Ooooh, baby, baby. Yes, it's finally summer time and baby, it's hot outside! We are all ready to run around on the beach in nude. Right...? Okay, maybe not. I mean, unless you want end up on the cover of Star Magazine
in the "women of the wild" article. But honestly, it's beach time and we want to rock it. But, just because you want to impress the beach boys in your new swim suit (or old...let's be real, you've only wore it twice and it's still cute and looks great), it doesn't mean you need to doll yourself up. You know you look best as your natural self.
The best thing about the summer time is relaxation. Don't worry about being Barbie. Be YOU! This means less make-up clogging up your pores. And please, skip the concealer, foundation, and powder when you're getting ready in the morning and go for straight up moisturizer with some SPF. Skip the bright colors and shimmery shadows, your usual eyeliner, and blush. If anything, lightly brush your eye lashes with a water proof mascara. Then you don't have to worry about leaky lashes after you dive into the water.
Now, since your going out in the sun, make sure that, other than your SPF containing moisturizer, you've lathered on the sunscreen, too. Burns are the worst for your skin. When you burn it, you are literally zapping your skin cells and killing them. That's...harsh! In other words, enjoy summer and avoid skin cancer.
Like I said before, summer time is all about living easy. So, grab your iPhone and make some plans with your friends for the 4th of July and have some fun in the sun.
Celebrate and embrace the independence of being you. Naturally.PHOTO SOURCE: Pic 1
Dearest ladies and man friends, today marks the beginning of a new Health series that I have appropriately dubbed "Financial Fitness." Now I know health and finances are not exactly two peas in a pod, however I happen to believe that the two are very much interconnected. This is because, just like a lack of exercise leads to unwanted weight and pent up stress, a lack of financial know-how can lead to unwanted fees, fines, debt, and (again) lots and lots of stress! Clearly a no bueno situation.
So, what's a girl to do when in need of some money guidance? Well, that's where "Financial Fitness" (also known as F squared) comes in. We all know budgets can be maddening. That said, there's a reason why the concept of budgeting exists; because when you manage your budget and spend within (and not over) your means, magical things start to happen--the magic being the fact that when you swipe your credit card, it's not denied...
If you can't afford it, you can't buy it!
I know this sounds very intuitive, however you'd be surprised by the number of people who fail to follow this ideology. This is especially true seeing how banks these days provide customers with the automatic coverage of any debit card purchase should the total exceed that which is in your bank account. Umm, all I can say is: opt the *bleep* out! More often than not, if you allow the bank to cover your charge, you will be slammed with several bank fees should you not pay the bank back in X number of days/hours. Don't set yourself up for this. All you have to do is log onto your bank's online banking program and change the setting. You can also just do it the old-fashioned way by going to a local branch of your bank and asking someone who works there to assist you with this matter. Remember, if you can't afford it, you can't buy it!
Did you know that my favorite room in the house is the kitchen? While my second favorite room is my home studio where I love designing and creating visions and dreams for clients, the kitchen is where I find comfort, relaxation and the heart of my soul.
As far back as I can remember, I have always enjoyed cooking and baking, the likes of which roll into the world of entertaining. Cooking for an evening where the fancy serving platters are pulled out, flowers are purchased and placed in a vase, and votive candles are aglow is actually quite enjoyable for me. In my thirties and forties, my husband and I would host parties several times a year. The biggest one came in June when, year after year, we would invite 165 guests to some sort of themed party at our home. Oh, and let me mention that I did all
of the cooking for these parties. That’s a lot of pigs in a blanket and chicken satay! Over time, however, I eventually learned that 165 guests with no sous chef or personal dish washer was extremely intense and exhausting! So, my husband and I began to enlist the help of our favorite Tex-Mex restaurant for catering purposes. This way, I could stop worrying about the main course and just focus on the appetizers and desserts. I know it sounds kind of overwhelming, but it really is so fun when you are a list obsessive, beyond organized, let’s have a party type of gal. And, while these parties are a relic of the past—a memory to be hatched every time I bite into a fajita—I can truly state that the kitchen is the heart of the home and my personal haven. Who knows, maybe by the end of this post it will be yours, too!
