"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."

--Winston Churchill

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Hermit Weekend

{Shirt: TJ Maxx; Belt, Forever 21, Skirt; H&M, Shoes, Michael Kors from TJ Maxx}

The pictures above might have fooled you into thinking that I actually made and effort and got dressed this weekend but let me assure you I did no such thing. These pictures were taken earlier in the week. My entire weekend was spent in my loungewear at my house. Normally, I would feel really gross about this and not want to reveal that information with the world, but I feel like I actually got a lot accomplished. And I must say, it feels pretty darn good spending the day in comfy clothes and no makeup. Here are a few of the highlights...

VALENTINES!! Even though I am not exactly what you'd call a Valentines Day person, I absolutely love making valentines for friends and family every year. That's what I devoted most of my day to yesterday and I must say I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. My mom, sister, and friend Kelly even joined me for a while and we had a little valentine making party! It was such a fun and relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
My mom and I spent our weekly organizing project on sorting through my bookshelf. Man did I have a lot of books I never intended on reading! It feels so good to have that cleaned out and organized now. Bonus? My mom found the 50 dollar Zappos gift card I lost ages ago in an old binder of mine! I was beyond ecstatic! Of course I spent it right away on this pair of Madden Gril flat booties. These will hopefully help me to stick to my new less heel resolution for my knees.

Today I made these monster cookies from my favorite baking site The Spunky Coconut. I added coconut flakes to the mix and they turned out delicious. I also baked blondies from The Spunky Coconut cookbook (my mom surprised me with it on Friday!! Thanks mom!) yesterday for our valentine making party and I'm trying to decide which I like better. My overindulgence of them yesterday proves how good they are. In one word, YUM!

In more exciting news, my very sweet blogger friend Christianna from The Girl with the Blue Bow gave me an award on her blog! I feel very flattered an honored by this especially because I love her blog so much! Thanks Christianna! She also mentions me in her 7 Things Childhood Edition post today! You should definitely check out her blog.

Well, I must get back to watching Mean Girls with my lovely friend Grace and then the SAG Awards! Be looking for a post of my red carpet favorites soon!

Friday, January 28, 2011

7 Things: Childhood Edition

Well my friends, the time has come for my 7 childhood facts post whether you like it or not. I know I'm lucky when I can honestly say that I had an idyllic childhood. I was in my own little world for most of the time and now looking back at those pictures I realize that I was truly the biggest dork the world has ever seen. But you know what? For all the great memories I have I'd say it was all worth it. I have to warn you, some of these photos aren't the highest quality. My brother kidnapped our scanner so I was forced to use my iPhone as a replacement. Here we go...

Here I am at the cusp of my awkward phase. I remember being so proud of my newly gold braces free mouth and wanting my picture taken to commemorate the event. I think this was taken at Sears or somewhere embarrassing. I was probably 12 here.

Ok, I don't think I was the cutest baby, but I look so happy in this picture I couldn't resist posting it.

My parents being the travel bugs that they are took me to Italy when I was 7 months old. Can't say I remember it but my parents tell me everywhere they went people would yell "bella bambina!" which means "beautiful baby" and beg to hold me. I just love Italians. I can't get over my mom's huge glasses here.

A family photo taken on Janney Lane, the lane of my childhood. Sorry Maddy and Hayley, you guys weren't born yet.

Yep, proof that I was a little Disney obsessed. My sister Chelsea and I both got reeeallly into the dressing up thing, as you can see by this picture.

This picture slays me. When I look at it, there are no words. The hat alone should be banned from any period past Victorian times. I cannot believe I was allowed to leave the house looking like this. But hey, I thought I looked pretty dang good and was having fun...and I guess that's all that matters.

I love this picture of the 5 of us. Here we are having a ball in Hawaii. Unbeknownst to most people who look at this picture, not long after it was taken and we were seated in the restaurant of this fancy Hawaiian hotel, Hayley (the youngest) decided to take a big poop right in the middle of her chair (the kind with the rubber strips on the seat) which immedietely fell through the strips and onto the floor below. My dad had to as discretely as possible scoop the poop up with napkins and carry it past the diners into the trash. Oh the life of the Black family is never boring.

Ok, now the family is complete. This picture perfectly illustrates our dorky homeschooly family. Our yearly family photos were taken for our company's catalogue hence the audio books in Alex's and Maddy's hands. Don't ask why Chelsea and I are holding dolls. That's a whole other story.

