Dobby’s Left Sock: Should Have Gone for the Right One Too

I know what you’re going to say: “You started this 80 Days of Strength thing, then let it fall apart on the second day.” I can’t promise that I’ll be able to update every day, but I will promise to share my strength with you the next time. I had very important business to take care of yesterday and starting work at 6:30 AM was only one of them.

Once I got out of work, it was time to make my way to pick up my sister, Lauren. I had a hankering for an iced coffee all day, so I made a brief stop. Once I scooped Lauren, it was off to meet my friends Katie and Erin so that we could stake out our spots for Harry Potter trivia.

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We were sitting at the bar for a good three hours before trivia even began. This was serious business. There is not much in this life that I can claim I know well, but Harry Potter is one of them. I think there were two questions total that we had no idea, but even in those, we were close. This happened before my annual reread too! At one point, Lauren pulled mimbulus mimbletonia out of the darkest recesses of her mind and I came up with kneazle with two seconds to spare. I can’t lie and say it didn’t feel good that we were in first place the entire time. Except for when it counted, of course.

Let me just assure you that Dobby’s Left Sock did not lose because we got the questions wrong. We lost in Sudden Death because we were not positive about the answer and we didn’t bet enough points. Of course those placed in second and third would risk more and we should have too. Turns out, we were right and we would have won. This is something that will haunt me to my grave. Go ahead and put on my tombstone, “Death by Ragnuk the Goblin playing with an Erumpet Horn.” I guess you had to be there. I’m so sorry we failed you JK Rowling, but Dobby’s New-and-Improved Left Sock will be back at it as soon as another trivia event comes up and you bet your house-elf, we will bet it all. And win.

I didn’t make it back home until after 11:00 PM and I went straight to bed, considering the disappointment. Did I mention it was for money? No, no. It’s fine. It’s all just fine. (It’s too bad you can’t see my sarcastic anger in this. I bet you can feel it.) It’s almost karmic because whenever I watch Jeopardy or other game shows, I get mad when people don’t bet it all and then end up losing. I didn’t follow my own rules!

Oh, but look! Look at what Harry Potter inspired me to do:

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So where did my strength come from yesterday? Having confidence in my ability to know and do something. This might sound silly, but dominating at Harry Potter trivia is a skill. It made me feel exceedingly nervous throughout because I am an impatient person, but having the (somewhat useless) knowledge is still having knowledge. And being able to play with my sister and friends, laughing and winning and losing by default on our own terms.

This morning, I made myself an egg, cheese, and chicken sausage breakfast sandwich that I enjoyed with a side of fruit, including half a banana and a scoop of almond butter. This kept me fueled for a few hours of work before I changed into my exercise clothes and worked off my energy in the gym. I added some fuel to the tank with a serving of roasted almonds and red grapes, which kept me going and feeling strong, but not pulled down.

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It was heavy strength day and I was feeling powerful. I hit a lot of highs in my weights, which included deadlifts, clean and presses, rows, squat presses, leg presses, and bench presses. For cardio, I focused on interval training: box jumps, jump rope, skater jumps, high knees, and lunges. I was still feeling strong, so I took it onto the mat for a core workout that made my abs feel sad. I worked through a circuit of push ups, grasshoppers, alternating ankle grabs, sit ups, and a move that combined hundreds and Russian twists into one (I don’t know why I do that to myself). My body wanted to hang out in a shoulder stand for awhile as well, so I did that along with a series of planks. My final piece of my workout for the day was ten minutes on the bike, four of which consisted of cycling as fast as I could for twenty seconds and resting for ten.

For lunch, I wanted to try something a little different. Here’s one of the recipes I was talking about wanting to make that I actually made! I chopped up a sweet potato and tossed it into a pan with garlic and olive oil. I dumped in a can of chickpeas followed by chopped red pepper and baby spinach. I finished things off with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, coriander, and onion powder. Fun Fact! I don’t like the texture of onions (except for onion rings, which is embarrassing), but I can’t deny the flavor they bring to a dish. This was a nice compromise for me!