Okay so let’s move on to the topic of today. Let’s say you have never really cooked on a regular basis, that to you heating up dinner in a microwave or toaster oven and placing the contents on a plate is considered “cooking.” Well I’m here to tell you that you are MISTAKEN! I know, I know, life is busy and cooking a full-fledged meal is practically the last thing on your list of things to do…especially when things like showering and washing your face at night are a feat in and of themselves. Nevertheless, when it comes to food, eating a real meal is right up there with bathing! This is because food is our fuel and, if you want to take care of yourself, eating real food
is a must. Besides, isn’t it time that you learn how to operate that machinery in your home (i.e. the stove and oven). I hate to be harsh, but: you’re no longer a kid playing grown up—you are one! Time to stop with the ramen noodle diet, and start with the fresh food diet.
So, where do you begin? Duh, the grocery store! I have developed the quintessential, minimalist Pantry/Refrigerator/Freezer list that’s basically a must when it comes to having all you need to cook basic, delicious, simple food (PS, should you want a larger, more specific list, email me
and I will send it off to you).1.) Spices:
It’s essential that you buy good quality spices. I prefer organic, but if that’s not in the budget, the regular kind will do. Smaller containers are also best because, let’s face it, spices lose their spice fast and, especially if you’re just starting out in the kitchen, you likely won’t finish a big container of spices before they go sour. That said, here’s a list of what I believe to be the most necessary spices: regular iodized salt or sea salt, black pepper (the kind with the grinder build in is best), garlic powder, crushed red pepper, oregano, rosemary, paprika, poultry seasoning, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, and cream of tarter.
2.) Oils, Vinegars, Extracts, and Sweeteners:
The right oil, vinegar, extract, and/or sweetener can make or break a dish. Have the basics on hand and you’ll be ready for any recipe that comes your way. I suggest having these on hand at all times: canola or vegetable oil, olive oil, basic cooking spray, flat fillets of anchovies in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, vanilla extract, almond extract, honey, real maple syrup, regular sugar, dark brown sugar, powered sugar, stevia.
3.) Condiments, Sauces, Broths, and Pastes:
Ketchup, yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, your favorite BBQ sauce, soy sauce, marinara sauce, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, duck sauce, jarred white horseradish, jarred minced garlic, chicken, vegetable, and beef bouillon cubes (makes broth when added to hot water), garlic paste, tomato paste.4.) Canned Goods:
Usually, when it comes to food shopping, I prefer fresh over canned. That said, some items canned goods are great and therefore a pantry must: Spanish Olives, black olives, garbanzo beans, cannellini beans, black beans, capers, hearts of palm, stewed and crushed tomatoes, roasted red peppers (jarred version of this is good too), canned albacore tuna in water.5.) Boxed Goods:Dried pasta in varying shapes, brown/white/wild rice, assorted nuts, assorted crackers, Italian breadcrumbs, panko bread crumbs, old fashioned oats, black and herbal teas, ground coffee, some dark chocolate(?)
TO BE CONTINUED...PHOTO SOURCE: Pic 1
I've revealed my past "relationship" with online dating (pun intended) to you all before
, and I've even let you in on the fact that, while my online efforts failed to find me a boyfriend, my close friend and now personal matchmaker was able to do what the Internet could not: find me one hell of a perfect match! Nevertheless, it seems as if everyone and their mother is on the web these days searching for "the one" on every dating website known to man (ashleymadison.com
included, or at least that's how it appears after yesterday's whereabouts
And while I no longer can be found perusing the profiles of potential suitors on eharmony
, and jdate
, I can be found giving my friends and coaching clients advice on how to make the most of dating in the land of (dot) com.1.) Look him up on the book of faces. Just don't friend him.
So, you've come across a dating profile where the guy isn't creepy and, surprisingly, quite cute. Best of all, he sent you a wink implying that he thinks that you're a looker, too. Congrats, you've found yourself a potential online dating interest and step one is complete. Now what? Well, as with any seasoned online dater, the next step is obviously to stalk this male who you have been daydreaming about for the best 72 hours. Yes, STALK HIM. We all do it and honestly, there's no shame. In the world of online dating, stalking someone on Facebook is completely acceptable. You're on the world wide web anyways and, in all honesty, who knows if this guy really looks like his dating profile picture. Looking your suitor up on Facebook is actually a great way to get to see an unedited version of this person you've been pining after. Just make sure that, whilst clicking through that album of him on vacation with his fam in Hawaii, your cursor doesn't accidentally make its way to the "add friend" button. It's one thing to stalk the guy, it's a whole other thing to let him know that you're doing so.2.) "Edit" your Facebook profile page.
