Friday, August 29, 2014

Oh Hey, Friday Favs About Vacation

1. Sleeping In

Definitely my most favorite thing about taking vacation. I mean, even when I'm taking a staycation which I do a lot in Florida, sleeping in is always the FIRST thing to accomplish on my list!

2. Stuffing My Face

This could also be eating whatever I want because everybody expects to gain weight on vacation. I just always hope I can lose some before I go and equal myself out!!

3. Buying All the Things

If I could be gifted money to spend on vacation, this would be even better. But...we all know I've been saving for this trip for MONTHS so I'll be spending my hard earned money at all of the shops in London and Dublin. I'm also bringing back something fabulous to give away so make sure to check back next week!!

4. Making Memories

I have so many memories of going on vacation as a child and I can't wait to look back and remember this trip to Europe with A!

5. Going Places!!

This was really A's...I was stuck on a 5th fav forever and I told him to give me one.

What are some of your favs from this week?!
Linking up for Oh Hey, Friday with these fabulous ladies - September FARM and The Farmer’s Wife.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tailgating Favs with Nichole

Hey friends!

While Heather is away in Europe (I'd so hate her if I didn't like her), I'm sharing some thoughts on her little ol' blog! I don't remember how I initially found Heather's blog, but once I discovered we were both Tampa Bay gals, I knew I'd continue to follow her; so glad that I did! She gives awesome book recommendations, and I love her weekeend reviews (you know, since we live in the same area and all). Today, Heather asked me to share about football since it is the season and all. Heather is a UCF Knights fan (boo), and I am a USF Bulls fan (yay!), but in all honesty I am more about the tailgating that goes on prior to kickoff! So, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite eats (and drinks, duh) to enjoy tailgate football season!


Follow Nichole @ Casa de Crews's board food >>> gameday grub on Pinterest.

{salt + vinegar chicken wings}

...and drinks

{sweet + spicy beer punch}

Feel free to pay me a visit on my blog, Casa de Crews. I like to share recipes, crafty, but easy DIY projects, updates on our new home, and the occasional post on being married to a law student. xoxo, Nichole

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chandra Knows Us + Travel-Seeking-Soul(s)

I met Heather in 2008. She and I clicked in a fun way. We read books together. We watched movies together. We lead a small group of girls together. We even built a life size candy land board game together. If was ever in for a “girl” night, she was the perfect companion. Then, three years ago, my husband, son, and I moved 1000 miles away. She’s been easy to keep in touch with, though, and our friendship has lasted despite distance. She visited us once (a whole other blog post could be dedicated to that trip) and when we visit Florida, she’s one I try to make time for.


Then there’s Aaron. I’ve known him since he was born; he’s my brother. He and I are close, so my opinion of him may be biased, but he’s the best brother in town…my town\your town\any town. He is funny, thoughtful, giving, and adventurous.


He went to college at UCF and he takes school spirit to an entirely different level. Since graduating, he attends all football home games, and goes to as many basketball and baseball games that he can. He often flies to away games as well. Last year when UCF went to the Fiesta Bowl, he flew to Arizona by himself to experience the game. His blood isn’t red, people; he bleeds black and gold.


CAPTION: AARON AT THE GRAND CANYON DURING HIS TRIP TO ARIZONA TO SEE UCF PLAY - AND WIN! - THE CHAMPIONSHIP.

To my surprise and delight, Heather and Aaron have become good friends since I’ve moved away. To my brother’s adventure-seeking and UCF-loving glee, UCF has a football game in Ireland. Hence, the adventure that Heather now finds herself taking. They will be in London for a couple of days before they take off to Ireland. So today I’m writing to you based on my knowledge of both Heather and her travel companion, but I’m also writing to you based on my knowledge of married life and what it does to the travel-seeking soul.


CAPTION: AARON AND HEATHER at WHERE ELSE, BUT A UCF GAME.

My brother and I are alike in the adventure-seeking department. Especially when it comes to travel. There are so many places both of us want to see, cultures we want to experience, so many things we want to do. There’s a whole world out there, why not see it? Many people shake their heads at Aaron when he talks about where he’s been, where he’s going, where he hopes to go. But to Aaron I give the preverbal fist bump in the air every time he talks about traveling because I find myself living vicariously through him.