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My strength today came in the form of simply tossing a few ingredients together and creating something healthy and delicious. Healthy eating does not mean compromising taste and enjoyment. I suppose I should also say, my strength came in having the power to lift heavy things and put them down again without dropping them on myself (or someone else).

What do you say? Are you with me on this?

The Wedding!

I have been a bad blogging lady lately and I apologize for that! These next few weeks will be busy, as have the past couple, but there are exciting things on the horizon that I can only begin to explain at the moment. And I will be back to explaining them!

First things first, it has been one week since we celebrated my sister Lauren and her now HUSBAND Nick’s wedding! It was truly a spectacular weekend of fun, love, and celebration.

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Our entire family and friends went up to the White Mountains for the weekend of the wedding. While the bride and groom to-be went up Wednesday, I headed up Thursday morning with my parents and the dog in one car and myself, my brother, my Grandma, and my brother’s girlfriend in the other. Upon arrival, we located the bride and groom and went off to grab some lunch. After, it was crunch time. We spent a good amount of time putting together flowers and pouring hot sauce into little containers- that was their goodie for the night.

At some point during our work stations, a groundskeeper came in asking if someone had a silver car- which someone did- and he was advised to put the window up because there was a bear in the car! Apparently, bears are all for chocolate and potato chips- I agree, bear.

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After that scare, it was time to get ready for the rehearsal dinner, mind you there was no real rehearsal. It was a beautiful evening with good food, heartfelt speeches, and a small night of celebration before the big day. Once we headed back to the hotel, we sat out on the front porch, overlooking the mountains and the golf course, sharing some stories and drinks.

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We were all up early on Friday- the big day- as there was much to be done. Starting with breakfast, I made sure my sister ate a filling meal and drank a ton of water. After, we did some last touch finishes on the decorations before heading out to get our hair done. I didn’t have too much of an idea in mind, but my hairdresser was excellent and got the importance of being a sassy Maid of Honor. I was very happy with my hair, as well as the job she did on my eyebrows. They looked real!

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After a quick stop for lunch, Lauren and I headed back to the hotel to get her ready for the first look pictures! Lauren and Nick decided to do their pictures beforehand, which works really well as they can enjoy the cocktail reception along with the guests. They shared their beautiful moment on a bridge heading into town, then went down to the river and stood on rocks. I am certain that those pictures will be incredible, but I am also certain that I would have had a heart attack if she had fallen in her dress.

I had about a half an hour to finish getting ready, so I zoomed back to the hotel, threw on my dress, and did my make up. All I need is a little bit, though I suppose that will remain to be seen once the official pictures come out. The bridal party and the parents and grandparents headed down the golf course to a small bridge where we all took pictures. Once we got back up to the main part of the hotel, we watched as all the guests started to arrive and make their way down to the ceremony area.

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I stood with Lauren for a few minutes in the bar as she iced her flowers in a glass of water- I’m not kidding, until everyone was ready for her. After a few minutes, it was time.

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As Nick and the groomsman took their place in front, the bridesmaids started to walk. I gave one last hug to my sister before it was my time to walk down a pretty major hill and stairs. I was focused on not falling in my new heels as well as keeping a smile on my face- not an easy feat. I will thank whoever yelled out my name and started a smattering of applause because they just know my love of attention.

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I did not anticipate how emotional I would get and there are a few pictures of me up there crying. On top of that, I was worried I would fall off the cliff because my knees were knocking. I don’t think I have ever experienced that level of adrenaline before, but I focused on breathing and being in the moment.

photo 4It was truly a beautiful ceremony, one officiated nicely by my cousin Maura, and before we knew it, it was time to make our way up to the porch for the cocktail hour.

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It was at this point that I said hello to people, ditched my heels, and put on my Maid of Honor tiara. The bride did not have any such thing, but she didn’t want one. Don’t worry, I had her permission. In fact, my sister was such a calm bride, that when my mom accidentally spilled a little red wine on her DRESS, she just found someone with a tide stick and took care of it. I think it was better since the ceremony had already happened.

