Friday, November 18, 2011

A new fall clutch for my birthday

Guest post written by Chandra Harper

I'm not really that crazy about celebrating my birthday, but I've always enjoyed getting presents. So this year I decided to buy myself a birthday present. I've been thinking about getting an oversized clutch for months now and finally have a reason to buy an expensive bag for myself. At first I was worried about how foolish that would be to do that, but I've decided that I'm turning 30 and it's a big birthday. So I deserve it.

I went online with my Mobile broadband 4g to find all kinds of choices for my big birthday purchase. Well I found lots of bags, but some were out of even the generous price range that I gave myself.

After quite a bit of online shopping around, I came across this great fall clutch that's made of distressed brown leather and has a really nice turn lock clasp. It looks very vintage and I think that's what appealed to me about it. There's nothing like a cute new bag to show off to give you a little more pep in your step.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My very first Fashion's Night Out

Guest post written by Tina Haverford

When I first heard that they were doing a Fashion's Night Out event in New York City two years ago I was a little confused about what exactly this event was but then once I realized what it really was, I thought it sounded fantastic and decided that I wish I could go to it. Well, I unfortunately haven't really been able to enjoy it until this year because they're doing so many events around the country for the third annual one.

I've been using my Clear Las Vegas to look up all kinds of events and appearances that are going to be a part of the event. As soon as they released all of the info for it, I started planning out a schedule with my friends of what we should go and see.

My sister lives in Washington, D.C. so she went to a few of the Fashion's Night Out DC. Although, I kind of envy the people in New York who are able to get around to all of the stuff a lot easier.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Prep With Premium Rum

This post brought to you by Diageo. All opinions are 100% mine.

Hurricane Irene is getting ready to hit the East Coast this weekend, so everyone has gone into full hurricane prep mode.  I had to laugh at how many comments I saw from people that went something like "I went out and bought a bottle of _____ at the liquor store, so I'm good to go".  Not the worst plan of action, I say.

Personally, I'm a rum girl, and luckily I've got a bottle of Zacapa premium rum ready to go. This rum is special because the part of Guatemala where it's made basically has the perfect conditions for cultivating sugar cane.  It's even grown in volcanic soil, which just sounds cool.  It's also unique because they use only the concentrated first press of sugar cane as a base for their rum, while most other rums use molasses as a base.  And did a I mention the special aging process that has been used for 500 years?  Yeah, this stuff is just really cool.

So I've got my premium dark rum and my flashlight and I'm ready to survive Irene.  If you want to learn more about Zacapa rum, just click on to join the Zacapa Society.  You'll be very glad you did.


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Friday, August 19, 2011

Straight Talk All the Way

This post brought to you by Straight Talk. All opinions are 100% mine.

Awhile ago I mentioned that my cell phone contract was about to expire, so I was looking at new options.  After doing a bunch of research I've decided to go with Straight Talk.  There's no contract required, and with all of the research that I did I started to feel like the whole contract thing is on its way out.  Why be tied down by one when you can get everything you need without it?

Of course, price is a major deciding factor.  I could get unlimited service (with calls, texting, everything I need) for just $45 a month or $499 a year, with none of those pesky activation or termination fees.  The also have an affordable plan for international long distance, so I can call a friend anytime no matter where they are. (In fact, it was actually a friend's mother who first mentioned Straight Talk to me because she likes her plan so much. Guess it's true that mom knows best.)

Even though Straight Talk is really affordable (I'm spending my future cell phone bill savings in my head already), that doesn't mean that they only offer cheap or outdated phones. They've got a great selection of phones to choose from with all of the features that you could ever want.  If I want to I can get the same LG phone I'm using now, and great coverage too.  Really, the only downside is that I didn't switch to Straight Talk sooner.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Military Friendly Education With The Martinsburg Institute

This post brought to you by Martinsburg Institute. All opinions are 100% mine.

I was talking to a friend of mine last night about taking classes online.  It was kind of funny, because he's in the military and I'm a bohemian writer type, but online learning fits really well into our totally different lives. 

He was telling me about this really cool thing called the Martinsburg Institute. They have a bunch of different programs specifically intended for military personnel.  They can all be done online from wherever in the world you happen to be, even if you don't always have internet access.  It's all designed to provide the support and flexibility that members of the military and their families need to be successful.  (If you've ever been in the military or you know someone who has, you can imagine how challenging it can be to work on your education at the same time.)

My friend is still thinking about which program to go with, but he's leaning towards a degree or certificate in something business-related because he thinks that will be the most helpful as far as his post-military career.  I'm happy to have a friend to compare online learning notes with, and I'm really happy that he's got a program like the Martinsburg Institute that fits his unique situation so well so that he can continue his education.  Now, I need to get back to work because if he ends up getting better grades than me I'm going to look like a slacker.

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Unilever's Back To School Bash

I was recently invited to a "Back to School Bash" in NYC hosted by Unilever and PR firm Weber Shandwick. The party was a back-to-school fashion event for tween girls to promote Unilever's newest scent for Dove® gofresh(TM), Rebalance. I brought my daughter and my niece, who are both 11.

The company really went above and beyond to make the guests feel special and pampered. Servers circled the room with trays of delicious, finger foods like mini-hamburgers and tiny grilled cheese squares and fruity mixed drinks like pink lemonade and citrus punch. A fashion consultant introduced the girls to the newest trends in tween fashion, showing off racks of clothes and rows of shoes.

Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous MaterialsParenting expert and author, Rosalind Wiseman gave back-to-school tips and signed free copies of her books Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials and Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and the New Realities of Girl World (the book that helped inspire the movie Mean Girls and personally helped me get through a tough situation with my daughter a few years ago).

Professional stylists did the girls' makeup and hair, before they had a fun photo shoot courtesy of Stardoll. Each guest went home with a copy of their best photograph in a picture frame decorated with stickers, jewels and pom-poms, a mini Caboodles makeup case, and free samples of gofresh Rebalance deodorant and body mist.

I have to say that the event was amazing... both of the girls had a great time.

The brand really made them feel special and grown-up and important. They couldn't stop gazing at their photographs - marveling at how pretty their hair and makeup was - and raving about how delicious everything tasted. On the ride home they both devoured the first two chapters of Wiseman's book and both mentioned that they can keep the mini deodorant sample in their lockers when they start middle school this September. 

