Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Discussion
The Hunger Games Trilogy

Five words for these books: Ahhhh! Ahhhh! Ahhhh! Ahhhh! Ahhhh!

Ha! Do those count as words? Well, they do now! While I was reading these books, I had a nightmare that I was actually in The Hunger Games and I woke up screaming –and in turn woke my sister up and scared the crap out of her! Ha! It’s hilarious to look back on it but it was pretty scary for both of us at the time! Until we realized what was happening and started cracking up!

Despite the fact that it gave me a nightmare, this trilogy was truly remarkable and I enjoyed it SO MUCH. I can’t believe how long it took me to pick up this series!! Once I started reading it, I was totally sucked in! Click here for a description of the book (there is actually a description of all three books in the document that pops up, and reading group guide questions).

This series was seriously like a vacuum. As soon as I picked it up, I could NOT put it down. It was that good. The story had my on the edge of my seat (or beach chair, or bed…) the entire time – I would always think, I need to take a break from reading this – I will at the next chapter! And then the next chapter would arrive and I’d start reading it without even realizing it. Ha!

Katniss was an amazing heroine. I loved her. She was so real and so honest. She was incredibly resourceful, strong and a real survivor. She often had to grapple with her various “flaws” that she thought she had. But when it came down to it, I really thought that she was just being human and doing what need to be done to make sure that her and her family survived. Besides her survival instinct, I also adored her personality as a whole. One thing I loved was the way she would admit to the fact that she was totally confused and unclear about her contradictory feelings on certain things. For example, she was conflicted about her “friends” who were her makeover team from the Capitol (they gave her a makeover so she was “camera-ready” before going on TV and subsequently being sent for SLAUGHTER!) – were they friends because she knew them and they “cared” about her, or were they enemies because the embodied everything that was evil about the Capitol? I felt like every time she voiced her confusion, the author did an excellent job describing (through Katniss’s thoughts) exactly what had been tickling the back of my mind about various contradictions going on through the narrative and Katniss’s life. Finally, I thought it was awesome that she was so badass with her bow and arrow!

It’s hard to believe at times that this is a young adult trilogy – considering the main premise of the book and all of the violence and gore that surrounds it! Also, there is no sex or anything beyond kissing that takes place in the book, I guess because it is categorized as young adult. Not that I need that to be part of the story, but it just made me think…so….it’s okay for young adults to read about a boy being eaten alive by a pack of rabid, wolf-human hybrids (one of the muttations created by the Capitol) and a girl getting impaled by a metal spear, but it’s not okay for kids to read about people having sex? So strange! Doesn’t it make you wonder why people are so worried about sex and less worried about extreme violence?

I hear they are making a movie – I can’t wait! Based on the roller coaster of emotions that I felt while reading these books, bringing it to life on the big screen will likely be an incredible experience!

p.s. Have you entered the give-away yet?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wedding Wednesday :-D
Invitations!

Here are couple of sets of invitations/stationary that we decided between for our wedding invitations!!!! Aren't they both so cute and playful {that's what we're going for...duh, I'm sure you know that by now LOL}? I love them both! I found them on Wedding Paper Divas via The Knot. We're going to order this first design with the bicycles. :-D





The only thing I think we'd change in the above design is to have all of the text/bicycles to be entirely white. I'm not really feeling the brown, how 'bout you?

This was our second runner up....I love these too!!!




Aren't these so pretty and fun as well?! I loved them both...and I couldn't decide. I enlisted Robbie (duh) and my sister to help me decide. They both {hands down} liked the bicycle design better. :-D


p.s. Have you entered the give-away yet?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Welcome Baby Isla!

My best friend {and bridesmaid}, Tiffany just had a baby a few weeks ago!!! Here she is, baby Isla!!!





Isn't she so adorable!? So....this is super exciting for me because Tiffany and I grew up together and have been friends since we were 4 years old! So Isla is going to be like a niece to me! I'm going to visit this weekend and I CAN'T WAIT!

p.s. Have you entered the give-away yet?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Give-Away! Super Spooky Halloween Scentsy from Heaven!

Fall is here! Fall is here! Although it's not yet chilly in sunny SoCal, it doesn't change the fact that my favorite holiday is only weeks away! Halloween! Yahoo! I have had my costume planned for over a year now (and oh by the way, I already have the next two years' costumes planned too. LOL).

To get everyone in a festive mood...I have some freeeeee Halloween cheer to share with you! Lindsay has agreed to generously join me for a Scentsy Give-Away for my lil' blog! You can win the below Jack-o-Lantern Plug-in Warmer and an Autumn Sunset Scentsy Bar. Isn't it soooooo adorable?! The scent is so yummy, it is one of my absolute favorites!