Before I was married, I was crazy blessed with an incredible trip around Europe. Over the course of two weeks I got to see Rome, Florence, Paris, and London. Experiencing the sights and sounds of different cultures was good for me. Seeing things I’d always read about or seen on TV and in movies with my own eyes was life-changing.


I didn’t realize at the time that my travel experience would change so much of me, but it did. It gave me a zest to experience life at the absolute fullest; it gave me the itch to see more. Now that I am married, I long to go back to those places, wanting to experience them with my love. And I’m sure after I experience these places with him, I’ll want to experience them with my son. I didn’t realize when I traveled to those places the first time that the next opportunity I would have for out-of-country travel would come 10+ years into the future. I thought for sure I’d find myself overseas again more times than 0.

Here’s why: Once you are married - and then especially when the babies come - the ability to just get up and go is hindered. There are more people than yourself that you have to think about. My husband and I took a vacation this summer to Maine. It was the first vacation we have taken sans child in over 4 years.


CAPTION: MY HUSBAND AND I HIKING IN MAINE. HADN’T BEEN THAT RELAXED IN OVER 4 YEARS - SINCE BEFORE BABY!

The planning that it took, the saving that it took, and the headache that it created at times, is HUGE in comparison to my single friend and single brother. They don’t have to pack extra bags, save money for more than one person, or figure out childcare. Heather and Aaron saved money enough for themselves, are only packing for themselves, and are spared the headache of arranging and packing for a child while they are gone. (Let’s not even get into the mind game that goes on while you are far far away from your child.)

So, to you single people out there reading this, live it up! Take as many chances and opportunities as you can! Go explore the world! See great things! Soak up different cultures! I know that you might long for the day that you find your one true love and can live happily ever after. But I also know that a few years into marriage, you’ll long for the days you could just travel without hesitation.

To Heather and Aaron: You are living it up! I can’t wait to hear your stories and see your pictures. I hope you guys are soaking in every minute. Love, your living vicariously through you friend and sister, Chandra.

Monday, August 25, 2014

London and Other England Favs with Kristen

Hi everyone! First I want to thank the lovely, gorgeous and generous Heather for having me at her place today, I'm Kristen and I blog about a whole lot of nothing over at See You In A PorridgeClearly Heather forgot to take me with her on her awesome vacation, so instead, I thought I would chit chat about one of my favourite countries, which also just happens to be one of the places Heather is going.

England. The place that sent convicts to my country, allowing me to one day be born. So naturally, I have a soft place for England.

When most people think of England, they probably think of London. Nothing wrong with that, I love London. I have been twice, and actually have family just outside of London in Croydon. If you ever make your way to England, London is a no brainer, must see destination.

Why?

Well I shall tell you my reasons why.

1. History. The Tower of London is without a doubt, my favourite part of London. If you only have 24 hours in London, you have.to.go.here. 

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The Tower of London is one of the top tourist destinations in London, and with good reason. It's great for adults and kids alike, it has so much history, the crown jewels are there, it's super easy to get there, and you get to take a photo like this.


2. Sightseeing. My next favourite thing to do in London is to hit up the other the landmarks and attractions. Of course, I had to get a cheesy photo (or two) with Big Ben, which is like Times Square in NYC - you have to go because you've seen it in all the movies, right?


The London Eye is a great way to see London, albeit a bit expensive and if you go on a day with crappy weather, it can be a bit of a bust. It was really foggy and dark when we went in 2010, and we were pretty disappointed. Other must see things are Buckingham Palace, St Paul's Cathedral (stunning!), Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens and Tower Bridge (not London Bridge, no offense London Bridge).

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3. Museums. London has it going on with the museums. From the Tate Modern to the Victoria and Albert, there is something for everyone. KC and I loved the Imperial War Museum & the Science Museum.

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4. Shopping. Oxford Street is crazy busy and Harrods is beyond expensive. But, hey. They are both good fun. Primark is one of my favourite shops in the world, and I can't wait to go back. Their stuff is very F21-esque, cheap and not the most fabulous quality, but you can really get some great stuff sometimes. I have a top that I bought in 2007 and I still wear it regularly.

