A Forever “What if?”

I’m guilty of it and perhaps you are, too, whomever you might be, reading this post of mine. Lying in bed, you glance at the clock and realize it is minutes before you must get out of bed, attempt to make yourself presentable and progress through another day. Though prior to rising of your bed, you grab your cell phone lying on the nightstand adjacent to your bed, eager to peruse the latest happenings on Twitter, Facebook, or your other social media platform of choice. For me, this morning, as with most other mornings, my choice was Twitter. Scanning through many seemingly meaningless tweets, I arrived at one by one of my favorite fiction authors, Jane Green. In her tweet, she provided a link to a website, simply tweeting, “So thrilled to be hosting the Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge this year! And I cannot believe the amazing… (then she inserts a hyperlink to her Facebook page, where she details the aforementioned “challenge.”) Needless to say, I was intrigued and contemplative.

About an hour or so after reading Jane’s tweet, I logged onto my Facebook via my laptop and began to familiarize myself with the challenge she mentioned. If you’re curious about it like me, here is the link to the official post and explanation about it: http://gobooksparks.com/SRC2015/

The overall premise of the challenge is to read a new book each week. Bloggers can sign up to participate and review a book per week, as they complete them. Non-bloggers who are book lovers, can still join in the fun and read a book per week and tag the books and the challenge in their social media posts to win prizes throughout the summer. If you’re eager to participate, the sponsors of the challenge encourage readers to RSVP on the event’s Facebook page. Each book is a new “destination” (i.e. set in various locations, such as Los Angeles, Montana, etc).

Scanning through the list of selected novels, some, but not all are appealing to me after reading through the descriptions and also heading over to trusty Google to learn more about each book. For those I am interested in reading, rather than purchase each book, I logged into my account on my local library’s website and requested them. Some of the books are new and yet to arrive on book shelves, so it is necessary to wait for their arrival. One book in particular, truly captured my eye and mind, becoming the muse behind this very post.

The book I speak of is entitled, “Maybe in Another Life,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. After reading the brief description on the challenge website, I felt as though I more or less was reading my life in a snapshot:

“At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?”

Rapidly approaching my 27th birthday, I can relate to Hannah’s sentiments, unsure about what to do with my life. Like her, I’ve had several different jobs since graduating from college nearly five years ago. I’m not at all where I thought or hoped I would be, way back when I was a teenager. I would think of my twenties and believe it would follow the pre-determined pattern I set for myself – graduate college at age 22, fall in love, have an excellent career, attend graduate school then graduate, get married, have children and carry out a domestic life while being a career woman. To me, there was no “in-between,” or room for life to happen. I operated under the immature assumption that life will transpire in the way I want it to, simply because I said it would.

Now as I am edging further into my late 20’s, I realize that the choices and decisions I made often haunt me, each and every day. I realize that we don’t always have control over the things and events that happen to us and in all honesty, it took me years to come to terms with this truth and realization. Sometimes, it’s still hard to accept it. Now more than ever though, I realize that while I may not have control over everything that happens to me, what I do have control over is how I respond to it. I can choose and control the way I respond to each hardship and obstacle thrown my way. I’ll never know what might have happened if I made a different choice years ago. I don’t know if had I made a different choice 10 years ago if I would be married, or a mother today. I don’t know if I would have had the fulfilling career I always dreamed if I had chosen a different path for myself.

It’s hard to believe that nearly ten years ago, I was about to turn 17-years-old. It was a poignant time in my life, because a lot of the choices or decisions I made way back then, as a teenager still impact and affect me today. Those choices and situations shaped the last decade of my life. When I look back, I wonder what might have happened if I had used my words instead of actions to communicate my internal sentiments. More so now than ever though, I try to practice more self-acceptance, realizing how important it is to accept the choices I made, realizing that it was what I felt was best at that moment. I was young then and yes, while I still am young, back then I operated in the mindset that the choices I was making then would have little or no influence on my future. If I had known what I know now, I can’t be confident in saying I would have made the same choices. Sometimes I wish I could go back and be a friend to my teenage self. The things I felt were of the utmost importance then seem so trivial now, but that is apart of life. It is apart of what it means to be young, taking risks and chances that might leave our future selves scratching our heads and contemplating about what we were thinking back then when we made those choices.