The cocktail hour ended in a flash and we all headed up to the Carriage House where we enjoyed the reception. It was fun to dance in as we were announced and to watch the first dance that Lauren and Nick had spent weeks practicing- very sweet!

photo 1Before dinner, however, came the speech.

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Both Nick’s brother and I did a great job of portraying our happy (and somewhat jokey) feelings for the bride and groom. We got the room laughing and yes, weeping, but I think everyone was ready for dinner once we finished. Shout out to my Uncle Mike for his “uncles’ speech” as well!

The food was a delicious barbecue spread of grilled chicken, steak tips, pulled pork, mashed potatoes, corn bread, salad, and potato chips. After everyone had their share, the DJ got us all up dancing. It was such a fun night of dancing, singing, and laughing and though it ended too soon- as it always does- it is a night that we will always remember, especially I hope, the Bride and Groom!

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The rest of the weekend whizzed by in a flash, but we had so much fun together and I’m so glad we could all spend such a fantastic weekend together!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY BROTHER

Today is a special day because it’s my baby brother’s birthday! Jimmy is 20 today, which is believable and unbelievable all at once. I was five years old and entering into kindergarten the year he was born. I remember being excited to tell my pre-school teacher that I was going to have a baby brother and I brought him in for show-and-tell once I got to kindergarten.

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I didn’t take immediately to being an older sister. Punky Brewster was on at the time and if I remember correctly, the storyline was that her parents left her in a grocery store once they had another baby. This was a fear of mine and I guess one day after Jimmy was born, my mom found me standing in the doorway with a little backpack on and when she asked me what was up, I told her I was just waiting to be picked up by the adoption agency.

Yes, I’ve always been a drama princess.

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Anyways, back to the birthday boy. Life changed quickly when he was born. There were now three of us, an odd number, but somehow it all clicked.

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Though we tried, he did not let us dress him up, but I do remember putting his tuft of hair into pigtails once. He loved Elmo and superheroes, so much so that he only dressed in superhero costumes for the first five years of his life: Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Aquaman, Catwoman.

photo 5Okay, that last one was a joke that my Auntie Bea told his girlfriend the first time she met her. I’m not certain she knew she was joking.

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He loved to match his cape with a tie- and in one instance, his tie dropped in the bathroom and he stood crying in front of it because he didn’t want to touch the ground.

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There was also the Hawaiian shirt craze.

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For just two years of his life, he liked to vacuum. None of us could go to bed one Christmas Eve until he had fully vacuumed for Santa.

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Trips to Disney World were just funnier with Jimmy hopping around yelling, “NI,” because he had just seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail and was obsessed. He also liked telling people he liked their costumes until a London guard did not find this funny standing outside of the Tower of London. His all-American spirit also got us in trouble Harrods as he tried to swing his way down the escalator and outside our Parisian hotel when he climbed the building.

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At 14, he gave us all a scare when he fell during a hockey game and broke his back. He grew from it to become stronger, motivated to return to his normal self and even got back on the ice for his senior year of high school, a feat I’m not sure many could accomplish.

In college, he is only excelling. He has more ambition than I ever showed at that age, tackling jobs and internships and his studies and only going into his junior year after this summer.

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20 years later and he’s still my baby brother, despite the fact that he’s now taller and stronger and funnier than me. The funny thing about Jimmy, is that he appears to be this big tough guy on the outside, but really he’s sensitive mush- in a good way!

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To my funny, kind, smart, strong, brave brother. Happy birthday! Love ya!

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*He’s going to be furious when he reads this post.

A Look Back

I was in charge of dog and cat duties Tuesday morning, so I expected to have to wake up a tad earlier than usual. Upon waking just a few minutes before my alarm rang, I found that we were in the middle of a raging thunder storm and no one should be expected to go out in that. Two of us slept in, while one of us hid under the bed. That would be my cat, Bandit. He’s big and brave except when it comes to storms.

