Tastes Like Summer!

Even if it doesn't feel like summer around here, it sure tastes like it. Why? How?

The answer: vitaminwater Zero Naturally Sweetened Squeezed Lemonade.

As if the freshly-squeezed, authentic lemonade taste wasn't enough, this water sets the bar even higher by showcasing its lemony goodness in a zero-calorie, nutrient-enhanced drink that happens to be wallet-friendly as well. I stocked up on a week's worth of 20-oz. bottles for only $1 each, which is quite reasonable for my newly budget-conscious lifestyle.

Other things to note about vitaminwater Zero lemonade include the ingredients that set it apart from other average flavored waters. This water contains vitamins C, B3, B5, B6, B12, A, E, zinc and electrolytes — a great supplement for those wanting to get more vitamins into their system aside from taking a one-a-day vitamin, and especially for people who take no vitamins at all. It's a tasty way to stay healthy!

The next time you see it in the store, buy one and give it a try. If you love summertime lemonade, I have a feeling you'll be pleasantly surprised by this water. Let me know if you've tried it, and what you think of it! Oh, and make sure to get the "Zero" version, not the original version (should look like the picture above)... they actually taste quite a bit different.

Stay Fabulous!


Summer Reading List!

It's that time of the year again — summer reading time!
Every summer I give myself three months to get through a handful of books. I start with a list, but I often stray from it when I hear about new releases or receive new recommendations from friends. As of now, here is my 2011 Summer Reading List.

::: The Radleys by Matt Haig :::
This book is said to be a "witty vampire novel" and immediately piqued my interest when I read a review written in Entertainment Weekly magazine. I enjoyed the Twilight Saga, but I'm definitely over the whole vampire theme in pop culture. However, The Radleys is supposed to be geared more toward adults, both cleverly written and unique in its storyline. I'm starting this one today, as I've been looking forward to it since it was released.
For a review of The Radleys, check out this article from USA Today.

::: Half a Life by Darin Strauss :::
The memoir genre is one of my favorite literature genres to read, so I'm hoping Half a Life won't disappoint. The summary is quite intriguing, especially considering it's a true story (from the author's point of view). Strauss recounts the last few days of his high-school career, when his life changed forever — while out driving his car with some friends, he collides with a classmate who is riding her bike, and kills her. The author's website notes that the memoir discusses the tragedy as well as the events that transpire afterward. I'm expecting it to be a powerful and emotional read.

::: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan :::
I have other books written by Egan on my list of things to read, but A Visit from the Goon Squad was bumped to the top of my list after I read many reviews that gave it much praise. It won a number of awards, including the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, the 2011 L.A. Times Book Prize for Fiction and the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award. The title itself was interesting, and the storyline is equally as interesting. I won't explain it here, but you can read the summary (and buy it) on Amazon.

::: I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman :::
I bought this book a few months ago and simply haven't gotten to it yet. But I'm making it a point to read it this summer. You can read a summary of I'd Know You Anywhere on the author's website, so I don't have to explain it all here. I'm anxious to get this one started... finally! Apparently it alternates between present time and the past with each different chapter, which I'm hoping doesn't muddle the story with awkward transitions. I've heard good things about this author though, so I'm optimistic.

::: Numb by Sean Ferrell :::
This caught my attention because of the odd premise: a man who can't feel pain. Literally. I think there is a medical term for it (it was featured in an episode of "House" once), though I'm not sure how many cases of the condition are known/studied throughout the world. It looks like Numb deals more with the emotional effects of the character's condition, and his search for details about his past that will identify how he came to be this way, moreso than the unique condition itself. Could be interesting!

::: The Patterns of Paper Monsters by Emma Rathbone :::
I just added this one to my list earlier today, after it was recommended on the website Good Reads based on my preferences and past book ratings. Publishers Weekly called The Patterns of Paper Monsters "Extraordinary and imaginative... One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest meets Napoleon Dynamite." With a description like that, I couldn't pass it up! It's basically about a 17-year-old's time in a juvenile detention center, which I'm sure is filled with many confrontations and maybe even some personal growth thrown into the mix.

I also have some "light reading" options for days when I just need a short break from reality. These are books that I can pick up anytime, without involved/elaborate storylines:

::: I Totally Meant to Do That by Jane Borden :::
::: 1001 Little Fashion Miracles by Caroline Jones :::
::: The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha :::
::: On Beauty by Zadie Smith :::

I look forward to sharing some reviews of my reads throughout the summer!

Stay Fabulous!


Adele: The Cure for a Bad Day

It's no secret. Today was a terrible day. Have you ever experienced those days when everything starts off on the wrong foot from the time you wake up, and continues until the time you go to bed? Example: Wake up with a headache. Proceed to get out of bed and stub your toe. Numerous other "bad" things throughout the day. End the day with slamming your finger in the car door.
Nothing. goes. right.
Does it even pay to try to have a good day when it starts out like that, or is it best to accept it and try to get through it with the least amount of bumps and bruises as possible?
I don't know. But that was my day today. Utterly terrible. I wish this was just me being dramatic. But... not this time. :]

When I have days like this, I retreat into the playlists on my iPod. I've got music for every mood, every occasion and every time of the day. I'm proud of my eclectic collection of music — from the Beatles to Aerosmith and Jay-Z to Miles Davis. Today I needed something to make me feel better, and also something that would take me away from reality for a while. Music I could get lost in, and even forget that I was at work, in a small office with ridiculous climate control problems. Not all music can do this. But Adele does.