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5. Theatre. To me, London will always be the first place I saw something on stage. It was amazing. We saw Mary Poppins, and I'm not a huge Poppins fan, but it was one of the highlights of my whole life. I loved it so much I bought a t-shirt (see Big Ben photo above) and I still remember how fabulous the show was, and how happy it made me. My friends went to London last Christmas and they were able to see a show starring David Tennant, colour me jealous! One day I'll see a show at the Shakespeare Globe Theatre.

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Wow, I really got carried away, didn't I? Clearly, London is amazing. But London is not the only place in England worth seeing. Here are my top 5 picks:

1. Bath.

If you've ever read my blog then you probably saw this one coming. Jane Austen lived in Bath, even if she didn't seem to love it, she attended functions there and wrote about Bath in Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. Besides the Jane Austen appeal, Bath is worth visiting for the Roman Baths alone. Walking though the streets of Bath in all it's Georgian splendour will appeal to anyone interested in history or architecture. In the Regency era, the spa town was a fashionable place to visit for the wealthy and influential, and balls and such were regularly hosted in the city.
Plus there is a Jane Austen Centre with a gift shop, so...

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2. Stratford-upon-avon.

I mean, just look at the pictures, and that should be enough. But if you really need another reason, this is Shakespeare's birthplace, and Anne Hathaway's cottage is there as well (Shakespeare's wife, not Devil Wears Prada). Not to mention to Royal Shakespeare Theatre, gardens, a butterfly farm and a museum or two.

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3. Brighton.

Oh Brighton, I love you so. Yes, those are pebbles. Besides that, Brighton is such a cute wacky place. Flea markets, street markets, great food (fish & chips, duh), Brighton Dome is a great place to catch shows, plays etc. Live music is a must do in Brighton, as is a trip to the tourist trap but still totally awesome Brighton Pier. I would love to do the Brighton Marathon one day. Maybe.

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4. Cambridge.

I'm sure you've heard of it. If it's your cup of tea, surround yourself in academia and the architecture of the many colleges in this famous university town. Cambridge University has seen many famous scientists and artists graduate through its doors including Newton and Darwin. But besides that, the town of Cambridge has so much to offer and would make a great day trip or overnight stay. Gardens, museums, markets, medieval buildings, shops, bars and restaurants. Definitely worth a visit.

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5. York.

Last but certainly not least, York is a gorgeous and historic city with plenty to offer besides castles and walls. It has fabulous shopping, including cute open air markets, and unique boutiques, not to mention a plethora of great places to eat.  It's the perfect place to walk around and browse, absorbing everything slowly. 

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Wow. That was a lot - props to you if you read the whole thing! Though I love London so much, England is so much more than that, and I could live there for 5 years and not see or do everything I wanted to. 

Have you ever been to England? Favourite part? Needless to say, I cannot wait for Heather's recap when she returns! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Raced Cover Reveal + Giveaway

Hi Friends!!

I have something exciting for you today! I'm participating in the Cover reveal for K. Bromberg's latest publication, Raced that comes out September 15th!!

One of the series that I haven't really talked in detail about much on here is the Driven Trilogy by K. Bromberg. I briefly mention it here and here, but I'm ashamed that I haven't done a full review. It's just...sldk'jf *keysmash* so good and once I start it I don't stop, even to remember my favorite lines or write a post to share with everybody.

First, I don't have any in paperback yet so it hasn't been featured on a Real Books post. Second, I think I've been keeping it to myself. *gasp* I know, bad reader and friend.

What you'll see below is a novella featuring chapters from various parts of the three book series) from Colton's POV. You'll want to have read the entire series before you read Raced. To help you start, I'm giving away an Amazon eBook of the first book to one person that comments on this post. Random.org is my friend and shall choose one winner for me.

Okay, onto the Cover reveal for Raced -


From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author K. Bromberg comes companion novella to the best selling Driven Trilogy (Driven, Fueled, and Crashed). This novella is a compilation of reader requested scenes from the series retold through the eyes of Colton Donavan.

Colton Donavan lived life in the fast lane, but it took Rylee Thomas to teach him what racing was all about.

