Friday, May 29, 2009

Fabulous Friday

Why is Friday Fabulous? Because it's followed by Saturday and Sunday of course! Here's what I'm loving this week:

These Bikes:Giant Bicycles Love the designs- just got my very own! Pictured is the "Tran-send." I'm picturing a romantic bike near a beach, with wind in my hair, Hollywood style. In case you were curious.

These Tweeple:
@Dianadraasbaty (My cousin- like royalty in the bowling realm!)
@Mental_Floss (Who doesn't need a little random trivia now and then?)

This Chandelier:3-Arm Camilla from Pottery Barn

This Bedding:Marimeddo Lehtimiaja from Crate & Barrel

These Tanks:Tie-dye Racerbacks from Gap-sweet, simple and summery.

This Location:Catalina Island- I'll be there in a few weeks. I also plan on falling in love with the island and refusing to leave. Just a heads up.

This Quote:
"Success is not a result of spontaneous combustion, you must set yourself on fire."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Best Things in Life are Free

Thanks to @SavingEveryday, lately I've really been into getting as much stuff for free as possible. And, through her blog I've found that Walmart.com gives away a ton of free samples!

Right now you can get all of the below:
  1. Bodycology Lotion Sample
  2. Aveeno Nourish Hair (Shampoo + Conditioner) Sample
  3. Crest Advance Seal Whitening Strip Sample
  4. Hawaiin Tropic Sun Care Sample
  5. Playtex Gentle Guide Sample
  6. Sun Crystals All Natural Sweetener
  7. And More!
That's right for free! Though it takes about a month to get a sample, most of these are perfect to stick in their own little bin in the bathroom for guests, or to take on overnight trips. The freebies change about every week so be sure to check back often for new freebies- and pretty soon you'll be finding a little present in your mailbox everyday!

You just have to fill out a quick form and the samples are on their way (they'll ask for your e-mail, but will not spam you! I haven't gotten a single Walmart e-mail yet.)

Go get your freebies!

Live Well!
Lauren

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What I'm reading now: Sookie Stackhouse

I'm a bookworm and proud of it. And I love when I can find an author I'm really into and just read everything they have ever written. Good examples of this for me are Phillipa Gregory, Chuck Palahniuk, David Sedaris, and Chuck Klosterman. Of course I'll read anything if I've gotten a good recommendation!

Recently I've been reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris (these are the books that the HBO series "True Blood" is based on.) And I just love them-- I like to think this series is like the Twilight for grown-ups. And come on... you are probably all into this vampire fad anyways, so you might as well!Basically Sookie, the main character, works in a bar in Bon Temps, Louisiana. She is also a telepath (what? It's fiction!) In the series the vampire have just "came out of the closet" so to speak and are trying to live out in the open among the human race. The books are racy and violent at times, but that's what makes them interesting. Each book is one little mystery in itself and they are really quick and easy reads. Perfect for summertime.

The HBO Series is also pretty good (though I'm more of a Big Love fan myself) and the storyline is remarkably similar to the books-- something that I think is hard to find!

What's also great is that all of the books are available in paperback- which means you don't have to feel guilty about splurging. So far I've read the first three, and just purchased the next two in the series.
  1. Dead Until Dark
  2. Living Dead in Dallas
  3. Club Dead
  4. Dead to the World
  5. Dead as a Doornail
  6. Definitely Dead
  7. All Together Dead
  8. From Dead to Worse
  9. Dead and Gone
  10. A Touch Of Dead (Oct 09)
I've been alternating reading a Sookie Stackhouse Novel with another book, and am currently reading People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, which is very good. I'll give you a complete update when I've finished.

Who's your favorite author?

Live Well,
Lauren

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Backpacking in the Smokies

I went camping for the first time two years ago-- and loved every second of it. Since then I've become quite the little adventurer, going on multiple camping trips and even white water rafting-- I can't get enough of it!