What, you think you're the only one who looks up their matches on Facebook? Wrong! As we just discussed, it's perfectly appropriate to stalk someone you're interested in on the book of faces, so chances are that guy you've been emailing back and forth with has probably scoped out your FB profile page. If you don't want said suitor seeing certain pics, status updates, and the like, make sure to clean up your photo albums (keep it PG, please), or update your privacy settings to "friends only." You don't want some guy losing interest in you because three years ago someone tagged you in a photo of you doing a keg stand at a frat party. Precisely.3.) Keep the Instant Message feature on.
In the world of online dating, there are multiple ways in which you can converse with potential lovers, one of which is instant messaging. Just like in high school when you and your bff would IM each other all night on AIM, you and that single cutie can actually IM into the wee hours of the morning should you both choose to do so. That said, for some reason many online daters opt to turn their IM feature off--a move that I believe to be stifling when it comes to getting to know the actual people behind those cheesy dating profile pictures. So, rather than refuse to IM, just refuse to IM with anyone who strikes you as weird, uninteresting or just flat out creepy.4.) Engage in some email back and forth before agreeing to meet in person.
Before agreeing to meet in person (which, in order for the whole online dating thing to work needs to eventually happen), make sure to, besides IM, email back and forth with one another as well. This is because it's important to get to know someone before you meet them. Remember, IMing is a great way to get to know someone quickly, but sometimes it's nice to just take it slow--one email at a time.5.) Meet in person.
It's very easy to get in a groove with someone, IMing and emailing on a daily basis. But if you want that online connection to turn into a real life connection, then guess what: you actually have to take your relationship offline and meet in person. Just make sure that, when you do meet, you do so in a public place. Safety first ladies, safety first!6.) Online dating does not always equal success. It does, however, always result in "progress."
Just because you decide to join the world of online dating doesn't mean that you are guaranteed to meet the love of your life. So, if you've been doing the whole Internet dating thing for a while and have still failed to meet that special someone, don't get upset with yourself. Sure all of your time spent online didn't result in a boyfriend, but I'll bet that after all of that schmoozing on the world wide web (and perhaps even a little in person) you've become a more confident woman and amuch
better dater. And really, isn't that a feat in and of itself. I think so and, hopefully, you can see that, too!PHOTO SOURCE: Pic 1
Is there such a thing as too
Well ladyfaces and manly men, I think the answer is "hell to the YES" ...at least after today, that is.
This morning/afternoon/what felt like an eternity, I spent my time on the train traveling from NYC back home to DC. Whereas my original train was delayed, and then canceled, Amtrak
eventually "found a solution" and combined two trains into one (i.e. there was a "standing room only" type of situation). Let's just say I was lucky enough to have found a seat...and an aisle seat at that! Nevertheless, and isn't this how it always is when it comes to traveling alone, the gentleman who sat next to me was, to put it nicely, very, very, verrrrrry interesting.
At first, he just seemed to be a very jovial man who likely made it a habit to chat up the lovely lady or lad sitting next to him. So, when he started to engage in light conversation with me, I happily obliged and spoke with him. Well let's just say, BIG mistake. Two hours into the train ride, and I was still talking to this man (let's call him Mr. T ...as in Mr. Train). I had tried every form of "conversation escape," but whether it was going to the restroom, texting on my phone, talking on my phone, rummaging through my bag for headphones, rummaging through my bag for my laptop, and so on and so forth, Mr. T could not take the hint. Finally, I decided to take it upon myself to just tell him: "alright sir, I think it's time for a little nap."
As I drifted off to a quiet place where people like Mr. T had no voice and failed to exist, Mr. T got out his laptop and began to "get to work."