Send me an email to Diaryofasmartblonde{at}yahoo.com to enter the contest! In your email, please include:
  • Your name and your Google Friend Connect Name (required...it's free to join)
  • Your email address (required)
  • Did you post something about this Give-Away on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter account? Share it with me! If you send me your link, it'll earn you an extra entry!

Contest rules and information, i.e. the annoying fine print:
  1. You must be a public follower using Google Friend Connect (GFC) - it's free to join!
  2. New followers are welcome. To follow, click the "Join This Site" icon in the right column of the blog. Make sure you opt to follow publicly. If you are not a public follower, you will be disqualified.
  3. To be a contestant of this giveaway you must send me an email with the information stated above in the bulleted list.
  4. One contest entry per person.
  5. Required information is your GFC name and email address (for contact purposes only). One entry is automatic for all contestants.
  6. A second entry can be earned by linking to this contest. A valid link to your twitter posting, facebook post, or blog post linking back to this giveaway page must be submitted to earn this second entry.
  7. The giveaway will close on Monday, October 10, 2011 at 10:00PM P.S.T. The winner will be selected using Random.org.
  8. The winner will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond a new winner will be selected.
  9. The contest is open to United States residents only.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wedding Wednesday :-D
Let's Panic About Engagment Photos!

When we initially booked our wedding photographer, I didn’t even think I wanted engagement photos. I saw them as a bonus part to our package. I understood reasons for getting them, but I also felt like they were just another expenditure tacked onto an already incredibly costly event.

What’s ridiculous is that as they approached, I had a mini-panic attack about them. Why? I don’t know! I think it was a combination of wanting them to turn out really nice (duh), thinking they were important (??), and thinking that it was our only chance (chance for what?!). When would we ever get professional photos again? And they’d never be right before our wedding again! And what if we use them for gifts for parents, etc.? And what if we use them for Christmas Cards? And what if we use them for save-the-dates? What should we wear? What if I break out, or have bad hair? Ah!

Never mind the fact that I wasn’t even planning on sending out save-the-dates, and up until now I’ve been taking a photo with our cheap little camera for our Christmas Cards – and they’ve been just freakin’ fine. Helllooooooo.

So when the day finally arrived, I have to admit that I totally lost perspective about how important the engagement photo session was (i.e. inflated the importance a looootttt), but I also discovered afterwards that it was valuable for other reasons – ones that actually pertain to our wedding day itself (duh). For one thing, we got to experience having a big fancy camera trained on us for hours (how do celebs stand it?). I felt sorta silly sometimes, like I didn’t know what to do – I wish I would have had a glass of wine first! Secondly, it pretty much solidified my decision to wear my hair up on the big day. While I loved having it loose for the engagement photos, I was annoyed and worrying about it the entire time. Dumb, I know…but what can I say? So, wedding day = UPDO! = less stress about stupid crap! Third, it actually was really nice to meet our photographer and get to know her a little. Since we spent some time together, it’ll feel more like a friend photographing us on our actual wedding day.

And...I was really glad I wore my fancy shoes. :-D LOL.

If anything I think the experience will help me not worry (or worry less?) about the stupid wedding day pictures, and focus more on the fact that they should just be a nice keepsake to remember the moment when we became man and wife, and committed our lives to each other in front of God, our families, and our friends.

Cripes, this post makes me feel like a bridezilla! LOL.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Rockefeller

A couple weeks ago, my friends and I checked out a new restaurant in Hermosa Beach - The Rockefeller. It is a new gastro-pub style restaurant in Hermosa right up the street from the pier. It was so rustic and lovely inside! There were high tables and booths for seating, and a unique looking bar. The night I dined there, they had self-seating. I liked it; I like choosing where I am sitting once in a while. Also, self-seating solidified the initial impression of the restaurant as very casual, relaxed and easygoing.

The food was delicious. They offered familiar foods – think pub food, but more upscale and refined. We ordered grilled zucchini, fried mushrooms, and fries – all three came with extremely tasty and unique dipping sauces. We all had to taste the sauces without anything else, just to enjoy them and focus on the flavor – and to try to figure out their ingredients! For dinner, I ordered the Rockefeller Chicken Burger – delicious! It was their signature burger, except prepared with a healthier ground chicken patty. I loved that option! Here are some pics!