Ok, here are the facts:

1.) I was obsessed with opera at a very young age. I was probably around 4 years old when I first watched La Traviata on TV and fell so much in love with it that my parents bought me the video that I played over and over. They were baffled. It was all in Italian so I couldn't even understand the words but I think the costumes and romance and dramatic music won me over and eventually lead to my parents love of opera. Yep, my weirdness started at a very young age.

2.) I broke my leg falling off our porch right after I learned how to walk. I had to resort to crawling all over again this time while dragging my casted leg behind me. My mom still beats herself up about it. It's ok mom, I don't remember a thing.

3.) For my 7th birthday I flew in a hot air balloon over the Rogue Valley. I remember loving it and not being phased by the fact that we were hundreds of feet above ground in a rickety little basket. Perhaps that is why I have such a big fascination with hot air balloons now and want to be proposed in one...

4.) My first crush was on Richie who sat kitty corner to me in the first grade. He had chubby rosy cheeks and a mullet. Yeah, I don't understand it either.

5.) My obsession with movies started at a very young age. I remember watching Cinderella multiple times in a day and trying to have my sister Chelsea join me. She would often lose interest early in and I was so glued to the television screen that I would talk to her and comment on the movie as if she were still in the room. Eventually I would turn around to realize I've been talking to myself the whole time.

6.) Not only was I a metal mouth, but I was a gold metal mouth. I got gold braces when I was 11 because I thought gold was way "cooler" than silver braces. I am now constantly reminded of how silly I was to think that and how it actually made me look like I had yellow chunky teeth. Great, thanks for letting me know after I couldn't do anything about it. It didn't stop there though. I also had a big metal contraption on the roof of my mouth that my mom had to crank tighter every morning, then headgear (very bad time in my life), then rubber bands, then a thinner contraption on the roof of my mouth, then a retainer. Needless to say I run at the sight of orthodontists now.

7.) After going to a children's fair with my dad and being crowned a princess by someone dressed up as a queen, I truly believed I was a real princess for what felt like years. I remember telling people my big "secret" and thinking they'd be jealous. Oh my I really had quite the imagination.

So there you have it. I hope you were entertained by all the dorkiness you just had to take in. I don't have enough faithful followers to tag 7 people for this, but I'd love to see a 7 Things post from Kelly, Grace, and Christianna. So girls, if you feel so lead...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tumor Hater

This post is dedicated to one of my best friends in the whole world Kelly Sullivan. Kelly has been battling a disease called Neurofibromatosis since she was diagnosed with it at age 19. I know, it's a mouthful isn't it? Broken down, "neuro meaning nerve and "fibroma" meaning tumor basically sums up the disease that creates thousands of tumors in and on her nerves. These tumors often grow and can be incredibly painful. She has already had multiple surgeries to remove some of the most cumbersome ones, but they often grow back or are replaced with new tumors. Recently, Kelly has been taking action and has come up with the slogan, "Tumor Hater" which she is now in the process of trademarking. Already she has had tshirts and bracelets featuring the slogan made in different sizes and different colors for the bracelets. In the picture above I am rocking the black and gray bracelet. I have officially declared myself a tumor hater. Do I look like I want to kick some tumor butt?!

Here's a closer shot of the bracelets. I also own the tshirt that Kelly is wearing below.

This is Kelly being her best tumor hater and rocking her "Tumor Hater" tee which will be available to order along with the bracelets through Paypal on her blog Tumor-ey Side of Me by next week! She is selling the tshirts for $20 and the bracelets for $4 each. Be sure to check out her blog which gives a full detailed description of her illness and the story behind her diagnosis. Through her blog, Facebook group, and items for sale, Kelly wants to raise awareness on this complex disease also known as NF1. With her sales, Kelly hopes to raise enough to cover her medical bills which are through the roof. I'm so proud of her! Kelly has a future Tumor Hater website in the works but until then please check out her blog and become a tumor hater too!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's the Simple Things

{Dress: Xhileration for Target; Belt: H&M; Necklace: Target; Shoes: Tahari (from TJ Maxx); Bracelet: Forever 21}

Sometimes, it's the simple things in life that make me truly happy. This weekend I was fortunate enough to spend quality time with three of my closest friends individually. I feel like that never happens. That was enough to make my weekend a memorable one. However, there were a few added perks to my weekend that I feel are worthy of mention...