It’s important to note that the choices I made in the past are reminders to me of what not to do today, or at least provides me with a snapshot of what will happen if I make those choices again. The pain of yesterday’s decisions sometimes radiates through me today, especially when I see or encounter people of my past. I can still think about the events and situations of yesterday, but this I know now: I can choose to not be reduced or defeated by them; I can look towards the present today and tomorrow, realizing that while I might not have made the best choices in the past, I can still make better choices for tomorrow and beyond.

It’s funny how reading a brief description of a novel can trigger an entire outpouring of memories and sentiments and a question for a myself: What if I decided to let life happen as it does and adjust accordingly? That, my friends, I CAN choose – in fact, we all can.

Introducing: Milly!

Good Morning, all! Tomorrow, April 23rd, one of my favorite department stores, Kohl’s, will welcome the latest designer clothing line to its budding repertoire, “MILLY for DesigNation!” As a line produced by powerhouse fashion designer, Michelle Smith and a mother to an 8-year-old daughter, Sophia, she describes the clothing line (according to her interview in May’s Family Circle magazine) as, “An extension of my personal style, so each collection is like stepping into my dream wardrobe for the season – I try on every piece myself before production to make sure everything is perfect!”

Milly Kohl's

Smith’s, MILLY line for Kohl’s is vast, featuring everything from dressy t-shirts, bottoms, sleek dresses and skirts, in addition to a line for younger girls (in sizes 4-6x) so she can match with her mommy, sister, aunt or any other woman in her life! It truly is a unique style for any female and allows women to sport color and fashion for considerably lower prices than what is found on the runways. Plus, as with mostly everything with Kohl’s, coupons are able to be used and sales are always occurring.

Michelle Smith for Milly

The new clothing line promises to bring a pop of color, uniqueness and personality to the everyday woman’s wardrobe. Below is a sampling of the items available in stores and online, beginning tomorrow:

Milly    Milly 3  Milly 4

Having honed many her skills working in top Parisian fashion lines, the Parisian sophistication definitely shines through in Smith’s pieces and I, for one, absolutely love this European flair! Pairing a t-shirt and a sleek skirt isn’t typically a style I would typically embark on, but from seeing it in the MILLY line, I think it is a look I will have to try! Fashion is one area where I will fully indulge in creativity and the possibilities are endless! There’s no better time to be fashionable than the Spring and Summer months and after seeing the new designer lines hitting stores shelves (i.e. this MILLY line, Lilly Pulitzer for Target, etc), it is definitely possible and achievable.

Happy Shopping!

Fashion Quote                   Fashion Quote 2

A “Full (er)” House

My excitement at this moment is literally palpable! I could not let a day pass (or a moment, rather) without mentioning the upcoming revival of my beloved TV series I grew up with – Full House! Yes, if you haven’t already heard, last night on Jimmy Kimmel, John Stamos officially confirmed Full House WILL be returning to the small screen as soon as next year! Apparently, 13 episodes have already been ordered by Netflix. Of course, while I am extremely excited about this, the only problem is – I don’t have Netflix.. though, now that Full House will be appearing on it, I just might have to investigate a subscription, even if just to watch the show.

Full House

If you’re like me, perhaps you grew up with the show. It’s a show that brings back waves of nostalgia. There is something special about it, no matter how “cheesy” or unrealistic it may have been. It is comforting to watch the characters Uncle Jesse, DJ, Stephanie, Michelle, Danny, Aunt Becky, etc and have them feel as though they are family to me. Even to this day, I’ll still watch when it airs on Nick at Nite on TV, despite owning every season on DVD. It’s the type of show I have to stop and watch and relive each moment. Sometimes, I even remember exactly where I was when specific episode first aired or I can recite several lines from the show. Along with Saved By the Bell, Full House more or less defined my childhood and is one I will always look back on fondly.

