Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Alcatraz Island: A Cell with a View

Alcatraz Island in Gloom

We have arrived on the Island!

Focus on the pretty elbow, not my awkward chicken wing

Such a tiny space to live in 24 hours a day

Well-behaved prisoners were allowed to paint, play music, and even crochet.

The Yard

Yes, that's the Golden Gate Bridge in the background

In D-Block, where the prisoners were kept in the dark all day.

View of the city in one of the halways

Isn't San Francisco pretty?

The security office

Three floors of cells

A group of us took the audio tour at Alcatraz Island and it was excellent. I love all things history and this was a great tour because you went at your own pace, they don't treat it like a museum so you could touch the bars and explore the whole island, you get to take a boat over, and it was just plain interesting. I couldn't imagine being locked up and getting to see civilization just a mile away. We learned that if the wind was blowing just right on New Year's Eve, the prisoners could here music and laughter coming from the parties on shores of San Francisco. We spent most of our Saturday afternoon here and I was so glad everyone wanted to go and see such beautiful views of the city.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Manicure Monday

I forgot to wear rings today, just completely forgot something I wear every single day, not to mention they sit right in front of my face each morning. My brain seems to be out of commission today, not really firing on all cylinders if you will, but I guess that's a small price to pay for the fun times had in San Francisco this weekend. I am dedicating a whole post to my adventures, maybe even two so that is something to look forward to, once my brain decides to wake up for the week. In the meantime, here are some pretty nails for your day.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Travels

I am about to head to the airport for my first ever visit to San Francisco! I am thrilled to go and am meeting up with my friend Lauren from college as well and I can't wait to see her. Plus one of my roommates is coming too so we will have a blast to be sure.

Technically, I have been to San Francisco before but was only for a few hours and at night so I couldn't even see anything so no way that counts right? Right. My thoughts exactly. This time, I am doing it right. We will be visiting Chinatown, going to Alcatraz, driving down Lombard Street, checking out the beautiful homes, and just soaking in the ambiance of the city. Oh, and taking lots and lots of pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. But that really goes without saying. SF here I come!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sightings on my Sunday Stroll

Shirt: Old Navy, Jeans: Gap, Purse: Thrifted
This would probably be my standard uniform for weekend errands. Easy peasy tee with jeans, a pair of sunnies and shoes for walking. I had just dropped off my bike to get the tube replaced at this great local shop right around the corner, giving me a chance to take a walk and enjoy the sunshine. I also came across the most adorable older couple on my stroll. There was a man with gray hair wearing a bow tie, holding the door open for his wife, the car parked in the shade with just a little sun coming through the leaves, and as she climbed in, they both laughed at something funny he had said and it was just perfect It completely made my Sunday to see this couple together, sharing a laugh after brunch. I felt like I was peaking in on their life and from just that single moment, I imagined it to be a very happy one.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Book Readings Are Rad

On Saturday, I attended my first ever book reading and what better way for a first-timer than to see your favorite author? Exactly, there is no better way. It was a gorgeous Saturday and I got there early, because, well, that is just what I do. But my timeliness pays off sometimes because I not only scored a chair but it was also a fab location, close to the action. Sarah Dessen, best selling author of 11 books, read a short passage from her latest, The Moon and More, that will be out in June. She then fielded questions and gave some insight into her writing process, what inspires her, and all kinds of good stuff that basically made me want to sit down at my own computer and crank out a couple chapters of my would-be novel.

She is such a down to earth person and so personable. She writes YA and my sister and I have been reading her books since High School and maybe even before but I still enjoy every one and have read a few multiple times. She writes with a real voice and has a way of making the characters really steal your heart. I love getting swept up in a book and hers always do the trick. I loved that everyone in the room with me was so into reading and I could have stayed and chatted with the girl next to me for hours about our favorite parts to all the books. I felt at home with my fellow nerds and gushy romantics. I even got to meet Sarah AND she loved my shirt. It was such a fun experience and I am so glad I went.