As I mentioned before, the restaurant was very pretty and trendy on the inside (and outside), and the booth was really comfy. One of the things I loved and thought was really unique was the window that looked into the kitchen! When you walk up to the restaurant there is a big window right to the left of the door (first pic above) – and through it you see all the chefs preparing the food. Fun!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Drycleaning Awesomeness from Heaven

Recently I found out about a new service in my local area – Clean Cierge. It is so awesome and convenient! It is a dry cleaning service that does {even more of} the work for you! There are lockers at different apartment complexes, condos, etc. throughout the LA area. You sign up for an online account, link your account to your credit card, put your stuff in one a locker at your complex (keys are provided), and then order a pick up via your online account (noting your locker number and any special instructions). When your stuff is picked up they send you an email, and then when it’s done they send you another email with the charges and notification that your stuff is back in your locker. Then you take your little key and go get it! The lockers are right by my mailbox area, so I am already down there every other day at least. Hello convenient!

I decided to try it out and take advantage of the promotion they had going on for first time customers; I got two items dry-cleaned for free! They also give you a stand-up laundry bag with a tag with your customer number attached. I had two white blazers cleaned and they both turned out gorgeous. After that first trial, I sent in a pair of high heels to get re-heeled. They also turned out perfectly.

As you can see below, I don’t think their prices are much different than most places around here. I can’t say I’m an expert though. I actually don’t get things dry cleaned that often. For one, I hate paying for it, and for another, I hate going and dropping off/picking up stuff. It annoys me. LOL. Needless to say, this service takes care of one of those problems for me. Since I also despise ironing, maybe I might start using this service and actually wear one of my button-down shirts more than once every 5 years. HA!


Here is their website! Clean Cierge.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Adventures in Sitting On Things

Observe - much fun can be had by sitting on top of anything that I lay out on the bed/couch/floor/any other flat surface:

2be Bebe Shopping Bag

Cardboard inserts in the box from my new fan.

Express shopping bag.

Empty box from birthday gift from Sara.

My suitcase.

Lindsay's suitcase.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wedding Wednesday :-D
Mad Libs!!!!!!!

Instead of having a guest book (which I never sign....or always forget to sign), we are going to have Mad Libs for our guests to fill out!!!! Check it out (click to enlarge)!


I love this so much and they seriously crack me up!!! Won't this be fun for our guests? I think I will probably roll them up and tie them with a little piece of twine (as shown on Martha's website). I'm thinking I'll probably use a 3-hole punch afterwards and bind them in a little book and ta-da!! Fun and non-traditional guest book!!!!

I got this off of the Martha Stewart Weddings website - it was a downloadable PDF!

Man I love Martha Stewart!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

August Birchbox Goodies - Review!

FIX Malibu Wish Wash Exfoliating Powder Wash – Weiirddddd
This was an interesting idea. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of a powder that turns into a foamy soap when you add water. I thought it was fun, I could definitely see keeping it in my gym bag or travel bag for convenience; you wouldn’t have to worry about it getting too hot (if you left your bag in your car or something) or leaking, as liquid soaps are wont to do. Although it was fun, the fragrance of the soap smelled like library books. Yes, library books. So strange! Would I pay premium price for this product? Maybe if it smelled better!

Caudalie Premier Cru The Eye Cream – Meh
The cream was nice, not too heavy, and was very moisturizing. I didn’t really notice much of a difference in my eyes, though. But I can’t say that I have ever really noticed much of a difference after using eye creams. Maybe if I had an opportunity to use it when my eyes were really puffy, it would be noticeable. Would I pay premium price for this product? Nah.

Number 4 Lumiere d'hiver Reconstructing Masque – Like
I liked this deep conditioning hair masque. My hair felt really soft afterwards, and it wasn’t too heavy. It smelled really nice, but was slightly strong. The smell sort of reminded me of the Brazil Nut Hair Care Line at The Body Shop. There were a lot of words on the package implying it would make your hair shiny – I didn’t think my hair looked noticeably shinier. Although I liked it, it didn’t really blow my mind. Would I pay premium price for this item? Probably not.

Number 4 L'eau de Mer Hydrating Shampoo - Like
I really liked this shampoo. It was definitely very hydrating and wasn't heavy at all. The fragrance was a little strange though - it sorta reminded me of my grandpa's shaving cream (how do I remember that from over 10 years ago? No idea!). Like the reconstructing masque, I liked it but it didn't really blow my mind. Would I pay premium price for this item? Probably not.

Twistband Hair Ties – Cute idea
I thought this hair tie was a cute idea. I like that it has a little end on it that makes it look cuter while it’s on your wrist (I definitely always have a hair tie on my wrist!). The hold was a little tight for me, though; I prefer a hair tie with a slightly lighter hold, tight ones give me a headache. This is absolutely perfect for wearing your hair in a bun, though! My hair is really thick and needs a thicker hair tie to hold it all in a bun. Since scrunchies went out of style (omg were they ever in style? {shudder}…but I did wear them!) I’ve had to use bobby pins, etc., which are really uncomfortable and don’t work that well! Would I pay premium price for this product? Maybe!