Now, normally "working on the train" is a completely normal thing to do. However, the thing that set Mr. T apart from most train transporting folks was the fact that, rather than typing a business document or reading through a brief, Mr. T was dreaming of himself in
his briefs whilst perusing through the lovely dating website known as ashleymadison.com
(can I even call it that? A dating website?). Now, for those of you who don't know what Ashley Madison is, or are now too scared to click the link and find out for yourselves, allow me to explain. In the most simplest of descriptions, Ashley Madison is a dating site for men and women who are looking to have an affair, i.e. "date" a man or woman (or both?) who is currently married but blissfuly unhappy....or at least unsatisfied. With this in mind, I bet you can imagine how uncomfortable I felt when Mr. T busted out his comp and went to town messaging married maidens asking if they were looking for a one night stand in Baltimore (his final destination) this evening. Yeah, trying to "go to sleep" at that moment in time was definitely the best thing I could have done (ps, if you are currently wondering why I didn't switch train cars or anything of that sort, let me just remind you of my "standing room only" situation. Exactly).
So, here I am stuck on a train, sitting next to an adulterous man-whore who wants to get jiggy with it tonight in B-more... One word to describe the situation: oy! One word to describe what happened next: unbelievable.
As I awoke from my mid-day slumber, I was almost immediately greeted by Mr. T with a "hello there sunshine. I missed talking to you while you were asleep." I just nodded while a WTF-type expression made its way across my face. I tried to turn the other way and go back to la la land, however just as I began to shift in my seat, Mr. T leaned over, tapped my shoulder and asked me: "What would a young woman like yourself be attracted to?"
"...Umm, what do you mean 'be attracted to'?" I responded.
"I mean, what line should I message this woman I am trying to meet up with tonight to get her to come to my hotel."
"I really don't know, sir. As in, I really
don't know and don't exactly want to know."
"Oh, did I just make you feel uncomfortable?" he asked.
"Yes, very..." I said back.
Thankfully, Mr. T quit talking to me after that and, 15 minutes later, Mr. T made his way to the end of the train car as we pulled into Baltimore's train station. "Finally," I thought to myself, "he's gone!" And then it happened. He ran back to where I was still sitting to give me his business card. "Keep in touch" he told me. "Oh, sure" I said. And then he was gone.
Appropriately so, I took his business card and stuck it where the sun don't shine (also known as, ripped it up and tossed it in the garbage can). Note to self: pretend to not speak English next time you take the train.
For a few seasons now, the stacked bracelets/layered necklaces/multiple rings look has been very "in." You know, the kind of look that screamed: "look at my baubles and bauble your head in astonishment that my arms/neck/fingers can carry all of this metal around!" On a personal note, I never became a huge fan of this look, however my refraining from wearing 18 gold bangles, a Kabbalah red piece of string, and a Tori Burch studded leather strap bracelet/cuff thingy (okay, so I do own this but, for the record, it was a graduation gift) stems more from my need to be able to type on the computer without having a billion bracelets smash up against the keyboard. Oh, and I don't like it when I resemble my dog in the sense that you can hear me "jingle" from a mile away.
With this in mind, it's no wonder that my go to jewelry is a pair of simple stud earrings, an emerald ring my grandparents gave me around the time I graduated from high school, and (if I'm feeling festive) a simple bracelet to boot.
But just like the basic, barely there makeup look is becoming all the rage, it seems as if the stars are starting to take a cue from their muted makeup by applying these new rules of simplicity to their jewelry as well...or lack thereof to be precise.
Yes you diamond divas, you read that right. No Jewelry is the new jewelry, and personally, I think some of the celebs pictured below have never looked better. Sure, a classic dangling earring is still quite acceptable, but when it comes to necklaces, bracelets, and non-engagement and/or wedding rings, "none" is the new "more."
Dear Diet Food,
I want to ask you a question. It's one that's plagued my mind ever since I opened my first Chips Ahoy 100 calorie pack back in 2005 (ps, you were so trendy, and so not a cookie...but that's a whole other discussion). My reformed diet food junkie self would like to know: why do you exist? Why have fruits and veggies been replaced with your high fructose corn syrup infested self?
Is it because scientists all of over the world need jobs? Is it because there weren't enough non-food products to prototype and grow in a petri dish? Or is it because you just like to see people like myself lust after your uber sweet tasting goodies that make me bloated, gassy, and just oh so addicted to all things Splenda?
I guess the main reason you've made yourself quite comfy on store shelves is because people want to eat fattening foods without the actual fat component of it all. How sweet of you (literally) to have sucked out all of those obnoxious calories. Who knew that was possible? Oh wait, it's not...at least not without some consequences.
