Basic Instincts

Lunchtime has a tendency to sneak up on me, so yesterday, when I felt the gentle rumbling of my belly, I went to the kitchen in search of food. The refrigerator doors opened to reveal a decidedly unappetizing array of random foodstuffs. I couldn’t help but think, “Why don’t we have any food?!!!” (You can insert snide first-world-problems remark here.) Of course the refrigerator wasn’t empty. The calories from the various selections of condiments alone meant I wouldn’t be starving anytime soon, but I wasn’t looking for calories. I was looking for satisfaction.

Have fun and follow you instincts.

So, I started pulling out random bits of leftovers hoping I’d stumble upon a feast. I started with a lone chicken breast nestled in a foil wrapped bowl then grabbed the frying pan, still glistening from use at breakfast, and placed the torn up pieces of chicken inside. Next, I grabbed a handful of spinach and leftover green beans, which dubiously joined the chicken in the now too small frying pan. I added spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar and dried cranberries, and, even though I’m supposed to be avoiding dairy, sour cream and blue cheese, too. All this was topped off with a sprinkling of garlic powder and black pepper and cooked till warm. While I wasn’t sure I would like the results, I was pleased with myself for at least whipping up a bowlful of food that looked like a meal. I sat down with my food and the latest issue of Real Simple and started to eat. Taking bites while flipping through the pages I started thinking, “Wow, this is actually pretty good.”

Follow your basic instincts.

The moral of the story: Satisfaction can be found by listening to your instincts. Too often a thought/story idea/brilliant plan for the future will pop into my head, and I will ignore it. Maybe, it’s because I’m in the middle of something else, or maybe, I’m just to lazy to reach for paper and pen in order to write it down. Unsurprisingly, those ideas are soon forgotten and whatever changes acting on those thoughts would have brought now will never be. Sometimes you have to listen to what your body tells you. Add the sour cream and blue cheese. Apply to that program that sounds interesting. Wear leggings as pants (just please cover your bum). Sometimes commonsense is listening to your instincts. And, while my lunch probably won’t be gracing the pages of a cookbook anytime soon, it was the meal that satisfied me. Listen to your instincts and not your fears.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.

Vincent Van Gogh

Follow your instincts. Wear leggings as pants (just make sure to cover your bum).

What I’m wearing: Old Navy shirt, Victoria’s Secret leggings, Vera Bradley tote, StyleMint boots, Target socks, and a hat I made.

In other news…

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday vlog is about favorite debut novels. It was hard to narrow my picks down to five because there are so many great books written by first time novelists. Do you have a favorite debut novel?

P.S. Thanks for the feedback on post ideas! I can’t wait to start making some changes. Also, some of you have mentioned that when you come here you get redirected to an ad page. I think I have the problem fixed, but let me know if it happens again. Is anyone else having this problem?

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see Policies for more information.*

Inspired by You’ve Got Mail

I wish my life was like You’ve Got Mail but without the dial-up internet. (I don’t miss waiting minutes to get online then almost immediately getting booted off.) The movie feels so cozy, and even when things go wrong, you know everything is going to work out okay. Plus, it was written by Nora Ephron, so all the characters seem sophisticated and witty but, also, real. And, let’s not forget the perfect 90’s movie couple of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Sigh.

Maybe, it’s just that I’m getting older, or maybe, it’s because 90’s fashions are seeping back into our wardrobes, but I’m feeling very nostalgic for the 90’s. And, I want to steal everything Meg Ryan wears in the movie – button downs, turtlenecks, cardigans… Nothing is fussy. Everything is simple yet charming.

Get inspired by the cozy 90's fashions of You've Got Mail.

Get the look by starting with a neutral palette of black, white, grey, and brown. Stock up on button down shirts, high waisted pants, full skirts, and flat shoes.

P.S. For more movie love, check out this post on Meg Ryan’s Brownstone in You’ve Got Mail.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see Policies for more information.*

Sweet Links

I’m a little frightened by how fast this year is flying by. Wasn’t it just March? While I am looking forward to the lazy, summer months, I’m not ready for the year to be half over. This weekend, I am taking a summer drawing class at the art museum. The first class was last Sunday, and already I have turned into an artist-philosopher musing on the difficulty of the hand capturing what the eyes see. In other words, my drawing skills need help. Below, I’ve rounded up some sweet links for you to enjoy this weekend.

Like a yummy ice cream cone on a hot day, these sweet links are a refreshing weekend treat.

Kickstarter has so many brilliant projects! These white shirts are unstainable. I want one in every style.