Shortly after dropping my niece off at her house, I received a call from her mom thanking me again and again for bringing her, saying how she wouldn't shut up about what a great time she had.

The event was part of Unilever's "Don't Fret The Sweat" campaign, the mission of which is to help parents and children to "successfully navigate the tricky tween years". Unilever has aligned with community partners to provide parents with the tools they need to help build their tweens’ confidence during these critical years and help their children transition into confident and self-reliant teens.

Disclosure: There was no charge for this event. I was invited by a representative from Weber Shandwick. I was not compensated for this blog entry and all of the opinions stated in this blog entry are my own.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Getting the Straight Talk

This post brought to you by Straight Talk. All opinions are 100% mine.

My cell phone contract is expiring next month, so I've started looking into my options once it does. Once of the companies that I've researched that I really like is Straight Talk.  You can get unlimited monthly service (including calls, text, picture messaging, and web) for only $45.  I don't know about you, but that's a lot less than I'm currently paying, and who doesn't love saving money?  I've practically spent it on makeup and shoes already. (I'm very serious about my budget.)

Another thing I like is that they have the All You Need Plan as an option, where you get 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts and 30 MB of web data. I do a ton of texting and I'm constantly checking email and social networks from my phone, so the more I can get for a reasonable price, the better.  And they have great coverage plus phones from manufacturers that I like and trust like LG, all with no contracts required and none of those random extra fees that can sneak up on you. It's pretty much everything you need.

They also have a prepaid calling service for international long distance calls, so I can call a friend who lives outside the country without breaking the bank. They have a great selection of phones available, including smart phones.  I guess you could say that I might be falling hook, line and sinker for Straight Talk.

Does anyone have any experience with Straight Talk? Let me know in the comments!

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Get Unlimited With NET10

This post brought to you by Net10. All opinions are 100% mine.

My cell phone contract is expiring next month, so I've been doing a little bit of research into my options.  One of the companies that I've been impressed with is NET10, especially after watching this interview with a real NET10 customer.

They have a plan called NET10 Unlimited that looks really promising.  For just $50 a month you get nationwide coverage with unlimited talk, text, and data.  I can't live without unlimited testing and I'm constantly using my phone for email and social networking, so this is the kind of plan that I need, and I love how affordable it is.

Another thing I like is that there are no contracts, and you can even switch plans from month to month depending on what your needs are. (You can buy airtime online or right from your phone.) Love that.  They've got a good selection of affordable phones from well-known manufacturers like LG and Motorola.  My last few phones have been LGs and I really like them, so it's good to know that I could stick with them if I decide to make the switch to NET10.

I think it's safe to say that when it comes to my current cell phone plan vs. NET10, I see the Light. For more info on NET10, check out their Facebook and Twitter pages (or this cute NET10 commercial). And if you have an experience with NET10, definitely leave a comment and let me know how you like it.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sports Fan

Guest post of the week by Brittany Booker

I’m really into sports. Like, really, really into sports. I have a favorite team in just about every division and I have probably 12 jerseys to my name. My wife is pretty much the best woman in the whole world and she got me satellite for my birthday around Christmastime and it’s been amazing so far! I was able to watch just about all of the College World Series baseball games and I’ve even been able to catch a lot of random soccer games being played internationally I usually have to go to sports bars to watch. I know my obsession is probably getting a little out of hand but who cares? All that matters is that I’m able to sit at home and get some enjoyment out of watching a bunch of guys compete against each other in some trivial sport! I think it comes from the fact that I was never a great athlete growing up and I always wanted to be so now I’m living vicariously through my teams.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Getting Well With Walgreens

This post brought to you by Walgreens. All opinions are 100% mine.

I was visiting my mom the other day when I suddenly started to feel a bad headache coming on. I'm prone to migraines, but I didn't have any of the headache medicine that I usually take with me.  My mom offered me some Walgreens brand extra strength pain reliever, saying that it always worked well for her aches and pains.  I don't have much experience with Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products, so I was a little bit skeptical, but my head also really really hurt so I gave it a try.

I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. My headache was gone in no time, and I was even more interested when my mom told me how much she had paid for the product at Walgreens. It was definitely a big savings over the brand name migraine medication that I usually depend on.  When I did a little more research, I was even more impressed, because I learned that every Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Product that you buy helps to support the Walgreens Way to Well Fund™, which works to bring free preventative health care and other health and wellness services to local communities. The services are provided in various ways, such as vouchers that you can redeem in stores and through the National Urban League Health & Wellness Tour.

If you're interested in Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products and the Walgreens Way to Well Fund™, you can learn more at You should also check out the giveaways that several bloggers have going on right now for Walgreens Gift Cards. Who doesn't love a good giveaway, right? And if anyone has any other product recommendations for me, let me know. I'm always open to trying new things.



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Thursday, June 9, 2011

More Mailboxes

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I really like shopping (and window shopping) for cool outdoor and garden decor and accessories, like planters, garden statues, mail boxes, benches, etc. My taste is pretty eclectic so I'm always looking for new stuff that I like.

Today's a mailbox day so I'm looking at a site that sells all kinds of residential mailboxes as well as multi-unit mailboxes, drop boxes, address plaques, and other decor. I really like this shadowbox style mailbox:

I love the contrast of the white and a bright color (they have several different colors to choose from), and I like that it's different from a "traditional" looking mailbox, but also a decent size and totally functional.

Aside from mailboxes, they also have some other great decorative items for the house and garden. This doorbell is really cool:

And I absolutely love this Times & Seasons outdoor thermometer:

What do you think? What's your favorite decorative piece in your garden?

Calling In The Steam Team

I mentioned the other day that I know a bunch of people who are either planning to move or have just moved recently. So it's funny to me that the craziest home story that I've heard this week came from a friend of mine who hasn't moved in a few years. What she does have is a couple of kids and a couple of dogs, all rambunctious, which is definitely a recipe for wackiness.

This week's story was about how you should not attempt to relax with a glass of red wine in your beige-carpeted living room at the end of a long day, because Kid A and Dog B will come wildly chasing each other into the room, and they will not be satisfied with just knocking over one glass. No, they'll take out both glasses and the bottle too.