When I did pull myself out of bed, I found that even that extra half hour of sleep made quite the difference. Unfortunately it cut into my workout time a bit, but it was a nice surprise. I walked the dog then took myself to the gym for a swim. I ended up swimming my fastest mile and my shoulders, combined with a strength workout from the day before, left my shoulders feeling sore. It was a great way to start the day and I ended with a longer walk on baht turned out to be a spectacular day!

Breakfast was this big, warm bowl of oats I concocted. Peanut butter, jelly, strawberries, and blueberries.

  
Lunch was a delicious stir fry I threw together with veggies, chicken, and buckwheat noodles mixed together in Thai peanut sauce. I paired it with a pear.

  
For dinner, I made another stir fry with chicken, veggies, and brown rice.

  
Looking back over the weekend, on Monday, I cooked up my pancakes for a hearty meal that filled me through a strength workout and a run.

  
For lunch, I threw a plate of leftovers together to refuel after my workout. Some macaroni and cheese with veggies. Dinner was a chicken curry dish I bought from Trader Joes with a piece of naan and lots of veggies.

Looking even further back to Sunday, I enjoyed some poached eggs over toast to energize my shopping trip. It was quite a sweep for spring/summer clothing! Lunch was a quick slice of pizza mid-shopping.

When I got home, it was still nice out, so I threw on my new sneakers and got to it!

  
I wasn’t feeling spectacular afterwards, so a little later I ate some toast with peanut butter for my dinner.

Further further back is Saturday. Shower day! My mom and I hosted my sister Lauren’s bridal shower at Tavern in the Square and it was quite lovely. While the bride and groom meandered the room, guests feasted on   brunch assortment of omelets, scrambled eggs, bacon, French toast, veggies, macaroni and cheese, and fruit. It was delicious! Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, especially Lauren and Nick, which is most important!

   
    For dinner, we snacked on some chips and salsa before ordering pizzas. I had a salad for a hit of veggies. By the way, banana peppers on pizza is the way to go!

Finally, on Friday night, I went out to celebrate my friend Molly’s birthday. A group of us went to a Mexican place and I had one of my favorite dishes- blackened salmon over a salad with tostito chips on the side.

  

Sister Time In The City

This weekend was another one spent in New York. Traveling is busy and tiring, but well worth it. This time, I went with my sister and we had a blast wandering around the city. We started out downtown and meandered our way until our stomachs were rumbling and we stopped in for a bite of fresh Mediterranean food. The best falafel ever.

After, we made our way through Tribeca, Chelsea, and Greenwich Village- don’t judge me if my order is wrong, I don’t remember exactly! We even accidentally stumbled upon what is possibly the greatest shop of all time- Peanut Butter and Co- whose peanut butter I am obsessed with. I declined to go in just yet because we had just eaten and I want to go in on an empty stomach.

Finding the High Line was a bit of a triumph because I wasn’t exactly certain where I was going, but I still got us there. It’s such a beautiful, fun way to see the city. Even though it’s still crowded with people, it seems quieter and more peaceful up there. You can see the water on one side, the city streets on the other, and all the gorgeous apartments with luxurious decks. It was still quite chilly, especially with the wind, so after one full lap, we headed back down and decided to stop into Chelsea Market.

The stop that caught our eye the most was a wine tasting that was about to start just as we walked in. Impromptu day drinking is the best kind of day drinking and we enjoyed our sips of wine. Divine! We were astounded they wouldn’t give us chocolates to finish off, so we left craving something a little sweet and decided upon splitting an ice cream- coconut with chocolate covered almonds and double cookies n cream with Oreos and some sort of spiced cookie. So good!

Our next stop was actually dinner to meet my friend Bobby. We went to Locanda Verde, which had we gone later, we might have run into the Hunger Games cast. Our reservation had to be earlier though because Lauren and I had a show to get to. Okay, so my planning was kind of unfortunate because I ended up seeing the same show two weeks in a row. It was still fabulous, maybe even more so the second time. We had really good seats-third row, baby- and it’s interesting because you can see the actors spitting from their pronunciation. Just like in that episode of Friends. Still gross, though.

