to take a deep breath or it willmake you cough. Strain the pickling liquidand allow to cool to room temperature.Pour the liquid over the beets, cover andrefrigerate overnight. To make the tarragon yogurt, blanch thetarragon and mint in a saucepan of boilingsalted water to brighten their color, about10 seconds. Plunge them into ice waterto lock in the color. Drain the herbs andsqueeze out any excess water. Roughly chopthe herbs and put them in a blender withthe lime juice, orange juice and ice cubes.Blend on high speed until liquefied, about 3minutes. Do not let the mixture get hot, orit will turn dark green.Pour the purée intoa bowl and stir in the yogurt and ricotta.Season to taste with salt. To make the crostini, preheat the ovento 350 F. Arrange the baguette slices on abaking sheet and brush them generously with the olive oil. Bake until golden brownand crisp, about 10 minutes. To serve, remove the beets from thepickling liquid and cut them into smallerpieces, if you like. Arrange the crostini ona platter and spread each one with thetarragon-yogurt mixture. Top with the beets and garnish with the Gorgonzola. (Recipe from Collards & Carbonara: Southern Cooking, Italian Roots, Olive Press, 2013.)
Read More
Hands kneading dough

The Joy of Kneading

I was a frustrated bread kneader. I wanted to fill my house with the intoxicating aroma of fresh-baked bread, if not daily, then at least on a weekly basis. Aside from desiring the crusty finished product, I couldn’t resist the romance of the process—imagining myself wearing a floury apron, falling into a meditative rhythm as I turned the dough over and over, coaxing flour and water and yeast into a pillowy, elastic ball. But for one problem—my pathetically weak upper arms. The need to knead “Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes,” the recipe would read. Ten minutes later, my dough was still shaggy—nowhere near the glossy, springy ball that I had anticipated. And my arms and hands were fatigued. Another five minutes passed, and my dough still wasn’t right, the kneading becoming more treacherous as the dough did indeed gain elasticity, giving me the sensation of wrestling in my kitchen with an angry octopus. Then one by one, I received signs from the universe to give up the fight. First, there was the wedding gift of a stand mixer, whose very presence and powerful motor and dough hook rendered my efforts laughable. Next came my in-laws' cast-off bread machine, which cut me out of the process altogether. Finally, there was the sudden popularity of Jim Lahey’s famed no-knead bread, whose knockout crust and chewy interior made kneading seem as antiquated and pointless as scrubbing laundry on a washboard. Amazing homemade bread was suddenly available without the requisite effort of energetic dough shiatsu. Hands-on connection If I was looking for some sort of sensual connection to my dough, I was going to have to find it elsewhere. Bread didn’t need me anymore. Lest you think me some kind of weirdo for craving a connection and wanting to work the dough with my own hands, there's science to back up the pleasure—and its benefits. "When we use our hands, we're activating large parts of the brain," says Dr. Marie Pasinski, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School and the author of Beautiful Brain, Beautiful You. "There are more sensory receptors in our fingers than in other parts of our bodies. For that reason, when using your hands, you are really stimulating sensory areas of your brain." Think of that scene in the French film Amélie when the protagonist steals a moment to surreptitiously sink her hand into a bag of dried beans, simply to enjoy the sensation. "We take our sense of touch for granted, but it's one of our most malleable skills. It's pretty neat that you can reach into your pocket and tell a quarter from a dime," says Marie. Once you stop to think about it, indulging in feel-good activities for your hands might be the equivalent of treating your ears to an opera or your eyes to an art exhibit. And the more you use your hands for these kinds of sensory tasks, the more you fine-tune their sensitivity, continues Marie. "People who play the piano, for example, have much more developed sensory and motor areas in their fingertips than someone who doesn't play an instrument." There is plenty of evidence that this kind of hands-on work benefits every aspect of wellbeing. A 1999 study from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro found that a group of nursing home residents who regularly performed sensorimotor activities—from flower arranging to sewing—over 30 weeks improved their overall condition. This included having better physical mobility and lower levels of anxiety and depression than a control group. Once the sensorimotor activities decreased, so did their improvements. 