Saturday, August 25, 2012

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Current August Status and Random Stuff

Wow, there's an attention-grabbing title for a post, eh?

I love the monthly status posts at No Small Dreams, even though I only get around to doing them like three times a year, but I thought I'd do it this month!

Current books: Both of the books I'm reading right now come with amusing anecdotes. The Happy Isles of Oceania by Paul Theroux is yet another of his awesome travel books (probably fairly self explanatory from the title). While in Papua New Guinea, he kept talking about an infamous yam festival, and I kept wondering why it sounded so familiar. I mean, that's a really odd thing to find familiar, right?

After several pages, it FINALLY hit me. You may remember that I used to spend a lot of time at the Adventurers Club, before Disney did the stupidest thing ever and closed it. During one of the shows there in the Treasure Room, the club's curator (Fletcher Hodges) would talk about the yam festival of Papua New Guinea!  Who knew we were actually learning stuff while drinking away the stress of our work days? (Bonus amusing fact: That dude that's in all the Wal-Mart commercials now? Used to work at the Adv Club. LOVE HIM.)


Anyway, the 2nd book I am reading is Before the Knife by Carolyn Slaughter, a memoirs of her childhood growing up in Africa. The amusing thing here is that my friends keep making fun of me for the general non-funness of what I read. It's not like I pick up serious books on purpose, but I read a LOT of nonfiction, so there's not much light and fluffy stuff in the mix. This seemed promising in terms of lightness, though. I mean, growing up in the Kalahari. That should be fun, right? Elephants and zebras and meerkats and stuff? So of course I start reading, and within the first few pages of the prologue is a discussion of her father raping her when she was 6. I FAIL AT LIGHT READING.

Current music: I've been listening to The Farm's debut CD in my car quite a bit! Nick (the adorable fiddle player) worked at Dixie Stampede just before I did, so I vaguely knew him about a billion years ago. He spent the past decade on the road with Kenny Chesney, but now he has his own band! It's pretty awesome to see that happen. Here's their first single, which is one of my fav tracks on the CD:



And yes, you guys, I actually BOUGHT THE CD. Not downloaded MP3s or anything else normal.  Like, I picked up this little box thing and gave a cashier money for it.  How weird is that??

Current guilty pleasure: Three words: Honey Boo Boo.
Current color: Still digging turquoise.
Current drink: I've been really into Odwalla's Vanilla Almondo protein smoothies. 
Current food: I won a box of Probar Fruition bars, and they're so yummy! It's a shame they're so expensive, or I'd buy a bunch more. 
Current favorite show: See aforementioned Honey Boo Boo. It's been added to the lineup when Katie and I watch Toddlers and Tiaras every Wednesday night via IM. Yes, we are exactly what's wrong with America, and we're 100% okay with that. I mean, last week's Toddlers & Tiaras included drag queen judges, a pink hummer limo for 3 year olds, a kid falling off stage and more plastic surgery than the average Real Housewives episode. In other words, amazing.
Current wish list: Huh. Weirdly, *nothing* comes to mind! Oh, I still really need a dSLR. 
Current needs: A frickin' root canal. 
Current triumphs: I got my closet about halfway cleaned out this morning! Not my regular closet, but the weird underground one downstairs that I never use because it gets moldy and gross. A bunch of stuff has been sitting in there untouched for YEARS. and I finally put on my big girl panties and dealt with it.  Well, mostly. But still, serious progress!

Current bane of my existence: Scented stuff. I've spent SO much time trying to de-April Fresh some of the clothes I got at the thrift store sale, because scented laundry detergent makes me sneeze like crazy. On top of that, I was sent some awesome foundation to try out, but... yup, it has fragrance. (WHO PUTS FRAGRANCE IN FOUNDATION?)  Had to give it to my mom. Then I was sent a snazzy new shampoo & conditioner to try... SUPER SCENTED. As in I was sneezing before I even got the UPS box open. Why do you hate people with allergies, health & beauty industry? (and laundry industry?)