After the show, my sister was a good sport and headed to the stage door with me. She even tried to get her cup signed by Kristin Chenoweth for me, but Kristin was on vocal rest and not speaking, so in solidarity, Lauren thought she couldn’t speak and kind of just kept waving the cup in Kristin’s face. We had a great laugh after that.

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My friends Bobby and Ruben were so nice once again to let us stay the night. Sleep came easily, despite losing that hour, as we had been up dark and early at 4:45 to catch our bus Saturday morning.

Sunday morning, we didn’t have much time to explore, but we were able to stop for brunch before leaving. We went to a small, cute place called Supper. I chose the eggs parmigiana, which was baked eggs in marinara sauce, topped with cheese. Bread went nicely for dipping. Before hopping on the bus, we stopped for a cup of tea and a homemade cookie.

Though the bus ride took a little longer than it should have due to the traffic heading out of the city, Lauren and I watched the new Backstreet Boys documentary, which took up a good two hours. It was hilarious, but also a little sentimental to see how it all went down. I’m not certain how time has flown so fast from when we were younger and going to those concerts. Oh wait, our last Backstreet Boys concert was this past June…

Monday morning came a bit early, but I was able to roll out of bed and get going at the gym once I warmed up. I went for a dumbbell strength routine before heading to the treadmill. For my run, I alternated between running at a medium pace, walking on an incline, and running fast. By the end, I was running at a 6.5 mph pace, which is fast for me. It felt good to get in such a great workout, but I was so tired throughout the day. The sunshine so much later in the afternoon was worth it in the end.

Overnight oats with extra milk and blueberries for breakfast.

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A salad and a corn English muffin with peanut butter was an excellent noontime meal.

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Salmon, rice, broccoli, cauliflower, and a bite of ground beef. Delicious!photo 3

Halloween Excitement!

If you follow me on Twitter, which you SHOULD at https://twitter.com/Lady_Brightly because I find myself hilarious and I don’t hold back or censure myself as I do on Facebook, then you would know that last night I teased this year’s Halloween costume.

Obviously, I’ve always loved Halloween because chocolate is the fruit of the Gods and all that is right and sweet with the world (PUN!). One may argue that I also am a bit of a dramatist and diva, which I take great pride in, so dressing up as someone else is thrilling. As a child, I dressed up a lot as a princess, which from my blog name should not surprise you in the slightest.

Over the years, there was the brief tomboy stage of my life where I decided to be a karate kid, which has unfortunately been immortalized in an unfortunate picture my mom has now framed and on display in the living room. Then there was the practical choice, a cheerleader, for a number of years because I was a cheerleader and I happened to have the costume on hand. Of course, the rebellious stage kicked in and I went for the scary part of Halloween and upped my ante as a vampire or just plain dead-cheerleader. Creative, I know.

Recent years has proved to be more difficult when it comes to costumes. I can only be a vampire or witch so many times in a row to be socially accepted, just because I had the materials on hand. Sometimes, I just throw on whatever pink I have in my closet and finish it off with a crown. I’ve also had a lot of experience and success dressing as Harry Potter characters, such as Hedwig- my award-winning costume in a costume contest, Luna, and last year’s Sassy Harry Potter.

This year, I wanted to return to my roots and tweeted my excitement last night. I said, “A little teaser: you’ll have to read my blog tomorrow to learn what I decided to be for #Halloween. I’m shivering with excitement!”

Without further ado, I’m going to be Elsa from Frozen and the costume is on its way!

When I first came up with the idea, I knew I needed an Anna, which my friend Katie has since accepted. Though I want my costume to be fabulous, I’m also not willing to spend a ton of money on it. My first inclination was to get a light blue, long-sleeved leotard and pair it with a blue tutu and one of my tiaras. A little research took me to Ebay where I found the entire Elsa costume for a decent price, so I took the gamble and went for it. Hopefully it will pay off because I am so darn excited!