Can we say OSCAR PARTY?!! This year I (or someone I know, I don't really remember) had the brilliant idea to host an Oscar viewing party at our family business, Blackstone Audio, which has a screening room with a huge screen TV and projector. I look forward to the Oscars almost like I look forward to Christmas, so the idea of holding a party for it makes it doubly exciting for me. Once again, my brilliant friend Jessica came up with the idea for these invites, which I think turned out quite nicely. I can't wait to hand them out!

I cleaned out my closet!! Once again, my mom helped me with another weekend organizing project and had the genius idea to store my dozens of fancy cocktail dresses in garment bags in the garage to make room for my every day clothes. Of course, I got rid of some items too. Now I can actually see my clothes! Amazing! Now I can actually look forward to getting dressed every day.

Don't you just love it when you've had your eye on an item for ages but resist it because you can't afford it, but then you go back later to discover that it's on clearance for practically nothing?! Well my friends, this very thing happened to me today at Target. I was casually perusing the accessory aisles when low and behold, before my very eyes I saw the beautiful limited edition black Mulbery for Target fifty-dollar purse I've wanted ever since I first set eyes on it months ago on clearance for twelve dollars!!! My friend Grace can attest that I was freaking out in the aisle. I couldn't believe my luck. I've been needing a new purse for a while now but couldn't bring myself to splurging on a new one. Now I'm set for a while! This bag is incredibly classic and versatile and looks much more expensive than it was originally even. Score!

I've been searching for these perfect little snacks ever since I first read about them. I'm a nut fanatic and tend to go a little crazy with them sometimes when I'm not limited to a certain amount (they used to be a bad binge food, so I'm still a little afraid at times to snack on them). So when I discovered these perfect little chocolate dusted almond snack packs I immediately thought they were just what I needed to snack on and feel good about. This weekend as I was shopping at Wal Mart for supplies for our Oscar party invites I finally found them! Who would have thought Wal Mart of all places? They are so delicious that I went back today and bought two more boxes.

I discovered this book at Costco today and couldn't resist buying it. As many of you know, I've been in quite the cooking craze lately, specifically baking but a little cooking mixed in. This book drew me in because all of the recipes are incredibly healthy but also simple and approachable. I get easily overwhelmed with cook books, especially when they list a bunch of random ingredients I would have to go out and buy. But this cook book is filled with ingredients we actually own already! So many of the recipes look so delicious I can't wait to start making them! This just might be what I need to get me to transition from baking to cooking more. Tonight I made the antioxidant coco oat dreams in their dessert section and they are amazing! I might just have to hoard them all to myself ;)

The album I've been waiting for for ages has FINALLY arrived and as of today I have it in my possession at last! I am a huge James Blunt fan and was so excited to hear his new CD was slated to come out in December '10. However, it's release kept getting pushed back and I was forced to take it off my Christmas list and continue waiting in eager anticipation for its release. Even though I shouldn't be spending my money on things like this right now I couldn't resist purchasing it when I saw it at Wal Mart today for eleven bucks. I am absolutely loving it so far.

Well, that just about sums up the simple things that made my weekend so great. I also managed to file my tax returns (woohoo for money!), go grocery shopping, make gluten free spinach and artichoke pies for dinner (yummy, but too much work to make again), and buy three adorable pairs of ballet flats so that I no longer have an excuse to wear heels. I'd say that makes for a pretty productive weekend, wouldn't you? I also was tagged in "7 Things Post" which I plan to follow through on soon...hopefully. So stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Top Golden Globe Looks

Wowsers was it just me or was the red carpet more heavily populated with well dressed stars this year?! It seems that the worst dressed list has shrunk dramatically, while the best dressed list has climbed, making it harder to choose my favorites. My number one was a no brainer, however, and I knew it the second the cameras caught a glimpse of her. Here are my favorite looks from the Golden Globes...

This one was a no brainer. Olivia Wilde looked absolutely stunning in this glittery Marchesa masterpiece. This is the dress that every girl dreams about and I'm sure she felt like a princess floating down the red carpet. Absolute perfection. And of course I have to add her kick a** Christian Louboutin booties she had hidden underneath her layers of tule. They were the cherry on top of her stunning look.

