Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Poppy from Coach

I absolutely LOVE the new Poppy line from Coach... check out these cute bags and wristlets! I think I will be splurging on one of these babies very soon!

Pop C Zip-around Wallet $158.00

Pop C Spotlight $268.00

Poppy Patent Small Wallet $78.00

Pop C Groovy $198.00

New Evie $198.00

You have to go check out the site... there are a ton more designs-- all just as cute!

Have at 'em :)
Lauren

Monday, June 29, 2009

Symphony on the Prairie

This past weekend, Mark's Mom invited us to go to Symphony on the Prairie with her at Conner's Prairie located in Fishers, Indiana (just north of Indianapolis for those of you not Hoosiers.) And I loved every second of it!

Basically you get there a couple of hours early, have a little picnic, drink a little wine-- of course the amount is up to you, and play a few games (we played trivial pursuit, but next time I'm totally going for Scrabble.) Then the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra serenades you for about an hour and a half, while the sun sets behind them. It is beautiful and I absolutely loved it. You can find more information here and pick up your tickets at Marsh.

Here are a couple of pictures: (as you can see Mark enjoyed a little more of the "prairie" than he did the symphony...) I had more of the sunset, but my blackberry refuses to cooperate at the moment.
Here is the schedule for the rest of the season. I plan on going to the "from Bach to Bluegrass" and "The Music of Billy Joel." Because we all know how much I LOVE me some Billy. At least that is how far I've planned. I'll surely go to more.

Stars and Stripes Symphony
Thurs.–Sat., July 2–4
Alfred Savia, Conductor

Time For Three - From Bach to Bluegrass
Fri. & Sat., July 10 & 11
Zach De Pue, Leader

Venzago's Debut
Fri. & Sat., July 17 & 18
Mario Venzago, Conductor

The Music of Billy Joel featuring Michael Cavanaugh
Fri. & Sat., July 24 & 25
Jack Everly, Conductor | Michael Cavanaugh, Piano & Vocals

Classical Mystery Tour: A Tribute to the Beatles
Fri. & Sat., July 31 & August 1
Classical Mystery Tour, Tribute Band

Mozart by Moonlight
Fri. & Sat., August 7 & 8
Sean Newhouse, Conductor | Yevgeny Sudbin, Piano

The Music of Queen
Fri. & Sat., August 14 & 15
Brent Havens, Conductor | Brody Dolyniuk, Vocals

Rockapella
Fri. & Sat., August 21 & 22

Glenn Miller Orchesatra
Fri. & Sat., August 28 & 29

An Evening with America
Thurs. & Fri., September 3 & 4

River City Brass Band
Sat. & Sun., September 5 & 6
Denis Colwell, Conductor

I hope to see you there!

Live Well,
Lauren

P.S. Does anyone know if there is anything similar to this in other cities (big or small?)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rambo's Going Down

So remember when I told you that Rambo moved in? Well, Rambo is trying to take over and man-ify our apartment... with little things popping up here and there. Allow me to present EXHIBIT A:
This is one of the those day calendars. This particular one offers a new fishing tip for everyday. It has somehow made it onto the counter- and is now the first thing you see when you come in the door. A small thing, yes but when combined with EXHIBIT B:

Hmmm... interesting. Here we find a wood sculpture of a bass. Now, I'll give Rambo some credit-- this particular fish made it onto shelves where most of the things are made from wood, but I still spotted him. Combine the first two examples with EXHIBIT C:


And Rambo is going down. That is a GIANT painting of a muskie eating a lure in my living room! No, Rambo I can't see the beautiful sunset and landscape in the background because there is a huge fish threatening to eat my guests. Oh but what's that?
Something sparkly just caught my eye... Sigh... what was I talking about again?

Live well :)
Lauren

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Darling Catalina

This is my last post in the vacation-series about Catalina. I swear! But most definitely if you plan on visiting Southern California, VISIT CATALINA!
It is about an hour shuttle-boat ride out to the island. And if you do a little research ahead of time, you can usually buy your boat tickets in conjunction with your hotel and save a little bit of money. We stayed at the Catalina Seaport Inn and it was perfect! We also took the first boat out on Thursday morning and the last boat in Friday evening and I feel we got to see plenty in that short time.
Not only is the scuba-diving BEAUTIFUL, but you feel like you've just been transported to a little Mediterranean city. There aren't any brand-name hotels, or even shops for that matter, so that adds to the quaint feel of the island. Doesn't sound interesting enough? Well everyone drives a golf-cart instead of a car and there are wild buffalo on the island! And the houses are adorable, and in case you won't take my word for it:
It was Mark's birthday while we were out there and I got this beautiful (and delicious!) cake from the little Avalon Bake Shop.
Goodbye my darling Catalina! I'll come back to you someday-- I promise! :)


Sigh....
Lauren

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Diving in Catalina

As promised, here is a little photo-montage of the Diving in Catalina!