Current celebrity crush: I was flipping through the September issue of Vogue when I came across the Belstaff campaign with Ewan McGreggor:

The Belstaff fall 2012 campaign


My obvious reaction (after "Is that Ewan? OMG IT IS" and right before "Does he just never age?") was:

image

Current indulgence: The 921 pages of the aforementioned September issue. So much pretty!
Current blessing: Cutest. Kittens. Ever.
Current slang: I don't think I've been especially slang-y lately! What are you crazy kids saying these days?
Current outfit: I bought the BEST dress at Ross the other day! It's just a summery turquoise dress with a sort of paisley pattern over most of the midsection, but it's so cute and flattering! It was pretty funny though, as I was in line to check out, the lady at the front of the line commented on how cute it was and asked what part of the store I found it in. Then she LEFT the line to go get one! I was having a little moment of "Ha! I'm such a trendsetter!" when I got to the cashier, but then SHE also commented on how cute it was, and said she may have to go grab one on her lunch break! There is nothing that makes you feel like you made a good outfit buying choice like everyone else freaking out and deciding they must have one, too! Although on the other hand, with all the alterations I've been doing on clothes lately, I've become really fond of having things that NOBODY else has. Still, it's a damn cute dress, and it was only $16!
Current excitement: I'm looking forward to the return of Glee & Hart of Dixie! (Hart doesn't come back till OCTOBER. That's so sad!)
Current mood: Hopeful
Current link: I have been really enjoying two Tumblr blogs lately: Adulting and UnFuck Your Habitat. Adulting is full of tips for those of us who feel like we're just dressing up as adults most of the time. I especially liked this post about packing before a move. The other one, UnFuck Your Habitat, is exactly that. It's awesome, do-able motivation to get your house clean. They post challenges, tips, and reader-submitted before and afters. It might sound dull the way I'm describing it, but it's a really fun read, and has definitely motivated me to get more done!

I've also been enjoying Refashionista, who is kind of similar to my beloved New Dress A Day, in that she refashions thrift store finds. I also came across this post on Mix Mingle Glow where the author celebrated her 38th birthday by doing 38 random acts of kindness.  I LOVE that idea, and it looks (judging by the number of comments) like a lot of other people do, too!


Finally, if you're suffering from Olympics withdrawls, may I suggest Mo Farah Running Away From Things? It's pretty rad.




Don't forget to enter my K-Cups giveaway if you have a Keurig or a friend who has one! I also have a snazzy t-shirt giveaway coming up soooon, as well as a giveaway to celebrate hitting 500 Facebook fans! (Even though I'm now up to like 560. Whatever, I'm slow sometimes.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cross Country Cafe K-Cups Review & Giveaway! (Ends Aug 30)


Have I even told you guys yet that I got a Keurig? It's a kind of long, odd, awesome story, but for now I'll just keep it short and say it was a gift from a friend.  Being a ginormous coffee addict, I've been having SO MUCH FUN with it! 

One of the best parts of getting a Keurig is trying out all of the fancypants coffees you can get for it! I contacted a company called Cross Country Cafe to ask if I could review some of the K-Cups they sell, and not only did they send me a big ol' box-o-coffee goodness, but they offered up the same coffees for one of my readers to win, too!  How cool is that?

If you're not familiar with them, Cross Country Cafe is an internet coffee company based on the theme that they are an ecafe which creates a sort of coffee community.  They are family owned and operated and have been in business for over 100 years. They offer a great selection of k-cups, including many on sale or clearance, as well as gourmet coffee pods and whole bean/ground coffees.

The site is super easy to navigate. You can sort the offerings by brand (like Wolfgang Puck or Twinings), roast (medium, extra dark, etc), shop other selections like teas and brew over ice varieties, or just check out what's on sale. 

Just a preface to my reviews of the flavors: I like a pretty wide range of coffee types/roasts/flavors! I tried to order a mix of k-cups that would include a wide variety. As a kid, I drank the strong black coffee my mom made, so a rich, bold coffee is right up my alley.  However, I'm also a big fan of fun flavors! Here's what I tried:




Wolfgang Puck Creme Caramel K-Cups

This is the first one that I tried, and as soon as I hit the button to start brewing, I was hit with a wave of caramel scent! YUM! I was actually a little worried that the caramel flavor would be too strong, based on how strong the scent was, but it ended up being just about perfect! You can definitely taste the caramel, but it's not sickly sweet or syrupy at all.  I think this may be my second favorite of all the k-cups I ordered, but at the same time I think it's the most addicting! This is one of those coffees where I reach the bottom of the cup and have a "Hey, where did all my coffee go?" moment. 




Green Mountain K-Cup Variety Pack

Variety packs are an awesome thing! Given that most packs of K-Cups run at least $10+, it can be a little scary (at least for me!) to try a new brand or flavor for the first time, since I'm on a pretty limited grocery budget. Packages like this one make me really happy, because I get to try 4 different flavors in the same box! This particular variety pack has 6 K-Cups of Caramal Vanilla Cream, 6 of French Vanilla, 6 of Hazelnut Sweet and 4 of Fair Trade Wild Mountain Blueberry. All of those sounded pretty rad to me, so I was super excited to dig in and start brewing!

(Green Mountain also makes a decaf variety pack, but I have zero room for decaf in my life!)