'I made that' Marie—who not incidentally learned a love of cooking and baking while waiting tables at a Hungarian restaurant known for pastries—also likes to emphasize the satisfaction that can come from looking at a finished product which didn't even exist before your hands got involved. "The proud 'I made that' feeling is very powerful, and then you have this thing you can enjoy while eating it," she says. And so, I focus my fingertips elsewhere in the kitchen: dough, specifically pie dough, although any cookie dough that has to be formed and rolled out is a good candidate, too. Yes, fabulous pie dough can be produced in about two seconds in a food processor, but since the day I learned how, I have only made pie dough by hand. I always cited the reason as a practical one: I love to be the one who, during the “rental apartment at the beach” weekend, with little more equipment than a countertop and a wine bottle, makes and rolls out the crust for an improvised berry galette. The sensual pleasure of making pie And it's true that by making dough by hand, I keep my skills sharp. But there is another reason: It is simply pleasurable to do so. To plunge my hands into the bowl of cool, whisper-weight flour, to rake my fingers through the grit that sugar and salt add. To rub in a cold stick of butter, first squeezing the stick until it breaks, then smearing its clammy chunks into the flour, alternating rubbing and breaking down the butter with several quick tosses to redistribute the crumbs in the bowl. Finally, in goes the water. With a fork I scrape the mixture against the side of the bowl, and it satisfyingly clumps together. A few fold-overs, and it has turned into a mass. A few minutes ago, it was nothing. But now it has transformed and will later transform again into a delicious shell for some equally delicious filling. And that is so very gratifying.
Read More
Chris O'Donnell in the pool

I Am Happy!

It’s 6:30 on a typical weekday morning in the Pacific Palisades home that Chris O’Donnell shares with Caroline, his wife of 17 years, their five children and Kimmy, their adored 13-year-old black lab. The custom-built house sits in a celebrity-dense Los Angelesneighborhood, where residents include A-listers like Matt Damon, BenAffleck, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn, on a bluff overlooking the ocean.The views are stunning, but Chris and Caroline barely have time for a glance as they corral their brood.Fourteen-year-old Lily, the oldest, is out the door and heading to high school across town. Charlie, 10, “my focused little guy,” as Chris calls him, has already gotten dressed, eaten breakfast and iswatching the Golf Channel. Chip, 13, ispresent but not fully accounted for; hiseyes may be open but he’s half asleep.Finn, 8, is nowhere in sight. “You’ve called him 12 times but he’s still in bedand won’t come down,” Chris says. And 6-year-old Maeve, snuggled ona lap, is having her ponytails done.Some mornings, between volleyingquestions—Did you brush your teeth?Make your bed? Pack your backpack?—Chris steals a moment, pulls out hiscamera and videotapes the (mostly)controlled bedlam. “You think of thegreat trips you’ve taken, but this everydaymorning routine is the real fun and the kind of stuff you’ll want to remember,”he says. “This is your real life.”The rush hour of lifeAt 43, Chris is in the throes of whathe calls—borrowing a phrase fromsociologists—“the rush hour of life.” It’sthat period when both the demands ofcareer and family peak. “Right now I’m in the vortex of everything,” he says.