Here we have a little lobster:

And a big fish (it looked more pink and purple in real life) I think it's called a sheepshead:

A sea cucumber (please not the showing off pose, and creeper fish trying to get in my picture)


The beautiful kelp forest:

Clearly I had no idea THIS was about to happen. Its hard to look good while scuba-ing, but I manage:

Of course so does Mark, this sign means everything is alright:

Sardines!

Sea Bass (looks like he's been caught recently?)

Someday I'll get around to posting all the pics to Snapfish, so I'll let you know when those are up! And stay tuned for more pictures of our little California getaway :)

Live well,
Lauren

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Our Catalina Love Story

I love Catalina Island for more than one reason. It's charming, romantic, picturesque and IT IS WHERE MARK PROPOSED!!!! So for all of you waiting for an update-- here's how he did it :)

We arrived at Catalina Island on Thursday, June 18. From there we checked in at our hotel (Seaport Village Inn) and went straight over to the scuba dive park so we could get a dive in before the afternoon was up. The dive was AMAZING-- so beautiful with a kelp forest. Here's one picture (though I promise to have a whole post on this later, the PROPOSAL is kind of overshadowing the dive right now!)
So we got out of the water and were taking off all of our gear and I'm all "Blah, blah, blah remember when we saw that fish! That was so cool! Talky, talky, talky." And Mark's like "Yea, but all that saltwater made me really thirsty." So he goes over to the dive-locker we were using and comes back (keep in mind he is still in his full body wetsuit, and I half in mine) and gets down on one knee in front of me.

Now keep in mind I had no idea this would be happening! So I was kind of thinking "Babe, what are you doing?" Then he looked up at me with this serious look on his face and I thought "Oh my gosh. He is proposing!" But he just pulls out this little tub of Carmex so I was kind of thinking, "Oh, I guess his lips are just chapped." Then he gets all serious again... opens up the carmex and BAM! There is the most beautiful ring I've ever seen. He says, "Will you marry me?"
"YES!"
So, that's our little love story on Catalina Island. Absolutely perfect. Here is the view from where he proposed:
And here's a picture of where it all happened... at the Catalina Island "Casino," which means "place of gathering." Right under that middle tier:

And lastly, here is a view of the Casino from another spot on the island. BEAUTIFUL! It is all still so surreal... I can't believe I am engaged!

Mark, I love you so much and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you. Here's to many more adventures!

Love,
Lauren

P.S. Today is Mark's birthday-- so HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my fiance :) Love you!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book Love: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

In case you haven't read what Book Love is all about and the best advice I've ever received when it comes to books, be sure to check out this post!

Book Name: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Category: Literature-Fiction
Pages: 274

Brief Description:
January 1946: Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

Why I bought it: Intrigued by the name, I had actually read the description, and said to myself "eh-not interested," and but the book back on the best-sellers shelf. An employee at Borders practically pounced on me and said "If you are a book-lover, you CAN NOT put that back on the shelf." He said it was the best book he had read in a long time. Thank you employee-- I'm glad you convinced me!

Book Love: This was one of those books that I couldn't put down, and when I realized I only had a few pages left... I was sad for it to be over! Though the name of this book is so strange-- it is one of the most charming books I have ever read. And CHARMING is really the perfect word.

Firstly I have to tell you the book is written entirely as letters between all of the characters. At first I was a little put off by this, but by the end found myself wanting to write some snail mail of my own-- letters just have a certain romance about them! Through the different writing styles you can get a real sense of the personalities of all the characters. The main character, Juliet is so bubbly and sarcastic you can't help but fall in love with her. Each character has a little quirk, and you have to fall in love with the Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society. Are you wondering "What's with the name?" So was I-- and I promise it makes sense when you read the book!

Book Quotes: I didn't want to go crazy here... but there were so many good quotes!

"Have you ever noticed that when your mind is awakened or drawn to someone new, that person's name suddenly pops up everywhere you go?"

"I know I am fortunate to have any place at all to live in London, but I much prefer whining to counting my blessings." Isn't that cute? I think we can all agree that we much prefer whining to counting our blessings...