One interesting thing I noticed on the product description at Cross Country Cafe was that the Green Mountain flavored coffees are calorie-free! I never would have guessed! One other thing I really like about Green Mountain is that they really put an effort into being environmentally and socially conscious. Their Facebook photo albums show pictures from multiple events they've done to raise money for charity (a concert for Irene flood relief, a car wash to raise $ for women's cancer screenings, river clean-ups, etc.).  If you are a big supporter of fair trade coffees, you'll find that Cross Country Cafe also carries Green Mountain's Fair Trade Our Blend and Fair Trade Vermont Country Blend.


 Fair Trade Wild Mountain Blueberry
You can also find a 24 pk of just the blueberry!

So, how are the actual flavors? The Hazelnut, French Vanilla and Caramel Vanilla Cream are all pretty much what you would expect. The real stand-out in the bunch is the Fair Trade Wild Mountain Blueberry. I can never resist sniffing my Keurig while it's brewing, and holy cow, you guys, I basically wanted to take a bath in this coffee it smelled so good! The aroma reminds me of a blueberry muffin. It definitely smells like real blueberries, not a candy version.


Gloria Jean's French Vanilla Supreme is probably my favorite! It has just the right amount of vanilla flavor. Kind of like the caramel coffee above, the flavor is noticeable and sweet, but not overwhelming or TOO sweet. This one is a great choice if you like to add flavored creamers, because the vanilla mixes with other flavors really well! Some coffee flavors just don't mix well with others, but this seems to enhance whatever creamer I add to it. I've done some pretty thorough coffee testing for you guys in the past couple of weeks (tough job, but someone has to do it!) and this is definitely the one I seem to reach for the most!




Last is Revv Pulse Extra Bold! I was interested in trying this because it contains ginseng and guarana for extra energy!  Kind of a coffee/energy drink combo. I have to admit that this is probably my least favorite in terms of flavor, but I do like the added energy effects, especially since my caffeine tolerance is basically superhuman at this point! (The flavor isn't bad by any means, it just has tough competition!) This one is a good pick for those mornings when regular coffee just isn't going to get the job done. 

Ready to try some of these for yourself? Cross Country Cafe has created a coupon code just for my readers to use! Just enter  LOVEMANYTHINGS  at checkout for free shipping through Sept 1!

Want more info on Cross Country Cafe? You can find them on Twitter, Facebook, and their blog, all of which are great places to learn about sales, giveaways, and cool K-Cup info/trivia!

Want to WIN? Cross Country Cafe will send one of you the same 4 boxes of K-Cups I got to review!  How awesome is THAT? Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below! All entries must be received by 11:59 PM Eastern on 8/30! Good luck!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dragonfly Tank Top

This was the first item I tackled from my latest thrift store haul. I take shirts in to make them fit better all the time, but this... this was a WHOLE new challenge!



While I was sorting through the racks of clothes on the thrift store's bag sale day, I got super excited when I spotted a glittery dragonfly!  I loooove dragonflies!  I snatched the shirt up greedily, and then noticed it was a wee bit large. Okay, more than a wee bit. It was a 5x. Yikes.

I actually thought about putting it back for a second, since I figure that if you happen to be a size 5x, it's probably pretty frickin' rare that you can find anything in a thrift store that will fit you, so I felt a little bad taking it. But, you guys... glittery pink dragonflies! So I grabbed it anyway!  I'm not sure if it was brand new or not, but it definitely hadn't been worn more than once or twice if it wasn't.



Ummm, yeah. It's a little loose.  I wish I'd gotten a better picture of the whole thing!

Figuring out how to take this in was a bit of a challenge. Usually when I need to make a top smaller, I just sew along the original side seams, but an inch or so inside of the regular seam. However, if I went TOO far in on this, I'd lose a lot of the cute design that decorates the front, so I decided to sew a seam 3.5" in from either side, which would take away pretty much all of the plain grey on each side of the design while taking away a total of 14" of circumference.



That kind of helped, but it still looked like this:



Since taking it in any more on the sides wasn't really an option I wanted to go with, I decided to add a seam up the center of the back. I folded the top in half vertically up the center of the back, and then sewed a seam 3.5" from the center (which would again take away 7" of width.) I tried it on again after that seam, and it was much better, but still a little big, so I popped it back on the sewing machine and came in another 1.5" from the new back seam. FINALLY, it fit!


24 inches of fabric later...

All I had to do to finish it up was cut away the extra folds of fabric from where I'd sewn the seams. Easy peasy! The whole thing took maybe half an hour. Yes, it has a seam up the middle of the back now, but I'm hoping it will just look like it's supposed to be there.