“It’s crazy for me.” Days on the set ofhis hit CBS series NCIS: Los Angelescan run 14 hours, and weekends are,if anything, even more jammed. “It’sliterally divide and conquer,” he says; he and Caroline split duties of shuttling thekids to riding lessons, soccer, basketball,football and baseball games, with most Sunday mornings devoted to church.As hectic as rush hour may be, Chris is more than contentriding in the carpool lane.He has created the life he alwayswanted for himself: a large, happy family and the means to providefor them. That desire for blissfuldomesticity seems woven into hisvery DNA.A couple of years after hisbeloved father, William, passed away,Chris looked into his roots on the TLCshow Who Do You Think You Are? (Thisis a sharp contrast to his TV character,G. Callen, a military special agentwho grew up in 20 foster homes anddoesn’t even know what the “G” inhis first name stands for.) What Chrisdiscovered left his blue eyes wateringseveral times during the episode:Generation after generation, the men of his family had answered acall to service—fighting in the War of1812 and later in the Spanish-AmericanWar, helping bury bodies during the cholera epidemic that hit St. Louis inthe 1840s—but always returned hometo their families when they were needed.“Family was the most important thing in life to them,” Chris says.“And maybe that’s part of why itfeels so natural to me, so right, thatit’s also my instinct to put familyahead of everything else. There arepast generations that instill that inyou without your even knowing.”A nice guy who's finishing firstChris has a reputation in Hollywoodfor being a nice guy. Asked about this,he says, “Obviously, you’re talking tothe right people. I’m sure there arepeople who don’t have that opinion ofme.” Finding those people would likelybe a fruitless quest. In person, Chris isunfailingly gracious. At a photo shoot inthe Hollywood Hills on a rare morningoff, he is asked to wade into a pool withhis clothes on, a request that wouldleave many a more finicky actor aghast.But he’s all for it. “Just tell me what youwant me to do,” Chris says. Steppinginto the pool, he playfully brandishes animaginary Robin cape,reprising his days as Batman’s trustysidekick. Then, when a particularlyexuberant kick leaves a photographer’sassistant soaked, he’s full of apologies.He’s just as affable outsideHollywood. An avid and gifted golfer,he has played for the past 18 yearsin the AT&T Pebble Beach NationalPro-Am, a tournament that raisesmoney for the nonprofit MontereyPeninsula Foundation. It’s DougThompson’s sometimes-delicate jobto get the tournament’s celebritygolfers to talk to the press. Manybalk at the request; not Chris.“I have worked with dozens and dozens of celebrities over the past 13 years,” Doug says, “and Chris is themost open and friendly of any of them. He’s willing to do whatever I ask him.” This year Chris was on the driving range practicing with a swing coachwhen Doug approached him aboutdoing a television interview. He saidyes, even though he had a coveted teetime at Cypress Point [Club], widelyconsidered one ofthe most beautifulgolf courses in theworld.“You don’tever want to miss atee time at CypressPoint,” Doug says.“But Chris gaveus 45 minutes.He even showedthe host howto swing a golf club.That typifies him.” Doug runs outof adjectives as he describes Chris’generosity. “He’s just a great guy,” Dougsays, “really incredible,awesome.”A boisterous boyhoodEarly in his acting career, Chrissometimes felt like a fraud becausehe couldn’t call upon a harrowing childhood. “God forbid you came froma stable family,” Chris says. “That feltlike such a cop-out. Sure, a lot of artists did, of course, come from torturedbackgrounds, but I didn’t. When Iwas a young guy and I did interviews,I thought I had to produce some kindof edgy image. I don’t care about thatanymore. I feel so blessed to have had agreat upbringing with a lot of love frommy parents, my brothers and my sisters.”Chris grew up in Winnetka, anaffluent suburb of Chicago, the youngestof seven children. His brothers andsisters complained that as the baby of the family, Chris was spoiled; it didn’t helpthat his mother’s nickname for him was“Precious Love.” In some ways, Chrissays, he’s a composite of every oneof his siblings. “I had this amazingexperience being the youngest ofseven,” he says, “because I was soinfluenced by each of my brothersand my sisters. I see this with my ownkids, too. As the youngest, I wanted tobe like everyone, so I play golf becausemy brother John played golf. I’ll neverbe as good as John—who’s one of thetop amateur golfers in the country—butI’m pretty good. My brother