New to Sarah Dessen and want a suggestion for which book to read? Well, so glad you asked seeing as how I love talking about books! I think my personal favorite is The Truth About Forever but you can't really go wrong with any of them. I'd throw out the This Lullaby as a close second and I really liked What Happened to Goodbye. So basically, any and all will do. They are killer summer/beach reads but fantastic any time of the year. Happy reading!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Manicure Monday

I have been on the hunt for a really killer nude color and though I am not sure that I have totally found "the one" just yet, this Rimmel Caramel Cupcake shade has been growing on me. Plus it drys in 60 seconds so that is a major plus in my book. 

Yes, it is practically the same color as my skin tone and yes, it does blend in with the sand a bit but when the light hits it a certain way, it is pretty great. And I just envision the color totally popping against a more bronzed skin tone so here's hoping.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Tall Palms Are My Favorite

I just love these sticks shooting out of the Earth. Their skinny trunks seem far too thin to support the weight at the top and yet, there they stand. I have had some time to inspect the foliage in this area and I must say, it is quite a nice change of pace but there is just something about these palm trees tha scream Southern California. With the weather getting up to 82 (82!) today and forecasts in the high 70's all weekend, I plan to be enjoying palm trees and ocean breezes outside all the live long day.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Yes, We Keep Our Bikes in the Living Room

Khakis: Tommy Hilfiger, Sweater: Gap, Necklace: Gift Shoes: Simply Vera from Kohls
I have intentions to take my bike down to the garage where it belongs, honest I do. Then I come downstairs each morning and my bike is somehow still in the living room. I am almost certain my mother would have a heart attack if she knew this were the case. I guess it's a good thing I am out from under her roof then because I will probably just let it ride (see what I did there?) until the weekend when I can go on an afternoon adventure and then park my bike downstairs in the garage upon my return.  Fool-proof plan.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Thoughts

See that pretty skyline above? That is a slice of Boston and was taken on a walk across the Charles River with my best friend since the 3rd grade, now a resident of this fine city. I have another friend, one I met in college, who has always called this place home. It was because of these girls that I visited Boston for the first time last year. I had a marvelous time seeing the sights, catching up, and seeing their new lives. I even went on a tour that took us across the finish line of the Boston marathon.

The sad news yesterday about the bombs that went off near that very finish line had me instantly reaching for my phone to make sure they were both alright which thankfully, they were, though only blocks away from the scene. Growing up in a small town, things on the news happening in other parts of the country had no bearing. Everyone I knew was within driving distance. Everyone I knew was fine. Everyone was safe. Now that I am older, I have friendships that span across the nation and I didn't instantly know if everyone I knew was safe and that was a terrible feeling. We are all connected and we all feel the sadness of yesterday's events and it is an unfortunate reminder to slow down and appreciate what really matters in life and be thankful for all that we have. I hope that the sun returns to light up the Boston skyline soon.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Manicure Monday

This weekend, I went along for the ride with my friend to Ulta. As she was trying to find the right foundation, I was perusing what else but the multitude of nail polishes. As usual, I wanted all of them, especially the bright pops of color for spring and summer. Here are six different shades that I am fawning over at the moment from Essie, OPI and Butter London. I can't wait to get some of these on my fingers and toes!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I Motion for a Beach Day

I am in a "wish I was at the beach" state of mind today. It may be because this week has seemed to drag on forever or because some friends and I are planning to explore a new beach this weekend or, the far more likely reason, is the fact that I was at the office until a little after 8 last night (yes, 8 PM) and that long of a day makes one feel that one has worked 2 whole work days which would make today Friday but alas, the calendar reads Thursday. We have to wait another whole day for that little date to switch to Friday. Isn't that just the worst? So hopefully your week has not been as long as mine but if it has, take comfort in the fact that it is almost Friday and in the meantime, daydream of the beach with me for just a few minutes.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pop of Blue

Tank: F21, Skirt: H&M, Shoes: Express
Sometimes pieces in my wardrobe come together and surprise me. Creating this fun, funky outfit was one of those moments. I love this bright blue skirt everytime I wear it and paired with the simple cotton triangle top with a zipper down the back worked great for a Saturday evening. Bring on the warm weather!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Easy Breezy