Arrogant
Rogue
Broken
Conceited
Dirty-Talking
Rebel
Egomaniacal
Voodooed
Bent
Reckless

You think you know me?

Think again.

*Raced is not a complete re-write of the Driven Trilogy. This companion explores pivotal scenes as well as some new ones written in Colton Donavan’s point of view that were not previously published in Driven, Fueled, and Crashed. Hear his thoughts, experience his inner-turmoil, and laugh with him on his journey as he overcomes his demons and accepts what it means to love.

This novella is for the devoted readers of the Driven series. It is recommended that this companion be read after Driven, Fueled, and Crashed.

Excerpt:

“Well, according to you, I took the checkered flag last night, Rylee...” I say as I take a step toward her trying to snap my thoughts in line, make up a reason for being here besides the need to make sure she’s okay when I could have just picked up the fucking phone. I resist the urge to reach out and touch her because I know if I do, my dick will rise to the occasion and do the talking for me. And fuck if I know what it will say.

She licks her lips, dick beginning to win the internal thought process when I suddenly figure out my angle – my in – my stupid ass excuse for showing up the morning after like some pussy-whipped douchebag. Because fuck, you can’t get pussy-whipped after just one taste. Shit like that takes time to acquire.

Or so I’ve heard.

This man might be drawn to the pussy palace but fuck if its queen will hand out orders that I’ll obey.

I take another step toward her, still undecided about my excuse for being here when I glance down momentarily and see her nipples harden through her tank. Well at least I know she’s still attracted to me. Let’s see if I can make her like me again. Give me another chance.

Bingo. Truth shall set me free. There’s the answer. I just want another chance when I’ve never wanted one before.

And therein lies the second question, another chance at what though?

Thanks so much to Kristy aka K. Bromberg for offering this giveaway to celebrate her new Novella!! Don't forget, I'm giving away the first book, Driven in Amazon eBook to a lucky commenter.

I already pre-ordered my copy, make sure you pre-order YOURS today!

Amazon | iBooks


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oh Hey, Friday Favs

ZOMG I leave TOMORROW for my vacation!! I can't believe it's finally here. Surreal is the word I keep using when I talk abut my trip and I really don't think it'll feel real until I get on the plane Saturday afternoon!

My first three favs today are a three book series, all revolving around the same couple. The Driven Trilogy, I have read multiple times and I'm thinking a re-read will definitely happen again. There's A LOT of angst and sex, but a whole lot more swooniness and I just can't stop once I put it down. At 10:00 this morning, I'll be posting the cover reveal for a companion novella of multiple scenes from the main male leads POV. Gah! I can't wait to read it!!!

These started off as 4 stars for the first book because there's a HUGE cliffhanger and it's heart wrenching for me. Please don't let the cheesy closing lines in each synopsis keep you from giving this series a try. It's one that didn't jack up the prices after it became a NYT bestseller and I could addord to drop $11 on all three books in a weekend.

Luckily you don't have to buy the first one. I'll be giving away TWO copies of the first book, unless the same person wins and then I'll buy you eBook copies of one and two. Leave a comment on this post AND/OR the Cover Reveal post happening at 10 am today telling me why you NEED this series!! I'll be picking ONE from each comment section as long as you're someone I can reply to so make sure you're not a no-comment reply blogger!!

1. Fav Reading Series - Driven

Synopsis: Rylee Thomas is used to being in control. But she’s about to meet the one man that just might make her enjoy losing it…

I am the exception to the rule.

In a world full of willing women, I’m a challenge to the roguish and achingly handsome Colton Donavan. A man used to getting exactly what he wants in all aspects of life. He’s the reckless bad boy constantly skating that razor thin edge toward out of control, on and off of the track.

Colton crashes into my life like a tornado: sapping my control, testing my vulnerabilities beyond their limits, and unintentionally penetrating the protective wall around my healing heart. Tearing apart the world I rebuilt so carefully with structure, predictability, and discipline.

I can’t give him what he wants and he can’t give me what I need. But after a glimpse beneath his refined exterior into the dark secrets of his damaged soul, can I bring myself to walk away?

Our sexual chemistry is undeniable. Our individual need for complete control is irrefutable. But when our worlds collide, is the chemistry enough to bring us together or will our untold secrets and battle of wills force us apart?