Bill gardensand cooks, and he can build a house. I can do a lot of that, though I can’t doit as well as him. But Bill doesn’t golfand John can’t do any of the stuff thatBill does. I’m somewhere in-between.”The way, way backHis dad set an example of relishing simple pleasures. “He would get as excited about a good homemade burger and a cold beer, sitting in his house with his feet up and watching the Bears game as if he was in the fanciest restaurant in Paris,” he says. The family ate dinner together every night, with Chris and his sister Angela sitting at the breakfast bar because there wasn’t room for all nine O’Donnells at the kitchen table.There were occasional meals out to Hackney’s, a casual family restaurant. “That was a really big deal,” Chris says. “We’d all pile into our two cars—a Buick and a Caprice classic station wagon—and, inevitably, one car would be 30 minutes late because halfway there someone got in trouble, wasn’t allowed to go to dinner and had to be taken home.” There were rules, like each kid was allowed one soda for the night. “You could chug it if you wanted or you could take little sips and wait for everyone else to finish theirs,” Chris says. He’d chug his, then climb under the table and pour packets of sugar into a glass of water. “My parents would say, ‘Just leave him alone, he’s quiet,’ ” Chris says. “It was chaos, and they’d always say, ‘We’re never doing this again.’ But, of course, we did.”Best of all were the weeks spent at a summer cottage on Lake Michigan that had been in his mother’s family for generations. There was a small public golf course behind the house. “My favorite day as a kid was getting up early, going to play golf and then coming home, having lunch and being on those sandy beaches with my family,” Chris says. “We’d build bon fires and generations—my grandparents, parents and lots of cousins—would come together. It was just a simple, fun tradition.”Getting to workWhen he was in the eighth grade,inspired by a classmate who wasappearing in local ads, Chris reached out to a local talent agent. Soon, he wasappearing in local TV commercials andthen national campaigns, like one forMcDonald’s where he rang up an orderfor basketball player Michael Jordan. At17, he landed his first movie role, oppositeJessica Lange, in Men Don’t Leave. It washis introduction to the perks of success,and it left him wide-eyed. “They flew me out to New York to audition,” Chrissays. “I took my dad, and they put us upat The Regency Hotel. There were threeTVs in our room; there was even onein the bathroom. I was blown away.”When Chris started Boston Collegeafter deferring a year to do the movie, hedidn’t tell anyone about his acting career.“I didn’t want to be known as the kidwho was in the movies,” he says. But thenads started running for Men Don’t Leaveand, he says, “the cat was out of the bag.”His anonymity completely evaporatedover the next few years, as he starredopposite some of Hollywood’s biggeststars (Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman andGene Hackman and Faye Dunaway inThe Chamber) and newcomers who wouldgo on to become the next generation ofsuperstars (Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Brendan Fraser in School Ties andDrew Barrymore in Mad Love).The allure of stardomWhen he was 23, Chris went on location to Vienna to star opposite Charlie Sheen and Kiefer Sutherland in The ThreeMusketeers. It was, he says, “the biggest eye-opening experience of all time.” Ifhe liked to have a good time, he was a choirboy in comparison to Kiefer and,especially, Charlie. “I always say it was like taking your craziest buddy fromcollege, giving him $20 million and justseeing what he does,” Chris says. “It wastotally out-of-control. I loved it, butI had my limits. I’d knock back somecocktails with them, but at a certainpoint, I’d check out while they’d run all night. This was a big opportunityfor me, and I was taking it seriously.”While Chris enjoyed his stint as a Hollywood heartthrob, he recognized “there were different paths you could take.” He goes on. “I knew I could continue to date and never get married and enjoy Hollywood and all the benefits of it, but that really wasn’t who I was,” he says. “It’s tough to have it both ways. If you know you want to have a great family and a bunch of kids, it’s hard to run around in Hollywood.”Finding his soulmateHe started dating Caroline Fentress,the sister of a college roommate (“Assoon as I kissed her, I knew she wasthe one,” he likes to say), and, threeyears later, in April 1997, they married.