"I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." Delightful! How dreamy is that quote? It is the epitome of why I loved this book-- to think that books we were destined to love find their way to us... well I'm sure if you are a book-lover you can relate!

Bottom Line: If you love literature, you'll love it. The end.

Enjoy!
Lauren

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Quick Travel Safety Tip

I've been doing a lot of out-of-town traveling for work lately (hence the blog negligence.) I also just read the statistic that about 43% of business travelers are women. And since I'm obviously female, and occasionally believe my life is some sort of Lifetime drama (i.e. thoughts like, "That car is following me! It's making every turn I am! ohmygoshohmygosh! Phew, it turned. That was close.") I do tend to worry a bit when I travel. It's hard to know the safe parts of a town when you are visiting somewhere new.

Here's a quick idea that I've been clued in on. Ask the hotel where you are staying if they have a women's-only floor. Certainly not every hotel offers this, and many don't even advertise that they have a women's-only floor (some deem this idea sexist), but in most busy areas you can find one.

And sometimes they'll even have a women's only lounge (no unwanted advances) or pamper you with magazines, specialty lotions, or yoga mats in the rooms.

Hey- it doesn't hurt to ask!
Live Well :)
Lauren

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Book Love: People of the Book

In case you haven't read what Book Love is all about and the best advice I've ever received when it comes to books, be sure to check out this post!

Book Name: People of the Book
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Category: Historical Fiction (my favorite!)
Pages: 372Brief Description: Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famous Sarajevo Haggadah, rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna discovers a series of tiny artifacts in the book's ancient binding, she begins to unlock its mysteries.

Why I bought it: It was on the bestsellers list.

Book Love: I wouldn't necessarily say that People of the Book was a page-turner, though please don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it very much. I think because there was so much history in this book, it made a little heavier of a read. I think I liked the story line in this book because it's interesting to imagine that really old books, like the Haggadah in People of the Book (a Jewish religious text for Passover) have made it through many, many lifetimes-- and passed through so much history and many hands over that time. While the Haggadah discussed in People of the Book is indeed real, Brooks made up it's past after some historical digging.

Book Quotes: One that particularly caught my eye, though it really doesn't give a good impression of what the book is actually about:

"We hugged awkwardly, the way you do in a workplace, not quite knowing whether to air kiss once or twice, getting it wrong, baning skulls, and wishing you'd just shaken hands."

Brilliant. I love when authors can put situations we have all been in perfectly into words!

Bottom Line: I wouldn't recommend this to everyone, but if you like historical fiction- this is definitely a book for you. If not- I'd say pass. Though it might be worth stopping by a bookstore and seeing what you think after reading a few pages!

Enjoy!
Lauren

Book Love & Some Really Good Advice

There are very few things better than a good book. I love the smell of books. I love how really great authors put thoughts we've all had, into words and phrases in a way I could only dream of. Basically, if I could read books as a career I absolutely would. But since that isn't the case, I figured I could at least share with you my opinions on the books that I do find time to read.To start, I want to share with you THE best advice I've ever gotten when it comes to books and reading. It came from my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Rukavina. She said something to the effect of "You should never feel like you HAVE to finish a book. If it doesn't intrigue you, and you feel it's a chore to finish- stop reading it! Reading should be fun." Amen sister. I think having a teacher telling me it was okay NOT to read something, really made me believe it. I hope you take this advice as well.

For this reason, I will never "review" or even mention a book I did not like. It would be unfair to give you my opinion on something I didn't even read! And I really don't want to use the term review-- if someone puts in the time to write a whole book-- they don't deserve to get put on some sort of chopping block.

So since I will only "review" books I enjoy, I'm going to call the process Book Love. This is a magical term that could be any part of speech: noun, verb, adjective, etc. And I figured these entries should be unified somewhat. So here is the form I'll use:

Book Name
Author
Category
Pages
Brief Description (most likely borrowed from Borders or Barnes & Noble)
Book Love (what I thought)
Book Quotes

I'm sure I'll end up building on this list, but for now it's a start.

So sorry to tease you, as you hardly got anything out of this post except for how I am going to Book Love (used here as a verb) the books I read. Although I did share with you that really good advice from Mrs. Rukavina-- so that's enough I think!