Zoya Touch Collection – Looooooove!
How can you go wrong with Zoya nailpolish? I'll tell you, you cannot! This polish applied like a dream and was so gorgeous. I loved it. It is such a delicate nude color - perfect to match any outfit and any skin tone. It has a little bit of shimmer to add a little uniqueness and fun, and is just gorgeous. Would I pay premium price for this product? Yes!

Let me refer you to Birchbox! If you want to sign up, email me at diaryofasmartblonde@yahoo.com!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Book Discussion
The Aurora Teagarden Series

Five words for these books: Man, I love Charlaine Harris!

Recently I finished The Aurora Teagarden Series, another murder-mystery series written by Charlaine Harris (author of the Southern Vampire Series, the books that are the basis for Trueblood). It was so fun to read. I love, love, love Charlaine Harris!

When I first started reading this series, I have to admit that I actually wasn’t so sure about it, though. I found Aurora a little stiff, and a little too prim and proper for me. I can’t think of a specific example from the book off the top of my head, but after getting to know Aurora she reminds me of someone that would strictly adhere to the “no white after labor day” rule (soooo outdated and not a rule anymore, people!). And she would probably judge people who didn’t follow that rule (probably only in her head, though). HA! Although it annoyed me from time to time, I do think it added to the story and was a necessary part of Aurora’s character and contributed to the feel of the books overall.

Aurora is a cute little librarian that chooses a different pair of glasses to wear every day, based on her mood, her outfit, and her plans for the day. This cracked me up, and I thought it was cute. She gets into so many strange situations involving murders, it’s no wonder she’s become an expert at solving them. At one point a dead body actually fell from a plane right into her backyard! Never mind the fact that she used to be a part of a club, Real Murders, which was focused on study and discussion about famous murderers throughout history.

One of the main elements of the story is the Southern setting – with all of the southern cultural aspects intact. Considering I’ve never lived in the South (although I do have family there), I thought the culture was really interesting to read about. Each book encompasses a different murder-mystery with very dissimilar twists and turns. Charlaine never disappoints with her narratives, which keep my interest and always leave me wanting more of each story. She expertly introduces interesting new characters in every book, and don’t even get me started on Aurora’s multi-faceted personal life!

If you are looking for a page-turner, an easy and fun read, and many captivating murder-mystery tales, this series is for you!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Wedding Wednesday :-D
I want {more} sprinkles!

Lately I've been checking out some places to get our wedding cupcakes and check out these photos!


The bride and groom cupcakes are so funny and cute! And isn't the flower cupcake so beautiful? I'm leaning toward something much simpler than this (like in my original post about cupcakes), and more chic, but I thought these were too pretty not to share (can cupcakes be chic? LOL).

I'm currently envisioning a cupcake tower with most of the cupcakes being really simple, and one tier being something more elaborate with flowers. Like this cake, but imagine the idea interpreted for cupcakes:


Look at these!





Tuesday, September 06, 2011

I have FIVE. How many do you have?

Recently I heard about a blog called Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall. The idea she describes for the blog is:

"6 months before my wedding, I decided to go without mirrors. For a year. This blog documents the attempt."

Isn't that really interesting? In her first post, she talks about the number of mirrors that she has in her house. I counted and I have 5. How many do you have? Now imagine not looking in the mirror for an entire year! Do you think you could do it?

It sounds like a really challenging endeavor to me. Not only because of vanity (ha), but also because of the sheer usefulness of having a mirror to do silly tasks like plucking eyebrows, etc. But the idea is that not looking in the mirror makes you focus less on your appearance as being the most valuable aspect of your person, gaining more self acceptance, being less critical about your appearance, and maybe deciding you actually don't need to pluck your eyebrows.

This blog reminded me of something that I read not long ago about negative self-talk and fat talk by young women. I can't remember where I read it. It may have been at Operation Beautiful or it may have been in a magazine. It was basically addressing the fact that when many women and girls (and boys? and men?) look in the mirror, their only focus is finding flaws or thinking negative thoughts about their appearance (boo). One of the activities I encountered involved taking a list of every body part, looking in the mirror, and writing down something positive about each body part (so you are altering your thought processes while looking in mirrors by thinking positive thoughts rather than negative thoughts). I tried it myself, it was interesting. I found myself thinking, well what's so great about my ankles? But then I realized that some people out there actually hate their ankles, so maybe I should think, "damn, I have some nice ankles!" LOL. If you want to try it, here is a list to help you get started!