Yes diet food, you've chosen the wrong person's tastebuds to mess with! I studied your side effects all through college, and know way more about you than most ever thought possible.
You are not a diet aid. You're far from it, actually. In fact, and sorry to blow your cover, but I'm pretty sure you're a double agent of sorts...playing me and my friends with your seductive "fat free" lines of temptation whilst cranking up the level of sugar in my favorite South Beach "granola bar." Oh, and for the record, I'm pretty sure there's a reason sugar looks like crack. It's addicting as hell and always makes you come back for more. Shameful I tell you, shameful.
But I guess me scolding you won't do any good. You aren't going anywhere (sadly) anytime soon. All I can do is try to "not see you" when I go to the grocery store--not that that's at all possible, but a girl can dream.
Yes, that's right, a girl can dream. She can dream of a world where yogurt does not come in flavors like diet orange creamsicle and key lime pie. She can dream of a world where cheese does not represent rubber, and the only sparkling beverage sold is seltzer water (and not diet kerosene in a can). She can dream of a land where butter is made out of cream and salt, exclusively (sorry trans fat, looks like you're not invited to the "everything is better with butter" party).
So, while you prepare for another day of "lite, low fat, and sugar free," I am going to prepare for another day of fresh, healthy, and from the ground. I am going to prepare for my life without you--a joyous life that is diet food-free.
LindsayPHOTO SOURCE: Pic 1
Where did we leave off? ...Oh yes, food and blackouts. Now, we all know you’re probably not going to be cooking a gourmet meal sans electricity, but that’s not to say that your Pantry doesn’t need a few items as well. Try to always keep the following on hand:
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Boxed organic milk or boxed almond milk. I buy plain for my cereal, and the chocolate and strawberry for a snack and a quick pick me up. Other box low/no sugar drinks are great for kids as well.
Foods that have a long shelf life are perfect. Single serve apple sauce and low sugar fruit cups, nuts (can be in regular containers), granola/cereal bars, chips, veggie sticks, single serve salsa, single serve peanut butter (for individual dipping), dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries, apricots and fruit snacks, etc are all great choices. Whatever your family enjoys that you can stash on a top shelf for a summer emergency, and then come fall can toss into a lunch box to use up, is just perfect. Also keep single size, oatmeal and cream of wheat for a morning option if you have a way to heat water. Basics to keep plentiful in the pantry but not specially set aside all summer long can include: dry cereals, assorted crackers, beans, and tuna fish cans or single serve pouches. I like to collect packets of mayo, mustard and ketchup pre-summer season. Also, boxes of single serve regular/decaf instant coffee packets, and creamer that doesn’t require refrigeration for you coffee lovers. Me… I will stick to my Earl Gray Tea, thank you! Remember choose anything which can be easily prepared and has a long shelf life is what you want.
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If you have a gas stove or gas cook top, which you can light with a long stick match, you are one of the lucky ones. Items like canned soup, rice and pasta, macaroni and cheese as well as jarred sauces are perfect dinner choices. In the morning you will be thrilled to heat up some water from your gallon jug to make your coffee or hot cereal.
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If there is information that a potential storm is on its way, stock up on specific fresh fruit and vegetables which don’t need refrigeration before eating. All of these items (once cut) must be finished in their entirety: apples, bananas, tomatoes, avocado, pineapple, and oranges. This is because, as with most fresh foods, these foods could potentially cause a health risk if left out and not properly wrapped and refrigerated. This is why, when the electricity is out, my rule of thumb is you must eat all of what you cut, and if you don't, the trash gets to eat the rest.
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Try baking a few items to stash in the freezer. Cookies, brownies, muffins (I prefer pumpkin or blueberry), a pound cake or coffee cake are a real treat when there is no electricity. Wrap each cookie, brownie and muffin individually in plastic wrap. If you baked a cake I prefer to wrap the entire cake in plastic wrap first then store these baked goods in either freezer bags, storage containers, or tin foil. Simply pull them out and defrost as needed. Your family will certainly be praising your smarts and thoughtfulness for months to come.
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If you have a pet, don’t forget this family member when the lights go out! Keep extra water, food, treats and medicine(s) around so that man's best friend is prepared as well.