Read Away!
Lauren

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Put Some Pants On

So I just put in a "summer" order to Victoria Secret and decided I needed to share with you the best pants ever:

Victoria's Secret Yoga Foldover Pant

I love them. They are perfect to work out in, do housework or yardwork, lounge in, and are definitely cute enough to run around town for errands in. They've even gone camping with me. So comfortable. So cute. So flattering. And durable.

They also come in ten fun colors options like "limelight with graphite" and "poppy with charcoal." The first pair I bought was about four years ago, and they are still going strong! They are usually 2 for $50 over at Victoria's Secret, but sometimes you can wait around for a better deal.

Enjoy & Live Well!
Lauren


Friday, June 5, 2009

Fabulous Friday

Fabulous Friday is here again, and though it's coming to you a little late... you can still enjoy it! Here's what I was loving this week:

What I'm eating:Now I've only been to New Orleans once and I really was too young to remember, but if the food is like this everywhere down there... I am definitely going back. And don't worry if you aren't in New Orleans, or near a Yatz, I'm going to give you a play by play on the Chili-Cheese Etoufee I made today. Soon. Very soon. Patience people.

What I'm wearing:

What I'm reading:
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.Fiction meets history meets clashing cultures meets education. A review soon to come (30 pages left!)

What I'm listening to:
NPR. Now I know this sounds silly, but I had a long drive to Cleveland and back this week, and this is the only thing that was keeping me awake! From now on I am going to try to split my drive time between music and news. I'm learning new things too, which can't hurt!

What I'm watching:Real Housewives of New Jersey. Classy, right? Well, I love it. And my favorite character? The 7-year old Gia (not pictured.) I can't even tell you the name of any of the other housewives on the show off the top of my head. And I'm not going to look them up either just to reinforce my point. But I can remember that girl-- what a star.

Who I'm quoting:
Chuck Palahniuk (think Fight Club- he's a brilliant writer)

"If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character... would you slow down? Or speed up?"
Just decided I'm doing a completely separate Chuck Palahniuk post. Stay tuned.

What I'm doing this weekend:
Hopefully biking the Monon Trail
Hair cut & color (yay!)
Bachelorette Party
"Little" brother's high school graduation (please realize I picture him as an 8-year old, so this is CRAZY to me!)

What are you loving this week? Any exciting plans?

Live well,
Lauren


My Favorite Summer Fad

So even though it's in the sixties this morning here in beautiful Indianapolis, I wanted to share with you whats become my favorite part of my wardrobe this summer.

Maxi Dresses. I am loving these! They are perfect for any occasion... pool party, shopping, casual date or family barbecue! A friend of mine just had a baby, and she even wore them through the final months of her pregnancy. They look so romantic, as well as offer the perfect silhouette on any figure. You can find them in simple black and white, bold colors, fun prints and all different styles!
Old Navy

JCPenny


Banana Republic


Macy's

Gap

Vacation Tip: Instead of planning ahead on outfits- just bring tons of dresses! You'll save on space and frustration-- and look great the whole time. Most of these designs are not only made of really comfortable fabric, but they also won't wrinkle easily.

Live Well!
Lauren

Thursday, June 4, 2009

5-Minute Chocolate Cake

Oh you are really going to love me after this one!

I get a million random forwarded e-mails a day from family... but one particularly caught my eye this morning. The email was officially titled "Fwd: 5-minute chocolate cake for one person." Now I had just been thinking I want something chocolate, and we just happened to have everything the recipe calls for. Clearly, I was supposed to have chocolate cake at this moment or God wouldn't have sent me that e-mail. Okay, I know the e-mail came from my Grammy Shay and not God, but still I think that's fate.

So here's what you need:
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa (I didn't have straight up cocoa powder, so I literally used hot chocolate mix!)
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)

A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (Microwave-safe)

Mix All the dry ingredients together. Then add the egg and mix it all together. Then add everything else and mix together!


Yes. the cocoa mix I used did have mini-marshmallows in it. Did you actually expect me to pick those out? It worked out fine!

Anyways, then you put it in the microwave for 3 minutes, slide a knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a plate! And voila:


Now I'm pretty sure this is enough for two, but I'm not gonna lie, I ate the whole thing myself. Also note that clean-up literally included one plate, one mug, one fork, one knife, and one spoon. But I could have eliminated the plate and the knife if I would have just eaten it straight out of the mug. What I'm saying is... this is my kind of cleanup!

Very tasty as well people! This cake has kind of an angel-food consistency-- yummy!

Now you've had a rough week, and it isn't Friday yet. So go enjoy!