Once I get my hands on that costume, I’ll never wear anything else. In fact, I think my sister should just have all of us bridesmaids wear Elsa costumes for dresses.

Also, knowing my costume as you now do, you probably spotted a bit of a very clever pun in my tweet. I was SHIVERING with excitement. You shiver because you’re cold and Elsa is FROZEN. I know, I can’t stand it either.

I’m excited to celebrate Halloween the day after with my sister because it’s her birthday. There’s only so many times I can joke that Halloween is the perfect birthday for her because she’s a witch, ha ha, because she’s totally not. All she had to do to get her revenge was wait for the candy to be dropped in each of our pillow cases before she’d pull the whole, “it’s my birthday,” and get all the extra candy. On the actual day of Halloween, I am excited to dress up as Elsa and hand out candy/ eat half of the bowl. Saying that now though, I think there’s a post on how to handle Holiday eating coming in the future!

How excited are you for Halloween?

Gimme Gimme More

Isn’t Britney so witty? She always has a song or lyric to describe life.

I’ve decided I want to do a bit more around here. And when I say a bit more, I mean a lot more. Not to throw me in your face or anything, but if I want to be a legitimate blogger, I need to actually blog.

Thus, I have decided to have weekly segments pop up here and there for your enjoyment. This means potentially discussing what I like to eat or do for workouts, reviews of products/movies/tv/clothes/books I enjoy, and from time to time some short stories/poems/random pieces I write.

No fear though because I will still tell you the crazy things that happen to me. Hmm, for an example, like the time I was running by myself at night, tripped AND ACTUALLY CAUGHT MYSELF but slightly twisted my ankle, so I walked the rest of the way. And then I walked right into a raccoon. The little bastard stared me down, I mean, he would not back down and I thought I saw him flex a paw at me and he looked like he might start running towards me and I was slightly injured so I was vulnerable and decided it was in my best interest to hobble as fast as I could away from there.

Lesson to be learned: I am no longer running by myself at night. Which, if I had listened to my sister in the first place, I suppose I shouldn’t have been doing that anyways. But, I blame her because she texted me I shouldn’t do it like two minutes before I fell. She basically willed bad karma on me. SHAME ON YOU LAUREN! *JK, please don’t will anything else on me, I love you. I think her and the raccoon are in cahoots….

INSERT RANDOM PICTURE OF BANDIT TO MAKE TRANSITION LESS AWKWARD.

Meow. I’m so cute, but I will eat you. Meow.

He’s pretty friggin adorable, but I think that makes him even scarier.

I just finished the first two books of the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night. They were pretty good. I read them mostly because they were based in Oxford and I had just re-read Harry Potter (don’t judge me, asshole) and I was riding a supernatural high. But the third one hasn’t even been announced yet and by the time it comes out, I’ll probably have forgotten everything that’s happened, so that’s great… If you’re looking for a new trilogy that’s fun, British, and has good characters, then I suggest to go for it.

Lauren suggested that I link you all to a few websites that I read, and if you read through that raccoon story above, then you know that we should all probably listen to her from now on.

Anyways, here are a few of my daily sites and blogs:

The website that made me interested in blogging: http://thebloggess.com/
*I also highly recommend her book “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.”

Good recipes, workouts, and voice: http://www.pbfingers.com/
And some health websites I enjoy:
http://www.fitsugar.com/
http://www.self.com/
http://www.shape.com/

If anyone has any suggestions for me, I am always looking, so thanks in advance. If not, shame on you. Lauren said to do it, so watch out for rabid raccoons!

Also, if anyone has any suggestions for topics or anything else they’d like to see around here, please don’t hesitate to throw it out there either on here or Facebook or Twitter. Again, please comment or give me feedback! Sometimes, I feel like I’m talking to myself and I already do enough of that otherwise!

Follow me on Twitter @Lady_Brightly or on Pinterest @ladyxbrightly.

Thanks!!!!!!!