Of course, this is nothing new for my friend - by now she knows all there is to know about carpet cleaning in Austin. She's got bookmarked in her laptop and their number ready to go in her phone. She likes them because they offer every carpet cleaning service that she could ever need, as well as pet odor treatments (did I mention she has two dogs?), upholstery cleaning (did I mention she has two rambunctious kids), and green cleaning services so that she can keep the chemicals to a minimum around her wacky and wonderful family. Personally, I like them because of their name. They sound like superheroes. Put the Steam Team signal in sky today!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Getting Medicare

I was visiting my cousin the other day, and while I was there we ended up spending awhile helping my aunt figure out a problem that she was having with her Medicare application. Later, we were talking about how complicated some of this stuff can be to figure out, what with all of the different parts and letters and rules and so on, especially for our older relatives who aren't necessarily so computer savvy and don't know what resources might be available to them.

Out of curiosity I did a little research, and I found this really helpful site for people who want to get Medicare. It lays out the differences between the Part A, Part B, and so on, and explains who is eligible for Medicare and how and when to sign up. There's also a separate section with information about the online application for Medicare, which is extra helpful for that less computer savvy set that I mentioned. You can even submit your information and get a phone call from a representative from the site who can walk you through all of your options. I think it's always good to know about resources like that are out there, because you never know when it might come in handy to help someone out.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Shopping for Scrubs

A friend of mine recently got a job at a doctor's office. It's her first job in the medical field, so she's excited but also a little nervous. One of the things that she has to do is buy herself some scrubs to wear to work, and since she knows that I've had to wear scrubs at a couple of previous jobs, she asked me for advice.

Scrubs don't have to be very expensive - there's nothing wrong with buying cheap scrubs as long as they're good quality. You want a pair that's comfortable and that fits properly. Most scrub bottoms come with a drawstring waist, but if they're really too big the drawstring won't help. Nothing is worse than having to constantly pull up your pants while you're trying to look professional and treat patients. Darker colors are always more slimming and flattering. However, if you're very fair you'll look totally washed out if you go with scrubs that are too dark. You don't want to look sicker than your patients!

I sent this link to my friend, because this site a great place to start for anyone who is in the market for some scrubs:

They have so many colors to choose from, and everything is really affordable, so you really can't go wrong. Happy scrubs shopping!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Setting Up House

It seems like a lot of people that I know are moving this spring and summer, whether it's across town or across the country. Relatives, friends, friends of friends, people I meet in the grocery store...okay, just kidding about that last one, but it does seem to be going around.

I was talking to one friend who moved from California to Arizona, and she was joking about how when you move the to do list of things to take care of is seemingly endless. While she was on the phone with me she was also searching home security Nogales because getting an alarm system for her new house was one of those "oops, we forgot about this" things that popped up when they arrived, and she wanted to find a good deal with a reputable company that could come and do the installation as soon as possible.

One thing she luckily hadn't forgotten was to contact Direct TV before she left, so she would have her TV situation sorted out as soon as she arrived. It's funny how you can remember television but forget home security. Priorites, right? At least they'll have plenty of great channels to choose from while they're up late listening for burglars tonight.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Printer Shopping

My old printer finally bit the dust, so I've started shopping around for a new one. There are so many different printers out there these days, I kinda don't know where to begin.

I found this site that sells all kinds of Brother printers, and I've had good luck with Brother products in the past so I figure this is a good place to start. They've got tons of printers to choose from, including a bunch of multifunction options. My office space is pretty small, so if I can't find a printer/copier/scanner that does all three things well, I'm always happy to save the space.

One thing this site has that's really helpful is a find and compare function that lets you choose several printers and compare their features and benefits. This makes it so much easier to make a decision about which printer is best for me. And if I manage to get a good deal, I can save a little money. And by save it of course I mean spend it on cute office supplies. It's a win-win situation.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Getting off the Ground

Guest written by our friend Gladys Fuentes

One of the things that took us so long to settle when we were getting ready to open our kitchen supply store was the aspect of credit card processing. Deciding on a processor was actually a really big decision since it's a service that costs money, and we didn't want to choose incorrectly and end up losing out. Thankfully, my brother is a business consultant and helped us look over all the options in our area and decide on the best plan. Another factor that kept us from opening on time was the growing list of construction issues in our old warehouse where we were to open the store. I don't know what we would have done without our contractor, Ryan, but he certainly saved our life on more than one occasion. Now that were open, all the hassles seem like so long ago, but I can't forget how much work went into getting this place off the ground. It sure makes me appreciate each day that runs smoothly in this store of ours!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

It's Pizza Night!

This post brought to you by FRESCHETTA®. All opinions are 100% mine.

I'm on my own tonight, which means peace and quiet and no need to cook dinner for anyone else.  Of course this means only one thing - pizza night!  And I don't even have to deal with getting it delivered because I picked up some of those new FRESCHETTA® Simply…Inspired™ pizzas the last time I was at the supermarket. 

I had seen a commercial for theses pizzas and thought they looked good, so I checked them out in the store.  I really like thin crust pizza so their Thin & Crispy style appealed to me right away, and they have yummy sounding flavors like Rustic Pepperoni Pomodoro, Tuscan Farmhouse, and Hawaiian Style.  (There are eight flavors to choose from.)  Nobody else in my family likes Hawaiian style pizza, but I love it, so I think that's going to be my pick tonight.

I've always thought that Freschetta made some of the best quality frozen pizzas, so I'm sure I'll enjoy the Simply...Inspired pizzas too.  One of the new things they did that I like is the FRESCH-TASTE SEAL™ Packing - it's designed to help lock in the flavors and freshness of the ingredients while also using less packaging material.  I'm all for something that can make my food taste better and be more eco-friendly at the same time.

If you're a fellow Freschetta fan (see what I did there?), you can follow @FreschettaSI on Twitter and Like on Facebook.  They have weekly giveaways on their Facebook page as well as a chance to get a coupon for $2 off so that you can try the Simply...Inspired pizzas for yourself. Enjoy your pizza night!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Taking A Hike

Yeah, okay, so I couldn't resist the cheesy title. Some friends of mine are organizing a hiking trip for next month and I've decided to join the group. I haven't been hiking in a long time, but the scenery in the area that they've picked is supposed to be really beautiful, and it sounds like a fun trip. Of course, since I'm still me, I'm also using the trip as an excuse to shop around for some new hiking boots.