“Being in this business can be anemotional roller coaster, and Carolineis an incredibly stable person and agreat sounding board for me,” he says.She provided a ballast early on, inthe heady aftermath of making BatmanForever and Batman & Robin.“TheBatman movies changed everything,” he says. “It took me to a differentlevel.” Chris was bombarded with filmoffers, and though he declined rolesthat turned out to be hits for otheractors, including Men in Black, he hasno regrets. “I love doing films,” Chrissays, “but traveling all the time andbeing on location isn’t conducive tofamily life. When I started having kids,I realized TV was going to make moresense for me.”Joining the NCIS familyAfter co-starring stintson Two and a Half Men, The Practice andGrey’s Anatomy and a starring role inthe Cold War miniseries The Company,he moved on to NCIS: Los Angeles. Itproved a hit out of the gate and stilldrew top ratings in its fifth season.This year, to keep things interesting,Chris directed an episode for the first time and hopes to do more directingnext season. Still, he is far fromrestless. “I’m comfortable with thecharacter I play, and I’m crazy aboutthe people I work with,” he says. Chrisshares a special chemistry and a kind of“bromance” with his co-star, rapper-turned-actor LL Cool J. “I love him,”Chris says. “He’s one-of-a-kind, anincredibly confident guy who’s reallycomfortable in his own body. He’s alsosomebody that I absolutely trust. I can tell that guy anything and he’s like a vault.”For now, Chris is looking eastwardto the coast of Maine, where he has asummer home. Hoping to re-createthe kind of experiences that he enjoyedgrowing up, the family spends summers at their 100-year-old waterfront home.“I’ve got Maine fever,” he says. “It’s myfavorite place to be and I can’t get therefast enough. I get eight weeks off fromthe show, and everyone always asks me ifI’m going to do a  lm on my hiatus. I say,‘Are you crazy? This is the most precioustime of the year with my kids.’ We justkind of shut things down and hang out.It’s when I really get to live my life.”The days are sun-drenched andleisurely: They pack a picnic and exploredifferent islands—there are over 4,600 islands off the coast of Maine—sail, swimand golf. And, unlike when they’re in LA,even his older kids don’t balk at spendingfamily time together. “I’m still a big shotto my little guys,” he says, “but Chip andLily are gone every weekend. I’ll say,‘I thought we were going to do somethingtogether,’ and they’re like, ‘I don’t knowI’ve got so-and-so coming over.’ I’m like,‘All right, but what am I, chopped liver?’ ”Finding the good life at homeDon’t feel too sorry for Chris. Alongwith taking romantic trips to places like Paris and the French Caribbean Islandof St. Bart’s, he and Caroline have very active social lives themselves. “I’m notrunning around in Hollywood going to every event,” he says. “But we’re always going to dinners with friends and havingparties.” Recently, Caroline organized agame of team charades, with 60 adultsbroken into eight teams. “People wereracing through every room of thehouse,” he says. “It was the best night ofthe year.” And just recently they hosteda more elegant event—a catered wine pairingdinner for a dozen friends. Chrisis a serious wine collector, and when hehad his home built from the ground up,he included a wine cellar (as well as anoutdoor pizza oven).When theO’Donnells return home from Maine,Chris will begin making plans for theOktoberfest he hosts every year, completewith fare like beef roulade, schnitzeland beer passed around in a giant stein. “It’s a family tradition,” Chris says.“I get really sentimental about things,and I’m really a creature of habit.”Right now, it’s time for Chris tomove on to his next appointment.Before he heads out to his car—anAudi sedan that, he says, is the fanciestcar he has ever bought and that leaveshim feeling slightly abashed—he iscertain to thank every crew memberwith a hearty, “Appreciate it, man.Have a good day.” And just as thedoor closes behind him, there’s asound that follows Chris O’Donnellwherever he goes. People turn to eachother, smile and exclaim, “What anice guy!”