I am falling in so much love with these easy breezy dresses and skirts. I am telling you, skirts are where it is at. With summer right around the corner, I have been trying to figure out how I can look put together and polished but then comfortable enough to run errands without getting hot or have an impromptu day at the beach. I may be getting ahead myself, but I thought I would share some "pinspiration" that involves some of my current favorite looks to achieve this effortless style. You better believe I will be attempting to make these outfits my own in the very near future.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Manicure Monday

Yesterday was such a relaxing day, spent at the beach reading a lovely romance novel. Is it sad that all I wanted to do today was get home and read some more? I am not ashamed to admit this fact. I'm a book nerd and proud of it. Now excuse me while I go find out what happens next.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Friends Who Move Together, Stay Together

This is my roommate from college. All four years of college and randomly thrown together freshman year at that. Her name is Danielle. Danielle is from Ohio, just like me. I could have posted 500 pictures of the two of us together because of all the fun memories we have had together. I moved very far away, all the way to the west coast. Danielle has always wanted to live on the west coast. Danielle gets an interview for a position here. She does not think she will get the job. I hope that she does but don't get my hopes up. Danielle gets the job and calls to tell me and we jump for joy on opposite ends of the phone line because we will be reunited and live in the same place and that place is California which never, in any of our talks ever even discussed and it is now a reality. I picked her up from the airport today and everything. Her and two giant suitcases. I would expect nothing less. This is Danielle and she has brought a bit of Ohio here to me and I can't wait for the Southern California chapter of our story to unfold. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cozy Up

Do you want to know something odd about Southern California? The weather seems to always provide the option of wearing a sweater. Which to a non-native seems crazy because I envisioned a place of constant warmth with tank tops and shorts galore and while yes, this is true in some instances, I rather enjoy being able to wear sweaters without coats and be completely comfortable.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cupcakes: Spaghetti and Meatballs Edition

I don't mean to toot my own horn or anything but I am pretty pleased with my April Fool's day Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes. Obviously I am not clever enough to come up with a real trick so I made treats instead. Solid compromise in my book as I don't think I would be able to hold a straight face long enough to pull off a legitimate prank. Here is how you can recreate these Italian beauts for any occasion.

Use a yellow or white cake mix to create cupcakes. Follow the box instructions or add a can of ginger ale or lemon-lime soda (diet or regular) to the mix, stir, and bake according to the box.
For the icing, I used store-bought buttercream since I felt it had the most noodle-like color. Spread a small amount on each cupcake as a base. Scoop the icing into a baggie and snip one corner. ***Full disclosure, I must have squeezed too hard on my first few attempts because I ended up popping the Ziploc, having to transfer the icing to a fresh bag, and start again, this time with success. So, live and learn, and take your time. 

This was actually super simple and I had no real rhyme or reason to my noodle pattern. I placed my cupcakes together and piped the icing all over, making little "piles" on each cake but letting the strands touch the other cakes and hang over the sides for a more realistic look. Once I was satisfied with the noodles, I unwrapped 12 Ferrero Rocher chocolates aka the meatballs. Super realistic right? Then, in a bowl, I spooned some raspberry jam (strawberry or any red color will do) to imitate the marinara sauce and coated the chocolate balls a few at a time. I then scooped a bit of the jam on each cupcake (you don't need much) and placed a meatball on each. If I had had some white chocolate to shave or some powder sugar, I would have sprinkled that on top as Parmesan cheese but even without, they still looked great and were a real hit.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Manicure Monday

Today is opening day!! Baseball people, America's pastime. I realize that my "Beach Bum  Blu" nails by Essie do not exaclty show off my Cincinnati Reds pride but believe me, with all the score checking I have been doing and text messages coming in from my dad, it is definitly in the air and top of mind. We have been a family of Reds fans for as long as I can remember and actually living in the city during last season and getting to attend so many games has made me love the sport even more. I can't help but find it humorous that my favorite team is kicking off their season in Cincinnati against my new home's team, the Angels of Aneheim. I am hoping for a Reds win and not an April Fool's joke by the end of the afternoon. Here we go Redlegs!