So I found a website with a great selection of hiking gear, including boots, and I've been checking it out. Of course, there's always the classic leather style of hiking boots like this Barigan boot:

I do like those, but on the other hand I really don't go hiking that often, so I'm not sure how much use I would get out of them. I'm thinking that I might be better off with something that has all of the benefits of hiking boots, but doesn't look so much like the classic style. I'm really liking these light hiking shoes from Teva:

Cute, right? And they're still waterproof and durable like regular hiking boots. I say there's nothing wrong with being prepared and being stylish at the same time.

Spring Shoe Shopping

The beautiful spring weather is finally here (at least some of the time), which means a few things - spring cleaning, eating healthy to get ready for swimsuit season, sitting outside with an iced coffee, and checking my favorite women's shoe blog and websites for some cute new spring shoes. You know, all the essentials.

I really love Stuart Weitzman shoes, and he has some great new styles for the spring. Some of them are a little on the expensive side, but at least I know that the quality is good, so if I invest in a pair they'll last me a lot longer than one spring. I think these Botanical Plum snake print sandals are gorgeous:

Of course, this season also means dealing with those spring showers, so I've been looking at rain boots too. I was never really a rain boots kind of girl before, but these Hunter boots come in so many cute colors that I'm seriously reconsidering:

So cute, I love them. Has anyone else been doing some spring shoe shopping? Got any cute styles to share?

Father's Day Shopping: Belt Buckles

I'm continuing my Father's Day gift search for my super hard to shop for dad. At the moment it's taken me to a site that sells belt buckles. (I said I like to think outside the box when it comes to this task, remember?) I figure he already has all of the ties and cufflinks that he could ever need, so this would be something a little different.

This site does custom belt buckles as well as things like money clips, lapel pins, and golf bag tags, so I feel like I should be able to find something interesting and unique here. I've been browsing and I think this one has got to be my favorite:

They also have a bunch of military belt buckles, so I think I may get something for my grandfather while I'm at it. He was in the Navy and I know this kind of gift is something that he would get a kick out of. And he's just as hard to shop for as my dad, so if I could get something for both of them at the same time, I'm all for it.

Anyone else working on Father's Day shopping? How's it going so far?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Father's Day Shopping: Tarps

So I've started shopping around for Father's Day gift ideas. My dad is super hard to shop for, so I'm constantly on the lookout for things that I think he might actually need or want, and I'm willing to think outside the box sometimes if I have to. That's the reason why I'm currently browsing a website that sells nothing but tarps.

I guess that requires a little bit of explanation. See, my dad has been really into doing projects around the house lately, including painting the guest room and some other spaces in the house. The thing is, knowing him like I do, I'm sure that he's doing it using a "dropcloth" made out of old sheets or a plastic shower curtain or something. So I was thinking of getting him a real canvas dropcloth that he can use for all of his painting projects. That way, he can focus on the painting part without worrying about whether he's making a mess out of the floor.

While I'm at it, I may also get him a couple of heavy duty silver tarps that he can use for any projects he does out in the yard or garage. These things are resistant to just about everything - water resistant, mildew and rot resistant, acid resistant, alien attack resistant (just kidding on that last one) - so I think they'd be great to protect whatever current project of the moment he's got going on outside.

Anyone else have people in their lives that are hard to shop for? What creative gifts have you found?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Getting Vaporized

I was talking to a friend of mine who is really into alternative health and aromatherapy and things like that, and she just introduced me to vaporizers. A vaporizer is a smoking alternative that allows you to inhale various herbs and other materials without actually burning them with a flame. Since there's no flame involved, the process is cleaner and can last longer and, probably most importantly, significantly reduces any toxins or carcinogens that may be present.

So I've been looking at this really interesting website that sells lots of different kinds of vaporizers and has a ton of helpful information. I've been reading up and learning about the different types of vaporizers that are available and the benefits of each kind. One of the most impressive looking ones is called the Volcano Vaporizer (even the name is cool, it sounds like something a superhero would use). It's a high quality German product that uses a method called a balloon valve to safely create scented and flavored vapor.

Yeah, I know, if you're unfamiliar with this it kinda sounds like science fiction, but it's all legit and I find it really interesting. I'll definitely be looking into vaporizers more and maybe investing in a Volcano of my own.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Business Owner Boot Camp

So I just got another update from my friend who is starting her own business. I love hearing from her and getting all of her stories about the crazy ups and downs of being a business owner.

Today she was telling me about this cool site that she found that sells business ebooks and other resources for new business owners. They have books like The Essentials For Starting a Small Business that cover a variety of topics, as well as more specialized items. You can learn how to create an employee handbook for your business, or read up on SEO, facebook, Wordpress, and other essentials for your company's online presence. There's even a book about how to create a great home office! I know that's where I would start.

Another really helpful thing that they have available is various spreadsheets that a business owner might need, from invoices to marketing plans to general business plans. There's also a tax spreadsheet specifically for freelancers, which I think I may have to snag for myself. See, even though this isn't my business, I'm still totally picking up my own set of helpful tips and resources along the way.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Getting Gold

My cousin had a garage sale last weekend and I helped her out with it. She did really well, and one of the things that we thought was interesting was how many people asked if we were selling any jewelry. When we showed them what we had, almost all of them immediately started going through looking for anything that was gold. Guess that answers the question of whether people are still paying close attention to the price of gold in this economy.

Since gold is such a hot topic right now, I've been doing a little research and trying to learn more about it. Obviously there's a big difference between setting a gold price at a garage sale and tracking gold prices for real, but in a way it is all somewhat connected. Investing in gold is just a smart thing right now, no matter what the size or scale of the investment.

I still have a way to go when it comes to learning about gold and investing in general - like figuring out what terms like gold bullion spot gold mean (no, gold spot isn't a stain remover) - and it's really interesting to get more informed about investing and finance. I'm not sure how much gold I can afford to invest in these days, but it's definitely something I'll continue to inform myself about.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Patio Planning

The weather is supposed to be really nice here this weekend, so I'm looking forward to spending a lot of time in my backyard and working on my garden. One of the things that I want to do this year is get some new yard furniture and kinda rearrange the layout of my yard a little.