I'm pretty pleased with how this one turned out!  What do you guys think?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Keeping Your Home & Pets Safe!

I have way more experience than I'd like to when it comes to home security issues, since one of my apartments near Orlando was broken into twice within 4 months! I definitely learned my lesson about "saving money" by getting a cheap apartment in a not great neighborhood, but those experiences have also caused me to look in to getting some kind of security system when I move back to Orlando. (Can you believe our crime rate is like the 4th highest in the US? It's crazy!)

I knew something was wrong when I came home from work one night and my cats met me at the door totally freaking out. They're always happy to see me, but I could tell that something had really shaken them up. I glanced across the living room and saw that my laptop was (once again!) not where I left it on the sofa. I ran into the bedroom to make sure I hadn't left it there, and that's when I saw the broken glass from the window all over my bed.

Other than my computer, which thieves seem to be huge fans of (I had a laptop stolen BOTH times!), I don't have that many possessions that are theft-worthy. But seeing how freaked out my cats were really got to me. I can't imagine what I'd do if something happened to one of them when someone broke in!

You guys have probably noticed that I only do sponsored posts when I feel like the topic is something I can really relate to, so my experiences are why I chose to check out LifeShield Security's Pet-Friendly Home Security. They have some really impressive options on their security systems that are perfect for pet owners!  Here are a few I thought were especially neat:

*Being able to get a message if your heat/air conditioner stops working while you're away and the house becomes an unsafe temperature for your pet.

*Ability to give your pet sitter their own code so you can know for sure how often/what time they're showing up!

*You can log onto their LifeView video monitoring system from your smart phone for live feed of what your pets are up to while you're gone. This would be amazing if you have a sick pet that you're worried about leaving while you're at work!

*If you move, you can take the system with you to your new place!

This is totally something I'm going to consider when I move back to Florida!

This is a sponsored post for LifeShield Security through Blog Friendly PR. I was compensated for my time, all opinions are my own

Thrifty Thursday: Bag Sale #2!


Hooray for Thrifty Thursdays! I am excited to write this post, because Tuesday was my second crack at the humane society's thrift store's bag sale! (You can see last month's sale haul here!) Basically, they let you fill either a pastic grocery bag for $3 or a kitchen-sized trash bag for $5! (I originally typed that as "white trash bag", and then realized that sounded really wrong.) All shoes, purses and clothes are fair game!

Last month, I managed to cram my trash bag full of 12 dresses, 10 shirts, 2 pairs of shoes and 1 pair of shorts for a total of 25 things, which came out to 20 cents per item. I decided I'd try to score even more this month. Think I did?

(BTW, I am writing this post up on Wednesday night, and my arm is STILL SORE from carrying that bag of stuff around the store for an hour while I shopped!  I should maybe start lifting weights or something.)

Let's start with dresses, because they are usually my favorite!

(I am being super polite and putting a page break here for you feed reader people, because this post is about 30 miles long! Kindly click "read more" to get to all the awesomeness.)

Monday, August 06, 2012

1000 Things That Make Me Happy: Part 6

It's been forever since I've added to my 1000 Things That Make Me Happy list! (The last post was in November! You can see em all here!)  So without further ado, here's #501-!

501. The fact that this is my 700th post on Straight On Till Morning!  WOOT!
(Edit: D'OH! I realized once I posted this that no, this isn't #700. I have such an absurd number of posts in my drafts folder that this is only like the 624th published post. Oh well, let's celebrate whatever number it is!)

502. When my sister makes foooood for me!
503. Making Christmas and Birthday wish lists
504. How freaking good it feels to hold a cold glass against your forehead when you're sick. (Anything cold works, but I used my glass today, so it makes the list!)
505. Mickey & Minnie









506. Getting a bikini bottom on sale for 53 cents at Gap!
507. When my kittens sleep all curled up together in an intertwined heap.
508. Extra crunchy peanut butter
509. The funky little spoons from Orange Leaf.  They're awesome for spreading hummus or Nutella on things, too.
510. The smell of approaching snow.
511. The fact that this exists:


















512. Brown butter pecan coffee creamer
513. Coupons that make an item free!
514. Having good morning texts waiting when you wake up.
515. Thrift store bag sales
516. Disney CM Tumblrs & blogs
517. This pillow:

Unicorns

518. Orlando has WaWa now!
519. Spongy green moss
520. The Dapper Dans
521. The smell of wild blueberry coffee brewing in my Keurig
522. Tearjerking Olympic events
523. Betty White
Betty White

524. The paintings in Rapunzel's tower in Tangled
525. Being RT'd or replied to on Twitter by people you admire.
526. Bruce on Family Guy
527. Being cuddled awake by a cat
528. Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Parties
529. Pretty much anything "Ermahgerd"

530. Summer storms
531. Reviews on GoodReads that are almost better than the books themselves.
532. Reaching 500 likes on Facebook!
533. The costumes for New Fantasyland.  I'm seriously tempted to go back to working Attractions just so I can wear that skirt.