The revival of Full House obviously is slated to be different than the original, with DJ now widowed, with two children (a 12 and 7-year-old and is currently expecting another!). She moves in with her sister, Stephanie, now an aspiring musician and her best friend, Kimmy, who is now a mother of one daughter, herself. The show will be an hour long and produced by John Stamos, who will make the occasional guest-appearance, reprising his role as Uncle Jesse. It was reported by Stamos that they are currently attempting to bring in as many original cast members as possible, with Bob Saget, the Olsen Twins, Dave Coulier (Joey), and Lori Loughlin (Aunt Becky) still in talks to join. It is my hope they will be able to secure the other cast members. I think it would be a very interesting dynamic to be able to see all of them together again after so many years. Of course, they do have a legacy to preserve (Saget mentioned this very phrase when he was a guest on The View last week). I couldn’t agree with him more, though. It’s been 28 years (can you believe it?!) since Full House first hit TV screens and is still watched and highly regarded today. Though I may be wrong, I have an inkling that this new version will be just as impressive as the first and I couldn’t be more thrilled or excited about it!

While revealing the return on Jimmy Kimmel, Stamos stated, “We’ve been working on this for many, many years. The original creator, Jeff Franklin, and Bob Boyett and Tom Miller, we were trying to do some kind of spinoff. We wanted to give credit to the legacy. We didn’t want to just sort of throw it away,” Stamos told Kimmel. “It starts sort of as a reunion and then spins off. … Candace has three boys and it’s sort of a reversal. And we turn the house over to her. But it’s a labor of love. We’ve been literally trying for so many years to do it right. And I think we finally got it perfect.”

John Stamos revealing Full House revival plans last night, on Jimmy Kimmel.

John Stamos revealing Full House revival plans last night, on Jimmy Kimmel.

It is my sincere hope and wish that the revival will do well. In a fast-paced, ever-changing world, it is refreshing to have a bit of childhood back again, even if it is slightly different; I can hear the Full House theme song already!

Stop and Listen

Good morning! I hope your week is off to a good start so far, in spite of the weather (if it happens to be inclement, where you’re located). Here, in Pennsylvania, it’s rainy, dreary and chilly. After the beautiful weekend we had, it’s quite a contrast. Though, as the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” Let’s hope that is the case!

Anyhow, a couple months ago, I started working a temporary job (which recently came to an end), which required me to often be in the car, traveling from one place to another. As a result, I spent a lot of time listening to the radio, hearing the latest and newest songs, my favorite DJ’s and the latest celebrity and local gossip. Having always been a fan of my local radio stations (i.e. 94.5 PST, 106.1, 102.1 and occasionally 96.5), I didn’t mind having the opportunity to listen more regularly. Of course, I’m not the biggest fan of driving, but listening to the radio made it a little less agonizing. Two songs in particular have lingered on my mind since first hearing it and I thought it was worth mentioning. The first song I’ve come to really love is one by a band you may or may not be familiar with, since they are relatively new on the music scene, despite having several singles already:

ECHOSMITH:

Echosmith 2

Hailing from Chino, California, Echosmith is a band which formed in 2009 and is comprised of siblings (Graham, Sydney, Noah and Jamie). They are young, but considerably talented, ranging in ages from 16-22) and are most noted for their songs, “Cool Kids,” and most recently, “Bright.” Their lyrics and musical abilities are impressive and captivating. Often when their songs are played on the radio, I stop and listen not only to the music, but to the lyrics, personally relating to them. The lyrics might be simple, but sometimes, simple is best and often most powerful.

Echosmith

I heard them perform “Cool Kids,” live on The Ellen DeGeneres Show a couple months back and they did not disappoint. Unlike many other bands and musicians, they sounded nearly identical to their recording and their passion for music proved to shine through.

Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth:

Wiz and Charlie

If you’ve listened to the radio lately, watched several talk shows, or saw the latest Fast and Furious movie in theatres, then you’ve probably heard or encountered the song by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth“See you Again.” If you haven’t then I hope you’ll take a listen when you get a chance. When I first heard it, I didn’t realize it was a dedication to the late Fast and Furious star, Paul Walker. However, after watching Wiz and Charlie’s performance of the song (also on The Ellen DeGeneres Show), it became clear to me.

See You Again

The lyrics of the song are powerful and appropriate and emphasize the relationships between Paul Walker and his castmates. It suits how heartbreaking and devastating Paul Walker’s sudden death was and generally, I’m not a fan of a voice like Charlie Puth’s, but something about it, perhaps how raw and emotive it is, captivates me and it works for the song. There is passion there and to me, that is more important than any other minute detail about someone’s voice that might not be “perfect.”

Kelly Clarkson:

Kelly Clarkson 2

Given the release of her latest CD, I couldn’t possibly post about music without mentioning one of my favorite singers, Kelly Clarkson. Since first appearing on American Idol on their first season, I’ve been a fan and follower of hers. I’ll never forget the first time I heard her voice, I was an impressionable middle-school student, sitting at the large desktop computer upstairs in my house, with the TV blaring in the background. I wasn’t paying attention to the TV, but suddenly turned to watch when I heard a powerful voice echoing. From that moment on, she has been a favorite of mine, not only for her incredible voice and catchy songs, but also for how secure she appears to be within herself. Lately, the media and people in general have not been quite so kind to her in regards to her body, but she has maintained a confident presence, staying true to who she is and emphasizing she is happy and in life, that is what is most important. Her confidence and trust within herself is something to me I aspire to emulate. In life, it is often so challenging (or at least it is for me, personally) to ignore the words others might say about me or what I think they are saying about me, but Kelly is a constant reminder of how possible it is to overcome these harsh words and criticisms. I love how she is teaching her baby daughter, River, to trust within oneself and realize health and happiness is paramount over numbers on a scale or the way clothing fits one’s body. People are often so quick to place judgments and assume people are one way simply because of how their body appears. We are more than our bodies and I’m so glad Kelly is an advocate for this perspective.

Music has always been a consistent presence in my life. I often forget how powerful and inspirational it can be. Often when I become overwhelmed, simply listening to a favorite song, or singing along to a favorite song has the ability to transport me to place of calm, where I can delight in the lyrics and the melody and recall fond memories.

Music quote

“Mane” Issues

Happy Weekend to You! Hopefully it’s warm, sunny and pleasant outside where you are, today, as it is here. In fact, it is expected to hit around 80 degrees today! I’m very happy to receiving an early dose of summer today, especially after the brutally-cold, inclement weather-filled Winter we just endured. This time of year often emerges as my favorite (of course, early to-mid Autumn does, as well, in light of the Fall foliage), because it always seems to feel like a new awakening of possibility to me. The flowers are blooming, the days are longer, we can enjoy time outside sans any heavy jackets, gloves, scarves, etc, and simply take in all nature and life has to offer.

Of course though, while I absolutely love the warmer months, over in the region where I live (Pennsylvania), as well as other locations throughout the country and elsewhere, the warmer months often mean humidity, which translates into problematic hair for many of us (definitely ME, without any question!) My hair, in particular, is extremely thick, coarse and difficult to manage. As a result, for a number of years, I have relied upon processes such as Keratin treatments, Brazilian Blowouts, and regrettably, the Japanese Thermal Reconditioning treatments. My favorite of all has been Keratin treatments. If you think about it, hair is actually MADE of keratin proteins, so the treatments only help to replenish and rejuvenate hair and keep it calmer in all weather conditions and climates. Nothing is perfect though, so there are still many challenges I face when working with my hair, but the upside is, the treatments, in combination with several hair products and tools makes it considerably EASIER to manage and also cuts styling time dramatically.