So I've been looking online and shopping around for some new patio furniture and other decorations for my yard...or site furnishings, as they'd be called if my yard was a park, and I like to think that my yard is totally that important. I need a new table for my yard, so I've been looking at picnic tables. I really like this Octagon Table because it's cute and it offers a lot of seating without taking up a huge amount of space.

I also like the look of Park Benches in a garden, both for seating and also to put planters on.

And for even more seating, I'm thinking Adirondack chairs - benches and picnic tables are great, but I also need a place to lounge with some lemonade and a book. I found these really cool Adirondack chairs that are made from recycled plastic, so they're both durable and eco-friendly. (And no splinters!) I'm loving this sunny yellow color:

What are your plans for your yard or garden this summer?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prom Shopping

The other day I talked to a friend of mine who had just taken her little sister prom dress shopping, which of course led us to talking about our own proms and all of the crazy styles and fashion disasters that have come and gone over the years.

Of course there will always be looks that are questionable style-wise, but these days I feel like it's easier to find lots of cute (and affordable) options for prom dresses, especially since there are so many more options as far as online shopping. There are even sites where you have the option of getting a custom dress by choosing your own colors and things like that.

Those of us who are too old for the prom can still recapture some of that dress shopping magic by buying evening dresses from the same sites.

Maybe we should just start getting together and throwing our own grown up prom parties. All of the fun of dancing and dressing up but without all of that teenage angst and drama? Sounds good to me!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Major Marble

A friend of mine went to Florida to spend Easter with her boyfriend's family, and she was telling me about the amazing house that his parents have. Beautiful pool, big chandeliers, and marble floors that she said she was paranoid about spilling something on all weekend. And when she complimented the floors and joked about her fears, she learned more about stone floor restoration than she bargained for.

I say it's all just useful info for when she has a huge house of her own to take care of. (You've got to think positively, right?) For example, did you know that diamonds are sometimes involved somehow in the marble polishing process? And that you can sometimes have marble surfaces color enhanced? And that you should never use vinegar or other acidic cleaners on marble because it can "poison" the stone? See, the more you know.

Of course, this set us off on a tangent of fantasy house decorating. (Kinda like those people who play The Sims just so they can build and design houses.) I look forward to the day that I need to hire a marble polishing team of my very own.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Getting Inked

I just did my semi-annual stock up on printer ink. It seems like I always run out at the most inconvenient times possible, so I've learned to always have at least one backup set of printer ink on hand.

I used to just go to an office supply store to buy my ink, or try to order it from Target or some other random store. But this time I decided to shop around a little and I found a site called Ink Grabber that's a great resource for cheap ink. I seriously think that they have ink available for every single printer on the market today, and really good prices too. I never have to worry about going into a store and not being able to find the inkjet cartridges that I need again. They even have a "green" carbon neutral shipping program. Love it.

They have a bunch of active coupons right now, including a spring promotion where you can get 10% off with the coupon code SUNSHINE10. You can also get free shipping on orders over $55, or 10% off of any size order if you like them on facebook. Happy inking!

Find Your Education

Lately I've been thinking about continuing my education by taking some online courses. I'm not ready to commit to a full graduate school program right now. And affording it would be a challenge too! I'm still not fully recovered from my days of FAFSAs and student loans. (I'm sure many of us remember all of those fun house spent on

But online classes seem like they could be a good fit for my life and schedule right now. So I've been doing a little research, and I found a site called Find Your Education that has a ton of information about online courses and degree programs. It's great because you can search by subject and find listing of all of the different online programs that are out there.

I've been looking at the online degree programs in graphic design because that's a subject that has always interested me and I feel like it would help me in the future if I want to give this blog an overhaul and make it all fancy and pretty. I haven't made any final decisions about the future of my education, but now I definitely feel a lot more "educated" about my options.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Going Nonprofit

These days it seems like almost everyone I know is either looking for a job or looking to upgrade to a better job. I was hanging out with some friends the other night and we were comparing job seeking stories. One of the topics that came up was looking for nonprofit jobs. Obviously nonprofits have been hard hit by the economy just like other businesses, but in a way it's not a bad sector to look at because, as we joked, nonprofits are used to operating with hardly any money.

One friend mentioned a nonprofit career search site that he really likes, so I checked it out. It's got the basic stuff - a place for employers to post jobs and for job seekers to post resumes and search the posted jobs - as well as a great resources section with info about the best nonprofits to work for, career tips and strategies for non profit jobs, and information about salaries and benefits. They even have an eNewsletter that you can sign up with even more helpful stuff.

I've already found a couple of promising leads using this site, so hopefully my personal profit margin will be improving very soon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Moving to Texas?

My cousin is planning on moving sometime later this year. The only catch is that she hasn't decided on where to move yet. There are a few different parts of the country on her life, from Arizona to North Carolina, and she's been weighing the pros and cons of each.

I've been helping her with her research a little bit because it's interesting to me to check out so many different communities across the country. For example, she's considering a few places in Texas, including the Dallas area. I've only been on one brief trip to Texas in my life and it's not an area of the country that I'm super familiar with, so it's kinda fun to look at Dallas homes for sale and see what's out there.

Of course, since there are so many real estate websites out there these days, I was able to find a site that focuses on Dallas Real Estate. I've been going through all of the listings and sending my favorites to my cousin. (I'm sure she really appreciates my "help", but you know how it is when you start window shopping.) In some ways the Dallas homes for sale aren't that different from many of the homes that are available in the area where I live, but of course then there are all of the ways that things differ, from the prices to the schools to the weather. And with all of the real estate listings that I've looked at so far, I think I'll be very prepared if and when I ever decide to move myself.

Moving Cars

My cousin is moving later this year, and recently we were talking about all of the random things that pop up during a move that need to be taken care of, as well as all of the random things that can't exactly be moved in the traditional way. You can't really put your pet goldfish, or your car, into a regular moving truck.

I have no idea what you do with the goldfish (tupperware? coffee pot full of water?), but for cars obviously there is such a thing as car shipping. Something about that term makes me laugh - I'm picturing the UPS guy delivering your car in a giant box full of foam peanuts. Of course that's not remotely how auto transport actually works (but it would be cool if it did).