Catherine Zeta Jones' glorious deep green Monique Lhullier floral appliqué ball gown is easily my second favorite. Everything about this creation is absolutely breathtaking. It reminds me of my dream wedding dress by the same designer.

Another green stunner? Angelina Jolie rocked this retro looking Atelier Versace dress. Yes, Angelina can wear a potato sack and still look stunning (especially with a few extra pounds on her), but I thought this daring dress was especially elegant and unique. Leave it to Ms. Jolie to pull off a dress that would be a bit more challenging for others to do so.

Another person rocking the statement shoulder sequin look? Anne Hathaway looked her best ever in this Armani Prive gown which featured a plunging back cut dangerously low. The soft flowing hair balanced out the dramatic dress perfectly.

This beautiful Monique Lhullier creation looks like it was made for Mandy Moore. The color, fit, and material flatter her figure and coloring perfectly. She looks like a princess, which is fitting considering she voices one in Tangled, which was up for best animated feature.

My favorite use of black of the evening was definitely Eva Longoria's sexy and sophisticated Zac Posen number which featured an asymmetrical cutout back similar to the front. I'm not usually too keen on Eva's style but this look blew me away. She proves that you can be petite AND a bombshell. Props to you Eva!

Well there you have it. It was hard to narrow my list down to only six this year. Who were some of your favorites on the red carpet this year?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Fudge, Hurt Knees, and the Golden Globes

Those three things have been the biggest events of my weekend so far. Let me explain: The Tracy Anderson dance cardio video I recently posted about ended up doing real damage to my already fragile knees (I've had surgery on one but they both still have congenital issues that have to do with how my bones are aligned). For four days now they have been swollen, aching, and get worse the longer I walk around or stand on them. So let that be a warning to people who have joint issues, dance cardio might not be for you :(

In better news, one of my best friends Kelly came over last night after we both matching pajama sets at Victoria's Secret's semi annual sale (along with a bag full of other goodies...but we won't talk about that) and we drank wine and wanted to make something together so we decided to make this delicious peanut butter fudge! We ended up replacing peanut butter for sunbutter, ran out of honey and replaced what we were lacking with molasses, and Miss Kelly had the genius idea to sprinkle some coffee grounds on top along with the chocolate chips (I was a little wary of this at first but man did I so not need to be!). It ended up being one of the best things my tongue has ever come in contact with! You MUST make it but remember to keep it in the freezer! We left ours out a bit too long and it started melting.

Now I am eagerly counting down the hours till the Golden Globes!!! I watching the whole thing--from the red carpet arrivals to the after shows including the fashion police (I know, I'm a little obsessed) and this year my dad has made a date to watch the ceremony with me. I know he's not nearly as into it as I am and probably won't be watching all the pre and post stuff with me but I'm excited I won't be watching downstairs in out media room all alone in the dark. He's the greatest.

My predictions for the Golden Globe winners? I predict James Franco for 127 Hours for best actor in a drama, Natalie Portman for Black Swan for best actress in a drama, Cristian Bale and Amy Adams for The Fighter in best supporting acting in a drama, and maybe Inception for best motion picture, drama? That one is tough, as are the comedy categories. You never know what they're gonna pick for that category. I'm rooting for Burlesque for best motion picture, comedy or musical, Johnny Depp for Alice in Wonderland for best actor in a comedy or musical (you really can never go wrong with Johnny Depp, although I don't think The Tourist was his best role), and Emma Stone for best actress in Easy A. Although I heard that Julianne Moore and Annette Bening were both incredible in The Kids Are All Right as well as Anne Hathaway in Love and Other Drugs. Looks like I should have watched more movies! Ok, maybe that's impossible for me. What are you're predictions? Let's see how many I'm right about!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Special K Challenge

{Dress: Forever 21; Sweater: Ralph Lauren (from TJ Maxx); Socks: Target; Boots: Bakers}

I read this post on the Special K Challenge several days ago and have been thinking about it ever since. It really struck a chord with me because every time a commercial comes on for the challenge or I hear about it--and I've known about it for post years--I can't help feel sorry for the poor people won over by their clever marketing scheme. You don't have to be a scientist or nutritionist to know that it can't be healthy. However, some people are desperate enough to lose weight that they'll try anything that's popular enough with pretty appealing colors and simple instructions. What they don't realize is that something like this can be opening a door to disordered eating. According to the post titled The Special K Challenge: Get Lost, it is revealed that the challenge only has you consuming 829 calories a day! And most of those calories are from the empty processed and filled with high fructose corn syrup cereal. A healthy way to lose weight? I think not. I hope I've wet your appetite for the article. Read it, pass it on. People need to be informed of the dangers of mass marketing and the food industry.