So for Memorial Day weekend this year, Mark and I decided to go backpacking in the Smokies. That's right- we carried everything on our backs that we'd need for three days. And trust me these packs are heavier than they look... mine was about 40 pounds and Mark's was about 55! Yep, we tend to overpack...Please ignore the socks portion of my outfit. But I was a little concerned about snakes. Which turned out to be a valid worry because look who we ran into about 15 minutes into our hike:Mark about stepped on him and I about jumped out of my pants. But anyways, we started out at Abram Falls Ranger Station on Rabbit Creek Trail. Though this trail seemed entirely uphill, it was very pretty. We only hiked 2.7 miles the first day- just to be sure we'd make it!Our first night we stayed at "Campsite 16." It worked since we had our own water-- but it would have been challenging to get water from the little creek that ran through there. It was also pretty small for an unreserved site- but it too was very beautiful. And we made our own fire just by using one of the magnesium sticks!Though we had a beautiful day of hiking we did get rained on a bit that night. But it's okay- we are waterproof! The next day we were headed to Abram Falls. We took Hannah Mountain Trail to Abram Falls Trail which dropped us off at the falls. I think this portion was about 3.5 miles. We also had to cross the "creek" which was more like a river by wading across! I felt like quite the little backpacker. All in all it was worth it, because the falls were gorgeous!Mark even took a little swim in the "creek." After lunch at the falls we were off to "Campsite 17" Back through Abrams Falls Trail to Little Bottoms Trail which took us to our site, a little over three miles in all. This site was much bigger than the first night and was very flat with the river nearby. We loved it. We did get rained on a bit again that night, and are now looking into a better backpacking tent...
Day three we woke up and headed back to the truck. It was about 3 miles back to the ranger station via Little Bottom Trail with some beautiful views.All in all it was a great and gorgeous trip-- and I can't wait for our next experience! What was your favorite or best backpacking trip? We're looking forward to trying new adventures!
Live Well,
Lauren

Friday, May 22, 2009

Billy Joel & Elton John Face to Face

The show was amazing to say the least. If you get the opportunity to go to one of the shows in their tour, DO IT! Both Billy Joel and Elton John are so talented-- it is unbelievable! They played together, individually, and together again and I'll never forget it.

Also, I am now looking to take up piano lessons (since I retired at age 9 after a year of playing) any ideas?

Live Well,
Lauren

$25,000 Question

In one of McMommy's recent posts she asks, "What would you do with $25,000?" (Not only does she have pool parties in like February, but I guess radio stations in Florida just give money away. Sigh.) As she points out it isn't a ridiculous amount of money but enough to have a lot of fun!

So, what would you do with $25,000?

Me? Simple. I'd take a long vacation (not sure how I'd get off work but I'd manage) and travel around the world. No offense, America, I love you, but most of the rest of the world just has so much history.

Here is a list of six of the places I want to see, but trust me there are many other places I dream of visiting! And now that I think of it, I'm not sure $25,000 would cover all of this.

Jellyfish Lake, Palau
Located 500 miles from the Philippines, the island is famous for Jellyfish Lake. Here, a special species of jellyfish has been trapped in the lake and, over time, they've lost their ability to sting. Come on! How cool would that be!

Santorini, Greece
Santorini, Greece, is located in the Cyclades of the Aegean Sea. The villages are built on cliffs and overlook a submerged volcano. And apparently I should check out Oia, a town offering the most amazing sunsets.

Zambezi River Rafting, Zambia
I went white-water rafting in West Virginia last year-- so now I KNOW I'm ready for the Zambezi River. The river is classified as a high-volume, pool-drop river and floods between February and the end of June. At times, the volume is four times that of the Colorado River. Whoo!

Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. It is UNESCO-protected and contains the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, including the Temple of Angkor Wat and the Bayon Temple. I would feel like Indiana Jones:
Sienna, Italy
A few years ago I was lucky enough to go to Italy for about two weeks. We went to Rome, Venice, Florence, Naples, Pompeii and Sienna. It was unbelievable. I absolutely fell in love with Sienna and have always wanted to go back and see the horse race (Palio di Siena) they have every year. The town is diveded into neighborhoods- each having thier own history, mascot, colors, etc. You can't marry outside your neighborhood- so I'm sure life there is very Romeo-Juliet. Anyway each neighborhood has a horse in the race and I mean look at it:

Everywhere, France
I studied French and Art in college so naturally I want to be able to see every square foot of France. I know Paris is cliche but that's a definite as well as the quaint towns of Southern France and places like Marseille pictured here:

If you are feeling up to sponsoring any of the above trips because you are crazy or are so rich you just have money to give away, you can reach me: laurealism at gmail dot com. I think I could find some time :)

But, again-- what would you do with $25,000?

Live well,
Lauren

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Peer Pressure and a Mini-Marathon

I kinda, sorta, maybe, probably* committed myself to run a mini-marathon in late September. Now before you get all "Good for you, go get 'em girl" about it on me, let me paint a little picture for you. I hate to run.

I swam in college for Purdue. Only I was pretty sure when I got there that I had accidentally joined the track team. The coaches called it conditioning. I called it "WTH. I can't believe I am waking up at 5 AM to run in painful circles and waddle around campus for three weeks." Now don't get me wrong. I did the running. But I complained the whole time. I bet the rest of the girls were secretly happy I was so slow, so they would'nt have to hear me whine. And sure I got a little better every year, and learned to train for the conditioning (though I always thought it was ridiculous that I was training for the conditioning...) but I never, EVER enjoyed those mornings.

After the last run of my senior year I promised myself: I will never run again. Unless, naturally, I am trying to escape death from a bear or something.

Enter peer pressure. When I first got to college there were fourteen other girls in the freshman class with me on the swim team (yes, that is a ton.) We called ourselves the "Freshman 15." Cute, huh? Well, we were a freaking cult. Ate together, swam together, partied together, and thought we were the bomb diggity together. Back then these girls peer pressured me into things like Edward 40-hands, flippy-cup tournaments, beer pong, etc. Which, naturally didn't take that much coercing. Then we graduated and everyone moved to different parts of the country. Texas, Vegas, Alaska, Virginia, California, blah, blah, blah. It's not so fun, that we are all spead out of the country-- but I'll always have someone to visit wherever I go.

And yesterday I got an e-mail from one of the freshman 15 to all the rest of us. And long story short, we are all running a freaking mini-marathon. Now, I don't know exactly when peer pressure to binge drink turned into peer pressure to run for hours, and I'm not sure I like it-- but I am going to try-- and by golly there better be fourteen girls throwing beer on me when I pass the finish line...

Love and miss you girls!
Lauren

P.S. I say kinda, sorta, maybe, probably because I know everyone will still love me if I back out. You know as long as I'm serving beer to them when they finish.

P.P.S I'm adding mini-marathon to my bucket list.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dreams Do Come True

If you could see anyone in concert-- dead or alive-- who would it be?

For me? It's without a doubt, one hundred percent: BILLY JOEL. All time favorite! We are talking if I could only listen to one dude's music for the rest of my whole life- it would be him.

Which is why I have been acting like an excited little kid all day. I GET TO SEE HIM TONIGHT! Is it time yet? Can we go? Can we!? Did I mention Elton John will be there? Come on, it hardly gets better than these two performing together.

I actually got to see Elton John a few months ago in Vegas at his Red Piano gig. It was wonderful to hear him sing those classics live! Though, as one might expect, the show was a little crazy (ignore the poor quality of the pics...)
Yes. That is a giant inflatable banana surrounded by two giant inflatable cherries. Use your imagination.

But back to Billy.
Piano Man. Only the Good Die Young. She's Got a Way. Captain Jack. My Life. It's Still Rock and Roll to me. The Longest Time. Uptown Girl. Need I go on?

I will let you know how tonight goes as I cross "See Billy Joel in Concert" off of my bucket list! Sigh-- dreams really do come true!

Live Well,
Lauren

*A super special thanks to my brother, Ian for getting the tickets!