It is pretty cool that you can arrange door to door car transport services and have your car moved across the country in a matter of days if you need to. Apparently you can even pack some stuff in the trunk if you need to. Just don't try to put the goldfish in there.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Back to the Garden

Spring is finally here! We've definitely had our share of April showers where I live, but we're also starting to have some of those beautiful sunny spring days. One of the things that I look forward to when the weather warms up is working in the garden. I haven't done too much yet because the weather hasn't fully started cooperating, but I've started planning and thinking about what flowers, plants, veggies, and herbs I want to plant this year.

I also have to admit that I have a weakness for garden accessories, so I'm always on the lookout for new planters, garden statues, wind chimes, and things like that. One thing that I definitely want to add to my yard this year is a garden trellis. I've always liked the way that they look, especially when they're covered with climbing vines.

So I found a site that sells nothing but trellises (I love the internet) and I've been checking out my options. I love this combination trellis and wind chime:

This vinyl trellis is really pretty, and the white really helps the colors of the climbing flowers to stand out.

And this wrought iron trellis is really beautiful. This style just might be my favorite.

Happy spring and happy gardening!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Camera Shopping

So I've been shopping around for a new digital camera. I'm not an expert photographer or anything - in fact pretty much the only thing I'm "expert" at is taking photos that are out of focus or cut the tops of people's heads off. But I've been trying to learn and improve, and I think I'm ready to graduate from the basic camera that I have now. But I want to make sure I get the camera that's right for me, so I'm doing a lot of research on compact digital cameras.

I want something that's good quality without being crazy expensive, and relatively user-friendly since like I said I'm not exactly a professional photographer. I've got a list of different options and I'm weighing the pros and cons of each one, because I want to be sure that I make the right investment.

One of the cameras that's probably too "advanced" for me right now, but is definitely at the top of my list for the future, is the Nikon D90. It's a DSLR camera with a big LCD monitor that can also shoot video. I've read a lot of reviews and almost all of them highly recommend the D90, so I think it's going to be my choice when I'm ready to take my photography to the next level.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Smart Shapewear

It's officially spring, which means it's time for spring cleaning, spring clothing shopping, pedicures...and the first freakouts about the upcoming swimsuits and tank tops weather.

One thing that I find helpful when I'm wearing spring staples like light jackets and thin tees is having the right undergarments. (Sounds kinda retro, I know, but it's not like I'm talking slips and garters here.) In warm weather nobody wants to be wearing an overly tight body shaper or any other uncomfy (and sweaty!) underthings, but if you can find the right comfortable and seamless shape wear and the best bra for your body type, it can really help you to put a look together.

I've been doing some shopping around for new spring stuff and I think has the best body shaper that I've found so far. (As well as the coolest name.) It's a bra, body shaper, and lace cami all in one, which is great because it saves you from having to put a million layers on, which is a big plus in warm weather. And since it has the lace on the top and the bottom, you don't have to worry about it sticking out from under whatever top or jacket you're wearing and announcing to the world that you're wearing a body shaper. Love that. It's also great to wear under those tops that we all have that are just a tiny bit too low-cut to wear in certain situations or without adjusting yourself every five minutes. It's a little bit on the expensive side, but I feel like a piece like this is worth it because it can work with so many different outfits and help you wear more of the clothes that you already have. I think I just might be ready for spring fashion.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Medical Knowledge

My cousin is a nurse and I was talking to her the other day about how the economy has affected job prospects in the medical field. She was saying that one of the things that doctors and other medical professionals do to stay prepared and competitive is take various career and skills development courses.

It's funny that you sometimes forget that doctors are "businesspeople" too, meaning that they have to interview for jobs or run offices just like people in any other job, even if they're not working in a "regular" office. So it makes total sense that a doctor or nurse looking for a job might want to take a medical interview course (or consultant interview courses) to improve their chances of impressing a potential boss. They might not be the same interviews that us regular people might go on for various office jobs, but they are still job interviews after all.

Out of curiosity I looked it up and there are a bunch of these courses out there - lots of medical management courses including courses on things like time management and presentation skills - because doctors do often have to function as managers and deal with business stuff like meetings and Powerpoint presenations rather than just saving lives all the time. There's even a teach the teacher course for doctors who have to deal with students. It's almost as if doctors are regular people or something. Crazy talk, I know.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

NYC Summer Fun

I just found out that a couple of my cousins are going to be visiting from Chicago this summer. Whenever we visit each other we always like to try to see a lot of shows, concerts, and whatever other events we can find. (This is why I sometimes find myself doing very unlike me things like buying Avril Lavigne tickets.) So now that I know when they're coming, the cheap ticket search has begun.

I usually start with the obvious - going to a Madison Square Garden tickets site to see what's going on there. But they're doing some renovations this summer so there aren't as many options as usual, which means going a little farther afield. There's always stuff like the Central Park SummerStage, and there's also a new Cirque du Soleil show called Zarkana hitting the city this spring, so some Radio City Music Hall tickets might be in order. And of course, there's always Broadway.

I'm checking out Nassau Coliseum tickets too - they've got everyone from New Kids On The Block to Motley Crue to Britney Spears this summer, so it might be worth the trip. And baseball is always an option too, so we might check out the Yankees, the Mets, or both.

It does take a lot of time to figure out what to do and then find the best deals on tickets, but it's totally worth it. And I know that the next time I head out to Chicago for a visit, there will be some United Center tickets waiting for me. Can't wait for summer!

Car Repair Made Easy

I don't know if this is true everywhere, but where I live I feel like the conditions of many of the roads are just getting worse and worse. There seem to be more potholes than ever and they're being fixed more slowly than ever. (I guess we have lots of broke local governments to thank for that.) It's pretty annoying.

So as a result, it seems like I'm doing more maintenance on my car than ever before. I've replaced more tires in the past year than in all the previous years I've owned my car put together. In general I think there's just more wear and tear going on. Luckily, I've found this site called Repair Pal that I've found to be really helpful. You can get an estimate for any repair or maintenance that you need done on your car, as well as general info about your make and model of car, an auto shop directory, and advice from mechanics.