So, now that we've finished covering the basics, you are probably thinking: Wenda what do we do with the refrigerator and freezer items?
The answer: it depends on the type of appliance you have. You should look at the information that came with your particular appliance and see what the manufacturer says in regards to how long food remains "safe to eat" in your specific model/brand of refrigerator. Remember, opening and closing the fridge door lets out the cold air and will shorten the time your perishables have until they are indeed perishable. That said, if the electricity is out for hours upon hours, days, or more everything will need to be tossed. I do recommend a timely neighborhood barbeque for the meats in the freezer and the produce in the refrigerator as it's a good way to pull your resources and have some fun during a frustrating situation. PS, if you should have to toss all of your food. Snap a picture of the items in your refrigerator and freezer before dumping them. In the event that there is other damage to your home, you might want to add the loss of the perishables and a copy of the receipt to repurchase those items.
So there you have it...my list for summer, and I suppose all year round, preparedness. Some areas of the country most susceptible to hurricanes, tornados, brush fires, and heavy winter snow may want to add specific personal items to your families list. Get prepared and don’t be stupid. Mother Nature is unpredictable and stuf fhappens. Make your list and start gathering the items you need for your family. Then you can sit back and have a relaxing and enjoyable summer with your kids, family, friends and neighbors. Besides, should thunder strike and the electricity goes out, you will be prepared and your family will be pleased you were so
smart. Now that's reason to not freak out during a blackout!PHOTO SOURCES: Pic 1, Pic 2, Pic 3, Pic 4, Pic 5, Pic 6
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The Hair Move, Literally
Should your man attempt to move your hair out of your face, then you've found yourself a keeper. This is because, in regards to evolution, primates tend to "tend to" their mate's fur when they try to take care of them. In other words, when your guy plays with your hair, he's not just trying to stroke your locks. He's trying to show his affection for you in one of the most instinctual ways he knows how.
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The Watch You Walk Away
Couples who have been together for a long while usually spend a lot of time together (obv). But, when two longterm lovebirds have to say goodbye to each other (whether it's for 1 hour, 1 day, or 1 week), if they each turn around and look back at their significant other, than love is not only in the air--it's in their hearts (yes, I realize that was a super sappy line, but what can I say...I'm a hopeless romantic). This is because when two people feel the need to turn to each other when they walk away, it shows that they want to extend their time together.
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The Itch He's Got to Scratch... & You Need to Know
If recently your guy has been scratching his nose and/or ears (and if your man doesn't suffer from summer allergies), then it looks like something's up. This is because when a guy lies or is being deceptive, excess blood will usually rush to these facial areas causing them to get warm and itchy...which causes your man to unconsciously scratch his nose and/or ears.
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The Hand Over Mouth Move
We've all heard of diarreah of the mouth, but when it comes to keeping your mouth shut, it's a very common and unconscious move to place your hand over your mouth. So, should your man's hand be placed over his mouth instead of intertwined with your precious palms, you might want to brace yourself because chances are, he's hiding something.
1.) Aim not to be the doormat, but rather the person opening the door.
2.) You are your own fire. No one can steal your light.
3.) It is impossible to erase the past and start over. It is however possible to learn from the past and start anew.
4.) You have great instincts, you just have to be willing to act upon those instincts. Deep down, at your innermost core, you have already realized and determined what it is you need to do. All that's standing between taking this action is you.
5.) Don't be afraid to claim your courage. Be afraid of failing to ever do so.
6.) We must cultivate our inner selves so that, when our exteriors change (from weight, stress, age, etc), we are equipped with the knowledge of our own value and a sense of self that is void of contingency on our physical appearance.
7.) At the root of life, we all just want to feel validated and accepted. At the end of the day, we want to know that we matter.
8.) I am the only person who has power over my actions and over who I am as a person.
9.) A lot of the time, we tend to not see what we don't want to see because, if we did, that would mean we'd have to do something about it.
10.) Once you know your belief, hold on to it--strong. Don't let anyone compromise your vision, your belief, your gut approved notion.
11.) Living your life for someone else never works out because, in the end, the person you're living your life for just wants you to be happy. And, if you're living your life for them instead of yourself, you will never be happy which means the person you were trying to live your life for won't be happy either. So, live life for yourself because, let's face it: who knows what makes you happy more than you? Exactly.