Read More
Photos from European Vacations

5 Tips for an Energy-Boosting Vacation

Happiness experts Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielanconducted an extensive survey to research vacations and stress. The results are in. Here's what we learned from themore-than-400 participants who reportedon their vacation experiences.1. Know before you go74% said themost stressful part of traveling is figuringout the details, like transportation.2. Get a jump on planning90%who reported good experiences hadthe details of their trip planned morethan a month before their vacation.3. Travel away from home94% saidtraveling during a vacation is more meaningfulthan a “staycation,” or staying at home.4.Befriend a local or hire a travel host through a company like Monograms77% either met a local hostor had a knowledgeable friend in the area.5.Savor your trip, take photos and share memories93% documentedtheir best trips with photos, which theyshared with friends and reminisced about afterward.
Read More
Two empty beach chairs

Tripped Up?

When people are stressed, youoften hear them say, “I needa vacation.” But could a less stressful trip result in higher happiness and energy at work? Is there a vacationfrom work that is scientifically proven to lead to greater levels of productivity,higher energy and lower stress?In December 2013, we set outto find the answer. More than 400people took our 34-question survey,and the results proved travel does notlower happiness when you return towork—travel stress does. Poorly plannedand stressful vacations eliminatedthe positive benefit of time away.In other words, most of the happinessgleaned from a vacation is dependentupon the stress level of the vacation. The less stress you have on yourtrip, the more likely you will be toexperience a positive benefit from thetime off.How to leave the stress at homeA well-managed vacation canmake you happier and less stressedand send you back to work with moreenergy and meaning in your life.Our findings aren’t radical. A 2010study published in the journal of AppliedResearch in Quality of Life by Dutchresearchers had similar results. Likeus, they found that of the 1,543 adultsthey questioned, most reported no change in their happiness before andafter a vacation if there were moderate tohigh levels of travel-related stress. Thisincludes stress involved with managingtransportation, dealing with detailswhile on the trip, unfamiliarity withthe location and not feeling safe.All contributed to travelers feelingless happy, more stressed and lessenergized when they returned to work.So why spend all the time,money and energy if there’s achance your vacations won’t makeyou happier? Because positive, low-stress vacations do have significant effects on our energy and stress.In our study, 94 percent had asmuch or more energy after comingback after a good trip. In fact, onlow-stress trips, 55 percent returnedto work with even higher levels ofenergy than before the trip.More vacation time, better vacation timeAnd top companies, includingMattress Firm, are starting to realizethat positive vacations can decreasestress and create what we call the“happiness advantage,” which includesraising sales by 37 percent, improvingproductivity by 31 percent, triplingcreativity and increasing the likelihood of a promotion by nearly 40 percent.The Houston-based company justannounced a new initiative this springthrough which employees who havemore than eight years’ seniority withMattress Firm will receive eight extravacation days. The goal is to createthe happiness advantage at work.“Ultimately, we understand the needfor our associates to love what theydo, who they do it with, and mostimportantly, why they do it,” says CoryLudens, vice president of learningand development. “Our purpose isto improve lives one night at a time,and that goes for our associates justas much as it does our guests.”In short, when you’re happy andwell-vacationed, your work, your company and you benefit. So, makeyour next vacation one that makes youfeel like you actually took a vacation.A positive, low-stress experience cansend you home recharged, refreshedand ready to get back to the real world,but a ho-hum or just average one canleave you feeling as if you never left.Bon voyage!ShawnAchoris theNew York Times best-selling author of The Happiness AdvantageandBefore Happiness.Shawn recently sat down with Oprah Winfrey to discuss his steps for achieving happiness on OWN’sSuper Soul Sunday.MichelleGielanis an expert on the science of positive communication and how to use it to fuel success.She formerly served as a national news anchor for CBS News, and is the founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research, which works with companies and schools toraise employee engagement, productivity and happiness at work.
Read More