$15 Off at Nine West


To celebrate the re-opening of their stores located at 701 North Michigan Avenue and the Watertower in Chicago, Nine West is offering $15 off purchases of $75 for online purchases and Chicago retail locations. Use code NWBLG11 online. Go get 'em!

I found this little gem thanks to Jasmine @FashionGrail (check it out here!)

Live Well,
Lauren

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rococo's Modern Life

This weekend I got a little into the color accent feature on our camera, if you could not tell from my previous post. Here's one of the shots I took:
And basically, I am in love with it to say the least. The first time I glanced at it, it reminded me of one of my favorite paintings: L'escarpolette (The Swing) by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Which further reminded me that it is time for me to give you a little art lesson.


In addition to majoring in Communications, with a minor in French, I also have a minor in Art & Design, which might as well be Art History for all of the classes I took. Basically I fell in love with Baroque art (of which Rococo is an offshoot) after a particular class that focused on 17th century Dutch painting. Snore- I know. The moment I figured out that's what the class
was focused on, I was all ohmygoshgetmeouttaherenow. However, I absolutely fell in love. But, that's another story.

Right now is about Rococo. Basically, Rococo is the French version of Baroque. But while the word baroque sounds all ugly and dark, the French made it sound pretty by combining "rocaille" (stone garden or shells) and "barocco" the italian term for Baroque. Unfortunately in all of my art classes, Rococo received maybe one day of notority, while Baroque had a whole semester.

But I did learn that Rococo was an early 18th century style--think Marie Antoinette, Louis XV and Louis XVI that extended into the rest of Europe from France. Three of the most noted painters of this time were Fragonard (see above,) Jean-Antoine Watteau and Francois Boucher. But Fragonard is by far my favorite. Everything about his style is flirty, pretty and feminine--exactly the things I love about Rococo.

Love Letters
In addition, Rococo also defined the architecture and interior design of the same period, resulting in these beauties:
The Wieskirche, or the Pilgrimage Church of the Scourged Saviour, in Bavaria


There will definitely be more to come about my million other favorite artists and artistic styles... but, in the meantime, who is your favorite artist? What is your favorite artistic period?

Live Well,
Lauren

Camping, Cornhole & Comrades

This past weekend we took a little trip down to Brown County State Park (Indiana) with a bunch of friends for a weekend of relaxation. There was a lot of hamburgers and hot dogs, a lot of cornhole, a lot of fishing, a lot of hiking, a lot of laughing, and a whole lot of fun. I'm glad everyone was able to come out!

Here are (from left to right) Natasha & Andrew, Autumn & Paul

Kim & Zac, Rambo & Me
And Justin.
Zac, Kim, Justin & Mark all managed to catch a few fish, while Autumn and I weren't so lucky...
The whole place is so romantic (in fact Mark's brother proposed to his now-wife here!)
There are great little trails that vary from easy to "rugged" though the rugged really isn't so bad. Because of all the rain we have been getting lately, everything was so green on our hikes!
When is the last time you saw something like this?What? After hiking around all day you'd be hungry, too! In all seriousness though it was a great time, and is a beautiful place-- if you want any more details (or want to the know the BEST camping lot number) just let me know!

Live Well,
Lauren


Friday, May 15, 2009

Fabulous Friday

Here are a few things I'm loving at the moment:

This Watch:
Turquoise Leather Strap (Guess)

This Stationary:
Brushed Stroke Peony (Kate Spade)

This Article:
5 Mentally Ill Monarchs
I have a weird obsession with royalty, and this puts a little twist to it.

This Location:
Brown County State Park
Because it's a great place to go camping in Indiana!

This Twitterer:
@Pogue
Excerpt from this week:
(Best "15 min of fame" reply yet? RT @libbyfish:) I'm on a Girl Scout cookie box (have been for 9 years, so it's longer than 15 minutes)!

This Blog:
Sound of Noah
This is a real life friend-- with a great sense of humor, living as an American Au Pair in France!

This Flower:

Blue Hydrangea

This Quote:
"Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier."
Mother Teresa

Happy Friday, All! What are you loving at the moment?

Live Well,
Lauren