Anna Wintour + Seth Meyers = Funny!

FYI… A Traveller’s Guide to Japanese Toilets.

Feeling nostalgic for the summer of 2005? Here are 15 songs that will transport you back.

You should listen to this podcast.

Sometimes we need a reminder to push ourselves. 6 Warning Signs You’ve Stopped Growing Your Talent.

Stan Lee Cameo School is hilarious!

Enjoy free audiobooks every week this summer.

Food for thought: Why can’t we read anymore?

Have you tried oil pulling? What about dermaplaning?

Check out the Blogger Babes’ new post series on IFB.

Ideas for when you don’t know what to write about.

P.S. I’m thinking it’s time to overhaul Happy. Pretty. Sweet., so changes are afoot. While I’m mapping out a new course, I want to know what topics you’d like to see more of. Outfit posts? DIY? Books? Videos? Life updates? Something else? Let me know in the comments below.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see Policies for more information.*

Vote for Remi

Campaign season hits your bookshelf with Leanna Lehman's new novel, Vote for Remi.

Fiery US government teacher Remi Covington is relentless in her desire to impart the genius of the democratic process to her students. Her so-called “academically challenged” high school seniors sometimes find her enthusiasm more than a little annoying—so, in an effort to teach her a lesson, they execute a brazen, high-tech, social media blitz touting her as the newest candidate in the upcoming US presidential race. Much to everyone’s surprise, Remi plays along with her students’ ruse—and in a nation weary of politics and career politicians, she unexpectedly finds herself the darling of the American public. As the campaign takes on a life of its own, Remi is forced to confront a myriad of long-held social biases and cultural clichés, and realizes she isn’t quite the woman she thought was. Vote for Remi is about a would-be a presidential candidate who, despite being all wrong—the wrong gender, the wrong party, and certainly the wrong social status—discovers that she might be exactly what America needs: someone with a passion for doing what is right.Goodreads

Leanna Lehman’s new novel, Vote for Remi, explores what happens when a spirited, high school teacher accidentally becomes a presidential candidate. Remi and her students take government lessons out of the classroom and into the real world with their Do Right Party. While reading the book, I often found myself nodding my head and highlighting passages. American politics can be a very dirty place, and idealistic Remi often voices the complaints voters make today.

While Vote for Remi gave me a lot to think about, I did not find it satisfying as a novel. The book felt more like an overview, which is too bad because the story is really interesting. Can normal people make a difference in politics? Is social media and passion enough to succeed? I wish the characters had been more fleshed out and that the novel had gone more in depth into the campaign and how it affected those working on it. At the end of the day, I want the book I’m reading to come alive and jump off the page, and Vote for Remi didn’t do that for me. However, the novel does make you think about the nature of American politics, and I think this would be a fun read for those interested in political science.

You can find out more about Leanna Lehman by visiting her website.

This book was sent to me by BookSparks in exchange for an honest review.

In other news…

It’s time for Top 5 Wednesday! This week’s theme is Summer Covers (books that remind you of summer).

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see Policies for more information.*

May Wish List: Rompers and Playsuits

It’s hard to believe, but over the weekend, the temps hit the 90’s. I’m hoping that means we’re done with snow. While I still haven’t packed away all of my sweaters, I am looking forward to summerizing my wardrobe, and I’d like to start with a new romper or two. Rompers and playsuits are a fun alternative to sundresses with the added bonus that the shorts-like bottoms let you do things you might not do in a dress… like a headstand. I’ve never been able to to a headstand, but I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t try it while wearing a dress. Below are a few rompers and playsuits that have caught my eye. Which one is your favorite?

This roundup of rompers and playsuits are sure to add a pop of summer to your wardrobe.

  1. Read It and Steep Romper in Garden (Modcloth)
  2. Misha Nonoo Yoko Romper (Shopbop)
  3. Cut-Out Tribal Print Playsuit (Topshop)
  4. Oh My Love Blue Marble Short-Sleeve Romper (Urban Outfitters)
  5. New Look Acid Wash Romper (ASOS)

P.S. I finished reading Red Queen over the weekend, and it was so good. I need the next book ASAP. What are you reading?

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see Policies for more information.*

DIY Recipe Notebook

I’m the kind of girl who hates PowerPoint presentations not because I think they are difficult to put together but because they are so mind-numbingly uncreative. PowerPoint is too easy too cookie cutter, but it’s, also, professional. Chances are your boss would frown if instead of giving a PowerPoint presentation you pulled out butcher paper and started discussing hand drawn graphs. So, it should come as no surprise that I like my handmade projects to look handmade. I am a Pinterest addict, and I adore scrolling through endless pictures of professional grade DIY projects. However, sometimes I just want to grab scissors and glue and see what happens.