So I figured, perhaps some of you can relate to my dreaded hair woes and I’d love to be able to share with you some of my latest and tried and true hair products and tools:

REDKEN Frizz Dismiss – Smoothing and Humidity Protection (http://www.redken.com/products/haircare/frizz-dismiss-smoothing-humidity-protection)

Redken Frizz Dismiss Line

Last month, when I visited my local hair salon, my hair stylist was glowing and raving about Redken’s latest line! She, along with her fellow hair stylists had just returned from Redken’s Las Vegas symposium and experienced and tried many great techniques and hairstyles with this line. Since she knows how problematic and time-consuming my hair can be, she instantly recommended it to me, given the plethora of options and mediums it provides. Taken directly from Redken’s website, the product line is described as: “Redken Frizz Dismiss offers the first-ever Frizz Protection Factor (FPF) with 4 levels of smoothing and humidity protection for all hair types—from fine to coarse. Frizz Dismiss offers heat and humidity protection with a sulfate-free, sodium chloride-free cleansing system. It is safe for chemically straightened hair. Frizz Protection Factor (FPF), the first-ever professional scale, allows you to choose the protection you need based on hair type and humidity level.”

Sounds pretty ideal, right? The line is available in a shampoo, conditioner, mask intensive rinse-out treatment, smoothing lotion spray, as well as a leave-in oil serum and cream. The possibilities are bountiful and to me it seems there is a product for everyone, no matter if your hair is on the thinner side, or thick and coarse, like mine. Also, a little tip to mention: it was recently introduced at Ulta! Here is the link: http://www.ulta.com/ulta/a/_/Ntt-redkenfrizzdismisswk6/Nty-1?Dy=1&ciSelector=searchResults

So head on over to your local Ulta to see if they’ve started carrying it yet. Now, the only thing I’m not sure of, is if it is coupon eligible, so be sure to check before bringing your $3.50 off a $10 purchase coupon (available via ulta.com)! A little word to the wise: Ulta is currently featuring a buy 2 Redken products get one free, on this line, so you get 3 products for the price of 2! Definitely a win, in my opinion. Personally, I have not tried this line yet, but I definitely look forward to it and am very excited about it.

BABYLISS Nano Titanium Flat-Iron:

Babyliss Flat Iron

As I have previously mentioned, my hair tends to be very difficult to manage and style. It is naturally wavy, frizzy and puffy, especially when I attempt to blow-dry it. That being said, for a number of years, my Babyliss Nano-Titanium flat iron has been a lifesaver! It is a constant staple in my beauty regimen and I would recommend it over any other line or brand. I’ve used my fair share of flat irons, all different brands and types, but Babyliss is by far the highest quality. The settings go up to 450F and heats up within minutes. It is highly reliable and is readily available at Ulta, where you can use a coupon (my recommendation if you’re looking to purchase this flat iron, since it is quite pricey is to either wait until Ulta releases a 20% off of your total purchase, or one item, since it will maximize your savings, or visit Amazon.com, or Folica.com, where prices are typically more affordable and coupons can usually be found via retailmenot.com). Trust me, this will be an investment you won’t regret and will last you for a number of years.

BioIonic 10x Hair Dryer

Bioionic Hair Dryer

A couple of months ago, I was reading a magazine (it may have been Health Magazine, but I’m not certain of this), and stumbled across an article about the newest and most effective hair dryers. What was described is the Bio Ionic 10x Hair Dryer! Though the price was considerably hefty for a hair dryer, I am always looking for a more effective one than I was currently using. My old hair dryer left me blow drying my hair for what felt like hours. I was frustrated and disappointed and knew I needed to make a change. This hair dryer is super light, comes with a dust bag to keep it safe and secure in.

As described on Ulta’s website (http://www.ulta.com/ulta/browse/productDetail.jsp?productId=xlsImpprod10792102) ” The 10X Dryer dries hair in under 10 minutes because it’s 57% more powerful then DC motor dryers. The 10X Dryer is an earth friendly dryer, emitting zero EMF, Ozone or carbon micro particle emissions all while using 75% less energy then other 1800 Watt dryers. It has 3 adjustable heat and speed settings with a cool shot button. Included is a speed dry nozzle and 9 foot cord.”