On that note, I'm off to make some healthy chocolate raspberry cookie bars! If they turn out delicious I'll make sure to share the recipe with you!

Monday, January 10, 2011

From Dance Cardio to Smile Booth: A Weekend Recap

I don't know whether it's because I'm feeling newly inspired and excited about what this new year holds or because I feel like I finally know the next direction I want to take my life, but I am feeling extra happy these days. Weekends like this last one definitely contribute to that. I am one lucky girl. What did I do/discover/watch this weekend? Well let me tell ya...

Discovered-- Tracy Anderson's Beginner Dance Cardio

My elliptical machine recently broke and is in the process of getting fixed. At first, I was pretty agitated about this but now I think it was an answer from God. As a person recovering from an eating disorder, it can be easy to turn an exercise routine into a compulsion. I always get a workout high when trying a new routine that really works for me but eventually that feeling disappears after doing the same thing day after day. I had been using the elliptical just long enough to start dreading the very thought of stepping on that thing, but of course, I still feel better when I get a work out in and I thought the elliptical was giving me the best I could get at home. Boy was I wrong. My sister and I bought Tracy Anderson's Beginner Dance Cardio DVD a while back when we wanted to start doing a weekly friend workout but never got around to breaking it out. For some reason, workout DVDs have always intimidated me or seemed like not a great work out so I always avoided them. Well my friends, my phobia of workout DVDs has officially ended. Don't get me wrong, even though this DVD is labeled for beginners I still looked like a complete idiot trying to follow the choreography but I found that as long as I kept bouncing around and pretending to know what I was doing, I got the best, most invigorting workout I have gotten in a long time. I would not recommend doing this workout every day, but I think it is just what I needed to break up my routine and get me excited about exercise again in a healthy way. Thank you broken elliptical and Tracy Anderson!

Saw-- Country Strong

For those who know me or have been reading my blog for a while now, you know that missing the new Gwyneth Paltrow movie would be a sin in my book, even if it is about country music which I am not a fan of (to put it mildly). So of course my Friday night was devoted to watching Country Strong, the story of a washed up country singer fresh out of rehab trying to make her big comeback while still battling her demons. Of course, Gwyneth never ceases to amaze me and blew me away with the voice I never knew she had. Who knew she had some twang in her?! The storyline was a tad depressing, just like a country song, but I still thought the movie was good in its own melancholy way. It was also a refreshing departure for Leighton Meester, who I'm used to seeing sporting Chanel and plotting her revenge on her latest victim in Gossip Girl. I was also surprised to see a talent in her I never knew she had. Her story was actually the sweetest in the movie and the one that drew me in the most. I'll be interested to see how this movie scores with the reviewers.

Did: Smile Booth

These are the things you get to do when you have an incredibly creative friend like Jessica. As part of a girls night/cheer up effort, Jess created an adorable "smile booth" with handmaid props to do a mini photoshoot. For the backdrop she hung dark and light pink streamers on her wall which one of us pointed out reminded her of Victoria's Secret. Jess and I had to take a slipper pick with our matching skirt/slipper outfits.

I also baked some gluten free Scandinavian thumbprint cookies which was more fun than delicious. I ended up substituting a key ingredient with something else so they didn't turn out as tasty as I hoped.

After the smile booth pictures we changed into our cozy pjs and moved the photoshoot into the living room. Fun fun night!

Did: Organize Organize ORGANIZE!

Thanks to the help of my amazing mom I am now able to actually open and close my dresser drawers with ease!! Not only did I go through my drawers and organize my clothes, but my mom also completely cleaned up and dusted the top of my dresser too. This was all after I deep cleaned the interior of my car. I just love the days where you get a lot done! My mom ended up committing to helping me with a new organizing project every weekend which will be a HUGE help and will make moving out eventually A LOT easier. Thanks mom for your help!

In a nutshell, I am feeling incredibly blessed. What do I have to look forward to next weekend? The GOLDEN GLOBES of course! Let the countdown begin...