534. The way Jasper always does his special little "Bless You" meow after I sneeze.  Politest kitty ever.
535. The New Orleans episode of Hart of Dixie


536. Wearing clothes I made or altered that I know nobody else in the world has.
537. Getting compliments from random strangers
538. Best. Costume. Ever.
Put on "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!" and enjoy your own witty banter with this Mystery Science Theater 3000 costume.

539. When my kitty Ally carries around toy mice while doing that distinct "I caught prey!" meow.
540. Samples in magazines that *aren't* perfume
541. Louise on Bob's Burgers

542. Wearing ribbons/flowers/etc in my hair.
543. Disney movie concept art
544. When Pixar hides a clue to their next movie (and the Pizza planet truck) in every film/
545. Free cat food samples. Y'all can't imagine how much cat food I go through!
546. Merida

547. "Oh, wee lamb."
548. Dreams that put you in a great mood for the day ahead.
549. The previously unaired Klaine "Box Scene" that was released last week online. LOVE! You must YouTube it up if you/re a Kurt/Blaine fan and haven't seen it yet. 
550. Doing this yoga pose


I usually do 100 things per post, but I'm going to cut this one short at 50. More to come, of course!

What's making you happy lately?


Friday, August 03, 2012

More resort season fashion!

Yikes! It has taken me forever to get around to more Fashion Week commentary! I've been so busy with other stuff.  Time to catch up!! (Especially since Coco Rocha - or was it Lara Stone?- tweeted last night about there only being 6 weeks till NYFW!  AHH!)

Carolina Herrera Resort 2013
Is it just me, or does this Carolina Herrera dress make it look like the model has chest hair?

Celine Resort 2013
Did Celine intend for this to look like a cow costume? That has to be intentional, right?


Mother of Pearl Resort 2013
My favorite thing about the Mother of Pearl collection is that Style.com's review of it begins with the sentence "Don't be put off by the hermaphrodite polar bears."  I'm kinda "meh" on the collection overall, though.  I feel like it's trying a little toooo hard to be quirky.


Rag & Bone Resort 2013

I'm a tiny bit obsessed with this Rag and Bone dress. I love when fabrics and other materials are used in unexpected ways!

Ralph Lauren Resort 2013
I love this look from Ralph Lauren!  There's something kind of 50's about it, maybe even a little bit Barbie. Plus, this shape and proportion would look good on ANY woman!


Roberto Cavalli Resort 2013

I think this Roberto Cavalli collection is so much fun, even though a lot of it isn't my personal style.  I LOVE the bird necklaces. I love how it goes from very light and girly in one look to very solid and tough in the next. I'm not a big fan of the backdrop, they used. I think it takes away from the amazing details of the clothes and accessories.


Salvatore Ferragamo Resort 2013
I would loooove to wear this Salvatore Ferragamo dress!

Tibi Resort 2013

Tibi reminds us all that I'm a sucker for a good lobster dress.

Woooooo, I made it through!  6 Weeks till NYFW!

All images via style.com

Eden Gives Back

I've been working on an upcoming post about socially conscious companies and the efforts they support, and thought it might be fun to dedicate this month's EdenFantasys post to their own charitable efforts!

The site has a effort called Eden Gives Back, which raises money for various charitable causes. In 2010, the community raised $2,300 to supply holiday meals for needy families. As someone who had a construction paper Christmas tree when I was working for Disney and couldn't afford real decorations, I think that the effort to make a family's holidays brighter is awesome!

In 2011, there were events including a clothing drive, donations for relief after the tornado in Joplin, MO (another cause that hits close to home for me since I grew up 2 hours from there in Branson!), an event that raised money to send magazine subscriptions to military troops overseas, the "Save the Ta-Tas!" breast cancer event, and a Thanksgiving meal fundraiser that was able to feed not just a few families, but two whole shelters! (You can find more info on 2011's events in this forum post!)

The good works continue in 2012! The most recent project let Eden community members donate their EdenPoints to raise money for Parma Animal Shelter, which had been overwhelmed when animal control raided a house that contained over 300 animals. Thanks to member donations, a total of $868.33 was raised!

They're always open to suggestions for new projects! (Just remember that you have to be 18+ to visit the site.)

Disclosure: I will be provided with a gift card from EdenFantasys in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.