Picture from sweetslyrics.com

Adele is simply fabulous, and I am quite surprised she's not as popular in the US as she is in the UK {yes, she's famous here, but not to the extent that she is in the UK}. No one can sing like she can — her music is full of depth and emotion and beauty that remains incomparable — at least in my opinion. There have been some great singers in the past, but Adele is one of the best contemporary/modern singers out there. I would characterize her voice and music as a mix between Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey {like her or not, her voice is ah-mazing... it can cover six octaves!}, plus a little Etta James and David Gray thrown in there {David Gray for his songwriting abilities}. Not only that, but her voice and her music is timeless. It's classy, soulful and tells a great story through the thought-provoking lyrics. Lyrics that people can relate to, but they're not all "he broke my heart but I'm strong and moving on" type of songs, so they're a breath of fresh air among other musicians these days. I love singing along with her songs in my car, at the top of my lungs, without a care in the world. And on a day like today, the "not a care in the world" feeling was absolutely necessary. If you haven't checked out her music, just do it. Do it.

You can preview and buy her music HERE.

Stay Fabulous!


Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of the moms out there — whether you're a long-time mom or a mom-to-be — this day is for you!

In honor of Mother's Day, I thought it was the perfect time to give a shout-out to a jewelry shop on Etsy that created a personalized necklace for my mom last year. Bella Ray Designs {click the name to go right to the shop} offers spectacular customized designs via hand-stamped jewelry, using quality materials and a detail-oriented eye. I've ordered a number of different hand-stamped necklaces for different occasions within the last year through three other Etsy shops, but none of them compared to Bella Ray Designs. I found that the other shops often used thinner metal that was more flimsy, so you could see the stamps through the back of the pendants. I also noticed other shops didn't take as much time to center the stampings in the perfect positions on the pendants, and some of them were even a bit scratched when I received them. But most importantly, the prices were higher at the other shops, and in return the jewelry wasn't as high-quality as Bella Ray Designs. So I will continue to recommend this shop before any others, as I'm positive you won't be disappointed.
{I also received my order in less than a week, which was fantastic! One of the other shops I ordered from took six weeks to arrive, so I missed the occasion I had it made for — big FAIL.}

So here is the necklace she made for my mother {it's the actual necklace, with my name and birthstone, and my brother's name and birthstone}. Isn't it pretty? The birthstones ended up complementing each other quite well — I really love the pastel color combination. And to top it off, my mom loved it.

{Picture from Bella Ray Designs}
If you're in the market for a well-made, personalized piece of jewelry, please check out this lovely little shop.
Stay Fabulous!


Catch Up!

It's been a while since I've blogged! A lot has transpired over the last two weeks, and I'm finally catching up on all of the things I put off until now {school work, cleaning, reading, spending time with family/friends, just relaxing}. Hopefully I can jump back into blogging more regularly and really get this thing off the ground. Baby steps.

So without getting into too many personal details, here are some of the things that have occupied my time lately.

Last week, beginning April 24th, was tech week for the theater ensemble I perform with. We put on a classic Greek play, which included one act that was done more traditionally, and the second act was updated and produced as a modern piece {and it was HIL-ARIOUS}. My family came to see the final matinee, and they all left with big smiles on their faces — and they're still laughing about it. That's what I like to see! But since it was the week/weekend of the show, I had no time to myself for anything except the bare minimum sleep requirement {about four hours a night, which is half of what I usually get}. I'd work from 8-4:30, then go home to shovel in a few spoonfuls of ice cream and run out the door to make it to the theater by 5pm, where I stayed until 11pm each night. Suffice to say I was sleep-deprived and a little cranky by the end of the run. But, I'm very proud of what the ensemble accomplished, and I wouldn't have given my participation a second thought. I'm excited to have free evenings again though!

Also demanding my time and focus was the class I was taking at the time. I'm studying for my MBA, and each class is eight weeks long. The eighth week, which is when the final exam is taken, happened to arrive the week before tech week for the play, which basically means I had no break for two weeks straight. But, I was able to dominate the exam and walked away with a 97% in the class overall, which I'm quite proud of considering how many different things I was trying to give attention to during the that timeframe. I really can't complain. Part of me simply loves being busy and working under pressure. But I can't deny the desire to do nothing once and a while.

To top it all off, looming over my head for the last 6 weeks was a potential career change/promotion at work. I interviewed for a different position within my company about 6 weeks ago, and played the waiting game for about 5 weeks {I understand why patience is a virtue now}. At the end of week 5, which coincidentally was the week of the play performances, I was called in for a second interview. This gave me hope, though I tried not to think about it too much, as I've been disappointed in situations like this in the past. But, for me, that's not an easy thing to do, so I ended up analyzing every single aspect of the situation until I was pretty well paranoid. Luckily, I just found out yesterday that I got the job! I start in my new position on May 24th, and am *SO* excited about the new responsibilities and new challenges that await me. To celebrate, I'm buying myself a whole new set of office things — organizers, binders, shelves, etc. Maybe a few new outfits too, even though my company's dress code is casual {I love dressing up anyway}. I deserve it!

So, obviously the week of the 24th was one of the busiest, draining, exciting weeks I've had in a long time. The stress and anxiety of performing in the play, combined with studying for and taking my final exam, plus everything going on at work... it makes me appreciate the laid-back weekend I'm enjoying right now. *smile* But I'm ready to get back to blogging again, as I have a stockpile of ideas to start digging into, probably starting tomorrow.

I hope everyone else has enjoyed the last two weeks in their own ways, and has the opportunity to get outside and soak up the sunshine (if it's sunny by you, as it is by me)!

Stay Fabulous!