I recently participated in a recipe book swap, and instead of creating templates on my computer, I decided to go old school and use a regular spiral notebook. Most of the recipes I wrote by hand, but a few I copied on my printer and printed them out. The result was a homemade recipe notebook that is one of a kind.

With Mother’s Day this weekend and wedding season about to get in full swing, now is the perfect time to go old school with an easy DIY that will be a treasure because it was made by you and not Kinkos. After all, anyone can go to Kinkos and ask them to copy and bind a collection of recipes, but very few people are willing to take the time to write them down and cut them out for a notebook made just for you.

A handmade recipe notebook is the perfect way to create a treasured collection of favorite, family recipes.

To make this DIY recipe notebook: you will need a spiral notebook, pen, and a collection of favorite recipes. You can, also, use a printer with a scanner (then you will need scissors and glue, too). For decoration, use washi tape, colored pencils and sticky notes.

I opened my notebook, with a page cleverly titled “Recipes”. The next page was a brief letter to the recipient followed by a few measurement equivalents. The rest of the notebook was divided into four sections: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Dessert. Some recipes I completely wrote by hand and others I copied and printed from my computer. I used sticky notes to highlight a favorite recipe or to note that I made slight changes to the original recipe.

P.S. For more DIY ideas, check out my Arts & Crafts board on Pinterest.

Follow Akalei Star’s board Arts & Crafts on Pinterest.

What’s your favorite type of gift to give?

This entry was posted in Life and tagged .

Hair Color is My Mood Ring

Hair color is my mood ring? What does your hair color say about you?

Hair color is my mood ring. When I’m sad or need a change, my hair is the first to feel it. I’ve been dyeing my hair since I was 16, and the first color I chose was called Caribbean Mahogany, a rich auburn red. Since then, my hair has been dyed black and blonde and back to brown, but no color feels like me the way red hair does.

Hair color is my mood ring? What does your hair color say about you?

Red is feisty, fiery, fierce. All the things I want to be. Alas, I am a natural brunette, and my dream of becoming a ginger without using bleach has not yet come to pass. So, my hair is auburn, a happy compromise between red and brunette. In most lights, my hair looks like a warm brown, but when the light hits my hair just right, my hair is unmistakably red. Maybe my hair color isn’t just my mood ring but, also, a metaphor for my life… You think I’m one thing, but actually, I’m a little bit of everything all rolled into one. Cue Meredith Brooks.

Hair color is my mood ring? What does your hair color say about you?

My search for the perfect auburn red hair color has led me many places. The most dangerous place being the hair color aisle at Target where I am persuaded a tiny box of chemicals will leave my hair looking luscious and vibrant. Too often, I am tempted to try to go lighter and end up frying my hair, which is why I’ve left my last few color jobs to the professionals. However, professional hair color is expensive, and since I’m not drastically changing my hair color, I’m thinking about going back to an at home coloring kit I tried before: Madison Reed.

Hair color is my mood ring? What does your hair color say about you?

Madison Reed is a company that offers salon quality hair color for you to use at home. The colors are handcrafted in Italy and are free of ammonia, PPD, gluten, and resorcinol, and the quick questionnaire suggests colors that are the best fit for you. The 9-piece coloring kit comes with easy to understand step-by-step instructions, and they even include a code for discounts and free products. Last fall, I tried Sardinia Red (see their other colors here) and was pleased with the color and the easy to use kit. Later, I decided to go to the salon and see if I could go a little lighter. Lo and behold the salon color was almost the same color as Madison Reed’s Sardinia Red but over twice the price. While I’m tempted to bleach my hair in order to become the carrot top of my dreams, I really don’t want to damage my hair again. Sigh. At least I know Madison Reed is there for me and can help me maintain my auburn locks.

If you want to try Madison Reed, you can save $15 off your first order by using my referral link. Bonus, when friends use your referral link, you get a $15 credit. Don’t you love it when everybody wins?

Hair color is my mood ring? What does your hair color say about you?What I’m wearing: Dress from Boden. Bag from Coach. Shoes from Sofft. Necklace from a local jewelry store. Bracelets from Pandora.

P.S. I’ve posted another Top 5 Wednesday vlog! This week’s theme is Books I’d Like to See as TV Shows (Not Movies).

*Madison Reed contacted me about doing a post about what my hair color says about me; however, I was not compensated for this post. Also, this post may contain affiliate links. Please see Policies for more information.*

What does your hair color say about you?