This is how you will feel at the end of the first book and need to move onto the next one IMMEDIATELY!


2. Fav Reading Series - Fueled

Synopsis: What happens when the one person you never expected suddenly happens to be the one you’ll fight the hardest to keep?

Colton stole my heart. He wasn't supposed to, and I sure as hell didn't want him to, but he crashed into my life, ignited feelings within me that I thought had died forever, and fueled a passion that I never knew could exist.

Rylee fell out of that damn storage closet and into my life. Now I don't think I'll ever be the same. She's seen glimpses of the darkness within me, and yet she's still here. Still fighting for me. She is without a doubt the saint, and I am most definitely the sinner.

How is it the one thing neither of us wanted—neither of us anticipated that fateful night—has us fighting so hard to keep?

He steals my breath, stops my heart, and brings me back to life again all in a split second of time. But how can I love a man who won't let me in? Who continually pushes me away to prevent me from seeing the damaged secrets in his past? My heart has fallen, but patience and forgiveness can only go so far.

How can I desire a woman who unnerves me, defies me, and forces me to see that in the deep, black abyss of my soul there's someone worthy of her love? A place and person I swore I'd never be again. Her selfless heart and sexy body deserve so much more than I'll ever be capable of giving her. I know I can't be what she needs, so why can't I just let her go?

We are driven by need and fueled with desire, but is that enough for us to crash into love?


3. Fav Reading Series - Crashed

Synopsis: When life crashes down around us, how hard are we willing to fight for the one thing we can’t live without, each other?

Life is full of moments.
Big moments.
Little moments.
And none of them are inconsequential.
Every single moment prepares you for that one instance that defines your life. You must overcome all your fears, confront the demons that chase you, and cleanse the poison that clings to your soul or you risk the chance of losing everything.

Mine started the minute Rylee fell out of that damn storage closet. She made me feel. Made me whole when all I thought I could ever be was incomplete. Became the lifeline I never knew I needed. Hell yes, she’s worth the fight…but how do you fight for someone you know you don’t deserve?

Love is full of ups and downs.
Heart stopping highs.
Soul shattering lows.
And none of them are insignificant.
Love is a racecourse of unexpected twists and turns that must be negotiated. You have to break down walls, learn to trust, and heal from your past in order to win. But sometimes it’s the expected that’s the hardest to hold on to.

Colton has healed and completed me, stolen my heart, and made me realize our love’s not predictable nor perfect—it’s bent. And bent’s okay. But when outside factors put our relationship to the test, what lengths will I have to go to prove to him that he’s worth the fight?

Whoever said love is patient and love is kind, never met the two of us. We know our love is worth it—have acknowledged that we were meant to be—but when our pasts crash into our future, will the repercussions make us stronger or break us apart?



4. Fav So True Article

Seriously, reading this article makes me feel soooo old!

5. Fav Thing About This Week

I got to countdown to my vacation!!! I hope you join me next week when I have some awesome ladies guest posting!!

Next Friday I'm posting my FIVE favorite things about vacation. What is your ABSOLUTE fav thing about vacation?

What are some of your favs from this week?!
Linking up for Oh Hey, Friday with these fabulous ladies - September FARM and The Farmer’s Wife.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

#tbt First Day(s) of School

After seeing a bajillion and one pics of kids going back to school this week, I started looking through our photo albums and old pictures for the ones my mom used to take of us. I only took time to find and capture a few of them, because we have BOXES of pictures. I am so glad we don't have to print all the pictures we take from 35mm film anymore!

First day of kindergarten aka first day of school ever and I was so excited I put on my clothes the night before and my mom had to make me change again into pajamas so I wouldn't sleep in them.



I still remember having this outfit, but I can't remember who was killed in the last rerun of NCIS. *shakes head*

Then we have the first day back to school of 8th grade. Long socks, check. Bangs, check. Old Navy Tee, check. Also, my little brother was OBSESSED with Scooby Doo when he was little, and most of the pics I found had him in a different SD shirt. We aim to please in this family.


1st day of Sophomore year?!


This looks to be the second day of a school year because all the years we lived in this house (I can tell by the fireplace we're standing in front of) First days were taken with me in a cheer outfit of some sort. Yes, I was a heavier cheerleader and I LOVED it!