Though you might gasp upon seeing the price, I purchased mine from Amazon at a savings of over $200! Yes, Amazon is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper for this hair dryer and if you are truly interested in it, I recommend checking out Amazon (and also checking out one of my earlier blog posts on online survey companies, where JUST for taking some surveys, you can earn Amazon gift cards which will help pay for this hair dryer, or anything else you’re hoping to purchase via Amazon!).

Tresemme Keratin Smooth Line:

Tresemme Keratin Smooth

If you’re looking for a more affordable, but still effective hair smoothing product with Keratin, I highly recommend checking out Tresemme’s Keratin Smooth Line. It is affordable, plus there are coupons available, all the time. They have a vast array of products, everything from smoothing flat iron sprays, heat tamer sprays, serums, shampoo and conditioner. Plus, it has a pleasant smell and leaves hair feeling soft and smooth! Great products for a great price!

Well, there you have it! I hope this was of help! Enjoy your weekend!

On the Radar

Good Thursday morning to you! I hope your week has been a pleasant one, thus far. So I thought today, a post would be in order to brief you on some of the items (i.e. foods, clothing, books), TV shows, etc, that I’ve currently been enjoying or, conversely, aspire to enjoy someday, very soon!

FASHION:

For about as long as I can remember, fashion has always been a deep interest of mine, especially when it comes to shoes and accessories. Though, fashion of all kind is definitely a source of creativity for me and I am open to most prints, designs and colors. Recently, I learned one of my favorite department stores, Kohl’s, will be welcoming a new line of clothing items and accessories by one of their beloved designers, Lauren Conrad (LC). As you might already be familiar, LC welcomed her Cinderella-inspired line of clothing, due to the recent release of the live-action movie in theaters. Well, she is following suit with another beloved character line and this time, it is the much-loved, Minnie Mouse! Yes, you heard me right – Minnie Mouse! Her line is expected to be lighthearted, easygoing and friendly, and appeals to all ages – from a true child (by chronological age), to a kid at heart!

Lauren Conrad Minnie Mouse 2

One of my other favorite stores, Target, will also be introducing a new line of clothing by long-time loved designer, Lilly Pulitzer! Though she is often regarded as a “higher-end” designer, her line for Target is expected to be much more affordable, without sacrificing on the quality and style she is noted for. For me, personally, I am extremely excited to see this new line at Target, as I’ve never purchased any of her items. I absolutely love all the colors and prints; they are very appropriate for the spring and summer, or really, anytime of year and provide color and a personality to whatever one is wearing! Look for it at your local Target on or around April 19th!

Lilly Pulitzer 2

Lilly Pulitzer dresses

Lilly Pulitzer Target

Lastly, yet another store I’m quite fond of – Express, recently introduced new versions of their dressy shorts. Now, anyone who knows me, is aware that I have not worn shorts in probably 10 years. It’s not that I don’t like how they look – I definitely do, but it’s a matter of comfort and feeling at ease in them. Much of the time the shorts I’ve worn don’t fit all that well, or don’t look the way I would like them to. The dressy short style is one I’ve always hoped to emulate and the shorts I recently spotted on Express’s website and in their emails, is one that caught my eye. Perhaps you’ve seen them, as well? If not, here’s a photo:

Express Shorts

I just love the lace detailing on these! The lace, in my opinion, really adds style and personality. Plus, I love that it has a sophisticated, dressy look that can easily go from day to night. Also from Express, I spotted a Spring-style jacket, that I think would pair well with many outfits. The only caveat is that I believe it is only available in one color – Green, which is decent, but wouldn’t really match with everything. All the same, I love the style and hope to emulate it this season!