Live well :)
Lauren

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Free Lettuce Wraps at P.F. Changs


There is a P.F. Changs right down (up?) the street where I live. The place is deeeelish. If you have never been you a really missing out on an amazing meal. My favorite thing to get there (and though it's usually an appetizer, I get it as an entree) are the Lettuce Wraps. And P.F. Changs is giving them away for FREE with the purchase of an entree.

Hopefully this means Mark can order an entree and I can eat the wraps. They'll send you a confirmation via e-mail. The e-mail I received in .0183 seconds says I have to use it by June 14, but I think I can handle that-- I have already set a dinner date with Mark for Friday.

It seems this offer is in coordination with a viral campaign P.F. Changs is doing in conjuction with PGA Tour Pro Briny Baird also benefitting the San Diego Navy/Marine Corps Relief Society. Mark's a Marine and I have sooo much repect and appreciation for the military.

Click HERE for your free wraps! You know you want to!

This tip is thanks to Andrea at SavingsEverday. So, be sure to thank her!

Live well people!
Lauren

Monday, June 1, 2009

500 Cupcakes: PB & Banana Cupcakes

YUM! This is my 2nd favorite recipe (so far, there are 500 after all) from 500 Cupcakes:

You'll need:
Cupcakes:
1 cup (two sticks) sweet butter, softened
1 cup superfine sugar (though I used normal Domino)
2 cups self-rising flour (I used all-purpose)
1 tsp. baking powder
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp. ground almonds (I omitted this because I don't like nuts)
4 tbsp peanut butter
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2)

Frosting:
1 cup cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed banana

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place 24 paper baking cups in muffin pans (I can usually stretch the recipe to make more) Combine the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs, almonds, vanilla and cinnamon in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and pale, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the peanut butter and mashed bananas. Spoon batter into cups and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and cool.

To make frosting, beat the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until soft and light. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and mashed bananas. Beat until well combined. Spoon over cupcakes.

And enjoy!

Next up I'm going to try key lime cupcakes. And by the way, has anyone tried any of the other 500 line of books (cookies, pies & tarts, appetizers, soups, etc.?) Are they as good as 500 cupcakes?

Live well!
Lauren

A baby shower, a wedding and a bridal shower

As you must suspect-- I had a very busy weekend with all of the above events! But it is very exciting as so many people in my life are going through these different stages.

The baby shower was for my brother's best friend and his girlfriend. Basically he was like my little brother growing up so it's weird to think he is having a baby-- but the shower was AMAZING. There was a jungle theme-- and I mean jungle, I could barely see across the table because of all the, um, brush- I guess. But in all seriousness it was beautiful. Even the drinks (simba-tini and monkey-something) matched the brown and blue decorations. And most of the decorations were books and stuffed animals with the jungle theme-- all things the mom-to-be can take home with her. Genius! The baby is due June 22 and is a boy. Reed or Reid, they can't decide. I think Reid, what about you?

Next up was the wedding for one of my best guy friends from high school, Rance. He married a girl named Sami, who I had never met, which I was a little leary about. But after the ceremony when I said my congratulations and Rance introduced us, she was so excited. "Oh my gosh! I'm so glad we are finally meeting! Rance told me so much about you!" (I know in general I overuse exclamation points, but that is really how it was.) So now I want to be her best friend-- nice job, Rance. Anyways her colors (I say "her" because I'm not sure how much Rance put into the whole design aspect) were coral and brown which was really pretty. And her dress was beautiful. Rance looked pretty good too in his brown pinstripe suit, but really the day is about the bride right?

And yesterday was the bridal shower for Chelsie (her fiance is Nick.) Mark and I are really good friends with this couple, and his family. That day, I got to meet Chelsie's family which was really nice! So anyways it was a Pampered Chef shower, which I AM TOTALLY doing for my bridal shower. The invitations basically said don't bring a present... you can order one at the shower. Which first of all is really nice because it's one less thing to remember. And I'm that girl totally going shopping the day before and getting the leftover things on the registries like hangers. Second of all, in addition to getting presents ordered for her at the shower, Chelsie also gets free, discounted and half-priced items depending on how much her show makes. And since everyone bought at least one thing (for Chelsie) she probably got a whole lotta free stuff! And now I am totally jealous of her kitchen. At least I got some goodies for myself:

Decorator Bottle Set

Rotary Grater


Food Chopper

It's funny though. I had no idea I needed any of these things for my kitchen until I went to this party. Weird how that works! That was all for my weekend... here's to a great week!

Live well!
Lauren