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The 2017 Happiness Project

3 Jan

HappinessSomething I’ve learned over the years is that happiness is not something you can seek or plan. You just have to allow yourself to feel it. To notice and appreciate the good things in life — no matter how small — that make you smile. Hopefully on a regular basis.

With so much negativity in the world, that can sometimes be hard. And this year, it may prove extra challenging.

So, to proactively prevent another sucky year like 2016 was, I want to do whatever I can to focus on my own happiness — and hopefully, in the process, share that happiness with others. Continue reading

So Long, and Thanks for All the Cookies

2 Apr
cookies

Like Pavlov’s dog and the bell, these cookies made me salivate on a regular basis

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m a very lucky person.

Today I’m saying it because I’m happy to announce that I have a new job and it’s my last day at my current place of employment.

Woo hoo!

To be honest, I don’t even want to say I’m leaving my current job. Rather, it’s more like I’m seizing an opportunity and moving on.

This opportunity came along at pretty much exactly the right time, and was the kind of job I was hoping for next. Actually, it’s the kind of job I was hoping for when I left a previous employer back in April 2012. So, yes, I’m very excited about the change, and the fact that things for me professionally seem to be back on track again.

Continue reading

The 2015 Happiness Project

5 Jan

balloon-smiley-faceIn 2014, I was happy, and I’m committed to being happy in 2015 too.

So in an effort to demonstrate that every day has at least one thing to smile about (even the so-called bad days), I’ve decided to steal an idea from my friend Christoph Trappe, who spent the entire year last year posting happy thoughts, memories, or moments in one running blog post that he updated daily. It was a great way to show gratitude and remember what made each day so special for him.

That idea, like so many other good ideas, came from Twitter — specifically, a fellow tweeter named Krista, who did a similar thing in 2013. So you might say I’m now continuing the chain. Maybe next year somebody else will follow my lead.

Here’s the plan: For the next year, at the end of every day, I’m going to write down something that made me happy, whether that’s something I did, something I ate, something somebody said, a music lyric or line of movie dialogue that resonated with me, a tweet, or something else. It’s just that simple. Doesn’t have to be a big thing, just something that made me smile.

With apologies (and all due respect) to Gretchen Rubin, I’m calling this blog post my “2015 Happiness Project.” Think of it as a digital “rememberlutions jar,” a way to make sure I’m doing everything on my 2015 to-do list, or, in a way, an abbreviated version of the journals I used to keep when I was in high school. And please, check back here often to see what’s making me smile all year long.

Here we go. Continue reading

My Perfect Day of Eating

6 Apr

My friend Dan has a great podcast called The Sporkful, which he hosts with his buddy, Mark.

The tagline for the show is “It’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters.” That just about describes me perfectly.

I don’t like fancy-schmancy food, but I sure do like what I like. And I take it rather seriously.

How much? Well, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, or if we’re connected on Facebook or Twitter, then you have a pretty good idea.

So I thought I’d devote a blog post to my perfect day of eating. And yes, perfect includes not having to worry about calories or ever getting full.

Where would I go, and what would I eat? Continue reading

Americone Dream Come True

24 Aug

I did it again.

As you may recall, last summer, I successfully led an effort to get Ben & Jerry’s to come and give free ice cream to my coworkers.

In fact, it was exactly this week that the ice cream truck rolled up to our building and gave out servings of tasty Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to all who wanted it.

Well, Ben & Jerry’s is at it again this summer, and so was I. Continue reading

Chicago, I Love You

5 Jul

It’s official: I love Chicago.

I mean, I love Boston a little bit more.

But in a head to head competition, these days I may have a tough time picking between the two cities.

If I ever left Boston for good (and I have no plans to do that), I’d make a beeline to Chicago. That’s just how I feel after a fantastic long (and yet still too short) weekend in the Windy City.

It was my annual July 4 trip to Chicago, which means I also spent time in Michigan City, Indiana. Combined, it was just awesome. Continue reading

Tasty Treat

8 Jul

One of the problems with the cupcake scene in the Boston area — other than the fact that there’s no Crumbs within the state lines — is that most of the places just don’t live up to their names, or the hype.

Kickass Cupcakes don’t.