The RepairPal Blog also has a lot of great information about all things auto - car recalls, fuel economy info, advice for doing basic maintenance stuff yourself, and even parallel parking tips (which I admit that I could probably use). They recently had a post about five questions that you should ask to try to make sure that you find a repair shop that will provide good customer service and not rip you off. Since I know from experience that there are still many mechanics out there who believe that all women are totally clueless when it comes to cars, I find stuff like this to be especially helpful.

I drive a Toyota Corolla, and Repair Pal has a whole page just for Corolla info. There are even pages for each model year with specific info and customer reviews. You can see the most common problems that drivers have reported, recent repair estimates, listings of dealers near you, and you can even ask a question about any problems you may be having. It's a really great resource, and I know I'll be checking it out next time I have a car issue and when I decide to start shopping for a new car.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Music Monday: Katy Perry's E.T.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Scholarship Searching

I saw one of my cousins over the weekend and we were talking about how it's officially the most wonderful/stressful time of the year for her and her friends - yes, it's college acceptance (or rejection) time. Luckily for her, she's already gotten into two really good schools and is just waiting to hear from a few more that she applied to, so she's happy. She told me that some of her friends are still going nuts waiting for those envelopes to show up in the mail.

Of course, then we got to talking about the absolute most fun part of the college experience...paying for it! She knows that like most people her age, she's going to need a student loan or two or three or four to help her afford the education that she wants, so she's already looking into her options. I told her to just get used to the idea that Sallie Mae is going to be her BFF for quite a few years after she graduates, but she'll have plenty of repayment options to choose from to make it easier for her to manage.

And since she is such a smart cookie, I also encouraged her to keep up her scholarship search and not just settle for whatever scholarship money is offered to her by her top choice schools. There are so many different scholarships out there that no matter who you are or where you come from or what your talents happen to be, there's probably something to suit you.

I told her some stories about some of the wacky scholarships that I remembered finding when I searched (write a poem about your favorite vegetable contest, anyone?) and she said she'd definitely keep up her search and try to top me. I know she has a bright future ahead of her, and I'm glad that I'm able to give her some helpful advice. Even if I secretly know that she could never write a better vegetable poem than my amazing broccoli haiku. I was totally robbed of that scholarship.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Music Monday: Ke$ha's "Blow"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Belated Foodie Friday: Restaurant Supply

I haven't done a Foodie Friday post in awhile, so even though it's Sunday I figured I'd go ahead and post about my latest cooking obsession. I've always watched a ton of cooking shows, but lately for some reason I've been noticing the supplies that different TV chefs cook with more and more - pots and pans, mixing bowls, etc. I got all excited when I was out shopping the other day and I found some cool glass bowls that look like the ones that I've seen on several different Food Network shows. (Yeah, I know I'm a dork.)

I've found that one of the best places to find some really cool kitchen stuff is a website like Tiger Chef that sells restaurant supplies. Check it out:

Giant stock pots (I make chicken stock a lot so I'm all over stuff like this):

Pizza supplies like pizza stones, cutters, and pans:

They also have tons of cool bar supplies like this salt and sugar glass rimmer. If you make cocktails a lot you'll definitely find something here that you have to have.

And while they're not exactly practical or affordable for the home kitchen, I love that a product exists that's actually called a cheesemelter:

I could definitely spend a ton of money on this site, and overall I'd definitely recommend a restaurant supply site like this one if you're into cooking and entertaining. You can get great quality, unique products that you can't always find in other stores, and really good prices too. Now if you'll all excuse me, I'm off to make a whole lot of chicken soup.

Happy Hosting

I just got an update from my friend who's in the process of starting a business. She's about to start work on the company's website, so she's researching her hosting and web design options. I'm really looking forward to seeing what she comes up with.

This is a topic that I've looked into myself in the past, because eventually I do want to upgrade this blog. (One of these days.) I sent my friend some of the info that I've collected, but I know that her web hosting needs are going to be different from mine since her site is going to be for a business. Luckily there are some good sites out there that can help you size up your options.

She really liked one of the sites that I sent her because it has a ton of web hosting reviews and breakdowns of pricing, features, and customer ratings for various hosting companies. It's really helpful when you're trying to quickly weed out companies that have bad technical support and/or aren't user-friendly. There's also a really helpful web hosting FAQ so that the tech-challenged among us can get the basics down and avoid being taken advantage of or making avoidable beginner's mistakes. So I'm hoping that this site can help her find the perfect hosting solution for her business.

Seeking Fulfillment

Just got my weekly update from my friend who is working on starting her own business. Today she was telling me about the research that she's been doing into the her fulfillment options. No, not the "I'm so satisfied with my life right now" kind of fulfillment, but order fulfillment.

If you want to start a small business like my friend does and sell some sort of product, you have to think about product fulfillment options - that is, unless you want to try to turn your garage into a warehouse, process your own orders, and end up on a first name basis with everyone who works at your local post office.

So basically, a fulfillment company takes care of the warehousing and order fulfillment for you, so you can focus on other aspects of the business. The company that's at the top of my friend's list right now even works with you to make sure that you're staying within your budget and things like that. Which is really cool, because starting a business can be complicated enough, so it's great when you can find companies to work with that provide services that make things easier. Every little bit helps when you're trying to create a successful business.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Project Runway Makes A Comeback

Guest post written by Sidney Owens

Everybody seemed slightly apprehensive and worried after the much anticipated sixth season debut of Project Runway on Lifetime was more than lackluster, to say the least. The contestants were boring, the challenges were blah and the collections were beyond drab. I think we were all starting to wonder, “Has our favorite fashion show lost its mojo?”

I've been watching Project Runway on DIRECT TV since the first season, and it is true that the nasty legal battles which provoked the move from Bravo to Lifetime definitely took its toll on the show's overall vibe. Heidi ! seemed less glam, Michael Kors was practically nonexistent and Nina Garcia's usually blunt but hilarious comments seemed to have transformed into too nice to be possible.