Pack A Hat and Enjoy the Sun

This weekend was beautiful. Blue skies and sunshine never get old. However, with the sun comes the concern about wrinkles and skin cancer. That’s where Cappelli Straworld’s Pack A Hat comes in. This playful, packable sun hat has a 4 1/2 inch brim and a UPF 50+ rating. Since May is Melanoma Awareness Month and today is Melanoma Monday, let’s talk about what you can do to stay safe in the sun…

  1. Clothing is your first line of defense.
  2. Learn about skin cancer prevention.
  3. Know your ABCDE’s of melanoma.

Because your first line of defense starts with what you are wearing, hats are a great way to protect your face and neck. And, a cute hat that is foldable and comes with a matching wristlet is even better.

Whether you are going to the beach or a picnic, Pack A Hat will have you covered. (Product sent for review.)

Whether you are going to the beach or a picnic, Pack A Hat will have you covered. (Product sent for review.)

Whether you are going to the beach or a picnic, Pack A Hat will have you covered. (Product sent for review.)

Hat and wristlet: Cappelli Straworld Pack A Hat (c/o Lipton Publicity)

Tunic: American Eagle

Scarf: FRAAS Dottie (c/o Lipton Publicity)

Skinny Jeans: Current/Elliott (c/o Shopbop)

Sunglasses: Marc by Marc Jacobs (c/o Shopbop)

Shoes: Keds Champion Originals Red

Bracelets: Pandora

Nails: Butter London in Molly-Coddled

Whether you are going to the beach or a picnic, Pack A Hat will have you covered. (Product sent for review.)

The Cappelli Straworld Pack A Hat was sent to me by Lipton Publicity for review. The hat and coordinating wristlet retail for $25 and come in several different colors. I love the hat’s ladies-who-lunch vibe, and I think the hat would be perfect for the beach or even a picnic. Best of all is the sun protection this charming hat offers.

Whether you are going to the beach or a picnic, Pack A Hat will have you covered. (Product sent for review.)

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see Policies for more information.*

Why Don’t You…?

Looking for things to do in May? Why don't you...

Watch the Kentucky Derby with a family friendly mint julep in hand?

Pick up a new book for Get Caught Reading Month?

Clean out your makeup?

Eat cookies for breakfast?

Learn one new thing a day?

Support the USO this Memorial Day?

Get your skin ready for summer with this DIY scrub?

Splurge on a professional photo shoot?

Host a Star Wars movie marathon on Star Wars Day?

Open a savings account?

P.S. This week was a bit crazy with a commercial and substitute teaching. Next week, I’m dressing a fashion show, attending a voice over workshop, and celebrating my birthday. I might be a little slow returning comments the next week or so, but I’m hoping to catch up on the weekends. Happy May!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see Policies for more information.*

Happy. Pretty. Sweet.

What happy, pretty, sweet things are happening in your life?

Happy

Last year, my mom and I started a tradition of going to her old college record store on Record Store Day. This year we waited for the morning rush to end before we went shopping. Amazingly, we were able to grab the last copies of the albums we were looking for – Paul McCartney’s The Family Way for her and the special edition of the Original Soundtrack: The Darjeeling Limited for me.

Pretty

This month, I visited an art museum for a tour through one of the largest Victorian and Edwardian neighborhoods left in the USA. While the neighborhood was an intriguing mix of stately homes turned apartments and more recent office complexes, my favorite part of the evening was wandering through the museum looking for portraits and busts that shared my nose.

Sweet

This month, I, also, participated in Chaotic Goddess Swaps’ Books ‘n’ Bloggers Swap, and I was paired with the wonderful Montana, who blogs at The Book Belles. The Book Belles is run by four girls who love reading, and their blog is a great place to start if you are wondering what to read next. Montana sent me a delightful package that made me squeal with happiness. I was so eager to see what she sent me that I forgot to take a picture of the prettily wrapped books, but I couldn’t have wished for a sweeter swap. I’ve already started Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queenand I can’t wait to dive into the other books.

Books make me happy. What happy, pretty, sweet things are happening in your life?

Book Montana LovedPrisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Books Montana Is Interested InThe Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart and The Glitter Plan
by Pamela Skaist-Levy, Gela Nash-Taylor, Booth Moore

Book on My Wish ListRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Thank you so much Montana!

What’s made your month happy pretty sweet?

P.S. Check out my latest Top 5 Wednesday vlog… Favorite Series Endings. Hint: My top 5 books for this week are pretty magical.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see Policies for more information.*