Express Spring Jacket

FOOD:

Two items in my particular have been on my radar for a number of months, with the first and foremost being: Elli Quark! You might be wondering, what exactly IS Elli Quark? Well, (according to their website, Elliquark.com) Elli Quark is a spoonable FRESH CHEESE with a creamy texture similar to Greek yogurt, but with a richer, LESS SOUR taste. It also has a better protein-to-carb ratio than Greek yogurt, with HIGH PROTEIN and NO ADDED SUGARS or artificial sweeteners. Yum! It sounds great to me! I’m already a HUGE fan of yogurt in general, especially Greek-style yogurt, so I think I would really enjoy Elli Quark! Plus, listen to this: they have a VAST array of flavors (12 in total!), which include:

Red Velvet; Blueberry; Strawberry; Lemon; Plain; Cherry; Pineapple; Peach; Vanilla Bean; Sea Salt Caramel; Bananas Foster; and Mint Chocolate!

They aren’t available yet in all locations, but they have a nifty product locator on their website to help with your searching and an option to order their products online, to be conveniently delivered right to your home! I’ve been desperately longing to try Elli Quark, so online ordering for me may be on my radar… early birthday gift, anyone?!

Elli Quark

Another product which recently caught my eye while shopping is a new granola flavor by the brand, Bear Naked Granola! As a company with wholesome, natural ingredients, plus recyclable packaging, they are a company I feel exceptionally comfortable and excited to purchase! Plus, one of their latest flavors – Sea Salt Caramel Apple, sounds absolutely incredible! Yum!

Barefoot Granola Sea Salt Caramel Apple

BOOKS:

As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, books are a frequent staple in my life and a source of comfort. I have a whole rotation of authors I currently love and follow, but am always open to new ones and the latest talent. I’m always in such awe of the prose and writing style of the authors I read and am impressed by their skills, ability and tact and the way they are able to provide such emotionally-riveting words. A an author I recently discovered (though definitely not new to the writing community; she is already well-established and has a healthy following) is Jane Green. Since discovering her only a short time ago, I’ve already read several of her novels and look forward to reading more in the near future. I also follow her on social media and love to see all the interior decorating and cooking she does in addition to her fiction-writing. I highly recommend her, if you haven’t already read her before.

Jane Green

Another author I’ve been following and reading is Meg Donahue. She is very personable, likable and her books always capture my attention. Her newest novel, Dog Crazy is an excellent book for those who have weathered through a host of emotions, whether you’re a dog owner or not. Check it out, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Meg Donahue

Currently, I am reading a novel by Stacey Ballis, one of the newest authors I’ve discovered. Though I still have a way to go with her novel, Recipe for Disaster, I am enjoying it and look forward to traversing through.

Stacey Ballis book

TV:

One day, a couple weeks ago, while lounging around the house, my mom and I were flipping through channels, curious about what would actually be on, given it was a random Sunday afternoon. Suddenly, we stumbled across HGTV, a channel I haven’t watched all that much with the exception of House Hunters, about once or twice. Reading the description for a TV Show called Beachfront Bargain Hunt, I was intrigued and decided to try an episode and see what I thought. Well, ever since first taking in an episode, I have been hooked! It’s been filling up my DVR now for weeks straight and I always look forward to seeing what new beach homes various families and people will be looking for. Every episode is a new location and a new family, so it feels like the first time, every time I view it!

Beachfront Bargain Hunt&

Also, as I mentioned yesterday, I recently made the morning transition over to watching NBC’s, The TODAY Show from ABC’s Good Morning America. I find a lot of the anchors and reporters much more personable (especially Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee, Tamron Hall, Al Roker, etc). I love their banter and personality and how well they bounce ideas and thoughts off of one another. They also aren’t afraid to voice their true opinions, no matter the backlash they might experience. They don’t shy away from the limelight, which is truly inspiring to me.

The Today Show

KLG and Hoda

I’m also so glad The Voice is back, especially with judge, Christina Aguilera! Her voice is just exceptional; it always has been and I’ve been a fan of hers since my childhood. Also, I think she is an excellent judge and mentor and provides great guidance and support to the contestants on the show. She goes well with new judge, Pharrell Williams.

The Voice

So there you have it, just a brief sampling of what is currently “on my radar!” Have a good Thursday!