But alas, rest assured that the Project Runway we all know and love just hit a small bump in the road. Season 8's return to Lifetime was full of egos, drama and catfights, not to mention some crazy and off-the-wall challenges. Personally, I had tears of laughter streaming down my face during the party store challenge. Season 8's hilarious hijinks restored my faith in Project Runway; I am now looking forward to hopefully watching contestants create evening gowns out of plaster or business wear from their grandparents' closets.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lugging My Laptop

I love my laptop. It does everything that I need it to do, from blogging to photoshopping to wasting countless hours playing The Sims. The only problem is that it's heavy, so taking it places with me can be a bit of a pain. I've been through quite a few laptop bags and still haven't found one that can stand up to my laptop and is comfortable for me to carry around.

So I've been looking at this laptop messenger bag from Rickshaw. It's a little on the expensive side but it looks like it's really well made with a comfortable strap, a waterproof laptop sleeve and a bunch of pockets to hold all of my necessities and accessories. If it lasts a long time, it'll be worth the investment because I won't have to replace my bag every couple of months.

I think this might be the laptop bag for me, but one very important question remains. What color to get? Do I go bright red, basic black, or girlie pink? I think I might go with this nice gray:

What does everyone think? Anyone else have any laptop bag recommendations?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chicago Car Shopping

My cousin recently moved to Chicago for school. She found a great apartment and is pretty much settled at this point - the last big thing she needs to do is get herself a car. It's the first time she's gone car shopping on her own, so she asked me to help her find something. Thanks to the magical wonders of the internet, I can help her find used cars in Chicago from here on the East Coast.

She's looking for something relatively small. And of course being a student she's on a budget, so she needs something affordable, but also wants something reliable that won't give her any problems. So we've been looking at cars like the Toyota Corolla and the Ford Focus. And yes, if she finds one in a cute color that would be the icing on the cake.

I found this really helpful site called Used Cars Chicago 101 that has a lot of great information about buying a car in the Chicago area as well as listings from a bunch of local dealerships. It's been the perfect site for my cousin to use to start her search. They even have a blog, which is a bonus because you can never been too well-informed when you're trying to buy a car. (This is especially true for women because there are still some dealers out there who assume that women are clueless when it comes to cars.) For example, their current featured blog post is on Used Car Economy and the Recession, which has some interesting insights on how the economy has affected the used car market.

My cousin is going to go out to some dealerships this weekend, and based on the research that we've been able to do I'm pretty confident that she'll find a great deal.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fighting Breast Cancer

You might have noticed that commercials for Avon breast cancer walk have started popping up lately. I got a call from a friend who is thinking of trying to get a group together to do that or one of the other breast cancer walks that are coming up this spring and summer. It's usually not too hard to get a group together for these things since so many people have been personally touched by this issue.

Of course, as important as it is to participate in these events that raise money and awareness, it's also important to make sure that you stay informed and keep up with the latest news about breast cancer. Make sure that you're familiar with the signs of breast cancer and that you have a doctor that you feel comfortable talking to about your potential risk and the steps you should be taking to protect your health.

I also think that a walk like this presents a great opportunity to talk to your friends and the women in your family and encourage them to educate themselves about breast cancer symptoms and to be proactive where their health is concerned. With all of the (sometimes conflicting) information that's out there, it can be difficult to navigate, so it's helpful to communicate with each other and make sure that we're all getting the best information and health care possible.

See you at the walk!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Music Monday: Sara Bareilles - Uncharted

This video is so freaking adorable. I especially love Josh Groban's "performance":

Friday, March 11, 2011

Money Matters

I have to admit that I'm not always the best at managing my money. I'm not one of those people who started saving for retirement the minute they got their first job, and I definitely didn't set up an account with an online stock trading site as soon as I turned 18 like one of my high school friends did. Most months I don't even attempt to balance my checkbook.

Lately I've started to feel a little guilty about my lack of financial savvy, so I've decided to get my act together. I'm going to start balancing that darn checkbook, open a savings account, and get more informed about my investing options so that I can stay financially stable (as much as possible) throughout my life. Luckily, one area where I'm in really good shape is my credit. My credit score is pretty high and I have no credit card debt. And I was never one of those people who ended up with 37 different credit cards because I jumped on every offer that came my way. (Yes, I do have friends who do this. Coincidentally, those are the same friends who have major credit card debt.) It's a relatively easy thing to stay on top of since it's so simple to get a free credit score these days.

So I've decided that if I can keep my credit in good shape, I can do the same in other areas of my financial life. Of course, if anyone has any tips or advice I could definitely use it.

Easy Internet

I was talking to a friend recently and I realized that I often take my internet access for granted. I'm lucky enough to live in an area where I have a bunch of different options to choose from when it comes to internet service. My friend lives in a more rural area where her options are more limited and the service isn't always as good.

So in addition to the reality check, I also learned a lot from talking to her about this. Since she has the internet challenges that she does, she's done a lot more research on internet access than I have. She was telling me about a company she found that offers cheap dial up - yes, I know that dial up is a thing of the past for many of us but there are a lot of areas where it's still used - as well as DSL service. She said that even though it's affordable the service doesn't seem "cheap", and the customer service has impressed her from what she's learned so far. She also likes the fact that it's an American-owned and operated company - why not support good American companies when you can, right?

She's inspired me to take another look at my internet options. Who knows, maybe I'll make a change too.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Is it summer yet?

I'm way too excited about summer coming. It's not even technically spring yet, but it's been so nice the last few days that I'm just really getting for beach season! I love the summer so much... swimming and tanning and beach volleyball.

And right now, it's a very special season that I like to call "shopping-for-beach-season season"! Yes, that's right, it's time to shop for beach apparel! Fun!!

Unlike most people, I really don't mind swimsuit shopping... because I'm just so happy thinking about going to the beach! And with swimsuits comes coverups and shorts and beach hats and sunglasses and flip flops and tote bags! Love it. I'm obsessed with shopping almost as much as I'm obsessed with summer.

I found a website for this really cool store called A Shore Thing. No, it's not in New Jersey, haha (and it has nothing to do with Snookie's novel of the same name) although a lot of the items would be appropriate for hanging at the Jersey Shore.

Look how cute this stuff is!

This year I've decided to move beyond just lounging on the beach getting a tan... I already found myself a hot surfer (yummy) to give me surfing lessons this summer.  Another excuse to shop... because now I need surfing apparel. (I'm not crazy enough to shop for a surf board just yet... but if I get good enough, you know I'm getting my own for next summer!)

What gets you excited about the summer coming?