  1. Toes:
  2. Feet:
  3. Ankles:
  4. Calves:
  5. Knees:
  6. Thighs:
  7. Hips:
  8. Booty:
  9. Waist:
  10. Back:
  11. Belly:
  12. Chest:
  13. Shoulders:
  14. Arms:
  15. Wrists:
  16. Fingers:
  17. Neck:
  18. Jaw:
  19. Eyes:
  20. Nose:
  21. Mouth:
  22. Cheeks:
  23. Forehead:
  24. Hair:
  25. Ears:
Enjoy! Let me know how it goes!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Fishnet Nails!!

A few weeks ago, I had just finished touching up some nail polish that I already had on my nails, and then proceeded to mess up 8 out of 10 fingers in about five minutes. I was so irritated because I didn’t feel like redoing them, it was so close to bedtime I knew they’d get messed up anyway, and I knew I didn’t have the patience to sit and wait for them to dry. Isn’t that the most annoying part? But I cannot stand to have unpainted nails! So I decided to try out some of those Sally Hansen Nail Polish Strips – just because I wouldn’t have to wait for those suckers to dry. Remember how Jessi guest posted a review about them a while back?

I LOVED these things. They were super, super easy to use. I followed the simple directions that came inside the package and ta-da! – perfectly painted nails. It took me about 15-20 minutes to apply all of them. And most importantly - I DID NOT HAVE TO WAIT FOR THEM TO DRY. Thank you sweet Baby Jesus.

The design looked totally cool! It looked exactly like normal nail polish – or maybe better, because the application was perfectly even and it had fun nail art! See?



The next day I used the remaining strips on my toes! That was a little more challenging because they were mostly too wide for those little nails, but it was actually pretty easy to use the pointy edge of the wooden cuticle stick to trim off the edges. I even ended up with two strips left over!

The nail polish strips stayed on perfectly for about 5 days. Even then, the tips were barely worn and there were no chips. The parts that had come off were at the base of my nails where I had trimmed my cuticles and accidentally scraped them. There was zero peeling anywhere else! I removed them with normal nail polish remover, and they came off just as quickly as regular nail polish, with almost no extra effort. There was a little sticky adhesive near my nail beds after I took them off, but even that came off easily when I buffed/filed my nails.

I loved these so much that I already went and bought another design. The only thing is they were about $10-$12, which could run into money when you consider that it would only be a single use if you wanted to use them on both your fingers and tootsies. It’d be cheaper than a mani/pedi, but more expensive than, say, a $6 bottle of nail polish that you can use multiple times.

This is a lot to say about nail polish strips!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Book Discussion
How to Move In With Your Boyfriend (and Not Break Up with Him)

Two words for this book: Semi-deep thoughts

I recently read the (soon to be released) book How to Move in With Your Boyfriend (and Not Break Up with Him) and needless to say, it really made me think. But I wouldn't let myself have thoughts that were too deep...because that's not why I like to read. LOL. It covers the topics of finances and cleaning, which you would expect, but it also covers some other topics – like sharing responsibilities regarding pets and boundaries related to friends coming over to visit, which were definitely interesting to think about.

I actually have lived with a boyfriend in the past. I will say that while I don’t think it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life, I absolutely don’t regret it at all. I really think I learned tons because of that experience (like…I’m pretty sure I need my own bathroom lol). And I also hope that having that experience will help me be a more pleasant person to live with in the future {fingers crossed}...but I digress…

This book covered the topics of making the decision about whether or not you are actually ready to move in together, timing your move, choosing a place, finances, decorating, pets, cleaning, finding "me" time, friends coming over to visit, and keeping things spicy. This seems like a pretty all inclusive list. And the author provides a summary and checklist at the end of each chapter for quick reference - that was my favorite part!

One of the topics that I thought was great about this book was the author's discussion about hearing many varying responses and opinons from people when you share your decision to move in together with others. I think that is definitely something to be prepared for and is really important to think about!

My second favorite chapter was the one about pets - it cracked me up. The author points out that pets are a-holes so you better be prepared for them to mess something up. So...I guess I better start getting prepared for the fact that Buster is going to want to be on my couch (not allowed!!!) and he'll probably also chew the molding somewhere. LOL. And Robbie should probably be prepared to kiss a few shoelaces goodbye eventually - they are Zach's favorite tasty treat!

Even though this book is posed as more of a guide for couples who are just dating, I still think it could be pretty useful for any situation when you are planning on moving in with someone. Think about it...lots of the topics are things you should probably discuss with someone who is even just a roommate!