An Unexpected Return

Hello, there! It’s good to be back. I’ve toyed with the option of returning to blogging for several months now. At times, I felt so highly motivated, I was ready to quickly dive in and begin writing, but then my apprehensions and fears got the best of me and I ended up shying away from it, telling myself I would simply, “do it another day.” Well, to make a long story short, another day became another day, and so on, but here we are. It’s now the spring of 2015 and I am merely weeks away from my 27th birthday, believe it or not. It is hard for me to believe how quickly time and life is passing, though so often, it feels stagnant and stiff. Time is moving though and I’ve learned over the past year and a half or so, how very important it is to remind of myself of all I have, even if there is a lot I wish and dream for, it is still imperative to not lose sight of my blessings.

I’m so fortunate to be an aunt; I look at my niece and I feel such joy and love for her. It’s difficult to really place into words, but being with her provides with me with hope and inspiration. Seeing her in the beginning stages of her life, realizing how much potential and opportunities she has, is incredible. Each day, she learns and explores, discovers different aspects of herself and life, comes into her personality and when she smiles at me, I feel like my entire day has made a positive turnaround. She helps me keep my life in perspective and helps me realize that the things that have happened to me aren’t quite so bad after all. I can be changed or affected by the things that happen to me in my life, but I don’t have to be reduced by them. Sometimes, it would be easier to fixate on everything I have lost, but when I see my niece, I see the other side and how important it is to show her a smile, because she deserves to see that she has a whole world of possibility to look forward to. She can be anything she chooses and has the ability to achieve all she aspires to.

Focusing on what’s important:

Shifting gears a bit, last month, my trusty laptop of 6 years suddenly stopped working. One day, I sat down, ready to peruse the internet for the day and the screen was completely black. I could hear the sounds of the computer working, indicating the hard drive was most likely still intact, but the screen was completely blank. Nothing I did helped, so I quickly shuffled over to Best Buy and was told the detrimental truth: the laptop was gone; completely and utterly gone, unable to be corrected. Of course, there was the SLIGHT, very slight potential it could be fixed, but was it worth it at this point? Having already replaced the keyboard twice, the logical option was to purchase a new laptop. Due to finances and other circumstances, it ended up being a costly investment, but not only that, an emotional one. The entire day, I was without access to a computer, due to my files being transferred over from my old laptop to the new one. It was a feeling I have difficulty describing, but I felt isolated and deserted, as though a part of me was missing or out of order. It was a feeling, I am almost embarrassed to admit; being so unbelievably dependent on a piece of technology. Being without technology is something I WANT to be comfortable being without. I don’t like that I’ve come to often hide behind my laptop. I suppose in a sense, it is a source of comfort to me, providing me with instant access and connection to others, via social media, blogs, etc. Of course, I can access them through my smartphone, but with my smartphone not always behaving the way it should, it’s often easier to see and carry out activities via laptop. Being without my laptop was a realization of how out of sorts I’ve become, how I often walk around holding my breath, failing to realize and recognize the beauty of nature, connecting to other people in person and simply enjoying life for what it is, outside of a screen and a keyboard. I want to be able to breathe in fresh air, live in each moment, and realize that the things that happen to me can be dealt with in a calm, reasonable manner. I am often so quick to fret and catastrosize the smallest of things and I don’t wish to be that way. Taking each moment in stride and recognizing what is important and what’s not, is a skill I hope to work on and perhaps, even through blogging, I’ll be able to achieve this.

This morning, as she always does, Hoda Kotb, one of the co-hosts of The TODAY Show (my newfound favorite TV morning program, having deserted Good Morning America and made the transition to NBC), tweets a quote for the day. Today’s quote was particularly inspiring and relevant to me:

“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.” To me, this means, with a little bit of patience, we can be more accepting and kinder to ourselves, realizing that just because we don’t have something now, or aren’t where we want to be, doesn’t mean we won’t eventually get there.

That’s all for today, but you know what? It’s good to be back.