I absolutely love looking at pictures of all three of us growing up. Seeing things always sparks some sort of memory and it's great to relive some of them.

Did your parent(s) take pictures of you on the first day of school?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review: Offside by Shay Savage

Offside by Shay Savage

Synopsis: I have to be the best. I am the best. I’m quick. I’m strong. I’m smart. I’m the star keeper of my high school soccer team, and I’ve got major leagues scouting me. As their captain, my teammates will do anything I say – on or off the field. Girls practically beg to be added to my list of conquests. As long as I manage to go pro for the best team in the world, I won’t have to worry about my father’s wrath.

I’m Thomas Malone, and I’ve seen to it that the world revolves around me.

There’s a new girl at school, and it’s just a matter of time before she gives in to my charm. This one’s just a little more stubborn than most – she won’t even tell me her name! She’s smart, too. Maybe too smart. I can’t let her in. I can’t let anybody in. I’m not too worried, but even I have to admit she’s interfering with my focus on the goal.
Dad’s not going to be happy about that.

Did I mention I love Shakespeare? Yeah, I know. I’m a walking contradiction. According to the Bard, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Somehow, I got all three.

Now how is anyone supposed to live up to that?


Review

Now, I knew going into this that it was previously a Twilight fanfiction. I even read and loved it as a fanfic! While a lot of stories are very unique and can be published as original fiction quite easily, I forgot how Twilight'ish this one can come off as. I loved her spin on specific scenes, one I can't share due to a HUGE spoiler because it really changes the story.

Savage can write such a GREAT male POV, seriously. I loved Thomas and his love interest, that he refers to as "Rumple" was a really great opposing character for him. She was a very strong female, with a little vulnerability thrown in. I don't claim to understand a lot of Shakespeare, so when that was added into the end of each chapter I would look for the corresponding word and that was about it. For other more old school, lit lovers that might be more your thing.

Thomas has this hidden talent, and I really enjoyed getting to see that particular side of him as the story progressed.


If you like high school stories, reformed player-man-whore stories, alpha/controlling males and can stand a bit of Twilight overlap or have never read or watched Twilight (don't tell me, it makes my heart sad) then you'll love this one. It's male POV, so you know there's some graphic sex and language.

Get it on Amazon today!

Another of my favorite Shay Savage ficsbooks is Transcendence where the main character is a caveman...literally.

Follow Shay Savage on Twitter and Facebook.

Are you a reader? Check out my other book reviews here.



I was provided with a copy of Offside in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Total Social: Guilty Pleasures #guiltytotalsocial

Hi!!!

I'm joining in for my FIRST Total Social with Helene and Sarah this month where everybody talks about their guilty pleasures.

Helene in Between

1. Girl Crush - I have a bit of an obsession with Sophia Bush. I even started a Girl Crush Pinterest board and I can't think of another celebrity that will be appearing on here anytime soon...maybe Hayden Panettiere. Sophia has been on my radar and a major source of inspration since I first saw her on One Tree Hill.

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Follow Heather Carrier's board Girl Crush on Pinterest.

2. Britney Spears - I'm pretty sure this started in middle school and then was cemented after watching Crossroads a million times.

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3. TV Dramas and Specific Reality Shows - You can read more about my favorite TV Dramas which I have a few, but I have two particular Reality shows that I absolutely hate to miss! So You Think You Can Dance which is almost over, and another Summer reality show I love and I missed the first episode is The Great Food Truck Race! I love how they all get into themes with their trucks and the dancers on SYTYCD have all out outfits like I still have from when I danced as a kid.

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4. Starbucks - It doesn't matter how much it costs right now, I just can't say no whenever I get a craving for it. Even when I've done really strict diets I figure a way to include it. It tastes awesome, makes me happy and perks me up!!

5. My New Adult and Romance Books - You'll see pictures of these all over my Instagram and I'm keeping track of at least my Real Books on the blog, but you can also friend or follow my reviews on Goodreads where I keep track of all of my books! I don't care if they have sex, taboo or language. If it has a love story that draws me in I'm going to read it and form my own opinion.

What are some of your guilty pleasures?