Sweet’s are not.

Shot Cakes, while tasty and worth the trip, don’t include alcohol shots. (Okay, fine. Maybe that one’s a stretch.)

And so on.

Now there’s Treat in Needham Center, and, well, finally the name fits.

I went in on day two this past weekend (it opened on July 4), had a cupcake called the Plain Jane, and fell in love. Continue reading

Summer in Michigan City

6 Jul

Growing up in suburban New York, I never thought that one day I’d get really excited about spending July 4 in Michigan City, Indiana.

But after going there last year and having a great time, that’s what’s happened. So that’s why I went to Chicago this weekend.

Thursday and Friday I wandered around town (about 6 miles of walking, in fact), took a day trip to Evanston to see Northwestern (just for fun), checked out two of Chicago’s leading cupcake places (Molly’s and Sweet Mandy B’s — both of which were tasty, but not as good as the hype), had some custom-made rapid-frozen ice cream at a place called iCream (really, that’s its name), and finally got to meet my friends’ daughter, who is totally cute.

But spending the weekend in Lake Michigan was the highlight of the trip. Continue reading

Take Your Shot

14 Jun

Do you remember Trani, that unfortunately named place in the North End where the featured menu item was cupcakes injected with ice cream? I definitely remember it. Well, it has closed and been replaced by a pizza place — yes, just what the North End needed, another pizza place.

But last week, on my birthday, a coworker (thanks, Suzy!) came into the office with exciting news. It seems a new place just like Trani has opened up in the Burlington Mall, of all places. It’s called Shot Cakes, and it has the same basic premise: cupcakes injected with ice cream. There’s one big difference, though: Whereas Trani had basic chocolate and vanilla cupcakes that you wouldn’t necessarily want to eat without the ice cream, Shot Cakes has a whole selection of awesome flavors that are great as is. Red Velvet, Cookie Dough, Cookies and Cream, Brownie, Frosted with sprinkles, and so on. Add in ice cream and some hot fudge (or any of the other toppings, like peanut butter or caramel) and, well, WOW!

Barry and I went to check this place out on Saturday, and I had a Chip Shot Cake Quake. That’s a chocolate cookie dough cupcake, injected with vanilla ice cream, topped with hot fudge, and served in a cup. It’s kind of like a sundae, minus the whipped cream. A-MA-ZING. Moist cake, yummy fudge, and ice cream too. It wasn’t overwhelmingly heavy or filling. And it cost less than $4. Had I been alone, I might have had a second. (Or a third.)

One curiosity was why there was not a bigger crowd waiting for their own Shot Cakes. Maybe we were there at an off time (who knew such a thing existed at a mall food court), but on the off chance that this place isn’t getting the attention it deserves, I wanted to put up a blog post here (yeah, ’cause that will bring the place LOTS of attention). If you like cupcakes and ice cream — and really, who doesn’t? — then by all means make a trip to Burlington and check this place out. (Just get in line behind me.)

You Know You Want to Try It Too

28 Feb

When I saw on CBS’ Sunday Morning today that there was a pancake batter in a can product called Batter Blaster, I was simultaneously horrified, skeptical, and curious. I mean, pancake batter in a can? With a name that sounds more like a comic-book villain? Seriously? But as someone who likes his pancakes (and waffles) on a Sunday morning, I decided I had to do what any other self-(dis)respecting person would do, and try it.

According to the website, Batter Blaster isn’t available everywhere, but it can be found at Stop & Shop (near the eggs and whipped cream), so I went there. Five dollars and a conversation with an amused and excited fellow shopper later, I was home and cooking. The batter (which, by the way, is made mostly with organic ingredients) didn’t come out in the same whipped-cream style that I’d seen on TV (it was much runnier, despite my shaking of the can), and the pancakes might not have been the thickest ones I’ve had, but they were, as advertised, light and fluffy. Tasty too. I was very impressed. So I kept on cooking and had myself a very good breakfast.

And there you go. I’ve learned something today: Pancakes from a can can actually be good. And now, when I want to have pancakes or waffles on a Sunday morning, I don’t have to worry about mixing up the flour and eggs and other stuff. I just have to look in my refrigerator. Score.